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.