Thursday, 26 July 2012

Khorvaire - Session 15 - 25/07/2012

Session 15: The Diamond (25th July 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
Kima (Black Domestic Cat) – his familiar

Eoforwic Bound (Day 245-268)

Realising that they had no further use for the great diamond, the party decided to head to the nearest major city in an attempt to sell it. The smaller towns in their locale would not have the capacity or wealth to purchase a gem of such value, so the great nobles and merchants of a large city would be required to provide the market. Eoforwic, the capital city of Mournland, was chosen as their destination. Preparations were made for the likelihood of the return of the Darkness and the party set off.

After just over two weeks travelling the party arrived in Eoforwic. They made for the most expensive inn in the city, The Bandit’s Arms, where they rented a room each that led off of a private lounge area and started to make their preparations for the sale of the great diamond. They had it independently valued as being worth several tens of thousands of Gold Pieces in several places and made it known that they would be selling the jewel by auction in the market square in one week’s time. Interest was quickly expressed, but there were five main front runners as the purchasers: a local noble, two gem traders and two collectors.

The preliminary planning took a couple of days, so the party had a few days to get on with preparations until auction day. They all headed off in their own directions, except for Bardan.

Knil spent his time looking for some new weapons and armour to purchase when he got his share from the sale of the diamond, and made himself at home in the large tree just outside the window of the party’s main leisure room at the inn. He would guard the approach to the private room from the outside.

Bardan set up a vigil for the diamond in the private lounge. He placed it in the middle of the room within its box and set his chair in the corner where he could keep an eye on both the window and door of the chamber. After a short while there was a slight noise from the wall beside him. A secret panel started to shift aside and a shadowy figure was revealed within the hidden compartment. Bardan used his elbow to strike the figure, which yelped in surprise, dropped out of sight and promptly escaped. Obviously thieves were aware of the treasure and were attempting to get their piece of the action. Bardan re-closed the secret door, tied a string across the hidden compartment and also similarly trapped the window. No thieves would be getting past him now he knew about the other entrance to the room.

Arken headed to the Temple of Din located within the city. He prayed and confided in his god but no further information was forthcoming to aid their quest. He made a large donation and returned to the party’s private quarters at the inn. Bardan told him his story, so Arken set three wards and glyphs around the diamond. So it was now magically as well as physically guarded.

Rioja set off to the city library to try to find out some more information about Nephyros and the Darkness. The public shelves could tell him no more than he already knew, but one tome did reference an older ledger that may still be in existence that perhaps could give a little more information. He tried to find out if the library had one in its private collection but the clerk was blind to all his advances. Rioja awaited a change of staff later in the day to see if another clerk would be more amenable to his questioning. Luckily the late shift clerk was a little more sympathetic to Rioja’s cause and after hinting heavily about how hard it was to feed his large family passed the magic user a key to the archive vaults. The main proviso was that the clerk would be back early in the morning to turf him out before the senior librarian arrived. Rioja thanked him for his wisdom with more than a few gold coins, and made his way into the vault as the clerk locked the library for the night.

Rioja headed past rows of glass fronted cabinets containing curios of days gone by before alighting upon the private collection. He eventually found the tome he was looking for and made notes of what he found out. The three aspects of Nephyros were mentioned but only two were purposefully created by the dragon. The Hawk and the Beast were the main two aspects, but upon withdrawing those essences from himself, he also inadvertently created the Darkness. The tome mentioned that there was no real way of destroying it as it was created by accident and not as the end result of a ritual which could be reversed. The book, cryptically, mentioned a farmer who encountered the Darkness which didn’t really fit in with the rest of the book, but it gave a description that matched what the party had encountered previously. The final few pages of the ancient text also mentioned that over all the millennia that the fight between Light and Darkness had been drawn over ended with about a three to five ratio with Aphyros winning the struggle. However, the last battle ended differently; Nephyros had created the new aspects to help pave the way for victory in their next encounter (the battle that was being fought now). He had never split himself prior to this. The last sentence mentioned that the Darkness had been roaming free for the last millennium but was slowly growing in power, as well as being independent of the other two forces. Rioja checked the night oil and found it was running low, so he used the remainder of his time browsing through random tomes until the return of the clerk. He was able to find a few spells contained within the dusty pages of the books, so he copied them down for future study and reference. The clerk arrived back a little while before opening time and ushered Rioja out into the dew laden streets. The mage returned to the Bandit’s Arms.

Korum was a little more secretive than his compatriots. After getting the horses stabled and the rooms sorted he hid himself from general view so that as few people as possible could relate him to the party with the diamond. He slipped out of the inn and headed towards the Thieves’ Guild. He managed to find it easily enough by following certain sigils carved upon the lintels above the doors of certain buildings. He passed the lock entrance test to be faced by an attractive female human receptionist. However, as he later discovered, she didn’t have hairy feet so she dropped quite drastically in his estimation. He requested an audience with the master of the Guild, and after answering a few simple questions that only a high ranking thief would know the answer to, was led through a small antechamber and into a courtyard where he was met by a tall, thin human wearing an elaborate robe. He was shown around the courtyard to see what the members were getting up to and finally into the chamber of the master thief. He made sure he noticed all of the faces, doors and escape routes as he proceeded through the complex. When he was finally alone in the presence of the master he discussed his plans to steal the diamond and present it to the Guild. The Master agreed to reward him in return for purloining the diamond but warned him that others were after it too, and may already have it in their possession. Korum mentioned that he would be the one to bring it to the master before any of the others could. Rather than return directly to The Bandit’s Arms he decided to check in to a poorer establishment to throw any follows off the scent. He bided his time, and realised that he was being followed but was able to work out the pattern of observation so slipped away back to The Bandit’s Arms for a couple of hours to explain what he was up to.

The whole party had now arrived back at the inn so told their stories about what they had found out. Korum trapped the secret door to stop further incursions from that direction and they all realised that they may be able to sell the diamond for a great amount, steal it back from whoever bought it and then implicate the Thieves’ Guild after Korum had claimed a reward for it. Arken, Bardan and Knil remained in the inn to guard the jewel whilst Rioja contacted Laerus to see if he had a contact in the city. He gave Rioja the name of one of his friends who owed him a favour. Korum headed back to the run down tavern to resume his part for the cover story.

One More Day (Day 268)

The following morning, Rioja headed off to visit Laerus’s mage friend for more information. Unfortunately, he was unable to tell Rioja anything other than what he already knew but, as recompense, the wizard was able to teach him a few new spells.

Korum began investigating the five main interested parties, and cased their homes, warehouses and guard routines. He was able to find out that none of the other thieves would be attempting to steal the jewel until after the transaction. He made it known that he would be stealing it before the auction to deter others from accosting the party. During his investigations he was also able to book six guards to escort the party to the auction site and then accompany them to get the diamond safely to the stronghold of the buyer. He also asked Rioja to cast a cantrip onto one of his rings so that he could activate the lesser ancible to give the party notice that he had stolen the diamond back and he needed their help straight away. They would obviously know which merchant’s house to head towards as they would have been there once already. He also asked Rioja to load a Magic Missile onto the wand Laerus had given him, so he had an extra sure fire shot in his arsenal for added protection.

Auction Day (Day 269)

After a hearty breakfast, Arken, Bardan and Rioja accompanied by the six guards Korum had booked for them, made their way to the market place for the auction. Knil made his way across the rooftops and set up a vigil overlooking the square. Korum watched the proceedings from the shadows, and as soon as the auction was concluded headed towards that merchant’s house and hid waiting for the party to arrive. The gem sold for a massive 87,000 Gold Pieces and would be sure to attract the attention of every would-be thief in the city. The party, plus their six guards and those provided by the buyer more than put off any straight forward attack. The deal took a short while to prove it was genuine on both sides with a bill of sale raised by the city to provide the assurance. The party and buyer then headed to the buyer’s house to conclude the deal.

Meanwhile, Korum had been watching the house and noticed that an upper storey window had been left open – unusual if the inhabitants were out. He then further noticed furtive movements within the upper chamber. He realised the occupant was a fellow thief, so he waited in the shadows to see what happened.

The party and buyer arrived and entered the building. Half an hour later, the party emerged with smiles on their faces, so Korum assumed the deal had been concluded and the monies paid. In keeping with the plan, the party did not return to their inn but made their way to a tavern local to the merchant’s house to await Korum’s signal.

Korum kept up his watch on the open window. Sure enough, after a couple more hours had passed, and dusk was settling in, a dark-dressed figure stealthily crawled out of the open window, across a roof and down a drain pipe. This was Korum’s cue to start following. He caught up with the figure in a dark alley a hundred yards away from the merchant’s house. He launched himself at the figure and attempted to pin the person down. The secretive figure turned out to be a human male with an aspect that marked him out as not being a normal citizen. The thief went for his dagger, but Korum was quicker. He grabbed the weapon from its sheath and threw it across the alleyway. The thief’s other hand was held in a vice-like grip, and after ejecting the weapon, Korum grabbed him by the throat. He asked where the diamond was but the thief denied all knowledge. Korum increased the pressure on the thief’s windpipe and the thief started to reach for something. Korum guided the hand to where it wanted to go; a satchel hidden beneath the burglar’s cloak. The thief opened his eyes in surprise and looked over Korum’s shoulder with intent. Korum wasn’t going to fall for that old trick so punched the thief. Unfortunately the immense strength given to him by the Girdle of Frost Giant’s Strength meant the thief’s head hit the cobbles too hard. Without waiting to look around, Korum snatched the satchel from the body and escaped into the shadows.

The ancible in Rioja’s hand began to flash so the party knew that Korum had completed his task. They made their way towards the merchant’s house, but a few streets before they got there a small fellow approached them directly and dropped a satchel at Bardan’s feet with a wink. Korum continued via a roundabout route to The Bandit’s Arms, arriving just after the party returned.

The Double-Cross

Korum made himself scarce again after telling the party what had happened. He said he would return in a few minutes as he had something to do before taking the gem for his reward at the Thieves Guild. He visited a local apothecary for a certain poison and its antidote, and applied the serum to the diamond and his hands appropriately.

He picked up the satchel containing the box with the diamond in it and took it to the Guild House. Again, he passed the security locks and questions with ease and was ushered into the Grand Master’s presence. He made sure that they were alone before telling the master that he had acquired the diamond as he said he would. The master was surprised and asked to see proof. Korum opened the box in a way to show that it wasn’t trapped and allowed the master to take a look for himself. The master asked to pick it up but Korum mentioned the little matter of a reward. The master pulled an elaborate box from under his desk and presented it to Korum. It was trapped but none of them had been set to go off, so he opened the box to reveal a beautiful short sword. Korum motioned that he be allowed to wield it to make sure it was a sword of great quality as the master suggested. Reluctantly the master agreed and Korum made sure he made no suspicious moves. Satisfied the sword was of great quality and most likely magical (it had a similar but better feel than his own magical sword) he handed it back. The master’s greedy eyes were now fixed upon the diamond, so Korum made a great show of taking the gem out of its box with his bare hands and passed it to the master thief’s bare hands. The contact poison was now on the master’s hands but wouldn’t affect him for about ten minutes. Korum added that in addition to the sword, he would also like immunity from Guild rules if he is ever back in town. It was agreed upon that he could only operate ‘within reason’. Korum shook hands with the master and left the way he came in. He made his way back to the run-down tavern by a circuitous route to throw off any potential pursuit and then a short while later during the early hours he headed back to The Bandit’s Arms.

The party were waiting for him to arrive and he told them the deal had been struck. The party had gained the sale value of the diamond which Korum said they could have so long as he could keep the sword which Rioja identified as a Short Sword of Quickness. The trade with the Guild meant that they had gained the sword from the thieves as well as the gem’s value. In addition, the party could not be implicated in the theft as they had cast iron alibis, with all evidence clearly implicating the Thieves’ Guild.

Korum told the party he would now make himself scarce as the Guild may be after him if his poisoning ploy had dispatched the master thief. He said he would meet the party at the hoar apple tree five miles outside of town the following afternoon.

The Aftermath (Day 270)

Korum spent the night wandering around the shadows of the city, keeping his eyes peeled in case of recriminations. As the light grew, he saw that some of those present at the Guild he’d noticed over the previous visits he had made there were wandering around nervously, asking furtive questions. He smiled to himself knowing that his plans to disrupt the guild had most likely come to fruition. The new master would thank him in the days to come but he had also made some new enemies.

To make things seem normal, the rest of the party divvied up the sale money and went on a spending spree. Bardan grabbed a beautiful suit of magical plate armour and a new Girdle of Giant Strength to match Korum’s. Arken also bought some magical armour, Rioja grabbed a couple of magical rings (invisibility and inaudibility), and Knil got himself a Bag of Holding. After dallying around for a while they finally collected their belongings from The Bandit’s Arms and headed out of the city to rendezvous with Korum as agreed.

The Return Home (Day 270- 286)

The journey home was uneventful. Tim greeted them warmly and showed what he had been up to. Everything was running smoothly, and a further 1,500 gold had been paid off of Arken’s debt to build his temple. Arken paid his respects to the temple in the local town and paid another large piece of the debt off in addition to that which Tim had paid.

He then prayed to his goddess for guidance on what she needed of them next.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Idle chit-chat

I haven't been up to much painting wise recently. Even though the AD&D campaign has been taking up a lot of my weekday time, I should still have the weekends to get some painting done. Unfortunately my eyes are playing up again and I just cannot focus on anything for too long without getting a headache. I will be looking at getting some new glasses soon that will hopefully aid me in my quest for finishing off some more figures before the summer light starts to fade. I am presuming it is age related long sightedness, but its onset has come as a shock none-the-less.

On the paint station ready for a lick of paint are:
40 Norman Knights - various manufacturers
4 fantasy clerics - I think they are all Citadel
Alex has a selection of Elves for LotR and HotT from a variety of manufacturers
I also dug out a really old Citadel Great Fire Dragon. Compared to many of today's dragon figures it is tiny, but it seemed huge when I bought it. It needs a good clean up, the wings need reattaching and then I need to find a HotT base suitable for it before putting on some paint - a summer project methinks

Gaming wise, AD&D has been on my mind mostly. The campaign is due to end in a few weeks' time, so I can jog on with some more PBM in Doggerland - a new game based on a smaller scale and set a few hundred years after the last strategy game period. I am alos toying with a sci-fi empire building type game. Not many details on that yet, but ideas are floating around in the grey matter.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Khorvaire Session 14 - 18/07/2012

Session 14: The Hawk (18th July 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
Kima (Black Domestic Cat) – his familiar

An Audience with Laerus (Day 242-243)

Rioja revisited Laerus to work through the more difficult parts of the plan to ensnare the Hawk. Between them they were able to analyse what was required to achieve their goal in imprisoning the liche within the orb. Laerus would create a one-use rod of power to cast the spell and be its major power source, although as it had never been practiced before, it may encounter some difficulties when used. Rioja was happy to accept this state of affairs as he trusted the judgement of the venerable mage. Rioja returned to his tower to prepare his spells for the next day and rested up.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party formulated their plans to combat the liche; to keep it busy whilst Rioja cast his spells and performed the ritual of entrapment. Re-reading the Gesta, they realised they would need to somehow trap it to the material plane and stop it from teleporting out. After thrashing about several ideas, it was deemed best if Korum hid under his Invisibility potion’s effects and back-stabbed the liche with a magical spear (attached to a strong rope and then a chain attached to a solid pillar or spiked to the floor) to impale it and prevent it from escaping; their notion being that if it was a Teleport spell that it used, it could not teleport with any heavy mass attached to itself.

Korum and Bardan headed into town to visit the merchant and managed to procure a basic magical spear, for a reasonable price. They returned to their village with Rioja when he was also on his homebound journey.

The entire party rested up, went over their plans again and allowed the two magic users to learn their spells.

Return to the Mausoleum (Day 244)

The following morning, the party awaited the cleric of Din to confirm that he had secured a portal to the marshy valley that contained the mausoleum. Arken finished his prayers, and a few moments later a portal opened within the ground floor of the tower. Korum stepped straight through, followed by Bardan who was weighed down with two large barrels of flaming lamp oil. Knil quickly stepped through, bow at the ready, and finally the two magic wielding adventurers. They had been transported directly outside the mausoleum, so would not have to traverse the marshlands again. Bardan and Korum made for the doors, to find them still open, and nothing could be seen within the chamber except the fallen trap-door opposite the entrance. The party advanced to the door, stepped through and followed the stairs down to the next level. The metal spiral staircase still creaked and squealed under their weight, but all members of the party made it down safely. The door at the bottom of the stairwell was still open, and the corridor of swinging blade traps was also just as they had left it – one blade was still stuck in the groove due to the large skeleton obstructing it, and the chalk marks on the floor demarcating the pressure pads were still there.

The party cautiously approached the antechamber, but it too was empty. Upon carefully entering the final chamber with the dais and altar, they found it too was left in the same way as before. The party thought that maybe it was too much too ask that the Hawk would be there, so decided to see if they could lure it to the chamber. Arken started to carve holy symbols of Din around the walls, set the chalice back onto the altar and began Blessing everything he could touch. In the meantime, Rioja cast a Strength spell onto Arken, Bardan and Korum, began to draw his magical circle upon the floor of the dais, and started to prepare himself for the coming ritual. Knil took up a flanking position as the last line of defence, and Bardan started to prepare himself for the forthcoming combat. Korum spiked the chain to the floor and uncoiled the rope attached to his new spear. He hid behind the dais, opposite the entrance, so he could be hidden from view if anything entered through that way. He put aside his invisibility potion in readiness.

Return of the Undead

After a short while, Arken’s blessings and prayers were answered. From along the trapped corridor, the party could hear the tramp of feet and the clink of mail. Bardan pushed one of his barrels of oil to just within the antechamber and laid a short trail of oil towards it as a fuse. He happened to glance up the corridor through the door opposite and noticed that the heavily armed skeletons were not setting off the traps. Arken Blessed the party and then cast one of his Dust Devil spells to slow them down, but it only survived long enough to slow the approaching cadavers a short while. However, this was long enough for the party to get into position for combat.

The skeleton warriors entered the antechamber just as Bardan lit the oil trail. After a short delay, the barrel ignited. A small whoomph sound was heard as the barrel split and spilt its contents. Bardan thought his ploy had failed, when suddenly the scattered oil ignited in a huge ball of flame. Two of the skeletons were incinerated instantaneously, one caught fire but the last one was undamaged. Bardan whooped for joy and prepared for combat. Arken rushed to the door, held aloft his holy symbol and rained holy words down upon the remaining skeletons. The skeletons were hurled off their feet and crumbled to dust upon impact with the floor. Arken yelled down the corridor, “Is that all you’ve got, Hawk?”

His shout was met with no response, so he returned to blessing the chamber. Bardan lined up his second barrel of oil, just in case. It wasn’t long before he espied another troop of skeletons approaching down the corridor. This time there were twice as many. In the same way, Bardan waited until the last second before lighting the fuse and the resulting explosion took out five of the skeletons. The remaining three continued their advance on the door of the ritual chamber. Arken returned to the door, holy symbol aloft, and two of the cadavers were reduced to piles of dust. The final skeleton managed to reach the door, but a trading of blows destroyed the skeleton. Arken was quickly healed by casting a few Cure spells upon himself.

Apart from the ringing in their ears, the dungeon went quiet again. Bardan had no more explosive oil available, so he prepared his magical axe and took another look down the corridor. It was empty. Suddenly there was a loud roar.

Within the ritual chamber, at four points on the floor equidistant between the altar and the corners of the room, showers of stone started to erupt. Rioja took this as his cue to complete the ritual up to the final power word. Korum swallowed his invisibility potion and the rest of the party prepared themselves for battle. Screams of pain and hisses of smoke boiled from the four points within the room but nothing seemed to enter.

A huge metallic crash sounded from up the corridor, and a massive cloud of dust billowed into the antechamber – the spiral staircase had been forced to collapse. Bardan closed the door to stop the bulk of the dust choking the party. All went quiet again for a short while before another huge roar erupted from up the corridor. Bardan opened the door to take a look, and Arken cast a Light spell to see through the dust and darkness. Within the dust he could make out a humanoid shape – another skeleton had arrived. This time it had no weapons or armour to speak of.

The skeleton advanced towards the antechamber but before it got to the door Knil fired his bow. His fear was evident as the bowstring slipped from its notch. Cursing his ill luck, he ducked back into the chamber to reseat it. Bardan stepped between his comrade and the skeleton and was hit by its powerful fist. Bardan returned the compliment, dealing out a blow that would have felled an ox, but the cadaver just ignored it. The powerful skeleton hit the fighter again with its fist and took him to within an inch of his life. Arken pulled his compatriot aside and administered a regenerative spell on him. Bardan again rejoined the fray but was severely injured again. Arken stepped into the breach and tried to dispel the evil, whilst Bardan took one of his Extra Healing potions. The skeleton just ignored the holy words and symbol and proceeded to pound the cleric with its fists. Arken was unable to retaliate so powerful were the blows. Bardan tried to re-enter the fray, but in his weakened state he was unable to swing his axe properly. Arken was hit once more by the skeleton and as its attention turned towards the exposed fighter, Arken dealt it a sore blow. Sick of taking such a pounding, and seeing his comrade in a bad way, Bardan dropped his axe, and relying on his Giant Strength bear hugged the undead being. This gave Arken the opportunity to smash off one of its arms and then a leg. Bardan let go of the damaged skeleton, picked up his axe, and together with Arken smashed it to pieces with a final blow each.

The Hawk Swoops in 

Just as Arken completed healing both himself and Bardan, a voice boomed out, “What are you doing here?” Arken responded “Converting this evil place to a temple of Din.” The voice continued, “Come out and fight me. Bardan, you have ruined my home, I will ruin yours”. To which Bardan replied “Go ahead, I was going to burn it down anyway.”

This conversation went on for a short while before Korum crept up to Bardan and whispered to him to play on the liche’s pride. Arken and Bardan started to taunt the liche when suddenly a surge of magical power was felt. The Hawk seemed to stagger backwards. It righted itself and approached the door again. Arken and Bardan were perplexed by this so asked the Hawk what had happened. It replied that it was going to enter the chamber and destroy the party but something had prevented it from doing so. Perhaps knowing that it could not enter the chamber to get at the party, the Hawk turned its back and made to leave. Korum was ready for this and, still invisible, thrust his spear at the liche’s back. The weapon passed straight through. Korum dropped the spear and tried again with his magical sword only to encounter the same effect. The Hawk laughed and told the Halfling only magical weapons may harm him. This confused Korum as both of the weapons were magical. He decided to punch the liche instead, but again his blow passed straight through it. The Hawk had had enough of the little pest, so returned a blow, sending the small thief flying backwards through the air to land half way across the ritual chamber floor.

The Hawk seemed annoyed now, and drew its sword stating that it would take on the fighter on his own to settle this once and for all. Arken said that he could do so only if he entered the chamber to fight, to which the Hawk agreed, but only if he was allowed to enter. Arken prayed to Din to ask her to let the liche in. The Hawk entered the chamber without encountering a barrier.

Korum, recovered from his blow, said that the fight should take place on the dais, and if either fighter left that arena, then the other would be free to execute him without fear of reprisal. The Hawk agreed to this, and so did Bardan, with a further proviso that no magical weapons were to be used. The two combatants approached the dais but Rioja refused to move (if he left the circle of power, the ritual would fail). Korum ran up the steps and pretended to remonstrate with Rioja, slowly forcing him towards the back of the dais. The Hawk seeing that the mage was being ushered away strode up the stairs and set a foot upon the dais where he was met with a wall of pain from the ritual circle of power. Rather than step back and risk default on the combat (combatants could not step off the dais as agreed), it carried on and Rioja waved his rod of power and unleashed the power of the ritual. Magical essence was drawn towards the circle, and all light within the chamber began to extinguish. The power built and a sphere of magic formed around the Hawk. Korum jumped for his life and Rioja uttered the final word of power and the sphere was slowly drawn into the orb that was set upon the dais. The orb began to glow a dark, menacing red but Rioja negated the glow by placing the orb within the magical urn that had once contained the troll’s heart. Normal light returned to the chamber slowly.

Arken conversed with his goddess and she confirmed that the Hawk was safely captured by the ritual. He then continued to complete the blessing of the chamber and the party made ready to leave. Just as they were about to step through the newly summoned portal, Rioja’s ancible began to flash; Laerus wanted to speak to him. Arken made a final sweep around the chamber, recovering the party’s possessions and followed the rest of his comrades through the glowing doorway.

The party arrived back in their tower. Arken made straight for his temple to replace the relics and the rest of the party headed into town to meet up with Laerus to see what he wanted. He seemed surprised at some of the things they described about the battle they had just fought and the Hawk’s abilities. He said that he would think on the implications and contact them with his findings. He handed Rioja another small marble mentioning that this one allowed them to actually communicate verbally over the link that was formed.

The party returned to their village for some well earned rest.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Khorvaire Session 13 - 11/07/12

Session 13: The Beast (11th July 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
Kima (Black Domestic Cat) – his familiar

Encounter with the Beast (Day 189, evening)

The party had settled into their ambush positions, and the sheep were put into their position as bait. Rioja made a final circuit of the defensive positions casting Strength on Arken, Barden and Korum – the members of the party who would be getting up close and personal with the entity known as The Beast. Rioja had been studying the old wizard’s books from his library and had come across a few old scrolls, much damaged, that gave them a few clues as to the two dragons’ backgrounds and traits.

Night had fallen and the moon had risen, bathing the glade in its wan light. The sheep started to bleat and shift nervously in Rioja’s direction; which was as planned. Across the meadow, the trees started to rustle and a huge misshapen bipedal being stamped its way into the clearing. It was a dark shape within an aura of darkness that seemed to follow and surround it.

Rioja knew that the Beast feared magic users, so he would have to be brave to face it down, giving enough time for his fellow adventurers to engage it in mortal combat. He cast a few minor cantrips to attract its attention and then, as it turned towards him and began to approach he hit it full on with a Fireball. This magical blast caught it in its great maw, massive pointed teeth shone against the glow from the blast. The Beast shook its head, let out a great roar and advanced on Rioja. That was the signal for the three combat ready adventurers to rush in.

Rioja cast a Polymorph Self and grew to double his height, whilst fractionally after he cast a set of Magic Missiles. Knil hit the Beast with two of his arsenal of magical arrows, which seemed to pass through the Beast, albeit damage to its aura was seen. Arken Blessed himself for extra combat resilience whilst Bardan and Korun rushed the Beast from the side and rear respectively.

Although not surprised into inaction, the Beast none-the-less was slowed enough by the party’s actions that they were able to reel off another series of attacks. More Magic Missiles and magical arrows hit the shadowy being just before Bardan and Korum were able to strike. Bardan had hurt it the most, so the Beast swung its dark talons and dealt him a mighty blow. Again, more magical blasts and arrows found their target and although Korum struck the Beast with all his enhanced Strength from behind causing enough damage to fell an elephant, the Beast merely shrugged it off and clobbered Korum to within an inch of his life. In fear of hitting his injured friend, Bardan dropped his axe.

Arken finally managed to enter the fray to deal extra damage with his magical mace whilst Bardan went to retrieve his weapon. Korum favoured his injured left side, and as a result missed his opportunity to attack. More magical missiles found their target, but Knil was becoming increasingly worried about firing into the melee in case he hit one of his compatriots. The Beast now realised his main enemy was the mage, who had been blasting him unerringly for minutes with many bolts of power. Ignoring the injured Halfling and the ineffectual warriors it lunged in the direction of Rioja.

The Beast managed to avoid being hit by the rest of the party and dealt its wrath upon the wizard. Rioja seemed to shrug off the wound, but a squeal of pain was heard from Kima, his black cat familiar. A final Magic Missile from Rioja’s arsenal slowed the Beast enough for Korum to gather his wits enough to strike at a vulnerable point. Dealing a blow that would have felled a Titan, Korum felt his whole arm numb with shock as he struck the Beast’s vital spot. The darkness felll in upon itself and then exploded in a massive blast of magical power, bowling over all those in the glade including the terrified sheep that were some distance away. The townsfolk of Kakariko later told of the thunderous blast upon the party’s return to town.

Arken was the first to his feet, so he examined the blast area. Thinking about the binding spell which kept Aphyros bound within the orb, he scooped up some of the earth that contained the diminishing magical essence of the Beast for later use. He then prayed to his goddess for guidance on what they should do next. She informed him that his duties were completed when the party released the good dragon from the orb, but was impressed with his devotion to the cause when he mentioned that he and the party would carry on and help with the quest to bring about the downfall of Nephyros, the evil dragon. Din managed to ask one favour and that was to know if the Beast was truly gone. Cryptically his deity mentioned to look to its footprints for the answer. From this he concluded that the party had truly defeated the Beast.

After the commune with his deity, Arken healed those who were worst afflicted in the battle. The party then returned the sheep to the farmer in return for their 20 gold piece deposit, and headed back to the main town of Kakariko where they boasted of their victory in return for much free food and ale.

Return to the Village of Gerudos (Day 192-236)

The party spent a couple of days celebrating their victory and recovering from the rest of their wounds before heading back to their base in the south. They travelled by night whilst Rioja rested, and rested by day whilst Rioja studied with his familiar standing watch. Even though they wished to attract the attention of the Darkness, it never returned during their entire journey. They must have hurt Nephyros if he wouldn’t retaliate so soon; perhaps the scrolls were right that when any of his three aspects are defeated, it would take some time for him to re-gather his strength.

Upon their return, they noticed that all of the building work had been completed to their satisfaction and Tim, the steward, was running the settlement in a very efficient manner; they had started to actually make a little money selling their goods (wood, animal skins and furs, some early crops and merchants’ fees for renting their stalls and shops in the guildhall and market place), enough to pay off 1000gp of Arken’s debt. The militia had been trained in the efficient use of the ballistae and had formed a tight unit of men-at-arms. They still had some training to do, and new recruits were coming in each day to swell their ranks.

Barden and Knil went looking for more magical items to boost their arsenal. Barden had seen how effective Korum’s Girdle of Giant Strength was, so managed to pick one up himself, albeit of not the same fine quality as Korum’s. Knil also managed to acquire more magical arrows, of a better quality than his previous ones, but had a run in with the merchant selling them. He was over charging the party on the goods he was selling and Rioja had found him out. He promised to behave better in future on threat of the party going to the mayor.

Meanwhile, Korum visited the local Thieves’ Guild to introduce himself and passed their entry lock test with flying colours. He mentioned what he was aiming to achieve with his new tavern set up in Gerudos, and they promised to send him a few informants to aid in expanding their communications network. He should expect to see one or two mendicants, a stable boy, and a couple of working girls arrive over the next few days. The Guild would exchange information and favours with Korum’s set up in return for a small monthly fee and a reciprocal exchange of knowledge.

Rioja left the merchant’s establishment to track down the local wizard. He was welcomed in warmly and after exchanging pleasantries, the two mages set their heads together to work out their next moves. Rioja had previously asked Arken if it was alright to part with their hard won knowledge of the Nephyros versus Aphyros situation, and he agreed he could do so if he trusted the mage. Their aim was to replicate the entrapment spell used on Aphyros when he entered the orb, only with the target this time being Nephyros, the evil dragon. Whilst the two conjurers worked on the ritual, they had a little time to develop further a small ancible device that could be used to contact each other over distance. They would not be able to actually communicate over the devices (two small marbles, one would glow in opposition if a cantrip was cast upon the other), but it would alert the other that they needed to communicate. Some other spell could be used for that communication.

A New Quest (Day 242)

The two wizards were good to their word and, after much research within the tomes they had both acquired over their years of study and adventuring, they were able to work out the next move. The Hawk (the liche that had poisoned Din’s chalice) had to be faced again on its home ground, because within that valley was a circle of power that was needed to defeat that aspect of Nephyros. Korum had also been thinking on the nature of the diamond and its box; it seemed that the area of its effect closely resembled what would be expected of just such a circle of power.

The next phase of their quest settled, the party prepared to travel back to the swamp to face down the Hawk; the second aspect on Nephyros.

The Gesta Kalamosia

Rioja, always one for picking up dusty old tomes wherever he travels, showed this one to those of the party that could read. It is an ancient tome that references an even older set of volumes on the history of the struggles between light and darkness.

(words on the jpgs written by Craig (the DM) - Photoshopping of pages by me)

The parchment of the tome was nigh on falling to pieces, and the text was very difficult to read, but it did render up many clues as to the nature of their enemy Nephyros.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Khorvaire Session 12 - 04/06/12

Session 12: A Stronghold is Constructed (4th July 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
Kima (Black Domestic Cat) – his familiar

The Journey Home (Days 89-134)

Korum spent the best part of the day searching the wizard’s keep for further hidden doors and treasure but was unable to find anything of interest. Meanwhile, Arken collected up the fragments of the orb and placed them into a bag for later use. Rioja continued studying the scrolls and tomes within the wizard’s library and managed to find out exactly how the golem worked. He instructed it to follow the party and guard them against harm. The rest of the party headed into Kakariko, the town local to the tower, to collect supplies for the homeward journey.

The adventurers arrived back at their stronghold in the south just over six weeks later. On their journey they encountered no major problems and the Darkness had not returned to haunt them. As they rode up to the environs of the tower, they saw that the workmen had done a good job of clearing their entire fief of blasted wood, making the two piles requested – firewood and good building timber. Other than the bare earth, only Rioja’s tower, Arken’s Temple of Din and Knil’s tree were left standing.

Preparations for Construction (Days 135-142)

The party rested up for the rest of that day and made plans on what they would like their newly acquired plot to contain. Rioja had his tower, Arken his temple and Knil had his tree, but the defences against mundane enemies were lacking, as was a suitable trading establishment or two. There was also the issue of the evil dragon to contend with, so defences against that enemy would also need to be considered.
Rioja wanted to fulfil the promise of restoring much of the blasted forest to its former glory, so headed into town to seek the wizard’s aid. He had acquired the learning of the Miracle Growth spell and wanted to share his findings, so that both wizards could repair the damage done. The two sages set to work repairing some of the damage to the area outside the party’s zone of control, replacing the forest as if it had never been harmed in the first place.

Bardan, tasked with security, was sent into town to recruit some men-at-arms and enquire after a weapons smith who could build watch towers, ballistae and catapults. As the new recruits filed into the vicinity over the next few days, they were drilled in low level hand-to-hand combat. The weapon smith arrived with a crew of carpenters and set about building a barracks for the newly acquired men-at-arms, four watch towers on the perimeter of the area that was slowly being built up and a ballista to go in each, as well as two spares.

Korum, whose only real interests were money and food decided to get the plans together for a large tavern, brewery and stables so that he could start up an establishment to cater for weary travellers. He had a variety of workmen brought in to begin work on the stone foundations.

Knil had disappeared throughout most of this week to seek solace with the sacred tree, and ask its permission to build a dwelling within its branches. The magical nature of the tree, however, meant that it would grow a suitable dwelling for him to live in.

As they also wanted the stronghold to be relatively self-sufficient, the party headed into town to see if any merchants would like to set up at their rapidly growing establishment, and they had not a few takers. They also managed to persuade a few farmers and foresters to join their community to provide food and other sellable commodities. This led to requests to build a new guildhall beside the tavern – which were granted.

Whilst all of this building work and recruitment was going on, Arken was also busy readying his temple for a new congregation of worshippers. He asked Rioja to repair the dragon orb just in case the good dragon needed somewhere to hide again, which he did do, but as a few pieces of crystal were not recoverable, there were a few small nicks and holes in it, but structurally it was as sound as it ever was. This was placed in a niche of importance. He also placed the Chalice of Din onto the main altar, but made sure he protected it with a variety of glyphs and warnings (the first warning set off a paralysing glyph, the second blindness, and the third a bolt from the gods).

A Visit from the Mayor (Day 143)

During the morning, the Mayor from the local town turned up to see how far the work had progressed. He was given a guided tour of the facilities, and expressed his highest admiration for the work being carried out. The forest was being grown back rapidly by the two wizards, the farmers and foresters were tending the crops and animals and the small militia force was now able to hold their spears properly. The tavern, guildhall, barracks and watch towers were all starting to show promise (although it would be a few months before any of them were completed), and a few curious travellers pitched their tents and caravans on the fields opposite the main settlement and started to trade.

The mayor could see things would be prosperous for this little settlement and wanted to be a part of it. He suggested that he could send over a squad of well trained men-at-arms to help with training the militia and showing them how to work the ballistae until the force was up to strength and sufficiently trained. The party also asked him to recommend a steward to help them with running the place, especially for when they were away. He agreed to send a highly ambitious young steward over right away; he had been tasked with the redevelopment of the southern part of the town and had done an extremely good job.

Just as he was about to leave, his true intentions came to the fore when he asked about taxation and trade with the main town. The party agreed to his terms that they would pay taxes at the same rate as everyone else trading in the town. This seemed to cheer the little fellow up and he returned to his gig in high spirits, wishing the party well in all their ventures.

A New Journey is Planned (Day 144)

Good to his word, the mayor sent a squad of well trained men-at-arms and the steward the following day. The troops immediately set about pitching their tents and ribbing the raw recruits about their techniques of warfare. The steward, Tim, was all he was cracked up to be, and the party hired him on for a trial period to see how he managed.

Arken, meanwhile, had been in close talks with his goddess, who told him a little more about their quest. The evil dragon Nepheros, as they were well aware, had created three aspects of himself to help in his conquests; the Spirit (which indeed was the Darkness), the Hawk (the liche the party had defeated in gaining the chalice) and the Beast (which turned out to be a creature Arken and Bardan had encountered before the rest of the party joined them). But, he was also told that there was a fourth power now arising – perhaps it was the great dragon himself?

Arken relayed all of these details to the rest of the band and they immediately set themselves to preparing for another journey back to the north. Supplies were bought and instructions given to the steward about how they would like the place run in their absence – this would be a true test of Tim’s capabilities.

Show me the Way to Kakariko (Days 145-189)

The journey north again proved to be uneventful. In fact, things had actually improved as the streams of refugees had stopped and many people they spoke to said that the threat they had faced weeks before had ceased; the great lords of the north must have sent troops out to crush the bandits in their lairs. The party nodded sagely and thanked the people for their gossip.

However, upon arrival at Kakariko a different sentiment greeted them. Although the raids that damaged property and killed people who were out at night seemed to have ceased, the Beast had returned to terrorise their livestock.

Arken and Bardan knew exactly where the Beast’s lair was, so they led the party through the forest to the north-west of the town. They found the cave down a narrow defile but things seemed quiet within. Korum crept inside to take a look but found no traces of recent occupation; the only thing he found unusual was a rectangular indentation in the earth floor. Arken told him that that was where they had found the chest that contained the dragon orb. Retracing their steps, they headed back to town to find out what was happening.

They arrived at their usual tavern and spoke to the barkeep, who pointed them in the direction of a few farmers who had been sorely hit by the night time raids on their flocks. Loosening their tongues with a little alcohol, the farmers told their stories. One had been raided three nights ago and the other only the previous night. All of their stock had been slaughtered. Even the usual goblin raids had ceased. The last of the group said that he still had his full flock, but that was probably because he brought them into the barn every night since the raids had started. After the promise of full recompense, he agreed to allow the party to use a few dozen of his flock to lure the Beast into a trap.

That afternoon, the party journeyed out to the farmer’s lands and started to make preparations for the night’s ambush.