Friday, January 27, 2017

Session 22: Clearing out the stockade

Following the flight of Markessa, the party considered resting to be the better part of valor. While they camped, they met a roguish fellow named Mattick, whose own hatred of the slavers led him to want to work with the party. The first door they opened led to a suite of rooms. They entered the first room on the right, and found it contained an alchemist busy at work. "Hello, I am Volodemir," they greeted him, and he turned around with a quizzical look. "Aye, and what be ye wanting?" "We are looking for Markessa. Do you know where here rooms are?" "Nae, no sensible creature would be wanting to go there willingly. But I think they may be to the south." Volodemir thanked him and left.

They went south, all the way to a natural cavern, where they saw drow loading up a caravan. They backed away slowly, and instead entered one of the doors on the east side of a hallway. There was a busy kitchen behind it, and the chefs didn't seem to take notice of the party. Turning to the other side of the hallway, they entered a nicely appointed room, occupied by none other than Markessa! They moved to attack. Markessa managed to get off one volley of magic missiles before she lay dead at their feet. In the rooms that followed, they killed a beautiful elven male in a training room, and eventually came to a secret door. They couldn't open it, so Gyfli smashed it open with his mighty shoulder.

Behind the door was a lavishly decorated room, where clearly no expense was spared. In a corned was a wall safe, which Mattick was able to pick. Inside, there was some treasure, largely in the form of expensive jewelry. They found another secret door, but were unable to open it. To the north of this suite of rooms, they found the slaves. The slave pen had three rows of five-foot cells, and three larger cells on the north end of the room. All except the very northwestern cell were filled with slaves, and orcs oversaw the slaves from a platform on the western end of the room. Gyfli charged forward while Lynnya and Mattick loosed arrows, and the orcs were swiftly slain. The party forced the chefs in the kitchen to provide them with food, which very few of the slaves threw up. From there, they left the stockade the way they came in, and traveled back to Darkshelf.

On the way back to Darkshelf, however, they paused. Some sort of thunder, or an earthquake, was making everything quiver. Volodemir was the first to spot it -- a stone giant, lumbering towards them through the hills. "Hello, I am Volodemir," was the first thing out of his mouth, though he couldn't avoid a slight quaver.

"Hello, children of men. I am Rodimus."

"H-hello, Rodimus, what brings you out of your mountains?"

"I seek the rod of seven parts."

"A rod?"

"Yes, it is a potent symbol of Law. In the first demon war, Mishka was one of Hadeth's great generals, a powerful leader of the armies of Chaos. Soren smote him with the rod, and imprisoned him in limbo. Only the rod can free him, and only the rod can slay him. His minions, the demon spyders, are here seeking for it. So I also seek it, so that Mishka might be slain and chaos weakened. Will you help?"

At the mention of Law and Chaos, Gyfli perked up, and now speaking for the group, "Of course, just tell what we must do." "Go to Darkshelf," Rodimus replied. "There visit Arquestan, an elf who has been working with us to find the rod. He will guide you." There the party took their leave, and made their way back to Darkshelf.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Session 21: First Fight with Markessa

Having learner of the lower levels of the keep and assuming we had dispatched all of the hobgoblins, our group pushed on. Galathil rejoined the group after having kept watch in the keeps tower and was quickly brought up to speed on events and our new adventurer.

Expecting an ambush, the party set themselves up in a defensive order prepared for battle. Clearing as they went through the hallways the group came upon a set of double doors. Bursting through the doors we were horrified to see two mutated looking humans and in the distance a female elf and a group of goblins. Seeing the cursed creatures that attacked his village and kidnapped him, Gylfi sprang to action. Knowing that the elf presented the greater danger, Gylfi asked the gods to burn her with holy magic. Alerted to our presence the female elf hurled a bolt of lightning at the doors killing one of the mutants and striking the group. Only Volodemir had moved and was poised to react. Galathil had other plans and thought to communicate with his elven sister, but was soon cut down by a second bolt of lightning. The goblins attacked with bows and we were fully engaged in combat. When the tides of battle seemed in our favor, our dwarven companion decided to engage the female elf directly. At this point two owlbears came out of hiding to join the fray, immediately engaging with Gylfi and Volodemir. As Lynnya was busy picking off goblins, Flint was forced to fight Markessa on his own.

Eventually we were able to subdue our enemy, but before we could deal the final blow Markessa fled leaving a stinking cloud to stymie out pursuit. But she didn't count on the hardiness of dwarves! Flint was able to pursue. In his haste to defeat Markessa he took little head of his wellbeing and was almost defeated and left for dead when Lynnya killed Markessa with an arrow.

Patching up Flint and saying goodbye to our dead we decided to rest and recoup, sadly though luck was not on our side. A group of goblins came to retrieve the mutated humans and found us and their dead kin instead. Defeating them easily we realized that we could not remain here with little cover and strength to repel a large force. Onward me move but to where?


Mattock grew up a street urchin in a relatively small town. His father was an adventurer who was just passing through, as he was told by the towns people; his mother was a woman of ill-repute, and still spends most of her time hanging out at taverns trying to get drinks out of adventurers. This meant that early on he had to fend for himself. And in time he began to become an accomplished thief, well practiced in the arts of stealth, thieves' tools, and persuasion.

But as his skills increased so did his his sense of morality. He only stole from those who could afford it, and killed those who deserved it, but at a certain point the town was too small, and everything was too easy.

So Matt struck out on his own as an adventurer. Specializing in helping parties who needed a deft hand at picking locks or disarming traps, while trying to avoid any close combat he trained his skills even further. Until he went into a dungeon with a group of adventurers who found in the bottom of a keep a group of slaves. Horrified by a group stealing freedom from others, an ideal Matt valued almost more than anything he convinced his party to follow the trail and disrupt the slavers operation.

However as they tracked the slavers they caught on they were being followed and his party was ambushed and taken down quickly while he was still hiding in the shadows. Swearing revenge he decided to track down any slavers where ever they may be and kill them. But he has been keeping his eye out for any skilled adventurers who can handle themselves in a fight.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Session 20: Showdown with Icar

Having slaughtered some 30 hobgoblins in this small hallway, the group was face to face with their leader, a huge hobgoblin with a greatsword and full platemail. Standing behind two nervous hobgoblin footsoldiers and a burly lieutenant, he took to once more threatening Dyn-Bach, Volodemir, Flint, and Lynnya. Volodemir took the opportunity to snatch some beads that caught his eye among the piles of corpses.

Recognizing them as magical and being out of spells, he threw one in the midst of the enemy. A magical forcefield erupted, killing one of the front line outright, and trapping the leader in an impenetrable bubble. Lynnya shot the other frontliner and after a short fight the party had taken out the lieutenant. The leader was fleeing, however, and he would soon be free from his force field. Remembering the layout of the keep, Flint took advantage of a secret door and circled around in front of the retreating leader, cutting off his means of egress. After about 30 seconds of tense waiting, during which Dyn-Bach wound his crossbow with one hand, the party got ready their attacks for when the shield would fall. Though outnumbered and surrounded, the hobgoblin's leader was a formidable opponent, matching the party's attacks with a whirlwind of parries and attacks. After severely wounding Dyn-Bach, he managed to find a gap in his armor and drove his greatsword home, felling the paladin for the last time.

He nearly felled Flint as well, but for the help of some particularly vicious mockery from Volodemir distracting him. Desperately praying to Adreham, Flint drank his potion of superior healing, rallied and finally dealt the killing blow.

With the massive battle over, the surviving party members looked at the massive hobgoblin riddled with arrows in the joints of his armor as he dissolved into plant matter. All gravely wounded, they barricaded themselves in the store room they cleared earlier and patched themselves up. They said their prayers, set their watch order and warily took turns sleeping. Luckily, the night passed uneventfully and with a renewed purpose, they set out to discover what was wrong with the slaves in the room where the cloaker attacked Dyn-Bach. The death of the cloaker and a night's rest appeared to have restored their wits, especially one massive goliath who seemed rather unfazed by the experience. Gylfi introduced himself as a paladin of Vassa, goddess of tempest. Though disarmed by his captors, he was able to make use of the hobgoblin leader's plate mail and fashion himself a crude holy symbol. He was strangely optimistic that he could help the party clear the remainder of the keep, though there were darker goings on in the layers below. After introductions were made, the newly formed alliance passed through a door that had been blocked by the cloaker and shortly heard the sounds of a hammer and anvil.

The rhythm of the hammering was all wrong. There was no distinctive double strike, the uneven roars of the flame indicated shoddy work at the bellows. It was all too much for Flint. He turned the corner and yelled, "You're doing it wrong!" What he saw was a dirty human working a pathetic sharp piece of metal that barely met the definition of a sword, with two orcs assisting him. The "smith" admitted his inferior skill and agreed that dwarven craftsmanship was second to none. With the work of charming the man out of the way, Flint asked him what he was doing here and what there was to expect in the rest of the keep. The smith told the party what he knew, which was that Icar was the boss on this level and he would be in the kitchens, and impossible to sneak up on. Pressed for more detail, he said he didn't know what went on below, only that slaves were taken there and never came back. He did admit to knowing that there was a hidden ambush room at the bottom of the stairs leading down to the next level. As a thanks for his help, Flint agreed to spare the man and in the interest of civilization and the art of metal working, said that after the keep was secured, he would arrange for some job training for the man with the guild.

Knowing the location of Icar but not knowing a way past, the group walked down the hall past a number of doors, and went straight for the kitchen doors. Beyond, there was the sound of fire and loud laughter. Throwing open the door, the group saw a huge ebon human roasting a lizard head over an open flame. He was wearing a helm without any eye-slit and was cackling. Seated at a table were three ugly redhaired men and there were eight hobgoblins arrayed around the room. Gylfi immediately proved the power of his faith, with thunderwaves and a particularly powerful shatter spell. Lynnya focused on Iccan right away and with Volodemir's help took him out before he could do much more than kick a giant wine barrel at the doorway. The men transformed in to were-boars and charged the party, goring and attacking with mauls in turn. The hobgoblins proved difficult to hit and it took a good amount of time to pick them off. Frustrated, and realizing that the were-boars could not be harmed by mundane weapons, Flint summoned his spirit guardians to help sweep the room of monsters.

After the fight, the group searched the body of Icar and found a note in a form of raised text for the blind man that divulged the location of a nearby holding area for slaves.The party got ready to descend to the next level, knowing full well that an ambush awaited them from a hidden room by the stairs...

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Gyfli, Goliath Cleric of Vassa

Gylfi of clan Katho-Olavi is not your typical cleric. At nearly eight feet tall he looks like he should be leading his troops into battle. However the gods had a different plan for him.

Gylfi was born into one of the few permanent Goliath settlements. He spent his childhood learning how to fight and trading with a local settlement of hill dwarves. Both settlements were under constant attack by tribes of goblins seeking to acquire their rich farmland and mining resources. On one such attack his use of a hammer to smash the heads of goblins earned him the moniker Goblin Skullcrusher.

Shortly before Gylfi reached adulthood the clans of hill dwarves and goliaths decided to come together to destroy the goblins once and for all. While fighting to protect the hill dwarf settlement Gylfi found himself outnumbered. As he was overwhelmed by the little beasts a bolt of lightning suddenly flew out of his body and struck down several of them. Before being completely routed the little beasts cursed Gylfi and swore vengeance on him. Realizing he had been chosen by the gods, Gylfi took up a new path and became an acolyte of Vassa.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Session 19: Chased by Hobgoblins

Hobgoblins are not that smart. They lack skills of planning and strategy. Take their god forsaken keep for instance. The architect must have been drunk. Following the hobgoblins' failed attempt to ambush us in the hall, we wandered their silly castle for some time. Despite the hobgoblins' supposed superior knowledge of the keep's byways, they seemed to be as lost as we were. In our passings, we left traps. We could hear their screams as they fell to the traps in their searchings for us but they did not seem to ever grow any closer.

Eventually, we happened upon a dark, shadowy room where the slaves were being held. The shadows moved about as if alive and the slaves seemed to be bewitched in some way. Thinking the flitting shadows about the room were more ominous than they seemed, the dwarf cast a spell and began to glow with a powerful holy light. We then realized the room was merely creepy. The dwarf feared his spell might harm the slaves so he ventured down the hall to prepare for the approaching hobgoblins while the ranger, paladin, and myself roused the slaves from their stupor and prepared them to flee. At that moment, the drapes grew teeth and attacked the paladin. I told him to hold still lest we harm him as we attacked the hellish curtain but he may have panicked a bit and mistakes were made. We killed the creature but not before the paladin was significantly harmed. Resolved to healing him, I began to sing a spell of curing but, so dusty was the room, that I may have sneezed the last word of the spell and possibly obliterated the paladin's hand. There was no time to remedy that misfortune, however, as the dwarf yelled from down the hall that the hobgoblins were upon us.

Joining the dwarf in the hall, we found ourselves beset by no less than 30 of the cretins. 30 of them. Against 4. They crashed upon us like waves of stupid and foulness and inevitably broke themselves upon the dwarf's spell of protection while the rest of us finished off the survivors of the wave with spell, sword, or arrow. Their captain, an understandably frustrated creature, had the misfortune of wearing metal armor and quickly succumbed to a spell cooking him in his own breastplate. Though we depleted many spells and did not come out unscathed, we managed to prevail due to the hogoblins' idiocy. But our trials are not over. We now face two overfed, mammoth hobgoblins. Being without spells, and minus a hand, I don't like our odds.