Thursday, November 21, 2013

Goblin Wars Session Three: Into the Halls of the Goblin King

I'm trying smoky eye. Too much?
Last night, the party returned to the ruins of the Desert Wind Monastery to see if they could take down the Hobgoblin King. Reginald the Boastful, Ieho, and Honest Mercy formed the party, backed by their loyal henchmen Dr. Bolyai, Jeff, and Devabriel. They fought their way past a group of zombies fairly handily, but were surprised to find another adventuring party at the top of the hill, the Mad Dogs! Artemis Ventura, Szaborek the Oafish, and their leader, Zanzibar the Magnificent. The conversation was quite civil, since Zanzibar and Reginald both have close relations with the church, and the Mad Dogs went their separate way, heading back to town to nurse their wounds from clearing out the goblins in the garden.

The party, who really needs to pick out a party name before I have +Humza Kazmi pick out one for them, proceeds to clear out the surface level, but not without cost. Reeling especially from the battle with two ogres, and with a badly injured paladin, they decide to head back to town. They found a large cache of weapons, making them think the hobgoblins had been preparing to invade. In any case, they spend a week making connections with the merchants of Solove, and sell four loads of the arms.

Returning to the monastery, they proceed towards the stairs leading down to the catacombs underneath, when who should they run into but the Mad Dogs again! They had explored the right-ward passage, but had suffered some injuries breaking through a barricade the hobgoblins had set up, and so were headed right back into town. The party went down the same way, but found a secret door the Mad Dogs had missed, and went through it. They found an arena, where Honest Mercy befriended two wolves, and the main hobgoblin barracks. They managed to pin the hobgoblins in their room, where they were slain one by one. The illusion the gnome threw up of a fireball didn't hurt either! Now the party readies their next move.

It is October 29th.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

King Phillip and the Ugly Statue

Once, there was a king of Solaria named Phillip. He had a daughter he loved more than anything in the world. One day, she declared that she wanted a pet badger. But throughout the land, no one could find a badger tame enough for the princess. Alexander, Phillip's adviser, had a suggestion. "Call for the bard Kimbra. She has power over animals." So Phillip called for the bard. "Take me to the forest," she said. When they arrived at the forest, Kimbra took out her lute and began to play. A badger came out of the forest and began purring, rubbing itself against the leg of the princess. "Excellent!" cried the king. "You may have any reward you wish, up to half my kingdom." Knowing the king to be a vain man, Kimbra said, "There is nothing I would like more than to see a statue of your majesty in every village, for you are a handsome man." The king was pleased. He had the statues erected and married the bard. But when the statues were erected nine months later, the king was not pleased. He thought they made him look fat. In a rage, he killed Kimbra, and ordered the army to march through the land to tear down each and every statue. To this day, an insult that elicits a response that is too large is called a Phillipan Insult.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rumors for Session Three

From VectorGenius at DeviantArt
Last week, the party shifted their base to Solove in order to explore the Desert Wind Monastery. They've found the main building, but have yet to examine what lies beneath.

1 The Desert Wind Monastery, south of Solove, was founded by a group of heretical monks who believed that Fayon's court mage Ither was immortal and is the only one now preaching the true religion. He lives in the desert still.
2 South of Solove, a temple has been taken over by hobgoblins
3 There's a small graveyard outside of town that is starting to show signs of becoming a sinkhole of evil.
4 The Sisters of Fire & Water do great work with orphans
5 Fellmont Abbey's beer is the best!
6 You know those frog totem poles you see every once in a while, 'specially down south? They're cursed by Koschei, and will turn you into a frog if you touch them.
It is the 20th day of October.  The weather is cool, with a 20% chance of light rain.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Goblin Wars Session Three: Horror on the Hill

The first thought of the players was to investigate the locked door they had found in Castle Caldwell. Unfortunately, there were no mages available to cast knock (and it would have been difficult for them to afford, in any case). But, there were rumors of hobgoblins near Solove, so the party went that way to see if they couldn't find some fame or fortune. They thought they should try and take some trade goods with them, but sadly, no merchants had goods they wanted to trade. Perhaps if Threshold were a bit bigger.

The only meaningful encounter along the way was an encounter with some thirty bandits. Thanks to their great skill at diplomacy, and some lucky rolls, they were able to negotiate the paying of a 100 gp 'toll'. They arrive in Solove, and spend the day looking around the town and hearing rumors. They are a bit worried at the prospect of running into some sort of hobgoblin god, but assume he'd be a pushover if they did find him.

The next day they climb the hill to the ruins on top, where the hobgoblins are supposed to be. They manage to surprise three ghouls gnawing on some unidentifiable remains, and dispatch them before they can react. Reaching the top of the hill, they tentatively explore the ruins. They easily deal with three giant centipedes and approach a tomb. Inside the tomb, the door swings shut, and they are attacked by 12 skeletons. The party is starting to hope the cleric reaches level one soon! Nevertheless, the skeletons prove to not be much of a threat either, and they seize the eyes from some pagan idol and make their way to the monastery.

Inside the monastery, they chase a troupe of giant rats from the ruined kitchen and excavate the library before coming across a larger room. There they find a fountain, from which Ieho and Bolyai drink. Ieho is fortunate, and feels a bit more dextrous, but Bolyai finds himself generally less competent of a human being. After managing to spend a (luckily) eventless night, they find the main door to the monastery. Before they can open it, a dozen goblins charge them from the nearby garden. Geoff is quickly bashed across the face with the business end of a short sword. Thanks to quick intervention from Reginald, he is brought back to consciousness, but has some minor scarring. After Reginald dispatches the goblins, taking a minor wound in the process, the party decides to go back to town to lick their wounds before entering the monastery proper.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pre-session Two Update

Last week, the party cleared out Castle Caldwell, taking especial care with a nest of stirges and wondering about what a certain locked door meant. When the characters return to town, they hear the following rumors:

1 Pirates are an increasing problem in Morachi Bight
2 South of Solove, a temple has been taken over by hobgoblins
3 There's a small graveyard outside of town that is starting to show signs of becoming a sinkhole of evil. 4 The Sisters of Fire & Water do great work with orphans
5 Fellmont Abbey's beer is the best!
6 You know those frog totem poles you see every once in a while, 'specially down south? They're cursed by Koschei, and will turn you into a frog if you touch them.
Just to remind you, not all of these are intended to be plot points, so if you're wondering what to do about mysterious frog totems, don't worry about it. It's probably not important. It is the 11th day of October, 79, but the weather is still mild. It is pleasant, and partly cloudy.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Equipment Availability

So, when I was writing up the setting, I said that Threshold acts like a Class IV market for the purposes of hiring mercenaries and henchmen. I did this mostly because I didn't want it to be too difficult for the PCs to find hirelings, and the rationale was basically that there's so much adventuring activity, being on the frontier and all, that there were more martial types to be hired than normal. I didn't intend for it to apply to equipment.

Well, last night, a member of the party wanted to buy a suit of plate mail. Not wanting to look up the market availability rules, I said that the PCs could be one of anything in the equipment guide. Looking back, that's way too generous, especially after giving the standard availability table a second look. At the same time, I want them to be able to buy plate mail. So here's the deal. There is one of every piece of equipment that sells for 100gp or less. There's just so much volatility in the market that there's always something available. But if you want more than one, or if you want something that costs more (like a silver two-handed sword), you use the standard table.

Arden Est Session One: Castle Caldwell

Of the various rumors heard by the party, they decided that the nobleman needing help sounded the most promising. After meeting with him, a Baron Clifton Caldwell, they negotiated for medical benefits in addition to the promised pay. So four brave adventurers headed into the wilderness: Reginald (Paladin 1), his man Prufrock (Theif 1), Hugh (Fighter 1), and Ieho (Dwarven Machinist 1). (Ieho, in an odd twist, was introduced to the party by the man who is now his henchman, Devabriel the venturer, who decided adventuring was not for him.)

They arrived at the castle, and immediately found a group of goblins arguing over who was entitled to what treasure. The party was happy to help them settle that dispute. They also dispatched a group of goblins patrolling the hallway, but that was the end of combat for a while. They found a number of humans who had taken up refuge in the castle, not expecting to be trapped by goblins. They were varyingly unsavory, but no one really wanted to fight, so the party was willing to escort them out of the castle. This included the Chaotic priestess who, as a level one cleric, did not yet detect as evil to the paladin.

One of the remaining combats was against a giant shrew. I let them choose between the modules version (who automatically won initiative) or the ACKS version (who got +1 to hit). They took the ACKS version, wisely as it turns out, as they won initiative and killed it before it could act. The only other combat the first day was against a crab spider. It got the drop on them (literally), landing on Prufrock's back and breaking it. (Also, first official roll on the Mortal Wounds table.) Thus ended a promising career almost before it started. Prufrock lived, thanks to the Paladin's lay on hands and good rolling for the healing proficiency by Ieho, but he would never walk again.

The last combat of the module was saved for the second day. The thief heard stirges behind one of the doors and, perhaps scarred from last week, was reluctant to fight them unless they were at full power. But, when they ripped open the door, there were only three stirges, who fell relatively easily. The party returned to town and received their reward. However, they were curious about a certain door which they could not open...

Back in town, Ieho hired a fighter for a henchman. Reginald wanted a cleric to replace Prufrock, but none were looking for work. Reginald decided to ask the local church, and lo and behold, after a 100gp donation, there was an acolyte willing to join the party.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


% In Lair: 25%
Dungeon Enc: Gang (2d4) / Lair (1 warband)
Wilderness Enc: Warband (1d4 gangs) / Village (1d10 warbands)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 3 + 1
Attacks: 1 (weapon)
Damage: 1d4+1 or 1d6+1
Save: F3
Morale: +2
Treasure Type: H (per warband)
XP: 65

Vodyanoi appear to be large, portly, men with large, soggy beards, but they are in fact made of water, and can be recognized by the pools of water that tend to appear around their feet. They are the chief soldiers and minions of Koschei the deathless, fey prince of winter. They are affable and friendly if it does not interfere with their mission, but are completely loyal to Koschei. 

In combat they normally wield cudgels, doing 1d4+1 points of damage, but if it is bitterly cold out, the cudgels gain a coating of jagged ice, and deal 1d6+1 point of damage. Vodyanoi can breath water, and can cast control water as a 5th level magic-user. Often, a vodyanoi in the water will attempt to grab a victim and drown him; they gain +2 to grapple attempts while in the water. They can also summon fish, either 1d4 attack fish, or a cloud of fish that acts as a wall of smoke. 

Vodyanoi lair in rivers and lakes, and, to the extent Koschei allows it, will give the local community fish in exchange for propitiation. They especially like pearls. Each gang is led by a vodyanoi zakone, a larger vodyanoi with AC 5, 4+1 HD, and a spear doing 1d6+1/1d8+1 damage. Each warband is led by a sub-boyar, with AC 6, 5+1 HD, and a spear doing 1d6+3/1d8+3 damage. There is also a 25% chance that there will be a koldun, who has the stats of a normal vodanyoi, but 1d4 wizard levels. Each village is led by a boyar, AC 7, 7+2 HD, and a spear doing 1d6+5/1d8+5. There is also always a koldun with 1d6 wizard levels in each village.

Urban Vodyanoi are vodyanoi who have left the traditional habitat of streams and lakes, and moved to the city. There they can often be found working for the local theives guild. They have learned to alter their features to blend in; those meeting them outside of combat do not remember such encounters unless they save vs. spell or the vodyanoi wishes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Update, pre-Session One

Last week, the party cleared out a den of stirges. In the process, they found a dead gray humanoid with a backpack full of arms and a magical sword. When the characters return to town, they hear the following rumors:
1 Pirates are an increasing problem in Morachi Bight
2 South of Solove, a temple has been taken over by hobgoblins
3 A noble is in Threshold, seeking adventurers to clear out a castle he recently acquired.
4 The Sisters of Fire & Water do great work with orphans
5 Fellmont Abbey's beer is the best!
6 You know those frog totem poles you see every once in a while, 'specially down south? They're cursed by Koschei, and will turn you into a frog if you touch them.
It is the first day of October, 79, but the weather is still mild. It is pleasant, though overcast.

Monday, November 4, 2013

20 Question by Jeff Rients

Jeff Rients' 20 Questions ( )

1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
All PC clerics follow the Valharim, former mortals who earned immortality through their mighty deeds. By and large they get along with each other, though all oppose the machinations of the mad goddess Hadeth.
2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
Gselic's Outfitters. Serving nogoodniks since CE 63!
3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
You can ask Gselic, though he's not great at that sort of thing. Your best bet is Ragnar Camazotz, brother of the lord mayor of Pechen.
4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
Rijs van Dekker, of Czerny
5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
Prince Beren Evereska
6. Who is the richest person in the land?
Prince Beren Evereska

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?
Most shrines have a temple that can provide at least basic healing spells and potions.
8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
More serious conditions can be treated at the Chapterhouse of the Priesthood of Gwynnyth, goddess of love and war.
9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
There is no organized magic guild in Morachi, though major cities like Pechen have established salons. Most wizards have a master who will teach them a spell when they level up.
10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
There are some in Threshold, since they welcome the opportunity to relieve PCs of their gold, but your best bet is Pechen.
11. Where can I hire mercenaries?
Many with some martial experience, or the desire to acquire it, frequent the Whaling Whistle Inn, though more disreputable sorts are often at the Burning Scow.

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
None, though outright violence in the streets is going to be frowned upon. Threshold, especially, is a bit rough and tumble.
13. Which way to the nearest tavern?
In addition to the Burning Scow and the Whaling Whistle, there's the Tilted Pinky, which is somewhat more upscale. Threshold's most prominent mage, Lady Elvira Mollusk (L6), can often be found here.
14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
The big ones are the goblin queen Baba Yaga and her brother/consort/archenemy Koschei the Deathless. Closer to home, there are rumors of a necromancer in the swamp southeast of town who's supposed to be responsible for the increase in undead lately.
15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
No wars proper, though there's always tension with Fogelon to the southwest. Goblin raids are on the rise, and the orc tribes to the north are restless.
16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
While there are some in the lands rules by Thyrania, the northern peoples consider such fighting to be barbaric.
17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
None that you know about right now; they're secret.

18. What is there to eat around here?
Goulash is the standard meal inns provide for their lodgers. Stews and sausages are very common, though the quality of the filler in the sausage varies quite a bit. Roast goose is common for holidays and feasting.
19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
The three artifacts of Fayon -- the Cup, Ring, and Breastplate -- are the most powerful known items. The ritual for longevity has been lost since the fall of Thyrania. Tokhar's Axe, wielded by a legendary barbarian, is said to enable its wielder to mow down men like grass.
20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
There are rumors that a black dragon, Ancalagon, lives in the Labrinsk Hills.


Threshold is the capital of Brno, relatively large with 104 families. As it is right near the borderlands, it is home to an unusually large number of potential adventurers. (Roll for henchmen and hirelings as if a class IV market.) Just outside of town are the Laternan Caves, recently renamed the Caves of Chaos, as minions of Chaos have been  spotted near there. And, as everyone knows, where there are Chaos creatures, there is often treasure.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Morachi is the youngest of the successor kingdoms. It had been populated by settlers from Muldavia, but never formally organized until an adventurer named Mikulas Mathias from Fogelon came in and united the people under his rule. Since then, Morachi has been slowly expanding to the north and east along the Reka river.
Mikulas Mathias founded Morachi about sixty years ago. As noted earlier, the area had been populated somewhat by settlers from Fogelon, but had not been organized. That is, except for large bandit gangs who troubled the king of Fogelon enough that he sent Mikulas and his party to stop the bandits. Mikulas showed remarkable mercy in dealing with the bandits, and so was able to use them to consolidate his control over the area. He was nominally a vassal of Fogelon, but they were in the middle of a succession dispute, and paid him little heed.

Mikulas' successor, Stephen Bocksai, further consolidated the kingdom, expanding north along the Reka river. The main threat during his reign came from raids by the Orcish tribes that live to the north. Not only did they threaten Morachi directly, they threatened to cut off the flow of metals that come from the mines of Norhold. Stephen delved into a dungeons located in the hills near Norhold, and there recovered the Globus Cruciger. With the Globus Cruciger, he was able to control the gold dragon Faranth, and drive the orcs back.

The current king is Matthias Corvinus. When he took the throne, he announced formal independence from Fogelon, conveniently while they were at war with Muldavia. Fogelon has not recognized their independence, but has not had the resources to establish control. Corvinus is growing older, and some worry that Fogelon might take advantage of his age to reclaim the territory for themselves.

The Map of Arden Est

Map created using hexographer
Arden Est was originally named Arden Oest by the elves, referring to the great forest that covered wide swathes of this portion of the continent, and of which there are only scattered remnants. There are six kingdoms now, splintered branches of the Solarian Empire which disintegrated during the Second Demon War. The northernmost kingdom is Morachi, and is also the least connected to the old rites and rituals of Empire.