Thursday, August 29, 2013

Called to a Winter World

Ok, it's been a month since I posted a play report. It's summer and the wild beaches of PEI were calling and not a lot of gaming related stuff got done. But here finally is the write up of the last session.

In the house were:
  • Jensen the Warrior - Trevor
  • Barcephelas the Elf - Todd
  • Bran the Thief - Jeremy
  • Chez the Warrior - John
  • Ryan the Cleric - Sebastien (absent)
Ah, the local entertainments...
So, following the events of the People of the Pit, our band of adventurers were recouping in the town of Lusates.  In fact, the people of Lusates were so grateful that the region had been saved from the waking worm god that the Mayor bestowed upon them the deed for the old, abandoned Silverjohn mansion on the outskirts of town. Though empty for a few decades, a couple of days of cleaning and fresh painting from the locals spruced the place up nicely, rumors of it being haunted not withstanding.

It had been a few weeks of resting, drinking, researching and pursuing local entertainments when five of the band found themselves sitting about the kitchen table, satisfied after a dinner of roast goose (provided by a

kindly neighbor, of course) and enjoying a lazy warm summer evening.

That was when Brand heard his name whispered. It seemed to float in through the front door on a chill breeze. When the whisper came again, it wasn't just Brand that heard it. The others sat upright, all now feeling an odd sensation, the impression of cold wind blowing from somewhere else. Brand went to the front door, grabbed his armor and weapons and crept out. The others waited patiently but no sound or call was heard. Definitely worried, each grabbed their weapons and one way or another (in pairs, after looking out the window etc) stepped out the same door.

They did not find themselves in the pleasant front garden, heavy with summer, as one would have expected. Rather they stood beneath an alien sky filled with raging, glowing cloud, pouring into and out of a black sun (or perhaps an immense hole in the sky - who could be sure?). Surrounding them were endless snow covered forests of massive twisted trees, bending and groaning beneath the bitter, blasting ice wind. Just behind them was a stone arch, incredibly ancient with unknowable symbols - obviously the portal through which they just came. And rising in the cold grey light before them was a towering mountain, oddly straight, with a flattened top almost touching the clouds. An ominous, narrow road lead from the arch up to the top of this mountain, beckoning.

When confronted with such an obvious road (rail-road someone coughed into their hand, but was stared down by the Judge) it is only natural for any group of adventurers to immediately seek an alternate way out. This began with half-hearted attempts to step back through the arch and read the indecipherable symbols, but to no avail. It was discovered though that the symbols were similar to characters on the mysterious coin
Like this, only more dramatic.
that Brand had purchased with the female face so like his own (only far, far more beautiful). Here is where the blaming began, and never really stopped, with Brand insisting that this would all end well with loads of treasure and the others quite sure that it would not.

As the threat of frost bite started to loom, the band decided to make a run through the deep drifts for the forest where they discovered less snow and less wind but, discouragingly, the distant sound of hooting and howling. It was Brand with his big ears that also heard the much closer and quieter sound of movement through the trees. He stealthily crept forward and hid in the shadows to observe what appeared to be a small group of tall pale, fur wearing ape men armed with spears cautiously approaching the rest of the band with murder in their eye. Surmising these were scouts of a much larger war party, Brand did a rapid hand signal and the rest of the gang immediately engaged. It was a swift fight, though one almost got away and the gang was rewarded with a number of insulating furs and boots. The wild hooting started up again and much closer, and Barcephelas the Elf estimated that there were at least 30 more of the ape men. seeing little choice, the band beat a hasty path to the road and started the long climb up the mountain. A large party of savages broke from the wood behind them, too distant to be an immediate threat, but gave chase. After a few hours though, with the adventurers halfway up the mountain side, the ape men appeared to give up and headed back to their primordial frozen forests.

The rest of the way up was relatively quiet, broken only once when a large winged white centipede sort of creature hummed out from behind a rock outcrop and was dispatched when it flew too close. The top of the mountain was flat, the edges rough as if torn from the plain below. There was little snow here but everything was covered in ice. Strange alien building rose up, like immense shells of sea creatures, blackened with time. Most were in ruin, collapsed, open, a jumble of basalt rock. But a small complex at the center remained largely intact, with a dark round entrance obviously crafted for bodies very unlike those of men.

A quick scout of the ruined buildings resulted in very little of interest, and so the band headed to the opening on the central intact structure. Within they found a massive hall, hundreds of feet long with an arched ceiling with high narrow windows that let in a dim light. The hall was curved so that the end could not be seen and it felt as if one were standing within an immense shell of some sea creature. The sides were lined with ominous stone sculptures, at least they seemed to be sculptures, brooding and strange. Much further in was discovered a massive mound of desiccated bodies, skin dried by the cold. They were twisted and horrible, with too many limbs, or only one or two, far too many mouths or eyes or not enough. They formed a ring surrounding the mummified body of a woman that must have been very beautiful in life. In fact it was quickly realized, she was the woman from the coin. A thing mostly made of teeth was at her long dead throat. The mutated bodies showed evidence of being blasted by arcane magics, directed from the body of the beautiful woman, and it was theorized that she had died battling these creatures.

There were a number of large "doorways", rounded holes really, along the sides of this great hall and the group chose one to explore. Within was a massive room filled with strange apparatus made from metal and stone and glass, many fallen with age. A few looked to have been cleaned and repaired. But the room was dominated by a great silver cage in its center. A colossal primordial centipede like creature lay inside. It had a great lamprey mouth instead of a head and its body appeared to be largely fossilized. Keeping a wary eye on this beast (though it had shown no signs of life) the crew began exploring the repaired devices. They found three that appeared to function:

  • A floating stone globe with red crystal on its equator. The globe could not be moved from its spot in a back corner, but can be slowly swiveled in any direction. 
  • A tall, ominously human sized booth with a steel door that appears to have been greatly repaired and modified. A metal box on the side had a bewildering set of switches, levers and push buttons. 
  • A machine comprising of three tall glass tubes, each filled with a quantity of fine crystals, one purple, one, black and one orange. The three glass tubes met within a metal box with a switch below each tube and a spout below that.
Playing with the floating globes resulted in nothing, other than the sense that it contained a great deal of power. Jensen the Warrior seemed particularly fascinated by the tall booth and fiddled with the buttons which caused a number of threatening swishing and snapping sounds to emanate from within. He managed to open its door but found the interior featureless. There were a few tense moments when he nearly convinced Brand to step inside, but even Brand proved not to be so foolhardy.

It was when Jensen and Chez focused their attention on the machine with the three tubes of fine crystals that the great centipede thing rumbled in its cage. It turned clumsily and a hellish orange fire glowed from its alien
What could go wrong...?
lamprey mouth. Tiny pale blue eyes opened and blinked, staring intently at Jensen. Obviously uneasy, the others started moving towards the exit. Chez, however, despite the warnings of his fellows boldly walked up to the cage and the creature did appear well contained. Clearing his throat he attempted to speak with the thing, but received an unintelligible deep clattering whir in response. Meanwhile Jensen attempted to use the crystal machine and pressed the purple and orange buttons. There was a clunking sound and a small jar filled with a pinkish fluid appeared from the spout below. Trying the purple and black resulted in a greenish fluid. Jensen pocketed both and on the insistence of the others, who were obviously spooked by the creature in the cage, joined everyone else in leaving the room. 

The gang came back to the great hall and tried another doorway along the other side. Down a long narrow tunnel they found a throne room of sorts, with a large black basalt seat inscribed with the now familiar looking but alien writing. Waiting on the throne was a beautiful but sad looking woman - the woman from the coin, the woman who lay dead in the great hall beyond. She appeared solid but had an otherworldly presence. She stood as the band entered the room, searching their faces until she found Brand. 

“I knew you would come. I knew you would rescue me, my brother.”

Realizing they were speaking with the ghost of the woman who was responsible for their predicament, the band seized the opportunity to understand their situation. In the conversation that followed they learned that the woman was named Ivrian and that she had come to this ancient place to learn the secrets of building an
Don't hate me because I'm beautiful. And evil.
undying, imperishable body. During the course of her research she had uncovered one of the original inhabitants and had attempted to help the ancient creature (called a Volooz), who seemed noble if ugly. However, at the last moment, just as she was to start the process to inhabit her new immortal body, the creature had turned against her and sent abominations to slay her. Do not speak to it, she warned. It is evil.

She then turned to address Brand more directly. Our bloodline is powerful, she told him and she had made the coins to seek through time for powerful members of the family, those with great destinies, so that she may bring them here to share her knowledge. Obviously this was way Brand was called, she insisted. But before she could share the secrets of immortality she needed the assistance of Brand and his companions. They must help her finish the ritual of transformation.

At this point everyone was very suspicious, not least of all because the idea of Brand being from a great bloodline seemed quite ridiculous. But they asked how they may help to complete this ritual nonetheless. She continued; at the end of the great hall is the summoning room in which is a demon guardian, holder of the vessel of souls. If the vessel is brought to her so that she may enter it and then brought to her new body, lying waiting and complete in the the workshop, she will then live once more. She would then fulfil their wishes, whether that be treasure, knowledge, immortality or simply to open the portals home. But she warns Brand - do not touch the vessel of souls, it is attuned to my soul and will therefore devour yours.

Ok, said the band, knowingly nodding their heads, we'll go and do that right now. And promising to return they headed back out into the hall. They quickly decided to search everywhere before doing anything else.

The came across a number of curious and disturbing rooms, all directly joined through round tunnels to the massive main hall.

One was a cube shaped chamber, roughly 30 feet aside, made from a pale, luminous rock. There was writing along the walls which felt like it moved slowly when not looked at directly. Barcephelas the Elf was especially curious, studying the strange text. Slowly he became aware of the sensation of whispers, as if there was something trying to speak with him. Concentrating brought the whispering closer and he realized that he was hearing, in his mind, the beginnings of spells. He became certain that by concentrating on one he would hear it in it's entirety, and perhaps retain it. But the room was infused with magic, and there was certain to be a cost associated with attempting this. Barcephelas, excited, focused on a particular spell (I forgot which!!) and felt it burn into his mind. His body writhed with spellburn and magical corruption. He fell to the floor weakened and his skin darkening to an outlandish shade of blue. The spell he had "learned" appeared too powerful for him to cast now, but he was certain he would be able to master it in time.

Another area actually turned out to be small cluster of small rooms converted from their original unknown purpose into living spaces. There was small kitchen, privy, which contained little of consequence and a bedroom and sitting room. The bedroom door was trapped with an ancient gas vial, which was disabled by Brand. Within were the usual - bed, clothing or a rich nature, a few baubles. But hidden at the bottom of a chest was a long sword, slender and feminine, with stylized flowers at the hilt. It was beautiful and graceful and hummed with an arcane power. Brand immediately shoved it in his pants, while the others sighed and rolled their eyes. While handling it though, it muttered a word that only Brand could hear - "Nightraker" - and he knew it was the sword's name. Moving to the sitting room they found a comfortable chair, with a side table on which sat a glowing orb that was most pleasant to look at. Chez took this. There were a number of books in a book shelf, most indecipherable, but one appeared to be Ivrian's diary. Again written in a unrecognizable language, it was fortunate that Ivrian appeared to be a gifted amateur sketcher and the band was able to view the following scenes of Ivrian:
  • coming through portal that brought the band here
  •  repairing and altering the portal
  •  exploring of the ruins at the top of the mountain
  •  discovering and digging the great centipede like creature from the rock and placing in a cage
  • communing with the centipede
  • sitting in the cube room with the writing all over the walls
  •  activating great stone vats filled with some fluid
  •  manufacturing the coins - each containing one of Ivrian’s hairs - and casting through another portal
  • capturing people coming through the portal (holding the coins) that have a familial cast and killing any accompanying companions.
  •  flensing the flesh from the screaming bodies of those captured and casting it into the stone vats.
  •  experimenting with strange and horrible vat creations, twisted things like the ones pilled in a mound in the front of the great hall
  • throwing deformed vat creatures back into the vats and keeping a few as servants
  •  retrieving a body identical to her own from the vat
  •  speaking with a horse headed demon who holds a strange alien jewel
Taken together, these spelled out a rather morbid story of the beautiful Ivrian. The worst suspicions of the band seemed to be confirmed.

Next the band discovered the vat room - a large area with a dozen stone vats of various sizes set above the floor. There were steps up the sides and complex mechanisms with levers and switches on the sides of each. There was a palatable sense of something waiting in here. Chez, being Chez, climbed to the top of one of the vats and poked the pale waxy substance congealed within. He then turned, and to everyone's horror, but not surprise, started fiddling with the switches. Everyone held their breath bit nothing appeared to happen. A bit more poking around turned up three jars of a pale flesh colored liquid and a small adjacent den with a few desiccated corpses of mutated vat creatures. Feeling they'd discovered everything here, the group made to leave, but were dismayed to hear a faint gurgling come from the vat that Chez had disturbed. A quick check of that vat didn't reveal what was making the noise, and so they scurried out with nervous glances over their shoulders.

Continuing to explore the band next found the workshop depicted in Ivrian's diary. It was filled with cruel dissection tools and a pair of large stone slabs. On one slab was the dried corpse of a partially dissected vat creature. On the other was a naked, beautiful young woman, breathing as if in a deep slumber - obviously Ivrian’s imperishable body awaiting her soul. There were the inevitable rude jokes, and Jensen discovered a work table with tools for making coins and other strange mechanical things. Taking a number of blank coins but leaving the body, the band moved on.

Finally they came the end of the hall which exited back out into the cold. Before them was a rickety wooden bridge, falling apart with age, stretching across a terrifyingly deep chasm to an entrance in an opposing cliff. The cliff rose sheer and icy hundreds of feet above. Taking turns running across the bridge, they found it sturdier than it looked (but not that much sturdier...). Entering the doorway at the other side they passed through a small antechamber into a larger squarish room that had a beautiful, but ominous swirling cloud of golden dust. This dust coalesced into a tall, gold resplendent and brutal demonic being, muscled and clawed with the head of a nightmare horse.   

"I am Aagazzbagh. You may not pass" 

Com'on, just a little fight...
The gang was understandably filled with trepidation and stepped back drawing weapons, including Brand who drew Nightraker. The demon's dead eyes were immediately drawn to this and it addressed Brand. "You must defeat me, for I wish to be released". Cautiously they engaged in conversation and learned that Aagazzbagh did not know or care about what had occurred within, only that there had been a contest of wills at one point. His master was Ivrian and he was bound to this room, guarding the passage out to the
Ghost Spires and the vessel of souls. The Ghost Spires, when described sounded a great deal like other portals, perhaps capable of taking the gang back home. 

"Just out of curiosity," asked Brand of the demon, "If I were to fight you, would you take it easy on me, seeing as how you want to be defeated?". 

"No" the thing replied, "I will strive to tear you apart".

"Ya, that sounds about right" said Barcephelas the Blue Elf 

Retreating from the room, the demon almost pleading them to combat, the gang returned to the great hall to decide on their next move. Obviously wanting to go home, but unsure if they want to treat with Ivrian, and conscious of how tough that demon looked, the band discussed a number of options, with Jensen demonstrating an unhealthy obsession with the metal booth that he had played with before. So lost somewhere in time, trapped in an alien complex filled with the corpses of mutant creatures, an apparently deceitful ghost, a demon with a death wish, an immense primordial centipede creature who is apparently an evil scholar from the distant past, and a faintly bubbling vat, the band decided to SPLIT THE PARTY.

It was really a decision as such, it’s just that Jenson, Chez and Ryan got it in their heads to return to the centipede room, while Brand and Barcephelas the Blue Elf  headed to the workshop room to retrieve Ivrian's body. It was when Bran was hoisting the body off the slab and heard a low groan and growl come from the direction of the vat room that he realized that they had made a terrible mistake. Unceremoniously dropping the body, he and Barcephelas made for the door only to be confronted by a number of horrifying mutant things, hoping and slithering and crawling forward, with club like limbs and teeth and eyes. Brand attempted a half-hearted "Hello" in the dim hope they weren't hostile but quickly drew his sword as the things rushed forward.

The sound of battle quickly drew the attention of the others who turned to rush back, but were several critical moments away.  Barcephelas and Bran were sorely matched and Bran had fallen to the club hands off one monstrosity as the others arrived. They managed to hack the things down, and Ryan acquired a good deal of disapproval pulling Bran back from the dead (actually I made a mistake here and allowed Ryan one too many casts of Lay on Hands. Odd that no one corrected me...). 

So with Bran, once again on the brink of death, and the only certainty being that the vat was still bubbling away, we left it for the night.

Next session will be this Saturday - which will bring our DCC mini campaign to a close (for now!)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Doodles of Death!


It's a Cthulhu Skull. A Skcthulhull.
So I'm on vacation spending a few weeks in the sun with the family, which means I'm not doing too much game related stuff, and not getting the write up of last session done. Of course I did bring a couple of geeky items along (or risk geek withdrawal - not pretty). One of those things is my DM notebook for our DCC game. It's a medium sized tan coloured moleskin and I penciled in a stylized
skull (what else for a DCC notebook?) on the cover when I first got it. I had the chance to ink it in this afternoon and thought I'd share it, along with the map of the campaign area and some notes from a session inside.

So how do you keep your game notes?

The Gang sailed a starless sea in Lemsby, were hounded in Hirot, and met some people in a pit in Lusates.

My scribbly writing. The "loot" section represents all the worldly goods of the Band acquired from the first thee GG Modules. Which was taken by the People of the Pit. Bastards.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Food for the Worm God

Our sixth session was a quick one where we finished up People of the Pit. We'd lost half the party last time in a large underground battle. A number of "secondary" characters had been left at the top of the pit and found themselves thrust into action.

The Company;


  • Thorkell the Warrior
  • Four angry villagers
  • Brand the dirty sneaky Thief - prisoner of the Worm Cult
  • Alistair the Cautious Wizard
  • Four angry villagers
  • Ryan the no nonsense Cleric of Aristemis - prisoner of the Worm Cult
John (absent, so PC's played by Jeremy, who had a small army at his command)
  • Bezal the halfling
  • Chez the "How do we start fighting here?" Warrior - prisoner of the Worm Cult
  • Chester the thief 
  • Norris the weathered Cleric
  • Jenson the Warrior - left at the top of the pit

The Dead, but not forgotten (well, except for Draug)

  • Grom "I'm a Wizard!!"
  • Daniloth the "my spells kill me" Elf
  • Draug the Warrior that no one really knew. 

When Norris stumbled to the top of the pit and cried out that something terrible had happened to the rest of the party below, the PC's leapt to immediate action discussing the merits of having a pig on adventures. This was followed by a heated debate concerning the ownership of said pig, and who,
Also good for hauling your stuff
exactly, had eaten it. When the dust settled there was a grudging acknowledgment that maybe they should go after the others since a sizeable amount of the group's wealth was tied up in the armour and weapons carried by their companions.

They trekked down into the darkness, finding their way by following the path of corpses and debris. Finally they came upon the dreadful scene of the last battle, with the many cultist corpses and the bodies of their comrades, Grom, Daniloth and Draug. There was little time for grief however as the ominous deep roarings and frequent earth tremors prompted the gang to keep going.

Wearily climbing down a massive worm tentacle with a rope ladder affixed, the band eventually found itself exiting into a deep and massive cavern. The far end was hazy with unsettled dust and there where distant robed figures near a ledge chanting and wailing, with a thundering howl answering them back. Spread out before them was looked like an ancient ruined town of stone buildings, some intact and some just crumbling walls. Eerily there were stone faces on these walls, with low primitive brows, that seemed to stare. Nearer to the band was a passage off to one side, and they decided to investigate before taking on whatever was happening at the ledge. They passed strange formations of alien rock, that befuddled even the dwavern blacksmith villager that had accompanied them. They knocked some chunks off in case it proved valuable.

The small passage lead to a little cave. There was a sandy floor. On the other side were a few skeletons and some very shiny weapons. The party stopped and everyone nodded knowingly, chuckling at the obviousness of the trap. Bezal the halfling deftly lept to the rocky wall and began to climb around keeping well away from the sand but lost his footing halfway along. Falling into the sand he struggled to get back to his companions, barely making it and suffering some suffocation damage as the sand surged about him trying to pull him under. Jenson tried next, making it to the other side and flinging the weapons, a couple of long swords and a warhammer back. Unfortunately he too slipped on the way back and was sucked under the sand. The others realizing they might just lose him, struggled to make a chain to reach him, a couple of others took suffocation damage as the sand, with an unnerving will of its own, pulled and tugged. Jenson escaped, but barely.

Thorkell hefted the hammer and was surprised when it whispered to him. "Hurun" it said.

Looking back out at the main cavern, Alistar the mage sent his cat familiar out to scout some of the low stone buildings. Looking through the cat's eyes, Alistair saw that some of the edifices were filled with and ancient machinery, similar in style to the transportation eggs. He left this stuff alone, and continued sniffing about finding another stone hut with a pile of equipment and weapons dumped on the floor in haste. A few huts further on the familiar smelled the unmistakable odor of human fear. Peeking in he saw a number of prisoners bound together. Just then there came a lumbering figure, a massive apish man, with a pronounced brow, but seemingly partially made of rock and stone. The face looked identical to the faces that stared from the stone walls of the village. The stone ape thing grabbed one of the prisoners and started moving toward the cliff edge where a number of other stone things and robed cultists were entranced with their ritual.

I will be your eyes human...
Seeing and hearing through the familiar, Alistair felt that he understood the ritual to be one of waking. These cultists were obviously waking something old and terrible, but the spell seemed rushed, as if they had been forced into it before they were ready. And with anything magical, rushed meant especially unstable. Now was the time to interrupt.

The band quickly spread out among the ruined buildings, sneaking as best they could. The prisoner was being passed up a line of stone apes towards a blue robed cultist standing on a prominence. Over the edge of the cliff ahead where hundreds of the worm tentacles waving to the undulations and chants of the cultists. Some of these tentacles were truly immense,  as thick as houses, and the air vibrated with a deep underground roaring.

Bows were aimed and swords readied.  Jenson took the first shot at stone ape about to take the prisoner but missed. Incredibly the creature didn't notice the arrow fly over it's head, and Jenson took another shot. This one landed and felled the thing, the prisoner dropping and running. The rest of the cultists were immediately alerted and turned to meet the threat. The main group rushed in while a few of the villagers focused on releasing the rest of the prisoners, including the near dead Chez, Brand and Ryan.

There was a lot of back and forth, as individuals broke and faced off against one another. The group was especially lucky and Jenson kept the pressure on the the Blue robed cultist by firing arrows at him. Unfortunately for the cultists, the tentacles under the Blue robe's control weren't very accurate, sweeping ineffectually at Jenson and others. One of the tentacles did manage to grab a villager and carried him high over the pit. In a last ditch effort, the villager (who also happened to be a jester) managed to slither out of the tentacle coils and back flip to the edge of the cliff, grasping the ankles of a red robed cultist clinging to the edge (the red robe had been chucked over the cliff by Thorkell moments earlier). He managed to scamper up the red robes back. The cultists were joined by more stone apes, as the weird faces in the rocky began to come alive and emerge.

Finally Jenson got a final bow shot through the skull of the Blue Robe and with a deafening and earth shattering roar, massive tentacles whipped into the fray and began plucking up cultists and stone apes alike and pulling them screaming into the depths. Alistair, sensitive to the ways of magic, realized that the waking ritual had now been broken and a price was being paid. Finally the fallen Blue Robe was likewise snatched away and titanic tentacles rose up tearing at the sides of the great chasm, pulling away at cliff faces. For a few awe inspiring moments, as massive boulders started collapsing about them, the band glimpsed other complexes honeycombing the distant walls of the chasm, torn open, their secrets briefly exposed to the world before collapsing into the deep earth to bury the worm god anew.
Rar! Raar! Boy am I mad! 

The band ran into the shelter of the deeper cavern, meeting up with the released prisoners and waited out the collapse. After a long while the rumbling stopped and all evidence of the worm god lay buried, and the terrible monstrosity was presumably slumbering once more. It took many hours but the group managed to find a mostly stable route up the new side of the chasm and reach the now collapsed entrance to the pit.

Making their way back to the village of Lusates, the adventures noticed that what locals where were left seemed to be poking their heads out their doors, hopeful at the sudden quiet and end to the earth tremors that had been plaguing the area for weeks. The tavern master was glad to see them, and though didn't seem quite convinced when they claimed victory over the pit demon, he did give them half off their stay for the week whilst they recovered.

And so ended People of the Pit.

I have to say that while I did enjoy PotP, it felt a little too crawly. There were a few repetitive elements that seemed unnecessary. You could probably trim the dungeon by at least a third and add a more interesting and dynamic final battle. Sailors on the Starless Sea is a great example of this - a relatively short, but very interesting "dungeon" with a fantastic set piece at the end. And Doom of the Savage Kings had that excellent roleplay rich tension between the Jarl and the players. There were times in PotP that it felt a little bit too much like a drawn out slugfest.

We finished the night by doing some leveling - I believe Brand, Chez and Ryan are now level 2 - and treasure distribution. The players selected their main characters and set aside a few secondaries. We concluded with a short scene a few weeks later in the village when the Sonorous Fermentators of Milk and Barely, a mostly halfling trader caravan, arrived in Lustates.

I have many oddities to sell.
My hat is not one of them.
While looking to spend some of their loot, Brand happened to encounter an strange fellow by the name of Zerx who sold oddities. He had two items that he felt that Brand ought to buy. The first was a crude
map of some secret way in the temple district of the great city of Parusaw to the south. It had two names on it. One was "Karmus" the other was "Carnifax". Zerx was sure "Karmus" was a great treasure seeker and was unsure of the other. The other item was a pale gold coin, with some indecipherable markingings on one side and the image of a beautiful woman's face on the other. The strange thing about the the woman's is that it bore a remarkable familial similarity to Brand. Brand, always the one to try and gain treasure was equally eager to spend it and bought these two items with pretty much every coin he had. The map he tucked away, the coin though seemed to call to him. And he felt a cold wind blow through the door...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Death, Death, and More Death in the Pit

It came down to a nameless, recently rescued peasant trading blows with an equally nameless grey cloaked worm cultist. Everyone else lay in bloody heaps on the cavern floor. What little chance our heroes had of surviving hung in the balance.

Unfortunately the cultist won.

Technically it's not a TPK since three party members are still alive. Striped to their skivvies, weaponless, bound and gagged, hovering at 1hp, stuffed in a low stone room with a dozen other captives with a terrifying wailing chant coming from outside. The outlook isn't great.

It's been a couple weeks since my last game report so this is two sessions condensed into one. Here's how it went down.

The Company;

  • Brand the dirty sneaky Thief
  • Draug the Warrior
  • Ryan the no nonsense Cleric of Aristemis
  • Thorkell the Warrior - left at the top of the pit
  • Chez the "How do we start fighting here?" Warrior
  • Bezal the halfling - left at the top of the pit
  • Daniloth the "my spells kill me" Elf
  • Chester the thief - left at the top of the pit
  • Grom "I'm a Wizard!!"
  • Jenson the Warrior - left at the top of the pit
When last we left the band they had made their way down the throat of a massive circular pit, fighting some grey robbed cultist's of something called"Palimdybis". But whatever Palimdybis was, it seemed definitely connected to the earth quakes and foul gasses emitted from the The Great Fissure of Gorm just a little way beyond the pit.

The gang had found some interesting rooms and passages on their way down, including one that contained a massive worm like tentacle with a rope ladder on it. They'd also barely survived an encounter with a pair of basilisks and were puzzled by a small cavern with water that dripped up instead of down.

The adventure continued with the band standing on a little ledge hanging out over the deep dark pit. Within was a dank narrow rough hewn corridor with bricked up cells emanating a faint moaning sound. Methodically knocking a few bricks out of each cell entrance and poking a torch through to see who or what was within, they managed to stab-to-death/burn-in-oil a grey cloaked cultist, a confused neophyte, a terrible worm mass thing and finally rescue a weathered cleric by the name of Norris from the village
I am an old cleric with great
healing pow... What? Wait here
you say...? I... err... yeah ok then.
of Lusates (fortunately without any stabbing or burning). The cleric had belonged to the local temple but had been roughly snatched one night a few weeks ago. He didn't know much about his captors  other than they commanded the worm tentacles and they seemed to be waking up something very old and evil. The crew also recovered a scroll with a spell on it that allows for the control of worm tentacles using very corruptive magic.

Promising the cleric that they would return for him, they bade him wait on the ledge. A little more exploring also discovered a secret passage to a small red crystal lined cave. Brand, ever on the hunt for valuables, investigated, coming back out cursed by the ghost of the long desiccated skeleton within and a gripping a ruby coloured glass wand. Uncharacteristically, Brand turned the wand over to Grom the Glorious for examination, who promptly refused to give it back. Grom insists that he will return it once he's "finished" with it. This has Brand very worried as he has come to realize that his impending sense of doom will only depart if he buries the wand with the skeleton from the red cavern.

Trundling further down the corridor the gang came to a chasm. On the other side, set into the rocky wall was a drawbridge door with a massive iron ring set into it. Below was a horrific river of massive worm tentacles, writhing and undulating, with eyes and mouths, making nasty wet sounds.

Various complicated ideas to pull the draw bridge down involving an arrow and a rope were tried. Others schemes involving a magically summoned pheasant were also attempted. These were more or less ineffective, and in the case of the pheasant, somewhat gruesome.

Finally, with great dread, the crew started discussing the use of the Worm Control scroll. It was really down to Grom the Glorious and Daniloth the Sagely Elf. Both had very good reasons why the other should attempt to use the scroll, that is until they realized that thieves could also use scrolls. Then they had very good reasons why Brand should use it. Brand, fed up with listening to the back and forth took the scroll and did his best. It worked and he managed to get a massive pillar of rubbery flesh to come oozing out of the chasm (lots of juvenile jokes occurred at this juncture) and tug on the ring, bringing
Aw man...
the great door down to form a bridge. With a superior smirk, Brand handed back the scroll, noticing that his fingers had grown a little longer and more prehensile. It was commented the thief, with his big elephant ears and now rubbery fingers, was exhibiting far more visible effects of chaos corruption than the spell casters of the group.

Onward the gang found itself figuring its way through a magical maze and then down a large corridor with great doors closing ominously behind them. There was a bit of hijinks when Grom attempted to leap back through one of these doors as it closed and got himself nearly crushed. Finally, the gang came to a large room shaped like a bell on its side. At the far end, a great, massive wooden door. Between the party and the door, a great, massive evil frog.

Surprisingly there were a few attempts at communication with the frog demon. The most troubling thing about this was the way it communicated, which was without sound, but by placing the thoughts directly in the heads of the party members. However in the end it all lead inevitably to violence when the frog thing made it clear that it wouldn't let them past. Draug the warrior was nearly swallowed, but the party managed to slay the beast, which bubbled into a greasy black spot on the floor. Carefully avoiding this spot, the gang made its way into the rooms beyond. There they came across a second floor maze, but as they attempted to navigate it, they were forced back by the arrival of crimson robed cultists and a massive half man half wormy earth beast. The image of a Yellow robbed cultist accused them of sacrilege and faded before his minions set upon the party. The crew made surprisingly short work of these cultists and emboldened, navigated the maze and found themselves transported.

Finding themselves in a similar maze room, with small odd wavy corridors leading into the rock, they choose to follow a more conventional passage that lead to a long temple room with a couple of oblivious grey cloaked cultists praying before a great wormy god alter. Brand did a bit of sneaky scouting ahead, and then lead suprise attack, splattering the grey robes before they knew what hit them. Further exploring turned up a high priest's chamber and an alchemical lab with some foul potions and weird powders. Off from this was found a strange corridor, with unnaturally smooth walls, which did not seem to match the style of the rest of the complex. In fact it somehow felt much, much older. After much trepidation Brand once again sallied forth to take a look and found it lead to a oblong chamber containing a pool of muddy, foul water. Reporting back, he was joined by the rest of the band.

The crew tried to come up with all sorts of ingenious ways to cross the water without getting touching it (as they correctly feared the worst). "If only there was some way to float across it's surface..." someone muttered, staring at the big wooden doors leading into this area from the alchemical lab full of large wooden tables. But alas no one could come up with any bright ideas and eventually they all, in reluctant turn, made the plunge and found the "water" to be viscous and and acidic. One the other side they discovered a chamber full of large mechanical looking eggs. Daniloth the sage had the strong impression that these devices predated the rest of the complex.

It was Grom the wizard that experimented with the devices and discovered himself in another room, very similar to the first. In fact he wasn't sure if it was he who had been transported or his companions. Clambering back in he managed to transport himself back to the astonishment of his fellows. "I have discovered that I have a new power!" he declared, "If you seat yourself within these eggs and close the lids I will transpose you all to another place entirely! Please concentrate on moving to another place." Somewhat skeptical, the crew did as they were instructed and Grom "transported" them to the second, similar egg room.

Evil cultist sans yellow robe
Exploring the smooth, twisting tunnels connected to this room, the band discovered four hatchery rooms, each containing a massive leathery egg on a pedestal connected to alter with tubes that were obviously meant to supply the eggs with sacrificial blood. These massive eggs were in various states of gestation and two resulted in quick skirmishes with the slimy tentacled horrors that burst from within. In one hatchery the band rescued a screaming prisoner from a newly hatched horror and an evil yellow robbed cultist. Unfortunately Grom suffered a spectacular catastrophic spell failure during this fight, resulting in a magical explosion that finished of the hatchling beast and yellow cultist, but also blew half the crew
across the room as well. Some quick heals from Ryan took care of the most urgent and grievous of the hurts. The crew untied the captive woman, who told them that the cultists seemed intent on waking something terrible and powerful. She gratefully joined the group.

Quite battered the band slowly made their way back towards the egg room to return, when they heard the clatter of feet and the slamming of one of the egg lids. They found one of the eggs closed and recently used. Understanding that a cultist had probably escaped to alert the rest of his brethren and that they were in no condition to fight, the band quickly (and smartly) opened all the egg lids reasoning that no one could transport into them if they weren't closed. They then set up camp and gained a solid rest. 

With great trepidation they then all got in the transport eggs and were whisked (Grom made sure they understood that it was his mightly magic accomplishing this) back to the original egg chamber. Expecting to have to leap out fighting the crew was disconcerted to find the chamber empty. Making their way back through the smooth tunnels, acidic water room and into the alchemy lab, the band continued their exploration discovering a room with drying ovens containing bits of dried giant tentacle, a storage room with cultist robes (which they took), a mess hall and some bunk rooms. All suspiciously empty. All the while the sound of grating machinery was echoing from a particular rough hewn corridor. 

Finally deciding to investigate this noise and ready for a trap at any moment, the band found the source of the grating sound - a large cavern with a massive grinding stone pulverizing dried tentacle parts operated by four captive villagers. At first the crew attempted to deceive the captives into thinking they were cultists, but the fearful captives only acted confused and shushed them - indicating that there was a large company of cultists in the next cavern apparently waiting for them. The other element to this
cavern was a massive worm tentacle, again with a rope ladder attached, listlessly protruding from a pit at the far end. 

Brand slunk forward and scouted the next cavern, which was joined by a short narrow corridor. He spied another large cavern with the cultists preparing for battle behind a large improvised barracade. 

Ahhh... We've been expecting you!
The crew devised a plan. They would attempt to draw the cultists into the grinding cavern and attack them as they passed through the entrance. They would have the captive villagers toss buckets filled with worm dust into the crowd to blind and disorient them before letting loose. Very creative, but unfortunately did not account for the great tentacle behind them, which, like all tentacles, would be under the control of the cultists. 

Once they were ready, the captives were released and took their positions, ceasing the grinding wheel (and it's accompanying noise). Brand again slunk forward, this time in a cultist robe and attempted to call the cultists over before retreating. Hasty, whispered orders were heard and two grey robes cautiously crept down the tunnel. They were ambushed and dealt with quickly. So far so good. But the rest did not follow. Slightly frustrated Brand, Chez and Druag crept forward and saw the cultists ready and waiting. A yellow robed cultist, obviously the leader, started chanting and the great tentacle behind the crew started moving with an aggressive, menacing purpose. Suddenly realizing their predicament, the crew rushed the barricade.

It was a bloody, desperate fight. The giant tentacle snatched up villagers, spells were flung, there was leaping and stabbing and yelling. At first the overwhelming onslaught of the band seemed to be working, but cultist reinforcements arrived and things got very thick and chaotic. Any semblance of a strategy quickly evaporated as the battle became individual melees against superior numbers. When Ryan, who was feverishly healing as fast as he could (and building great amounts of disfavour in the process) was struck down, a feeling of eminent doom suddenly descended. One by one, the adventurers were hacked down. Brand, then Grom, Chaz and Draug. Daniloth held up suprisingly well and almost to the end, with a couple of surviving villagers, but alas could not sustain his luck. All that was left was one wounded grey robed cultist, and one half dead villager. It was a quick trade of blows. The villager missed, the cultist did not.

I believe the word "fuck" was uttered at this point.
Ow Ow Ow...

I have a house rule in my game. The "recover the body" action can be taken by anyone, not just comrades. This, of course, includes enemies. Ryan, Brand and Chez awoke, captive in the aforementioned stone room, barely alive and securely tied, awaiting some horrible fate. 

Thorkell the Warrior, Bezal the halfling, Chester the thief and Jensen the Warrior now stand at the top of the pit with a small group of pitchfork and touch wielding locals. They have been joined by Alistair the Cautious, a wizard who had come to investigate the pit. This is when Norris the Cleric, recently rescued by the doomed first crew, came stumbling up from below. 

"Come quickly - something terrible has happened!"

We pick up from there on Sunday! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Into the Pit

Our fourth session of DDC picked up with the party headed east on the urging of the Ymae the witch. A terrible threat was being wakened by mysterious grey cloaked figures in or about The Great Stinking Fissure of Gorm (no relation to Grom the Wizard). These figures had been seen around Lemsby, just before the events of the Sailors on the Starless Sea and had urged thieves from Hirot to break into an ancient tomb releasing an imprisoned demon hound to afflict the town.

The Company;

  • Brand the dirty sneaky Thief
  • Draug the Warrior
Sebastien - I keep forgetting to write done Seb's character's names! Sorry man...
  • Ryan the no nonsense Cleric of Aristemis
  • Thorkell the Warrior - left at the top of the pit
  • Chez the "How do we start fighting here?" Warrior
  • Bezal the halfling - left at the top of the pit
  • Daniloth the "my spells kill me" Elf
  • Chester the thief - left at the top of the pit
  • Grom "I'm a Wizard!!"
  • Jenson the Warrior - left at the top of the pit
The action opened with with the crew coming over a rise and glimpsing the village of Lusates and the infamous Great Stinking Fissure of Gorm a few miles beyond. There were dark clouds emerging from the fissure which was many miles wide and many more long. There was a sulfer smell on the wind and a minor earth tremor shook the ground. 

A farmer, with his family and pigs in cart, stopped to chat and the gang learned that people were leaving the town. It was a very rich and fertile area, but the tremors and the stink had been getting much worse in the last few months, ever since the hollow star had turned up and the grey cloaks had been spotted. The final straw had been in the last few weeks when a few lone farmsteads had been smashed, the inhabitants missing. In one instance the family of a farm had managed to fight off a group of grey cloaks directing a massive worm. After that people started packing up. Thanking the farmer the party moved on, but not before Chaz bought a pig.

The town was obviously very affluent. Even the simple houses were solid and well kept, painted with bright colours, orange being predominant. The fields around the town were very verdant, and roads were well cobbled. At the Inn they found the innkeeper in the process of packing things up, and charging exorbitant prices. He was happy enough to answer questions for free though, confirming what the farmer had said. He gave a patronizing little laugh when the crew told him that they would deal with the underground threat. There had been a previous group of adventurers, he told them, that said the same thing a couple of weeks ago before they marched off to save the town. They had never returned from the crevice. 

A visit to the small temple was next and the party discovered from the priest that legend had it that a great beast lived beneath the earth and in ages past sacrifices had been given to quell its hunger, but no such sacrifice had been made in living memory. He also spoke about the appearance of the grey cloaks and that they must be members of some cult dedicated to chaos. He directed the group to an ancient pit north of the town, just before the great fissure where sacrifices were supposedly made, but no one had visited it due to its evil reputation. Ryan the cleric and Daniloth the elf both noticed that the temple was built on much more ancient foundations, into which were carved an obscure wavy script that they were not able to make heads or tales of. 

After a night at the expensive inn the crew set off at first light and soon came to the pit referred to by the priest. It was a hundred feet wide and many hundreds of yards before the edge of The Great Stinking Fissure of Gorm. Worn stone stairs spiralled down its inner surface meeting a layer of
Who's throwing pigs at me...?
obscuring and frightfully smelly mist about forty feet down. Someone tossed a rock in and they listened to it clatter for a while. Then Grom and Chaz decided that they would send the pig that Chaz had bought down first. A dubious plan, made more so by the fact that the pig had no intention of going near the pit. Grom managed to man handle the poor struggling thing and partially roll it down the first few steps, where it promptly fell off the edge and went plummeting, thumping and squealing for long moments. There was a collective faceplant as everyone now realized that whoever was down there now knew that someone was up here. 

After some squabbling the crew began a nervous decent down the perilous stairs. It was not lost on them that a single misstep could result in a very long fall. Unfortunately, Grom's spiderclimb spell wasn't nearly as effective as in the serpent mound near Hirot. As they approached the mist layer, Daniloth's keen eyes spied figures moving slowly up the stairs toward them. The party paused and a grey robed head poked partially above the mist, its face hidden. "Have you come to join us?" Came a sibilant whisper, "to worship the great Palimdybis?" 

The party looked at one another for a moment. "Why yes" said Chaz, "Yes we have". 

"Excellent" replied the whisperer. "Put down your weapons and come to us". 

"We'd actually like to hang on to our weapons if that's alright with you." This was met with seething hisses and muttering. 

"Put them down! Join us! Join us!" This seemed to signal the end of formal negotiations as Grom yelled  "Colour Spray!" and immediately forgot how to cast the spell. The rest of the crew leapt into action and arrows were loosened and forward party members charged, carefully mind you, down the steps. It was a relatively quick fight as one of the cloaked figures attempted to block the charge and the others started a hideous chanting call. They never got to successfully complete whatever magic they were attempting as they were violently kicked and hammered off the stairs. One cultist, however, didn't fall when struck down and a horrendous pulpy mass exploded from its chest and continued the attack before it was dealt with. Poking at the cultist's body, they discovered that it had no face so to speak of. Just a slit mouth and a blank rubbery visage with limp fleshy feelers ringing the outer edge. Suitably grossed out, the party continued its downward progress. 

Below the mist layer they found it to be humid and shadowy. The stairs continued to spiral down a short way but crumbled off perhaps fifty feet further on. Three doors in the pit's stoney side were seen, two easily accessible and the third further down passed a break in the stairs. The pit itself dropped alarmingly into a deep darkness, with the unsettling sense that something massive squirmed in the depths below. 

Heaving aside the first door they were greeted by a cultists rising groggily from kneeling before some sort of alter. He was dispatched forthwith and the crew set about searching the little prayer room. Ryan the cleric noticed the same curious swirly script from the town's temple on the door frame of the room, and Brand poked at some heavy egged shaped stones trying to estimate their value to weight ratio. Daniloth's secret door sense pinged and they found a little hidden passage behind the alter. 

Always willing to risk it for the chance at treasure, Brand crept in and discovered a cramped dusty old passage, crawling with little pale spiders which had painful bites. After disarming a trap, the rest of the crew squeezed in and made their way along. They discover a couple of other passages leading down from this one but kept creeping along until they found themselves emerging into a second prayer room similar to the first. Deciding to go back to the two passages they passed by, the party discovered the first one lead down an odd winding corridor to a small cavern. The cavern had an weird other worldly feel to it, a sense that was compounded by an pool of water on the ceiling, complete with a stalagmite dripping water up into the pool. The crew prepared itself for all sorts of reverse gravity situations and cautiously entered the room to find it pretty normal. Well except for the dripping up water. 

Brand decided it was time to investigate the upside down pool. He was lofted up on Chaz's shoulders and rammed head first into the pool and couple of times. Spluttering and choking he still managed to grope about and clamp his hands around a massive gold colored ring. Pulling it out, they found it had and odd script on it that no one recognized. It was also enormous, easily fitting over someone's arm almost like a torc. After a few more experiments where they found the water seemed to always fall up, the crew collected some in a couple of water skins and departed. 

They then checked out the second tunnel leading off the secret passage. This tunnel also lead down, more like a chute really, so they tied rope at the top so they could climb back up. Brand, as almost always, went first. Before he got to the bottom he heard scraping sounds of something massive and tugged on the rope to be hauled back up. Not wanting to alert whatever was down there, Daniloth, with his see in the dark elvish eyes, was sent down next. Daniloth managed to peer out the end of the tunnel and see a massive worm like creature undulating about a circular room. The length of the worm appeared to disappear down a hole in the center of the room, and bizarrely had a rope ladder affixed to it. Daniloth cautiously got down and found the worm thing didn't seem to react to his presence. He spotted another rough passage leading away from this one and quietly called the others down to investitsge. One by one they slid down the chute and all made their way past the worm and into the rough side tunnel. A few speculated about what the worm was. Grom seemed to think it was the very beast they'd been sent to kill, while Brand was of the mind it was some sort of transportation system. 

Like this. Only scarier.
The side tunnel opened into a natural cave which the gang figured must be more or less directly under the first worship room. Oddly there were a number of very old statues in the cave, worn and broken and one very new statue near the centre of a young man, dressed as a swordsman. The statue's expression was one of terror. "Wait a minute...." said Ryan the cleric as the crew heard the hiss of a beast lowering itself down the rocks toward them. It was a large lizard like creature with metallic scales, a golden horn and glowing red eyes. "Basilisk!" cried Ryan and the fight was on.

It was a tough one, made tougher by Ryan's goddess becoming fickle and denying healing and imposing disfavour. A second basilisk joined the first and things looked dire. It was down to a couple of lucky rolls but the band managed to scrape though, battered and bruised. The golden horns were hacked off and the party returned to the giant worm room. Here the group had to convince Grom, being somewhat convinced that this was the beast they were here to kill, not to start an attack. They decided to go back up to the second worship room and take a look at the third door along the stair well.

Concocting an elaborate rope system the band crossed the gap of collapsed stair to the third door. They also noticed a small cave entrance just a few yards further down the side of the pit. Grom spell burned to remember spiderclimb but just ended up summoning a swarm of little evil biting spiders when he cast it, narrowly avoiding corruption with another spell burn. It was the first time Grom had suffered something worse than a misfire, which was quite amazing considering the number of casts he makes.

So standing before the third door the crew prepared to enter, and that folks is were we left it til next time.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Doom Averted; Villagers Cheer

It's been a crazy couple of weeks so I haven't had a chance to update the actual play. We've had two sessions since my last post.

Our second session of the Doom of the Savage Kings, and third DCC session, was excellent - plenty of energy from the players, everyone was full of character, playing smart and fun.

The Company;

  • Brand the dirty sneaky Thief
  • Rubin the Warrior
  • Ryan the no nonsense Cleric of Aristemis
  • Thorkell the Warrior
  • Chez the "How do we start fighting here?" Warrior
  • Adel & Bezal - 0 level halflings
  • Daniloth the "my spells kill me" Elf
  • Chester and Lester - 0 level radish farmers
  • Grom "I'm a Wizard!!"
  • Jenson the Warrior
We picked up the action right where we left off. With Ryan the Cleric having just crawled out of the secret passage above the door in the great chamber of Ulfheonar's tomb. He was carrying a mighty wolf spear (the real one) and a magical drinking horn which his divinely inspired intuition told him had some very useful healing properties.

With their super spider powers from Grom's spectacular spider climb still good for another 23 hours, the party continued to investigate the rest of the tomb, mainly by walking on the ceiling. Brand performed admirably as a scout, with his very keen, elephantine ears. At one point he went ahead into a side tomb and received a bit of a shock when something scuttled out of the dark toward him. There followed an intense half-lit battle along the tomb's ceiling between our spider heroes and some snake filled tomb ghouls. After numerous sticky webs were shot, the death of a couple of 0 level side kicks, and the near death of a couple of 1st levelers, the band managed to defeat the ghouls and recover some magical berserker hide armour.

Searching the rest of the tomb they came across a nasty open pit filled with spears, but couldn't figure how it could be an effective trap unless one were to be somehow driven madly down its connecting corridor. At the end of that corridor was found the massive stone entrance door that they had initially avoided when arriving at the tomb earlier. Deciding to open it now, they heaved at it and were rewarded with fresh air, sunlight and sparkly water in the pond that had formed at the entrance to the tomb. Brand decided to see if there was anything to that sparkle effect and went sloshing forward. Everyone else stood back and pulled out snacks to watch the inevitable disaster unfold. Brand turned back to let everyone know that the water was harmless, nice even, but just found them all staring in horror at something behind him. He turned and and noticed two things. A couple of figures at the edge of the forest ducking back under the cover of the trees and, perhaps more jarringly, a massive animated column of water with gapping snakelike head.

Now, Brand is an very entertaining character. He is constantly stuffing treasure down his pants. His
Om nom nom nom
greed outweighs his sense of self preservation. He's petulant, cocky and petty. He's also almost died about four times. But this fifth time seemed like the final one for Brand. Despite a few brave attempts, by Ryan the Cleric especially, Brand was smashed, swallowed, drowned and shot out onto the pond's edge beyond the reach of the rest of the group, apparently very dead. The massive water snake chased the remaining party members down the entrance corridor, and they suddenly realized how dangerous that spear trap would have been if they hadn't been all spidered up. The beasty crashed into the spear pit chamber and washed away as the crew stuck to the roof.

Deciding to take one last crack at the big bronze doors in the far chamber before they left to recover Brand's body (he may be an entertaining character, but there's little love lost between the party's characters...). After another 20 minutes of hammering at that big door, they finally decided that it must be a fake and packed up to leave by the same crumbled hole in the wall they'd come in by. Outside they found that their donkey, supplies, remaining 0 level tag alongs and Brand's body were all gone.

Puzzling over this the party heard a shout from the woods above and saw a disreputable sort of woodsman holding a knife to Brand's throat, who seemed water logged and disoriented, but alive (Brand had made his "Turned Over" roll when the bandit had come to check his corpse..!). There were four other woodsmen with bows trained on the crew. The bandits demanded the wolfspear in exchange for the lives of their captives (they had the 0 levels and donkey as well). Offering up the fake wolfspear instead, Chez the warrior brought it forward and jabbed it in the ground near the pond. Two of the bowmen came forward and just as they reached the spear, Brand made a wild (and lucky) attempt to get out of the knife hold and managed not only escape but ended up holding the knife. The woodsmen were slow on the draw as the party used the distraction to act. Most went rushing up the hill to get at the leader and the two bowmen behind him. Chez however threw his pack into the pond beside the spear and the two woodsmen next to it. The water immediately erupted as the giant water snake reared up again and came slamming down on the two bandits.

The fight was brutish and a couple of the bowmen tried to run off but were quickly spider web stickied in place. After some brief questioning ascertained that they'd been sent by the Jarl, they were unceremoniously dispatched. The band recovered their goods, a few extra coins from a huntsman's coin purse and several bows, which they were very happy about as they hadn't been able to get a hold of any ranged weapons up until this point. The group was torn between returning to Hirot to deal with the Jarl and pressing forward to confront the demon hound in the fens to the west now that they had the spear. They finally decided to go after the Demon Hound and set up camp for the night.

They were not visited by the hound that night (which was off ravaging Hirot presumably) and woke mostly refreshed early the next morning. The journey took a few hours before they reached the outskirts of the fens. Foul mists, mysterious shrouded shapes and treacherous paths greeted them in the bogs as they slowly made their way to its dark heart. When they came to the edge of a great sinkhole, with stinking black clouds billowing out, they knew they had found the demon hound's lair. For a moment the mists cleared and they spied a grey cloaked figure watching them from the other side of the sinkhole. Could this be one of the grey cloaks that had encouraged the no good brothers Kej, Stien and Illham to raid the tomb of Ulfeonor in the first place? Or one of the ones that had come sniffing around the village of Lemsby shortly before the demon in the Starless Sea was awakened?

The mists quickly obscured the mysterious figure and a quick look about turned up no trace. The crew decided to forge ahead and using ropes, descended into the pit. At the bottom they found a charnel of animal, human and not so human remains scattered about, with a foreboding pool of utter blackness in the centre. Daniloth the elf sensed a place of great magical power, Ryan the cleric sensed pure evil and potent chaos. Grom understanding that the black substance was likely full of magic announced that he was going to plunge his hands into the pool and pour a gout of it down his throat. Grom's pretty wild about magic like that. He's constantly firing off color spray and he's not got close to ever rolling any corruption. However this time he was quickly deterred as his hands were scorched by the strange liquid. Daniloth took a more prudent approach and tipped some into a steel vile he had been carrying about since the starless sea adventure.

Woof! Now I'm mad!
The party soon realized that they would have to wait for darkness to confront the demon hound, a prospect that they were not looking forward too. It was then that Ryan decided to invoke his deity's aid in bringing an end to this chaotic menace. Turns out that the deity Aristemis thought that was a bloody good idea (a natural 20...) and blew away all the dark cloud, allowing light to filter down into the sinkhole, filling everyone one with a +2 attack bonus of confidence for the next five rounds and calling the hound unwillingly forward to make battle.

It was a fine and desperate fight, with characters dropping and being saved by lucky rolls and quick healing from the Cleric. Finally the demon wolf was pinned with the great spear and Chez the warrior chopped the thing's head off with a mighty blow. It exploded in an almighty spray of back mist with a definite sense of finality. The black ooze dried up considerably into a small spring like trickle. Bloodied but triumphant the crew slapped each other on the back and then set about searching the pit for treasure.  A few interesting trinkets were found, included a fearsome dragon helm adopted by Jenson.

Now it was time to return to Hirot and confront the Jarl.

The guards at the town's gate knew something was up when the battered crew returned with grim smiles that evening. The guards informed them that the hound had attacked the night before, killing more villagers and the Jarl was going draw for the sacrificial lot that day. "Fear not!" cried our heroes, "for we have slain the beast for good!" 

They retired to the Wolf and Spear, and a crowd quickly gathered. It didn't take long for most of the village to show up including many of the Jarl's Thane's, some of whom looked on with clear admiration, some less so. The heroes were peppered with questions, which they answered factually or bombastically depending on who was speaking, the townsfolk growing more jubilant as they realized that their woes may be over. It was then that the doors to the tavern were smashed opened and in stalked a seething Jarl, his weaselly wizard and a couple of sour looking thanes. "Where are the defilers that have raided my ancestor's tomb and taken what is rightfully mine!" He demanded. The crowd became backed up as the Jarl and our heroes took center stage and faced off. 

There was a furious debate where the Jarl insisted the magic Wolf Spear was his as Ulfeonor was an ancestor and that it had been stolen from him, denying his right to defeat the demon wolf. The heroes pointed out that the Jarl could have claimed the spear at anytime, and they had been forced to do the Jarl's job for him, and that his lottery seemed rather suspicious. It was clear that the villagers were siding with the party, and many of the thanes too for that matter. Sensing that his very rulership was in  jeopardy, the Jarl advanced menacingly, a few of his most loyal thanes putting their hands to their swords. Chez the warrior loosened his weapons and it looked like things where about to get bloody. 

"Color Spray!" yelled Grom the wizard surprising everyone. Everyone that is except Syllus Ru the Jarl's wizard who attempted to counter Grom's spell. There followed a brief magical test of wills, but Grom's spell won the day and knocked out three targets of his choosing. "The Jarl, the weasel wizard, and that totally hot farmer's daughter over there... What!?! She looked tired! I'll come back and tend to her!"

The crowd was silent, the thanes - now obviously split into two camps, one loyal, one not - eyed each other and the party wearily. The Jarl, his wizard and a very attractive farmer lay unconscious on the tavern floor. The time was ripe! Grom leaped forward "The Jarl has been lying to you!" He was backed up by Bran, Daniloth and Ryan "The lotto is rigged!" Grabbing torches they lead the villagers and a number of thanes to the lottery box in the town square. Brand made short work of the lock and they found the secret box inside. The name on about twenty peices of paper in the secret box was "Brogeon", the popular proprietor of the Wolf and Spear. This set the villagers into a fury and whatever doubts the thanes had about their Jarl's leadership were sealed. 

"To Meadhold!" Cried Brand, thinking it would be a good opportunity to scoop up some treasure. However the thanes, though no longer loyal to the Jarl, kept an eye on the few valuable items in the great hall as the crowd stomped through. "The weasel wizard probably knew more than he was letting on - we should search his quarters!" yelled Daniloth. The thanes appeared far less concerned about Silus Ru's property and Brand and Daniloth raided his shelves and hastily stuffed important looking scrolls down their pants. "Nothing much here - back to the inn!"

Back at the Inn, the few loyal thanes left stopped a lynching and were allowed to take the stumbling Jarl and his wizard out of the town, banished in a pelting of overripe vegetables. Will we see these now bitter folk again...? 

Brogeon opened the bar to all and celebrations ran long into the night. 

Ymae's looking pretty good for an old crone...
However, at one point Brand, Ryan and Daniloth thought to check in on the old witch, Ymae. Curiously the sounds of revelry faded to a distant echo as they approached her hut and a beautiful maiden emerged. It was Ymae transformed, and suddenly Brand was regretting not taking her up on that marriage deal.

"You were successful. Good. However a greater menace grows. Under the Hollow Star, the grey
cloaks have been seeking out and waking old things, things that have slept for a very long time". Everybody felt a tremor in the ground, faint yet ominous. "Now they wake a very old power to the east, a powerful spirit of the earth. It moves underneath us all..." Another tremor. "If fully revived, it will be very hungry and all in the land will be in danger..."

And that is where we left it!