Friday, January 28, 2011

Ten Things About Lykaedia and The Anvil

Questions and Answers about the Anvil in the World of Averlorn campaign setting 

1) Why is it called The Anvil? Such is the prowess of its warrior tradition, that the realm of Lykaedia was, allegorically at least, considered a "land where both spears and the men who wield them, were forged by the Gods rather than born of women like lesser men." They are an arrogant and proud people, and the region is still known as The Anvil of the Gods. In the ancient past, 3 massive statues of the Forger at his anvil were built to mark the approach to the heights of Lykaedia. They remain to this day and though time has worn at them, they are still awe-inspiring structures to behold.
secrets: In many ways, The Anvil's power and prestige has came and passed. The invention of the Dragonship meant that an enemy could deploy and supply an expeditionary force that could by dint of numbers, crumble the mighty hoplite formations.

2) Why the spear and short sword? Because they are brutally efficient and have always worked in the past. Cultures do not have the benefit of a rulebook sitting in front of them and so, they use the most efficient weapon as determined by experience. In supported combat, where the press of the enemy creates very tight spaces, a larger sword is at a disadvantage. The spear remains one of the most flexible melee weapons of the age and is never thrown by a Lykos (man of the Lykaedia). In fact, throwing or shooting anything at an opponent seems unmanly and is frowned upon by those who rigidly stick to the Lykaedian doctrine.
secrets: The heavy shield that every Lykaedian warrior carries cannot be overstated in terms of its value and is a big factor in their infantry's success on the battlefield. These things are heavy, stand up to considerable abuse and the shield and its doctrine are taught from a very young age.

3) Who left all these ruined towers and sites? Being less civilized than the Pangaeus and possessing more quality land, the Anvil has always been a spot where high level adventurers and other lord-lings stake a claim. These locations often thrive and evolve into a thorpe and someday, perhaps a village. More often than not though, the new Lord dies without an heir, disappears, or the heir squanders his birthright and the place soon falls into ruin.
secrets: There are ruins all along the King's Road (the North/South road that runs from Grand Oryx all the way to the southern tip of the Trench), many of which have never been looted or have been "re-purposed" by some new tenant. Certainly in the case of an "abandoned" Wizard's tower, a modicum of research can go a long way toward keeping one alive.

4) What in the 9 Hells are these Reborn things? A very special punishment awaits those who commit grievous crimes such as murder, grand theft, theft from a nobleman and other high crimes. In the past, these miscreants would have simply been tied to a cross along the King's Road, but since the Fraternal Order of Surgeons of Hecate have risen to power in Grand Oryx, a new arrangement has developed. The Ghouls as they are known, are quite famous for healing, but they are even more infamous for certain darker necromantic practices. Through some as yet unknown ritual, they are able to fashion minions of a superior quality, often combining the best portions of their charges, the condemned, to make automatons of superior constructions. Are they zombies? Warforged? Some sort of flesh golems? It's hard to say, but Ghouls often travel with one or two of the plate-wearing monsters as guardians. They are also used in the Grand Oryx navy as foot soldiers. In fact, most Dragonships have a pair of them and a handler, to work around the cooker, in heat that would kill most mortals.
secrets: It is almost a sure bet that the Reborn are undead of some sort, for they detect as "evil" though they are not chaotic. They are powerful, remorseless combatants, best avoided if possible.

5) The Ghouls, the Dominion, the Monastic Order, who are these guys? There are ten guilds in Grand Oryx which have over the years, proven themselves to be committed to the betterment of the Theban way of life and the common good. Thus, they have been given charters granting them considerable political power. They are very competitive with one another and vie for control over the eight boroughs of the great city. Since no guild may control more than one borough and there are only eight available, two guilds are left without a territory and will typically form a loose alliance. These guilds have areas of interests that often overlap with PC interests, and though there presence is somewhat rare in Lykaadia, one can expect to find representatives in the two principle cities - Ptoleph and Medea's gate. These are not guilds that players may join, but rather, organizations with which one might seek quests, employment, trade unique items, etc.
secrets: It is not uncommon for the Great Guilds to compete over all sorts of resources, including up-and-coming adventurers. Independent agents (that is, PCs) should always be wary of becoming two closely associated with any one guild, since a rival may choose to intervene if for no other reason than to advance the cause of his own guild.

6) What exactly is Corbitumite? The blue coal known as Corbitumite and native to the high mountains of the volcanic plateaus of Averlorn is a mineral with value equivalent to that of silver ore. Through a mysterious process known as enriching, corbitumite can be processed into a fuel source of unparalleled utility. It is this substance that provides the massive heat needed to inflate the "bladder" of the dragonships which travel the skies of Averlorn. It is somewhat ironic that the largest corbitumite mines in all of Thebos are actually located near the Lykaedian backwater towns of Limus Town and Zedemis.
secrets: Corbitumite is the engine of progress and the supply or lack thereof holds the potential for great political and economical turmoil. As a result, Limus Town and Zedemis are becoming subtle nests of devious plots and espionage though only to those who go looking for it. Otherwise, these two cities are growing in size and wealth and may one day eclipse both Ptoleph and Medea's Gate.

7) What and where is Grand Oryx? Lying due north of Ptoleph, soot-darkened Grand Oryx, City of the Gods is the Capital of the Theban Republic and the largest city to be found on the volcanic plateau of Thebos. Its inhabitants live under the dour countenance of its colossal image of Hephaestus, the smith god and patron of this the most advanced city in all the lands of Averlorn. This is the Victorian London of the setting. She has public transport, indoor plumbing (especially baths), and several districts of town (the eight boroughs) that have a local flair related to the inhabitants that dwell there. As grand as it sounds, it's actually a nasty place w/ filthy air, massive poverty, and other dystopian elements. A nice place to visit as they say and an even nicer place to have your purse lifted. You will never find a place more inundated with "scum and villainy." The senate is working hard though to clean the place up.

The City of Grand Oryx takes pride in its military prowess and its cavalry are reputed to be the best in the land. They are not truly knights in the European sense though and are more akin to light cavalry armed with spears, shields and excellent short composite bows.
secrets: The real military power of Grand Oryx is her dragonship navy, and the ample number of Reborn supplied as shock troops by the FOoSoH. Even Lykaedian infantry will struggle against those brutes.

8) What exactly is Thebos and what is its relationship with the Cities of Grand Oryx, the Anvil, the Gorgon's Trench and the Pangea? Ancient Thebos is a country in the World of Averlorn that includes the great City State of Grand Oryx and the surrounding areas of Lykaedia (the Anvil), the Gorgon's Trench to the south, and the planes of the Pangaeus to the north of the capital city. The Anvil of the Gods is the highest portion of land that sits upon the plateau of Thebos. Thebos and the lower plateau rises like an island out of the scourge below. In fact, most major kingdoms found in the world of Averlorn sit on top of similar volcanic plateaus that rise above the level of the scourge which surrounds them. The scourge was once a vast inland sea that was turned into a great lifeless and uninhabitable wasteland long ago during the wars between the gods and the titans much to the dismay of Poseidon. This lifeless and barren land consists of vast salt flats that surround the kingdoms and lands of Thebos, Chalcyx, Manthinea, Ertris, and fallen Leutra in the distant Northern Reaches.
secrets: Thebos may pride itself for its republic, but it is in fact, a cruel oligarchy with little concern for its people. The republic exists only to further the machinations of the Great Guilds who exert near complete control over both the Senate and the House of Lords.

9) What are the major cities of the Anvil? Nestled within the mountains and hills of the Anvil lies the Kurous valley whose largest cities are Ptoleph to the south of Grand Oryx and Medea’s Gate even further to the south. These cities are connected by the Grand Oryx Way a.k.a. the King’s Road, the primary trade road that runs from Grand Oryx all the way to Medea’s Gate and even further south to the fringes of the Gorgon's Trench. The City of Ptoleph is nestled among a rough stretch of hills in the northernmost portion of the Kurous Valley. The Kurous river flows through the city in a southeasterly direction to the lower lands below. The city sits astride the intersection of the great river and the Grand Oryx Way making it a prominent center of trade and commerce. The City of Medea’s Gate is a city in the hill region south of Ptoleph which is a little larger than Ptoleph. The city was built next to the Dormant Lady Lake on the east side where the Dock District is located and has more open ground on the north side of town where the Market District is located. The city is a low lying, sprawling affair and the buildings are typically not as tall as the temples. There are numerous monuments in the city’s squares dedicated to its heroes and noble families.
secrets: Some citizens of Ptoleph and Medea's gate yearn for the days of their lost power, glory and influence and many hold radical beliefs of a rebellious political nature that are not popular in the capital city of Grand Oryx.

10) Where and What is The Gorgon’s Trench and who lives there? The Gorgon's Trench is a low area of rough scrubby hills to the south of the settled lands of Thebos. It is called the trench because the hills rise above the many valleys, moors and lowlands created by the two major rivers that flow out of the Anvil and the City of Grand Oryx as the land slopes downwards through the fringes of the scourge and eventually to the sea. It is populated by the men of the trench or trenchmen, a small but hardy breed of humans along with dwarves, some elves and many tribes of humanoids especially orcs and gnolls. The Gorgon's Trench is a territory within the empire of Thebos and is rife with small petty kingdoms, fiefdoms and duchies due to its remote and inhospitable terrain. Some of these petty kingdoms formed alliances long ago with Grand Oryx to combat the Lykos of the Anvil, a mutual enemy. Old hatreds die hard, and there are still bitter feelings between the three regions of Thebos. The men and kingdoms of the trench are fiercely independent and resent outside interference in their domains. They begrudgingly accept the rulership of the kingdom of Thebos and rarely if ever receive the benefits of being a part of the kingdom. Trenchfolk, or the Romarii as they call themselves, are superstitious and worship a dizzying number of Gods. They inherently fear magic and most kingdoms keep close watch on those who can cast spells.
secrets: The Trench is the home to several despotic Wizards who very likely instituted the program of keeping tabs on outside spellcasters. Several of the aforementioned despotic Wizards actively maintain a standing army of orcs and gnolls which helps to explain their large populations in this region.

The above info was co written by Scadgrad (the GM for the campaign) and myself.  For more information on Scadgrad's World of Averlorn including campaign specific house rules and world specific character race and class descriptions go to:

http://savageswordofscadgrad.blogspot.com/

Adventuring Locations in and near Lykaedia

The Anvil contains a myriad of adventuring locations of various sizes and types.  Some of these are described below:

The Ruins of ArtemiaThe ruins of this once prosperous town are located near the tomb of the Burning Priest.  The town was abandoned and fell into ruin after it was evident that the ruins of the old chapel and the tomb below it were haunted.

Black Rock Warren – The tower of the wizard Thord Mirion is located here near the headwaters of the North Fork of the Kuoros River according to a map that was given to Rekk the dwarf.  He lived long ago and is rumored to be long dead.

Area West of Chapoi – Sybilla contacted us about possibly hiring us to attempt to recover a very powerful and dangerous tome that was lost when an airship went down on the way to Harbor Reach.  The ship is believed to have been downed near the village of Chapoi accross the Forger’s Runnel River.  The Ancient Tome has beaten brass covers and is 16” x 12” x 6” thick and was stored in a chest with a latch.  To the west of Chapoi, a two days hike, the Wild Moon tribe of goblins holds sway and may have something to do with the downing of the ship.

Crypts South of Demeteros – Argus Norviadras, the guy that sold Lucias the Sword “Hope Blighter” in Ptoleph told us that he found the sword while adventuring in a "ruined keep with burial crypts" south of Demeteros which could either be the Tower of Zinglis or the tower to the southwest of Medea’s Gate.

The Grand Oryx Way: This is the main trade road that stretches all the way from Grand Oryx to Ptoleph to Medea’s Gate and to the fringes of the trench.  It is also sometimes referred to as the King’s road.  This area has seen the rise and fall of many egalitarian castles and fiefdoms over the years.  Many successful individuals of named level or beyond have built their castles and tombs in the area some of which have since fallen into disrepair and ruin.  These ruins are often populated by new tenants and some contain hidden treasures making the Anvil a popular spot for adventurers of all stripes seeking wealth and glory.

The Hill of Limus Town – A monster infested hill Across the Khouros River from Limus Town on the outskirts of civilization.  The hill is teaming with humandoids and other monsters and is a very dangerous place to travel.  It is also rumored to contain riches beyond imagining, a hobgoblin king and his followers and a pair of witches living upon it.  Many adventurers seek out the hill but very few of them ever return.

The Maw of Torment: This legendary lair of necromancers is rumored to be near the pass at Hell’s Peak or Herrari. It is rumored that a necromancer resides in the lowest depths of the catacombs where the maw erodes and torment souls until all hope is lost. The rumors go on to say that souls are drawn there to be sent on their way to the underworld and that an entrance to Hell, Hades or Elysium can be accessed from its deepest levels. It is also rumored that there are places within its halls where it is not safe to sleep due to the powerful enchantments on the place. There are writings within about an old god named Parafor the crippled which may actually be a front for an arch demon or devil of some sort.

There is said to be more than one delve, more than one way in and more than one complex of halls within. One of the towers at the Maw of Torment is more recent than the rest having been built by the founders of the Confessors Guild long ago who at that point in time were know to deal in wizardry. This tower complex was built to take advantage of the rich mineral resources in the area but the the gods were not pleased by this. It is whispered that this part of the complex is not necessarily all vile and evil and holds surprising secrets. The legend says that in the Hall of the Blind one will find only madness and death and that only the bold or those chosen by the gods can survive there.

The Pass at Hell’s Peak – This dangerous mountain pass is near the small town of Herrari and connects Medea’s Gate to Limus Town.  Travelers often take the long route around the mountains or a boat ride down the river to avoid the dangerous creatures and inhabitants of this pass.  It is located near the giant statue to Hephaestus which looks back with hammer poised to strike towards the frontier lands around Limus Town at the edge of Theban civilization.

The Ruins of Hell’s Peak – Below the Giant statue of Hephaestus at Hell’s Peak lie the ruins of an ancient keep or fortress city on the high ground that dominates the pass.  This strategic location was the home of some ancient civilization that used its heights to fend off invaders or to control commerce through the pass but has long since fallen into ruin.

The Ruins North of Winterholm – Oberon Remik searched for ruins rumored to be north of Winterholm but never found them.

The Ruins of Scarhold – The ruins of this once great fortress city is near Ptoleph.  There is rumored to be a dungeon below the ruins of the city.

The Wizard’s Tower of Zingalis: The ruins of this massive wizard’s keep and tower is located in the forested hills northeast of Medea’s Gate.  It sits on a hillock which is ringed with massive basalt walls covered with runes from some unknown language.  The tower overlooks the headwaters of the ladies finger which is one of the small tributaries to the Dormant Lady Lake.  The Wizard Zingalis was known for his sense of humor and lived shortly after the advent of the dragonship.

The Wizard’s Tower of Mysterica:
This intact tower and the ruins around it are located southeast of Limus Town. It looks like the outer buildings were sacked at one point and most of the roofs have long since collapsed but the main central tower remains intact. The group found this tower while traveling back from the Trench to Limus Town. We battled Wyverns and spiders in the ruins but couldn’t get into the tower. The front door is guarded by a powerful ward of Burning Hands. There is a large cavernous opening in the ground nearby where there is evidence of an old wooden stair case (iron spikes in the cavern walls) which has long since rotted away.

Averlorn Campaign: The Wizard's Tower of Mysterica

Recap from 1/22/2011

As we were getting closer to Limus town, we found a well worn path leading off of the old deserted trade road that we were traveling on and decided to investigate. We found evidence of a battle long ago and saw a ruined castle off in the distance on top of a hill. As we approached, we were attacked by a Wyvern! It nearly killed Cyrcla but we managed to defeat it and up the hill we went. When we were about to enter the ruins, two more Wyverns attacked us and in a pitched battle, we slew both of the evil creatures.

There was a stair leading up and as Lucias and Lykaos moved towards it, the Paladin fell in a pit trap while Lucias managed to avoid falling in. Then we were attacked by two giant tarantula spiders. We killed one with missiles but instead of attacking the group, the second one went in the pit with the Paladin. Just as the group was about to help him, they were attacked by two Ettercaps, monstrous half human half spider creatures. While the group was engaged with them, the paladin failed his save against the spiders poison and was mesmerized - he started twitching and dancing convulsively but was still able to fight the creature at a great disadvantage.

Lucias turned his attention to the Ettercaps and Cyrcla fired her bow into the pit hitting the giant tarantula that was in there with the Paladin. She made her save the first time to avoid being mesmerized by the Paladin's macabre dance. The second time she failed her save but Brummbar cast dispel magic on her to remove the magical affect. Lykaos continued his fight with the creature wounding it again but he was wounded badly at this point. Finally, Cyrcla managed to kill it with her bow but once again she failed her save and started twitching and dancing in a herky jerky sort of way.  There was nothing to be done but avert our eyes and wait for the effect to wear off after the rest of the group finally slayed the evil Ettercaps. Eventually it did and the two characters were paralyzed for an hour or so but that too eventually wore off. We then looked for loot and found some treasure in their nesting area.

The group turned its attention to the stairs leading upwards. We went to the top, being careful to check it for traps this time, and found a sturdy door with magical runes on it. A mysterious voice greeted us at the door that said "Mysterica will return shortly" but that was all. Arceus told the others to step back and used his ring of Acid Plumes to spray it with acid in order to attempt to destroy the door to get through the opening. Not only was the door unaffected, but a very powerful fire spell was released which burned off his Cloak of Elvinkind! Both of the Elves surmised that it was a powerful protection on the door and was probably Burning Hands which would make the occupant a 15th level wizard if he yet lived because he took 15 hit points of damage (1 hit point per level). They also realized that while the rest of the complex appeared to have been sacked, the tower itself was quite intact. This meant that it was possible that this Mysterica, a very powerful wizard no doubt, could actually still be inside.

We decided not to risk the defenses of the tower again and gave Arceus the potion of flying that we had in order to take a look at the Wyvern's roost at the top of the tower. That's where he found their loot including a few magic items. We searched the rest of the grounds and found a large cavernous opening in the ground which may have been a mine at some point. Upon closer inspection, Brummbar found what looked to be iron bars in the walls which he surmised were probably installed there long ago to hold up a wooden stair case that had long since rotted away.

We decided to quit while we were ahead and continued our journey back to Limus Town. We eventually made it to town and Arceus and Teth-en-Aire decided to do some carousing once again. This time nothing too terrible happened and they gained some extra experience except that Teth-en-Aire managed to insult the High Priest of Poseidon in the town during a card game. After he made amends all was forgiven.

The group now finds itself at a crossroads with many possible adventure options available. We decided to send Lykaos, Cyrcla, Brummbar, Tok and Tarus off to try and figure out how to dispose of the Midnight Opal while the other core members decided what new adventures to undertake...

TO BE CONTINUED...

Averlorn Campaign: Return to the Barrow Mound of Gravemoor

Recap from 1-21-2011

After resting up for a few days we returned to the Barrow Mound of Gravemoor in search of the loot that we knew had to be there somewhere.  The cleric memorized Locate Object and two Augury spells to aid us in our search.  We entered through the secret door in the rear of the mound and went into the hallway between the lab and the prison chamber.  We debated what to try to locate with the spell and finally decided to locate gold coins but we had to take all of the gold we had with us outside of the radius of the spell so that it wouldn't locate them.  Brummbar cast the spell and didn't locate any gold coins within the radius.  In retrospect, he should have tried to locate gems since we never found any gold here but more on that later.

Next, we went to the pit off of the laboratory where we fought the Vrock demon last session thinking that maybe there was loot stashed in the webs below, at the bottom of the pit, or in hidden nooks in the wall of the pit.  Brummbar cast Augury and Morridin's answer was a resounding "WOE".  That was good enough for Arceus who didn't want to risk life and limb climbing into a pit that smelled of reeking sulfur like the bowels of Hades itself.  The GM told us later that it would have teleported us to a rather large dungeon which was the location of the primary Temple of Orcus in this world, Rapan-Athuk (yeah, that was a major WOE) and that the Vrock was the guardian of the portal.

Next, Brummbar cast his final Auguary spell on the tunnel we found under the water of the reflecting pool and asked if it would be good or bad if Arceus searched through it for loot in the immediate future.  Morridin's answer was "WEAL" so in he went with two 50' ropes tied to him.  He went a ways and found an air pocket.  He stopped to breathe a bit and then had to untie the rope to go further.  Then he found another one and another one and eventually exited out of the back of the Barrow Mound into the morass of the Gravemoor.  So we determined that this was not a tunnel leading to the loot stash but merely a bolt hole to be used to escape the place in times of trouble.

So having searched the entire second floor thoroughly (you could even say we "Greyhawked" it) we turned our attention to the stairs leading up.  We went up the stairs which ended in a wall where we found a secret door.  We went through the secret door and into the hallway beyond where we found a door on the right side of the wall.  We opened the door and were greeted by a female Satyr that appeared to be chained to the far wall who said “Oh help me from the terrible demon in the room here with me that is holding me captive”.  As we contemplated this, a shambling monstrosity consisting of multiple different sets of bones that appeared to be stuck together with swamp muck rose from a pile of bones on the floor and started attacking the group.  Meanwhile, the Satyr starting chanting and cast hold person on the Paladin who froze.

The group started attacking the monster and hit it several times but then it attacked the frozen paladin who was helpless to do anything and killed him where he stood.  Seeing this, Cyrcla cast her web spell on the evil fey creature and the shambling monstrosity in front of us trapping them both within the sticky webs.  The group continued pounding on the bone golem thing with sword strokes and arrows while Teth-en-Aire starting shooting at the evil Satyr with his bow.  Twice, she tried to pull out a potion and twice, Teth-en-Aire rolled a 1 on damage and got an unusual result which knocked the potion out of her hand.  The group finished off both opponents and as the bone golem was dispatched several magic items fell out of its body onto the floor.  We searched the room and found that the Satyr priestess was trying to quaff a potion of gaseous form in an attempt to escape the webs before she was prevented from doing so by the Elf’s archery.

We moved the fallen Paladin to the landing on the stair case beyond the secret door and continued our search for loot.  As we went down the hallway, we noticed a secret door opening up ahead of us.  When we went to investigate, we were attacked by three wights, two to the rear of the group and one in front in the hallway that were trying to surprise us.  Since we were not surprised, Brummbar pulled out his holy symbol and managed to turn the two in the rear while Lucias slew the one to the front.  One of the fleeing wights was killed as it tried to escape and the other fled away down the hallway.

We opened the secret door and found the treasure room that we had been seeking!  There was no gold but some platinum and other coins and there was quite a haul of gems and jewelry plus a few magic items.  So we gathered up the loot and headed back to the stairs to retrieve the fallen paladin and head back to town.  We made it back to town through the moors and pondered what to do about Lykaos.  We reasoned that his order would have no problem raising him from the dead but because we couldn’t get him back to a larger city outside of the trench in less than a couple of weeks (either by carrying him ourselves or waiting two weeks for the returning air ship) we were in a bit of a bind.  The only way to raise him would be to use the much higher level resurrection spell which can take place far longer after a character’s death but requires a priest of very high level to perform.

We did have the evil artifact that had the ability to raise a character from the dead once, since it was used recently to raise an army of the dead from a battlefield, but it had to be used within the next day or so or the power would be lost.  In addition, Brummbar thought that the Paladin would not be happy at all about being raised from the dead by an evil artifact of the demon prince Orcus which had recently been used to raise 300 zombies from a battlefield giving it the ability to raise him.

The group decided that he had no choice in the matter (since he was dead) and since we had few other options except maybe for leaving him dead for a while (or forever) that we would go ahead and use its powers.  We also reasoned that using an evil artifact for good purposes wasn’t such a bad thing.  So Arcues used the power of the Midnight Opal to raise the fallen paladin Lykaos.  He wasn’t happy about it at all when he found out what was done but there wasn’t much he could do about it at that point.  He said he heard the voice of Athena when he was raised who said that he wouldn’t be allowed into Elysium for this but we weren’t exactly sure what that meant.  He was still a Paladin and he was still alive so that’s all that really mattered for the present.

So once we were ready to go, we headed off overland back to Limus Town.  We had a few wilderness random encounters to deal with and made it about two thirds of the way back but had to end the session there.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Averlorn Campaign: The Midnight Opal of Shadar

Recap from 1/15/2011

On the following day we met with our contact, Decula Aerulus at his Inn in Spirythol.  We told him that we were still injured from the pit trap and the fight with the Wight and hadn’t been able to fully heal ourselves because of the curse on the barrow mound.  He suggested that we should heal ourselves outside of the evil structure to avoid the curse.  He also helped us out by healing a few of us and even gave us a healing potion and urged us to continue our pursuit of Dirklok so that he didn’t have time to recover from his wounds.  So we set out after breakfast for the Barrow Mound of Gravemoor once again.

As we trudged through the swamp at the end of the road towards the ruined castle, none other than Richard Dirklok himself once again greeted us outside of the evil ruins.  He was on horseback this time and told us that we were soon to meet our end and that his army of the dead was on its way.  He sped off on his dark mount and soon we found ourselves face to face with a large group of zombies that attacked us in the swamp.  The cleric managed to turn a number of them and then the rest of the group quickly dispatched the rest.  We followed Dirklok’s horse’s tracks through the muck since it left an obvious trail.  Again, we saw him and he challenged our presence in his domain.  We responded with a hail of arrows aimed at him and quite a few aimed at his horse.  Miraculously, none hit their mark as his mount proved to be unnaturally fast and evasive.

Dirklok then disappeared behind the mound with his mysterious steed.  We followed and saw that the tracks seemed to lead into the side of the barrow.  We surmised that there was a secret door there and soon found it.  We opened it up and went in through the dark tunnel into the side of the mound.  It led to a cavern where three horses were stabled, one of which was the mount that Dirklok had just been riding.  It started neighing and whinnying and then tore free of its bridle and started bucking and snorting at us.  We decided that this could get dangerous so we were thinking we would have to have the archers shoot it when its true nature was revealed.

We watched in horror as it transformed into a Nightmare – a Hell Horse!  It looked at us with evilly gleaming red eyes and fire flew out of its nostrils towards the group in a choking black gout of smoke.  Everyone failed their savings throw except for Lykaos and Lucias and were temporarily blinded and weakened by the blinding and choking smoke.  The fighter and the paladin were not affected and stepped forward to engage the devilish creature.  A savage combat ensued but after fierce fighting the two warriors prevailed and killed the evil creature with their enchanted blades.  Both warriors were hurt though so we went back through the secret door beyond the barrow mound to heal ourselves outside of the range of the cursed structure to avoid the taint on our healing spells.

Once we were healed up, we went back inside and continued through the stable to a hallway beyond that ended in a door.  We opened the door and there before us stood Dirklok.  He stood ready with his two handed sword and challenged one of us to one on one combat.  The Paladin, fearing another pit trap on the floor in front of him, struck the floor with his blade in an attempt to set off the perceived trap.  There was a shower of sparks when his enchanted blade struck the flagstones of the floor but other than that, nothing happened.  Lucias then stepped forward with Hope Blighter in hand and after trading several mighty blows with the villain slew him there on the spot.  Upon closer examination, the cleric revealed that Dirklok was in fact a Wight and had been dead for some time!  That explained why our non magical arrows hadn’t hurt him previously.

So we searched his body and found that his Two Handed Sword was magical, his chainmail was magical and more importantly, he had a huge pearl in his belt pouch which also detected as seriously magical.  When Arceus picked it up he heard a voice in his head.  We found out later that it was the voice of the Arch Demon Prince of the Undead Orcus!  Orcus beseeched him to wear the pearl on his belt and he would be granted the unholy power of the accursed artifact to control the undead!  Arceus decided that maybe he didn’t want to carry this evil object after all and the Paladin agreed to carry the burden until we could figure out what to do with it.

So, with two major enemies defeated, we set about searching the place for more treasure.  We found three female prisoners in one room who we set free and later escorted back to Spirythol.  Across the hall from the prison chamber was a door that was covered with magical protection runes of some kind.  Arceus decided he didn’t even want to attempt to pick the locks on that door and risk the magical protections that were obviously on it and decided to burn it off of its hinges with some oil and a torch.  He set the door alight and the group and the prisoners had to retreat towards the entrance of the mound for about an hour until the door burned through and the smoke cleared enough to breath.

We went back and went through the opening to find a laboratory full of lab equipment and a dozen or so zombie hands that were busy cleaning and performing odd tasks in the lab.  The hands attacked us but the cleric turned most of them and the group slew the rest.  The equipment was worth a lot of money and the Elf told us it could be valuable for making potions faster than normal so we decided to bring it back with us when we left.  We also found a traveling wizard’s spell book which Teth-en-Aire took.  There was a tunnel here that led into the darkness but it had a charnel smell to it so we decided to explore it later fearing there was something bad and hellish at the other end.

We went back into the hall and followed it to a room at the other end that contained a small reflecting pool, stairs leading up, and another hallway off to the left.  We followed the hallway and then Teth-en-Aire and Tarus were attacked by two Shadows which were very difficult to see.  Teth-en-Aire and Tarus could see them to fight back but the others couldn’t make them out in the dark room.  The cleric tried to turn them to no avail and the others never really saw them by the time the Elf and the fighter finally slew the evil spirits.  The room contained an altar to Apollo which had been defiled.  We searched it but found nothing.

We continued our search for loot and discovered that the reflecting pool had a tunnel leading out of it under the surface of the water.  Arseus tied a rope to himself and followed it a ways but got to the end of the rope with no change while holding his breath and decided to turn back.  So we decided to go down the hallway off of the lab with the fiery smell and entered a large black cavern with a dark hole in the center of the floor where the smell was emanating from.  That’s when we were attacked by a large bird like beaked demon that appeared out of nowhere in front of the group – it was a Vrock!  The group started fighting the giant Type I demon and managed to hit it a few times but then it attempted to knock three of the group into the dark chasm.  Teth-en-Aire and Lykaos avoided the sweep of its massive arm but Lucias was thrown into the pit and tumbled head over heel into darkness to disappear from view.

After a fierce combat, with the aid of the Elves, Arceus and Brummbar, the Paladin finally managed to land the killing blow on the vile demon and it was sent back to the plane from whence it had been summoned.  Then, out of the dark pit crawled another terror – but to the group’s surprise, it was Lucias.  He had fallen about sixty feet into the darkness but landed softly on the spider webs that acted like a net on one side of the pit.  He was stuck there and not sure how far down the pit continued so he opened up his bag of holding and pulled out a potion of climbing that was stored in there for safe keeping.  He quaffed the potion and climbed up the webs like a spider sixty feet to the edge of the pit above to the astonishment of the rest of the group.  Amazingly, he had no injuries from the fall and by the time he ascended, the demon had been dispatched.

We decided that it was time to return to town at that point after having exhausted most of our healing magic and failing to find any further loot.  We gathered up the alchemical equipment and the body of Richard Dirklok to bring back and set off to the Inn at Spirythol for a much needed rest.  When we arrived in town however, it was in a state of chaos.  There were zombies everywhere and dead people and burned buildings all over the place.  Apparently, before we defeated Dirklok, he managed to use the power of the Midnight Opal of Shadar to raise around 300 zombies from the site of the battle where his army had been defeated a week before.  We killed some of the creatures but there was no way we were going to kill them all.  The group decided that we had no choice but to use the power of the evil artifact to control the zombies and return them to their resting place on the battlefield.  Since Arceus was the only one that had picked it up prior to giving it to the Paladin for safekeeping, he volunteered to use it in this manner.  So he managed to call on the dark powers of Orcus to Control the Zombie army and send them back to their final resting place.

When the smoke cleared the next day, we were brought before the king and he paid us the 2,000 g.p. reward for killing Dirklok after we presented him with Dirklok's body.  The king then granted each of the five primary characters the title of Marquis in his kingdom and an estate and land as promised in the original offer.  We found out later that most of the manors on these lands, except for one or two, had been burned to the ground in the war and that their prior owners had perished as well.  Nonetheless, the five primary characters in the group of brave adventurers were now considered to be minor landed nobility even if it was in a backwater kingdom in the Gorgon’s trench.

We were convinced that there was more treasure buried somewhere in the mound and were determined to return to find it once we had rested up and the town had returned to some sense of normalcy.  We also decided that once we had searched again for treasure, rested up and assessed our new holdings, that we would journey back to Limus Town overland rather than wait another two weeks for the air ships to return for us.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Averlorn Campaign: The Barrow Mound of Gravemoor

Recap from 1/9/2011 - Part 3 of 3

After we arrived in Spirythol we met with king Oldeven who said Dirklok escaped ten days ago into the swamp and that he would offer us 2000 g.p. and lands in his kingdom if we would bring him Dirklok’s head. We accepted and embarked the next day. The road to the north out of the swamp rises above the morass but ends before you arrive at the mound. The mound was once the spot of a larger castle and ancient fortress, long since fallen into ruin our guide told us. Our guide was the king’s court wizard who had served Oldevan loyally for fifteen years or so. Lykaos, our paladin, took one look at him and told us he was undoubtedly evil. The wizard told us of the dire legends of the barrow mound and the ruins of the original castle there which was known as Castle Grimspire. When we asked him what manner of undead might reside there, he replied grimly, all manner of undead dwell in its dark depths and the Gravemoor swamps as well. Lucias asked him what caused the castle and barrow mound to become such an accursed place and he replied that its ancient lord had truck with certain devilish powers which remain as a curse upon the place to this day.

With that, he pointed to the forbidding mound, turned around and walked away down the road. The road ended there so we had to trudge through the cold and slimy muck which was up to waist deep in spots. Arseus led the way with a rope tied to him since he was the only one of our group who wasn’t wearing plate mail. Tok and the other first level henchmen weren’t with us but we did have both Cyrcla and Tarus with the group. We cursed the mud and plodded forward to the sinister mound. The cold of the swamp and the fetid decay that was all around us sapped our strength and we all had to make fortitude saves to keep from losing strength temporarily. The dwarf was the only one affected by the cold which was inconsequential because he isn’t very strong to begin with.

We arrived before the gate and none other than Richard Dirklok himself sprang from a hiding place in the morass and challenged us cursing our benefactor Oldevan for sending us into his hiding place to find him. We started fighting and many strong blows glanced harmlessly off of his armor until Lucias hit him hard with the demon blade Hope Blighter followed by a magic missile from Cyrcla. Dirklok cursed us and kept fighting. We kept pounding on him and did more than 40 hit points of damage without suffering any blows from his sword and then he spouted off something about bringing his lost love back to life and bringing doom to us all and king Oldevan and his kingdom for bringing him to such a sad state. Brummbar fired his crossbow at him as he made his escape, but the bolt bounced harmlessly off of his armor. It seemed odd that a mere human could only be hit with magical weapons for the crossbow and its bolt were not enchanted but its aim was true and the bolt should have struck home. “What deviltry is this?” Brummbar cried aloud.

We proceeded into the open portal of the mound and entered a chamber which had several suits of armor in the hallway with stone gargoyles perched above in the tracery of the gothic ceiling above. Then one of the gargoyles sprang to life and gave a hideously loud and ear splitting shriek - AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!! To our dismay, both Cyrcla and Tarus immediately froze and appeared to turn to stone! “What madness is this?” shouted Lucias! We fought the evilly grinning winged and horned creature and hit it with many mighty blows and eventually it shattered into hundreds of stone bits to fall harmlessly on the floor. We started to despair at losing two of our comrades but then, slowly, ever so slowly, their color began to return to normal and they started to move one muscle at a time.

Once they had fully recovered, we proceeded down the dark and eerie hallway when suddenly both Lucias and Lykaos appeared to fall into the floor! It looked like they fell into a pit trap but the trap door closed up very quickly and the group didn’t hear another sound of them falling or anything else after that. As they went down, a small eerily glowing stone was kicked into the pit with them which provided them with a little bit of light as they hit the hard and cold stone floor of the pit forty feet below. Both warriors were wounded gravely from the fall but that wasn’t the worst thing. Lucias landed on what at first seemed to be another victim of the trap, a moldering old corpse. After he regained his feet, and much to his horror, the thing got up and attacked! It was no corpse but a soul sucking Wight of great and malevolent evil! The wounded paladin and fighter reeled in terror and began battling the horrid creature and Hope Blighter hit home with a sickening crunch while the evil thing lurched horridly for their life essence. “I’LL SWALLOW YOUR SOUL” it shrieked…

Meanwhile, back in the hallway, the group was at a loss as to where their companions had gone. They were there walking one second but then appeared to fall through a trap door which quickly closed and then all was silent as if nothing had happened (we found out later that there was a silence spell and illusory floor halfway down the pit). Brummbar, fearing the worst decided to find out where they had gone and walked forward to intentionally trigger the trap door and join his comrades wherever they had disappeared to. The trap door opened up and the dwarf did his best swan dive for the judges (the judges held up their cards: 9.0, 9.5, 8.5, and 10 from the scoring table LOL). While the desperate battle was raging below, suddenly, a falling dwarf landed amongst the combatants to hit hard on the cold stone floor with a crash. Once he regained his feet and saw what was happening he pulled out his holy symbol and screamed “BY THE POWER OF MORRIDIN BE GONE BACK TO HELL DEVIL SPAWN!” The Wight cowered in the corner and then Lucias struck home with a powerful blow and Lykaos finished off the abhorrent creature with his enchanted blade.

It was at this point that we noticed something moving in the pit out of the corner of our peripheral vision. It was a rope apparently lowered by our comrades above. After Brummbar went into the pit, Arsues quickly moved to try and keep the trap door from closing. He was then aided by Teth-en-Aire, Tarus and Cyrcla who managed to hold the trap door open long enough for Arseus to slip a rope through for their trapped comrades to climb up on. At this point, the three who had been in the pit were hurt badly so the cleric attempted to heal the other two. Much to his surprise, his healing magic was only partially effective – we found out much to our chagrin that healing spells only healed half of the hit points that we rolled for them! It was at this point that we decided to call it a day and get out of this accursed place before anything else bad happened to the group.

After trudging through the freezing moors again, which further sapped our strength, we finally made it to the road and safely back to the warmth and comfort of the inn at Spirythol. Needless to say, the villagers were surprised to see us return, as all others who had ventured to that accursed mound were forever lost and had never been heard from again.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Averlorn Campaign: New Opportunities

Recap from 1/9/2011 - Part 2 of 3

So, with the Hope Blighter research bit of business taken care of, the group started thinking about what other adventuring opportunities to undertake in the coming year. We met a monk named Asilles at the Chessman, the Inn in Medea’s Gate, who we became fast friends with. He told us about an abandoned wizard’s tower near the headwaters of the small tributary to the Dormant Lady Lake, the Lady’s Finger. This was near where we had run aground in the previous session. He also said that he would be willing to guide us to it but probably wouldn’t go any further than that. He said the massive wizard’s tower sits on a hillock whose walls are made of strong basalt and covered with indecipherable runes encircling the fortress. We considered this and decided it might be worth investigating at some point.

We also received word from the Sorinus family of another adventure possibility and offer of employment. One Septimus Sorinus, of the prominent and wealthy family, invited us to dine with him at the Scepter and Rose, one of the finer dining establishments in Medea’s Gate. He thanked us for bringing word on the plight of his family’s ship that had run aground in the previous session and awarded us with platinum medals for the deed. These medals, he told us, are actually passes for free passage aboard his family’s fleet of ships for a year as a reward for our help in saving the ship.

He explained that the city of Cinnoros, also known as Harbor Reach, is a port city which sits on an arm of land that reaches into the ocean far to the east.  The lands around it are a protectorate of Thebos and it is a very busy trading port for his family’s fleet. The city is quite young and surrounded by untamed lands but well located to defend itself and acts as a center of commerce along the coast. The port and shipping running out of Harbor reach, however, has recently been plagued with acts of piracy which has gravely affected his family’s business doing much harm to his family’s fleet and fortune. Apparently, the Karakara, green skinned people given to violence and superstition, have been causing a lot of trouble lately. They are among the founding stock of orcs and have been raiding the shipping lanes regularly. A small community of them has given rise to a strong leader who has risen to power and possesses strong supernatural abilities. They offered us 5000 g.p. each if we could successfully eliminate this troublesome leader which would undoubtedly quell the piracy threat in the area.

We also received a communiqué from Ahmet, the current prefect of the Surgeons of Hecate in Medea’s Gate. It said that he had an opportunity for us to return the favor they granted to us in raising from the dead our fallen henchman, the Elf Cyrcla a few sessions ago (see Day of the Ice Toad). A little while later, we were contacted by Marut, our benefactor in the surgeon’s guild, who said they may need our help sooner rather than later. They were ready to call in the favor and send us on an errand in the lands outside the Anvil in the Gorgon’s Trench to the south of Limus Town. When we met with Ahmet, he said there are many minor kings in the trench and that they are good friends to have as clients and customers for the guild. He went on to say that the King of Cephasos was in the process of putting down an uprising and required the aid of the surgeons. He contacted us since the surgeons did not want to be seen as directly involving themselves in such matters of a political nature. We decided that we would to take care of this problem first to clear our debt to the surgeons and then travel to Harbor Reach later to assist the Serinus family with their piracy issues.

According to Ahmet, the kingdom of Cephasos is centered around the town of Spirythol which is about the size of Herrari (very small), in the midst of the moors and marshes that are common in the Gorgon’s Trench. The lands of the small kingdom include a series of small villages and hamlets that radiate around twenty miles outside of the seat of local power in the town. Ahmet said that the surgeons would arrange transportation via Dragonship (a hot air balloon type of dirigible) to the kingdom and that our contact, Decula Aerulus, was an associate of the guild and the local owner of the inn there.

He went on to tell us that the good king Oldevan reigned for many generations in Cephasos and was a great and powerful warrior in his prime but that now he is old and frail. The recent uprising has sapped the military strength of his kingdom which is why he now requires assistance from the surgeon’s guild. In the final battle with the rebels, the king’s armies defeated his foul challenger, Richard Dirklok and his army of brigands, hobgoblins, and gnolls. Dirklok brought ruin upon the land razing neutral villages with much slaughter but when defeated, he fled into the moors with what few followers still remained. We found out later that he fled into the ruins of a fallen keep and burial mound known as the barrow of Gravemoor deep inside the swamp.

Shortly before leaving, we received a package from Marut. It contained a pair of scrolls and a message that said “do not accept this package unless you are willing to accept the assignment”. We weren’t exactly sure what this meant but it implied that it was a very dangerous mission for our group of adventurers and that we would need the assistance of the scrolls contained in the package. Since we were determined to pay our debt to them we opened the package. Brummbar examined the contents and determined that it contained two scrolls of the cleric spell Restoration! This was dire news indeed since that spell is a 7th level cleric spell used to restore levels drained by undead creatures and other negative energy based level draining spells. We were starting to think that accepting this assignment was a mistake and that someone in the surgeon’s guild, like Ahmet, was trying to get us out of the way or worse, killed by sending us there.

Averlorn Campaign: Hope Blighter

Recap from 1/9/2011 - Part 1 of 3

We started out the session in the early spring following our winter break of much rest and relaxation. It was the year of the Lion and the month of the Frog and the winter’s cold was still in the air. We had a bit of unfinished business to deal with before setting out on our next adventure. Lucias had purchased a very powerful magical sword from the Emporium in Ptoleph from the owner of the place a while back.  Argus Norviadras, a retired adventurer and the proprietor of the establishment said he found Hope Blighter while adventuring in a "ruined keep with burial crypts" south of Demeteros.

Aside from having a powerful enchantment (+3) the sword is notable for the demonic runes inscribed upon the blade and the fact that it has both a tiger’s eye and an onyx gem on pommel. Upon further inspection it appears that the onyx gem may not be the original jewel. Our elvish companions informed us that tiger eye gems are typically used in binding rituals for otherworldly entities, which, coupled with the demonic runes made it a very intriguing blade.

Several sessions back while on the hill across from Limus Town, we asked the grey ladies who lived there about the sword and if they could help us to discern its magical properties. They told us that Obberon Remik in Medea’s Gate, a great warrior, former adventurer and renowned demon hunter, may be able to help us to identify the nature of the mystical blade. He said the sword may have been something a demon general would have used but he didn’t know much more about it. Lucias asked him if he knew a sage that might be able to tell us more and he recommended that we contact Ornaskar the Intrepid as someone we could trust. He said to go to the prominent Inn in Demeteros and ask for Ornaskar the Intrepid and tell him that we are friends of Obberon and that he sent us. He also said if he questioned us further about Obberon to tell him that he was “Ornaskar the thirsty”. Obberon said that if Ornaskar didn’t know anything about the sword that he would know someone who did.

So Lucias sought out Ornaskar in his wizard’s tower on the outskirts of the small town of Demeteros which is not very far from Medea’s Gate on the main trade route. He took with him both Teth-en-Aire and Cyrcla the elves since they both knew the demonic language and have wizardly abilities. When we arrived in Demeteros, we were surprised to learn that Ornaskar was not just any wizard or sage but more than likely, the most powerful wizard in all of the lands of the Anvil being of named level. There may be others that are more obscure, or practice their arts in secret off the beaten track, but Ornaskar was most certainly the best known of such wizards in the whole of the Lykaedian plateau.

After researching the matter for a week or so, he told us that in ages past, a powerful demon prince, whose name we don’t dare utter (Obetuk’ue), made his way into our world somewhere in the Gorgon’s Trench far to the south. This dark demon prince of hell was actively waging war on the barbaric men of the trench and had undoubtedly been summoned forth from the pit by some black and powerful sorcerer to serve him. The demon was known for great evil and wickedness and his minions were responsible for sacking and razing entire villages and putting their residents to the sword or the torch. His army was eventually defeated by a king of the trench and the demon’s head and skull were brought back on a staff. This occurred in the lands of Thonaxos in the kingdom of Kasopid, a very boggy land far to the south with a capital which is only about the size of Chapois (very small). The demon was banished to his home plane for 100 years or so before it could be summoned once again to the prime material plane. According to Ornaskar, this occurred anywhere from ten to twenty years ago or as many as sixty years ago, so Lucias wouldn’t have to worry about the demon returning for his blade until the later years of his life if he lived that long.

He went on to say that if one was to journey to the land of the dead in Tartaras, harvest and bring back a tiger’s eye gem of the right size and have it mounted to the sword with the appropriate ritual, it would be possible to reactivate some minor abilities of the blade which were deactivated when the gem was removed. This would have to be done by an elven smith of great ability (named level). He did warn us, however, that the gem was probably removed for a reason. The blade more than likely has an innate intelligence and will and has a very chaotic and evil bearing. If one was to reactivate the blade, more than likely, it would try to bend its possessor to its will and that of its master the demon prince. The only way to sever the weapon’s link with its former owner, he said, was to destroy the demon’s skull since it is the only link between the weapon and its former master on the prime material plane. He also told us some information on the nature of the Maw of Torment which I will elaborate on in a future post.

Upon hearing this, Lucias remarked to Ornaskar, "Tartarus - isn't that where the Titans are imprisoned?" to which Ornaskar replied "Well if you go there, don't let them out!"...

Averlorn Campaign: Run Aground and Trouble in Medea's Gate

Recap from 1-5-2011

So after completing our storyline last session by dispelling the gate glyph in the Maw of Torment, we decided to take the "safe route" back to Medea's Gate from Limus Town by booking passage on a merchant ship rather than traveling through the now snow covered mountain pass where we had had so much trouble previously with the Ogres and Ice Toads. The Ice Toads actually killed one of our henchmen with their frosty breath weapon. We had Cyrcla, an Elf character (basic D&D fighter/wizard Elf class) raised by the Surgeons when we arrived in Medea's Gate two sessions ago. The comments on the Day of the Ice Toad thread "I told you we should have taken the damned boat" and the illustration there pretty well sum up our feelings about how dangerous the pass was after that encounter. Se we were thinking, take the boat, its a cake walk then we were planning on taking the winter off and spending a little of our hard earned cash on rest and relaxation. Things don't always go as planned however.

While traveling through the Dormant Lady Lake on the ship, we were hit with an early winter squall and started singing the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald "when the storms of November came early" by Gordon Lightfoot (Tony rolled boxcars on the sailing roll). We got lucky though in that the boat didn't sink but barely managed to run aground due to the skill of the captain. So we set off on horseback for Medea's Gate to bring word for someone to help the ship's crew to get the boat off of the shoal before they got frozen in. We were thinking no problem, its only a three day's ride to the city. First, one of our horses was killed when it was attacked by a big cat of some sort overnight which Arceus and Lykaos quickly dispatched. The next day when we started traveling again, we ran into three really nasty evil chimpanzee or monkey creatures (they were Ketch) that ambushed us with a snare trap that broke the paladin's horse's leg (sadly, we had to put him down later). Then all three jumped on the prone Paladin Lykaos and nearly killed him before Brummbar managed to cast hold person (Hold Monkey?) on all three and they failed their save. They were quickly dispatched and we healed the injured Lykaos. The next day, we were thinking we were in the home stretch but then ran into three Owl Bears next to the water that decided that we were on the menu. Another one of our horses went down when they attacked Tarus and Teth-En-Aire and both adventurers were nearly killed before the rest of the group managed to come to the rescue with Lykaos the paladin and Lucias the fighter in the front to kill the evil beasts. The two were rent horribly by the evil creatures and lucky to make it out of that fight alive. We healed them up and headed towards Medea's Gate, down two horses but otherwise alive.

Then we finally made it to town and we quickly realized that the boat wasn't always as safe a method of travel as it seemed when things went wrong. So we set about trading magic items, paid our taxes, did our year end stuff, made some interesting random event rolls where a few players managed to find or earn some money and a very high level cleric scroll for removing a curse from someone. And then we did our carousing - Lucias and Arceus were the biggest partiers who ended up spending the most (more money = more experience points) but nothing seriously bad happened to them (Lucias had a wicked hangover though). Lykaos, the Paladin, abstained of course, and Brummbar, the dwarven cleric partied a little but not nearly with the gusto of the younger humans. Teth-En-Aire, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky. Apparently, he got mixed up in some gambling at a seemingly high quality establishment called the Iron Urn, and was taken for almost all of the money he had on him. He finally fessed up when pressed and told us he lost about 4000 g.p. at the table - essentially all of his loot was gone except his money in the bank but he did get to roll for "starting gold" again. But that wasn't all he lost. Apparently, he thought his hand was so good (he kept saying but I had Ace King!) that he bet not only his +1 platemail but also his +1 ring of protection and lost them both! OUCH!!!!! So that was about 20k or more gold pieces down the tubes...

Thus ended our very eventful and entertaining session.  There were some errands to attend to in the city but also a lot of unexpected action in the wilderness and a bit of comedy at the end with the carousing rolls. The carausing rolls definitely add a very swords and sorcery feel to the game like you would read in a Conan or Fahfred and the Gray Mouser book or something...

Averlorn Campaign: The Maw of Torment

Recap from 1/4/2011

The Pass at Hell’s Peak lies near the small town of Herrari and connects Medea’s Gate to Limus Town. Travelers often take the long route around the mountains or take a boat ride down the river to avoid the dangerous creatures and inhabitants of this pass. It is located near the giant statue to Hephaestus which looks back with hammer poised to strike towards the frontier lands around Limus Town at the edge of Theban civilization. The ruins of Hell’s Peak are located below the giant statue and contain ruins of an ancient keep or fortress city on the high ground that dominates the pass. This strategic location was the home of some ancient civilization that used its heights to fend off invaders or to control commerce through the pass long ago.

We had heard many rumors of the Maw of Torment but couldn't find out from anyone where it was actually located. When Wilfred was in the stocks, he was accosted by a Paladin of Apollo right in front of Lucias who was watching over him. The Paladin's name was Torian Demeri from the famous and wealthy Demeri family in Medea's Gate and a member of the Prophets of Apollo, a zealous order of Paladins bent on stamping out evil. He accused Wilfred and the surgeons of causing the zombie problem in Limus Town and swore that he was going to the Maw of Torment to stamp out the members of his guild that he was sure were using the dungeon there as a base of operations to cause all of the trouble. Wilfred swore to us that this was not the case but that it was more than likely the Gatherers of the One True text and Miligro Conje’ who were behind the zombie attacks, since after all, they had framed him which resulted in him being put in the stocks in the town square. He also said that the Paladin was probably questing for a magical sword in the ruins at the Maw of Torment. So, we surmised, the Maw of Torment may be located near the ruins below the giant statue of Hephaestus near the pass since we found the horse with Torian Demeri's livery on it near there. We headed out to the ruins to search for the legendary dungeon and more loot.

Before we left, we found out a bit more information about the place. The Maw of Torment was supposedly a legendary lair of necromancers but its location and entrance are a well guarded secret and are unknown to most people. The legend says that in the Hall of the Blind one will find only madness and death and that only the bold or those chosen by the gods can survive there. We found out that it was rumored that a necromancer resides in the lowest depths of the catacombs where the maw erodes and torments souls until all hope is lost. The rumors go on to say that souls are drawn there to be sent on their way to the underworld and that an entrance to Hell, Hades or Elysium can be accessed from its deepest levels.

So we set off for the ruins and came upon an eerie spectacle. The ruins of some great citadel were perched on the great hill above but the strange part was the stone statues frozen in place all around it. They were poised as if ready to strike at the occupants of the citadel long ago before they were somehow, through magical or monstrous means, turned into stone. These were no ordinary or artistic statues - they were incredibly lifelike in their visage and consisted of all manner of monsters including quite a few orcs and ogres and some larger ones like dragons and griffins. It was as if a great and epic battle had taken place and someone or something at the top of the hill had turned the attackers into stone long ago before they could climb the hill to attack them. We found a path leading off to one side that looked like it had been used recently so we decided to follow it. It led away from the hill to a place where a great stone dragon was poised face down into the ground. It looked like the dragon statue had been moved somewhat recently and it was very suspicious. The party searched the area and Brummbar, the dwarf cleric, found a secret door with steps leading down. It appeared that we had found an entrance to the Maw of Torment!

So we descended into the depths of the legendary dungeon and fought through all manner of creatures there such as a black widow spider, a large group of demonic hobgoblins, a room full of hanging skeletons, some ghouls and ghasts, a wight, a green slime and finally a large group of devilish lemures. We eventually found the glyph we were looking for at the end of a long hallway and dispelled it after fighting yet another creature there that we weren't quite sure about (it was probably a mimic). Marut thought the Gatherers had put the glyph there in order to send zombies through to kill the helpless Wilfred in the night while he was in stocks to shut him up about their activities in the depths of the Maw of Torment. Essentially, the group managed to foil their plans and even ended up with a pretty good haul of loot to boot. We also discovered why everyone was so tight lipped about the Maw of Torment - it was loaded with treasure of all sorts such as coins, gems and all manner of jewelry! We also found evidence of several lost religions of the Old Gods inscribed on the walls which explains the interest of the Gatherers at the place. Some of the lost texts of the Old Gods that they seek are located within its ancient halls along with all manner of other diabolical and monstrous creatures...

Averlorn Campaign: Day of the Ice Toad

Recap from 1/1/2011

After completing B5, Horror on the Hill, we were staying with the gray ladies of the hill at their house preparing to head back to town and were paid a visit there by Marut of the Surgeons Guild. The Ladies told us some strange man was outside so we opened the door to investigate and saw it was our former employer from the surgeons. He said "Attend me" so we went outside to see what he wanted. He had come to request our assistance. Marut is one of the head guild masters of the Surgeons of Hechate (a.k.a. the Ghouls) who we have had dealings with in the past. He said that one of his prefects, Wilfred, was in stocks in the town square serving a sentence handed down on him by one of the confessors. He went on to say that he had been in the stocks for some time and was near death so he requested our assistance to aid him.

We left the house of the gray ladies and the hill and returned across the river to Limus Town to find that all was not right in the town. We went to see Wilfred in the town square, healed him, fed him and kept the locals from pelting him with rotten tomatoes and rocks for a while until the surgeons arrived to see to the matter themselves. He told us he had been set up by the Gatherers of the One True Text, an evil cult bent on bringing back the Old Gods (like the Great Old Ones in the Cthulu Mythos - nasty extra-planar demons more than gods). He was accused of beating one Miligro Conje' but swears she had herself beaten to frame him (she is a high dollar courtesan and rumored to be a high priestess of the Gatherers). In the mean time, we started hearing rumors about zombies appearing in the low rent district's cemetery and raising havoc with the locals. We eventually went to the cemetery with Marut when he arrived in town and found a magical glyph on a grave stone there. The glyph was apparently a gate of some sort that was letting zombies through from another location and causing all of the trouble according to Marut. He dispelled it temporarily but said it would probably re-appear later unless dispelled permanently possibly at the point of origin.

The group was festooned with loot from the dungeons below the Monastery of the Hill at this point so we decided to go back to Medea's Gate so we could put some of it in the bank and sell or trade some of the many magic items we had acquired in our adventure.  We had made the journey several times through Hell's Peak pass between Medea's Gate and Limus Town and hadn't had any problems so we were thinking it was a routine trip.  As we approached the pass, a horse with no rider but bearing the livery of the Prophets of Apollo came running our way.  We thought this was odd but managed to catch the horse and add it to our stable of mounts.  When we entered the rough terrain of the pass, we were surprised by two giant Ice Toads that had come down out of their mountain lairs in search of food since the snows had already started falling in the higher elevations of the mountains.  They breathed their icy breath and most of the characters made their saving throws except for our female Elven henchman Cyrcla who took the full amount of damage.  She was frozen solid and quite dead.  The melee turned into a desperate struggle but Lucias eventually managed to slay one of the beasts with the help of the others.  Tok the halfling henchman retrieved the fallen Cyrcla and retreated away from the melee to attempt to revive her to no avail.

Meanwhile, back at the fight, the remaining Ice Toad breathed again and things were looking grim for the group since we took more frost damage. At this point, Teth-en-Aire, seeing his fallen Elven comrade, attacked the beast with Cold Cleaver (his enchanted blade) and landed a mighty blow finally killing it. We gathered up our fallen henchman and resumed our journey to Medea's gate with our sad burden. When we returned to town, we contacted the Surgeons Guild of Hechate to see if they would help us to raise Cyrcla from the dead. Marut said they didn't usually do that for people outside of their guild but that since we had proven so valuable in our assistance to them (we had actually saved Wilfred from the stocks and cleared out the mine in Silverton for them after all) that they could make an exception in our case for a favor. He didn't say what that favor would be but merely that they would be contacting us in the future when it was time to call it in.

So we took care of our banking and trading, geared up and headed back to Limus Town to try and tackle the zombie problem there. On the way back through the pass, once again we were surprised by monsters but this time it was a group of six ogres. They managed to kill some of the horses but we eventually overcame them and relieved them of the sacks of gold they were carrying on their shoulders. Meanwhile, Cyrcla had been raised in Medea's Gate and was left there to recuperate from her frostbite for a month and to recover from the ordeal of being raised from the dead.

Averlorn Campaign: B5 Horror on the Hill

I have to say we had an absolute blast playing this module.  It was tough and we lost some characters but the module is very well written and very light hearted which offset the difficulties we had and made it one of the most memorable dungeon/wilderness adventures I have played in in a long time.  I never played this one as a kid so it was really cool to play and full of all kinds of old school goodness.

I'll post a condensed recap here once I get a chance...

Averlorn Campaign: Idylls of the Rat King

This was our second adventure where the group was hired by the Surgeon's Guild of Hecate in order to clear out a mine that they owned in the town of Silverton.  The mine had been overrun by Goblins and Wererats and was at the center of all of the banditry in the area around the town.  This is also the first adventure where we met our benefactor Marut of the Surgeon's Guild.  Recap to follow...

Averlorn Campaign: The Tomb of the Burning Priest

Recap from July 2010

Our first adventure started out in the town of Artemia. We were hired by a leader of the village to recover a lost artifact from the tomb nearby in the ruins of Old Artemia. The town used to be located there but was moved after the local priest and lord died and began haunting the town, the old temple and the priest’s tomb below. Our employer agreed to pay us 500 g.p. to retrieve a bejeweled golden goblet that had religious and historical significance for the town. He also asked that we give him half of the loot that we found which was kind of lame but we didn’t have another gig so we accepted his offer. It was said that the previous ruler was visited by the gods who told him to build the tomb. He went on to tax his villagers in excess in order to finance the construction of the elaborate temple and tomb below where he was eventually buried. As we found out later, the tomb and what was left there were not as wholesome as they might have seemed at first.

We heard a rumor in the local Inn that said that Father Thomas, the priest who built the temple and tomb, was still burning. We also heard that another group visited the tomb but were scared away upon entering and never returned. We had a few clues to go by – a drawing showing a foot resting on the goblet with several other symbols below including a hill, a tree, some eyes and a few others images but we didn’t know what they meant. As we entered the tomb, a ghostly specter appeared before the group – none other than Father Thomas himself! He was engulfed in fire and told everyone to leave his resting place or face certain death. Everyone in the group aside from the cleric failed their fear save and ran screaming in terror from the tomb. Brummbar stood there facing the ghostly apparition which then simply vanished. He went back outside and collected his terrified comrades who had scattered in several directions and waited until they regained their wits.

The group went back in and as we went further into the tomb we realized that the clues appeared to be coded messages to help visitors avoid the many traps and perils inside. The multiple eyes, for instance, showed the sequence that one had to step on the floor tiles found in one room, in order to avoid the traps set there. The riddle was that there were a bunch of letters on the floor, some of which were "i" so we followed the "i's" (eyes) and made it safely through. Because of all of the traps and riddles, the place had a very Indiana Jones feel. The room in the center of the complex had several murals painted on the walls depicting scenes of Artemia’s lost glory. We found a secret door on one side but couldn’t figure out the clues to defuse the obviously trapped door. Arseus checked the door for traps and didn’t find any but when he opened it he was hit with acid which burned him and some of his stuff but didn’t kill him.

The secret room held a suit of ornate field plate in the center. When we entered the room, the armor came to life and started attacking the group. Everyone was having a hard time hitting this animated armor within the room because it was field plate. We were also having a hard time hurting it when we could hit it and the group was sorely pressed. Things were starting to look grim for the group when Brummbar realized that there appeared to be a zombie inside. He started casting heal spells on the zombie which meant he only had to touch the armor the creature was wearing in order to channel positive energy through which caused it damage. He did this several times and finally killed the foul undead creature. Lucias claimed the field plate after it was cleaned up and we eventually found out that it had damage absorbing properties. This explains why we were having such a hard time killing the zombie within. The group had its first magic item and one still in use today!

We made it through a few more rooms, traps and riddles and eventually found a stone set into the wall of an open shaft with a well below that concealed a smaller shaft. Brummbar, being a stonemason, removed his armor so as not to drown if he fell into the well, and was lowered by rope with a hammer and chisel to remove the obstructing stone from the smaller shaft in the side wall. After it was removed, Arceus climbed through the shaft to end up in a rough dirt chamber that was filled with tree roots. That’s when the living tree attacked. Its roots came to life and grabbed ahold of Arceus, rending and tearing at his skin through his leather armor. Brummbar went in after him to render assistance but only one person could fight the creature at a time and we thought Arceus wasn’t going to make it. Things were looking pretty grim for him but then he rolled a 20 and killed the abomination. We later realized that the last clue on the sheet was a warning about the tree creature – the tree symbol. The creature was the guardian of not only the goblet that we sought but some other treasure as well. We met our employer outside of the tomb and gave him the goblet and half of the loot and he gave us our payment thus successfully completing our first adventure!

It was also here that we found the small locked box which has the ability to cast Protection from Evil once per day. We have ascertained that in order to open the box to find what's inside we need to have a cleric of named level do it for us (a 9th or higher level cleric). We have yet to find a cleric with such qualifications but eventually, we will unlock its secrets...