Sunday, September 30, 2012

Averlorn Campaign: Dungeon Module B2 The Kobold lair and a Wicked Betrayal

Recap from 11/25/2011

After a bit of carousing at the inn with our newfound wealth, we decided to return to the Caves of Chaos to continue our exploration.  While we were sitting at a table at the inn discussing our plans, we were approached by a cleric of Bast the Cat God who was very interested in our discussions about the caves.  He told us he would like to join our group to help us fight the evil humanoids at the caves along with his two young acolytes for a share of the treasure.  We didn’t really know anything about him so we asked the bartender if we could trust him and he replied that he hadn’t heard anything bad about the priests.  So we agreed to let them join our next foray into the caves, though we still weren’t sure if we could trust him and his acolytes or not.  We set out from the keep once again and travelled down the road heading east and onto the trail in the woods that led to the caves, and made it there without any problems.  We decided to try the next cave on the right side of the box canyon past the orc lair we had previously explored.  There were a few large trees near the entrance and above the cave mouth on the hillside but we didn’t really pay them any notice and proceeded into the tunnel opening.

The new clerics who had joined the group initially offered to stay in the back but since we weren’t sure if we could really trust them, we left Amul the monk and Rollo the dwarf in the rear so they could keep an eye on them.  Once the group had gone a little ways into the tunnel, the characters in the front including Fauna, Ragnar and Viktor, suddenly fell into a pit trap and several characters behind them also fell in and piled in on top of them!  As soon as this happened the adventurers in the rear of the group were attacked by a large group of kobolds that came out from hiding in the adjacent trees that we had noticed on the way in!  To make matters worse, as soon as the kobolds attacked, the three clerics turned on the group and their leader started casting a spell, while the two acolytes started attacking the characters in the middle of the group with their maces!

The group was caught completely off guard by these attacks and we could hear more kobolds approaching the pit from inside the tunnel.  The two characters in the rear fought desperately to fend off the attacking kobolds and were nearly overwhelmed, while the characters in the middle of the party battled the priests.  In the first round of combat, things were looking dicey for the two adventurers in the back as they were caught between the evil priests and the kobolds and fighting for their lives.  Fortunately for the group, Lorinar was able to cast a sleep spell on the melee in the rear of the group and managed to put the kobolds to sleep and Illundria cast Color spray on the priests right in front of her and managed to knock out the priests as well!  As we started helping the wounded characters out of the pit and dispatched our fallen foes, more kobolds came into the tunnel beyond the pit to attack the group!  We managed to get everyone out of the pit while the kobolds beyond threw their spears at us.  We were now faced with a large number of kobolds in the tunnel and it was apparent that the entire lair had been alerted!

Lorinar and Ragnar started throwing flasks of oil at the kobolds across the pit which was followed up by a burning torch from Ragnar and several kobolds went down in the flames, several more were hurt from the splash damage, and a few more were killed by arrows from our archers.  After the initial group of kobolds beyond the pit was dispatched, three more showed up at the end of the hallway and started firing arrows at the group at the edge of the pit.  We exchanged missile fire with them from across the pit for a little while but at this point, Viktor the Thugee fighter had had enough and jumped across the edge of the corner of the pit into the hallway beyond to charge the archers!  At about the same time, more kobolds began streaming into the hallway from beyond the archer’s firing positions at the end of the hallway.  Viktor charged the mass of kobolds and began to wade into them wreaking havoc with his sword as Thugee warriors are known to do from time to time.  He was followed by the ranger and the half orc and they gradually pushed the mass of kobolds back down the hallway killing several of them in the process.  To the rear of the front line group, the spellcasters started throwing burning oil onto the kobolds over our front lines beyond, inflicting even more casualties.  The pitched battle was over in a matter of minutes and afterwards the hallway was littered with burned and dead kobold bodies.

After defeating the Kobolds the group was left standing there in the hallway pondering our next course of action.  We were pretty beat up but assumed that there may be some loot to be had in their lair.  Since we were out of healing spells aside from a few cure light wounds potions, we decided to call it a day and try to make it back to the keep alive and return later for the kobold’s loot.  The group fell back to heal up after collecting a nice suit of plate mail, an ornate mace and a very nice shield from the leader of the evil clerics that looked like they could be magical along with some coinage.

The following day we returned and explored the kobold lair a bit more and found the leader’s chamber in the back of the complex to be occupied by a big burly kobold and his five mates and a brief but deadly melee ensued.  When it was over, we searched the lair and found some treasure but it wasn’t a lot - apparently, these particular kobolds weren't very wealthy.  We continued our exploration and decided to check out the third cave mouth on the right side of the box canyon.  After our recent experience with the pit trap in the kobold lair, we decided to be a bit more cautious this time and had Amul the monk and Rollo the dwarf search ahead of the group in the tunnel for traps.  Sure enough, they found a trip wire that would set off a net trap intended to drop down onto an unwary party and trap them just beyond the tunnel entrance!  At that point it was getting late so we decided to call the session.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Averlorn Campaign: Dungeon Module B2 The Caves of Chaos

Recap from 11/11/2011

After our first near disastrous foray into the Caves of Chaos, we decided to try the caves on the right side of the hill this time rather than the goblin lair on the left.  Shortly after entering the cave we were greeted by a grisly site – there was a hallway filled with niches at about head height in which were placed the skulls of various humans and humanoids in various stages of decay.  One of them was even an orc skull – we found out later it was actually a guard pretending to be dead orc head and keeping watch on the hallway from a watch post on the other side!  Of course he sounded the alarm and we were attacked by a group of 4 orcs that came out of a hallway further into the complex!  To make matters worse, four more orcs appeared out of the right hand corridor to hit us from the right side!  A fierce but brief battle ensued in which most of the orcs were slain but a few were driven back to the left hallway further into their lair.  The group gave chase into a banquet hall and was greeted by more orc warriors streaming out of another passage on the far side of the room to engage us in melee.

The adventurers of the brotherhood held their ground and pelted them with magic missile and bow fire and killed the remaining orcs in the room.  There were two hallways at the opposite end of the room, one of which the other orcs had come from, and we cautiously entered through the hallway on the right and were met by a huge group of orc women and children and another group of male orc warriors!  Their numbers, including the women and young totaled more than 30 orcs and it was clear that we were about to be in for a tough fight as we had stumbled into the main common area of the lair!  Our fighters in the front including Viktor the Thugee fighter, Sulethri the Fighter Cleric, Fauna the Ranger and Rollo the Dwarvish Fighter Cleric foolishly rushed into the room and were quickly surrounded by the mass of orcs!  The women in particular may have been small and weak but they were incensed by the fact that we had killed so many of their male warriors and attacked us with rolling pins, cleavers, clubs, hammers, knives and whatever other weapons they could get their hands on, and even the young that could fight got into the fray.  To make matters worse, the remaining orcs that weren't engaged in melee filed past the pressed front line group and quickly had Amul the Monk, Lorinar the Elvish wizard, Illundria the gnome illusionist and Ragnar the Thugee war wizard backed into the corner fighting for their lives with no fighters to protect them!  The two groups were cut off from each other and the front line group was completely surrounded!

During the fierce melee that ensued, the male orc warriors were the first to go down brought down by our front line group, but then our fighting front started dropping one by one as the enraged orcish women swarmed all around them hurting them one nick and cut at a time with multiple flank and rear attacks.  Meanwhile, in the back the wizards and the monk were unable to cast any spells and were fighting for their lives!  They were fighting desperately with their backs to the wall and gradually retreated towards the hallway where we entered the room from in order to avoid being cut off by the fierce onslaught of the orcish females in the room.  The orcs numbers had been reduced significantly at this point, and they were nearly at half of their original number.  In the main fight in the center of the room, the party members started dropping one by one.  First Viktor the fighter went down, then Fauna the Ranger went down, and then Sulethri until there was but one left standing - Rollo the Dwarven fighter cleric was still soldiering on despite the losses and the odds after having taken a beating.  He managed to take another couple of the females down and at the same time, the wizards and the monk managed to take down a few more as well, though the Thugee war wizard and Illundria the Gnome were both down now as well.

Things were getting desperate and Lorinar and Amul, seeing that there were only three of their number left standing and that there was little hope of rescuing the surrounded Rollo, decided that discretion was the better part of valor and withdrew from the combat while they still could, before they too were surrounded by the vengeful orc females and dragged down.  Meanwhile, Rollo was still battling away and managed to keep on fighting, and the orc’s numbers were below half so they had to make a morale check – and they failed!  The remaining orcs fled the room leaving the triumphant Dwarven warrior alone with a pile of bloody orc bodies and a number of gravely wounded friends strewn around him.  Hearing the route of the orcs behind them, Lorinar and Amul returned to the room to assist Rollo and the rest of their wounded comrades.  We started checking on them to see see if they were still alive and to make the dreaded Death and Dismemberment Table rolls. Amazingly none of them were dead or wounded too badly – Sulethri and Viktor had just been knocked unconscious, Ragnar and Illundria were merely dazed and stunned and Fauna was just bruised and battered and had been knocked off of her feet (we got really lucky on the rolls).  Rollo and Sulethri did what they could to heal everyone’s wounds, and the beaten and battered party of adventurers limped back to the keep at Orcwald to rest and recuperate.

A few days later we returned to the caves and the orc lair and found and defeated their leader, a big burly orc and his two female mates who fought fiercely to protect him but to no avail.  We searched the complex thoroughly and found a small chamber in the back of the leader’s quarters which contained a cache of treasure and weapons and even a number of magic items.  We even found a secret door in the leader’s chamber but the monk couldn’t figure out how to open it, so we left with our loot and decided to take a little break from the caves for a while and enjoy some of our newfound loot at the keep.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Averlorn Campaign: Dungeon Module B2 The Keep on the Borderlands

Recap from 11/4/2011 

The Brotherhood of the Black Crowes had a new mission for our young group of warriors.  Vizier Melkot, the master in charge of affairs of an arcane nature for the Crowes, needed us to escort one of his associates to a keep on the edge of the God King’s realm along the border with the wicked realm of Malithorn.  The Kingdom of Raegeleth on the island of Rhaghaera where the God King reins supreme had been in a near constant state of war with the forces of the Kingdom of Malithorn, part of which was also on the island.  Malithorn was ruled by their evil and most likely undead leader Ravishar the Undying.  For as long as anyone can remember the God King’s country and army has been at war with the minions of Malithorn.  Some of the combatants are humans of Volkyr or Thugee descent but a large percentage of his army is comprised of evil humanoids of various types sworn to serve him.  The last full blown war was merely three years ago, though most of the regular and more recent incursions have been on a much smaller scale.  These incursions usually consisted primarily of small scouting and raiding parties sent forth by both sides to test the strength and gather information about the enemy.  On both sides of the border there are arrayed a number of baronies and dukedoms granted by the two rulers to these petty Dukes and Barons for the sole purpose of guarding their border outposts against incursions by the forces from the other side.

One such border outpost was a rather large fortress or keep and a small town by the name of Orcwald.  Our orders were to escort one Rallemon of Illimus to the outpost and town of Orcwald safely, wait for him to conduct his business there, and then to escort him safely back to Caursetti.  Rallemon was an arcane spellcaster of some sort and he was known to have many enemies, particularly among the forces, assassins and spies of  Malithorn who would like to see him dead.  Therefore, Vizier Melkot explained, it was of the utmost importance that we escort him safely to and from the border outpost in order to protect him from his many enemies.  As we were leaving Caursetti, we had to travel through the Grimward district of town after leaving the Iron Keep of the Brotherhood within the city.  Grimward is a rough neighborhood in Caursetti adjacent to the dock districts.  As we were travelling past the many ships moored along the docks we couldn't help but notice that one of them was a Thugee privateer by the name of the Demon’s Echo and Captained by one Titus Blackwell.  The Demon’s echo was flying a black flag with a skull and flames that day as we walked past her mooring.  It is rumored that the ship and crew are of questionable origins and are thought to be pirates by the common folk.

As we were passing the area where the ship was moored, we were accosted by a rather large group of Thugee sailors that were most definitely crewmen of the Demon’s echo out looking for trouble.  We told them we didn’t want any trouble and tried to warn them off but they attacked us anyway in broad daylight!  We did our best to protect Rallemon, for it was pretty obvious that he was the one they were after, and a fierce battle ensued.  In the end it took a sleep spell to take down the remaining group of pirates that weren't killed in the struggle though several of our comrades were wounded as well.  So with this abortive attempt to leave the city disrupted, we returned to Iron Keep to seek healing for our wounded and to give the brotherhood our captive Thugee pirates to be ransomed back to their people for attacking us and causing an armed altercation in the city of Caursetti.  The proper authorities were also notified about the altercation of course.

So finally, we had all of that taken care of and left town post haste since it was getting late and the fight with the Thugee had delayed our departure.  When we arrived at a travelling Inn in a small hamlet along the way, the innkeeper tried to warn us away by saying he was closed, but we insisted that we were paying customers and soldiers in the service of the God King, and urgently needed accommodations so he let us in.  His mood was improved when we offered to pay him double his customary rates for a stay at the inn.  During the night, we heard a loud noise downstairs and Viktor the Thugee went down to investigate, sword in hand.  It appeared that we had been followed as more Thugee, probably from the ship, were asking to be let in to stay the night.  The Inkeeper was trying to tell them it was too late and they would have to wait until the next day but they were pretty persistent and wouldn't take no for an answer.  When they saw the large Thugee come down the stairs wielding his weapons and ready for battle, they thought better of the idea and left the inn post haste.  We never heard from or saw them again but our guess was these were the enemies of Ralleman that the Vizier had warned us about and were likely spies of Malithorn as well.  So we did our job and kept Rallemon safe.

After another day of journeying along the road, we finally arrived at Dungeon Module B2 the Keep On the Borderlands!  Once there, Rallemon went off to take care of his business and we started investigating our new environs at the keep and the small town of Orcwald.  We immediately went to the tavern and ordered drinks and accommodations and started hearing rumors of a series of Caves nearby called the Caves of Chaos from which no adventurers had ever returned!  This piqued our interest and then we heard another rumor that said “If you get lost, beware the eaters of men”!  This was followed by yet another rumor – “Beware the Mad Hermit!” and yet another rumor that “a magic wand was lost in the caves”.  We were very interested in the caves at this point since we had some time to kill while waiting for Rallemon to take care of his business, so we decided to buy some provisions and adventuring gear and seek out adventure and wealth at the Caves of Chaos!

We followed the well worn trails as best as we could from the descriptions we received from the bartender at the inn and soon enough we entered a box canyon with a multitude of caves at different altitudes all around the canyon.  So we decided to go into the first cave on the left and shortly after we entered, we were greeted by an avalanche of spears and javelins and heard shouts of “Bree Yark”.  This was followed by more shouts to the right of us from another passageway, and it was apparent that we were about to be attacked from two sides simultaneously.  To make matters worse, we heard something very large and angry coming from the direction of the goblins on the right hand side with the goblins urging it on and shouting words of encouragement.  We returned a volley of missiles after a number of our group had been hit and the spellcasters prepared to cast their sleep and color spray spells – but then the rest of the group thought that discretion was the better part of valor and withdrew from the tunnel leaving the wizards standing there all alone to take on the onrushing goblins!  Seeing their protection flee before them the wizards and the illusionist aborted their spell casting and fled as well to avoid being killed or captured by the goblins.

It was apparent that we made the right call to fall back especially with reinforcements coming from the other side to flank us and hem us in.  Had we tried to tough it out in that fight, we probably would have all died so in the end it was the right call.  We returned to the keep having located and ventured into the Caves of Chaos and boasted upon our return that we were the first adventurers to ever return alive from the Caves of Chaos!  Of course once back, we found out that that was really a jest and that plenty of adventurers had in fact returned with loot and stories of all of the evil humanoids that they had had to fight there, though a number of them had not returned.  Based on our recent experience, we were well aware of the dangers, having narrowly escaped the caves inhabitants to fight another day.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Averlorn Campaign - The Island of Farault

Recaps from 10/15/2011 and 10/22/2011

After finishing up Dungeon Module G2 the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl with our high level group, we decided to take a break from the high level game and start out with a new group of characters in a first level game.  This was mostly to get a fresh start since more than half of the players in the last group joined after we had reached around 5th level or so and so didn’t have an opportunity to start their low level characters from scratch.  So once characters were rolled up, we began the game in the gleaming City of Caursetti, Capital of the God King in the Kingdom of Raegeleth which lies in the north of the Archipelago along the western coast of the island of Rhaghaera.  We were all part of an order of monk like warriors called the Brotherhood of the Black Crowes and were basically indentured servants to the order for a period of 20 years.  The Brotherhood was in service to the God King and served as his elite troops in times of war and were based out of a fortress called Iron Keep in the Falconbridge neighborhood of Caursetti, one of the nicer neighborhoods in town.

Vizier Proldier who recruited and trained us, told us our training was complete and that our squad was to report to the office of Hroldave the Vizier for our first assignment.  So the group went over to Hroldave’s office and first he congratulated us on completing our training.  Then he told us the Brotherhood had an important mission for us.  We were to sail to a distant island called the Island of Farault.  There we were to locate a number of very large Thugee Rune stones which were said to have magical properties and make charcoal rubbings of the stones on large sheets of parchment, and bring the rubbings back to the Brotherhood.  He went on further to say that the reason for the mission was that our leader, a Thugee warrior named Grumlor, was sick and some even went as far as to say he was cursed by the gods.  There was said to be potent healing magics contained in the inscriptions on the rune stones which were thought to be able to heal him, and it was of the utmost importance that we return at once with the rubbings once obtained so that a cure could be effected.  He wished us good luck and made sure we were supplied and ready to go and sent us on our way. 

After a boat ride of a week or so, we finally arrived at the island of Farault to look for the stones.  The group consisted of Rollo, a dwarvish fighter/cleric, Sulethri a half orc fighter/cleric, Illundria a gnomish Illusionist and Fauna a human Ranger, Viktor a Thugee Fighter, Amul the Monk, and my character Finolthir the elf (Labyrinth Lord Elf class).  We put ashore in a skiff and noticed that something was following us in the water which looked almost humanoid in shape.  We knew there were Sea Devils about (Sahugin) and even heard tales of Mermen and Mermaids but none of us had ever seen any.  After the boat was pulled ashore they swam away down the shoreline away from us and out of site.  We trudged ashore and found a well worn path running down the center of the small island and chose to go right.  After a ways, we came across a very unusual scene – there was a large group of kobolds coaxing on several very large draft lizards that were pulling several very large rune stones that had been bound and moved onto skids for transport!  This was exactly what we had come to the island to seek and there they were before us.  Even stranger, the kobolds appeared to be lead by a Duergar warrior, one of the evil deep dwarves of legend! 

Seeing our prize at hand we didn’t hesitate and attacked the group in order to secure the stones!  Unfortunately, we lost initiative and the Duergar, who turned out to be a Druid, cast entangle and several of our group was held fast by the vines and plants that quickly sprang forth from the ground to entwine around their arms and legs!  Fortunately, after the initial setback, we finally managed to take down the bulk of the kobolds with a well timed sleep spell.  The Duergar proved to be another matter entirely – he was a stout warrior and led the remaining kobolds in a pitched battle.  A few of our number were hurt badly, and things were looking grim for a time, but the group finally managed to slay the leader and the remaining kobolds including most of the ones that were asleep.  We proceeded to loot the bodies and then took rubbings of the stones to take back to the ship.  We left one kobold alive to question and he told us there was a village down the other end of the path from the direction that we had just come from where we might find more of the rune stones.

We asked him where his group got the stones from initially and he indicated the direction that we were headed on the path, so we led our captive along the trail to the place where the rune stones were originally dug out of the ground.  It appeared that there were still a half dozen or so left but there were still several more, including the ones we had found along the path previously, that had been dug out and relocated recently as evidenced by the freshly shoveled soil.  So we proceeded to make rubbings of these stones and decided to start heading back to the ship since it was nearing the end of the day, since we didn’t want to spend the night on the island due to the dangers.  On the way back we encountered another group of kobolds and our prisoner was killed in the melee but we made it safely back to the ship.

The next session we picked up where we left off but with a slightly different set of characters.  This time we had Amul the Monk, Sulethri the half orc Fighter/Cleric, my Elf Finolthir and a different fighter but Rollo our Dwarven fighter/cleric, Illundria our gnomish illusionist, Viktor the Thugee fighter and our Ranger Fauna were not able to make it to shore due to an illness they had contracted on the island.  We soldiered on despite being short handed.

We returned to the island for the second time and made it to the crossroads of the two paths and went left down the trail this time, since that's where our now deceased Kobold captive said the village was.  This turned out to be a lie of course - we should have expected nothing less from the lying little Kobold worm.  What we found instead were four stone behive shaped huts which actually turned out to be burial structures (like the ones found in Ireland).  On the way there, we were attacked by seven small kobold zombies!  Horror gripped us as we realized that several were likely to be the very same kobolds we had slain only the day before!  We killed a couple and the cleric managed to turn the rest and we pressed on towards the "village" before they returned.  When we got there we found out that it wasn't really a village at all or at least a living village anyway.  We entered the first beehive/hut/tomb and shortly after we went in, the rest of the kobold zombies returned and we had a short but savage melee at the entrance to the place where we managed to slay the rest.  The tomb had been previously looted and contained no treasure.

We went to the second tomb and entered it and surprised a group of two kobolds and another Duergar who turned out to be a cleric this time.  In the chamber with them were some recently opened tombs and the remains of the dead scattered about.  They had clearly just looted the tomb and we managed to surprise them.  We concentrated our attacks on the Duergar since he was the obvious leader, and either Amul or Sulethri rolled a 20 and he was killed pretty quickly.  We then killed one of the kobolds and the other ran away.  Tony told us afterwards that he was a second level cleric and that we were incredibly lucky to have killed him so quickly but our other fighter was badly hurt.

So we went to the third beehive shaped stone tomb and entered and were greeted by a bizarre sight - there was a Dragon Ogre standing on the sarcophagus that was shouting and gesticulating wildly about something in Draconic.  The sarcophagi appeared to be the last missing stone since it had Thugee runes all over it!  Finolthir determined that dragon ogres are extra planar beings, so this thing had somehow been brought to this plane through a gate of some sort, probably by the same method as the Duergar from Nifelheim.  Finolthir attempted to speak to it in Draconic but it was just spouting off gibberish - something about a Loki worshipper (the Duergar) but it was mostly incompressible nonsense.  So we backed up and left the structure to figure out what to do, since it didn't attack us or appear to threaten us except with its insane tirade.  When we started discussing what to do, it came out and attacked us!  So we had another pitched battle and managed to kill it pretty quickly (I think Amul or Sulethri rolled yet another 20).

We gathered up its loot (it had some gold and a few magic items) and made our last rubbing of the rune stone and our mission was completed.  There was one last beehive to investigate, but we decided to quit while we were ahead since we had accomplished our mission and the fighter was hurt (Sulethri failed to cast a healing spell since his Wisdom score was so low he had to roll for spell failure when he cast it).  Rather than just head back at that point, we decided to go back to the island the next day to see what was in the last tomb hoping to find more treasure. 

When we arrived the next day we found it to be sealed meaning the kobolds and dwarves hadn't looted it yet.  We set about opening it up which required removing some rocks and entered.  Unfortunately, there were two ghouls inside (and no treasure!) and a desperate melee ensued.  We managed to kill one but the fighter/cleric failed his turn check and then was paralyzed.  We hurt the other badly but then the fighter was also paralyzed.  Things were looking grim so Finolthir stepped up to try and deliver the killing blow since Elves are immune to Ghoul paralysis, but unfortunately, they aren't immune to claw, claw, bite (three attacks) which resulted in six hit points of damage and he was down and awaiting the dreaded death and dismemberment roll (he only had three hit points to begin with).  So then Amul the Monk backed up into the light and fired his bow and missed.  The ghoul came at him but he retreated outdoors and it didn't follow, but went back to dine on one of its victims which turned out to be the Finolthir so he was now dead.  The other two were still alive though and the Monk went back to the door and in to try and kill it (it was either try or let all three die) and he rolled a 20 to hit it with his bow and managed to kill the last ghoul!

So it went down to the wire but three of the four characters managed to survive.  On the one hand, we probably shouldn't have gone back - our mission was accomplished with minimal casualties and we found some treasure to boot.  On the other hand, we were greedy and thought there would be more treasure there but there wasn't, and one character died but it could have been much worse.  Three twenties rolled by the group helped us to avert disaster in the end and the loss of one first level character was not the end of the world – I rolled up a new Elf wizard to replace him for the next session.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Averlorn Campaign: Predominant Races of the Archipelago

The predominant human races found in the archipelago are the Thugee and the Volkyr peoples who are also two of the three primary human races found in the World of Averlorn.  The Volkyr resemble the people of Egypt in both appearance and culture while the Thugee are a warlike race that bears some similarities to Norse Vikings found in Europe during the middle ages.  Amongst the islands of the Archipelago can be found yet a third major race – that of the Sea Elves.  Living amongst the Sea Elves are Elves of other castes typically found in Elven society.

The third primary human race in Averlorn sometimes found in the islands consists of the men of Ardrois stock such as those found in Thebos and similar civilizations such as Chalcyx, Ertris and Manthinea.  The Ardrois dwell primarily on the mainland and in coastal areas and cities such as Harbor Reach and Zarathus, and further inland.  They are modeled after the ancient Greeks and Romans and even Germanic peoples in both appearance and culture.

The Volkyr – In the Archipelago beyond the Shallow Sea the dominant culture is that of the Volkyr and their stalwart allies the Sea Elves. These two communities have lived in peace since the earliest days of man's recorded history, a situation unique among the various tribes of humanity and demi-humans alike. They share technologies, many customs and to the casual visitor it appears that the Volkyr (folk of the sea) have modeled many aspects of their culture after those found among the sea elves.  The Volkyr aren't ancient Egyptians so much as they are a fantasy culture which posits Egyptian-esque culture in a medieval setting.  They style themselves as the most civilized of the human cultures concentrating more on trade then on warfare.  The Volkyr are a Polynesian like people who originally migrated to the Archipelago from the southern islands of the Great Banks among others.

The Volkyr place a great value on learning and the arts. They consider their society to be a model of civilization and take great pride in the relative cleanliness of their cities, in considerable contrast to the squalor that can be found in the Theban cities of Harbor Reach and distant Grand Oryx. Personal appearance is of considerable importance to most Volkyr and they are fastidiously concerned with personal hygiene, bathing often and keeping their facial hair neatly trimmed. Men folk wear their hair in very short, practical styles, often displaying rather ornate goatees or smartly trimmed moustaches. Some Volkyr warriors go so far as to shave their heads and faces, thus denying enemy combatants anything to grab onto during battle. Both men and women use scents and makeup, eyeliner in particular is common. Volkyr warriors often paint fierce-looking designs on their face which adds to their reputation for being savage opponents in battle.

Physically, the Volkyr are a dark-skinned race of humans with black hair and piercing dark eyes. They are on average a bit smaller than the Ardrois folk and not as muscular as the average Thugee. They are exceptional seamen and ply the waters the Shallow Sea in their sleek triple-lateen ships. Volkyr weaponry is finely made and shows a distinct Elven influence. They favor the longer Elven spear style, the subtle curve of the Elven Sword, and the Sea Bow.

The Volkyr are a pious religious people who worship their great leader the God King along with a dizzying array of Egyptian gods – Anubis, Ra, Set, Osiris, Horus, Isis, Bast (the Cat God), Sobek (the crocodile got) among others.  The Volkyr hold a patronizing view of the Thugee people – they say the Sons of Loki are three times cursed though they are tolerated in Volkry society as many Thugee dwell amongst them in their settlements.  Blue dragons are sacred among the Volkry people, which is a long standing tradition.  Wizards often seek out blue dragons in order to learn from them the ancient Forgotten Lore spells of antiquity lost through the sands of time.  Players seeking out Blue Dragons for such knowledge may use any charisma bonus they may have while speaking with them to help determine how cooperative the ancient wyrms may be about such queries.

The Sea Elves - the other predominant race found in the Archipelago is that of the demi human Sea Elves.  The Sea elves generally live along the coast, are a nautical trading race, and are quite hardy for elves.  They usually live in small coastal villages near the Great Banks and in small kingdoms scattered about the Archipelago.  The Sea elves are far more organized than the elves found in Thebos and other areas inland and trade regularly with the Volkyr.

To the Sea Elves, the Archipelago is considered their ancestral homeland though part of it is currently under the guardianship of the Volkyr.  There exist several small Sea Elf kingdoms and holdings scattered about the Archipelago on some of the smaller islands.

The Sea Elf Kingdoms of the Archipelago - The Sea Elf King or Archmagi holds dominion over three principle realms, holding court according to an ancient schedule understood only by the elves themselves. The exact nature of governance employed by the sea elves is quite mysterious and appears to also be part of some long standing tradition of rotating kings. Within each realm lies one of three magnificent Elven Sea Towers which is the local seat of authority for each realm perched ever watchful on the cliffs above the endless waves.

The Kingdom of Alatheon is actually an island which lies to the north of the island of Rhaghaera, while the Kingdom of Golfyria lies to the west.  Lothalyn is quite distant, lying in the southwest of the Archipelago far closer in fact to the mainland. It is a single kingdom spread across a vast stretch of islands. In spite of the vast distances and their relatively slight population, the sea elves are actually the dominant political power in the Archipelago. This is due largely to the unusual number of dragons found in the islands and their deference if not outright servitude to the sea elves. The Sea Elf Court and all of their kith and kin enjoy the favor of both Io and his son Bahamut due to ancient pacts and favors from times lost to the remembrance of other sentient races.  Naturally, the preponderance of dragons in the area has resulted in far fewer Dragonships in the skies of the islands than might be found elsewhere in Averlorn.

The Sea Elves maintain a series of trading settlements, outposts of a sort. These are always found near the communities of their Volkyr allies and with names such as Tol Alatheon or Dur Alatheon, they are the source of some confusion among men. Nadsul il Alatheon is a trading outpost on a small island not far from the Ardrois city of Harbor Reach and is something akin to a military outpost given the assaults and raids it has endured over the years. The Sea Elves are quite fond of the Volkyr, but view Thugee as little better than Orcs and the Ardrois of the City States with great suspicion.

The Sea Elves are often at odds with the Thugee and there exists racial enmity between their two peoples as the Thugee seem intent on raiding their holdings and generally causing them harm when given the chance.  The enmity that exists between elves and the Thugee (the Northmen of Averlorn) is long standing and encounters are usually a “no quarters asked, none given” sort of affair.  In matters of warfare and defense, the Sea Elves favor the Elven Longsword, the Sea Bow, and the Elven Dragon Spear.  More info about the Sea Elves, the Elven cast system and Elven culture in Averlorn can be found here:

The Thugee – the Thugee are a Viking-inspired race of sub-humans, strong of limb, but dim of wit, possessing brutal features and slightly pronounced canine teeth.  They are the Norse raiders of the Middle Ages raiding the coastline and islands in their sleek and sturdy long ships and striking terror into the heart of their victims.  They can be found in the Archipelago living alongside the primary native human race of the area - the Volkyr, and in a few scattered clan holdings in the north of the island chain. 

Though the Thugee often raid in the Archipelago and are viewed as savage barbarians by most civilized cultures, quite a few have actually settled in the area.  Although they are not the native or predominant race of humans, their numbers are on the rise due to continued raiding and settlement activity, not unlike the Vikings that settled in England, Russia and other places they raided in our world - in the end they were just looking for a better life than the harsh cold north.  Their ancestral homeland can be found in the distant Northern Reaches of the mainland along the coast and in a region called fallen Leutra where the ancient reptile races once held sway.

The Thugee are fantastic sailors, navigators, ship builders and explorers who ply the coasts in their long boats in search of plunder and better lands.  Their weapons of choice include the bearded Thugee Axe (hand axe – also useful as a throwing axe), the Battle Axe, the Great Sword, the Broadsword, the Spear, and the Short Bow while they typically wear chainmail, Norse helms and carry large round wooden hide covered embossed shields.

The Thugee in the Archipelago are scattered among the islands like the pebbles along the beach. They have a few permanent communities in the islands immediately off the coast of Fallen Leutra at what one might call the edge of the Northern Reaches. They are not given to city building and rarely dwell in communities larger than a few hundred families. They view any non-Thugee as inferior and a source of goods, slaves, wives, etc. A considerable number of Thugee have fallen under the sway of Ravishar resulting in a daunting presence of Northmen residing in Malithorn. Still others have found their way to Caeursetti and environs and now live in relative peace as subjects of the God King.