Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lost Mine of Phandelver

After a hiatus, where I was playing a ruinguard in an evil party campaign, it looks like I'm back DMing again. We'd like to try out 5e, so I'm running the group through the adventure included in the Starter Set, Lost Mine of Phandelver. There are several things, though, that I like about ACKS, so I want to include some house rules. Please let me know if you have any comments.

Each player may hire henchmen if they so desire. Availability will depend on the DM, but there will be some available to start, and some may be encountered throughout the adventure, e.g., as prisoners. Each character has a maximum number of henchmen depending on her charisma:
3-4        1
5-7        2
8-12      3
13-15    4
16-18    5
Henchmen receive a half share of experience and a 15% share of gold. After each adventure, and when the henchman gains a level, the player must make a Charisma save. If the character was especially kind (extra share of the loot, magic item), the save is made with advantage. If the henchman suffered a calamity, the save is made with disadvantage.

Death Saves
There are no death saves. Instead, upon hitting zero hit points or lower, roll a d6 and consult the Death or Dismemberment table to see where you where hit. Once your friends come to turn the body over, roll d20 to see just how bad it was. The Tampering with Mortality table may make an appearance, but is unlikely to be necessary at low levels.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Sword of Law

Everyone knows about the Lords of Chaos, who foment madness in the wasteland east of the civilized nations. But few know of the Lords of Law, who dwell far across the sea to the west, for they do not meddle in the affairs of mortal men. Anymore. But long ago they sent a champion to fight chaos, and this was his sword, a sword perfect for that fight.

The Sword of Law does 5 damage, 8 damage if wielded two-handed. The wielder strikes as if they rolled an 11. If it hits a creature of pure chaos, that creature is destroyed if an 11 would fail its save vs. death. The sword is perfectly logical, and will not hesitate to explain why what you're doing is illogical.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mace of Flowers

This mace +3 is an heirloom of the Torenscu family of Pechen. When swung, it leaves a shower of petals in its path. It does double damage to plants.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pre-Session 22 rumors

1. There is a road in Elkstrov Woods where a ghost wanders during the day
2. The Mad Dogs took out a flesh golem lair in the north
3. No one knows where the necromancer has his lair
4. Mercenaries saying they 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. A streambed of the Votice River is made of pure gold

It is June 24, 80.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Session Twenty-One: In the Crypts of Castle Dregely

The actual Castle Dregely
The Cobalt Cavers had been worried for some time about the absence of Robi Samdos from the Citadel of the Golden Fleece. They also suspect there may be some connection to the missing women. The Order of the Golden Fleece are clerics devoted to Adreham, god of civilization and order. Robi Samdos was their head in Morachi, but no one had heard from him in some time. When the Cavers get to the Citadel, Dregely Castle, they are greeted by the gatekeeper, Aldo Stanis. He invites them in, but says they probably won't be able to meet with Robi. When they insist, saying they have important information about an acolyte of Crom (Xanathon), Aldo goes to get Istvan Shakashvili, Robi's valet.

Istvan is distinctly unimpressed with the news, telling the Cavers that it sounds like Xanathon is taken care of and on the run. He dismisses the party, but when they ask Aldo if they can stay the night, he welcomes them. When they go to the great hall for dinner, they notice that it is quite empty, a fact that Aldo fails to illuminate.

That night, Darwain goes sneaking around. He's able to find Robi's suite of offices, but all he finds there is a letter, unfinished, from before when the first girl went missing. The next day, Vasily tries to draw information out of some clerics by sparring with them, but this is a dead end. Eventually they explore further, and decide to head for the crypts.

The crypt is dark and dank, and as they enter, they see a rat scurry east. Following the rat, the party comes across a pool holding 4,000ep. Suspicious, they leave the pool be. Further down the corridor, they are jumped by six wights. Duggan is drained of one of his levels, but otherwise it is not a difficult encounter for the party as they kill or control the rest. This passageway is otherwise a dead end, so they head back to the entry chamber and go north.

North of the entry chamber, the party finds a burial chamber where three simple coffins lie in three niches to the north, east, and west. The Cavers open each coffin, and find a pile of dirt inside each. They douse each with holy water, and continue on to finally go left of the entry chamber. Along that corridor, two scythes swing out at Vasily. He totally matrixes them, and the party comes to what appears to be the end of the corridor. They head back into the citadel, and confront Istvan with the evidence of vampires in his basement. He denies everything, and the party leaves him to go back to Ishpeming.

Back in Ishpeming, the party stays at the inn and inquires about Sanbalet. No one has heard anything, so the next morning they head to Pechen. There, Vasily looks up the whereabouts of the girl recently crowned the Queen of Love and Beauty, Cecilie. He brags about all the different things he's killed, but Cecilie is bored by this and insults Vasily, asking him whether the large mace he carries is compensating for something.

Their next destination is the tower. There, a squad of infantry has been placed by the local baron, Bruno Markov. The Cavers talk to the troop, and they are reasonably friendly, and tell them that Markov stationed them because some adventurers were claiming land belonging to him. The Cavers decide that they should meet Baron Markov, and head towards his manor. While on the way there, they see a flock of pegasi overhead.

Baron Markov is pleased to finally meet the party. He tells them he wouldn't mind granting them some land as his vassals, but first they have to do him a favor. A bandit town formed in his lands, and he'd like the party to root them out. He'll even lend them troops to do so. The party says they'll take it up once the necromancer is dead.

The party then leaves for Threshold, but they make a detour to find the pegasi's lair. The party finds it and makes a note of its location. On the way to Threshold, the Cavers encounter a gang of bandits, 28 strong. They are surprisingly brave, and the Cavers kill 25 of them before they flee.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Baron Bruno Markov

Baron Bruno Markov is a relatively minor baron in the principality of Morachi. His territory is in the eastern duchy, and includes a tower rumored to have once belonged to the dark mirror wizard Skarda. He is known for being set in his ways and somewhat complacent. There has been some talk that he should be more energetic in attacking the bandits that have set themselves up near or in his domain.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rumors for Session Twenty-One

1. Several recent assassinations where the culprit immediately melted have citizens suspicious.
2. Robi Samdos, the head of the Golden Order, hasn't been seen in some time.
3. Agents of the Necromancer have been rumored to be infiltrating Threshold society.
4. Several small caches of weapons owned by the Morachi army have gone missing.
5. Petra Lazko was crowned the queen of love and beauty at the Pechen midsummer festival.
6. There is a road in Elkstrov Wood where a ghost wanders during the day.

It is June 14th, 80. The weather is warm and cloudy.

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.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rumors for Session Sixteen

1. Darwain, of the Doppelstompers, is a masterful slayer of gargoyles. Some bards are calling him "Darwain
2. A new play, the Damsel and the Trog, is opening in Pechen soon.
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. A tribe of goblins has stolen an entire herd of cattle from a local farmer

It is April 17, 80. The weather is cloudy but pleasant. (Despite the cool wind coming from the tomb.)

Session Fifteen: Mighty Mighty Goblin Slayers

The Doppelstompers left the tower and went back to Threshold, hoping to find a sage that could illuminate them about the mirrors they found there. They do not find one, so they decide to pursue other loose ends -- namely, the goblin cattle rustlers. They head out to the farms northeast of Threshold to where the most recent heist took place. They learn the general direction, but Vasily botches his tracking roll can't find the trail. They decide they'll head in that direction and see what they can see.

After camping in the hills with no name, they continue. In the distance, the Cavers see three gargoyles. Darwain takes one out with a single shot of his arbalest. As they wing over with dizzying speed, Vasily stabs at the second ineffectually before Darwain takes it out and cleaves into the last one, taking it out as well. The party decides at this point pushing on through the hills is pointless, so they head back to the tower to see what they can see.

At the tower, they meet the Elven Enchanter Aderyn, who is there to investigate the tower himself. Based on the Doppelstomper's description of what they see inside, Aderyn doesn't know anything more, though he has a mentor in Lesnime who specializes in mirror magic. The Cavers shrug and decide to interview more farmers. Vasily finds tracks near one of the farms, and the hunt is on!

The tracks lead to a series of caves. The Doppelstompers easily kill the first couple of groups they run into, and then manage to find the cattle. With their bloodlust unsated, however, they decide to move deeper into the caves. Entering the next room, they see five goblins, which they dispatch easily, but not before the fifth one sets off an alarm. Wave after wave of goblins flood the room, and even the killing power of the Cobalt Cavers cannot quite keep up. But their armor is nearly impenetrable to the goblins, and just as the Cavers are about to collapse from exhaustion, the last goblin is felled.

They return the cattle to Threshold, and are heartily thanked. One of the Doppelstompers thinks to talk to their old friend Karolina Sved about the location of the necromancer's tomb. She suggests that the Abbey of the Returning Sun might know something. So the Cavers make the trip to the Abbey, a three day trip north of Threshold.

There, they are convinced to make a substantial donation to the Order. After the donation, the nuns suggest that Skanderbeg, who was the necromancer's old apprentice, might know something. They hand the party a scroll of speak with dead and wish them luck. On the way to the tomb, they distract some troglodytes with meat. Once at the tomb, they ignore the obvious entrance to look for a back way in. It turns out, a stream leads into the same area, and might be helpful...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rumors for Session Fifteen

1. There was a major heist at the Vorloi estate three nights ago. Some thieves stole a priceless gold falcon.
2. A new play, the Damsel and the Trog, is opening in Pechen soon.
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. A tribe of goblins has stolen an entire herd of cattle from a local farmer

It is March 29, 80. The weather is cool and rainy. There is a bit of a breeze.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Bloghop -- Just this once, I promise

I've been declining to participate in a lot of the blog hops, mostly because I don't have much to say, but this one struck me as interesting, noticed at Tower of the Archmage. "What was the first edition of D&D you didn't enjoy, and why?" I think I've mentioned this before, but I started with BECMI and moved to 2nd Edition when it came out. Then, after a hiatus, I played 3.5, 4th, and Pathfinder before moving to my current ruleset ACKS (a B/X clone). And honestly? I enjoyed them all. The fact of the matter is that who you are playing with, and who's running the game, matter a lot more to my enjoyment than the ruleset I'm using.

Session Fourteen: Mirrors Everywhere

Image from the great blog Hack & Slash
Since they have a surplus of trade goods left over from the treasure hoard, the Doppelstompers decided to head toward Pechen to try and sell them to the merchants there. But first, they make a detour to visit the local baroness, Lady Miloslava Sved. The Doppelstompers are interested in turning the hospital the doppelgangers had been using into their own base of operations. The baroness doesn't actually have jurisdiction over the city, and is unwilling to use her influence to help a ground of adventurers. The 'Stompers do get the feeling that she does not get along with the mayor, Hosok Tere.

The Doppelstompers are increasingly worried about the bandits that seem to be preying on travelers between Threshold and Pechen. They hired some troops, some crossbowmen and heavy infantry, but they still don't have a large number of people compared with the amount of bandits they've seen.* As they load the wagon up for their trip, a shady figure shows up with the now familiar crates, and asks if they characters will take them to Pechen, and deliver them to Vladimir le Poutine.** The trip does not yield up any bandits, though there is a hydra the party had to sneak around.

When they get to Pechen, the party sells their trade goods without incident and goes to meet with Vladimir. They trade him the crates for 4,000gp. While in Pechen, they decide to look into this wizard who's looking for them. Vasily meets with some low reaction rolls unfriendly townspeople, and gets angry, but Devabriel is able to calm him down. Devabriel, on the other hand, is able to talk to some of his commercial contacts, and learns that the wizard is named Sanbalet. That seems to be a good excuse for the party to leave town, and go loot the abandoned tower they've heard about.

The tower is largely unoccupied. On the first floor, underneath a pile of supplies, is a baboon, which is quickly slept. The Doppelstompers are divided on what to do with it. Ieho argues it is dangerous, and should be killed, but Darwain wants to leave it alive. In the end, Darwain wins, and he carries the sleeping ape outside of the tower. In every room in the tower, there is a pane of broken glass reflecting the contents of the room. In several rooms, there are also signs of violence. Whatever happened to the owner of the tower, it is clear that it was not voluntary.

On the second floor, in a room with yet another mirror, Vasily noticed some movement inside the mirror. Before he could say anything, a large baboon-like creature leaped from inside the mirror to attack him. It was a fearsome beast, but Wylith incapacitated it with a choking grasp, allowing the Doppelstompers to kill it easily. In the next room, an ochre jelly split into five when it was hit by an arbalest bolt, but Wylith's burning hands made quick work of them.

At the top of the tower, the party found a room with four cages. One had obviously been used to free the baboon Darwain rescued, and another was still home to four stirges. Fortunately, when they swarmed, Vasily killed three of them, his sword practically making a snicker-snack sound. The fourth was not a problem for the experienced party, and they left the tower.

*As a side note, while bandits are found in the wilderness in bands of up to 80 men, a bandit camp generally contains several such bands.
**Sadly, the very next day, I saw a local barbecue joint make the same joke, but with cheese curds.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rumors for Session 14

1. The Cobalt Cavers exposed a cult of aliens collecting body parts for their own nefarious ends
2. A wizard was asking after the Cobalt Cavers in Pechen
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. A tribe of goblins has stolen an entire herd of cattle from a local farmer

It is February 26, 80. The weather is cool and cloudy.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Session Thirteen: Finally, the threat of doppelgangers is completely over and done with

Continuing their exploration of the doppelgangers' 'hospital', the Cobalt Cavers find a room with two patients. One patient is very positive about his stay at the hospital, while the other is nervous about the constant butchery. The party offers to accompany them out; only the pessimist takes them up on the offer. The Cavers head south then, coming across an operating room with two doctors about to operate on the patient. When they approach, all three turn into doppelgangers. Vincent lets out a girly scream and runs. Darwain fights bravely with his henchmen, but when the patient behind them also turns into a doppelganger, the three remaining Cavers are overwhelmed. Darwain manages to execute a fighting withdrawal, but the craftpriest is cut down.

The doppelgangers pursue Darwain to the stairs, but when it seems like all is lost, Ieho comes charging down the stairs. With the extra help, the doppelgangers are turned back. The craftpriest, it turns out, just has an injured midsection. With a week's rest, he'll be almost as good as new, though he'll have trouble forcemarching for the rest of his life. The only two doppelgangers left were found in a chilly room with piles of body parts. They are dispatched, and Ieho comments, "Didn't we find a dead doppelganger with a backpack full of arms a while ago?"

After returning Zanzibar to Artemis, she rewards them with a +1 arbalest. The Cobalt Cavers then take a well deserved weeks rest. The talk turns to what happened in Pechen. They speculate that it was Vincent who killed Antonito. In any case, they haven't seen him since the doppelgangers. After the craftpriest is back on his feet, they decide to use the treasure map they found in the undead lair to search for some treasure. It takes them six days to find the treasure. The six days are uneventful. On an old battlefield, the mummy general Varnak was laid to rest, together with vast riches for the afterlife. The treasure is so large, the party is only able to take half with them. but it is still a rich treasure, including a ring of wishes! Ieho uses the wish to increase the size of his workshop and library.

The trip back is more eventful. Two lizards attack, but are easily distracted with some scraps of meat. But, horror of horrors, a skittering maw appeared only seven hundred yards away. The party wisely decides against using meat to distract it. (That may have only encouraged it). Instead, they try to stay as far away as possible, and hope for the best. The luck of the Cavers holds, and the beast does not notice them.

When they get back into town, a fighter named Arkerra challenged Darwain to a duel. Darwain accepted, and promptly kicked Arkerra's ass. After Arkerra yields, Darwain heals his wounds. Arkerra left, and the cause of the duel remains unclear.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sessions Eleven and Twelve, Darwain's Perspective

After finishing up with the swamp ghouls, Darwain, with his henchpersons Wylith and Duggan, and the rest of the Cobalt Cavers, returned to Threshhold. They spent about a week selling some of the treasure found in the swamp ghouls' dungeon and identifying the scrolls found therein.

During this week, they spent some time following up on rumors. Artemis from the Mad Dogs dispatched a note to the party asking for help. They found her convalescing after a nearly mortal wound. She was worried about her ally Zanzibar, who had checked in with the Sisters of Fire and Water and had not made contact since.

The party decided to follow up with rumors about the Sisters of Fire and Water. They found a number of adventurers who had sent friends there for help, but none who had seen any return. With this in mind, they decided on a course of action sending Vincent in to get his hideously scarred face repaired. The sisters were oddly insistent that no visitors were allowed in, and would give no indication of when to expect him back. Once inside, he was able to open a window and allow the rest of the party inside. After nightfall, Wylith cast silent step on Darwain and Vincent, and they skulked around outside his patient room, trying to discover what secrets the strange citadel might hold.

They explored multiple patient rooms and closets on the ground floor, but saw no sign of anything sinister, but also no sign of Zanzibar. One room had a staircase leaning down into the darkness. Not wanting to give away his position, Darwain very slowly crept down the spiral staircase in the dark. When he was confident he had reached a solid floor, he decided to strike his flint and steel. In the brief flash of light, he saw a huge manticore staring back at him! Wasting no time, he was up the stairs with the door closed behind him and back in Vincent's room. The party decided they had gathered the evidence they needed to get past the obstinate door guard.

They split up for the night, with Vincent doing who-knows-what. The next morning, they returned to the Sisters' hospital in town, and tried to explain to the doorwoman that they needed to enter because there was a manticore inside. She continued to refuse until Vincent very creepily produced a poison needle and threatened to murder her unless she led the way. They followed her down the same stairs as the night before and were not at all surprised to find a manticore waiting for them. They made relatively short work of it using spells and swords, and tried to subdue the woman as she tried to flee from the party. However, she was able to escape Darwain's grab and outpace the whole party off to the west. The group decided to take the manticore's head and tail for spoils, then began exploring the many exits from the manticore room.

They headed south, where they found a confused spirit who was unable to explain how it had arrived here after asking the Sisters of Fire and Water for help. They promised to avenge it, and went off to the northwest.they found a room full of somewhat baffled or subdued patients playing cards who were of no use. A gurney rushed by on the linoleum floor, surrounded by doctors, too fast to be pursued. Things were getting strange. Through a door, they found a bloody barber's chair, and two lanky grey humanoids lapping up the blood. Wasting no time, the group dispatched them as well. They followed a ramp down and around to a room with more patients engaging in baffling behavior, who refused to follow the group to safety, instead trusting that one of them, Chief, could throw a fountain through a wall to get them to safety.

They found themselves back where they started, and the next exit found them facing a bizarre magic circle encircling 8 coffin-sized crates. Not able to disable it, and a bit creeped out anyway, they left that room. They found Zanzibar, and bid him to follow them, which he agreed to do. They then found a closet full of strange materials, but decided to loot some anyway, with Vincent taking a lot of bottles labeled codeine, and Darwain and Wylith taking clean gauze, ether, and alcohol.

Rumors for Session Twelve

1. The Mad Dogs recently suffered a set-back adventuring near Threshold. They plan to seek treatment from the Sisters of Fire and Water.
2. A wizard was asking after the Cobalt Cavers in Pechen
3. There has been an increase in the number of undead seen near Threshold
4. A mad wizard who kept a tower near Threshold has disappeared
5. The Torenscu murdered Lucia Vorloi when she turned their marriage proposal down
6. The patriarch of the Morachian Church is getting old, but it is unknown who will replace him

It is January 30, Year 80. The weather is cold and overcast, with a strong wind.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sessions Eleven and Twelve: Undead Threats and Creepy Surgeons

Having finished their investigation of the murder of Lucia Vorloi (turns out, it was Antonito Radu, who was connected with the Veiled Society), the party looks for henchmen. Darwain finds two, whom he hires: Wyleth, a warlock, and Duggan, a dwarven Craftpriest. They decide to head back to Threshold, due to rumors of undead incursions. On the way there, they run into a large group of 54 bandits. They trade arrows for a few rounds, but are overwhelmed and retreat, leaving their wagon behind with 900 gp worth of textiles. (Somebody should do something about those bandits!)

Once in Threshold, they hear that a necromancer has established two forward bases, one in the hills northeast of town, and one in a swampy areas to the southeast. The party decides to head to the Barrow of the Oathbreakers in the hills, first outfitting themselves with silver weapons. They search the barrow, sadly passing up the chance to drink from a magic fountain. There seems to be nothing in the Barrow, but behind a secret door is a large stash of treasure, with a warning not to take anything. After going back and forth, the Cobalt Cavers decide to heed the warning, and head back. On the way back, they see a lone pegasus flying overhead.

The next day, the Cavers head into the swamp. There's an obvious entrance with several statues, but they look for a back way in, and find it. Just inside the entrance is a corpse infested with rot grubs, which they kill with fire. Exploring further, they encounter a pair of wights. The warlock is able to use his power over undead to control the wights, which comes in handy when they encounter a lieutenant of the necromancer, a spectre. The wights are able to absorb the bulk of the attacks from the spectre, who falls to their attacks. Still, there is nothing to indicate where the necromancer's lair might be.

After taking some time to divest themselves of the treasure found in the Tomb of the Swamp Ghouls, the Cavers receive a note from their old friends and rivals, the Mad Dogs. They are in trouble, with Zanzibar reportedly being held captive by the Sisters of Fire and Water, undoubtedly for nefarious ends. Vincent sneaks around the Sisters' fortified hospital. They find stairs going down, and go to investigate. Darwain is shocked to find a manticore in a large room at the bottom, and immediately flees. The Cavers leave the dungeon to do some research on manticores.

When they return, the Sisters are not happy to see them, but Vincent takes a nun hostage and pushes through. They are able to slay the manticore, but the complex that awaits them is strange. Linoleum covers the floors, and the walls are white and antiseptic. Strange moans fill the air, along with a dank mist. The party chats with a ghost, vowing to return his arm so he can rest. There explorations lead them further to a room with a gore-covered chair. Two grey humanoids, with arms too long for their bodies, lie in wait for them there, their too-long tongues savoring the blood and viscera. They are quickly dispatched.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rumors for Session Eleven

Thank you for rescuing me from this terrible prison. Really.
1. The Mad Dogs recently suffered a set-back adventuring near Threshold. They plan to seek treatment from the Sisters of Fire and Water.
2. Vampires are stealing young women in Ishpeming
3. There has been an increase in the number of undead seen near Threshold
4. A mad wizard who kept a tower near Threshold has disappeared
5. The Torenscu murdered Lucia Vorloi when she turned their marriage proposal down
6. The docks at Pechen often use Vodayanoi to load ships

It is December 28, 79. The weather is cloudy and chilly, with a bit of a breeze.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rumors for Session 10

1. The Chapterhouse of the Priestesshood of Gwynnyth is seeing fewer wounded adventures than they used to, probably because the Sisters of Fire and Water are doing such a great job.
2. Vampires are stealing young women in Ishpeming
3. There has been an increase in the number of undead seen near Threshold
4. Ishpeming is well known for its beer
5. The Torenscu murdered Lucia Vorloi when she turned their marriage proposal down
6. The docks at Pechen often use Vodayanoi to load ships

It is clear and cool, this December 27, 79.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Goblin Wars: Festival of St. Lucia

Lucia Vorloi
Vincent, Vasily, and Darwin decided to sell the boat they had found and head to Pechen to reconnect with Ieho. When they arrive in Pechen, it is December 25th, the feast of St. Lucia. Lady Magda Torenescu was chosen by the duke to lead the procession this year, representing the saint in a sedan chair carried by eight members of her house. The Torenescu were some of the most important nobles in Pechen before Mikulas Mathias came to found Pechen. Since then, their fortunes have declined, but the house is still quite important.

As the parade passed by the trio, a fight broke out between the bearers of the Lady Magda and some members of house Radu who were trying to cross the street. The Radu are likely the most powerful house in Pechen currently, but dark rumors dog them. The Raduites accuse the chair-bearers of hogging the streets, while the Torenescu point out that it's for St. Lucia, a fact that does not impress the Radu. It begins to look like violence is imminent, but Vasily intervened on behalf of the Torenescu. The day ended with a visit by the wood-worker Theodosius to Ieho's house, who hinted he might have some work soon for the Cobalt Cavers.

The next day, a widow known to Ieho stopped by. She had heard strange noises coming from her cellar, but the police couldn't be troubled to investigated. She wondered if Ieho and his friends could help. The Cavers look, and they find a series of tunnels underneath the widow's house. There were a few hobgoblins, whipping on a small group of humans who were doing the actual tunneling. The hobgoblins were driven off in short order, and the humans freed. With some further investigation, they found the tunnels to be quite extensive. Not to mention interesting. In a cavern off of the main tunnels, they found two men burying a body. Once they were driven off, the party investigated the body. It was Lucia Vorloi.

The Vorloi are the third major house of Pechen. They arrived with the duke when Mikulas Mathias was looking for Fogelanders to help him turn Morachi into his kingdom. They've become rich through their trading and influence with the duke. The Radu resent them for being their main competition. The Torenescu resent them for not recognizing their obvious nobility. The Cavers went to the constabulary, who immediately subjected them to a clerical interogation. When they were found to be innocent, the police asked for their help investigating.

The next day, the Cavers began their investigation. Lucia lived with her father, Fortunato Vorloi. Fortunato has been on a trading trip for some weeks. Inside there are signs of violence -- a dagger and bloodstains on the floor, broken dishes and furniture, and torn clothing. There are several drops of a brownish liquid among the bloodstains whih Vincent is able to identify as wine. The dagger is crusted with dried blood, and there are a few strands of red hair dried in the blood. There is a signet ring belonging to the Torenescu family near the door to the cellar, and small bits of pitch stuck to the rungs of the ladder.

The Cavers went back into the tunnels from the Vorloi house, and find a group of kobolds holding a support beam. The kobolds cried out for help, and Vasily and Geoff run up to help with the beam. The kobolds laugh and let go of the beam, attacking the party. Fortunately, the party is able to make short work of them. From there, the party was able to follow the tunnels to a small house. The house is a guest house owned by a butcher named Turano. He had rented it to a traveling blacksmith named Skevlos, who left the house on the 24th. There are muddy tracks on the floor leading to the trap door, and a bottle of dark wine consistent with the stains at the crime scene. The bottle has the seal of Tuscan Estates, a Fogelish wine. Inside the desk is a black leather hood with red hairs.

The party went back into the tunnels, but other than fighting a trio of zombies, did not find anything of note.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pre-Session Nine Rumors

1. The Chapterhouse of the Priestesshood of Gwynnyth is seeing fewer wounded adventures than they used to, probably because the Sisters of Fire and Water are doing such a great job.
2. A young woman has disappeared in Ishpeming
3. There has been an increase in the number of undead seen near Threshold
4. Ishpeming is well known for its beer
5. It is almost time for the festival of St. Lucia. The big parade is in Pechen
6. The docks at Pechen often use Vodayanoi to load ships

It is the 24th of December. It is clear and cool, with a light wind.

Session Eight: The Secret of Ishpeming

Having arrived in Ishpeming, Darwain, Vasily, and Vincent spend a week looking for henchmen. While looking, they hear rumors of a haunted house outside of town, and strange lights dancing on the water. They don't find any suitable henchmen, but decide to investigate the manse.

The house is on a cliff overlooking the water, and there are two obvious doors to get inside. So naturally, the party, led by Darwain, decided to rappel down the cliff. At the base of the cliff is a cave which the Cavers decide to investigate. There is a boat beached on the shore inside of the cave, but when the party goes in to investigate, they make too much noise, and men from the next room spill in and attack. The fight is in general a show of incompetence on both sides, but the party manages to defeat them. There is only one casualty on the party's side -- Vincent took an axe blow to the head, leaving him with a scar. The party decides to head back to town to recuperate.

While back in town, the party hears of a missing girl, and decides to investigate. They find out that the girl was named Marlena, and had a best friend named Elsa. Sadly, recent rains ruined any chance of finding tracks. They met up with Elsa, a teenage girl, and Darwain threatened her into revealing her secret. Marlena had recently met a dark handsome stranger, in rich if somewhat out of date attire. Marlena had been intrigued, but Elsa didn't think Marlena would have run off with him. With no more leads, the party decided to go back to the smugglers lair, using the boat they had found.

When the Cobalt Cavers got back to the lair, there were three men on the shore, waiting for them. The Cavers were greeted with a hail of arrows. However, thanks to the cover they had from the boat, none of the arrows hit home, and the Cavers' return fire ended that threat. The party ventured deeper into the lair, finding a number of trade goods. This must be a pirate lair! Exploring further, they fail to notice someone sneaking up behind them and Vincent is charmed by the enemy wizard. The wizard withdraws behind his guards, and combat is engaged. Vincent attempts to tackle Darwain, to prevent his new 'friend' from being hurt, but is not successful. While they struggle, Vasily makes short work of the wizard's bodyguards, and the wizard surrenders.

The wizard, it turns out, is named Sanbalet. The Cavers briefly consider trying to hire him on, but decide that's a bad idea. They let him go after he shows them the secrets of his lair. The party loots the house, and returns to Ishpeming.