Using My Monsters

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Post War Session - 28/12/2009

In which the group meet some Dundorin, and find themselves fighting for their lives against a weird denizen of the deep...

2/4/1472

16:00 – The caravan arrives at the outer defences of Karrag'Durzal.

However, as they turn into the valley that leads to the heavily warded path that reaches the keep's front gates, they spot a gathering of about fifty Dundorin, the standards of two separate clans snapping in the breeze – the Ardo'Runar (engineering merchants) and the Brunardoin (mercenaries, prospectors, bodyguards). The gathering appears to be peaceful, though with typical Dundorin paranoia (or many would say pragmatism) the extensive decorated walls of carved stone have been fortified with heavy shields and are patrolled by squat, armoured figures.

As the group move towards the makeshift camp, a small group of Dundorin emerge; one dressed in fine robes of dark red velvet, edged in gold, the others clad in finely crafted plate armour, each adorned with the skin of some golden furred creature (identified by Grigori as Aurumvorax) . The robed Dundorin (who has honey blonde hair and beard, and bright blue eyes), waves as the caravan nears, and appears to be smiling warmly.

Aramyn waves back, a grim smile on his face, and slows the caravan down until it stops by the group.

“Brother Stone Tooth, by Thoridane and Danaduin, what terrible timing” grins the blonde Dundorin.

“Galdar Ardo'Runar, 'tis good to see ye” comes Aradyn's reply. “What's with the outpost, are our cousins in Karrag'Durzal such uncouth dogs that they would see kin freezin' in the mountains?”

Galdar shakes his head, and looks pained. “Ye'd best come into the camp, and I shall tell ye what is happening over a pint or three”.

16:05-16:25 – The group accompany Aramyn as he meets with Galdar, and the leader of the Dunodorin contingent – Khazzadar Brunardoin; a scarred and grizzled Dundorin with a clawed artifice arm, a rune-scribed patch over one eye, and no beard – and the current situation is explained...

The two groups of Dundorin are about to head back to their clan holds after being attacked by the Dundiir of Karrag'Durzal as they moved along the road to their keep. This was despite them flying their clan colours and runes as protocol demands, and making an open display of their strength in numbers and weapons. Attempts were made to contact the Karrag'Durzal Dundiir, but no one within answered. Unsure of what to do, but reluctant to face their cannons again, the two groups are heading off in the morning. They advice the group to do the same.

Aramyn is greatly disturbed by these reports, and puts it to his cousins that the Karrag'Durzal would not open fire (and even more importantly, miss) unless they had a good reason for keeping them away. He proposes a small group head towards the keep to try and find out what is going on, and, if possible, to lend aid.

16:25 – 16:35 – A plan is hatched (Aramyn is aware of several disused tunnels, dug when the silver mines were being expanded, and likely used now for ventilation, and he feels that a group could move through these and gain access to the keep from its mines), and volunteers are sought.

The group state that they shall only go if paid properly. Aramyn offers them 300 gps, but they refuse, demmanding 400 gps and another of his Blunderbusses.

Aramyn gives a disgusted snort, spits on the ground and tells the group that they can stay and watch the caravan whilst he is gone. He then looks towards his cousins, and they offer (in the case of Galdar, with great reticence) troops to accompany him.

However, spotting his reluctance to donate soldiers to the cause, Seren suddenly puts it to Galdar that, for 400 gold and an Aurumvorax skin (which lends fire resistance to anyone wearing it), they will go instead of his troops. Eager to save his valuable soldiers from harm, the merchant agrees (though he is bullied into sending two of his soldiers to accompany Khazzadar and the unit of warriors he will be leading into a separate area of the ventilation tunnels).

Thus, the group agree to accompany Aramyn into the darkness beneath Karrag'Durzal.

17:35 – As darkness and cold steals across the mountains, the group arrive at a series of squat, stone chimneys; ventilation pipes that lead into the tunnels Aramyn spoke of. Aramyn breaks the moss covered lid off one, revealing a tube of carved stone, roughly 4' wide and choked by cobwebs, which falls into gloomy darkness. A stone is dropped, and the sound of it hitting deep water echoes back.

17:36 – 17:50 – One by one, the group climb down the narrow tube, which ends, 60' below; 20' above the surface of a lake of mineral rich, rust-smelling water, still as a mirror and bitterly cold. Bats the size of small mice fill the air, sweeping around the group without ever striking them, and transparent cave fish flit away from the alien invasion into their silent, aquatic world.

Gorthias misses his footing at one point, and sustains some significant injuries as he tumbles 40', striking the water at speed (although the landing is softer than it would be were the surface solid, he still hits with enough force to shatter bones and draw blood).

17:50 – 17:55 – Shivering, teeth chattering, the group swim (with the aid of the swordmage, who, as an elemental humanoid is perfectly at home in the icy waters), towards an area of shallow water to the north of where they have landed, which leads to an island studded with stalagmites and stalactites, and covered in the guano of the hundreds of bats that swoop and chitter in the darkness above them.

However, as the party draw close, a particularly large stalagmite in the middle of the area suddenly reveals itself to be something else. A huge, bloodshot eye opens towards its tip, and a wide mouth, filled with rows of savage, stone teeth yawns towards its base. Festoons of whip-like tentacles, covered in minute, saw-like teeth of flint unfurl from its sides, and immediately begin to whip about, many snaring bats in the area, two, flashing out towards the party.

“ROPER!” Screams Aramyn, and then there is only battle.

17:55 – 18:00 – The battle is short lived but sees significant harm being visited on the group. The monsters tentacles steal the strength of those they grab, and its mouth removes vast chunks from anyone unfortunate enough to be bitten. To complicate matters, where the bat guano is thickest, an invisible miasma of toxic gas hovers (though fortunately, the constitutions of the group prove too strong for its poisonous effects).

Aware that they may face other opponents before they can next rest, the group hold back their most potent attacks. However, they have to use the best tactics they can to stop the monsters consuming any of them.

It is difficult, but eventually, the monster is cracked open, its soft body exposed to the merciless blades and spells of the party, and it gives a final, rumbling scream as its guts are torn out and burned by magic.

The battle is over, with all party members beaten, but alive.

Aramyn searches through the monsters guts and discovers several uncut stones of value (he pockets a Garnet). A stone bearing magic is also found, and given to the barbarian – a stone that can temporarily enchant a weapon if rubbed against it...

Monday, 14 December 2009

Pre-War Session - 7/12/2009

06:30 – The group are back on the road to the Eastern Guild...

06:30 - 08:45 – As the group move along the tunnels, they begin to notice a steady decline in the amount of life. They also begin to notice strangely glowing veins of greenish ore in the stonework, and the occasional cluster of stumpy, luminous crystals; metallic black, but glowing with a sickly green sheen.

08:48 – Sadran dismounts and examines one of the crystal clusters. Ormid joins him, and they realise that it is a growth of Taintstone; a foul material that is formed from the interaction between certain baleful magical energies and normal rocks – and a sign that the environment is polluted with deadly, invisible magics that will, over time, weaken and ultimately kill the group.

08:49 – 08:55 – The group discuss this; Ormid recounting the “headache” he experienced earlier when opening himself to the local magical flux, and with the group suddenly gaining a new insight into the name of the mountain under which they will soon find themselves; Glyr'Tokth, Shining Peak....shining with tainted energy perhaps?

During this discussion, Ormid recounts tales of a highly morphic crystal being brought to Fey from the Risen Isles. Supposedly a material crafted by the little understood Settari (and ancient, extinct race thought to have created humanity), it is renowned for its ability to absorb and neutralise tainted energies (which are alleged to be plentiful and highly varied in certain areas of those strange, exotic lands).

It is also discussed how certain forms of Jade, Obsidian and a few other crystals have a buffering effect against taint.

08:55 – 09:00 – The group discuss several plans to try and prevent themselves suffering from any tainted energies. It is decided that Ormid will open a portal to Lorehaven, and that they shall attempt to obtain either Settari crystal or Jade / Obsidian from one of the vendors that congregate within the Great Halls Market.

09:15 – Ormid works the ritual needed to open the portal to Lorehaven, linking with the teleport circle located in the Apporter's Guild headquarters.

As the portal opens, a waft of foul, warm air redolent with sweat and farts. Leaping through, the group find themselves confronted by the two wild eyed, unwashed attendants who bade them farewell on their last passage through their circle.

It transpires that a few nights ago a terrible wave of blizzards swept over the city, and it seems, buried it. The Apporter's Guild Merchants have been trapped in their work place ever since (having run out of the ritual scrolls needed to open a portal to another place), their attempts to burrow out from the place resulting in tunnel collapses and panic, and the lack of rescue has fuelled a little bit of paranoia!

09:20 – The front door to the offices are opened, and a short tunnel is seen, dug into hard packed snow that has indeed, apparently completely buried the place.

09:22 – Using his enchanted belt to enable him to move more snow, The Veteran tunnels upwards and soon emerges (18' up!) on top of the snow, on a bright, crystal clear, but bitterly cold morning.

Lorehaven (and indeed, many, many other cities in this part of the north) has truly been half buried by the four day blizzard – an unnatural storm of unknown origins (at least to the group).

The lower wards of the city are completely lost beneath almost 30' of snow. As the city rises along its avenues towards the Bardic College and sky port, the degree to which the buildings are buried is lessened somewhat, those on the highest areas only being half buried.

Already the “streets”, which at this part of the city are buried to roof height, are filled with people either trying to dig out their homes, or who are enjoying the bizzare weather for what it is.

09:28 - The apporters, slightly chagrined by their attempts to tunnel along the street, instead of simply heading up, thank the group and promise them free use of their apportation circles in future.

09:30 - A patrol of the city watch hail the group, and their captain – a man Ormid knows from his college days as Rufus Morka – gives an embarrassed grin as he explains that they had completely forgot about the apporters, assuming they would use magic to escape.

09:30 – 18:00 – The group decide to help rescue those trapped by the snows, and to help clear the streets. It is hard work, each member sweating and shivering at the same time.

The day bears much joy as they rescue grateful townsfolk (their good name increasing with each person pulled free), and sorrow as they uncover collapsed homes crushed by the weight of the snows, folks who have simply frozen to death, and a few who, in dread fear, have taken their own lives.

A little after 14:00 hours, they are almost blown apart as two mages from rival schools argue over how best to remove some snow from a particularly weakened home, and eventually come to blows (their magic wrecks the house, though luckily the elderly couple inside are unharmed).

18:45 – Cold, soaking wet and bone tired, the party head to Ormid's home, only to find it still half buried under (now freezing in the sub-zero temperatures) snow.

18:46 – The warforged shoves the snow aside with ease, but stops as it becomes clear that Ormid's reinforced front door is wide open; the snow having pushed its way inside.

At first the party suspect that the sheer weight of the frozen precipitate has forced the door – until they realise that the door opens the other way.

18:48 – Llewellyn examines the doors lock, and spots subtle signs that it has been expertly picked.

18:49 – Weapons and powers at the ready, the group burst into the house...

...darkness, and cold, wet, stillness.

18:50 – 20:00 – A thorough search is conducted of the house. It is discovered that nothing is missing, though a hair-like metal strand spotted by the Vyrleen in the artificers lab is identified as one of those used by the Esoteric Hunters as trimming around the tops of their cloaks.

Worse, the Vyrleen spots a rune that reports back to its creator inscribed alongside the hidden switch that activates the secret door to the labs.

Fury, and a deep desire to hurt the Esoteric Hunters all round!!!

Ormid and the Vyrleen engage in a round of good natured competition, the artificer using his magics to enhance a lock, which the Vyrleen must then pick (end result, Ormid 1, Llewellyn 1).

18/1/50 (Biting icy winds from the north continue to howl over the Feyan North Republic. Crystal clear, but daytime temperatures only reach -12, and at night, fall to -18).

09:30 – After a good – if slightly chilly – nights rest, Ormid, Llewellyn and the Veteran head to the Bardic College to seek out some of the crystals they will need to soak up the taint. Sadran stays at the artificers home, whilst Smite and Ardwaine go to see if they can help dig out more of the cities residents.


10:10 – The group arrive at the college to find hundreds of people enjoying the steam and warmth radiating from the runes set into the main stairs (these generate heat when the air temperature gets low enough to form ice, and get correspondingly warmer the colder it gets), and after spending a little time taking in the sweeping view of the snowbound city from this vantage point, move into the markets.

10:20 – Despite everything, the markets are brimming with activity, and soon the group locate a stall run by an obese, soft-skinned Dundorin, swathed in rich cloths and dripping with jewellery, which offers unusual geological samples.

10:20 – 10:30 – A rather heated round of bartering ensues (Llewellyn manages to swipe a diamond that the merchant allowed out of his sight for a split second), and eventually the group purchase two Kai'Yassanian Jade statues (each one capable of being broken in chunks).

However, as they leave the merchant with their purchases, the treacherous bastard suddenly screams “Thieves! Robbers! Stop Them!” - and an oh so conveniently placed group of Dundorin toughs (bearing glyphs that identify them as mercenaries) moves to attack!

10:31 – 10:35 – The marketplace is ravaged by the battle! The mercenaries are tough as mountain stone, and work well together, and the group are caught off guard by how well they fight. During the fight, the merchant tries to make his escape, but he is tripped up by Ormid, and knocked unconscious.


Apart from one mercenary, who's head is smashed open by the rogues adamantium mace, all are subdued rather than killed, and as the guards arrive, they are taken into custody.

10:40 – 15:00 – The group spend time with the city officials going over what occurred in the market. Luckily for them, a number of other merchants validate their story, and they are released without any further questions being asked.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Post War Session - 8/12/2009

And so the tale continues. Caz couldn't make this session, so her barbarian took a back seat. However, horror, bloodshed and battle still plagued the party...

06:50 – 07:30 – The sword is a blasphemous tool of utter evil; a bone-bladed hand-and-a-half sword, inscribed with foul prayers to dark powers, and given awareness by the spirit of a powerful daemon.

As the group approach the Kingfisher, they hear horrible, braying laughter echoing from within, followed by Jaden's furious voice. As they move through the taproom, they see several dazed looking locals, streaked with dirt and blood staring vacantly with untouched drinks, though they flinch as more horrific screaming laughter bursts from above.

Outside the suite where the sword is being held, the group find Jaden, pale and wounded, leaning on the balustrade, breathing heavily, his face a mask of mute rage.

Within the room waits Adrielle, Urdoin and Brynn. The group find that Adrielle has scribed a containing circle around the weapon, and used small blessed amulets to seal it – hopefully containing any baneful influence the wicked sword could possible cast forth. As the group enter, the sword begins to insult them in a harsh, braying voice, brimming with contempt and mocking arrogance.

It tells them that they are doomed, and that when the vial is found, that the world will end.

Despite their best efforts, the group are unable to intimidate or communicate in any meaningful way with the weapon. Varracuda suggests bonding with the weapon, to try and force communication with it, but everyone with any kind of understanding reacts with abject horror at this idea, fearing that the swordmage would be immediately devoured by the swords essence. Instead, it is decided that the sword will be taken to Peregrine, to the Ecclesiarchy of Mysteries, where it can be properly bound and interrogated by powerful magi-priests of Merriel'Shaava.

For the first time, the weapon goes quiet – and the group know that this plan is the one that is most likely to succeed.

During this time there are several arguments between Adrielle, her rogue, and the group (Brynn remains silent the whole time, though he flinches whenever the sword speaks or laughs). At one point, it looks like Emmiven and Adrielle may come to blows, though the mage reigns in her obvious fury (it is of interest to note here that Seren and Adrielle have a conversation at this point which involves Adrielle perhaps being Seren's sponsor when she comes to seek the title and rank of Wizard in the Unified Order – as long as she agrees to keep an eye on the swordmage...)

It is also during this time that the group work out – thanks to comments made by the sword – that the vial is one of the five deadly receptacles into which the essence of the dread arch-necromancer Jantherak Shade Binder was bound following his physical destruction a the hands of Ivig and his allies after the ancient Guild Wars (in other words, it is a thing of utter and ineffable evil, who's legends are soaked with tales of apocalyptic horror)

07:30 – 08:00 – The group discuss their next plan, feeling suddenly incredibly weary and lost. It is decided that they shall take up the Dundorin merchant Aramyn up on his offer to accompany him to the city,so they can take the vial to the Ecclesiarchy (though they will not reveal to anyone that they have the vial).

08:05-09:00 – Whilst Jager and Emmiven meet with Aramyn to inform him of their decision (they negotiate a good price; 500 gold, plus two Dundorin Blunderbusses), the rest of the group re-meet with Adrielle to discuss what will happen with the sword.

It is decided that Adrielle and her company shall leave roughly half a day after the party do, with an armoured wagon. Within this wagon, Adrielle will carve another binding circle, and keep the sword in this. The plan means that should there by trouble on the road, the dundorin caravan with its many guards and the group will likely run into it first, and with luck, remove it. This has been done to minimize the risk of the blade falling into “the wrong hands” (though of course, if the Unified order mage knew that the group carried one of the five vials, she might feel this plan pointless).

09:30 – 13:00: The different parties seek some sleep and food before they begin their next journey.

14:30 – The party meet with Aramyn, and are introduced to his employees (five Dundorin, and his second in command, a gruff, monosyllabic female named Selodynn). Then, after a brief discussion on tactics, they leave the town and head northwest; first for the Dundorin stronghold of Karrag'Durzal, some eight days away, and then on to Peregrine.

25/3/1472 – 31/3/1472) – Cold, but increasing day length; bright sunny days and clear, cold nights.

For the past five and a half days, the party have made good progress through the rough terrain of the Southguard Foothills, the Dundorin artifice wagon crawling along on reinforced wheels, a plume of black smoke trailing from its engines.

The thaw has definitely started, and the sound of rushing, icy water echoes through the scrubby forest that lines the foothills of the Southguard Mountains. The group are two days away from Karrag'Durzal and spirits are high.

14:20 – 14:30 However, as the caravan moves into a gentle valley, studded with ancient spruces and larches and large boulders, a terrible roar fills the air, along with heavy, crude arrows. Suddenly, from either side of the valley charge hulking figures, clad in kilts of animal skin and wielding huge, heavy cleavers. Gorgoth!

“Gorga” screams Aramyn as he shakes his battle axe free, as the first sounds of combat ring from the wider circle of patrolling Dundorin (accompanied by the barbarian).

And then there is only battle!

It is a brutal battle, with the greenskins dealing devastating blows with their notched war cleavers, and peppering the group with their heavy headed, flint bladed arrows. Grigori is quickly taken down as he is peppered by arrows, despite Varracuda delaying the inevitable with a reflexively woven arcane aegis. Luckily, the warlord shakes him back to consciousness, and the priest works through his agony to unleash a maelstrom of healing magic, restoring almost everyone nearby to full health.

Aramyn and Gorthias battle with a bunch of hulking Gorgoth Gogs, and their leader; a Gorg of horrible stature wielding a rune carved blade, and wearing a kilt made from flensed skin. Though hard pressed, they stand firm with the help of Jager's shadowy spells and flickering, seeking blade, eventually bringing the monster down.

Varracude finds himself isolated from the main group, but puts up a brave defence as he is swarmed by Gorgoth grunts and gorgs. His blade flashes through the sunlit afternoon, cleaving into green flesh and hacking limbs free. Eventually however, he begins to tire, and more and more blows find their mark.

Luckily, Gorthias, now wearing the form of a ram, charges to his aid, and the beasts are cut down.

Jager teleports around the field of battle, whilst Seren unleashes repeated blasts of radiant energy and elemental fire, incinerating her foes and hedging them in with field of relucent energy that sear those leaving them. She almost shares Grigori's fate at one point, being peppered with crude Gorgoth arrows, but stays conscious throughout...just...

Eventually the Gorgoth are either slain or driven off, and the group can collect their thoughts, catch their breaths, and search their corpses for anything of use (an enchanted belt is found around the Gorg's stinking girth, and a few coins are pulled from filthy purses and sweaty pouches).

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Brynn Zombie

I had intended that should the NPC Brynn be killed by the undead, he would rise in the next round as a particularly nasty zombie, and make horrible squidgy sounds with the groups entrails. Alas, he survived, and I never got to finger their guts vicariously through him.

So, here are the stats of the Brynn Zombie. Enjoy!

BRAAAAAINS!!!

Post War Session - 30/10/2009 and 29/11/2009 - The Siege of Greenford!

This is a write up of the two sessions that covered the massed attack on Greenford by the Ravensoul Cabal's undead...

01:30 – 06:30 THE SIEGE OF GREENFORD

The group now find themselves in the midsts of an epic struggle to protect Greenford and its residents. Impossibly, the Ravensoul Cabal have somehow moved a huge force of undead horrors, unliving siege engines and their own insane numbers to the towns perimeter, and now move to destroy it.

The defenders of the town, dwarfed in numbers by the approaching nightmares, take up their various posts along the outer, half-built stone defences. Adrielle's Eight stand ready to the north of the group's position, whilst Brynn and a force of town militia can be seen in a tight formation to the south.

Zombies - staggering corpses of various origins and conditions – come in a great wave towards the town, the frozen air thick with the stench of their corruption. All along the lines the defenders hold, letting the animated corpses come to them, reluctant to give up the scant protection of the stone fortifications.

And then the battle is joined. Our heroes and the Eight do well against these necrotic meat puppets, slashing and hacking at them, and thinning their ranks in mere moments. At the other points of contact, the militia, many of whom are partly intoxicated, or who have never engaged in real life combat before (having been too young to fight in the Aelwyn Wars), do not fare so well, and more than a few fall, only to rise and blank-eyed puppets of evil.

However, before this first wave have been crushed, a second wave of blasphemies is spotted waddling and spinning from the foxfire lit forests to the east.

They are bloated corpses, obese and leaking green-blue witchfire from poorly stitched incisions that criss-cross their bodies. The group see several of them waddle to a small group of men who are out in the field fighting some standard zombies, and cry out as the horrors move up to them, and then illuminate the night with horrible light as they explode in a blast of unnatural flame!

Realising that these things could easily punch holes in the town's flimsy inner wall, the group move to intercept (once they have freed themselves from the remaining zombies).

The initial neat formations and well laid plans begins to disintegrate under the pressure of battle, though the group fare incredibly well. Things become more unpleasant when yet another lines of undead appear from the forests blazing depths; skeletons wrapped in black bandages, with unnaturally long, claw like fingers, and more of the spear wielding, mummified dead like those the group battled at the bandit's lair. A ghoul leads them (and yes, it ends up toe to toe with the sword mage, though it does not manage to harm him too much)

The group suffer wounds at the hands of the monsters, though Emmiven and Grigori work hard to keep everyone fixed up, and although a couple of the Deathflame Zombies and Ravensoul Skeletons are able to blast away and rake at the walls, they do not manage to break through them.

All along the eastern walls the battles rage. Undead tear and claw at the living, and good folk are slain and brought into horrific unlife. Adrielle's Eight fight against a mob of crazed cultists, their songs, spells and swords inflicting horrible damage to them, whilst the less potent militia simply hack and thrust at anything that shambles within reach, praying to Banturn'Vortax, Cellinthar'Valladir, Namaea'Isaala and all the other Gods of light and protection that they will see the end of this battle through living eyes.

From the forests the group spot something huge – roughly the size of a small dracani – covered in warped blue-green flames, and flanked by an too living, and all too evil soul swathed in black bandages and dark robes. At the same time, a line of screaming, ragged fanatics erupts from the forest, swinging flails, bones and other nasty weapons.

Everyone gives only a moments pause to take in the horror; a vast skeletal thing larger than a house, that has a strangely shaped rib cage, filled with inwardly pointing barbs and spikes – as well as several screaming soldiers who are being slowly consumed by the cold, necrotic fires that cloak the thing.

“Try not to get swallowed by that” quips Grigori as the thing stumps towards them, its cavernous maw opening to gather cold, decaying flames.

And then the battle recommences. The robed cultist commands foul powers, and sows chaos amongst the party, whilst the near mindless flagellants inflict significant harm by dint of their sheer numbers and fearlessness.

As for the huge skeletal monster...

It is identified as an Ankolian Undead – a vast corpse given unlife through rare unholy fires summoned by dark rituals – and it quickly demonstrates its ability to exhale a chilling blast of rotting fire. However, so intense in the parties concentration on this hulking threat, that it is cut down and blasted by radiant energy in mere moments, its smouldering remains casting a dim glow over the rest of the conflict.

The Corpse Priest is another matter. Surprisingly resourceful and able to unleash mental and physical torments, he battles on, taking advantage of the groups distraction from the flagellants (and the fact that several hard hitters are bogged down battling the last of the skeletons).

During this battle, the group gets split up, and for a moment Shnecke comes close to being taken down as he finds himself separated from the main party (luckily Grigori pours vitalizing energy into him before it is too late, and he is able to surge forth and battle on).

With this wave defeated more organised defenders (those who were not drinking, and some mercenaries who had stopped in Greenford) have come to defend the section of wall the group were watching. The group turn their attention to the south, where Brynn and five wild-eyed militiamen fight a desperate battle against a huge knot of skeletons, zombies, a pale-faced warrior with blackeyes and the unnatural grace of a vampire, and a curious muscle-wreathed skeletal horror with elongated, bladed fingers and mantis-like arms, which give it terrific reach.

The group move with caution, the warriors forming a line whilst Seren and Grigori hang back to support them. At first the undead do not notice their approach, and several of the militia are slain before the group get there. However, more and more of them become aware of the groups advance, and they turn to attack.

Soon only Brynn remains alive, the militia falling to the zombies and skeletons, and the group join with him, and destroy the horrors.

At this point, from the high cliffs that rise from the forests, there comes a loud, dreadful sound. A bloodless scream, followed by a horrific boom, and in a graceful, chillingly beautiful line, a row of necromantic falling stars arc from a hidden area atop the cliffs, and slam into the towns outer walls, blasting away at wood, and reanimating any killed by them.

Weary, but still full of adrenaline and the will to be victorious, the party decide to climb the cliffs and to silence whatever nightmares are up there (this decision is made even easier when they spot Adrielle's Eight doing exactly the same).

With a yell, the party charge towards the forests and the cliffs there. However, as they reach the flickering edge of the nighted realm, a ragged line of lean, hungry looking men and women – some dressed in ornate leather armour and wielding greatswords of archaic construction and great decoration, others wearing the simple garb of labourers and merchants – appear. All have eyes like blood and extended eye teeth, and move with an unnatural fluid grace and terrifying speed.

Vampires!

The group stand firm and the undead blur in towards them, not knowing that Seren and Grigori wield magics which can call upon the very essence of life and the sun – magics that burn at their cold, unliving flesh with especial vigour, and which cling to them, preventing their unholy metabolisms from healing their wounds, and quickly reducing them to screaming ash.

The warriors lay about them also, hewing heads from spurting necks, impaling black hearts with sundering blows and moving to ensure that their blows have the best chance of landing that fatal blow.

And then it's over, the vampires either slain, or driven off, and the group plunge into the forest, suddenly dodging the boulders and arrows that are being lobbed at them by more undead at the cliffs top. The night air above seethes with cold white and blue flames as another volley of deathly missiles screams towards Greenford, and the group realise that time is now of the essence.

Climbing the cliff is a challenge beyond words. Initially the group are driven back by the furious assualts of the undead at the top. However, with Seren and Grigori waiting at the bottom, the more physically powerful characters slowly and agonisingly make their way up the cliff face, battling swarms of limber ghouls that crawl like spiders to stop them, and avoiding the deadly barrage from above.

Once these guys have made it to the top, Seren enacts a spell that lifts her and the priest to a height just shy of the top of the cliff. Waiting for them is the barbarian, who grabs them and hauls them to “safety”.

Then, the nights final horror is revealed...

Four necromantic cannons stand side by side; hideous constructs of gristle, mummified bone and tissue, and skeletal remains, carved with darkly shining runes of abominable necromantic and evocatory power. From their fang-studded maws spurt the cold fireballs that threaten the town, and as the group destroy the boulder and bow wielding undead at the edge of the cliff, they pull skeletal limbs from the ground, and shake themselves like great dogs awakening from a deep sleep. Then they move to attack.

But they are not alone. Five emaciated, mummified, animated cadavers with black nails and gums, and coldly glowing eyes surge from them towards the group – Wights. Another thing is also here; the reanimated and augmented corpse of an Urgorgorii. This rotting zombie gives a thick, bubbling bellow, before charging the group.

A cliff top battle with powerful undead is never good, but the party do surprisingly well. The Cannon Warder is quickly blasted apart by spears of radiant energy, and blasts of chaotic power, though it nearly pushes several characters over the cliffs as it unleashes a great ror of brute agony, that pops eardrums, dazes those too close, and shoves them back with its raw power.

Of more concern are the Wights, who's touch drains life, and who's nimble animation makes them hard to pin down. Brynn finds himself flanked by them at one point, but is saved by the very folks he berated earlier this day.

The group do not seem to notice that each wound inflicted on these undead makes the Deathbelchers shudder, as if experiencing their pain.

Two of the cannons are destroyed by sheer brute force. Seren learns quickly that psychic energy cannot hurt them, but she unleashes sheets of withering fire and her chaos bolts find deadly purchase in the minds of the Wights. Jager uses his dark nooses to drag undead from the cliffs, and battles from behind the cover of several boulders, using the plentiful shadows as portals through which he can place his blows. Varracuda comes to the attention of the sorceress by unleashing truly powerful spells through his ancient rune sword; conjuring sweeping maelstroms of flame that wither and consume, and sending spikes of green fire darting towards any undead that come too close, whilst Emmiven does a fantastic job of holding the line, supporting his allies, and dealing deep, destructive blows to his enemies.

Grigori is a horror of radiant power, and his spells cut through many of the undead as if they were mist, leaving gaping wounds from which even their unnatural power cannot recover. The barbarian Schnecke, possessed by the primal rage of the dracani, repeatedly lands blows that could sunder trees, and soon begins to drive great holes in the barrels of the cannons, and Gorthias calls upon his own power to bolster the groups' strength, whilst unleashing deadly attacks on his foes.

At one point Gorthias and Emmiven are taken down by the deadly, icy, decaying flames of the cannons, though their allies quickly work magic or mundane miracles through the use of simply battlefield first aid, to bring them back into the fight, and so, the party holds.

Two of the cannons still battle when the last Wight is cut down by the assassin's deadly shadowed blades, and as this happens, the cannons suddenly....stop.

With the undead around them gone, these crude things loose their animating energy, and simply shut down. In a heartbeat, the desperate battle is done, and the group are victorious!

To ensure that they do not trouble anyone again, the Deathbelcher Cannons are pushed over the cliff, to smash apart in the darkness of the forest below.

EPILOGUE

There is still fighting to be done. Many groups of undead still plague the beleaguered defenders, and after climbing back down, the party help in these conflicts. Suddenly however, the battle in its entirety is over, the animated dead suddenly collapsing into exanimate piles of bones, rotting flesh and putrefying offal – their animating force suddenly turned off by some means – at least, for now.

During the battle two of Adrielle's Eight are slain, and they are horrified by this. However, whilst they battled a potent undead warrior they recovered a foul rune blade that has displayed signs of being self aware, and as the townsfolk begin the grim task of burning the undead, and collecting their loved ones from the bloody snows of the battlefield, and the first work begins on repairing the towns defences, the group gather in the Kingfisher, along with Adrielle, her Dundorin rogue Urdoin, Captain Jaden and Brynn, to help interrogate the sword and to determine what to do next...

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The difference between what is written and what happens on the night

Every session, what I have written for the game gets changed. If you click on the link below, you will see my crudely scratched map of the diabolists lair from the last Pre War game, along with some quickly calcualted D.C.s and attack mods for a few things.

As you will see, a lot of what actually kicked off was slightly different (or enhanced) from what I had on my bit of paper (and the accompanying stuff I wrote with regards to adding a bit more detail - and stats - to the map)

MARRASHAN'S LAIR


Pre War Session - 23/11/2009

In this episode, the group engage in a little side quest that involves daemons, larvae and a possessed ghost. Enjoy!

04:25 – 11:00 – The group stumble into the rotting chambers beyond the Gauth's mould filled lair, and locate a good place to lick their wounds. They take an extended rest, to get over the worst of the hurt the monster inflicted on them before moving on.

When the group awaken, they are sore, shivering with the cold of the tunnels and dizzy with discomfort after their long rest in Garras'Knar. However, they wearily pick themselves up and after a cold breakfast, move on.

12:00 – Beyond the rotten Dundorin structure lies the vast, stalactite and stalacmite limned tunnels of the ancient railway system, its proud, rune struck structures still evident through many thousands of years of corrosion, crumbling and the steady creep of minerals and mould. The tunnel is alive with all manner of life; cave crickets, midges, large weak flying moths, lacewings, rats, mice, bats and possibly larger things. The constant dripping and pouring of mineral rich waters through the surrounding rocks has lead to the growth of vast forests of stalactites and stalagmites.

Ormid conjures Spectral Steeds, and the group tear along the tunnel, making excellent progress. They stop several times to explore the entrances to collapsed Dundorin strongholds that are seen periodically along the tunnel, but discover that almost all are blocked by long collapsed rubble.

17:40 – The group come to a partial collapse in the tunnel. Mineral rich waters spill in petrified cascades over the mass of debris, and the group have to dismount and find a way through the collapse. This is done easily enough, but takes time, and means the group have to leave their mounts behind.

18:10 – The group emerge from the collapse. Ormid summons more mounts, and the group continues through the waterlogged, vermin filled tunnels.

20:30 – The group make camp, and after foraging (with great help from Ardwaine and her knowledge of the deep places, and what you can and cannot eat) they eat a pleasant meal of cave larvae (taste like prawns), mushrooms and some weird fungus bark that makes a nice stock when boiled.

17/1/50 – (Above Ground; skies clear, killing cold settles over the land as the temperatures plunge).

03:15 – The group have awoken, eaten a small breakfast, and move on.

04:45 – As the group move along, they behold a strange sight; a section of the wall, apparently untouched by the passage of time for long and long, which suddenly warps and shifts like a reflection in a twisting mirror, before briefly vanishing altogether (revealing an appropriately decrepit and stone covered entrance into another Dundorin stronghold), and then reappearing.

The group dismount, and a debate ensues as to whether they should explore this phenomena; clearly some kind of failing illusion. Ormid and Ardwaine are not happy about exploring, whilst Sadran, Smite and Llewellyn are clearly very keen to do so. The Veteran appears happy either way.

04:55 - Sadran and Llewellyn move to the very edge of the illusion with Smite, and peer within the open doorway beyond, looking into a crumbling chamber of dressed stone, riddled with the decay of time and dripping with moisture. Three stout columns of stone still support its ceiling, and on these (as well as on the floor) the group spot faded, crudely daubed symbols that they do not recognise (though they are clearly not Dundorin runes).

A heavy stone door, sealed by centuries of mineralised water passing over it, stands at the very far end of this room.

Ormid closes his eyes and concentrates on the local flows of magical energy, trying to discern the presence of anything of concern. His first experience is a dull throbbing headache – like those that come before a storm – that seems to have its source beyond the immediate area, in the direction the group are travelling. However, he then pushes his thoughts in towards the structure before him, ignoring the flickering, guttering energies of the fading illusion, and feeling for anything else.

At the very edge of his awareness, he senses a flicker of arcane energy; bright and sharp...but that is all...

05:00 - After some good natured daring between Llewellyn and Smite, the warforged monk moves into the chamber, and with an impressive kick, shoves the door inwards. The door falls halfway back, before becoming lodged on the rubble that half chokes the area beyond.

Llewellyn scans the chamber for any nasty, hidden surprises, but finds nothing of concern

05:02 - The rest of the group tentatively move into the chamber, and Ormid, with a clearer view of the daubed simple, is able to identify it as some kind of warding symbol of Draxian origins - a symbol used to contain daemonic entities.

Beyond the door is a partially blocked, structurally dubious spiral staircase. More warding symbols are smeared in blues, purples and dark reds on the stonework here, partially obscured by the accumulated minerals and passage of time.

05:04 - With great trepidation, the group move up the stairs.

The stairs end in a small chamber of dressed stone. More sedimentary rock formations are found here, half concealing a number of humanoid skeletons that lie in scattered disarray on the floor.

Two finely made doors of dark, blood red and black streaked stone lead from this chamber, each apparently sealed shut; a strange circular symbol etched into their mirrored surface. One stands to the left, the other straight ahead.

05:05 – Llewellyn tries to make out as much as he can about the skeletons without actually entering the chamber, whilst the rest of the group wait patiently behind him, cold water dripping on them from above, the stone beneath their feet groaning and shifting ominously.

The Vyrleen can see that the skeletons are “wrong” somehow, though from his current vantage point he cannot see how exactly.

05:06 – Sick of waiting, the rest of the group move into the chamber, and Veteran grabs one of the skeletons' skulls so the group can study it.

05:08 – Having had a look at the skull, the group feel somewhat concerned, as it shows evidence of gross mutation; elongated teeth, a wider, heavier jaw, with correspondingly enhanced muscle connection points, and other growths that would suggest budding horns or talons.

Ardwaine states that such changes are caused by daemonic possession; the effects of a dark spirit trying to craft its hosts body into something more to its liking or needs.

Veteran notices something gleaming coldly inside the bones of the skeleton who's skull he took, revealed by its removal; an amulet.

05:09 – Ormid examines the amulet and deduces it is a talisman inscribed with the seal of a powerful daemon; the kind of thing daemon worshippers use as unholy focuses or symbols for their rituals. He also realises that they are the exact right size to fit within the centre of the strange symbols etched into the doors...doors he has identified as being made from Blood Marble; an ornamental stone found only in Draxia (a land of ancient daemon worship and unending cruelty).

Really wanting to just leave this place, the artificer secretes the symbol in his pocket...

05:10 – Llewellyn however, seeing this, takes the symbol out again, and throws it to Smite, who throws it to the Veteran (much to Ardwaine and Ormid's horror).

05:11 – The Veteran places the symbol within the carved glyph of the door on the right, and senses a connection with something within the door. He senses that he should be able to push against that something, but realises that he lacks the force of will to do so.

The Veteran grabs Llewellyn and lifts him up so he can try...

05:12 – Llewellyn succeeds! His will reaches through the symbol into the complex system of metaphysical locks and tumblers that hold the door shut. With a rumble, the ancient door slides to the side, revealing a more intact chamber of polished Blood Marble beyond...

05:13 – The group stand there for a short while, holding their breaths, expecting something to materialise and devour them. Nothing happens, though they are sure they see a dark, distorted shadow slide within the wall opposite the door, away from the reflection of the light they carry.

05:15 – The group enter the chamber, and discover that it is empty save for dust and dampness. Another door leads further into the stronghold; identical to the one the Vyrleen just opened.

Held aloft by the warforged, the Vyrleen opens this door...and it is almost a relief (though a very short lived one) when horror finally reveals itself.

Raw hatred and psychic malevolence washes over the group, projected by three alien monstrosities in the room beyond; two spine covered humanoid with batwings and blazing, malevolent eyes, and a slender, graceful, ant-like fiend seemingly carved from ice and emanating a soul-numbing aura of unearthly cold.

All three entities exude ancient evil, and their forms bear the slightly billowy appearance of supernatural entities bound to the physical plane by potent rituals.

The group attack!!!!

The Veteran charges but as he reaches the middle of the chamber, a rune set in the ceiling flashes with power, and at once, from a wall behind him, a cloud of what he takes to be steam at first, but which he soon learns is boiling acid, belches forth towards him from hidden nozzles, washing over him, but at this time, not hitting him hard enough to hurt.

Worse, another daemon, invisible until this point attacks; a tiny bat-winged humanoid with black scales, bright white horns and fangs, and a scorpions sting. It stabs Veteran with its tail, but the warforge's innate resistances thwart it.

05:17 - The battle is joined and despite of the “Burns Twice” trap, the group quickly overcome the bound daemons and send them back to their filthy home dimensions. Through the battle Llewellyn balances on the Veteran's shoulders, inhibiting his ability to fight somewhat, but putting him close enough to the control rune that he can try to disable the trap (he doesn't).

05:22 – After a short rest, the group press on, moving through a door behind where the monsters were, and into the flight of polished spiral steps heading up.

05:23 – A doorway leads from the spiral stairs (which continue up), a blasphemous statue depicting some kind of horrible blending of beautiful woman, and daemonic tentacled horror.

05:24 – Against their better judgement, Sadran and Ormid move into the chamber to look more closely at the statue, and find the room to be filled with grotesque, mutated depictions of daemonic possession taken to its extremes.

Both the mongrel aelwyn and human, as they look at the statues (which are made from some kind of glassy, dark stone unfamiliar to them) become aware of dimly shifting shadows within them, moving like some tenebrous embryo within their glassy bellies. Suddenly, each is assaulted by a barrage of psychic visions and prompts, all of which seem geared towards making them attack their allies.

Fortunately, both adventurer's minds are too strong for the evil assault, and dazed, they stagger back to their companions, and away from the dark, blasphemous works of daemonic “art”.

05:26 – The group carefully creep up the stairs, becoming aware of a gathering pressure in their minds, and a thickening sense of evil. A vague sense of confusion and detachment also settles on them as they press forwards, the air seeming to thicken with crushing, oppressive evil..

05:27 – With the Veteran in the lead, the group come to the last arc of the stairs, and the source of all this evil is revealed.

In a vast chamber beyond who's walls are plated with tessellating pentagons of polished Blood Marble, each inscribed with a restraining glyph, floats a spectral horror.

It is a distorted, warped reflection of the once living mage who dwelt here, summoning demons and studying dark magics away from the persecution and misunderstanding of his peers; a shifting, screaming, melting ghost, who's eyes convey endless pain, torment and madness.

However, within the ghosts vaporous form something foul and dark lurks; a thing of flickering, fiery shadows, that extrudes thorned tentacles of lambent shadow through the tormented spectres soul-stuff, viciously torturing it, and driving it onwards.

Around this thing, reality itself seems to become distorted, like an image on a piece of crumpled paper. Distances becomes subjective and shift from moment to moment, and simply being within this area of dimensional disruption proves exhausting and weakening to the group.

From his current position, the Warforged can only see part of the chamber beyond the daemon-possessed spectre. However, what he can see sickens him; a weird flickering light comes from something hidden on the left – a distorted, greenish-brown radiance that speaks of bodily and spiritual corruption – illuminating a number of tiny horrors that waddle forth towards him.

Each of these things is the size of a human toddler, and resembles an erect, spined maggot, like that of a Bot Fly, that stumbles forth of stumpy, malformed and worse, human-like legs. They have lamprey like mouths from which dribbles a noisome froth of mucus and bile, and limp, flapping limbs like boneless arms, that seem to end in clusters of glass needles. They reek of dark magic and emit a gurgling, bubbling muttering almost constantly as they flounder and stagger towards the group.

Combat begins with the ghost/daemon hurling a barbed curse at the warforged, planting a growing vulnerability to certain attacks within him. The group, trapped in the stairs by the undead diabolist's disruptive aura, and unable to get close enough to attack, can only stumble forwards, praying that they get chance to engage it in combat before it is too late.

The undead/daemon, being insubstantial and able to phase, shifts through the stonework of the fortress and appears on the stairs at the back of the group, attacking the Dundorin with psychic powers.

The rest of the group stumble into the dark chamber above, dazed and sickened by the unnatural energies there, the pressure increasing as they enter the foul place.

The reason for this become clear almost at once; a portal, held within the bounds of a pentangular frame, carved with potent runes of dark dimensional magic. Within its glowing frame can be seen a loathsome plane of dank, billowing green and brown energies, which occasionally clear to allow a view of a sick world of putrid swamps, pus filled lakes and bile weeping skies the colour of bruised necrotic wounds.

The group also find, carved into the floor of the chamber, a broken summoning circle, still bearing the scars of whatever happened here so long ago.

The Veteran and Ardwaine hang back on the stairs to engage the undead. The foul thing uses fear and physical force to try and push them away, but finds itself trapped with them by the fighters marks!

The rest of the group engage the foul larvae, and find that although they die easily, they leave a toxic cloud behind that harms anyone within, and when they hit, they hurt; their needle like claws injecting potent acid into the wounds.

Numerous ideas are thrown about as the battle continues, both groups of combatants facing harsh odds – the larvae spilling without end it seems through the portal (until Sadran conjures a wall of fire in front of it), and the warforged and Dundorin having to deal with being weakened by the undead's disorienting aura, and its damage reducing lack of solidity whilst it unleashes ever more unpleasant attacks.

However, ultimately the group prevail. A major turning point is when Llewellyn teleports away from a cluster of larvae (using his boots), blasting them to vapour, and appears behind the daemon/ghost, where he lands two seriously damaging blows.

As the ghost truly dies, its dual screams blast outwards, searing the minds of those closest...then it fades from this world forever...

06:00 – Following the battle, the group uncover a secret door leading from this foul place. They are alarmed when smoke and sparks spit from it as they open it, but are relieved when the ancient traps prove to have lost their bite.

Inside this place they find the ashy skeleton of the wizard; slumped within a hastily scratched protective diagram that never got finished, his skeleton little more than ash.

Although his remains fall into foul dust as soon as touched, a couple of his items retain their power, even after all this time; a horn that be used to banish conjured creatures, an enchanted staff that can ward against elemental attacks, and most precious of all, a unique ring carved by the ancient wizard, that protects its wearer from daemons and devils, and allows them to strip them – albeit temporarily – of their resistances and immunities.

06:10 – After a brief rest, the group prepare to run (for Sadran will have to drop his wall of flames, and the larvae may still be waiting beyond).

06:11 – The wall of fire peters out, but the gate beyond is empty...dead...deactivated by the passing of the undead wizard and his possessor.

06:30 – The group are back on the road to the Eastern Guild...

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Pre War Session - 16/11/2009

What's got four eyes, a bad attitude and likes to throw Vyrleen about? Read on to find out!

* * *

16/1/50 – Raging blizzards during the day, giving way to a clear, viciously cold night...

04:00 – The group enter the cellars beneath the cells of the Thruk'Dun, and an ancient Dundorin stairwell that drops away into still darkness...

04:05 – The group encounter a wall of decaying red brick – clearly the efforts of someone to block the stairs at some point in the past. Eager to test his new arm out, Ormid strides forwards, and with a mighty blow, smashes the wall to pieces, sending rubble loudly smashing down the stairs beyond.

As the red brick wall collapses, so a wave of dank, cold, wet air, filled with the smells of rotting stone and rust waft towards the party. The move on.

04:06 – 04:16 – The group climb deeper and deeper down the ancient Dundorin stairs, and although nearer the surface the construction holds up well, the deeper they get, the more the effects of moisture, pressure and time are seen, a thick forest of increasingly thick stalactites and stalagmites cloaking the stonework.

The stairs are blocked by another wall; this one crudely constructed from great chunks of local rock, roughly held together with a coarse mortar of gritty grime, slime and mould.

Still loving his new limb, Ormid strides forth and once again strikes the wall. The wall is sturdier than the one before, but collapses with only one blow, the stones slamming into a vast darkness beyond, their collapse displacing the foul air within, sending a plume of grey-green vapours out towards the group.

04:17 – Beyond the crude wall is a large, collapsed chamber, thickly wreathed with a dense grey-green fog that smells of mould. Piles of debris can be seen within, and a great space can be seen in the darkness in the middle of the chambers ceiling, leading to a shaft of some sort.

04:18 – Llewellyn cautiously scouts along the edge of the fog, moving as stealthily as he can. From within the vast space in the roof, he hears, over the constant dripping of water from the festoons of thin stalactites that hang from above, subtle movement...

The rest of the group edge forwards, muttering about the fog, and wondering how they can get across this chamber to the dimly illuminated exit some 40' away, through the fog.

The Warforged wafts his axe amongst the tendrils of damp fog, and all observe how it burns like iron filings; spitting and flickering as the flames devour its substance, only to return a few moments later.

Bored with all the talking, the Vyrleen decides to move forwards into the gloom...and is instantly assaulted by the fog!

No sooner does he enter the fog (holding his breath) than a horrible chill overwhelms him, sapping his strength and resolve. Worse, the spores begin to rot his flesh where they touch him, and he suffers horrible, decaying wounds.

But there are even more troubles in store for him, for suddenly beams of magical energy stab at him from above (within the shaft in the chambers' roof); a beam of flame that burns a hole in the Vyrleen's shoulder, and an invisible ray of mental energy, which washes over him without apparent effect.

Looking upwards through the rotting spores, Llewellyn feels his blood run cold as he spots a spherical monstrosity, bearing four crackling eyeballs on armoured stalks, floating 25' above, thick ropes of saliva hanging from its huge, fanged mouth – a Xareth'Chelde of some kind!!!!

A painful battle ensues. The group face twin disadvantages; the spores / collapsed masonry forming a deadly morass within which the party wither and flounder, and the simple difficulty faced by battling a monster that floats high above, shooting them repeatedly with a number of magical attacks.

Although the group realise that they face a lesser form of Eye Tyrant (a Gauth), they suffer horribly. Llewellyn uses his enchanted boots to teleport on top of the monster, eventually having to hide in several low tunnels scoured into the side of the shaft near its top (where he finds some gems and pockets one), and manages to hit it several times, and Smite uses her incredible mobility to scale the walls, and to veritably fly up the walls of the shaft...before being plucked from the wall by the monsters telekinesis eye, and being dropped a dangerous distance into he waiting clutch of the deathly spores below!

This actually sets a president, with poor Llewellyn making repeated involuntary trips into the air, and then down into the deadly spores. A localised gravity field seems to effect the shaft too, making the falls all the harder.

04:19 – The group are becoming desperate, for although they have been battling the monster for some time, and have used the best attacks they can at range (they suddenly realise that they lack any potent ranged ability), it is not yet bloodied. The veteran uses Dracusvir to fire mordant arrows at the horror, and Sadran blasts it with magic, but the spores and the monsters powerful attacks begin to outstrip the group's ability to heal itself.

Just as the group are considering running, the Vyrleen hatches a plan. With his allies, he bluffs the monster into thinking that the gem he stole is some item of power, hoping to lure it down to recover it, and bring it into range of the group's attacks.

However, ultimately, it is the artificer that ends the battle. He addresses the monster and demands it give up, pointing out that they are not yet dead, and that the monster ultimately cannot win – especially now they have the “magic gem”.

The Gauth grudgingly agrees to let the group pass peacefully, and uses its fire ray to burn away the spores in a path, allowing the group to stumble out of the chamber (gratefully)...

* * *

A good game, but I had slightly miscalculated. I thought that Ormid still had a couple of powers that would allow the group to get above the spores, and into range of the Gauth. He doesn't, and the party were at a deep disadvantage at range.

For the spores I used the Apathy Mist hazard from the Manual of the Planes, and the Gauth was re-tooled to be a level 10 solo version (I added an aura identical to the Beholder's one that gave it an eye attack at the start of any creatures turn within 4 squares).

Anyway, it was a great fight, and it certainly brought the players creativity out as they tried, desperately, to beat it!

Monday, 16 November 2009

At Last - Another Game!

I got the swine flu, and had to cancel several games, which has left me champing at the bit to hurt something!

Luckily, the next Pre-War game is on tonight, so I get to unleash some Paragon Tier horror on them! In order to get a swift start tonight, I have emailed the following update to the guys, and in the interest of cohesion, will reproduce it below for you!

Hope you enjoy!

"Just to save a little bit of time, your game tonight will be starting some six weeks after your battles with Franz. Unfortunately, in his final, explosive strike, the Esoteric Hunter Knight blew poor Ormid's arm clean off. He nearly died, and needed several weeks to recover and come to terms with his disability...until an idea hit...attaching the slain hunters artifice limb to his own shoulder!

Several more weeks were needed for Ormid to recover from this (he nearly bled to death in the process), which in a way was nice - you got to spend the week of Winterfeast in "civilized" surroundings. Now however he is now ready to move on, and all of you, after six weeks of relative rest (see below) are also ready to move on.

During your time in Garras'Knar time you have been staying at the Broken Door (or just "the Door" as you now call it), and have been able to earn enough coin to keep you there without cutting into your sparse savings with various minor tasks (patrols mostly along the borders of the cities boundaries). You have become local celebrities of sorts; partly because of the "thinking golems" in your group, and partly because of Ormids new limb.

The weather has gone from bad to worse, with blizzards sweeping from the north, and burying the town on several occasions. People here however are used to hardship, and the doom and gloom atmosphere that soaked the very fiber of Lorehaven's atmosphere is not found here - just a grim determination to enjoy each day as it comes, and to be glad for that day alive.

During this time you have also got to know your new allies better. Smite (the warforged monk) has struck up a firm friendship with the mage, and appears to be trustworthy. The mongrel aelwyn and dundorin have also spent a lot of time with you (Ardwaine was instrumental is stabilizing Ormid during his injured times), and are eager to come with you in your search.

And so, on the morning of the 16/1/50, you and your group move towards the Thruk'Dun, and whatever lies beyond!"

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Game Session Report - 14/10/09

The group enter the circuitous corridors of the tumulus, slowly moving in towards its heart. There are signs of vandalism everywhere; caused by the alliance armies as they moved on the heart of Lac'Loriel during the wars, and crude messages in Dundorin runes compete for space with shattered bones and smashed funerary urns.

As the group move deeper into the tomb, more glowing bloodstains are found. It is noted that within this place they have blossomed into carpets of luminescent mould, which sends a shiver through the heart of anyone standing too long within a patch.

01:10 – The group reach the inner chamber of the tumulus. The air is filled with an unnatural chill and the chamber ahead glows with foxfire and shadows. The horrible screams - tormented, grief stricken and insane – echo dully in the cloying atmosphere of the place, and the stench of soil and mould is overpowered by the fishy stink of rotting meats and haemolymph.

01:11 - At first the group get little opportunity to see into the chamber, for several weakened sections of ceiling have come crashing down over the years forming earthen walls. However, Jager scouts forwards, and gets a brief glimpse of the chamber beyond.

It is a large burial chamber, covered thickly with lush carpets of the glowing mould, as well as several areas of dense debris. At the far end stands a violated aelwyn sarcophagus, its lid smashed, its sides covered in more dundorin graffiti, and on the steps of the dais on which it rests stands a ragged, dripping thing of rot and madness that can only be Quicksilver.

Quicksilver is all the group feared he would be. Wounded by both Adrielle's Eight and then the Ravensoul's undead, he has recently become a Woeforged; a Warforged undead. His flesh is relucent with foxfire light, and thick strands of luminous mucus pour constantly from his weeping sores. Many of the body plates that once covered his form have either rusted into bubbling patches of corruption or are missing, and his eyes now shine with a fevered decaying glow.

Worse though is the invisible aura of utter despair and misery that surrounds him; tearing at the psyche of anyone that gets too close and slowing their movements to a stunned, horrified shuffle.

Jager also spots four strange globes of shadowy flames hovering near the woeforged; incorporeal spirits of some kind that emanate an aura of unsettling fear.

The assassin is detected by the undead abomination, though it is not sure what it has sensed, and as the rest of the group move stealthily into the chamber, using the walls as cover, Quicksilver moves forwards, the four Ghost Lamps spreading out in a line; their auras of fear fanning out in an invisible wall of dread.

And suddenly battle begins! One of the Ghost Lamps' encounters Schnecke and strikes him, filling him with deathly cold and suppressing his ability to heal or draw courage unto himself. Another strikes at Emmiven.

01:12 - Then Quicksilver staggers forth, glowing brightly with his rotted light. He babbles a clotted incantation and thrusts forth a mould encrusted sceptre. At once, black lightning licks forth like the tendrils of some unholy monster, flickering around Emmiven, Seren and narrowly missing the priest. Those struck by the tendrils are badly hurt by its rotting power, and Seren feels a portion of her life energy being drawn away.

Worse, the psychic aura that surrounds Quicksilver, aroused to a horrific fever pitch, actually burns the minds of those that get too close, and reduces their movement to a crawl. Only the assassin is safe from the damage, as runes sewn into his armour brightly shine; soaking up the psychic energy, keeping him safe from harm (though he too suffers the crippling despair that slows his allies).

The party are spread out in a wide arc behind the scattered walls, and althouh the Ghost Lamps are quickly dispatched, initially things do not go well for them.

Those souls who stand within patches of the luminous mould that has sprung from Quicksilver's rotting fluids, find that the woeforged is able to strike them with more accuracy (Quicksilver has Combat Advantage against anyone standing in a square filled with his mould), and with his slowing, damaging aura, as well as numerous attacks, he quickly weakens and scatters the party.

First blood to goes to Seren, who hurls another prismatic orb of seething energy into the horror's face, a blast of icy energy surrounding him and keeping him stuck to the floor.

Gorthias allows the primal energies to rise within him, and draws on the might of the mountain rams. Despite being dazed, he expends all his efforts (spends an Action Point), and charges the woeforged, blasting into him, hurling him 15' back to the floor.

By this point, the monster has been struck a deep blow by the Barbarian, the wound being set alight with mystical flame as the Ulnyrr activates the runes on his axe, and it is further blasted as it's flight from Gorthias' attack forces it out of the area of another of Seren's spells, which blasts it with more fire.

Quicksilver is prone but has a lot of fight left in him! Repeatedly he unleashes great waves of psychic anguish which blast the group.

Varracuda and Jager move in and attack the prone woeforged, the former unleashing a torrent of fiery spells through his blades, whilst the latter, who has been quietly sowing kernels of dark power within the monster's being, strikes at him with a blade made more of shadow than steel, and scores a deep blow.

As this blow lands, shining tendrils of corrupted flesh explode from within the woeforged, striking almost all the party – rotting and tainting their flesh, as well as pulling them closer to the horror, within its terrible aura.

01:13 - Quicksilver rises to his feet, and blasts both the sword mage and assassin away with a scream (Varracuda, having dealt much harm to the monster takes the full force of this, and is hurled back and knocked unconscious), before attempting to drain life from the assassin to heal his wounds (he misses).

Chanting prayers of logic and power, Grigori unleashes a wave of logic fire, which sweeps over the undead. Quicksilver staggers back, his body streaming with wounds, his wails and screams a constant din about him, and is finally cut down by Schnecke, who charges towards him with a scream, axe leading, and splits him to his wishbone.

A final howl of psychic agony, this one more powerful than the others, explodes from the monster, and finally, the battle is over!

01:14 – 07:45 - Grigori quickly runs over to Varracuda, and brings him round. The group, utterly spent, decide to rest a while in the tumulus...

During their rest, the group explore the area a little, and discover a cunningly hidden doorway at the back of this chamber, which opens with a little manipulation to reveal a long corridor of green and white swirled marble, its walls carved with bas reliefs depicting aelwyn dressed in archaic clothes participating in various leisure activities.

07:45 - After an uncomfortable rest in the cold chamber, the group (now feeling the collective bruises, cuts, burns, scrapes and fractures of the last few days' activities) stiffly move to look at the corridor.

07:46 - Emmiven actually goes one further, and with only the briefest of glances for danger, strides into the corridor...

...Half way down, there is an ominous “click”, and huge sculpted blades drop down at each end of the corridor, and flash along it. The warlord's armour deflects their initial pass, but he is not so lucky a moment later, and is badly cut by the blades as they slash down again.

Grigori hurls himself into the corridor, and makes it into a small chamber at the far end before the blades sweep through again. Alas, as he enters the tiny chamber (which holds a marble bier, on which sits an alabaster urn scribed with aelwyn runes and sealed with platinum), he feels magic crawl across his soul, and a moment later, a searing jet of flame blasts down over him, igniting his clothes and sending him careering forwards in agony.

07:47 - Schneke, Jager and Gorthias join the priest in the room, whilst Emmiven runs to safety back in the main tomb. However, when Gorthias suggests that the party leave the urn, stating that disturbing the remains would be beneath them, Grigori insults him by suggesting he favours the aelwyn (an enemy he fought tooth and nail during the wars). Gorthias informs the priest that were they not in a place of danger, he would kill him there and then, before leaving the tumulus in a rage, and waiting for the group outside.

07:48 - Jager examines the urn and determines that its base is a fa├žade, and that a plug of stone extends down from the base of the urn into a space in the bier.

Meanwhile, a control panel for the fire trap has been spotted in the front of the bier, and Schnecke, in a moment of Ulnyrr rage, hits it twice with his axe, shattering the mechanism and sending the trap into overdrive!!!!!

Groans all around as the box explodes, peppering all in the chamber with red hot shrapnel (and amongst the players, raucous laughter).

07:49 – 07:53 - A plan is hatched, and a rope is tied to the urn. Then, timing their actions to trigger whilst the traps are not actively firing, the group leg it from the chamber, and pull with all their might on the rope, yanking the urn free (it shatters on the floor spilling funereal ashes), and releasing the things that lurk within the bier.

At first, from their distant viewpoint, the group think that a swarm of strangely rattling spiders has burst from the bier's interior. Then they realise that it is a swarm of animated skeletal hands!!!!

The tiny undead swarm rushes the group, but is destroyed by the traps.

07:56 - After a while, the traps reset, and the group, having identified the triggers, creep down and retrieve the ancient items hidden within the bier.

08:05 - The group join Gorthias, and after a brief rest, head homeward!

Group make good progress, but that night, notice a strange menace to the darkness, and an unsettling stillness to the night.

24/3/1472 – Light snow / some sleet, becoming colder and more snowy in the evening.

The group, now feeling their cumulative wounds keenly, finally stagger back to Greenford.

Arrive at 14:50

14:50 – 14:55 - Outside the main gates, they meet a small group of local millitia, lead by a mercenary named Brin. All are clearly pissed off at the party, and Brin challenges them, asking them how they dare to return when their “Gob chasin'” lead to a delay in the healing components being returned, and a further six deaths from the sickness.

Emmiven and Grigori are obnoxious to them, flying into a diatribe about how they are the true heroes, and the Eight “missed” many foes. They loudly proclaim their victory over the vampire Arrash, and are nearly attacked by one of the militia when they imply that the dead were unworthy.

The rest of the group – embarrassed – move into the town, flinching at the hostile glares they receive.

The group learn that a celebration in honour of Adrielle's Eight is to be held that night at the Kingfisher, the local inn. Emmiven, Jager and Schnecke decide to head straight there; the warlord to stir up trouble, the assassin to get a room, and the barbarian to have a drink or ten

The rest of the group go to their various homes; Grigori with a high degree of paranoia after their encounter with the guards.

15:20 - At the Kingfisher, the two adventurers and Jager are allowed in after a chat with the door guards, who echo (in slightly more friendly terms) the disappointment the entire town is feeling with their group, and the horror they feel at the six deaths that occurred in the absence of the components. Emmiven remains unrepentant, and Schnecke just looks uncomfortable.

Jager has taken steps to ensure that he is not associated with the two adventurers, and after getting his room sorted quietly watches the taproom, whilst trying to learn as much as he can about the Eight.

15:20 – 16:00 - Inside things get more than a little heated. The barbarian buys some drinks, but is thrown out along with Emmiven after an argument breaks out between the warlord and Adriell's Eight – all of whom are drinking in the bar at that time.

Jager also strikes up a conversation with a Dundorin merchant heading to Peregrine in a day or two, and offers to consider guarding their caravan on its dangerous journey to the northwest.

Schnecke, upset at being thrown out, takes a keg with him and stomps over the Grigori's house, whilst Emmiven shifts his form and walks back in.

19:00 - Gorthias has returned to his home to sleep, but after as night draws in, and the sounds of the celebrations at the Kingfisher drift through the streets, he also journeys to Grigori's, disturbed by a dark mood.

19:25 - In truth all have felt this growing menace from the darkness. After being turned away from the party, an upset Varracuda sees Sister Elandra – the Oerdaine'Maelandrian High Priestess – moving around the perimeter of her hospital temple checking the protective wards. When he hails her, she looks worried, and comments that the night “breathes with wrongness”.

An ominous, faintly luminous mist is seen gathering amongst the trees arround Greenford, and the guards on duty, sense a growing dread, as do the group as they all meet at Grigori's home.

19:40 – 01:20 (25/3/1472) The group share Schnecke's beer, and try to determine what they are doing next, but all sense the gathering malevolence in the foggy night outside, and so are not at all surprised when the first screams and howls are heard, along with ragged gunfire, from the walls.

The group rush out as more screams join the horrible threnody echoing from the walls, and meet with Brin and Jager.

“Get to he walls” screams brin, sweat gleaming on his brow, “The dead are attacking!”

01:30 - The group look worried and run to the pallisade walls that stand within the half built outer stone walls. Against a weird blue-green flickering they see countless shambling forms staggering in rough ranks towards the walls, whilst other dark figures stand ready amongst the foxfire glow of the fogs that billow and pulse wretchedly from the forests deeps. Several units of men are marching towards them from Greenford, and others guard the main gates into the town.

From the Kingfisher distant screams of alarm are heard as the party is broken up and people sent to shelter.

Grigori becomes aware of something pulsing in his pocket...something wet and cold that feels almost squelchy when he touches it...something that sweats a noisome moisture which has caused grey clots of mould to grow on the cloth of his clean clothes with unnatural vigour and speed. Something utterly vile that calls to the Ravensoul forces out in the luminous night...

The phial. The rune struck phial.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Quicksilver - Woeforged

I'll get this evenings awesome game written up as soon as I can. It will be a long one thanks to all the roleplaying that went on, so be patient!

In the meantime, here is Quicksilver, the woeforged in the aelwyn tumuli

BOO!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Session Report - 6/10/09

Late, I know, but there you go!

12:05 – The group get chance to quickly catch their breaths (they get to spend 1 healing surge), before more enemies burst into the chamber.

Anticipating their arrival from the spiral stairs that descend from the far end of the chamber they are in, the group form a tight formation there, ready to stop and slay anyone entering.

This works at first as four ragged humans, dressed in tattered shrouds and wielding flails soaked in their own blood, bound screaming and giggling, madness blazing in their eyes, from the darkness, and onto their weapons. However, things quickly get messy when more foul beings (a dark cleric dressed in armour made from human bones, accompanied by two more Ghouls and two more axe wielding soldiers) come from behind (these were stationed in the shattered tower that rises above the ruin).

The battle is complex, but the group win out.

12:07 - As the final blows are being struck however, a pool of shadows seems suddenly to deepen and coalesce into the robed and hooded form of a humanoid wielding a blade of darkness.

The human attacks and slays a Ghoul and a soldier, ending the battle, and suggesting that he may be an ally to the group

Gorthias is reluctant to accept this dangerous appearing stranger into the group, putting it to the party that he seems to wield tools similar to those used by the Ravensoul Cabalists. However, the rest of the group instantly dismiss the warden's concerns, putting it to him that this stranger – who calls himself Jager – has already proved himself an ally.

12:15 - Though the warden is not happy about it, the group accept this newcomer into their group.

Jager states that he “seeks something” in this place, and to put Gorthias' mind at ease, suggests that he will go at the head of the party.

12:18 - The group catch their breaths, and then move down the spiral stairs that descend deeper under the ruin.

12:19 - About half way down, the group spot a recently scrawled message on the wall “The Eight Were Here!”

All are rankled, for the Eight (Adrielle's Eight) are a rival adventuring party from Greenford.

Jager explains that a group of adventurers had torn through the ruin, slaying bandits and leaving with a number of items a couple of hours before the undead arrived – a fact that sends Gorthias into a silent rage after all his earlier warnings about not getting on with their main objective.

12:21 - The group do not tarry long however, for strange, wet, metallic screams, as well as more bestial roaring reminds them that something horrible awaits down below.

12:23 - The assassin slips ahead, seeming to meld with the darkness, whilst the rest of the group creep along as quietly as they can a little way back.

12:24 - Jager finds that the stairs lead to a vast, crumbling cellar, illuminated by pale beams of slanting gloomlight coming through cracks in its wall, in which nightmare things torment a weakly struggling figure.

A circle of flagellants and dark bandaged soldiers stand amongst the chambers crumbling supports, watching as a monstrous thing; taller and broader than any man, pallid, with a great head that bears tapered bat-like ears, a bat's snout and the wide, fanged mouth of a wolf (or serpent, for it soon shows itself capable of opening to impossible size, and bears a forked tongue), slowly dismembers a warforged it holds aloft against the ceiling with the same ease a normal man would hold a feather.

“Where is the sacred phial” it gurgles to the mutilated living construct, playing with its entrails as it speaks...

Jager also spots silent, shrouded forms posted around the outside of the chamber; thin as a whisper, humanoid, wreathed in black bandages and wielding no weapons, for they have elongated bony fingers, tipped with razor edged claws...skeletons of some sort.

The assassin plans on getting a better view before returning to the group. However, the wofl/bat fiend (a vampire of the Ravensoul Cabal) senses him, and its terrible head snaps round, its eyes turning to the colour of blood. It howls with fury (and is identified as the source of the horrible baying the group had been hearing). Thick fog sweats from its grey, hairless flesh, and it drops the mutilated warforged to the ground, bounding towards the assassin with a horrible scream.

12:25 – 12:27 - A battle ensues. The group form a tigh formation by the entrance of the chamber, repelling waves of flagellants and skeletons (who are highly mobile, dancing in to strike, before withdrawing out of harms way).

The barbarian seems cursed as he finds himself repeatedly rooted to the floor by the skeletons' chilling touch, whilst the vampire is dispatched with little effort, the warden smashing it prone, where it is all but obliterated by a potent spell thrown by Seren (it is finished off by the priest, who pours searing, holy light onto its melting, mewling form).

The Flagellants harry the group, and the soldiers (more of the dark warriors who wield executioners axes and imbue their blows with terror) prove slightly trickier to dispatch.

However, the battle is won, and the group, now exhausted after the days trials, slump to the floor to try and catch their breaths.

The chamber is awash with the gore of the battle, but also with smashed crates, and the bodies of bandits slain by either The Eight, or by the cabalists.

12:28 - Jager moves towards the Warforged lying on the floor, and with a cold smile, sinks his dagger into the dying bandit leaders skull cap (he explains to the group that this is Athame, one of two warforged who lead the bandits, the other being a mage called Quicksilver)

He then rips a plate of metal from the warforged's skull, and after checking something on it, stuffs it into one of his pouches.

12:29 – 13:45 - The group begin a search of the chamber. They discover that the components they were sent to recover have been taken, almost certainly by Adrielle's Eight.

However, they also discover a secret chamber, in which various treasures (mostly non magical) have been stored.

In this chamber two items of interest are found. One is an ancient Dundorin battle standard that seems to thrum with inner power. The other is a mottled phial of alien metal, covered in powerful runes of high magic, apparently of a warding nature.

The assassin reveals that he intends to hunt down Quicksilver. The group ask for more information, and he tells them that the warforged went AWOL from the Unified Order armies at the end of the Aelwyn wars instead of obeying whatever their next assignment orders were.

According to Jager, Quicksilver fought in the front lines of the Aelwyn wars, and was a potent war mage. However, as a renegade, he has a high price on his head, and the assassin intends to collect it.

13:45 – 21:00 - The Group Rest...

The group agree to help him take the renegade out, though they insist on resting first. There is much discussion about getting revenge on Adrielle's Eight for their “theft” of the items they have been sent to recover.

At one point, Emmiven suggests the group ambush and kill their rivals, but this horrifies several members of the group – Gorthias being the most vocal – as this constitutes base murder.

A decision is made that the party will try to sully the Eight's victory by pointing out that they left the bandit leader alive.

Whilst resting, the sorceress attempts to engage the assassin in conversation, asking him if he is allied with the Unified Order. She is told to mind her own business...and replies that if he is not with the Order, she will not be happy, and might well let them know....Varracuda looks uncomfortable, and tries not to make eye contact (for he is not affiliated with the Unified Order)

As the group rest, outside, it begins to snow heavily

21:30 – 01:00 23/3/1472 - After eating, the weary and battered group conduct a search of the ruin and then local area, spotting a number of vital clues that lead them to an ancient aelwyn tumulus site about half a mile from the ruin

As they approach this, they hear horrible, agonised screams echoing through the night, and see strange, greenish, flickering lights up ahead. Could this be Quicksilver? There were signs he may have been wounded, and several party members fear he could have become undead...a woeforged...

Friday, 9 October 2009

ah-ah-ah-ah-ahhhhh...I am de wampir!

So, in last night's game, the group encountered a vampire named Arrash. Arrash was supposed to be a big nasty, who would prance around the battlefield. gleefully slashing and drinking from the group, until he was eventually brought down.

Alas for him, the parties sorcerer hit him hard (a crit with Chromatic Orb) after my Warden had knocked him prone and piled on the hurt, and so, he departed (at the end of the priest's Cascade of Light) the mortal plane...

Anyway, it's a shame to let him shuffle off without some small recognition, so here he is.

ENJOY!


Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Latest Session - Post War Campaign - 29/9/09

09:45 – The group, slightly recovered, move back into the crumbling Aelwyn corridor, and head towards its far end. A low flight of overgrown steps leads back up into the forests; the stillness of the snowy forests and the clean smell of the air a welcome change from the reeking darkness of the Blackgob tunnels.

09:50 – The group calculate their position within the forest, and begin to move towards the distant location where they suspect the bandits lair.

09:50 – 10:40 – The group move with great caution through the woods, alert for ambushes, or any traps left by the Black Gobs. After a while what appears to be some kind of structure, concealed within a huge holly bush is seen ahead, the forest deliberately thinned somewhat in front of it.

10:42 – After a brief deliberation, it is decided that Emmiven and Schnecke will charge up to the structure, whilst the rest of the group either hang back, or (in the case of Gorthias) creep around the back of it.

10:43 – The barbarian and warlord charge! Schnecke makes it to the structure (which he can see is a wooden hide, which holds some sleeping bags, barrels of clean water, an uneaten ham (from the inventory of the merchant caravans the bandits hit), and some wooden furniture). Emmiven however suddenly goes down screaming, a bear trap fastened to his leg!

Emmiven manages to rip the trap free, and Grigori uses his magic to heal the worst of the wounds it has inflicted. By the time they have done this, the Barbarian has torn the insides of the hide to pieces, uncovering some coins hidden in the sleeping bags.

The group conclude that whoever was in the hide left in a hurry.

10:50 – 11:30 - Varracuda finds tracks heading to the northeast. The group follow them and after 40 minutes of tromping through frozen forest, the group come to a series of low limestone cliffs, studded with evergreen bushes and trees.

From somewhere beyond the top of this ridge is heard distant sounds of battle; gunshots, and even a few screams.

11:40 – The group climb on their bellies to the top of the cliffs, and crawl forwards. Soon they spot a wide clearing, in which a shattered Aelwyn tower (only 3 stories remain), is seen rising from behind a circular wall of crumbling, overgrown stone.

It is from somewhere within this place that the sounds can be heard.

Silent, still figures stand guard in a circle outside the place, unmoving in the cold wintry light, and Serren quickly realises that they are some kind of animated undead, almost certainly some kind of Zombies.

11:42 – The group decide to attack, and a plan is drawn up that involves the tougher party members forming a defensive line, whilst the weaker characters attack from behind.

11:45 - Battle begins, and the undead shamble forth, revealing themselves to be Zombies wrapped in black bandages.

Initially the group does very well against them, the warriors cleaving and ripping into the animated corpses with great skill, whilst the sorceress and priest call down holy fire and radiant energy which turns their foul flesh to ash in a moment.

However, suddenly two more undead - crouched and intelligent – appear, racing with frightening speed to join the fray.

Ghouls!

Poor Varracuda is grabbed by a Zombie, and then paralyzed by the bite of one of the Ghouls. Shortly after, he is brought down (Grigori rants and raves about “proper strategies”, but no one is listening).

Most of the zombies are down, and one of the Ghouls – burned, slashed and limping – runs back to the safety of the courtyard, where it gives a barking call, summoning another four Zombies!

These monsters shamble to attack and the battle becomes slightly more desperate (Schnecke and Serren prove themselves to be powerful allies, as they destroy masses of the undead)

But. Then.

Another undead appears from the hidden courtyard; another zombie, clad in black bandages, but also bearing a rotted spear, and a tabard depicting a grim standard; a skeletal raven with a halo of five black flames.

Serren recognizes the standard, but at this time cannot share her horror as the monsters continue their attacks

This monster however does not last long, despite its dark ability to heal damage inflicted on it, it's deadly spear and its diseased strikes, for Emmiven closes with it, and finishes it with several deadly blows.

With this monsters death, the fight swings once more in the groups favour, and the remaining undead are slain.

Victory!

Serren informs the group that the standard the spear wielding Zombie bore is that of the Ravensoul Cabal, a foul cult of necromancers, diabolists and madmen who seek to return dread Jantherak to the living world; a splinter group of the universally loathed Order of Ravens.

11:50 – After the group catches their breath, Emmiven reveals something to them that shocks them – he's a shape shifter!

11:55 – A plan is hatched (once everyone has got over the warlord's reveal); Emmiven will change shape to resemble one of the Ghouls and scout ahead a little ways.

11:57 – After (with the group's help) avoiding the hidden bear traps set in the courtyards (somehow the shape shifter managed to miss the fact that all the undead had trekked around certain areas of the yard), Emmiven enters a low, crumbling stairwell that goes under the tower, and enters a narrow corridor.

At the end of the corridor, the wounded Ghoul wimpers and hisses, but Emmiven does not go in far enough to be spotted, returning to the group.

11:59 – The group decide to make out that they are chasing the “Ghoul”, and with the shape changed Emmiven running ahead feigning panic, they charge in.

The wounded Ghoul at the end of the corridor launches itself at the group, but is dispatched by Emmiven with a quick sword thrust.

12:00 – Spiral stairs stand at the end of the corridor, going up and down. Wet marks suggest that whoever is inside went down. The group follow (but several members badly fluff their Stealth checks, and those downstairs hear them approaching)

12:01 – Reverting to their “We're chasing a Ghoul” plan, Emmiven charges down, and enters into a low, pillared chamber, flanked by alcoves. Grim figures, wreathed in tattered black bandages, and bearing the symbols and standards of the Ravensoul Cabal wait there; one a hulking figure wreathed in shifting shadows and bearing a rune scratched sword, two bearing execution axes, and another wearing the mantle of a magic user; a foxfire nimbus playing about their bandaged head.

A strange fog hangs low in this room – a vapour that seems to move of its own volition and which faintly shines with unholy, rotting light.

A battle starts as the group enter the chamber, and though the shape shifters ruse holds for a shirt while, soon all hell breaks loose.

The barbarian receives a horrible suppurating wound from the sword wielding man (for they are all humans), but slays him with a truly horrific blow that all but chops him in two.

The necromancer is unlucky and almost perishes when his fear spells fail to drive the frenzied barbarian away. Luckily for him, one spell takes hold and he runs.

The sword wielders (a third is found soon after battle begins), fight valiantly, and inflict serious wounds on the group. However, they are ultimately slain.

12:02 – With the dark ones here slain, the group turn to face another stairwell at the end of the chamber.

During the battle, the fog had flowed towards the stairs. Now it flows back in, and the group ready themselves as bestial roars and more footsteps approach...