Using My Monsters

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Session Report - Shnecke's Wolves - February 11th, 2013

The group arrive in Auran'Dyre after a relatively uneventful five days, despite the Sundering manifesting several times during the journey. At one point a vast dark mass, shapeless and alien, slides beneath the vessel, its black fluid form studded by huge luminous green eyes. The crew are convinced it is an old sea God, whilst others are sure it is a herald of the end. Thatari believes it to be some kind of archomental, a being of such vast idiot power that it would be unaware of the ship and its crew; insects beneath its notice.
At another point, the group suddenly realise that they are no longer sail any ocean found in their world, the waters swirling with enticing reflections that seem to sing to the crew, inviting them to drown themselves in its beautiful waves...

9/8/1472 11:00: A huge cloud lowers above a barely visible strip of land in the far distance; anvil headed and black. The crew gather on the upper decks to look towards the distant island – the infamous Carrion Port – the air filled with excited chatter. However, as the SC draws closer to the island, everyone begins to realise that something is somehow off with the legendary port, though none can say what exactly. As they near, they can see huge clouds of what appear to be seabirds flocking around the main harbour, landing in waves, only to burst into the air again, disturbed it seems by something below.

15:40: The port now looms ahead; an ugly collection of stone buildings, roofed with shale and black tile, seeming to grow from the bare stone of the island itself. Its jetties extend out into the sea, the waters choppy with the stormwinds that blow steadily from the oddly positioned cloud that seems to grow, like a vast, vaporous mushroom, from the heart of the city (a trick of the lighting surely?). As the SC comes within a half-hour's reach of the port, two ships – low things with armoured hulls, each bearing a great cannon like device on their front, attached to what appear to be vast, armoured tanks by coiled pipes, cut towards them, with flags of parley riding high.

“What do we do captain?” Asks the slave manning the helm.

Shnecke frowns, whilst Caleph and Jaeger look meaningfully at the helmsman.

“Well...” Begins the Ulnyrr, reaching for his terrible axe.

“We allow parley.” Interrupts the assassin smoothly, catching Shnecke with a warning glare.

“Indeed!” Blusters the barbarian, somewhat annoyed.

16:05: The nearest of the ships (who's weapons it is realised are alchemical fire projectors, each capable of dousing a ship in sticky, water resistant flame in a heartbeat), the Inferno Child, slows and moves alongside the SC. Several crew members on it wave, calling out for Santhiel, and everyone realises that they don't know that the SC is no longer the Ravager and is no longer captained by Santhiel and his crew.

“We need to play this cool.” Growls Jaeger, looking over towards Shnecke.

16:06 – 16:11: An initially rather awkward parley occurs, with the assassin working to keep the Dohr'Khustan's manning the Inferno Child from guessing the fate of the former Ravagers' crew. However, the crew soon work out what has happened, and seem to accept Santhiel's death as “De way tings be out 'ere.” The group are told to consider turning away from Auran'Dyre, as it is “cursed”. It seems that when the Sundering hit, a vast whirlpool appeared in the middle of the city, destroying several blocks. Worse, the whirlpool seems to be some kind of portal, that from time to time fills the streets and the air above them with fog. This fog, they learn, allows a host of deep sea creatures and monsters to enter this plane, and to swim through it – flying and breathing on land as if swimming below the waves.

16:30: Undeterred, the group continue to sail towards the legendary port, and soon, they are berthed.

16:40 – 23:00: The first thing that greets the group as they arrive at Auran'Dyre is the slightly surreal sight of a number of angry natives trying to move the relatively fresh carcass of a huge white shark from the streets where it has apparently crash landed. Another massive fish hangs half out of a shattered roof nearby, again, apparently dropped from a great height. Hundreds of other fish lie in pieces all over the streets; splattered in the gutters, hanging from the edges of roofs, and rotting in doorways in gory drifts. The air above the city is filled with screeching and screaming clouds of sea birds, driven to frenzy by the stink of so much fish flesh, their razor beaks snapping at those trying to clean up the streets. 

The group are initially vexed, but quickly realise that these creatures must have been supported by the strange mist that emerges from the portal when it opens, suddenly finding themselves falling to their deaths when the mists retreated.

The first task for the group is finding someone that can restore Grigori and Varracuda to their normal, non-stoned state. Caleph is left in charge of the SC, a guard placed on the petrified remains of the two, whilst the group go into the pirate city to seek help. It becomes immediately apparent that the once bustling freeport is almost a ghost town; those able to, seeking more stable ports far away from the chaos that regularly envelops this place, and the group worry they will not find anyone able to help them. As it happens, they need not have worried, for they come across no less than three individuals who claim to be able to assist them. Out of the three, one is clearly the best to deal with; the High Priest of Swaervar'Tritul, Rodag Keth'Tritul – a thin-faced man, with a curled goatee and sharp, grey eyes.He oversees the House of Warding Waves; a spectacular temple carved from grey marble, sea pearls, coral and aquamarine, and is only too happy to meet with the group.

He explains that the portal opens at random times, each time unleashing waves of horrors from an alien world. He has been given the sacred task of closing the portal, but so far, has been unable to, his two most potent priests being lost to the invaders spears and magic during the last invasion.

"They come through in force, and capture any they find. Those that oppose them are slain without mercy." 

"What are 'they'?" Asks Lia, her face grim. 

"Sea Devils. Sahuagin. Nasty bastards that pollute the sacred depths with their heretical evil".

The priest snarls, his eyes dark. 

"They must be stopped. By Tritul's beard, they must. Be. Stopped." 

Rodag believes that the group's arrival is the work of his God, and that they are therefore unable to fail. The group are less certain of this, but are happy to help (Closing the portal seems a small task compared to those put forth by the other two; the destruction of a temple raised to Xzillx'Qua or, even worse, the recovery of the briny fluids in which an Elder Brain floats). Rodag gives them several scrolls, which contain a ritual that will allow the party to breath and move normally in the deepest of waters, and tells them to be alert, for the portal can open at any time.

That same night Rodag boards the SC, and works the ritual needed to restore the petrified pair to flesh. He appears to struggle a little, the magics summoned somewhat unfocused in this region so badly torn by the Sundering, but in both cases he is successful. 

Varracuda and Grigori are returned to life.

To ensure that the party do not flee now they have what they want, Rodag then, with the group's prior permission, works a powerful spell upon them, a Geas. The Geas ensures that if the group do not keep up their part of the bargain, “Your guts will be consumed by fish, and your blood will turn to saltwater”. 

The group can feel the potent divine magic upon them, and realise that Rodag isn't kidding. 

31/8/1472, 03:10: The portal opens...

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Auran'Dyre - The Carrion Port

Almost 500-years-ago, a small island, only 3-miles across was discovered in the middle of the Central Meridian Straits. A bare blister of rock, home to seals, sharks and seabirds, it had gone unexplored and unnoticed for long and long. However, at almost the same time, pirates of several different clans happened to land there, each quickly discovering that the unremarkable appearing island held an incredible secret – Residuum. Vast veins of the stuff had, somehow, come to form beneath the surface, meaning that the island was one of the most valuable pieces of real estate on Arbel'Verdaniss.

The wars that raged for control of the island – which involved at its height no less than twelve different clans of pirates – went on for some 22 years, with six of the clans getting wiped out. By this time, the remaining clans had suffered hugely, and they realised that unless they capitulated, they too would be eradicated. Thus an agreement was reached; a freeport would be built on the island, with 1/6th of it being allocated to each of the remaining clans. The port would be considered neutral ground, and within the six enclaves, the clans could mine for residuum and draw what power and profit they could from the island.

The city (named Auran'Dyre, which means “Golden Dream” in Pirate's Cant, though it is usually known as the “Carrion Port” – both in reference to the blood spilled during the clan wars, and as a device to keep the curious away) grew quite quickly, the pirates working hard to stake their claims. Over the years there have been disputes as the mines have gone deeper, and the boundaries less easy to define, and the peace between the six clans is uneasy at best. However, Auran'Dyre has become one of the most widely used freeports in in the equatorial straits, and is a frequent hangout for adventurer's , pirates and mercenaries.

THE SIX CLANS

The six clans based on the island each have their own enclave. They are;

The Dohr'Khustans (infamous pirates of the Meridian Straits and equatorial oceans. Their standard is a tri-horned triangular shield)

The Vaedecci Concern (ancient merchant lords, forced to a life of piracy after their homeland was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in the late 2nd Age. Their standard is sword of gold plunged into a volcano surrounded by golden coins)

The Merdianese Pirates (Loose alliance of independent pirates, who joined together for protection and to coordinate hunting areas in the sea. They fly under the Skull and Crossed Bones or Crossed swords)

The Tattered Brotherhood (The smallest of the clans, this ancient order was founded in the 2nd Age, and consists entirely of men and women afflicted with that most loathsome of diseases, Leprosy. Their standard depicts a hand – half intact, half rotten).

The Shai'Gau (Former pirates of the Kai'Yassanian inner sea, that moved to the wilds of the wider world in the early 3rd Age to seek greater prizes. Their standard depicts three triangular coins in a triangle, surrounded by two jade green serpentine dragons. In the middle of the standard, is the Kai'Yassanian pictogram for “Fortune taken through strength”).

The Red House (Ulnyrr raiders feared throughout the great seas of Arbel'Verdaniss. Their standard depicts a blood red fortress upon an island of skulls)

RECENT HISTORY

When The Sundering hit, the central part of the island disappeared into a ¼ mile diameter whirlpool. This event devoured almost all the Shai'Gau's territory, including their pagoda, and stores. To make matters worse, the whirlpool, at random times, becomes a portal to another dimension. When it opens, it fills the city with a strange mist, which seems to act for aquatic creatures as water (this in effect allows them to swim through the air wherever the mist is thick, and to breathe on land). Deep Devils (Sahuagin), sharks and other hostile aquatic minions enter the city during these times, and wreak havoc, the former stealing away those unfortunate enough to be captured. Attempts to close the portal have so far failed, though the House of Warding Waves (a temple dedicated to Swaervar'Tritul), lead by its high priest Rodag Keth'Tritul, still seeks to find some way to do so.

This catastrophe has seen the fortunes of the port fade, as seafarers seek safer harbours, and take their wealth and cargo with them. The residuum mines have also suffered in this event, their reaches becoming dimensionally unstable, leading to the formation of “Shift Mines”; physical mines that draw and accumulate planar detritus from a random range of other dimensions – some useful, some useless, some alive and all of it often dangerous.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Ormid et Al - Session Report; 5th February, 2013

16/5/51 – 07:00 – 19/5/51 – 06:00

After spending some time simply gathering their wits, and allowing their relief to flow through them, the group set about resting. The air in the chamber grows murky with dust as the collapses continue, the dull rumble of falling masonry echoing in the vast chambers vaults. A fitful, haunted sleep takes them, and when they awaken they do so to bitter cold, the portal having allowed the thin, high-altitude air from the other side into the chamber, covering everything near it in a thin veneer of ice.

Time has allowed their bruises and wounds to fully emerge, and everyone looks absolutely battered. They feel worse; their bodies aching, their throats sore and their heads pounding. There is some distress also as each finds a spidery patch of shadow under their skin, that subtly shifts like some swaying sea creature – some kind of taint left over from their exposure to the darkness that filled this place – though Ormid senses power within them that could possibly be tapped if needed.

A sparse breakfast is taken, the food gritty with the airborne dust, and plans are drawn up. For comfort, the portal is deactivated, the darkness of the place rolling in instantly – though it is, at least, a natural darkness, and not the haunted, oily dark that Maelphazan and his ilk sowed here.

The first thing the group do is look for a way out. Four tunnels lead from this area – the southern being the one they emerged from. A quick look at the Northern tunnel shows it to be hopelessly collapsed; tons of rock having dropped down once the supporting shadows were banished. Even the Veteran is loathe to consider trying to tunnel through the mess, the memories of the souther tunnel's collapse still clear in his mind.

The eastern tunnel however shows promise, for at its end rise a flight of crumbling stone stairs, which seem to breathe the faintest of bone dry breezes. However, between the group and the stairs coil botryoidal masses of some strange, utterly black crystal, which glints in a way unlike anything the group have seen before – for instead of reflecting light, it seems to reflect darkness, sending tiny motes of utter blackness dancing through the air. They hang as lumpy stalactites, writhe like fungus across the corridors walls and ceiling, and lie in tangled root-like masses across the floor. Ormid senses potent coils of shadow energy within them, and realises that they are unrefined masses of Tenebrium; an incredibly rare mineral formed from crystallised darkness, which, if properly refined, can be used to augment the abilities of weapons, implements and armours – though he has no idea how to do this.

He explains to the group that this stuff is highly unstable, especially outside of its normal nocturnal environs, and tells the about its properties. It is quickly decided that such a resource cannot be ignored, and so, a plan is hatched.

Shortly afterwards, and the group are in Lorehaven, in Ormid's humble dwelling (not his Meister's tower), the fire blazing brightly, the day dawning cold and bright outside. Hoping to have arrived unseen, the group are a little perturbed when there comes a furtive knocking at the front door only ten minutes later, Llewellyn recognising the cadence of one of the Procurer's secret knocks.

The source of the knocking is a harassed looking young human that Llewellyn identifies as Aedred Vallesk – a lieutenant in the Procurer's Guild. On seeing the vyrleen, he immediately begins to speak in a rush, his face pale, his hands wringing...

Where the hell have you been? Word's got out that you are gone, and every major guild in the Thirteen Cities has made it their business to try and make a move on us! I mean...”

He stops, his concerns suddenly quenched as he takes in the potent beings around him – and the group suddenly realise the increasing gap between them and normal folk, for they are hugely changed by their adventures, and now radiate a quiet aura of presence and power that to normal folks is deeply unnerving. Ormid also realises that they are, somehow bigger, even the vyrleen, who has probably put on about a foot in height over the course of his adventures. He suddenly feels a little sorry for the mortal rogue before them.

You've got some balls young man, coming here talking to me like that.” Snarls Llewellyn, his eyes narrowing, “But,” he continues, suddenly beaming, “That's not entirely a bad thing. Shows, you know, err, balls! Continue!”

He does, telling the group that the Procurer's Guild's bloody war of unification had been noted by several major guilds in the nearest 13 cities, the most powerful being the “Grey Men” of Latram, the “Silent Hands” of nascent Tull'Norak, and the “Tanners and Knife Sharpener's Guild” of Alaz'Cellinthar. The Procurer's have found a number of spies amongst them recently from these organisations, and the general rumbles on the underground grapevine are that one or several of these potent guilds may make a move to take over their operation.

This raises the question of why, and with some reluctance, Aedred reveals that a number of high-ranking captains in the Procurer's guild have been openly daring the other guilds to attack, confident their with their leader and his “City Killer” allies, any attack would be thwarted. This has cowed some of the less powerful guilds, but riled those with their own deadly leaders, and as such, things are looking grim for the newly expanded Lorehaven cabal.

Llewellyn puffs up his chest, and begins to talk in what he hopes is an authoritative voice, turning to his allies, and asking grandly, “What are we to do brothers?”

The Veteran suggests a calm approach; canvassing the leaders of the other guilds, and putting them at ease. He argues that they do not have time to get involved in a pointless war of expansion, and encourages Llewellyn and Aedred to consider the wider implications for them, and the people of Lorehaven, if such a struggle erupted. However, Llewellyn decides on a less subtle approach, and instructs Aedred to send word to the guild that any spies from other guilds are to be skinned, and returned to their bases with a simple message - “Leave us alone, or share their fate.”

The Veteran slaps his hand over his face in consternation, whilst Llewellyn beams at his bloody plan.

Aedred raises the issue of what to do in an emergency, and Ormid agrees to create a pair of enchanted items that will enable the Procurer's to contact the group. However, he quickly realises that without the necessary schematics to construct such an item, he is unable to do so.

Ah well, I need to access the Great Library anyway if I am going to find some way of refining Tenebrium, so I may be able to find something there”.

Over the next couple of days, the group take care of their separate issues. Llewellyn spends time at his school, looking at the recruits to the guild, and keeping an eye open for anyone amongst his own supposed allies that could be double agents working for one of the enemy guilds. The Veteran, accompanied by Ferrous, spends time in the Map House of the Great Library, his demands sending terrified scholars running to and fro searching for the charts he requests.

His work is geared towards studying the region around his fortress, for he plans, sooner or later, to fully rebuild it. He also reads up about the Vulgol'Gigorim of the region, more than a little aware that Skrung, the “King of the East Mountains” has sworn to take back his fortress for his own people, and to punish those that cast his kin from their homes.

If he could smile, he would, the thought of the battles to come warming him within.

Ormid spends an entire day, his head pounding, searching through musty tomes and dense librams of planar lore, searching for information on Tenebrium and its refinement. He finds scant reference in most works, though one Second Age wizard named Malabaster, spends several hundred pages discussing his theories on its formation, the long term effects of exposure to its energies, and the dangers natural growths present (it is highly unstable, and capable of unleashing a toxic blast of shadow energy if disturbed).

Frustrated, the artificer almost gives up his search, until he notices something odd about the way the lettering is arranged on the pages of the ancient book. Looking around to make sure no one is watching, he begins to sketch, using a piece of charcoal, lines under certain sigils, and to his delight, realises that ancient Malabaster has used a complex code to hide some kind of magical formulae through his apparently mundane writings.

Energised, he sets about turning his mind to deciphering the coded lines, and although it takes him many hours to do so, his back aching from leaning over the book for so long, his head pounding from staring and lack of water, he manages to extrapolate the entire ritual needed to refine Tenebrium into a stable, slotable state – though it is expensive to do.

Weary but pleased, he makes his way back home, where he finds his companions already settled in for the night.

The next day Ormid wakes early and leaves for the Great Library. There he gains permission to access the magical formulae and schematics needed to create a pair of linked items, that will allow communication between the Procurers and the group. This takes him most of the day, though the end results are well worth it; a ring for the guild, and a component that the artificer attaches to his oversized battlefist.

Early the next morning (the 18th), the group return to the sullen silence and choking darkness of the dead school. Carefully approaching the Tenebrium, Ormid and Llewellyn work together to carefully free several chunks of the nasty, unstable stuff. They do with this surprising ease, the rogues fingers numb from prolonged contact with the strange mineral. With the stone freed, Ormid makes a clear area a little way up the tunnel, away from the rest of the deposits, and soon begins the five hour long ritual that will stabilize and refine the chunks.

During this time the rest of the group stand silent guard, watching as Ormid mumbles and sways, inscribing runes in spirals around the chunks, and sprinkling glittering drifts of residuum over them. The air flickers and warps at times as he draws on the ambient magics of the area to augment his castings, and each adventurer feels the movement of Tssel nearby, drawn it seems to watch her former allies in their work.

Suddenly, as the artificer gasps the final phrases of the spell, the two chunks shift as if tapped by an unseen hand, and their surfaces become vaguely shiny, like haematite viewed through ink, a deep purple nimbus seeming to ooze from them like oil and light. A warped POP of energy briefly sounds from above them, and lathed in sweat, trembling with joy, Ormid informs his allies that the pieces are ready for slotting!

With this done, there is one more thing to be taken care of. Returning to Lorehaven, Ormid works to add a slot to Llewellyn's armour, and the Veteran's deadly axe, into which he inserts the newly refined Tenebrium. At once, the warforged's axe changes, the normally brilliant flames turning a deep indigo and purple, whilst Llewellyn's armour darkens and shifts, a strange play of constantly changing shadows now visible within its material.

This work takes most of the remainder of the day, during which the warforged, vyrleen and homunculus amuse themselves as best they can. However, when presented with their newly augmented items everyone agrees that the day has been far from wasted.

That night the group enjoy a meal in the comfort of Ormid's town house, and luxuriate in the simple joy of its bed and sofa, knowing only too well that they will all too soon be once more thrust into the depths of peril – for they still have a Dracane to find and slay...

19/5/51: 08:25 – The stairs lie at the end of the Tenebrium choked corridor, tantalisingly close, but so far away.

We could try carefully picking our way towards them.” Ventures Llewellyn, dutifully ignoring the incredulous glare of the artificer and metallic snort of the warforged.

Or,” replies Ormid, “we could take advantage of the shadow marks we gained after our exposure here.”

Everyone looks at him, reluctant to tap into the darkness that now nestles within each of them – a power that last night Ormid discovered allows them to briefly become a thing of living shadow; insubstantial, dark and able to pass unheard through solid objects. However, the artificer merely shrugs, the reality of the situation clear for all to see – it's that or trying to get through the field of Tenebrium without Vetters setting the lot off...

08:26 – 08:27: Each adventurer spends a moment allowing the cold point of their shadow mark to expand, shrouding them entirely in its gloomy embrace. Each feels a strange sensation of being plunged into cold darkness as their bodies become air-real; floating things of darkness, less solid than a whisper.

Trying not to think too much about the oddness of it all, each wills themselves towards the solid stone walls of the tunnel, through its surface, and into it. This is deeply unusual for them, for they are vaguely aware of the solid, dusty stone sliding bluntly through them as the move. However, they waste no time thinking about this, and instead push blindly ahead, for none wish to find out what happens if they become solid once more whilst within the stone's embrace. After an eternity of sliding forwards (hampered somewhat by strands of Tenebrium that have grown within the stone, which remain somehow solid to the insubstantial, phasing adventurers) they emerge from the walls by the stairs, safely beyond the destructive grasp of the shadow stone.

Well...” Gasps Llewellyn as he stumbles from the wall, “That was...weird.”

08:28 – 09:40: The group can see that a pile of rubble blocks the stairs – a cruel joke given that they can also see faint lines of light creeping around the chunks of rock.

I could burrow through it?” Suggest the Veteran.

Nah.” Mumbles Ormid thoughtfully, “Too much risk of a collapse, that could set off the Tenebrium below. We're just going to have to clear the way manually.”

The group set about carefully removing the rocks that crowd above them, each one allowing a little more distant, hard light into the stairwell. This is accompanied by a growing breeze, already oven hot and dry, which carries on it the dead scent of baking sand, salt and heat hazes. After over an hour of delicate manipulation, the collapse has been removed, and the group finally enter the dead city of Tammatuli.

09:41 – 09:54: The group find themselves within the shattered shell of a once spectacular domed building, its floor a sea of wind driven sand, punctuated by massive chunks of dusty, eroded masonry. Outside, the city spreads away in glorious decay; shimmering like a phantasm in the heat haze, its ancient splendour almost swallowed by white dunes and thorny scrub. The horizon ahead is dominated by a huge domed building, at least a mile across, that is sinking into itself; its entire structure tilted to the side, the upper tiers even more so, where they slowly tumble into the belly of the lower levels. Mirages pool around it, and the group realise that if the Blue Lord's lair lies anywhere, it is within its impressive edifice.

The rest of the city is equally dilapidated, home to hyenas, cacti and reptiles. It is clear to see where huge sections of it fell into the ravines during the age of loss, creating great spaces in the sinking, sandy skyline.

I reckon it'll take us an hour or so to reach that place.” Sniffs Llewellyn.

Or I could just conjure some mounts, and we could be there is a fraction of the time.” Replies Ormid, already drawing forth the components needed to enact the ritual.

09:55 – 10:10: The group are a blur in the crushing heat as they flash through the sand choked streets of dead Tammatuli. At one point they startle a number of diseased looking Gnarrak, who are busily consuming one of their own kind, the hyena headed humanoids howling and snapping in fury at the interruption. However, they are gone long before the monsters can attack, sweeping ever closer to the gigantic ruin before them, the darkness between its hundreds of crumbling columns beckoning them like a siren's call.

10:11 – 10:17: The group dismount outside of the nearest entrance to the huge building, the low song of wind and ruins moaning from its black innards. Small ghosts of dust rise and fall in grey clouds within the ruin, and the place emanates a sense of utter emptiness and...

Was that movement?

Llewellyn's sensitive ears pick something up, and Ormid also gets the impression of stealthy movement somewhere ahead and to the side, just where the darkness stains the daylight.

Again, a stealthy adjustment...

Ormid opens his senses, and is puzzled by the strange lack of magical energies ahead. At the same time Llewellyn tries an old trick he learned as an apprentice thief, looking out the corner of his eye whilst telling himself there is nothing to see. He is probably more surprised than anyone else when this works, the illusion covering the way ahead fading to reveal no less than six warriors – one of whom makes direct eye contact with the rogue and seems shocked to see recognition in his eyes.

ANGEL!” Yells Llewellyn, his mace seeming to appear by magic in his hands.

What? Where?” Blusters Ormid.

The Vacancy spell collapses, and suddenly all can see the warriors before them, their leader a being of perfect beauty, mantled in powerful armour inscribed with prayers of light, his skin pale silver.

An Aenochian!” Breathes Ormid.

The half-blood speaks, his voice like thunder tempered by steel. “You seek to slay Exaxedreithion? I cannot, and will not allow it, for the Dracane is the lock that holds at bay a greater evil!”

The group look at each other, rather surprised at the statement.

We are the Sealed Rune. Turn around, or perish.”

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Ring of Shooting Stars - Level 18 Rare

I'm in the process of converting H2 - The Mines of Bloodstone to 4e. The reasons for this shall be revealed soon, no doubt, but for now know this; it's got to be awesome. So, whilst converting one encounter, I noticed an old magic item that I was unsure as to whether it got a 4e conversion. As I am no longer a subscriber to DDI, I couldn't look it up, and a quick glance through the books didn't reveal its presence. Therefore, I decided to create my own 4e version of the classic Ring of Shooting Stars - a potent (and rare) ring that allows its wearer to manifest a variety of utility and offensive powers. I hope this brings back some nice memories for you!


Please note that the original Ring of Shooting Stars is from 1st Edition AD&D (or at least, the version I based this on)

Monday, 4 February 2013

Session Report - Shnecke's Wolves - January 28th, 2013

3/8/1472: 22:05 – 22:20: The group are helped to get on board the SC by ropes thrown over the sides by their crew, and as they approach, it is clear that some kind of terrible battle is raging on its decks. With the hot rain lashing down at them, and the night skies still boiling with writhing dimensional tension, that leap like streaks of pale orange lightning, the party haul themselves onto the main deck, where they behold carnage.

At least ten men lie slain, their bodies showing the work of blades and magic. Another three men stand utterly still, their flesh having been turned to solid stone through some dire magic, and pretty quickly, the group can see the source of this horror. Up on the aft castle stands the swordmage they know as Silas; an arrogant bore who would often try and chat up Lia in the taproom of the Fighter's Gift. A Vaedeccian, he has an olive complexion, and long, black hair. Handsome, a sneer is on his face as his sword unleashes a burst of killing lightning towards several sailors, dropping them and cooking them in an instant, he spies the group and laughs boisterously.

“Weela, look'a who it'a is'a!”

Helping Silas are five pirates, who gleefully put to the sword anyone that gets too close, whilst the whole lot of them fight around the greatest horror on deck – Silas' pet basilisk, “Stone Eye”. A truly repugnant beast, the six-legged lizard resembles a great armoured crocodile with chameleon like eyes, its huge mouth already red with blood. It waddles across the deck, its petrifying glare forcing the few men trying to fight the doughty squad to flee with their eyes closed – all the easier for Silas and his men to murder.

There is no sign of Skull, and the group realise that he has either been dispatched or is elsewhere. Within moments of them arriving on deck Silas has spotted them, and the pirates under his command quickly run to intercept the group. Three of these men die before they even get chance to raise their blades; peppered with venom shrouded quarrels from the assassin's crossbow. The others however leap in, their swords opening fearsome wounds in those they strike.

The group are absolutely exhausted, having had no time to rest since they emerged from the basement, and things get no better for them, for within moments, Silas is unleashing an apocalypse, the air seething with his swordmagic. Lia realises that this battle is going to be hard won (if won at all) and calls upon her most potent psychic defence, the aft' castle becoming shrouded in a veil of her minds' energy. She then leaps to attack one of the pirates, though she is quickly bound by shackles of dehydrating quasi-elemental salt, conjured by the swordmage, which burn her skin and drain her strength with every passing second.

Thatari and Jaeger hang back on the main deck, keeping as much distance between them and the battle as possible. Varracuda is with them at first, but soon leaps into the fray, his own blade snarling as he calls upon what spells he has remaining. However, he makes the mistake of getting too close to Stone Eye, and suddenly feels a horrible leaden chill infuse his whole body. His limbs grow stiff and heavy, and he feels a choking constriction around his neck and chest. With horror, he realises his normally pale skin, which is covered in swirling elemental sigils of brilliant hue, is turning more and more ashen...more like...

And suddenly Varracuda knows nothing more, his body turned to lifeless stone.

Grigori sees this, and as he charges the basilisk, Balskuss' chainsword screaming in his grasp, yells out that he can easily reverse the petrification once the battle is over. Bellowing incoherently next to him, Shnecke is already hacking at the massive reptile, his jagged axe chipping away at its emerald scales, soliciting furious hisses and vicious return bites from its deadly jaws, and with the petrification of Varracuda, everyone suddenly starts to pay more attention to the reptile than the swordmage.

Jaeger teleports to the aft' castle, and slashes at the beast. However, as he arrives, the air buckles around him, the skin of reality rebelling against his arcane mode of movement. A flickering, fiery portal, about the size of a wardrobe, suddenly appears next to him, emitting a high pitched whine that sends shivers down the spines of all who hear it. Cartwheeling away, the assassin vows to lay off the teleportive magics for now, at least, until they are not in an area so recently fractured by plane-warping magics.

Silas is peppered by fire thrown by the warlock, a series of thorned, flaming runes sticking to his flesh and burning inwards. He roars in rage, and unleashes a blast of scouring ice across the deck, smashing into the adventurers, burning and numbing their flesh, whilst Stone Eye unleashes a horrific belch of burning, green gas, which irritates eyes and throats and causes horrible chemical damage to everyone within its reach. Silas is knocked to the floor as a poison used by the assassin on one of his quarrels takes effect, the swordmage's legs going numb. He hits hard, and sends more lightning arcing across the deck.

Grigori is next to feel the petrifying glare of the basilisk, his flesh hardening and freezing in stone as he rips the chainblade free of the monster's meaty hide again.

“NOOOOARRRRGH!” Howls Shnecke, his own weapon finally tearing through the heavy scales that cover the beast, liberating smoking droplets of oily black gore...droplets that begin to fume and fill the air around it with choking, burning poison. “YOU ARE GOING TO DIE NOW!!”

Lia has managed to break free of the caustic shackles that held her, and is using her potent powers to heal those around her. Shaking the sweat and blood from his eyes, Silas mutters a word of power, and leaps into the air – high into the air, flying over the battle, and dropping several sizzling bombs of elemental energy down to the deck, blasting Lia and Shnecke to the floor. Landing near the nascent portal, he leaps back as the raging barbarian surges up and swipes the basilisk, trying to force it into the gate. The massive reptile is caught by surprise and is rolled violently into its maw. The air briefly convulses around the portal's quivering edges, and for a second all hope it has been whisked away to some extraplanar hell. Alas, it reappears, no worse for wear moments later, the twinkling mote apparently linked to nothing!

The fight ends abruptly shortly afterwards.

The basilisk is finally chopped down, the air seething with the deadly fumes pouring from its oxidising gore, and at sight of this, Silas suddenly raises his hands, and with a scream begs for parlay.

“I'a know where dere is'a a great'a trea'sure! Spare'a me, and'a I'll...”

He never finishes his sentence, for the assassin suddenly appears by him, places the tip of a loaded crossbow bolt into the swordmage's ear, and pulls the trigger, dropping him instantly. Silas slumps, his legs kicking brokenly as his bladder and bowels empty out with surprising force.

A single one of the pirates that first helped Silas remains, and at sight of his former boss' death, he throws down his sword, and begins to beg for his life. His words are lost in a rush of gore however, as Shnecke almost cuts him in two with a nonchalant swing of his axe, his blood mingling with the piss pooling darkly around Silas' still form...

4/8/1472 – 01:00: The SC sails away from the flaming ruins of Dhenz'Vhashal, headed southeast, towards the distant pirate city of Auran'Dyre; the infamous “Carrion Port”. The hope is that amongst its scheming pirate enclaves and intrigue laden streets, they will be able to find someone to return their allies to life – and maybe, identify what the strange blade segment they recovered from Silas is; a section of broad black metal, that becomes transparent towards the edges, and is carved with sweeping purple runes.

Also recovered from the slain swordmage is a large, sweating green crystal, that Thatari identifies as containing the essence of a Shator Demodand, and a potent scimitar who's blade is perpetually wreathed in arcing bolts of agitated lightning.