Using My Monsters

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Post War Natives - Session 27/7/2010 (Part 2)

Things do not go well for the other team from the word go. The female psychic warrior flickers like a ghost between the groups members, striking each with her psi-infused blades. However, she ends her teleportive charge a little too close to the barbarian, and a moment later is exposed to the full fury of the Ulnyrr.

Shnecke, now growing tired of this group gives in to his rage, and deep within himself finds the icy power of his homeland. As he allows the essence of that land to infuse his very spirit, so a startling change overtakes him. His skin becomes translucent and a thin layer of ice forms over his body and cakes his hair and beard. His eyes begin to glow with an eerie blue light; dismal and algid, and his breath fumes with frozen vapour. His voice, when he howls, is the hollow cry of the boreal winds as they shriek from the jagged fields of the Tokara'Tai, and his blood runs as cold as the springs that surge beneath its great glaciers and frozen wastes.

He charges the woman, and with all the force of his lands spirit behind him, strikes her with a blow beyond anything anyone could imagine possible. With one blow, the woman goes from near full health to out of the battle, the massive axe, caked in hoarfrost, striking her with enough force to split her in half - or at least it would were it not for the protective spells of the arena mages. Even the barbarian's allies are shocked by the force of the blow.

For a stunned moment the group stare at the hulking, ice wreathed barbarian. Then, inspired by what they have just seen, they leap to attack. In a heartbeat, the other party are down to two members – a swordsman and a mage. The group begin to split their numbers, hoping to capture the stragglers in a deadly pincer movement. However, this plan is severely disrupted when the mage conjures a vast field of black and red vapour. Stinking of burned blood and thick with necrotic energy, the cloud blocks sight and drains vitality. Jaeger, Emmiven and Varracuda all find themselves blind and unable to move within the cloud, and Seren finds herself along on the cloud's far side, cut off from the rest of her party. Grigori and Shnecke however are free, and set about taking the mage down.

The barbarian charges the white robed spellcaster, and lands a solid blow against them. Wincing at the injury, he responds by speaking a potent word of magic, and Shnecke suddenly finds himself 75' away, a stinging pain hitting him from all across his body. Dizzy and dazed from the involuntary teleportation, he dimly realises that he is bleeding from all over; the top layer of his skin having been teleported away. The bleeding only lasts a few seconds though, as his icy soul freezes the blood into a blackish-red crust, and he charges once more towards the mage.

Icy points of light appear around the wizard and warrior at this moment, each charged with a deadly cold, as Seren casts a spell at them. The mage avoids the attack, but the warrior is caught by it, frozen wounds jagging across his body, and with a snarl he charges the sorceress swinging his flail. She manages to blast him again before he reaches her, seriously wounding, but not stopping him, and as he reaches her he swings his fail, its dense head cracking dully into her skull, sending her reeling.

Emmiven manages to pull free of the consuming torpor the hungry cloud induces in him, and stumbles blindly towards the nearest sounds of combat. He emerges close to the wizard, and with a furious yell he charges, smashing him to floor with a savage blow. At the same time, Seren recovers from her blow and thrusts her enchanted dagger up into the warriors guts, channelling a spell through the blade. The dagger finds a soft spot and slides in so far that Seren can feel his entrails pressing on her hand. The magic erupts inside the man, daggers of icy power impaling his vital organs, and with a choked scream, he falls back, before vanishing in a wash of teleportation.

A lance of colourless energy, brighter than the sun blazes from the priests' outstretched hand and torches the mage, ending him. As he vanishes in a blaze of magic, he smiles at the party, a strangely satisfied look on his face.

This battle too is over. One more to go.

By this point there are literally only two other groups remaining in the arena; a group of dented and bloodied Dundorin and a panting party of mostly female adventurers.

The metallic voice of the arena suddenly fills the air, grating across the bloodied and churned battlefield...

“All combatants! Prepare to face your last trial!”

The group begin to form up as best they can, eager to gain some kind of formation before whatever happens next occurs. The other groups do the same, looking uncertain as horrific, monstrous sounds begin to echo from behind the massive adamantine portcullis's that line the arena's high walls.

Then, with a loud clank and rumble of machinery, the gates open and three groups of horrors enter the arena. The Dundorin find themselves facing a towering Vulgol'Gigorim; a freakishly muscle-bound specimen that swings a tree trunk as a weapon. The female adventurer's face a Chmiera; a hybrid things that bears the heads of a goat, dracani and lion and which initiates its combat with a blast of flame.

Our group faces four foes. Each is a hulking humanoid; obscenely muscled and dressed in thick armour made from poorly cured animal furs. They have thick, leathery flesh which is brownish-grey in colour, and are covered in horny plates, warts and strands of lank, slimy hair. Their faces are brutish with upthrusting tusks, bulbous noses and dark eyes under sloped, lowering brows, their hair long, black and lice infested. They stink. The are Urgorgori (Ogres).

Three of the brutes carry crude clubs and have long, iron tipped javelins across their hunched backs. They are almost 9' tall and only slightly less wide, though they move with surprising speed and a loping grace. The fourth Urgorgori is taller still and wider. Unlike the others it carries only one weapon – a two-handed axe with a blunt, crude iron blade.

Everyone spends a moment trying to gather their jangled nerves, and it is agreed that they will act when the monsters inevitably charge and try to swat them, moving as one to surround, flank and destroy them. Unfortunately, the three bearing javelins do not charge straight in, and instead move around the group, lobbing their javelins with deft skill and added momentum from their run, each hitting with deadly effect. One of the brutes then charges, scoring a ferocious hit against Emmiven with its club, splitting the warlord's armour and sending him reeling.

The hulking axe bearer begins to charge the group with a rumbling growl, and the party leap in to attack the brute that just smashed Emmiven, scoring several telling blows, and killing it. Then the axe-bearer arrives, swinging the quarter ton weapon with both massive arms in a deadly sweep.

The attack misses both Varracuda and Shnecke who see it coming and duck underneath it. Poor Emmiven however, still shaken from the brutality of the Urgorgori's last blow, doesn't get out of the way...

...The blade strikes him in the neck, glancing off his suddenly dented breastplate and slicing him across his throat. A puff of crimson explodes out, and the warlord drops like a stone, landing awkwardly, blood spurting in a crimson jet from his severed carotid...

...Varracuda darts in towards the massive beast and deftly lands three lethal blows; the first carving a rune of vulnerability to fire in the monsters flesh, the second and third unleashing devastating blasts of flame directly, exactly, perfectly into the arcane geometry of that bleeding rune, rendering horrific ruin on the monsters body, both inside and out...

...The world suddenly becomes washed out by negative colours..

...A field of golden energy surrounds the party, as if the ground is suddenly radiating all the warmth and comfort of the sun at once. Grigori, bathed in a light almost painful to look at speaks a chant of healing and Emmiven finds himself awake and his wounds rapidly diminishing. More magic darts from the priest, closing residual wounds, restoring hope and strength, and giving the party the power to finish this battle and finish this trial...

The battle is short but brutal after this. The monsters are dismantled by the rejuvinated party, the final blow being a precision strike from Jaeger which tears the life and soul from the final Urgorgori.

They have done it!!!!

They are through!!!!

A wall of protective glyphs springs up around the party, and they are told to report to the arena manager so their details can be taken, and so they can be registered for the first day of the battles; the 21st of the 6th moon.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Post War Natives - Session 27/7/2010 (Part 1)

This will be a two-parter as there is a hell of a lot to get down, and I can feel my concentration waning :D Enjoy!

*    *     *

14:31 – 14:50 – Tension charges the humid air, and thunder rumbles in the distance, adding to the ominous atmosphere. Looking around the massive arena, the group notice that almost all the combatants are humans, though a multitude of nationalities and races of humanity are present; hulking fur-clad warriors from Cryaria, black skinned fearsome pirates from Dohr'Khusta, ruddy skinned, black-haired fighting men from Upper Malgoroth, and many, many more. Dundorin also form a respectable number of the combatants, each group muttering darkly to their allies, each one exuding a cocky, confident air of arrogant assurance. Some wear beautifully crafted armours of heavy plate, engraved with ancestral runes and fearsome decorations, their thick bears knotted into their clans particular Gnorr, whilst others wear kilts, or thick armours made from furs. A couple wear very little other than spiral tattoos of blue and green, and great clusters of brutal piercings, their eyes glinting with an edge of barely harnessed madness.

Other combatants include several massive Talakasians. Standing almost quarter as high again as the tallest humans, they wait in the lightning washed humidity peacefully, their massive paws wrapped around the shafts of huge hammer, sizzling axes and cruel, rune covered greatswords almost 8' long and 2' wide. Other equally exotic individuals are scattered amongst the waiting hoard; genasai with hair of mist or flames or writhing weed like fronds, a Dwaer'Syth, shrouded in thick layers of soft, black silk, its sensitive eyes protected by heavy goggles of smoked quartz, and even several Gorgoth from the civilized clan-holds of Tog'Orthii and Nug'Yotha.

Then there are the warfoged. Machines given leave after the aelwyn wars, these things are openly hungry for combat, their body plates bearing past war wounds, as well as various decorations rendered in barbed steel, glinting adamantium or rune-hammered metals of more exotic, alchemical origins.

A low murmur of conversation drifts below the rumbling of the thunder, and the air suddenly seems to tense with energy. A crackling voice, a construct of magic, suddenly fills the air like tearing metal.

“Combatants, stand ready”.

All suddenly go silent. Faces drain of colour and hands tighten around weapons and implements or ball up into solid fists.

“3, 2, 1”

All hunker down, ready...


The entire arena explodes into a maelstrom of combat. Within a heartbeat the very fabric of the air is shrieking with magical and psionic power as the combatants draw on their power. Warrios surge towards their foes, and the deafening scream and crash of weapons against armour becomes one long, keening wail, a counterpoint to the brutal grunting and roaring of the combatants themselves.

It is terrifying, but to the group, who have faced so much, it is a comfortable place – their place of work.

The group's first combatants are a small gaggle of street thugs. Tattooed with crude gang symbols, they are gangers from The Roughs; three humans and a cackling ghaerduun with surprisingly clear eyes and focus. Almost certainly in the arena by sheer luck, they are clearly outclassed, and are terrified, though they give a good accounting of themselves before they are cut down.

Pulling back together as much as the press of combat allows them, the group barely have time to gather their thoughts or to steel themselves before they are attacked by a group of mercenaries. They are a varied bunch; a hulking taurgaryn clad in thick scale armour and bearing a table-top like shield, a battle-scarred war axe gripped in it's meaty paw, a pair of grizzled swordsmen with the accents and complexions of central Lower Malgorothians, an Upper Malgorothian who wields a fine looking firearm with obvious familiarity and skill, and to guard him, a hulking mastiff – a rare breed indeed - a Trull Killer or Middle Moors Hound – a powerful, smart and hardy breed used to hunt gigorim, nargor and other deadly monsters.

This group move with cohesion and skill – at least until the taurgaryn charges the assassin and smashes him to the floor, only to be sent to the ground a moment later as the warlord charges him, and blasts him with his dundorin hammer.

The battle breaks into two separate groups, each one using the press of other combatants to grant cover. In one area, the gunman and his menacing hound fight a skirmish with the barbarian and swordmage, whilst the rest of the party trade blows with the taurgaryn and swordsmen. Despite the mercenaries obvious experience, this battle is also over quite quickly; the weapons of the warriors backed up by the blazing incandescent missiles of the sorceress, and the shimmering, biting logic probes of the priest.

The taurgaryn is first to fall, and the swordsmen and hound fall shortly after. The gunner, running and shooting desperately manages to score a few grazing hits before he gets surrounded by the party and taken out of the fight.

Once again the group move to reform as best they can. The air is thick with smoke and screaming now, and blue lances of teleportation magics lift the combatants from the fray as they are taken down by their opponents.

A scream fills the air; a shrieking, maniacal sound that brings the group round sharp. The crowds seem to part before the source of the sound – a bizarre man dressed in ridiculous robes of gaudy orange, scarlet, gold and white, covered in ostentatious lightning bolt and fireball symbols. He is tall, human and has powdered white skin and bright red lipstick on. His hair has been crafted in long pyramidal spikes, each one dyed a different vivid colour; orange, red, white, yellow. Either side of this madman drift two elemental beings; one a crude manifestation of elemental fire, the other, a ghostly outline of barely sentient air currents.


His voice is thin and nasal, and immediately makes everyone in the group want to smash its insane bearer to the floor. Emmiven makes a sour comment about the mage, but Jaeger reminds everyone not to get sloppy, pointing out how pristine he is despite the combats brutality and length.

A split second later, and Seren scores the first blow of this battle. With an angry word she hurls a spitting fractal bolt of wildly clashing energy towards the flamboyant magician, scoring a sound hit. The bolt splashes over him in a withering mantle of lightning, and though some of it is absorbed by abjurations woven into his robes, the mage is burned by it.


The Fire Elemental surges with a roar towards Seren, skirting the edge of the groups strung out formation, moving between the sorceress and the swordmage. However, before it can strike, Ignius, with an effortless shrug and a mumbled incantation, hits the entire party with a devastating burst of conjured fire.


It's a powerful casting, and many members of the party are seriously wounded, their flesh burning, their hair gone, their entire beings consumed with the white-hot agony of the torching spell. Ingnius laughs out loud, and makes an obscene gesture at the group, allowing a shimmering halo of lambent power to flicker over his head as if to highlight his arrogance.

However, a moment later, the smile is almost cut from his face, as Shnecke, eyes boggling, charges him and drives his dundorin axe, the blade moaning with his rage, through the mages shimmering magical shields, and scores a telling blow on him. Emmiven is there a moment later, as is Varracuda, the former crunching his hammer into Ignius, sending him sprawling to the ground, the latter missing the air elemental with a blossoming burst of green fire.

Drawng on his mental strength to block out the pain of the fireball, Grigori draws a ritual blade and whilst chanting and focusing on the energies within him, the arena and his allies, he draws a stinging line in his flesh, pouring the gathered energies of his casting through the blade, into his blood, and then out towards Seren. A misty light blazes from his newest wound, and leaps like a spectral spear towards the sorceress, mending the wounds she bears.

And not a moment too soon, for Jaeger suddenly appears and sends his tenebrous blade out towards the fire elemental, scoring a blow which results in a painful burst of flame erupting from the thing, catching both himself and Seren. The spell caster rattles off a quick spell, but aims too high, and the assassin is burned against as he strikes the thing with another blow, sending it skittering away from the sorceress.

Across the way, the air elemental sends a shockwave towards the snarling barbarian with no effect. However, a moment later, and Ignius has crawled away from the warlord and barbarian, and managed to gather his wits enough to work another dread spell. He grins, though his pain and anger is clear, and with a masterful command of his powers, summons a fantastical display of delicate, shimmering, impossibly complex, rainbow coloured runes, which drift before Emmiven, Varracuda and Shnecke like an impossible piece of fey jewellery. Enraptured by the display, the Ulnyrr and genasai do not notice that their noses have started to bleed, and they move with a dazed, dreamy look on their faces.

Feeling the magic prickling his skin, the warlord manages to look away from the display before it can extend its psychic hex into his mind, and he storms towards the mage, smashing him again. In response – whilst Grigori works to mend his parties wounds with almost godlike skill, and the assassin and sorceress deal with the elemental – Ingnius takes a chance and casts his most lethal spell at the warlord, taking a solid blow for his efforts. Despite this, he completes his casting and with a triumphant cry of “YOU'S GOING TO PIECES MAN!” he fires a pencil thin beam of impossibly brilliant green light at the warlord, the entropic spell immediately setting about consuming both warrior and equipment in a spreading wave of sparkling green destruction – a Disintegrate spell!!

Poor Shnecke takes a dazing blow from the air elemental, before returning the attack, his enchanted axe severing many of the spells holding the aeolian creature in this world. He is then outlined in an aura of silvery magic, which crawls over him healing wounds, snapping bones back into place, and restoring lost fluids – courtesy of Grigori who stands, unseen, beyond another group of combatants; eyes closed, mouth moving in prayer as he continues to send his lifeforce out to heal his allies. With little discernible movement, the priest also sends a lance of glassy fire towards the fire elemental, and it is reduced to little more than an agitated heat haze dancing in the air, trailing sparks and sooty smoke.

Suddenly the air is split by keening energy as bolts of chaotic power surge from the sorceress, fuelled by her anger at being wounded so grievously. She and Jaeger are now almost completely healed, thanks to the lambent tendrils of healing power curling lazily from the priest like the tentacles of some alien sea creature, and her bolts are directly on target. With a hissing wail of collapsing air and unravelling binding spells, both elementals are blown back to their own dimensions by her attacks.

Back on his feet, Ignius is sent sprawling by a hefty blow from the barbarian's axe. All cockiness has evaporated now, and the mage literally snarls at the pain and shock. He is sprayed a moment later by a fetid fluid, as Varracuda launches one of the shrunken heads he got from the Death Loved cultists towards him, and he screams as it rots his flesh away. (Simultaneously, the priest feels the vial grow suddenly cold in his pocket, and through his meditative trance, notices a stain of mould spreading across the cloth of the pocket where the vial is kept).

Emmiven, still being corroded by the mages disintegrate spell, moves to get into a position where he can once more charge the mage, but is almost dropped as Ignius sends a volley of arcane bolts into his exposed guts. However, he channels his pain and fury into a blow that breaks bones and knocks the caster onto his arse.

Shifting like a shadow, the assassin suddenly seems to appear by the downed mages side. His face an unreadable mask, he spends moment observing the squirming mage, before coldly plunging his shadowed blade into his spine, tearing through his nerves and ending his time in the arena.

By this time, the number of combatants in the blood stained and fragment strewn arena has greatly diminished, and the group try to regroup. However, suddenly a familiar group emerge, battered, bloodied but clearly determined to fight on, from the general fray – the adventurers from the Capture the Flag event!

“Gerrem!” bellows Shnecke, and suddenly, the group are in the thick of it again...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Ormid et al - Session 20/7/2010

23:46 – 23:48 – The group are once more clambering blindly through the slimy, suffocating embrace of the sewer's waters, their feet skidding on the slippery muck on the floor, their lungs aching with the desire for air (apart from the warforged of course, who does not need to breathe at all). After what seems to be an eternity of this, they begin to feel the water moving around them, and after a short while longer, the movement becomes a definite current; sucking and terrifying.

With Veteran acting as the anchor for the rest of the group (who are tied together), the party slogs on, moving along with the increasingly powerful current into a much wider pipe. In this place no one can touch the floor, and everyone fights a sense of sudden panic as they feel the little control they had begin taken from them by the surging, powerful waters.

For what seems like an eternity of frantic swimming - lungs on the brink of bursting and sucking in a fatal load of filthy, diseased water, the world a dark blur of rushing shadows and bright, dancing lights - the group move forwards; half by their own volition, half borne on the currents. Suddenly, Veteran makes a violent move, and begins to tear up towards a murky patch of greenish light above and to the left of the group. Dragged along, and by now utterly desperate to take a breath, the group frantically fight to follow, and all soon feel a wall of smooth rock, the milky radiance coming from above. Realising that the light is coming from the surface of the surging, glassy waters, the group claw and kick up along the wall and...

23:49 – 23:51 - ...Find themselves at the back of a narrow strip of water that borders a large cavern; apparently the result of a collapse of the ancient sewer-pipes. No one can see very far into the chamber; partly because they are still in the water, and a low wall blocks their view, and partly because much of the area is filled with large stands of huge, luminous mushrooms. Every inch of the chamber is covered in some kind of fungus; thick pools of pulsing muck bubble and coil in some areas, and dense, heaped drifts of ferny, fleshy fungi form sticky ridges amongst the chambers open areas. Six curious columns of vivid purple mould, each sprouting small stands of toadstools, stand around the chamber, several clearly growing on humanoid skeletons. The stink of decomposing organic matter and spores is overpowering, blending unpleasantly with the sickly, noisome aroma of the sewer waters.

At first the group cannot make out any life other than the mushrooms. However, suddenly one of the mushrooms begins to move. Worse, as the water is cleared from eyes and the group make repeated jumps above the wall, they see that there are several curious fungi actually floating in the jade shadows at the roof of the chamber; each a dripping puffball like thing, bearing stubby “eye-stalks” on its top and a nest of twitching, dripping tendrils below. Looking all the world like vegetable eye tyrants, they strike the group as almost comical – at first.

And then all hell breaks loose!

One of the purple mould columns suddenly jerks towards the waters edge, shedding a drizzling layer of violet spores as it goes, and lashes out towards the Veteran with razor sharp claws. Closer now, the group can see that it is a humanoid skeleton, animated by the purple slime and moulds that have utterly infested its form, taking on the role of flesh, tendons, muscles and organs. More of the fungus zombies begin to animate, and one of the floaty things drifts serenly towards the party, its tendrils suddenly exuding a fuming fluid.

But the zombies and floating fungi, numerous though they are, are only part of the problem. Three of the “mushrooms” are actually sentient fungoid humanoids – Rot Folk – and they move to engage the party at once. Two are 7' tall masses of pallid mushroomy flesh, with long chitinous spines growing from their malformed “fists”. The other is a bear-sized, and roughly ape-shaped mass of fungal tissue and silent rage.

The group engage the aggressive fungi in combat, and despite initial thoughts that it would be easy to crush these toadstools under foot, the fight proves to be anything but simple. The zombies are the least worrying foes, though their filthy claws leave itching spores in the wounds they inflict. Worse, they are drained of their vitality by the rot folk when they are wounded, allowing the sentient fungi to ignore a significant amount of harm vested to them by the party (though this always results in the collapse of the targeted zombie).

The floating fungi however are a real trial. Filled with corrosive spores, they explode when struck by even the lightest attack, scattering the fungal seeds everywhere. These spores burn the flesh of the group, but actually seem to heal the flesh of the rot folk and their allies. Worse, they blind those they strike for deadly seconds, the victims eyes burning with their stinging touch.

The group take a considerable pounding. One of the smaller rot folk is thrown into the swift flowing waters of the sewer by an artifice fuelled blast of pressure, and although it is initially sucked away into the dark waters, it managed to swim back towards the chamber and rejoin the battle.

It takes some effort, but slowly, despite corrosive spores and infected wounds, the group manage to hack the fungous humanoids down, eventually reducing them to slimy piles of reeking rot.


23:52 – 00:00 – No sooner have the monsters been defeated then the air thickens with more spores, and a strange, cold light bleeds into the chamber from a narrow corridor leading from the area the group currently inhabit. Another gaggle of mould zombies shamble in, forming a thin line around a huge myconid – the source of the eerie glow. It is almost 10' tall; a bloated thing of pulsing, slime sheened fungous flesh. A waddling mess of twisted flora imbued with a keen, alien intellect and murderous strength. It bears two knotted growths roughly analogous with arms, and the group notice that it has them raised in what the dundorin feels is a submissive gesture.

This gives the party hope of survival, especially when they spy the two ape like myconids that back the huge thing up.

A tense moment passes where both parties take stock of each other – the dripping, glistening plant monsters and the bleeding, bruised and filthy mammals / organic-machines. Then, the massive fungus releases a huge cloud of brownish spores, blasting it towards the party.

There is a moment of panic.

Ormid, remembering distant lessons from his youth, suddenly recalls that these creatures communicate through certain spores which create a psychic rapport, and cautions the party against any hasty actions. Though many still try to resist the spores effects, Ormid allows them to fill his lungs and fights the urge to resist the seeping weight of another consciousness that begins to seep into his own mind like a heavy psychic slime.

“You have killed our own” gurgles a sludgy, bubbling voice in the mind of the artificer, “You must make amends.”

Ormid speaks out loud, “They attacked first, we...”

“You have weakened our guard. You tresspass. You must make amends.”

Realising that arguing with this powerful being, especially as it is surrounded by potent guardians, will be at best, a waste of time, the artificer allows it to go on, gesturing towards those allies untouched by its psychic words to stand ready, but not to attack.
The psychic voice continues.

“You must make amends, or you will be destroyed.”

“How can we help?”

“The guards watched for the 'liquid darkness'. It comes and destroys all. You must destroy it. You must destroy it now.”

“Where is this..liquid...darkness?”

“It comes from the waters. Go into the waters. Destroy it, or destroy us, there are no other options.”

Ormid explains to the monster that the group would do better waiting for the 'darkness' to come to the fungus garden, all the while trying to ignore the zombies, who are now vomiting purple spores onto the remains of the monsters the group slew, each pile of mangled matter instantly furring with whipping tendrils of ambulatory fungus. The myconid (which Ormid now knows to be some kind of divine representative thanks to the psychic meld) is not happy with this at first, and demands that the party go at once into the surging waters and hunt the 'liquid darkness' at once, and ominously warns that the party will face the colonies full wrath if they do not comply. Ormid calmly explains that if they enter the waters they stand little chance of surviving the environment, let alone any encounter with the deadly monster the fungi fear so. After a moments contemplation, and despite clearly being reluctant to do so, the massive fungus agrees that the group will stay here and await the arrival of the 'liquid darkness', though it makes it clear that they will not be allowed to wait here for ever, and that sooner or later, if the unseen horror does not arrive, they will be expected to enter the surging embrace of the waters and to seek the thing out.

24/5/1472 – (heavy rains through the day in the south, becoming thundery at night).

00:01 – 04:15 – The group rest a little, alert for the return of any myconids, as well as for the silent approach of the “liquid darkness” - whatever it is.

It does not appear. The newly planted moulds thicken and spill onto the stone floor, throwing up fleshy, sweating mushrooms with frightening speed.

04:16 – 04:20 – The rot folk return in force, lead by the rot priest, and the group are told to get into the waters or to die. However, it changes its mind when Ormid relays its feelings to the group and they calmly relate – through Ormid and with obviously deadly gestures – that they will be more than happy to eradicate the entire colony if they have to, though they would prefer to be allowed to destroy the 'darkness' and to pass through peacefully.

The group are granted the myconids equivalent of a day (which for some reason is about 18 hours).

04:21 – 22:00 – The group wait...and wait....and wait...watching the disturbingly fecund growth of the fungi in the garden. A short while after the myconids leave for the second time, a number of mould zombies arrive and begin to work with the fungi like gardeners; uprooting “weeds”, crushing pallid bugs that are feeding on the moist flesh of the choice specimens, and generally working to keep the fungi here healthy.

The group rest. The group talk about their plans once they get back “home”. The group chat with Evran about his past and life in the sewers, and they group stare at the lukewarm, stinking flow of the sewer river.

….And then, just as they are getting comfortable with the idea of having to somehow carve their way through the deadly mushroom men, something utterly black and liquid slithers like a greasy shadow from the waters, its amorphous form sending tiny curls of acrid fumes up where they contact anything organic.

A monstrous ooze – a really big monstrous ooze – the “liquid darkness”, is a barely aware dungeon scavenger; a blind creature of seeking tendrils and acidic secretions.

The group move to attack.

22:01 – 22:02 – It is over before it has really begun. The first thing Evran does is invoke a powerful spell of protection which wards the entire party against all but the most powerful acids, immediately negating the slime's most deadly weapon. The party set about it with almost total immunity, though it does unleash a couple of powerful psionic screams when wounded, which send Veteran and Llewellyn reeling, staggering them momentarily as the power ricochets within their psyches. The party also quickly discover that blows with weapons split tiny, ambulant and aggressive puddles of slime off the main bulk, in essence creating multiple lesser foes for the group to contend with. However, these are easily dispatched with bursts of arcane fire from Ormid and Evran, and very, very quickly, the bane of the myconids is reduced to a fuming, tarry stain on the floor.

22:07 – Within moments of the ooze being vanquished, the rot priest is back, shining with a strange silvery-green light. It releases more telepathic spores, and in its emotionless, clotted, psychic voice, tells the group that they are free to go, and that they are no longer held accountable to the clan.

Eager to be out of this stinking place, the group gratefully grab their gear and prepare to leave.

22:08 – 22:10 – Only to be stopped by the rot priest. At first the party suspect a double cross, and all ready themselves for an almost impossible battle. However, the massive fungus produces a swollen hand within which lie tarnished coins, and a beautifully crafted (if filthy) staff, carved with runes of artifice.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

A Spin-off Blog...

So my nephew can read about his adventures without being exposed to the hideous content here, I have started a new blog solely for documenting the PG-Rated adventures of Bug the mongrel Gorgoth, Melvioch the Warlock and Sir Rupert (the f*cking unluckiest Paladin on Arbel'Verdaniss).

Check it out...though at the time of writing there is nothing more than an introduction there.

House Rules

I thought I would spend a moment explaining about the house rules we use in our campaigns. As I have stated elsewhere, 4th Edition is a pretty damn solid game, and although some of the crazy versatility of earlier editions (actually, I'm mostly glaring at 3.0 / 3.5) has been toned down, it's a dream to write adventures for and to play.

Having said that, a few things felt “off” to me and my players from day one, and so, in the very best traditions of D&D, we house ruled. Over the last three and a bit years, most of the house rules have remained. A few new ones have been thrown in, and what follows is a list of the main ones. Give 'em a go if you like, or let me know if you have made any rules that enhanced that game for you.

Magic Item Daily Powers – Can be used without needing to move through milestones. Yes, I know this means that characters can go nova on the final boss, but in my games, most fights are so deadly that few choose to hold off, and when they meet the BBEG, they need to go nova to even scratch the bugger! To date, this has caused exactly zero problems, and has allowed players to feel that their items are worth having.

Characters can spend multiple Action Points in an encounter – If a character has been restrained enough to accrue multiple action points, then I am happy with them unleashing them in the same battle. Again, this may be a bi-product of my campaigns innate lethality, but this has just not been an issue. My players still only burn action points when they are either in deep, deep doo-doo, or when they want to make sure a foe is down. Zero problems encountered up to time of writing with this house rule.

Critical Fumbles – I actually heard the groan then. Yes, we use critical fumbles, and everyone loves them (or loves to hate them). A natural “1” is not only a miss, it's a fumble. The only modifier to this is if you are using an attack that targets multiple foes, and the natural “1” is not rolled on the first attack. In that circumstance, it's not a fumble, you just auto miss that target.

A fumble has several immediate effects; the players turn ends immediately and they grant combat advantage until the start of their next turn. Harsh, but better than the old “you cut your own face off” type tables we got in AD&D....including my own fledgling campaigns (*cough*Gorthang's leg*cough*).

My players and I actually really like using this rule as it adds a level of unpredictability to combats that gives them an additional spice. Many times a fumble has altered the course of a battle – for good or ill – and they remain a moment of exquisite joy / agony for all concerned.

F*ck the DMG's D.C.'s – This is actually just a GM tip from me. Unless you want every skill check to be passed without the merest chance of failure, calculate your own D.C's .

The way I do it is simple.

BASE D.C. = Roll Needed + ½ groups level (+5 if it is for a trained individuals attention). Modify by +0 to +whatever based on how tough you want it, and on average ability modifiers.

This works! My skill checks are appropriate, and are never auto fails or auto successes.

And I think that's it. Not bad for a three year old system. I am sure I will remember some more as soon as I post this, but these are the biggies.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Post War Natives - 4/7/2010 & 14/7/2010

15/4/1472 – 20/4/1472

The group spend the next day recovering from the physical and psychical wounds they received within the Deathloved lair – or at least, allowing them to recede enough to be ignored. They then spend the next few days trying to establish a fledgling network of informants and contacts within Irin, using a blend of intimidation, bribery and subtle manipulation. They also take the opportunity to try and locate a buyer for their ill gotten Theon's Bleu, and several members of the party do a bit of shopping; stocking up on minor healing potions and other arcane trinkets.

Then, on the evening of the 20th, with the wounds from their last battle with the Deathloved still aching, they prepare for the arena trials the next day.

21/4/1472 (Overcast but warm, misty drizzle in the afternoon, light rain at night)

08:00 – 18:00 The group arrive at the arena (along with several hundred other hopefuls) and engage in the first day's trials. These events are passed with little effort by all, though they are separated and put through tailored trials specific to their particular talents. They then return to their rooms, and rest up, readying themselves for whatever the next day brings.

22/4/1472 (Heavy rain)

08:00 – 18:00 – Another day of simple trials, which the group ace. By this point the number of hopefuls in their intake has been halved.

23/4/1472 (Light rain, brightening towards mid morning, then drizzle and heavy rain by nightfall)

08:00 – 09:30 - The group arrive with high hopes, expecting another day of simple trials that they will walk through. However, they find themselves in a wide arena built on two levels. Around the outside it has wide, clear paths, though these are interrupted by deep, spike filled pits. A wide section in the middle of the arena joins the parallel paths, whilst the rest of the arena is on a lower level. This lower level is wide and accessed via broad steps. However, it is overgrown with thick, swaying tendrils of fecund plant life – clearly magical in nature.

Dotted around the arena are strange, pulsing runes of brilliant light, and at each end, within slightly elevated areas, stand two magical flags, each billowing on unseen currents of magic. At the far end of the arena, the group can see another team of hopefuls – their opponents in this event; two men armed with longbows, a warforged who wields a huge maul and bears what appear to be stylized tribal markings, a slender woman with braided hair, covered in twisting tattoos and wielding paired scimitars, a dundorin warrior and a hulking human wielding a greatsword.

The rules of game are suddenly in their minds – they must take their opponents flag and bring it back to their base before their enemies can do the same. They learn that the runes are a gamble, for they can restore energy lost in battle, grant significant enhancements for a short period of time, or temporarily weaken – and they learn that they will not be harmed themselves, but are covered by a veil of magic which, when removed by combat or misadventure, will be restored – though the individual will be teleported to one of six areas in the arena in that instant.

The group are given a few minutes to discuss their tactics, and the strangeness of the set up causes some no small amount of confusion and distress. Others, such as Emmiven and Seren however seem to relish the chance to play the game before them, and try to reassure their less enthusiastic allies.

The game starts, and over the next ten minutes or so, a dazzling display of adaptation, magic, psionics and tactics unfolds. The archers are a particular problem, for they each imbue their missiles with elemental energy and strike with deft precision, whilst the woman proves a deadly foe; a psionic warrior able to teleport and strike multiple targets with lethal precision.

Over and again the team approach the flag only to be beaten back, though they manage to stop their foes laying their hands on their own flag even once (though they get damn close a few times). Several brutal skirmishes result in the opponents flag being dropped before it can be taken back, and several times it looks like no one is going to score. However, eventually, the group manage to rip the opponents flag away from their base, and to drag it back to their own, winning the event and ending the combat.

09:30 – 10:30 – The group rest.

10:40 – 11:00 – The group are lead deep under the main amphitheatre and then out into a small arena, surrounded by 80' high walls. It is a simple battle area; a crushed gravel floor who's monotony is broken up by three 40' high pillars of pitted and spike studded stone, and by two lethal contraptions – swirling, savage masses of whirling blades, which would simply tear apart anyone or anything coming into contact with them.

The group stand against the wall, using it to cover their backs, and after a few moments, five shimmering circles of power briefly glimmer under the gravel, and five monstrous opponents appear.

Four are huge wolves, each the size of the warhorse. They are savage, primitive things; all bony plates, raw, ossified spines and gaping, drool wetted fangs. They have patchy, wiry fur, and huge, curving claws that could rip a man open with the merest pass. The fifth monster is also a wolf of some kind. It is even larger than the others, and bears similarly savage additions to the normal lupine form. However, it has no real fur, only scaled, scarlet flesh, and sooty flames seethe along the length of its spike lined back. A nest of rustling spines, which ooze a black, smoking slime, grow in a cluster from between its sharp shoulder blades, and two forward jutting horns curve from behind its slitted, glowing eyes. Unlike the other monsters, which are clearly some kind of Dire Wolf, this thing is clearly imbued with some kind of malign intelligence.

Grigori identifies this horror as a Fiendish Dire Wolf, and warns that it will be a far more dangerous opponent than the other beasts.

A countdown echoes from above, and as soon as it reaches zero, the restraining circles around the monsters vanish, and they attack.

The battle is short but furious. The fiendish monster does indeed have a few surprises, including the ability to fire its deadly spines from a great distance, the venom on them suppressing the targets ability to heal, and an adaptive resistance to various elemental attacks.

However, using the arena's walls to guard their backs, and forming a horseshoe formation with the tougher adventurers at the front, the softer within its protective curve, the group carve the beasts apart, each vanishing in a fragile burst of energy as the spells binding them shatter.

11:10 – 11:15: With the battle over, the group leave the arena grinning to themselves as they realise that they are almost through, and head towards the mess hall. On the way there they bump into Jurgen Throndor'Gulv, who calls to them.

“Oi, you lot. Gerrover 'ere.”

The group cautiously move towards him.

“Saw ye all in that battle. I 'av te say, I was surprised. Ye actually didn't suck.”

Emmiven looks like he is about to say something, but a glare from several members of the party silences him before he can drop the group in any trouble.

“I just wanted te say that if ye get through the grand melee, ye can rest assured that I will be only too happy te give ye some work if ye want it.”

The group fight back a multitude of bitter and biting remarks, and manage to nod politely instead. Emmiven has to be silently encouraged to keep silent a second time.

11:16 – 14:00: The group head into the mess hall, which is absolutely packed with the other contenders, including, to the groups' surprise, the party they faced in the capture the flag event.

They speak to the warforged from that team, and learn, to their anger, that they have somehow got permission to enter into the final round of the trials; the grand melee.

14:30 – The group enter the vast arena of the main amphitheatre, and along with the remaining combatants, prepare to begin the grand melee...

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Running D&D For Kids

My 7-year-old nephew is taking his first steps into playing D&D this weekend, and I am the GM. I actually bought him several Fighting Fantasy books for Christmas, which he adored, so he has some idea what it's all about. Also, his father plays Varracuda.

So, I have had to put together a U-certificate game for him - apparently blood cults and necrophiliac prophets are a no go for kids - which has proved pretty difficult. However, I have come up with a good starter dungeon, which introduces core rules one challenge at a time, and then a short but (hopefully) fun adventure which focuses on the "Blue Face" Gorgryn (a bunch of gobbos who keep giant wasps as pets and steeds), and stopping their annual raids on the town of Rivermead.

When it's over, I shall let you know how it goes, and will also post up the adventures.

Wish me luck though - I am scared to death of swearing half way through it all!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

An Interesting Article

Whilst having a bit of a read through the old 3.5 archives at Wizards of the Coast, I came across this interesting little article about TPK's. Thought I would share it with you all...not that I am planning on any TPK's you understand...honest.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Ormid et al - 7/7/2010

20:30 – After a final discussion about their objectives, the group are shown by Alvorde to the lowest level of his dwelling. Here they find that the mage has had one of his toilets torn out, opening a way into the sewers beneath.

The party are surprised to see that the tunnels below are wide, well maintained and that a pale, greenish light fills the steamy air. The stink rising up, whilst unpleasant, is nothing compared to the throat grabbing stench they were expecting, and Alvorde explains that the sewers were custom built as the stronghold city grew, and that their upper reaches are sweet smelling, brightly illuminated, clean and well maintained. Powerful (detractors would say wastefully used) magics render all waste entering these tunnels inert, perfume it lightly, and direct it towards deeper, darker tunnels – the old sewers – a tangled maze of rotting corridors, natural shafts and bruised dimensional bounds, where it gathers, sits and flows, before emerging from the mountains and pouring into open air cisterns along the northern edge of the Laertraine ruins.

Alvorde warns the party that they will be considered “pollution” if they encounter any of the sanitation constructs or spells, and that they could be in deep trouble if these entities decide to “clean” them!

20:30 – 22:00: The group move carefully through the tangled labyrinth of tunnels, avoiding patrols of disinfecting living spells, and hulking sanitation constructs, each marvelling at how unlike a sewer the area is. Llewellyn comments on the lack of rats, cockroaches or other vermin, and everyone agrees that most streets are not as pleasant and clean as these waste pipes. They do however quickly learn to avoid the numerous pipes that lead from toilets and drains in the city above, for the stuff that spurts and plops from them is raw and fresh from its source, and is definitely neither pleasantly perfumed or clean.

22:01 – 22:30 - The group make excellent time, helped by Ardwaine's innate sense for subterranean navigation, and soon they find themselves in a broad corridor, along which open numerous wide alcoves. Within each alcove a large (roughly 15' diameter) drain yawns, the purified waters pouring into them in a constant flow, forming great whirlpools. Around the 2' deep lip of these spaces shimmer bright runes, each releasing a constant stream of shimmering energy into the waters passing by them. The sounds coming from beneath the drains leave no doubt that the water is falling a long way, into a much larger space, and the group realise that these lead into the older sewers.

A thorough search of the area (interrupted only by the group having to hide from a curious glowing ball of disinfecting mists, surrounded by a swarm of tiny, effulgent motes, which dart about searing anything unpleasant in the waters into smoke and steam) reveals that there are three well concealed doors in the alcove. Two face each other in the bevelled corners, and are as tall as the alcove itself. The third is a small circular door built into he ceiling directly above the gurgling middle of the drain.

Llewellyn also warns the group that the runes on the collar of the drain are emitting a constant field of destructive energy – possibly a final disinfection of the sewage, or a way to ensure that nothing unpleasant climbs up from the darkness below. The rogue feels that he should be able to safely defuse the runes, but warns that they may be linked to the doors, and whatever lurks beyond them. He is also pretty sure that if he makes a mistake whilst tinkering with the runes, he could become exposed to the destructive power they contain – not a good thing to happen!

Ormid moves to ensure that should worse come to worse, the doors in the corners of the alcove stay shut. He casts an Arcane Lock on each, the air frosting with the gathered magic as he shapes and binds it to the portals, and with the Dundorin, Warforged and Ferrous acting as lookouts, Llewellyn, assisted by the artificer sets to work on the runes.

22:30 – 22:27 – With the water continually pushing past them, the current trying to drag them into the gurgling throat of the drain, disarming the deadly glyphs is no mean feat. However, with Ormid giving pointers, the rogue uses his incredible understanding of warding magics and ensorcelled traps to safely disable each of the glyphs, and soon, the way down is clear.

22:28 – 22:33 – Llewellyn volunteers to be lowered into the hole, and a length of rope is tied around his waist. With the warm, sweetly smelling waters pouring over him, the Vyrleen is lowered into the drain and into the darkness beyond.

He struggles a little, as the falling waters spin him dizzyingly, and blast into his nose and mouth with persistent, drowning force. However, as he sinks deeper and deeper, the air growing colder around him, he manages to gain some control of himself, and is able to concentrate on taking in as much of his new surroundings as possible.

Llewellyn hits churning, stinking water about forty feet below the collar of the drain, a scummy froth of yellowish hue being beaten from it by the constantly pounding waters. He cannot see very far, for there is no natural light in this place, though he can make out the dim light partially illuminating the falls of water from the other drains above; murky pillars of tenebrous light in the distance. He can also feel a persistent current tugging at him, trying to pull him under the surface of the water – insistent, but not overwhelming.

He tugs the rope four times to let the group know how far the drop is, and draws his mace, a vague fear filling him as he realises how potentially exposed he is in this dark hell of pounding water and sucking currents.

22:34 – 22:40 – Ardwaine spikes the flagstones in the upper sewer and ties a rope to it with a slip knot, allowing the rest of the party join Llewellyn (Ferrous has to cling to the Veteran as he expertly descends the rope, the water spinning them as it spits and boils off his flaming axes head).

22:41 – 23:15 – The whole party tie themselves together, so that anyone becoming tired from having to tread water can be pulled free of the water by those still afloat, and begin to cautiously explore their surroundings.

It is a slow, and at times terrifying experience, for there is little ambient light, and much of the exploration has to be done beneath the surface of water. The group slowly learn that the cistern chamber they are in is made of rotting stone, and that there are no exits above the level of the water. They find three possible ways out; a large hole directly beneath the fall of water they just climbed through, a tunnel to the north that opens some 15' beneath the surface, and another tunnel to the south (the direction they need to be heading in) that yawns in the chamber wall 10' below the surface of the water.

Exhausted from treading water, and starting to feel the bite of heat loss, the group realise that any extended swim under water is likely to result in someone, if not everyone, drowning. However, having absolutely no choice, they opt to go for the apparently most direct route – the southern tunnel.

23:16 – 23:17 – Each member of the party takes a deep breath, trying not to dwell too long on what could go wrong, before they dive under the water and claw their way down towards the lightless mouth of the submerged tunnel.

Tied together, they are half dragged along the serpentine, drowned corridor by the warforged, who seems to be the only one not traumatised by the whole thing. Blind and horribly aware of the increasing burning in their lungs as their precious air is depleted, the adventurers find that the tunnel remains straight for a short distance before it plunges into a terrifying drop. There is neither the time or option to discuss what to do, and with the Veteran leading the way, the group fight their way downwards, the weight of the cold, black waters increasing with each foot; threatening to force the air from their lungs and to leave them trapped and twitching as they drown.

Terror almost as absolute as that radiated by the Lich fills each hero as the tunnel continues to descend for what seems like an eternity. Eventually it levels out, though it twists to the side (hard to tell which way, though Ardwaine later confirms that it turned to the west), and remains completely filled with the water. Increasingly short of oxygen, the adventurers claw forwards. Golden stars and purple clouds begin to gather at the edge of their vision, and the urge to take a breath becomes almost overpowering, despite each member of the group knowing that to do so would be instant death.

Eventually, after what seems like an eternity, the Veteran begins to swim upwards, and through the water can be seen a dim, yellowish light. Moments later and the group are coughing and gasping at the surface; sucking in huge lungfuls of foetid air, clinging to the face of a low wall of decayed stone that rises from one side of a water-filled channel – part, it seems, of the tunnel through which they have been swimming.

23:18 – 23:20 – The group clamber out of the water, and discover that the wall is actually the side of a raised pathway. On the other side of the path is another water-filled channel, and at the east end of the path is something none of the group were expecting to see in this place – a well maintained, well made reinforced wooden door. Large crystals of lucent yellow have been placed at regular intervals along the middle of the path, casting a jaundiced glow across the area.

23:21 – 23:05 – With the only other routes from this area being the two water-filled channels, the group decide to check out the door. Llewellyn carefully approaches it, and tries to look through the keyhole of the solid looking lock. He can see nothing. He casts his eyes over the door, looking for any obvious traps, and again, sees nothing.

23:06 – Llewellyn produces his picks, and sets about trying to gently open the high quality lock. Unfortunately, as soon as he tries to force the tumblers, he feels a tiny prick in the end of his finger. A moment later, he screams as his heart seems to squeeze painfully in his chest, and a horrible numbness spreads along his arm. A single drop of blood glistens on the rogues pained digit, and all can see that it has been discoloured by whatever venom coats the tiny needle that now juts from the lock.

23:07 – 23:08 – Llewellyn is paralysed, and suffers ongoing agony as he begins to suffocate. Luckily for him, Ormid leaps to his side and begins to work some first aid on him, squeezing the wounded area and making several small cuts in his veins, draining some of the venom. Llewellyn begins to breathe again...the danger is passed.

23:10 – After spending a few moments gathering his wits and allowing the numbness to leave his arm, the Vyrleen returns to the lock. He scornfully removes the needle, and after a few moments has the lock open.

23:11 – 23:40 – Beyond the door is a small chamber, sparsely decorated with clearly salvaged furniture, and illuminated by several large shards of luminescent crystal. A small neatly maintained garden of waxy looking mushrooms occupies one corner, next to a large bowl filled with pale shrimps. A well maintained fire pit stands opposite the door, the smoke from it being sucked into a small pipe through which can be heard distant flowing water.

Another door leads from this area, and as the group enter the room, a cracked voice comes from behind it, and a furious / terrified man bursts in, magic crawling over his hands.

He is in his early forties, and wears threadbare, mouldy clothes. His skin has the unhealrhy pallor of someone who has not seen sunlight for far too long, and his skin is covered in sores and lesions. His eyes are bright and hold a fragile intelligence, and the group quickly realise that he is actually terrified, despite his aggressive stance.

At first the man is caught somewhere between surprise, anger and fear of the group – though he is constantly distracted by the two huge, mangy rats that can be seen in the back room – his guard “dogs” apparently. However, he begins to calm down once the group manage to convince him that they are not from the Unified Order, and soon he is chatting animatedly with them.

This is Evran Fieid, once a member of the Unified Order, now thought dead. He lives down here as he fell foul of the Order's convoluted laws and was found guilty of casting magics he was no longer authorised to use. Chased into the sewers by Order agents, he managed to temporarily disable the ward runes around a drain, and fled into the darkness here. Thought to be dead, no one came to check on him. He has been here for three years, and is understandably paranoid. However, he has an excellent knowledge of the local area, knows how to get out of the lower sewers, and he offers to help the party if they will help him to get away from the area.

The group huddle and after some heated discussion agree that taking Evran along would be a good idea – though they all worry that he may be a little insane, and might prove unstable and therefore risky in the heat of battle. Evran is overjoyed about finally being able to escape the rotting claustrophobia of the lower sewers, and rushes to gather his possessions – a snapped but functional wand, and a rusted dagger. On returning he begins to describe the way ahead...

“Firstly, we go into the water and head to the east. That tunnel soon widens into a deeper channel, though we need to be careful as there are some wicked currents there. Then we need to move through the Rot Folks gardens, and make our way to the lower cisterns.”

The group ask who the “Rot Folk” are.

“Nasty feckers that's who. Sentient fungi with a bad attitude. Myconids.”

23:41 – 23:45 - Evran euthanises his guard rodents, and follows the party back out into the raised path. Before they slip into the waters of the east flowing channel he carefully locks his door, and places the key under a stone next to it.

“Just in case.” he grins.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Ormid et al - Session Report 1/7/2010

12:05 – 13:15 – The group spend a few moments calming down after their encounter with the horrific undead. Shaking the last vestiges of fear and shock from their minds (for now at least), they gather the scattered treasures of the hoard, and aware that Atrophius may return at any moment and renew his attack, they quickly dart for the forests, and the distant aelwyn ruins.

Their passage through the forests is a fearful affair. Every shadow seems to hold a lurking form and every sound is the dread keening of a tortured soul. However, the group make it back to the edge of the clearing where the ruins are without incident.

13:16 – As they reach the edge of the tree line, they hear sounds of battle coming from the ruins; the sound of blades slicing flesh and the croaking scream of gorgryn.

13:16 – 13:18 – Slowing, the group take up stealthier positions, and Llewellyn sneaks forwards to see what is going on. Across the clearing he can see Gorthias, covered in the black blood of gorgryn as well as his own blood, leaning on the shattered outer walls, wiping slimy atramental gore from his aelwyn blade. Five gorgryn lie in a pile before the warden, one still twitching, its throat a gushing ruin.

The group hail the warden, and he raises a weary hand in greeting.

“Black Gobs. My companions and I smashed them a few months ago. Seems some stragglers are still in the area looking for easy meals. They made a mistake this time.”

13:19 – 13:23 - The group head down into the ruins.

13:24 – 14:00 – Gorthias and the other refugees are overjoyed at the groups' success, and are more than a little awestruck by the news that they faced the lich, and not only survived, but drove it off. They then discuss with the group their plans. Gorthias and his group are planning on heading towards Karrag'Durzal, and Ormid offers to conjure a number of spectral steeds for them, to help them on the first leg of their journey.

The group then ask Gorthias about the Unified Order, and as the enormity of the organisations power and the strictness of their laws is revealed, Ormid becomes increasingly angry about them and their ways, and declares that they are an abomination. During the course of this discussion, Ardwaine learns of the fall of Brunduin during the aelwyn wars, and seems unable to comprehend that anything could destroy that ancient stronghold.

It is decided that the party will not accompany the refugees, as they do not wish to get too close to civilisation, and possible contact with the agents of the Unified Order. They will instead try to open more portals to the rune circles they learned in the past, in the hopes that they will find one that will allow them some breathing room to find a way to get back to the past.

Ormid remembers that the fabric of reality close to the so called “Faerie Gate Mountains” - a great range that stretched (and Gorthias assures them exist still) for several hundred miles from the western edge of the Southguards and down the western coast – is especially thin, and that some faerie dimensions – including possibly, one that may have a morphic time flow – can be easily accessed there, especially during the equinoxes. He surmises that they may be able to gain access to a morphic fae plane and be able to force their way back into the past. However, Gorthias warns them that to get there they would have to get dangerously close to lands under the rule of the Unified Order – unless of course they can fly there.

That statement leads to brief discussion about hijacking a skyship from somewhere, though this is rapidly forgotten when it is realised that doing this would require the group to enter areas where the Unified Order have strength.

So, the party finally decide to go with their first plan. They will rest, and then Ormid will try to link to some of the ancient rune circles they have used in the past.

14:00 – 14:30 – Ormid conjures spectral steeds for the refugees, and they leave. Before heading off Gorthias thanks them for everything they have done. He pledges that should they need his help, if he is able to, he will do anything for them. Then he, and the refugees leave.

14:30 – 21:00 – The party sleep; their dreams haunted by visions of the lich and his keening apparitions. They awaken, have a bite to eat, and then Ormid begins to draw the first rune circle.

21:01 – 21:10 – A portal to the ancient rune circle that was carved within the storage holds of The Wanderer is opened, and to the groups' surprise it seems intact. As soon as it opens pale golden light spills into the basement, and through the shifting window in reality they can see the inside of a glass case; their reflections ghostly in its polished inner surface. They also spot, beyond the case, that other rune circles, many in disrepair, hang along unseen walls, each in its own display case.

A moment after the portal opens, the case beyond begins to shudder rhythmically. A split second before the magic fades, a hulking golem, made from the same dull metal as Llewellyn's mace strides into view, its massive fists alive with snaking greenish runes of power.

21:11 – 21:21 – Ormid recognises the construct as an Adamantium Golem, and he realises that where ever the portal now resides is owned by someone of great wealth, and, or power. From what they learned from Gorthias, this can only mean the Unified Order.

The group hatch a plan. They will open another portal and throw through a note explaining that they mean no harm. They hope that whoever has the portal will appreciate that for someone to know the rune sequence of that portal that they must have some kind of past connection with it. They hope that this will stop them rushing to any hasty and potentially deadly conclusions. They also hope that they read tradespeak and can work through the changes that over one thousand years of change have wrought to that pidgin tongue.

21:22 – The portal yawns. The note is thrown through. The group spy more figures beyond the glass now; a handsome, turbaned man dressed in fine robes with the dark skin of a southerner who appears torn between amazement and abject terror at sight of the rune circle activating once more, two warforged of similar design to the Veteran though dressed in silk armour and turbans, and a figure mantled in concealing black robes and a beaded face mask who radiates quiet power. Behind them all looms the Adamantium Golem.

The man begins to speak, but the portal closes...

22:00 – The rune circle is activated for the third time, and the party step through – grateful for the fact that the glass case has been removed.

22:00 – 22:05 – The man beyond introduces himself as Azif Dezafarre. He is merchant of the Great House Consortium who has a particular interest in ancient artefacts. He explains that the circle the group came through is one of his prized artefacts, and is almost speechless at meeting them. The robed figure is less happy with the groups' arrival. A female voice hisses from behind the mask.

“My Lord Azif, we should inform the Order of this. We do not know who they are, or where they truly come from”.

Before Azif can reply however, Ormid strides forwards.

“My name is Ormid Threfler, Dragon Slayer and I think you are all very ru...”

A sharp hiss comes from the robed figure as soon as the artificer states his name, and Azif backs away as if stung. His face changes from impressed but cautious to outraged.

“Blasphemy!” he yells, “Who in the name of the Gods do you think you are to speak so?”

Ormid, equally furious repeats his name.

The robed figure speaks. “I have sent a homunculus to alert the order of these occurances.”

More angry than he can express, Ormid reaches into his backpack and brings forth his enchanted hot chocolate decanter. Shrugging he pours himself and the rest of the group a drink – a gesture that seems to give the merchant and his entourage pause.

“Wait,” murmurs Azif, “Bashaeda, call off your homunculus for now.”

The robed figure shimmers with power and reports that it is done. The party regard the merchant, waiting to see what he will do next.

“Something about you makes me wonder if....the impossible is happening here. To claim to be the founder of the Unified Order as you do is regarded as a serious sin, and yet...
“I would like you to accompany my guards to a more secure chamber.”

“Secure?” growls the warforged.

“Magically speaking.” replies Bashaeda. “A muting chamber that will prevent any ritual magics from working.”

The group look around them. More warforged bearing Azif's livery have entered the chamber, and with the looming presence of the Adamantium Golem, the party realise that they have no choice for now other than going along with their new hosts' suggestions.

Ormid is also confused. Did they just say he founded the Unified Order?

22:15 – The group are shown into an empty chamber carved from black marble. Negation runes radiate a negative radiance from its support beams, and as soon as they are all inside, the heavy doors slam shut and lock.

22:15 - ??? - A long, long time passes. Then, the doors to the chamber open revealing a potent trio of strange figures. Their vestments are immediately recognised by Ormid, Ardwaine and the warforged; hooded, gossamer robes of shifting rainbow hue and mirrored face masks that completely hide their features. The only decorations they bear is a single amulet of silver chased in black opal, engraved with the pentacle or stars – the holy symbol of Merriel'Shaava, goddess of magic, mysteries and the supernatural. Two of them bear engraved censers swinging from the ends of rune-scribed chains of alchemical silver, whilst the nearest figure – clearly female – wields an orb of throbbing power.

The priests enter the chamber and say nothing. The orb wielder makes a gesture, and the dulling runes fade. Then, the two censer swinging priests take up positions in opposing corners whilst the orb wielder begins inscribing complex patterns of runes about the group.

Ormid recognises the runes as part of a truth discerning ritual, and after a short while the three Merriel'Shaavites begin a unified chanting, the air immediately thrilling with gathering power, the temperature in the small chamber dropping by several degrees.

The air seems to thicken, and a tang of power shocks through the groups heads. Suddenly, the runes on the floor shine with a clear, silvery light. Only now does the orb wielding priestess speak...

Over the next ten minutes Ormid is questioned about who he is, where he has come from, and what he knows about the current age. Ormid answers truthfully, and as the ritual fades, the three clerics bow deeply to him, and then quietly leave the chamber, the doors slamming shut once more.

More time passes. Food is brought, as well as books about the present age, which Ormid reads.

The group sleep. They wake. More food. More sleep....and then.


11:00 – 11:30 - The door to the chamber opens and the group are faced with a muscularly built man who exudes a potent air of carefully restrained power. He wears heavy robes of crimson and black, and the Crown of Merriel'Shaava – the symbol of the Unified Order – is emblazoned on an amulet he bears. Rune inscribed bracers glow on his wrists, and small, flickering stones float in lazy orbits about his head. His eyes are dark green, and shine with confidence and curiosity, and when he speaks, the burr of a northern accent is detectable beneath the more prominent southern drawl. A pure white cat, with knowing silver eyes and silver rings on its tail sits by his side, regarding the group levelly, its tail twitching.

He stands staring for a moment, before stepping into the room, and simply saying to Ormid, “You shouldn't be here. This, is impossible.”

This man is Inquisitor Alvorde Daverrenne, a Unified Order magus who's role is to hunt down, interrogate and punish unfettered magic users, supernatural beings, and touched arcanists. He is in no doubt that Ormid is indeed the Ormid – the man who founded the Unified order over a thousand years before by persuading the disparate mages guilds to join forces to help send an army of extra-dimensional beings back from whence they came – though he is utterly unable to explain how he is here or how he gets to the past.

Of two things though he is sure. Firstly, if news of his presence is leaked to the upper echelons of the Order, there would be panic – and Alvorde is not confident that the leaders of the Order would make sound decisions in any state of shock or confusion, for such a state is entirely alien to them. Secondly, if the news got to those that oppose the Unified Order, then Ormid would become the most hunted man on the planet until he was slain and (in theory) prevented from founding the Order....though Alvorde is sure such a thing would either be impossible due to the nature of reality as it stands, or would cause...problems...

It is agreed by Alvorde and the group that he will not disclose any more about Ormid's actions in the past, in case the knowledge would change what happens – assuming it hasn't already. Alvorde informs the group that he would like them to accompany him to his home in New Laertraine, and somewhat dazedly, they agree.

11:31 – 15:40 – Alvorde leads the party through the impressive Dezafarre compound and into a sun drenched courtyard. There, a sleek black skyship, sporting strange engines unlike any Ormid has seen before, piloted by a modified warforged slaved to its guidance systems, waits. The ship leaves the compound (which is within the vast mercantile city of Heb'Sabuul), and flies eastwards and a little to the south, to the mainly subterranean city of New Laertraine; a place that the whole party have been to before.

The ship docks (the group can see nothing from within, for its walls lack portholes and are opaque), and the group are shown to luxurious chambers, fitted with all kinds of art, a well stocked library of theological, arcane and poetic works, as well as well stocked drinks cabinets, a heated swimming pool and comfy beds. Alvorde informs them that they should relax, as he intends to speak to another Order mage, whom he trusts implicitly.

17:00 – 18:00 - Alvorde returns with a rotund, sweating man who wears decorative robes and who also bears the Unified Order's symbol. He is Bertholde Dorace, another mage of high standing within the Unified Order. Bertholde is clearly awestruck at meeting “the great” Ormid, and he spends a good few minutes simply babbling happily, his chins wobbling as he gibbers, and shakes everyone's hands.

Once Bertholde has calmed down, it is explained that he is a specialist in dimensional travel and that he has done some theoretical work on chronomancy – the magic of time travel. The first thing Bertholde explains is that under Unified Order law, any magics that directly manipulate the flow of time, or which potentially allow an individual to affect the time stream are illegal. Their use is considered the highest crime, and the penalty is immediate Divorcement (he explains this is a ritual that forever strips an individual of their magical affinity and ability to work magic), imprisonment within the dread Durance Occulta or death. Having said that, he knows that the ancient mages did work spells to open portals in time, and he is sure that such magics were done within the ancient city of Laertraine. Ancient plans show that central areas of the city – currently under heavy security – housed experimental magical departments – the most likely areas for the experiments in chronomancy to be done, and he suggests that the group may be able to find something in that area that could help them get back to their own time.

But there is a catch (of course). Due to the unstable state of Laertraine's ruins, the Unified Order have locked them down. Only authorised researchers are allowed in there, and trespassers are dealt with most harshly. Alvorde has arranged for some false passes for the group, but both he and Bertholde feel that avoiding the sentinels as much as possible would be the best course of action. This means that using the secure teleports into the ruins is out of the question, and that a more dangerous but less obvious route must be sought. To this end, Alvorde will show the group to the cities ancient sewage system, which leads into septic tanks in the outer ruins. From there they can transverse the lethal landscape of the ruins and enter their heart, where, with massive luck, they will gain access to the ancient research structures and – with even more luck – discover something they can use.

Neither hold out much hope.

18:00 – 19:30 – The party have something to eat, and prepare themselves for the dangerous journey ahead.