Thursday, 31 May 2012

Khorvaire - Session 7 - 30/05/12

Session 7: Into Troll Country (30th May 2012)

The cast of heroes

Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the party
Bardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
NPC (Human Ranger) - the traveller

Let’s go shopping (day 23)

Each party member awoke and rose at their time of choosing. As stated in the previous log entry, not many deals were forthcoming during the morning, but the afternoon saw the traders more willing to make a deal or two. The party, with gold burning holes in their pockets, had now decided upon what they were really after and headed back to the merchants in a more positive frame of mind (the hangovers were gone now too!). Rioja visited a wizard’s emporium and came away with two scrolls; “Find Familiar” and “Forget”, Ye Olde Booke of Cantrips and two Potions of Invisibility. The spells were quickly copied into his spell book and practised. Knil purchased a fine suit of studded leather armour, a composite bow, spare bowstrings, 20 +1 arrows, 30 normal arrows and a few dozen arrows with a variety of different bodkins, and a couple of quivers to keep them all in. He also tried to purchase a cloak, but Rioja identified it as being cursed and not of much help to the party. The trader paid Rioja 20gp for his aid in identifying what it was – some sucker would be sold a pup in the future no doubt. Korum saved most of his gold as he was saving up for something special, Bardan had no luck tracking down a suitable new weapon, and Arken spent some more time at the temple; no doubt praying for the others not to get into any mischief.

The rest of the day was spent wandering around town looking for clues to whether there were any trolls around. Fortunately, there were several posters in the town square advertising the fact that there were, and that they were dangerous!

The party retired to the tavern for another evening of drinking and eating. They were able to talk to many townsfolk who confirmed the rumours found on the posters.

A Day of Rest (day 24)

Whilst the rest of the party gathered supplies and lounged around, Rioja headed into the scrubland surrounding the town. He had been studying his new spells and wanted to practice them before getting underway on their journey again. He made all sorts of woodland creatures jump with his cantrips but, most importantly for him, he was able to summon a familiar to aid him in his magical studies. Whilst returning to the town after his excursion, a small black cat introduced itself to him; Kima would be his new companion on the forthcoming magical journeys ahead.

The party packed the wagon, brushed down the horses and turned in for an early night.

The Journey to the Troll Forest (day 25)

The band of adventurers set off early the next morning. They were stopped and questioned again at the gates. When they responded that they were going troll hunting, the guards laughed and said they would be lucky to return, as no-one had in the past. The posters around the town were not merely idle threats! However, if they did manage to bag a troll, then the mayor of the town might be able to provide a small bounty for it.

Leaving behind the walls of safety, they headed in a south-westerly direction towards the large tract of forest that was renowned for harbouring trolls. After a short time, however, the trail began to narrow and the cart kept on getting stuck in the hardy vegetation that reached about three feet in height. The party decided they would return the cart and horses to the wizard’s tower and continue the journey on foot. However, as they headed back they thought about the safety of the horses and their possessions, so they stashed them in the last room of the dungeon instead, with enough fodder for a week or two.

This slight detour took a bit of time, so they had to make camp in the confines of the dead forest surrounding the tower. Korum remembered the Darkness and suggested that they might want to set fires this time and post guards. Several fires were lit and Korum took first watch. As he suspected the Darkness returned, but it was not moving this time. Arken cast a Continual Light spell over the party’s camp to help keep the night horrors away as a matter of precaution. Knil took third watch. As he did his rounds, a strong wind sprang up, blowing out one of the fires. He attempted to relight it, but upon it taking flame, another fire went out; the wind was coming in from all directions at once. Another fire was blown out by the end of his watch. Rioja spent his watch nervously eyeing the Darkness. It was starting to swirl around a bit now. Chewing his nails until the end of his shift until Bardan took over, he was glad of the respite from sitting alone. On the final watch, the Darkness had started to move more rapidly, trying to seek ways past the Continual light and the last couple of fires. The rising sun couldn’t have come too soon.

The Journey to the Troll Forest – part 2 (day 26)

The party awoke from their night of fitful slumber and continued their journey to the Troll Forest. By late morning they had passed beyond the boundaries of the dead forest surrounding the wizard’s tower and were back on the trail that the wagon could not cope with. By noon, they had crossed most of the grassy plains and reached the edge of a large valley. Across the other side of the valley was the forest, full of huge trees. Just as they were about to make their way down the valley side, they espied a lone traveller wearily making his way up towards them from the valley floor. They hailed their greetings and approached the traveller. He was a little worse for wear, and was walking with the aid of a staff. As it was close to meal time, they asked if he would share his story in return for some food and drink. He agreed, but the story he told was full of woe.

His village, to the west of the forest, was under constant threat from trolls. He and six others had been chosen to hunt them down and destroy them. Three of the best fighters from the village met a troll when out scouting, and yelled for help. The other three fighters joined them, but all that was heard by the traveller were screams and a shout to get away whilst he could. He ran for his life. The adventurers commiserated with him on his tale of woe and said that they would help him exact revenge upon the trolls. They also asked him if he had encountered the Darkness, but he said he had slept up a tree the night before and nothing untoward had happened. He suggested that if they needed shelter for the night, as they would be unable to cross the valley fully by nightfall, there was a building a short distance away they could hole up in until the following day. He led the party to the building on the lower valley floor just as the sun dipped below the valley sides.

The building was a solid two storey affair, with one entrance and no windows. The vegetation had been cut back to a distance of about twenty feet around the building so nothing could hide or approach through the three foot scrubby grass without being seen. A fire was set between the door and the stairs inside that led up to the second storey, where the party made camp. Shifts were again set for the night. Korum’s first watch passed uneventfully except for the fact that the wind had started to pick up again. Arken, now rested, cast a fresh Continual Light spell that enshrouded the entire party and most of the stairs. The third and fourth watches also passed uneventfully except for the rising wind. However, on the final watch, Bardan could hear the sounds of a young girl screaming in the distance. He tried to wake the others but no matter how hard he tried, he could not; they seemed to be in some sort of magically induced sleep. He felt compelled to leave the safety of the building to investigate the sound; he grabbed his trusty axe and went outside to investigate. He found the young girl, but upon picking her up she disappeared into thin air. This shocked him out of his charm and he returned to the safety of the barn and his companions.

The Journey to the Troll Forest – part 3 (day 27)

A quick breakfast got the party moving again in the direction of the site of the combat where their new guide had encountered the troll. It took about four hours to leave the valley and climb the opposite side, and progressing into the trees that were very large and spaced quite widely apart. Knil, sharp eyed as ever, spotted markings on some of them that suggested primitive territorial boundaries. As the party moved deeper into the forest, a smell arose and became gradually worse until they stumbled over a scattered array of human body parts that looked as if they were ripped apart. The guide was ill but was able to confirm between retches that these were indeed the remains of his fellow villagers who set out to hunt down the trolls. Between the body parts, there were the tracks of a single, large bipedal creature. Arken asked the party to gather the scattered remains and broken weapons together so that he could perform last rites on them. He also cast “Speak with the Dead” which allowed him to piece together the last few moments that the villagers had together. The corpse of one of the men revealed that the creature that attacked them was about fourteen feet tall, was covered in coarse hair, had large talons on the end of arms that were about seven feet long, and it had a hideous face. Asking him if he had any last requests, he said that the party should warn his brother to get out of there. Once the villager had been released to whatever afterlife he was entitled, the guide looked at the rest of the remains and pointed to the multi-pieced corpse that was the dead fellow’s brother. However, that said, there was a small consolation – there was one person missing from the haul of cadavers.

After burying the unfortunate victims, the guide mentioned that there were only a few hours of daylight left and that if they wished to reach his village by sunset they would have to hurry. Spurred into action again, the party force-marched to the village just in time to be shown to one of the now empty cottages on the outskirts of the village; it had belonged to one of the fighters who had died at the hands of the troll. As they approached the cottage, Arken cast Continual Light on one of Rioja’s little wooden unicorns. An old lady saw this and hurried away lamenting the arrival of witches and devil worshippers in her village.

A watch was set, but due to Bardan’s experiences the night before, only two watches were set. The Darkness appeared almost as soon as the sun set, and this time it had grown in intensity. Movements and flickering could now be seen within its confines. Arken was excused watch duty, so he rested as much as he could and cast Continual Light on a couple more unicorns belonging to Rioja and Korum.

Bardan and Rioja took first watch. Close to midnight, they heard screams and the sounds of collapsing buildings coming from the village. They chose to ignore them and kept each other from taking a step outside the cottage. Knil and Korum’s watch passed relatively uneventfully.

The Village (day 28)

When dawn spread its rosy fingers over the small hamlet, the cocks crowed as normal and the party were awoken by the ranger and thief. They tentatively ventured outside but saw nothing of the anticipated carnage heard during the night. They tracked down their guide and asked him if he had heard anything unusual during the night but he replied that he had neither heard nor seen anything untoward.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Games Workshop Goblins for Hordes of the Things

These are the other figures I managed to complete this morning...

They are two units of Goblin Spears. As mentioned in a previous post, I make my bases slightly deeper (but proper frontage - 60mm) than standard as I want them to convey the appearance of lots of warriors as befits the title Hordes of the Things. For standard units of Blades and Spear I put five figures on each base.

The figures themselves are from Games Workshop, from their plastic Warhammer range. I am not too keen on their comical faces, but I think I have toned them down enough by not doing them in the standard green that GW paint them. They are actually quite large compared to the Harboth's Black Mountain Boys I painted a while back, but still fit in with the rest of the emerging 24 point army. I think I will have to go down the Tolkien road and say that the terms 'Goblin' and 'Orc' are interchangeable for the same 'race' of beings.

I still have three bases of goblin archers to glue up to add to the army, as well as a box of Night Goblins, which I will probably use as hordes. I am hoping to get these ready by the summer so I can fight them against the Barbarian army completed last year. I still have loads of old Citadel Night Goblins too, but I am not sure whether to use them on HotT bases or as individually mounted foes for fantasy RPG.

Next up (but it will be quite a while) should be loads of Norman milites, and Alex has a stack of Elves from a variety of manufacturers on the go for his own HotT army and LotR SBG.

Korum Proudfoot

I managed to complete a few figures this morning. It has been a while since I actually finished anything, but I feel better now a small space has appeared on my paint station. I also managed to clean-up, base and undercoat a big stack of Norman cavalry. These will eventually form four conrois of knights.

Anyway, here is a picture of Korum Proudfoot - my latest AD&D character...

This miniature, by e-M4, was bought from Forlorn Hope games and cost just over a quid! Result.

I may grab a few more from them over the coming weeks to knock up a selection of demi-humn adventurers; of which I have a severe lack.

Khorvaire - Session 6 - 23/05/12

Session 6: The Dungeon Complex – Part 2 (23rd May 2012)

The cast of heroes

Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the party
Bardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
Damien (Human Fighter) - the extra muscle (absent from this session)

The Darkness (day 21)

The party decided to rest up and take stock of their adventures so far. At a quick estimate, they realised that they had spent the best part of two days in the magical complex and dark dungeon; alternately testing their skills to the highest degree and resting up. After another good rest, the party considered their next moves. They decided to retrace their steps to the T-junction at the foot of the stairs they entered the dark dungeon by. Once past the doorway, they slowly approached a room the mirror image of the first one in which they encountered the first skeletons. This room was empty. Expecting the worst, Korum scouted ahead again with trepidation in his steps. The next room also turned out to be empty. The exit from this room, however, led straight onto a T-junction. They decided to head to the left as that seemed to be an area that could be quickly covered as it would fill in a gap on their map.

Approaching the room slowly, Korum heard the sound of bones rubbing together. He readied himself with two vials of Holy Water and stepped over the threshold. His presence was immediately felt by the two skeletons within and they advanced on him with wicked grins on their maws. Korum let loose the vials of water but these didn’t seem to have much effect. He retreated to the safety of the rest of the party declaring what he had encountered. Arken, the cleric, stepped forward and called upon his god, Din, to rid this world of such abominations. The skeletons crumbled to dust. The party cautiously entered the room and discovered a chest in the corner. The lock was no challenge to Korum, and soon the treasure within was revealed; a suit of plate armour and two vials of red liquid. Rioja got to work on appraising the latest haul, revealing that the armour was magical and the vials contained Potions of Extra Healing. The vials disappeared into the cleric’s pack and the armour was handed to Bardan.

The party retraced their steps to the T-Junction and carried on along the other branch. The corridor ended at another T-junction. Again the party decided to turn left. Korum, creeping ahead of the party as usual was able to report back that at the end of the corridor was a large room with two other exits further down the wall from which he entered. Unfortunately there were also two large skeletons armed with rusted blades. These were of a similar size to the ones encountered in the fountain room, and were deemed to be of great danger. Arken Blessed the party and cast Sanctuary upon himself and the party readied themselves for combat. As they advanced into the chamber, the skeletons locked their gazes upon the cleric. The ranger and thief let loose with their shafts but Knil was again unlucky in that his bowstring snapped again! Korum’s bolt flew true though and hit one of the skeletons. Bardan, arriving slightly late (obviously fitting into his new armour), charged into the combat with the cleric, who didn’t have time to turn the undead due to casting protective spells upon his fellow travellers. After a brief melee, one of the skeletons crumbled to dust at the hands of the party, but the other was slightly trickier. Bardan enveloped the second skeleton in a great bear hug preventing it from using its rusted weapon. Korum lined up a massive blow to its neck but this failed to dispel the creature. Bardan carried on squeezing ever more tightly, feeling bones snap and grind under the pressure. The blue fire in the eye sockets dimmed as its magical life was snuffed out. It too crumbled to dust.

There was nothing else in the room, so the party quickly decided to vacate it. They unanimously decided to take the first exit along the wall. Cautiously moving forward, the party advanced through a short twisting corridor, past a side turning and upon turning right came across a small niche in the wall. This turned out to be nothing more than an aborted attempt to construct another smaller corridor. The party left this area quickly and carried on tracing their path around more twisting corridors until they arrived back at the skeleton room they had just recently left. Realising they had walked a circuit, they decided to check out the second exit from the room, in the knowledge that they still had one more side turning to explore behind them.

The Key to the Door

The second exit led down a very long, dark corridor. Cautiously they rounded a corner and shortly after another, doubling-back, then the corridor opened out into a large, high-ceilinged room. On the same wall they entered the room was a very large door complete with two ornate handles, a key hole and runes upon the surface. Korum, the chattiest of the party started to ask Rioja what he thought the runes might mean but all everyone heard was a load of gibberish. He tried talking in every language he knew but still nobody was any wiser. Rioja tried to get the Halfling to talk sense, but it seemed he was the only one who could make himself understood. Korum, writing down what he thought was a perfectly legible script, handed it to Rioja, but the sentence turned out to be gibberish. The party, confused by this lack of being able to understand each other, slowly backed out of the room until they could find a place where they could talk to one another again in the Common tongue. Finding a spot just around the first corner, they discussed this new conundrum. Above the chatter of the party, Korum caught the approaching sound of many boned feet clacking on the floor. Coming down the corridor were a great number of skeletons with three of their larger compatriots in tow.

A decision was quickly reached that the tougher party members would hold off this approaching horde to give the mage more time to decipher the runes and work out what the runes meant. Korum would accompany him in case his skills were needed. The mage and thief returned to the room with a few pre-agreed signals arranged to ease communication and left their compatriots to face the oncoming skeletons.

Dem Dry Bones

Arken started the combat by summoning a Dust devil. Meanwhile, Knil knocked and let fly a couple of arrows that flew true and hit their target. Arken then commanded his Dust Devil to take out the oncoming horde of bones and attempted to turn as many as he could before the melee was joined. His god, Din, answered his prayer and a skeleton crumbled to dust. Bardan stepped to the front just as the skeletons were drawing close to the Dust Devil. Lighting a rag stuffed into a bottle of blessed alcohol, Bardan threw the concoction at the oncoming skeletons. The resulting explosion rocked the corridor and five of the approaching horde crumbled to dust. When the flames died down, the party saw to their horror that even more skeletons were bearing down on the party; things were not looking good as six of these were now of the larger type.

Writing down the runes at a feverish pace, Rioja’s fear was getting the better of him. The sounds of battle just around the corner had unnerved him and his concentration wavered. This puzzle would need more thought in a quieter and less stressful environment. Korum, his days as a burglar coming back to him, looked around for somewhere a key may be kept. The only place available was above the door on the wide lintel. He motioned for Rioja to give him a boost but between them they didn’t have the height or strength to get up there. They knew that time was running out for their companions, so they decided that they would need to support them in order to present a united front rather than a split force that could be taken apart in two separate skirmishes.

Korum and Rioja raced back to the fight to be confronted by another loud explosion and the sight of two of the larger skeletons staggering under the impact of the flames. The extra crossbow bolts and Magic Missiles fired into the fight gave the party breathing space to reform their ranks, but at this point the Dust Devil dissipated. Slowly but surely, the party ground down the opposition, but not before Arken and Bardan took many serious wounds. As the battle progressed, the party realised that without any more reinforcements arriving for the undead, they stood a good chance of getting through the melee. Arken, battered and bloodied, started a little song and dance, taunting the skeletons and drawing their wrath from the rest of the party. This gave Bardan, Knil and Korum time to redress their battle lines in order to take down the last remaining large skeletons. Just as the party thought victory was in their grasp, Bardan fumbled and struck Arken with his great axe, dropping it in the process. The remaining two skeletons saw their chance and redoubled their efforts, but the unarmed Bardan was now their target. Sensing victory, the foremost skeleton attacked with more vigour, but fumbled his attack and smashed his sword arm on the wall, losing both the sword and the limb! The following attack saw it do the same again to its other arm in its rage! Bardan and Knil stepped away from this now (h)armless skeleton and concentrated their attacks on the remaining one to keep it away from the injured cleric and weapon less fighter. The longsword of Knil hacked into it, but Korum missed his chance of dispatching it from the rear by dropping his short sword. Bardan, meanwhile, tried to grapple the armless skeleton but failed to get to grips with it. Knil and Arken distracted the last able-bodied skeleton, giving Korum enough time to draw his second short sword and dispatch it with the deftest of blows. The final, armless skeleton crumbled to dust under the hammer of Arken.

Inspecting their wounds and recovering their dropped weapons the party set about trying to heal up, but a shout from Korum halted any more magic being prepared. The sound of more bony footsteps and the chink of chain mail approaching had them clutching for their weapons and preparing the last of their offensive spells.

The last of the skeletons was rapidly traversing the length of the corridor. This one seemed far more deadly than any of the others they had encountered so far. A volley of arrows sped down the corridor and found their mark, but the skeleton just shrugged them off. Korum’s crossbow string snapped; the curse of missile fire in this dungeon struck again – perhaps the dungeon builders had designed it thus as the calamities with bows had so far been many. Another bloody conflict was joined, but the numbers in the party would be more telling this time. Many blows and counter-blows were struck, and fumbles on either side led to weapons becoming embedded in the walls or floor, which led to the combat going on longer than it ordinarily would. Bardan’s axe had again flung from his grasp, so Knil threw him his longsword. This pleased the fighter no end and his combat prowess improved greatly in the confines of the corridor. Maybe his axe was just too big to swing in these smaller confines? The smaller form of Korum allowed him to get behind the skeleton whilst its attention was on the burly warriors ahead of it. Two well placed strikes severed its spine and neck and it crumbled to the ground. The armour and weaponry crumbled to a rusty stain just as the bones turned to dust.

This fight had sorely tested the party. Many wounds needed to be healed and spells retaken, so the party decided to find a safe place to hole up to accomplish this. They decided to head back to the crossroads by the little niche as that gave them the best of all vantage points. Whilst the magic users regained their spells and the warrior and cleric were healed of their many wounds, Korum and Knil, who were mostly uninjured, decided to explore the last of the complex. They headed straight into the room on the opposite side of the crossroads in the hope of negating any further threats. All that greeted them was disturbed earth; most likely the ground from which the skeletons were summoned forth. However, there were not enough holes to account for the amount of skeletons they had encountered. Korum poked through a few of the disturbed areas in the hope of finding some gold coins but all he was rewarded with was dirt. The two scouts backed out of the room and headed right at the crossroads, signalling the room was all clear to the rest of the party as they passed them.

After a sharp right the corridor headed on to a very large room. This room also had lots of disturbed earth. This must have been where the rest of the skeletons had come from. Again, searching for a few coppers in the graves, Korum poked around in the dirt. This time luck was with him and he called for the ranger to help him haul a large chest out of the earth. Korum popped the lock very easily to find the chest full of gold coins. Plunging his fingers into the hoard, Korum realised there were a few other things in there too. He pulled out a ring and an urn which he handed to the ranger, and finally a small bag of gems that disappeared straight into one of his many pockets without being seen by Knil. These were taken back to the rest of the party. By now, Rioja was able to use his magic to work out that the ring was for a light descent from heights and the urn was able to dispel magic within its confines. Rioja took the urn and Korum was thought to be the best recipient of the ring as he did most of the climbing.

The Key to the Door II

As there was still a bit of time required to fully recover all of their spells, the magic users decided it was best if Knil stood guard over them whilst Bardan and Korum went to investigate the door again. A plan was devised before entering the realms of gibberish. When they got to the door, Bardan boosted Korum up onto the door lintel so he could search for a key. It seemed likely that the dungeon makers didn’t leave their keys under doormats or on door lintels, but they did leave another set of runes. Korum took a rubbing of them and the pair returned to the rest of the party.

Unfortunately, any language, whether written or spoken, in this room wound up as gibberish unless it was a mage who attempted it. The rubbing turned out to be next to useless. Rioja decided he needed to see the carvings for himself, so the whole party returned to the door. Rioja approached the large double portal; cast Spider Climb upon himself and climbed to the top of the door. He saw the runes and instantly realised they were the key to the similar runes carved upon the door. The code when cracked read “The key is in my hand”. He returned to stand in front of the door and spoke the magical words. A large golden key appeared in his hands. He tried the key in the door, which proved to open easily. The valves swung open effortlessly, letting in the bright afternoon sun, which temporarily blinded the party members.

Waiting a few minutes for their eyes to adjust, the party took stock of their surroundings – they were just a short distance still from the wizard’s tower. Rioja closed the dungeon doors and locked them. As the adventurers moved away from the huge double doors, they realised that they were very well hidden by the designers, and they would only be found if specifically looked for.

The party returned to the tower to collect their horse and wagon and continue their journey. They decided it would be most prudent to stay in the tower over night, during which time Korum made a final sweep of the upper rooms. Unfortunately, he found nothing new to help them on their quest. Exiting the tower next morning, they locked the door behind them and started away from the stronghold to the dolorous tones of “Who goes there?”

Another day, another Town (day 22)

Consulting their maps of the area, the party looked for a town within easy distance. There was a town marked on the map not a day’s travel from the tower. They decided to set off in that direction for a bit of carousing and trading.

An uneventful journey saw the party reach the walled town by late afternoon. Approaching the main gate they were stopped by the town guard; four heavily armed and armoured men, who looked like they would brook no trouble. Asking the party’s purposes in coming to town, and being happy with what they heard, they let the party through the gates and gave them directions to the nearest inn, under duress of heavy punishment for any trouble caused.

The party entered the courtyard of the unimaginatively named “The Large Tavern” and handed over their transport into the care of the ostler. They entered the common room and approached the bar. The landlord greeted them in a jovial manner and asked them if they would like a room. The adventurers requested a room each with a hot bath and meals for the next three days. Once booked, the party cleaned themselves up and headed back to the common room with the exception of Arken who headed out in search of his local temple. Whilst he was out praying to his god, Din, and making a large donation to the temple’s coffers, the fighter and thief drank and ate themselves into a stupor and were helped up to their rooms by the more sober mage and ranger. Arken returned to find the other two were now also drunk, so they retired to their beds thankful that the doors and walls were thick enough to stop the loud snoring coming from their companions’ rooms.

After a large breakfast the adventurers headed out to the town’s markets in search of magical weapons and trinkets. Several merchants were visited but no good deals were forthcoming. Still, they had a couple more days in which to pick up some new equipment.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Further extracts from the diary of Rioja Hyrule

Whilst Rioja was recovering from his ordeal against the skeletons, Korum snuck another peak into his personal diary. Here follows Rioja's latest entry ...

From the diary of Rioja Hyrule:
(written by Russell, Rioja's alter-ego)

I have never had much time for gods and godesses. My grounding in rational, alchemical studies has always lead me to dimiss the legends and stories of gods as just that: legend and story. But the events of today have made me question my beliefs...

After the challenges of might, of traps, and of archery, when one of study appeared I felt sure that was my area to excel. "What chance has the god botherer and his silly rituals compared to the rational study and real knowledge I have!?" I quickly decoded the glyphs in the room, identified the meanings of them, and assigned people to their logical positions in the room, but to no avail. All the other logical solutions I tried also failed.

And then Arken has a quick work with his god Din, and the solution is revealed. All my hours of thought, all my rational logic, all out-done in seconds by this fire-god Din! My beliefs in the rational alchemical processes of my chosen career are strong, yet I find myself drawn to find out more about this Din god. I shall, henceforth, not dismiss Arken's god, and try to learn more from him about this Din.

Khorvaire - Session5 - 16/05/12

Session 5: The Dungeon Complex (16th May 2012)
The cast of heroes
Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the party
Bardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
Damien (Human Fighter) - the extra muscle (absent from this session)
The Corridor of Traps (part 2 - day 19 continued)
Making secure the wooden bed-plank bridge across the second section of traps allowed Korum to resume his duties as scout. He proceeded to cross the bridge and was soon contemplating what to do at the third section. He didn’t encounter the invisible barrier as expected. Tentatively he started to put more and more pressure onto the floor. After a short while, a pressure plate below him shifted and two medium sized square holes opened up opposite each other in the wall of the fourth section at chest height for a human; there appeared to be pipes of some kind contained within them. Returning to the party he explained what he had seen and they decided things were becoming too risky to continue in this fashion. A plan was devised that the Halfling would have Spider Climb cast on him, and he would crawl across the ceiling trailing a rope or two behind him, spiked at a variety of places to allow others following behind him to have good purchase too. He managed to complete his traversal of the rest of the room without incident. Suspended from the end of the rope, he tested the floor of the seventh section of the room by dropping stones onto it but they just skittered away randomly as stones would. He decided to drop his spare short sword. This disappeared upon reaching the floor and a clattering sound behind the rest of the party startled them. It was not an enemy they noticed to their relief but Korum’s sword. The final section was a teleport of some sort. To test the trap again, Korum threw one of his pebbles with force whilst the party watched for its arrival at the other end of the room. It appeared about four feet off the ground and pinged to the floor.

There were now just a few short seconds before the spell wore off, which gave him just enough time to open the door at the far end with his feet and swing into the next room – another rest area with the usual food stuffs and beds. He called back to the party to grab his sword and follow him across the ropes. They all managed to do this without mishap.

Now was deemed a good time to rest up and prepare new spells in readiness for any new challenges ahead. Now that he was feeling better (the lurgy had spread to Damien at this point) Rioja was handed all of the magical stuff that was found in the previous few rooms and asked to work out what they were. He discovered that the party were in possession of a Ring of Protection (+1), a Cloak of Protection (+1), and two spell scrolls (Miracle Growth – the spell that had badly backfired in the wizard’s tower, and another that still needed a little further study). The protective gear was given to Bardan the fighter to make him more effective in combat and Rioja tucked the scrolls away into the voluminous sleeves of his robes.

After a well-earned rest and the divvying up of magical treasure, the party opened the other door in the resting chamber and proceeded down the spiral staircase to be greeted by a door slightly ajar.

The Guardians of the Pit

Korum peered through the door and noticed a small room with a high vaulted ceiling and a door opposite the one he was peering through with a motif of an archer above it. He entered the ante-room and crossed to the door. He tried to open the door but it seemed to be seamlessly shut with no external means of entry. He called in the rest of the party who took a good look around the ante-chamber. Knil spotted a small stone protuberance in the centre of the ceiling. He knocked an arrow and hit it squarely in the centre. The seal on the door disappeared and the door slowly swung open to reveal a large room with a balcony to either side, a large, deep pit that traversed the entire width of the chamber and a drawbridge opposite the party’s entrance suspended by what appeared to be two chains. On the balconies were four man-sized figures with bows in their hands.

Knil shot an arrow at the first figure, but his arrow seemed to just ping away with the sound of steel on stone. The stone warriors returned fire. Korum added his light crossbow to the fusillade and a fire-fight erupted between the party and the stone guardians. After several fumbles on either side which resulted in Knil snapping his bowstring, one of the stone guardians dropping its bow and another stumbling into the pit to a long six second drop, the guardians were eventually overcome. The ranger and thief now had free rein to try to dislodge the drawbridge by shooting at the drawbridge chains which did not pass through the wall to a lowering mechanism as expected, but were attached directly to the wall behind. Knil’s shot was true, but Korum missed. The supporting chains turned out to be painted ropes and cut easily. With only one rope cut, the drawbridge began to twist and buckle. Knil quickly knocked another arrow and fired true again. The drawbridge hit the party’s side of the pit with a wrenching clang. It had landed in a twisted fashion and was most likely damaged.

Behind where the drawbridge had previously stood vertically was another door. This door had the image of a cowled scholar reading from an open book before him. Korum took up his usual position at the front of the party and tentatively crossed the fallen drawbridge. The rest of the party followed without incident. Korum was about to test the new found door for traps and open it, but Bardan had become a little weary of the time wasting and itched to get into violent action. He pushed aside the Halfling and booted the door open. The party were faced with a large room with a floor covered in a grid of ten by ten squares and another door opposite.

The Level Square Room

Bardan stormed in and stopped on the first of the squares. On the wall opposite appeared a set of glowing runes. He left the room to tell the party his findings, but as he left the runes disappeared. Confused, he re-entered and the runes reappeared. Each party member took their turn and as they entered, a set of runes appeared up on the opposite wall at the end of one of the rows of squares; but always in the same row for each particular party member. Rioja was able to decipher the runes which basically gave the names of a variety of class level titles. They tried force and magic, but were unable to open the door opposite due to some sort of force field protecting the handle. After trying and failing with several logical sequences consisting of the party members’ classes, their current levels, level 5 (these were the levels to which the class titles referred) and so on as positions to stand on the rows of squares, they fell back on the cleric asking for divine intervention. His god imparted the knowledge of the riddle’s solution to him and the party assumed the positions suggested (on the fifth plus actual level attained by the character square in their appropriate column). Nothing happened. Bardan was within an arm’s length of the door, so he tried reaching over to open it. There was no sign of the force field and it glided open smoothly to reveal another of the resting rooms.

The party decided to rest up and relearn spells before continuing on.

Into the Darkness

After resting, the adventurers set off again in their usual party order. Korum, leading from the front decided to scout ahead. What greeted him beyond the door of this room was darkness. This was the first room they had encountered in the complex below ground that was not magically lit. Torches and lanterns were lit, and Korum proceeded down the revealed spiral staircase. At the bottom of the stairs was a rotten door; only one third of which was still attached to its hinges. The party clambered through the gap in the door made by the lack of wood when Korum happened to glance down and spot a design on some of the rotted and splintered wood. Piecing it together he made out a symbol that included a pair of crossed swords the same as those on a previous door, with some open books below, and a holy symbol overlaying it all. The party made a note of the symbol and continued on down another set of stairs that led to a small, narrow corridor no taller or wider than a human, which led onto a T-junction.

There was a cloying smell of decay pervading the corridor, so the party took a quick consensus and decided to turn left. After a short walk, the corridor widened and a faint scuffling and clicking sound emanated from ahead. Into the lamplight advanced four skeletons; a blue fire of malevolence dancing in their eye sockets. Arken called upon his deity for protection from such unnatural beings and two instantly fell to the floor and turned to dust. The other two continued their baneful advance. A melee ensued between the two remaining skeletons and the fighters in the party. All of their hits seemed to cause minimal damage to the undead, but the damage doled out by the skeletons was certainly felt in full force. Bardan, covered in many cuts finally caused one to fall to dust but the final skeleton was still in action. Whilst it fought Bardan and Arken to the front, Korum had got behind it and struck it a fateful blow, severing the spinal chord and causing it too to finally fall to dust.

Breathing heavily and sore from their ordeal, the party moved on, following a series of twisting corridors that ended in a large room. Korum, scouting ahead again was able to approach it and peer in without being seen. In this room was a massive pile of dust and a large chest in one corner. Korum threw a torch onto the dust in the hope of destroying anything before it formed, but his actions only resulted in clouds of rancid smoke. The fire was quickly kicked out by Bardan. Korum approached the chest but was unable to open the lock. Bardan, however, impatient as ever, smashed the lock off with his great axe. Inside were three potions and a large pile of gold coins. Whilst the coins were divvyed up by Korum, Rioja identified the potions as potions of healing. The party decided to rest up, heal and make up several vials of blessed water.

Away in the other direction from the chest was another corridor, which ended in a T-junction. The party decided to turn right this time. Korum, scouting ahead saw that the corridor ended in a small room with another skeleton in it. This skeleton, however, seemed to have a glowing ball of fire within its belly. Returning back to the party unnoticed by this new threat, he collected two vials of Holy Water and returned to the room. He took careful aim and let loose. The vials hit, diminishing the size of the glowing orb of fire but not seeming to perturb the skeleton which advanced upon the source of its drenching. Arken called upon his god’s help to turn it but this failed, so the rest of the party steamed in. Bardan struck with his great axe, Knil with his bow and Arken and Korum managed to loose off another couple of vials of Holy Water. The skeleton reached into its body to remove the greatly reduced ball of fire and launched it at Bardan. Luckily this only really singed his eyebrows and burned off his beard but this angered the fighter no end. He careened into the skeleton, driving it to the floor with his greater bulk. Arken casually pulled the stoppers of his last two vials of water and poured them directly over the skeleton. The skeleton was reduced to a pile of dust.

This room contained nothing else of interest and no other exits, so the party returned to the T-junction and tried the left hand corridor this time. After traversing a few more twisting corridors the party were called to a halt by Korum, who mentioned that there was a large room ahead, with two very large armed and armoured skeletons guarding a fountain and pool of what looked like water.

Arken strode into the room calling upon his deity to aid them in their time of need, but it seemed that he was ignored again. Rioja, who until now had played a decidedly reticent part in combat, conjured up some Magic Missiles. These struck the first skeleton true and caused a massive amount of damage, but the lumbering hulk of bones began to bear down on the party, closely followed by its uninjured companion. Arken realised that these skeletons were of a more robust type than those previously encountered, so he cast a Bless spell on his companions, to stiffen their resolve. Barden charged headlong into the combat and Knil notched an arrow, but again luck was not on his side and he fumbled his shot for the third time by dropping his bow. Korum meanwhile scouted around the combat and headed for the fountain, wondering if this held the answer to their dilemma.

Rioja, again, chimed in with his Magic Missile spell and the first skeleton crumbled to dust. Knil, his bow retrieved, made a superb shot that staggered the remaining skeleton. Bardan’s axe combined with Arken’s Spiritual Hammer finished it off, just as Korum had finished searching the fountain for a clue to the undeads’ demise. Not realising the battle was over he cupped his hands and took a large gulp of the liquid. Strength flowed through his limbs, so he invited his companions over to imbibe. All were rewarded with a feeling of greater strength, clearness of mind or ease of movement.

Taking stock of the safety in their surroundings, the party healed up and started to discuss their next options. The needs of the fighter having greater defensive capabilities were discussed, as well as those of the thief. Perhaps when they were able to get back to civilisation they could pool their resources and buy a decent set of magical armour for Bardan and redistribute the other items around the party members who needed them the most.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Khorvaire - The Journey so far

Just thought I'd publish the map of where the adventurers have been so far on their journeys. The map is from an official D&D campaign set, but the DM (Craig) has reduced the size of the continent from being about the size of North America to an island quite a bit smaller to fit his own purposes. Journey times are listed in days, with going much easier on known roads.

Khorvaire - Session 4 - 09/05/12

Session 4: The Underground Caverns (9th May 2012)
The cast of heroes

Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the party
Bardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard (absent from this session)
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
Damien (Human Fighter) - the extra muscle

The Tower (day 18 continued)

That afternoon, after everyone had rested, it was decided to make safe the tower and camp there for the night before heading on further into Troll country. The horses were unhitched from the cart and led into the ground floor of the tower to keep them safe from any night prowlers. Korum remembered he had not searched the rest of the upper storey so he proceeded back to the cupboard that had not been opened. Inside he found three scrolls; two were obviously magical and were handed to Arken for safe keeping until they could be handed over to Rioja the mage. The third scroll, however, told of the previous resident’s experiments with spells and of a large underground complex that was set up to see what could be done with it and the spells cast upon it if left to its own devices afterwards. Vague directions to this complex were given, but it could be told from the description that it was less than a mile away.

As the party started to settle for the night there was a rapping at the door. Bardan raised his axe whilst Arken ushered in a weary traveller in need of food and shelter. This new arrival seemed trustworthy enough, so the party shared their rations with him and swapped tales of adventure. The rest of the night passed uneventfully.

The Caverns (day 19)

The party of adventurers set off in search of the dungeon complex with their new ally, Damien, in tow. After an hour or so of looking, Knil finally stumbled across a small hand dug opening in the side of a hill.

Korum took the lead in heading on down the corridor revealed, closely followed by the two fighters. A short distance into the hill they espied a large cavern, which was lit by torches. The walls were decorated with crudely stitched together tapestries of mismatch hues upon the walls. Tables and beds were strewn at random across the floor and a cage was positioned off to the left hand side. The ten or so goblinoid inhabitants were not happy at the intrusion and started to advance upon what they thought was a singular Halfling – meat was back on the menu for tonight. Korum spoke to them in their own language, trying to placate them and buy time for his support to arrive, asking them about a hidden complex in the hills. This forestalled the main goblin, who glanced over his right shoulder in the direction of a particularly drab hanging, before starting to draw his rusted scimitar. The party, meanwhile, had readjusted their order, drawn weapons and prepared spells. The ranger stepped up next to Korum and they let loose their darts into the midst of the advancing warband. The two fighters peeled off either side and hugged the walls in the hope of gaining advantage from a pincer movement. The cleric cast his summoning spell and a dust devil kicked up in the midst of their adversaries. The fight was short and brutal; the goblins went down in a flurry of blows in the space of a few short minutes until only one was left. This final critter was grabbed by Bardan and slammed against the nearest wall, knocking it unconscious.

This lull now gave the party time to investigate the rest of the cavern. The crude tapestries were just what they appeared; decorative items, except for the last one that was in the direction the goblin glanced over its shoulder. Behind this particular tapestry was an iron-bound door covered in runes. Nothing else was found of value in the room.

The goblin finally came round from his stupor and was coerced into giving away the location of his treasure: it was buried in a shallow pit beneath one of the tables. This amounted to 20gp per party member when divvied up, and a magical cloak which Arken saw fit to purloin for further study. The goblin was bundled into the cage for safe keeping, but as he posed too much of a threat (in case more of his brethren returned later) and begged for release from this cruel world, he was put to the sword.

The party returned to the door to attempt to decipher the runes and see what lay beyond. The runes were beyond their skills to interpret for the moment, so Korum started to copy them down for later study. The rest of the party, meanwhile, tried to figure out how to get the door open, when the lock suddenly clicked and the door popped open just as Korum finished writing the runes down. Puzzled but not worried, he pushed open the door and proceeded down the magically lit corridor. This short corridor headed down a slope and ended in a small circular room with a door opposite the entrance the party came in. Above the door opposite was a pair of crossed swords. Korum proceeded boldly across the room and easily popped the lock, but the solid metal door would not budge. Each fighter took a turn but only managed to injure their pride. It was decided after a short while to tie a rope to it and have the three strongest party members pull it open. It took a while but eventually ground open despite the hinges being well oiled. The party advanced through, but before anyone could think to prop it open, the door slammed shut on them. There were no locks or handles on this side; the party must advance never to return.

The Arena

The opened door revealed a short corridor leading to an arena with a portcullis opposite the entrance the party were positioned in. Not quite sure what to make of this, the party stopped to consider their options. Bardan, however, heedless of danger strode into the arena. A mirror image of himself appeared twenty paces away from him and began to unlimber its great double bladed axe. Damien tried to enter the fray to help his comrade but an invisible magical barrier prevented him from doing so. Bardan knew he was about to fight himself to the death! The fight didn’t go well initially for Bardan and, upon orders from the cleric, he gave ground until he was in range of a Bless spell, to improve his chances. The magic didn’t enter the arena, but affected the rest of the party cramped into the small entrance way. The fight then turned in Bardan’s favour and he was able to slay his doppelganger. As soon as his double was killed, the body disappeared and Damien and Arken tumbled into the arena. Instantaneously, a double of Damien appeared. This fight would be easier as it was three on one, but Bardan’s wounds needed tending. Damien, however, made short work of his double. The barrier dropped again, and Korum, riding piggy-back on Knil’s shoulders bundled into the arena. A copy of Knil appeared. This fight proved to be long lasting but not many blows actually landed. Finally, a hefty back-stab from the thief and hits from Knil and Damien dispatched the apparition. The portcullis opposite raised and the party were free to continue.

After a quick scout ahead to ascertain any further dangers, Korum reported back on a room filled with comfy beds and food and drink aplenty. Arken, Bardan and Knil decided to stay in the arena to rest and heal up, but Damien and Korum fancied spending some well earned RnR in the comfy room.

The Corridor of Traps

After several hours of rest, the two adventurers in the bedroom awakened fresh as could be. The others knew they had spent their time on a hard arena floor. The door opposite their entrance had been spiked to stop it opening whilst the party took their rest, and it was now down to Korum to do what he did best. He opened the ordinary door, and scouted ahead again. The corridor beyond the door led down a semi-spiral stairway and ended at another heavy metal door with a sovereign icon above it. The door’s handle, this time, was tiny and it was doubtful whether a rope could be tied around it. Korum, whose hands were smallest, attempted to pull on the handle, but rather than the door moving, a lock suddenly appeared. It took all of his skill to open the lock to reveal a long room with lines spaced evenly across the floor dividing it into seven sections. The walls and ceiling were of honeycombed rock and the floor was smooth, compacted earth. Bardan and Damien tied a rope about themselves and then around the Halfling in preparation for the forthcoming ordeals.

Neck hairs bristling with anticipation, Korum skimmed one of his pebbles across the floor where it bounced on several sections and hit the opposite wall with a click. Nothing untoward happened. Cautiously, he entered the room. There was a hissing sound and he dived for the floor, but not before being hit by three darts; as many again whizzing overhead where he was but a moment ago. The poison got to work straight away and he felt his limbs go weak. He knew it wasn’t a fatal poison but he would be weak for a long time. The fighters pulled him out and took him upstairs to the sleeping chamber in the hope that he would heal more quickly.

Knil, the second most nimble of the party quickly stepped across the first section: there was no hiss of launched darts this time. Aware the second section was most probably trapped too, he threw down a gold coin a step away and, as nothing had happened to it, he stepped onto where the coin lay. The floor quickly gave way but Knil was prepared for this as he leapt for the safety of the third section. However, he did not make it. A magical barrier had appeared and he bounced back down the hole that had opened beneath him. He landed with a bump about ten feet down, next to a skeleton with a disarticulated leg. The party were stunned by this and quickly traversed the first section to see what they could do to help. When they got to the edge of the hole that Knil had disappeared down they started laughing as they saw him smashing the skeleton to powder with its own leg. He swore that he had seen it move.

In the hope of keeping the trap open so that no-one else fell down it, the fighters brought down some of the planks from the beds upstairs. This had the desired effect of keeping the trap open, but the magical barrier remained in place. Knil climbed out of the hole and remembering what Korum had done earlier threw a stone. The stone bounced back from the barrier. Pulling up the wooden planks, they allowed the trap door to close and tried skimming the stone again. The stone passed through without hitting the invisible barrier. They decided to make a sort of wooden bridge to get across the trap-door section. Whilst this was being done, Korum had awoken, feeling fully refreshed and returned downstairs to rejoin the party. He had finally worked out what the inscription above the first door in the cavern had said…

“Those who enter do so at their own peril. It is likely you will not return this way. Once you pass however, if you are strong, clever and cunning enough, great riches and fame await.”

Thursday, 3 May 2012

A Day Off work

Normally when I take a day off work I have something else to do. Not so today. I have a day where I can do what I like until 3pm when I collect the kids from school.

Sooo, I have taken the opportunity to catch up with my gaming and later on will get some reading and DVD watching done.

I have written up the latest foray into Khorvaire below. We are four weeks into the adventure (but three of us have only played for 3 of them) and things are developing nicely. The DM is good at keeping the suspense going and is not a full on hack and slash merchant (which is nice). There are the occasional fights, granted, but they do not detract from the otherwise supernatural feel of the adventure. I am certainly looking forward to next week's foray.

Also, below, you will find the finally completed Chronicle Hobgoblins. Along with dozens of other minis, they have been sat on my paint station for several weeks in an almost finished state. Why is it I can paint them up to almost completion and then stop?

During the last few months I have been buying up the remaining Games Workshop metal minis that I need to complete certain armies before everything turns Finecast TM. I have missed out on the Dwarf Captains/Banner Bearers now though, so I will have to resort to Ebay for those I think. I will next be moving onto the realms of Men to complete those collections. Alex has been busy accruing the last few Elves he needs.

We also put in an order to Forlorn Hope Games. They stock a wide variety of old skool figures at very reasonable prices that include the P&P. Check them out. I ordered up a few Dwarfs for HotT, a Halfling to play Korum, and Alex ordered five more Elves to add another spear regiment to his HotT Elven army. I will try to clean up and put some primer onto the Halfling today if I get the time. Hopefully I can get him to a half decent state ready for gaming next week. I just hope he doesn't suffer from new figure syndrome and die in the first adventure he is used for!

Nick Lund's Chronicle Hobgoblins

I have had these figures for many, many years. They were bought when they first came out. I saw them in an advert in White Dwarf, so I saved my pocket money and whizzed up to a shop somewhere in London. My memory is hazy of the precise location of said establishment, but I do remember I went with my mate Steve and it was hammering down with rain. I bought what I thought was every unique Chronicle Hobgoblin in the shop, but when I got home I found I had a couple of doubles - ho hum. Still, 20 of these critters is more than enough for a D&D encounter or a SoBH warband.

The warband approaches a lone farmstead...

The leader and assorted warriors (I always thought the leader mini was huge at the time as most minis were 25mm scale- however, over time, scale creep has meant he is not so imposing anymore)...

Two handed weapons at the ready- doors will splinter...

A few views across the river in either direction...

Finishing these has cleared room for me to start on another largish project - more goblins for HotT. I am determined to get another army to 24 points by the summer so I can play against Alex a few times. I have a Barbarian army ready to go, so just need a set of adversaries for them. I am nearly there with both Goblins and Dwarfs, but as I have a couple of boxes of GW plastic goblins, these should be easiest to sort out and base up.

Khorvaire - Session 3 - 02/05/12

Session 3: Wizard’s Tower (2nd May 2012)

The cast of heroes
Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the party
Bardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard
NPC (Human) - the guide

The second day (planar time)

After a quick repast and breaking camp, the party continued to follow the tracks they were pursuing the day before. After an hour of walking through the trees, the tracks they were following made an abrupt turn to the right. These tracks continued in a semi-circular path and seemed to rejoin what would have been the original path if it had continued in a straight line. Something was clearly being circumvented by the creature being tracked.

Knil the ranger and Korum the thief proceeded to the middle of the diversionary area and found a large clearing. It was decided neither would enter the clearing unless help was at hand, so Knil returned to the party to bring them hither. Korum stayed behind to keep watch on the glade. A few minutes later the party arrived, but there was no sign of Korum. Fearing the worst the party spread out to look for him, but he had only wandered off looking for clues. He had found carvings on some of the trees which he showed to Rioja, the resident mage. Rioja recalled that these were sigils to warn of a place protected by unicorns. Everyone was a little uneasy about entering the glade, except Arken, who strode straight in and started to set up camp. The others tried to follow one-by-one, but were overcome by feelings of paranoia and fear. They decided to make camp outside the glade.

Whilst camp was being made, Korum tried to work a few things out. He asked Arken to pull up a blade of grass; it stayed in his hand. Korum then cut an overhanging branch from a tree. The part within the area of the glade fell to the ground but the part still in the forest disappeared as expected: there was something different about the glade. Korum and Knil decided to find out how far the tracks they were originally following went, so decided to spend sometime pursuing this further. They travelled for about forty five minutes before a hill started to rise before them. As they approached the hill, they noticed that there was a crudely made entrance dug into the hill-side. The ranger scouted ahead, and climber a tree for a better view of the environs, whilst Korum checked out the entrance to the lair. Korum did not see much except that the entrance led into a short tunnel, which opened out into a small chamber and then continued on opposite for some distance. There was no sign of the creatures they were tracking. Knil, meanwhile, had climbed the tree and observed that the plane they were on consisted of concentric circles of mountains in the distance, hills and plains in the middle distance and forest right down to the central glade. It was most definitely an artificial construct. Suddenly, a bright light shone from the camp. Not knowing what it was, the duo sped back to the camp to find out what was going on. Just before Korum turned off the track, he took time to set a trip wire across the path. It turned out that the cleric had been casting spells to attract the attention of unicorns, but nothing seemed to have worked so far. A watch was set but the only event of note was a cry of pain on second watch. Korum noted that this came from the direction in which he had set his trap.

The third day (planar time)

The next morning, the party decided to investigate what may have happened to cause the cry in the night. Propped up against a tree, one of the creatures that had attacked them previously was nursing a broken leg. It was quickly bound and carried back to camp by Bardan. Rioja suggested the creature be thrown into the clearing to attract the attention of the unicorns. After waiting about ten minutes, a couple of loud cracks were heard and a unicorn appeared in the glade. It noticed the critter, skewered it with its horn and wandered off to the opposite side of the glade from the party to eat the grass there. The creature’s corpse disappeared.

Arken approached the unicorn and began telling it of the party’s quest. He withdrew the dragon orb from his cloak pocket, and it proceeded to shine very brightly. After a short while, the unicorn gestured to the party to get to the centre of the clearing and sit down. The party gathered their belongings and did as they were bid. The unicorn galloped around the party in ever decreasing circles until all of a sudden the party were transported back to the tunnel from which they entered the realm. Feeling that they may have been duped, Arken attempted to climb the ladder again, but it was noticed that there was a horn beneath the cloak he had been sitting on.

The first part of their quest had been completed.

Back in the real world (5th day continued)

The torches which had been left at the bottom of the shaft when they entered the realm of the unicorn were still burning, so the party deduced they had not been gone for long. Korum took one and made his way to the other end of the tunnel complex. He made his way up the ladder and into the study without any problems, but upon going up into the house and looking outside, the sky was pitch black. Fearing the worst, he returned to the party and set his last few torches at the bottom of the shaft, then the ones he carried were set at the other end of the tunnel and, finally, the lantern was lit and placed amongst the party. They decided to wait a few hours before venturing out again, so that the magic users could regain their spells and everyone could rest. There were no incidents on any of the watches set.
Return to civilisation (days 6-10)

Upon returning to the barn outside, they sought out their guide, who was no worse for wear. He explained that nothing untoward had happened whilst they were gone, but couldn’t help thinking why they would want to spend a whole day in a tunnel.

The following three days were spent travelling back to the fishing village on the lake, retracing the steps that brought them to their last adventure.

Upon their return to the fishing village, the adventurers decided to sell their boat and re-provision themselves for the trip into troll country. They found a merchant who may have a contact who would buy the boat from them but the price would not be what they expected. They agreed to wait for the merchant to arrange a deal with his compatriot. The merchant returned and the haggling started. Arken was interested in buying some magical items, if available, and the haggling turned round to how much the party were willing to pay for a set of magical darts; the boat being part of the exchange price. A deal could not be agreed upon, even with Bardan growling about legs being broken and towns being burned down, so Arken took payment for the boat and let the merchant go on his way. Realising that they would need all the magic they could get their hands on, it was agreed that Korum and Knil would try to gain access to these treasures another way.

Seeing as the fishing village was a small settlement, it was easy to find out where the merchant lived. The party waited until after dark, cast charm, silence and darkness onto the little thief and sent him on his way. He made it to the merchant’s house where he snuck inside. There was nothing of note to be found downstairs, so he headed up into the chamber above to find the merchant fast asleep. After taking precautions of oiling door hinges and checking for traps, Korum headed to the trunk at the foot of the bed. It was too heavy to carry, so he checked it over for traps and attempted to open it. The locks wouldn’t budge but a high pitched screaming greeted his ears. Panicked into thinking that the merchant may now be awoken from his slumber he made to exit quickly, but remembered that the silence spell protected him. The merchant still lay abed undisturbed. Being that the lock had defeated him, Korum used a hammer and spike to force open the chest. Inside was a wealth of goodies; the darts, a set of arrows, a sword, some clothing and furs, a few pouches of coins and gems. He left the sword and clothing but secreted the rest across his person. Backing slowly out of the room, aware that the spells could end at any moment, he spiked shut the bedroom door and made his getaway. Upon returning to the party, he told them of his adventure and handed over the darts and arrows – there was no need to let them know about the gems and coins!

The carts were ready to go, so the adventurers saddled up and left straight away.

Journey into Troll Country (days 11-17)

The journey westwards was quite uneventful. Tall stories and scary facts were told of what trolls were and what they could do. They knew they would have a fight on their hands to capture or kill such a creature.

After travelling for about a week down the main caravan route, the trees and shrubbery they were travelling through suddenly appeared dead. Everything one side of a line was living and fruitful, and on the other side the trees were dead and dry. As night was approaching, the party decided to make camp for the night. Watch fires were set and a rota for sentry duty arranged. Knil the ranger took first watch, and no sooner had he settled into his routine than he espied a slightly larger than goblin sized silvery apparition appear on the edge of his vision. This non-corporeal apparition approached slowly, but deliberately to wards the camp and started to moan. Knil woke the two magic users, who in turn awoke the fighter and thief. Weapons were readied, but Arken raised his holy symbol aloft and strode towards the silvery being crying “Oi, you, begone from here*”. The apparition promptly disappeared. The Halfling commented that that was the most unusual turning of dead he had ever heard in his life.

(* - as this is a family rated site, the actual words could not be repeated but the first word began with F and the last word ended with F).

The Tower (day 18)

The following morning, the party set out again along the caravan route towards troll country. The blasted trees were still in abundance and no animals or birds could be seen or heard. After a few hours travelling, Rioja the mage spotted the top of a tower hidden amongst the trees. The party approached with due caution and tied off the cart and horses a short distance from it. The ranger and thief approached with trepidation but could only find a single large door at the base, and a few arrow slits higher up the tall, cylindrical building. After walking around the tower they realised it was very quiet, and no challenge had been shouted out. The Halfling decided to try the door. A booming voice asked who they were. Unusually stumped for words, the Halfling could only mumble under his breath. The loud voice brought the rest of the party to the door. The door was tried again, only for the same message to relay itself. Bardan was not impressed, so he struck the door with his axe. He was hit in the foot by a bolt of lightning, making him howl in pain and the same voice boomed for the party to go away. His temper got the better of him, so he tried again, hoping that he could withstand the damage until he had caved in the door. He was hit by another bolt and dragged from the vicinity to be healed by Arken.

Plan B was called into action. Rioja cast Spider Climb onto Korum, who then shimmied up the walls of the tower and lowered his rope. It was a fifty foot rope, but as the tower was sixty feet high it didn’t reach all the way to the ground. Bardan boosted Arken up onto the rope and he climbed to the top of the tower too – in case the Halfling got himself into trouble. A few loose window panes were deftly removed and the Halfling climbed in through the window. He dropped silently to the floor and took a look around. There was a tall wardrobe to one side and a large carpet on the floor. The carpet was swiftly dragged aside to reveal a trap door. Korum tested it for traps and heaved it open. Below him he saw what looked like a study; a desk to one side, several large bookcases filled with books, papers all over the desk, a stairwell leading down, a painted sigil on the floor and lying across the middle of the sigil, a dead body that looked like it had been there a while. He called for Arken to follow him into the upper room and explained what he had seen. As soon as Arken’s feet hit the stone work he proceeded to be violently ill. He crawled to the side of the room to recover his dignity.

Not wanting to land on the sigil below Korum cooked up a plan to drop down the rope ladder and swing to land on the desk. However, before he could do that, the cleric had summoned a small elemental to scour the room for traps and so on. This had the undesired affect of disrupting all of the paper work on the desk. Once the commotion had dissipated, Korum dropped down into the room as planned and held the ladder for Arken, who was feeling a little better now.

Korum descended the stairwell to the bottom of the tower (there was nothing of note on the way down) and proceeded to the front door. He made to pull it open but was, again, greeted with the booming voice demanding “Who goes there?” “Friend” squeaked the little thief in reply and the door opened to his touch. The rest of the party quickly entered and strode up to the study room.

Rioja made directly for the books and rapidly found the one that was open on the desk before the air elemental disturbed it. He let the book fall open naturally to the page that would have been open when the magic was being cast and discovered quickly that the sigil painted on the floor had a few mistakes in it that would have led to this magician’s untimely demise. The calligraphy within the book showed that this was a magical growth spell; the upshot of the poor drawing on the floor being the death of the mage casting it and the reversal of the effect on the surrounding countryside. Rioja realised that this was, in fact, the magician’s spell book, so stole off to a quiet area to study it.

Korum and Bardan decided to investigate the desk, and upon turning out the drawers one-by-one found a hoard of gold coins (which Bardan divided up rather unevenly because he could not count), a few piles of old papers which were delivered directly to Rioja and a small case of six phials containing a muddy brown liquid. Arken opened one and sipped at it. After feeling no ill effects decided to down the rest. Barda and the ranger followed suit, but Korum, who was thirsty, chugged down two. He felt a bit sick afterwards but somehow, when he recovered, he felt a bit healthier than he had ever done (Con raised by 1 point). The other adventurers felt the same way, except Rioja who didn’t touch his; he was saving it for later.