Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Carrion Crown - Part 1

A new week sees the start of a brand new game and campaign. After the AD&D campaign ended last week, I needed to get signed onto another game at the club. There was plenty on offer: Rogue Trader, another AD&D campaign, Conan d20, a couple of Vampire: Dark Age, and Pathfinder. I decided to go for another game I was familiar-ish with, so chose the Pathfinder table (I am familiar with the 3E ruleset, so this was just a small step up). Another great bunch of blokes made me feel really at ease when I joined their table and eased my way into their game. They were on their second session, but the previous week was more of a prologue than part of the actual adventure.

To make for a style difference between these write-ups and the previous AD&D ones, I am writing the adventure through the eyes of my character - there will be plenty of mistakes, misunderstandings and mishaps to begin with, but these are entirely down to my interpretation and no-one elses. I will correct future entries as my character learns more or has explained to him the errors of his ways.

Session 1: The Funeral (19th September 2012)

 The Cult of the Whispering Way weaves a wide-ranging conspiracy throughout the horror-tinged lands of Ustalav aimed at freeing the Lich King Tar-Baphon, better known as the Whispering Tyrant, from his eternal prison in the dungeon of Gallowspire. Their debased rites and malicious schemes set werewolf against vampire, ghost against terror from beyond time and space in a thrilling campaign that touches upon themes of classic horror and dark swords and sorcery!

(from the blurb on the Paizo website for The Haunting of Harrowstone)

The Pathfinders

Nicolai Alamrys – Human Rogue
Kazamir - Fighter
Ducat - Cleric
Moebius - ?
Zef - Ranger

I will update this list as I get to learn more about the characters I am playing alongside.

From the Diary of Nicolai Alamrys

Arrival in Harrowstone (Day 1 of my travels with the Pathfinders)

There is a lot of distrust in this world of ours. Why do people not wish to see goodness in others no matter their differences? Magic, in all of its various forms is frowned upon and seen as the work of evil, when I know it can be used for the powers of good.

I have been travelling from the coast for two days now. It is constantly pouring down, and I am wet through, hungry and footsore. The funeral of my long time acquaintance Professor Lorimar is to take place soon, but it is possible that my long sea journey means that I may have missed the event. The letter I hold in my hand talks of the urgent need for me to be there; his daughter has some important news to be relayed to me and his other close acquaintances.

On the muddy, rutted road leading to the village I bumped into a band of weary travellers, all intent upon attending the funeral too. We struck up a cheery banter that defied the inclement weather, and I feel we have forged the first links in a strong bond of friendship. We have all arrived with the same purpose, and all wish to see it through as we owe that, at least, to our former mentor, guardian and friend Professor Lorimar.

The shallow valley opened up after a short while to reveal the entrance to the village. A village in which the buildings appear gothic and the leering monuments seem to watch every step one takes. Looking ahead I tried to find a place to get out of the rain, but what caught my attention was the number of poles outside buildings with notices attached; now turned to mush in the incessant rain, they no doubt held exclamations of the utmost import to those that live here. At the far end of what can only be described as the village green a river flows, trying to sweep the small bridge that spans it away from its very foundations.

Two fellows stood guard before the bridge, and from their demeanour I could see they would brook no trouble and only allow those they knew to be trustworthy across the span. The taller of the two, Benjan I think his name was, did all the talking, and very belligerent he was too until we all showed our letters from the Professor’s daughter that granted our access to the further reaches of the village.

We passed across the bridge and headed towards the house of our late friend under the directions of the two guardians. We rapped upon the door and the portal was opened by Kendra, the late professor’s daughter. After introducing ourselves and showing her the letters we had received, she acknowledged us as friends of the professor, although for some reason she seemed to take my tale of acquaintance with a large grain of salt. After asking us our names, she informed us that the funeral was tomorrow at 10 o’clock, and that we should find ourselves some accommodation until then; The Laughing Demon being a good enough choice in these parts. She then promptly closed the door leaving us in the rain.

We looked around the rest of the village and found that the inn was not too far distant from the professor’s house, so we made our way there. All except Ducat, who decided to take a trip to the local temple. Unfortunately, Moebius’ mule had nowhere to go as the inn had no stable, so Moebius decided to go look for a stable for his noble steed whilst the rest of us strode towards warmth and food. A short distance from the inn, we espied a gaggle of young girls playing hop-scotch and singing the most happy of songs. This struck me as odd, but I could not put my finger on the weird feeling I had.

As we slipped in through the door, the owner of the establishment, one Zokar, strode up and in a loud, jovial voice greeted us. He did not allow us to get a word in edgewise but knew our wants and needs intimately. We were ushered to a table and before we knew it had our room booked and a hearty meal ordered. All of the dishes were titled after some grotesquery but they tasted superb, my Corpse Chowder being exquisite. The Ghost Beer, a glowing confection of no light weight, satisfied my thirst and opened a window of curiosity in my mind; a strange concoction that glowed and no-one knew its secret bar the inn keep.

Moebius returned from another inn in the village that had a stable, followed a little while later by Ducat. Moebius mentioned that he was able to stable his mule and the good wife, Soriana, that ran the establishment, tried to get him to change his mind on where we stayed. No doubt this was just a ploy to take Zokar’s custom and our money into the bargain. He said that he declined due to already having paid for our lodgings at The Demon, but was tempted to stay for a while as she had such a sweet singing voice.

The talk of entertainment spurred me into action. I hadn’t tumbled or mummered for a while, so I made some entertainment for the patrons of the bar. It did not go down as well as I hoped, but the coppers thrown, more through disdain than appreciation methinks, more than paid for my meat and beer. Kazamir had rather a lot to drink, and on throwing out time, we had to help him stagger up to his cot. We all chose a bed that suited us, albeit all were just hay stuffed mattresses smelling of mildew. The communal room had enough beds for us all, and there was one tiny, patterned glass window that would not open that let in the only light available to us. Feeling a little unsafe, I bolted the door, and pushed my bed against it in case of night time intruders.

The Day of the Funeral (Day 2)

We all woke early, those of who had had a few drinks feeling a little worse for wear. During their travels to Harrowstone, the other party members had picked up some spare articles that they wished to be rid of; a byrnie of chain mail, a jacket of scale mail and a medium sized steel shield. These were of no use to our party as everyone who needed such implements already had similar or superior ones.

I headed out with Zef to find a blacksmith to whom we could sell said items. It only took a few moments to spot the tell-tale column of smoke and hear the ting, ting-ting of the blacksmith’s art. I casually strode up to the forge and was surprised by the appearance of a lady Dwarf. Putting on my most disarming smile and ramping up the charm, I managed to seal a deal with her that gained the party 75 gold pieces and me a dagger to boot. I can still feel the after-effects of the bone-crushing hand-shake that sealed the deal. I felt strangely drawn to this lady; she seemed to have a good heart.

After our short trading trip we realised we needed to get a move on to make our ten o’clock deadline. The rest of our companions had already walked up the hill and the coffin cart had now arrived. No other villagers were present, so it was down to us, the professor’s friends, to be his pall bearers; the sixth place, the one of honour, was taken by his daughter.

We proceeded along the cemetery path towards the grave, but before we got to the mausoleum beside the split in the path that would take us to the grave we were accosted by a large mob of angry villagers. They were proclaiming that it was not right that the professor was to be buried on consecrated ground and that another grave up the hill would be a more suitable location. Their spokesman ranted about necromancers deserved to be buried without ceremony and left to rot away from those more civilised; one never knows if they may wake from their eternal sleep and bring the rest of the graveyard with them to the land of the living.

Kendra obviously felt this was unjust and decried that she had paid for the plot and the professor deserved to be buried in the cemetery. Tempers flared and the leader of the mob approached us in a menacing manner, pitchfork raised to strike. Kendra and the rest of us quickly realised things were getting out of hand, so we gently lowered the coffin and prepared ourselves for a confrontation. The mob leader struck Zef with his pitchfork, causing a large bruise to be raised upon his chest, but Kazamir stopped further damage by tripping the mob leader with the long handle of his glaive. This caused the rest of the mob to rush forward in a menacing manner, but I made placating noises and tried to calm the situation. The leader of the mob saw the error of his ways and decided to leave us be, for the time being, threatening that we hadn’t heard the last of this. The angry mob quickly faded into the mists beyond the gravestones.

Father Grimburrow apologised to us on behalf of the mob when we got to the graveside; he had seen the whole event unfurl from his vantage point. The ceremony went without any further glitches, and we all said a piece. I was overcome with emotion and shed a few tears, but again this seemed to cause Kendra some level of mistrust in my motives. That aside, we were all invited back to the professor’s house for his wake.

Upon arrival, we were all given a bowl of thin broth and asked to wait around whilst the last will and testament of Professor Lorimar was read out. The local councillor and three of his helpers were present to make sure the will was read out in accordance with protocol. The will was produced but as the seal was broken, a key dropped from the scroll. I tried to pocket it but I was spotted, so I presented it to the councillor who just left it on the table whilst he read out the will. All of the professor’s property was to go to Kendra except for the contents of a small ironbound oaken box. The box was produced and, his job completed, the councillor left the premises.

I grabbed the key from the table and found that it fitted the lock on the box perfectly. Inside were four tomes and some additional parchment detailing that if we could stay with his daughter for the next month to help her settle, and then deliver the four tomes to the addressees we would each be rewarded with 100 platinum coins each – a small fortune! The rest of the book was taken up with several diary entries that were confusing and strange to say the least. I was more than happy to stay around for the month as my fortunes were running low and the promise of such a sum upon delivery of the four tomes in Lepistadt seemed too good to be true. I pinched myself and agreed when the rest of my companions nodded their assent to be bound by the last words of our benefactor.

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