Using My Monsters

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Adventure Report - Ormid et al - The Blue Lords Lair (Part 1)

(Note: Normally I will sumarise an entire adventure in each report. However, to show you how the new format will look, here is the last game in a few paragraphs...)

(Covering Events from 18:30 19/5/51 to 19:45 19/5/51)

During their extended rest, Ormid and the group speak to the aenochian about what lies below. They are told that the Dracane lairs deep beneath their feet, coming and going by unknown means. There is another entrance however, which is used by its servants, the Nahokir'Gigorim (Sand Giants), and it is this entrance that the group can most easily access.

The Sealed Rune warriors have only seen the outermost chamber, which they inform the group is usually watched over by one or more of the gigorim. They report that a single, stone door leads from that chamber deeper into the ruins, and that this door is flanked by two strange, mirrored crystals, that float above the ground. They suggest that the group pretend to be members of the Sealed Rune, as the gigorim know that the warriors of that order, for their own reasons, seek to protect their Lord, and as such, will not expect attack.

On waking, the group are shown the long flight of stairs that leads to the outer chamber. At the bottom they encounter a Nahokir'Gigorim Elementalist, who quickly realises (thanks to the rogues comments about wanting payment – something the Sealed Rune never ask for) that they are not who they claim to be, and attacks. The Elementalist summons a Type II Daemon (Hezrou), and raises the alarm.

The crystals are somehow linked to the Dracane's own chambers, and allow it to spit its lightning breath into the chamber.

The group defeat the monsters, though this proves difficult. They interrogate the gigorim, and after it tells them a little of what lies ahead, and after it opens the door before them, they let it limp away.

A short rest, and they move into the next room. Llewellyn disables some Fire Glyphs that ward the corridor ahead, and the group enter a collapsed chamber, held up by eight brightly coloured pillars, each of which bears repeating symbol designs. At least two other pillars lie pulverised in the rubble at the back.

Ormid works out that the pillar symbols mean (From the entrance to the back); Fire, Acid, Cold and Poison. There appears to be no magic or mechanism attached to any pillar. A check is made to see if anyone can decipher any relationship between the elements described, which is failed (and players also come up with nothing).

A permanent illusion covers a collapsed tunnel at the back (discovered by Llewellyn), making it appear to be part of the rubble. The group enter this, annoyed that they have wasted time on the apparently purely decorative pillars.

A narrow but high tunnel that slopes ahead for about 50'. At its end a stone door blocks egress, carved with a leering draconic head. A magic mouth roars something at them in a language none speak, and the rogue triggers a powerful trap on the door by answering it back without any idea what it has asked. He then, with Ormid's help, disables the trap and opens the door.

Beyond is a wide and high chamber, who's floor is made up to tessellating tiles, each bearing either one of the sigils from the pillars in the previous room, or an unknown sigil. The group take a lot of time (and get Ormid's Onyx Dog killed) working out how to progress. They identify that many of the sigils are meaningless, though one refers to Electricity. Ormid then realises that the symbols refer to the breath weapon types of chromatic dracani, and they decide to try and move across the floor, treading on the sigils in the order they were carved on the pillars above. They are unsure as to whether they should tread on the lightning sigil, or ignore it. They decide to risk it – though Veteran goes through on his own as the toughest member of the party – and tread on the lighting glyph.



They are successful in bypassing the chamber, and as the warforged treads on the lightning symbol, so the walls ahead fold out, revealing a chamber beyond, within which something made entirely of leaping lightning and whirling plasma rages – some kind of construct made from the Dracane's own breath weapon...

Times Are A Changin'

So, as well as a new job, getting married next year, and moving house, I am going to be getting me a newborn in the autumn. This of course means that I am going to have even less free time than I already do...which means I need to cut back on a few things.

Now then, obviously, I'm not stopping gaming - I need my D&D to keep me out of Xix' realm. However, I am going to be stopping the regular game updates here, or at least, in the format they currently are. I do intend to continue to put more and more new 4e crunchy material up here, as this is not a problem time wise (I make it up for my campaigns).
However, starting with the next Ormid et al update, I am going to be doing entire adventure summaries - that is, as each adventure concludes, I am going to be giving a brief overview of what happens, what monsters and traps were overcome, what NPC's they met etc etc, without going into the normal "story" level of description.

It sucks, but it also makes sense. It also means I can give you stats for all those yummy things I just listed as part of the write ups.

I suspect most readers are here for the crunch rather than the fluff, so this shouldn't bother too many. To the rest of you....the little ones will grow up in a few....ummm..years so, you know, just hold fast!

Anyway, I have a new house rule I am going to test out to tell you about soon, so go away and let me type!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Some New (Old) Conditions

Although I love the simplicity inherent in 4th Edition, as you are by now realising, I also miss a lot of the complexity of 3.0 / 3.5. Lately, I have been sneakily introducing some old school conditions into my games, as part of the ongoing move towards more challenging but fair 4th edition.

So, for your pleasure, here are some conditions that I have or will be using. Those with an asterisk (*) are from the D20 SRD.

Confused*: You are filled with clashing thoughts and chaotic ideas, and as such, are prone to unpredictable behaviour. At the start of each of your turns roll 1d100. Consult the following table. These are your actions in that round;

01-10: Attempt to attack the one who inflicted the confused condition on you.
11-20: Act normally
21-50: Scream, gibber or otherwise do nothing helpful (you grant combat advantage)
51-70: Use every means to flee the source of the confusion.
71-00: Attack the nearest creature, regardless of whether they are an enemy or ally

Exhausted*: You are Slowed and suffer a -3 penalty to your Fortitude, and all Strength and Constitution based attack rolls, ability and skill checks. Your healing surge total and current amount drops by 3. You remain Exhausted until the end of your next short rest, after which you become Fatigued instead.

Fatigued*: You cannot Run or Charge, and suffer a -1 penalty to your Fortitude, and all Strength and Constitution based attack rolls, ability and skill checks. Your healing surge total and current amount drops by 1. You remain Fatigued until the end of your next extended rest. If you are exposed to another effect that would fatigue you, you become Exhausted instead.

Harried: You are totally surrounded by enemies (every adjacent square to you is occupied). As a result, you suffer a -2 penalty to your attack rolls, as well as granting combat advantage to those that flank you.

Nauseated*: You are retching and vomiting, and as well as granting combat advantage, can only take a single move action on your turn.

Shaken*: You are disturbed by something frightening, and suffer a -2 penalty to your Will defence, attack rolls, skill and ability checks and to saving throws.

Sickened*: You are repulsed and made nauseous by something, and suffer a -2 penalty to your Fortitude defence, attack rolls, skill and ability checks and to saving throws.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Ormid et al - Several Sessions

10:18 – 10:30: “Step aside angel.” Growls the Veteran, adopting a hostile stance, the air shimmering in the heat “That monster has terrorised Kadash for long enough. It dies today.”

The four warriors accompanying the aenochian – three dressed in heavy mail, bearing broadswords inscribed with holy prayers, the last wearing long dark robes, which also bear faintly shining heavenly runes – prepare to attack. The aenochian regards the warforged with luminous, silver eyes, his perfect, sharp features set in a scowl. A quiet aura of power emanates from him, and Ormid can taste the energies gathering about him as he readies himself for battle.

No golem,” He spits, “it will not, for should the dracane be killed, you will awaken a calamity that will have all in the cities praying for the Blue Lord's return. You seek to defeat evil, but will instead become instruments of its rise.”

In the distance, from the ruins behind them, the mournful howls of gnarrak begin to fill the air, a cloud of dust smudging the air above their glowing mass.

Hold Veteran, Llewellyn.” Says Ormid with a gesture of his huge artifice arm, “What do you mean we would become instruments of evil's rise? How can the death of an evil dracane ever be seen as an aid to the powers of darkness?”

The half-blood's eyes remain locked with the warforged's, but he replies, his voice lethally calm.

The Sealed Rune are an ancient order charged with ensuring that the vilest of liches, daemons and other elder evils remain trapped in their prisons, and all across this plane we watch, ready to strike at those who would help them return.”
Enough fool!” Snaps the Veteran, “Tell us what you meant, or prepare to be cut down.”

Yeah!” Adds Llewellyn, spinning his mace in lazy circles, each swing raising a low moan.

The warriors seem about ready to strike, but the aenochian raises his hands to hold them back.

A lich was slain here in ancient times, and before his phylactery could be recovered and destroyed, it was stolen away by his followers and placed within a vault the undead horror had built in preparation for his demise. Shielded from scrying sorceries and designed to help bring about the undead's return, it took us time to locate it.
However, locate it we did, and quickly we realised that it was designed to act as a beacon to Dracane.”

Why,” Wonders the artificer aloud “would it want to do that?”

Relaxing only slightly, the aenochian continues. “We believe that the trigger for this Lich's return is the death of a Dracane within the halls he built.”

Ormid frowns, “But that makes no sense. Liches normally just possess the nearest available corpse and mould it into their own form. Why all this elaborate and prone to interruption additional work? Why would they specify such particular circumstances?”

Our order believes that the Lich seeks some kind of apotheosis, and the life force of an old dracane seems to be the trigger to awaken whatever dire machinery would allow this. This is why these ruins call out to them, and drive those that comel to madness.”

Nodding, the rogue fills in the gaps.

So, the dracani are summoned here, driven crazy, and then start to attack everyone. Sooner or later, someone gets annoyed, comes here, kills the things and...”

...And the Lich becomes a demi-god.” Finishes the aenochian.

In theory.” Growls Veteran.

The atmosphere, which was starting to relax becomes tense once more.

You would bring about an apocalypse by slaying this wyrm. You would remove one evil, only to place something a thousand times worse in its place. We, and the rest of our order cannot and shall not allow this. Turn around, we have no desire to slay you, but slay you we sha...”

Hang on, hang on!” Shouts Ormid suddenly, an idea forming. “What if we were to incapacitate and bind the Blue Lord, instead of kill him? Would the Lich's plan still work?”
More howling in the ruins, and a low rumble that thrums through the heat haze, shaking the sand around the group, making it hiss softly. Above the ruins, the cloud of dust billows and grows.

My Lord.” Snarls one of the watchers, pointing at the cloud, “It seems these outlanders have stirred up the Taint Claws.”

The aenochian, who has until this point been so sure of himself however seems suddenly unsure. He raises a hand to his companion to silence them, and speaks to himself, seeming to chew the words as if trying their taste.

Binding the dracane? Keeping it alive and in residence? That...that....could possibly work.”

You see!” Laughs Ormid, “We can still go on, help Kadash and keep the Lich, err, a-sleep?”

It could work.” Agrees the aenochian smiling, “However, how do I know you and yours have the skill to merely incapacitate Exaxedreithion?”

Suddenly, from the ruined cities lower wards appears the source of all the noise and dust; almost fifty Gnarrak, charging towards them, hell bent on ripping them to pieces. They are a monstrous collection of mangy, filthy beasts; humanoid, but possessing the heads, fur and claws of rabid hyena's. Some run on two legs like humans, whilst other are bent forwards, running, it seems on all fours. They snarl and snap, drool swinging in filthy ropes from their frothing jaws, their desire to kill plain to see. Despite their apparent savagery, they all wear armour – mostly dusty mail, or cracked leather. They also all bear weapons; heavy bladed khopesh, deadly bows of polished bone and sinew, and heavy flails of ancient bronze and steel – though nature has given them lethal weapons of their own; vicious yellow teeth and hooked claws. They gibber and howl as they charge, and deep within the clouds of dust, three other somethings lumber brokenly behind, emitting their own warped barks and howls – things that dwarf even the largest of the gnarrak.

Fight with us angel, and see how we handle ourselves.” Yells the Veteran, turning to face the unruly ranks of horrors that charge towards them, the first of many filthy arrows of bone and sinew thudding into the sand besides him. “If you survive, you may find that your opinion of us has changed...”

Indeed.” Comes the reply, a wry smile appearing on the aenochian's pale face, “My name is Ie'Ierremmon, let us see what you and yours are made of...”

10:31 – 10:50: Within moments the group are engulfed in a storm of ripping, screaming horror. Enemies almost without number charge them, seeming to appear like phantoms from the choking clouds of dust. The initial formation the party form with their new allies holds for mere seconds, quickly folding under the sheer weight of numbers. Ormid manages to slow the main force down significantly by summoning a thrashing zone of ripping cables, but soon enemies are skirting around the group's flanks and attacking from behind.

Arrows rain almost constantly on the group, inflicting terrible wounds, and only the frothing healing elixirs of the artificer and Ie'Ierremon's healing prayers stop the party from falling – and then, only just. The battle rages for almost five minutes, though to the group it feels like an eternity, and on more than one occasion it seems that all is lost. However, somehow, they turn the tide of vicious monsters back, almost thirty of the things lying dead and broken in the scorching sands, abandoned by their yowling, retreating brethren at the battle's end. No one, not even the aenochian has escaped unhurt. All bear terrible wounds, have several arrows sticking out from them, and have rips and dents in their armour. All bleed and sweat and (apart from the Veteran and Ferrous) pant in the dry, blazing heat.

But they live, and their enemies are – incredibly – vanquished.

10:50 – 18:00: The group withdraw from the agonising heat and brightness of the morning into the drafty embrace of the slumping palace's halls. There they tend to their wounds (and Ormid amongst others struggles with the infections left by the filthy gnarrak's cursed bites and weapons), sleep, eat and wait for the day to end.

During this time, they talk about how they can subdue, rather than kill Exaxedreithion, and it is agreed that the Sealed Rune warriors will wait here whilst the group go about their business – fresh and ready to attack should they fail to contain the dracane, or worse, kill it.

18:30: Somewhat rested, though aching from their battle earlier, the group wearily gather. Taking the lead, one of the warriors shows them to a long flight of steps, which drop away sharply into dusty blackness.

Down there you will find the entrance to the dracane's lair. It is the way its servants use, and will be guarded by them. Take care, and good luck. Also, please, do not change your mind. Potent though you may be, you would not last long against the thing that stirs beneath the Blue Lord's lair. Neither, for that matter, would we. Goods speed.”

Monday, 15 April 2013

Session Report - Shnecke's Wolves - April 10th, 2013


(19/6/2389) 11:00 - 11:10: The universe spins around them, their bodies racked by agonising pain, confusion and nausea. The stink of roasted flesh mingles with the stench of cooked stone, burning wood and roasted blood. Above, the skies are turbulent with lightning and boiling clouds, a hot wind gusting around them, whipping ash and dust into their faces with biting, stinging force. Grigori is the first to stir, his mind reeling, barely able to process anything after the dizzying journey he has just endured.

Vague flashes of recall dart through his mind – the blinding relucence of the shift mines, the prismatic ropers, the barbarian lying on the ground, his entrails steaming in the crystal light of that place....the bags of holding....the sudden light and darkness and...

The barbarian!

Grigori opens his eyes, and sees that he and the rest of the group are prostrate in the bottom of a crater of blasted earth, almost 15' deep and twice as wide. The sides of pit are smoldering soil, stone and freshly blasted pine wood, the stink of the resin overpowering as it cooks in the heat. Beyond the top edge the priest can see clouds of smoke being ripped from trees that blaze, swaying in the winds that tear through the area, adding their smoke and cinders to the painful airborne detritus.

Grigori looks around and spots Shnecke lying on his back, his necrotic entrails pulsing weakly in the air, dirt and ash settling on them. He scrambles over to him, and whispers a word of power, the air shimmering as he draws on the local magics to heal the Ulnyrr. As he completes his spell a weird sensation thrills through him, for although the magics he calls upon work perfectly well, they feel – different – somehow; subtly altered, like wine that has had water added to it. Shnecke arches his back in agony as the priest moves around the others, quickly healing them with words of power, his anger surging through him as he recalls his fall at the tentacles of the roper.

“Bastard thing!” He roars, swaying to his feet, “I'll...errr...where...”

A spear sails from beyond the horizon of the crater's lip, missing him. The rest of the group, still badly wounded (and the assassin and warlock still unable to see past the floating clouds of glowing light that cloud their vision) turn to regard the spear dumbly, only now hearing the croaking voices that cautiously growl and yammer at each other, dimly audible over the roar of the flames and the wind.

“Gorgryn!” Hisses Varracuda, shaking his head as he comes round, a fine platina of sparks flickering and dancing along the edge of his sword.

“Dead gorgryn.” Corrects Shnecke, spotting the first of them coming close to the edge of the crater, “Very, very, dead gorgryn.”

There are about fifteen of them in all; wretched, long-limbed greenskins, filthy and emaciated. They have cruel faces with hooked noses, wide mouths filled with sharp, rotten teeth, and red-glowing eyes that scowl from beneath beetling brows. They wear badly tanned fox and badger hides, and wield crude weapons – spears and axes made from flint or salvaged steel, or, in the case of several (that also wear the polished skulls of giant rats), made from the carved bones of slain humanoids.

The Gorgryn charge with jubilant, idiot howls of savage glee – though their enthusiasm quickly evaporates when Shnecke chops one in two with a single swipe of his brutal axe. They are weak opponents, and even with their eyes out of action, the assassin and warlock have no problems landing blows. Soon half the number lie dead, and the others slink away, screaming with fear, running to the east...

11:11 - 13:15: With the gorgryn slain, the party discuss what to do next. Several options are bandied around – though they are distracted by the savage horns, thumping drums and then terrible, bestial roars (which Jaeger fearfully states sound like the calls of the Dracane) that begin to sound from the east. The first order of the day is to get Jaeger and Thatari able to see once more, and whilst the rest of the group keep watch at the top of the crater (an ancient forest of Densewood and Red-Leaved Candle Trees – species that Varracuda realises have been extinct in their time for thousands of years, harvested to oblivion during the epic conflicts of the hoary Guild Wars – stretches away beyond the zone of devastation to the east, whilst to the west, a wall of snow-capped mountains majestically marches from the south to the north, a week or so's walk away), Grigori begins a potent ritual intended to cure them of their ills.

An hour passes, during which the drumming and roaring to the east reaches a crescendo, twisted columns of smoke clawing into the turbulent skies from the same area, and Grigori completes his ritual, a flash of energy enveloping the warlock in a healing mantle of power. The assassin's restoration however does not go as smoothly, and a pulse of wild magic surges through the priest, ripping into him, opening deep wounds across his body – though his sight is fully restored. He arcs his back and yells, the pain almost too much. However, he stops as he hears, from the southwest, a heavy, rhythmic thumping – mechanical and ponderous, which he knows he recognises.

“Warforged titan!” He hisses, rolling over, “RUN!”

13:16 - 14:30: The group run. Now their attention has been brought to it, they can hear the rumble and thump of the massive war machine that slowly makes its way towards them, and remembering the ones they saw near Peregrine, they realise that they have no desire to meet it. As they run, entering the strange forest that cannot exist, they argue about where to go. In the end it is decided to head northward, away from both the titan and the roaring.

The forests are ancient and tangled, the trees reluctant to allow the invading adventurers through their domain, and the group worry that the unseen machine will catch up to them. Whilst the group run on, the assassin teleports to the top of a tree, and looks back the way they have come. There, in the distance, he sees an immaculate warforged titan, gleaming in the late afternoon sunlight. It looks brand new, its chrome armour mirror polished, its surface covered in elaborate glowing sigils and markings – nothing like the ancient, battle-scarred thing they saw in the past. It is a true monster; hunch backed and seemingly top heavy, it has a huge sword on one arm, and a strange tube, connected to an armoured tank on the thing's back by ribbed, reinforced pipes on the other. Its eyes shine with white light, and on its back rides a warforged dressed in pristine turquoise robes, edged in gold. Jaeger notes that like the titan, this warforged appears brand new; pristine and free from scars or dents.

Fear rises in the assassin's heart as he realises that for whatever reasons, his group are being hunted by the deadly construct and its ally. As he watches, more warforged, all newly made it seems, emerge from the forest to sweep the crater, and the titan raises the tube, and hoses an area with coiling alchemical flame, ghostly clouds of smoke smudging the air above.

When he reports back to the group, confusion reigns, as they begin to realise that their latest dimensional shift has moved them through time as well as space. Thought none want to admit it, the evidence is stacking up – species of trees that went extinct during the ancient Guild Wars, machines that are brand new, that would have only been so during the ancient Guild Wars, the strangely different and yet same feel of the magical energies. With both fear and wonder, they conclude that they are now in the storied time of the great Guilds – and pray that the wars that will throw this plane into turmoil for countless centuries have not yet started...

Deeper and deeper into the forest run the group, their adrenaline giving them the strength to go on. However, as time passes, Thatari, Shnecke and Jaeger all begin to flag, and after a solid hour, the group are forced to stop, each retching as their bodies, pushed now beyond their limits, begin to shut down. Their flight has taken them far into the ancient forest, and the only sound now (other than the harsh breaths of the gasping swordmage and warlock), is the creaking of the tangled trunks, the susurrus of the winds through the upper canopy and the quiet throb of insects swarming unseen in the green gloom.

“W-w-we lost them...” Gasps Varracuda.

“Thank...the.....ancients.” Wheezes the Ulnyrr.

“What now?”

“We make camp.” Snarls Grigori, his eyes alight in the shadows.

15:00 - 17:30: The priest moves around the area, chanting and casting small handfuls of glittering residuum into the air, weaving a protective circle around the camp, whilst Jaeger instructs the rest of the group in constructing a hidden shelter. Varracuda heads into the forest, and comes back with some edible roots, mushrooms and grasses. With the protective circle (backed up by invisible magical eyes that can see in the dark, and warn Grigori of any approaching enemies) cast, the shelter built and dinner cooking, the group gratefully settle down for a rest...

21:20 - 21:30: ...However, only a few hours later, before anyone has truly rested, the Eyes of Alarm send an urgent psychic message to the priest, and he spends a moment concentrating, allowing their vision to fill his mind...

Six warforged, all newly made, moving with caution through the growing darkness, limned in power as they activate either protective spells woven into their armour plating, or the offensive magics of their integrated weapons.

At almost the same time, the group feel a sudden pressure from the south, and a horrifying stench, like open graves gusts across the camp, sending flickering waves of light through the protective circle. As the group turn to see what has caused it, so they see a black portal, ragged and oily, yawning within the darkness of the forest. From it stride five terrible beings, magnificent in their evil. Their leader is a slender undead humanoid mantled in black luminance, whose fine bones and willowy body suggest aelwyn lineage. Clad in hugely ornate plate armour that has been fitted to his form, his armour appears to be blackened as if it has been in a terrible fire. It wields a greatsword that seems almost too large for it, the vile weapon's bloody blade carved with disturbing sigils that speak of a dark hunger and diabolical powers. It wears no helm, and has pale, waxen features, not unlike those of the two undead in the party. It would be handsome if it had eyes instead of empty pits of blackness, within which float tiny points of orange light, and if it had gums to hide the roots of its dry, rotted teeth. As it emerges, so a bone chilling wave of fear emanates from it, though it seems more amused than hostile; stiffly bowing at the waist as it views the party, a sickening smile on its ghastly features.

Accompanying the horror are five skeletal warriors. Each is dressed in dense plate armour, and though they wear great helms, the group can see their fleshless skulls through the visor slits. Each, like their master, bears a greatsword, each one's blade inscribed with prayers of eternal slavery to evil, their crosspieces crafted to resemble a skeletal phoenix.

“You have ignored my master's summons.” States the knight, his voice oddly deep, as if coming from far beneath the ground, “Surely you have heard him?”

Grigori and Shnecke are briefly taken aback, for indeed, since arriving, both have been vaguely aware of a whispering voice in the back of their minds; familiar and inviting, urging them to seek the brotherhood of some place far to the west....a voice that they both recognise as being identical to that coming from the Phial of Jantherak.

They are about to respond when brilliant, bloodless light stabs across their camp from the northwest, outlining everything in its harsh glow. A metallic voice sounds loudly from beyond it, the speaker hidden behind its brilliance.

“FOUL CHILDREN OF THE SHADE BINDER, PREPARE TO DIE!”

The armoured horror gives another horrible grin, and bows once more. Then, as lightning, glowing lines of acid, and fire begin to surge around the dome of Grigori's protective circle, he strides to meet the warforged...

The warforged are outmatched plan and simple, and whilst one of the skeletal warriors is taken down, all of the living constructs are annihilated. The waxen nightmare (which Jaeger fearfully refers to as a Death Knight) demonstrates a mastery of both martial skills (his horrible sword sows ruin wherever he swings it, seeming to drink the watery haemolymph of the 'forged as it sprays gustily from their severed limbs and opened throats), and arcane magics (he strikes foes dead with words of profane power, unleashes withering blasts of unholy fire with a gesture, and divides the forces with walls of night-black ice which chill those that come too close), and within a minute it is over. Barely wounded, the death knight turns to regard the group once more. He is no longer smiling.

“You have a choice. Come and embrace the might and majesty of the Western Guild, or be destroyed. You have seen what we can do, and must realise that there is only once choice.”

Grigori looks at the glittering edge of his circle, and seeing this, the death knight raises his blade, speaks a word of magic, and shatters it, the air briefly alive with arcing and bounding energies.

“Your decision?”

The group never get chance to reply, for they are suddenly limned in silvery energy, and feel themselves being inexorably drawn to some other place. Rage fills the death knight's face as he too realises what is happening, and backs away, shrinking from who or whatever is taking the group.

“What....now?” Wonders Shnecke out loud, his tired mind finally giving in...

The forest, the undead and the ruined remains of the warforged are suddenly gone, and the group are somewhere completely different...




Thursday, 4 April 2013

FIGHT NIGHT!!!

For a bit of fun, I'm thinking about pitting some of the classic bad guys from my games against each other, and posting either a video of the battle as it's rolled, or a recording. Do you think this would be fun to listen to, or just a big old pile of rubbish? Lemme' know!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Session Report - Shnecke's Wolves - March 26th, 2013

12/8/1472: 06:30: Thick fogs thread the streets of the Carrion Port as the group make their way to the Meridianese mines. As they near their destination, so Varracuda, Jaeger and Thatari feel a strange pressure in their heads; a painful sensation of shifting and disorientation, which grows stronger the nearer they get.

06:50 – 07:15: The group are escorted to the heavily fortified mine head, where they are met by numerous filth caked miners returning from a shift below. Looking closely, Girigori notes that they all seem to bear some kind of irritation to their filthy skin, and that they have thick bands of cloth woven around their faces, all but a few protecting their eyes with goggles. He also notes that the minor scratches that are so many have from their work, have become inflamed and sore, possibly from the dust that fills them.

The unpleasant sensations that the assassin and arcane casters have been experiencing have become almost unbearable by this point, and they realise that it has something to do with the damage to the local dimensional fabric, and the warping “pressures” of the various realities passing by. Grimly, they realise that they will have to put up with them for now.

No one checks who they are, for all recognise the “Butcher Wolf” and his companions. A diverse group, the miners vary massively in their reactions to their passing; some glare threateningly, whilst others fearfully look away, hoping that they have not drawn any unwelcome attention to themselves.

The group enter the cages, and are soon rumbling into the depths.

07:16 – 07:40: On arriving at the bottom of the shaft, the group find themselves in a low, wide chamber, alive with activity; miners rest briefly between half shifts, or wash in magical showers. Everything is dimly lit by a number of dust covered Everlasting Torches, the edges of the chamber alive with shadows. However, it is immediately clear to the group that a fine dust, the colour of blood, coats everything. Thirteen corridors lead from the chamber, and the group (knowing that they need to seek out shaft V), head towards the fifth.

The tunnel extends away for about thirty feet or so, before suddenly changing in composition and nature completely. Whereas the mine shafts and chamber above are hewn from the dark stone of the island, it suddenly becomes paler, and riddled with thick, root like tubes of stone. These tubes sprawl through the walls, and across the corridor; tangling through each other, forming a thick knots of stony ropes. At regular intervals along the lengths of these growths, their surface splits, allowing large, blobs of red crystal to protrude, like sap oozing from a torn tree root. This, the group realise, is the source of the red dust that coats everything down here, and gives the air a strange taste, not unlike the smell of celery.

This tunnel winds crazily into the depths, ending high up the wall of a vast cavern that echoes with the sounds of picks striking stone, and the rumbling, stony cadence of dundiir singing. Picking their way downwards, the party spend a moment at the threshold of the place, taking in the strange sight before them.

A huge space yawns before them, dimly lit by a multitude of torches, sunrods and dusty glowing orbs. The lower part of the cavern has been cleared of the stony roots, whilst the upper vaults are festooned with them, the red blobs of crystal winking like baleful eyes in the gloom. A red mist of suspended dust colours everything with a bloody hue, and those in the group that breathe can feel their lungs becoming caked with the fine stuff. Suddenly, the heavy wrappings worn by the miners make perfect sense.

About fifty miners work around the cavern, hacking away at the parts of the roots currently trapped within the cavern's walls. Others work above, chipping away at the roots that dominate the ceiling, freeing the red ore from their cores. A number of tunnels lead from this place, none of which are labelled.

“Let's ask the dundiir how to get to the lower levels”, whispers Grigori, pointing towards a team of eight dundorin – the source of the singing that echoes powerfully within the cavern's heart.

The group pick their way towards the squat miners, who labour stripped to the waist, their barrel like bodies smeared in a thick layer of dust and sweat, and are soon standing by them. One of the dundiir is not involved in the mining, and appears to be leading the chanting. He is a silver-haired warrior, who's body bears old scars, and swirling, grey tattoos, and despite the parties insistent calls to him, he ignores them, continuing to sing his thrumming hymn of stone and steel.

“You! Dwarf!” Yells Grigori, his anger finally rising to the surface.

The singing stops, and every dundiir turns to glare at the group, their faces furious. The silver-haired dundorin steps up to the priest, his face a mask of steely hatred. In growling tradespeak, his voice terrible in its cold anger, he addresses Grigori face to face, using the ledge of rock on which he stands to bring him level.

“Say that again manling, and I promise you, you'll be a dwarf too, for I'll sever both your legs at the knees.”

The priest, it is clear, is about to give a caustic reply, but is pulled away by his colleagues, who are aware that more than a few of the other miners, as well as all the dundiir, are seconds away from exploding into violence.

“We'll go this way.” Hisses Jaeger, tugging at Grigori's sleeve, “We have no need of further 'help'.”

The group back off, and head for a shaft that seems to drop straight down.

“I wouldn't go down there.” Snarls the dundiir, “only death awaits you there.”

The group glare, and carry on regardless.

07:41 – 08:10: A wide shaft drops from the floor of the cavern some 60'. The first ten feet or so are the same stone as the cavern. However, beyond that, a completely different reality shimmers in soft golden waves. Varracuda shakes his head as the pain there increases, and even the stoic assassin gives a low growl as nausea and pain briefly blurs his vision.

Looking closer, it seems that the tunnels below are bathed in a luminous golden energy, the very air sparkling with tiny motes of light.

“Positive energy?” Wonders the swordmage aloud. “A manifestation of radiant energy.”

“Eh?” Snarls Shnecke, “Speak clearly mage, what is it?”

“Pure life force. So pure in fact, it can be deadly.”

“Great.” Whispers Jaeger, sensing a greater problem below – an absence of shadow, the source of much of his power - “Life will be the cause of our death then.”

The group climb down the shaft, and as they enter the warm embrace of the golden zone below, so the singing and clattering of the miners stops suddenly, for they are now an infinity away in another realm completely.

The tunnels of this realm are quite beautiful, every inch of them transformed by the energies that suffuse it into glittering crystals. The very air is luminous with warm, golden energy, which feels like the caress of a gentle sun, soaking through their skin and into the very core of their bodies. Tiny crystals, perfect and radiant, drift through the air, apparently responding to gravities that hold no influence on the group, their facets sparkling in the ubiquitous, aureate light, and soft plays of auroral radiance flicker and shift over the angles of the walls.

The group, despite the otherworldy beauty of this place remain alert to any dangers, especially the assassin who feels a frightening distance from the comforting shadows that normally hover around him, lending him their dark power. Slowly, they creep along, blinking in the painful glare of this place, trying not to scratch themselves on the steel-hard facets of the crystals around them.

08:11 – 08:31: It is a perfect sphere of vaguely metallic stone, that tumbles and rolls in a column of dazzling, rainbow hued radiant flames. Around it, a strange, hair-like crystal, brilliantly luminous, and swaying as if in a gentle breeze, forms a carpet, giving the impression of them being exotic algae in some shallow tropical pool. The party gather around the edge of the crystal, and look at the sphere, speculating on what it could be. Their conversation takes a number of routes, and it is felt that the sphere is an Ioun Geode; a super hard mass of quasi-elemental material that could hold a number of valuable Ioun Stones. Such artefacts are valuable prizes, but the risks involved in obtaining, and even opening them, are legendary (Grigori recalls tales of the legendary heroes of the Wondrous, who almost died obtaining, and plundering such a geode, despite their epic power).

The hair like crystals are felt to be bursting with barely contained radiant energy, and it is feared that if they are crushed, the energy will be unleashed in a deadly eruption. So, a plan is formulated to try and dislodge the geode, and capture it without damaging any of the lethal crystals.

08:32 – 08:50: Grigori's Bag of Holding is attached to a number of tent poles, strapped together. A frame of sticks is crafted and used to hold the bag open, and the assassin holds it ready behind and below the geode, whilst Grigori prepares to unleash a blast of radiance at it. Blinking to try and get the growing patches of obscuring luminosity from out their eyes (the effect of continued exposure to the brilliant glow of this place), they prepare to put their plan into action.

Chanting a low prayer, Grigori harnesses the ambient radiant energies of the area and fires a focused bolt of light at the sphere. Even with his understanding of the local conditions, he is shocked at the potent gathering of energy he forges, and when he unleashes it, It strikes with great force, smashing into the geode with a firework like burst of colours and lights. The geode shifts imperceptibly – though enough for the equilibrium of its eternal tumble to be upset. Radiant flames leap wildly, and the sphere spins free, the assassin sweeping the bag towards it.

Everyone holds their breath as the sphere seems to fall in slow motion, each realising that the burst of energies that would occur, were it to fall into the crystals, would erase them in an instant. Jaeger, blinking against the painful glare of the glowing air, sweeps the bag forwards, and almost howls with joy as the sphere nearly drops into it.

As the sphere enters the bag, so a sharp shock runs through the air, and a rumble sounds through the vaults.

A moment of joy as the group realise they have managed to gather a great treasure. However, this joy quickly turns to fear as both Jaeger and Thatari stop suddenly, and announce that they cannot see, their eyes shrouded in luminous blindness. A brief discussion is held, and the party decide to carry on, the assassin and warlock relying on them to be their eyes.

09:40 – 09:50: The group have entered a lower series of relucent tunnels, that swim with dazzling rainbow light. Everyone that can see blinks owlishly, worried that they too may soon see only cloudy masses of bright colours, each only too aware of the risks of being in such a state in such a deadly realm. Despite the light, Grigori saves the party from a surprise attack, when he spots vague movement close to a “crystal” column hanging over a pit.

The pits it appears are fortifications – spike pits – dug by the Meridianese as a ward against intrusion by the Tattered Brotherhood (and oddly, incorporated into this dimensional shift wholesale). The “crystal columns” (for there are two; one by the group, and another some ways ahead) are some weird life form of living crystal and radiant fire, analogous to the Ropers of the deep places. They are bizarre things; a core of shining faceted crystal from which sprout long, glowing, razor edged tendrils. Each bears a wide mouth in its body, which snaps and grinds in anticipation of the meal they will soon have...

...and a meal they very nearly get, for from the outset, the group are outmatched in this battle. With two of them blinded, and the rest simply unlucky, the two Prismatic Ropers make short work of them. Within horrible, pain filled seconds most of the party are either dying (Shnecke is taken down quickly after being dazzled and disoriented by a burst of sparkling, blinding patterns spat by the furthest of the monsters, whilst Varracuda is sliced open by the razored tendrils and chomped by the piercing fangs), disabled (blinded, dazed or reeling from various blinding attacks), or close to death (Grigori lies, barely conscious, his body torn and bloody, his vision fading as death's embrace closes on him).

However, as his brain begins to shut down, the priest recalls his most favourite method of desperate escape. Realising that his actions are rash, given the extreme dimensional instability of this region, he grabs all three of his Bags of Holding. A poisoned tendril rips across his back, exposing his organs, and with a roar he takes them, places one within the other, and with every last ounce of his strength rips them...

09:51: As the Carrion Port wakes to another day, so a catastrophe that will redefine its name occurs. Without warning, half the island simply vanishes in a burst of planar disruption. The Mouldering Hold literally melts in the burst of raw, disruptive power, and the Meridianese Head Quarters burns with a silvery, unnatural lambency, which spreads in a heartbeat to consume everything nearby. Lightning and howling winds tear across the island, ripping buildings apart, and the seas boil with hellish power, themselves alive with unnatural lightning. Thousands die, most never knowing the source of their doom...

19/6/2389 (Second Age; 1 year, 4 months, 12 days since start of Great Guild War); Eastern Reaches of the Eastcloak Forest, Ruins of Myl'Dynnen.

11:00 - The air convulses, and fire, lightning and psychic screams blast outwards as time itself is torn asunder. A column of searing power, blinding and chaotic flashes from the suddenly turbulent skies, and a shockwave – both physical and psychical – levels trees for a mile around. Across Fey, many powerful beings sense this disruption to the laws of nature, and turn their attention to its source....whilst those at the centre of this disruption writhe in their pain, unaware of the madness they have sown, or the change in their fates that now lies in store...