Friday, September 19, 2014

Campaign Pitch #3 - Crusaders and Sorcery

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When the Third Imperium tumbled into ruin, the chivalric orders who supported the Imperitor were blamed for the fall, and many were forced to flee the lands of the old Imperium and into exile. Some boarded ship and, trusting in the grace of Velas, sailed for the legendary south, to seek atonement and new lands to conquer and rule. And so they did, their fleets landing on the northern shores of the fabled southern continent, Azaria. The cities of the Pearl Coast fell quickly to the crusaders, and the northerners pushed inland over the mountains and across the plateau of Styria. There they stopped, their advance halted at the city of Kel Hazza by a vast sea of sand, the Great Thooz Desert.
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The crusaders settled down to rule their conquered lands and peoples, and more refugees and fortune seekers from the north joined them as rumors spread of their success.  Many ended up in the melting pot of Kel Hazaa, and listened to the wild tales of the desert related by turbaned men in the shadows of bustleing souks. Tales of savage cults who sacrifice humans to their foul beast gods, of ancient civilizations buried in the sands, of mysterious realms across the vast expanse of desert, of dark sorcery and cruel kings, and the siren call of legendary riches beyond the dreams of men.

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This campaign is set in the same world as Westmist, but some 250 years earlier than that campaign. It's part sword and sorcery, and part chivalry and crusade. Think Conan with the Knights Templer bolted on. Outremer meets Hyborian Koth and Zamora [go ahead, Google them. I'll wait]. All players characters start as new arrivals from the north. In keeping with the sword and sorcery feel, the campaign will be demihuman and humanoid light. No orcs, goblins, kobolds, or other 1HD humanoid cannon fodder. Players may take elves, dwarves, and halflings from the north as characters, but there are no 'indiginous' groups of these demihumans in the southern lands. At least not that you know of ...

The campaign starts out in the city of Kel Hazza. This is going to be a “sandbox” type campaign. unlike Westmist/Stonehell there isn't going to be one obvious place to start. You'll have lots of options to go do what you want. I expect it will be typically dungeon or city centered for the first bit, but ultimately I see it becoming more about heading out across the desert and exploring whatever can be found. Want to explore old tombs? Sure. Hire out as caravan guards and see where you end up? You bet. Follow-up on rumors of lost cities in the desert? Lead the way. Take on the local bandit king? More power to you. Become the local bandit king? Fill your boots. Play the lawful good paladin and right the wrongs of the world under the banner of your god in heathen lands? Do it. Wander where you will, and find adventure where you will.

Inspiration? Read a couple of Conan stories (No, don't watch the movies. read Tower of the Elephant or The Slithering Shadow or Red Nails). Anything about the Crusades. The movie Kingdom of Heaven is  decent background; it gives a feel for the the uneasy mix of cultures, and for the visuals.

Campaign Pitch #1 - Fist of Woten


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The other Skaarling ship-jarls had long thought Lothgar the Mad to be ... well, mad. Constant raving about voices in his head, a tendency to slip into a berserk rage, and conversing with old gods long dead; Woten, Thor, Loki. But they were convinced of his madness when, at the beginning of the last raiding season, he announced Woten had told him to sail west and north rather than the customary (and rewarding) raiding and trading trips to the south and east. Nothing lay to the east but the Spine of the World Serpent, a mountainous peninsula that stretched from the mainland to the utmost north and the Sea of Ice.  A trip there was madness at best, and death for all concerned was the most likely reward.

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They were proved right that the trip could be fatal when Lothgar's longship limped into port just ahead of the winter storms, with the jarl raving into the north wind and just a handful of men at the oars. But while a lack of strong arms to to sail her certainly slowed the vessel, it was the treasures piled to the gunnels that was mostly to blame. Once ashore, Thorgild's men told of a mountain higher than any seen before, the summit lost in constant cloud. Dubbed the Fist of Woten by Othgar, the slopes were littered with ancient ruins and cave entrances.  Guided by the voice of Woten, Lothgar lead them into the depths. Tales are told of mist filled halls that drove men mad, tunnels through ice that held cruel & cold abominations, vast cavernous worlds ruled by giants, strange metal chambers guarded by statues come to life. And gold ... enough gold to sink a ship.

Lothgar could have stayed in the Skaarl Islands and lived a life of luxury with the treasures he had won. But instead, he set sail at the start of this season to place his standard on the shore below the Fist of Woten, and bade all men and women of courage and honor to join him there under the eyes of the All-Father, Many heeded the call, you among them, to wrest a fortune from the mountain at the call of the All-Father.

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The Skaarl Islands and the Skaarlings are the Scandanaia/Vikings of the campaign world in which Westmist is set (Bjorn's homeland BTW). So if you haven't guessed already, this is going with a Viking theme. Fur clad warrior (with or without horns on their helmets), skalds chanting paeans as they charge into battle, clerics of the Norse gods, etc. I'd like most PC's to have a Viking flavor, but I'm open to scimater wielding Zevestian warriors al la "The Thirteenth Warrior" and other exceptions to that rule.  It will be a low civilization campaign. The only "town" is Lothgar's Trade Town, a seasonal and temporary base at the foot of the mountain. But this is D&D, so there will be somewhere to sell your treasure, heal your wounds, quaff your ale.

Gameplay will be dungeon oriented, but I'm going to try to make it  more 'alive' than Stonehell. More rival adventures (the other crews) in the dungeon, more chance for events in the dungeon to affect relations outside (and vice versa). This won't be a megadungeon like Stonehell so much as a collection of smaller, sometimes interrelated, dungeons. Go further up the mountain and the greater the dangers. There will be the chance to explore the area immediately around the Fist of Woten, and actual figuring out the best/safest way to get higher up the mountain will be important too. Think of climbing Everest in armor and you get the idea.

Oh, and did I mention the thing about the old gods? Where do you suppose they came from all of a sudden? And why have they drawn you to this god-forsaken land? Could this be the chance to discover the true meaning of the gods?

Westmist Session # 80 - The Best Laid Plans of Kern and Friends ...

With Kern's body slung over his horse, Erijay, Bjorn and Lomar headed for Westmist. There was some debate about sneaking into town to avoid notice, but in the end the party passed through Marsh Gate as usual, after an uneventful two day ride through the snow covered hills. Collecting Darnorth and Rylee (who had proceeded them to town), the first stop was the Church of the Three Virtues to see the Highest Virtue and have Kern's little death problem looked into. This Liphanes was able to help with, but when Lomar asked about his gelatinous arm, the obese clergyman had to regretfully inform the newcomer that such assistance was beyond his power. Leaving the church, Darnorth suggested Lomar check in with Slate, to see if the dwarven engineer could rig up some sort of mechanical or bionic arm (hopefully non-explosive). After some painful prodding of the arm, Slate took on the challenge, and Lomar left 700gp lighter and with instructions to return in a month for a prosthetic fitting.

Dropping Kern back at the house, Bjorn and Erijay headed to see Synthini the alchemist. After determining she had no potions available, nor salves to heal Kern's burn scars, Bjorn placed an ordered for potions of extra healing (paying 1500gp down on behalf of Kern). Erijay, meanwhile, inquired about learning some of the alchemists craft from Synthini. The tall lady was willing, but informed the elf that it would take 4 months of instruction and 4000gp. Erijay for now deferred her lessons, until things were safer in the town i.e. hopefully certified Jax-free.  Gurruk, meanwhile, took some of his cash and went to visit Thuridici the Sage, looking for information on magical trees and groves, something from which he could craft a magical weapon. He too left 1000gp lighter with instructions to return in 2 weeks. 
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Speaking of which, Darnorth, Rylee, and Lomar (with Riker in tow), went out on a bender to gather rumors. They found that things were not quite right in the town of Westmist, and an undercurrent of unnamed fears abounded. Also learned was the fact that Jax was rarely seem about these days, usually only in the evenings or on dreary days. People feared to go out late at night as those who did tended to disappear, just like the petty criminals and beggers the party had learned of earlier. The trio decided to test the danger of the night, and choose to wander home in the wee hours, acting loudly drunk. They did not get far before being confronted by a patrol consisting of two of Jax's men in yellow and black, and a half dozen of the March Baron's men-at-arms. While matters were tense, things didn't go completely downhill until Rylee announced, in response to demands to identify themselves,  that he was the "Mighty Arm of the Faith". Meaningful glaces were exchanged between the men, and the leader announced that the quartet MUST come with them to see Jax. 

After a little more fooling around, Darnorth, Rylee, and Lomar (with Riker still in tow) decided it was time to run; they didn't want to end up having their minds probed by Jax. Splitting up, the four fled in a hail of crossbow bolts, one of which dropped Riker like a sack of dead cats. Darnorth and Lomar scooped him up and carried him back to the secret tunnel into the house, while Rylee led the guard off on a wild chase through back alleys and then back to the house. He got inside and barred the door just as Lomar and Darnorth emerged from the cellar, and Erijay, Bjorn and Kern appeared from upstairs to see what all the fuss was about. As the guards pounded at the door and demanded entrance, others could be heard raising the town. Knowing they would soon have no choice but to fight and kill, or surrender and likely be killed,  the party gathered what they could and  fled through the tunnel. On the way, Erijay deep froze Riker's body with the Wand of Cold and hid it inside the secret tunnel. Once outside in the night air, they party rushed across town under one of Erijay's haste spells, headed for the wall. Almost there, they were seen by the guard, but apart from a few crossbow bolts in Rylee's behind, they made it over and into the night. Stopping to get Gurruk and Booh at the hovel, they then headed back to the familiar halls of Stonehell, thinking that hiding in that hole full of monsters was the best place to avoid detection for now. 

Entering through their still secret entrance, the party decided to hole up with their old henchmen/dungeon toll collectors. It took a few minutes to get them to open the door when they saw Booh, but eventually relented and let them all in. The party was careful not to let on that they were on the lam from the law. Darnorth went on a sweet talking mission to get them all on side first, while Lomar used his culinary talents to make the various beasts Booh and Gurruk brought back from the hunt into enticing meals for all. Kern recovered, and Erijay rewrote spells. However, the elf also cast a few well timed ESP to probe the minds of their hosts. Essentially, there was some suspicion on the part of the ex-henchman. They suspected something wasn't right for their former employers to be hiding out with them, and most harbored some level of resentment for having previously died in the party's service. So when time came a few days later for a couple of the men to go to town for supplies and news, Erijay's mind probe discovered the two planned to find out what news they could of the party and use it to advantage i.e. probably turn them in when they discovered what had happened. This info was relayed to Booh and Gurruk, who ambushed the two and ended that threat, returning with a tale of ambush by wolves for the rest of the henchmen/bandits. Meanwhile, Bjorn had cast invisibility and slipped back into town. Everything seemed back to normal, except for the wanted posters offering a 500gp reward for information leading to the party. He also discovered their house burned and the ruins tumbled into the cellars. A quick check of the secret tunnel showed that it was still intact and undiscovered, with Riker's icy body still there. He also discovered the Company of Good Cheer had arrived in Westmist, looking for the party. It seems someone had put together the coincidence of party's departure from New Breven with the disappearance of the Rathgold and Zana, and Quid and company were looking for some answers.

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Back to Stonehell went Bjorn carrying the news. A council of war was held, and the party decided on two courses of action. First, recruit the henchmen/bandits  to their cause and have them start fomenting insurrection in Westmist. Second, to carry through to recover the Cerebral Shield of the Gann. While it was less critical now that they were on the run, blocking their minds from Jax still seemed a good idea. Darnorth was once more elected to bring the henchman/bandits into the fold. A another rousing speech about freedom for Scotland Westmist, a sack of gold, and promises of further reward when they'd met their goal of putting Duncal in the March Baron's brought the henchmen/bandits to their side. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Westmist Session #79 - Duncal Rescued (Again); Kern Dead (Again)

The party awoke the next morning to a blanket of snow covering the ground, and to find Riley, Gurruk and Darnorth had departed during the night on some urgent business. None the less, Kern, Bjorn, Lomar and Erijay decided to brave the abandoned halls of the Blackhammer clan once more before, Duncal and Janus were lost forever and beyond saving.  Passing once more through the entry chamber, and following the oil/stone trench to the right, the party paused briefly for some spell casting. Erijay caste locate object to hone in on Janus' mighty warhammer, while the ever cautious Lomar cast find traps to ensure the path to that hammer was clear. Erijay was able to get a fix on the direction of the hammer, so the party turned right again to investigate a new corridor. Here, the found that the oil/stone system ended here in front of a pair of iron double doors. On the opposite corridor wall, two additional iron doors could be seen.  Erijay's spell seemed to point towards the two smaller doors, so Kern stopped to listen. Behind the second he could here the faint sound of whimpering.  "Must be Duncal" said Erijay, so Kern knocked on the door and called out.

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There were a few tense moments as Janus tried to confirm that it was the party and not some foul fiend intent on tricking the watchful knight. Inside  stood Janus, four of his men (and a crestfallen Duncal), in what proved to be a storage or supply room for the dwarven blast furnaces, At the back lay a body, wrapped in a cloak. Questioned by Kern Janus revealed he had dragged Duncal along into the dungeon  so the young man could learn to 'face dangers and fight like a man and leader'. That didn't work out too well, and they'd ended up trapped in here, forbidden to leave by Duncal for fear of encountering more slime beasts. Once Duncal recovered his composure now that salvation was in sight, he raged at Kern and the party for not honoring the intent of their bargain (he lives in luxury, plays along with the coup attempt, but then gets to go his way). Much foot stomping and hissy-fits followed before the erstwhile 'March Baron in waiting' was placated. Ready to leave the awful darkness, Duncal was once more crestfallen when Sir Janus agreed to accompany the party on further exploration of the dungeon.
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With Janus, Duncal and entourage in tow, the party choose next to investigate the double set of double doors. Lomar carefully tied a rope around his waist, gave one end to Erijay, and poled himself across the oil pool on one of the stones. Opening one set of double doors revealed a large room with three blast furnaces on the opposite wall. Scattered around were barrels, heaps of slag, piles of ore and charcoal, and various implements and bellows. Erijay crossed over the join Lomar, and stuck her head in one of the blast furnaces. Disturbing some ash and soot, the elf also disturbed another of the ash creatures encountered previously, which billowed down from the flue to pummel and blind and suffocate her. As Erijay stumbled away, Sir Janus lead his men in a charge across the oil/stones (in which one slipped into the viscous stuff and began to drown), dragging a terrified Duncal after them. Lomar turned to try assisting Erijay and/or the drowning man-at-arms, while Kern and Bjorn provided missile and magic missile fire support from behind. While battle raged, Erijay dunked her head in the oil to try washing the ash off her eyes and throat, but instead just made things worst as the molasses thick liquid coated her head. Lomar tossed her a wine skin, which the elf pored partly over her head and partly down her throat.  Then Lomar pulled out the drowning man-at-arms. Sir Janus, Kern and Bjorn continued to fight the ash thing. The knight's men however, unable to hit their foe and with one eye on the simpering Duncal, thought discretion the better part of valour, and turned and ran. In the process of which another slipped in the oil and began to thrash around and sink. All was not lost though, as the ash thing was finally dissipated, the drowning man rescued, and Duncal's tears dried.

After some discussion, the party decided it best to escort Duncal and Janus out of the dungeon before exploring any further. With some coaxing and slapping by the elf, Duncal was made to look leaderly for his emergence from the dungeon, with great (well, some) cheers from the assembled men. Duncal disappeared into his pavilion, and the party disappeared back into the dungeon (but only after Erijay rounded up a suitably ornery porcupine to slip into Duncal's tent). Heading back to finish exploring the corridor they;'d just left, the party was surprised by the sudden appearance of another slime beast at the first intersection.  Erijay, then Kern, were pummeled by the dwarven pseudo-pod which appeared, and both ended up paralyzed and being slowly engulfed by the thing. They were luckily rescued by Lomar and Bjorn, respectively, and a series of potions of healing  rammed down throats revived them from paralysis. They then rejoined the fight, assisted by a haste spell from Erijay, fireball from both Erijay and Bjorn, and lots of flaming oil from Lomar. It was not long before the great monster was an ankle deep layer of crispy goo on the floor.
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Rather than continue to their original goal, the party decided to explore the hallway off this intersection. Like the others it was a 20' wide corridor, but unlike the others it contained no oil/stone trench. A set of double doors lay at the far end, while a pair of regular doors lay to the west, and a small hatch or door lay to the east. This small door intrigued Kern, so he hustled over to listen and search for traps. Hearing/finding nothing, he opened it up to reveal a narrow, low tunnel. This extended about 20' before opening up into what appeared to be the massive flue and chimney for the blast furnaces. Poking around uncovered nothing but ash and soot, so the party moved on to the other doors. At one Kern heard sounds of movement, so they bypassed that one and entered the next room. This looked to be a dwarven domicile, complete with stone furniture and a stone chest. The chest received immediate attention, and Kern disabled a scything blade trap before opening it to reveal the shine of gold coin.  Which were quickly swept into Kern's chest of holding. The second room was quickly checked later, but left unexplored when the sounds proved to be 5 more of the stone centipedes.

Moving on now to the double doors at the end of the corridor, Kern opened these up (after the usual noise and trap checks) to find a vast hall on the other side. In the center stood a stone lectern, formed of three large black hammers, on a circular base. Scattered around were stone benches, all at weird angles. Something shimmered on the wall to the east, but of immediate concern was another large slime beast at the south west end of the room. It lunged forward as the party opened up with flasks of oil , crossbow bolts and a scroll cast fireball. This all made relatively short work of the thing, but alas Kern did not live to see it's defeat, and he fell dead to it's terrible blows.

Temporarily leaving Kern's corpse in the safe dwarven domicile, the party continued to explore.  Erijay poked about the lectern and discovered that the whole thing (including the round base) could be turned with some difficulty and a god-awful grinding sound. Eager to find what lay below, she and Lomar rigged up a block and tackle to lift the whole thing out of the floor. Inside the shaft and on the base itself, they found a series of now somewhat stripped gears. Putting it back in place, they discovered the thing moved easier when pushed opposite the way they'd turned it before, but still saw no sign of how the mechanism was activated normally.
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Bored with the mechanical stuff, they now moved on to check out the shimmering wall. There they found and arched opening filled with what looked with a film of quicksilver, A little experimentation proved that there was some 'give' in the film, but nothing (10' pole, hand, face) could penetrate it. A little flummoxed at this point, the party decided to move off and check out a few other doors they'd missed. Behind one was a dwarven workshop where fine iron work was done. The other was empty, except for a stone font filled with a silvery liquid. Again much poking and prodding ensued, until Lomar exclaimed "hey, maybe this has something to do with the silver door", and everyone started filling vials and empty wine skins with the liquid. Marching back to the lecture hall, Lomar tossed a vial of the liquid at the wall, and it miraculously passed through! Bjorn then stood in front of the shimmering arch, quaffed a flask of silver liquid, and tried to walk though. To no avail. Next he spread some on his arm, and was able to stick it through the wall. At which point, Lomar dumped a flask over his head and walked right through. On the other side was a small room with an interesting feature. Three black metal pillars stood in the center, each forming the point of a triangle. In the center was a rapidly spinning matching pillar of what appeared to be liquid gold. Passing the news on to his compatriots (who now followed him through the gate), Lomar moved towards the gold. And was immediately drawn into one of the pillars, where he remained stuck until Erijay the brawny elf-maid pulled him free. She then proceeded to pick up a small stone, and toss it at the golden pillar. It immediately started to wobble and oscillate until it was obvious it was about to collapse or something equally unpleasant. Lomar and Bjorn quickly dashed out the gate, but Erijay was too slow and was caught in a spray of hot liquid gold as the pillar burst out of it's containment and scattered all over the room. Once she stopped cursing the pain, the elf beckoned Lomar and Bjorn back into the room to help her scrape the massive pile of now cooling gold off the floor and walls. Which was stuffed into the magic chest to be smuggled out of the dungeon. And with that the trio headed out, after picking up the cooling Kern along the way.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Westmist Session #78 - The Cold! It Burns!

A little perturbed by the boneless corpses (and considering it was nightfall), the party retreated from the dwarf hold to rest and regroup with Janus' men. Who were anxiously awaiting word of their leader Janus,  and their (new) liege, Duncal. There was some grumbling and grousing when the party emerged empty handed, and only Darnorth's rousing speech, and promise of a share of found treasure, kept the band together. Thankfully, reinforcements had arrived in the from of Riley and Gurrak, so the much strengthened band hefted weapons at first light to make another delve for Duncal. As they were preparing to enter, there stumbled from the ruins a bedraggled man, armed and armored much like themselves, but with one arm hanging limp. Challenged, the man replied he was Lomar, an adventuring cleric of Salue. Lomar could offer little more immediate details, as he was much traumatized from encountering the slime-monsters, showing off his be-jelloed arm as proof of his previous encounters. After some discussion, the cleric agreed to join the party in their search.

Heading into the dungeon, the party cut left at the end of the entry hall, and explored a narrow corridor that ended in another pile of rubble. Along the way were a series of stone pillars in 10'x10' alcoves, on one of which was a rusty iron dinner plate. With whispers of 'mind the tetanus' from the nervous Lomar, Darnorth and Kern investigated. Scattered on top of each was some bits of old organic matter of uncertain, but probably food related, origin. While curious, it didn't help in their search for Duncal, so the party headed back to the hallway where they'd fought the gelatinous slime-thing. Turning the corner and advancing slowly, they soon observed another 20' corridor in a T-intersection with the narrow one they were in. A floating stone/oil trench could be seen here as well. Before advancing further, Kern crept forward under the protection of his elven cloak, and listened at the intersection. To his horror, he heard loud squishing sounds to both left and right. Peering around the corner, he saw two of the slime-things, one to each side of him and about 30' feet away. Backing away, he conferred with the party. Erijay decided a well placed fireball should take care of things. A burst of flame filled the corridor ahead of them, and the sound of something wet being burned and broiled could be heard. Once the crackle of flames died out, Kern once more listened. And noe heard the slime things approaching! He gave Bjorn a poke, and the magic user flicked his own fireball down the corridor. Again the flames subsided, and again the sounds of squishing could be heard. But this time moving away. Well, that couldn't be, so the party rushed forward to finish their gelatinous foes. While Kern fired his crossbow, Erijay and Bjorn flicked magic missiles, and Darnorth and Riley rushed up to lay axe and hammer on the closest one. (Lomar and Gurruk held the rear) The slime thing lashed out at the dwarf and cleric via two dwarf shaped pseudopods, striking both and paralyzing them. It began to slowly engulf the two, but Gurrurk rushed up to pull his master free, while a final magic missile from Bjorn slew the creature and freed Darnorth. The two, however, remained paralyzed, until Lomar used a pair of cure light wounds to bring them back to full fighting form. There was no fighting to be done however, as the second creature had retreated out of sight and reach, despite Erijay and Gurruk's best efforts.

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 After a short discussion, the party decided to head to the right, to see if the corridor they were now in connected with the other 20' corridor. It did, and they also discovered the long deceased skeleton of a dwarf lying on the floor. On the wall above was a  red sandstone block, which Kern investigated and deemed trap free, but obviously some sort of mechanical device. Darnorth, assuming that as the dwarf hew knew what he was doing, pushed on the block. There was a a few second pause, then a awful rumble of falling rock was heard coming from the end of the corridor they'd just vacated. When the last sounds of falling ruble and wisp of dust settled, new sounds could be heard coming from behind. obviously something attracted by the ruckus. Taking up a defensive position at the 'T-intersection' of the two 20' corridors, the party confronted a pack of 3' long centipedes, heavily armored with stone like plates growing along their backs. They scrambled across the oil/stones (and one fell in and disappeared from sight in the viscous liquid), and were met by a sleep spell from Erijay and a web from Bjorn. This took out most of the beasts, and only one was left for Darnorth to to clobber and the others to pelt with bolts and sling stones. It stony carapace make this harder than it looked though, and Darnorth received a nasty bite on the ankle (as well as a bone chilling stone cold feeling) before it was destroyed. The others were dispatched likewise, and to everyone's surprise Gurruk started piling the bodies in a neet stack to one side of the corridor. "Gurruk make good strong armor from insect things" grunted the wild man. 

Collection done, the party headed east down the new corridor, finding more intersections as well as a pair of rusty iron doors. Once certified 'safe' by Kern, Darnorth opened the first. On the other side was a room with several odd 45 degree angle walls. All the walls, plus one down the middle, were covered in stone tablets engraved with dwarven runes. After a little study, Darnorth declared it to be the history and lore of the Blackhammer clan. He was able to discover one passage that explained one of the battle scenes in the entrance, a battle between dwarven clans (one of which on the side opposite the Blackhammer were Darnorth's own Longbeards. Who lost the battle apparently). Kern meanwhile, using Darnorth's helm read the last few tablets, which descibed in part the opening on new deeper mines that intruded on some sort of alien structures. Humm, guess that tunnel collapse took care of that. While all this study was going on, Erijay was checking the angled walls for secret doors, but to no avail. .

Exiting through another door, they part found themselves in an elongated hexagonal chamber. On one wall was a series of angled shelves, each with what appeared to be a 1" cube of metal on it. On the opposite wall were three words in 1' tall bas relief letters: Errukiz, Ezdrubal, Elomcwe. Treachery, Sloth and Foolishness according to Darnorth's translation. Curiously, the letters of the bottom word (Elomcewe) could be pressed into the wall. After some thought, the letters were pressed to spell the word "Welcome", at which point the wall pivoted open revealing another small alcove like the one in which they'd found the axe. Here, piled in the corner, was a stash of jewelry and gems. "I'll handle this" said Kern, and the thief reached towards the treasure. At this point, the ghostly figure of a dwarf appeared, and demanded to know by what right they claimed the treasure. The figure deemed it foolish that any would take the treasure were they not deserving of it. At which point Darnorth started the mock the long dead Blackhammer, enraging the spirit thing. It surged forward, but Lomar and Riley raised their holy symbols and the thing was kept at bay. Kern took this opportunity to reach for the treasure, but that was enough to interrupt the power of Salue and Habuu. The dwarf spirit reached out and touched the thief, who screamed as the cold chill of lost vitality seeped into his body.
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With treasure in hand, they all retreated and slammed the secret door shut. The spirit passed through the stone however, so Riley held it off with the power of Habuu as everyone fled and retreated out of the dungeon. Back in daylight, Janus' men again grumbled that the party hadn't brought back their leaders, although little of this could be heard over the sound of Kern weeping ...


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Westmist Session #77 - Destined to Delve Depths for Duncal 'til Doomsday

Kern, Bjorn, Erijay and Darnorth prepared to leave town. Loading up on luxuries for Duncal, their plan was to first check in on he and Janus, before then proceeding north along the Black Spine Mountains in search of the Cerebral Shield of the Gann. Before leaving, Erijay sold Synthini some of the alchemical goo she recovered from Chateau d'Amberville. Darnorth paid a visit to Slate to see how the reverse engineering of his 'fire sticks'  was going. Not well, as the prototype the dwarven inventor offered exploded in Darnorth's face.

An uneventful two day ride found the party descending the pass towards the abandoned dwarf-hold where Janus and his men were holed up with Duncal. In the valley below they could see a great deal of commotion just outside crumbling ruin walls, as well as a large tented pavilion that wasn't there last time they visited. A band of Janus' men milled about, as as the party approached, Hafus emerged from the press. He had been just about to ride out in search of the party, for Duncal and Janus had gone missing. After the party had left Duncal in the care of the loyal Janus, Duncal had first insisted that they prepare a pavilion to suit his baronial stature (which would be the flag bedecked and palatial tent complex they could see) As a result, they were not able to start excavating the ruins, as the party suggested, until a few days ago. They quickly broke through the rubble and forced open a pair of rusted iron doors that lead into the depths of the mountain. Janus gathered a handful of men, and dragging the reluctant Duncal along, headed into the gloom to search for treasure with which to finance the coup d'etat against Lord Merdwyn. Before the day was out, one of the men stumbled out of the darkness to say Janus and Duncal were trapped in the dungeon by some sort of hideous and monstrous slime things.

With much eye rolling and cursing, Kern, Bjorn, Erijay and Darnorth left their horses with Janus' men and prepared once more to recover Duncal from a dungeon. They managed to convince a pair of Janus' men to join them (Bill and Ted), and into the hole they marched. Passing through a narrow dug tunnel, they came to the massive rusted iron doors, each with a black war hammer inscribed upon it.. These had obvious been chiseled and chipped open by Janus, and lead into a wide and high hall. In the centre rose a 15' tall step pyramid, and along the sides of the hall itself were 6 alcoves. In each alcove stood the statue of a dwarf, and the alcoves themselves were painted with battle scenes. Darnorth studied these closely, and proclaimed this to be the abandoned home of the Blackhammer clan. Unfortunately, the dwarf could recall little more except the Blackhammer's were renowned for their ironwork. Meanwhile, Eirjay climbed to the top of the step pyramid, but found nothing of note. After closely examining each statue and battle scene, the party moved on.
https://the-circle-of-light.obsidianportal.com/adventure-log/session-11-engias-last-stand

The north end of the chamber intersected with a 20' wide corridor with a most unusual feature.  Down the centre ran a trench filled with a thick viscous oil. On top of this oil floated a series of stone blocks, about 8' wide and 10' long. Gingerly, Darnorth tested one and found that it wobbled but held his weight. The dwarf crossed to the other side of the corridor, followed by the rest of the party. They first investigated a connecting 20' wide corridor, which soon ended in a pile of rubble. Darnorth sized it up but could not determine if the collapse had been deliberate or accidental. Backtracking, they came to a locked iron door. Kern tried picking the lock, but the rusty old mechanism defeated his lock picks. Darnorth then applied the time honored dwarven locked door technique, kicking it open with a resounding boom that echoed throughout the silent corridors.

Inside was a trapezoidal room, the floors of which were covered in dwarven skeletons. At the far end a raised platform held a large iron bowl. Close examination of the skeletons showed no signs of violent death. Investigation of the bowl was interrupted when a dark dusty cloud drifted through the open door of the room. It coalesced into a 10'  tall cloud of ash with two faintly glowing eyes, which proceeded to pummel, suffocate and blind  Darnorth and Erijay. A flurry of magic missiles from Erijay and Bjorn, plus missile fire from Kern and hammer blows from Darnorth soon dissipated the cloud, sending the remaining ash to drift over the skeletons on the floor. Battle done, Darnorth walked over to the iron bowl. Inside he found a pile of fine ash, which he stirred around uncovering a fist-sized opal.

http://img4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090519220507/forgottenrealms/images/6/62/Elementals_-_James_Zhang.jpg
Done exploring this room, the party proceed to a second door in the room, heading north. This also proved locked and resistant to Kern's skills. This time Erijay tried the dwarf opening technique, but it apparently didn't work for elves. So Darnorth once more busted open the door in a spray of rust and noise. On the other side was a small room. A corridor lead directly north opposite the door. To the right a line of 4 dwarven statues stood with backs a against an angled wall. Darnroth approved to examine them from the front, while Erijay tired to poke around behind. With a stomp of stone boots, the statues came to life and turned to attack the intruders. The part formed ranks to fight them, and Bjorn cast web to lock them in place. The statues were resilient though, taking little damage from the swords and spears of the party. Only Darnorth with his hammer seemed to be doing much damage, so Kern pulled back to summon the chest of holding, in which he was keeping a magical mace and war hammer. These he and Erijay used to help chip away at the statues, while Bill and ted did what they could from the back rank with their spears. The statues meanwhile had almost broken out of the web, so Erijay cast another so they could be battered into dust safely. Which soon they had been. Sweeping rubble aside, the elf starting looking for a secret door behind the statues, but to no avail. Meanwhile, Darnorth was examining the weird angular cuneiform like carvings on the wall. He found one area where the carvings could be rearranged to form dwarven runes. They eventually formed the word "Drazak", dwarven for "honor". At this point , the wall Erijay had checked for secret doors swung open, revealing a small room. Inside was a stone bench, on which lay a silver and mithril chain surrounding mithril hand axe. Darnporth scooped up both, and the party then proceeded north.

http://coylothrop.squarespace.com/
After just 20', a room joined the corridor from the east. Triangular, the interior walls were surrounded by a series of 1' round iron bars. After the party first searched for secret doors (and found none), Darnorth started picking at one of the poles. With a loud rumble, the ceiling started to collapse. Kern and Danrorth dove out the door, but Erijay and Bjorn were pummeled by the falling rock At this moment, Bill and Ted (left to guard the aprty's rear) shouted a warning. A large gelatinous slime thing approached from the north! Pulling the elf and mage from the rubble, the party formed ranks. The corridor was blocked by a gelatinous goo thing, from which two pseudopods shot out. These morphed into the shape of a man and a dwarf and proceeded to pound Erijay and Darnorth in the front ranks. The party landed blow after blow, included Bill and Ted with spears form the back back rank, and Kern with crossbow bolts. But the thing still fought on. Erijay tried her wand of cold, but to no effect. She then cast haste to increased the flurry of attacks, and the thing was eventually beaten down. But not before it landed a killing blow on Ted, which led Bill to grab his friends body and flee.

Examining the 'body', the party found it had mostly collapsed into a couple of inches of slime on the floor. There was also the squished corpses of a dwarf and a man, more or less intact except that the bones had somehow been pulled from their bodies ...

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Westmist Session # 76 - The Heist

Before leaving New Breven, Erijay and Kern decided they needed to take care of Zana and Rathgold. A sentiment with which Rylee and Gurruk, now back from their own business, agreed. Waiting for dusk, Bjorn and Erijay each cast invisibility and fly, then proceeded to scout out the keep and locate Rathgold and Zana. They found Rathgold in his rooms, toiling away at his desk. They did not see Zana, there being no windows on the third floor of the keep where they suspected her room was located. Erijay decided to cast locate object to look for the bag of platinum Kern had given their blackmailer. She did locate platinum coins in the NE corner of the third floor, confirming their suspicions.

Although they weren't able to figure exactly where Zana was, the party decided to take they chance they could find her when needed and put their plan to deal with her and kidnap Rathgold into action. First, they took their leave of Lord Merdwyn and left town with the Company of the Four Brothers. They parted way with the mercenaries near the end of the day, when the road turned east towards Westmist. The party instead headed west, ostentatiously to go see Zoleran, but actually to loop back around back to New Breven. They set up camp for a few days to allow enough time to cast invisibility on everyone, a task interrupted just once by a giant bee attack (quickly dispatched by Bjorn's sleep spell). Once everyone was invisible, the party headed back overland to New Breven arriving at the edge of the river opposite town late in the afternoon. And then realized they'd forgotten there was a river to be crossed. Flummoxed, they decided that in the morning Erijay would fly over to the castle and hopefully pin down Zana's location and maybe capture her. With that in mind, Kern gave her the magic chest to stuff Zana in, having already confirmed it could hold a living person for at least a few hours.

Next morning , the still invisible  Erijay flew across the river and made for the keep. First stop was the balcony and doors on the third floor, and to her surprise the door was open! Inside the room she could see Silco and Ikar (of the Company of Good Cheer) just rising from bed. They spend a few minutes getting dressed, and then headed out of the room. At this point, Erijay noted an opening in the north wall, covered with a sheet. The opening looked newly made. Knowing this is where Zana was likely to be, Erijay floated over to the sheet and flicked it aside as if it were blown by the wind. Inside she found Zana and Quid together in bed. After some time, they both got up, made some small talk, and dressed. Quid then left the room, followed shortly by Zana. Erijay now flew out the balcony door and climbed above the keep to watch for Zana. She spied the spy leaving the front door of the keep alone, but rather than head out the front gates, Zana turned to the west and headed for the rear wall of the castle. There she disappeared into the wall, only to emerge outside an the edge of the road leading down to the town. Obviously a hidden postern gate.

At this moment, Erijay saw her chance. The road was deserted at this early hour. She cast hold person on Zana, who was suddenly paralyzed and froze in mid step. Erijay then landed, summoned the chest, and stuffed Zana inside. She sent the chest away, and finding her fly spell had ended, walked down to ferry crossing hoping to sneak on board  invisibly. The ferry was just arriving when she got there, and with just a few passengers to cross, she was able to get on board without anyone knowing, and crossed to the north side of the river unharmed and unmolested. Making rendezvous with the rest of the party, they opened the chest to find Zana still paralyzed. There was some discussion of keeping her alive for questioning for now. Rylee, however, ended the debate with a mace to the back of her head. Now all they had to do was get rid of the body ...

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01984/contortionist_1984460i.jpg
... but only after getting Rathgold out. Waiting for nightfall, the still invisible Bjorn flew over and broke into Rathgolds room. He carried the chest (sans Zana) and a note from Kern, telling the scribe to get in the chest to escape. Rathgold, awoken by a shake from the invisible Bjorn, instead cowered in fear when the chest appeared. With a sigh, Bjorn cast sleep on him, stuffed him in the chest, and flew back to the party. Which now headed out in the darkness, to put as much distance between them and the scene of the crime(s) before daybreak. No pursuit appeared though, and after a simple matter of bribing the guards at the Citadel of Amrath to take them across the river, they were back in Westmist after a few days travel (having dumped Zana in the Great River along the way).

Once in Westmist, they quickly rounded up Rathgold wife, disguised the two and sent them east by riverboat to Kingsford, carrying enough gold to start  new, comfortable life there. They also found Booh, still waiting for them around Gurruk√®s hovel north of town. Questioning the giant, they learned that he wasn't responsible for the raids on the farms, which made them wonder who or what was. They also questioned Riker about what had happened around town in the month they were gone. Apart from a noticeable crackdown on petty crime by Jax and his men, there was little to report. There was also no work from Sir Janus and Duncal, apart from a cryptic note saying they were working to make His Lordship (i.e. Duncal ) comfortable in his new surroundings.Things were quiet ... too quiet ...