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, April 25, 2017

Meet 14, Adv 3, 4/8/17

At this point the party is out of the small pan and in the larger over - and it's time for some town adventuring and world building. For now they've been reactive to whatever I set up before them, but for this adventure, Want Ads, they have some greater freedom and the ability to see how the world works around them in this northern, dwarven run area.

I like Sorton as the DM, but I'm not sure I'd like to live there as an inhabitant.

Write up follows:

After 2 plus weeks of training, on Heatmonth the 24th the party has left Thak behind, travelling westward along the Traderoad Highway at long last on their way to Sorton. The types of jobs and potential earnings in the ancestral hill dwarf city out strips anything the group could possibly acquire in Thak. However, the Reeves of Sorton help control the types of employment opportunities that could be given to non-residents, and without some letters of recommendation and good faith, the chance to the group getting any sort of material or steady work is pretty poor. That was why the group’s efforts for House Darbeard was so critical and explains why the precious letters in Korsdottr’s, the caravan master, strong box are so important for the party.

The hope is to get to Sorton, make their case to the Reeve, and get some mercenary work for 2-3 seasons for some established guild, bailiff, house, or group that would keep the party in employ, pick up their training costs, give them a roof over their head, and eventually enough of a grub strake that they can use to trip down the Enderlyn River, outfit themselves in Erylond, and then make their way at long last to Bork Keep and the Terror Dungeon to carve their names in legend.

The Moratian Mountains stretch towards the sky like ancient giants, thousands of feet tall, their peaks clad in sparkling snow even in the warmest summer days. Stately pines and sky snaring oak trees blanket their slopes with carpets of greenery. The Traderoad Highway threads its way ever westward, sliding and slipping between the base of the mountains as it moves inexorably towards the no longer distant dwarven city of Sorton.

The city is built on the slopes of and right into the base of the majestic Mountain known as Jarl’s Tooth; the samesuch place the Jarlborrin Dwarves take their clan name from. The Enderlyn River rushes along the western edge of the city, leaping and spraying its way out of the Moratian Mountains and ever eastward from here. Sluice gates and massive cuts in the bedrock redirect a portion of the energetic river until it slams into great wooden water wheels that have been set up to capture the millions of racing gallons. These wheels, the largest being 70’ in height, take the overshot water and in turn power whatever machinery the dwarves have milling away inside the mountain’s secret heart.

The far eastern slope of Jarl’s Tooth is a terraced area of farms and crops, even from this distance you can make out hundreds of fat boars snuffling their way around. There is a huge hill in the center of the city that sticks up over the heavy stone walls that protect Sorton from attacks and invaders. Doughty dwarves and other races can be seen manning the walls and watchposts, elaborate ballista and loaded trebuchets ready to unload their payload if need be.

There is a queue of people looking to get in to the city gates, and it looks like the roustabouts make the grand area and concourse in front of Sorton free of beggars, shanties, and loiterers. We made our entrance after getting waved in by the gate guards on their noticing Korsdottr. We were given a short “Welcome to Sorton” speech where we were informed that arm and armor were limited to Slagbottom and the Randari Quarter – anything past Central Gate was a no no as long as armed or armored.

We were advised to go to the Third Reeve and then get a room at the Pennywhistle.

So we travelled our way in to the Dwarven city, home to 12,000 souls, and meandered up Grand Boulevard. The city is clean, like ridiculously clean. Sanitation crews in noticeable white pants keep the cobbles well swept. Local law enforcement were well armed and armored groups referred to as Bluecapes (as evidenced by their tabarded cloaks). About half the populace was dwarven, 30% was human, 15% was a mix of half orc, half ogre, and orcish, and the other races were a smattering at best.

We get to the Third Reeve Theros’ Office and Korsdottr arranged our meeting not with the clerk, but with the Reeve himself. The letters of conduct was passed over, read, and the Third Reeve seemed pleased. He accepted that we were going to stay 2 or 3 season and wanted us to succeed. Sorton has a strict 100% employment policy. The exceptions are of course infirm, children, and the venerable – but otherwise, everyone works at something.

There are 8 sections of the city: Slagbottom (out of towners, sellswords, mercs), Randari Quarter (typically orcs and ogres – but not limited or ghettoed) then there was Central Gate that led to Central Quarter (merchants, trade, and guild halls – temples and the like, as well as the great open Tradegrounds) and Undercliff (section near the river below the cliffs – industrial center and factories), then it was Upper Gate that then led to Cobble Hill (middle class residential), Overcliff (upperclass residential), the Terraces (terraced farms and farming – 9 tiers, boars and pigs figure heavily), and finally there was Jarl’s Gate and that led to Sorton Proper – the area just outside the great cavern and the inner caverns of Jarl’s Tooth where it was dwarves only and the ancestral home of the Jarlborrin Dwarves.

The hope was to set us up with a merchant house of mining house that needed K’Morat nests to be neutralized and we were thrilled for the opportunity. He’d let us know in a day. Also, since we do not have work, we MUST show up at the Reeve’s Office by 8 AM every day (no later than 10) and see if something comes up.

From here we left (after bidding Korsdottr farewell and getting 18 nobles each as our final pay), and went across the street to the Pennywhistle. 4 stories tall, huge, boisterous. The main room/common room was set up like a long hall and with 2 bars could seat 300. A roped off area was set up for wrestling or fighting, a few minstrel stages, even a couple of tables where card games were taking place. Some “ladies” were walking around but given it was 3 or so in the afternoon, they were not the best looking women around. There was some drinking and Avulstein had a shot of spirits, falling on his ass instantly buzzed.

We went to the back and arranged two rooms (8 and 4) with the proprietor, a rough and swarthy looking dwarf named Curd. The place was a goldmine and even though Sorton was a “lawful” city, Curd was a businessman making his way anyway possible. There was a drug the girls were on called “dust” which gave you extra energy but sort of “dulled you out”. A hit was given to Avulstein who pocketed the dust without taking it.

Once we went to our rooms we verified the locks works, left off our arms and equipment and decided we would split up on a variety of errands and meet back here tonight for dinner after 6 PM. Earlier, Darius had written to his mother and gotten the ok to come by for early dinner so he was going to visit Overcliff, and Larry who also was from here had written to his family and was coming to visit them today in Cobblehill.

But for now, we left the Pennywhistle and Einar walked around first – deciding to visit the Randari Quarter on the east side of Grand Boulevard and see what was what. The orcish quarter was jusat as clean as the other parts of town we had seen, except the main difference was the sheer pride the orcish community had and the number of them. Everyone was “Hello Brother” and “Hello Sister” with one another, a feeling of community was strong. Non orcish (or ogrish) people were waiting patiently for “their” turn and it was sort of nice to be part of the larger majority community.

Einar did wander his way further and further into the back of the Randari Quarter. The entire city was built on the slopes of Jarl’s Tooth so the refuse, gutters, and filth did run down hill and eventually through the Randari Quarter and Slagbottom before ending up dumped into the Enderlyn River. So as Einer got closer to Cobblehill, the slope was increasing and the number of people on the streets was dropping . This was the poor quarter close to the Cobblehill/Randari Quarter Wall. The smell was strong here as the refuse coming down from Cobblehill was gathered in sewers here and then fed through culverts at the base of the wall.

Einar was interrupted by two orcs and half-orcs who wanted to know who he was, what he was doing here, and what he was looking for. At the culverts, two dim half-ogres with long billhooks were pulling stuck much and crap through the culverts as well as opening the gates and fishing out crates that were being smuggled into the Randari Quarter without going through the gates – black market? Illegal goods? Don’t know, Einar wasn’t going to stick around to find out, and let the two “watchers” lead him away from the area where some drink was shared along with a tasty bacon sandwich.

It was Avulstein who had the next moment in the spot light. The budding necromancer was heading to Central Quarter where he split from the rest of the group travelling with him and made his way to the Vault of the Heorot – the charnal house, burial vault, and holy sepulcher to Hel, goddess of the dead. He had been advised there was a Deathspeaker here named Parylis and Avulstein would be best off in meeting with him.

Upon entering, he was greeted by a Witness for the Dead who was trying to impress upon Avulstein the importance of lighting a candle, making an offering to Hel, and a moment of silence. Avulstein had little patience for it, instead name dropping Parylis and wanting to talk to him. The Witness was willing to pass the information along to the next rank up (a Watcher) and eventually an audience was granted.

Avulstein was led deep into the back halls and deeper levels of the Vaults of Heorot where eventually he had audience with the not one, but all 3 Speakers for the Dead. Parylis was a necromancer, 60+, body twisted and covered in lesions but had a burning fire about him. Marcia was a dwarven death priest, that ageless 200-350 year age look that dwarves get, austere, cold, pale, matronly and above everything. And the last was Paduntosis, and let’s call it what it was – an animated corpse, a twisted mockery of life, and undead magic user, a lich.

Avulstein was out of his element and punching above his pay grade right now.

They talked for a bit, all three of them about the goddess Hel, the nature of magic, the hereafter, and the dead from Nifleheim. Being under the tutelage of a Speaker for the Dead does translate to either the temple of Hel or the Arcane Academy (Mage’s guild) should and when Avulstein eventually leaves Sorton.

One of the things the Speakers tried to impress on Avulstein is that Hel is both good and evil, both sides of the great war. She watches over Nifleheim, where the dead go who were not chosen by the Valkyries. So she ends up with the weak, the lesser, the cowards, those who claim they are better than they actual are. And those kind are afraid of their own death so will often look to escape Hel and return to Midgard.

Hel is Loki’s daughter, and Loki cannot be trusted. So for a guardian of the dead, why is it even possible for any mage, priest, or shaman to summon the spirits of the dead? If Hel was as tight a guardian as she claimed/s to be, there would be no chance for any necromancer to ply his craft. But we do and can. Why?

Because Hel is constantly looking for the weak, the lesser, the ones who claim they are better than they actually are. And that is the eventual downfall to any necromancer or death priest – the day they think they are better/smarter/more powerful than the Goddess they profess to follow.

In order to take Avulstein on and eventuially get the man some 2nd level spells, Parylis is willing to help, but wants Avulstein to gather some stuff for him in return. He has 4 days. On heatmonth the 30th by 2:30, he must return to the Vault and present to Speakers:  1) Beard hair from a female dwarf, 2) a cup of midnight water, 3) the final breath of a dying child, 4) The promise of a dead man, 5) pint of blood from a living boar. He is told to get them the best of his ability but know always the Hel’s eye will be upon him and will know if he fails. He is allowed to have help of course, but the efforts should be his own.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fluff

I don't like to post fluff, but this caught my attention. So share:


Meet 3, Adv B4, 4/1/17 - Youth Group

One of the youths couldn’t make it to this meeting, change of season colds and being sick making their way around everyone’s family over time. So it was 2 at the table and I NPC’ed the not here Cleric for the time being.

This meant that there were 2 making decisions and somewhere along the way, it was decided that they were going to be more diligent and exacting in their exploration – not leaving any room unexplored and following all the leads wherever they may go. So instead of just going to the stairs down from level 2 after the stirge fight, they went exploring over the rest of the level first.

Write up follows:

Delsin tried to knock the stirge off of Volkan but was unsuccessful; and then Volkan was struggling to pull it off, but also with no results – the grappling flying menace had it wing claws and talons tangled in the mage’s robes. So they were yelling for Safir to shoot – even though it was stuck to Volkan and it meant that a bad miss could kill the mage.

But the archer took aim and let his shaft fly – and it pierced the stirge in the side causing it to squeal and deflate – allowing the mage to tear it free. With 2 left, one flying one hopping about the floor, Delsin found himself hit by one of the stirges when it found a weak place in his armor and the other made to escape.

We helped the fighter finish the last fighting stirge off and then the group went around stomping on them to make sure they were crushed and dead. From here we looked over the room and amidst the trash the stirges had been using as nesting material in the center of the room, we did uncover 4 small gem, 2 sapphires, 1 emerald, and a diamond. We split up the loot and then took stock of the situation. Delsin took a small draught and the group looked over the room for anything interesting, coming upon another secret door, this one in the north wall.

We used some rope to weave through the missing handle holes, and then Delsin and his strong back had the door open and we could look through. The passage went left and right, the right heading back some 15 paces to a door (which according to our best guess is the same door as originally found in the fire beetle room) and left it went a short distance and then turned to the right and went north.

We discussed it and decided we’d come back to the stairs down after exploring the level to make sure we missed nothing and went left and then north. As we travelled we went slow, looking for any secret doors or something of interest. We lit an actual torch at this point to go along with the glowing beetle sack we were using for light. Eventually the corridor did continue after looping about, with so far a single door on the south wall.

It was a storage room and although we poked around, it was very dusty and shown it hadn’t been used for a very long time. We left after taking a drink or two and continued down the corridor. The passage meandered about, heading east now, and although it did continue, there was another door here, this time on the left side/north wall. Once more Delsin was elected to open up and check it out.

After making sure it wasn’t trapped, the fighter gave the door a single pushed and looked in. The room was lit by maybe 10 flying 2’ tall winged people talking to each other in some sing song musical language. He backed out and we talked about what he saw, eventually deciding that we should try to make contact with them.

Volkan started off by trying to talk with them but the fairies could only reply in song and twinkling music. 5 of them joined hands and a cycling of power flowed through them and then we could understand them! The one who talked to us was very open to chatting, identified itself as a number, and would often parrot back our answers in the form of a lilting question. There was another room down the hall and we should go “see” it. They don’t get involved with Gorm, Usimagaus is the best. And yes, they do know lots of magic.

Volkan was hoping to learn some of their spells or curses when the one we were talking to grew bored and another came and spoke to us (#5). He was different, a bit more curt, and not interested in making friends. Delsin was getting nervous during all this, seeing the fairies getting less helpful as time went on, but Volkan pressed on for some help in learning the fairy curse spell. We managed to trade one of the fire beetle glowbags for some flash powder and were going through the motions to get some roman candles as well.

Then #1 came forward (identified as a jerk by the others fairies), threatened the group and Volkan, and a five count were ordered to “curse this magic user”. They cycled some power again between them and Volkan managed to jump away in time when the ground below his feet turned to black oily tar. Safir fired into the room trying to break up the fairy ring, and for this, the fairies were gathering themselves for another blast of magic. One of them was stabbing the party with his tiny sword and then we took the lit torch and hurled it forward and into the open crate that had the fireworks.

The room exploded. Everyone inside the room near the box was killed outright; everyone else was shaken and stunned by the blast. When we picked ourselves up, we were deafened and partially blinded, but one of the fairies was trying to escape and we failed to stop it as it flew down the corridor and made its way elsewhere.

Eventually our hearing and vision returned and we took stock of ourselves. The fairies had been obliterated in the burning remains of the chamber, so we closed the door and cleaned ourselves up, Volkan taking the heat for pressing the #1 fairy into talking to him and trying to get some information out of them.

We went towards the end of the corridor now, seeing it ended at a door on the right (the scent of vinegar was strong and in the air) and there were 3 4’ jars at the end of the hall. What were in the jars? We thumped them and tested it out, eventually taking the covers off – and it was sand. Was there something in the sand? We tried sticking a sword down in the sand and even after shaking it about, couldn’t find anything in the jars.

Maybe it was lower? Whatever “it” might be? So we cracked one of the jars and stepped back…and sand spilled out. Lots of sand, nothing else. We did the same with the other 2 jars – also just sand. Ok. Three (originally) large ceramic jars of sand. We took a small pouch full of the sand, tied it off, and turned our attention to the final door.

We opened the door and looked in. The room was very acrid, our eyes were already tearing. It also seemed to step down a few inches. The floor of the room was covered in some slimy green residue. Not wanting to chance touching it, we borrowed Mark’s lever and tapped the surface of the green muck. The lever began to smoke and hiss and pulling it free showed the end was acid scored as the slime continued to eat the lever! We dropped it in the slime and watched as it smoked and popped and then dissolved away in only a few minutes.

Screw that.

Delsin took another torch, lit it, and let it fall into the slime. It flashed into fire and the party backed away shutting the door and holding our nose under the edge of our cloaks to keep the smell and most likely toxic fumes from taking us down.

Eventually (10 minutes?) we went back, opened the door, and saw the slime had burned away. The vinegar scent was mostly gone and the room now had just lumps of char dotting it. Mission accomplished.

We followed Safir back to the original secret door and went down the corridor until we arrived at a set of steps behind a door going down. We drew up into marching order and took the steps one at a time until we arrived at the bottom of the steps. To avoid any issues, we removed the robes and tabards of Gorm we had gotten from Kanadius (Safir understood and was ok with it, Mark tucked his holy symbol down but did not remove it), and opened the door.

There was a long corridor here heading south and we followed it along, some 25 paces until it turned to the left and traveled east. It was while we were walking, to the best of our guess 90’ WITHOUT another door or corridor until it turned to the left again and went north that Delsin was convinced that we had to have missed something.

So we went back down the hall and started to look for any secret doors…getting lucky at finding one about 1/3 of the way down on the north wall. We drew up into line and opened to door – showing some sort of storage room filled with foods stuffs and water – and there were 4 large beetles diving into the supplies!

Knowing how hard the fight against the fire beetles had gone, we wanted to be better set on this one, so we took some flash powder, had everyone turn their gaze, the lit it and tossed it in the chamber – blinding and stunning 3 of the beetles and only 1 closest to us made to attack. We lit one of the Roman candles we had gotten from the fairies and let fly as many flaming balls as we could go to the beetle. Having almost no effect.

Two of the beetles had run out of the room out the north door on the other side, but the 2nd was getting closer when the closest spat out a jet of the oily spittle it had been using on the boxes. It hit the group and BURNED, making the party moan and grow frustrated as the two beetled then started to charge at us. We decided to shut the door for now and then proceeded to clean the burning residue off of us and heal up. Our cache of draughts was getting dangerously low – we would need some and soon.

Going back to the hall we went back down until it turned to the north and proceeded until we arrived at an open door. Inside was another long corridor (beyond our light range) but on the wall were 8 buttons with odd symbols next to them. One of them, 2nd one down, was pressed in. We couldn’t identify the symbols and were at a loss of what they might mean.

Mark was going through his Gorm prayer book on the off chance that one of them night be in there and he found one! On an older map in the back of the book that showed the Sinai Peninsula the compass rose had the “north” symbol that looked like one of the symbols on the bottom of the column of buttons!

From there, with Delsin taking most of the lead, we tested out the button pressing which had the entire room move and rotate clockwise. It was through the diligent counting of passing doors, checking the corridors beyond (which were different with each button), going to the other end of the revolving room where another row of button were but these had a different button pressed in here (always 4 down or up from the other side of the room) as well as a door out, that we were able to identify the 8 buttons as the cardinal directions and ended our hypothesis by assuming we came in on the SOUTH button, so rotated the room 1 cycle to the SOUTH WEST button and stepped out.

We were in a short hall that ended at a statue of Usimagarus (winged child) and there were two oil beetles here (the ones we scared from the supply room) we ran at us coming into the hall down a south corridor and disappeared into a closed door room (the supply room).

Good job.

So we decided that we were going to ignore the statue for now, head down the corridor and proceed to the NORTH EAST corridor hoping to meet the Usimagarians and see what they had to say.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Meet 13, Adv 2, 4/1/17

This wrapped up the 2nd adventure for the group. If Squeeze and his cronies would have won, it would have been taken back to Brinster Demesne and tortured until the other half of the party could arrive with the Lord Marshall to help spring them. It also would have meant that perhaps Braddock could have made his escape with LOTS of ill gotten goods and escaped justice.

Didn't happen. Group was spot on and the Squeeze fight went south very fast for the NPC. And yes, I decided that even without a head and cooked, you can raise a still mostly whole goat from the dead.

Write up follows:

After verifying with Larry that the hand off the material to the Lord Marshall’s man went without a problem, Tropor Darbeard was almost exhausted with relief. He then invited the party out to join him and his wife, his man Savaris and his wife out to the Wooly Pegasus; perhaps the most expensive and best restaurant in all of Thak and the surrounding area.

So the group went back to the barracks, got cleaned up, bathed, and were each given a courtier’s shirt compliments on Tropor so they would at least fit the establishment. Einar was feeling weary from the journey and begged off, going to sleep early instead.

We arrived at the Wooly Pegasus, a stately 1 floor affair near the Myr Demesne. The building was heavy stone and whitewashed, the interior clean and brightly colored and lit as well; gold and silver filigree work was present on most of the surfaces. Normally it could seat 30, but even with our large dinner party, there was still half as many seats still empty.

The wait staff was on point, keeping our glasses and mugs filled, and the meticulously made food coming one course after the next. It was somewhere after the third course (a butternut squash soup) when we heard the angry sounds at the front door and the maƮtre de was shoved aside and around the glass block wall came Squeeze and a batch of hired thugs with truncheons held in their grasp.

Fuck. Again?

Wanted to know where we were, know we are here. Saw us and was promising to fuck us up. A quip was made that he was robbed recently? And then the group burst into action. Many of us ran for the doors separating us from the kitchen, Connal and Negan holding their ground enough to make sure Tropor and our companions as well as the wait staff and others dining here had a chance to try and flee out the back entrance.

As for the rest of the group, they fled through the back door to the kitchen but prepared themselves to stand their ground there. Larry turned to the meal prep area and yelled at the cooks to “get the braised goat off the damned oven now” while he gathered up knives and cleavers. Darius raced to the back by the oven itself and gathered up the 4 4’ long meat skewers there. Avulstein dropped his necromantic rats out of the bag he carried and commanded the skeletons to run back into the dining room. Negan called to Odin and dropped a 5’ tall demonic manes in front of Squeeze, stopping the ¼ ogre in place.

However Squeeze had his own guys with him and while the thugs were upsetting tables and knocking people down, a few chucked 2’ metal pipes at the two party members still standing there before a final one hurled a handful of rose petals forward and yelled some arcanic words.

Connal and Negan hit the ground sleeping.

The bad guys ran forward confident in finishing off the two sleeping members of the group. However, we were ready for them. Avulstein yelled to his rats to attack the sleeping party members while holding the kitchen door open. This allowed Darius to turn and hurl one of his skewers like a javelin, slamming it into one of the approaching thugs and causing him to scream. Our necromancer meanwhile tossed his scroll of animate dead animals to Larry who unfurled it while the cooks took the entire braised and cooked goat off the oven, still with the spit sticking out of it. Larry read the scroll and necromantic energies ran through the sorcerer/thief and then hit the goat.

Which stood up. Hooves missing, no head, cooked, and with a 4’ skewer through its body, it turned to Larry who started grinning madly. Meanwhile as Squeeze was figuring out his blows were ineffective to the manes, he picked it up and tossed it across the room with an angry crash. Then before the thugs could get close enough to coup de grace Connal or Negan, Avulstein’s rats hit them and did enough damage to wake the two men up so that when they were struck seconds later by the thugs, it was not the expected killing blows.

While Negan was grabbing at one of the guys’ legs, Connal rolled off the table and went toe to toe with the thugs in the area. Then Avulstein yelled out his own sleep spell through the door and dropped the thug mage and the throwing and beating thugs back there.

And then the damned undead goat came through the door, spring boarded off Negan’s chest, and drove the spear into the closest thug and then drove it to the ground, kicking it to death.

And that was the turn of the battle.

The thugs began looking for the exit as the distant whistles of the watch were being heard. Larry slipped on a chef’s coat and ran out the kitchen and through the dining area, pretending to be one of the cooks as he traveled behind the fleeing thugs on their way out of the Wooly Pegasus. A stab to a sleeping figure and then a stab at another fleeing thug was achieved before he hit the street and blended in.

The group surrounded Squeeze and after a few blows the Brinster’s man realized he was done and gave up, axe hitting the ground. The thugs were rounded up, Squeeze was taken into custody, and the Lord Marshall came to thank Tropor and the group for their efforts. He promised that a letter of recommendation would be sent with the party with his name on it.

We went back to the Wooly Pegasus, the wait staff comped the meal for Tropor, and due to the excitement, the remaining tables were filled. The party passed on the recently reanimated braised goat but it was served to the other patrons who were unaware of its…recent rising.

The next morning we all gathered outside the Brinster Demesne where Braddock, his 1st son, his controller, and another 4-5 count of his top men were arrested by the Lord Marshall. The next few days showed a trial where the upper men of the echelon were found guilty of a variety of charges and were going to Gorok where there would be placed to work at the Penal Copper Mines for a period of 10 years.

The Brinster Demesne would be under the stewardship of Cugan, the 2nd son (3rd child) who had nothing to do with the entire mess. The profits from the League deal would be divided out 75% to House Darbeard, 20% to Stoutbelly Mines, and 5% to Gerti Greatpick.

Squeeze was kept in the stocks for 4 days before he took the fall for the entire mess and was hung from the neck until dead.

The party is hoping to finish their training over the next 2 weeks and then catch the caravan heading to Sorton at that time.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Meet 12, Adv 2, 3/18/17

The caves beneath and under the Rolling Ridge Lodge were not extensive or dangerous - but I did plant two things there that I hoped the party would stumble upon and bring out. And they did.

And the inner me is very very happy about it, because it will be pretty big as the game goes on.

Small pebbles harken the advance of a coming avalanche.

Write up follows:

Avulstein went to the edge of the water and rooted through the many bones of vermin that were there until he scooped up a decent bag’s worth. From there he went back and taking a number of the vermin out, called upon Hel and worked his magic until 5 of the animal skeletons became animated. Creepy. He them placed the 5 skeletal rats into his bag and we were ready to move on.

The water grew past our ankles, ending around mid calf at the deepest part as we slogged our way forward. The first clear area had two mounds of rock that had fallen from the ceiling above, making a pair of rocky islands in the water. Rats, lots of them, were crawling around the cry hummocks and we opted to give them a wide berth. But there were two ways out of here, and we settled on the southern most of the two.

Picking our way along we traveled south, most of getting wet feet and Negan forced to hunch forward as he was walking, the half-ogre too tall for the 7’ tall ceiling. The passage wound a bit and then “T’ed”; where at the T was a shelf of stone above the water line, 12’ wide, and 2’ deep. On it were a mound of refuse and other garbage woven into a rat warren where we could tell some 40, 50, or even 60 of the vermin were making their home. They chittered as we drew close but they let us pass.

The group conferred and opted to go right at the T.

It was Connal, Larry, Einar, and Negan leading the front as we travelled along. Our progress had a number of rats swimming ahead of us as they sought to escape our light and presence. As we made our way along we came to an area where someone in the distant past had fitted a wooden frame and door here. However, age and water had done its work and the door had busted from its frame and slumped forward, held on by a single hinge. There was a room past here, but to get to it, we’d have to climb over the door.

We didn’t like that option and instead decided to knock the door off the last hinge and get it done with. So it was blunt weapons up and then some stomping and the door fell forward the rest of the way in the water. However, under the door came a number of angered rats who then emerged from other trash piled in the room. Along with the biggest naked looking mole-rat anyone had seen, it was the size of a small dog! It chittered and squealed so loud, that it immediately churned up and upset the rats in the room…and all the rats still in the hall along the shelf by the T.

And the rats all swarmed forward and attacked.

Connal took point against the big mole-rat thing while the center of the group tried to run away and avoid getting bit by the riled up swarm, Avulstein making the fastest retreat of them all. But during the short vermin filled combat, Einar called to Frey to calm the animals which mellowed out the swarm in front of Connal, and Negan erected a barrier with Odin’s will to keep vermin at bay – preventing the swarm in the T intersection to press forward.

From there it was suddenly just a single fight against the rat king…which ended without fanfare. Once it was over, we noted the passage ended at this dead end room so we backed up down the hall and then made our way down the left side of the T. Eventually the ground felt like it was sloping upwards and the water became lower until we were on dry cave.

From the edge of the water were small fungi of various types, but the further one got from the water, the taller and bigger the fungus got until there were some 2-3’ varieties. Knowing about the shrieker spores, we did spy a few mushrooms that had strange morphic growths and coloring. So Avulstein had one of his skeletal rats crawl forward until it arrived at the suspected mushroom. Then he had it climb the mushroom and the stem of the fungi began to flex and pulse and within a few seconds it sounded like a whistling breathing that grew very loud and piercing.

Avulstein had the rat return to him and it took almost 90 seconds for the screaming to wind down and stop. So, we could risk getting by the shrieker, beat to a pulp (which would take some time), or bypass it by taking the side corridor before the shrieker further south into the caves. We voted to take the side passage.

The mushrooms continued, but none of them had the look of shriekers. We ended up in a large side chamber with a derelict 60 year old dwarven ballista slowly rotting away in the dark. It was no longer sitting square, many of its rope pieces had rotted away, but the ballista was still here. There was a plaque on it, identifying it as “Ogre’s bane” and was built by the original owners of the Rolling Ridge Lodge; Gerti’s grandparents. Under the ballista was an iron box that we dragged out, broke the lock to, oiled the hinge, and opened.

Inside were four oilskin wrapped high quality steel and silver inlaid oversized spear heads, festooned with filigree work and runes that were in support of Odin. We took the heads, knowing that we could eventually attach then to spears at some point, and then took better stock of where to go next. There was an opening on the far east side of the chamber so we continued along.

The fungi around here were developing a bluish tinge to them and as we walked, the cave began to feel colder. The bluish tinged fungi were now omnipresent, and the bluish coloring was growing deeper. The corridor rejoined with the one on the other side of the shrieker here, and it ended at a large chamber. 4 20 gallon barrels were along one wall, the blue fungi was everywhere, and there was a yellow-pink 2 ½’ tall bi-pedal naked figure lying on the ground.

Darius made a lasso and after a toss or two, managed to loop it around the figure and start to pull it closer. However, the rest of the group was noting that the blue fungi in the area were beginning to look more robust, swelling up and getting subtly larger each minute or so. We pulled the figure closer, it was a female, bundled it to us, and ran back to the ballista room.

Once here the diminutive figure grew more awake and thankful. Identified itself as Salarahadra and had escaped her captors and their crate some weeks ago, hiding out here. She could not escape through the main exit because of all the flying menaces there, so hid further in the cave until the mushrooms robbed her of her flame and she fell into torpor. She identified herself as a mephit, a being of flame, and swore her thanks to Avulstein and Darius for their efforts in saving her, promising to save their life should the need come in the future to balance the scales.

As for her flame, she asked to touch the fire from our lantern, and with a divided party and unsure thoughts, we let her do so..and she burst into flame and started flying. However, scary flaming efreeti looking girl aside, she was still looking out for us and offered to guide us to the exit (she could sense the flow of the air from outside).

So we went back into the water, around past the shelf with the rat warren, and back to the original room with the 2 hillocks of fallen rick. From here we took the northern passage and followed it to the east. There was a set of steps going up here to our left, and the corridor did continue on to the east. At this point we could be pushing our way to the exit, but with a guide, we decided instead to explore these other area and see if we could find anything of interest. So we went up the steps, out of the water, and once more through blossoming fungi. However, no shriekers and no blue fungi so we felt no immediate threat.

At the top of the steps there was an opening to the east that lead to a long abandoned and worn away stone altar to Odin. Most of the accoutrements had fallen over or rotted over the decades so the group took it upon themselves to straighten up the place, rest the candles holders, light a few and then one by one, dropped a few coins in the offering bowl and gave a thanks to the All-Father for their trials and tribulations so far. We left the altar room and went back to the steps and returned to the water again.

From there we passed another rat warren and then came to another set of stairs that led up again. Salarahadra informed us this was the way out. We proceeded and once more away from the water had a number of fungi growing. The difference was the steps showed passage and the fungi in the center of the steps had been flattened and kicked aside over time, so the sides of the steps and the walls alone were full of mushrooms.

At the top of the steps there was a “T” and we could see another shrieker so we drew up into battle lines and races up, Negan leading the left and Darius leading the right, many in the middle would hit the shrieker and try to silence it fast. Sure enough it began to bellows and a whistling shrieking scream filled the air, announcing to the cave that someone was here.

Coming around the side from the left part of the T were a trio of fluttering, flying…rocky exterior looking squids! The end of the arms had a curled black talon and they came about wrapping themselves on Darius and scratched and bit at him. The other two followed. Meanwhile the shrieker was punctured hard and its yell turned to a fluttering flatulent sound as its inner bladders were burst.

Negan was crouched over, weapon out, when around the corner can the squat ogre-like face of something else…the two of them looked at one another and decided mutually to not attack. The other ogre (not really, only 6’ tall, but looked just like an ogre with very washed out eyes) identified itself as “slag” and as long as the party wouldn’t fuck with him and wanted out, he would let them pass. Negan thanked Slag and let the rest of the gathered troupe know.

Meanwhile Darius was getting the squids off of him with some well placed help and the waving of torches and light to scare the flying beasts away. We followed Negan who followed Slag north until we came to a side area, Slag stood by it, weapon out but not threatening, waiting to see what the party would do. As we went past and on our way to the exit, the ogre-like creature relaxed and we bid it farewell.

From here it was some up and down until we arrived at the exit of the cave which was on the sloped back side of the ridge behind the Rolling Ridge Lodge. The slope was high, but the top was only some 70’80’ away. Darius scrambled his way up, rope and grapple dragging behind. We set up a series of ropes to trees and cave and then to top of ridge and the group made their way up and then down the other side to the Lodge.

The lodge had collapsed, only a few of the larger support logs remained upright. The entire wreckage was still smoldering. No Talbor (Squeeze), no one else. We started hoofing it back to Thak.

About a third of the way we were accosted by orcish voices from the rocks who demanded tribute, but refused to show themselves. There was some sniggering about how they robbed some ogrish looking guy last night (Squeeze?) so we left them a bag and moved on. It was some time later the orcs realized we left them a bag of rocks.

It was 4:30 when we made it back to Thak and from there we had set up a plan where Gerti would deliver the logs and books we saved from the vault to the Lord Marshall, explaining the Braddock’s duplicitousness and the fact that Squeeze had arsoned the place. Thedge offered to go with her. We took Starfin and Daggers with us back to the Demesne (Starfin was nervous being in town, since House Myr still hadn’t given him the OK to come back yet). Thadar Darbeard and Savaris ushered us immediately to their office and heard about everything that had happened. We needed to get the rest of the import/export logs to the Lord Marshall as well and wanted to make sure that it was done soon and without getting the Darbeard’s involved.

So we made our way to the Lord Marshall’s office, Larry performed a short illusion disguising his face, and the books were given to an adjunct who then brought it immediately to the Lord Marshall and we beat feet out of there and back to the Demesne.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Meet 2, Adv B4, 3/18/17 Youth Group

This was the group’s 2nd meeting and it was their first full one together (the prior one had been broken up by the rolling up of one of the new characters). I had made sure that they each had their own set of dice, purchased a pound of dice for $15 earlier in the week in order to round out an Amazon order I had made. It also refilled some of the spots in my own dice box that had dwindled over time (where do they go? Really? Does the floor eat them, one at a time like Lay’s potato chips?!?)

As typical, the first group of followers of the three gods the party meets is almost always going to be Gorm unless they stumble upon the stairs to the 3rd level beforehand. I have had more people than not be warm and receptive to Gorm and his followers and this group was on their way to being the same – although not at first due to the flaming wall of burning oil trick.

I don’t know how other groups do it, but typically abandoning your god and taking another is a big no no. But the player running the cleric was so smooth and cool about it, and it was such a great moment that it went off beautifully and we now have the undying adoration of the Gormites for now.

Write up follows:

Just before Delsin went down the hole, Volkan yelled for him to stop and that he had another plan. It seems the mage wanted the group to tie a rope around his shoulders and midsection and let him climb down. Then at the bottom of the hole but above the Fire Beetles, he would allow the two friends up here hold him in place and dangle while he cast Sleep on the three beetles; preventing anyone from having to fight them or risk getting hurt.

Not a bad plan.

So it went off as Volkan hoped, the mage was hanging by a rope around his waist and shoulders, going back up the hole, while he waved his hands and recited the words as needed to empower the forces he controlled and then…wham. All three fire beetles were rendered unconscious.

Delsin and Mark came down the ladder swiftly and although the Cleric felt bad attacking the sleeping beetle, the other two made short work of the bugs and killed them outright. At this point it was up to Volkan to look over the glowing Fire Beetles and see if we could use the bright spots on their body or not. While this was going on, Delsin and Mark gave the room a complete check.

There were three doors out of here, all closed at this time. The room held numerous parts and machinery for the moving statues on top of the ziggurat in addition to a small forge area (cold, no coal), and some clay pots that each help perhaps a pint of machine oil. Volkan had punctured one of the glowing sacks, noting it was about a foot deep, and the liquid was slimy and coated her hands and the dagger she was using, making them both give forth a soft glow.

Mark had felt bad about breaking the lever off one of the moving arms from above so he rooted around until he found a working lever, a replacement spanner, and a pin that would fit. Taking the small hammer and pliers from the forge area in addition to the glowing dagger Volkan lent him, Mark climbed back up the ladder until he arrived back at the statue area where he sat down and then worked on fixing the set-up he had broken.

As for Volkan, he had chipped out and away at one of the spot, snipping off pieces of the carapace until he was able to get to the muscled section that held the clear membrane of the glowing bag. Just before he was successful in extracting it though, the spot ruptured and the ooze spilled free. They also noted that the ooze lost its illuminatory aspects after it had been exposed to the air for 10 minutes or so.

Mark returned, giving the mage back his dagger (also no longer glowing) but now all three of them worked on the next possible glowing spot, hoping to be successful. It was one, and then a second, and finally after 30 minutes of hard cutting and slicing, they managed to gather 4 of the possible glowing sacks, the other 5 having torn, ripped, or been punctured during the extraction process. With the fire beetle glowing spots though, they could save on oil and torches for some time. To stave off their possible hunger later though, Delsin tore up one of the carapaces and sliced off the muscled meat from under the shell, holding onto 2# or so of raw beetle steak. We were going to look around a little bit and hope to find some water and then cook the meat while we still were able to.

Still thirsty though, they wanted to keep exploring and decided on the eastern door as the next best direction to go. Delsin gave it a good listen, pronounced it safe, then kept his body firmly behind the portal as he swung it back and open to reveal the hall past. According to our glowing bags, it went some 12 or 15 paces, with a door on the north and south walls, and then in the gloom beyond we could just make out that it “T’ed” in both directions.

The group had weapons out as they approached the 1st door. It was closed and seemed to have been so for a bit of time. Delsin was once more volunteered to open the door and it took a few hits with his shoulder until the portal shifted and the ancient wood opened with a squeal, revealing a long unused and dusty priest’s chamber. A simple straw mattress, chest, table and chair, and other basic furnishings were all that was there.

We looked the place over, opening chests, turning over furnishings, just looking everywhere. Inside the chest was a set of Gormian priest’s robes and below that was a prayer book of Gorm and a holy symbol. Mark gave the book a short look through and some of the teachings reminded him of Zeus, but without the rampant need for sex and a bit more of a militant bent. Could it be the other two gods we had seen outside the ziggurat were predecessors to other more contemporary gods? Possibly. We kept the book and left the priest’s chambers, heading back to the hall and the next doorway.

Once here we were going to give it a listen, but Delsin was feeling pretty bold and the sheer age of the place made him a bit confident. So it was boot to the door and when it banged open, it was another priest’s chamber, however when the door hit the wall, it startled a blue lizard the size of a puma from the other side of the bed who snarled and hissed at the fighter.

Our guy went in sword out and out of the corner of his eye, saw ANOTHER 6’ lizard on the ceiling dropping down on him! He managed to get his sword and shield up in time and fling the beast off and to the right. Mark drew out his war hammer and charged in swinging, attacking the original gecko as it came about and drawing it off of Delsin.

The 2 men were side to side, weapons swinging as they dodged and ducked the lizards’ bites. Volkan whipped a dagger in, but it clanged off her friend’s helm instead of finding lizard flesh. But then Volkan heard a sound in the hall, and south of us down the “T”. He looked around and saw a single figure in chainmail, holding a torch, and with a metallic face looking at him before it went back inside some open doorway and made excitable noises.

Company was coming.

He pulled out a flask of oil and liberally dosed the hallway at the edge of the T while Mark landed a lucky blow on the Gecko, wounding it greatly. The figures coming out of the doorway down the hall were calling out, “Gorm! Gorm! Gorm!” as they marched lockstep down the hall towards us, chainmail clanging and metal faces reflecting the wavering torch light. Their swords were out and one of them help a crossbow. Volkan hand his tinderbox out and quickly got a flame going which he then touched to the oil and WHOOSH! It went up and was blocking the hall. The men coming yelled “GORM!” and ran closer.

Hearing the Gormites coming, Mark redoubled his efforts and between Delsin and Mark, put the fear in one of the gecko’s who charged past the cleric and hit the hall, turning to the T and then charging north. He then told Delsin, “You’ve got this!” and left the fighter to face the remaining angered lizard he hit the hall and was fumbling for the prayer book he had taken earlier.

While this was going on, Volkan had gone back to the 1st priest’s chamber and was dragging the mattress with him into the hall, lifting it up and tossing it onto the oil fire…where it flattened out and then began burning merrily. The Gormites took advantage of the momentary drop in the flames and fired a single crossbow bolt at the fleeing gecko, hitting it and presumably putting it down!

Mark was standing in the hall and reciting words from the prayer book, about the glory of Gorm, which had the men approaching change their opinion and realize that Mark and his companions were FRIENDS and not to be killed. They wanted to help and one of them raised his hands up and was calling on Gorm to quell the flames…which muted down and reduced, allowing the 5 men to cross the flame barrier.

Mark had ducked into the priest’s chamber while this was going on, went into the chest and withdrew the holy symbol to Gorm from it. He then took off his symbol to Inti, gave a brief prayer to the god of his parents, and placed it in the chest and closed it carefully before rejoining everyone in the hall.

The arrived Gormites helped put down the final Gecko and greeted the trio as friends from “The outside and beyond the great desert”. They wanted to take us to their leader, Kanadius, and promised to get us food and water seeing as thirsty and worn out we were. We agreed and followed the 5 men south from the T and into the Gormite area.

There was a large statue to Gorm outside the doors here and once again we were recognizing the bearing and appearance to Zeus that this statue had. We then followed the men into two adjoining rooms and met Kanadius. As the others, he too was hearing a mask that looked like Gorm’s but his warm voice was friendly and he took the time to greet us all and learn our names.

We then talked for some time while water and food was handed out. He was happy we had survived the attack with the beetles and indicated there are others in the temple. The Gecko’s too are a problem, and the Gormites make it their point to take care of them when they see them. He then talked about the hobgoblins that came in here a few weeks ago and the struggle the Gormites had.

Then it was time to learn what’s going on. The area above was a city once known as Cyndicia and they were in a nexus place on the world where not only trade came through, but was also a weak place in the world for other places not of this earth. The three gods, Gorm, Usimagarus, and Madera had leant their divine will to keeping the hole plugged and the city of Cyndicia well off. However, there was a dark force known as Zargon that wanted in. And as Zargon worked his malevolence on the world and the three factions began arguing with one another, the power of the gods waned.

And one day, that was enough to weaken the space between the worlds.

A mighty sand storm blew in and scoured the land around Cyndicia. A hole then opened and swallowed the city, dropping it down to rest deep beneath the earth. Zargon was able to send an aspect of his demonic will into the world and it took residence below the temple, filling the halls with corrupted creatures and monsters from all over the cosmos.

It has been over a century and the Cyndicians have all but given up hope. The 3 factions do not get along and without an outside influence, they are in danger of never solving their differences enough to put Zargon down. It would take an outside person or persons to find any of the legendary enchanted items that once were housed in the temple on its many floors and then take the fight to Zargon himself and end the fight once and for all.

To the party, it sounded like something that they were itching to do.

Kanadius offered one of his followers to join them, the archer naked Safir who also had a keen eye and steady hand for finding some of the traps that still littered the ziggurat. We shook hands and thanked Safir for joining us. We were then outfitted with a few days of food and water, given a few extra weapons, and went on our way. Safir was going to lead us to the stairs to go down to the 3rd level where we were warned the followers of Madera and Usimagarus were. The former would most likely assault us, the latter might be willing to treat with us. We’d have to see.

We went back to the hallway, traveled north to the former “T”, and then went left to the Fire Beetle Room. Safir was happy to be with us and away from Kanadius admitted he was not a brave man so would be more apt to follow than lead. We thanked him for his honesty and then Safir also admitted he was not as devout as Kanadius so we didn’t have to do the entire “praise be to Gorm” thing while around him. We were very thankful for that.

From here we went to the south door on the west wall and entered the hall, glowing sacks held aloft for illumination. As we travelled down the hall, looking around, Delsin stopped the group and paid careful attention to the north wall. He traced a single crease that ran from floor to ceiling and after we all looked it over, were convinced it was a secret door.

It was shoulder to the wall once, twice, three times until the secret door slid away and opened up; revealing a 20’x20’ room with something glittering in the corner. However what was the kicker was the flapping sound of feathery/leathery wings and some big beaked bird looking things as big as cats started flying at Delsin. The fighter was blocking the door with his body and shield, pulling out a torch and then waving it around to keep the flying menaces away.

Safir took one shot and pegged one, and then Volkan whipped a knife at one and wounded it. One of them made it to the hall and the ground ran around, stomping on it. Then they went in weapons out and starting lying about. The greasy winged menaces were being knocked from the sky as Delsin smashed them with his lit torch.

We were down to three of them, one wounded on the floor and two flying around trying to avoid Delsin’s flame. They them turned and struck: one on Volkan, the other on Mark. Beaks reared back and stabbed in, getting Volkan in the upper chest and Mark in the center of his torso, right around his liver.

And then the large beaked monsters…SUCKED. They started sucking the juices right out of the magic user and the cleric, making them scream in agony and the two scrabbling beasts to start to swell up. The one on Mark was torn off and hurled but it was spitting up his blood and liver juices as it spun about. The Cleric fell over unconscious and at 0 hp. Volkan was wavering but still upright when Delsin managed to get close enough to raise his torch high and try to smash the sucking monster off the mage with a single fiery blow.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Meet 11, Adv 2, 3/11/17

Sometimes the problem with writing an adventure in advance is that there are changes that come up that would make what you had written and planned moot. This pretty much almost happened at this meeting.

I suspected when I wrote up Squeeze's group coming to the Lodge to get their paperwork from the vault that the power level of the mercs was going to be a bit beyond the party, especially since some of them would need to arm and armor up. So I had boosted the figures staying at the Lodge and then added a couple of St. Bernard dogs to sort of even it out.

The group, of course, started the combat with a couple of well placed critical "struck in X, dead" rolls and that swung the pendulum the other way. Then it was a few sleep spells and the mercs were outclassed. The only remaining plan they had was the burning of the place down - if they couldn't get to the vault, make sure no one can get the paperwork then that might hang their employers/benefactors.

So the group COULD have run for the front door and lost their shit but made it out of the lodge before it went up too much and then walked back at night with no real equipment, shoes, belongings to Thak and missed the entire cave portion I had planned. That would have been ok as well - but they didn't - and it was close that they were going to.

As long as they are having a good time, that's all that matters.

Write up follows:

After the group had gone to sleep we were awakened by the sound of banging and yelling coming from the front door of the Rolling Ridge Lodge. Gerti was announcing that she was “a-comin’! Hold the fuck on!” and then she was arguing with some people about the time of night and that they should come back tomorrow.

We heard Daggers snarling and then her two dogs were making angry sounds. The group looked across the hall at each other and nodded our heads as we could tell the argument was getting heated and it sounded like there were almost a dozen voices getting upset. Most importantly, we were able to identify Squeeze (Talbor) voice as the main instigator, Braddock Brinster’s main enforcer. A few of us went off to buckle on armor, others grabbed weapons and pants.

We noted Thedge had opened his door, the drunkard stonemason was holding a 7# cobblestone in his hand and that Starfin had opened his door and was buckling his knife bandoliers across his chest. The sounds were getting very violent and then we heard the sound of flesh smacking and Gerti screaming once in pain. Daggers’ shrill kobold voice became fever pitched and then Squeeze was screaming to, “Get it the fuck off of me!” while haranguing his men to get in there and get him to the fucking vault.

The group (half of us) came out of the room and ran to the hall, turning south to engage the brutes from Brinster Demesne. There were 9 of them all together, two with crossbows and a number of them with spears. Gerti was on the floor, face growing red as she was struggling to grab a hand axe from under the couch. Her two dogs attacked the closest spearmen while Daggers was hanging upside down on Squeeze, one hand wrapped in the ¼ ogre’s belt while his other claw was shredding the bare skin of the enforcer’s gut.

Thedge hurled a huge cobble at one of the spear wielding dwarves who raised his shield up in time for the hard wooden edge to fold over and splinter. Starfin ran forward and hurled a pair of knives, catching one of the front rank foes and skewering his in the throat. The rest of the group was coming forward when one of the mercs shouted out some arcanic words and the fire in the fireplace suddenly blazed up and blocked off the hall. Squeeze managed to rip Daggers off his body, the kobold taking the ogre’s belt with him, and hurled him at the hearth where he bounced off, his reptilian body bouncing hard from the impact.

With only Starfin close enough to react, the merc flipped one of the tables over and used it as cover as more knives went flying. Gerti stood with her two dogs, brandishing her hand axe and swinging it wildly. The two St. Bernard’s were getting hit and hurt and savaged the defenders. And then there was a blast of magic from our end and three of the enemy mercs went down from a sleep spell. This stopped the spell affecting the fireplace and the flames rolled back down and returned to the hearth.

Connal rolled his way past the fighting and hit the back sorcerer, keeping his attention firmly fixed on the monk. Squeeze seeing this was getting out of hand shouted to his men, “Screw this shit! Plan B! Burn it all and let’s get the fuck out of here.”

Oil lanterns went smashing followed by flashing torches and then the mercs were trying to retreat but as they made it outside another sleep spell went off and dropped them on the porch. The fur lined common room and dried wood was going up fast, the fires coursing up to the thatch insulating overhead and setting it ablaze as well. Connal rolled through the doors and hit the three sleeping mercs on the porch with a knife to the throat. But Squeeze was long gone.

The group was not going to get out the front door as the fires were getting too strong and even Einar’s precipitation spell wasn’t enough to do more than momentarily quench the fires. Connal rolled back in through the fire and Gerti and Daggers informed the group they could try to get out through the old mine tunnels Gerti’s grandparents had used some 40 years plus ago. We would have to rip through the walls but it should work.

But what about the vault? And for that, Daggers showed the group the belt he had torn off Squeeze when he was thrown, with not only the ¼-ogres’ pouch on it, but his key ring as well. We all grabbed our stuff and ran down to the basement.

While the majority of us were taking oil lamps, shovels, picks, and even one of the kegs of poor quality beer, Larry was working on the vault door with the key ring we managed to take and opened it up while the floor above us was getting red and hot. Inside were a few binders of papers, a bag on the edge of the door with some helms and a few swords, and a door that lead to the tunnels Gerti had mentioned.

We opened that door, all went inside, and shut the door behind us, the group now in a tunnel under the back of the Lodge amidst opened and broken packing crates and other packing material. We all took stock of ourselves; all accounted for, and healing was handed out to those who needed it. A few of us went ahead in the caves, noting it sloped down and went on into the gloom, while the rest of us looked over the material.

At least a dozen crates of assorted sizes and from the stamping still visible on it, could be from weeks to up to 6 months or so delivered here – all from Bork Keep and the Terror Dungeon. Looks like some members of House Brinster were shipping dangerous and possibly illegal monsters and creatures from adventurers and the Terror Dungeon and were trying them out here before settling on what to send to Fingelt’s Mine (which eventually was the Grue).

What we could see here were things like pyroclastic fungi, long-toothed talpidea, shrieker spores, subterranean rock-squids, and other esoteric sounding monsters. The suspicion was that these beasts might be running loose in the caves down here.

That’s when Einar decided to use his giant bat and send the animal to fly around; trying to find what might be down here and maybe a way out. He went down the sloping corridor for some distance with a few other party members until they got to a place where there was stagnant water on the ground. From there a light spell was cast on a rock and Darius slung it into the cave. We heard rats and the water was about a foot or so deep.

A speak with animal’s spell followed and the giant bat flew out, returning to talk about dark and rats and water and some sort of steps out and something flying in the dark so it turned around and came back.

The group set up as much of an area to sleep in as we could (it was after midnight) and after setting up watches, the group fell asleep. During the night the fire continued to rage and consumed the Rolling Ridge Lodge. Parts of it fell into the basement and when we awoke and tried the door back to the vault, could only open it a foot or two and it was blocked and choked with hot and smoldering broken timber. We couldn’t see the sky and decided to risk working our way out of the caverns by finding the way out.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Meet 1, Adv B4, 3/4/17 - Youth Group

I have a new addition to my house making my free time even more precious and spare than it was before. And although I am sure my son, the Moose (he’s constantly in the 100 percentile for his age every damned month!) will love to sit down and play D&D with his old man and big sis, right now he is in that drool and stool stage. So this meant that my daughter’s game had been postponed for some time until this Winter Break.

Her friend and she are now 14 and they have played a bit, grown up, and matured. So I asked them flat out – do they want to roll up new characters now that they know how the game works, and invite another person or two over to join them? They discussed it and agreed it was a great idea.

So we invited 2 but one flaked out 2 hours before the game was to start (his loss). The three of them roll up new characters and we explained the game to the new addition at the table. Still playing B/X – honestly it’s the best and easiest rule system to play and pick up. We ended up with Mark Anthony, a Lawful Cleric to Inti the sun god, Delsin, a Neutral Fighter, and Volkan, a Neutral Magic-User who hopes to be a pyromancer one day.

Originally the two youths had done 2 caves in B2, but for this I wanted to send them through my favorite adventure, B4 – The Lost City. I had to have run and played it 40-50 times and it’s one of the adventures I just know cold. At the end of the meeting I asked as usual if they enjoyed it, got a resounding yes, and told them all we’d see each other in 2 weeks.

Write up follows:

The party had joined a desert caravan and was heading back across the Sinai Peninsula hoping to make it to Istanbul when the caravan was struck by a terrible sandstorm. Your party had gotten separated and when the storm cleared, you were lost and the desert had been blown into new patterns.

You headed north, the last direction the caravan was headed before the storm. Days passed, your mounts die and soon you ate the last of your food and drank the last of your water.

On the 2nd day after the water had gone the party stumbled on the stone wall sticking out of the sand. It was some buried ruined city, most of the place lost scoured clean by the desert. There was a 5 step-pyramid that was crowned by a trio of 30’ tall statues of an old man with a lightning bolt, a winged child with a pair of snakes, and a warrior woman with a sword. Not familiar with the gods the group made their way to the pyramid, the only structure still standing, on the hopes of finding some shelter and more importantly, water and food.

A set of stairs went up the south side that led to the side of the top most tier. Here, they found the desiccated body of a hobgoblin jammed inside a formerly secret door, a large crossbow bolt thrust into its chest. According to Mark, the body has been here a few weeks. Looking through the gloom shower a dusty footprint covered corridor that went off into the pyramid’s heart.

The party discussed it and then voted on Delsin to climb in past the hobgoblin and see if the coast was clear. The fighter did so begrudgingly but did return to say the coast was clear for now. It seemed as if the dusty footsteps had gone off to the east and away from the secret door.

So one by one, the rest of the group entered and we looked around. The corridor was 10’ wide and almost 10’ tall. Very faded paintings lined the walls. The hobgoblin had whatever belongings he once owned taken from his corpse. Volkan tried to remove the crossbow but the head broke off inside the body.

With a torch lit they went down the corridor until they arrived at the end where it turned north and went another dozen plus paces and ended at a door. However, across from this area was a niche in the wall where the group could spot something metallic within. They came closer to investigate and espied a crossbow, bolted in place and pointing at the secret door the group entered by. Now we know how the hobgoblin died. We tried to remove the crossbow but were unable to, so we left it there and continued on towards the door.

The door was stuck and required a bit of pulling, but when open reveals a 40’ square room with a 15’ ceiling. The dust on the floor was disturbed and no details could be seen. Three bronze cylinders went from floor to ceiling and in the center of each cylinder were a 6’ tall, 3’ wide door with a circular spinning wheel lock. Once more, Delsin was asked to check out the chamber first. A quick look led us to believe everything was ok so the rest of the group came in.

With three of us and three doors, the group each took a cylinder and was giving them a look over. We know the one on the right had a loose paving stone under the door which lead up to believe it might be trapped. The middle one had some bloody hand prints on the cylinder part, but not the door. We deduced that if the trap had gone off, it happened when the door had been opened. So we wanted to try this one. Mark took a stance behind the door, grabbed the handle, twisted it, and using the door as a shield, pulled it open.

Nothing happened.

We did see there was a metal ladder in the middle of the cylinder running both up and down. A check with the torch told us it was at least a 20’ climb in either direction and Mark was willing to do it. It was at this time Delsin happened to glance over and see the main door start to close on its own. He ran over there, stopping the shutting door with his own strength. Meanwhile, the party heard the sound of gas hissing into the room which had us all freaking out. However after a few seconds the sound faded and the door no longer looked like it was going to shut. Delsin was adamant that he was going to stay there, “just in case”.

We looked about the room, and in the corner were small metal tubes where the gas seemed to have come out of. About the width of a finger and only 6” off the ground, we had nothing to jam them up with, although Volkan did try dropping a garlic glove down one of them.

The party wanted to test the trap out again so they opened the door to the room, reshut the cylinder door, and opened it again. And again about a minute later the gas noise started and Delsin had to physically hold the door back from closing. And again, with both doors opened the gas did turn off and the pressure on the main door faded.

Mark took a short jump and climbed UP the ladder 25’ until he arrived at a small room. There were 4 levers here along with a chair to sit on and a brass tube near where his head would be. Mark tested the levers and through small holes in the room he was in, could tell he was in the middle statue of the 3 on top (winged child). Moving the levers made the statue move its hands, legs, head, and eyes. Volkan asked the priest to stop playing around and look down the ladder to see what was below. It seemed there was a faint glow down there, like a candle or lantern.

So Mark climbed down almost 30’ until he came out of the ceiling into a room about the same size as the one above it. There were 3 other doors out of here and what seemed to be gears and levers and other parts that might be used to fix the statue. However, it was the 3 2’ long wide carapaced beetles with glowing spots on their back that made the cleric stop. The beetles then chattered up at his ladder (there were two others here on either side) and the priest then went back up. He informed us of what he found and then went back to the statue’s controls at the top of the lever.

Once there we started to maneuver the levers in rapid succession and with great fervor. However, a loud clattering followed by a snapping sound ensued as one of the levers broke and fell off in his hand, forever preventing the winged child’s arm from rising up again. He sheepishly came back to the cylinder room where he was admonished for his abuses but Mark did reply with a grin, “I like levers!”

This then led us to contemplate opening up the left most cylinder. Delsin was not going to be able to help as he was on door duty so Volkan wanted Mark to do it. The two of them then hid behind the cylinder door, Mark twisted the handle, and pulled. And 4 darts shot out of the western wall and hit Volkan – but none of them penetrated enough to do any real damage!

There was another ladder heading down and up here, and Mark gave another jump onto the ladder but it started to wave under his weight and he jumped out just before the ladder gave way and fell down to the room below amidst the sound of collapsing metal.


So it was back to the middle ladder. It was decided they would all go down one after the other, Delsin, Mark and then Volkan, and do battle with the beetles before they had a chance of getting surrounded or hurt. The torch was dropped down the hole where it landed on the stone floor, illuminating the room below. Then the group each jumped to the ladder and started to climb down swiftly to do combat with the denizens there.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Meet 10, Adv 2, 3/4/17

The party had gotten an information dump from all the paperwork that we absconded from the Brinster Offices, and in it we found some incriminating evidence but not enough for our patron to put the screws to Braddock and get recompense. The group needed one of 2 things: Sigurd to appear and confess, or the corresponding other paperwork that would show some of the details the Brinsters were up to but were absent from the Offices.

There was a miner's lodge that had been mentioned in some of the pages and the group correctly deduced that Sigurd could be holed up there. So they gathered their stuff and took the trip to the lodge.

I like overland travel and moreso in mountainous area since even though the distances are short as for a straight line, the difficulty in getting there makes the trip much longer. Plus there are tons of opportunity for ambushes, caves, and other dressings to make the place seem more alive.

Write up follows:

The party had a great time at the banquet, eventually getting to sleep back at the Darbeard Demesne. We awoke the next morn, Heatmonth the 6th, and after eating at the mess hall with the rest of the Demesne, found ourselves invited back to Tropor’s office where the Primacy and his adjunt, Savaris met with us. We gave him a very brief overview of what happened. Everyone was able to tell about the alarm going off, it was visible from the fairegrounds.

He paid us and our banquet counterparts for their efforts and then took possession of the log book as well as the pages we stole from Cain Brinster’s desk drawer. From there we were invited to stay and go through the pages with them and try to find the pieces needed to put this matter to bed. Einar, unable to read, was then asked/volunteered to go to the local tavern, grab a seat in the back, and listen to the gossip around town as to what the people of Thak were saying about the break in as well as whatever spin House Brinster had put on the entire situation.

As the hours passed by we learned ehe Import/Export Log does show the Brinsters have a normal activity of iron and stone stores that come and go, but 3 weeks ago there is a note in the Import Logs of “Surplus raw and dross sorted ore from unnamed source, 3,025#, acquired by Caravan Master Talbor Unmach and Controller Cain Brinster.” The logs never show the material hitting either Thak or the Brinster Demesne, instead there is an export log showing the material going right back out with the origin point being marked as RR Lodge and the destination of the League of Odin in Sorton. There is no cost for the material coming in, neither is there a cost for the material on delivery – if there wasn’t a line in the logs, it would never appear on the financial books and the Brinsters would not be responsible for the tax implication or any other costs or revenue. Effectively one big gift they acquired that they never took possession of and gifted right back to the League.

In and by itself, it is dirty but is not necessarily felonious although it is illegal. The logs are strangely absent regarding where the material came from.

This angers Tropor who was hoping that the log book alone would be enough to bring to the Lord Marshall and have the wrath fall upon the other house. He’s still furious over the 10,000 loss for the House, the 40,000 potential loss and year long drag on the Stoutbelly’s, and enraged that Sigurd is apparently free and living the life. This comes back to the fact that Sigurd showing up would give them the smoking gun they need to prove their case.

As for the scores of papers that were dragged from Cain’s desk, there are a number of receipts and purchase agreements that either are in process or had not been booked as of yet. Throughout the mess of pages with various acronyms and assorted truncated words, a few items stand out: 1) A receipt for a Subterranean Long Armed Noctus Gru to be delivered to an address of a hunting lodge identified as “Rolling Ridge Lodge” roughly 1 1/2 miles west of Thak. Delivery date is 1 month ago. 2) A payment stipend of 372 nobles identified as K’Morat Relations Fee. This is dated just over 3 weeks ago. 3) A housing ticket for “S. Thanglewood formerly of H Darbeard” at the same lodge dated just over 2 weeks ago. The ticket is open ended.

Sigurd’s last name is Thanglewood.

From here we wanted to know more about Rolling Ridge Lodge (there are some 30-40 smaller lodges that dot the area within 5 miles radius around Thak and the majority of them are for prospectors and gatherers who work the land that far from home) so Darius offered to go to the Lord Marshall’s Office and see if he could get some information from whatever real estate clerks might be there.

Meanwhile, Einar had spent almost 3 hours at the tavern, blending in and listening so when he returned to the Demesne, he let the group know that the news at the end of the day is that House Brinster had their offices broken into and someone tried to steal their operating funds but were defeated by what wards and guards were already in place. There is sadness at the passing of Gundank (one of the kennel workers) and 2 of the Brinster’s guard dogs, and there was talk of a fire but outside of some personal effects being stolen and the Controller’s office being ransacked, the funds in the vault were not touched.

It doesn’t go unnoticed that the Brinster’s did not mention the loss of the log books nor the other papers. This makes Tropor and Savaris confident that Braddock is not aware of what House Darbeard might know, what they are doing or how damaging this information could be to them.

As this was going on, Darius happened to get to the offices at around lunch time so the place was fairly empty. A talkative elder gnome was working the property offices and Darius gave the name “Diamondcutter” and that he was from Sorton (truths) to throw off why he was there asking about the Rolling Ridge Lodge. The cost of a single noble had the gnome talking and finding the books in question that detailed the Lodge.

A look at local lodges shows that Rolling Ridge Lodge was originally a hunting and waystation lodge for prospectors who were out in Western Thak and needed a place to stay. The mountains there are a series of ridge lines which means there is lots of surface area. The Lodge had originally belonged to a local mason collective known as “Four Picks” but when they had fallen on hard times, 50% of the lodge was purchased by Houses Brinster and Myr almost 25 years ago. Myr sold their 25% share to Brinster almost 6 years ago since the property needed numerous repairs and Myr was relocating most of their prospecting further south and east, making Rolling Ridge Lodge unnecessary. The management of the Lodge is and always has been the Four Pick Collective.

After thanking the gnome, Darius left the Offices, returned to the Demesne, and let the party and Tropor know what he learned. This had everyone satisfied that the information was all tying together and according to the housing ticket from 2 weeks ago, it was an open ticket and Sigurd could very well still be at the lodge.

Savaris went back through the log books and checked out anything that might have to do with the Rolling Ridge Lodge, noting that there is a semi-monthly delivery of simple food stuffs and low quality beer as well as basic raw goods and supplies to Rolling Ridge. In return there is an import from the same location 1-2 days later of raw unprocessed quality stone (Bluerail, Monk’s Granite, Quartian Basalt) and some furs. The quantities are typically small, never more than 40#’s or so of goods. As for the types of food – it always has the same: 20# of oats, 20# of barley, and 1/4# of salt – which Tropor laughs at and refers to as the ingredients of “Peasant’s Mush” – a type of gruel that will fill you up but tastes boring, more of a chewing exercise.

Tropor is willing to pay for half the group (6 of them) to go to Rolling Ridge Lodge and find Sigurd and/or any other paperwork or information that would help to prove the case against Braddock and House Brinster. He offers 40 nobles per, supplies them with 2 days of travel rations, and reminds them of the bounty still on Sigurd’s head. The group agreed and would leave tomorrow.

Avulstein made his way to the butcher where he dickered a bit on the price of a goat or a pig before buying one, getting it home, and then raising it from the dead. Ugh, necromancers. Bobkins recolored it with some magic so it looked “healthy” and the ragged cut throat was “stitched” up and disguised for now.

We left by 9:30 on the 7th and the trip to Rolling Ridge Lodge is pretty unclimactic. It was a mile or so down the main road out of Thak, and then there was a smaller cut off road that leads south and towards a series of ridges. The road shifts back and forth many times, making the trip from the road to the lodge another couple hours of hard walking even though it’s only about 1/2 of a mile as the crow flies. The road is in poor condition with many areas that have crumbled some or been washed away in the spring rains.

On arrival, they noted the Rolling Ridge Lodge is a large wooden structure that is made of huge trunks mortared and lashed together. The roof is peaked and shingled with a double layer of slate, overlaid with thatch for insulation. There is a small paddock for ponies or donkeys, currently empty. The windows are small and narrow, shuttered up tight to keep the wind out being that the lodge is near the top of a set of ridges. There is a wide porch that encompasses the entire front of the building, with two large wood bins currently filled, and three rocking chairs.

It was after 1 at this time and giving the place a look around as well as circling it (no back doors) we went back to the front and entered the place.

The main room was spacious, two tables (one large, one smaller), a couple of couches, had a variety of skins and mounted heads on the wall. A central fireplace was burning and a single figure was sitting in front of it, an obviously drunk man was at the table, and incongruously a kobold wearing a pair of pants and sporting an apron was scrubbing the floor. A dwarven woman in her late 200’s (50+) came out and heavily accented welcomed us to the Rolling Ridge Lodge.

She identified herself as Gerti, Gerti Greatpick and daughter of Farkis, one of the original founders of the Four Pick Collective and proprietor of the lodge. The kobold was Daggers and understands common was can’t speak it. He’s very fond of Gerti and the lodge as well. The drunk was a stone mason and prospector known as Thedge and the man at the fire was another mercenary, this one from House Myr.

We talked for a while. The merc was named Starfin Urish and had been asked to come here by his employers at House Myr due to an unfortunate incident with another man’s wife and a broken arm. He was asked to take a vacation and House Myr has sent him here to be out of the way for a few weeks while the man heals and then they can send him and his wife somewhere else to work.

We prevaricate a bit but Gerti and Starfin can pick up that we aren’t being honest at first. They are used to dubious people coming and going. And that leads to us coming clean and then Starfin bringing up Sigurd. He left 3 or 4 days ago after losing a bundle of commons and nobles to Starfin on some epic poker games. He mentioned he was off to Sorton where a job working for the League of Odin was waiting for him.

At this point, we learned that Gerti had two St. Bernanrd looking dogs as well, Fairly large and fiercely loyal – Tooths and Hood.

By this point in time the party had revealed their disdain for House Brinster and that opened an entire chapter for Gerti. She feels almost put upon by House Brinster who forgets that they do NOT own RR Lodge and should continue to include her in their dealings, housing, and plans for the lodge. She is willing to talk about the strange travelers that come and go, the deliveries that show up unannounced, and even the gall of “Old Man Braddock” and his “Dangerous Thug” he often sends here. Talks about the malevolence the man has and the sheer gall he espouses. (Squeeze).

There is also talk of the basement. Besides a cellar, there is a vaulted section that the Brinsters use as a meeting room along as some storage for paperwork. It’s locked by House Brinster and even though it’s her lodge it chafes her that the “thug” reminds her often not to go in for any reason. Starfin was able to Cant and was corroborating most of Gerti’s tale. We also could tell Gerti was able to understand a bit of Cant but couldn’t speak it. She was also able to understand Dagger’s kobold and the K’Morat had his own view on everything that also seemed to jive.

We took rooms on both sides of the Lodge (there were 8 rooms, 4 simple, 2 better, and 2 great (sleep 4)) and after enjoying dinner and drinks (the house special was literally Cold Mush) the night was getting on and everyone one by one was turning in. Daggers had a space in the kitchen he slept in but did wander the lodge, the same for the dogs – often times going both downstairs and across the main floor wherever the whim took them. Starfin was an avid reader of Perri Twinklebottom, a Halfling Courtesan who was written about from a Fleshhouse in Madar. We commented that we’d like to read the book when he was finished with it.

Once we were alone we discussed getting to the vault and looking in it. But the wandering dogs, Thedge, Starfin, Daggers, and Gerti made that problematic. So we talked about doing it that night after everyone went to sleep. It was 8:30 and we all went off to our rooms to rest and wait for the Lodge to get quiet enough to chance sneaking downstairs.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Meet 9, Adv 2, 2/25/17

Sometimes the game fires on all cylinders. This meeting was one of them. We had a great exploration of an "office" (about as modern as you can get in a medieval setting) where there were clues scattered about which then turned into finding the log book we needed and a tough fight with a choking out runecrafted set of living armor and then we ran for our lives 1 round ahead of being spotted, escaping hurt but alive. Followed up by an hour of good LARPing at the table of the other half of the party and their efforts to cover for the mercs at the banquet.

And with the papers found and the log book in place to be studied, the 2nd half of the adventure is now set up and ready to be hit.

Write up follows:

With no lights and limited illumination, we drew the heavy curtains closed on both sides of the waiting room and main hall of the Brinster’s Offices on their Demesne and then lit a candle. The main hall here was painted yellow, a couple of wooden chairs with no cushions, a few plants, and a shelf with 9 iron cups filled with gravel. There were 6 doors down here, one of them the secretary’s office that Larry had crawled through to open the door. A set of stairs went up to the 2nd floor.

We discussed it quietly and decided that anything of value would be on the second floor. So Einar, Connal, and Darius all stayed below while Negan, Avulstein, and Larry all went upstairs to look around. Candles lit, they made sure the curtains were pulled tight before heading up.

The steps led to the 2nd floor where the color scheme changed to brown. A few thin fern plants, a very nice couch. Four doors up here, three closed and one of them just open a crack. There were some battered shields on display; a plaque beneath them noted “Kragin Theros-Brinster, Trial by Combat Winner, 1 shield to 3, Year 182”. The decision was made to look at the open door first, noting the double doors at the end of the short corridor most likely led to the Controller’s Office and we would look there last.

The door opened to reveal a clerk’s office and file room. Two plain desks and chairs, lots of paper in somewhat disarray. There was one window that they drew the curtain closed on and in the back of the room were numerous file boxes stacks 6 high, two abreast, and three deep. A look over the room and the paperwork showed it was most likely the real estate records and the guess was maybe 20 years of receipts, notes, and logs. The group looted a few graphite sticks and papers but decided there was little left. They did have Negan start to move the boxes that were stacked in the far corner to see if there was a window there and if it would open up, while Larry and Avulstein were then going to check out the office next door.

Meanwhile downstairs, Einar and company checked out the office next to the secretary’s office. It was a single clerk’s office with a desk and some papers upon it. The big find was the blank requisition comparative forms that House Brinster used to track material that went in and out of their inventory and warehouses. It would have no impact outside of the Brinster Demesne but that didn’t faze the trio who took the forms and then made their way back to the main hall.

It was just past 20 after 8 (with an hour and a half left to find the Import/Export logs before skedaddling) when Larry and Avulstein managed to open the door to a named office for someone named Thinkle and with the title of Assistant Bookkeeper. There was a nicer desk in here with two big file cabinets. The walls had some memorabilia that depicted the owner most likely had been at Bork Keep in his past or was a professional adventurer in his past: broken bracers, a snapped net, a scrap of scaled skin, spiked leather collar, even a long talon from some animal. The big hit though was the short handled double bitted battle axe just along the right side of the desk. The desk drawers were filled with the normal bric a brac and a very nice fancy gemstone abacus.

The cabinets were very difficult to open and Larry was forced to give up on them.

As for Einar and his people, they went to the next office which was also marked by a name: Remilus, Assistant Bookkeeper. It had also a nicer desk and three stuffed chairs, and three big file cabinets. The three of them fanned out, Darius picking the lock of one of the file cabinets with Einar’s nail file. The desk, besides the blotter and ink well, had a fancy copper cup with quills in it that read “Third Place, Axe and Shield, Thorian Games, 177”. The paperwork that they found showed various purchase orders that had gone through the Brinster’s holdings some time ago, nothing terrible or that would stand out as outside the normal. What was discovered was under the blotter was a pressed Vellum prayer and funeral card for someone named Kragin who died on Birthmonth the 13th; 1 day before the party arrived at Fingelt’s Mine.

They gathered what they could (ink wells and pens) and made their way to the hall to discuss where to go next.

Negan had managed to uncover the window which had been closed for some time and the jambs painted over. It might open, but most likely not easily or quietly. He rejoined Avulstein and Larry in the hall and looked at the last two doors: the double doors at the end of the hall were marked Cain Brinster, Controller and the one to the left was marked Kragin, Head Bookkeeper. They opted to open Kragin’s door.

It was locked and after a few tense minutes, Larry had to admit the door would not open to his picks. So it was Negan with a crowbar and the half-ogre managed to snap the jamb around the lock and we were able to enter Kragin’s Office. There was a clean and empty desk, three chairs, and a set of shelves that looked disorganized and messy as if someone had just place paperwork on them without care or concern. There were clean spots on the walls where pictures or personal effects had once hung. Just inside the door were two large wooden boxes that had some personal belongings: wooden hand axes, helmet with a dent in it, picture of an orc on a wanted poster with the eyes “X’ed” out, a wedding flower wreath. As for the paperwork, nothing in here was newer than 3 weeks ago.

While checking the room out, the party did discover a concealed doorway along the eastern wall where the paneling went straight to the ceiling in a single cut line. The door was examined and decided to open it. Negan had his back to it and forced the door open. The room beyond was 10’ square and had an armor stand with a full suit of hauberk and plate including helm, greaves, pauldrons, and gauntlets. No weapon. There were two heavy iron boxes with locks, and along the south wall was a discolored section of wall that would lead to the next room.

But there was a building sense of energy and to those still in the hall, they noticed that an orange glow was pulsing along the top of the building from OUTSIDE like a beacon. Alarm. Downstairs while deciding where to go next, Einar and company noted the same glow coming through the shuttered windows. And to Negan, little flecks of yellow electric energy in the shapes of runes started flaring around the armor as it twitched and picked itself up.

Crap.

He slammed the door closed and then dragged the desk in front of the secret door. The call was given downstairs for the rest of the group to get the hell up here because it was about to get nasty. Einar rushed the other two up but gave a check and was dismayed to find the four remaining dogs were charging the building and then a quick fade check showed the same with the bear.

Doors were locked, but if there was someone else on the property, they were going to come in and bring the animals with them.

As the group all gathered upstairs and in the hall, the secret door was torn open and the living suit or armor grabbed the desk before unleashing a bust of energy that sent it crashing across the room to land broken and shattered. We all drew up and Negan took point as the armor came charging out. Spears were thrust, staves slung, even the cries of magic missile shouted out but most everything just bounced off the armor.

It managed to grab Negan around the neck with one hand and then pummeled the half-ogre with the other. At that point the Half-Ogre found himself grappled by the armor that drove the fighter-cleric backwards and slammed him into the opposite wall with bruising force. His breath hissing under the thumbs of the armor, Negan struggled to free himself. More blows were landed but nothing seems to have any effect. Another magic missile flew but the armor didn’t react other than getting burned from the blast.

Avulstein was forced back into the clerk’s room and Larry tried to tumble past but the armor kicked backwards and slammed the sorcerer-thief in the leg, twisting his knee and slowing him up. He rolled on the ground in Kragin’s Office and cursed as his weakened leg took his weight as he tried to stand. We tried to help beat Negan free but the armor wasn’t budging. Negan was getting blue in the lips and red in the face, fading under the armor’s assault.

Einar reported that the dogs were in two pairs at either door and the bear was at the building. Someone (human) was down there and working at the door as evidenced by the dogs and bears excitement. We were about to have serious company. The druid charged past the armor and joined Larry in Kragin’s Office.

There was no obvious way to stop the armor by the stand and the two cases were locked and heavy (maybe with coin?). Should he check out the next room? There was going to be no way out of here once the other guy, the bear and the dogs managed to get in. This gave Einar a good idea and the druid went back to Kragin’s office, positioning himself near the corner closest to the steps. Meanwhile Larry opened the other secret door and found himself in the Controller’s Office.

Big desk, padded chairs, couches. Books and binders. A set of double glass doors led out to a railed veranda that overlooked the Demesne. The books? One of them sure as fuck was the import/export log. He snagged it and then ran to the door to open the office to the hall.

At this time the front door was unlocked, the orange flashing glow from the top of this building ended, and we heard a voice amidst the barking call out, “Go up and get them boys!” while dogs, a bear, and the guy himself charged up the steps noisily. A prepared flask of oil had been waiting for this moment and Avulstein hurled it at the narrow corridor (stone) and steps where it flared up and stopped the dogs who snarled and barked and howled.

So all 4 of the necromancer’s zombie bats were lured out of his pack and sent to the dogs to attack. They hit the lead dog who managed to bite one of them and was savaging it. But the zombie bat was made of tougher stuff than normal bats and the zombie instead tore into the dog’s throat and jaw muscles, literally tearing the lower jaw free and causing it to fall over in terrible pain as it died.

Einar cried out to Frey to help him dominate the bear behind the wall…but the spell was repelled by the angry ursine’s mind! Negan had slumped to one knee and was on his last breath when the armor smashed him against the wall one last time and the half-ogre fell over knocked out to 0 and unconscious. The armor then whirled and began assaulting Darius!

Avulstein ran past the armor to join Larry in the Controller’s office while Einar tried to dominate the bear a second time…and it too failed! This caused the barbarian-druid to grow angry…and he raged!

Darius took a few blows to the head but his mage armor managed to keep him upright and prevented him from being grabbed, barely! The undead bats all settled on the next dog and literally tore its head free, decapitating it! The bear was growing furious and the man was shouting to run in and get them.

Connal snuck past the armor and Darius dodged another blow. A healing draught was given to Negan and the half-ogre was dragged into the Controller’s Office. Then Einar charged out of Kragin’s Office and the roaring berserking Half-Orc body slammed the living armor backwards, allowing Darius to get into the Office as well. The Controller’s desk was locked and the group used the battle axe to beat the drawer apart until it splintered. Papers were within so Larry grabbed them all without looking and threw them in his pack. A chair was picked up and hurled through the glass doors, shattering them and allowing the group to get to the Veranda. We called to Einar to hurry and come now.

The bear tossed both dead dogs ahead of him as Avulstein called the bats back. They bounced and flew through the door and Einar managed to trip the armor up and send it crashing into the clerk’s office. He dragged the door closed as the bear came around the corner. We shouted for him to HURRY THE FUCK UP!!

Einar turned and fled as the bear swept at him, claws flashing but the half-orc managed to escape serious harm. The Controller’s door was slammed closed and the candles were tossed on the couch. The party was clambering down the front of the Offices, Avulstein twisting him ankle as he landed awkwardly. We could hear the sound of the dogs still out here around the south side of the building so the group all ran north around the opposite side of the building and the necromancer send his bats to intercept the dogs and keep them busy.

We turned the corner just before the office door was thrown open and the Brinster’s man didn’t see us as we ran back to the wall and one by one escaped, taking the now torn and shredded blankets with us as we limped our way victoriously back to the Darbeard Demesne just about 9. In 15 minutes we had dropped our bags, arms, and armor – and then headed off to the Festival of Rains and rejoined the banquet in progress.

Speaking of the banquet, the rest of the party made it their business to mingle at the banquet, share stories, dance and drink, and cover for the missing party members by commenting how “Einar was just here, probably went up for a drink” and that “Connal was on the dance floor dancing with some winsome lass”. Anything to distract the few (if any) people who were looking for them.

Bobkins and Merica were deep in their cups by 8, neither of them willing to dance or get up from their table, but happy to keep drinking the endless libations the serving wenches kept putting on the table. So when another group of revelers came to sit and bullshit with the two, they thought nothing of it at first. Two dwarves and what could only be a small half-ogre, sitting down and shooting the shit. The younger dwarf identified himself as Cugan Brinster, 2nd son and 3rd child of Braddock. He was known about as a bit of a sleaze and somewhat loose in his morals, but an honest person with no real power and often times ignored by his father and the others in power of House Brinster.

His older dwarven companion was Fasin Yount-Brinster (which Bobkins immediately shortened to Flaccid), Cousin to Braddock and Master of Mining for the House. The last figure was known about as “Squeeze”, but his given name was Talbor – he was known to be a strong arm and caravan master for the Brinsters.

The 5 men all sat around shooting the shit, sharing drinks, and at one point, measured cocks for some reason. Cugan wanted to meet with other houses, other clans, and see if he can get a number of dwarves or others to prospect the local mountains and see if they can open up other mines to enrich all the Houses. That was his main purpose for meeting the group, they were friends of the Darbeards and had been involved in the transport to and from Fingelt’s Mines and other locations for the Darbeards for almost 2 seasons – they should have some serious knowledge of possible others who might want to come to Thak and mine.

Squeeze did slowly move the conversation to Fingelt’s Mine and what happened there which them blasted the doors wide open as Bobkins and to a much lesser degree Merica, told the rather fantastical tale of what they had seen and how fucked up the Mine ended up being. There was an accusation of a deep beast being delivered that they had to kill but Cugan claimed he knew nothing of it and was horrified, and Fasin was quiet and introspective.

Which then had Fasin flat out ask Talbor WHERE he got the cart of iron that was delivered to the League of Odin, which had the 1/4 –ogre hem and haw until he finally  said a cave. Which cave? Were there dead kobolds and a monster in it, Bobkins and Cugan asked? No. Ok then, most likely another cave or mine then.

Fasin didn’t buy it, and neither did Merica.

The story was meandering around in the realm of probability until Bobkins brought up the dragon and then all credibility went out the window and no one believed much of what happened at Fingelt’s. We all talked around the situation for a bit until Cugan got up with a start, looking east at the orange glow pulsing over the tree line. Other Brinsters and House Brinster employees were leaving, along with the Lord Marshall and some of his soldiers to investigate what had triggered the alarm at House Brinster.