I have just set up the site for the Podcasts of the upcoming game. You can see it HERE. I intend to subscribe to the site once we are underway, which gets us more space each month and ensures we get the feed onto iTunes.
I thknk it will be pretty incredible to get our games "out there" to a wide audience, and hope those of you who are playing will too!
(I can't actually modify the site template until I subscribe by the way).
::EDIT:: Unfortunately, I simply could not afford to keep this up, and didn't have time to edit the recordings to make them safe for general consumption. As a result, the podcast died about episode 10.
Saturday, 28 May 2011
Craig and I are chatting about maybe resurrecting the Ipokken campaign in 4th Edition. This will be a solo game, and so will have two advantages.
1) We can play whenever we are both free
2) As there are no balance issues with other players, I can create the overpowered items the
3.5 Ipokken had without causing any issues. This also means I can plan tougher encounters
for just the monk and his side-kick
To get my creative and memorial juices flowing, I have been reading over the old 3.5 adventures I wrote. There are a LOT of them, and in one folder I came across some exchanges that took place on the now defunct older message boards. Here are a few of them...
1) We can play whenever we are both free
2) As there are no balance issues with other players, I can create the overpowered items the
3.5 Ipokken had without causing any issues. This also means I can plan tougher encounters
for just the monk and his side-kick
To get my creative and memorial juices flowing, I have been reading over the old 3.5 adventures I wrote. There are a LOT of them, and in one folder I came across some exchanges that took place on the now defunct older message boards. Here are a few of them...
* * *
“Sh*t” spits Aradeus as he notices the three masses of pond-slime like filth gathering up at the back of the chamber, “What the hell are those?”
He quickly works a spell around himself and backs off, allowing Calvoreth a clear run at the weird, oozing monsters. By this point they have taken on a parodical humanoid form; dripping and bubbling. They stink of the black mud from the bottom of a pond, and each constantly excretes frothy fluid from within its spongy, dark-green body.
Despite their fearsome appearance, the beasts are relatively weak. They succumb quickly to Ipokken’s blows, though Calvoreth has some problems, as the slicing edge of his scimitar seems to pass through them with little if any effect, and he is forced to wield his blade side on, which makes for awkward attacks.
Whilst Ipokken and Calvoreth hack at the mass of vines at the back of the chamber (which is some kind of door composed of densely knotted, spiny vines and stems), the Ghaerduun, muttering angrily at the voice only he can hear, searches the vile remains of the monsters. After several minutes of running his hands through the disgusting slop of their remains, he picks up an intricately carved pebble and gives a squeal of joy.
“A know stone! A know stone!”
All the group turn to look at him in shock. A moment more of joy passes before the wizard’s face drops.
“What is it?” asks Aradeus, his face pale with worry.
“Crap! It’s one for you priest. I cannot access the spell within.”
Mendle explains that Know Stones hold the secrets to using a spell. Though rare in many cultures, they were common in many ancient societies, and are still used extensively by the Ghaerduun and Dundiir.
“However,” he continues with a pout “that stone held nothing but a whisper for me. I suspect it holds a divine spell, a spell born of piety and faith not study and understanding.”
The Ghaerduun fails utterly to keep the contempt out of his voice.
Aradeus takes the stone, and a moment later his eyelids flicker, and he gasps raggedly.
“It spoke to me! It holds a spell that binds some sort of animal energy to recipient, boosting their physical attributes.” He looks with awe at the stone. “I think that with a little time I will be able to ask my God to grant me this spell. Thank you Mendle.”
The Ghaerduun ignores him.
Beyond the vine door a wide corridor turns sharply to the left (west). It is apparently a natural tunnel that has been widened by someone at some point. Every inch of it is studded with tiny flecks of luminous golden crystal, which glint and glimmer like minute aureate stars, casting a dim luminosity through the air (though not enough to see by).
“Could those be bits of those stones the ghost talked about” asks Aradeus, bending to get a closer look. Ipokken shrugs, as does Calvoreth.
“Maybe they are using the stones to enable the cultivation of horrors beneath the ground?” whispers the monk, running his calloused hands over the sharp little growths.
“Happy thoughts!” growls Calvoreth.
The group move along the corridor slowly, with Aradeus and Ipokken up front; the priest checking the way ahead for traps, the monk guarding him against ambush. Progress is slow, and it takes some time for them to make it round the bend, and to begin moving along a roughly 10’ wide, 8’ high tunnel that curls round to the south and then…
“Aw CRAP!” Screams Aradeus suddenly as the ground beneath him and Ipokken falls away, “Pit traaaaaaaaaap…!!!”
Both men drop into the cleverly concealed pit trap, falling a good 20’ before slamming into the hard stone far below. Both men are bruised and battered, but alive.
“Sorry ‘bout that.” Winces the priest, looking around the 10’ x 10’ space into which they have fallen, “Spotted it a bit too late I think.”
Calvoreth and Mendle’s faces appear over the eastern edge of the pit, and a rope is thrown down. Aradeus then takes the rope and like some kind of spider, scales the western side of the pit, before taking hold of one end of the rope and throwing it down to the monk.
Aradeus’ face drops and he stares over at Calvoreth and Mendle on the other side with dread in his eyes.
“What?!?” Croaks the warrior.
“Somethings moving…no lots of somethings are moving further down the tunnel. Shit! Calvoreth get your ass over here, and Ipokken get up pronto!”
Aradeus throws the rope to Mendle who grabs it and grunts as the monk begins the first of many unsuccessful attempts to hurriedly scale it and assist his compantions.
Calvoreth clears the pit with a long jump and land in a crouch next to Aradeus. The priest is staring into the dimness ahead, beyond the alchemical yellow light of the Sunrod Calvoreth carries, trying to see what is making the dry, whispering sound that echoes from within it.
Calvoreth raises the light, and the way ahead is brightly litten, revealing a veritable sea of tiny thorn like monsters charging to attack – identical to the ones the group briefly encountered in the gulley.
“Ipokken, hurry up!” yell both men together as they read themselves for the attack, “We have a problem here!”
At least half the monsters are taken out by another charge of the wand the priest wields, each crumbling to ash at the touch of its invisible, herbicidal magic. The others however slam into the two men, scratching with thorn like claws, and scoring numerous hits.
Calvoreth is unhurt, his armour soaking up the damage from the monsters feeble attacks. The priest is not so lucky, and despite his leather armour and wild dodges, he is struck several times. One of the blows at least carries a toxin, and Aradeus yelps as his muscles begin to burn from its effects, weakening him.
The fight rages of, both men slowly backing towards the 20’ deep pit, desperately seeking a section of corridor where only two of the Twig Blights can attack. Within the pit, the monk desperately struggles to climb the rope. Alas, in his haste he repeatedly loses his grip, or slams into the sides with enough force to send him tumbling back into the darkness again. Tasked with holding the rope, Mendle is red-faced with exertion, and desperately fights to keep from being dragged down into the pit by the monk’s weight.
Bit by bit, hack by hack, the two men chop their way through the toddler sized monsters, leaving a pile of splinters and sap behind. Gasping with exertion and the effects of the adrenaline, they flop down by the side of the pit and await the arrival of the monk.
It takes time (and Mendle falls into he pit when he tries to jump it, sustaining some nasty bruises in the process), but eventually the four questors are beyond the pit.
They rest briefly, whilst Mendle prepares a few spells he neglected to memorise that morning, allowing the pain of their wounds to subside. Aradeus notes that he is feeling a bit dizzy, and uneasy glances pass between the other three as they think on the numerous mosquito bites they have all collected whilst out in the jungles.
Soon though, they are back on their way. The main corridor widens, and splits into three separate tunnels. After a check for traps, the group decide to head straight on, noting that the way is blocked by another vine door (and that the solar stones here are large enough to have formed small wands. They are curious; utterly black apart from along the angle of their facets, where brilliant silver-yellow light emerges. A closer look leads the Ghaerduun to conclude that they are not natural growths, but some kind of artificially cultivated mineral).
After a brief search for traps on the door, Ipokken and Calvoreth begin hacking the vine door apart. This takes little time, but as soon as they have smashed through, two vine-like tentacles burst through, grabbing the two surprised warriors around the throat and dragging them through the shattered portal.
Kampfults – Four of them to be exact; two lurking on the ceiling, and two writhing and twisting a little further on.
Without the vines to hide in, the group can see them for what they are. Most of their body is made up of the vine-like tentacles, which form a loose net of rubbery strands. Towards the middle of their noisome bulk is some sort of (slug-like?) body, guarded by a veritable mass of smaller, tough tentacles.
Both Ipokken and Calvoreth have been grabbed by them, and dragged within their crushing, throttling embrace. They tussle briefly with the monsters, before ripping free and counter-attacking. Aradeus is wounded after running into to try and prize the fighter free of his captor, the third beast rolling in to whip him fully across the face, and Mendle summons magic with words and gestures, hurling small darts of shining magical force at the fiends (with little effect).
Blades slash and the blood of the questors spatters the walls with that of the Kampfults. Soon only one remains, and sensing that it will soon die too, it flees, tumbling like a mass of string in a gale away from the group. Furious and determined to bring the fiend down, Ipokken runs after it, catching it as it begins to round a turn to the south...
…And totally missing the trigger stone for another trap…
One minute the monk is chasing after the monster, his whole body singing with pain and adrenaline. The next, there is a bright flash of light, a loud (internal) snapping sound, a horrible explosion of confused agony and disorientation, and he is pinned briefly under a crushing pile of rock – the remnants of the heavy block that has just fallen from the ceiling and shattered on contact with the ground, killing the kampfult, and seriously wounding the monk.
Shaking the worst of the pain away, and staggering giddily to his feet, Ipokken is met by his companions as they stagger along to check he is okay. They spend some time cleaning up (most of Ipokken’s wounds are miraculously cosmetic), and then pick their way with even more caution along the corridor.
A cunning trap is disarmed a little further on (an apparently obvious trap whose disarmament triggers the real trap – a salvo of poisoned arrows), and soon the group have come to another vine door…
…Which is where the game ended…
* * *
The group carefully picked their way towards the ruins, each alert for anything potentially hostile, and soon they were within the ring of older trees (Ippoken realised that they were merely trees that had survived the original clearance of the hill by those inhabiting the former fort), carefully searching the tumbled, tangled stones of the northern ruin. As they searched, the wind continued to stiffen, and soon the first heavy drops of rain had given way to a full on, torrential downpour.
Cursing the premature darkness the storm had brought, a terse discussion was had about a plan of action, and it was decided that the group would return to the camp where the other two men had been. They would rest, heal, and return to explore the western and central ruins in the morning.
Having found nothing in the northern ruin, the group were soon moving as fast as they dared in the blinding monsoon in the direction of the camp. Soaked and tired, they never noticed the slimy ropes of the monsters until they attacked, springing up from the vines like vile, woody nooses. Before they could act, several members of the party had been entangled by the things, and dragged amongst the writhing, whipping masses of their tentacles.
The battle was a painful and frustrating affair. The monsters had a penchant for grabbing their foes and trying to throttle them, whilst whipping ripping tentacles (which seemed to make up the main portion of their sinewy, rope-like bodies) at anyone within reach. Luckily this need to remain aggressive to others meant that the monsters were somewhat distracted from their throttling, which meant that most party members could break free from the strangling grip before they passed out and died. Slimy and dextrous, the monsters proved elusive foes, though slowly but surely, the group hacked and tore at them, until they were no more.
More eager than ever to rest, the party returned to the camp, finding it deserted. Food was taken, and once more Aradeus worked his god’s magic, healing the worst of the bruises and cuts. Then, with the rain easing off, and a thick fog rising, the group sorted watches, and settled down for a long, cold, wet night.
In the darkness, a spectral light – algid and numinous – could be seen shining through the fog, casting long shadowy streamers from the trees and throwing everything into pallid relief. It seemed to be coming from the central ruins at the top of the hill. Tense discussions were made about the wisdom of seeking out the light’s source, and despite the risk posed by lurking plant monsters or rogue Sebbatti, it was decided that Ipokken, accompanied by Aradeus would sneak up and seek out the light’s source.
A strange stillness had settled over the entire hill, and though the jungle sang and chattered in the distance, all was silent around the ruins, giving Aradeus and Ipokken the strange feeling that it was somehow removed from the natural world, existing in its own, eerie realm. Both men felt the nearness of the unnatural as they clambered with all stealth towards the shining heart of the ruins (which were themselves’ a black, broken silhouette, illuminated from within by this eerie, blue-white light), and the priest gripped his holy symbol tightly, quietly praying to Nimic’Nazzek for protection against the unnatural.
The air veritably resonated with and icy, prickling energy by the time they reached the exterior of the ruin proper, and both men tried hard to ignore the gooseflesh creeping along their arms and backs, and the overwhelming urge to run. Peering over the moss covered blocks of the ruins outer reaches, both men could see a large central area; an expanse of paved stone, covered in collapsed debris and rubble. Each noted how within the confines of the light, nothing grew – no moss, no vines, no plant of any kind (save a few repugnant fungi, who’s distorted fruiting bodies seemed to shine with especial brilliance within the ghastly ghost-light*) – and they wondered what this meant for them. Was it merely plants that could not stand the light, or would all living things cease to be once caressed by its bloodless glow?
To the right of the men (the east), within the ruins, could be seen a flight of decaying stairs, heading into the floor. It was from this that the light shone, now bright as a full moon.
Despite his fear, Aradeus clambered over the rocks, inching closer to the light, holy symbol in hand, a prayer on his lips. Unwilling to risk his flesh (or more exactly, his soul) Ipokken stayed ducked behind the exterior blocks, peering over to watch his foolhardy companion.
And it was then, as the priest approached the stairs, that there was a definite movement to the shining mists. The air became electric, and both men felt their bowels shrivel as the supernatural presence there focused completely upon them…
…Aradeus reaches with nerveless fingers for his enchanted blade, his face so pale that his eyes appear to be twin pools of bruised shadow – a move that draws an amused, distorted chuckle from the mist.
A voice - all cobwebs and frost – whispers into the night.
“Mortal man, put away thy symbol and thy blade. I mean thee no harm, for I too was once flesh and blood as thou art. Stay thy hand.”
And the mists come together, gathering and shifting to outline the smiling form of an older man; bald headed and bespectacled. He wears the clothes of a craftsman, and is clearly laughing to himself.
“Always wanted to talk like that to someone. Seemed appropriate at that moment, hehehe!”
Suddenly the two mortal men go from terrified to confused.
It transpires that this spirit is all that remains of the former keeps resident architect and handyman, a human raised on Fey named Khembrynn Athas’tar. He died when the keep fell to disease and Sebbatti attack, and was so upset at the destruction of the keep he designed and maintained, that he felt obliged to stay, waiting to see if it would rise again. When asked, he explains that the original plans for the keep are likely lost – unless his journal has somehow survived the last five decades, and is lying somewhere about the place.
“A pity,” he adds “because I simply can’t seem to get free of this place knowing that it might one day be built once more – something I would *ahem* die to see.”
When asked about the plants and their source, the spirit is most helpful. He reveals that there are two sets of tunnels; a smaller series accessed from the gully on the northern side of the hill (the one the soldiers had warned the group about), and a large complex that burrows deep under the hill, and uses the former tunnels of the keep as well as older, alien ruins, which is accessed through the southern tower ruin. It turns out that there are some “robed, magic using plant-guys” running the show, and that they use magic to make the huge tree filling that ruin move out of the way, which reveals an entrance.
The shade also speaks of Solar Stones; enchanted crystals tied to the lingering magic of the area, which shine with true sunlight when close to the hill (which predates the keep, and which, as already mentioned, was the site of ancient, alien structures who’s meaning and use is long forgotten). The intelligent plants have set these in numerous chamber underground, using them to raise the monstrous plants that scour the area. The ghost also hints at some kind of source plant, though he seems unsure of details.
The spirit then goes on to invite the troupe to rest within the ruins.
“The plants don’t like me. I don’t know if it’s the cold I emanate, or something to do with me being dead, but they seem to shrivel up if they stay here too long. I know it’s uncomfortable here, but if you wanted to rest, I could keep an eye over you – let you get some rest.”
The live men thank the shade, but decline his offer.
Armed with this knowledge the two men creep back to the camp on legs that shake, each rubbing his arms to try and drive the unnatural chill of the ghost away.
By the next morning a plan was made. The next morning the group would explore the gully and the smaller dungeon. Then, with that lesser dungeon (a false dungeon meant to deflect attention from the true source of the monsters) cleaned out and permanently destroyed, the group will return to Havenport, hire additional help (and maybe negotiate a better deal), and then return, better prepared, to cleanse the true source of the monstrous plants.
Only, by the end of the session, the group had only made it halfway along the gully, as they were attacked by more of the rope creatures, as well as a wave of tiny, thorned things (which shrivelled to dust under the magic of the wand given to them by the questors the day before).
The battle was hard fought, and left the group battered and exhausted. However, they seemed determined to continue along the vine choked gully, and into the gaping mouth of the cave at the far end.
Which is where the tabletop game session ended…and where the online game continues…
* Fungi rock! Just because they frolic happily in the unnatural radiance of spectral beings does not make them bad. If anything it makes them all the better. We love fungi at Inferniss Industries, and anyone found not loving them will serve as a host for some particularly vicious spores we have on ice.
* * *
Trying not to feel too panicked, you move along the gulley, eyeing every vine and twig with utmost suspicion. More than a few times you all pause to prod at some leaf or twining stem, in the fear that it is the appendage of some vegetable horror.
Eventually, you come to the northern most end of the gully. Here a jagged edged, triangular cave yawns, the vines spilling from it like verdant vomit pouring from the mouth of some oversized beast. More vines, thicker than those covering the floor, grow in knotted tangles over the edge of the opening, each bearing long thorns as thick as knitting needles, and nearly as long. From these hang tubular flowers of dark crimson, and sprout small clusters of stalked, heart-shaped leaves.
“Let me check the entrance out” whispers Aradeus, absently rubbing the holy symbol round his neck, “there could well be traps or wards.”
Calvoreth nods, and the priest scuttles ahead towards the black cave’s mouth and the thorny vines. As he does so, you swear you see vague movement from within the cave, far enough back that the deep shadows obscure any clear line of sight – possibly 10’ or so back.
After some time searching, the priest nods to himself, and gestures that you should all come closer. Moving slowly over the slimy vines, you can see him skilfully pinning a length of dark brown twine, apparently made from lengths of the vine, to the surrounding vegetation. Without looking up from his work, Aradeus points towards the roof of the caves mouth.
“Simple but deadly.”
It takes you a moment to see what he is talking about, but then you spot it – a crude frame of branches, weighted with rocks and studded with long, splintered spikes of greenwood. A mental image of it swinging down into the front ranks of your party flashes briefly across your mind’s eye, and you thank the powers that Aradeus spotted and safely neutralised the “simple but deadly” trap.
You are now stood in the crepuscular mouth of the cave. From here you can see a smallish chamber, some 25’ across and 15’ deep, filled with a confusion of thorned vines and the ubiquitous, slimy ones. The air is heavy with the stench of crushed vegetation and pond slime, and chill dampness oozes like autumn fog from within, causing you to unconsciously scrape at your arms as if trying to remove some unseen taint from them.
You can vaguely make out an especially concentrated mass of vines along the back (northern) wall, and several low mounds of spongy looking organic filth…which even now are stirring and starting to take on vaguely humanoid form as they gather into 3’ high piles with sickening slopping sounds like a dog licking up vomit.
Your companions have also noticed the three gathering masses of algae like filth, and have drawn their blades.
What are you going to do?
* * *
After a careful examination of the door, you and Calvoreth hack it down, the “thunk thunk” of your blows echoing hollowly beyond.
With the last vines hacked away, you are confronted by a vast cavern, which stretches off beyond the light of the Sunrod. A small shelf of stone leads from the doorway, which sinks into a dark pool of still, icy water. The tiny solar stone flecks are everywhere here, studding the vaults darkness with their light, flickering weirdly where they are reflected (and those beneath it refracted) by the water, which appears to be about 5’ deep initially, save in the middle of the lake, where it gets deeper.
On the far side, where the light is shadowy and objects hard to discern, you can see that there is a stone shore, and that massive toadstools the colour of corpse-flesh, fully 12’ tall, sprout from a thick mantle of what looks like pond slime and black moss.
The chambers ceiling varies in height, but in most places is 15’ above ground level. It is quite cold in here, and there is a strong smell of algae and wet, rotting rock.
I have drawn a MAP for you.
There would seem to be some bubble rising from the bottom of the lake in areas M5, M8, L7, L4, K7 and F8. Your positions are shown on the map by the letters.
What do you do?
* * *
The rock (there are plenty lying around in this cave complex) sails through the air, and lands with a satisfying Splurnk right where you aim.
The effect it has is almost instantaneous…
In each of the areas where bubbles were seen, the fetid forms of the algae monsters you battled in the first cavern rise, half wading, half floating through the water, each emitting a murky, muddy stain as it rises.
“Oh bollocks”, whispers Calvoreth.
* * *
You move forwards eyes scanning the misshapen forms as they stagger and pulse wetly forwards, adopting an easy battle stance, waiting to strike at the first monster to come into reach. Behind you Mendle closes his eyes, muttering to himself as he quietens the voices in his head, and seeks the core of his magic and his power.
And so they approach, moving with speed through the waters. One puts all its efforts into moving, sliding to the groups left flank, whilst several others come straight in – two leaping in to slash at Calvoreth with their dripping slimy appendages, the other frothing up to slash at you.
As soon as the monsters come into range, Calvoreth hacks out with the flat of the blade
Calvoreth hits AC 15 (taking a -4 to use his weapon as a club, and another -4 for +4 Power Attack)
Calvoreth inflicts 13 points of damage, and kills it, the monster exploding in a repulsive burst of stinking slime and mud.
* * *
Okay, you are the only one with a monster in range, and now, having avoided any damage from your blows, it lurches to attack.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Lesser Algoid rolls a natural 20!
Confirmation Roll hits AC 10
The monster's body shudders, and a liquescent tendril burst unexpectedly from within its disgusting form, whipping out with a drowned slurp. So unexpected is the direction of this attack that it almost catches Ipokken in a vulnerable spot. Luckily, you react just in time, though the attack still connects.
The Monster hits you for 6 points of damage (after damage reduction 2/- is removed).
A burst of shooting scarlet and gold light accompanies the blow, and your whole world blurs as the vicious appendage whips you across the face, loosening several teeth and tearing your cheek and lip open. Blood instantly pools and spatters over your chest, mixing with the black and green pond slime the blow left behind.
Aradeus goes next.
The priest, despite still feeling weak from the Twig Blight’s venom, strides forwards, drawing his short sword. He stands next to you, and strikes at the monster before you.
Aradeus (taking the -1 penalty to hit from lowered strength) hits AC 5.
Unfortunately, the monster shifts smoothly, and avoids the blow.
And that’s the first round finished.
* * *
And that's all I had for that battle. It has made me smile how easily we ran a game usind the message boards back then, and I must wonder, how viable such a game would be now on the newer boards? Thoughts, as always would be appreciated.
You may also remember that Ipokken was, when we last left him, in the throes of two powerful personalties - his own, and Moiety, a chaotic, diabolic personality, which was his true persona (he found out that he was a sleeper agent for the Adathrainites). To keep this in 4th Ed, I have created the following rule...
Thursday, 26 May 2011
Arrival +13 days, 4 hours, 40 minutes – Until they met the mountain, none of the group realised what an awesome enemy nature could be by itself. For the last ten days – save two spent hiding from a blizzard in a stinking cave – the group have trudged ever higher and higher up the mountain, moving from the tree line into bare expanses of cliffs and wind polished boulders. There they encountered three massive, two-headed gigorim, who were grazing their curious metal-scaled bull like creature. It was a brutal and bloody meeting, that saw two of the giant's slain, one set to flight, the bull like monster gutted, and Varracuda almost turned to stone by its petrifying breath.
It is from the thigh of one of these gigantic monsters that a legendary blade – the Hemsko Sinne – The Dragon's Anger – is recovered; a beautiful broadsword with a blade of dracananian bone, decorated with linnorm and runes of strength and protection. Wreathed in gold and white flame, it is a storied weapon sacred to the mountain clans. Emmiven claims it, experimentally swinging it, the blade light and oddly balanced after using a hammer so long.
From there they began to head into the high snow fields of the mountain, the air growing colder and thinner with each day. Here the environment truly began to crush them, both physically and mentally, and were it not for Grigori's protective rituals, it is likely that they would have suffered all the more. Nosebleeds, frostbite and insidious depression begin to take their toll as the group stumbled on, increasingly looking like the living dead, through the snowfields. Seren suffered the worst in these frigid realms, her lack of fat and reptilian metabolism offering her little in the way of protection, and there were increasing concerns that she would not make it as far as the entrance to the gorgom altar's hiding place.
The long day once more faded into glowing night, the skies aflame with the aurora's dance, and the ghostly glow of the massive moon. Although the sights were eerily beautiful, the clear skies and darkness only added to the group's woes, for the temperatures plummeted still further. Despairing, the group trudged on, concentrating only on putting one foot ahead of the other, and not slipping – for now only a screaming plummet over the edge of the fields' bordering cliffs awaits those that slip and fail to catch themselves. Seren continued to weaken, her scales growing dull and sliding free. Mord Bit also suffered, the wolf's ribs showing through his dull fur as hunger took its toll. Everyone had lost a huge amount of weight, and all were tormented by ulcers in their mouths, constant piercing headaches, nosebleeds and delerium. For Grigori, there was also the additional annoyance of the vial's voice, which grew stronger as he grew weaker, and eventually, the priest snapped, and to the dull shock of all, began to rant and rave at the vial and at the monster within; mocking its supposed power and daring it to harm him.
Jantherak says nothing more.
As the penultimate day of their journey to the altar site – assuming they had not got lost in the featureless landscapes of endless white and grey – the group make two discoveries. The first is, in the distance, the sighting of a great cloud column, rising from some unseen source. At first the group felt it to be smoke or steam, or even a rogue cloud (for by now they are above the lowest level of clouds). However, Seren recognised it as a cloud of supercooled ice crystals; a Fellfrost Vapour – an unnatural vapour usually only seen in areas where otherworldy energies are at work. Beautiful but deadly. Deciding that this must be something to do with the altar, the group finally took heart, telling themselves that their trials were nearly at an end, and that they had nearly succeeded.
Their joy was short lived however, for soon after, they found the corpse.
It dwarfed even the two-headed brutes they battled on the lower slopes, and was dressed in ornate mail, bear furs and a beautifully crafted spangenhelm. A greataxe, too large to be used by anything smaller than this massive creature, lay strapped across its back, its surface just as ornamented and beautiful as its armour. It lay face down, its flesh waxen and frostbitten, its eyes open, dull and dead. Ulframm told the group that this is a gorgom; one of the monstrous masters that dwell in the great city atop the mountain. One of the monsters said to guard the altar they seek.
Though most were awed or horrified, Jaeger spotted an opportunity in the cadaver, and with his face set into a grim mask of neutrality, began to carve a number of thick swathes of leathery flesh from the corpse. “Insulation”, was all he said when questioned about his actions.
A meat knife the size of a greatsword, with a blade of solid silver, was also recovered from the massive corpse, though with the night growing deeper and colder, the party moved on towards the looming cloud of supernatural ice crystals...
On the last night before they found the entrance to the altar, the group rested in tents insulated with heavy strips of gorgom leather, and for the first time since they could remember they enjoyed something akin to warmth. Grigori expended two precious sacred scrolls, and invigorated the sorceress and the assassin, who had himself began to succumb to the cold, exhaustion and altitude sickness. Alas, for the others, there was only the hope of finding their way home, and resting in a warm, safe place, where food and drink would be available when needed, as a cure for their bone-deep weariness, and all tried not to think too hard about how they would fare when they faced those that guarded the altar.
That night snow fell in a heavy blanket, and the group awoke to find the night air filled with flurries of bitter, gritty snow. Aching, dizzy and sore, they broke camp, and staggered their way towards the ever nearing cloud of shimmering icy mist; a tiny line of insignificant specks, dwarfed by the uncaring majesty of the mountain snowfields and towering glaciers above.
...And now, as the moon begins to sink in the blazing skies, and the anaemic air is so cold that even their breath falls as whispering snow, they pick their way carefully down a path of blue ice, which dips from the shifting auroral light of the snowfields into a place of billowing frost and roaring, algid waters; down towards the hidden place, where their way home lies – a path that only the dead can walk...
Arrival +13 days, 4 hours, 41 minutes – +13 days, 4 hours, 47 minutes – Were it not for Grigori's enchanted lantern, they would have met a horrific end several times already, for the dim radiance of the moon and aurorae cannot penetrate the thick shelf of ice and snow that forms an ice-fanged ceiling above their heads, and the floor they move across is a mix of rock and slick, black ice. To their left, an ice glazed wall of rock. To their right, a drop into unknown depths filled with billowing fellfrost vapours. Ahead, the ever increasing roar of a waterfall – the source of the mists and almost certainly the location of the entrance to the altar's hiding place.
“Remember what I told you,” whispers Seren quietly, her voice reedy and thin, her throat bitterly sore, “Avoid any water you see. It may be liquid, but in these conditions it will be unstable. It could freeze in an instant, and, well.”
She lets the sentence go unfinished, too tired to continue, and aware that her companions are either not listening, or, if they are, are able to work out what the effects of such water would be. The icy air gusts around them, driven into their faces by the force of the nearing waterfall. Thick columns of dark blue ice form warped pillars between the roof and the slippery floor.
“How far to the bottom do you think?” Asks Shnecke, just managing to resist the urge to gob a precious mouthful of spit into the shifting gloom below.
“A long way.” Answers Ulframm wearily, “Let us prey we have no cause to find out.”
A little further on, and the group notice that up ahead the ledge widens a little before ending in a billowing, roaring eruption of shimmering, icy water; a white plume of crashing, boiling liquid, fuming in the cold air as it simultaneously freezes and tumbles from somewhere above.
At first the group think the strange columns of ice that rise like stalagmites ahead are just that; harmless features of the strange, frozen terrain. However, at the same moment that they become aware of a terrible leathery thudding sound – unmistakably the flapping of vast, membranous wings – echoing from beneath the freezing vapours to their right, the columns begin to glow with a frozen light, and move, revealing that they are roughly humanoid things clad in armour forged of ice, and bearing heavy hammers of the same. Two blobs of ice unfurl bat-like wings, and take to the air, revealing themselves to be small, wiry humanoid made from glassy ice; their features sharp and devilish.
“Mephits!” Hisses Grigori when he sees the flying humanoids.
“DRACANI!” Yells Shnecke and Emmiven together as a huge form surges suddenly, the mists flowing from it like water, from the darkness of the deeps, and rushes to attack.
It is clearly young by its species measure, being only 60' from the tip of its ice tipped tail to its blunt, wide-mouthed head. It has dark blue-black scales, and is covered in back-pointing spikes of ice, which are longest along its spine. Its eyes blaze with green radiance, and its wide, black wings drizzle constant streams of icy mist. The air around the monster is in a constant state of agitation, and a low howling like that of a midnight storm, accompanies it, barely perceptible beneath its deafening roars and thudding wing flaps.
It gracelessly wings its way level with the ledge, and lazily sends a claw out towards Ulframm, the barbarian managing to stab the thing with his spear before it slashes into his thick furs, and sends him slamming to the ground.
Emmiven, Varracuda and Shnecke charge the monsters ahead, the ice elementals moving to meet them, whilst the assassin turns his attention to the dracani, and Grigori and Seren wait to see where they can be most useful. One of the mephits fires a shimmering bolt of arcane power at the warlord, denting his armour and sending him reeling, as he slams the hissing and blazing blade of the Anger into the frozen armour of one of the hammer bearers, the flames casting warped shadows across its rimed surface, a burst of steam screaming from the channel it melts. Varracuda unleashes emerald flames, and Shnecke lands a devastating blow against the same foe the warlord struck, sending a spiderweb of cracks through its form.
“Keep it up” Yells Varacuda, unleashing another wave of flame at the enemy, “These things aren't so bad!”
Across the way, and Mord Bit leaps at the Dracani just as the assassin surrounds it with filaments of web like shadow, his killing magic setting a deadly trap for the brute. Seeing his beloved mount throwing itself at the massive reptile Ulframm screams out a warning. But it's too late, and he can only watch as the huge wolf savages a dracani's wing joint, locking his fangs into its meat. With a piercing bellow of anger and pain, the huge monster begins to fall into the darkness, and to his horror, Ulframm watches as it takes the snarling wolf over the edge with it.
Both plummet into the dark mists below, a horrible yelping, bellowing and screaming accompanied by a massive roar of displaced waters, the only sign that both the wolf and the dracani are still alive...
Shuriken of pure ice sudden appear in the warlord's shoulder, their edges piercing his armour and allowing a trickle of his thin blood to ooze down his chestplate. Peering through the billowing clouds of the waterfall, the warriors can just make out another one of the strange armoured ice beings on the far side, its crude hands surrounded by gathering energy that shines with a glistening, faceted light. In answer to this attack, Seren unleashes a sculpted sphere of pure magical force at it, the waterfall parting spectacularly as it passes through. The distant monster dodges this, and continues with its own casting.
Frosty breath – shards of stinging, bitter ice – erupts from the Mephits as they dart back and forth between and above the warriors, and the hammers of the other elementals do their bloody work, leaving substantial dents in armour, frostbitten bruises, and where they draw blood, strangely frozen wounds crowned by crimson spikes of solidified blood. Shnecke, Emmiven and Varracuda continue to batter their foes, and Grigori works desperately to undo the gathering harm the monsters pour into them. The distant elemental caster finishes its spell, and at once, a brief but deadly storm of razor edged ice shards - potent with supernatural cold - tears across the ledge, leaving all but the monsters reeling; raw, frozen cuts criss-crossing their flesh, their armour and robes shredded. With a snarl the sorceress calls upon chaotic energies, and sends them in an invisible web towards the nearest foes. At once, the magic strikes them – not physically, but metaphysically – and their natural immunity to cold is replaced with unnatural vulnerability. Growling through her dizziness, the drakven calls upon more magic and unleashes it once, a wave of exhaustion threatening to overwhelm her as the power leaves her. A snarling sphere of lightning blasts the hammer bearer facing Emmiven to splinters, an arctic wave of preternatural cold erupting from it, limning all close by with frost. Immediately after, her exhaustion lost briefly in a wave of vicious joy at a foe slain, and the exhilaration of shaping magic, she forges a shrieking tempest of thunder and frost, and unleashes it at the foes, wounding the second hammer bearer and sending one of the mephits screaming in pain.
Grigori turns his hand to hampering the enemies also, calling upon his prayers to give his allies unnatural focus, and manipulating the essence of their foes to weaken them. His voice blending with the chanting of the drakven, and Varracuda's martial spells to form a well practised song of death and power; the soundtrack to every battle the group has fought together.
“Mord Bit has fallen!” Screams Ulframm, seemingly oblivious to his allies brutal battles, “He's fallen.”
“Bit busy!” shouts Emmiven tactically pulling away from the brute before him, “But if you help me here, we can end this quickly.”
Realising what he means, the Nordvyrr readies himself, and with the warlord's word charges the remaining hammer bearer, mirroring Emmiven's own charge. Emmiven has brought his trusty hammer to bear as he runs in, and the impact of both the huge barbarian and this send the monster flying.
The air tastes suddenly of metal, and the temperature drops until everyone's lungs ache. One of the mephits gives a snarling grin at this, unaware of the ruin Seren has wrought on his ability to resist what is coming, and even Grigori has to stifle a laugh when it the grin is sliced off its face by the razors of ice that whip through it, biting with enhanced potency thanks to Seren's spell, a moment later.
The mephit explodes.
In the distance, beneath the swirling frost fogs, Mord Bit goes quiet, whilst the Dracani continues to roar and thrash.
“QUIIIICKLY!” Howls Ulframm, his sword powering up into the hammer bearer's stomach.
The remaining monsters this side of the waterfall are soon dispatched, and the assassin and sorceress manage to blast and poison the lurker at the far side. And it is now that Shnecke becomes aware of a strange urge within him, not entirely his own. His loot from the death of Gor'Kuul was a small ring of ivory, carved with symbols associated with flying and birds, and here, on this precipice, with a terrible fall only a slip or slide away, the barbarian becomes suddenly intensely aware of the ring; of its weight on his finger and the power it holds. Curiously, he sends a mental command to the ring, telling it “Let rip”, and at once, a pearly light billows from it, engulfing everyone around him, and bathing all, himself included in a gauzy veil of soft light, which fades after a moment. All eyes turn to the barbarian as he suddenly charges the edge of the cliff.
“Take this Ulframm!” He yells, throwing the Nordvyrr his rope, “Tie it off so I can get back up!”
“What the HELL?” Screams Grigori as Shnecke flings himself off the cliff, axe in hand, insane laughter billowing from him, “Have you gone mad?”
But he hasn't gone mad, for after he plummets only a few feet, the ring begins to shine, and the pearlescent energy envelops him. At once, his dizzying plunge becomes a swift, but safe descent, and soon he is passing through the bitterly cold mists, and drifting closer to the awesome thrashings and bellowing of the dracani below. Shnecke lands in water, and immediately realises his mistake, for just as Seren warned, it immediately seems to boil, bursting up around him, only to freeze solid at once – an algid vice of burning cold. Roaring in anger, the Ulnyrr can see Mord Bit lying terribly still and clutched by the chilling water nearby. The wolf is unconscious, and is barely breathing; its fur wet through and stained with ugly patches of dark red. Beyond the wolf, also trapped in the ice, is the Dracani. It is still very much alive, though it bears countless bleeding wounds from the ice, and several substantial bite marks – clearly the work of the wolf. It turns its head towards Shnecke, and gives a hate filled shriek, the mists blasting out from it. Its massive wings bulge fantastically against the frozen shackles holding it, and with new strength born from its need to kill, the Dracani shatters them.
“NOOOO YOU WHORE-SIRED BASTARD!” Roars Shnecke, writhing with all of his might against the ice, “GET YOUR FUCKING ARSE BACK DOWN HERE!”
Summoning his substantial rage, the Ulnyrr pushes against the ice holding him, his flesh burning in the cold, turning leaden and pale. A powerful surge of icy wind batters him as the dracani's huge wings scoop up air and ponderously lift its bulk upwards, and he can only watch in fury as the beast begins to lift off the ground. Shnecke continues to strain, and is heartened to see the ice starting to crack. A rope from above drops down the face of the cliff near him, and he can hear Ulframm's voice as he starts his climb down.
“QUICKLY! THE DAMNED THING IS TAKING OFF AGAIN! SOMEONE GET DOWN HERE AND STOP IT!”
But it's too late. The dracani is fully airborne, and with an ear-splitting shriek, it begins to climb, disappearing into the mantle of frozen fog above.
“NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOAARRRRGH!” Roars Shnecke, his rage finally winning over the ice, which blasts apart from him (though at once, the waters begin to freeze, threatening to grab him anew). “COME BACK HERE YOU MISBEGOTTEN NEWT! COME HERE AND LET ME TEAR YOUR HEART OUT! COME HERE AND....eh?”
From somewhere above the vast amorphous shadow of the dracani, comes a battle cry; insane with exhilarated madness. There is a terrible snapping sound, as if a vast whip has just been cracked above, a bestial roar, and before the shocked barbarian can even take in what is going on, the Dracani crashes back into the deadly embrace of the waters in a blast of icy mud and agitated supercooled water; its spine almost severed, the warlord pinned to his back, hammer still embedded in its vertebrae. The hungry waters immediately freeze over the stricken beast, though it immediately begins to thrash and writhe, trying to throw off the stubborn mammal on its back, and to escape the deadly clutch of the waters. Emmiven, shaking more than a little after his insane, mid-air dive/charge from the cliff onto the oncoming dracani, prepares to deal a death blow, but stops when Ulframm, his face a mask of stricken rage, drops from the rope, spear in hand and charges it, heedless of the waters that try to grab and freeze him.
“YOU KILLED MY WOLF MONSTER!” He bellows, tears streaming down his blood stained face, “I'LL FUCKING KILL YOU, YOU COLD BLOODED WHORESON!”
He leaps at the monsters head, and thrusts his spear with every ounce of his strength, his hate for the monster and his love for his mount. It enters the dracani's green glowing eye, bursting the luminous orb, before carrying on through the fragile bones at the back of the eye orbit, and on into the dracani's armoured brain; blasting a path of ruin into the creatures innermost being. At once the gigantic monster is slain, crashing to the floor with nary a twitch, the waters erupting to pierce and claw at it.
Leaping onto the monsters body out of the water, Ulframm turns to regards Shnecke, who is wading, staggering, towards them, the ice clawing at his calves and feet, his massive legs bowed under the weight of what he carries. Mord Bit.
“He's alive.” he says, placing the limp form on the slain dracani's flank, his own strength draining with the end of battle, “But barely.”
Ulframm looks towards the heavens, and at once a pale light gathers in the gloom above – Grigori's lamp, and with it, the hope that Mord Bit may yet be saved.
Tuesday, 24 May 2011
You know the community is angry when a special podcast is made to explain why changes have been made to a class.
I admit it, I got the idea from watching films like THIS on YouTube, and was just really happy when I realised that I could stick it in a game sooner rather than later. As you shall (when I get the next write up published), this particular hazard played a major part in the last Post War game - both as an enemy and a potent ally.
As always, click the image to be able to, you know, actually see it :D
Monday, 23 May 2011
Saturday, 21 May 2011
I will be using the rules for charged items (as in old school wands etc). I do miss them in 4e, and like the rules as presented in here!
Friday, 20 May 2011
You may have twigged by now that I really like angels, but don't see them as the lame, happy buggers that many new age idiots do. I like the old school ones with the swords of flame and the wrath of heaven in their wings.
Anyway, this is a quick doodle I did of an angel as I see them - not that this one is dressed for battle...
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
A few of these in your lair could seriously ruin your day if you are a daemon or normal person...
As always, big thanks to DnD4e Combat Manager for letting me create such lovely printouts (and run my game so smoothly when there are a lot of badasses like this on the board)
“Don't pretend you didn't hear me. This stone. Look at it!”
Ormid reaches into the bag and brings forth a glittering diamond, similar, but very different to the one the vyrleen had obtained a few days before; for where it once had a regular faceted shape, now it has grown almost 1/2” longer, and has become elongated and less symmetrical.
“It's a nascent elemental of some kind.” Offers Shadevia in her wintry voice, “An off-cast that soon will develop awareness.”
“What?” Growls Ardwaine, stomping for a better look, “Ye mean to tell me that ye stole a baby?” She thrusts a rigid finger at Llewellyn, her face a mask of anger.
“I. I, didn't”.
“We can still sell it though?”, Interrupts Shadevia, “It clearly still has material value.”
“WHAT?” - Ardwaine and surprisingly, the Veteran both reply.
“It should still have value.” Agrees Ormid.
“Yeah, if you want to become a slaver!” Retorts the Veteran, “If you are happy to use a living thing as currency.”
The artificer looks at the hulking warforged, and back to the diamond in his hand. “It's not aware at the moment. Just a piece of crystal. We can sell it in good conscience I think.”
There is a sudden blur of movement, and the warforged snatches the diamond out of the artificer's hands, and steps away from the group, the dundiir moving to stand in front of him.
“Ye callous bastards,” she growls, “Just 'cos it aint made o' flesh, don't make it any less a living thing then ye are. To an alchemist ye are all nowt but walkin' bag o' chemicals, but I dunna see any of ye willin' to sell yerselves to the potion hawkers fer spare parts.”
Shadevia flows like a shadow around the priestess, to stand next to the Veteran. Her hands float towards his arms, and she grabs him. The warforged turns to look at her, for a moment shocked that she would be brave or demented enough to touch him, before raising his arm back and preparing to throw the crystal.
“No.” the shadeling breathes, trying her best to stop him. However she is unable to resist the living constructs incredible strength, and can only watch as he launches the shard over the rooftops and beyond the gravitational pull of the streets. It sails into the lilac and silver void, gently losing momentum until it comes to hover several hundred feet out in the skies of the Villa; a winking mote of reflected light.
“What did you do that for?” Yells Llewellyn (carefully moving the other stolen gem from his pouch to a hidden pocket, all the while trying to ignore how much it has changed), “Now it will probably only go and die!”
“or it will come into contact with one o' them lumps o' rock floatin' out there, and get a life fer itself.” Adds Ardwaine.
For a moment the tension that has filled the group since they battled Funglop looks as if it may spill over. However, the appearance in the distance of a band of Syndicate soldiers quickly focuses their attention on their current plight, and they snap out of their quiet rage.
17:01 – 18:35 – Moving to the cover of a nearby stall, the group form a plan. Llewellyn will seek out the Bond Eternal and ask for aid against the Chained Syndicate, whilst the rest of the group wait somewhere inconspicuous. Then they will meet up, and with luck, enjoy the protection of the angels until they are due to meet TocToc.
“And if the plan goes as smoothly as that, I will eat my own faecal matter.” quips Llewellyn as he moves to leave.
“Remember vyrleen,” snarls the dundiir, “A low profile.”
Llewellyn makes a rude gesture in reply and is gone a moment later.
Whilst they wait, the group are forced to hide several times as bands of soldiers bearing the chains and sword insignia of the Syndicate move through the streets. Ormid wonders aloud how they know, in all the infinity of the plane, how to find them, whilst the rest of the group simply thank the immortals that they are in a place where for once, they don't stick out.
Llewellyn weaves his way through the crowds of strange and fabulous beings, asking here and there for directions to the a Bond Eternal office. He is forced to jump into a wicker basket filled with oily beans at one point as a devilish humanoid, covered in seething tattoos and openly brandishing a sword of smoky energy, stalks by, the Syndicate's symbol etched on his tabard. Despite this, he arrives at the frankly underwhelming offices a short while after, noticing the sign above its entrance bearing the Bond's sigil; a shimmering shield from which rise graceful, angelic wings.
The door to the offices is shut, and two fabulous beings stand silent guard outside of it. Each is humanoid, and clad in all concealing plate armour of the highest quality and heaviest kind. They shine with polished refulgence; their armour glowing with holy prayers and a soft, silvery mantle of radiant energy, each bearing a curiously broad, flat, double-edged sword which itself shimmers with a golden halo of heavenly power. Feeling suddenly exposed in a way he finds hard to describe, the vyrleen takes a little while to pluck up the courage to approach the beings, and when he does, he adopts the wrong tactics completely.
Gritting his teeth against the disconcerting “I'm horribly naked before the all seeing powers of these guys” feeling, Llewellyn strides confidently towards the door, as if he is meant to be here and is simply going to walk in. He nearly makes it too, the door's spiked surface within reach, when suddenly he finds the swords crossed before him, the metal sparking and snarling where it meets.
“STATE THY BUSINESS WITH THE BOND ETERNAL MORTAL KIN!”
They have the voices of wind chimes, driven by the tempests of heaven's wrath; beautiful beyond description and yet as terrible as anything the vyrleen has ever heard. Never before has death been so sweetly masked, or, he realises, potentially so close.
Stepping away from the swords, Llewellyn summons his bravado and silently puts on the mask of the con-artist; the mask he wears so well.
“Gentle...men. I have business with the Bond, and would seek permission to pass by your formidable blades and into the offices there beyond!”
He smiles up at the angelic guardians, trying not to feel too intimidated by the unchanging visages of their cherubic face plates – or the pure, silvery glow welling from beyond their eyeslits.
“DO YOU HAVE AN APPOINTMENT, CHILD OF THE EARTH?”
“Well no. But how am I to get one if you won't let me in.”
“YOU NEED TO VISIT THE CENTRAL OFFICES AT THE HUB MORTAL. THERE YOU CAN SPEAK TO ONE OF OUR OFFICERS AND STATE YOUR BUSINESS. THIS PLACE HAS NOTHING FOR YOU.”
He takes another, involuntary step back. “Th-thank you. I-I'll do that.”
The swords return to the “guard” position so swiftly that they seem to teleport there.
“See you soon!”
He backs away from the guardians and is almost trodden on by a massive humanoid apparently composed mostly of stone, metal ores and jutting wands of glowing crystal. Leaping out of the way, he quickly gets his bearings, and blends in with the crowds, moving back towards the inn where the group wait.
However, he suddenly finds himself in trouble as the devilish humanoid he saw earlier rounds a corner, accompanied by two gorgoth similar to those that guarded the entrance to the Submissive Succubus. For a heart-stopping moment the daemon kin looks straight at him, his molten eyes oozing bloody radiance, before they pass by him and continue to scan the crowds. Seeing his opportunity, Llewellyn quickly darts forwards...
...Just as the daemon realises what he saw and looks back towards where he was stood...
The daemon – a half-breed known by many as a cambion – growls in anger as he sees the spot empty, and drawing his sword, orders his companions to sweep the crowd. With a grunt the gorgoth go to work, tipping over baskets and barrels, and shoving people out of the way, but they are unable to find the vyrleen anywhere.
“Ee's not 'ere yer worship.” growls one.
“Ee's bloody well vanished is wot ee's dun.” Adds the second.
For a moment the cambion feels a wave of rage sweep over him. Then, realising that the diminutive humanoid cannot have got far, he simply nods sharply, and with a sweep of his fuming blade, bids the gorgoth follow him, and stalks further along the street...
...Revealing the curled vyrleen that was hidden beneath his tabard, between his booted feet - though not seeing him, so fixed is he on the surrounding area...
“Too close.” whispers Llewellyn with a shuddering breath as the killers sweep away from him, “Too damn close by far.”
19:00 – 19:05 – The group have reunited, and are wending their way through the crowded streets, back towards the hub. Ormid has once again been forced to gently impose his will on the surrounding area in order to bat aside another wide scan from a scryer, and the group have managed to avoid several small groups of Syndicate soldiers, including a group lead by the same strange human the vyrleen met by the notice boards the day before. However, eventually their luck runs out (helped in part by several members of the groups eagerness to punish the Syndicate for their continued harassment), and inevitably, the group find themselves in combat again...
...And it is no push over this time...
The group find themselves facing an eclectic bunch, including the human planar mercenary and his Dismordiir (Derro) sidekick. Two humanoid dracani, who each wield deadly spells of lightning and thunder, and two of the shadowy gorgoth complete the band, and they work together superbly.
Within the first few seconds of the battle, most of the group bear grievous wounds; electrical burns from the stormcaster's lightning, and deep wounds from the war cleavers of the gorgoth. Paths of access are reduced by the Iron Defender's oily breath, and Llewellyn scores some heavy early blows on the human, but for a while it is looking increasingly grim – especially when one of the gorgoth redirects a deadly blow from the Veteran, and sends it chopping into Ardwaine's neck, opening a spurting geyser of crimson there.
However, slowly and painfully, the group pull back from the brink and begin to wear their foes down. First to fall is one of the gorgoth. He is dismembered by the warforged after slipping in the caustic oil and failing to stand back up. Next to go is the second Gorgoth; trapped by the warforged's mark, and unable to land a hard enough blow to take him down (though by this point the Veteran is leaking oils and vital fluids through a mass of burns, cuts and contusions, his automatic repair systems purring with activity as they seek to repair his damage).
Suddenly finding itself too close to the warrior, one of the drakven like humanoids is the next to fall, its body slopping messily into two piles, the air sizzling with suddenly undirected arcane energies as it dies. Silvery magic envelops the seriously wounded warforged as he activates his healing cloak, and a burst of aeolian ferocity engulfs ferrous; shielding him in buffeting winds and ripping the helm from the human mercenaries head, finally drawing the blood that the vyrleen's repeated (and to the human, infuriating) attacks had failed to draw.
The human is by this point almost insane with rage, and whilst his companion busies himself stabbing at Ferrous, he launches a bewildering array of attacks - some drawing on daemonic magics, others using techniques known by angels and their allies – at the group.Llewellyn continues to strike at him, denting his armour and drawing more and more blood, whilst Shadevia and Ormid blast him with their unique spells and primal energies. He launches into the middle of the group, his axe laying about him in a blur of bloody ruin, and all but Shadevia find themselves seriously wounded by his attacks. Ormid, gore welling in thick torrents, finds himself fending off a blur of blows, and Ardwaine, only just recovered (thanks to her own spells, sheer stubbornness and Ormid's restorative potions), finds herself gasping for air after receiving a cleaving blow to the head, that shears through her skull and leaves her stumbling and bleeding.
“Is it funny now you little bastard?” Screams the human at Llewellyn, his rage at the vyrleen's earlier attacks – which involved a lot of darting in, hitting, and leaping back to safety (usually with some quip about the mercenary being “too slow” or “too stupid” to hit back) – the only thing stopping his increasingly grievous wounds from killing him. “Are you laughing? Are you? ARE YO......”
An arrow, crawling with swarming spirit insects and thrumming with primal power suddenly blossoms in his throat, bursting in a puff of crimson from the back of his neck. His eyes go wide, and his mouth gapes as the seeker's arrow ends his life, his blood drenched axe clanging to the floor, his massive bulk dropping to his knees. He tries to say something, but there is no breath left in him, and his final act is to slump forwards, his face smashing into the flagstones as his lifeblood pools around him.
And that's it.
With his ally slain, the dismordiir turns to run – as does the last of the spellcasters (who upon seeing its partner cut to pieces has already backed off in preparation of flight).
However, neither get very far, for suddenly the air seems to take on an energized, silvery hue, and a beam of blinding white light, six paces across and reaching it seems into the eternity of the sky, manifests in the middle of the street. A luminous, armoured figure, mantled in blinding armour like glass reflecting summer lightning, and bearing a greatsword of pure golden flame, appears floating from high within it, its form shedding motes of electrum light like fireflies. At sight of this angelic apparition the entire party are stricken with the simultaneous urge to run in terror and to fall to their knees and give praise, their minds overwhelmed by its terrible beauty and the wordless song of ineffable rage and painful love that comes from it.
The Chained Syndicate soldiers have no doubts as to what they wish to do however, and turn to run. Neither make it more than a couple of steps before pure beams of chiming light, straight as an arrow and too brilliant to look at, leap from the fabulous figure and strike them, immediately turning each to sparkling dust in a soundless explosion of radiant energy.
As the figure nears the ground, so the group can make out its features; noble, androgynous and terrible. There is an inhuman beauty there that speaks of impossible cruelty and impossible goodness, and several members of the group find themselves thinking of the Lir' and Synd'Aelwyn. A halo of almost colourless flames burns around the angel's curly haired head, and its eyes – slits of golden light from which beam shafts of auric effulgence – seem to take in everything around it, as well as the group.
After a moment the giant being floats just above the party, the air around it warmed by a gentle heat like early summer sun, its wings gently fanning it past them. It looks at them, and then in its searing, awesome, beautiful voice, it asks them, “You were looking for us? We of the Bond Eternal? I understand we share a common enemy. I believe we need to talk.”
There is a rushing sensation, and the group are suddenly surrounded in a waxing glow like smeared sunlight, which is quickly too bright to be tolerated. They are vaguely aware that they are screaming, but over the glorious harmonies of the angel's voice resonating through the brilliance, they cannot hear themselves...