Thursday, 24 June 2010

Capture the Flag Report

So, no session report this week because in truth there is little to report. The whole session was taken up by the Capture the Flag round of the arena qualification trials, and in that time the flag was only captured once (you will have to wait for the report to find out who got it though).

However, I would like to talk about some of changes we made to the base rules I threw out last week, and of course, about how the players took it.

Okay, firstly, the crunchy bits.

Bloodied: As the base rules state, you have half hit points whilst in CTF. “Bloodied” whilst in CTF means you are on your surge value hit points or less (i.e. half your bloodied value). Effects that are triggered, or end whilst you are bloodied, trigger at that point.


Power Ups:– Scott suggested an addition to the roll made when a character crosses a recharge point. We tried it. It ruled. So, now you roll a d8 with the following results;

1-2 Encounter power, 3-4 Daily Power, 5-6 Power Up / Curse, 7-8 +1 Action Point

Death: When you die you do not get to act until your (new) initiative on the NEXT round of combat.

Respawning: When you respawn you regain the use of one expended power (encounter or daily) and any ongoing effects, bonuses or penalties are removed.

Telefragging: If you are occupying a re-spawn point when another player is re-spawned there, you are instantly killed (and re-spawn as usual).

Overall my players seemed to enjoy the whole thing, Some seemed to take a while to get into it, and I am still not sure some quite understood that death was not the big deal it is in “real” combat. It was very interesting to see the use of tactics and the great thought that went into where characters went, what actions they expended and how they complemented each other to try and get to the flag.

I also learned a few lessons about where to place re-spawn points (not near the flag and on routes more heavily travelled), and got a few ideas on making the arenas more dynamic. I also learned that it can take nearly 4 hours for the flag to be captured once, so five captures is a bit...ambitious!

Will I do it again? Hell yeah, though the arena will be very different next time!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Capture the Flag

In the next game with the post war guys they are going to be entering the Irin arena, and in one round will be playing capture the flag. Now, I'm not sure how well these rules will play out, but we shall see! Anyway, in case you wanted to give them a go, here are my D&D 4e Capture the Flag rules...


* Each character has only bloodied hit points.

* When reduced to 0 hit points, they are teleported to the start point for their team on bloodied
  hit points

* Initiative is re-rolled when a character re spawns.

* Picking up a flag uses a Standard Action

* A character holding a flag cannot make any attacks

* An enemies flag cannot be placed in your zone if your flag is currently out of zone

* First Team to 5 Captures wins.

* Various recharge points are scattered through the arena. A character that passes through
  one of these automatically regains the use of an expended power of the type bestowed by
  the point.

*To determine what kind of power they recharge for a character who passes through that
 square roll 1d6; 1-2 Encounter, 3-4 Daily, 5-6 No recharge - Power Up / Curse. This is rolled as they move through the square.

* Power Ups / Curses: These last until used and affect the next attack made. If they do not
  influence attack powers, they last until the end of the users next turn. They are activated as
  soon as they are collected. Only one power up or curse may be active at any one time. The
  squares power is determined when it is picked up.


POWER UPS / CURSES (1d12)

1) Speed Boost: +2 squares speed

2) Healing Boost: User gains hit points equal to their Surge Value

3) Empowered Weaponry: Next attack inflicts double damage

4) Empowered Guidance: Next attack gains a +10 power bonus to hit

5) Enhanced Threat – Next attack scores a critical hit on a 17, 18, 19 or 20 if it hits

6) Invulnerability – Target is immune to all damage and effects

7) Hex of Sloth – Target is Slowed and Dazed

8) Hex of Misfortune – Target suffers a -10 penalty to their next attack rolls

9) Hex of Vulnerability – Target suffers a -10 penalty to all defences, and has vulnerability 10 to
    all attacks

10) Hex of Wounding – Target suffers damage equal to their surge value.

11) Hex of Failure – If target is holding the flag, it is automatically returned to the enemies base

12) Armoured Blessing – Target gains a +10 bonus to all defences.

Ormid et al (Pre-War Campaign) Session 14/6/2010

So, they fought my first 4e Lich. I have a long love of Liches, and over the many years a few have appeared in my games with each quickly becoming an icon of fear and despair to those that battled them, and to those who followed in their footsteps. I always feel that a Lich should be unique. Each was a powerful spellcaster or similar in life, and in the cold eternities of unlife they will have developed items and powers of unique and terrible potency. No one should ever take a Lich lightly. 

In truth, this guy (Atrophius, the leader of the Ravensoul Cabal) performed well. I should have given him more powers truth be told (a valuable lesson for when you make a solo - they will be on the field a long time, make sure they always have something nasty and interesting to do), and at times he felt a little uninspiring. However, my players seemed to love the battle, and a cheer went up when he fled, even though they all know he will be back - worse than ever and almost certainly not vulnerable to the radiant runes on Veteran's axe.

Anyway, here is the session report. Enjoy!

*    *    *

12:03 – 12:05 – It is amazing to the group how two short minutes can feel like an entire lifetime. The battle with this Lich and its two unholy allies is a painful reminder of the power of evil, the diverse nature of magic and those that twist it to their ends.

The Lich wields a vast arsenal of magics, and uses them with terrible ease. His unholy gaze fosters pus-filled buboes within the suddenly necrotic tissues of those it meets, and his lipless mouth drools and hawks incantations that unleash dripping beams of putrefying energy, flickering arcs of life stealing magic and at one point, a greasy blast of consuming fire, tainted with necrotic power. He walks through the darkness of his own being at will, teleporting with the same ease the heroes walk, and his mere presence triggers haemorrhaging and implicit dread in Ormid and his allies. He is a pollution of sanity given sentience; a rotting blot of unholy power that must be taken down.

However, his allies, the undead that Ormid later identifies as Wheeps, are a source of torment too. Their constant screams and moans pick away at the parties ability to focus and fill them with despair, turning every action into a monumental effort. They bite with sharpened fangs covered in their seething toxic tears, and many blows miss their mark thanks to their hideous presence.

Ormid quickly imbues the warforged's axe with radiant power, and this proves to be a great equalizer, for its touch devours the flesh and bones of the undead with glassy blazing flames of cold rainbow light. He also summons a small construct to the battlefield, which is imbued with life energy; a clattering, glassy-eyed thing, that repeatedly restores burned and rotted flesh to its former vitality, and enhances the adventurers ability to shrug off the most vicious wounds. The warforged does his best to tie the Lich down, but finds it almost impossible to keep still as it flickers to and fro across the battle field, whilst Llewellyn darts in and out of range, swiping with his thrumming, adamantium mace, crunching it repeatedly into the undead's preternatural bodies. Ardwaine smacks her hammer into anything without a pulse (mechanical or otherwise) within reach, and scores numerous telling blows – only to see many heal as the undead's baleful energy mend their bones and flesh (this is actually halted when they are burned by the shimmering flames on the warforged's axe), whilst Ferrous goes toe to toe with one of the Wheeps, receiving poisoned wounds over and over from its foetid bite.

At one point, Llewellyn and The Veteran move to flank the Lich, and immediately discover that the foul thing has worked a contingency against this; a ring of thrusting bone blades suddenly appearing around him in a driving burst, shoving them back and opening bleeding wounds.

With effort, the first Wheep is smashed to the ground. However, the Lich seems to draw power from this, a foul miasma rising from the things slumping form to wreathe it in protective darkness. As the Wheep drops it also emits a deafening scream which dazes those hearing it. The Lich also calls upon its own unholy tenacity to shrug off some of the blazing wounds inflicted upon it, and the group almost despair when it almost contemptuously shrugs off most of their lingering attacks effects.

The fight shifts back and forth, the winds of battle taking the struggling combatants across the smoking ruins of Greenford. Foul power lashes at the group, and on more than one occasion they question whether they will be able to survive this day. However slowly, painfully, they whittle away at the foul thing and its remaining ally; the fight moving to the tops of the crumbling walls of the shattered buildings and boulders that dot the area.

And then it is over.

The second Wheep is cut down, its tormented shrieks drawing blood from and stinging the minds of those that stand too close, and seeing this, the Lich summons its darkness forth and flees, its psychic voice cursing the party.

There is no question that it will return and seek revenge for its humiliation.

There is also no doubt that next time it will have an answer for the groups most useful attacks, and that if they are to survive another round, they must be ready and have new tricks to play.

At this moment though the group are too tired, hurt and grateful that the battle is over and they are alive to care.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Post War Natives Session - 7/6/2010

13:07 – 13:17 – The group carefully search the chamber from top to bottom, and find a cunningly crafted secret door in its northwestern corner. Schnecke manages, with great effort, to haul away the substantial block of stone barring the way forwards, and a dark flight of steps, smeared in dried ordure and flanked by multitudes of alcoves holding filthy animal skulls, is revealed.

13:18 – 13:19 – The group slowly move down the stairs, the stench rising from below being an unspeakable mixture of decaying meat, rotten, musky aromas and stagnant evil. The psychic aether bears an increasingly dull, metallic mental “taste”; a dimly thrumming malevolence beneath the physical reality.

13:20 – 13:22 - As the group climb down, they sense a gathering evil. The air seethes with cold, alien hate, the darkness seeming to gather and shift around the group. As Seren is unwilling to move ahead, Griogri casts his floating lamp into the chamber below, its glow seeming somewhat muted as it unveils horror.

More blood and rust covered hooks hang from thick chains in the ceiling, creating a chiming veil of vicious metal. At the far end of the 40' long, 15' high chamber is an altar, apparently made from smashed grave markers and shattered skeletons, covered in human skulls and encrusted with horrible organic filth. Withered flowers sit in vases filled with blood and semen, and dried gore lies thickly on the floor. Four coffins lie scattered about the chamber, their mummified occupants badly damaged by their use at the hands of the cult, and several bean bags, made from tanned human flesh, are scattered about the place.

As the group enter the chamber, Jaeger moves ahead, plunging his blade into each cadaver to make sure they stay still. However, as they move further in the chamber, an icy breeze suddenly blows from some unknown source, and the chains and hooks sway, chiming eerily in the gloom. A shiver prickles down each adventurer's spine as something unseen but undeniably foul moves through the chamber, charging the atmosphere with choking malevolence, and suddenly, the darkness seems to condense into several ragged, floating, spectral figures, which immediately move to attack...

13:23-13:24 – With the appearance of the four immaterial forms, each adventurer's mind is suddenly filled with thorny, gibbering voices, which make concentration almost impossible, and painfully erode their strength.

The group move to engage the spectral things, and immediately find them to be incredibly hard to hurt. The psychic gibbering causes them to loose focus constantly, and they continually glide away from the group and into the solid walls, lurking there in safety until they are ready to reappear – often in a completely different area of the chamber. Worse, they are incorporeal, and although they can be hurt, all attacks are greatly reduced in effect.

Conversely, the wraiths are more than capable of hurting the party. Several times one particular wraith (the source of the psychic turmoil) reaches into the mind of a party member (Shnecke is a popular choice) and instils them with temporary madness, forcing them to attack a nearby ally. The other wraiths move between draining their targets life force and unleashing horrible screams which tear at the parties physical and mental forms with devastating efficiency, only to flicker away unharmed from any answering attacks.

Despite the elusive nature of their foes, the group move to destroy them. Grigori is forced to throw almost every power at his disposal into keeping his allies going, his body aching as he repeatedly channels surging blasts of healing power into his allies. Seren summons a sphere of brilliant radiant power that pains the shadowy undead, making them vulnerable to her allies attacks, whilst Shnecke, Emmiven (who is initially totally stunned by a psychic attack) and Jaegar do their best (through bouts of brief madness and near paralysis) to strike at their weird foes.

Varracuda distinguishes himself during the fight, using his arcane powers to blast them with fire and lightning, and to shield his allies from harm.

However, within moments things are getting desperate, with every party member only surviving thanks to Grigori's healing.

But things are about to get worse.

13:25 – 13:26 – The priest hears footsteps from the chamber behind them where the Butcher Ghoul was slain and shouts a warning to the rest of the group – too late. A gruff voice spits something in that place, and then the floor of the chamber in which the group fight drops away along hinges set in the walls, tipping the group into a fouler place below (except for Varracuda who is perched on the bottom step of the stairwell, which remains fixed in place).

The evil, which was already suffocating in the chamber above, becomes almost too much to bear. Jaegar and Shnecke manage to keep their feet in the 20' fall, and are the first to be able to take in their dark new surroundings – a large, ancient chamber, clad in blood spattered and dust wreathed onyx, from which lead three wide corridors. They have landed within the carved borders of a foul rune circle, who's inscriptions are painful to behold, and who's malevolence is plain. A single symbol in the middle of the circle commands their attention however; a symbol burned into their psyche – a stylised inhuman eye, wreathed in flame – the symbol of the vanished God Darkold'Sebbathor, as foul a deity as ever tainted this plane.

To make matters worse, cold chuckles and gruff muttering echoes from the darkness of the tunnels leading from the chamber.

Above, Varracuda slips back into the first chamber, and there beholds a short, heavy-set man dressed in filthy clothes. He is bald, unshaven, and holds a heavy cleaver in one hand. His pale eyes fix on Varracuda, and with a yell, he charges and lands a deep, spurting wound in the swordmage's thigh. Varracuda responds with a flurry of fiery attacks, and manages to stumble back towards the stairs, weakly calling for help.

But initially at least, his allies have more pressing matters. The wraiths drift down to continue their assault, whilst the group learn that the runes carved in the floor hunger for their blood, drawing it forcefully from those bearing bleeding wounds. Worse, a ghoul of some kind, surrounded by a flickering aura of foul energy and shimmering with unholy power scuttles forth, whilst three more mundane (to this group at least) ghouls leap from the other corridors, grinding their teeth and drooling along their extended, pointed tongues.

Once again, Grigori is the groups salvation. Almost passing out from his exertions he invokes a powerful spell that further boosts his ability to heal the party, and creates a blazing area of shimmering, restorative power, which literally means the difference between life and undeath to his allies.

Seren brings her fiery orb down to the chamber, and blasts the wraiths, whilst Grigori, wan with effort, unleashes destructive energy dredged from his healing power towards the shadowy monsters. The wraiths are finally banished, but the ghouls charge, immobilizing the barbarian and slashing at the others with their filth encrusted talons.

Jaegar takes this opportunity to slip away from the melee with the ghouls, and clambers up the walls of the pit to join Varracuda. There he helps the swordmage to take out the cleaver wielding mad man – later identified as Grievor Amuth, the owner of the building and Deathloved associate. In the dark chamber below, the first of the ghouls to appear leaps forth, and unleashes from its eyes a wave of foulness, which rots flesh and weakens those it hits. As the power laps at the group, it seems to grow stronger, a dim mantle of bloody light weeping from its flesh like a layer of slime.

The battle turns a moment later however. Seren disintegrates one of the ghouls with twinned screaming blasts of radiant energy and fire, and Jaegar rips another to pieces with a consuming burst of shadows. Emmiven is immobilised by an opportunity attack from one ghoul shortly before Grigori blasts the first ghoul to bits with a radiant invocation.

The ghoul detonates flinging corrosive, necrotic filth over the party, but with its death, the remaining undead loses heart for the fight, and flees.

It is cut down a moment later.

13:27 – With the battle finally over, the group make an instant decision on one thing; they are not staying in this place a moment longer. No one has any interest at this point in exploring these dark tunnels any further, realising that it must be a remnant of the ancient Darkold'Sebbathorim temple complex built beneath the roughs so long ago.

“I'm not fucking with that guy or his minions” mutters Jaegar. The group agree.

A valuable gem is prized from the smoking remains of the Eye Biter Ghoul, and Grievor is found to be wearing a pair of enchanted gloves, which are taken to be analysed and given out in a safer place.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Ormid et al (Pre-War Campaign) - Sessions 23/5/2010 and 1/6/2010 Part 3

08:46 – 08:55 – The group run to the wall, and move through the small, cluttered courtyard beyond, noting again that graffiti covers the badly mauled statues of aelwyn warriors that stand in rows along the main path from the gates.

A crude alarm has been set in the doorway that leads under the stairs which the group are able to avoid with ease, and soon they are moving down a cold and dark flight of stone spiral stairs. About halfway down they see some freshly etched graffiti, and although the tradespeak used is strangely composed, it clearly reads “Adrielle's Eight were here”, an answer scrawled beneath in a different hand adding “And we only did half a job!”

The stairs end at the entrance to a low-roofed, pillared chamber, filled with the crumbling remains of more ex-animate undead. Across the chamber another doorway leads to more descending stairs.

08:46 – 08:50 – As the group move towards the stairs, a man suddenly appears there, haggard, wild eyed and filthy. He could be anywhere between 20 and 40 year age, and has wild dirty hair, a tangled beard and wears battered, filth smeared hide armour. He wields a slender aelwyn longsword, who's delicate feather thin blade is limned with ice, trails of frigid mist dripping from it.

“Get back!” He screams in an oddly accented, slightly warped tradespeak, “Get back!”

The Warforged raises his weapon, flame surging over its blade, and the Vyrleen prepares to leap, but Ormid tells them to be still. “Who are you?” he asks, “What are you doing here?”

The man seems to be fighting conflicting desires and drives, but he lowers his weapon and with a sob, invites the group to follow him.

08:50 – 09:30 – The man is one Gorthias Norden (yes, that Gorthias Norden). He brings the group down into a deeper crypt, where about eighteen terrified women, children and other assorted refugees huddle around small fires.

Gorthias explains that these people are all that remain of the folks of Greenford, a once peaceful forest town that was attacked by a large force of undead who sought a dread artefact recovered by his former companions from this very chamber. He explains how the first assault was barely held off by his group, another band of local adventurers and the town's poorly trained militia, and of how his group took the thing the undead craved to the city of Peregrine in the hopes that the Unified Order would be able to deal with it.

At this point, Ormid stops him, and asks who the Unified Order are. Gorthias is stunned. He explains about them, their philosophy and their recent rise in the eyes of the world as conquering heroes – the powerful organisation that somehow, when the future looked bleakest, managed to turn back the aelwyn and win the day.

This of course leads to more questions from the group; “War with the aelwyn?” “Why would they do that?” “What happened?” However, before he answers their questions, Gorthias, confused as to how on earth the group cannot know these things, demands to know what's going on.

The group tell him. He looks vaguely troubled but seems to accept their explanation. He then gives them a potted history of the aelwyn wars, the numerous catastrophes that ensued during its three and a half years of pain, and of the currently raging War of Retribution in Vaesuur. The group are horrified, and Ardwaine is grief stricken when she hears about the destruction of Brunduin, or as she knew it, the Barrier Fort, but they are heartened when Gorthias, seeing their faces, informs them that not all the world is the desolate collage of destruction and death that they have seen so far.

Gorthias then returns to his tale. He tells the party that he and his companions arrived at Peregrine after a few detours, but that he left them to return to Greenford, as he was concerned that the town, suddenly stripped of all its most potent defenders (Adrielle and the remnants of her company had accompanied his troupe to take a cursed sword to the city for examination) would be vulnerable.

He was right.

Not long after he returned, the undead attacked again in greater numbers than before. Worse, this time they were lead by an undead master of terrifying power – a lich. The unholy horror tore the town apart, using its dark magic to interrogate the dead.

It sought the relic.

It slew all in its path.

Greenford burned.

Gorthias, realising that he could not last a second against the lich got as many people together as he could, and lead them to this place, and they have hidden here ever since.

The group ask him what his plans are, and Gorthias seems to deflate. He quietly tells the group that he hopes to re-enter Greenford, so he can try to find the cache of monies that he knows were secreted beneath the mayor's offices. He states he wants to use the money to buy the refugees places in the Dundorin stronghold of Karrag'Durzal, but confesses that he has not had the courage, and would not have the strength to return to the village.

Strangely moved by the warden's selfless desires, the group decide instantly to help. Gorthias is overjoyed, and tells them that he thinks there are a few magical trinkets in the cache, and that they are welcome to them.

After a bite to eat, the group head back out into the misted forest, and head back to the ruins of Greenford.

09:35 – 10:15 – The group move back through the forest, which echoes with birdsong, and soon find themselves back at Greenford.

10:16 – 10:25 – The party carefully move through the burned and blasted streets of the village, the stench of rotting flesh and burned wood thick on the air. Nothing stirs other than the wisps of smoke writhing from the destroyed homes, and the ever present crows.

The group locate the mayor's home, and find it a blasted ruin. However, one room stands solid, a substantial door of reinforced steel built into its side.

10:26 – 10:28 – Llewellyn picks his way forwards and casts a professional eye over the door, searching for any sign of a trap. He sees nothing.

10:29 – Veteran and Ardwaine throw themselves at the door to try and smash it down, and at once, agony tears through them all. A glyph of icy magic blazes with a pale, algid light, and all the party throw themselves back in shock as a 15' long cone of cold energy erupts from it. The vicious cone misses them all apart from Ferrous, who is immediately glazed in glowing frost; several plates of his metallic hide shattering under the assualt.

The group glare at Llewellyn, who manages to look uncomfortable for at least a moment or two.

10:30 – 10:35 – The door is bashed down, and within are found three seemingly identical keys made from iron. No traps are found, and no other hidden ways from the sturdy chamber, so the keys are taken.

10:36 – 10:50 – Puzzled, the group search the ruin for anywhere where the keys could go, and after a while, the sharp eyes of the party find, buried beneath blood spattered rubble, a finely crafted hidden trapdoor set into the floor of what was once the main reception. Further examination reveals a secret keyhole in its upper left corner, though there is no clue as to which of the three keys fit it.

10:50 – 10:55 – Llewellyn examines the keys more closely, and then examines the lock, assisted by Ormid. The two adventurers quickly deduce which of the keys will open the lock. They also find evidence that another potent magical trap wards the lock, primed to trigger if the wrong key is used, or if force is used to try and open the trapdoor.

After the cold glyph, everyone is a little paranoid, so they prepare to take evasive actions should the trap be activated. However, the artificer and rogue are correct, and the key simply causes the trapdoor to quietly glide into the frame, revealing a sturdy flight of carved stone steps, descending into darkness.

10:56 – 10:58 – Cautiously, the group climb down the stairs, which reach some 20' into a large, sturdy chamber of dressed stone. The first thing they all focus on are the two hulking humanoid statues that stand across from the bottom of the stairs, either side of a wide stone door set in the wall. Each is carved with spiral runes, and Ormid immediately identifies them as Clay Golems. The artificer also sense potent magic behind the door they guard, as well as the dozing power thrumming through the constructs.

10:59 – 11:10 - The door is quickly assessed to be a lifelike mural, though the border of arcane glyphs that surrounds it is found by Ormid to be part of a quiescent spell tied to the golems and to the door. He concludes that the golems may be an integral part of the door opening mechanism.

11:11 – 11:26 – A search of the chamber is undertaken, and though the initial search reveals nothing, Ardwaine discovers two keyholes beautifully hidden in the face of the bottom step of the entry stairs.

11:27 – 11:28 - Expecting the worst, the keys are placed in the locks and turned...

...At once, the golems animate. Pale light gleams from the runes carved into their surfaces, and each places a hand on the border of the door mural. At once, the light flows from them and illuminates the glyphs of the border. A moment later, the mural takes on a substantial, real aspect, and with a low drone, the two halves slide back into the wall revealing the chamber beyond.

11:29 – 11:30 – The group cautiously move towards the opening, keeping an eye on the constructs that flank it. Beyond is a small chamber. A large ornate chest, reinforced with bars of steel and sculpted stone sits at the far side, surrounded by an impressive circle of potent looking runes. Immediately above the entrance, the sharp eyed Vyrleen spots a crude but undeniably effective stone block trap.

11:30 – 11:33 – Llewellyn quickly disables the block trap, and then skips a small piece of rubble (grabbed from above) across the boundary of the rune circle. There is a flicker of light and a few brief sparks, but nothing else.

11:34 – The Vyrleen slowly creeps towards the circle, hoping to get a better view.

However.

11:35 – 11:37 – The chest suddenly animates with a whir of cogs and gleaming artifice. Sharp fangs of engraved steel pop down from its lips, and curved blades spring from its sides. It gives a mechanical roar, and with a hollow internal boom of expanding portals begins to create a powerful cone of suction which grabs the Vyrleen, and pulls him inside the constructs body. The lid slams shut and from within can be heard Llewellyn's muffled screams of agony.

As he is pulled over its boundary, the rogue realises that the circle is a gaudy fake – the

Surprised at the chests' sudden transformation, the party are momentarily stunned. Then they snap out of it and attack!

Llewellyn slips free of the thing, and the group unleash hell at it. It is a solidly built machine, and it takes a lot of effort to destroy it. The warforged quickly learns to shift his axes blade into pure sculpted fire after seeing its metal edge turned aside by the chest's armoured exterior, and Llewellyn's adamantium mace crunches into it with satisfying reliability. Ferrous finds his fangs are fairly ineffective against it, but Ardwaine and Ormid manage to land a few blows on it before it comes apart in a shower of splinters, screaming cogs and ripping springs.

11:38 – 11:50 – This room is searched, and a secret chamber discovered next to it. In this room waits the Greenford cache.

11:51 – 12:00 – The group gather the money and items together and after catching their breaths head back to the surface.

12:03 – Something is very, very wrong. The light that shines from above is wrong somehow; suffused with a darkness that was not there before. Menace thrills the air, and the group become aware of a gathering foulness coming from the ruins...

...And then they hear the sound – a dismal, draining, sickening keening that seems to draw all hope and life from them; a horrifying atonal scream – a moaning, weeping, wailing that crushes hope and drains the soul of light and life – which grows louder, accompanied by a terrible sense of impending evil that thrums the air. They stumble forth, an alien energy, foul and stinking, a psychic soot that clots the mind and burns where it settles, filling the air, and the group are confronted by a trio of potent beings straight out of their deepest nightmare.

It's the Lich, flanked by two mummified horrors bound in mouldy strips of leather, their eyes pierced by rusted nails; a foul toxic elixir flowing like blistering tears from their ruined eyes.

It's the Lich, and as the air begins to burn with suffocating shadows, it raises its rot wreathed hands and moves to attack.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Ormid et al (Pre-War Campaign) - Sessions 23/5/2010 and 1/6/2010 Part 2

Sorry these are taking so long to get published - this hot weather is putting me to sleep! I keep getting in from work and just crashing out. Part 3 (the last bit) should be up real soon though!

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21/5/1472 (Overcast at first, then brightening. Strong, cold wind. Drizzle by dusk)

06:15 - The reality of the physical world is dirty and gritty, full of hard smells, biting sensations and jarring coarseness after the dream (or nightmare) like fey planes, and for a moment the group can only sway dazedly as they process the sensory overload. Even the gravity and psychic taste of this world is a shock after their captivity, and all of them shiver both with the chill and with shock.

06:16 – 06:40 - The echoing boom of the collapsing portal to the dawn fae realm thunders through the mist wreathed pines around them, and the group find themselves in the middle of an ancient, partially vandalised aelwyn stone circle, set atop a moss covered cairn. Vexed, the group are able to make out that some of the vandalism was apparently perpetrated by Dundorin, their crude graffiti cut into the stone, and other bits are apparently in some variation of the tradespeak they all use. In the distance, the group can make out a great pall of smoke to the southwest, as if a town or similar burns, whilst to the northwest can be seen a smashed aelwyn tower, its broken top barely visible through the pines.

Ormid voices his fears about the flow of time in the “real” world compared to that of the faerie world, and it is decided that the group will find somewhere that the artificer can attempt to open a portal to civilisation.

Examination of the immediate area reveals that the single entrance into the cairn has been used recently as a toilet – from the smell of it, by gorgryn – and beyond it a dark tunnel winds into the depths of the tumulus. A faint smell of decay wafts from within, and Ormid realises that he can smell spoiled organic oils identical to those used in warforged, and that the strange patches of luminous, silvery-blue mould that cast dismal pools of light along the tunnel are a species that grows only on rotting bio-organic lubricants.

The tunnel winds in an ever tightening spiral towards the middle of the cairn, where the group discover a befouled burial chamber, thick with the stink of gorgryn waste and the sickening aroma of the bio-organic oils. The tumulus is empty and vandalised. Gorgryn have clearly stayed here for a short while, and everything is covered in their filth. Older vandalism – dundorin and human slogans daubed on the walls – is also evident, and the unusual blue-green luminous moss grows in slimy patches in several areas. In the heart of the central tumulus stands the filth covered remnants of a shattered aelwyn sarcophagus, and behind it a single tunnel opens in one wall; the door apparently rent open. Within it is a shattered blade trap, and a shattered reliquary, surrounded by multitudes of tiny skeletal hands; crushed and broken

In front of the sarcophagus is a large mass of moss, and Ormid finds something beneath it; the badly corroded shell of a warforged. It shows advanced decay, as well as blade and burn marks, and It appears it took a concerted effort to take it down.

06:41 – 07:11 Ormid opens three portals, scribing the circle in the slimy mud of the chamber's floor.

The first, intended to connect with the Apporters Guild circle in Lorehaven simply fails as if the circle there no longer exists. The second – linked to the portal in Garras'Knar - does open, but is blocked by soot covered rubble. The Veteran, using his enchanted belt to dig through the debris, emerges in the blasted ruins of a city that could have once been the trade post he and the group once knew, though he quickly jumps back through when unknown individuals launch some kind of magical flare into the sky as if searching for him.

The third and final portal they try is linked to the ancient rune circle under Darryd Keep. This portal also opens, but the chamber beyond is still and lightless, and stalactites are seen, dripping with moisture, hanging from the chamber roof. Afraid that there may be no way out of that chamber – and suddenly aware that a great deal of time has indeed passed - no one passes through that portal.

07:12 – 07:20 – The group discuss what to do next. Ormid is in a state of shock as he tries to come to terms with the gulf of time that has passed since they left this world, and the multitudes of friends and old allies who are now long dead of old age. They eventually decide to check out the area that the smoke cloud was over, hoping that they may find some kind of civilisation, even if it is destroyed.

07:21 – 08:00 – The party move southwest through the pine forests, and find increasing evidence of the presence of a large army having been here. Then they begin to come across bones and fragments of mummified corpses, circles of rotten and dead grass, and withered trees with ashy, rotten bark, and Ormid recognises the effects of potent necromancy.

Things get even more interesting and disturbing when the group find themselves atop a low line of cliffs, which overlook a cleared area in the forest, within which stands the smouldering remains of a village (the source of the smoke). Here they find multiple smashed skeletons, broken weapons and in the snow and frost limned land below, they can see the scars of a brutal battle. They also find the sundered remains of several eerie cannons, apparently made from bone and gristle, which when functional, would have been imbued with the ability to fire seething masses of necromantic power at their foes, the slashed and blasted remains of many corporeal undead lying flyblown and rotten around them.

08:00 – 08:05 – Feeling increasingly uneasy at the desolation that seems to be ubiquitous in this time period, the group head down off the cliffs, and move across the open expanse between them and the smouldering remnants of the village (a sign by what's left of its eastern gate declares it was called “Gree(burned away)....d”). Bodies, fresh and apparently not undead before they were laid low, lie stinking and bloated here, covered in raucous crowds of heavy beaked crows.

The thick frost and slushy snow is churned and dirty with blood, piss, shit and mud. The unearthly footprints of skeletons and heavy dragging footprints of shambling undead are everywhere. Other tracks suggest bare-footed fiends moving with loping, predatory grace, whilst others came from lumbering, huge things. Numerous blast marks and icy craters, some imprinted with cooked pieces of flesh, suggest some kind of explosive attack. The group surmise they could be the result of the now useless cannons on the ridge, but the staggering line of footprints that leads to each crater suggests something else...something not worth considering.

However, a cluster of tracks heading away from the village, several days old, suggest that some people managed to get away from the immediate carnage, and the group decide to follow them, to see if they can locate any witnesses to what occurred here.

08:06 – 08:40 – The group follow the tracks back into the pines, though they trail more to the north, towards the aelwyn tower they had spotted before. The tracks quickly become hard to find, and it is clear that someone, once they were beyond the immediate dangers of whatever battle was unfolding by the village, began to take steps to cover them. However, the group are able to follow them, and sure enough, they lead to the shattered aelwyn tower.

08:40 – 08:45 – The tower stands in a clearing filled with steaming frost, spring flowers and brightly lit by the slanting rays of the vernal sun as it climbs slowly into the pale sky. Vines and dead brambles cover it, and the group can see that it was, at some point, cut in half, everything beyond the second floor being absent.

Llewellyn, working hard to keep busy, so's as not to dwell on the dark and troubling thoughts that stir menacingly beneath his consciousness – memories of what happened back in the faerie realm when he...you know..., volunteers to check the area out, and skims across to the outer walls that curl protectively around the tower.

He returns shortly afterwards, and reports that there is an overgrown courtyard that has some snow covered, broken skeletons in it, and a flight of stone steps that descend beneath the tower.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Ormid et al (Pre-War Campaign) - Sessions 23/5/2010 and 1/6/2010 Part 1

??? - Heart of Aveir'Fae'Thralaesr – Dawn Fae Realm

They stand in a great hall of soaring, sculpted crystal, which blazes with golden light. Pillars of radiance, filled with tumbling cut stones of impossible brightness and hue stand in a row along its middle, whilst at the far end two immense doors of darkest grey-green stone, carved with huge bas reliefs of deformed gigorim, rainbows of fire and spectral feathered birds grind shut, blocking their advance to the Menhir beyond.

Each adventurer is suddenly overwhelmed by a mental avalanche of memories, ideas, knowledge and experiences from their last two years of service to their deadly Fae Lord, and they know that the Chiming Menhir is a gateway, a portal; a possible route to their home world.

Ormid also realises something else. He remembers how time flows strangely in the fey realms, how it can shift forwards and backwards without reason, and how a day there can be several weeks, months or even years in the physical realm. He feels sick as he realises this, and as he regards the monsters thundering towards them.

Veteran runs a quick analyses of their foes. The most prominent is a 24' tall mass of bunched muscles and deformed rage, shimmering with bright golden radiance – a dawn fomorian. Around its massive booted feet scurry four pot-bellied, glowing dawn gorgryn; two wielding long rune carved spears, and two wielding sharply curved, razor edged scimitars of some glinting golden crystal. The final foe is most disturbing though; a slender humanoid figure as lithe as a sunbeam, dressed in beautiful plate armour seemingly woven from dawns radiance and frozen moonlight, each piece engraved with perfectly inscribed runes of fae protective magic. It's full helm is narrow, and through the slender V shaped visor glow narrow, silver, pupilless eyes. A quiet aura of potent authority emanates from this figure – a dawn fae noble.

The two forces meet in a brutal, whirling battle. The Fomorian is a lethal foe, who's great size allows it to strike from a distance and to sweep its blinding blade of solidified radiance through multiple targets at once, dazzling them with its flashing glow, whilst the Fae knight uses both magic and its slender blades to wreak havoc amongst the group, blinding them with bursts of brilliant light, and slicing burning wounds into them with flowing, precise strikes. The Gorgryn at first seem a minor inconvenience, but soon reveal themselves to be adept at striking at the worst moments, only to step through reality and teleport to safety a moment later, their twittering, bird-like calls strangely at odds with their appearance.

However, despite their magical and mundane might, the group slowly push them back, throwing their most powerful attacks at them, quickly managing to destroy them, each creature vanishing in a burst of warm, glowing motes of golden radiance.

With the path to the doors cleared, and sensing victory (and escape) close at hand, the party charge forwards, the artificer uttering a chant taught to him by the cruel, scourge wielding fae who primed them for this mission, and with a roar, the doors slowly, reluctantly, rumble open to reveal once more the Chiming Menhir – the doorway back home.

The Menhir stands atop a great hill covered in violet, luminous grass and circles of shimmering, fuming mushrooms. From their current position their view of it is blocked however; mostly hidden behind the grove of indigo leaved, white barked, oak like trees that circle the summit, shifting and blurring strangely as if being viewed through smearing mists, partly obscured by the impossible bulk of the three dawn fomorians that guard the way forwards.

Two of the immense brutes are like the one the party battled in the hallway before; hulking, impossibly massive things – deformed and twisted, but nightmarishly strong, unnaturally swift and imbued with magical power and unbending determination. They rumble forwards, their footfalls shaking the ground, their immense greatswords drizzling auric light as they come. The third fey gigorim stands at the edge of the tree line. It is just as twisted and massive as its sword wielding allies, but clutches a great rod of carved bone in one hand, a blazing sphere of radiant fire in the other. Brilliant spiral tattoos burn with magic across its face, and its eyes crackle with barely restrained power.

Perhaps due to their eagerness to get home, perhaps due to a sense of overconfidence, the party surge into the chamber to meet the monsters, their voices raised in a battle cry – and a near catastrophe unfolds. The Fomorian at the edge of the trees acts first, unleashing a blast of arcane fire at the group, forcing them to leap for cover, even as it pronounces a dread curse on the warforged – a curse that will blast him apart should he try to approach its speaker. The sword wielders close the space quickly with their clumping, massive strides, and begin to inflict significant harm on the party, each blow throwing their target 15' in addition to the grievous wounds they leave, and soon any pretence of a battle strategy crumbles as defensive formations are shattered and the heroes find themselves split up.

Things only get worse when shimmering arrows arc from the trees above, fired by the blazing bows of several more dawn fae gorgryn, the missiles repeatedly finding their mark, each exploding in a blinding burst of searing light, and though the gigorim begin to take hits from the sizzling axe of the Veteran and the swooshing mace of the Vyrleen, most of the party are blinded, dazzled or simply alone in the deadly battle.

Ormid strikes out at the warlock and conjures a mechanical servitor to aid him in battle, but is clipped by the burning edge of the fomorian sword and pushed into one of the faerie rings. As he slips into the circle of mushrooms, a dizzying rush of magic engulfs him, and suddenly he finds himself in another of the rings, about 50' away from the main battle.

The Warlock continues to blast the party with unbearably bright bolts of energy, and continues to maintain the hex he has placed on the warforged in order to ensure that he and his deadly axe (which is by this point whittling one of the warrior fomorians down to a shimmering, wailing wreck) stay far away. Its attention is diverted however when a blast of lightning from the Dundorin's sacred hammer hits it in the face, allowing Ferrous a chance to get in close enough to unleash its scalding, acidic oil – an attack that sees two if the gorgryn archers and the warlock slip over, their flesh seared by the corrosive lubricant.

Seeing his chance, the artificer runs as fast as his wobbling legs can carry him towards the summit of the hill and the Chiming Menhir. As he does, he hears a strangled scream, and looking down towards the battle at the bottom of the hill, he sees that one of the warriors is down, but that so too is Llewellyn, his tiny body leaking blood at the bottom of the hill.

Determined to activate the portal and then to charge back down the hill to heal the Vyrleen, Ormid enters the grove of shimmering fey trees – and at once feels their magic trying to penetrate his mind. An unnatural, crushing weariness sweeps over him; a supernatural sleep that tries to smother consciousness and bring him down pressing against the walls of his psyche like a physical weight. His footfalls slow, and his vision blurs, but he focuses on the circle of iridescent, crystals that stand in a circle at the very top of the hill, rainbow distortions playing in glimmering coruscations over its surfaces, and draws strength from the nearness of his goal...

...He pushes through – and is hit by several arrows, the gorgryn archers having noticed his arrival...

Ardwaine is blind, her vision filled only with the misty green after image of the flashing gigorim weapons light, and she knows she and others are in trouble. She has been blindly whacking the gigorim with her hammer, using its roars and the crunch of her allies weapons to guide her. Now that it is down, she knows that the Vyrleen needs her, but cannot see him to help...

...then she is hit by a gigorim weapon, agony exploding through her as it slices into her shoulder, and then again as she crashes into the ground fifteen feet away. She can hear the veteran bellowing, can hear the fierce melee at the top of the hill where the Iron Defender snaps and rips at the roaring warlock, and can dimly make out a strange hollow booming sound, edged with a tuning fork wail, the sound being accompanied by a prickling sensation along her skin.

She grins. The artificer has opened the portal.

Ormid blasts one gorgryn with fire, though it is little harmed, and manages to touch one of the Menhir's touchstones with an item from his home plane. At once the crystalline structure takes on the dimensional resonance of the item, and the whole menhir begins to thrum with it, the air in its middle writhing in response. Then, with a soundless “pop”, a portal shimmers into being, a gloomy pine forest visible through it, cold, snow damp air pouring through, filled with the earthy, real smells of the physical plane – different from the almost dreamlike, hallucinogenic sights and sounds of the Fae planes.

Ormid screams to his allies that the way home is open, and turns to go and help the Vyrleen...

Hearing the artificer's voice, and having no idea what is going on, the Dundorin runs up the hill towards it, only to be punched asleep by the crushing magics of the forest. Ormid is also overcome by the sleep enchantment, and drops to the floor a few steps into the tree line.

The Veteran, dented and scratched, but still going strong at this point, is badly battered by a furious barrage of blows from his roaring opponent. Parrying desperately, and calling upon his innate toughness to ignore the worst of his wounds, the living construct can only watch helplessly as the last of Llewellyn's life trickles out of him stains the ground.

Even as he hits the gigorim with a blow that ends its life, Llewellyn dies.

Llewellyn. Dies.

Hit by an arrow, the artificer stirs, shaking his head groggily. His mind is a cloudy void for a moment, but then he remembers. He gets to his feet, pushes through the physical and mental barrier of the dreaming grove, and emerges on their other side just in time to watch the second gigorim warrior die in a blaze of golden light, and the Vyrleen passes away.

“NOOOOOOOO!”

By this point the Veteran has begun to grimly march up the hill towards the warlock, who's battle with the Iron Defender continues, unwilling to allow himself to focus on the disaster that has occurred. However, as he does, he feels something within him screaming to be heard, and he suddenly recalls a filthy place of gnawed bones and corrupted earth, a place where he and the others were granted the favour – once only – of a God, and with a song in his heart he calls out to Brodd'√úd, and beseeches him to bring the Vylreen back.
The air resonates with power as the deity briefly exerts his will, and the Vyrleen suddenly arcs his back as the worst of his wounds close and his soul is restored to his body.

“The last” rumbles a mighty voice in the psychic ether...”My debt is now paid in full”...

Relief floods the party as the rogue slowly clambers to his feet, and invigorated by his return they turn their wrath on the remaining monsters, and quickly drive them off or slay them. Then, with the portal starting to close, they systematically work their way through the dreaming grove, one at a time, using ropes to pull sleepers through, and eventually all make it through the portal...


...Home?

21/5/1472 (Overcast at first, then brightening. Strong, cold wind. Drizzle by dusk)

06:15 - The reality of the physical world is dirty and gritty, full of hard smells, biting sensations and jarring coarseness after the dream (or nightmare) like fey planes, and for a moment the group can only sway dazedly as they process the sensory overload. Even the gravity and psychic taste of this world is a shock after their captivity, and all of them shiver both with the chill and with shock.