The Arvan Game Pt. 16: Gone Troll-Hunting or Winter Part 3

The next morning our two adventurers found the trail by the graves unspoiled and fortunate that the snow didn’t fall overnight to conceal it. Dead-Eye (played Cris) began tracking with Bers (played by Jenn) following close behind. The tracks were leading straight into the Granfor and appeared to be that of 3 individuals, the first indelibly human the other 2 were of an indeterminate species. As they met the edge of the verd about to disappear from view of the camp Olf appeared and began to follow them at a leisurely pace. They traveled for a few hours through the skeletal woods and found themselves at what appeared to be the mouth of the primeval Granfor forest. The snow was piled high among the comparatively smaller trees of the Light Wood but caught in the canopy of the ancient trees of the Granfor forming what appeared in many places along the border a series of gaping caves. The forest floor of the Granfor is always dark due to the high canopy and the litter caught like the canopy of a tropical rainforest causing it to be dark even during the middle of the day leaving the black soil to the twisting massive roots of the trees, giant varieties of fungi, carnivorous plants and other such things.
Dead-Eye didn’t like it but decided to along with Bers to follow the trail to its end. They climbed into the cold, dank darkness of the Granfor after lighting a torch and Bers her lantern. The going was slow among the water carved ravines and the snaking black roots of the trees. Here and there were softly glowing mushrooms and other fungus as well as slime molds. The pair traveled for most of the day stumbling throw what amounted to a cold soft rain, the melting snow caught in the forest roof dripping down to the floor creating puddles of icy water and areas of slippery grey mud. They were getting soaked and were thoroughly miserable. They were about to turn back when they spotted an area lit by narrow beams of sunlight ahead of them.
The lit area was atop a small hummock where sat a large moss-capped boulder. Dead-Eye spotted some movement as if a pair of slight figures had ducked behind the rock. Dead-Eye climbed up first lowering a rope behind him and helped to pull Bers, a notoriously bad climber despite her great strength, to the top. They crept carefully to the boulder and were preparing to move around each side in order to try to catch whoever it was on the other side between them when a cold wave which caused their bones to ache swept down from the top of the boulder where Dead-Eye caught the arcane-whisperings of a mage carried by the cursed air. Fortunately they both made their saving throws and were unaffected by the spell whatever it was and charged around the boulder encountering two human skeletons baring rusted battle axes. Bers cleaved through both in a single mighty swing rendering them to splinters. Dead-Eye immediately shot an arrow at a hunched figure he spotted seated on the boulder and was immediately greeted by, “I surrender don’t kill me please!”
What was on the boulder was an elderly human male in tattered rags which used to be robes with a strange neck manacle fastened about his boney neck. He blubbered a bit and they took pity on him especially since he had only one arm which he said his master had “chewed off” the only time he was ever disobedient. The old mage introduced himself as Zancor an errant Hyvalian outcast whom was forced by his master an ice troll to excavate the corpses of their comrades probably for the food stores. The neck manacle was apparently magic and both crudely and well made at the same time lending to Dead-Eye’s conclusion that it was indeed trollcraft. Besides they both were pretty sure the old man was telling the truth. He offered to point the way to his master’s cave which wasn’t far from the boulder and being the crafty one Dead-Eye got the old man to give him a little more very useful information despite the troll-collar by playing the right-left/no game (played by asking right or left first assuming a fork then waiting for an answer of no or silence to indicate the way they should go; which I should’ve taken into account but oh well). They made their way quickly to the mouth of the cave. Zancor said his “niche” was not far inside but he would go back out where he was supposed to be gathering mushrooms and spices for the troll and well, just in case they failed…
They easily wended their way in along the winding caverns which sloped ever downward avoiding a room just off of the entrance which was lit by a single large diamond (yeah, I know, not very subtle). The trio encountered two latter generation trolls which appeared as the typical bestial troll but with blue-white skin, Bers hacked through them fairly easily neither of the adventurers taking as much as a scratch. After dousing the corpses with some acid vials they tramped on taking the correct fork every time the passage split thanks to one-armed Zancor’s information until they came to a single large fire-lit chamber. Within it along with a terrible smell of carrion and infectious animal filth lay a cave bear with a collar around its neck similar to that of Zancor showing signs of savage abuse on its matted and mangy hide. Both heroes felt sorry for the bear and Dead-Eye put it out of its misery with a single well-placed shot. Through a crudely hewn archway beyond they found another rectangular chamber with masoned walls and a flagstone floor dimly lit by a single candle sconce; a moist breeze wafting into the freezing chamber from an adjoining chamber where a well was to be found. They found the far wall of the chamber solid but strangely of an agreeable temperature to the rest of the room not warm or cold. Bers struck at the wall and her rang off the well-cut stone with shivers flying off everywhere onto the floor but with no visible damage to the blocks.
It was then that Cris (Dead-Eye’s player) shouted, “Ah-ha! I disbelieve the wall!” Dead-Eye rolled a Natural 20 on his disbelief and saw the wall melt away revealing it to be an illusion. Olf easily disbelieved as well but it took Bers a few tries even after she saw her other two companions walk straight through it.
The three found themselves in a dim chamber with large archways to the North and East. In the West wall a large hearth gaped within which a strange blue flame burned casting the room in an eerie pale blue light and which seemed to radiate an icy chill rather than warmth. A large table with a single large chair sat at the center of the room with a stool in the far corner. In the northwest a large leather sack hung from a peg in the wall. It was Olf who noticed that the walls were lined with flayed human hides most covered in tribal tattoos. Out of the North archway lumbered a troll wearing a filthy dark-crimson robe with pale blue skin and a single curving white horn growing from his forehead. In his right hand he brandished a long-sword with a serpentine blade glowing blue with malignant magic. The troll was about ten feet tall and had a narrow build unlike those that they had previously encountered. He proved just as strong though when Bers closed with him and took the first blow finding that the troll-blade also dealt 1D6 in additional frost damage when it struck. Dead-Eye pulled his parried weapons, a long-sword and a bowie knife and came around to try to flank the troll being forced to dodge to avoid a powerful sword blow. In the middle of this another creature with leathery skin waddled from the second archway howling and waving a large meat-cleaver in the air. The troll’s wife had joined the battle. The battle raged for two melee rounds the troll not being worse for the wear as he was protected by a mage-armor spell and the heroes had to hack through it first in order to deal damage to him and just when they thought they had his armor down Bers collapsed wounded into unconsciousness by the blows of both the troll and his wife. Olf ran to her side in order to ply his trade hopefully getting her battle ready by next round as Dead-Eye tried to beat the trolls back from his comrades chopping down the wife by the time Bers was able to rejoin the battle, Olf waited it out underneath the table. In all the battle lasted for 5 rounds and all had taken some battle damage but were determined to clear the lair first before resting.
They first inspected the chamber to the East and found it a kitchen. The chamber stank of blood and poorly preserved meats the flags of the floor stained black with a sticky sediment. On a rack on the far wall there hung a two-handed meat cleaver and ax with notched blades and a dull, gory saw. They also found a barrel of fine ale and a barrel of pickled organs which they left well enough alone. On meat hooks on the South wall hung large bits of stinking meat and a cabinet on the North wall which was filled with bottles of spices some of which smelled wonderfully others which smelled absolutely foul. Satisfied they moved back into the central hearth-chamber and then into the North bed chamber. A filthy pile of what were once fine silks lay in the North-West corner serving as the bed with a weapons rack next to it with a spiked great club on it meant for a large-sized wielder and next to that was a chest of shining adamantine bearing a diamond-eyed countenance of the ice troll on its face (pun intended). They immediately fell upon the chest and found that though it had no locks its lid held fast and then were taken aback when the face began cursing at them and refusing to open as its only loyalty was to its master/creator. Bers whipped out her dagger and began to dig at one of the diamond eyes and it started crying, “Not the eyes! PLEASE, not the eyes!” The lid promptly popped open.
They inspected the last room before deciding to divvy up the treasure within the troll-chest but finding the a pile of soiled rags and a bucket in a the last foul smelling room where sat a crud rimmed pit at its center they went back to the loot dragging the chest back to the hearth chamber where the blue flames had been extinguished along with the ice troll’s life. They began stripping the chest of its contents and inspected them after Dead-Eye lit a fire in the hearth forcing the troll-faced chest to identify the filched gear.
They found: 1 Vial of Oil of Brighten Blade, 1 Vial of Oil of Witch-Fire, 2 Bottles of Potion of Healing, 1 Spellbook, a superior quality Quartz Sphere, a titanium great axe with mother of pearl inlay and head and butt spikes which was a level 8 +4 Dancing Weapon once per day, a blue steel short spear which was a level 4 +2 foe weapon versus dragon, an alchemical gold ring with a large single emerald which was a level 6 magic ring with the ability to cast Aid Allies once a day (Olf took this), and an open helm of frost protection level 4 with a large opal on the brow.
After they inspected the gear and made their claims they began trying to work out the logistics as they were not going to leave the chest there (it was worth 816,000 gp). It was then that Dead-Eye remembered the large sack hanging on the peg in the room and decided to see if they could use that and found it was a bag of holding which could hold up to about 40 cubic feet of stuff and still appear empty. The chest protested and began crying that it would suffocate in the bag. They all breathed a sigh of relief when Dead-Eye pulled the bags mouth shut and tied off the cord. They laid down to sleep since the illusory wall was still there and assumed nothing would come prowling around a troll’s lair determined to make their way back to camp in the morning.

To Be Continued…

The Arvan Game Pt. 15: Winter Part 2

We rejoin our intrepid duo several days later after the first winter blizzard in the shared lean-to with the 3 Hill-Landers, Baalkra (the Fighter/Satyr and elder of the hillmen), Han (the half-faun/half-human Ranger/Archer), and Skran (the half-faun/half-hill-giant Brick) laying about before a blazing fire. They were stinking of whiskey, the high quality Highlander sort, and coming to a realization that after around seven days or so of complete boredom and heavy drinking that they were out of booze. Skran shook his cask and peeped the bunghole then looked at his fellows with the sad look of a hurt child. “Awww, that’s so cute!” said Jen (Bers’ player).
Dead-Eye, played by Cris, heard shouting from outside and tried to peek out of the doorway but had to dig at the snow which blocked the way, the snow had stopped. He shuffled out onto a very high snow bank all but covering the roof of the lean-to. He eyeballed the camp where the servants were digging out what they could which included a few frozen-solid corpses, the knights and paladin were tucked away in the manor-house. Olf, the Arborean (played by Mike) followed him out. The camp appeared to be especially hard hit and mostly buried the land surrounding was white with a heavy layer of snow but maybe only a couple of feet or so not the man-height that now sheeted the tents, manor-house and lean-to. The next couple of days were spent digging out the camp. The men-at-arms and the servants suffered while the Templars, nobles and Chinsalis (the elder paladin) remained in the warm and still well-stocked mansion. In all 4 servants died found frozen solid in their collapsed and buried tent. During those few days Dead-Eye was able to spot a few strange shadows here and there skulking just out of sight around the fringes of the camp he assumed it might be the druid, Siamnecca or the escaped Westlander warrioress until her frozen corpse was found by some noble knights on their way to hunt. It was Bers and Dead-Eye who decided to bury her out of respect and maybe a little guilt. Suffering from restlessness for the next few days Bers and Dead-Eye decided to go hunting dragging Olf along with them.
They found game, a fat deer and some rabbits which they took back to camp knowing full well that all of it would be gone by morning due to appetites of their Hill-Lander companions. The next morn they awoke bright and early in order to get some more hunting in and planning to forge as deep as they could into the Light Wood to the North-East since the edge of the Granfor appeared even more foreboding than before as the high and unearthly thick umbrage of the ancient trees had caught the snowfall giving the dark wood a cavernous appearance. They began their tread from camp passing in the direction of the graves of Changris the young paladin, the younger female Westlander captive, the unfortunate servants and the warrioress’ graves. It was Olf who pointed out that the one of the graves looked “all dug-up”.
They found the Westlander woman’s grave open looking as if something had dug its way out of the snow with bloody footprints leading form the grave into the Light Wood so they followed them. After several hours they found themselves in a ravine with trees to either side. Dead-Eye lost the trail and they sat for at least an hour as he tried to pick it back up again and before they knew it they were surrounded.
On all sides there were heavily armed Westlander warriors wearing studded leather armor with wolf-skin draping their shoulders and bearing heavy war-axes. Dead-Eye counted at least a dozen. Dead-Eye cursed about getting caught in the open just before they surrendered. They were almost relieved to see Siamnecca, his white streaked grey knee-length beard swaying gently in the frigid breeze rushing through the ravine. Relieved that is until he commanded his men (and some women) to seize them. Both Dead-Eye and Bers were blindfolded and had their hands bound with rough hemp rope, Olf on the other hand was asked politely by Siamnecca to accompany them and was addressed as “brother” by the druid. The druid told them that he could not trust them though they had vanquished evil together as his ally the green archer (they didn’t catch the name he gave for her) had seen them at the bridge in the crusaders’ camp but he would not let the tribesmen slay them as they did not take an active part in the battle there.
He went on as they were led into a nearby hidden village located in a fortified hollow with roughly hewn wooden ramparts and a dozen mud huts. He told them the crusaders must pay with blood for their violation of the village tree, a druid tree marked with the runes of the brotherhood, and for the raising of the Eagle-Roc village. The group saw at least 50 warriors in the camp though they were not well equipped they were definitely a threat due to their numbers to the crusaders camped at Veringer’s Field. They were finally led to a dug out in a low hummock where a wooden gate made of lashed together poles served as their prison cell. Olf was told he didn’t have to join Bers and Dead-Eye but he insisted he had to be with his friends. Cris looked at Mike (Olf’s player) like he was an idiot. A few hours later while they tried to figure out how to get out of their predicament Cris said, “Gee too bad somebody didn’t stay on the outside and come to open the cage after knocking the guard out!”
Sometime around midnight or possibly later Olf called the guard over to let him out and then let Bers knock him out since he couldn’t do anything since he was a Healer class character and thus due to the Healer’s Oath (see CCI; Character Codex Vol.I) he couldn’t cause harm. They quickly beat it back to the crusaders’ camp successful in their escape purely due to luck.
By the next afternoon they stumbled exhausted into camp having made a few wrong turns in the wee-hours. They gained an audience with the paladin Sir Chinsalis and passed along the information of the impending Westlander attack. Due to getting lost Dead-Eye couldn’t remember where the Westlander camp was however. The paladin also told them that while they were gone something had gotten to one of the Sleipnir (six-legged horses sacred to the Hyvalians) in the old stables on the West side of the manor and he would like them to look into it as they found what appear to be dragon tracks around it. After the meeting they hurried to rest in the lean-to.
Later that night they laid in wait inside one of the stalls in the old stable for what Dead-Eye had determined to be a Winter Dragon by the footprints. These are cold-blooded middle-weight dragons which come out in winter and hibernate in the warm months. The hours passed and both retreated at first light back to the lean-to though on their way there they heard some commotion and saw that Changris’ grave had been dug up in the night. Dead-Eye made a quick look around and found a trail of tracks that he could follow though these appeared to be very different from those that they had followed into the Light Wood straight into the Westlander ambush. They went to get some shut-eye and gave orders to the servants in the meantime to make sure the trail remained unspoiled. As they went to sleep Olf wandered off.

To Be Continued…

The Arvan Game Pt. 14: Winter at Veringer’s Field

Our two heroes find themselves huddled together with the hill-landers (Baalkra, Han, and Skraan) in a log lean-to built onto the manor house in Veringer’s Field which the Templars, knights and Sir Chinsalis have taken as their quarters. Veringer’s Field is a fairly wide glade between a southern spur of the Granfor forest with the Light Wood bordering the North East. It’s the first morning after the first snowfall of winter and all is white, cold and covered with a few feet of snow. It was also apparent to Bers the fighter (played by Jen) and Dead-Eye the ranger (played by Cris) that the Hyvalian crusaders and their hirelings were not up to surviving the harsh Westland winter though the nobles were probably going to be fine for as long as the wine and food lasted nice and snug in the manor house. They would stand a better chance further in the Granfor but Dead-Eye was loath to travel any nearer to the ancient wood. It is essentially a cold rainforest whose floor is an alien landscape of massive tree trunks, giant fungus untouched by the sunlight.
Upon their arrival a few days previous they had met an Arborean (woody tree-man of average height with bark-skin, they lack mouths and communicate telepathically; see Monster Magnus Vol. I) named Olf (played by Mike) who was just hanging around determined to travel and see the world outside of the Granfor from whose heart he had come. Our two heroes decided to allow him to winter with them as he was a healer and they could see use for that kind of talent. He came along as they prepared to hunt for the day that morning in order to scare themselves up some decent vittles as the camp gruel was wanting and both Bers and Dead-Eye needed to forget an appalling incident the previous day. The crusaders had sent out scouts that morning on the orders of Han-Moro of which Dead-Eye didn’t get any word of until he questioned one of the servants in camp about the sudden activity. By late morning they were gearing up and suspiciously tight-lipped aside from the usual rude demeanor displayed towards Westlanders in general and nearly the entire camp rode off into the Light Wood barring those without mounts and Chinsalis who invited both of our heroes to lunch with him though during he was just as tight-lipped. That evening the mounted crusaders rode back into camp appearing that they had been in battle bearing with them spoils of fresh food and a pair of young women, 1 with the appearance of a warrior with sharpened-teeth and the other a typical young girl not more than 14 years of age. Bers inquired on the women but the knights shrugged her off as they dragged their quarry into the manor bound though the warrior had to be beaten unconscious. Dead-Eye spied a column of smoke in the distance in the direction in which the crusaders had ridden earlier that day. He then went to talk with Li-alo the fanatical cleric and found that an entire Westlander tribal village had been pillaged and burned to the ground. The task that the cleric was most proud of, he vented in his thick Hyvalian accent, was that they had felled and lit the Druid-Tree at the center ablaze. He finished with a great toothy smile, “the cowards that were not cut down fled into the woods. Praise the All-Light!” Bers was concerned and later asked Dead-Eye what should they do. He said, “Nothing.” Their lean-to mates appeared lust as uneasy and broke out a few clay bottles (the half-faun hill-giant had a couple of casks) of strong Hill-lander whiskey. During the evening there was concern that a group of Westlander barbarians were eventually going to make an appearance.
Later that afternoon while tracking a deer in the Light Wood the group (Bers, Dead-Eye and Olf with Dead-Eye in the lead) came upon a low anomalous hill among the bare trees, the area around Veringer’s Field is fairly flat. They prowled to the top of the hill finding it level with what appeared as an ancient and weathered stone alter covered in frozen blood. The menhir behind the stone table was millennial-pitted green stone carven into the crude form of a satyr. Dead-Eye recognized the work of the Otkid savages, slaughtered rabbits lying about the altar stones in a wide circle. Jen and Cris declared their hatred of Otkid at the table that night. Mike just looked on confused. Strangely enough, Olf was the only one who spotted a column of steam rising up from the far side of the hill-slope just before the dragon came into full view.
The battle was brief lasting only 1-melee round. Bers wounded the dragon with a first hit with her axe and Dead-eye hit the dragon with his first shot and then had to dodge a bite attack. As both had beaten the dragon in Initiative they both got another attack before it could act again wounding it horribly so it ran away the two dragon slayers with Olf in hot pursuit. They spent the night tracking the blood trail knowing that by the time they would arrive at its lair it would be fully healed (due to regeneration). By morning they came to the mouth of a dug-out cave and entered. The cave was a simple burrow-type lair and they easily made their way through the 1 young dragon and 3 hatchlings they encountered. When they came into the steaming sand-floored wallow which also serves as an egg-chamber, Dead-Eye stomped on all of the eggs they found, he actually dug around to make sure he got them all because he, “hates dragons”. Dead-Eye has the sole survivor character concept; the character lost his family to a dragon attack and seeks vengeance forevermore. They made it just past the wallow and were charged by the adult Hill-Dragon and Dead-Eye got the drop and shot it for very little damage. The dragon went into its dragon-rage it made a claw slash at Bers who dodged negating her Power Attack feat (allows her to make a power attack as a normal attack for the first attack of a melee round) and it snapped at Dead-Eye who failed his dodge and got bit hard and when it tried to swallow him he managed to lock with its jaws. Bers power-attacked using up her last two-attacks for the first round and took a tail swipe to the chest and a claw. The dragon broke the clinch with Dead-Eye and attempted to swallow him but he dodged out from its jaws using up an attack from the next round (players can always attempt to dodge). Dead-Eye won initiative in the second round and whipped out his long-sword and bowie knife. Bers struck the dragon forgetting to power attack but still wounding it severely. It snapped again at Dead-Eye forcing him to dodge as he was badly wounded and struck again at Bers who took the claw, her chainmail took the brunt but was basically reduced to shreds (luckily she had a spare leftover form the loot they managed to gather up to this point). Dead-Eye was forced to make a recovery roll as he failed to dodge to reduce the bite damage as he was wounded enough to die, the dragon failed its grapple to try to swallow him again. Bers got the deathblow on the beast with a major overkill covering herself and Dead-Eye in steaming dragon-gore. They found that the Hill-Dragon’s hoard was mostly shiny trash.
They returned to camp by the next evening in a sorry and very pungent state, their lean-to mates made them clean up a bit. Cris was a bit exasperated, “but they’re a bunch of GOAT-MEN!” Bers talked to a camp servant and found that he had seen Sir Chinsalis sneaking out at night into the woods headed north. She almost forgot to tell Dead-Eye until they were good and whiskied up with the Hill-Landers’ stash that night. So they began waiting for him at night, it took a week before they spotted him sneaking out. They tracked him into the Light Wood and found themselves at the base of a familiar hill. Dead-Eye was the one that prowled to the top to see what was going on since Bers tended to be very clumsy and noisy. He watched as the paladin waited in the cold for someone whom appeared in the form of a familiar green archer. He looked on as they talked about something but he couldn’t overhear them (he failed his listen check). As they parted ways he hurried back down to Bers and they both took off into the woods. They hid and planned to wait of ran hour then spotted a big black shape flying in front of the full moon through the bare trees, Dead-Eye was able to make out the shape of a certain green dragon. “Hey! The green archer’s the f***’*n green dragon!” Seriously he just realized that then. He pretty much also figured the green dragon’s manipulating both sides in the local religious/conquistador strife keeping both sides at each other’s throats. They planned to lay low for a few days while Dead-Eye thought what to do, Bers just wanted to confront the paladin to see what they could find out. But she decided to just eat some of the Ranger’s hard tack, dried meat and whiskey gruel instead when she saw him cooking it up.
A few nights later they were woken out of a dead sleep by shouting and the crash of the manor’s door. They saw the female Westlander warrior with the sharpened teeth take off into the snow as it began to storm her pursuers broke off as soon as she broke the bounds of the camp. After things settled down a bit the Templars carried out the other girl, her throat a bleeding mess and the young Changris a large chunk bitten out of his throat. Both were stone dead.

Bers: “Awww. I liked him.”

To Be Continued…

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.

The Arvan Game Pt. 12: Burnt Bridges

Come morn they, our heroes Bers (played by Jenn) and Dead-Eye (played by Cris) double-timed it back to the nearest farm in order to stock up on supplies and deliver the bad news about the abducted girls. They planned to take the Old High Road back down to the Old Grove where they would cut southerly following the tree line to Miller’s Bridge hoping to stay far enough away from Loc Lake to avoid the Loc-Troll. They made it to the site of the bridge without incident only to find the burnt remnants staring back at them while farmers were struggling to rebuild the short span which was made difficult by a rainstorm in the mountains to the North causing the creek to flood and flow as strong as a river. The story they got was that for some unknown reason the stand-off which was begun when Sir Chinsalis and the Hill-Landers drenched the wooden span of the bridge in lamp oil. During the battle a lightning bolt summoned by Siamnecca the druid lit the bridge ablaze. They decided to go the Loc Lake route where there heard from the laborers there is a narrow cart-bridge. Pretty much with no choice, Cris really didn’t want to deal with the troll realizing the bridge is probably a troll bridge, they headed out even though they only had about an hour or so of daylight left (daylight turns trolls to stone in the Dice & Glory game btw). By sundown they found themselves back at the edge of the Old High Road across from a hillside 2 to 3 miles South-East of Loc Lake. Dead-eye found a campsite just off the road at the foot of the hill. It was not very well hidden but they were among the high grass and weren’t going to build a fire since they were decided on subsisting on dried trail rations.

Later that night during second watch Bers heard rumbling footsteps which awoke Dead-Eye just in time to see a giant troll in full plate armor wielding a giant hammer crash through the brush into their camp. In the darkness Dead-Eye mistook the horns on his helmet for actual horns believing him to be a horned troll. They could also hear other smaller but still large creatures circling the camp out of sight. After a brief speech they found out he was looking for a “puny knight” who had hurt him, they also noticed that his hands were two different colors and the lighter one was of a smoother, newer texture. He also mumbled something about a green archer and that he was only there waiting for the carnage so he could clean up after the fight. But as in Cris’ words, “we don’t heed the words of some stinkin’ troll!” They surmised, probably rightly, that they couldn’t take him in open battle especially since he had company and decided to throw a large bag filled with a few thousand Fliks (small zinc coins minted by Fertums in order to keep economic control of the surrounding area and thus pretty much worthless outside of the influence of the mint Fertum). He gladly took the bribe and urged his “brood” on. The following morning they indeed found a gaggle of footprints surrounding their camp which Dead-Eye identified as at least 6 large to medium-sized trolls, probably 2nd or even 3rd generation trolls. They continued on over the narrow old bridge and along the Old Road heading South towards Dreyton.

Three days later they found themselves at the fork of the Old High Road, The Old Road and Miller’s Fork Road. Dead-eye found a campsite in depression off of the road in the crotch of the fork where an old rusted cage and its hangar had fallen. They made sure to lay out their bedrolls a ways from the cage in the deep part of the cleft. At first watch a young knight stumbled into the campsite bearing the arms of the Hyvalian Theocracy, the same arms which Sir Chinsalis bore. They were able to pantomime that they were friends and the young paladin whose name was Chingris was very talkative unfortunately he only spoke Hyvalian and as they only spoke Westlander it was an awkward evening. At second watch the group was awoken by the sound of moaning emanating from the direction of the fallen cage when investigated they found nothing and decided to leave it alone convincing themselves it was the wind when they knew very well it was not. In the morning after equipping the young paladin with rations he took off South and they continued along the Old Road heading South-West.

A day later the weather made a turn for the worst and it was raining cats and dogs as their wagon creaked along the muddy road as they pulled it, I forgot whether they couldn’t afford a beast of burden or if I had something happen to their current mule which was a sort of running joke on them I guess. Anyway, they neared the edge of the Eagle’s Grove and a Hill Giant stepped out into the road wearing a camo-painted cloak bearing an iron-staff. Into the road behind them stepped what appeared to be an Arborean Druid also in a camouflaged cloak with a lacquered stave. Dead-Eye was able to spot a ranger with a similar cloak off the road in the bushes with a short-bow. The giant demanded all of their money, weapons and other possessions. If they left it all there and walked away they could live. So of course they prepared to fight even though they knew this could very well be their last battle.

The ranger in the bushes got a shot off at Dead-Eye but missed, Dead-Eye warned Bers to take out that druid first. Bers had to dodge when the giant swung at her first and Dead-Eye shot the ranger in the bushes killing him by the second round. The druid’s spells (he was able to get 2 off) had no effect on either of our heroes, luckily since either could have ended the battle right there. He was cloven in two by Bers in a single stroke of her axe. Both then converged on the giant. Dead-Eye dropped his bow and pulled his long-sword and bowie knife attacking with paired weapons. Bers had to make 2 recovery checks in the second and third rounds. The battle lasted into the beginning of the 5th round before Bers was able to drop the giant with a single power attack as Dead-Eye had backed off to down some potions and she was on KO points but they had won. The bandits’ bodies weren’t worth looting as they didn’t carry their loot on their persons so the two victors finished off their potions and tried to get some distance between them and the bodies before camping. A day and a half later they found themselves once again in the walls of Fertum Dreyhawk.

To Be Continued…

New Website Launch & Second Edition

Well, the new website launch is going well but will probably under construction for a while. The Core Rule book will go into a Second Edition. It will change the rules for Uncanny Powers along with some re-editing and artwork changes. The new edition will be completely compatible with the current editions each of which will also be re-edited in the coming months. The Arvan setting is progressing rapidly as the writing is drawing to a close, so the next phase will be the artwork.

With the second edition of the core rule book we are also preparing a Player’s Handbook. I will reprint some of the chapters in the Core Rule Book and collect some from the Character Codexes. It will guide players through character generation step-by-step and serve as a reference for players.

We also have updated and polished our Trademark, as you can seen on this very website. We’re also working on getting new cover artwork for the published books. Due to how busy we are the website will probably take some time to complete. Apologies for its current state of disarray. I know its ugly but its unfinished and it will, hopefully, be completed within the next month.

The Arvan Game Pt. 11: The Horrors of Hornstone

Note: As Hornstone served as a testing ground for certain traps, set-ups and chambers that I’m using for the Obsidian Doom module I’ll be abridging the play-by-play in the ruins though a few I’ll have to mention as the results were just too rich not to mention.
In the trees outside of the ruins of Hornstone they decided to sleep through the day in order to confront the monsters within on their own terms (and sleep in safety as the monsters will probably be aware of them very soon anyway). They spied the ruinous tower which was as white as bone with hollow grayish pocks and pores due to the pecking/burrowing of birds throughout the centuries of abandon. They drank the whiskey they were hauling with themselves and both slept while hidden (luckily for them, no encounters). They woke as dusk approached and prowled (well, Dead-Eye was as quiet and unseen as a ghost, Bers on the other hand, stumbled up in the open making all kinds of racket) up to the sagging and slightly ajar double door, the entrance to the ancient tower.
They carefully, or should I say slowly rounded the tower circumspect to try to find an alternate way in besides the front door dissuaded by the cavernous darkness and musty smell. They found that they front door was the only way in and thus they walked in to the high ceiling octagonal foyer. On four of the walls in the dark and musty chamber were the open-mouthed reliefs of frowning yet laughing satyrs, an eerie and soft moan could be heard from each of their mouths caused by drafts. They proceeded carefully into the center of the chamber towards the only other door, a man-sized door barred by a rusted portcullis. The floor dropped open and they both failed their saving throws to dodge so they fell 50ft down into a lower chamber.
They landed onto a pile of bones that shielded them from the spiked floor as the trap-floor above slammed shut. The chamber they found themselves in was suddenly brightly lit without obvious source of illumination and a magic mouth appeared over the only exit a studded bronze double-door. Basically they stumbled into a labyrinth, a magical dungeon-maze used primarily for entertainment by powerful mage-lords. As I used this part of the campaign to test a few trap rooms and scenarios for the Obsidian Doom module I’m just going to relate a few of the best moments and glance over the rest.
In a one of a few chambers with a door at each of the compass directions under Hornstone Bers went to open a door with Dead-Eye guarding her rear watching an open archway in the opposite direction, of course the door was a trap it swung outward from her attached by a chain to a large solid stone block counterweight which was directly above her head as the door was recessed (the only recessed passage in the room by the way as well as the only door), she made her strength check to keep a hold of the door and found herself in a tight spot, Dead-Eye leapt through the passage into the next room after a successful Acrobatics skill check and splashed into a chamber with a flooded floor (the dungeon under Hornstone was a little decrepit after centuries of no maintenance) only to have two revenants rise form the water. They correctly identified one these as the farmer’s missing daughter, Bers dodged the falling block as she let go of the door latch and jumped backward, Dead-Eye had already immediately leapt back as a dodge from a claw attack. The revenants just went around waiting in the North room as it connected with no obstructions to the flooded chamber. As our duo passed through the North door-less arch Bers triggered a tripwire trap after Dead-Eye had already pointed it out and a barbed spring-loaded spear-trap shot out of a hole and nailed her in the knee crippling her leg, she easily pulled herself off of it after a successful Will-save almost tearing the leg clean off. The revenants attacked and she swallowed down a couple of healing potions, the battle was brief and our heroes easily slaughtered the undead corpses of two young girls. Another trap room which they had stumbled upon with no way back was a tabletop-boulder balance room, I thought I was clever with this one but turns out it’s a classic dungeon trap and one which has now appeared in the game I’m currently playing but with TWO boulders of course my mage has the Teleportation I eldritch ability so it was nothing, but enough with the aside.
Dead-Eye barely made it and tossed a rope to Bers who had to be quickly yanked to the opposite side as she stumbled at about the center of the balance-table-floor and the boulder nearly rolled over her. They eventually made it to the end and were a little disappointed to find an empty and long abandoned observation/entertainment room where a central crystal viewing orb gave the only weak flickering light in the room. They found steps and a wide stone step rising to a secret trap-door under the flags of the chamber above (the chamber behind the rusted portcullis) but decided to sleep in the deserted chamber as they were badly beaten up till the next night (hopefully). They missed the secret door leading to the still secret treasure vaults of the place even after a careful inspection of the area (tee-hee).
They got their timing right and woke at the desired time and continued to the upper chamber. They were ambushed shortly afterwards by a murder of Garkains which dropped on them from the high domed ceiling. They were both enwrapped within the stinking pale leathery wings of the monsters and each had three creatures on them and being drained of blood. Bers even had one of the fiends sinking its teeth into her boot and foot in order to suck blood when it couldn’t get in edge wise between its brothers. It looked like a TPK (total party kill) on my part when both Dead and Bers were able to break loose with Natural 20 grappling checks and quickly won the battle Bers even throwing her axe at a fleeing Garkain as she was a bit miffed about the whole thing. They ascended and were met with dusty ruined rooms, rotting wood floors and disintegrating plaster walls. They made their way up through the upper rooms and seemed to find no other monsters until Dead-Eye fell through a rotted bit of floor into a locked armory in the floor below (they couldn’t get the doors open) and onto the rusted spears still on the racks. As Bers was getting ready to lower a rope the vampire warrior had snuck up behind her and successfully used his Seduction ability on her and began to drain her blood, she was very pale and sickly at this point; ready to lose consciousness. Dead-Eye used a grappling hook he had bought upon gearing up before the leaving Fertum Dreyhawk (Cris, Dead-Eye’s player recognizing a dungeon hook when he saw one) to climb out just in time to save her life and they fought the vampire though this time they were able to land a few more blows chasing him off. They attempted pursuit to a rickety balcony only to run smack-dab into a Skrane (Bizarre Beasties #4 on the Ranger Games Publishing website) which they easily defeated but not before taking a few good blows. They decided to barricade themselves in a mostly empty room without a window as the dawn neared needing another bout of healing and rest.
When they awoke thy heard the same mysterious pipe-song they had heard in the barn several nights ago but were able to shake off the effects this time around and basically charged their way up to the top where they faced the vampire warrior again before reaching the top but were able to easily defeat him looting his corpse of a battleaxe, a gold helmet, spiked gold bracers and the strange black cape which seemed to take the shape of batwings when he flew. They left his dagger (a cursed item but other than that there was nothing special about it, guess that’s why they left it). They also ran into a few giant spiders and a shadow creature but took them out pretty quickly (in about 2 rounds) and ran into the final confrontation with a vampire Satyr, which I had named Manaan but they never did learn his name. The battle lasted 5 melee rounds and culminated with their ramming a sliver of shattered wood furniture into his heart after they beat him down with the hafts of their weapons and stripped off his bronze chest plate. They recognized the final chamber at the top of the tower as an old chapel of some kind though it was obviously desecrated. They quickly vacated the place while they had daylight without inspecting for any hidden chambers (which of course there were) and made sure they were far outside of Satyr’s Grove and near the North Spur before camping.

To Be Continued…

The Arvan Game Pt. 10: The North Spur

Our intrepid heroes find themselves at a feast with the Ivoran Paladin of the Hyvalian Theocracy Sir Chinsalis and his squire, Xingri after agreeing to and being converted to the Hyvalian faith of course. Sporting their new wooden chalice symbols around their necks they recline on pillows as servants pile smoking meats and dew beaded fruits on the low tables before them. They are introduced to the guests for which this feast was set to receive, three Hill-Lander warriors. The first, a half-faun/half-hill giant brick named Skran, the second a half-faun/half-human ranger/archer named Han and Baalkra a faun and fighter/satyr by class the leader of the three. The two adventurers immediately took a liking to the whiskey swilling three, especially Bers (Jen’s character) since Baalkra was flirting with her (she said she also liked Chinsalis since he treated her like a lady and he defeated at arms as well, sheesh).
During the feast the pair (Dead-Eye and Bers) learned that Chinsalis was awaiting “his master” who had commanded him to keep the bridge and his retinue, a small force of Hyvalian crusaders led by an exiled Hyvalian noble named Han-moro, a Templar. Realizing that they are in the nest of the enemy Dead-Eye immediately began formulating an escape plan (though since they converted Chinsalis, or “Chinless” as they kept calling him, would’ve let them go anyway, but…).
The next day they were waked from their whiskey/ale stupor by Xingri and told to “suit up”. They walked out in full gear and saw the Chinsalis being mounted on his Sleipnir in full battle armor and the Hill-Landers fully armed and ready for a fight. Across the bridge they could hear the shouts of a familiar and fanatical voice, that of the druid Siamnecca. He was inciting the farmers whom were still stuck on the opposite side and with him a female archer clad all in green bearing very good gear. It was at this moment or heroes immediately bolted with their donkey and cart (also rescued by the paladin) and continued on their way towards the North Spur to investigate the mystery of the missing girls. Needless to say they made record time. Later that night they could see the glow of a great fire on the horizon in the direction of Miller’s Bridge and were glad that they had had the “foresight” to flee.
They found their way to the Old High Road after traveling North from Miller’s Bridge for a night and walked the road Northward for 4 or 5 days (I can’t remember which) and then traveled East to reach the small collection of farms and ranches at the edge of the Granfor Forest and its spur known as North Spur to the North of the farmers. They noticed the road was an ancient paved road and millennia worn. They found distraught parents in farm after farm in the North Spur whom were missing their young daughters and complaining of a weird presence and overwhelming feeling of dread that something “unnatural” was wandering about the houses at night. Emanations or hideous fiends were wandering in from the forest, possibly originating from the cursed ruins of Hornstone to the North beyond the North Spur past the Horn Wood and Satyr’s Grove. None of the farmers have dared to go past the North Spur and those who did in the past were never heard from again (how’s that for cliché). They decided to stay in a barn at the farm closest to the Old High Road. In wait for something to happen, around midnight they heard a clattering as of hoofed feet on the roof and then a strange haunting tune such as the eerie sound of pan pipes playing in the distance. They failed their saves and fell asleep. In the morning they found the farm and family was unharmed though the now youngest daughter was ill with a fever and chills, Dead-Eye found the unmistakable mark of the vampire on her throat. They inspected the outside around the farmhouse and found hoof prints beneath the windowsill of the girl’s room. They decided to use her as bait and stay in the room with her under the pretext that they were “protecting” their daughter. They chose to get their sleep during the day. Later that night around midnight they heard the same eerie sounds of a pipe playing but through the beeswax that was plugging their ears and they readied to pounce, Dead-Eye was well-hidden under the sill on the inside, Bers was basically just squatting at the center of the room. They heard the sound of a very human tread on the roof after a fairly loud thump as if something had landed on the apex of the roof. They then spied a black-cloaked figure drift down from above before the window the creature appeared as a very pale human in obviously antiquated bronze plate armor and an open helm. His black cape had the odd penchant for flapping and resembling a pair of large batwings. He immediately locked eyes with Bers and Dead-Eye shot at his chest. He backed off as the two fighters leapt through the window and the fight was on!
It lasted for 1 minute (4 melee rounds) as the vampire was very hard to hit and was in fact laughing as he bobbed and weaved slashing at them with his scimitar he continued to hover and back into the woods. They eventually began to score a number of hits as did he and he hit hard. After 4 rounds he suddenly broke off and flew deeper into the woods past a ridge. Our two heroes made chase, Dead-Eye picked up a trail of broken branches but lost it at the other end of the North Spur. By the time they got back it was nearly evening again and they found that the daughter that they were supposed to be protecting was gone, only a small spot of blood remained of her on her pillow.
They got a few hours rest as it was in the afternoon and Dead-Eye would try to pick up a trail and follow it though he correctly surmised they would be heading towards the ruins one way or another anyway. At evening they were up and following a trail that consisted of broken branches, hoof prints and small barely perceptible drops of blood. Bers (and her player Jen) seemed somewhat concerned for the girl, a bit guilty maybe? They followed the trial back onto the Old High Road where it went cold but the general direction was of course heading straight for the ruins of Hornstone and the shortest path would be through Satyr’s Grove into Horn Wood to Hornstone on the other side. They wound up camping at the dead center of Satyr’s Grove and Bers was on watch around midnight when she a strange light in the woods and chose to investigate. She went a way into the trees and found that the light was a tiny dragon-fly winged fairy which suddenly flew to her and began dancing and flying all about her, she was charmed until it darted away and held up a very valuable gem, a fist-sized diamond that she had had on her person. As it flew away giggling she pursued at a full run and fell into quicksand, her yelling for help attracted a prowling wolf and thankfully Dead-Eye who shot the wolf, it ran away to basically die of its wounds, Dead-Eye lamented the loss of an arrow. Bers learned a valuable lesson: beware faeries! They emerged from Satyr’s Grove by late morning it was then that Dead-Eye noticed that the trees of Satyr’s Grove were too evenly spaced and some had the overgrown remnants of old druidic runes carved into their warty trunks.
The crossed a narrow meadow still following the ever fainter paving stones of the old road North into the tree line of the Horn Wood. By dusk they had to camp at the North edge of the Horn Wood and for obvious reasons decided to not have a campfire and made attempts to camouflage themselves while they slept. They could see the outline of the ruined tower of Hornstone hardly identifiable as a ruin by the deceptive black silhouette limned by dusk. On his watch Dead-Eye spied two forms fly from the top of the ruinous tower which flew in the direction of the farms of North Spur.

To Be Continued…

The Arvan Game Pt. 9: Duel on Miller’s Bridge

The knight introduced himself as Sir Chinsalis and, “none shall pass as I claim this bridge in the name of my Lord and of the Shuen [the pope-like figure of the Hyvalian Theocracy]. Those who wish to pass must convert to the true faith or defeat me in duel!”
Of course Bers challenged him.
Both of our fearless adventurers realized after the duel was agreed upon however, that they had encountered the crusader who has a bounty on his head (see Pt. 5) but were confident that Bers would triumph even though the paladin (it was obvious to Dead-Eye) had excellent equipment (full plate and a 6-legged [the Sleipnir] warhorse with chain mail barding). It was to occur at dawn at behest of Dead-Eye as he “had a plan.”
During the night before the duel while Bers rested in the farmer’s camp Dead Eye (Cris’ character) decided to sneak over the creek bed to feed Chinsalis’ camp and feed a Miniaturization potion to his warhorse to even the odds a little but was spotted by his squire whom was keeping guard (just in case something like that should happen, you can’t trust those barbaric Westlanders ya’know) and shot a bolt from his crossbow and missing by a mile after hailing the half-seen shadow in the depression of Farm Creek. Dead Eye slunk back off knowing he wasn’t seen well enough to be identified.
Dawn came and Bers faced down Sir Chinsalis whom was in full plate armor and mounted on a fully armored warhorse at the entrance to the bridge. The fight lasted for about 2 rounds with the horse dealing the majority of the damage to Bers and Bers severely wounding Chinsalis until the paladin backed down and purposed that they break and he dismount, to which she readily agreed and so they went back to their respective ends of the bridge and quickly drank potions as both were very near death. Once healed they went back at it with Chinsalis dominating the fight with his paired weapon: sword & shield ability using a shield bash to unbalance Bers and then to follow up with a sword slash, Bers was using her great axe with a two-handed grip through out the fight by the way. Of course, to regain her balance Bers would have to forgo an attack so she always chose not to catch her balance so inevitably she got knocked to the ground with a shield bash, on the first downing Chinsalis allowed her to get back on her feet the second time he held the tip of his sword to her throat and made her yield. This presented some cultural role-playing opportunities which never were explored (Jen’s new at this RPG thing so I let it go).
Westlanders (Bers’ culture) have a separation of society into civil and warrior and within those their own separate hierarchies or caste system. As Bers (and Dead Eye) are of the warrior caste they are bound by its laws and basically Bers was supposed to become the paladins thrall by Westlander law, now he is not a Westlander but an Ivoran whose culture is vastly different though sharing some similarity. Of course, the way around this is the paladin is not a Westlander and that he did not explicitly claim her life.
Anyway, after the duel our two faithful adventurers decided to walk around the bridge through the creek bed further up enough to not be seen even from afar but especially the bridge (the farmers couldn’t do this as they had fully laden wagons). They rested for another day to allow Bers to fully heal. During the night they had to fight off 3 medium sized trolls (probably latter generation trolls as they were bestial and had no equipment) getting them back into the good graces of the farmers whose lives they essentially saved. They had to wait another day as they both needed to heal after the fight. They left just before dawn and traveled North into the cover of a large copse named Old Grove and began to cross the creek just as they were able to pull their mule to the top of the opposite side they were confronted by an Otkid hunting party they were making quick work of the hunters and even slaying the chieftain but were unable to get to the real threat, their shaman. They both failed their saving throws and were transformed into rabbits. They were both grabbed by the feet and were about to be slaughtered and dressed for dinner right there.
Luckily this was when Chinsalis galloped up and having caught site of the situation as he came up was able to chase off the Shaman and the surviving faun savages and later restored the pair whom woke up in a tent realizing they were in Chinsalis’ camp after peaking out of the slit.

To be Continued…