The Arvan Game Pt. 13: Berserkers, Otkids & Crusaders! Oh My!

We re-join our two heroes, Bers the female fighter played by Jen and Dead-Eye the ranger played by Cris, after a few days rest in a top room of the Merchants’ Inn in Fertum DreyHawk while they spent the day drinking in the beer-hall. It was cold outside as fall was beginning and the place was bustling with those travelers and merchants moving quickly and with haste to where they were to winter. The winters, especially this far North, in the Westlands are especially harsh and snowbound though it milds as you move into the interior of the Granfor where the snow never touches the forest floor the same as the sun but for the forest canopy. They sat a table in the corner of the hall near the alley door outside which sat the urinal trough, Dead-Eye had his back to the wall.
A young well-muscled man came up to the table and asked the two adventurers if they were the “dragon-slayers everyone is talking about?” Of course Dead-Eye said, “Yeah, what of it?” The young man introduced himself as, “Lundo, sportsman and sword for hire”. He was somewhat charming and handsome (CHA [Charisma] +2, BEA [Beauty] +2) and decked out with a full suit of studded leather armor of some quality and a wolf skin mantle tossed over his shoulders, a dagger and long-sword on his hips. Bers could tell by his slight accent when he spoke and by his dark hair, eyes and the yellow tone to his tanned skin that he was an Ivoran. She entertained talking to him since in Jen’s words “he’s hot” and followed him when he invited her to his table where his two companions were sitting. Strangely neither Bers nor Dead-Eye noticed his bracers.
He introduced Bers to his two companions. The first was Anizia, a young woman of mixed descent (Ivoran/Creschan) with her green quarterstaff leaning against the table next to her. The second was Shinzarro an unfriendly Ivoran who looked a little shifty. His chainmail coif drooped on his brow and he pulled his grey wool cape close about his neck in order to hide the gold necklace he was wearing and its large emerald (Bers spotted it but still thought nothing of it). Shinzarro also only seemed to be armed with 2 bowie knives and 2 throwing knives in sheaths on his thick waist belt. Lundo flirted with Bers for a while but she decided to get back to her adventuring companion as the guy seemed a bit “sleazy” to her and all of his flirtations seemed a bit suspicious since she was so gnarly looking.
As she sat down a pair of berserkers with tattoos of crossed axes wreathed in flames on their bare chests burst in through the doors. Both were perfectly sober and looking for a fight so of course they stomped over to our duo’s table. The faun berserker slammed his hands down on the table and made a snide remark about Bers (in a language she didn’t know) and laughed his goatish laugh while the human just stared at Dead-Eye. After a while as the patrons in the beerhall decided to begin vacating the human berserker asked, “You two wouldn’t know who murdered Baadach our brother, the same ones who’ve been sneakin’ abouts our camp?” About half-way through that Dead-Eye interrupted him and shouted out, “We killed ‘em so let’s duel or are you two cowards?”
The table flew and the opposing pairs faced off just outside of the beerhall with the human berserk attacking first. The battle lasted for 3 melee rounds with Dead-Eye forced into making a Recovery check on his second action in the second round and again in the last round in order to survive. Both of the berserkers were killed by the second action in the third round and both Bers and Dead-Eye were somewhat badly wounded. Fortunately it was a duel and thus everything was legit so they simply went on their way out of Fertum Dreyhawk. Where were they headed? They didn’t know. They did figure they might want to take the trade route out of the Cleft-Rills and head West since they figured that the local berserker coven would be after them now if they weren’t before.
They traveled for a few hours south-west through the farmlands and headed for the Trade Route still not having made a solid decision. Dead-Eye in his boredom decided to check to see if the hunting horn he had taken from the Otkid tribals (Pt. 6, I stupidly omitted the incident, they fought a small group of the Otkid including the scout with the fancy hunting horn) they had defeated while headed towards Black Brow worked so he and Bers could use it as a communication device should they get separated in the wilderness. Only he didn’t know that it was a horn of summoning and as soon as he blew it a dozen Otkid warriors and their Shaman were teleported within their midst. The shaman turned them into rabbits.
Luckily Sir Chinsaliss and a small contingent of Hyvalian Crusaders were in the area and again they were saved and restored by the Paladin. He and his retinue were on a mission for their church and were to forge into the wilderness of the Granfor to find converts and wipe out druidic strongholds where they could find them along the way. Their ultimate goal however was a secret. However, they needed a guide into the wilderness they seemed to be unable to find a local willing to accompany them. Since Chinsalis saved them both our heroes decided to do it for a reduced sum of gold and figured this company would afford them some measure of protection especially since they feared more were-bear berserker cultists. The crusader company was composed of Sir Chinsalis the paladin, his squire, Sir Changris the novice they had met at the cross-roads of Miller’s Fork, 5 Templars led by a greasy haired Hyvalian noble named Han-Morro whom made it plain he despised them even though he couldn’t speak a word of Westlander, 1 cleric named Li-Alo who appeared to be fairly fanatic about his faith, 3 Ivoran Knights each with a squire, a man-at-arms and a servant (these seemed snobbish and stuck to themselves), the 3 Hill-Landers they had met before (Baalkra, Han and Skraan), 10 men-at-arms, 20 servants, 1 very large Westlander responsible for the day-to-day camp operations, and 1 Ivoran minstrel. This isn’t counting the wagons, oxen and mounts. So after a day of rest they headed off fresh in the morning to a place 10 miles south called Veringer’s Field which was an old battlefield known to Dead-Eye where an old stone house sat often used by highwaymen and passing hunters as their first stop.
They traveled for several days passing into the Light Wood and traveling into the beginnings of the Granfor Forest where the trunks of the trees began to thicken in proportions and the daylight waned through the thick cover even at high noon. It had been about two days since they passed the last farmstead at the southern edge of the Cleft-Rills and were now off the map in the deep woods. They passed into a low pass surrounded by a high root entangled ridge on both sides when they were ambushed. Dozens of roaring berserkers poured into the pass from all sides catching the crusaders unawares at first. Groups of half-naked warriors swarmed the wagons as the knights and Templars charged forward leaving the servants to protect the wagons. At the time that this happened Dead-Eye was in the lead and actually spotted a couple of berserkers ahead so he crept a better vantage point in which to fire arrows at them while Bers was riding on one of the wagons. During the battle they found themselves separated by heavily armored war horses charging back and forth and hordes of berserkers attacking everything in their path. At one point Bers was under attack by two berserkers and Dead-Eye had to approach while dodging horses and avoiding berserkers trying to engage him in combat. He accidentally shot Bers once who was already horribly wounded even after killing her assailants, so she hid under the wagon. She had already drank a potion and made a recovery check during the fight with the two berserkers. A third berserker attacked just as Dead-Eye made it back to Bers and she found herself making Recovery checks for the first two of her actions that round, luckily Dead-Eye disarmed him and as soon as the second round in this fight started Bers power attacked him killing him in a single blow with the great sword she found at Black Brow. The battle was turning the berserkers were being beaten back mainly due ot the superior equipment of the crusaders. Then the berserker leader whom also appeared to be a dark priest of some kind made his presence known by wading into the battle and transforming into a very large tentacle monstrosity (via the Fearsome Form I spell) which began to turn the tide due to the horror effects on the crusaders. So of course our heroic duo charged it.
The battle with the berserk leader/monster lasted for 3 melee rounds. Dead-Eye was horrified when he got a good look at it but was able to overcome it on his turn, Bers flung her axe (she switched back to her axe) after rolling a natural 1 on a power attack in the second round. It stuck in a tree. She also wound up getting wrapped up in a tentacle and getting squeezed though she was able to break the grapple somewhat easily. Bers got the killing blow with a power attack chopping the beast in half where its monstrous guise melted away back into that of the human leader. Bers took the copper amulet from around his neck as a trophy. The battle ended and the last of the berserks either fled or were killed. The crusaders were mostly unscathed as they had only lost a few servants and a man-at-arms, the rest of the casualties were wounded but would recover. The crusaders, all but Han-Morro that is, were congratulating the pair for their heroics in defeating the dark priest which led the berserk-cult. After the tally and dealing with the dead the crusaders and our heroes put some distance between them and the battlefield before camping. In the morn they would continue on even as the weather turned ice cold as the fall progressed into winter.

To be Continued…

The Short of it All

So I created a character to play in Cris’ Campaign set in the Arvan setting starting in the Westlands. I chose a mage of the base class and his name, Illcor Zhorano or Cor for short.

The Zhorano Family Crest
The Zhorano Family Crest

The Zhorano family originates from Hyvalian provincial nobility whom ruled a tiny kingdom on what is now the Chengorre Coast most fo the land having fallen into the sea of the Dread Sound during the Necromancer Rebellion. The family fought in service of the Emperor but was not granted new lands due to the protestations of the reigning Shuen (head of the Hyvalian Theocracy) as the family helped to support a powerful mages’ guild in the North East called the ‘Order of the Yellow Lotus’ of which several family members where  in high standing. The Hyvalian Theocracy persecuted the Zhorano family whom lost several members and most of its fortune in the process . It was at this time the Golden Chalice at the top of the family escutcheon changed to a golden lotus, the guild having been broken and then reformed later as a secret society. The family keeps holdings on the coast to this day and is in no risk of losing it as no other nobles covet it due to its proximity to the Dread Sound and the Land of the Dead.

The family was among the first of the noble class to leave to the Westlands to found the Hyvalian colonies of the Ivoran Coast becoming a prominent merchant family dealing in armoring founding a powerful armorers guild in the imperial colonies. It was in these days that the helm at the bottom of the escutcheon became an anvil. The family heraldry as it stands today is  a split field of silver and green with a Gulon courant as its charge surmounted by a yellow lotus with an anvil below. There are variants among the family branches some with a band across the top representing water and the initial sea voyage which brought the root of the family to the Westland shores. Others have returned to the church replacing the lotus with a golden chalice or the golden heart of Boahng (their prophet). Illcor has replaced the anvil with an open tome crossed by a wand as his personal arms sometimes with a blue bird in the upper corner of the silver field to signify him the fourth born son as shown on his papers of heritage.

His immediate family consists of 5 siblings (Zhan-Dou, Wir Ahm, Dota, Illcor and Fendou from eldest to youngest brother). Both parents (Ahmbar his father and Reneba his mother) were well and living in a large manor in the Ivoran city of Ledou at the time of Illcors embarking on his adventure. He was the unpopular son though favored by his mother. He was sent to apprentice under an unguilded wizard named Zaniori Weihan (aka Wei), a hermit near the feet of the Gohmar Mountains. The family prides itself as conspirators during the colonial rebellion and still holds a high position as “old money” in Ledou where it controls the importing of armor via the family controlled Hammers Against Anvils Guild.

When the adventure catches up with him he finds himself wandering aimlessly finally free to leave his masters auspice on the Eastern side of the Gohmar in a town called Rock-Hollow sitting in a tavern called the Lucky Traveller in early summer. At the table in addition to him are Sheena the dungeoneer (played by Jenn) and Crixus (a gladiator played by Gill). All contemplating what to do next over their mugs of ale as they’re mostly broke, in Illcor’s opinion he’s never been poorer (he still has some coin).

Illcor appears as a husky young man of 25 years with green eyes, dark skin and red hair around 6 ft tall. He’s dressed in a green fur-lined cloak and cowl with a yellow lotus embroidered on the back and a light grey robe. He has a gold circlet on his brow, polished bronze bracers on each wrist, a gold ring on the first finger of his left hand and a plain copper amulet in the shape of shield dangling from his neck (a magic amulet of armor granting him a damage reduction of 2). He also had an iron wood quarterstaff leaning against the edge of the table, a gift form his master, he was not skilled with it as a weapon but it could cast the spell Magerial Lantern at his will (though only at Caster Level 1). His Aura (AUR) attribute is exceptionally low as he has the Teleport I Eldritch Talent allowing him to teleport up to 1 mi (at his current character level) away at will especially good since he’s also slow with a Sped (SPD) of 10 ft (15 ft is average).

Sheena circulated around the tavern collecting rumors and came back with word of ruins on the shores of a lake to the South and of troubled ruins from the loggers’ camp outside of town and to talk to Canor about those. We figured that was a simple bug-hunt so we got on our way ot the edge of town. On our way we passed the hanging tree which was strung with several bodies each sporting a tattoo of a Red Dagger. We continued between the twin mills and over the creek bridge into the loggers’ camp where we met the foreman Canor.

We made a deal to clean out the ruins for 10 gp until Sheena negotiated for 11 gp. Jen realized she could’ve tried for more than 1 extra gold piece a little while afterwards. He guided us to some ruins still mostly hidden by the woods with a smile on his face. We were immediately attacked by a giant centipede as soon as he departed. Crixus easily squashed it with his tower shield.

After searching the area we found a hole in the ground and I activated Magerial Lantern from my staff to see down the hole. I teleported the 20 ft. to the bottom after the other two climbed down. We found ourselves in a ruined passage with collapsed side halls ending in a steel door so Sheena searched for traps then a giant spider attacked us. Crixus basically stabbed it to death all the while taking a defensive stance. I harvested the fangs and some hair from its corpse. Sheena used her safecracking skill on the door and Natural 20’d it. We fought 3 mummy warriors and 2 giant spiders also Sheena got fried by a lightning bolt trap and had to make a recovery roll versus a deathbolt trap so she didn’t die before we decided to head back to town after running into a locked bronze double-door. We pretty much figured this was a tomb after finding a burial chamber with a sarcophagus in it and a golden coffin within. It had the deathbolt trap on it.

We divided up the loot and used the coin we found (inside of the golden coffin) to pay a White-Star guild acolyte to heal Crixus and Sheena up before renting a room in the tavern, I rented myself a private room and the other two paid for space in the common room. During the night a thief attempted to rob Crixus while he was asleep but Sheena awoke and spotted him alerting Crixus. She didn’t get a good look at hi though before he got away. They came to my room and deposited the bag of undivided spoils with me for the night. In the morning we sold the jewelry and gems for 500 gp to the cashier in the Lucky Traveller and headed to the ruins after the split.

Back at the hole we found three ropes hanging down into the hole, we had collected our two and had taken them with us. At the bottom there were two corpses, a swollen human corpse and a dead spider, Sheena recognized the body as that of one of the three lumber jacks that she had talked to in the tavern the previous morn.  The solid gold jewel-encrusted lid of the sarcophagus that we looted was gone. Sheena opened a door directly south of the burial chamber with the golden coffin and discovered a partially collapsed chamber filled with rotted coffins. Rotting Bile crept out of the detritus (a Rotting Bile is an ooze-creature composed of a blackened mass of grave run-off, liquefied fat and clumps of hair etc.). Crixus turned and fled after failing his Courage save versus its Horror Factor, he rolled a Natural 1. Sheena shot an arrow into it and lost her spear in it after she stabbed at it (oozes are immune to piercing attacks by the way). I killed it after casting three Lightning Bolts into it and Crixus climbed up the ropes out of the tomb after failing several consecutive courage saves. We went to fetch him after the fight as none of the coffins had anything of value in them, they were probably servants that were buried alive explaining the bile’s presence. Back in the tomb Sheena used a key she found in a hidden alcove to open the bronze doors. In the very next chamber a group of 4 skeletons bearing shields and axes attacked I dropped them all using a Magic Ring of Swarm of Magic Missiles looted from the golden coffin. The hall beyond terminated in another bronze double door and Sheena barely avoided a fusillade of darts afterwards recognizing the checkerboard pattern of the tiles. She had to disable the pit trap triggered by the doors and pick the lock which she easily did. We found ourselves in the final chamber with a Crypt Thing sitting in a throne in a semi-circular portion of the chamber with three black marble sarcophagi between us and it.

The Crypt Thing teleported me and Sheena 1,000 ft away out of the tomb, I teleported right back while Crixus fought with 2 mummies. The Crypt Thing turned invisible and cast Hold Creature on me which I was able to resist a little later. Sheena took a while to get back running all the way though Crixus after swinging wildly for some time and hitting only air finally dealt the deathblow on the Crypt Thing after crushing the mummies with his shield. We began to loot the black sarcophagi and in two of them were Dread Guards which we defeated but not before Crixus took a major beating and I had to cast Close Wounds on him after he took a recovery check on a particularly nasty blow. My magic had all but drained me and I was 1 KO pt. from passing out by the end of all of this. We rested for a few hours in order to let me recover. On our way out and back to town a lion attacked us. I tried to cast Arcane Bolt bu the spell went wild and wound up dealing damage to a 100 ft radius and Crixus rolled a Natural 1 save against it but the lion died. I teleported back to town leaving Crixus and Sheena to walk back and rented myself the private room for 7 days. We later collected on the 11 gold pieces from Canor and split up the loot in my room. We liquidated the other gear but after selling some of it to a gypsy we found half of the coin he had paid us were gold-painted steel pieces (approx. 1/8 the value of gold coins). I went to sleep and the others drank themselves to sleep in the barroom of the inn.

The next day at cock’s crow I went to search out a magic shop connec and met up with the town’s Alchemist’s Apprentice wheeling his wagon into the Fertum. He directed me to his master Ebanar in town (Rock-Hollow) where I bought an Alchemist’s Kit. I also found my way to the Jewelers and bought some jeweler’s Tools so I could forge some magic rings later on. I returned to the Lucky Traveller for breakfast during which time while I ate I watched as the bloody corpses of the two missing lumberjacks  were dragged from the common room, their throats hanging open. I went back to my room and concocted acid with my alchemical skills and kit. Three days passed as we rested. Crixus in the meantime involved himself in a gladiatorial match to the first blood and lost badly (he rolled a Natural 1 for Initiative and for defense) with the fight consisting of him getting hit once on the very first action of the match. A day after that we decided to investigate the nearest of the 5 white towers rumored to be those of the mad mage lord Zortanic information of which Sheena had heard about from a bard. On the way there we ducked a dragon, a grayling, which was circling with Crixus taking a defensive stance, Sheena immediately diving into the bushes and me preparing to teleport into the tree-line if it should dive on us. Fortunately it flew off after a little while. Everything remained quiet until we reached the gates of the courtyard of the white tower where three lions ambushed us. One got away as I and Crixus took care of the other two. We camped in the overgrown courtyard after the bronze gates opened of their own accord to let us in. Of course during first watch three wolves attacked, anyone sensing a pattern here?

We spent the next four game sessions clearing the tower and its labyrinth, I had guided the group in the back way leading Sheena to the rear of the tower so she could find the secret entrance, and hey I am a mage. All in all our body count was 1 Assassin Vine, 3 Mantraps, 2 giant spiders, 1 spider swarm, 2 skeletons, 1 black ooze, 1 gorgon, 3 harpies in the upper levels, 2 giant eagles (nesting on the top battlement), and 1 Animated Armor. The fight with the Gorgon is the only one worthy of note.

Crixus and Sheena became horrified so I stepped out from around a corner and cast Blinding Flash and got shot with an arrow; the monster had made her save against my spell. I did not succumb to the poison on the tip. Crixus overcame his horror by using Breathing Technique and I activated the Mage Armor spell on my magic robes and quickened a lightning bolt wounding the monster. On the 4th round of combat Sheena rolled a Natural 1 on her saving throw versus the creature’s Petrifying Gaze and was thus turned to stone. I used my ring of swarm of magic missiles and hurt the creature bad but Crixus got the deathblow. In the room that the gorgon was guarding were 4 foot lockers which we, and by that I mean Crixus smashed open 3 of them I used my acid vile to melt open the lock of the last, and we found 1 Gold Talon, High Quality Boots, A Pouch of 50 gold pieces and 10 silver pieces, a Sack with 100 gold pieces and 2 gold talons, and small hard leather case containing 4 superior quality glass throwing spikes which I identified as having a Level 9 hellball (a spell of legend by the way) in each. Crixus and myself rode back to the Fertum using his Phantom Mount Amulet to sell our loot which included dinnerware and the contents of an armory we had pillaged on our way out. With the cash I teleported to the alchemist and bought a Stone to Flesh potion for Sheena. We restored her the next afternoon.

The only other anecdote I have for this foray which occurred before the gorgon fight is after defeating the giant spiders I happened upon a pulsating giant spider egg while harvesting their fangs and some hair and beat it with my staff, so a swarm of baby spiders surged forth and since I teleported away they swarmed over Crixus. He ran to a fountain in the center of the next room and doused himself in lamp oil and I cast lightning bolt at him lighting him on fire but getting rid of the spiders, he dunked himself to keep from burning to death. I took 1 of the roasted spiders for a ration and began munching another grossing Sheena out. My cut of the take was a Map indicating a “Longthorn” tower in the Poisonwood given by an illusory image of the mad mage Zortanic after completing the labyrinth in the tower with the symbol of Drazan (an arborean immortal; a Westlander deity), a silk bag of holding, a mithral rod (20 charges of Level 14 Shard Spray), 4 large rubies, 8 emeralds and several hundred in gold, silver and copper coinage. I teleported back to town, the others followed.

Zortanic's Map
Zortanic’s Map

While in town we liquidated the other items and gems and split the resulting coinage. Crixus set up another gladiatorial match with 2 to 1 odds while I teleported back to the tower to make use of its alchemical lab for my spell research. I stayed there for 1 month while the others stayed in town. Crixus won his match by the way (against a Cave Bear no less).

After the month was up both Crixus and Sheena showed up at the tower with a mule and wagon loaded with a month’s worth of rations and 2 chickens. While we were talking in the courtyard as to decide what to do next a Deathpod sneaked up on us but Crixus killed it in a single blow. Sheena had gathered some rumors in the past month. Livestock in the Farmer’s Wood near Farmer’s Creek have been found drained of blood.  The town of Blackwood is offering a 150 gold piece bounty on a troll in a cave in the Black-Hills. Crixus also had a message from the alchemist Ebanor of a job offer. We were unsure of what to do and so I teleported to the alchemist’s shop, I had to pick up a lice salve (I picked them up from a ratty chair in the tower’s library). Sheena contracted them from me but luckily neither she nor Crixus knew I had them. It turns out that Ebanor owned stakes in a local mine and wants us to investigate since the miners found “something” and he was willing to pay us in raw gems, so of course on my return it was to the mine in the Stone-Wood we were going to seek out Zar, it would be only 1 day’s travel after all.

We met Zar at a village in Stone-Wood and he guided us to his longhouse and the mine, another single day’s travel. After diner we descended into the mine where we fought 2 giant centipedes and after defeating them (I got the deathblow on one of ‘em), we were shown a new tunnel which terminated in a hoe chopped into a newly exposed brick wall. Zar showed us a rest area near the hole and a pull rope for a call bell if he wasn’t present and we needed him. I cast Close Wounds twice on Crixus and we rested. 8 hours later we entered the dungeon.

Over the next 2 games sessions (the previous ending when we entered the subterranean ruins) we were bug-hunting reaping a body count of 1 Black Ooze, 7 Trolls (medium-sized, bestial), 4 Trolls (large), 2 Giant Centipedes, and 6 Giant Spiders. After racking up this body count and deciding to wait for Sheena to open a locked iron door that we had found 2 more bestial trolls attacked, all of us were somewhat wounded. During the fight one of the 2 trolls had sneaked up on me striking me with both claws and then rending me apart of course I was carrying those Glass Throwing Spikes each with the Level 9 Spell of Legend Hellball, I had sold 1 of the set of 4 and was carrying the remaining 3 over my heart in my robes out of their carrying case. Needless to say I exploded taking everybody with me. The damage was 54D6 with a 50 ft radius for each. Even a successful save meant complete obliteration. The real kicker, remember I was wearing Level 5 Robes of Mage Armor but I had forgotten to activate them! Such passed Illcor Zhorano and his companions ending the 1st campaign which lasted a total of 10 sessions. The mines remain but are now completely flooded. Of course my next character is a mage as well but that is another story.