Sunday, 23 March 2014

White Dwarf weekly #08

Used without permission - copyright Games Workshop

I popped into my local Games Workshop today whilst waiting to go to the cinema and picked up a copy of the lastest White Dwarf on the off chance. Brief overview below.

I also got to chat to a member of staff about the magazine. I wanted to have a browse through some earlier editions but he said that once the next issue comes into the shop, the rest are sent back for shredding and recycling. It seems that GW headquarters keep a few back to sell on the website after they have gone out of print, but if you want to purchase it locally, it seems best that it is bought the week it comes out.

The new White Dwarf is a glossy magazine with full colour throughout. It has a soft card cover and 32 internal pages (36 pages in all).
Inside issue #08 (I will only focus on SBG)...
Beorn and Bear (1 page)
Girion Lord of Dale (1)
Thranduil the Elven King (1)
Gundabad Orc Captain (1)
Gundabad Orc Swordsmen (1)
Gundabad Orc Spearmen (1)
Barrels out of Bond game report (4)
Lore of the Wild game advice (2)
The Week in White Dwarf roundup article (2 1/2)
Total = 14 1/2 pages out of 32 The Hobbit related material (the rest is about the new releases for 40K and a Weathering tutorial).

Not a bad issue overall - about 30-40 minutes read for £2.40

I hope this helps anyone decide that this particular magazine is for them. As The Hobbit material is very sparse in any case then it is a welcome addition to my collection but most of the info is review or background  material rather than tactica etc.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Doggerland Session 3:24 (The Battle of Imeryds Run)

The Battle of Imredys Run (19th March 2014)

The Adventurers
Bow – Ranger
Cormac - Fighter
Joan – Cleric (not present)
Johan – Cleric
Ryze – Magic User (not present)
Ulf – Fighter (NPC)
Vox – Magic User

The Waterside Hostel
A Mission to Nulb - Moonday 15th Quinquember (Day 48) – early hours

The only sound that the party could hear as they made their way up river with their stolen skiff was the snuffling of nocturnal creatures. The full moon lit their way to the point just across from the landing jetty a few yards up river from the Waterside Hostel. The expected hammering and subsequent creaking and groaning that would ordinarily be made by the party that was constructing and then loading the trebuchets was hidden by magical means.

The adventurers knew they had about five minutes to get into position and had just enough light from the moon and the few lanterns dotted around the village of Nulb to make out their destination. They settled the boat into the water carefully and began to silently paddle across the Imeryds Run.  

They pulled up under a small jetty and alighted from the boat, and Vox, using his boatman skills, tied it with a slipknot that could be undone in a fraction of a second should the party wish to return that way. Bow led the way up the muddy bank and across the short strip of open land to the back of the Waterside Hostel. The rest of the party joined him swiftly and began to search for a way into the inn other than through the two sets of main doors situated on the main street.

Just as they made it to the inn, two balls of fiery destruction arced out of the trees down river and descended into the Imeryds Pool. From the sound of the impacts, one shot missed but the other flew true and struck the intended target of the pirates’ vessel. An alarm was raised and warning bells began to ring throughout the village in a steadily increasing circle like ripples on a pond.

Bow finally settled on a shuttered window that was pitch dark beyond the cracks around the frame. The rest of the windows had shown a splinter of light and so the rooms beyond were considered occupied. He levered up the window bar that held the shutters closed but the bar slipped and fell to the floor. He winced at the exaggerated sound but no movement appeared from within; perhaps the increasing amount of sounds coming from the outside had masked it he thought. Johan cast a Silence spell onto a small river pebble that would keep the party’s movements quiet for the next several minutes and the adventurers then followed Bow’s lead and clambered into the dark chamber beyond the opened window.

The room beyond the window was of a considerable size and full of barrels, sacks and bushels of foodstuffs. The only other features in the darkened room were a door in the wall opposite the window and a set of wooden stairs to the party’s left that led down to what they presumed must be a cellar.

Ulf took up position at the head of the stairs whilst Bow peered through the cracks in the door. As it was held in place only by a small latch he lifted it and peered within the low-lighted room. Beyond the doorway he saw that there were several tables that were still set with plates, tankards and what looked like the remains of meals and drinks from the night before.

He cautiously pushed the door open and entered the large common room. He spotted the barred main doors to the hostel to his left and an archway to his right that led through to more tables and what appeared to be a bar. He could also just make out the top of a staircase opposite as well as a small skylight in the centre of the room that ordinarily would have lit chandeliers hanging above it. It would also allow the occupants of the floor above to peer down into the common room.

The rest of the adventurers stealthily made their way across the common room and got their bearings. They noticed that behind the bar was another set of steps downwards that led to another (or the same?) cellar and a fine stone chimney took pride of place as a kitchen area because the skillets and pans that were used for bread making were still hung within it.

Bow made his way to the second set of entrance doors and noticed that they were wide open. The sounds of the attack on the village sounded louder here and he could see flames rose from the docks area to the north. He could definitely hear the tramp of heavy soldiers’ boots on the bridge just outside and then the clash of steel. He also spotted two enormous shapes emerge from the cover of an outhouse that were headed straight towards him. He let loose a couple of arrows at the approaching monsters and called for help. Unfortunately the Silence spell on the stone meant that the party could not hear him. Johan, luckily, was within a short distance of the ranger and saw what was happening so he threw the pebble off to the farthest corner of the room. Their cover was blown and the silence the spell provided would serve no further purpose.

Ogres Attack

The two hulking shapes that emerged from the shadows charged the door in which Bow stood. He drew his trusty sword and stood his ground against their onslaught. Now that the silencing stone had been cast aside, the rest of the party heard the sounds of a large amount of people stomping around upstairs, with orders barked and the clanking of weapons and shields being prepared. Ulf and Cormac swiftly made their way up the staircase to investigate. Ulf kicked open the door directly on his right at the top of the stairs but it only revealed an unused chamber with beds, bedding and other paraphernalia for an overnight stay in the hostel. Cormac tried to kick open the door to their left but it refused to budge as a result of his administrations. Ulf swiftly advanced to the door directly ahead from behind which he could hear the sounds of preparation for combat, whilst he left his companion to continue with opening his current door and another that the burly fighter had passed by.

Meanwhile, downstairs, the fight at the doorway to the hostel was at a stalemate; the ogres could not battle their way in but the ranger and Johan, the cleric, could not seem to hit them in return. Vox saw his opportunity and managed to skip past the combat and up the stairs to join his two warrior comrades.

The Missing Temple Troops

Just as he reached the top of the stairs he saw that Ulf had barged his way into a room at the end of the corridor and was battling several black-caped soldiers within. Ulf was totally surrounded and Cormac could not make his way in to help his compatriot, so Vox cast a Sleep spell to aid his fellow wolf-cloaked clansman. All of the men-at-arms fell into a swoon, but their leader still stood and kept Ulf on his toes.

The next moment, one of the other doors further along the landing area opened and another half-dozen or so Temple guards flew out at the party. Cormac stood his ground and tried to protect the mage from this new onslaught. Then, just a few moments after that door opened, so did the last door on this floor. The three adventurers upstairs were being swamped with Temple guards and although the two fighters did not overly worry too much, Vox got a bit scared and scarpered downstairs into the cover of the stone chimney stack so that he could quickly study his books.

The two ogres at the door became frustrated with being blocked by two puny humans so used their huge bulk to barge their enemies out of the way. Bow and Johan could do nothing but give ground to the two hulking brutes and realised that now the two beasts could attack simultaneously.

The combat upstairs went badly against the two fighters, but Ulf was trapped and could not make his way out of the predicament. Cormac answered Vox’s shout to get out of there when suddenly the whole hostel was engulfed in fire. The new Fireball dweomer that the lady Mathilde had taught the young thaumaturgist was set off to great effect. Vox had pointed to an area at the top of the stairs and the streak of energy exploded in a fiery flower of flame. Every man-at-arms except for the leader succumbed to the roaring flames, as did all of the combustible material on the first floor of the hostel. Unfortunately, Ulf was caught in the blast but managed to drop to the floor before he was too badly affected. Downstairs, there was a bit of a backdraft which made its way towards Vox but did not quite reach him. It also billowed down from the balcony above and into the common room where it set light to table cloths and wooden platters, as well as melting every candle in the room. Bow and Johan nodded their appreciation that the mage could at last do something useful to aid the party when they were in dire need.

Luckily, things also went badly for the ogres, as one of them was in the path of the back blast and the other was simultaneously attacked by the ranger and cleric. Both dropped to the floor dead within a few moments of each other.

Bugbears and Gnolls

Cormac quickly raced back up the stairs to make sure that his companion Ulf was OK and saw that he was still in a life and death combat with the leader of the Temple guards. As he did so, the door that the party had entered into the hostel through was kicked open and the familiar shape of half-a-dozen bugbears and gnolls filed through, waving their spiked clubs and flails at the two adventurers that they could see still standing on the ground floor.

Vox quickly emerged from the chimney stack, clattering pots and pans around him which drew the monsters’ attention. Their grins of certain victory at seeing an unarmoured human before them turned to howls of frustration as the Rope of Entanglement swept from the wizard’s hands to encircle them in a tight embrace. One gnoll, however, managed to avoid the magical device and began to saw at the bindings that encircled his fellow warriors. Bow saw his chance and leapt at the monster, cutting it down swiftly. Vox, his blood up at how effective he had recently been stepped into the melee and began to stab the bound creatures at random in his fury.

The Priest of Zuggtmoy

From upstairs came the yell of “Priest!” Johan swiftly made his way towards the stairs that led to the first storey, leaving Bow and Vox to finish off their tightly bound opponents.

As Cormac reached the central balustrade he heard the heavy step of a plate armoured cleric step onto the landing from the attic above. The black armoured cleric drew his favoured weapon and advanced upon the fighter just as he yelled his warning.

The priest of Balder made his way to the top of the stairs, hatred burning in his eyes at the sight that confronted him. To his right he heard the death of the last Temple guard and saw his companion Ulf race past him to join Cormac in combat with the sable-armoured cleric.

The two fighters tried with all their might to hit the evil priest but he just laughed at their feeble attempts. His armour glowed with protective magical dweomers and he held the two warriors at bay with ease.

Johan advanced towards the fight but just as he got there Cormac was Commanded to stillness by a magical spell. This gave time for the Priest of Zuggtmoy to use his magical staff to strike down Ulf in a flash of powerful energy. Johan cast a Hold spell back but this just bounced off the evil priest’s defences.

The priest then turned his attention to the cleric of Balder. Johan knew that the party was out-classed so yelled that everyone should leave the hostel and let the Thuringians take care of this troublesome opponent. He then swept passed Cormac and sprinted back down the stairs just in time to see the last of the bugbears brought to its knees. His conscience then got the better of him; he had seen one companion struck down and did not want to lose another. He strengthened his resolve and headed back to the combat after he called to the rest of his companions downstairs for aid.

The sight that struck him when he got back to the combat haunted his vision. Cormac was also struck down by the mighty power of the Staff of Striking and hit the floor in a heap. However, whilst the evil cleric gloated over the death of his two companions, Johan quickly administered a Cure spell which brought the fighter round just enough so that the pair could stumble back down the stairs to join the remainder of their small party.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Doggerland Session 3:23 (The Party Splits)

Due to the campaign running longer than the allotted time span, three of the regular players left the group this week to start on a new game that they had already booked a place on. I wish them all the best and hope they enjoy their new roles. Meanwhile, this campaign moves on and the pace will start to hot up a bit in the coming weeks as the Temple encounter draws ever nearer. We have got a couple of months to wrap up this campaign, which should give me just enough time to complete all the little side adventures required for a grand finale.

The Party Splits (12th March 2014)

The Adventurers
Bow – Ranger
Cormac - Fighter
Joan – Cleric (not present)
Johan – Cleric
Ryze – Magic User (not present)
Ulf – Fighter (NPC’d)
Vox – Magic User

The Cavalry Arrives – Wodensday 3rd Quinquember (Day 36) – early morning

Just before settling down for the night the party discussed what they were going to do next. As Blaise had to return to his master, the Great Druid in the Gnarley Forest, he mentioned that they ought to use the mouse supplied by Arcturus, the druid of Castleford. He whispered a short message to the mouse that requested aid to come as quickly as possible as the mission was completed. Blaise let the mouse go outside the main doors of the broch and the party saw it scamper off. There was a sudden pulse of power and a hawk then took off from where the mouse had been. It squawked once and beat its wings swiftly in the direction of Castleford.

Paulix, Hallan and Maximillian decided that they would also head back overnight to Castleford just in case the mouse/hawk did not make it through. The party treasure was divvied up between all of the members and then they bid their farewells. The three departing companions headed off into the dusk and then the main doors of the broch were sealed against the danger of the coming night.

The remnants of the party woke and broke their fast together early the next morning. They had made up their minds as to what they would do next. Blaise was the first to leave; he had completed his mission and would now return to the Great Druid’s service in the Gnarley Forest. The rest of the adventuring band had decided to head back to Castleford to report on what they had found, collect any reward that might be coming their way, and then decide how they wanted to continue investigating the rise of the Temple.

They prepared themselves for the journey back to Castleford and then relaxed whilst they awaited the coming of the relief force from Castleford.

They did not have to wait long before the jingling of harnesses and the clop of many hooves was heard through the twisted trees. Sir Guy, the second-in-command of the troops at Castleford hailed the broch and then approached the doors after being welcomed. Before he dismounted, he ordered the rest of the troop to emerge from the woods. Sir Guy was accompanied by the lady Mathilde, Arcturus the druid, a handful of knights, a lance of hobilars, and two dozen men-at-arms.

The lady Mathilde and Arcturus were shown directly to the upper storey where the ball of energy was located and the two tomes were handed to Mathilde by Vox. She took a brief glance at the spell, discussed a few details with Arcturus and then prepared herself to cast it. She mentioned that the Dispel Magic route would have worked but it would have taken about a dozen of them to reduce the size of the energy ball that had been created thus far, and at each casting of the spell there would have been a discharge of energy within the room that would have been quite nasty.

Vox was totally in awe of her power and watched everything that she did with puppy-dog eyes. Even though she was most likely twice his age, she was still a very nice looking lady in his eyes.

In the meantime, Sir Guy had the men-at-arms clear up the mess within the tower and began to burn the dead bodies outside. Some of the soldiers were then given their orders for when the main body left the broch and returned to Castleford. About a dozen men-at-arms would be left to refortify and then man the tower and bring it under the auspices of the Thuringian Empire.

Once the magic had been completed and the lady Mathilde had rested a while, the troop remounted and travelled back to Castleford with the party accompanying them. The size of the troop made sure that they were not attacked by bandits on the way back.

Hallan, Max and Paulix – Wodensday 3rd Quinquember (Day 36)

The three adventurers made it back to Castleford overnight without any problems and headed directly to the castle to report their news. They were quickly invited into the baron Tancred’s chambers and asked to tell their story. The baron and his advisors listened carefully and confirmed that the hawk had delivered the message too. Preparations were underway to send a troop to the broch to nullify the energy ball and to relieve the adventurers’ companions.

Each of the adventurers were rewarded with 200 silver coins, thanked for their service and asked what they would be up to next. Paulix mumbled something about taking on some form of employment within the town and Max mentioned that he had some business to attend to in Abiswick and needed to catch up with his friends Joan and Ryze who were still there. Hallan shrugged his huge shoulders and growled that he was not so sure. The baron sized him up and then offered him the role of castellan at the moat house by Staneford. He would oversee its repair and subsequent use as an outpost in the fens under the command of Sir Rufus of Staneford. Hallan briefly considered the offer; it paid very well, and said that he would be honoured to take the post.

Return to Castleford – late afternoon

The rest of the party were escorted safely back to Castleford and then taken to the castle to be debriefed. The baron Tancred mentioned that their companions had been rewarded and had now gone their separate ways. He then produced a pouch for each of the adventurers containing 200 silver coins and asked if there was anything else he could do for them. He pointed those that wished it off in the direction of the temple of Sol Invictus to be fully healed and suggested places that they could go to get trained. He also pointed them in the direction of certain artisans who could buy and sell them adventuring gear at a good price.

Errands and Rumours – Wodensday 3rd to Godsday 13th Quinquember (Day 36-46)

Over the following ten days the reduced party of adventurers set about spending their hard earned rewards and treasure. Armour and weapons were upgraded and training was taken by all to improve on a few of their skills. Everyone booked a fine room on the Talehangers’ Inn and they were treated to the best hospitality that their money could buy.

Vox spent most of his time in the company of the lady Mathilde. He had become quite attached to his mentor and she returned his favour equally. He thought that maybe she was in love with him; an unmarried mage in her fifth decade of life might want to settle down soon with someone who was still full of the joys of spring. However, the relationship was merely platonic, and although she did quite like the cheeky wizard their stations in life could not reconcile such a match. That said, she did everything she could to help him learn his new, more powerful spells that would certainly help him in the upcoming adventures.

The ranger, always on the lookout for money making schemes, approached some of his merchant acquaintances and invested in one of their ventures. It would be a couple of weeks before the caravan got back and he found out if he had made much of a profit.

Cormac and Ulf spent most of their time carousing and living the high life before they all settled down and tried to work out what they wanted to do next.

Plans Afoot – Sunday 14th Quinquember (Day 47)

The party eventually ran out of money for training and new gear and so had to discuss their next moves. They brought together all of the clues that they had to date and set them out for a course of action. Their choices were…

To assault the Temple – unfortunately they only had a vague idea where it was and had been told it was heavily guarded and that there was a lot of traffic going in that direction.

To banish the demoness Zuggtmoy – for this they would need to find a particular sword, the four amulets and a golden orb/skull. The skull then needed to be destroyed by the sword to banish the demon back to her realm for 666 years. They had no clues to go on other than the possibility that someone called Otis may have the sword and the weasel-faced Gauk may have one of the amulets (unless it was destroyed with the earthquake a few weeks back).

To destroy the fifth columnists in Castleford that supplied the warriors for the Temple – they would need to destroy the pirate ships that plied their trade up and down the Imeryds Run between Castleford and Nulb, as well as work out what the factions in the Iron Ring were up to. Was this linked at all?

To destroy Nulb – there were many ne’er-do-wells in Nulb, at least three factions that were evil; the pirates and their allies, another town faction, and the cleric from the moat house.

The party were aware of the rumour that the Thuringians were amassing troops in Castleford in readiness for attacking Nulb in the near future to rid themselves of the bandit threats as well as to bring the village under the protection of the Empire, and thus gain its tax revenues. The party agreed that this may be the best course of action, especially when their contacts said that the attack would be taking place on the full moon the following day. The troops would be moving out later on that night and the party was welcome to help on the fight. The only misgiving was that Johan did not want any non-combatant casualties, so would only be there to help fight the Temple forces and to aid those who might become refugees.

A Mission to Nulb - Sunday 14th Quinquember - evening

A swift meeting was set up with the baron Tancred who would be coordinating the forthcoming attack on Nulb to discuss the role that the adventurers would play. He agreed that as they had a score to settle with the Temple priest and his minions the party could attack and hold the Waterside Hostel. He handed the party a red sash each to be tied around their right wrist so they could be identified by friendly forces in the heat of battle.

The wagon train set out after curfew and all exits from Castleford were watched in case word got out about the impending attack. Any bird or other form of messenger that attempted to leave the town was swiftly shot from the skies or hunted down by magical means.

The party were given instructions that the signal to commence their part in the manoeuvre was a fusillade of flaming trebuchet missiles aimed at the pirate boats in the pool harbour. They were then on their own until help could get to them once the battle for the village was completed and any resistance put down.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Doggerland Session 3:22 (The Broch II)

The Stone Guardian (5th March 2014)

The Adventurers
Blaise – Druid
Bow – Ranger
Cormac - Fighter
Hallan – Fighter
Joan – Cleric (not present)
Johan – Cleric
Maximillian – Thief
Paulix - Thief
Ryze – Magic User (not present)
Ulf – Fighter (NPC’d)
Vox – Magic User

The Bugbears’ Chamber – Tirsday 2nd Quinquember (Day 35) – early afternoon

The dust settled slowly after the last blow was struck. The fighters within the room bowed their heads in exhaustion whilst the rest of the party cautiously made their way inside the confines of the ancient broch.

Bow made his way to the sides of the chamber from where the bugbears stabbed at them through the murder holes with their spears. At the same time, Vox spotted a lone figure that approached the broch from the north-east and called out a challenge. Paulix pulled back his hood and announced he had some news for them.

The thief was welcomed within the broch and the two sets of doors were slammed shut and barred from within. Bow, meanwhile, had searched through all of the bedding furs and found a treasure chest. He was going to smash the lock off with one of the bugbears’ morning stars but then he decided against opening it using force, so Maximillian was immediately called to the scene to take a look at the locks on it.

Max saw that the lock was an easy one to open, so he quickly got his tools out and popped it open. Unfortunately, in his haste, he forgot to check it for traps and a slim needle punctured the heel of his hand. A burning sensation spread throughout his arm very quickly and he howled in pain. Johan took a look at the wound but realised he did not have a spell handy that would help his companion. He was not sure how long the poison would take to subside within the thief’s body but he decided he would try to pray for a new spell to cure the poison just in case he could catch it in time.

Inside the chest was a bolt of silk cloth tied with a nice piece of rope, four expensive looking items of jewellery and a few pouches of silver coins. To these were added the gold and silver coins found on the bodies of the six bugbear guards.

The Mad Druid

The party decided to take a short rest before moving on to give Johan the chance to pray for a spell to help the thief, but Maximillian had other ideas and scaled the stairs upwards despite the pain from the poison coursing through his body. He wanted explore the rest of the broch before he died if that was to be his fate.

At the top of the stairs he noticed that a wall divided the level, and two doors were spaced equally along its length. There was also a ladder positioned below a trap door to allow access to what he supposed was the parapet level above. He ignored the doors and proceeded directly up the ladder; he wanted to get to the treasure on the guards’ bodies before his companions. Unfortunately the pain from the poison slowed him somewhat.

Back down on the ground floor, the party left Vox and Ulf to guard Johan and the downwards staircase whilst the rest made their way to the next floor. They proceeded up the stairs cautiously but they assumed there to be no threat because Max had not yelled out a warning thus far.

Blaise, Paulix and Hallan passed the first door and then Hallan kicked open the second door. Inside the room the companions saw that there was a glowing blue ball of electrical energy hanging in the centre of the chamber above a complex inscription upon the floor. The rest of the room was in disarray, as was the inhabitant; a small, wiry old man in unbleached robes. He shouted at the party to begone but they steadfastly refused his request and advanced upon him rapidly. He called out “Granite” and then threatened them with his staff. The party ignored his threats and began to shoot at him with arrows and attack him with their swords.


A few moments later, the door to the first room burst from its hinges and a huge man made of stone erupted from the room and charged into the summoning room. The party turned in fear at the sight of the new arrival but attacked it nonetheless. Their blows managed to hit the golem but they did not seem to cause much damage other than the occasional small chip. The mad druid (recognised as such by Blaise) continued to be beaten soundly by the party in the room but the arrival of Granite allowed him to cast one spell upon himself.

The mad druid did not manage to strike the party with his staff but Granite more than made up for this by beating Hallan to within an inch of his life. The druid called for the party to surrender but just as he did so a few more of the party joined the fray. Paulix called for more help against the golem and Ulf decided that Vox could cope with the guard duties below.

An impasse was joined as the party found they were being rapidly defeated by the stone golem but were making some headway against defeating the mad druid. Blows were held for a few moments and this caused Granite to stop his attacks. A brief parley was set up where the party found out that ‘The Master’ was behind all of the weather problems but they could find out nothing more as the druid proceeded back down his route towards madness again.

Combat was re-joined but this time the mad druid seemed to get the worst of it. He polymorphed into a small bird and flew out of one of the arrow slits but the arrows that Paulix and Bow sent after him did not find their mark. Granite ground to a halt immediately.

Max’s Encounters on the Parapets

Meanwhile, upstairs on the parapet, Max closed the trap door that led back down the ladder to the level below. He investigated the bodies of the stone throwing guards and divested them of their money pouches whilst he heard a combat start up below. He then made his way into the small wooden hut situated at the centre of the roof top. The interior was dark and full of sleeping pallets and a small fire burned for warmth and cooking. He lit a torch from the fire’s embers and looked about the small hut more closely. Above his head he noticed that there was a trap door that presumably led into the small conical attic above the guards’ hut. The step ladder leading up to it was in place, so he decided to climb up it. The poison coursing through his veins felt like it had almost run its course by now as he was beginning to feel better, but it had left him very much weakened.

He popped open the attic flap and climbed up with the torch for a better look. The disturbance of the attic door, the light of the torch, and the simultaneous destruction of the door below by Granite created an eruption of wings. A dozen flying beasts, bigger than the biggest bats he had ever seen, but with long proboscises in the place of snouts, flew into his face. One of the hideous creatures attached itself to his breast and began to suck at his blood. He swung around with his torch and sword, swatted one of them out of the air, and then dropped back through the entrance hole to the floor below, but not without seeing something shining in the guano on the floor of the loft.

He yelled to his companions that he had been struck by something otherworldly and quickly prepared a smoking oil bomb and small net for the attic entrance. He quickly nailed the net over the attic entrance, pushed open the attic door again and threw in the whizz-bang. The noise saw to it that the majority of the stirges flew out of their nest through the holes in the roof between the wooden slates, but a couple left behind died in the concussion. Max was quick to ascend the step ladder again and grabbed at the shiny item before he began to feel faint from the poison and loss of blood from the stirge.

He managed to crawl to the ladder down to the level below where the party were fighting the druid and golem before he passed out, his life’s blood pumping rapidly into the stirge’s stomach.

Rest and Recuperation - evening

Just as their combat finished, the party heard the yell of anguish from their companion above. They rapidly ascended the ladder to the parapet level and saw Max sprawled on the flagstones with a monstrous looking winged beast attached to his breast sucking his life blood through a long proboscis. The party quickly slashed the beast from his chest, splashing Max’s blood all over the place in the process. Johan quickly administered some first aid, saving the thief before he answered the call of Hel.

Whilst the fighters took stock of what was in each of the rooms, the mages found that they had time to rest and recover some of their spells. They decided to rest up for the rest of the afternoon which gave the fighters a long time to try to work out what was going on. The first thing that was tried was to see what effect the lightning ball would have if struck. It was done at distance using an arrow, but the swift response and damage caused by the returning energy bolt soon stopped any further exploration in that direction. This would be one for the book wise mages to resolve.

The room with the shattered door from which Granite emerged from turned out to be a laboratory. There was a large work bench that took up a great portion of the room covered in phials, sheets of parchment, powdered gems, precious metal filings and a variety of periapts and cauldrons bubbling away to unknown ends. There was also a large book shelf full of tomes and scrolls, as well as a coat stand that held several plain cloaks and a black robe with the Eye of Zuggtmoy upon it.

Whilst the books were searched through to work out what they contained, the thief and ranger shovelled the treasures from the bench into their pouches. However, Bow had a thought and scooped up a large handful of the powdered gems and precious metals and took it into the energy ball room. He threw the mixture into the energy ball but was rewarded with a bolt of lightning hitting him in return.

The mages finally completed their studying, meditating and prayers, and returned to the rest of the party fully equipped with spells to help in their next endeavours. It was decided to descend the stairs to the basement level.

Into the Depths

Johan passed amongst the members of the party who had been hurt and dispensed the healing powers of the great god Balder to his comrades. None were fully healed but all felt a lot better after his administrations.

The main doors to the broch were double checked that they were bolted and barred and then the adventurers lit their torches, candles and lanterns and formed into their battle order then stealthily made their way down the stairs into the gloom.

The level below was stocked with piles of grain sacks and many barrels of fresh water and cheap wine. The party decided to pass these by after a very quick check on their contents and continued down a second flight of stone steps to a sub-basement.

This lowest floor completed their journey down and ended with a hemi-spherical room about 30’ across with four wooden doors spaced equidistant across the flat side. Hallan and Cormac moved up to kick the doors open one at a time. Each door, when opened, revealed a pair of corpses which stirred to un-life a few moments after the door opened. They all lumbered towards the doorways to their cells but the power of Balder emanated from Johan’s holy symbol and turned them. The zombies cowered away from the pure light that radiated from Johan and the fighters made mincemeat of them in no time at all.

The party searched this lowest level but could find nothing of any value. However, at the last moment before they decided that they would return to the upper levels to rest for the night a trail of very faint footprints was spotted that headed towards one of the walls but disappeared through it. It did not take Paulix long to find the catch that popped open the secret door.

The Altar

An image of Zuggtmoy - used without permission WotC/TSR 

Hallan and Cormac led the way down the narrow corridor, the light from their torches picked out a short rough-hewn corridor that turned right at the end. They cautiously turned the corner and espied that a further short corridor appeared to open onto a similarly made chamber.

Upon entering the subterranean chamber the party noticed a large stone altar at the far end, upon which were placed a variety of golden statues and religious items. The party quickly snatched up the golden objects for later study and poured holy water upon the dark altar.

Return to the Laboratory

They then left the lower levels of the broch and returned to the laboratory on the first floor where they melted down the evil-feeling golden objects; they would not be used by followers of the Temple again.

Vox rapidly scanned through the shelves and soon narrowed down the books and scrolls to just two useful ones. One held the counter spell to the energy ball in the room next door but he realised that the spell was way beyond his knowledge and level of power to cast. The other tome mentioned that it could be destroyed by the Dispel Magic spell that he could cast but there were side-effects to this method that could prove nasty. He decided that it would be better for a higher level mage to tackle this dilemma.

The rest of the party set up a watch and settled down to a late meal and a good rest. Johan prayed to his god again and the rest of the adventurers prepared themselves for a good night’s sleep. Vox then collected the treasures that the party had gathered within the broch and cast an Identify dweomer over them all. The eight vials were magical, as was the rope binding the silk cloth. He also identified that the dagger had magical properties as did one of the cloaks that was on the coat stand in the laboratory before he fell into a comatose state. However, the cloak was identified as being a cursed item that killed its wearer; it was obviously used as the means to turn unwary travellers into the zombies in the cells below.