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Necromancing Xuun Pt.12: Funny Little Death Games Pt.3

That evening half-hill-giant Skull-Smash whom the odds favored would be the opponent to Skull BashBludbaer as finale to the Pit Games. The official gladiatorial games would kick off with a fair the next day. Then the crowds and their money would flock to the bigger venues.

Jíen the necromancer greeted the morning sun with little enthusiasm. He stared out over the walled courtyard from the second story bedroom window. There were throngs of people trailing brightly colored streamers and waving flags everywhere. It made no difference to the dark mage. Through his eyes all was insubstantial. The sun drenched sky was a dull grey and an ethereal cloud obscured the distance even on the clearest day. The throngs of the living were as transparent as an army of colorful ghosts.

There were also bands of paladins and guardsmen on patrol among them. The young Deadlander thought it best if he stayed inside until he was to take his fighter to the match. He occupied himself by brewing potion (Aura of the Dead) using the adobe villa’s kitchen and a few secret ingredients. Later he stored it in one of the empty potion bottles he had been carrying on his person. The potion was of the highest quality.

The rest of the day he spent repairing, mostly stitching and channeling negative energy, the massive damage Bludbaer the mindless Dread Guard had sustained the previous day. It was nearly sundown when Jíen had finished his work almost restoring the creature to full capacity.

Evening came and the young necromancer brought his fighter/creature to the arena with no incidents on the way. There were a few prize matches beforehand then came the main event, Bludbaer versus Skull-Smash. All proceeded as before and soon the large heavily muscled opponents were facing off against each other in the ring. Bludbaer though huge was dwarfed by the half-giant who was wielding a heavy wooden great club.

The bell for the first round rang and Skull-Smash came out swinging landing two massive bone-crunching blows on Bludbaer one after the other dropping him. Immediately Jíen played it up doing the pantomime of a bereaved and ruined manager imploring the crowd to cheer for the miraculous rise of the fallen gladiator. It actually worked, the crowd roared for Bludbaer. So, the necromancer had the fallen fighter rise again. (Out-of-Game I did it to steal away Skull-Smash’s crowd bonus against my guy which Gladiators can get when being cheered on.)

It wasn’t long before Bludbaer was again smashed down without landing a single blow. However, Jíen playing his part as flamboyant fight manager worked his crowd-magic again and once again Bludbaer slowly, and what appeared to all, painfully rose to his feet. The look of disbelief on the half-giant’s face was priceless (unfortunately he didn’t suffer any morale penalties). Jíen however knew that if his creation dropped once more it would be the last.

Skull-Smash landed another horrid blow onto the battered corpse of Bludbaer but on the backswing the Dread Guard parried with his great sword catching the half-giant in a clinch. The crowd went wild. Suddenly, Bludbaer broke free and chopped into the giant, the crowd began to flip completely over to Bludbaer. Skull-Smash nearly silenced the crowd with a mighty roar and put all of his power behind a horrifyingly powerful finishing blow.

The crowd gasped and was silent for the instant before they let loose a deafening roaring cheer. The boneless mess of a corpse in the dirt of the arena that used to be Bludbaer lay at the feet of the triumphant Skull-Smash. Jíen stood wide-eyed and stunned. He was out of a lot of money. Then horror struck him and he rushed into the ring to salvage the corpse before the Disguise Undead rune branded on its forehead faded in its power.

All would see that Bludbaer was really a mass of rotted meat pilfered from the grave if that should happen. In fact, that’s what the potion of Aura of the Dead was for. He would shout that it was a vial of poison to his accusers, drink it, and then feign death. Fortunately a cloaked and hooded stranger helped him with his frantic work of hauling the broken but still very heavy body away on a cart that the stranger had conveniently helped the necromancer procure.

The Stranger: “It’s me.”

Jíen (Played by Me): “What?”

The Stranger lifted up his hood revealing himself to be Trantox the assassin.

Trantox (Played by Jenn): “It’s me. You tried to get me killed!”

Jíen: “What me? No! No I did not!”

Trantox (with a Yeah-Right scowl on his face): “I was there about 5 ft. away when you talked to that Naga. Hiding.”

Jíen: “Oh. Um. I thought I’d get paid more. He ripped me off.”

Trantox: “You know I should totally kill you right now.”

Jíen: “Um, uh. Hmmm. Don’t you have bigger problems right now? Like the Shakai.”

Trantox: “That’s why I found you. Um, huh what?”

The necromancer looked at the assassin like he was crazy before realizing his attentions had diverted to talking to the intelligent dagger. Jíen shuddered.

Trantox: “Naw we won’t kill him yet. We won’t kill you yet but the dagger wants bloooood, so don’t cross us again.”

Jenn was wagging her finger at me. Sheesh.

The necromancer and the assassin delivered the mutilated, rotten pile of meat and shattered bone to the charnel house. The pair decided to walk back to the Troll and wait for whatever would come besides Jíen had a debt to pay off. On their way out of the charnel house a street rat stopped them and passed them a message that Dravor (played by Gil) had skipped town with the dark priest Exvorum (Gil couldn’t continue the campaign as his work schedule had changed). The pair shrugged and continued on.

The dark duo made it to the Whiskey Troll Tavern later that night very near the middle of the night. The place was mostly empty save for those huddled at a table in the corner. These were the Half-giant Skull-Smash, his manager the faun, a human fighter in chainmail (probably a bodyguard), and a saloon bum. All were fairly drunk and the table was packed with mostly empty vessels and half-eaten food.

Jíen settled his debts with the faun and while doing so had noticed the bulging sack of gold at the faunic manager’s side. Skull-Smash’s winnings were substantial. The necromancer returned to his coconspirator’s side and together they hatched a plan. They ordered drinks for the whole place and before the waitress took the pitcher to Skull-Smash’s table the assassin dropped some paralysis toxin into it. Then the villains sat back and waited.

After an hour it was apparent that the poison had only affected the faunic manager and the fighter. The giant, though extremely drunk, showed absolutely no sign of the toxic effect. The saloon bum on the other hand seemed a bit stiff in the joints but otherwise he was okay as well. Trantox began mumbling to his dagger again and was preparing for a fight by oiling its blade with poison. Jíen was getting nervous.

Suddenly, a naga in a black-dragon hide cloak wearing a golden snake mask with emerald & onyx scales appeared right in front of the dark duo’s table. The creature pointed at Trantox and then his dagger shouting, “Thief! Return what you have stolen now!”

Another naga slithered from behind a pillar equipped with a naginata, there were undoubtedly more slithering about in the shadows of the musty tavern. Trantox stood and seemed to want to give up the dagger but simply could not bring himself to do it.

Cris (the GM): “Its not gonna let you do that. It’s want blood.”

Jenn (after failing the dagger’s ego check): “Awe man. I guess I’ll attack the cloaked guy then.”

Trantox (gnashing his teeth and sneering at the Cloaked Naga): “You’re gonna have to pry it from my cold dead hands!”

The assassin lunged at the cloaked naga but the one with the polearm leapt in front of the blow taking the point and the poison. The cloaked naga, recognizable as a mage, cast a spell that Jíen recognized as Bone Blast. The assassin’s left arm went limp as the bone shattered. The necromancer, while no one was paying him any mind, calmly but quickly moved over to the half-giant’s table.

Skull-Smash was completely embroiled in the fight before him. The necromancer eased over to the side of his unconscious manager and drew out a black pearl from his robe. The naga mage cast another spell and Trantox froze in place as another naga fighter slid from the shadows over to him.

Jíen noticed on closer inspection that the body guard was actually dead ( rolled a Natural 1 on his save) so the necromancer cast Animate the Dead and shoved the black gem into the corpse’s gaping mouth with orders to attack the drugged and sleeping manager. It immediately rose and coup de graced Skull-Smash’s manager. But the giant hadn’t noticed as at that same moment another naga fighter used his curved sword to decapitate Trantox.

So harnessing his experience as a gladiator manager, Jíen shot up and shouted, “Look! That evil wizard has cursed your companion and he’s killed your manager!”

The howl of anguish that escaped the mighty lungs of Skull-Smash rattled the bones of everyone in the place and froze the naga mage in his place his hand inches from plucking the prized dagger from the assassin’s headless corpse. The table splintered and flew as the half-giant kicked it away and charged the naga assassins wielding his great club. Jíen absconded with the sack of gold just before the carnage began.

Later, safe back at the villa, Jíen found that the sack held 20 gold talons stamped with unfamiliar hill-lander brands, 600 platinum pieces, and 1,000 gold pieces. Combined with his stash he was pretty well off. However, his companions were either dead or fled away. There were paladins patrolling the street and the city was probably going to carry out a no tolerance policy for the 7-day while the games were taking place.

Jíen the Deadlands necromancer thought hard about the direction his life had taken and quickly decided on what he would do with the rest of it. After all, managing fighters was very profitable and he knew where to get a real champ in need of a manager. Even if the champ didn’t survive the fight with the nagas Jíen could always fix that.

The End

Campaign Played between February and May 2016

Afterword: Skull-Smash did survive that fight by the way and Jíen was able to talk his way into becoming his manager. Go figure.

Necromancing Xuun Pt.11: Funny Little Death Games Pt.2

Game day, the morning the pit-games were to begin. The pit-games functioned as an amateur Weapons fit for a fighterfighter-league apart from the formal and in some respects over regulated official gladiatorial circuit. The fighters matched according to general size and weight with some attention paid to their respective physical prowess and strength. Armor restricted to the arms, legs, and the center of the chest. Other bits legal if both opponents are equipped similarly. Weapons were similarly regulated and rigorously inspected more so than the fighters.

Just before dawn Jíen got his fighter to the arena. It was a large stone building with coliseum seating covered by an awning-like ceiling under which lay the vault-ceilinged galleries. The wounded tended to and fighters vetted and equipped within. Also under the stone step-seats was the entry gallery where vendors sold their wares and bets tendered. The ring was a dirt floor surrounded by a shallow moat meant for the handlers, referees, and judges. On opposite sides of the arena were the gates through which the fighters would enter the ring.

Jíen’s fighter Bludbaer was to face off against one Zurat, a Westlander savage armed with a double-sword. The place was bristling with flags, banners, and ribbons of every color imaginable. The fight doctor cleared Zurat, his face painted with evil blue designs. The doctor moved over to Bludbaer as Zurat jaunted out of sight to await the match behind his assigned gate. The doctor cleared Bludbaer after a cursory glance. Jíen let out a relieved breath.

The Swampers’ Guild was backing Zurat and Jíen couldn’t resist making a gentleman’s bet that his fighter would win. Pit fights continued until one of the competitors couldn’t. They were almost always a death-match. The bookies gave Bludbaer 2-to-1-odds in his favor. Jíen took that bet.

It wasn’t long before Jíen collected 290 gp from the swampers but Bludbaer had taken a fair amount of damage (a whopping 20 Hit Points). Fortunately the wine-blood gambit had proven believable to all onlookers. So much so that White Star healers kept approaching and offering their services for a small charge. So the necromancer quickly shuffled his fighter into a quiet corner of the hospital gallery and repaired the undead thing’s damage the best he could using his Necrology (and spell slots).

The next match and the last of the day for Jíen’s creature would be against a double-axe wielding fighter named Scarnor but the odds were again on Bludbaer’s side. Again, it was a short bout and the necromancer took 2,075 gp in winnings. At the end of a very bloody day the fighters left in competition were Baenox Blood-Axe, Zarcar the faun (Rantcor’s “guy”), Skull-Smasher a half-hill-giant, and Bludbaer. After some of the officials began making off-hand comments that Bludbaer had an uncanny resemblance to another fighter, one who had come in second place last year Jíen took that as a sign to get out of there quick. He was long gone when they remembered the second place fighter’s name, Baercor.

Later at the Troll packed and noisy with fight fans, Jíen fed Bludbaer red wine which several fans were also sending over to the table. It was soon crowded with bottles, tin goblets, and wood cups by the time the necromancer retreated with his fighter back to the tomb.

The next day at midday, Bludbaer was again in the arena facing off with Zarcor the Rockhollow faun armed with a trident and gladius. The odds were 10 to 1 in favor of Zarcor. Jíen bet 2,000 gp on Bludbaer. Emboldened by his observation of the pit doctor, Jíen had cast Invigoration of Unlife into his creation just before leaving the tomb that morning heightening his fighter’s abilities a few notches.

The fight was a desperate one nonetheless. Bludbaer fell quickly and Jíen mentally controlling the undead fighter from the sidelines put his charisma to use. He howled and pulled at his hair and actually got the crowd to begin chanting Bludbaer’s name. That’s when he allowed the creature to rise again to wild cheers from the bloodthirsty throng. Though as a result it’s Negative Aura (the animating force behind the undead and their abilities) diminished (permanent -1).

The second round was brief. Bludbaer chopped down the unbelieving faunic warrior. The arena was erupting with chants of Bludbaer! Jíen’s take on that fight was a respectable 18,000 gp. Only 8,000 of it was given in coinage however, the rest was in a Writ. The matches concluded with Skull-Smash wining his match in quite the messy fashion. The other fighters were either dead or too wounded to continue progressing through the ranks. It would be Bludbaer versus Skull-Smash the next day with 5 to 1 odds in Skull-Smash’s favor. Jíen was hoping for a massive payday as he had a plan forming in his wicked little brain.

Jíen with his bandaged fighter in tow (just to keep the healers away) went straight to the betting tables to make a 10,000 gp wager. A grizzled faun introducing himself as Skull-Smash’s manager approached the young necromancer and the two began a bragging contest which the faun won. After a little more verbal sparring the young necromancer became flustered and ended the conversation with “oh yeah”! He then went on to place the 10,000 gp on Bludbaer to win on the morrow because “that’s how unsure” he was about his own fighter. The young necromancer walked hurriedly away back towards the tavern eager to leave the arena behind when he stopped suddenly in his tracks as a sudden realization smashed into his brain.

Me (Jíen’s Player): “$#!*”

Cris (the GM): “Ahahah! That’s right! You were supposed to bet AGAINST yer guy! Nope! You already made the bet! Ah-hahaha!”

Later at the Troll the necromancer again found himself talking to the faunic manager of Skull-Smash. After a few rounds, on the faun of course, they decided to wager a little side bet; 2,000 gp each winner take all. After that Jíen sat back, drank, and ate a little more.

Later in the night, the necromancer saw some Scael Nagas surround a peasant in a dark corner of the tavern as they harassed the poor man with questions about the theft of a certain star metal dagger. He also spotted the mark of the Shakai tattooed on their arms. After they dealt with the peasant he approached the one that appeared to be the leader and was paid 150 gp in exchange for some information about Rantcor and the Broken String. The necromancer was disappointed as he thought that the information provided was worth more but he shrugged and left the Troll with Bludbaer following.

Instead of retreating to his familiar old tomb this night though, Jíen decided to crash at the haunted villa instead for safety’s sake. He simply had the resident wraiths open the locked gates to him. During the night before going to sleep the necromancer had a conversation of sorts with the “boss” wraith. At least as much, a conversation a mindless undead creature can provide. Wraiths only retain a few negative emotions and the thoughts tied to what they used to be both of which replay like broken records in random combinations.

They do harbor some of the knowledge and secrets they knew in life though that can be brought out through careful and clever manipulation granted the thing isn’t trying to kill its interrogator. The withered-horror revealed to the necromancer a long undisturbed cubbyhole, unfortunately empty, in the bedroom wall. So Jíen used it to stash a small horde of 8,520 gp.

To Be Concluded…

Necromancing Xuun Pt.10: Funny Little Death Games Pt.1

Late morning in the Whiskey Troll Tavern, Dravor the blackguard and Jíen the necromancer were eating a breakfast of stewed stringy gray meat, probably rat, tough coin bread, and whiskey Dagger and snake assassin guild markfortified ale. Trantox the assassin swooped in and sat at the table joining his compatriots. The Poisonwood assassin turned to the young necromancer.

Trantox (Played by Jenn): “Hey! Could you I.D. this for me? But don’t let anybody see.”

Jíen did as he was bid but as a favor. The weapon had a razor sharp serpentine starmetal blade with decorative runes winding up the cheek and a finely wrought gold guard and gold-wire wrapped grip with a strange purplish-black stone as pommel. The Deadlands necromancer visibly tensed as he touched the weapon and after summoning up the best of his arcane knowledge, almost spasmodically he slid the thing back to the assassin.

The assassin snatched it up and tucked it under his cloak quickly surveying the half empty tavern to make sure nobody saw the item. Jíen told Trantox that the weapon was intelligent and evil to boot (also a +2 weapon). The assassin was affected by a strange and disturbing (in Jíen’s opinion anyway) sort of glee. Trantox immediately slunk away softly giggling. The necromancer was suspicious that the weapon’s ego was already taking root in the assassin’s mind.

A little while after the assassin left the tavern for destination unknown the blackguard casually pointed out a corpse slumped against a pillar to the necromancer. Upon investigation the corpse appeared to be a murder victim with a gaping wound in the back, its feet bare, and the tethers to its missing coin purse cut. So, naturally the necromancer dragged it back to his tomb under the pretext of delivering it to the charnel house.

It took until evening to animate the corpse, programmed with a mission of vengeance against the one(s) responsible for its death whoever they may have been. Frankly, it was just something for the necromancer to occupy his time. A short while after the thing stumbled off into the streets Jíen made a beeline back to the tavern.

The Troll was packed it was again a familiar but reeking, as if it ever smelled anything but bad, sea of yellow light. After wading through the congested haze the necromancer quickly found a seat near the wall where hung the giant spiked club and near the always vacant and bone dry carven table. The place was noisy with agitated conversation and excited argument. The atmosphere as taught as knotted troll-gut, everyone was anticipating the games. There were Westlanders, Ivorans, and various others of all stripes most wearing cheaply dyed sashes painted with the heraldry of their favorite fighters marking them as games fanatics.

Then a fight broke out between the members of what appeared to be an adventuring group. Jíen spotted an unrolled parchment upon their table, the apparent source of ire. The young necromancer tried to keep an eye on it to see if anyone snatched it up. Eventually a few of the adventurers ended up dead and the others fled. Somewhere in this Jíen had lost track of the parchment and only realized too late that it was gone.

It wasn’t long after that before a duel between two pirate swordsmen broke out. Weary with boredom the necromancer took his leave of the place and retreated to his tomb. He spent the night preparing his fighter, making sure its makeshift stomach, a wineskin, was secure and filled with red wine.

Come morning the necromancer found himself breakfasting alone. Just as he finished eating Trantox stumbled to the table. He was covered in blood with a serious gut wound. A fat sack of swag tucked under his left arm.

Trantox (to Jíen): “You sense any magic?”

Jíen (Played by me): “I can only sense death and undeath.”

Trantox: *Blank Stare*

Jíen: “I have to inspect the item (using my Spellcraft skill). And it takes a little while.”

Trantox (disappointed in a sinister sort of way): “Oh.”

With his usual uncanny sense of perfect timing the bard, Rantcor wandered in and sat down with the necromancer and Poisonwood assassin. He passed Trantox a small vial of healing potion. He told the assassin to meet back up with him at the Broken String at midnight. To maintain appearances the bard signaled for a round of whiskey fortified ale for the table.

Jíen engaged the bard in some small talk about a few odds and ends eventually turning the subject towards the upcoming games.

Rantcor: “Putting my money on Zarcor, last year’s pit champ. 3 to 1 odds; can’t lose.”

The necromancer also found out that the underdog was one Blood-Axe with 12 to 1 odds. He was a half-faun from a place called Rockhollow or somewhere thereabouts. The bard took his leave soon after that. A few minutes later, a few of the city guard chased some “scumbag” thieves into the tavern from the street and thought that they had cornered the rogues who still were able to slip away.

Come midnight, Jíen found himself accompanying the assassin to the Broken String. The place was low key and quiet as usual with the same drunk passed out at the bar and the same faun bartender on duty. Exotic incense still perfumed the air that the necromancer found repulsive in its sweetness and for the first time he noticed that, the plastered walls were lavender in color. Quite the expensive pigment, he thought.

Already there, Rantcor waved them into a private booth. Trantox placed his sack on the table and slid it across the table over to the shady bard. He peeked into the bag shifting it a little here and there, inspecting its contents. After a few seconds, he produced a leather sack of his own and poured out a measure of gold coins. Nothing could make the necromancer’s eyes gleam more but a beautiful corpse or a pile of newly struck gold.

In total, the bard insisted that Trantox count them over a bottle of wine, the assassin had netted 3,600 gp. Trantox bagged the money and placed the purse inside of his shirt next to his heart. Rantcor then took it upon himself to give the hapless assassin a “head’s up”.

Rantcor (almost casually): “The Shakai are after you.”

The assassin shrugged it off meanwhile Jíen shot the assassin a wide-eyed WTF glare. The Shakai were the premier assassin’s guild of Xuun. Their emblem, a dagger with a red serpent coiled about the cold blade. The necromancer sat stunned while the bard took his leave. Trantox unconcerned went to haggle with the faunic bartender for some healing potions. After he was able to recover his senses, Jíen quietly slipped away back to his tomb.

To Be Continued…

 

 

Necromancing Xuun Pt. 9: Poison Phantoms

The dark duo stood before the looming adobe villa under the light of the white moon. It was time to face the wraiths of the house and earn some gee-pees. They had met up at the Troll, as usual, earlier that evening but Dravor the blackguard had been late.

On the way back from their initial inspection of the villa Jíen the necromancer and the blackguard had encountered a minor but loud argument in the street. A couple of town guardsmen were harassing a small group of peasants. One of the guards was holding a wanted poster aloft which was bearing the likeness of Dravor.

Jíen immediately pivoted and began walking, calmly, the other way away from the blackguard and the small group of guards and townsfolk.  The necromancer burst into a panicked run when Dravor cast Banefire on the wanted poster. As the Deadlander skidded around a corner he heard shouts of: “Over there! That’s HIM!”

After things had calmed down Jíen met Trantox the assassin from Poisonwood at the Whiskey Troll Tavern and the assassin had passed him 2 vials of paralysis toxin to be used to complete the gas grenades he had already ordered from the Deadlands necromancer.

It was dusk before all three were finally around the damp boards of their customary table. The newly united trio was again destined to split as Trantox had some mysterious “business” to take care of. The blackguard and the necromancer had decided to go on the ghost hunt come nightfall.

Both exited the place leaving the warm yellow light of the raucous and overcrowded tavern behind and trading its thick pipe-smoke rich atmosphere for the fresh empty night air of the city streets. They had little trouble finding their way back to the accursed villa.

They entered the place; Zarkar had lent the necromancer a key, and immediately the duo noticed that they had forgotten about the corpse in the kitchen.

Cris (the GM): “HA-HA Ha! That’s right! You guys left it right there! It’s all rotten!”

Me (Jíen’s Player): “Damn. Well, I guess after I’m done here I’ll drop the body off at the charnel house.”

Ignoring the sweet stench of rotten human flesh, Jíen began to use his uncanny sense of the undead to “sniff out” their quarry. It was no surprise that he was able to sense something hovering about the kitchen where the maggoty corpse lay.

Suddenly, emerging from the shadows was the wraith of the dead cook bearing a butcher’s knife. Its flesh appeared pale blue and withered which stretched it tight across the phantom skull underneath.  Jíen tried to rebuke the creature but to no avail. But, unable to resist its aura of despair (he rolled a natural 1), the young necromancer collapsed to the ground rendered utterly helpless at the feet the monster.

Dravor’s faith in his demon lord preserved his sanity. It slashed at him fumbling the attack badly losing grip on its weapon. The wraith’s butcher-knife flung across the room landing point first into the butcher’s block in the corner.

The blackguard used his Hold Undead ability against it stopping it in its tracks. He smashed his zanbato into its strange demi-corporeal phantasmal flesh then fumbled the follow up blow flinging his weapon across the kitchen floor. As he ran to fetch his horse-cutter Jíen was finally able to shake off the effects of the monster’s unholy energies.

The blackguard readied his weapon after snatching it back up and waited for the necromancer to work his magic. Jíen seized control of the shriveled monster (a successful Rebuke Undead). Upon questioning as to where the one who turned it the creature simply pointed up.

They guessed that in the upstairs bedroom they would find the “head” wraith. So without hesitation the daring duo stomped up the steps and found the heady old wooden door ajar. Just inside they could it. Its skull was bald and its mummified face hideously withered with its skin pulling away from the wet black rims of its eyes and gums. It was dressed in fine blue-green garments which appeared as if new. In its claw-like right hand it clutched a mace.

The pall of despair that surrounded the creature failed to take hold of the young necromancer’s mind but the blackguard backed off and wept that it was a losing battle. They were going to lose and die and if they didn’t die here they would eventually die anyway.

The creature struck out at the necromancer thumping him with the mace. Jíen felt a little of his life-force seep away (he suffered a Constitution point drain) so the young necromancer tried to seize control of the creature but failed. The cook’s wraith put itself between the necromancer and the mace-wielding monster granting Jíen some cover. Dravor fighting through his deep misgivings and loss of drive tried to cast Hold Undead on the creature but failed.

The necromancer tried with all of his will again to try to control the monster but again failed. The blackguard readied his weapon should the necromancer fail again.

Me (Jíen’s Player): “Aw man, don’t kill it! I want this thing as one of my minions!”

Gil (Dravor’s Player): “Okay. It’s your funeral. But if I get a chance I’m going to destroy this thing!”

The necromancer’s last rebuke attempt was successful. Jíen dismissed both wraiths to the astral plane “until further notice”. The creatures faded back into the gloom from whence they came.

Later that night, the duo split up and went their separate ways, after collecting the 25 gold pieces Jíen headed back to his tomb. He was certain he had a new place to hide out besides the stuffy and somewhat crowded tomb even though Zarkar had taken his key back. As he laid back on the slab to sleep Jíen counted the days until the games. He figured only 2 or 3 more to go.

Next morning Jíen headed back to the Whiskey Troll and passed by a sight that caused him to rubber neck, stop, then cock his head to one side. There were wanted posters, a lot of them, and everywhere. All of them had the woodcut likeness of Dravor on them.

The bills listed his crimes. He had robbed the Silver Coil, roughed up the clerk at the Golden Feather Inn, a place he had also robbed, and killed a couple of city guards. The price on his head was 1,500 gp.

To Be Continued…

Necromancing Xuun Pt.4: Gold Bit Gambit

It was time to put his plan into action. After his morning meditation on the deeperWhat gold bits buy mysteries of the Black Faith he took out his serrated knife and began to carefully cut a single gold piece into pieces of eight. Jíen then left his tomb and walked to the bazaar. It wasn’t long before after harassing a few ragamuffins that he found a group of street-rats eager for his gold bits. He told his new contact, the eldest of the group complete with a tattoo of rat’s silhouette on the side of his hand (a mark of the Ratters’ Guild), that he would pay in gold bits for a black gem, no questions asked. The necromancer told them he frequents the Troll and to find him there to get paid.

A little while later, the young necromancer walked into the Whiskey Troll Tavern and noticed that even without the oppressive atmosphere of smoke it stunk quite a bit of piss and rotten ale. He also noticed that his companions had indeed survived their little mission from last night. He walked over and the other two had some harsh words for him, he tried to explain himself and kept a friendly tone. Trantox the assassin and Dravor the blackguard didn’t understand a word from the necromancer’s mouth and vice versa.

Somehow, all thought that everything had been smoothed over or that they had won at an argument or got the other party to agree to something. Regardless, they were a trio again. They sat and ate a breakfast of hot ale-mash with bits of fried meat (probably rat), ale and some whiskey. The necromancer however went light on the booze preferring to drink the cheapest grog he could get.

It wasn’t long before the first of two street kids walked in delivering for 1 gold bit, a rounded onyx obviously pried from some larger treasure. Trantox and Dravor left sometime just before midday. A little while later outside the day turned gray, humid, and dark without warning and then a sudden thunderstorm dumped warm rain turning the uncobbled streets to mud.

Shortly after the second pickpocket had walked out with his gold bit, the blackguard and the assassin came back wetted by the downpour. They again sat and ordered food and drink; they appeared to have quite a bit of money on their persons. It wasn’t long after that that a tall sun-darkened southlander with a shaved pate wrapped in a black robe walked in from the rain and directly to the dark trio’s table.

The tall man smiling made eye contact with Dravor and referred to him a few times as ‘brother’. Four others similarly dressed and lightly armed were behind him. Jíen couldn’t understand much but when the man introduced himself to the rest of the group he caught the name Exvorum. Exvorum and his men joined the trio for a few hours of friendly chatter and some whiskies.

By evening the tavern was crowded, loud with brusque voices, and fogged with smoke. Fauns, some half-giants, Scaels, and gypsies had flooded into the place all arriving in town as fans of the annual gladiatorial games. Jíen took his leave after purchasing a bottle of whiskey and made his way back to the charnel house.

It wasn’t long before he found himself chatting up the attendant of the astudan, Exandor. Of course, their conversation turned towards past champion level gladiators who’d died and were buried in the graveyard.

Exandor: “Baercor the skull-breaker. I think he died about 2 seasons ago, big funeral. Lotsa flowers, the mourners certainly earned their pay that day. A fine funeral indeed.” His bottom lip bulged with pride with that final phrase.

A few minutes after that Jíen left the half-drunk bottle with the inebriated Exandor and used his skeletal minion to excavate the grave of the gladiator Baercor. The corpse was in surprisingly good condition having mostly dried-up rather than rotted. Even his equipment was more-or-less intact. He had been buried with the implements of his profession, a dire-mace, a short-sword, a chain shirt bearing the damage of the fatal wound, an open helm, and a Westlander war-belt.

The Deadlands necromancer took most of the remaining night to ply his trade and convert the corpse into something useful, a variation of a Dread-Guard using the black gems he had obtained from the street urchins. Surprisingly both gems were genuine. The creature when finished was a mindless automaton for the most part but its shriveled bluish flesh was hardened like leather and its strength slightly greater than it had been in life.

Jíen had also carved, with his serrated dagger, a magic rune into the creature’s forehead during its creation, a Disguise Undead spell. The creature would appear as a living man of a somewhat generic appearance but appropriate to his size and massive build. Jíen wouldn’t have been too surprised to learn that the gladiator had giant’s blood in his veins.

There was enough time left before dawn for the young mage to catch some sleep before he had to go to the arena to register his fighter as Bludbaer the Dire and himself as Bludbaer’s manager. He would use the tiger-eye gem snatched from one of the hooded thief’s corpses (see Necromancing Xuun Pt.2: Squatters’ Rights). The proper games would begin in a week’s time. He thought, “ha! This’ll be easy money!”

It was near noontime when Jíen had finished putting the last few steps of his plan into action having registered his fighter for the games and was headed back to the Whiskey Troll Tavern to meet up with his compatriots with his minion and new gladiator in tow. It wasn’t long after his arrival at the Troll before fight-fans were offering drinks to his undead-fighter so Jíen had them give the creature red wine as it was “his favorite”.

Cris (the GM): “Ha-ha, like blood!”

Me (Jíen’s Player): “Well, yeah, can’t have him get wounded in the games and have no blood. Someone might get suspicious!”

The GM made a note after that crack.

After a while, Dravor wanted in on the swindle and offered to “sponsor” the young necromancer’s fighter. Of course, the necromancer would have to help the blackguard in taking out a “competitor” first. They had just finished shaking hands on it when a gaggle of armored Hyvalians clattered in. Jíen’s shadowed eyes nearly bulged from their sockets when he saw them.

There was a mutual amount of hate between most, if not all, Hyvalians and Deadlanders caused by the Necromancer Rebellion that had occurred over 500 years past. It had resulted in the loss of a significant portion of the Hyval landmass to the Solkang Ocean splitting the Deadlands from the mainland. It was still a sore spot between cultures.

The Hyvalians’ white surcoats bore the golden chalice and sunrays against azure of the Hyvalian Theocracy. The leader was in full plate armor and great helm apparently a paladin and the other four were Templars in full-suits of chainmail with steel open helms on their heads. The paladins armor squeaked with his raised arm as did his gauntlet when his finger thrust in Jíen’s direction.

Paladin: “We are here to purge this community of the evil that has infected it! We start with you!”

What Jíen had failed to note was that the paladin’s golden scabbard had a single gem of obsidian set into it. The gold mounting damaged from a failed attempt at prying it off. There were also two other empty settings from which the gems had been pried.

Trantox the assassin had already slunk away unseen.

To Be Continued…

Necromancing Xuun Pt.3: Back Alley Rumble

Early evening in the taproom of the Whiskey Troll Tavern and it was jumping. There were crowds of heavily salted and slightly pickled pirates, small groups of cloaked figures plotting who knows what, and large huddles of fight fans. These gladiator groupies had faces smeared with paint the colors of their favorite fighter. Jíen sat at a small table near the ever gaping entrance of the place, his cloaked and cowled skeletal minion behind him posed as a servant.

Through the pungent haze of pipe-smoke the young necromancer observed a hemp merchant a gold necklace dangling on his leather-clad chest and a porter hauling a small locked chest on his shoulder following. Following them attempting to be inconspicuous were Jíen’s companions, Trantox the assassin (played by Jenn), and Dravor the blackguard (played by Gil). The dark pair ducked over to and sat down at the necromancer’s table. The conspicuous pair kept an eye on the porter and merchant whom disappeared into the backroom of the place guided by one whom Jíen assumed to be the owner.

Trantox and Dravor were babbling something about the merchant to Jíen but he was unable to understand the Westlander tongue especially through their thick Poisonwood accents. It was about a half an hour before the merchant and his porter came from the back and sat for a few jacks of ale & whiskey. After about another half an hour the porter and merchant took their leave of the tavern. Jíen’s companions patted the necromancer on the shoulder to follow as they crept up from their seats to follow the seemingly clueless merchant.

Outside the purple moon and its ring were already beginning to appear in the golden horizon as the hemp merchant rejoined his men, 6 porters in total and 3 armed bodyguards. This group proceeded to a caravan of wagons gathered near a wide pavement at the end of the street. Each wagon on their sides had a green hemp leaf painted on a brown field bounded by a loop of twisted yellow rope. The Ivoran caravan had a group of 8 armed guards in chain mail, steel caps on their heads, armed with short spears. The caravan master was a broad fellow with a long peppered mustache and a longsword and bowie knife as sidearms.

As Jíen and his companions observed from afar the merchant paid his porters and they left the company no doubt heading towards less notorious taverns than the Troll. The merchant proceeded to talk to the heavyset caravan master for several minutes then the merchant and his 3 bodyguards walked away back down a wide and busy side avenue as the sky darkened. The hemp merchant and his men were heading to the north end of town. Dravor told the necromancer that they were going to the Golden Feather Inn.

By this time Jíen had learned that the hemp merchant’s name was Ranor. In addition, blackguard Dravor had wordlessly communicated to the necromancer that they were to kill the merchant by dragging his finger across his own throat then rubbing his thumb and forefinger together.

As the dark trio followed them through the bustling crowd the merchant and his guards suddenly turned into an alley as if by some strange fortune two large overturned wagons completely blocked the street. The merchant kept rapidly rounding the turns through the maze of narrowing filth choked alleyways of Ezmer until the only people that could be seen traversing the back-ways were the dark trio and the merchant and his men.

So of course caught at this impasse the merchant, who unfortunately was no fool, turned his men shuffled around him and the blackguard immediately threw a spell at the largest and foremost bodyguard.

The large man was engulfed in blood red flames which burst from his body scorching the other 2 guards. Trantox the assassin dipped his dagger into a vial marked with the Hyvalian characters for black-lotus. So, Jíen cast a Wound spell quickly at their target just a second before Ranor and his guards pulled their weapons. Unfortunately the merchant was able to shake off most of the spell-effect.

The Deadlands necromancer with his minion at his left side stood behind the assassin with his golden poison-dipped dagger and the bronze-armored blackguard. The merchant and his scorched guard were equipped with copper studded soft leather cuirasses with chain mail patches about the shoulders and over their bellies as well as bronze studded leather bracers and bronze leg guards over their knee-high blacked leather boots. The big burnt guard pulled his great axe from his back after having smashed himself into a full gutter-barrel extinguishing the evil flames in the filthy blackwater. The second guard pulled his great sword, and the third aimed his crossbow. Merchant Ranor pulled a shortsword and stepped over to the guard with the crossbow.

The guard armed with the great sword charged Dravor the blackguard whom failed to parry in time with his own massive weapon, a horse-cutter zanbato, and felt the bite of the more standard heavy bladed weapon. A crossbow bolt flew at Trantox putting a nick into the assassin’s ear. The Poisonwood assassin immediately dashed further into the alley towards the guard armed with the crossbow and his intended prey.

Jíen took a step forward to touch the great sword wielding guard with a Crippling Touch spell but missed. Dravor swung his zanbato at the same guard hacking into his cuirass and drawing some blood. The still smoking head guard with his great axe moved back 10 ft. towards his master. The guard with the crossbow moved up and readied to load his weapon. The guard dueling with Dravor took a swing with his massive weapon and getting through the blackguard’s defenses wounded him horribly.

Me (Jíen’s Player): “Trantox WTF! Get in there and stab the dude with yer dagger so we can get outta here!”

Jenn (Trantox’s Player)(having just seen the damage dealt to Dravor): “No way I’m getting close to those guys! I’m out numbered!”

Trantox deftly switched up his weapons and used his already loaded crossbow to fire a bolt into the back of the great sword wielding guard. Jíen tried to grasp the same guard again but again was too slow to land his spell. Dravor in a desperate move tried to disarm the guard of his great sword but failed miserably. Trantox using his unequaled skills with his weapon put another bolt into the back of the same guard. As the guard winced when the arrow nailed his flesh, Dravor swung with all his might opening a hideous wound in the man’s chest but the guard was still standing.

Dravor clumsily struck again at the guard, both men equally wounded and both very near death, but the guard knocked it aside easily. The guard with the great axe and Ranor the hemp merchant both moved in the opposite direction of their attackers out of the alley and into the street.  A crossbow bolt flew and imbedded itself in a graffiti decorated adobe wall near Jíen. The shooter-guard then proceeded to reload. Seeing that the battle was a bit too evenly matched for his comfort the necromancer decided to flee.

Jíen and his minion flew through the twists and turns of the dreary maze of alleys and streets until the young Deadlander was positive of no pursuit. If his companions survived, he was certain they wouldn’t, he was pretty sure he could smooth over any ill-feelings brought about by his strategic withdrawal.

In the meantime he tried to hook up with a contact, one Korvo-Doom, in the slavers’ quarter but found the slaver’s place locked up tight, it was night after all. So the disappointed mage slunk back to his crypt and before settling in to sleep he spent the last of his spells by infusing them into some of the thieves’ bones he had acquired. After he added 3 bone-wands to his gear, 2 charged with the Wound spell and 1 with Exsanguination he reclined to enjoy a well-earned rest.

As he lay down however, he thought that he might want to start formulating a plan.

To Be Continued…

Necromancing Xuun: Intro

Well, after the unintended (I hope) ending of the previous campaign A Giant in Xuun, Cris decided to give another go at GMing since he “had a lot more writing” left over that our characters never even touched on. So, Jenn, Gil, and I wrote up some new “evil” characters for further adventures in the coastal swamp City of Xuun. I decided on a necromancer from the Deadlands from the far side of the world of Eu.

Bozhívostró JielínvoNecromancer Jien

Also known as Jíen or Xinn, he is a native of the Deadlands born to poor but landed farmers. He took the surname of his step-father (Bozhívostró) whom officially adopted him shortly after marrying his mother not long after Jíen’s birth. His true father’s identity is unknown to him though he is very aware of his adoption.

His adoptive father and his mother survive on their poor farm growing herbs & vegetables in the poor soil of the Deadlands. Both are somewhat ineffectual towards Jielínvo favoring instead his two younger brothers, the true heirs of his adoptive father’s property. In a vain effort to please his parents Jíen thrust himself into books and learning diving straight into an academic life even having shown enough promise to be recruited and examined by the provincial temple where he was allowed to study the necromantic arts.

A few days after his final exam and as he contemplated a life of civil service, his step-father took him to the docks, tossed him a small coin purse, and pointed out a ship. “That’s your ship”, he said and left the young necromancer to his fate. He had been indentured by his step-father to the ship’s captain as an apprentice Zombie Master. This black vessel, the Silver Owl Mercantile, would be his home for the next 5 years.

The Silver Owl

The silver owl is a fair sized ship with a junk rigging, crimson sails with the white face of an owl painted on the main sail. The ship is equipped to haul trade-goods (mostly noxious alchemical raw materials, slaves, and zombies). It is outfitted to handle a small number of living slaves in the holds and what is called a ‘Bone-Castle’, a chamber in the fore-castle used to store corpses & skeletons.

Jíen’s duties included keeping the active and inactive zombie crew well-brined as well as assisting the ship’s Zombie Master in controlling and combating the undead and any unfriendly spirits that may endanger the ship.

During his 5 years of contractual service he served mainly as the ship’s Apprentice Zombie Master but was occasionally called upon to take on the duties of a regular crewman whenever the need arose. The ship hauled its cargo to trade under cover of darkness to privately owned Hyvalian ships while in the Solkang Ocean. It also acted as an officially licensed privateer vessel along the Chengorré Coast in the Dread Sound.

The ship skirted the Imperial Seas going southeast and harbored in Crescent Moon for a time. From there it sailed back west to such parts as Tower Town and then south to the Mere to act as a slaving vessel. The acquired slave-cargo was then sold off in cities along the Serpent Coast. From the Serpent Coast the ship transported a few strong boxes, guild-marked, to Ezmer along with a couple of mysterious passengers.

Costing an Arm

A failed attack on a smaller Creschan vessel resulted in significant losses among the regular crew, thusly Jíen had to serve out-of-capacity as a sailor during a particularly nasty thunderstorm. As a result Jíen’s right arm got tangled in a rope and tore from the shoulder by the flailing rigging. It was nearly a month before the Master Necromancer could fully repair the damage. The young necromancer’s arm however was lost to the warm waters of the Great Outer Ocean.

It was while the ship was ported in Ezmer that Jíen’s contract was up and even though he was offered a standard contract to remain as one of the crew he decided to part ways with the ship disembarking to seek his fortunes in the bustling streets of Ezmer. Here he was able to find various jobs and made a few contacts including knowledge of a powerful slaver named Korvo-Doom, a name he was already familiar with as the Silver Owl often did business with Korvo’s associates in the Golden Demon Company.

Traveling to Xuun

When things stagnated in Ezmer and the authorities began to take notice of him he decided to travel further north to Xuun on the first available trade caravan. He also heard of rumors among Ezmer’s mages of a powerful Naga mage known only as “Shadow-Scale” whom may be lurking in the city of Xuun as well as the contact for information about another well-connected mage named Korfin. He had hoped that his contacts might provide some kind of employment opportunities fit for one of his talents, if anything he was confident that he could find work in the charnel house.

Dress for Undeath

The emblem Jíen wears on the chest of his black robes, puts on his spell books, and uses as his maker’s mark he took from an engraving on a nameless tombstone. It is of an owl & raven back-to-back facing left & right respectively with a lidless eye balanced between them. Over his robes and in addition to a grey waist-sash he wears a high-quality magic rhino-hide belt studded with moonstones and a blue-steel buckle that he had come upon on a lucky trade. He still wears the seaman’s seal-skins over his legs tied above the knee and a dagger with a serrated blade and spiked pommel dangles at his side.

On his face he wears a carven leather face-mask fashioned after an owl’s stylized countenance with a lidless eye carved at the center of the forehead. That he wears mainly to disguise the fact that in place of his eyeballs are two pools of lifeless shadow due to his Eldritch Ability of Eyes of the Dead. This ability has its advantages for a necromancer but renders the world at large a misty, grey, lifeless, and lonely place. Following him is his skeletal minion hidden in an identical black robe and a grey cloak and cowl.

Enter the Necromancer

Not long after arriving in Xuun, Jíen found himself sitting at an ale-soaked table in a smoky dive called the Whiskey-Troll Tavern. The place was over-crowded with gladiators and their managers/owners among them adding overloud business-chatter to the drunken clatter. Across the damp board from the one-armed necromancer sat a couple of rough customers. A short red-haired guy in black studded leather armor with a bronze facemask fashioned after the likeness of a lamb named Trantox, an assassin (played by Jenn) and a bigger guy in bronze armor painted black with a disfigured face named Dravor, a black guard (played by Gil). Both were ruffians from Posionwood. All three dark candlelit and pipe-smoke-limned figures awaited their mutual contact to show while they soaked in the reeking ambience of the place. They were waiting for a bard named Rantcor (former secret contact of the late Cantra).

To Be Continued…