Saturday, November 28, 2020

Forest of Wyrd #28 - Black Dog & Twilight Path

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Vegarious (Changeling 3)
Ranza (Changeling 3)
Jonesomon (Specialist 4)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 4)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 4) 
Thrax [NPC] (Fighter 3)



Though slowed by Gnarl's intervention, Ranza's arm continued to swell, so Vegarious offered up her potion of neutralize poison to clear it up once and for all. That done, the party settled down to rest for the night, but opted for the edges of the clearing instead the tumbled down and (until moments before) haunted cabin. Next morning dawned dull and misty, and Gnarl went looking for another feathered guide, this time to lead them to the standing stone that marked the start of the Twilight Path. Once more using speak with animals, Gnarl had to bribe a lark with a steady stream of juicy worms and grubs before it would  cooperate. But by late in the day, the bird led them to a clearing some distance to the east, almost at the forest edge. Here, standing 50' tall  was the stone. Jet black, slightly tapered at the top and inscribed with the symbol of the new moon. Waiting until nightfall and moonrise, Gnarl entered the clearing and called out. In answer, a black dog emerged from the north west edge of the trees; oddly they had not seen this animal while earlier scouting the perimeter. The dog walked to within 10 yards of the wood gnome, looked at him a moment and then turned to head back to the northwest. Before entering the trees, it stopped and turned to look at Gnarl, as if expecting him the follow. He complied, and with the rest of the party in tow, headed into the dark woods. 

They followed the dog all night as it led them down familiar paths and past familiar sights, until by  the next morning they were once more at the edge of the swamp where they'd slain the Frog King just a few days before. Here the party paused to rest. The dog, first seeming impatient to continuing, eventually settled down for a rest itself some distance from the camp.  After resting most of the day, the party moved out again in late afternoon, slogging behind the dog through the swamp, always heading north west. Just as it was getting dark, they were ambushed by a group of giant frogs. Judicious use of a colour spray neutralized two, which frightened off the rest. Gnarl and Ranza  turned to kill the two stunned amphibians, but Hobbs stopped before they could finish off the last. The hedgefey  grabbed his saddle of domestication of the mule and, when the frog regained consciousness, he plunked it on the creatures back and had himself a compliant, hoppy mount. 

After a cold and damp day at rest in the swamp, they headed out once more following the dog, reaching the River of Sorrows just a few miles south of Wickerwood by about midnight. Gnarl and the black dog swan across, the wood gnome hauling along a rope to build a rope and pulley system to transport all their stuff (and the heavily laden characters) across the deep, flowing river. As Ranza was making her way across, she was surprised to see a small collection of candles in reed floats move past her on the water surface. While a little distracted by this, she also noted that just beyond the lights on the opposite side of the river came a reed fence festooned with thorns, likewise floating downriver. Behind it came tall heron-like creatures. They did not see the changeling, for she was travelling invisible, but they did see Vegarious, Jonesomon and Feedbag on the left bank. The four heron-men turned to attack them, attempted to haul them away into the water with their long clawed hands. But another lucky colour spray and some fancy sword work killed them all. Danger thus past, the party continued their crossing and made their way into Wickerwood itself early in the morning. While Jonesomon headed off to resupply their food and drop cold iron bolts off for Vora, everyone else followed Gnarl and the black dog to the next waypoint, the standing stone at the edge of town. There they watched Gnarl go over to the stone and touch it. At that point, the dog started to writhe and  fade in and out of existence, eventually settling back into existence solid as ever, but now twice as large as before. And once more it headed off to the northwast, and once more the party followed. 

Rejoined by Jonesomon (and the long absent Thrax), the party was soon once more traversing the paths and trails around the hive of the Queen of All Bees. Leaving that area behind, they climbed further into the hills that dominates the central Forest of Wyrd, spending two mostly uneventful nights and days being led onward by the black dog. They continued to travel mostly at night, thinking thee was a need to do so given the circumstances of their quest.  By evening of the third day out of Wickerwood, they climbed a trail up the side of a tall and bare hill, thinking the next standing stone must be close by. Passing under a large pine, they were somewhat surprised and disturbed to see red ribbons and severed rooster's heads tied to the branches. Now wary, they luckily were alert when the sound of a cock crowing was heard from the hill above them. Four figures climbed into view at the crest of the hill; three men covered in red ochre and a fourth dressed in the accoutrements of a shaman. The three ochre-men prepared to roll boulders down on the hapless party below them, but Gnarl was quicker and entangled the trio. The shaman attempted to cast a spell, but was foiled by the magic absorbing properties of the wood gnomes ioun stone. Before the party could get to complacent however, they were surprised by another trio of ochre-men. These succeeded in loosing their boulders, one of which hit Jonesomon hard. They then rushed down the hill with nets, turning on Vegarious and attempting to capture her. The shaman also fired a magic missile at the unfortunate Jonesomon. However, Gnarl skewered the spell caster with his spear and it's shocking grasp, while Hobbs followed up by hurling a boulder using Stonethorn. That splattered the shaman across the rocky hillside, and the rest of the party was able to handle the remaining ochre-men. Searching the bodies recovered only a silver circlet from the shaman. 

Hobbs climbed the hill and picked up the ochre-man trail. The party decided to investigate, but Gnarl insisted he would continue on, following the dog. The rest of the party, after lashing Feedbag and the frog to a tree, headed off into the growing darkness behind Hobbs.  The trail led along a low ridge to a large cave opening at the base of the next hill. The party took cover and watched a few ochre-men come and go from the entrance. Watching longer, they later observed a band of armed and organized men emerge and head in their direction. Likely off to search for the missing ambushers. This band, however, was itself ambushed. A pair of colour spray and several sword points later, all ten were dead and the party moved over close to the cave entrance. After killing another pair of ochre-men who had the misfortune to exit the cave as the party arrived, Ranza glanced in, using her infravison to perform a quick survey.  Inside the huge cave she could see quite a few more orchre-men, perhaps 30 or more, as well as other uncertain shapes in the shadows at the back.  Pulling back, the party had a whispered conversation to decide what to do next ...

TOTAL XP
1445

GAINS
Silver circlet with yellow gem [300sp]

KILLS/VICTORIES
1 Giant Frog
4 Heron-men
18 Ochre-men
Ochre-man Shaman 

LOSSES
none

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Forest of Wyrd Session #27 - Strange Days in Brakenrae; and The Frog King

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Vegarious (Changeling 3)
Ranza (Changeling 3)
Jonesomon (Specialist 4)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 4)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 4) 


The party now felt they'd spent more than enough time in Wickerwood, and started to prepare for their interrupted journey north to Fortress Iacarta. Unfortunately, their sojourn in the town and keep had depleted their supplies and they decided a return to Brackenrae was necessary to resupply, rest and pay their rent and the henchmen guarding the cottage. One last stop to see Thorguld was unsuccessful in obtaining any further healing poultices, the gruff woodman grumbling something about being treated like a mass production line for the party's needs. Gnarl and Jonesomon also mad a trip to see Vora; Gnarl hoped to learn more about his vision of the twilight path standing stones  from the well travelled trapper. Cantankerous as always, she insisted Gnarl turn over the rime wolf pelt he carried (and insulted his pelt dressing skills in the process) in return for info. Gnarl agree, and she told him the first standing stone was located on the other side of the River of Sorrows, beyond the swamps [Hex 13.08]. Now knowing the location of two stones, the wood gnome was confident he could find the others, and he started to plan a journey to follow the path. 

For now though, they travelled south under a hot summer sun along the riverside trail towards Brackenrae, the three days passing without incident. There they fanned out across town to shop and take care of various business:
  • Ranza and Hobbs went to see Jaskin the alchemist, to look for healing potions and have the sniveling man check out the red goo from Lithilith's lair. They obtained three potions of healing, and learned the goo was a jam made of some sort of fairy berry from the twilight realm. He did note it was often used by the fey to make magical potions and such, but this sample obviously no longer held any power. He did give Ranza a few silver pennies as he liked it on his morning toast; 
  • Ranza also went to see the sage Timpanious to follow-up on their inquires into the Vernal Manor. She some additional detail about it and the Lady Vernal, and duly tucked that away for possible future need as Hobbs continued to blather on about going back to rescue Granya some day;
  • Jonesomon, having taken the rumor of Earl Olfric's fey blood to heart, inquired discretely about town into the matter. He heard the same vague rumors repeated many times, plus one slightly more specific note from a drunken ex-servant of the Earl: 'you can see the answer in his eyes!'. At that, Jonesomon recalled the Earl always ware an eye patch over one eye;
  • They all heard troubling stories of Gnarl and Jonesomon's 'time paradox twins'. It seems the old/original adventuring party was still spending time in Brackenrae (though away at the moment) and there had been several examples of mistaken identity between Gnarl/Jonesomon and ur-Gnarl/ur-Jonesomon. The party took steps with a system of signet rings to minimize confusion with  the people that mattered, especially the guards Angor and Beck, and their landlord.  
  • Gnarl spent some quality time with his Goblyn Fair kitty, noting that it was growing quite fast and at this rate would likely be the size of a mountain lion rather than a house cat. Those curious knobs on it's shoulders were likewise growing longing and more tentacle like; what curious creature could this be? 
The most shocking and significant event in Brackenrae was Ranza getting hauled before the Earl by a posse of his huscarls. The Earl was in a rage at her, and threatened execution and torture to the bewildered changeling. She eventually figured out he was enraged by the shield she carried, the one recovered from Wickerwood Keep. For it carried the arms of the treasonous Thayn Lorgan. And the Earl suspected Ranza of formatting some sort of rebellion or  trouble in the name of the dead Thayn. She was able to talk her way out of it by discounting any interest in the shield; which unfortunately cost her the shield itself. Hoping now to be let free, she was further shocked when an old hag was lead out from the shadows behind the Earl. She was obviously a witch, tall, thin and emaciated. Foot long  nails grew from her hands and her eyes were sewn shut. As the huscarls held Ranza tight, she stopped to the fire and hauled out a brand, which she applied to the changling's neck. That done, she whispered in Ranza's ear: 'now I see what you see' and was lead away. And at this point, the thoroughly traumatized Ranza was hurled form the room and scurried off the meet the rest of the party, who in the meantime had gathered outside the castle to see is they could do anything to rescue her. 

Now thoroughly wary of the Earl, the party opted to immediately leave town. And started to make longer term plans to return later to get all their stuff and move their centre of operations to a less hostile location such as Wickerwood. Once out of town, Gnarl hauled out his silver flask of true water, and gently washed the brand on Ranza's neck. To everyone's relief, the anti-magic properties of the water washed away and negated the brand. Now at least they would not have to worry about the Earl tracking their every move. They then hired a boat to get them across the river, opting to help Gnarl find the first twilight path standing stone while at the same time taking a less than obvious route north in case the Earl decided to pursue them. 

The party cut across a landscape of  open woods interspersed with farms before approaching the edge of the Forest proper. Following a series of old game trails, they came to a clearing in the forest just as the sun was starting to set. In the centre stood, or rather leaned, the dilapidated and moss covered remains of a log cabin. Ranza cast invisibility, joining Hobbs and Jonesomon to creep up to the cabin and look inside, while Vegarious and Gnarl covered them from the trees. At first they saw nothing, but as the twilight darkened further, they noticed the faint glow of flames forming in the fireplace. And then a quartet of ghostly figures appeared, huddled around the fire as if trying to warm themselves. Jonesomon noted they were dressed as woodsman or hunters, and in an old style. The trio pulled back to confer with the rest of the party, then Hobbs and Gnarl approached the cabin and tried communicating with the ghosts.  They responded, despondent that they were cursed to sit shivering before this fire for all eternity. They offered the wood gnome and hedgefey a silver torc, asking that they kill the Frog King who'd cursed them and release them from their bondage. Once more offered the torc, Gnarl and Hobbs declined and moved away. The party discussed it, and decided to do as the ghosts asked. But only after a good nights sleep somewhere less creepy than the haunted cabin. 

Next morning, Gnarl used his speak with animals to strike up a conversion with a passing crow, offering shiny objects to the bird if it could lead them to the Frog King. It agreed, and the corvid led them on a convoluted path west towards the marshes that bordered the river. By mid afternoon, they'd arrived at the point where forest started to give way wholly to bog. There, in the middle of a watery pool, stood seven standing stones, leaning drunkenly at extreme angles. Sitting on top of one was an enormous frog, on who's head sat a bejeweled golden crown. After a few moments of discussion, it was determined preemptive attack rather than attempted parley would be the best option.  Assuming the ghosts were telling the truth, this Frog King could be dangerous. 

Jonesomon and Ranza (invisible again) slipped around the bog to get as close as possible to the regal amphibian. Jonesomon slipped quietly into the water to stab the scaly king in the back. That, unsurprisingly, removed the element of surprise for the party, so Ranza splashed over the help and the rest of the party prepared a rain of arrows. The Frog King, shocked by the attack started to yell for his guards. As almost immediately, a half dozen frog-men emerged from the bog to protect their liege. Gnarl cast entangle to hold his majesty in place, but the Frog King burst into song and dispelled the growth. However, sword and arrow soon cut eliminated many of frog-man guards, as well as seriously impacted the health and well being of the King. He called for the last guard to protect him, and jumped off the stone and into the water to escape, singing another song and dropping a fog cloud behind him to interrupt the party's line of sight. Alas, it was too little to late, for with a final volley of arrows, the party finished off the King as well as the last of the frog-men. They immediately grabbed the crown, and after a quick search around the base of the stone circle for any other treasure, climbed out of the bog and headed back to the cabin. 

Reaching there again just before sunset, they first watched to see if the ghosts and the fire would reappear. They did not; all that could be seen was the silver torc sitting on the hearthstone in from of the fireplace. Carefully entering , they picked up to torc and started to poke around. Ranza discovered the hearthstone was loose, and lifted it aside to uncover a hollow space. In it was a box with a sliding lid, and an onyx and jade earth mother statuette of great antiquity. The changeling picked up the box to slide it open (inside which was a pile of silver pennies and a potion of extra healing), and noticed stinging in her right hand and arm, which immediately began to swell to grotesque proportions. Thankfully Gnarl was handy with a slow poison spell, which kept the swelling under control. 

TOTAL XP
5850

GAINS
Golden bejeweled crown of the Frog King [1500sp]
Silver torc [35sp]
Onyx & jade earth mother statuette [800sp]
235sp

KILLS/VICTORIES
The Frog King
6 Frogling Guards

LOSSES
none

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Forest of Wyrd Session #26 - The Gloaming Lord Released

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Vegarious (Changeling 3)
Ranza (Changeling 3)
Jonesomon (Specialist 4)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 4)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 4) 


A whispered conversation (out of earshot of Lithilith) resulted in a plan of action to deal with all their potential foes.  First step would be take care of Lithilith and the wolf. Remembering the anti-magic properties of the true water , the party decided to lure the strange creature to the moon pool and push her in, hoping that she was some sort of magical construct and could perhaps be deactivated that way. Getting her there was easy; she simply followed along after the party as they made there way to the chamber.  Once there, Ranza distracted the creature by asking questions about the inscription, the moonlight, and so on. Once Lithilith  was distracted, Hobbs dropped down behind her and Vegarious pushed her over the hedgefey and into the pool. The water unfortunately had no obvious effect, but it at least got her out of the way for a bit as she swam to shore. The wolf, however, now turned on Vegarious and breathed a chilling cone of frost at the changeling. In return., everyone else turned on the beast and in short order the animal was dead and floating in the pool. By now Lithilith, having endured a rain of missile fire, reached the edge of the pool and hauled herself out, lashing out at Hobbs who stood closest. It turned out her touch also spread a chill, but the tough hedgefey shook it off. And in short order Lithilith was likewise slain, her bone and porcelain body shattered by multiple blows.

While considering what to do next, the party headed to Lithilith's chamber to search for loot and clues. Apart from the two blue and silver tapestries, the only items of real interest was a stone jug and basin. The jug contained a thick and viscous blood red liquid, the purpose and power of which the party could not decipher. While most of the party was engrossed with the gross liquid, Jonesomon headed out into the outer round corridor to look around. And ran head long into one of the column guardians from the central dome. Clubbed nearly to death, he yelled a warning to the party and started to retreat back to the room. Thinking to trap the thing in Lithilith's chamber so they could leave it there out of (their) harms way, Vegarious cast invisibility and slipped out of the other door to get behind the thing. Everyone else prepared to meet it and lure it in the room. The plan went somewhat to plan, with the guardian  in the room, but obviously powerful enough to beat down the door, as it now turned to do. So the party opted to destroy it instead, a task at which they were successful after much beating and hammering on it. Pausing for a moment after that battle to mend wounds and clean weapons, they next decided to take care of the last column guardian, so as to not leave it in the rear. It still stood immobile in the central chamber, so everyone opened up on it with long range missile fire through the portcullis separating Lithilth's room from that chamber. The guardian pushed forward and ripped open the portcullis, but luckily had taken so much of a beating the party was able to turn it into a pile of rubble like the first with little additional harm. 

However, several of the party had taken some harm, so they decided to climb back above ground and spend a few days at rest in the inn to recover and prepare to face the Gloaming Lord. Heading back to the chime room, most of the party assembled around the Gloaming Lord's resting place while the still invisible Vegarious range the chimes to reproduce the tune hummed by Lithilith. This caused the resin in both sarcophagi to soften, but not enough to allow someone to reach in. Jonesomon went to the empty sarcophagus and attempted to drive in his spear. Which did work, but at the same time it seemed to draw in both the spear and Jonesomon; only by luck and quick reaction was the specialist able to release his grip on the spear to time to avoid being drawn in himself. And once he let go, the resin 'rejected' the spear, pushing it back out to fall on the floor with a clatter. As this was going on, the others noted the Gloaming Lord started to stir, settling back into somnolence when Jonesomon and the spear had been expelled from other resin filled sarcophagus. And it then dawned on them what needed to be done to release the Gloaming Lord; another living thing had to be encased in the second sarcophagi to take his place in whatever realm of statis he lay. 

But did in have to be intelligent? Gnarl headed up above ground, and scooped up a wayward squirrel. While everyone else got ready the shank the Gloaming Lord if necessary, Vegarious rang the chimes with Lithilih's tune, and the wood gnome tossed the squirrel into the softening resin. It sank almost immediately to lie down among the crown and other treasures. Meanwhile, on the other side the Gloaming Lord stirred and rose out of the resin. He was obviously blind, his eyes completely white and sightless. Clad in mail made of lacquered metal leaves and clutching a gold and lapis lazuli rod, he stepped out of the resin, essentially ignoring everyone around him. Hobbs and Ranza started to ask questions. But he brushed them off with non-answers, being particularly dismissive of the changeling, who got the distinct feeling she was considered less than dirt to this fey lord.   The only useful tidbit they gleaned was he had been imprisoned here by Lord Iroch, a name they recalled from the Woad Chief's Barrow and the Twilight Archon. 

Ignoring all, Nimon just walked away, heading to the upper level. While Hobbs and Jonesomon worked to recover the treasure in the resin, the invisible Vegarious followed close behind the Gloaming Lord, and Ranza and Gnarl trailed further back out of contact.  Nimon went straight to the secret room. There, he laid his hand on the surface of the levitating cube, and in an instant it split in two. Inside was a golden reliquary, inside which Vegarious could see a beating heart. Thinking nothing good would come of whatever was happening here, Vegarious and the now arriving Gnarl and Ranza drew their weapons and confronted Nimon. He just raised  a hand, cast a spell, and the three found themselves trapped in an extra dimensional maze. Thankfully, it was only temporary, but when they retuned Nimon the Gloaming Lord has disappeared.  

TOTAL XP
9650

GAINS
Mirror in silver flower setting with round moonstone and onyx [900sp]
Scepter of golden vines, topped by a large ruby [700sp]
Silver fife inscribed with flowing unreadable script [300sp]
Goblet carved from a single piece of translucent, blood-red stone and set with green gems. [600sp]
A gold crown, carved to resemble a laurel, bedecked in green gems [1500sp]
A brass and silver telescope, inlaid with images of unknown constellations. [200sp]
A miniature, folding astrolabe [200sp]

KILLS/VICTORIES
Lithilith, the Watcher of the Resting Place
Rime Wolf
2x Column Guardians 

LOSSES
none

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Forest of Wyrd Session #25 - Nimon the Gloaming Lord

 DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Vegarious (Changeling 3)
Ranza (Changeling 3)
Jonesomon (Specialist 4)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 4)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 4) 


Joined by Vergarious as they stood in the corridor, the party opted to explore further, even though Gnarl was in pretty hard shape. Continuing around the circular corridor, they came to a door. It was made of the same translucent material as the rest of the complex, with a doorknob in the centre. Jonesomon scanned for traps and found nothing. But Hobbs received a nasty surprise when he reached out to touch it; a chill of unnatural cold shot up his arm, freezing and numbing. He next tried the doorknob and got the same response; and discovered the door was locked anyway. Opting to ignore this door (and it's twin at the other end of the passage) for now, the party instead headed down a new corridor that split off perpendicular before curving back towards the north. Along the flat section of wall between the two was an unusual, animated picture. Contained within a box frame, it was animated and almost three dimensional. It depicted a fey lord on a charger, leading a fey host in battle against a human army. Jonesomon was able to discern it depicted a scene from way back in time, sometime shortly after the days of the D'war. Poking, prodding and attempted ignition uncovered no useful information, so once more the party moved on. 

At the end of the new corridor was another door, just like those previously encountered. Except this one was not trapped. It opened into a long room, above which floated a strange layer of crystalline dust. Surrounding the centre was a low wall, around an opening in the floor that allowed access and view to the room below. At one end there was also a set of stairs leading down. The party was careful and methodical, searching for traps as they moved into the room. Suddenly a section of floor ahead lit up and shot a column of brilliant blue light towards the ceiling, fading and disappearing after just a few seconds. Shortly after another column of light engulfed Hobbs as he stood looking down the stairs, blinding the hedgefey temporarily. The others carefully led him downstairs and out of the danger zone. From upstairs, the room appeared have have metal pillars holding up the ceiling. In fact, it was a series of large metal chimes hanging around the perimeter of the room. At the far end was another door. The party split at this point, some headed for the door and others staying in the chime room. Beyond the door was a plain room containing two rectangular shapes. Upon closer inspection, they were revealed as sarcophagi. Each was filled with some sort of hard clear resin. One was empty except for a crown, metal tube and astrolabe type mechanism encased in the resin. The other contained the preserved body of a fey lord, surrounded by treasure; scepter, goblet, rod, and mirror. The resin itself was very hard; could barely be scratched with even magical weapons. Out in the chime room, Gnarl playing around with the musical instruments a bit, and was rewarded with a strange high-pitched trilling sound. And a trickle of fine dust from the ceiling, which made everyone yell 'stop!' to the wood gnome, fearful that the ceiling might crash down on them. 

Feeling somewhat underpowered and under prepared, the party decided to head back above ground and rest until the full moon. By then everyone would be be healed up, and they assumed something significant would happen with the moon pool by then. On their way out, Vegarious and Ranza, in turn, explored the central dome once more. Vergarious, entering invisible, noted only one stone guardian in the room, and it did not seem to notice her. Ranza, entering while visible, was seen and she beat a hasty retreat as the guardian started to advance. Both noted a faintly glowing blue patch in the centre of the room. 

Back in Wickerwood, they rented rooms at the "Nine Cups and a Cask" for the week to take their rest. They also decided to head back to Wild Gerta and Thorguld Red-Nose, to get more healing help and perhaps some information on the mysteries of the keep; the fey chambers below it and the strange idol from the tower. Ranza and Vergarious headed off to see the witch, who greeted them as creepily as before. Matters went downhill fast when Ranza realized they couldn't really afford to buy healing potions at Wild Gerta's inflated prices, but the witch was insistent that they'd made a deal and it had better be kept. In the end, Ranza traded 500sp for information on the moon pool. Wild Gerta told her the moon was a source of power for the fey lords, and that the pool they described was likely true water. This substance was enchanted by the rays of the moon, and exhibited anti-magical properties. If placed in anything other than a vessel of noble metal though, it lost its power due to contamination and fouling. The pool itself was likewise susceptible to contamination, but the light of the full moon would re-sanctify it. Taking the information in, Ranza turned to leave. But Wild Gerta grabbed her arm, and then bit her hand. As a reminder, the witch said, of their previous and still extant deal for healing.

Meanwhile, Ganrl and Jonesomon headed out of town to Thorguld's shack, finding the burly man at home this time. Unfortunately, he immediately turned on Gnarl, slapping away the strange idol the wood gnome carried and started to hit Gnarl about the head. All the while screaming something about smelling the spore of that witch on him! Gnarl retreated, and Jonesomon calmed the mountain man down. It seems Thorguld was being serious when warned them last time about dealing with Wild Gerta; he had some sort of hate on for the old buzzard and now refused to deal with Gnarl. But he did deal with Jonesomon, selling two healing poultices. Asked about the idol, Thorguld told him it was probably a representation of one of the old Wood Gods, primordial spirits of the Forest of Wyrd once worshiped by many before the coming of the Church of the Three Virtues. While many of the Wood Gods were benign and even helpful, this one he felt was of darker purposes. And noted it reminded him of the weird pagan rituals practiced by the charcoal burners in the hills above Coldhome, a village to the north.  

On the night of the full moon, the party headed back into the dungeon. There they found the moon pool clear and pure once more. Gnarl used his silver flask to carry some to the black cube and then to the sarcophagi, pouring it out to see it it had any effect. But no luck. Ranza also decided to wash her hand where the witch had bitten her; the persistent stinging at least went away. They then headed for the as yet unexplored doors, and were surprised to find them unlocked and no longer trapped.  Heading inside, they were likewise surprised to see it occupied. Sitting on a small bed was a strange doll-like creature; formed of porcelain and the knuckle and finger bones of some giant creature. When asked, she said her name was Lithilith and she was a servant of Nimon the Gloaming Lord. Sitting next to her was a massive, dire wolf like creature with oddly blue-tinged fur. Further questioning did not reveal much, as her answers were cryptic and interspersed with strange trilling humming when she didn't want to answer. They found out the full moon had unlocked the doors; otherwise she couldn't leave the chamber unless someone activated the glowing blue patch in the domed room. They also learned that it was Nimon who lay in the chamber below, and there was no lady or other who did/should occupy the second sarcophagi (Ranza, keeping past experience in mind, used detect invisible to confirm there was no one in the sarcophagi or hiding elsewhere.) Asked about and then brought to the cube chamber, Lithilith became agitated and confused  and would not or could not tell them anything. She was also unclear about Nimon; was he dead, in stasis, or something else? Why was he here and what exactly was she doing here? 

Getting a very bad feeling, the party decided to leave Lithilith and the wolf behind, and head down to the burial chamber.  But they'd forgotten about the second door, and she and the wolf followed them, she humming that trilling song all the way. Was there a connection between her song and the chimes? What would happen if they played the song on the chimes? But they then worried what would happen if they somehow released Nimon; could they deal with him, plus Lithilith and the wolf, plus the still extant stone guardians if things turned hostile? So many questions to ponder ....

TOTAL XP
0

GAINS
none

KILLS/VICTORIES
none

LOSSES
none

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Forest of Wyrd Session #24 - Below Wickerwood Keep

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Ranza (Changeling 3)
Jonesomon (Specialist 4)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 4)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 4) 


Jonesomon, still suffering from an acute case of 'boulder to the face', opted to spend the next few days recovering in bed. The trio of Ranza, Gnarl amd Hobbs took this time to address some unfinished business. First up, honouring their pledge to the ghost of Thayn Lorgan to give his body a proper burial. They brought this up with Sister Taritha. While sympathetic, she could not allow this as burial of a traitor in her shrine as it would negate the holy barrier that protected it, and would also put her in a most awkward position should  Earl Olfric find out. She did agree to officiate a discrete burial inside the keep yard, a task accomplished under cover of darkness and fog the next night. She was also able to explain a little about the protection provided to settlements in the Forest of Wyrd when a properly anointed lord was in charge; Thayn Lorgan's rebellion broke this trust and protection, and permitted the giant and the hobs to cause such havoc. Questioned as to why Thayn Logan rose in revolt, she indicated the Thayn believed he had a better claim to the Earldom based on both his bloodline and the rumors that fey blood flowed in Earl Olfric's veins. 

Meanwhile, they spent the days searching the perimeter of the keep, looking for secret passages or hidden cellars they may have missed. And were rewarded by finding both. A secret postern gate was discovered at the base of one tower, but it unfortunately led nowhere new and interesting. However, while searching the corner of the keep ruined by Earl Olfric's siege engine, they discovered one location where part of the fallen wall had smashed through the floor,  uncovering a narrow crawlspace into some chambers below. 

Once Jonesomon had recovered sufficiently to face danger, the party returned to the keep and entered the chambers below. They were constructed of a curious translucent white material, and though obviously long hidden, showed little sign of  dust and decay. Starting a thorough investigation of the first room they found, everyone was surprised when chairs and stools 'rose' out of the floor whenever they stopped moving for more than a minute. Their search also uncovered a off-coloured panel against the back wall, and when Gnarl placed his hand on it, the image appeared of a rose etched in the stone. After some experimentation, they discovered the thorns would magically prick one's finger, and the blood dripping on the wall opened it, revealing another chamber beyond.  This chamber contained nothing but a 3' cube of black stone, floating as it by levitation about 2' above the floor. An extensive round of investigation and tinkering uncovered nothing except that fact that the cube was at least partly hollow. The party decided to leave it for now and return later, perhaps after uncovering more information further down the corridor. 

That corridor joined another, circular passage. Which itself intersected with a circular, domed chamber. A pool of crystal clear water filled the room, on the surface of which fell from above a shaft of light. Around the pool were four alcoves, three of which contained statues and the fourth an upright slab of yellowish marble. While Hobbs stripped out of his armor and jumped in the pool, the others examined the alcoves. The statues were of nude elfin figures (the centre one female and the others male), each holding aloft a representation of the moon. The male statues each held one of a waxing and waning gibbous moon, while the female statute held a full moon.  On the yellowish stone slab in the last alcove was a short couplet in archaic fey: 

                                                        “She shines upon the waters
                                                        and the waters remember her”

Surmising this referred the the full moon shining on the pool,  and noting the moon was still some 6 or 7 days from full, the party opted to move on for now. Helping Hobbs out of the water, they also noted that the water (now fouled with badger fur and dander) did not actually touch the side of the pool. It instead was 'levitating' a fraction of an inch away from the sides. 

Back out into the corridor, they entered a short passage leading towards the centre of the circle described by the corridor. This led to another circular room. But before they could look around too much, the light from Hobb's lantern played and flashed brilliantly off the polished walls, dropping Jonesomon unconscious and leaving the rest seeing stars. Quickly shuttering the lantern to stop the kaleidoscope, the conscious trio sensed movement, and the two with night infravision (Ranza and Gnarl) could see two things that looked like large stone trees moving towards them. These proceeded to club at Gnarl and Hobbs, blooding the wood gnome badly and forcing them all to retreat (dragging Jonesomon behind them) back into the hallway. And thankfully the things did not follow ...

TOTAL XP
0

GAINS
none

KILLS/VICTORIES
none

LOSSES
none

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Forest of Wyrd Session #23 - The Dead Thayn and Other Stories

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Ranza (Changeling 3)
Jonesomon (Specialist 4)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 4)


Thrax, Hobbs and Vegarious were swept away by the jubilant town crowd, leaving  Ranza and the just returned Gnarl standing over the comatose Jonesomon. Having lost their companions for the moment,  the pair dragged Jonesomon off to the "Nine Cups and a Cask" Inn so a day of good rest and a few healing potions would get him back on his feet. For the trio planned to search the Keep now that the giant was taken out, looking hopefully for some monetary reward for their troubles. 

Headed back to the Keep the next day, they opted to climb once more up the garderobe rope, the front gate being still barred and inaccessible. At the top floor, they first searched the fallen bodies of the hobs and the giant for loot, but with no success. Searching the room where the children had been held likewise uncovered nothing except a shield hanging over what was once the bed; a round wooden shield edged with cold iron and painted with a two headed red boar on a green field. Ranza took this, and then the three respectfully gathered the bodies of the fallen children for later retrieval before moving on. They next checked the remnants of the thayn's office. The skylight had long since fallen in, so the room was exposed to the rain and elements. All the books, maps and scrolls were ruined. and the floor itself was rotten. As Ranza discovered when she when through a soft spot and crashed into the cold ash of the hall firepit below. Meanwhile, while tapping the walls, Gnarl noted a painting or mural under the loose plaster of one wall. Scrapping it off carefully, he uncovered a map of the northern Forest of Wyrd, between the River of Sorrows and the Mountains of Twilight. Most interesting is the map showed the exact location of Fortress Iacarta and the other old Imperium border forts along the mountain range. No need for Vora to guide them north now!

As they prepared to moved out, the sound of a sheep bleating,  coupled with that of dogs barking, drew them to the arrow slit overlooking the courtyard. There they saw the two dogs still chained on and a small lamb wandering around just out of their reach. Gnarl decided this was a good opportunity to speak with animals and so the trio headed that way. The wood gnome opted to talk to the dogs, who were not particularly interested in talking at first until satiated with a good meal freshly butchered giant. He unfortunately learned little of interest, only that the dogs belonged to a farmer named Josiah and had been taken by the hobs early on to use a guard dogs. 

From the courtyard, the three climbed onto the north wall, thinking to access the gate tower and find a way to get the remaining livestock (which they had discovered in the old barracks in the courtyard) out and back to the townsfolk. As the stood sizing up the middle level of the tower, a small pebble suddenly moved all on its own and rolled down the stairs. Suspecting invisible fey, Gnarl lobbed a flour bomb which coated everything (including the ash covered and damp Ranza) in a layer of flour dust. But there was no sign of anyone there with them. Weirded out, Ranza asked if anyone was there, and was answered by the sound of scratching on the walls. After a little more back and forth, they established yes/no communication via tapping with what turned out to be the ghost of the executed Thayn Lorgan. They established his spirit was trapped here as his body was never properly buried (they found it later hanging tar-covered and grotesquely dismembered in a gibbet in the upper tower). They agree to put his remains and spirit to rest, and in return the dead thayn directed them to the treasures he knew to be in the Keep. Something in his main bedchamber (the children's room) as well as in the centre of tbe lower floor of the keep. 

Heading back to the main keep, they searched the children's chamber again. And behind where the shield was found they uncovered a secret hiding space. And in there was another shield, identical to the first. But this was was quite obviously magical. Ranza likewise grabbed this one for herself. Before heading down to search the ground floor for treasure, the trio headed into the keep tower to check it out. The only thing unusual there was found tucked in a corner at the top of the tower; a fire-blackened wooden statue of leering elk-headed mother goddess figure set above a small stained (with blood?) firepit. Jonesomon identified this as some ancient forest goddess from times before even the D'war dwelt in the wood. Very much a dark and dangerous thing, one the thayn's spirits was reluctant to answer questions about when confronted later. In the end they took the statue for future study.

Done there, they next headed for the keep ground floor.  First confronted with and defeated by a huge padlock on one door, then had to deal with a wandering giant spitting beetle which left Jonesomon and Ranza covered in blisters and sores from it's corrosive spit. They then turned to root through an old armory and a storeroom (where Gnarl liberated a hammer and chisel to use later on that big padlock). And in the back of the storeroom found a small, overbuilt room which was obviously the Keep treasure room. Which unfortunately seemed to have long since been looted; the door hung off it's hinges and inside were three smashed chests. They poked around some more though, and discovered a false bottom in one chest. below which was a small hollow and a locked wooden box. Jonesomon tried to pick the lock and was unsuccessful (and barely survived the poison needle trap he set off in the process). So Ganrl used with hammer and chisel to break it open. Inside were three leather flasks and a small purple velvet bag. Inside the bag were 12gp; Imperium dragons from 300 years ago. The flasks were potions. Ranza tasted each, finding they were  potion of diminution,  potion of healing  and one spoiled potion that made her gag and blistered her tongue. 

Moving on, they checked the next door, the one behind which could be heard faint sounds. Inside however they saw nothing. Just a series of old cells. But the faint sounds could still be heard emanating from the cell in the far corner. Thinking they may have another ghost, they started to communicate in the same way as they did with the dead Thayn. It seems there was someone else to release from bondage to the keep; a body buried in the wall of that last cell. So everyone herded in to look for a false wall or something, only to be suddenly surprised when the cell door shut and locked behind them while they were distracted by searching. Just outside the door there then popped into visibility 8 tiny humanoids flying on gossamer wings, ho eyed them with an evil look. They started to laugh and mock the captive group, but were shut down by an entangle from Gnarl, a color spray from Ranza, and lots of spear points and arrows from everyone on the now immobilized and/or stunned creatures. All were quickly slaughtered, and thankfully Gnarl still had the hammer and chisel. He hammered the lock from the door and the three glumly stomped out of their temporary prison. 

Now with a hate on for locks of all kinds, Gnarl stormed over with his chisel and hammer to the big padlock they'd failed to open before. But it was made of sterner stuff, and the chisel was shattered in the attempt. Getting mad now, he pried out the hinge bolts to get access to what turned out to be a closet stuffed full of canvas and poles. Hauling out all this junk (which they eventually figured out was a large pavilion or tent), Gnarl was reaching for another handful of cloth when he realized it was actually a person, or rather a faerie. The little creature, just a foot tall, seemed to be made of a bundle of rags with a wizened fey face. It hauled out a huge darning needle and used it to threaten Gnarl. The wood gnome backed away, and waved the little critter on.  It in turn crept past all three, still brandishing the needle, before turning and running off down the corridor. 

Having had enough of the keep, the party headed over to the gate tower where Jonesomon was able to unlock the portcullis mechanism and open up the gate. They then herded out the few remaining goats and sheep, leaving them to wander back towards town for the folk there to collect.  They then briefly checked the buildings in the courtyard. The two where the sheep and goats were penned turned out to be old barracks and stables. The other buildings were the kitchen (where they collected a suspicious bowl of nice ripe apples) and a smithy. The smithy door was nailed shut with some non-ferrous spikes, and it looked like someone had tried to burn it down. Breaking down the door, they found little inside except for the usual blacksmith odds and bobs, as well as a dozen cold iron arrows and a cold iron dagger. Which they collected as their last reward before heading back to town in search of Thrax, Hobbs and Vegarious ...
 
TOTAL XP
1548

GAINS
12cp, 7sp, 12gp
Potion of Diminution
Potion of Healing 
Shield +1, +2 vs fey. Once per day the boar can roar and cause fear. [Round wooden shield edged with cold iron. painted with a two headed red boar on a green field (Thayn Lorgan of Wickwood's emblem)]
Bowl of ripe apples  

KILLS/VICTORIES
Spitting Beetle
8 Pyskes

LOSSES
none

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Forest of Wyrd Session #22 - The Rescue

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Vergarious (Changeling 3)
Ranza (Changeling 3)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 4)
Jonesomon (Specialist 4)
Thrax (Fighter 3)


After debriefing Vergarious and Ranza, the party formulated a plan to rescue the children and take out the giant. But it required help from the villagers. That took more than a little negotiation and even more arm twisting. There being no real leadership left in the village, they leaned on Sister Taritha and a few other stalwarts to recruit an angry mob. This, they hoped, would distract the giant and his minions by causing a ruckus outside the keep, while the party climbed the garderobe to the children's rescue. They received reluctant agreement  to do so, which was nearly derailed when Jonesomon and Ranza showed up with Vora Three Finger, whom they also were able to recruit to help lead the mob. It took little time for Vora's acerbic mocking to almost  kill the plan, but once more differences were papered over for the greater good. Think of the children! 

Just before dawn the next day, the plan rolled into action. The party (less Jonesomon), led by the pair of invisible and pass without trace changelings, climbed up the garderobe rope and onto the third floor of the keep. Scouting down stairs, they found the giant Fungin asleep, as well as several of the hobs. Just three were awake, feasting on the remnants of the spit-roasted villager the changelings had seen the previous day. While Thrax and Hobbs kept watch at the top of the stairs, Vergarious and Ranza then checked the children's room door. The children were certainly still in there, but the two couldn't quite tell if there was anyone with them. 

At this point, Jonesomon and Vora started up the riot out front. They crashed a burning hay wagon into the keep gate, and started to chant and shout. This shortly got the attention of the giant, and he stomped out of the main hall and to the battlements with a handful of the hobs. Fugin responded to the chanting and taunts (and the arrows/bolts of Jonesomon and Vora) with a fusillade of stone blocks ripped from the ramparts and hurled into the crowd. The villagers broke up and moved back (as did Vora after she was clipped by a stone), but Jonesomon stood out front and poured it on. In return he was plowed by a pair of hurled blocks, one of which hit him square and hard, and knocked him down and out. 

Meanwhile back in the keep, Ranza and Vergarious now heard other voices rising in the room with the children; hobs! After several failed attempts to get the doors open quietly (they were barred from the inside) the two smashed it down and charged into the room. It was a large room, but crowded with the children. There were also 6 hobbs; who seeing foes, moved into the crowd of children to use them as human shields. The cruel fey also started to cut down the helpless kids with their clubs, exulting as always when they hurt or killed one. Ranza and Vergarious responded with colour sprays which took out a good number of the hobs. But they were forced to wade into the crowd and try to take down the last pair the hard way, while at the same time trying to avoid inadvertently harming the children. This took time and unfortunately a few more innocent casualties, but soon the hobs were all dead. 

Out on the stairs, Hobbs and Thrax intercepted two more hobs that ran up the stairs, presumably to reinforce their comrades in with the children. One was killed, and the other turned and ran, so the  fighting pair rushed down the stairs to engage those in the hall. This resulted in a prolonged fight (think of the furniture!), as the hobs deftly danced away from the flashing blades. Eventually, Hobbs had to leave Thrax alone to deal with the last hob, so the hedgefey could rush up to help Ranza and Vergaious. And just moments later, the giant returned through the main doors with a crash. Thrax retreated upstairs, followed by the giant (who had a hard time squeezing up the narrow stairs) and the half dozen hobs of it's retinue. The party retreated into the children's room, Ranza ushering the young ones well to the back and hopefully away from further harm. She then pulled out the curious green statue she purchased from the goblyns, and summoned the warrior in green. By now, the giant was standing, blocking the door to the room. The green warrior ("Mac") rushed forward at Ranza's command, and lobbed a fragmentation grenade. Which, unfortunately, bounced off the door frame and back on top of him, blowing him to pieces. 

The brave Hobbs then called on this badger ancestry to get into a fighting rage, and rushed forward to block the door and engage the giant. He received a blow to the face from the giants tree-trunk club, and after lashing out in return, he retreated to give the archers behind him a clear shot. After several successful hits from the group, Ranza used one of her arrows of burrowing and drilled Fungin right between the eyes. The giant swayed and tottered, then fell crashing through the door and at the party's feet.  

Seeing their leader fall, the hobs turned and ran. Hobbs and Thrax followed cautiously, first out through the courtyard to the gate, and then down through the basement and out through the opening in the wall through which Vergarious and Ranza entered the day before. No sign of the hobs, so they returned to help with the children.  There they found that Ranza had decapitated the giant, and she and Vergarious had gotten all the children ready to leave. They led them out thought the basement, and around the keep to the waiting mob. There was much rejoicing when Ranza raised the giants head, and much more when the children appeared (though there was some sadness for those of the children who had been lost in the struggle in the keep).

The party, first checking to make sure Jonesomon was going to be OK, now prepared to re-enter  the keep and ensure there were no more of the dark fey ...

TOTAL XP
1225

GAINS
none

KILLS/VICTORIES
9 Hobs
Fugin the Giant 

LOSSES
none