Sunday, March 30, 2014

Session Twenty: Ogre, Ogre

The Cobalt Cavers, consisting this session of Vasily and Darwain together with their henchmen, decide to leave Lesnime after learning what they could about Skarda and his mirrors. They briefly discuss Tegel Manor, where the lord is rumored to be a vampire, but decide to head back to Threshold. Shortly after leaving Lesnime, the party encounter an old man in the road, who asked them to help. He is a merchant, and goblins attacked and looted his caravan. He could lead the party to the goblin's lair, to retrieve his merchandise, and they would be richly rewarded.

The party is a little bit suspicious, and so Vasily looks around for the goblin tracks. He sees some tracks, but can't make out what they are. They follow the old man to the cave, and head inside. Once inside, they find that, instead of goblins, six ogres attack! After a massive fight, two of the ogres are killed, and the rest retreat. Vasily and Darwain pursue the ogres, leaving Wylith and Duggan behind.

While Vasily and Darwain chase four ogres in a dark cave, the old man approaches Wylith and Duggan. He attempts to charm Duggan, but fails. Wylith's counter-hex also fails, but Duggan manages to get a hit in. As he does, the illusion fails, and the old man is revealed to be a lamia. Her disguise vanished, she flees, and Wylith and Duggan move deeper into the cave to where Vasily and Darwain are fighting a horde of ogres.

When Vasily and Darwain followed the ogres, they were led into a large cave. The cave has 5 entrances, and fifteen ogres pour out and attack. By the time Duggan and Wylith rejoin them, half of the ogres are dead, but six ogre champions have rejoined them. They fight a bit longer, but it's clear that, eventually, the ogres will overwhelm them. The Cavers retreat, and the ogres do not follow.

Outside of Czerny, they encounter a strange phenomenon -- a swarm of frogs. In unison, the frogs warn the party to stay clear of Koschei's business. They eventually make it to Ishpeming, where they decide they will head to the citadel where the Order of the Golden Fleece has it's regional headquarters (pictured above).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Next Campaign Idea

So, it's a King David campaign! One of the characters has been anointed by Fayon to become the rightful king of, well, probably Wesnar. The current king isn't too happy about this, so the characters have to go into hiding, trying to raise support while dodging the figurative and literal arrows of King 'Saul'.  Of course, I should probably finishing the current campaign first...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Session Nineteen: And Then There Were Two

Picture from Monkey in the Cage
We find the Cobalt Cavers in the process of heading back to Gdansk after retrieving the lifestone of Xanathon. Back in town, they meet up with the cleric Eric Forsett, who reminds the party that if Xanathon dies without revealing how to heal the duke, all of their efforts will have been in vain. The party nods, and heads off to the temple to confront Xanathon. Rather than go through the temple again, they circle to the window they crashed out of last time. As they discuss their options, a group of barbarians round the corner, yelling, "What are you doing here?" The Cavers respond with a sleep spell and throat cutting.

With their planning completed, they break through the large window into Xanathon's chamber. They have carefully orchestrated their plan -- Duggan smashes the window and Wylith's choking grasp incapacitates the high priest. But this plan goes south when Xanathon resists the spell. A protracted conflict ensues, with the skill at arms of the Cavers preventing Xanathon from casting any spells, while Xanathon and his mace leave few marks on the team. As Xanathon begins to weary from the blows, the Cavers begin to pull their punches to ensure he is taken alive. A couple of key misses allow Xanathon to finally cast finger of death, but saves are made, and finally Xanathon is forced to surrender and reveal the antidote to them.

Xanathon is brought outside town to Glenn Danzig, who promises to keep him locked up. The party then heads to the baron's palace to heal him. The manor is empty until they get near the baron's chambers. Draco, along with his lieutenant and captain, is waiting for the party. A terrible fight ensues, knocking out Duggan and Celebrian. Darwain is driven to withdraw, but his Parthian shot kills Draco, and Draco's men immediately surrender. The baron is in the next room, and the Cavers heal him. In gratitude, the baron offers 2,000 gp to both Darwain and Vasily. However, when they head back to meet up with Captain Danzig, they discover Xanathon is gone! Apparently some illusionist disguised himself as Darwain, and took Xanathon away.

While they are on the great middle road anyway, the Cavers decide to head to Lesnime to talk with Aderan's mentor about the mirror tower. On the way, they are assaulted by a tribe of nearly fifty feral halflings who had been eating some merchants, but the Doppelstompers drive them off and appropriate their treasure.

In Lesnime, they meet with Aderan's mentor, a mage named Kessler. He tells the Cobalt Cavers that about a hundred years ago, before Morachi was founded, a wizard named Skarda lived in that tower. Skarda was a master of mirror magic, and created a magical mirror that linked up with the demiplane of mirrors, the space behind all mirrors. His intentions were not good -- he would take an army into that demiplane, use his magic to sneak into the residence of whatever ruler he wished to supplant, and the army would pour out of the mirror, overwhelming the defenders. Fortunately, a hero named Matamoros climbed the tower and defeated Skarda. But Skarda was not dead. Before Matamoros could land the finishing blow, Skarda lept into his mirror. Matamoros then took up residence in the tower. He kept the mirror as a trophy of his victory, but covered it so that Skarda could not escape the demiplane.

Aderan reasons that the most recent resident of that tower must have lifted the cover off of the mirror, allowing Skarda to escape. With more time, Skarda could take the magic mirror with him, replenish his army, and use it to attack one of the dukes, establishing himself in their place.

It is June 1st, 80.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ethereal Sword

During the enlightened ages of the rule of the Solarian Empire, there was an archmage named Egon. Egon loved to plunder tombs, but after a particularly painful encounter with a ghost aged his beloved Janine 20 years, Egon decided to create a sword that would be particularly effective against ghosts.

The ethereal sword appear to just be a hilt, as the blade exists entirely on the ethereal plane. It has no effect on creatures that lack a substantial presence on the ethereal plane, such as humans, humanoids, and most monsters. However, against creatures with a substantial connection to the ethereal plane, it functions as a sword +2. And against creatures that are fully ethereal, the sword deals double damage. As long as he wielded this sword, it was said that Egon was not afraid of any ghosts.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Session Eighteen: Spectre strikes from the shadows

This session saw Darwain, Vasily, and Aderan, with their henchpeople Duggan, Wylith, and Celebrian, head northwest from Gdansk, across the Aquila River, into orc country. The two day trip to an outcropping of hills was uneventful. The map they followed was good, but incomplete as they ran into a split in the trail the map had failed to account for. They decided to go east, since that was the closest to left, and they are nothing if not creatures of habit. As they approach a cave mouth, they are surprised by a manticore erupting from its underground lair, spraying the party with spikes. The flurry of missiles failed to stop the beast, and it landed next to Darwain to get the visceral pleasure from tearing him limb from limb with its own claws. Unfortunately for the manticore, Darwain had reinforced the haft of his arbalest, and bludgeoned the creature to death with it.

The natural cave very quickly gave way to a man-made structure, and the statue inside confirmed the party's suspicions -- this was the shrine of Crom within which they expected to find the life force of the evil high priest Xanathon. The shrine is largely empty of life. The clerics in charge had received a vision from their god that the party was coming, and had prepared themselves in their room. Sadly for them, this was to no avail, and they were cut down. There was also a strangely long corridor which led to a portion of the shrine identical to the portion they had left, but with dead clerics instead of living ones. Shrugging their shoulders, the Cobalt Cavers continued to explore the areas they had not yet covered.

In the southwest corner of the shrine, they came across some barracks. The first six were easily dealt with by one of Aderan's sleep spells, but the next six spilling out from behind them were not quite so easily taken care of. Darwain's arbalest killed two, and very nearly killed three, and the axes and swords of the rest of the party sufficed for the remainder. Finally the sergeants spilled out of a third room, but these too fell to the Cavers.

After this, the party began to suspect there was something odd about the shrine. A long discussion led them to the conclusion that it had to be the strangely long corridor. Once they went there with some chalk, the answer became clear -- there was a teleportation trap that had turned them around. Knowing this, it was easy to circumvent. Behind the trap were stairs leading to the second level, guarded by two gargoyles. Vasily was undeterred, and decapitated them with one mighty swing.

Below, the party came across a room with twelve platforms, and twelve mouldering corpses on the platforms. Once Wylith entered, the corpses animated themselves, but she quickly controlled six and departed with four of them, leaving two to block the exit. The Cobalt Cavers avoided the caves to the south of the level, and very quickly found themselves accosted by a hypnosnake. Two of the zombies died fighting the snake, and another two with supporting missile fire were able to kill the wights they found in a further room.

Finally, in a throne room, the Cavers found a pulsating gem that could only be the artifact they sought. But guarding the gem was a spectre. The party quickly put down the incorporeal fiend, but not before it faded through their lines to put it's icy claws around Celebrian's neck, draining her life force to nothing. After that, the party resolved to explore further, but took that decision back after an encounter with five ogres convinced them that the risk of further exploration was greater than the reward.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Rumors for Session Eighteen

1. There is a road in Elkstrov Woods where a ghost wanders during the day
2. The lead actress in the Damsel and the Trog was murdered on opening night by the leading actor. The actor then immediately melted into a puddle of water
3. No one knows where the necromancer has his lair
4. Mercenaries saying the work for the Doppelstompers have inhabited an empty tower near Threshhold
5. Robi Samdos, the head of the Golden Order, has not been heard from in some time
6. Another young girl has gone missing in Ishpeming

It is May 20th, 80. The weather is warm and cloudy.

Friday, March 7, 2014


"In the beginning there was only chaos, and the spirits of chaos moved over the waters. But when God came upon the chaos, and breathed on it, he brought order to the chaos, and he saw that the order was good. Some portion of the spirits of chaos then came to serve God, but others rebelled. The rebellious spirits God threw into hell, but those who served were rewarded and even now shape the world." The Book of Fayon

There are many entities that will grant spells. Many hills and forests have their own spirits, though these do not grant much in the way of power. Still, there are some hedge witches/wizards who gain some magic from them. There are also more powerful entities. Fayon, when he was mortal, got his spells from the Platinum Dragon. Many warlocks get their powers from Hades, lord of his eponymous domain. Orc shamans get their power from Crom. But most human clerics in the world since the Second Demon War get their powers from the Immortals.

The Immortals were all once mortal, but one way or another earned godhood. Most of the Immortals are saints, demi-god level individuals with narrow profiles. For example, the church of Threshold is dedicated to St. Palmatius, patron of butchers and glassblowers. St. Cuthbert, patron of righteous vengeance, is popular among otherwise secular adventurers. But the most important of the Immortals are the nine Valharim.

The Sage is the oldest of the Valharim. He discovered God's true name untold ages ago. He is patron of hidden knowledge, but is not much worshipped.
Covellia is the next oldest. She discovered wizardry, and led the armies of light in the Dawn Wars. She is patron of magic.
Fayon is the head of the Valharim. He founded the Thyranian empire and ruled it wisely for centuries. He is patron of justice, paladins, and barbers.
Adreham was the chief advisor to Fayon in life, viceroy over half the empire. He is well known as a great polymath, and is the patron of democracy, civilization, and cities.
Vassa was a pirate captain who, along with Soren, was instrumental in saving civilization during the First Demon War. She is the patron of the sea and those who make their living from the sea, as well as cyclops.
Soren was a dwarven prince who opened his domain to people fleeing the destruction of the First Demon War. He is the patron of dwarves, miners, and those seeking to escape slavery.
Kilmar was the partner of Alexander. They brought the Elvish Gift into the chaoslands, and it was his skill with the bow that fended off the demons while Alexander placed it to close the hellgate to end the Second Demon War. He is patron of sanity, elves, and archers.
Alexander was a legendary ranger during the Second Demon War. It was his supernatural skill at tracking that led them through the chaoslands, a task thought impossible. He is patron of dragonslayers, rangers, and tracking.
Ryanna was the wife of Haradon, last emperor of the Solarian Empire during the Second Demon war. She led Ryanna's Wolves, a group of guerilla fighters who harried the demons without ceasing during the war. She is consort of Fayon, general of heaven's armies, and patron of love and war.
Finally, Hadeth is no longer counted among the Valharim. After falling into madness and despair, she was imprisoned in Hades by Fayon. She is patron of madness, war, and xenophobia.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Session Seventeen: Please Mace +2 Don't Hurt 'Em.

Guess what you're going to fight next week
The Cobalt Cavers finally decided to use ESP on the bandit they captured. Reading his mind, they discovered the location of the bandit camp. However, the bandits commanded a force of 250 men, far more than even the Doppelstompers could take on. So they make a note to come back when they have a larger force under their own command. They then travel back to Pechen.

Vasily decided it was time for him to have his own henchman, and so recruited Celebrian, a former Elven Courtier who left her homeland for reasons yet unknown. While there, Vasily runs into an old friend of his from his days with the Evertine Legion, Arik Pardemain. Arik mentions that the baron of Gdansk, Stephen, has been issuing bizarre edicts, such as a requirement that taxes be paid in beer. The party decides that this is worth looking into, and they make the trip up to Gdansk.

Gdansk is a medium town on the northwest border of Morachi. As such, it is home to a small orcish population who come to trade horses and livestock. In addition, a number of foreign born dwarves reside there. Recently there has been tension surrounding the temple to the orcish god Crom.

The party heads to a local bar to meet with Glenn Danzig, one of the sergeants for the Evertine Legion. He fills the party in on what's going on, and notes that people suspect a curse. Either Draco, the head of the baronial troops in town, or Crom and the orcs, are trying to undermine the baron's authority by stoking resentment against him. No sooner does Danzig mention this, but the town crier comes into the tavern announcing a ban on dwarves! Any dwarves found in the city will be stretched on the rack until they're a reasonable height.

Danzig says that the Legion is going to decamp outside of town and consider heading east. The party decides they are going to head to the baron's palace and ask him a few questions. On their way there, a man dressed like a barber intercepts them, and suggests they might find more interesting information at the barracks -- specifically, in Draco's chambers. The party goes to the barracks, but the guard there won't let them in, so they head to the palace. There the guard won't let them in either, but a well placed charm spell convinces him to guide them towards their true goal -- the temple of Crom.

They search the temple, sneaking in to the back chambers when no one is looking. In the suite of the mage Dervill they find two animated statues, which they kill before driving off the wizard after his polymorph fails. In the library the Cavers find the secret door which leads to the suite of Xanathon, Patriarch of Crom!

The battle is one sided. While the Cavers hit Xanathon plenty, none of their blows seem to have any effect. Wylith polymorphs into a gargoyle, but is still unable to do anything to the prelate. Xanathon isn't terribly effective with his mace, either, but when Vasily disarms him, he turns to his dark magic, annihilating a summoned hero with a finger of death. Seeing this death magic, the Cavers decide that discretion is the better part of valor, leaping through a large window to the street below, led by Xylith. As they flee, Xanathon laughs.

As the party regroups in a pub, the barber approaches them again. He reveals himself to be Eric Forsetti, high priest of Fayon in town. Discussing the situation with Vasily, they are stumped about what to do next. Forsetti says it looks like Xanathon has stored his life force somewhere outside of his body, but they can't figure out where until Vasily remembers a tapestry he liberated from Crom's temple! This tapestry just happens to have a map to a small shrine hidden well outside of town...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Skanderbeg's Tomb

I wanted to post a sample dungeon. This is one I used pretty recently. The map, like most of my maps, comes from the superior mapper, Dyson Logos. I typically use the standard random dungeon generator of ACKS, where you roll up a serious of rooms and arrange them to make sense within the map. With this map, I tweaked some of the entries. Since it's the tomb of the lieutenant of an undead necromancer, I made sure there were lots of undead. But I want to reward the players for finding an alternate entrance, so I put the most dangerous encounters (the hordes of wights) near the 'main' entrance. Sadly, my players never found the cursed idol in room nine...

Rumors for Session Seventeen

1.The Doppelstompers rescued a herd of cattle from a goblin warren.
2. The lead actress in the Damsel and the Trog was murdered on opening night by the leading actor. The actor then immediately melted into a puddle of water.
3. No one knows where the necromancer has his lair
4. A mad wizard who kept a tower near Threshold has disappeared
5. Robi Samdos, the head of the Golden Order, has not been heard from in some time
6. Another young girl has gone missing in Ishpeming.

It is May 5th, 80. The weather is pleasant and cloudy.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Session Sixteen: To Skanderbeg's Tomb

The Cobalt Cavers continue into Skanderbeg's tomb, using the river to approach via the rear entrance. The first room they encounter has an opening above the river, easily climbable. Up top two carrion crawlers stand watch, but they are no threat to our brave heroes. The craftpriest Duggan nails one and he combines with Vasily to kill the other. They continue to follow the river. One bank appears on the right, but they keep going to the left down the river (sinister bunch!) The next opening, and the last before the river dives deeper underground, features a beach of black sand. Vasily recognizes it as obsidian sand, which is dangerous to crawl on. They head back to the first beach. Off of the beach, they are swarmed by 12 cavern locusts. The locusts' eyes are unused to even the feeble light of torches, and they are unable to hit the Cavers. Our boys in blue, however, have no such trouble. Of course, the sleep spell cast by Wylith doesn't hurt. Darwain takes this opportunity to grab some obsidian to tip some arrows with.

The doppelstompers then head back to the first room that had the carrion crawlers. There they are able to surprise some ghouls, and control two of them. In the next room lies the corpse of Skanderbeg himself, the old lieutenant to the necromancer. They use the scroll of speak with dead, and get two questions to ask the mummy. First, they ask
Where is the tomb?
Skanderbeg replies "In a swamp." The Cavers shrug, and ask their second question:
Where is the tomb in relation to Pechen
Skanderbeg replies "East."
So the party throws the corpse into their bag of holding, figuring the nuns at the Abbey of the Returning Sun can deal with it. Carefully, the group continued on.

They explore the area of the complex near the original entrance. Wights begin to appear in greater numbers, and two of them are controlled by the warlock. In one room, filled with rat tracks, is a magic circle filled with 1,121 cp. As they continue deeper, the assault by wights continues. Eventually the assault is too much. Nearly surrounded by fourteen wights, Vasily is struck and loses a level. The Doppelstompers manage to make a fighting withdrawal.

They head back to the Abbey of the Returning Sun, where the Cobalt Cavers are able to convince the nuns to divine the necromancer's location from Skanderbeg's corpse. They then spend some downtime recuperating and hiring mercenaries. They then decide to use the mercs to stamp out the bandit menace. They find a small troop of bandits which is easily overwhelmed, but the interrogation of the surviving member reveals nothing.