The Arvan Game Pt. 18: Winter’s End

Our heroes meaning Bers (the female fighter played by Jen), Dead-Eye (a ranger played by Cris) and Olf (an Arborean healer played by Mike) return from slaying the Winter Dragon in its lair hefting along sacks of riches only to stumble into the Crusader camp now a smoking bloody body-strewn battlefield. The Hill-landers that had accompanied them on shared in a portion of the treasure ran off to find the Paladin Sir Chinsalis whom they were following and owed their fealty to for some reason or another (hey the players never asked). The lean-to and the stables where smoldering piles of ashes which exuded the columns of black smoke they had seen from afar along with all of the wagons around camp which were arrayed in semi-circle in front for the manor house which was largely intact. They surveyed the corpses which comprised of all of the Crusader’s servants, most of the Templars save for two and when Bers and Dead-Eye found out which had gotten away (Han-Moro and his second Zavan the Red) they were disappointed. Jen said, “Awww, I was hoping to see him dead!”

Along with the crusaders and predictable score of Westlander bodies there were also Otkid bodies all over the battlefield and the stink of chlorine was still strong enough to burn the eyes and nose. “The GREEN Dragon!” exclaimed Dead-Eye. They figured the green dragon had set the Otkid on both the Westlanders and the Crusaders after setting those against each other before showering all with a caustic cloud of chlorine gas. Dead-Eye scanned the tree-line in time to sight a Westlander who was looting the corpses flee into the forest. Of course he and Bers pursued leaving Olf behind chasing the man for several minutes into a tight clearing surrounded by tall evergreen bushes. That is when the pursued man turned tomahawks in each hand.


Bers: “Crap it’s a trap!”

Dead-Eye: “Yeah, no s*%t! But I’m still gonna kill ‘em all!”

Bers: “Yeah!”


A javelin flew from above the bushes directly in front of them revealing an 8 ft bluff atop a javelineer sat and Bers dodged it. The tomahawk brandishing warrior engaged Dead-Eye who pulled his long-sword and bowie knife. A Barbarian in war paint and a fighter bearing a battle-axe and shield leapt from the bushes. The battle lasted for 3 rounds, the first to drop was the warrior with the axe & shield dropped as attacked Bers and she walloped him after only two actions cutting him in two getting herself covered in steaming gore. The barbarian went into a berserk rage and charged to attack Bers, the tomahawk fighter kept at it with Dead-Eye and the javelineer continued to lob javelins at both of them missing once. When the javelineer ran out of javelins after the first round he pulled a pair of tomahawks and leapt into battle with Bers. By the third and last round the javelineer was the first to drop and the tomahawk fighter followed after expending all of his attacks as parry/simul combos before being dropped by Dead-Eye. The barbarian was finally killed by Bers. The pair stumbled back to the carnage of the camp as snow began to fall. The Hillmen met with them and told them that Han had found Sliepnir tracks and recognized the shoes of Chinsalis, his squire and Han-Moro and his second appearing to drag along a prisoner and presented them with a scrap of clothing which the pair recognized as a piece torn from Siamnecca’s robe. They had departed hastily to the West and the Hill-landers were going to follow. Bers and Dead-Eye refused they were going to to shelter in the Manor for the rest of winter. Dead-Eye was convinced the Hill-Landers were going to die in the snow as he watched them jog off into the haze of the ever-increasing snowfall.

They walked into the manor and found it intact with all of the furnishings left by the crusaders finding Zancor quite drunk and guzzling the Templars’ ale. They went to the cellar to check the stores and found two bodies of Templar butlers with their throats cut, they didn’t bother to ask questions they just dragged the bodies outside and locked the place down figuring they had enough to survive for the remainder of winter. Olf sat by the fire seemingly traumatized into silence.

A few days later during the night a frantic beating sounded on the door and when opened they found a young Westlander woman in the blizzard which had roared unceasingly since they had shut the place up. She immediately warmed up to Dead-Eye, Bers was suspicious and after rolling a Natural 20 she recognized the features of the female warrior with sharpened teeth that had frozen to death awhile back after escaping the Templars. Bers grappled with the creature which immediately revealed itself to be a shriveled corpse with skin like rawhide and tossed out the door Olf bolting it shut after. The creature had already cast its spell over Dead-Eye and they had to tie him up to keep him from opening the door and running outside. Zancor who just sat there the whole unimpressed eating and drinking told them that she was a Snow Maiden (see MMI) an undead creature out for vengeance against the living but not to worry she and her magic will disappear come the snow-melt. It took a couple of days to dig through their potions and finding a Potion of Purification gave it to Dead-Eye (which Cris hated since the potion is a fairly valuable one) freeing him from the curse. Of course they had to listen to the creature come back every night for the next two weeks scratching and pleading at the door.

The melt came and with it the end of winter. The dragon-slayers decided to high tail it as fast as possible back to Fertum Dreyhawk where Dead-Eye wanted to take a month or so off to relax and then go after the Green Dragon. They would leave Zancor there on his own recognizance. They left Veringer’s Field with a wagon-load of treasure and hill-dragon hide and bone as the winter dragon’s corpse had fallen through the ice where they had slain it sinking into the icy waters of its lair. Bers and Dead-Eye took turns pulling the wagon not particularly bothered by smell of rotting flesh mellowed by winter as the sun glinted off of the bones and rusted armor that littered the grounds behind them.


To Be Continued…

The Arvan Game Pt. 17: Dragon of Winter

Upon returning to the Hyvalian Crusaders’ camp at Veringer’s Field that evening the trio (Dead-Eye, Bers and Olf played by Cris, Jen and Mike respectively) accompanied by Zancor (or One-arm as they were referring to him) were greeted with the news that a guard posted to watch the manor at night was found dead, they were in time to see the corpse, frozen solid with what appeared to be a branded mark on his forehead which resembled a pair of pursed lips. They were told the night before a guard had disappeared probably wandered off into a snowfall. They shrugged that off and introduced Zancor to the camp Corporal, a Westlander strongman, and went to eat and sleep as on their way to camp Dead-Eye had managed to hunt some small game. That night as the adventurers decided to keep watch Dead-Eye spotted someone which resembled a half-naked woman wandering about the camp but decided not to follow-up on it. During Bers’ watch there was a crash and the sound of splintering wood as well as the screaming of the Sleipnir in the stables. The adventurers rushed out with Dead-Eye unarmored to the stables in time to spot something flying away in the distance which Dead-Eye identified as a winter-dragon.

It had taken another Sleipnir and torn a hole in the roof of the stables. Sir Chinsalis set the pair of “dragon-slayers” to task, “kill that dragon”. So, with Olf they decided to try to ambush it by concealing themselves in the stable that night and every night after until it would strike knowing the remaining Sleipnir were too tempting a target for it not to try it again.

When night fell they concealed themselves in a stall under some hay and waited. Around midnight or so they heard it approach as it clung to the stone side of the manor house and put its massive white head through the hole it had made the night before. It scented them immediately of course and it snapped at Bers who swung her axe and missed flinging it outside of the stables into the snow by the second round of battle Bers was forced to dodge as she was badly injured and dealing minimal damage using the sword she had taken from the corpse in the ruins of Black Brow. Dead-Eye jumped up and ran outside so he could get a clear shot with his bow as the dragon was well covered by the roof and could take an attack of opportunity on him when he drew his bow inside of the stable. Olf did his best to keep Bers’ hit points up using his healing ability. By the third round Bers was forced to use a Recovery check to keep conscious even though Olf had already healed up some of the damage she had already taken. Dead-Eye shot the dragon once with a roll of a Natural 20 using a dragon-bone arrow no less wounding the creature severely. It shrieked and immediately smashed into the roof demolishing it as it leapt from the wall and beat its wings fleeing into the frigid night sky. Dead-Eye made a desperate wild shot at it as it flew but missed and even chanced it again losing another dragon-bone arrow in the process before it disappeared over the treetops. He ran to get the Hill-Landers to see if they would help them track the dragon hoping it would bleed enough to leave a trail with bearing to its lair while Olf tried his best to heal Bers’ wounds and she drank a few healing potions. It was nearly dawn before they were ready to move out but move out they did the trail of frozen dragon’s blood gleaming like rubies in the red-orange light of dawn.

It was approaching dusk before they finally lost the trail. Dead-Eye was in the lead along with the Hill-Lander Ranger/Archer, Han. The others plus Bers and Olf who had run to join back up with them as they left camp in the pre-dawn hours were taking up the rear. Dead-Eye climbed a tree as high as he could getting a treetop view of the land above the trees and was able to spot a low mountain among a ridge of hills in the distance perhaps a day’s walk from their current position along the same bearing they were already traveling. He decided (correctly) that was where the dragon’s lair lay. He and Han found a good and well-hidden camping spot as they all needed rest especially Bers who was still wounded from the previous night’s scuffle.

During the night as the others slept Dead-Eye caught a glimpse of the dragon streaking by overhead, luckily they did not light a fire and those sleeping were in a snow-igloo. Come morning he warned the others that the dragon was probably on the lookout and they continued on. All was quiet, too quiet, as they approached a clearing and when traveling through it they were hit by a blast of the dragon’s frost breath from above during another fly-by surprise attack which was completely ineffective against our dragon-slaying heroes but which hurt the Hill-landers. By early evening they made to break through the forest edge into the shadow of the low mountain and were again hit with a blast of frost-breath which again was ineffective against the slayers (successful reflex saves all around plus cover for the trees) and again wounded the Hill-Landers. The dragon landed at the mouth of its cave and ran inside, the slayers and the Hill-Landers immediately dashed after with Dead-Eye leading the charge. They ran headlong into the dragon in its feeding chamber where it had just dropped a freshly killed bear. It took an attack of opportunity on Bers as she charged to meet it while still within its reach and bit her but good. They battled the dragon for 2 rounds and by their second turns Bers and Dead-Eye were already dodging as was the dragon. Dead-Eye opened the second round with a Recovery check and Olf kept using his healing touch to keep the adventurers alive. The Hill-Landers hung back though Han, the archer/ranger, slung a few arrows they were completely ineffective against the dragon’s icy hide. The dragon tore off on its turn deeper into its lair at the end of the second round.

Han and Dead-Eye both used their tracking skills to follow the dragon’s path through the lair until they came to a lower large chamber which was dominated by a frozen lake across which lay a landing of stone on the far side and another passage probably the entrance to the horde chamber according to Dead-Eye’s Dragon-Lore (again, he was right). The ice of the lake had several large holes in it and was cracked everywhere appearing very uneven and unstable but they had no choice but to chance running over the ice to the opposite landing in order to corner their prey. The dragon was nowhere in sight.

They began to cross and immediately the dragon’s head popped from the water in a hole in the ice and blasted everyone on the landing with its breath weapon badly wounding the Hill-Landers whom took shelter behind a boulder on the landing and the instant after its head dunked back under. Bers and Dead-Eye with Olf behind began to cross the ice at a careful pace until Bers remembered she had the Cape of Bat-Flight taken from the vampire knight of Hornstone. The dragon’s head came up again to blast those on the ledge injuring all of the Hill-Landers enough that they yelled to the slayers to carry on without them as they were running back out of the lair like “sane men do”. The dragon lunged from the water shattering the ice-crust of the lake causing Bers to fall into the frigid waters; she desperately clawed her way onto a loose piece of ice. Fortunately she remembered she had the Cape of Bat-Flight taken from the vampire knight of Hornstone and shot into the air.

The battle commenced and Bers and Dead-Eye both had to dodge, Bers twice in the first round and Olf had to make a recovery roll after getting swatted with a claw after the dragon took an attack of opportunity as he ran past it to try to heal Dead-Eye instead of running to the other ledge like Dead-Eye instructed him to. In Cris’ words, “Dude, I told you!”

By the second round Dead-Eye led off with a Recovery check and Bers remembered she was carrying a Dancing Axe (a weapon which can fly and attack on its own) from a previous sojourn and tossed that into the air to assist them. Olf healed himself. The dragon was then forced into a Recovery roll and by the end of the round destroyed the flying axe with bite splintering it to shivers. In the third round Dead-Eye again led off with a Recovery check ( a turn used up in the previous round to avoid dying from a savage bite attack) and Olf again healed himself. It was Dead-Eye who finally dealt the death blow with his last dragon-bone arrow. They climbed off of the ice onto the ledge, Bers just landed and then she whistled for the Hill-Landers if they could still hear (they would need help carrying out the horde). The Hill-Landers did hear and came running back to join the others in the glittering horde chamber lit by large fire-gems embedded in the walls.

The horde consisted of 1 Black Pearl, 3 pieces of Chalcedony, 3 Opals, 1 large Opal, 7 pieces of Lapis Lazuli, 7 bits of Phenacite, 6 pieces of Turquoise, 3 large bits of Tiger-Eye, 1,000 iron pieces (ip), 2,000 fliks (fk), 4,000 silver pieces (sp), 4 pieces of ivory, 3 magic potions (Greater Strength I, Heal [120 HP], and Blinding Strike), Jar of Powdered Quartz, a high quality Quarterstaff, 1 quiver of highest quality midnight steel arrows (quickly claimed by Dead-Eye), 1 mallet (tool) picked up by Bers because it may be useful plus Olf sensed “magical vibrations” coming from it using his newly acquired ESP ability, an ugly, poor quality (bad art) painting in an embossed jet frame which they left there, and finally, a Book of Invocations with pages of Astral Drift-metal and two spells written within which have to wait until they get the book identified. The Hill-Landers were given a share even though they were “useless” in Dead’s words which consisted of 4 bits of Lapis Lazuli, 4 phenacites, 3 turquiose, 166 ip each, 333 fk each, 666 sp each, getting all of the ivory in lieu of the potions, the black pearl, and the large opal. With the treasure accounted for and split amongst them they decided to sleep through till the next morning in order to heal up a bit before trekking back to camp.

The victorious march back went quickly and was uneventful. They neared the location of the crusader camp when they all spotted the large pillars of black smoke rising lazily into the sky. The Hill-Landers shouted, “No!” They ran towards camp drawing weapons the dragon-slayers just stood there gawking. The players just sighed and stated they were drawing their weapons, but not dropping their bags and packs, and approaching slowly and carefully.

To Be Continued…

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 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…

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…