Sunday, April 6, 2014

Westmist Session #68 - Secret Agent Man (and Elf)

Another quick list this time:
  • Kern hatches a plan to sneak into the Count Palatine's stonghold to make contact with the spy he has in Lord Merdwyn's household. Erijay and Bjorn go along for magical firepower, while Rylee, Darnorth and Gurruk go on a bender. But not before Rylee casts silence 15' radius on a pair of coins for the trio of burglars.
  • Scouting the keep in daylight, Kern sees no way in other than the main gate. He figures out the guard schedule, and decides the best time to sneak in is just before the gates are closed at sunset. 
  • Erijay goes shopping for a bag full of mice and oats. 
  • Carrying the silenced coins and covered by invisibility spells cast by Bjorn an Erijay, the trio make their way up to the hilltop fortress. They breeze through the outer and inner gates as quickly as possible, just as the guards are preparing to bar them for the night. Several guards noticed the sudden silence , but shrug it off in the end. There is no pursuit.
  • At the main doors to the keep, and the trio sees light coming though covered windows. To enter without being seen, Bjorn casts a phantasmal force to make it appear as if the door remains closed when they pass through it. Which is good, because in the great hall beyond the doors is Lord Merdwyn talking to several servants, who are setting up for a feast and celebration on the morrow.
  • The group waits until Lord Merdwyn leaves through a door leading deeper into the keep. After waiting a short time, they follow. No sign of Lord Merdwyn, but there are tables covered in maps, patrol reports, etc. All the daily business of quelling a new land. 
  • Go up a set of spiral stairs to the next level. Corridor rings a series of small rooms. The sound of a woman giggling and hanky panky comes from behind one door.
  • Choose to ignore for now, and head for the next level. As Kern opens door from stairway, he's surprised to find a man, dressed in armor, on the other side. He too looks surprised by the door opening on it's own. Erijay flicks a mouse through the door to distract the man. Kern, Erijay, and Bjorn then quickly slip back down the stairs and hide in a linen closet. 
  • No sign of the armored man, so they head back upstairs. They find a central hallway with multiple doors leading off. Light can be seen coming from below one door. Kern listens at door, and hears a woman taking to herself on the other side. A mix of administrative details regarding running the Count Palatine's household and keep, and the odd magical incantation.
  • Checking the other rooms, they find a chapel, a martially appointed sitting room, and a pair of messy bedrooms. In one of the bedrooms they see a set of doors leading outside, probably onto the balcony/platform they'd seen from the courtyard.
  • Up to the fourth and apparently final floor. Similar layout as floor three with a central hallway and multiple doors. In the hallway stand seven of the Count Palatines guard.
  • Regroup and plan. Bjorn goes down several flights to stand guard. Erijay casts ESP, then quaffs her invisibility potion (having broken her invisibility spell by casting an offensive spell). She goes back up the stairs and attempts to pick out Lord Merdwyn's or Rathgold's (Kern's spy) thoughts while hiding in the stairwell.
  • Meanwhile, Kern slips through the door (tossing the rest of Erijay's mice ahead of him to distract the guards from the fact the door is opening on it's own) and dives into an opening to the left. Which is a privy.
  • Erijay probes the minds of both Lord Merdwyn and Rathgold:
    • Rathgold's mind doesn't reveal much of interest, except for the fact he is planning on hightailing it with Kern's gold as soon as the opportunity presents. He fears Jax, knowing that he can read minds. And Rathgold knows his guilty mind will cost him his head.
    • Lord Merdwyn of course reveals much more of interest. To Erijays surprise, there no hint of devious and diabolic plan. Upward mobility plans, ruthlessness and more than willing to take whatever chances and underhanded schemes he needs to get what he wants, yes. Evil, no. Lord Merdywn is really just trying to regain his place in the world, the respect and power and good name he lost to gambling. 
    • She also learns that Jax is not fully human. No hint of exactly what he is, but that in Lord Merdwyn's mind his friend and confident has a terrible 'affliction'. Erijay also learns that Lord Merdwyn is wary of Jax, suspects he may double cross him at some point, even though he's done nothing like that so far and has always been loyal to his Lordship.
    • Sir Wyder is dead. That was not Sir Wyder who returned from the wars. He fell in  battle, but Jax covered that up and somehow sent a substitute back home. The  plan was to keep the King from learning the truth about the much reduced  hobgolbin armies and Lord Merwyn's plan for the extra forces His Highness had  supplied. No details; it would seem it was a matter of "don't  ask, don't tell' between him and Jax. He just let Jax take care of it and didn't  ask too many questions.
    • Lord Merdwyn also knows the party is in town, and is about to invite them to come see him. He has a task for them, to followup on rumors of a great manor house in the depths of the Blighted Woods. Erijay also learns that Lord Merdwyn does not quite trust them, suspects they are up to no good.
  •  Having lingered too long already (thankfully the guards seem to be just waiting around for something or someone), the trio prepares to leave. Kern briefly contemplates going down the privy, but instead takes a chance and slips back to join Erijay in the stairwell. They collect Bjorn and head for the room with the balcony to slip out that way. 
  • They find the door locked, so Erijay knocks it open. Unfortunately, the outer door is also locked, so Kern goes to work with the lock picks.  As he is working, a knock comes at the door through which they entered: "Ikar, Silco, are you there?". Erijay and Bjorn try to hold the door, but whomever is on the other side is too strong. They let go and the doors fly open. Standing there is a lad of 16 or 17, pockmarked face, built like an ox, half undressed. Looking around, the boy mutters something about 'how will I get her out now?". Then, with a sly grin, he opens a footlocker in the room and pulls out fistfulls of gold before leaving again.
  • Breathing a sign of relief, Kern finishes with the lock. And fights the temptation of the foot locker full of gold. Bjorn casts levitate and ferries the others over the keep wall and onto the road below. Escapade over. 
  • Next day, Kern goes looking for a place to buy potions. He finds nothing, hears an interesting tale  from one of the wenches at the Rusty Sword (Varla, a nice buxum lass). She'd was  told a story by one of the Wolf Tribe barbarians who dwell along the eaves of the  Blighted Wood. While getting sloshed on mead, he told her of a 'goblin market'  that sometimes appears in the depths of the wood. The goblins sell many strange  any magical items to anyone with enough coin.  He later learns from a another tribesman by the name of 'Runs on Night Wind', that the gnomes of the wood serve the Fairy Queen and know the secrets of immortality. Getting  them to tell you the secret is another thing ...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Westmist Session #67 - On the Move

Just a bullet list of highlight this time to keep track of what happened. I don't really have the time to write out a full report at the moment.

  • Leaving Duncal with Sir Janus and his new mining/excavation operation, the party heads back to Westmist. While making tea at the end of his watch, Kern is surprised one morning by a band of albino apes that erupt out of a pile of old rock rubble 60' from the party's campsite. Half the apes get killed, one is charmed by Bjorn, and a decent into their lair uncovers an ape latrine and not much more. Kern also discovers the battery in his alien armor is dead.
  • Charmed ape follows Bjorn home. There party sets up a put fight between the ape and Booh. The hill giant wins. Erijay is not impressed.
  • Back in Westmist, Kern asks around town about the King's recently departed troops. Finds out they were recalled for some kind of punishment/grudge invasion of the Earldom of Neeth. Also rumors of other armies gathering in distant lands. 
  • Stop in the see The Tongue, looking for guidance on their plans for the March Baron. "Find out whom you count as friends before you make too many enemies." 
  • Look for more info on the poisoned ring they supposedly sold to Aflain. Confirmed the Pashnadi merchants story about killing Petra, the merchants wif,e and having to pay to have her raised. Aflain is under a bit of a suspicious cloud as a result, not helped by the fact that he is a 'foreigner'.
  • See Synthini about some potions; pass on the potion of gold dragon control, but snap up the potion of healing. 
  • Decide to take the youthful statue to Zoloren. Buy a pair of draft horse and cart, load up the statue, and head out of town. Reach the Great River and the fortress of Amrath and realize they no longer own a boat with which to cross the river. Bribe troops from Amrath to bring them across, promising a barrel of brandy when the party returns.
  • Stop at the ruins of Bracksis' Hold to recover barrels of brandy from celler. 
  • Get in to see Zoloren, with his golems and slave girls. Trade the gold he offers for two questions about magic items. 
  • Find out that if they want something to guard everyone in the party from mental control, they should seek the Cerebral Shield of the Gann. The Gann was a secretive wizard from another world with a stronghold to the north along the Black Spine Mountains. Go north until they reach the camps of the Horn Barbarians.
  • Kern asks about a battery for his armor. Zoloren tells him to seek out the Land of 1000 Wizards.
  • Party tries to milk the archmage for more information. He takes offenses and makes moves to threaten the party. Party wisely leaves after refusing his offer of information in exchange for Eirjay.
  • Encounter a band of 10 ogres shortly after leaving Zoloren. Carrying four humanoids to Zoloren. Figures are tied up and difficult to see if they are human, or what. Party experiences great anguish trying to decide if they should attack the ogres to rescue whoever or whatever they carry. Decide in the end the brutes were too tough to handle.
  • Head for the new County Palatine of Overmarch to find out what's going on in Lord Merdwyn's new lands. Find the ruins of Nasper have been transformed into the town of New Breven. Head for a tavern, the Rusty Sword, which is on the island with the lords castle. Find it to be a popular spot with the off duty soldiers, who tell of the hard work underway to clear the land of monsters and make it safe for the new settlers. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Updated House Rules

I've updated the house rules/rulings document. Additions are listed below, some of which have come out of play and a few that I've added because I like them and they may be needed at some time.

Casting from Spell Book: Unmemorized spells may be cast directly from a characters spell book. However, casting time increases from 1 round to 1 turn, and there is a 5% change per level that the spell will misfire and have no effect or a detrimental effect. This process also erases the spell from the book.

Thief’s Backstab: Can only be performed once per combat encounter, unless unusual circumstances permit the thief to “hide in shadows/move silently” again without being noticed by opponents.

Holy Symbols: A cleric requires a holy symbol to cast spells or turn undead.

Grenade Like Missiles: On a failed attack roll, the missile lands 5' in a random direction and affects anyone in that location, friend or foe. Roll 1d8 to determine direction.

Grappling: Attack as normal, without weapons. The successful attackers and defender both roll a combined number of d6's equal to their Hit Dice. On a tie, both parties struggle, neither able to take action. If the defender wins, he throws off all the successful attackers. They are stunned for a round. He may take his action as normal. If the attackers win, the defender is pinned and helpless.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Westmist Session #66 - What to do With Duncal?

With Duncal out of the dungeon and back in Gurruk's hovel, Kern sat the pasty lad down to gently break him the news: that his father was dead and his inheritance was gone. The merchant expected the boy to break down and cry, but his response was not quite what was expected:

“You mean I’m free? Truly free? The old goat is dead and I’ll never have to listen to him again? Oh joy, oh happiness, oh wonderful release. I could just sing ...” 

It seems that Duncal didn't think much of his Dad, or the idea that some day his would become March Baron of Westmist. He`d been a prisoner of the trolls for about 8 years, captured in Stonehell becasue he`d run away from home so he wouldn`t have to listen to his parents and become March Baron someday.

Kern, his aplomb slightly ruffled, recovered quickly and laid out the reason why the party had rescued him. He told Duncal about Sir Janus and the plan to overthrow Lord Merdwyn. The lad wasn't really interested in becoming Baron, but he did have a shrewd core beneath the whiny exterior.  After a little thought, he agreed to go along with their scam, at least for the time being (the hill giant lumbering over him probably helped with that decision.)  His price was to be looked after in some style in the interim, at when all the dust was settled from the coup d'etat, he expected a nice payout and would then disappear to a playboys life somewhere far  away from the mud and boredom of the border town.

While not exactly the outcome they had hoped after investing so much time, blood and treasure into Duncal's rescue, it was a win of sorts for the party (although  a few considered the best option at this point was to decorate the end of a pike with Duncal's head). Now the trouble was what to do next. There was some thought of taking the lad and heading straight into the mountains to find Sir Janus right away. But everyone soon realized they needed horses and supplies before doing so. And also needed to know what had happened in the two months they'd been gone. After discussing a variety of hair-brained schemes to get into town unnoticed (with Kern muttering something about "losing that damn ring" under his breath the whole time), they figured it best to just march up to the gate and go in the usual way. They left Duncal in Gurruk and Booh's care for now, and headed for town. Challenged at the gate by the guard, they noticed the guard now consisted of a mix of town guardsmen and men in the royal livery on white, not blue. The town guards recognized them though, and for a slightly usurious fee of 50gp, they were allowed in. Concerned about their house, they headed there first. It was still there, but a sheet of parchment was nailed to the door. Reading it, they found that due to two months of unpaid taxes, the house was about to be expropriated by the Crown. Tearing the paper off the door, they headed inside. To a quiet, dusty home, with no sign of Riker. Concerned, they combed the structure from roof to cellar, but there were no signs of foul play or intruders.
Wondering what had happened to their manservant, the party scattered to scour the town and hunt for news. The eventually figured out that he had been arrested by Jax's men and was currently in debtor's prison in Westmist Keep. Looks like if the party paid their back taxes, he would be free. Except then Kern reminded them that the last thing they wanted to do is go near Jax now, since he would read their minds and the cat (i.e. Duncal) would truly be out of the bag then. Thinking of who could help them, they tried Synthini first. Handing over their last healing potion, the reclusive alchemist refused outright to get involved in any dastardly business. Rylee then decided to take advantage of his status as the "Mighty Arm of the Faith" to ask the Temple of the Three Virtues for help. The Sub-Virtue on duty heard Rylee's request, and was somewhat puzzled by the clerics reluctance to just go handle the matter himself. Rylee tried to dance around the issue, but the Sub-Virtue was puzzled why Rylee just didn't put his trust in the hands of Velas, lord of justice? With a sigh, Rylee took the young Sub-Virtue aside and explained the ways of the world, that sometimes mortals must take matters into their own hands. And that Jax wasn't exactly trustworthy. Awed by the senior cleric's eloquence, the Sub-Virtue agreed to take the gold, pay off the tax bill, and recover Riker.

The party hustled home to meet Riker, who arrived no worst for wear after weeks in a cell. He had a roof over his head, and three meals a day. What hardship is that? Worried that Jax might have planted a spy in their midst (especially when they found out the shadowy seneschal had spoke to their manservant several times while he was imprisoned), Rylee discreetly cast dispel magic on Riker, while Erijay cast ESP to read his mind. Which was thankfully blank as always. Apologizing for leaving him high and dry, they left a small trust fund of gold in Rikar's care to cover expenses should they ever again be absent for an extended time.

That taken care of, everyone headed out to beat about town and get more news. They learned that the king had withdrawn his company of troops to deal with some sort of issues on the kingdom's eastern borders. They were replaced by a half company of the King's White Company from the citadel of Amrath on the Great River. They also learned that a steady stream of new settlers had been passing through town, headed for Lord Merdwyn's new County of Overmarch, lured by the promise of free land and a new beginning. Wandering through the town square, they noticed a merchant set up, shilling wares from the far western lands. Intrigued, Darnorth went to talk to him. The merchant, Hallix by name, had taken advantage of Lord Merdyn's partial pacification of the Untamed Lands to push a heavily armed caravan in the strange land to the west known as the Land of 1000 Wizards. He brought back many odd items, but what caught Darnorth's eye's was a strange pair of weapons. Small metal tubes with a wooden handle. Asking for a demonstration, Hallix picked up the thing, pointed at a nearby wagon, and with a gout of flame some sort of missile shot out, struck and splintered the wooden vehicle. Impressed by the shiny metal and loud noise, Darnorth decided he had to have them, and managed to get the pair plus 35 missiles from Hallix for 1500gp. He also picked up as part of the deal, hidden among a pile of metal junk and widgets, a round power source similar to the one that ran Kern's armor. Darnorth then took one of the weapons and a few missiles to Slate, to see if the dwarven inventor could figure out how to make more of each (for a fee of course). The other he kept for himself.
They also made a stop to see Afflain, to see if there was any word from Zoloren on their offer to sell the youthful statue. The Pashnadi merchant was furious when he saw them. Not just for missing their rendezvous and revenge with Gilmeshi, but apparently a ring the party had fenced to him had been poison. He had sold it to a merchants wife and it killed her! Afflain had to cough up a huge sum to have her raised and pay the fine! He was livid with rage, and threw Zoloren's written reply at them and kicked them out. At least Zoloren's reply was promising. The archmage wrote: “I have not become the sorcerer I am by giving away precious magic’s to anyone who asks. I will offer 3000gp in whatever form you wish. And if you desire a particular magical item, I can instead offer my centuries of knowledge and research  to tell you where you may find that for which you search." They filed that information away for now.

Headed back to home to prepare for their journey to find Sir Janus, they noted someone was following them. Wondering who it was, Darnorth used his ring to cast invisibility, then slipped into a side alley while everyone else continued on their way. As the shadowy figured passed, Darnorth reached out to grab him. Unfortunately, the dwarf stumbled and missed, and the figure turned and fled.

With town business done, they gathered supplies and horses and headed north into the mountain. Taking Duncal but leaving Booh (figuring Sir Janus wouldn't want to see the hill giant every again), they started at Janus' old camp and headed into the mountains. They followed a small stream that flowed in a pass between two massifs. Coming to a junction, they followed one stream into a hanging valley on the flank of one mountain. There they saw a small log cabin, in good shape but with no sign of inhabitants. Gurruk approached the door, and as he knocked, he caught in the corner of his eye something moving in the woods above the cabin. Which he quickly found was an arrow, which nearly took out his eye!  Maniacal laughter followed, as did another missile. Kern had Bjorn cast invisibility on him and slipped up the slope to find their assailant. Darnorth meanwhile took out his newfangled weapon, aimed up slope and fired. When the smoke and noise cleared, they could hear cursing and swearing,and a squeaky voice saying "stop, stop!!". Kern watched invisibly as a halfling, followed by a huge cave bea,r walked past him and down towards the rest of the party. The little guy, obviously shocked by Darnorth's weapon, surrendered. He was also obviously not all there, twitching and groaning and very paranoid and crazy. But they did learn that Janus had passed by here several months ago, but the halfling had driven him and his men deeper into the mountains.

So further into the Western War Peaks they went, encountering old and odd things along the way; an old stretch of dwarven highway,  a giant skull with an axe stuck in it, a freshly fallen meteor (from which Darnorth removed some strange silver-black metal). Exploring an old dwarf ruin, they encountered a group of dwarves from the Stonehead clan.They were searching this old dwarven delve, once the home of their clan. They were a bit evasive when asked what they were looking for, but when asked about Sir Janus, they noted they too had encountered the knight and his party. Sir Janus had tried to move into the old dwarf hold, but the Stoneheads had driven them off and further into the mountains.
So further up the pass they went, passing a strange head carved high on the mountain side before coming to a second dwarf ruin. Here, Rylee decided to cast locate object, looking for Sir Janus' awesome warhammer. And lo, it seemed they had found him and the weapon, for the power of Habuu directed the cleric straight towards the dwarf ruins. When the party approached, a handful of guards appeared over the ruined wall and challenged them. The party was recognized though, and the guards fetched Sir Janus to come meet the party. After exchanging pleasantries and talking about what had happened over the past few months, the party suddenly surprised the loyal knight by presenting Duncal. Much kowotwing and 'my-lording' ensued, and when Sir Janus recovered his wits, he was prepared to mount up and ride to take Westmist with Ducal by his side right now. It took some time to convince him they could not count on a popular uprising to support Duncal's claim, and the best idea was to lay low here in the mountains until the party could further scope out the situation and come up with a plan.  Besides, they would need gold to support Duncal. Which gave Darnorth an idea. Thinking about the Stonehead clan, he suggested Sir Janus have his men starting digging out the old dwarf hold they were hiding in, to look for treasures that might have been left behind. That would provide some ready funds (and keep the knight out of trouble for now). While at first reluctant, Sir Janus agreed. One of his men was sent back to Westmist with the party to buy mining equipment (and luxuries for Duncal), and was then escorted back with the supplies. And now it was time to figure out what to do next ...

    Sunday, February 23, 2014

    Westmist Session #65 - Been Gone Long

    ... There was some discussion around whether it would be best to go straight after the big reptilian demon (which was Rylee's  preference) or try to recover weapons and armour from the old guardroom first. Even with the risk of having to fight more strange undead to get there, most of the others felt it would be better to 'load up' before fighting an extraterrestrial demon with a tendency to cause insanity in those around it. First off, Kern slipped forward to scout silently. He peered in the next room, and saw a dozen mineral encrusted skeletal figures working away at the mine, blocking the route to the guardroom. Backing up to confer with his colleagues, everyone decided it would be best to have Bjorn cast his invisibility spell on Kern, so he could slip past the ore bones and get to the guardroom.  As Kern moved forward however, he stepped on a dried bone, makes a loud 'snap' sound as he entered the chamber with the undead. This roused the evil creatures, but although they could sense the presence of the living, they couldn't see the invisible merchant, and wandered off in the wrong direction. Kern took advantage of this, and slipped forward into the next chamber, the guardroom. Here, a half dozen sets of skeletal remains lay on the floor, with armor and weapons scattered around. In one corner tied to a chair was another skeleton, dressed in leather armor and with weapons lying next to it on a table. Kern gladly slipped into a set of leather armor, and gathered as much weapons as he could carry back to his companions. The ore bones still had not returned, so the whole this time slipped into the guardroom to get what armor and extra weapons they could (they found latter that some of the crossbow bolts were bolts +1, and there was also a hand axe +1 amongst the dross).
    Now ready to take on the world (or at least a reptilian demon), they prepared to head west to search for the black stele. Before they left, however, Gurruk peaked around the other exit of the room to see what was there. In the next chamber he saw a ghostly procession of miners working the ore veins, overseen by a pair of desiccated taskmasters. He pulled back quickly, and was luckily not seen. The still invisible Kern slipped ahead to scout, and finding the ore bones chamber still thankfully empty, the rest followed. Tracking back toward the west, they pointedly avoided the large chamber full of undead and headed to the area just north of it. Kern was able to guide the party around another group of ore bones before leading them into large chamber. And here was the object of their quest. In the middle of the room was a pit, 15' deep. Sticking out of it at a 45 degree angle was a black stone, covered in strange alien carvings.  Though tempted to just go smash the thing and be done, everyone calmed down enough to plan how best to deal with the stele, and whatever consequences hammering away at it would bring. Darnorth examined some of the nearby tunnels, and was able to figure out how to collapse one with a few solid blows with a pick. That would close off one route of attack if they attracted any unwelcome attention. Then spells were cast: Riley cast a series of striking on various weapons, ans called down the blessings of Habuu. Erijay hasted everyone, then cast her mirror image for added  protection. Bjorn had similar plans, casting shield to protect himself. Erijay then approached the stele with the blessed hammer of Lughrin, Darnorth approached the weak tunnel with his pickaxe, and the rest took positions to cover the only remaining entrance and protect the elf so she could work on shattering the stone.

    Swinging the hammer, Erijay struck the strange rock a telling blow. Her arms shook as the power of the alien thing pulsed through the hammer, and a small crack appeared in it. At the same time, Darnorth started hammering away at the weak tunnel to collapse it, while the rest stood in wait at the other entrance. Suddenly, a screaming roar was heard, and the reptilian beast partly materialized next to the stele. Darnorth's tunnel now collapsed in a rumble of rock and dust, and he and  Kern rushed over to cover Erijay. The beast waved it's four arms in the air and breathed a blast of purple fire  on the three, but Erijay kept hammering at the stone. Meanwhile, the rest could see a legion of undead marching towards them, skeletons, ore bones, zombies and others all lead by a grey, dessicated thing. It now looked grim, but with a final swing Erijay split the black stone asunder. Quickly, she tossed the hammer the Rylee so he could use it to call on Habuu to turn the undead. She joined Kern and Darnorth to battle the now fully materialized  beast. Swords bit deep, and it roared again, this time instilling deep fear in all. As it roared however, Kern and Erijay struck once more and with a final agonizing trash it dissipated into a cloud of pruple smoke and was gone. Suddenly the room around them began to pulse with a strange vibrating energy.
    While Kern and Erijay battled the beast, Riley raised the holy axe at called down the power of Habuu on the approaching doom. In the enter of the column, a mass of skeletons and zombies exploded into a cloud of undead dust and gore.  Raising it again and again, he drove off more of their attackers, while Darnorth and Erijay held the front line and Kern covered them with missile fire. Just as the strange vibration ended, they last of the undead were destroyed. At that moment, they noticed all the undead became 'normal' corpses. And of more immediate interest, all of their equipment returned! Well, almost all. Each noted some item missing, including Kern`s folding boat and ring of invisibility, Rylee`s eyes of the serpent , Bjorn`s magical dagger, and Erijay`s spellbook. While much cursing ensued, they were at least happen to have most of things back.,%20how%20big%20is%20it.jpg
    Assuming the curse was lifted and they could now leave the mine and go collect Duncal from the trolls, they headed off. But first stopped by the huge forge room Kern had scouted earlier, just to see if the beast he`d seen there was the same one they`d just destroyed. It was, but it was not a wasted trip as they discovered a stack of gold ingots which slipped into his secret chest. Now though, it was time to get their reward, so without further exploration they backtracked to the troll halls. One more, the passed through the minotaurs room, again oddly unmolested by the creatures Reaching the troll halls, they confronted the two troll housecarls who stood guard outside the huge doors. The two seemed confused by their presence. Darnorth, listening in with his helm, overhead them trying to figure out who the party were as they seemed to remember something about a bunch of surface peoples visiting a long time ago. Kern managed to make himself understood by asking for Grammlemor, so the guards disappeared through the doors and soon came back with the old troll hag, her head under her arm. With her smattering of Common, she spoke to the party, and expressed surprise that they returned after being gone so long. Asked how long they had been gone, Grammlemor put down her head and started counting fingers, stopping at about 60. It would appear that time passed much more slowly inside the temporal distortion than they thought!
    Jarl Sveg and his bodyguards now arrived with Duncal in tow. He sent off some of his trolls to dig out one of the blocked mine tunnels, and they soon returned to tell the Jarl that the mine was now free again. True to his word, the Jarl turned over the scrawny heir, noting there`s enough meat on Duncal to make him fit for the stew pot anyway. The Jarl talked a little about where they might find some more slaves to work the mines, either gnomes or men. Rylee tried to recruit  the trolls to help overthrow the March Baron, but that didn`t go over well. The Jarl wasn`t interested in getting tangled up in surface wars; he would get the slaves his own way! He imperiously ordered the party to take Duncal and leave before he changed his mind, and seeing no reason to provoke a fight (or become slaves themselves the party complied. They headed back out through Stonehell, speaking amongst themselves about what might have happened in the two months they`d been gone. They decided that rather than go straight to town, they would hold up in Gurruk and Boohs (who miraculously was still there)`wooded hovel to question Duncal and to plan.

    Saturday, January 25, 2014

    Westmist Session #64 - To the Mines!

    Next morning, the Jarl's housecarls roused the party to prepare them for their foray into the old troll mines. When the Jarl and pair of Virlya joined them, Kern posed a few questions to the troll leader. Specifically looking for more information on the layout of the mines (was there a map?) and where the mysterious stele was located. Unfortunately Jarl Sveg could tell them little, as the discovery of the stele and summoning of the malign spirit occurred many years ago, and he could not recall details of the mine. Besides, undoubted many areas had become unstable and collapsed over the years so any map would likely be useless. He could tell them at least that the stele was discovered at the far western end of the mine. Kern also talked the Jarl out of a pair of the troll's sheep, to use as food on the hoof and/or bait when battling in the mines.

    That done, the Jarl and his housecarls lead the party to the only mine entrance still unblocked (stopping at the infravision statue to get all the humans some night sight on the way). The entrance was right next to the elevator the party had been using, so they has to pass through the minotaur lair to get there. Which they were able to do without incident thanks to the two Vrilya who accompanied the Jarl. Once in the mine tunnels, the Jarl took his leave of the party and returned to his halls. The party, forming a marching order and hefting weapons, headed out. After just a few steps, the walls around them started to fade away. The next thing everyone knew, they were waking up in a large mined out chamber. Most notably, all their equipment and supplies were gone, and they were dressed just in old rags and equip with mining tools and lanterns. They were also not alone.  A half dozen skeletons, equip much like themselves, approached. The party prepared to do battle, and Riley began to call on the power of Habuu to drive away the undead fiends. Only to realize he had no holy symbol with which to channel the wrath of his god. And was unable to see in the dark anyway, as his infravision lens were likewise gone. So all raised shovels and picks and dealt with them the old fashioned way; smashing them. But these skeletons were tougher than normal, with bones encrusted in mineral deposits. One of the skeletons killed a sheep, and Darnorth vaulted over the other wooly creature to aid his embattled comrades. Lacking their usual armor and weapons, the skeletons hurt the party badly before the last one fell.
    After first aid and healing, the party looked around the room. A well stood in one corner, and everyone went to look, hoping their equipment might be in there. Alas it contained only scummy water. Erijay examined the skeletons, and noticed one was encrusted in minerals shot through with flecks of gold. She took one of the broken femurs to use as a backup weapon. But nothing else of use or interest was found, so the party prepared to head west, still hoping  to find the stele and deal with it. Having first dealt with a band of (thankfully) regular skeletons that wandered into the room, they passed out into the mine tunnels. These were all roughly dug and propped up with timbers. As the Jarl warned, they were also quite unstable, and the sounds of creaking wood and small rockfalls echoed around them. Following the winding tunnels, they entered another mine chamber. Darnorth saw immediately that the load here was not mined out, and veins of gold still snaked through the walls. For once though, the dwarf was uninterested in the shiny metal. He instead led the party out of the room down a slating corridor. And next thing everyone knew, they were back in the well room, with no idea of how they got there or how much time had passed.

    So back down the tunnels they marched, heading west out of the gold-chamber this time. They immediately entered another open area, this one occupied by another group of skeletons. These undead were picking up rocks and placing them in a trio of mining carts, a task they stopped at once when the party appeared. Several picked up tools and prepared to attack, while the rest of the skeletons grabbed a mine cart and rolled it down the slope towards the intruders.  The cart slammed into Darnorth, throwing him to the ground. Rather than risk a knock down fight in their under-equip state, Bjorn cast a web spell to trap the ore carts and as many of the undead as possible. The rest were taken down by mining tools and thrown rocks.

    Burning away the web that now blocked their progress west, they headed out again and once more broke into a mined out chamber. This one contained a small alter carved out of stone. Riley, wracking his brain to remember his clerical training, identified it as a shrine to Lughrin, the old god of miners. And behind it hung a silver warhammer, which the cleric recalled was the holy symbol of the mining god. Darnorth snatched the weapon from it's hook, while Kern examined the altar for traps. He found no traps, but did notice what appeared to be a hollow or hole under the stone. Gurruk bent down and started digging it out, and uncovered a trove containing flasks of holy water, 3 potions of extra healing, and a clerical scroll (bless, resist cold x3, continual light, striking x2). This fortunate find was shared among the group, and then Darnorth and hammer led them once more to the west.
    And right into trouble. Breaking into the chamber, the party encounter a large space occupied by dozens of the undead. Knowing better than to provoke a fight, they tried to retreat. But the evil creatures had seen them, and a group of the mineral encrusted skeletons turned to pursue. Kern and Darnorth bravely blocked to passage to allow the rest of the party to escape and look for a way to get around the undead filled room. On the way, Gurruk staked their last sheep at the far of the tunnel where the dwarf and merchant were fighting, then whistled to the pair to retreat. Which they did, passing the sheep and following the rest of the p[arty down a northward running tunnel. Thankfully, their pursuers were distracted by the easily reached living flesh, and the party escaped to the sounds of a bleating sheep being rendered to bits by the skeletons.!/image/159634990.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_476/159634990.jpg
    Fleeing, they ran into a trio of zombie like undead. Like the mineral skeletons, these proved tougher to deal with than originally thought. One hit Darnorth with a swing of it's shovel, and a cold chill crept through the dwarf, who was slowed for the next while. But they were able to defeat the three, and head further to the northeast. They entered another chamber, this one showing signs of an old battle. To the west a strange purple glow was seen, so Kern crept down that way to have a look. There, a huge chamber was lit by a massive blast furnace that glowed with an odd purple flame. Outlined by the flame was a reptilian creature, 15 feet tall and with four arms and a horn on it's nose. And out of the room came a voice with a sound beyond space and time: "I hear you, but do not see you. Who are you?" That raised the hair on the back of Kern's neck, so he scuttled back to the party, who were getting ready to leave by the northern exit.
    Before they could move though, a strange knocking was heard in the walls. Listening carefully, Darnorth suddenly recognized it as a form of miner's code, used to communicate underground. The knocking told them "danger north, go south and follow instructions". Not sure if they should trust the message, but equally unsure if they could afford not to trust it at this point, they obeyed. They were led south and then back north, past the room in which they first awoke. Passing through another couple of chambers without incident, they now found themselves in one with signs of an old cave-in. And waiting  for them there was a ghostly spirit. The figure was dressed in miners gear and introduced himself as Mass Rapert. He had been one of the trolls human slaves, captured when the occupants of the Stonehell prison broke into the troll mines those many years before. He was in the mine when the stele was discovered, and saw the destruction caused by the evil spirit. He died in the chaotic infighting caused by  the twisted malevolent presence of the beast, but neither became undead nor was able to move on to the afterlife until the spirit is destroyed. He offered to help the party however he could. Asked first about all their stuff, Maas told them they were no longer in the same time and place as their gear. The presence of the spirit had ripped the mines free of Stonehell into a temporal distortion. All their worldly goods were back in their own reality, back in the dungeon. He told them to escape back to their own place and time, they had to use the blessed hammer of Lughrin to smash the stele that houses the evil spirits essence, and then slay the thing. Otherwise, it would be invulnerable to physical destruction. The hammer however, would only work in the hands of a righteous soul. Peering into each set of eyes, Maas finally settled on Erijay, saying "here is the righteous soul who may wield the hammer". So Darnorth dutifully listened to the ghost, and handed his treasure to the elf. Asking now about other weapons, Maas told them the old mine guardroom was located just to the north, and they could find some weapons and armor there. But they would have to fight more undead to get there ...

    Sunday, January 19, 2014

    Westmist Session #63 - In the Halls of the Mountain Trolls

    A few days were spent in Westmist while Bjorn rewrote some lost spells in his spell book. Erijay took the time to inquire about the lightning glove she has taken from the Vrilya. Asking the usual suspects, she found herself back buying expensive brandy for Bazzrel. The voluble wizard wasn't of much help, saying that the Vrilya were a nigh semi-mythical race of which little was known.  What little had been seen of their magic showed it to be different from the magics of the surface world. Following up on this comment, Erijay cast detect magic on the glove, and it glowed with an odd light. Much the same as happened when they had testing Kern's jumpsuit. What was the connection between the two?
    Meanwhile, Kern was back at the house when Riker announced that an officer from the King's Blue Company was at the door, demanding to speak with the head of the household. Kern complied, and the officer informed the master merchant that he was appropriating the house for billeting troops of the company. Thinking that that was going to put a crimp on their lives, Kern negotiated a deal with the officer. Rather than put the troops up in their own home, Kern offered to pay (no,no not a bribe) to house the men elsewhere. After some persuasion, the officer agreed and walked away with a 300gp 'housing allowenece".

    With Bjorn's studies complete, the full party gathered (less Booh who was to large to fit in the narrow tunnels) and prepared to depart for Stonehell, aiming to recover Duncal from the mountain trolls. As they headed out of town, they heard rumors that the rival adventuring band who was now working with the March Baron had pledged 2000gp towards paying off the debt to the King. A act of philanthropy that had everyone in town singing their praises. It was enough to make everyone glad to be headed back into the depths and darkness again. And back they went, passing through the upper levels with little trouble, finding themselves back on the 4th level in the many pillared room. Following the map from the last delves, the party formed up (Kern scouting invisibly ahead) and headed towards the elevator down. And were stopped at once by the dropped portcullis, which stymied the attempts of the party brutes to open. Riley on the other hand lifted it with ease, and everyone passed through, heading for the room of mists. But were stopped short when a quartet of ogres emerged from that room. Darnorth tried to talk their way past the brutes, as the party was uninterested in risking a fight at this point. But the ogres were in a foul mood, tired of these surface interlopers passing through their territory. The four raised their clubs and charged, but three were felled quickly by a combination of lighting bolt from Darnorth's ring and swinging swords from everyone else. Seeing how quickly his comrades bit the dust, the fourth ogre surrendered. And the party accepted that surrender. Which was good, because at this point Gurruk heard a snuffling sound , and turned to see a huge cave bear emerge from the passage behind them. Thinking they could distract the bear, the party tried lifting one of the dead ogres and tossing it to the bear. Unfortunately, the brute was too big and Darnorth collapsed under the weight of the corpse. However, the bear wasn't too aggressive, but stood on it's hind legs and started to sniff and growl and swing it's head around. Pulling the dwarf out from under the corpse, and dragging their ogre captive with them, the party slowly retreated through the mist room.  To everyones relief, the bear stopped to feast on the dead ogres.
    Moving now into the large cave with the elevator, the party questioned the ogre. He told them his tribe lived in this part of the caves, ruled by one called 'Clacker". It was Clacker who was upset that the party was passing though his caves. To the west were the caves of the bezerkers. Asked about the trolls, the ogre said the trolls sometimes hired the ogres as guards and grunts. They party also learned that the trolls were great lovers of gold, and it was a gold mine they had dug in the depths of the mountain, mainly using gnome and human slaves. But some years ago, the slaves had dug too deep and released an evil spirit in the mines. To keep it in, the trolls had collapsed the entrances into the mine, and had been trying to figure out a way to regain their past glory and wealth ever since.

    Grateful for the information, the party decided to let the ogre go as long as he didn't tell Clacker about them ("Ugg agrees. Say cave bear ate friends!"). That done, Kern sized up the elevator control panel and set the switches in the right order to de-energize the cage and set it moving. Back on the fifth level, the party sized up their map once again and figured they would look for a connecting route to the troll halls that didn't involve passing through the minotaur guardroom. The first branch led into a large chamber with the ruined remains of wooden furniture and mining implements. The exit to the west was blocked by fallen rubble. When Darnorth examined it, he noted that it looked like the tunnel was deliberately collapsed, not a random accidental cave-in. Erijay began poking around looking for a secret exit, but instead found a round stone plug in the floor,  about 2 feet in diameter. She and Darnorth grabbed some old miners picks from the rubble and (after Kern and checked it for traps) pried the plug up. Underneath was a shallow hole, and it it lay a pile of gold nuggets. Which were quickly scooped up (after a paranoid Kern again checked for traps) and distributed to the party. Rylee refused to take any, figuring that if they tried negotiating with the trolls, the creatures might not like the idea of the party pilfering their gold. If Rylee was empty handed, he could offer to be searched to cover the party's collective behinds.
    After digesting this bit of wisdom, the party realized there was no obvious way to bypass the minotaurs. In the hopes of sneaking past them, Rylee cast silence on a coin and gave it to Kern. Who then sneaked ahead to see what the minotaurs were up to. He found them clustered around the hook-hung bodies, tearing one to pieces and having a little feast. Figuring this was a good a time to sneak by as any, Kern waved the rest of the party forward. Under the cloak of the silence spell, they slipped around the corner into the room, and headed for the closest exit. One of the minotaurs smelled manflesh though, and the whole pack turned to face the party, snorting and steaming. They didn't advance though, so the party slowly backed out of the room and into the tunnel for which they'd been heading. Now past that obstacle, Kern once more took the lead, finding another mined out chamber. This one was largely empty, but for a boulder carved in the shape of a man in one alcove. The figure was crude, but dressed as a miner and carrying a pick and hammer. It was solid, except for the mouth which was a slot. Kern shone his continual light coin in the slot, and he saw it curved down into the boulders belly. Darnorth, out of curiosity,  dropped a coin in the mouth. He noted momentarily a burst of better vision, so Rylee tried it next. The cleric of Habuu immediately gained the ability to see in the dark. So the other humans (Kern, Bjorn and Gurruk) all dropped a coin in, and the party now proceeded without light sources.

    Passing several dead end passages, Kern stopped at the next chamber to listen. Hearing nothing, he once more turned to beckon the party forward. And nearly put his foot down on a red jelly-like thing on the floor. Backing away, Kern retreated to the rest of the party while the jelly followed. Shooting at it with a crossbow bolt, Kern scored a hit. Which broke the thing into 5 smaller pudding which lashed out with pseudpods at the party. Who responded with a cycle of oil and torches until the things were dried husks on the floor. Stepping over them, the party continued on and Kern soon saw ahead a huge cavern. 20' high and stretching beyond the limits of his vision, from it emerged a strange sound; the sound of sheep and goats bleating.  The merchant slipped forward invisibility and silently (using the coin still). Further on he found a pen with sheep and goats, a set of double stone doors 15' tall, and a huge rusting rock crusher. And next to the rock crusher, two ogre like creature. Taller than ogres though, they wore crude metal and leather armor over thick, knotted skin. Each sported a pigs tail and carried a two handed sword. Kern now moved back towards the party to confer. Figuring these must be the mountain trolls, the party decided to slip forward and watch further before deciding what to do. Just then, anther odd creature burst out of the double doors. It looked much like the other two, but sported three heads! Two of the heads seemed to be in some sort of crazy argument (based on what Darnorth heard using his helm) while the third  called out to the other creatures, telling them to 'go join the feast'. With grunts of 'thanks Onkel Harold', the two left though the double doors. At which point, Onkel Harold went over the the sheep and goats in the pen, picked one up and started eating it alive.
    Figuring talking rather than fighting might be worth it this time, Darnorth stepped forward with a rakish smile, hopping the brute spoke Common. As in insurance policy however, Bjorn stayed back in the shadows preparing the ritual to summon an elemental with his censor, while Erijay began casting an arcane lock from her spellbook to bar the double doors and prevent any reinforcements arriving. Onkel Harold did speak rough Common, and Darnorth opened negations.  After a while, the three headed troll suddenly turned to go back through the double doors saying 'he had to talk to someone'.

    The party let him go, and prepared for the worst. After awhile, heavy footsteps were heard on the other side of the double doors. Erijay quickly moved forward to hold them open so whoever it was didn't take offense at being trapped by her arcane lock. Out of the doors strode a multitude of mountain trolls, led by a huge one in a golden crown. Next to him stood another oddity, an old troll hag, holding her head under here arm rather than on her shoulders! The huge troll announced himself as King Sveg, and asked what the party wanted. Darnorth again spoke up, and offered to re-open the trolls gold mine by killing the evil spirit that inhabited the old workings. In return, the party wished only one particular slave of the trolls. Looking at the troll king's entourage, they spied the weedy Duncal, and pointed him out. Puzzled as to why they would want such a weak specimen, the King none the less (after consulting two Vrilya who were now seen in the mass of trolls) agreed to the bargain. King Sveg warned that it would not be an easy task. First, once in the mines, the party would not be able to leave until the demon spirit had been banished. Second, the spirit was immune to many spell (including those of Gammlemmor Olga, the troll hag with the head under her arm). Third, it also regenerated when hurt, ever faster than the rubbery skinned relatives of the mountain trolls.
    Undeterred, the party sealed the bargain. Rylee quietly dispelled Erijay's arcane lock, and King Sveg invited the adventurers to attend his feast now underway, and then to rest in his halls before heading to the cursed mines. To this everyone agreed, and they were led into the depths of the troll's halls to a huge banquet hall set with food and drink. And after feasting, they settled in for an nights rest before starting new in the morning.