Monday, November 18, 2013

Proselytizing (and Stabbing) in the Name of Herbert the Pig God

Dramatis Personae:
  • Indis the Elf, aka "Crowbar" (played by Cori)
  • Filibert Fairbarn the Halfling (played by Ben)
  • Ambiorix the Fighter (played by Sam)
  • Panope the Cleric (NPC, but run in combat by Sam)
  • ...and introducing Xanna the Thief (played by Amanda)
Bones vs. Animals vs. Shiny Objects
As the party reached the top of the Treacherous Stair they found themselves face with three possible entrances into the depths of the Great Glacier.  In front of the left tunnel were scattered several broken stone tools and weapons as well as the gnawed-upon bones of many creatures.  The middle tunnel showed signs of entry and exit by a creature or creatures with long, thin lizard-like feet ending in three talons... and what's more, something just inside the tunnel was glittering!  The right-hand tunnel smelled strongly of animals and just inside its entrance lay the frozen and ripped-open body of a large wolverine.  Not-so-surprisingly, the adventurers decided to take their chances with the middle tunnel and its glittery contents.

All That Glitters...
Ice Trolls!
Inside, the glitter turned out to actually be gold.  In particular, half a dozen bricks of the metal (each about the size of a 1/4" thick playing card), stamped in an unreadable language.  It was stacked neatly in the middle of the tunnel, as if left there on purpose.

Further exploration led to a room filled with discarded bones and some kind of carnivorous beast scat* and then another chamber scattered with more gold (coins this time) and contemporary weapons (contemporary for the setting--swords and the like, not AK-47s).  

It was in the third chamber--after Ambiorix and Fil fell through a cleverly-disguised pit in the floor--that the denizens of this tunnel were identified:  Ice Trolls!  As the fighter and halfling struggled their way out of the pit, three of the monsters leapt across it and attacked the rest of the party.  (Fortunately, Ambiorix had a Rope of Climbing to aid him and Fil out.)  Thinking quickly, Indis used a Phantasmal Force spell to create an illusionary cube of fire around the trolls, which not only bought enough time for Ambiorix and Fil to get themselves out of the pit trap, but also allowed Xanna to soften up the monsters a bit using her crossbow.  The illusion trapped the trolls for several rounds and, after attacking them with flaming oil-- and finally swords--the party had dispatched them.

Victorious but bloodied, everyone decided to find a defensible position and heal overnight.  (Aided significantly by Xanna's ingenious "portable heater" made of candles, clay pots, and a tent.)

I Am the Prophet of Herbert!
Morlocks.  Lots and lots of them.
The next day, our heroes decided to exit the troll tunnel and explore the left-hand passageway marked by discarded bones and stone tools.  Descending deeper into the glacier, they eventually discovered a guardroom filled with blue-skinned primitives who also seemed to keep albino apes as pets/servants.  Instead of rushing to attack, it was decided that Fil should try to communicate with them.  Who knows, maybe the creatures would honor the PCs as heroes for destroying the ice trolls?  (You can see where this is going already, can't you?)

Between Indis's ice pictograms and Fil's grunting and pantomime, it seemed like the Morlocks (for that's what they were) understood.  Suspicious but open, they escorted the characters through the tunnels (at spearpoint, it should be mentioned) and into a massive cavern filled with a ruined city, an underground lake, and a village of crude huts.

Just as it seemed that all might be well, however, the party was pushed to the center of town where there stood a crudely-carved statue of a six-legged dragon.  As the party drew closer, the hundred-some Morlocks began to chant "Ch-thisst! Ch-thisst!"  A shaman appeared, covered in tattoos and wearing a necklace made of the same kind of gold bricks found earlier.  Raising a ceremonial stone dagger over his head, the shaman motioned for Fil to step forward.  Not quite ready to be sacrificed to the Dragon God, Fil instead grunted and motioned for the shaman to stand down.  And then he produced Herbert the Two-Headed, Possibly-Enchanted, Golden Piglet Statue from his pack and raised it above his head like an idol, demanding worship. Enraged by this blasphemy, the shaman leapt at Fil while commanding his followers to attack.

And that's when Indis's illusions saved the party once again.  Just as the mob of angry, armed monsters were closing in, she made it appear that the Dragon God itself had come and was about to devour everything in its path.  The Morlock village lost its shit.  A dozen or so monsters (including the shaman) attempted to destroy the interlopers who'd made their god so angry that he decided to show up in person, but most of them ran for cover.

And thus began a running fight to the village's back gate.  It was close a couple of times--Xanna escaped with a single hit point remaining, and most everyone else was battered and bruised--but eventually everyone made it away from the village and into the dark maze of the ruined city beyond.  Taking cover in one of the ruined buildings, the party decided once again to make camp and formulate the next step in their quest for the Frozen City's legendary gold...

The Frozen City.  No, the Coke sign is not really there.
I borrowed the map from here.

Tabletop photo by Sam.

* Carnivorousness is the assumption, at least, when poo contains teeth and bits of bone.

Friday, November 15, 2013

When Last We Left Our Heroes...

Filibert Fairbarn the Halfling, Ambiorix the Fighter, and Indis the Most Metal Elf Ever (plus assorted henchpersons) had stopped by Frostwyk to visit Ambiorix's family home whilst en route to the fabled Frozen City of the north.  (The city being famous for its supposed hoard of strangely-marked gold guarded by white apes.)
Maeglynn Icewine, half-sister of Ambiorix

At Icewall, Rethel "The Boar" Icewine's estate, the fighter found his father had become older and frailer, though the Lord was happy to see that his bastard son had found and brought home his daughter, the missing Maeglynn. (She had been charmed and then kidnapped by the vampire Polidori.)

After a short stay, the party continued north to the Treacherous Stair leading to the great glacier and the City it supposedly encapsulates.  In the narrow canyon, they were set upon by harpies but destroyed the beasts without loss.

After several days' journey, the group now finds itself at the glacier's edge, the enormous wall of ice stretching for what seems like miles above their heads.  Here at the top of the Stair, three tunnels of man-height burrow into the ice.  Bones litter their entrances and a freezing cold breeze wafts from inside, the air smelling of steel and death...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Try the Roast Boar, It's Excellent.

Ravensport, the Eastern Labyrinth.
A sprawling maze of cobblestone streets wrapped in wet fog.
Port of mystery, nest of corruption and dark dealings.
Also, some of the restaurants are pretty good.

Early spring and the chill of winter still clings to the air in Ravensport, largest and oldest port city of the Eastern Alliance.  After a night of carousing at the Red Arrow tavern, clerics Ephraim the Pious ( +S Pate ) and Norf ( +Josiah Pisciotta ), and magic user Pelagios ( +Robert Charles, W. ) make their way into the dark and mostly-empty streets.  Suddenly, a pained shriek splits the air.  Never ones to turn down an adventure, the trio hustle toward the darkened alley from which the noise came.

Drawing weapons and torches, they enter the narrow aisle to find a prostrate young man in fine garb, his chest cut open from breastbone to navel, his belt pouches torn open, and his blood soaking the cobblestones.  Towering over and pawing at him is a strange beast:  humanoid in form but seven feet high and four or five feet wide and dressed in a flowing purple robe decorated in gold symbols.  The creature turns to face our three adventurers, revealing mottled gray skin covered in warts and growths, a snout-like nose and tusked mouth, and hands and feet ending in thick, three-toed claws.

"Stop! What are you doing?" the party yells, but their only answer is a harsh phrase in a language none of them speak.  As they advance on the creature, it leaps into the air and claws its way up the side of one of the buildings.  Ephraim and Pelagios rush to tend to the injured man and Norf attempts to hold the monster with a spell.  It pauses for a second then shakes off the enchantment and climbs onto the roof, disappearing.

Between the two clerics (Norf and Ephraim), they quickly pull the injured man back from death's door but after a brief thanks, he seems to want nothing more than to make a quick escape.  He even leaves his spilled coins on the ground.

While the two clerics spend the rest of the night asking Red Arrow patrons and city watchmen about strange purple-robed monsters (rumors speak of an influx of purple-robed wizards in the city), Pelagios disappears to the far side of the city to check out the local mages' guild which, at midnight, is closed.  So rather than waste too much time looking for monsters, he decides to check in to The Unicorn, a fancy inn, and sample their luxury rooms and fine fare.

The next morning, Ephraim and Norf arrive at breakfast to find out from a city watchman that the man they saved is the son of a wealthy merchant house in Ravensport... and that he never returned home last  night.  And speaking of missing persons, where is that magic user guy who was in our party, anyway?

Oh there he is.  Walking through the market and guild district, the clerics pass by a rather posh-looking inn and there, through the front window, they spy Pelagios living quite large on roast boar, potatoes, bread, cheese, and a morning glass of wine.  At this point Norf and Ephraim also decided that a hearty meal in comfortable surroundings took precedence over chasing down monsters, so the three characters sat down to a lengthy second breakfast until, finally, they caught sight of a purple-robed figure passing by on the street.  No wait.  Ephraim sticks his head out the door to see that the purple wizard has disappeared into the mages' guild.  And thennnnn.... they go back to eating, finishing their meal before wandering back toward the guild.

[I'm thinking all of these guys should have played hobbits halflings.  Yes, there were monsters and bad guys and mysterious locales but we seemed to spend a lot of the session focused on food and drink.]

After a quick trip in and out of the mages' guild (where they pretty much got swindled into donating 200gp for only a little useful information), they spot a different purple-robed mage out on the street who leads them into a back alley, through a side-door, and down into a basement where he procedes to threaten the characters.  "Stop asking questions," he tells them.  That advice doesn't really work for them and after a few minutes, the mage disappears through a warded door and calls in four armed guards.

And here began the melee of not-so-great-fighters.  Seriously.  Three characters vs. four minor guards and the battle took at least a half-hour--most of which was spent swinging weapons to no effect on both sides.  Eventually, though, the characters won out.

But how to get past the warded door?  Well, Pelagios decided to set it on fire with a torch, Norf added a flask of oil, and then Ephraim beat the smoldering remains from the frame with a trusty 10' pole.

What lies in the darkness beyond?

Only the next session will tell...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Picture Post IV - Locales

Still haven't found time to play (funny how teaching part-time, running three companies, performing, and trying to have a social life and marriage can eat into your gaming).  But I did have a few minutes for mindless web surfing and happened across these ultra-cool locales.  Will have to work them into future games.... someday....

The cathedral stood for hundreds of years until the townspeople
discovered what the high priest was really up to.

Stonecroft Eyrie, last inn on the edge of the wilds.

Castle Corlaggon, once a bastion of law and order, but
swallowed by the waters of Lake Minoth some 30 years ago.
None who dwelt within ever came back out.

You can still see the remains of the old mill and forge above.
It's the strange rumbling and clanging from beneath the ground
that disturbs passers-by.

The Perilous Stair before the Temple of Felos.

These are no ordinary trees.  Local legend says they contain the
souls of an honorable farmer and his family who fell afoul of
the Swamp Witch.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Picture Post III

Lots of desire but no real time to game, lately.  So, I'm filling my head and blog with images for future inspiration.

What stories or adventure hooks do you see?












Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mystery of the Forest Crone

Ancient maid, old as the hills
twisted and bent like the hoariest oak.
Who is she?
What does she want?
What does she know?
Answer in the comments below...

Created by the inestimable Brian Froud.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

In the Service of the White Queen

I woke up this morning with an apparently severe case of polyhedritis, possibly brought on by a flailsnail bite in the night.  And so, bereft of my usual gaming crew (they all have lives, apparently;  how dumb), I decided to run my first-ever online game via Google+.  While I need to process what worked and what didn't a little bit more, I can easily say that it was a fun evening and a very good substitute for the "real thing" of running a tabletop game.  Definitely looking forward to doing it again.

Four adventurers walk into a bar.  Trite, right?  Here's the thing--I was adapting to the format and technology, so I kept everything about the adventure as comfortable as possible so that my brain had some extra processing power.


We started everyone at 3rd level.

Scene:  The Wilderland Inn, a cold night just after New Year's Day.

The door of the inn flies open and a man wrapped in a weather-beaten cloak and carrying a sheathed sword in one hand stumbles inside.  A massive gash on his forehead gushes blood.  He slumps into the nearest booth and proceeds to pass out and bleed all over the floor and furniture.  While Nack the Monk is tending to the man's wounds, Orias keeps an eye out for suspicious characters and Brom and Henry run outside to see if the man's assailants can be found.  They see a couple of cloaked figures run off into the woods at the edge of the courtyard and give chase.

Meanwhile, Nack and Orias determine that the man (whose name we later learn is Aden) has actually been poisoned and is delirious as well as being almost out of blood.  A doctor is called for and Nack manages to secret away Aden's sword when his poison-fueled ramblings reveal that it is valuable and sought-after by the "Frost Witch".  More wrestling and shenanigans ensue when a dwarf from the tavern feeds Aden some Ouskae that sends him almost literally through the roof.  Eventually, Nack punches the poor guy in the back of the head as he's trying to run back outside, knocking him out on the Inn's front step.  With Aden unconscious, the Monk and Curmudgeon head outside and hear chaos in the woods.  At this point, Nack straps on the sword-belt and instantly becomes impervious to the winter cold.  Curious.

The woods lead to a ravine with a shallow creek running through it.  In the moonlight, we find Brom and Henry going head-to-head with a pair of goblin assassins and their warg steeds.  Nack and Orias join the fray, and eventually one of the goblins and both wargs are dispatched.  The second goblin-- whose name is really Skweek but who quickly earns the moniker "Gollum" for his whining and fightiness--is taken prisoner, tied up, and secreted back to Nack's room at the Inn.  (The party wanted to collect the warg hides but beat a fast retreat when additional howls make them suspect that reinforcements are on the way.)

Back at the Inn, the doctor heals up everybody (including Aden), and sleep, breakfast, and rumor-mongering is had.  Local gossip says a witch has taken up residence in an abandoned keep a few days southeast of the Inn.  Aden tries to find out what happened to his sword but Nack refuses to give any clues and then buys up all of the extra horses so no one (especially Aden) can follow the party on the next phase of their plan, which becomes... give the sword back to the goblin-employing witch and see if they can get a reward?  (Ah, sandbox games... you just never know what's gonna happen, do you?)

The party and their six extra horses take to the road and then, after a day or so, take to the woods when it looks like brigands are causing trouble on the road.  There's some mucking about in the forest--including a flyby by a youngish white dragon--before they finally make it to the ruined keep.  Just like the word on the street said, the keep is now occupied, staffed mostly by armed and cruel goblins.

Givre, the White Queen
After some wrangling with guards, Orias and Henry wait outside with the horses and weapons while Nack and Brom go in to meet the mistress of the castle.  They are led into a large-but-bare banquet hall and are soon joined by Givre, a 7' tall sorceress with pale, frost-tinged skin and a stunningly regal bearing.  She holds out her hand and... they give her the sword!  In exchange, she offers them employment (that thief Aden must die, she says) and a pair of magical silver daggers with sapphire-encrusted scabbards*.

And that's where we left off.  What happens next?  I don't think anyone knows!

*Winter Knives:  +2 cold resistance when the scabbard is worn. +1 to hit and damage.  Add 1d4 cold damage to a successful attack.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

First G+ game going live in ~1 hour

So it looks like this is happening.  <deep breath>

Picture Post II (in which I free-associate over coffee on a foggy morning)

The Responsible Wife is at work on an article this morning, so it's just me and the two birds surveying our foggy domain over coffee.  (Well, I'm having coffee.  Parakeets don't seem to care for that stuff; they're more into bourbon.)

Anyway... time for pictures and the thoughts they stir up.

The Winter Stag, embodiment and avatar of the spirit of
the cold, dark months.  Only when this beast is slain by a hunter is winter officially ended,
though He is reborn every year on Midsummer's Eve.

Givre ("zjiv"), The White Queen*.
An imposing figure, she stands nearly 7' tall and is rumored to have
Frost Giant blood in her veins.  This powerful sorceress has many
machinations at work in the world of men.

Florais ("flor-ay"), The Evergreen.
Sister of Givre, the White Queen.  Opposes her sibling's
 wicked schemes through her own formidable magicks.

Omen of the Crows.
The Learned know its meaning... do you?

Tessa the Red.
Alchemist and seer, she has advised kings and
emperors the world over, commanding a price
that only they could afford.  Rumors set her
age at well over 300 years.

A warning to the marauding wolf-men of the north...

Campfire embellishments that begin innocently enough
eventually lead to perilous quests and wasted lives... 

Falcon watches in vain for the return of her father. 

Ten thousand years later, the Sealing Stone is finally
pushed aside.... from within.  Who (or what) it held
has fallen out of all living memory.  But perhaps the Dead

Elven warriors are allowing themselves to be seen
watching the borders of Idyllann.  What can this outward
display of force mean?

* That's my friend Amy Jo! :-)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013