The Dragonslayers III Pt. 2: Under the Pitch Black Moon Part 2

Straight from the GM's Notebook
Straight from the GM’s Notebook

Vorwulf chopped Dead-Eye down for the second time only to have him reassemble his rotten and now badly splintered bones before he could hit the ground. Magiia power attacked Bers with her own axe but the blow was easily parried. Grom activated the Heal All ability on his helmet and restored Magiia to full health at the same time flooding the undead Bers with positive energy causing her dead flesh to suddenly rot and to ooze off of her bones. Bers swung with a powerful blow at Magiia but missed nearly throwing her sword but splattering the shaman and the Feren amazon with foul smelling slime and bits of gelatinous flesh. Vorwulf continued the duel with his former master in the alley exchanging blows one for one and taking some extra damage from the crackling purplish static that surrounded its body as he struck. Magiia landed a massive blow into the dripping corpse of her predecessor finally dropping the thing. Grom readied for the corpse to suddenly jump back up, it didn’t so Magiia began to loot the body.

GM (me): “Ya’know the armor’s gonna be foul with the juice from the corpse.”

Cris: “Aw who cares! You could just wash it off! I wouldn’t let go of a superior quality magic silver chainmail!”

Vor finally dropped the creature that had been his master the shadow-flesh all chopped away and the bones splintered. After taking the time for a breath he put Dead-Eye’s remains (with gear) into a gunny-sack. When he emerged from the alley he found that he had been left behind. The shaman had run to the west gate with Magiia following almost immediately behind following as soon as she had stowed the goopy armor and weapons looted from Bers’ corpse in her pack. She found the helmet that Bers had been wearing to be acceptable enough to don and did so while chasing after him and was now wielding the star metal shield. Vorwulf used his silver scimitar slashing the air its Dimension Door ability allowing him to step directly from the alley to the palisade above the West Gate through the dimensional gash.

The shaman and the Ferenoi ran into the runner that had been assigned to the West Gate, he was slick with sweat, his wet hair steaming. Gasping he saw and recognized them, “Oh there you are.” He huffed in relief and relayed that the other runners had been alerted to the enemy being at this gate and he took up his position near the buildings ready for orders but until then he leaned there catching his breath.

Vor was standing on the walk behind the wooden battlements over the west gate between the two timber watch towers that stood on either side of the still patchwork gate. He activated the Eyes and Ears of the Dragon ability on his magic coif as he gazed over the battlements readying his bow. He was already letting loose as Magiia and the shaman climbed the ladders to join him, the tinkling of glass which sounded as if in time with a rapid march, or charge drifted over the palisades. The first of the bottle stuffed skeletons charging the gate exploded as soon as the pair of dragon-slayers could see them. They could see there were 10 skeletons with several bottles of varying alchemical substances tied to the insides of each of their ribcages charging towards the gate. The first that Vorwulf had shot had exploded with a blinding flash splattering fire and acid in a wide radius about it setting off four others. It was easy to tell that each of those skellys packed enough punch to blow the gate sky high if even one made it to the gate. As the alchemical flames burnt out in the snow they could also see what the troops guarding the gate had been engaging were a troop of about 50 animated corpses bearing axes, hammers and shovels (nothing but workers) aimlessly meandering about occasionally striking blindly at the wooden palisades. Magiia pulled her shortbow and shot but missed as the skeletons flew towards the gate through the snow. Grom tried to cast Call Lightning but failed the magic getting away from him and causing the clouds above, through which they could still see the hideous black moon like a hole in the sky, to erupt with lightning. Vorwulf shot again nailing a single skeleton near enough the gate to rattle the battlements when it blew. Magiia shot and missed again then Grom finally got his spell off properly and blasted the last four away which were as close as the previous had been the flash lighting up the battlements as bright as day but only for an instant. They surveyed the battlefield steaming craters marked where the bomber-skeletons had been and the animated corpses which were meandering about the palisades were studded with javelins and arrows to little effect but they could see something coming in from Sirti Road. It was a group of 10 of what appeared to be zombie Arboreans marching towards the gate. Vorwulf and Magiia spotted a bright green flash in the distance behind the enemy lines beneath the war banners of Blackbrow and the mercs of Poisonwood. They both caught the flash that came an instant after behind them as did the bowmen on the palisade whom turned and began shouting.

Vorwulf: “Archers! Archers!” He pointed at the group of creatures that had just teleported in on their side of the palisade near the gate. He then changed his mind and told them to fire on the Arboreans marching towards the gate and shouted to the guardsmen to get their spears on the enemies that had just appeared on their side of the battlements. He downed a healing potion. The runner had already torn off through the snow towards the beerhall to alert the Achaánal Clan warriors that the enemy had breached the palisades.

The enemy strike force was below them where they had magically appeared in the snow not too far from the inside of the gate. The strike force consisted of two skeletons wielding superior quality longswords wearing bronze scale-mail and bearing bronze shields and two unarmed (relatively speaking) undead Arboreans all four of these being led by a slightly larger skeleton with bones grafted over it forming into a sort of grim plate-mail. This fiendish commander was wielding a jagged bladed sword seemingly carved (or sculpted) from polished bone. Grom used his magic ring which had a single use Heal All spell on it that he had bought in Chago from a brownie (a minor detail omitted from that entry; whoops) in an attempt to fortify his allies and wound the enemy. The illusion that was on the ring that had made it appear as if it were a ring of Heal All disappeared; it turned out to be just a twist of rusted wire. It was then Magiia let loose a blood-curdling Amazonian battle-cry and leapt from the palisades with a power attack her sword crashing into the leader of the undead strike force smashing him to bits. The two sword bearing skeletons slashed at the Ferenoi wounding her slightly and then the pile of plate-like bones reassembled themselves. One of the zombie Arboreans moved to the gate and prepared to begin bashing at it with its clubbing dead-wood fists the other slammed its fists into Magiia’s unarmored body. Vorwulf turned his bow to the Arborean at the gate wasting two of his Ice-Steel Frost-Burst Magic Arrows which missed their target disappearing into the snow drifts on either side of it with muted blue flashes. Grom summoned 2 inferior earth elementals which erupted from beneath the snow as semi-humanoid piles of dirt which grappled the Arborean at the gates. Magiia endured blows from the skeletons and the other Arborean. The leader struck at her with its bone sword which glowed a deep purple as it struck passing through her chain mail slicing into her flesh completely bypassing the armor and that was when her chain mail shirt suddenly rusted and disintegrated off of her body leaving her completely naked. The shaman blasted the Arborean attacking Magiia with flames and held them on the creature hoping to set its dry, dead-wood body aflame.

Magiia disarmed one of the sword wielding skeletons. Vorwulf concentrated his sights on the Arborean by the gate which was able to break free and smash a small hole into the gate before being grappled again. Grom used his healing touch on Vorwulf. The Bone-Lord, leader of the undead strike force, slashed repeatedly at Magiia whom parried desperately. Grom summoned two more inferior earth elementals and sent them at one of the sword-wielding skeletons. They easily grappled it. Vor thumped his arrows into the Arborean by the gate finally doing enough damage to drop it. Magiia smashed through one skeleton reducing it to flinders then into the other which collapsed into a pile in the snow. The Bone-Lord hit Magiia his evil blade cutting deep forcing her to make a recovery check to stay standing and conscious. Magiia didn’t know that the helmet that she was wearing had the Shield ability on it.

Jenn: “Yes I do!”

Cris: “No ya wouldn’t. None of us had chance to tell ya yet.”

The GM (me): “Nope.”

Jenn: “Damn it.”

There was Magiia facing the Bone-Lord and the lone Dead-Wood Arborean the true status of the other undead creatures unknown. She was badly wounded, dripping with sweat and blood, steaming in the snow.

Jenn: “I charged in without thinking didn’t I?”

Then the lights in the dining room went out.

The power had been knocked out for the entire neighborhood suddenly leaving us in the dark and stranding Cris’, Gil’s and Jenn’s characters in the midst of battle. It was raining. Jenn went into the living room and looked through the curtains. She said she could see lightning in the distance. All of us sat around talking, waiting for the power to come back up and when it didn’t Jenn lit some candles and we continued the game by candlelight.

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 1: Under the Pitch Black Moon Part 1

There was a light snowfall as the slayers, now consisting of Grom the Shaman (played by Gil) and the Feren Dragon Blood Warrior Magiia (played by Jenn) both being led by Vorwulf the ranger/dragonslayer (played by Cris), trundled through the snow to the hall of the Elder Council seat of the authority of the civil authority of Merdna. There they were briefed on the currently unfolding situation. Achoran south of the Nirix river has fallen, Asternor north of the river overwhelmed with refugees and plague is under siege and will fall soon cut-off by a large contingent of undead troops and there was a black army of the undead on the move to Merdna accompanied by a black dragon marching under the war banner of Blackbrow (a black mailed fist gripping a white multi-pointed star against a purple field) their intentions obvious. Another banner among those forces also reveals that Blackbrow is reinforced with mercenaries from Poisonwood bearing the standard of a black scorpion entwined in the coils of a green serpent against a red field. It would be mere hours before those forces would be at the gates. Due to the battle with the trolls of Trollguard at the beginning of fall Merdna’s forces are much weakened some of which have been sent to reinforce Fertum Vorahd the seat of Furst Vorahd (sole lord of Hirok-Nor’s warrior-caste). The remaining forces within the city walls are 3 units of the Merdna Town Guard each unit consisting of 10 freeman archers (hey arrows for undead and foreigners) and 10 guardsmen (armed with shortspears, shortswords with medium wood shields, steel caps on their heads and chain mail shirts) which will be on each of the three gates to the city (the east is bordered by the city’s harbors and Mer-Lake). The Clothworker’s guild (with a force of 15 crossbow men and 20 maul-men) will be manning the south gate around which their circular two-story guild house is built around and the Wood Cutters’ guild (with a force of 15 crossbow men and 22 axe-men) will be on the south gate where their guild house sits. The sheriff of Merdna with his 9 deputies will take post at the ridge above the lakeshore by the Council House and Lord Vorahd’s Manor reinforced by 10 warriors loyal to Vorahd meant to steward his properties within the city walls. A fleet of runners will be the communication lines between the city’s defenders. The Blackwings Dragonslayers’ Guild will be defending the west gate (the Sirti road entrance), the weakest point in Merdna’s defenses where the gate is between two wood guard towers with a narrow walkway over the gate behind the palisades along with the city guard unit assigned to the same gate. It is the gate which they helped to defend against a horde of trolls and helped to repair afterwards (see The Dragonslayers II Pts. 2 & 3). There are also 12 Hill-Lander warriors of the Achaánal Clan, a Hill-Lander clan expelled from their ancestral lands somewhere to the immediate north/north-west by a Lowlander rebellion a few years ago but they have pledged their swords only if the enemy gets inside of the walls.

Straight from the Game Master's Notebook
Straight from the Game Master’s Notebook

The slayers along with the rest of those within the town hall rushed from the meeting; the slayers to the Hopping Rat to prepare. Grom prepared some warpaint for them while Vorwulf put the manual he had been gradually working through during the long winter days with the rest of his things in his attic quarters. The first to be painted was Magiia the Feren. She was sent by the Blackwings of Chago, a member in good standing she is a native of the Feren Archipelago and racially an amazon. Her expertise in mixing up alchemical concoctions from the blood of dragons in order to give herself supernatural abilities (al ’a chemical super-soldier) is invaluable and sending her to a place where dragons are endemic in order to harvest as much raw material as she can seemed like a good idea to guildmaster Douamo at the time. The shaman painted himself last after finishing with Vorwulf, all were eager to get to the battlements. They extinguished the candles in the tavern/guild house and lit their lanterns as they marched out into the dark and cold. They were making their way along Sirti street to the west gate when Vorwulf caught a faint voice on the chill winter winds. He turned to see an old man in a beggar’s cloak waving his hand at them accompanied by another larger warrior-type completely wrapped in an old dirty hooded cloak.

“Hail friends! Where are you headed?”

Cris: *sound of disgust* “I hate this guy.”

Vorwulf recognized the old man as Zancor the one-armed. Suspicious he looked over the old necromancer’s companion. He immediately (N20) recognized the fighter for Bers’ reanimated corpse.

“Wait! I found her wandering abroad and well… I haven’t had time to return her to you guys since I had to flee Asternor before the noose tightened!” The sly old bastard got a natural 20 to bluff. Vorwulf spotted the Gauntlet of Transmutation on the old man’s hand. The two sides were eyeballing one another each unsure of what to do next.

Jenn: “Uhm. Should we be getting to the gate?”

Gil: “I guess we go to the gate then?”

Vorwulf: “We aren’t going anywhere, we’re burying Bers HERE!” He whipped out his sword. The expression on Zancor’s face hardened into a sneer as he began to step back.

Suddenly, an arrow whizzed out from an alley about a 100 ft. away behind the necromancer and the zombie-creeper Bers imbedding itself in the snow at Vorwulf’s feet. He recognized the arrow and the decayed fletching of his former master, Dead-Eye.

Grom unleashed his Primal Scream catching zombie Bers and Zancor the necromancer in the cone of frightening sound. Blood erupted from the old man’s ears and nose and fear replaced the evil sneer. The half-frozen slab of rotten meat that had been Bers was unaffected. The zombie-creeper swung a powerful but clumsy blow with its great axe at the shaman fortunately missing him. Magiia moved in slashing at Bers but her blow was deflected off of the zombie’s star metal shield. Zancor fled into the increasing snowfall disappearing from sight. Vorwulf slashed at Bers his blow glancing of her shield. A bone white arrow came shrieking from the alley a hundred feet away nailing Vor. The shaman backed off shaken by the scream that blasted him from the dreadful magic arrow and with bleeding ears cast Dispel Fear on himself. Bers nailed the amazon with her axe opening a nasty wound the blood steamed as it colored the snow. The zombie parried the amazon’s retort.

Gil: “Man! That guy [referring to Dead-Eye] is gonna keep nailing us!”

Cris: “Damn,damn. I know I know. Well, it has to be like this.”

Vorwulf took off streaking towards the position of his former master. He spotted the cloaked shape duck back into the alley. The battle in the snow between the two Blackwings and what was once Bers, now zombie-creeper minion of Blackbrow, raged on. Magiia suffered several deep wounds but finally managed to disarm Bers whom simply pulled her back up weapon the superior quality silver-bladed great sword Bers had originally looted from the ruins of the tower of Blackbrow (see The Dragonslayers I: Pt. 6). Grom shot a stream of fire at the creature forcing it to keep its shield raised against his flames as it battled against the amazon the silver chainmail of the zombie absorbing some her strongest blows with ease. Meanwhile in the alley Vorwulf was dueling his master. Vorwulf wielded a cutlass and longsword and his former master wielded the bowie knife and longsword combination that had been his trademark in life. They traded several blows nearly matched in sword skill. Vorwulf’s blows sliced into a pitch black substance which seemed to flesh the bones which he could feel the blades ring off of from every blow.

Grom unleashed blast after blast of Wind Rush at zombie Bers whom was forced to dodge which she did easily. This allowed Magiia to move out of her reach and snatch up the battle axe and drink a healing potion, she was badly wounded.

Vorwulf had finally hacked away all of the black, shadowy stuff form the bones of his former master and will a couple of quick but powerful blows (double Natural 20’s; go figure) shattered the bones of the grinning skeleton that was left. It dropped into a pile of rags and yellow-grey flinders. He stepped over to catch a glance at the battle in the street in time to see the shaman call down lightning onto the head of the zombie damaging it horribly. Vorwulf sucked down a healing potion, he too was badly wounded.

Grom healed the amazon with his shamanic touch who had by now moved close to him. She redoubled her efforts at chopping down Bers with her own axe. Jenn (Magiia’s player) sighed in relief when Bers finally fell.

Jenn: “Finally! Yaay!”

Gil: “Alright! Yeah!”

Cris just sighed.

Dead-Eyes bones leapt back to life, reassembled themselves and prepared to continue the duel to the death with Vorwulf. The brawny (and well-equipped) corpse of Bers rose still wielding its silver sword and star metal shield.

Cris: “It’s what they do [in response to the expressions on Jenn’s & Gil’s faces]. This is why I hate undead. Damn ghoulies.”

The Blackwings heard the sounds of battle from the direction of the west gate, shouting, ringing steel, twanging bowstrings, and splintering wood.

To Be Continued…

The Dragonslayers Campaign III: Intro

Well we’ve come to the third, and possibly final, part of the Dragon-Slayers campaign. Bers, the last of the original pair of characters from the first campaign has been killed by a Death Demon sent by the Lich of Blackbrow (a natural 1 will do it every time) leaving Vorwulf the human ranger/dragon-slayer as the head of the slayers and top ranked of the Blackwing of the dragonslayers guild in Hirok-Nor. Grom the shaman endures and the new kid on the block is a Dragon-Blood Warrior (an alchemical super-soldier and a specialist class found in the upcoming Character Codex IV) Feren (amazon) played by Jenn.

The Black Moon of Eu is high and winter is in full swing with drifts of snow in the streets as high as the thatch. They have yet to be able to get into and read the Tome of Dragon-Slaying, Grom is still having nightmares of the red dragon that obliterated his people and a giant glowing mushroom, and there is a 10,000 gold piece bounty on Xanto the Wasp’s head placed by the Black Wings Dragon Slayers’ Guild of Chago. The latter information related to them by a messenger before the first snow.

Well, this concludes this brief introduction. My next dragon-slayer post will begin with the first session as they follow the messenger into the freezing night.

A Mage from Poisonwood II Pt.9: And Everything Had Been Going So Well…

A few days after finding our way back to Rockhollow we were again out in the wilderness this time on the hunt for the suspect ratling which had evidently hired the goons that took out our companions. The gold talons we found on their bodies had the stamp of Blackgut but it was defaced with a strange scratch design scribed next to the defaced stamp reminiscent of ratling-scratch. The ratling was probably one of Blackgut’s minions that had escaped us whne we raided his lair who now obviously controlled a hidden cache somewhere. We had followed the map we obtained from one of the corpses of our would-be assassins, the marks at the bottom the same ratling-scratch marks as on the gold. I was watching Vorox the monster rider trying to figure out how to open a large, locked bronze double-door with a danse macabre motif on it. We had crawled through a spider-hole in a ruin with a single intact chamber which had newly stocked with supplies, the bags and chest bearing the same symbols as the map and gold. The spider-hole lead down into a mostly collapsed room with only the double-doors as a feature besides dirt, cobwebs and rubble that is. Having not sensed any magic emanating from the doors and since I didn’t have any spells which could be of any use towards our endeavors to get through them, I pulled out the pair of dragon-bone dice with jeweled pips that I had been carrying for a while.

We had buried our companions behind the mostly finished forge the previous day raising a cairn above each of their graves. We put Tweena to rest with the gear she had been wearing and split the rest of her money and her remaining items as we knew she would have wanted it. Both I and Vorox were shocked as to the shear amount of wealth she had hoarded. My share was: a set of Highest Quality Thief’s Tools & lock-picks,  a superior quality Pick Axe, 10 spare bowstrings, 10 torches, 1 bottle of superior quality wine, a silver goblet, a potions of See All, Fly, See Invisibility and Stone to Flesh; a quiver of torch arrows, 4 quivers of arrows, 4 quivers of high quality arrows, 2 potions of healing, a superior quality magic alloy arrow, 3,700 gold pieces, 3,584 silver pieces, 298 copper pieces, 130 gold talons, 124 platinum pieces, 9 rubies, 8 pieces of tiger eye, 1 diamond, 4 iron pigs, a Manual of Design, 16 large rubies, 2 alexandrites, 8 star metal pieces, a superior quality composite shortbow, and a quiver of magic arrows. My dream of altering Greenskull (the giant green lotus) with the troll marital salve I had acquired in our campaign against Blackgut, a bit of the Death’s Head Lotus and with a piece from a living Arborean the last item I still had yet to acquire. Of course slicing off a piece of a living tree-man in order to create a humanoid, intelligent lotus with the abilities of a Death’s Head creature probably would have traveled a little way into morally questionable territory. I had just transplanted Greenskull and a large number of various types of lotus from the Green Tower to the planters on the battlements of my tower. I tossed the dice against door while Vorox was trying to find purchase with his crowbar.

The dice glowed and it felt as if they had unleashed a burst of positive energy possibly healing us completely had we been injured. Puzzled, I threw them against the door again. Vorox was had just found purchase on the doors and was beginning to pry. A burst of blinding light exploded from the magic dice. I knew I was in trouble when a muted scream ripped through my brain and the emerald around my neck shattered into powder. There was a clatter as the crowbar hit the ground and I saw Vorox crumple into a pile of dust. As I disintegrated seemingly in slow motion all I could think was I could really use a little snuff of lotus right about n…

End of the Campaign (played between August 2014 and January 2015).