PrinceCon XL: Steve’s Scenario Recap

The name of the scenario was:

“WE NEED HEROING!”

Or if you looked closer at it:

“WE NEED (remedial) HEROING (101)”

There was a large stack of Mead and Turkey leg item cards attached to the poster with the guidelines, “Take one, or more! Feast!” This should have been the first clue where this was headed.

(In fact, I heard that a Turkey Leg was used to save a character’s life, so hey my job here is done.)

In Episode 1, entitled “Don’t Let Your Legend Suck” (that was taken from the title of the training montage music from Episode 2 of Galavant) the heroes are called off to a grand colosseum by the Gods to take part in some heroic games to boost morale. Upon arriving, however, they met with Eða, a Valkyrie, who lets the boom drop that the reason why they’re here is because they are the souls who emphasized the eating and drinking in Valhalla more than the fighting and revelry, and as a result needed to have their doughy bodies whipped back into shape — by physical force if necessary.

Throughout the dilapidated colosseum were hundreds of stoneoak trees that needed to be chopped down to make room for the physical tests, so Eða said “Get on it!” Immediately which after the party executed the most stunning and well-coordinated campaign of aggressive procrastination that has ever played out at PrinceCon.

As the name suggests, stoneoaks are very, very tough to knock down or move. One of the party members — a Riddari — tried tilting at windmills, treating them like giants with a charge with their lance. That didn’t work very well; however, it gave the rest of the party a good laugh.

One of the party’s Danu clerics decided to talk to the trees to see what they could do about their task more peaceably… Eða didn’t like that, so she took her axe and… well very soon afterwards the Danu cleric was complaining that she was just talking to that tree — “Well now you’re not. Finish the rest of them!”

When they finally managed to knock one over, they noticed that down under the roots, coiled around the tree’s taproot was a stony-looking hand. A Detect Evil later, and they realized that rock trolls were incubating under each stoneoak in some kind of symbiotic/parasitic relationship.

Eventually the boom drops and the mature trolls, about 3 or 4 of them, start to climb out of the dirt, their umbilical cords being snipped by the adventurers, and one of the huge stone slabs behind this area started to make thumping noises as if a really big troll was trying to come out behind it, too. The normal sort of fight ensued, but one decidedly abnormal maneuver, involving falling upon a troll with a lance aimed at their head while wearing full plate armor led to the award of the Character title “Trollrider.” It was epic.

Another in the party made the best use of Hold Portal that I have seen. Focused on the giant rock they managed to hold back the huge troll until they were able to build a pit trap in front of the door, call on reinforcements, and gather munitions to take the troll down…

READY STEADY HERE IT COMES!…

But when the spell wore off, they realized that the poor troll was knocking its head into the rock so many times that it was quite dazed and just sat there until one of the players coaxed it out with a turkey leg and it fell headlong into the pit.

The troll, strangely enough was carrying two things: A map leading up into some scraggly woods into a mountain, and a rubbing of a Fate Stone that read, “The characters shall SMUDGE at this fate stone.”

A curious clue that could not be ignored.

That led to Episode 2, entitled “And All I Got Was This Lousy Fatestone.”

The party took on three more members and set out to follow the map, and it took them through the scraggly woods where the were completely unmolested… but noticed that someone was planting stone oak seedlings. With some jiggery pokery (well, pully-uppy) they found that each one had a rock troll larva by its roots that died immediately upon exposure to sunlight.

The trees were getting bigger the further into the woods towards the mountains they went –

Could this be a trap? Nah. Onwards!

Pulling up as many trees as they could they made their way to the base of the mountain. The soil started getting more volcanic.

Was this danger? No! Onwards!

They come across the crest of the mountain and descend into a small, flat valley to notice that there is a little potting shed shack in the center.

A perfectly round caldera-like valley. Is this a potential hazard? Pssh!

They find that an equally disoriented rock troll lives in the little shack, and is more or less harmless. They name him Jonny Trollyseed, assuming he’s responsible for all of the tree plantings…. but much to their surprise, they find in the middle of his shack, the Fate stone they have a rubbing of!

It reads: “The adventurers shall arrive at this fatestone.” A singularly puzzling fate.

Of course, they pick it up. But it is at that point when they hear their old friend Eða, who had followed them, shouting at the top of her lungs to get out. That it’s a trap, and that upon entering the valley she was cut off from the song of her sisters. In fact, none of them can feel any connections to their deities, nor can they seem to fly or get away from the fate stone.

By about this time, too, another party member manages to walk around the back of the shack and notice a large pile of bones… and loot! This was apparently a trap sprung many times before them upon many adventurers much more well equipped than themselves. Lots of them. So many bones.

So, they can’t get out and the caldera starts to activate, the hot lava getting closer and closer.

And then it dawns upon one of them! The Fatestone! That’s what’s keeping them there.

One of them says, “Quick, smash it!”

Another interjects: “No wait! It’s a Fate stone. One of us has to say the incantation.”

Yet another volunteers: “I’ll do it!”

And so he solemnly takes it into his hands, looks squarely at it and recites the words that will break the stone and cost him his life:

“I reject this Fate.
Ordained events kill the adventurous spirit.
Predestination is the little-death that brings complacency.
I reject this Fate.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will face my Future… unknown!”

… and nothing happens.

He says it again, this time quicker and more frantic.

Finally, all of the party members stood around in a circle holding hands “kumbaya style,” reciting the Litany that they pray will save their lives.

Nadda.

So one revisits their, “Smash it!”

And smashing it actually works!

It turns out it’s a fake fate stone, or Fakestone, powered by an old manuscript talisman.

Note: The Manuscript was actually adapted from an actual Old Norse skald poem with some of the names replaced (Hione for Oden, Ratri for Loki, Volva or Wise Woman representing one of the Wyrd Sisters, etc.) with a number of kennings for different events.

With an additional map puzzle in hand it lead them to:

Episode 3: “Verkstedet” (The Workshop or Laboratory)

They finish the map puzzle, making a trek out into the woods and arrived back precisely where they started — but something was different. They found a cottage that was absolutely dripping with both magic, and seriously deadly traps.

Long story short, as this run was puzzle, trap, puzzle, trap, they find out that it is one of Ratri’s auxiliary labs where she is developing the troll-tree-embryos to raise a huge army, and tinkering with fatestones and fakestones, trying to find ways to break them, alter them, or try and create them… luckily she didn’t get very far.

After the mages sacrificed two monkeys to the cause of disarming traps… and nearly causing a kerfuffle with the nature clerics in the party (earning one of the characters the title “Monkeybane”) they manage to utterly destroy the cottage by — “accidentally” — creating a feedback loop between a trapped cabinet of reflection (which stored one of Ratri’s deepest secrets) and a mirror of reflection, held by one of their clerics.

The cabinet… and the supporting wall behind it… lost after a volley back and forth 13 times.

Some things that were not caught: After they realized that it was one of Ratri’s labs, why would a god have a place to sleep? Why would a god have an underwear drawer?

And, if they *had* managed to get into the cabinet that they… *cough* blew up, they would have been asking, “Why is there a painting of a little Ratri with flesh and blood mortals who look like her parents?”

Regardless! With the secret lab destroyed along with the extra hordes of troll seeds, the Remedial Heroes are proven to be genuine heroes after all.

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PrinceCon XL: Andy’s Scenario Recap

Storm Lion and the World Serpent

BACKSTORY
In her quest to gain power, Ratri seduced Troll-Mother Drugar and gave birth to a large serpent. It was not long before the deadly nature of its poison, even to the gods themselves, became apparent. No skill could heal or repel the toxin, so Hione consigned it to the oceans around Mannheim. There it could live out its existence without posing a danger.

Mother troll objected to her off-spring’s banishment, but Ratri remained silent. This began the unraveling of the relationship between Trolls and the other races of Godsheim. With Ratri’s help, Drugar fashioned a race of Sea Tolls, adapted to live in the waters around Mannheim. They would serve and protect the Serpent should the Gods decide banishment was not enough.

Even Hione did not know that a small contingent of Fishfolk had survived the primordial Godswar by escaping to the very waters to which the Serpent had been consigned. Bereft of their defeated Dark Gods, they began to worship the Serpent and taught the Trolls to do likewise. They called it “Hafnadhr” in its native tongue.

Then they warded their new God against every manner of scrying and detection, lest their old foes look upon Hafnadhr and discover their own existence. It was their worship that caused Hafnadhr to grow to such an extreme size and make it a pawn in the Great Game of Fate that was to unfold as the Ages of the World sped by.

When Ratri’s plans were ripe, she entered Hafnadhr’s mouth – what child would hurt its parent? – and called for Aru’s aid, pretending she had been poisoned. Her message to him contained secret writing only he could read, telling him where to find her. When he arrived, she cast about him a confounding Darkness and shoved him down the Serpents gullet. There Thoki waited to complete Aru’s imprisonment, keeping him from foiling Ratri’s gambit before it could develop.

UNDER THE SEA — SERPENT! (Run 1)

Intro: (For all runs)
Queen Eir asked the party to seek out the World Serpent and obtain a sample of its poison from which she might make an antidote. With Aru missing, it was the only way she could think to save her firstborn.

The Action:
Two Valiant Kattrfolk answered Eir’s call. Their Valkyrie dropped them far out and under the oceans of Mannheim, before a mountain ridge across which she could not travel. Finding a pass, they saw two Sea Trolls. Through the clever use of an interactive, programmed, traveling illusion of its normal prey, a sea monster of the largest sort was called down the mounting, aimed right for the Trolls.

One of the Trolls rolled a “20” on his Awareness check. He saw the sea monster veer off. He pointed it out to his buddy the next round. The two of them stared at the chase enthralled, eventually betting on how many rounds it would take the predator to catch its victim.

The last thing to go through the Trolls minds, before the sea monster, was, “Hey, it’s getting awfully close…” Blood in the water called down a cascade of creatures to feast on the carnage. And, the wiley Kattrfolk used the confusion and dust cloud to sneak past the outpost.
Ahead the Kats crept eventually seeing an encampment of Sea Trolls and the Serpent’s Maw — fifteen miles across, with fangs the size of mountains and row upon row of “lesser” teeth, all dripping a dark ichor that killed anything it touched. For the first time in many an Age, they knew the taste of fear.

Before the Maw, the saw stone plateau on which had been carved a odd-shaped pentagram. In the center, a giant bubble of air encased a group of live Mannfolk, about the number of a large village. The robed figures completed their ritual, and a gate opened beneath the bubble.

Once the bubble was completely consumed, the figures departed to a sea city beyond.

BEFORE THE SEA SERPENT (Run 2)

The Action:
Four Valiant answered this call. They made various and protracted calculations to try to supe up one character to zip in and out to collect the poison. They collected the sample, but before they could leave, they saw a new sacrifice was being prepared.

They attacked the robed figures, killing most and capturing one. Using a combination of spells including ESP, they questioned the Fishfolk and gained valuable information:

  • The Serpent had been sluggish just before the Con started.
  • They were sacrificing live humans to it in order to energize it for the coming Great Battle in which their god would kill the greatest champion of the ancient enemy in Godsheim.
  • A group of humans also worship the Serpent as a god and were providing large quantities of live humans for the sacrifices. (See Alex’s scenario for more.)
  • The leaders of the human cult were invited to witness the final great sacrifice, but the Fishfolk were going to betray them by making them the final victims.

Alas, without the priests to maintain the magic bubble, the humans to be sacrificed had died. With bitter tears, the Four returned to Godsheim with their prize.

After two days of celebrating their success in Valor Hall, the Four were summoned to Queen Eir’s presence. Drawing her sword, Queen Eir impaled her attendant and then forced her to drink what the Four brought back. Miraculously, she was fully healed.

INTO THE SEA SERPENT (Run 3)

The Action:
A group of Six Valiant next went forth. They found the game had changed. The attack on the sacrifice had confirmed to their enemies that Godsheim had noticed their activities. So, an army of Sea Trolls with Ballistae were stationed around the Serpent and the altar and the sea city.

After debating several theories of why the poison brought o Eir had healed, they observed that the poison on the far side seemed to kill, while the poison on the near side did not. They reasoned that to succeed in the mission they needed to collect a sample from the correct side.

The (sole) Storm Lion follower among them proffered the theory that the oddness of the poison could be because Aru was imprisoned within the Serpent. His compatriots agreed to return to help him free the god after they got the sample to Eir.

When they returned, they quickly advanced toward the non-deadly side of the Serpent’s Maw. To the incredulity of the Sea Trolls, the Six fought their way INTO the Maw. Their observations had taught them that the Trolls were wary of the poison and would not follow.

Once inside, they sought to make camp and rest. The giant predators living among the Teeth and a dampening field against spells like Rope Trick convinced them not to dally. One last look around with Detect Magic showed the back on one Fang glowed brilliantly. Telescopic Vision revealed it was the Fatestone outlining the battle of Strom Lion and the Serpent.

While the group debated the implications of breaking it — touching means dying, freeing the Serpent from dying to Storm Lion, etc. — the lone Storm Lion among them acted without hesitation. Nothing would stop him from his glorious sacrifice. The Fang shattered, the Serpent writhed, and the (now) Five Valiant went tumbling down the Serpent’s gullet to Joe Appel’s Third Run.

World Tree

BACKSTORY
The World Tree is a metaphor for the interconnectedness of all worlds. It only made sense that the inhabitants were metaphors as well. The Dragon was easiest to peg – Hunger. It chewed on the roots of the tree; it chewed on the dead oathbreakers and adulterers; and never was it full.

The Eagle, as the Dragon’s foil, therefore needed to be Fullness – in this case, self-satisfaction. It spends its existence literally “on top of the world, looking down on creation.” The Squirrel, given its willingness to spend eternity carrying insults back and forth between the other two, was Rumor – just the thing to inflate an egotist but never fill/satisfy the glutton.

After Blue Carstensen developed the rivalry of Sjinnar and the Jotans with Carrunos, the Harts fell into place. If they became metaphors for aspects of civilization and Sjinnar were to desecrate them in spite of Carrunos, could this explain why the world had entered the Wolf Age? So the Harts became Honor, Fellowship, Charity, and Hospitality.

THE WORLD TREE (Run 4)

Set up:
Queen Eir asked the party to seek a prophesied shelter in the World Tree were the twin youngest gods could shelter.

The Action:
Four Valiant answered Eir’s call. They were deposited on the Tree, and they decided to ask the Eagle’s advice first. So they began to climb, though the distance looked vast.

Now, the key to this run was metaphor. Distance, direction, gravity – everything practically – was a metaphor. Movement occurred by intention and need. The players climbed up or down as a signal of their intent. Two consecutive Will Save were required of the leader in order to arrive. The players’ chatter as they climbed possibly provided a modifier.

When they reached the Eagle, he gladly spoke to them. When they referred to him as simply Orn, he corrected them “…The Great.” His answer no matter what they wanted was to go talk to the Dragon. In this case, he told them the Dragon’s head was the hardest substance in creation, impenetrable to anything. It had the added benefit of being largely empty and would make a perfect haven.

And so the party started back down the Tree. As they descended, the Paladin of Carrunos began to notice his mind returning to the story of his Lord’s infidelity to Danu. The intrusive thoughts became nearly overwhelming as he realized that they were among the Roots near Baenheim, where the Dragon chewed on adulterers.

They tried to be circumspect in inquiring if the Dragon would give up his head to make a Haven. It was a noble effort. The Dragon soon divined they had spoken to the Eagle. He got them to admit what Orn (… The Great) had said. He told them to make a Haven of Orn’s nest and save him a leg of that overstuffed chicken.

Climbing once more, the group encountered The Squirrel who promptly invited them to tea. The players graciously traded stories with Rattatosk, who mentioned in passing how odd it was that he hadn’t seen any of the Harts recently.

So off the party went looking for the Harts. They found three of them – murdered and desecrated in ever more horrible ways in insult to Carrunos. It was clear that it was deliberate and the work of Giants. They decided to take the bodies to Carrunos – a move I must admit I had not quite anticipated.

Carrunos confirmed that it was the work of Sjinnar and charged his paladin to find and save the last Hart. At their request, he leant them his best hound to help track it. He would need to confer with Danu if restoring the Harts was possible.

Back on the Tree, the search was going nowhere. Then it occurred to someone that they might have more luck tracking those responsible for desecrating the other Harts instead. And, lo, they soon found themselves face to face with a Jotun hunting party.
With righteous wrath the paladin smote his sworn mortal enemies. The Jotuns barely knew what hit them. Questioning a momentary survivor, the group confirmed there were no other hunting Jotuns on the Tree and that the last Hart still lived.

Returning to Eir, the party reported their exploits. She thanked them for their service although the Haven had not been found.

Ramifications:

To find the Haven, the party must take the twins with them and let them “lead” the climb. Upon finding the Haven, they will be welcomed by Risna (Hospitality). Alas, they will also have led the Jotuns to the last Hart also. Battle ensues. Or, so it was planned. biggrin

Nevertheless, the service done to Carrunos and the piety of the paladin went a long way to convince the Nature deities to support the gods in the Final Battle. Please see Blue Carstensen’s write up for why this was particularly important to the Con. Well done!

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PrinceCon XL: York’s Scenario Recap

THE BACKSTORY: The background fiction made it clear to me that Drugar, the Primordial Troll, had a specially profound hatred of Daglir. At the same time it seemed clear that trolls, being essentially made of living stone, were excruciatingly vulnerable to the Lord of Stone. So I decided that two of the giant races were pulling a switcheroo: the Trolls gave the Tetrakheires charge of Daglir’s Fatestone and consequent assassination, while in return accepting a commission to take Danu’s Fatestone and see to it that Danu met the Fate inscribed thereon.

1. Luruk Kraagh, Tomb Raider: In terms of the overall plot this existed only to reveal some clues and point the way to more. I also wanted to have a short, straightforward run where PCs could get some useful items and get quickly back to Valor Hall. The situation was that some trolls had broken into the tomb of an Axe Age king to steal one of his grave goods, a set of magical Runestones that were a powerful prophetic device. (Malice aforethought, the item would allow players to extract additional information from any GM running for them and I figured with all the plots and counterplots running around the players could use as much help as they could get.) Part of Hrolf’s funeral ritual was a promise from the Gods themselves that any violation of his rest would be punished. The Valiant are, among other things, the Gods’ enforcers. So, the trolls open the tomb, thereby desecrating it, and *poof* a party of Valiant materialize to show them the error of their ways. I tried to make it clear on the poster that, although *players* had a free choice of whether to go on this run, the *characters* were, in concept, drafted without warning — in the blink of an eye you go from kicking back and relaxing in Valor Hall to being full-armed and armored, standing in a tomb confronting some trolls. No time for in-game prep like casting lasting spells.

The characters fought well but found themselves overmatched (there were only three trolls but they were higher level than the PCS). They fought effectively (among other things, they kept the Troll Guardian from ever managing to cast anything until he ran out of the room to break LOS) but they were running out of spell and prayer points faster than the trolls were running out of hit points. Magical characters who were low on power started looking around for useable items. The cleric found a magical horn which he decided not to use until it was a last resort, but a mage who was completely out of spell points rummaged up a dagger which put him into mental contact with King Hrolf’s ghost. The ghost offered help if the character would drop his saves; he assented, and was promptly possessed by Hrolf and went charging into battle berserk with Hrolf’s combat skills and Hrolf’s enchanted axe. This boosted the party’s damage potential enough that they finally managed to take down the trolls. Hrolf thanked the PCs for their intervention and gave them leave to take all of his magical grave goods back to Valor Hall — he’d arranged to be buried with them specifically to preserve them against the ultimate need, namely now. He also advised them to seek out the wisest man in the world.

One clue that emerged was a rainbow-colored stone enchanted with power stolen from Bifrost. A structure built from such stones could create an additional bridge between Mannheim and Godsheim.

2. Nikto the Undying: Following up clues the PCs went looking for the wisest man in the world, Nikto the Undying, whose last known residence was the mountains north of Hekla. Arriving, they found a cave on a high ledge with signs of recent occupancy and a door that opened onto a blank stone wall — they inferred that there had previously been a Dimension Door behind the stone door. Unfortunately they realized that a party of Tetrakheires was climbing the ledge toward them. While the rest of the party prepared to attack from the cave, the Storm Lion-worshipping berserker mage Black Sun used ashes from the cave’s firepit to make his hair look gray and charged out of the cave to make the giants think the cave’s aged inhabitant was fleeing from them. Diving over the side of the ledge, he failed to arrest his fall and ended up sliding painfully down a steep (but not vertical) slope. As it happened the lead giant chasing him didn’t manage to stop in time and joined him in skidding down the slope. A vigorous fight ensued, highlights included the sliding giant clambering back up to the ledge only to be knocked off again by a well-timed Trip spell, the Tetrakh Guardian being blinded by summoned Jub Jub birds, and one of the party’s heroes being beaten to a pulp in one round by getting caught between two gargantuan clubs (two-handed weapons for Tetrakheires, who are merely Huge, but it was wielding one in both right hands and another in both left hands, and could do massive extra crushing damage if it caught a single target between both clubs.) I should mention that this combat encounter also involved a great deal of argument between Black Sun and the Storm Lion cleric Thunder about what was or was not fair in combat.

After the fight was well over, an ancient wizened white-bearded Mannfolk arrived, riding on an oversized flying mortar (and apparently making it fly by continuously pounding its pestle into it). He summarily told the players to follow him to his current home and “led” them by simply flying off without checking to see if they would, or could, follow. Fortunately the party had some flight-capable characters who followed him home and then went back to help the rest of the party find the way (get over terrain obstacles, etc.) When they arrived they were curtly informed that they needed to clean out his stables and tend to his horse before he would talk to them; Nikto remained rude and overbearing throughout. The party worked well and industriously on this project despite a “horse” with a flaming mane, “feed” that included sulfur and mineral oil, and “manure” more appropriate to a toxic waste dump. In-character conversation between Markus the Danu cleric and the “horse” produced some genuinely delightful roleplaying. Ultimately Nikto greeted them back in his house proper and began behaving like a gracious host, now that the PCs had demonstrated that they were capable of humility as well as valorous glory. He revealed many crucial pieces of information, including the two key plots. Drugar had hidden Danu’s Fatestone inside Drugar’s own torso, opening her own flesh with a magical blade, putting the Fatestone inside, and letting the wound regenerate over it. (Drugar is female despite having somehow fathered the World-Serpent on Ratri. Examining the sex lives of deities too closely endangers one’s sanity.) The Trolls were using Bifrost-infused stones to build a tunnel from Mannheim to Godsheim, specifically from the northeast of Jannmark to underneath Alfheim; Danu’s Fate would allow them to erupt from their tunnels to abduct and slay her. Nikto could tell the Valiant that there existed a magical weapon that could pierce Drugar’s invulnerable hide and shatter the Fatestone within, but he had not yet ascertained where that weapon might be found. Meanwhile the Tetrakheires had denuded many forested slopes in southwest Stoenheim to build a huge wooden raft anchored in a sheltered bay there. Atop the raft was a wooden tower; atop the tower a vast wooden pot filled with fertile soil; growing from the pot was a majestic live-oak; and embedded in the oak’s trunk, with wood grown all around it, was Daglir’s Fatestone. For multiple reasons, one of which was his special relationship to stone, Daglir had the unique ability to destroy his own Fatestone, something no other god could do. The fate inscribed on the stone decreed Daglir would die in ambush, alone and far from the stone of his domain. The Tetrakh plan was to isolate the Fatestone as far from any stone as they could get it, and to ambush Daglir when he came after it; Mathiron-Grund the Primal Tetrakh was itself on the scene to deliver the deathblow. Nikto provided the party with a variety of useful items from his stores and wished them well.

(The party also discovered that Nikto was “Undying” because he was a title rather than a person; a secretive order of sages and magicians hidden among Mannfolk had been gathering knowledge for generations, with the wisest among them being appointed the new Nikto [a name meaning "Nobody" in an archaic language] upon the death of the previous incumbent. The party also learned that this order favored neither the gods nor the giants but rather was concerned with insuring that whatever world existed after the coming death-struggle, whether the old world preserved or a new world reborn, would be a fit place for Mannfolk and other mortals to live.)

3. Tetrakh Tetris: With the weapon for use against Drugar still missing the Tetrakh Sea-Tower was the target of this expedition. The party gambled that with stealth and guile a party of mortals might accomplish what a God in full power could not do by brute force. They landed in the hills of Stoenheim just out of sight of the great raft, and recruited local birds to scout it for them. Knowing that Tetrakheires, unlike all other giants, are diurnal with no innate ability to see in the dark, they decided to slip in by night, with one mage keeping the party airborne in a Levitation Sphere and another with a Fly spell towing them. Careful scrutiny as they approached revealed the hidden watchers with Darkvision spells, and because the watchers were scanning the sky through small slits (in order to remain hidden), delicate timing allowed the PCs to reach the pot and the tree unseen. They had planned to use lightning to burst open the trunk where the Fatestone was embedded, and use Clerical Silence to keep the noise of the blast from being noticed; but this plan failed when a Magic Mouth cast on the tree trunk began bellowing about the approach of intruders. In a hectic battle the PCs managed to retrieve the Fatestone and fight their way clear of the flying Tetrakh who accosted them, warriors who obviously had benefited from multiple spells cast by others. Once clear of the melee the players learned that they could outfly their pursuers, but that invisibility was of no avail against See Invisible. When they were halfway to the safety(?) of land they saw a flying boat emerge from the tower and chase them at a speed greater than their own; they made landfall before it overtook them and hid in rugged terrain while summoning the Valkyries to retrieve them. Although they dodged the ship, a high-level Tetrakh Guardian with a Locate spell tracking the Fatestone teleported after them with a warrior passenger. The teleport landed low, killing the caster, and while the warrior was formidable the party was (narrowly) able to overcome him. The Valkyries retrieved the party, who presented the Fatestone to Daglir; the God broke the Fatestone and rewarded the party richly.

4. Last Chance to Save Danu: The Great Weapon needed for use against Drugar was finally available; a spear that could be used in melee although its true metier was being thrown. “Fatebreaker” was a sentient weapon with various senses, an eager personality, and the power of speech. The small party (only three, a Hero, a Mage, and a Cleric) that set forth to break Danu’s Fate had a simple plan; since there was no way for them to overcome the vast numbers of trolls surrounding the Mannheim end of the Rainbow Tunnel (and the Godsheim end had not broken the surface, and would not until the trolls were actually in the act of abducting Danu), they would approach Drugar by stealth and get close enough to make a single cast of the spear against the scar on her belly. (Their plan was partly shaped by their possession of an item that could guarantee one attack roll of natural 20.) They approached cautiously, and so survived their discovery that the Troll encampment contained numerous casters and was protected by magical as well as mundane sentries. They were also somewhat nonplussed to learn that Drugar was already in the tunnel, traveling toward Godsheim. Indeed, while they were nearing her location the Locate spell broke, indicating that she had passed the Rainbow Arch within the tunnel that connected Mannheim to Godsheim. Ever adaptable, they went to the spot on the ground just above their last location for Drugar and used a Dimension Door to go to the last spot the Locate had indicated. They knew she was traveling at a walking pace and were quick enough that she would be no more than 100 to 200 feet ahead of them. They had not, however, realized that the tunnel was packed across its full width with the army of Trolls marching with Drugar. (Actually only three abreast, but Trolls take up a lot of space.) Since the tunnel was arched, there was room for the party to fly above the heads of the middle rank, and this they did, swiftly overtaking Drugar. Casters cast at them and warriors swung at them, but the party’s mage kept them alive with judicious use of Power Word: Web. Desperate improvisation kept them alive long enough for Yew the Alf Hero to get in front of Drugar, activate the “Strike True” magic, and make the spear-cast; at that moment Thunvald the Cleric was alive only by having Decreed Fate to minimize the damage of a deadly spell cast on him, and Ozymandias the Mage was alive only because of an item that would (once only) cause a killing blow struck at him to instead leave him with 1 hit point. (Ozy didn’t know his item would do that. I love the hotlist!) While magic guaranteed the true strike, it was the Hero’s own skill that caused the True Strike to also be a confirmed critical hit, doing devastating damage to Drugar herself as well as shattering the Fatestone. Fatebreaker perished (as must all mortals who break a Fatestone), wailing in agony; her destruction lit a fire in Drugar’s belly that would not be quenched until the Primal Troll was crippled. With the other Trolls now cowering in terror it was easy for the PCs to escape and return to Valor Hall.

AFTERMATH: The Tetrakh scheme against Daglir was completely defeated, but Mathiron-Grund was never harmed. (Actually, the PCs avoided ever encountering it, which probably helped their survival.) Unfortunately Daglir managed to die anyway — the fact that you’re no longer doomed to die in a specific way doesn’t mean you can’t be killed. Danu was rescued and survived, and Drugar was crippled for the next Age of the World, the War Age.

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Recap: Steve’s Scenario

 

Run #1: Meeting the Ghost River People

PC’s: Macan, Notin Tolkien, Rorsharch, Guildmaster Bob, Frozen Stream, Aria, and Bob (not to be confused with Guildmaster Bob)

The adventuring team meets with Magistrate Nicholai Zed, (see the attached Magistrate Nicholai Zedpic: Magistrate Nicholai Zed.png) a very old elf who is known for having some prophetic abilities and for standing above the destruction of the Idyllican Valley calming everyone by playing his wood/bone/glass flute.  A spirit of his flute has told him of a place to the south west in a crack in the earth where a stone sarcophagus from Sitriph lies.  The people that moved it there wrote a story of their journey on the sarcophagus detailing their trip from Sitriph to their latest home.  It is his hope that they can study the sarcophagus and find out how the Sitriph citizens survived the wastelands and by studying the records of their journey they can find the exact location of Sitriph.  Without the location information, the Horde may not make it there on time before the wall of Shroud magic reaches them.  They leave immediately.

The party encounters and talks with eight-legged squirrels and large tentacles in waterpools where they refill their water. One morning, close to dawn, they hear babies crying and after a quick scouting mission by Macan in panther form, he discovers from a distance an old religious building in serious disrepair with one baby human boy on the interior steps and possibly two more in the shadows.  He also sees at least three predator beasts that look like oily horses with pointed teeth and grasping hands at the ends of their long limbs and hooves on their elbow joints.  Macan leads them back to the party and the party quickly kill them.  Aria picks up the baby boy on the steps and the baby starts to spit up red feathers.  As the baby starts to turn itself inside out and become a bird, single named-Bob, smacks the transforming baby out of Aria’s hands. Horrified, Notin tries to burn the abomination with magic.  Guildmaster Bob almost gets his eyes pecked out by the bird. Finally the other two birds attack and all three are killed.  That morning, single-named Bob has bird for breakfast and finds that the birds have baby skin on the inside.  It does not destroy his appetite.

Shortly before dusk under a heat-lightning filled sky the party encounters a group of six bird-headed humanoids bullying on a twelve year old naked human girl very near a huge chasm in the earth.  The girl’s wrists and ankles are bound with rope and she has a sack on her head.  The six humanoids have red-feathered bird heads and red feathers around their ankles.  The red feathers remind the party of the birds they fought previously.  They also seem to have leather loincloths and speak in a strange language.

While the lightning and thunder above hides the party’s whereabouts, they attack with surprise.  Once they kill about half of the humanoids, they realize that the bird heads are masks/ helmets and that the people they are fighting are humans.  The girl finds her way to one of the fallen humans and using the person’s obsidian dagger cuts her legs free.  As the battle does not look like it is going well for the natives one of the spellcasters runs to the edge of the chasm and jumps!  Without uttering an incantation, she begins flying away impersonating swimming movements.  The girl yanks the hood off her head and Macan sees that the girl had been crying but instead of tears, blood is leaking from her eyes.  As the girl also charges toward the chasm edge, Macan tells her to stop.  The girl freezes in her tracks obviously recognizing the language.  She says, “Must kill her!” And then leaps off the edge flying in the same way.  Rorsharch starts to have a crisis of faith.  He believes he has just stopped the local law enforcement from exiling a vampire and he may lose his Mavor-given powers.  Macan follows along the edge as the girl and the spellcaster have an aerial battle. The naked girl finally drives the obsidian blade into the caster’s heart.  The caster’s body then plummets to the chasm floor.  As the last of the humans adversaries is killed, Macan returns with the girl.

The girl explains that her name is Upon A Time, and that she is (or was) a member of the Ghost River People. She was exiled for having bleeding eyes, the first signs of the Curse of the Seventh Citizen.  The guards were escorting her down river and they wore the feathered masks and anklets of the red feathered Ava Birds.  She laughs at the party for falling for the cries of the bird things earlier.  The history of the Ghost River People is that they were originally from the city of Sitriph.  When her ancestors fled persecution, they did so in a large sarcophagus to protect themselves from the wild Shroud magic present in the Wasteland.  But only six citizens could fit standing in the box.  A seventh citizen clung to the back of the tamed wolf that was used to pull the cart and the sarcophagus.  As they travelled, the six were changed only a little but the Seventh Citizen suffered more problems and began to merge with the wolf.  Even after the escapees found the Ghost River, the Seventh Citizen, now merged with the wolf, became further unstable and angry.  She attacked the Ghost River People (as they were now calling themselves) and their offspring and when they finally did more than protect themselves, they delivered her a mortal blow but she would not die.  They sealed her up in the original sarcophagus and hid her away.  But the curse lived on. The people that she attacked and their offspring had a chance of bleeding from the eyes and eventually becoming homicidal. No one had seen the sarcophagus in about 100 years and the only one who might know where its current location would be the king.  She went on to explain that there are only six variations of faces among the Ghost River People and that each person is an exact replica of one of the original six people that created this civilization.  She has the face of the woman who was known as One Who Protects. 

Although Guildmaster Bob, a dwarf, had some difficulty initially with the concept and related skill needed to swim/fly, everyone eventually got it.  With Upon A Time disguised in one of the bird helms, she led them into the cliff-side city to request an audience with the king.  It was decided that Rorsharch should be the one to formally request an audience with the king.  Upon A Time told him to stand tall and not give up.  Although the palace attendant put him through the ringer by first denying him and then angering him, he eventually apologized for testing him for the Curse of the Seventh Citizen.  The palace attendant returned with notice that the king would give him an audience in fourteen days.

Upon being told that fourteen days was a short amount of time, they decided to go the quarters being prepared for them and possibly return in morning to insist upon a sooner audience.  Magistrate Zed suggests that they sneak into his quarters and awaken him.  Upon A Time used to be servant in the palace and shares her vivid living memories by puncturing the roof of her mouth and sharing her blood with the party.  At about 3am, they implement their new plan to have their forced early morning audience.

Notin Tolkien, a hobbit who looks more like a short human due to his corruptions, levitates into his bedchamber window and wakes the king by casting a suggestion spell on him. “Grant me an audience” was his command.  King All Fall Down reaches for a white cloth on his night table, wipes his face and agrees.  Notin begs the king for the location of the sarcophagus but the king grows increasingly angrier and angrier.  He accused Notin of being full of lies as he is obviously a ‘Half-man” in disguise and probably in league with the forces of Sitriph.  Constantly reaching up to touch his face with the cloth, the audience escalates into a combat when the king launches himself at the now-hovering Hobbit outside his window.  Notin recognizes the fury he has seen before and although the king is not bleeding from his eyes suspects that he is under the Curse of the Seventh Citizen but using a magic cloth to clean his face.  Notin keeps his calm and calms the king as well. Notin tells the king that he will tell his people of his curse unless he tells him the location of the sarcophagus.  All Fall Down tells him that he does not know the exact location except that it is down river.  People who are under the Curse of the Seventh Citizen tend to seek it out.  Until about 100 years ago, it was kept in the palace but whenever a cursed individual would seek it out it would lead the maniac to the palace where kings and queens lived.  Many rulers had been murdered.  One of the past rulers figured it out and had the stone box shipped away.  Now when someone is found to bleed from their eyes they are exiled and escorted down river.  The guards are instructed to let them go once they begin to feel the pull and move along in that direction under their own power.  Notin knows they have Upon A Time and that she could probably lead them but doesn’t tell the king this. 

Using Ghost River People blood magic, three wise women almost completely drain Macan to open a portal to one of his illegitimate children travelling with The Horde.  Grasping vials of blood which will impart the knowledge of Long Bow creation and the Snapshot feat, the party enters the red portal and find themselves back with The Horde.  Magistrate Zed and Upon A Time remain and await a new refreshed group to continue the quest for the sarcophagus of Sitriph.

 

Run #2: Wall of The Black Canyon

PC’s: Brock Samson, Brother Sue Cantacle, Dimo of Clan Jager, Marvin, Poppy O Rue, Thaddeus Venture

When the new party crosses through the red portal they arrive in the palace and the three wise women close the portal with great relief.  They find Magistrate Zed and Upon A Time to fill them in on recent events.  Poppy asks to see the flute that Magistrate Zed possesses and although he does not allow her to hold the artifact of Samedhi he does promise to will it to her when he dies.  She accepts this considering it looks as if Magistrate Zed has one foot in the grave already. 

Wall of the Black CanyonEveryone sets off to swim/fly down river and only Dimo, a dwarf, has any difficulty, but he catches on.  Poppy enjoys the swim immensely, feeling the ancient spirit of the river that cut the canyon all around her.  They arrive in the plains of the Black Canyon as their ability to fly begins to cough and sputter.  They walk across the plain following the river to a large white wall preceded by four strange towers. (see attached pic: Wall of the Black Canyon.jpg)  They proceed into the carved out hole at the wall base into which the river flows.  Under Upon A Time’s guidance, they eventually find their way into a long ancient chamber filled with mounds of rusty brown earth covered in vegetation thriving in the moist environment. 

 

 

Suddenly, about fifteen ragged humanoids emerge from the mounds.  Each one has elongated claws on the ends of their fingers, animalistic features and angry bleeding eyes.  They pause when they view Upon A Time whose eyes are bleeding with this added stress but then launch themselves at the other intruders with rage and fury.  Brock wrestles one victim of the Curse of the Seventh Citizen to the ground but the numbers threaten to overrun them all.  Upon A Time points toward a deep pit and tells everyone she feels the pull of the sarcophagus down it.  Brother Sue instructs everyone to come towards him for he has a plan.  Thaddeus gets seriously injured.  Magistrate Zed starts to exhale into his flute and call forth the spirits of the dead to fight off the many many enemies.  With expert precision, Brother Sue, the cleric of Daglir, cuts the stone free below them so that it gently slides downward into the pit thereby reducing the fall by more than half.  Poppy knocks the native girl onto the moving platform just in time.  Due to the solid spirits above, only two enemies make their way onto the white stone platform with the party.  When everyone lands at the bottom and Thaddeus gets knocked unconscious, Marvin casts a web over the top of the pit.  They kill the two that fell with them and run towards the now-stronger pull of the sarcophagus. 

They emerge in round room under the bedrock where they hear the rush of the waterfall above them.  Before them is what they seek, the sarcophagus of Sitriph.  And immediately Brother Sue begins construction on a wall to seal them off from the imminent rush of enemies from the room above while others begin reading the more recent stone plates attached to the top. The stone plates describe the journey from Sitriph, the history of the Ghost River People and the tragedy of The Seventh Citizen.  (see the two attached images: Carved Stone Plates 1&2.jpg,Carved Stone Plates 3&4.jpg)


Sarcophagus of SitriphThey examine the box and determine it is not stone but some form of hardened ceramic and that it has been affected by the Shroud and has become part of the rough-hewn grand-patterned floor.  Carved clearly on the front surface are the words, “CONTAMINATED APHAR.  DO NOT OPEN”.   (see the attached doctored image:Sarcophagus of Sitriph.jpg)  It has a series of four locks that once open at once.  But Brock does not share with anyone that he can open the locks especially Upon A Time who is getting more and more impatient and angrier until she finally breaks down and sobs.  Although they were not going to open it, Magistrate Zed says he can see an important key inside that they will possess. 

As the scraping sounds from Brother Sue’s wall are getting louder they realize speed is of the essence.  If they plan on opening the box, now is the time.  Brother Sue begins by tunneling upwards toward the sound of the waterfall.  And when he begins feeling dripping, Brock disengages the locks and both Brock and Dimo lift up the heavy lid.

Poppy and Upon A Time look in and see the desiccated naked human form of a woman clinging to the back of a wolf pelt.  The woman has a healed exit wound in the center of her back.  Suddenly the single creature springs up onto its hind legs and stands in the sarcophagus.  There is human skin forming an “x” on the wolf’s chest where the woman’s arms have been absorbed into the wolf with an entry wound of a spear is at its center.  The woman’s face is a smear on the creatures back but one eye is bright and blue and begins to dart around.  She is wrapped in a loose rope.  As Poppy tries to speak to the combined woman/wolf, The Seventh Citizen swiped at her with a pair of claws calling her a dirty Half-man from her wolf mouth.  Dimo and Brock drop the lid behind the sarcophagus as Poppy falls back.  Soon members of the party start blaming Poppy for being bad.  She looks at them incredulously.  Upon A Time, bleeding from the eyes, steps back muttering that it wasn’t supposed to be like this.  The other cursed people on the other side of the wall start going bezerk and start howling. The Seventh Citizen tells Upon A Time she can go.  She refuses and joins in the attack set off by Dimo and Brock but every blow is healing slowly.  So as water trickles in with increasing speed, Marvin who is up in the hole with Brother Sue starts lighting flasks of flaming oil to drop onto their adversary.  Dimo sees a Dwarven key on chain partially absorbed into the neck skin of the joined creature but can’t get rip it off.  Thaddeus sees one spell thrown by Poppy get obliterated before it even reaches the wolf as the wolf’s mosaic amulet hums.  Nickolai Zed summons up more warrior spirits who start to guard the breaking wall as Thaddeus hurls spells into the newly formed holes.  Two other warriors lift the sarcophagus lid.

Water starts pouring down from the hole above as the human cleric of Daglir, Brother Sue breaks into the water pool.  Brock opens The Sevenths Citizen’s side and reveals her internal organs but she does not die.  With direction from one of the spirits, Brock plunges the silver ‘moon metal’ dagger into the beast’s heart and she falls slumped over the sarcophagus edge finally dead after so long.  Dimo yanks off the Dwarven key and others pull other items off her still form. 

Magistrate Zed's Letter of ConfessionThe party goes up the hole helping each other along the way but Magistrate Zed wants to be last.  He chooses to stay with his spirit warriors and when they call down to him he gets into the sarcophagus and says he will not be joining them.  He tells them to leave and then look in Poppy’s pack for a letter that will explain everything.  Before swim flying up river to the Ghost River People they read the Magistrate’s letter.  The letter along with a sealed glass bottle confesses that he was the one who set about the events that destroyed the Idyllican Valley! (see the attached image: Magistrate Zed’s Letter of Confession.jpg)

The blood red portal was opened again and they returned to the Horde with a story to tell and with the exact location Sitriph, the Haven to the West.
Run #3: Glass of the PastPC’s: Gareth, Garm Stormcrusher, Lee Veraage, McCormik, Verlinth
When not sent out on missions, the life of an adventurer within The Horde is not a glorious one.  Patrolling, gathering food, keeping the peace, and even caring for the ill are common tasks that need tending to. 

GergelyA young girl with large lidless eyes asks the group to quiet a noisy talkative man in the cart travelling next to hers.  And it smells also.  They enter the cart and the smell is near unbearable and the sight of this man is grotesque.  His corruptions are numerable.  His eyes in his sockets are rotted and black but he has a crop of new eyes sprouting on his neck.  His skin is green and leathery with some of his overgrown bones protruding from it. He has small legs sprouting from medium legs growing from long monstrous legs.  His mouth is frozen open but he has a second smaller mouth inside the original that he may speak with.  And it is those words that exemplify his madness.  Gergely is his name although no one ever asked for it.  (To see Gergely see the attached image: Gergely.jpg) He claims to have visions of other areas in the Wastelands, in all times but he is sometimes unsure when they have or will occur.  He described a place that they could get to by following the last rays of the setting sun.  That hole under the white square that holds a mirror that shows what once was, that could be again. He calls it the Mirror of Baylis and it is in the still lake in the cave.  They ask him how he could have gotten so corrupted.  He claims to have travelled far and wide with his visions and that may be the reason.  But he admitted to have never been lucky.

Virlinth, a very young elf a little over one year old, uses his magic to tap into the mind of Gergely to get images.  Virlinth and Gergeley sees the place the party is supposed to go and suddenly the horribly corrupted man knows his time is up.  His very existence unravels before their eyes and he is gone.  Since Virlinth was connected to his mind when he was unmade by the sheer mass of corruptions, he asks which god claimed his soul since Gergely was a devout worshipper of the Quartet (Pantheist).  No one claimed him because his soul unraveled as well.  This unsettled the entire party.  They exit the cart and tell the girl that he will no longer disturb her sleep.  She thanks them.

The party leaves The Horde as the sun goes down and after about an hour they find themselves in an area strewn with large piles of rubble. They find the large white square seen in the visions shared between Gergeley and Virlinth and pull it up.  They descend into the damp darkness.  They follow the passage and fight a few monstrous silverfish of varying sizes but the adversaries do not prove to be any major concern.  Down one of the dead end passages they discover a place to fill up bowls with water but it seems like it has not been used in many many years.  Inscribed in stone above small platform is an eight pointed crown and the words “Gold in Peace, Iron in War.”

Behind a large locked door, they discover what used to an amphitheater now filled with water.  They have entered at the top of the theater and across the still pool they see a mirror frame with one golden rod placed within a holder on the left and another empty holder on the right. 

Suddenly splashing puts the party on alarm as one very large koi begins speaking to them.  Another one also joins the conversation.  In their story they tell of a time when they were once human and were part of the elite royal guard of Sitriph. The brother & sister pair was charged with the safety of the Baylis family, the last non-hobbit rulers of Sitriph.  Before the Army of Salvation took over rulership of the city, the Baylis family was intent on sending missions into the Wastelands to open communication with the separated havens of survivors.  To make sure those that went on those missions could return to their original form despite the corrupting forces of the Wastelands, they developed a special tool that would turn back the hands of time.  If a person connected the two rods of Baylis to the empty frame a mirror would appear and show the person the image of what they looked like exactly one year ago.  If they so chose, they could switch places and accept their younger form and when their older form looked out from the mirror they could remove the rods and banish the older form forever.  This would allow someone who was corrupted to return to their original uncorrupted body as long as they were not affected for more than a year. 

However, the Mirror of Baylis was never tested because the coupe led by the Army of Salvation occurred and although General Teodore Valiff was able to capture the Iron Rod of Baylis, the frame and the golden rod was whisked away to the safe house by the two sibling elite guard. Although the party failed to ask again, their names were Knight Nealeo and Dame Annette Kyukaku. 

The pair never knew what happened to the Baylises.  They suspect the king and queen were captured and possibly executed but the young princess named Threnody Baylis had a craftiness and life about her.  She would have put up quite a fight.

When they arrived at the safe house, they lived in the amphitheater intent on waiting until the right people should claim the mirror frame and rod.  They waited for over a century and a half.  The amphitheater flooded and due to their corruptions they slowly adapted to fit their new environment unintentionally, they took on the form of the pair of large blind cave fish. When asked how The Shroud threads had changed them into fish they replied with, “We’re lucky, I guess.”  McCormik said they knew someone who viewed himself as unlucky referring to the horribly corrupted man that sent them on the mission.

They offered the party the mirror and as the party was ready to leave they asked them if they needed other items for their mission back to Sitriph.  The pair of fish offered them the items they could no longer wear like their boots, glass armor and a cloak. 

The party said goodbye to the elite guard and headed back to The Horde with some hope of reversing the corruptions in their hands.

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Extra information:

Princess Threnody Baylis escaped and went into hiding for about 20 years with the early members of the resistance.  When she was finally able to escape the city she and six others left in a ceramic vessel usually used to dispose of corrupted Aphar. They called it a sarcophagus and she renamed herself One Who Protects.  She and the others became the first of the Ghost River People.  See information contained in Run #2.

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Run #4: General Electric

PC’s: Brother Sue Cantacle, Dimo of Clan Jager, Hildegard Finelli, Iggy, Knob, Naylor, Rhopinu, Winters Wisper

The party is on an advanced scouting mission and is camped for the evening, by all estimates, about two days east of the City of Sitriph.  Near to dawn, a limping Hobbit enters their camp.  He explains his name is Ogadai and that due to his imperfection, he was not allowed in the Army of Salvation.  So he joined the city’s resistance group nicknamed the Phoenix. He drew a map of Sitriph in the dust and they formulated a plan.  With help of Dimo’s Dwarven Master Key, they would enter the city via the long lost secret passage in the Southern Wall and eventually find Rich Fellstaff, a merchant man is also secretly part of the Phoenix.  After loudly rousing everyone to get moving, Ogadai moves back into the wildness and teleports back to Sitriph. 

The party arrives in the purple swamps to the south and makes their way to the secret passage in the dwarven made wall. They emerge in the neighborhood of Shutterland which is a large illegal market.  They make contact with Rich Fellstaff who lives close to the Aphar Mill and is aware that the place that transmits the power to the Aphar Golems is hidden in the building.  He agrees to help them on the condition that the Phoenix resistance and the members’ families will be allowed to enter the Fortress of Sitriph before The Shroud descends. The party agrees to these conditions and leaves the mirror frame and golden rod of Baylis in the merchant’s possession.

The party plans their assault as a group of Golems move the large ceramic ‘sarcophagi’ out of the building for disposal. Brother Sue uses his abilities to remove the lock in the metal doors and the party enters.  Naylor and Dimo rush in to deliver a serious beating on a Hobbit who has exited his crude golem to handle some paperwork.  Knob gets into the golem and tries to fit in with the other workers.  As the party begins to see the sheer numbers of adversaries, the city alarm starts to scream. Other members of The Horde have set off the alarms elsewhere in the city and the majority of the Aphar muscle leaves to attend to the disturbance.  That was certainly lucky.

Iggy and others notice a panicked Hobbit run to blank spot on the wall and enter a secret doorway that closes behind him when he enters.  The party runs underneath the dead bodies on hooks being prepared to be changed into Aphar and make it to the area they saw the nervous Hobbit disappear.  Brother Sue casts another spell and gains the ability to mold stone and carves open the door to allow everyone through.  The party descends down a long staircase and emerges into a strange room. 

An eight foot diameter orb floats in the center with seven rotating pendulums swinging throughout the room touching key points within the room. The ceramic sphere is pulsating with electricity and delivering that energy to the walls where it is absorbed and theoretically delivered through the earth to the Golems throughout the city and beyond.

Naylor and Dimo go about destroying the pendulum arms of the strange device.  Hildegard goes head to head with some medium golems and gets targeted  by an automatic javelin launching backpack from another.  Iggy targets the running nervous Hobbit.  Knob casts hold person on the lower half pilots of huge golems so that the entire golem gets knocked over by the swinging arms.  Rhopinu summons a gryphon to attack the golems.  Everyone participates to disable the device or fend off the golems. 

The energy demand is greater with the assault from The Horde’s forces throughout the city.  The remaining arms start spinning faster and the orb’s energies pulsate in a quicker pattern but without a way for it to dissipate, the orb explodes and pieces embed themselves in the walls, floors and ceiling.  Everywhere, golems fall dormant.  Soldiers of the Army of Salvation try to claw their ways out of their clay prisons.

From within the shattering power orb, a small blackened ribcage and skull fall to the floor.  Encased within the ribcage is a blue beating heart.  With each beat, bolts of electricity illuminate the ghostlike humanoid form of a Hobbit holding what appears to be a lightning rod.

Full of hate and rage, the Hobbit points his iron rod at the members of The Horde and labels them as ‘Abominations!’  With a simple statement, Brother Sue says it is The General.

General Theodore Valiff, raises the rod in the air and shouts “Iron in war!” releasing a storm of broken glass, catching both abominations and imprisoners in his malicious spell.  Anyone who gets too close to the general’s form is electrocuted.  But as the party surrounds him, they smash his bones, and pierce his heart, forever putting the hate-filled creature to rest.  The blue light in his eye socket goes out and his heart finally stops beating.  No one chooses to consume the heart, although Dimo considers it for an instance.  They pick up the Iron Rod of Baylis and make their way up the stairs.

When the party emerges above ground again, the city is in chaos and they can see The Shroud consuming the Eastern Bridge. They collect the Fellstaff family with the mirror and Golden Rod of Baylis.  Then they run to the Fortress of Sitriph that is being fortified by other members of The Horde and close the doors just in time as The Shroud passes over.

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Extra information:

The last time the Dwarven Master Key was used was when the seven people escaped the city to eventually become the Ghost River people.  One of those people was Threnody Baylis, the last non-hobbit ruler of Sitriph. She would later abandon her name and become One Who Protects.

The story of General Theodore Valiff:

An excerpt from the stone carvings on the Sarcophagus of Sitriph reads ‘The Army of Sitriph used to be composed of all kinds and races and their greatest hero was the Half-a-man, ‘General Teodore Valiff’.  Early in his military career, his family was murdered by creatures from The Wastelands.  Later, he preached the eradication of all those who were Shroud-touched.  He even led raiding parties into the wastelands to destroy the vile creatures where they lived.  Since he led so many excursions, he was the first to become enshrouded.  When his symptoms became apparent, he was overcome by his own army and destroyed for they felt his mission was just and noble mission.  And so that their excursions could continue, the Aphar was made.  Aphar could shield only the Half-a-men in the army.  Since the Aphar made the Half-a-men so strong, soon the entire army was made up of only Half-a-men.  All other kinds were distrusted and treated as low.’

But the truth is this…

When the General’s eyes started glowing blue and crackling with a strange energy they did not simply kill the corrupted general, they imprisoned him and removed him from duty.  Those working on the Aphar clay realized that this electrical energy could be used to control the clay and offer a way to power the Clay Golems.  And although he was going mad with pain they could use his new found power to bring about his ideals, the eradication of enshrouded creatures.  And as long as the Hobbit warriors were covered in Aphar clay, they would remain protected from the fate that befell General Valiff.

When the necromantic ceramic ball at the room’s center is finally opened they will find that it was keeping the General alive for these centuries.  Inside they will find a being of immense energy.  He will look simply like a blackened skull and rib cage surrounding a beating blue heart.  With each beat, a crackle of electricity will travel down the ghostly image of his veins and one will be able to see his Hobbit form in those instances.  Once the ball is shattered, the general is doomed.  He cannot survive much longer.  He is aware of this and will attack both the Horde and the hobbits that have kept him imprisoned for all these years.

For an image of General Valiff in his early career, see the attached image : General Valiff.pngGeneral Valiff

For a crude map of the City of Sitriph see the attached image: Sitriph City Map.jpgSitriph City Map

Now this is cool…For insight into the choices for the symbols such as the eight pointed crown, the Resistance being called the Phoenix and the saying “Gold in Peace, Iron in War” see the attached link… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_San_Francisco.svg

 

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Pcon 39 Postscript: Distant Emergence

The new world is at peace.  The credits have rolled.  We fade to black.

The sun dawns over the horizon onto a lush field of wildflowers.  A light breeze blows slightly and causes the wild colors of the flowers to dance.   A long twisted ceramic box juts from the earth at an odd angle.  It is laced profusely with white threads.  A large black tree protrudes from one side of the box and odd plants sprout from its surface as if stone is as good a medium as earth.

All is calm.  The wind stirs lazily on the spring morning.  Suddenly a faint sound can be heard coming from within the box.  It grows steadily louder until its eerie song can be recognized as flute music.

The music seems to coalesce into the spirit forms of two warriors.  Each ghost bears the mark of two mountains with a key between them, the symbol of the Idyllican Valley.   The primordial energies of the field seem to latch onto the spirits and flesh seems to form about the lost souls.  One warrior is clothed in the flesh of a great bear possessing long claws.  The other man is transformed into a large black bull with long pointed horns.  Using claw and horn, they pry the lid off easily.  The original locking mechanisms had turned to ash under the influence of the wild magic of The Shroud.

A young elf sits up slowly and the two creatures help him stand.  His wrinkles were washed away along with the old dead world.  He blinks at the light of the new dawn and sets the odd flute to his lips once again.  Through the wood, bone, and glass of his flute a soft melody rises as he exhales into the mouthpiece next to the image of the golden bough, the symbol of Samedhi.  More spirits emerge, such as a young dwarven child, a hobbit beggar, a human blacksmith, an elven wizard woman and too many more to count.  They were the ones caught in the collapse of the Idyllican Valley.  As each emerges their spirits are wrapped in flesh of one kind or another.  They wore bodies of uncorrupted animals such as snakes, birds, and insects, and other stranger things.  Those odd ones were legendary things described as living more than a thousand years before even the Age of Wonder.  They all wore their new bodies like a favorite set of clothes.

They gathered in the emerging dawn light and in the shadow of the single twisted tree and talked with each other until they saw the radiant elf standing alone on the sarcophagus.  They all quieted and Magistrate Nicholai Zed spoke.  His young voice was strong and powerful yet oddly melodious as he spoke to the menagerie assembled before him.

“Thank you all for bearing with me.  First let me say you are all look…wondrous.  We have all seen our share of destruction and death and for that I must apologize.  But the time for destruction is over.  We are all reborn to go forth into this virgin land and shape it into a true paradise.  Let the gods see they have spared us for a grand purpose. Come here to this stone ‘ship’ of salvation.  Let us all embrace as brothers and sisters.  Let us all hear each others’ voices, for this is not my world nor is it yours.  It is ours.  Let this box be our council table and this tree be our roof, for this is a dawn of the greatest age yet.”

The talk began.  The voice of the mole was no less heard than that of the elephant or the even the fiery drake.  The sun grew high and then started to descend in the sky and none of them hungered.  The elf added his voice and they all listened.  With their discussions nearly over, the sun set over the first council in the reborn world.  Their silhouettes mingled and moved in front of the red glow over the western horizon.

Fade to black again.

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Recap: Pcon 39 Wrap-up

In the long time gone before times, a great and terrible empire rose up that cast all under its shadow.  Those that were deemed unworthy by the rulers of the empire were hunted and ruthlessly exterminated. Just as the final dominion of the empire was assured, a desperate band of mystics, shamans, clerics, wizards, magi and scientists gathered together and called forth a power from the beginning of the world, a force to change the world and reshape the darkness into a place where people could start fresh, a new world free of the rules of the empire.

Whether they did not understand what they unleashed, if something went wrong, or if the empire found them as they completed their work, we will never know, for what came next was the Night of No Stars. It is impossible to say how long this lasted, some say one night, some say forty, all that is certain is that afterwards the world was changed beyond recognition and nothing and no place was safe.

Since the time of our grandfather’s grandfathers we sheltered in Idyllican Valley, trusting in the Laws of Salvation to protect us from the terrors of the wastelands. We learned to deal with each other, to celebrate the differences between human, dwarf, elf and hobbit, bound together in survival. But then disaster came upon us and we were driven forth. More than forty thousand people lived in the Valley, but when the mountains erupted in fire, we were decimated and only a remnant of a remnant escaped alive. Four thousand refugees left our home, wandering in the wastelands chasing the dream of safety to the west.

Many died of starvation, many more from the monsters we met in our travels. Our heroes, the strong, the wise and the clever, led us in fighting off the terrible creatures sent by Sitriph, helping us learn to accept the horrific changes we endured as the magic of the wastes washed through us. Some found ancient temples of knowledge to give us understanding; others found strange allies that once we would have feared.

We thought we had reached our final end when the Shroud Wall, that enigmatic white mist that had come over the land during the Night of No Stars, was about to sweep us before it as we huddled in the enigmatic structure of the ancients. Most of our heroes were away breaking the power of the villainous Army of Salvation and clearing the sanctuary of Sitriph for us, but we could not reach those walls we had struggled so to find.

But at the last moment, the strange machines were deciphered and we were able to be magically transported into the catacombs of Sitriph! Even as the Shroud fell over us, our heroes put forth an ultimate effort, several of them falling as they did so, to reinforce the walls and keep us safe. Almost half of the refugees had died on the march, but between the survivors, the allies that joined us, and a collection of animals saved by the Gaians, we packed Sitriph to the very brim.

And well for us all that we did so, for when the Shroud had passed on, all that had been was gone. The world was clean and new, our walls had turned into mountains surrounding us like a mothers arms, what was once endless sea now plains and forests ready to be repopulated. It may be that some others survived in other shelters; we must reach out and find a way for us to shape this fresh world into the world we wish our children to live in.

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