Using My Monsters

Friday, 29 January 2010

Post War Session - 25/1/2010

Catch it, Kill it, Bin it...uselss when facing a Plague Daemon. Enjoy!

All but Schnecke are able to ignore the bite of the pervasive cold. The Barbarian (normally inured to even the deadly cold of Cryaria), weakened by the infection raging in his body, begins to feel the cold sapping his strength and will. Luckily Grigori spots his increased sleepiness and moves to warm him up, staving off the dire effects of burgeoning hypothermia.

Whilst this is happening Emmiven examines the armour found amidst the guano, and uncovers an ornate stone key, inscribed with Dundorin runes, stuck to the inside by the filth of its previous owners decomposition.

18:51 – 19:05 - Another tunnel, flooded with ice cold water, is the only exit from the Stirge chamber. The group move through this with ease however, guided by the confident movements of Varracuda, and emerge in a small chamber.

This chamber is mostly natural; another cavern of mineral streaked stone, dripping with rust-smelling water. However, the northern wall is artificial; a sturdy wall of Dundorin stonework, beautifully carved with runic designs. A single, stout door of solid stone, set with yet more rune work and rolling bands of intertwined symbols, built flush with the surface of the wall, appears to be the only way through.

Amidst the designs on the door a keyhole is found. Further examination of this by Jaeger and Aramyn reveals that it could well harbour a trap, and the Dundorin recalls that his kin often build trap rooms between disused areas and active areas, in order to dissuade exactly the kind of entry that the group are making.

Aramyn asks to see the key and after a few moments examining it gives a deep chuckle, mutters something in his native tongue, and presses two minute studs built into the Bow of the key, causing two of the bits to extend, and a subtle shifting in the collar.

“Try it now lad, the key will disarm whatever lies beyond.”

The key is turned in the lock and a staccato of clunks and clicks boom and chitter through the stonework before them. Then the door opens.

Beyond is a 15' x 15' chamber of unadorned fitted stone. In the eastern wall a secret door has popped open with the use of the key, and in each corner rises a beautifully engraved column of stone, carved with more runic inscriptions, stylized images of Dundorin warriors and the key and scroll symbol of the Dundorin God of Death.

19:05 – 01:30 (3/4/1472) With the trap disabled, the group deign this place as good as any for an extended rest. A quick check of the area beyond the Eastern door reveals that a short flight of steps leads to a grille, beyond which are open, well maintained tunnels carved by picks and explosives – the Karrag Durzal Silver Mines.

The barabarian begins to show symptoms of the infected bite he received from the Murk Rats, and Grigori attempts to stave off the worse of the diseases effects with his skills as an anatomist, and some of the chemicals and tinctures he carries.

A small fire is built from small scraps of debris found in the tunnels above, keeping the killing cold at bay, and slowly, the group allow themselves to relax a little.

The rest is much needed, though by the end of it all are feeling their wounds from the previous days' battles, and are still numb with the cold.

3/4/1472 (bright and cold with light snow in the evening)

01:30 - Shnecke's fever breaks and he manages – with the help of Grigori's ministrations – to shake off the filth fever. The group head up into the mines.

01:30 – 03:20 – The group move through the orderly tunnels of the mines, finding their way with ease thanks to the luminous signs carved onto plates of metal bolted to the walls. Seren considers trying to mine some of the silver ore from the walls, but is talked out of it, whilst Gorthias is insulted after mistaking Iron Pyrite for gold.

Aramyn seems disturbed by the lack of activity in the mines, commenting that the tunnels should be thick with sweating Dundorin hacking the silver free of the rock, and patrols of guards keeping an eye out for trouble. In truth, the lack of difficulty moving through the tunnels is the most disturbing thing for him.

03:21 – From up ahead deep coughing is heard, as well as Dundorin voices; first one then several in unison. The voices sound downcast and sorrowful, and Aramyn and Jaeger (the assassin helping the Dundorin to move quietly in his heavy armour), creep ahead of the main party to see who the voices belong to.

03:23 – The tunnel ends in a large area. At the far end of the area can be seen the cage and operating panel of a mine lift, and numerous other tunnels appear to converge here. Empty mine carts and crates of equipment are piled up everywhere.

“This is the mine head” whispers Aramyn, “The Karrag proper lies beyond that lift”.

All but a few of the tunnels leading from here – tunnels that should just be part of the mining network – are sealed by simple slabs of cut stone, apparently welded by magic to the surrounding rock. On each of these, picked out with pale blue-white magical fire, is the symbol of Argorthraine, Dundorin God of change, death, funerals and hidden knowledge; a stylized scroll and key.

The voices are coming from a small group of sallow skinned, sorrowful Dundorin, who are gathered around an open tunnel. All but one wear plate armour, and carry a variety of weapons typical for their kind – axes, hammers, heavy crossbows and brutal looking pistols. The other Dundorin is dressed in dirty robes which seem to have been plated with thin slices of stone. His beard and plaited hair is grimy with dust and dirt, and he holds a dimly shining orb of polished granite. Either side of the tunnel door stand two iron braziers within which burn piles of strong smelling bitter incense, and a faint, foul aroma – the smell of decomposing flesh – briefly reaches the two adventurers on an errant breeze.

All the Dundorin look ill, and many cough thickly and seem to be wheezing.

The robed Dundorin is intoning some kind of ritual to the others, and they in turn seem to be responding at certain points. Aramyn immediately removes his helm and lowers his head, for he recognizes it as part of a funeral litany; a common Dundorin burial ritual.

03:23 – 03:35 – The two adventurers watch the funeral wind up. After a short while the praying stops and a pre-cut slab like those covering the other tunnels is brought up an laid against the entrance to the tunnel flanked by the braziers. The robed Dundorin begins a solemn chant and raises the orb of granite, which flares with a dim grey-green radiance. As the pair watch, the rock around the edge of the tunnel seems to turn fluid, and the stone slab is pressed in, only to be held fast as the magic user stops chanting and the liquid stone solidifies.

The funeral is over. Time to make a move!

03:35 – 03:40 – Aramyn hails the group in Dundorin, and steps forwards. Initially the Karrag Durzal Dundorin are shocked and furious at his arrival. However, as the rest of the group arrive, each being careful not to appear hostile in any way, they talk (through Aramyn as translator) to them, and allay their fears..

The Dundorin explain that a curse has fallen upon the citizens of the citadel, and that “almost all have fallen ill or have died”.

When asked to give a description of the plague that has slain so many, the Dundorin describe the same sickness that recently swept through Greenford, that the group were supposed to find a cure for. This is relayed to the Dundorin, though they are initially unconvinced. However, they still agree to allow the group an audience with Thane Arunduas Durzal; the Leader of Clan Durzal.

The robed Dundorin introduces himself as a Rockmage named Ásbjorn Durzal, and explains that since all the priests have perished, he is currently conducting the burial rites. He also warns the group that their Thane has fallen into a deep and black mood, and that he is convinced that the curse has been caused by rival clansmen – namely the Geldorag'Drudge Dundorin, located in Karrag Drudge some fifty miles to the northeast.

03:40 – 04:10 - Before the group can be brought to meet the Thane clearance must be obtained, and the group are escorted (by more frightened and pale soldiers, many of whom cough thickly and breathe noisily) from the mines, down vast decorated hallways, into a huge stone chamber; every inch of which has been carved with runic designs, holy symbols and the stylised images of Dundorin men and women feasting and boasting. A huge fireplace with a greasy spit above dominates one end, though it has clearly not been lit for a long time, and dusty plates, daggers and tankards sit unused on a long stone table.

Aramyn will be openly upset, and though he will gruffly do his absolute best to appear unmoved, he will be struggling to control himself.

“This place should be alive with activity” he growls. “Winters End feast should be soon. The good ale should be out, and this place should be filled with drinkin', dancin' and boastin'”

He looks around with glassy eyes.

“This place echoes with loss an' sadness”.

He then remains quiet.

05:30 - The group hear the approach of armoured feet and wet coughing from the hallway outside, and four Dundorin soldiers arrive, accompanied by a pale skinned, emaciated looking Dundorin with watery eyes and a straw like beard, who bears a runic seal in Gothniir about his neck, and drips jewellery. As soon as Aramyn sees him he drops to his knees and formally greets the individual – Urgenhaad Durzal; youngest and only surviving heir to the hereditary Thanedom of Clan Durzal.

Urgenhaad will regard the group for a moment, and then with a nasal voice will invite them to the great audience chamber, “Where father awaits you”.

05:30 – 05:45 – Under a heavy guard (though all look half dead and many exhibit the same hacking, bubbling cough as those in the mines) Urgenhaad leads the group along fabulously constructed corridors thick with Dundorin art and magnificent architecture, towards the great throne room of his father. Aramyn once more reflects on the emptiness of what should be a bustling Karrag, and even Emmiven can feel the despair echoing through the vast, mostly empty place.

As they walk, both Grigori and Jaeger try to size up Urgenhaad. Both conclude that he is not infected with the plague, and Grigori senses a vague undercurrent of madness within him, though he is unable to say if this is the product of so much horror, or something darker.

Eventually the group meet the pillared magnificence of the throne room where Thane Arundunas Durzal sits on a throne of carved stone, engraved with prayers of strength and wisdom.

Thane Arunduas Durzal is the epitome of the broken Dundorin leader. Still in shock from the events of the Aelweyn Wars, he lost a great many of his clansmen during the battles, and now faces extinction thanks to “the curse”.

He is a grizzled and ancient Dundorin, almost 600 years old. His face is deeply lined and his grey hair and beard have the colour and consistency of ashes. Both eyes are milky and rheumy, and as the group approach, he gives several thick, wracking coughs, before spitting into a jewelled spittoon held by an equally sick looking attendant. He wears ancient plate armour of breathtaking beauty, and a great Gothniir and Adamantine Greataxe, struck with brightly shining runes of power sits on his lap. A simple band of platinum, unadorned, holds back his hair – the symbol of his Thanedom.

The throne sits atop a dais of rune inscribed rock, raised from the floor of the chamber and the mountains own flesh. Armoured attendants stand guard around him, managing to stifle their own wracking coughs.

Urgenhaad stops before the raised stone throne upon which Arudunas sits, and falls to his knees, bowing his head.

“Father Thane. The strangers caught trespassing in the upper mines.”

05:46 - Arundunas is already staring hard at the group. He begins to speak, but his voice immediately trails off into more horrible, heaving coughing. It takes him a long time to catch his breath, and when he does, he brings up a mass of bloody phlegm.

Then, in a reedy voice, he states in perfectly spoken Tradespeak.

“You are not welcome here. We tried to drive you all away so the curse died with us. Now you are here, and here you must stay”.

05:46 – 06:00 – A complicated discussion ensues, with the group working hard to persuade the Thane that his clan is not cursed, but infected with a disease that can be cured. At first the Thane is very suspicious. However, with the group carefully countering every argument he has, he begins to come around to their way of thinking.

At one point Urgenhaad seems to whisper something to his father which turns him briefly against the party. However, even this minor bump is smoothly overcome, and eventually the Thane agrees to allow the group to send word to Greenford of the affliction here, so that some arrangement can be made, and so they can be off and on their way to Peregrine.

However, no sooner have these words left his mouth than a horrible keening scream suddenly fills the air, filling all who hear it with withering dread, so unnatural and foul is its pitch and feel.

The sound coming is from Urgenhaad, his mouth wide open, his eyes turning black as they weep tears of bloody pus over his distorted cheeks. As the long, drawn out, keening scream, more animal than humanoid issues from the fetid Dundorin, a palpable wave of raw supernatural hatred pulses from him, stealing the air from the chamber.

Then he charges the group, and none of the Dundorin seem to know what to do.

Several of the weak looking soldiers that are in the chamber are struck by rancid tendrils of foxfire that flicker from Urgenhaad as the traitor charges, and they immediately transform with a horrified sigh into Zombies, who lurch to do their masters bidding.

Thane Arundunas seems about to spring up and attack the thing that was his son, but a word of blasphemous power, spat like phlegm from the dark ones mouth fills him with tortured coughing and a look of panic crosses his grizzled face as he fights for breath against the animated foulness that now clogs his lungs.

06:00 – 06:01 – Despite the zombies at his bidding (which are systematically destroyed by the arcane fire of Seren and Varracuda, the prayers of Grigori and the axe of Schnecke), Urgenhaad does not last long against the party.

He spits a foul globule of sizzling black phlegm at the barbarian which burns him like acid and leaves him briefly exposed to necrotic damage, and his morningstar – a warped thing of blistered, mottled metal – inflicts some fine blows (which crawl with infection) against the party.

Each blow against him reveals the secret corruption of his body by some foul power. Tentacles whip madly within his eye socket as the barbarian bursts one of his yolk like eyes, and his blood is clotted and foul when it splatters from his wounds. As he fights sores form and blossom across his rapidly rotting form, and the stench of advanced decay – both physical and moral – hangs around him like a shroud.

Radiant energy summoned by the sorceress and the priest inflict particularly effective ruin on the daemoniac and Urgenhaad soon begins to weaken, the air buzzing around him with carrion insects (though where these have come from is a mystery), and a growing sense of malevolence gathering like a crushing cloud in the room.

Then Schnecke strikes a killing blow, splitting the disintegrating Dundorin apart in a spray of corrosive slime and decomposing filth...

...However, as the killing blow falls the air thickens with daemonic evil, and a foul stench – both psychic and physical – suddenly billows from him. A horrible presence, ancient and malevolent swells in the air of the chamber, and with a nightmarish sound, Urgenhaad begins to rot and bloat before the group.

Some fall into a frenzy of attack, but find that at this point they have no effect as Urgenhaad's body is undergoing complete metamorphosis and simply heals any damage immediately. In truth most party members are temporarily hypnotised by the obscene, blasphemous change effecting the former Dundorin as a malevolent spirit, a Plague Daemon, enters him and changes him into something utterly different.

Urgenhaad swells like a rotting fruit. His flesh bubbles with pustules that burst and spew rancid slicks of pus over his quivering, veiny flesh. His voice becomes rotted and thick with corruption, until it croaks in a foul splattered bass, and he bursts open revealing snaking, bloated guts which writhe and grasp like snakes. His head pops but the flesh holds, and his features becomes grotesquely deformed, his flesh now the colour of bruises and adipocere. Tentacles of dripping, veiny corruption lash from within his growing mass, and an aura of choking stench, unbearable and distracting cloaks him. As his internal organs rupture, flies and maggots spill forth; manifestations of the utter corruption of his body. His lega vanish beneath the putrid folds of his inflated belly, but his arms become long and almost skeletal, cloaked in dripping flesh and oozing pus. As a final mark of his ascension to daemonhood, a great thorn like horn bursts from the left side of his deformed head, dripping with filth, and ripping his mouth wide to reveal the rows of shattered, blood and pus smeared fangs that nestle there, oozing blood and mucus. Then the daemon – Urgenhaad Ascended – attacks.

06:01- 06:06 – Choking in their horror and on the foul miasma that the daemonic enitity sweats, the group engage the energumen. Seren blasts if with a Chromatic Orb, glassy rainbow fires blasting a chunk out of it, whilst Jaeger sows seeds of shadowy power within it, unleashing them to rip at the spirit within with his strikes. Schnecke hacks it, and the swordmage unleashes sizzling lines of green fire at the thing and bursts of darting swordplay. Grigori invokes a seal of power on the monster, weakening it, whilst the Warlord directs his comrades, granting them constant advantages against the monster. Gorthias calls upon the spirits of the mountain to smite the beast, and the chamber ignites with unleashed power and deadly, slashing attacks.

However, the daemon is powerful. Its aura sickens all who breathe it, and its attacks are laden with a supernatural plague. Tendrils of decaying energy flash from it and drain vitality from those it hits, whilst its physical blows seethe with corrosive decomposition, leaving sloughing, rotting wounds on those they touch. The group are hard pressed, and things only become more difficult when the monster, wounded seriously, summons a foul totem of putrefaction; a horrific icon of pustules and dripping mouths which breathes an unspeakable aura of rot and disease – an aura which weakens and disorients the entire party, and slows their movement as foul alien fungi grow with unnatural speed within its cloak.

The battle in the throne room is one of the toughest the group has faced so far, but by a miracle they eventually manage to inflict enough harm on the thing that the daemon cannot maintain its physical form and is banished back to its dark world.

06:07 – 09:00 – In the blur of activity after the destruction of the monster the group are asked to wait for the Thane (who, with the death of the daemon is in control of his body again, though he is clearly physically and mentally weakened almost to the point of collapse). During this time two of the party – Gorthias and Varracuda – begin to exhibit the symptoms of some kind of foul disease, their skin becoming sensitised and uncomfortable “to be in”, their temperature rising whilst their glands swell. Both find swallowing hard, and their sweat takes on a sickly sweet, death-like aroma.

09:00 – Thane Arundunas meets with the group and thanks them for their help. He offers them any item they wish from his armouries, and tells them that he has sent word to the merchants outside that the Dundorin of Karrag Durzal would like help with their plague. Grigori thanks him and advises him to learn from this experience, and not to jump to conclusions of attack so quickly in future. Clearly unwell and grieving, the Thane thanks him, and trundles off, leaving the party to rest up, and to make contact with the other party of Dundorin that entered the mines yesterday.

09:00 – 20:00 – The group rest. Grigori helps Varracuda shake off the plague, though poor Gorthias remains infected. They are given food and allowed to choose an item each. A patrol is sent to recover the Dundorin who entered via another route yesterday, and they are invited into the keep to talk.

Then, at 20:00 Ásbjorn finds the group, clearly upset.

The Thane has passed away.

In the absence of an heir to his throne Ásbjorn is voted to take over temporarily as the clans Thane – until a proper heir can be located through the ancient family lines and brought here, and he invites the group to attend his funeral (in two days time).

The group decline, eager to be on their way to Peregrine.

4/4/1472 (Clear but cold)

07:00 – The group prepare to leave the Karrag. However they are stopped by a clearly panicked Ásbjorn who begs them to wait a moment. Sighing the group turn to regard him, hoping that there are no problems with the contact with Greenford.

“The old Thane, may Thoridane and Danaduin bless him, did a terrible thing in his paranoia, and its repercussions may destroy our clan utterly” gasps the rock mage, leaving the group stunned a moment.

He then goes on to explain that Arundunas, thinking “the curse” was an attack by the Geldorag'Drudge clan sent an assassin to slay their Thane – Ruden Geldorag'Drusge. The assassin failed, and it seems told the Geldorag'Drudge who sent him (no doubt after some mighty torture), triggering a wave of rightful fury and raising a mighty grudge between Clan Durzal and Clan Geldorag'Drudge.

Word has arrived this morning that the red bearded Thane Geldorag'Grudge has dispatched a force of Grudge Bearers to strike at the Durzal Dundorin and bring their Karrag to its knees.

“We are too few, and they shall be here before five days have passed” he growls “and this conflict is based on a misunderstanding. Please, can you help?”.

At first the group are reluctant to accept...but this soon changes when they are offered 5,000 gold to stay and help defend the Karrag – be it through diplomacy or strength of arms...

A Bloated Horror...

I'm being a bit slack getting the last session report up, so to tide you over until I get round to it, here are the stats for something unpleasant that appeared in that game...

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Pre-War Session - 19/01/2010

Full of curry and fighting the post dinner sleepies, Craig and Dave faced an encounter I have been looking forwards to running for long and long, though they did so without Tez (who was poorly). A fun time was had by all players, although the same cannot be said for the poor characters.


15:50 – 00:00 The group (after tidying themselves up a little) join Salvig and his men for some drinking and story swapping. They then go to bed, aching and battered, their pain numbed a little by the drink...

27/1/50 (Supernatural cold conditions as the group move north towards the anomaly)

04:00 – The group – sore from their battle the night before and the drinking afterwards – drag themselves from their beds, and shivering, begin to prepare to leave The Forge and head down to the docks, and the Boreas Vox.

04:25 – Sadran and Smite meet with the group. They do not have to leave until 08:00, but they wish to say farewell to the party, and arrange, should the battles be over by then and they miss each other before, to meet in Lorehaven on the first day of the Summer Solstice (16/6).
Sadran's farewell to Ardwaine is particularly painful, as the two have been adventuring together for a long time. The Dundorin makes the mongrel aelwyn promise that he won't get himself killed, and he makes her promise the same.

04:35 – The group head out into the arctic darkness, and skid along the streets, passing a small group of fur clad priests tending to the frozen corpse of a soldiers who's short drunken nap the night before has lead to tragedy. Instead of heading for the harbor, they head to the Banturn'Vortaxian temple in order to buy some healing potions (just in case).

05:20 – By the time the group have reached the temple, haggled the price of the potions down, and then slowly made their way along the icy, slick streets of Yorduil to the harbor, it is long after the time they were supposed to board the Boreas Vox.

Arriving at the harbor, they cringe against the merciless, killing cold of the snow laden winds screaming unhindered over the impossibly frozen plain of the Grey Sea. They note the weird formations of ice that have built up like alien sculptures along the sea front, and shake their heads in quiet amazement at the many mercantile vessels currently trapped by the unnatural ice, their rigging heavy with icicles, their crew shivering and stranded.

However, they are more amazed when they see the vessels that are heading north, for they are heavily modified skyships, that have been equipped with crude but functional skis, which will allow them to slide over the sea ice and move at a good speed towards the various musters.

The first force of troops are gathering by their transports (All in all about ten different groups will head off today alone); fur clad, knackered and shouldering well worn gear, stamping their booted feet and swearing against the cold as they line up to board. Luckily for the group, their ship has no queue waiting to board it, and they are able to climb aboard with little trouble.

05:30 – After negotiating the treacherously icy gangplank that leads up to the main deck, the group are greeted by the fur swathed crew a moment before a thickly accented voice calls over to them; slightly slurred it seems.

A man dressed in heavy furs, moves towards the group, his features briefly illuminated within the darkness of his hood by the tabac roll he smokes. This is the ships' captain; Vyacheslav Tidori, a former sea captain who served in the united navy of Upper Magoroth until he was forced to retire (at 28 years age) after “an incident”, and became a merchant instead. He is 33 in the year 50 N.C., and is a small, though toned man, with short cropped black hair, grey-green eyes and a prodigious beaked nose.

He is also a little too fond of Vossk – a very potent Upper Malgorothian spirit, and smokes Tabac almost constantly (his teeth and fingers are stained dark yellow by this habit). However, he is a tough bastard, and is renowned for his fine gun skills.

Vyacheslav greets the group, and makes several off colour remarks before showing them to their rooms and telling them that the ship will be leaving soon.

05:50 – The group get settled in their room, and Ormid (with the hard won permission of Vyacheslav) is allowed to view the engines; a fine example of an elemental engine, activated through certain hard wired rituals bound into the mechanism and the skill and arcane ability of those watching over it.

06:20 – The Boreas Vox leaves Yorduil and begins its journey towards Point Constant.

The group climb up onto the deck soon after the ship leaves as they would rather risk frostbite, than stay below decks where the resonance caused by the ship sliding over the ice (clearly not its usual mode of movement) is deafening and sickening.

08:45 – Ormid, through the swirling veils of biting snow and adumbrative fogs, notices a distant flash of dim orange light, and a split second later, a host of deafening bells and klaxon are wailing as the lookout (half frozen to death in the crow's nest) also spots the flash and calls it in.

08:47 – Vyacheslav begins to bellow orders, and painfully, slowly, the Boreas Vox turns, its whole structure screaming as it strains to obey the engines commands.

08:55 – Slowly, through the snow and mist, the group make out a terrible scene; another ship lying on its port side, its rear end sinking into a boiling pool of melting ice; thick clouds of smoke and steam belching, under lit with a lurid orange glow. Vyacheslav immediately identifies the vessel as the “Sky Dancer”; a competitor under normal circumstances, but an ally in the current one.

“Men, get out there and help!” He screams in his thick, growling voice, “Before the damn engine blows!”

08:58 – 09:02 – Swathed in heavy furs against the deadly cold, the group soon find themselves hurrying (along with most of the Boreas Vox' crew) across the ice and snow, moving towards the gloomy glow of the stricken vessel. As they get closer they begin to encounter dazed members of its crew, and can make out the huge, scorched gouge marks where the ship clearly tore up the ice, apparently in a fatal spin around its own midline (very still, broken bodies can also be seen at intervals in this destructive wake).

The cause for the fatal spin becomes apparent as the group get close enough to clearly make out the details of the ship – one of the runners, only ever attached as a temporary modification – has sheared off, tearing along the side, and no doubt unbalancing it enough to trigger the deadly roll and subsequent crash.

One of the Sky Dancer's crew begins to scream something. “The Captain is still inside! Jules was checking out the engines when the ship threw its fit! Someone help him!”

The group sigh...looks like their role in all this is now clear!

09:07 – The group enter the ship through the huge rent in its starboard side, peering down into the smoke filled belly of the shattered vessel.

09:08 – 09:13: Enduring deadly smoke, collapsing beams of flaming wood, shifting floors and a host of other horrible dangers, the group make their way slowly but surely down towards the aft of the ship, and the engine chambers.

As they near the door (labelled “Salle des machines. Danger! Personnes autorisées seulement au delà de ce point!” ), they can hear the terrible screaming roar from beyond, as well as the terrified, hight pitched shrieks of a man. Something awful is clearly happening beyond, and with a flick of the rogues lock picks, the door is opened...

09:14 – 09:20: The group burst into the choking smoke and searing heat of the reinforced engine chamber, which has collapsed and sagged into the storage vault beneath. Flames jet from the twisted casing of the main engine, and the hardwood of the chamber is being consumed in a steadily advancing wall of flame.

Jules is trapped at the far end of the chamber under a mass of collapsed wood and metal, his legs and abdomen crushed. By some terrible miracle he is alive, and as the group enters the room he turns to them and in a mad panic screams “Help ME!”

However, something looms from within the engine between him and the group; a towering thing of writhing steam and smoke, fire and raw elemental fury, shrouded in toxic vapours and filled with an ancient rage pent up for almost 100 years – the Engine's Spirit.

It is a hulking thing that has great chunks of the engine incorporated into its constantly shifting form; glowing cherry red with the spirits rage and fiery form, and as the group enter the chamber it turns two eye like points of brilliant electric blue light their way, bleeding liquid power into the searing, smoky air, and mad with rage, this thing moves to attack the party, leaving more fire in its wake.

But it doesn't stop there. Reinforced crates, smouldering in the inferno's heat are scattered about the chamber, dislodged by the crash, hopping about as if filled with exploding popcorn...

...If only it was popcorn, but it's's ammunition for the Dancer's broadsides, and exposed to the heat and vibrations that now abound, they have become very unstable indeed – not good with fire spreading at an alarming rate from the engine, and the captain too badly wounded to simply pull out...

And suddenly the party are faced with four equally important situations – the Engine Spirit, the spreading fire, preventing the unexploded ammunition from triggering, and of course, stabilizing and then safely removing the trapped captain.
Initially things are madness as the group battle the Spirit, all the while keeping a terrified eye on the fire as it snakes towards the ammunition. Veteran is sorely wounded time and again by the monster, as the choking fumes surrounding it work their terrible effects on him. However, he lands blow after blow on the thing, driving it back. The Vyrleen lends his daggers to the battle, whilst Ormid spends time trying to wrack his brains for a way to put the fires out and to keep Julien alive.

Ardwaine calls upon her God to heal the warforged and his hound (who is also fighting the spirit), and unleashes a stroke of lightning from her blessed hammer.

Quite quickly the spirit is weakened (though not without it inflicting truly appalling damage on the party), the core of it exposed for all to see. The Vyrleen leaps in with his mace, its ensorcelled adamantine head striking a truly devastating blow to the thing, sending it reeling as it fights to remain in the physical plane.

And then catastrophe.

Just as Ormid reaches the unconscious Lower Malgorothian, the Engine Spirit, in a last ditch attempt to have revenge on the mortal creatures it sees as responsible for its long imprisonment within the guts of the ships' engine, throws a blast of fire and howling steam at one of the ammunition boxes.

It explodes...

...several more explode, triggered by the initial blast...

...Despite the reinforced crates absorbing huge amounts of the blast, their containment runes glowing white hot before they burn out, the exploding ordinance turns the inside of the engine room into a killing zone of crushing shock waves, flying razor edged shrapnel, and deafening force. No one escapes unscathed, but by some miracle all survive...just....very, very just...

At first all is utter confusion in the sudden darkness, the blast having blown much of the fires out. Then, as the flames begin to burn hot once more, the group manage to gather their shell shocked thoughts, the world a mad, whistling blur of concussion and stunned incomprehension.

Then the pain knifes through the fog of shock, and they are back in the room once more, agonized and not yet finished.

Jules lives, though he is clearly critically wounded, and slowly but surely, each party member using every skill and ability at their disposal, he is pulled free from the wreckage, his legs no more than bloody cables of dripping gristle and orange, mutilated fat.

09:23: With Julien critical but stable for now the party turn to leave. Some ammunition remains unexploded, but the crates are shuddering as they cook off in the horrible heat. Smoke chokes the air, and the party are dismayed to see that the fires now block their route of escape – at least until the warforged uses Dracusviir to trigger a crate by the door, its blast once more turning the fires into smoke and darkness, clearing the way.

09:35: The group clamber through the darkness and heat of the ship with Julien. As they do, the massive vessel begins to slowly turn in its death throes, and a deep crumping sound signifies multiple minor blasts in its deepest regions.

Through the stinging, suffocating smoke, the group make out the watery outline of the exit; a slight lightening of the crushing darkness. Almost spent and utterly agonised from their tribulations in the engine room, they manage to clamber out, coughing and choking, spitting up black filth and trailing lines of black snot from their stinging noses.

09:35 – 09:40: They half stumble, half slide from the growling, booming ship and make it far enough away that they are merely knocked flat and almost senseless by the pressure wave when the entire ship explodes in a vast fireball and sweeping corona of flaming wreckage, spurting ammunition shells and vaporised metal.

14:00 – Back on board the Boreas Vox, and Julien, wrapped from head to foot in bloody bandages, barely able to speak through the pain dulling drugs he is on following the amputation of both legs above the knee, asks to see the group.

Sobbing in his pain and loss and gratitude, the Lower Malgorothian thanks the party for their help and his life, and gives them his two greatest treasures; a flawless and very rare rose diamond, and an enchanted ring that enhances the wearers charisma and draw, which can make an individual forget themselves even in the heat of battle and hatred, and seek them out.

20:40: The group arrive in the indescribable cold and darkness at the edge of the rift storm, at Point Constant.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Before tonight's game, a little something for you from the olden days

Who remembers the Blackball (AKA Umbral Blot in later editions); a nasty animate Sphere of Anihilation with a penchant for destroying entire parties? Well I do, and as a means of putting something I need to do off for another ten minutes of so, I created a 4e version, possibly for use in the future in a game currently running....Hmmmm....

Anyway, let the horrible joy commence!

Thursday, 14 January 2010


I have (in addition to the session recordings) started to update a Twitter feed during our games, just to give a running snapshot of what is going on.

Post War Session - 12/1/2010

So, the first session for these guys of 2010, and a couple of nasty battles involving tricky terrain and numerous, lower level foes.

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18:05 – The group discuss which of the two tunnels leading from this area to take; the one to the North which is flooded, or the one to the Northwest which is slicked with thick smears of bat guano

18:06 – Varracuda, being able to breathe water, swims with ease through the tight, water filled tunnel to the north.

18:08 – Varracuda finds that the tunnel sinks some 20' before levelling out a little, and then rising back to the same level as the tunnels the rest of the group are in, and upon breaking the surface of the cold, rust smelling waters at the far end, finds himself almost swamped by the stench of the cavern he enters.

It is a smallish chamber, thickly smeared in some kind of guano, as well as oily, membranous feathers. A buzzing sound can be heard coming from the only exit, as well as distant sounds of scratching.

18:10 – Varracuda returns to the group and describes the tunnel. Hearing of its narrowness, and the pressing cold of the waters, they are reluctant to enter (Grigori is especially fearful). They briefly consider the other tunnel – until Varracuda (backed up by Aramyn) suggests that all that bat poo may have generated a lot of toxic gas.

18:15 – Varracuda returns to the tunnel, trailing a rope behind him to aid the passage of the rest of the group.

18:17 – he surfaces back in the cavern at the far end and immediately runs into trouble as several bloated, bat-like things with needle-sharp stylets, multiple chitinous legs and compound eyes suddenly wing into the chamber, swirling round it once before diving at the swordmage and trying to stab him with their beaks.

Varracuda responds and launches several dazzling attack which blast the weird opponents. However, the buzzing from the corridor continues to grow in volume, and suddenly the cave is filled with a whirling maelstrom of wings and stabbing stylets, as a swarm of the wretched things – Stirges – burst in!

18:18 – Varracuda desperately tugs on the rope in a bid to alert the rest of the party that he is in trouble, all the while fending off the whirlwind of stabbing, clutching little horrors. At the far end, the group initially don't seem to grasp what is going on...then they realise and slowly begin to enter the icy, crushing cold of the water filled tunnel (Well, Seren and Grigori don't at this point, the logic priest trying – and failing – to construct some kind of winch which would allow him to return swiftly to the surface should he become stuck in the tunnel).

18:20 – 18:30 – Slowly but surely the group make their way along the tunnel, grasping at the rope, their lungs bursting as they grope forwards through the terrifying drowning embrace of the narrow, drowned, frigid tunnel (Jaeger calls upon the shadows and makes himself slightly less than solid, moving with almost as much ease as Varracuda had).

As each character emerges from the waters; dripping, gasping and shivering, they find themselves immediately in the maelstrom of battle. Three skeletal, stinking rats, veritably effervescent with disease, have also joined the fray, darting forth to bite with splintering, rotting fangs, before scurrying away from any possible reprisals.

At one point the passage of those individuals still under water is blocked by the densest area of the stirge swarm. However, Jaegar uses a shadowy power to drag them away, allowing the barbarian to thunder in, his fearsome howls and deadly axe (spitting and steaming as its fiery runes drive off the water) cleaving a path of ruin amongst the monsters. Gorthias invokes the power of his blade to slow one of the scurrying Murk Rats, whilst Emmiven bolsters the group and gives them strength in the absence of the priests healing formulae.

Eventually, the group drive the swarm off, and slay the other monsters – though not before the filthy drool from the rats has inflicted (unbeknownst to him at this point) filth fever on the barbarian.

18:35 - After a short rest (during which the priest and sorceress are brought through the tunnel by Varracuda), the group move on, a little perturbed by the continued droning buzz from further in the tunnels ahead...

18:37 – The tunnel widens, and the air grows slightly warmer. The stink of Stirge dung becomes much stronger, and as the group creep round a corner in the widening corridor, they discover a vast cavern beyond; thickly spattered with oily masses of Stirge guano and other organic detritus.

However, they have little time to take it all in, for more of the bloodsuckers dart towards them, accompanied by a much larger specimen, plated in overlapping bands of chitin and emanating the droning buzz they have been hearing all this time.

18:37 – 18:39 – Another battle ensues. The Hive Lord is a tougher opponent than the other Stirges, its draining stylet weakening the swordmage even as it repairs its own wounds. Seren and Grigori make up for their no show in the last battle, raking the air with their magics, burning, blasting and unravelling any monster unlucky enough to be struck by them.

However, the battle ends as Shnecke, boiling with a brutal fury, unleashes a howling blow that hackles deep into the Hive Lords body, bursting it like an overripe tomato, splattering death pheromones throughout the chamber, scattering the remaining standard Stirges, and allowing the group to catch their breath.

18:40 – 18:50 – The group have a short rest, and Grigori uncovers the partially rotted, partially mummified corpse of a Dundorin amidst the stinking piles of Stirge guano. Although most of its items have been corroded to nothing by the caustic waste, three items; its magical plate armour, its ensorcelled warhammer (a beautiful thing struck with Dundorin runes of battle and strength), and its (oddly incongruous) aelwyn crafted boots (which the assassin takes as they are identified as being somehow linked to ones ability to manifest acrobatic skills).

During this rest, the pervasive cold of the tunnels begins to press in on the group...

*   *   *

Varracuda (i.e. Jerome) was right by the way; the other tunnel was indeed full of poisonous and explosive gas...and nothing else. Just in case any of you care, here are the stats for the Murk Rats and the Stirge Hive Lord. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Pre-War Session 5/1/2010

This is actually a hybrid of the aborted game from december, and last nights slug fest. It's a long one with a lot of story before a vicious fist fight in an inn! Awesome!

* * *

15:35 – The group arrive back at Ormid's home, and settle in for the night before their return to the tainted tunnels. However, in conversation that night, Veteran manages to persuade Ormid into repairing and reanimating the Iron Defender he recovered from their fight with the Esoteric Hunters beneath Garras'Knar, though this will almost drain the groups coffers and will take almost a week to complete.

19/1/50 – 24/1/50 (New storm clouds sweep in from the north and more snow falls. Temperatures plummet once more, and unnatural falls of ice begin to smash down in certain regions).

Ormid labours away over the Iron Defender, eventually returning the spark of life to it.


14:50 – Outside the college after making some last minute purchases of ritual components and supplies, Ormid, the Veteran (and his Iron Defender “Ferrous”) and Llewellyn overhear a huge man, swathed in furs, asking the guards where he can find “Professor Threfler” in a strangely accented voice that seems unused to speaking Trade.

14:55 – Bold as ever, Ormid introduces himself, and the huge man (an Ulnyrr tribesman from Cryaria), introduces himself as Theogred Son of Theogred. He asks if he can have a word with Ormid and “his most capable allies”, explaining that he is in the city as a recruiter for the “Grey Sea Offensive”; “A battle against the unnatural forces that are bringing this deep winter to our lands”.

14:46 – 16:30: The group agree, and accompany Theogred to a nearby inn “The Staying Inn”, where he explains more...

Much of what Theogred tells them is memorized speech, and he admits that he does not fully grasp it himself. However, he starts by asking them what they know about how the universes interact with one another. Ormid states he has a rudimentary grasp of this, explaining that the various dimensions float through the medium of the psychic or spirit plane, like streaks of ink in the water of an artists pot.

Theogred agrees, and asks him what he understands about how they interact. Ormid admits he knows only that as a general rule, the planes only interact when a link is deliberately forged through rituals or the powers of mighty beings, though he also recalls that from time to time dimensions can “crash” into each other.

Theogred agrees, and tells the group about so called “scourings”; the effects when a dimension “crashes” into the physical plane Arbel'Verdaniss occupies, causing problems. He explains how many great wars, plagues, cold snaps or heat waves can be linked to the unseen influence of another dimension occupying the same “dimensional space” as this plane, and reveals that this unnaturally cold weather is the result of such an event.

Theogred tells the group that almost six months before, a line of strange lights appeared over the icy waters of the Grey Sea, about 30 miles from the southern coast of Cryaria, and the Uln'Hülder; a major port city for the Ulnyrr at this point in history (this time pre-dates the taking of the Nephyzyr'Gigorim city of KardasThordim and its rebirth as the major trade port of Northmeet). Powerful waves of supernatural cold emanated from these and soon the sea around them began to freeze, creating a hazard for ships travelling the Northwinds Trade Route, and causing serious shifts in the weather patterns for hundreds of miles around.

Slowly, the lights began, after a week or so to fade, and all hoped that they would vanish altogether. However, the middle lights, a few days after this began to flare with a distant, icy radiance, and the cold intensified.

Theogred takes a long pull on his pint, and tells the group that “monsters came through” the lights shortly after, and that they had begun to build “great black pyramids” either side of the central light. However, a storm of terrible cold and power rose around the area, and as the peripheral lights (naturally occurring portals; rips where the physical plane and some other dimension had dragged against each other) dimmed and vanished, the baleful beacon of the middle light could be seen winking through the swirling snows, before they grew too dense to see through.

“So” , finishes the Ulnyrr, “an army is gathering on the frozen sea to seek out and drive back the monsters that have worked to keep this freezing portal open, and we are looking for capable heroes to assist them. You are one such group I have been sent to find and ask”.

Questions are asked and answers given;

“What do we get” - “1,000 gold, 500 up front”
“What kind of monsters came through the portals” - “Gigorim of some kind”
“Where do we sign up?”

The group are given a letter of marque, and are told to present it to any attendants of the Apporters Guild, whereupon they will open a doorway to the first muster point, in the grim northern port of Yorduil. The group take this, and thank the Ulnyrr. He raises his pint to them and wishes them all the blessings of Vletniir (The Ulnyrr aspect of Banturn'Vortax).

The group agree to do this the next morning...
18:00 – The guys return to Ormid's home and find Sadran and Ardwaine by the fire, sipping spicy mulled wine. Smite is apparently in the workshop.

18:05 – Not happy about his private workshop being entered by an individual he still – even after all these weeks – does not entirely trust, the artificer heads down there, and finds the monk simply standing in the main work area – though she drops into a defensive crouch as he approaches.

18:05-18:15 – Ormid and Smite talk. The little Warforged explains that she feels “out of place” after being re-awoken thousands and thousands of years after she was first created and operated. She states that she simply feels happier in a place like the workshop, that is somehow feels “right” to her.

18:17 – 19:00 - Ormid and Smite rejoin the rest of the group, and Smite is coaxed into talking about her past and her re-awakening by Ebon Eye. She is quite frank about her function during the Guild Wars as part of a specialist infiltration and sabotage unit for the Northern Guild, and her descriptions of events then trigger a wave of memories for the Veteran...

...Memories of the horrific battles along the slopes of the Streaked Mountains against the forces of the enemy guilds...of being left to hold the lines as grim undead and construct armies sought to attack the Eastern Guild...of being left by the Easterners as they enacted the powerful rituals that would take their guild “away” from the world and its wars...of being used as fodder...a diversion...a meat shield....a tool....

Veteran feels anger.

Smite talks about how she was awoken by Ebon Eye's artificers after being dug out of an ancient battlefield within the Clouded Hills, near to where the Neversea splits and the city of Spire. She talks of Ebon Eye's consuming thirst for revenge, and of the masses of troops he is slowly gathering.

More memories flood Veteran's mind – ancient sites of terrible battles...possibly rich pickings for future exploration...
Eventually, the group chat on other subjects. All are informed of the war on the frozen sea to the north, and all agree to go.

Then they head for an early night...

26/1/50 (Increasingly heavy snows driven by a powerful, lethally cold wind).

06:30 – Half asleep, and bundled in heavy cloaks against the cold, the group leave Ormid's home (he double, double locks the front door), and trudge through knee high snows towards the Apporter's Guild headquarters.

06:50 – 06:55 They arrive at the HQ, and are warmly welcomed by the attendants they rescued before. They present their letters of marque, and the portal to Yorduil is opened...

06:55 - a crowded chamber within a temple dedicated to Banturn'Vortax; huge vaulted room which is illuminated by giant braziers upon which burn ceremonial incenses sacred to the church, smelling unsettlingly like freshly spilled blood.

A large number of Banturnite priests are within this hot and stuffy chamber, glaring at the new arrivals or muttering growling prayers to their dour, bloodthirsty God.

06:56 - A moment after the group arrive, they are approached by a heavily armoured dundorin (bushy black beard bearing clan Gnorrs, with dark eyes and a vivid scar across his forehead). He takes some details from them, and are asked who sent them. They are then directed towards an Inn named “The Forge”, located in the trade district, where they are to report to War Commander Ulthstaad; an Ulnyrr.

07:00 – 07:05 - In the main worship are of the temple in the level above the arrival chamber (which is dominated by a fearsome statue of Banturn'Vortax, covered in skins, shattered weapon, armour and items, and the polished and perfumed skulls of past enemies vanquished), a number of local merchants and artisans offer weapons, armour and magic for sale.

Ormid buys some shot and black powder for his Blunderbuss, then the group step out into the frozen streets of the Grim Tower City of Yorduil, filled with armoured and cloaked soldiers, despite the fact that the winds here are even colder than those in Lorehaven. To the north they can dimly make out (through the frozen mists and swirling snows) the hazy masts of distant ships and grey outlines of fortified weapon towers.

07:20 - They ask for directions and find “The Forge” quite easily; a large, solid building that bears three large chimneys from which pours smoke and sparks. A sign outside bears the picture of a glowing sword and shield, and another sign beneath proclaims (in tradespeak, dundorin, north republic and Ulnyrr) that all rooms are taken.

Many more soldiers mill around the front of the inn, some stamping their feet against the bitter cold, others gathered in small huddles, quietly discussing the coming battles.

07:22 - One of these men - a hulking Ulnyrr swathed in heavy white furs, who bears a broadsword covered in decorations and runes – mocks the party as they approach and tries to trip the mage up. A little sharp banter is exchanged by the Vyrleen, but there is no trouble.

The group enter the Inn...

07:23 - Inside, the taproom is packed with sweating, irritable warriors, and filled with tabac smoke and the smell of wet furs and unwashed feet. A crude, compacted line snakes around the tap room, leading to a number of points set up along the bar, each occupied by a sweating warrior. This is where the group need to sign up before they get their chits for their room, and gain further instructions.

07:30 – 07:35 - Llewellyn, hoping to jump the queue, clambers over Veteran and up into the taproom's rafters. He then monkeys his way towards the bar over the grumbling lines of warriors, and tries to get the official there to throw him some chits up. However, he is jeered by the irritable mercenaries waiting to be seen, and pelted with projectiles. He is also told, in no uncertain terms, to get down by the warrior behind the bar.

07:36 – 07:50 – Llewellyn, in that most dangerous of states (bored) begins to busy himself by pilfering money and trinkets from the pockets of the queueing mercenaries. At first he does well...but then he gets caught, and it is only thanks to the timely intervention of the Veteran that he is spared a sound beating or worse.

08:30 – the group eventually get to the bar, and are given a room chit for the Inn, and a number. They are directed towards another taproom, and told that they will be called (by their number) when they are to meet with War Commander Ulthstaag.

08:35 – 10:00 – The group wait in a crowded room, thick with tabac and blackgob smoke, dreamsmoke vapours and the stink of too many men crowded in too small a space. They drink a little to pass the time, and chat quietly amongst themselves.

Llewellyn manages to keep his fingers to himself for once!

10:00 – 10:15 The group are called to meet with the War Commander, in a suite on the second floor of the Inn.

The War Commander is a 48 year old Ulnyr; veteran of endless tribal battles, skirmishes with Nephyzyr'Gigori and clashes with pirates in the Grey Sea. He has long plaited grey hair worn in a topknot, and wears heavy hide armour, made from pelts of various monsters he has slain over the years. Bearing his mighty greataxe Drachefeind (Dracani's Foe), and his Giant Strength Girdle, he is an experienced and deadly warrior, and possible one of the largest men any of the group have ever seen.

Through a translator, he explains that at present a large force of soldiers is gathering on the frozen expanses of the Grey Sea, ready to march at a moments notice, whilst smaller camps have been established close to the edge of the storm, from which experts are trying to find a way of either scrying the portal or of shutting down the storm.

And this is where he turns to the group.

To Smite and Sadran: “You two are to be sent to the front lines, to join the hosts that will battle our half glimpsed foes when the storm falls. You will report to the Snow Raven host, and will fight well when the time comes”

To the rest of the group: “You are specialists, and your deeds in and around Lorehaven have been communicated to me. We need men and machines like yourselves to try and penetrate the storm and to try and make the way clear for the armies. You will be transported to Point Constant, and will report to Artifice Captain Ezloz, and make yourselves available for work at once. You leave tomorrow morning at 05:00 hours, on board a modified skyship named the Boreas Vox.

And with that, Ulthstaag dismisses them.

10:20 – 15:30 – The group engage in some gambling and drinking with the mercenaries at the Inn. Llewellyn gets the sharp end of a game of “Knifey Knifey” (he vomits as an emetic venom surges through his system), and Ormid and Llewellyn play “Two Dice Ante”; a dice version of pontoon that uses 2d6 and a limit of 30.

Money is won and lost (Llewellyn uses the money he swiped earlier today), and eventually, the group decide to head towards their rooms on the third floor...

15:40 – However.

On the first landing – which is crowded with drunk patrons, whores and mercenaries, the group encounter the barbarian from outside, still attended by a motley crew of swords for hire. As they move past, he trips up Sadran and pours his drink on him, making crude comments in his thickly accented voice about his parentage and weakness.

15:41 – 15:45 - Soon the fists are flying, and a HELL of a fracas ensues.

Luckily for the group everyone is pulling their punches, having no desire to kill and to face the consequences for murder (there are many flayed bodies frozen in cages around the streets and squares of Yorduil that speak of the cities thoughts on such crimes), for the mercenaries prove to be very able opponents.

The barbarian is an unholy terror of mad rage and unexpected sudden moves. He seems to simply shrug off blows that would down anyone else, and even pulling his punches breaks bones and bursts blood vessels. Another of the combatants is a warrior imbued with psychic powers, almost impossible to hold in place, and able to blast foes with waves of stunning force, to teleport those he strikes and to guide his allies attacks (he only gets taken down after making a serious mistake and getting trapped between the Dundorin and the Warforged).

By the end of the battle (which ends up as Ormid, Veteran and Ardwaine pounding on the barbarian), Llewellyn, Sadran and Ferrous are out for the count (they would have been dead in a full on battle). The last to fall is the barbarian, though it is as close a thing as the group has ever known...

As the last blow is smacked into him, he throws down his sword, and staggers, eyes wide, towards the veteran. For an instant it looks like he is going to attack him again, but instead he bursts out laughing, grabs him in a bear hug, and apologises for his rudeness and his lack of respect.

He helps Sadran to his feet (the combatants are coming round now, bloodied, battered but smiling), and introduces himself as Salvig Uuferduun; leader of “Salvig's Wolves”, a mercenary company headed north – a company he states would gladly assist the party (at a reasonable price of course) in any endeavor following the wars conclusion.