Forthalome: To the New World

Chapter 01: Stepping Forth into the Unknown
Wherein our adventurers first voyage out into this dangerous land

Scenes and Events

The Contract and the Voyage

In which the contract was discussed, and plans were made to set forth.

The Scavs

In which doglike beasts were encountered feasting upon the corpse of a beached “whale.” Combat ensued.

The Lost Surveyors

The late-night discovery of a ransacked campsite led to the raid upon a “Rage-born” lair, rescuing part of a missing survey team.

The Lair of the Ancients

Deeper delving into the rage-born lair uncovered a ruined fastness of unknown purpose, and a preserved member of a long-dead race of Ancients.

The Party Roster

  • Nyll: Magic-User and Master of Contracts
  • Icare: Trap-finder and Dandy Dilettante
  • Afwanne: Scandalized Elf on the verge of Disowning
  • Zsofia: Wandering Cleric of the Farstrider
  • Ghim Gorimsson: Dwarf Adventurer and Mining Expert
  • Chiara (joined during the rescue raid): Archer and Tracker

Loose Threads

  • Icare was given the temporary ability to read the Ancient glyphscript, in exchange for a future 12 hours of his life being given over to Nyll’s “Mentor” for her own personal usage.
  • Icare was again exposed to Things Which Man Was Not Meant To See (aka Magic) when he drank from the magical mixture within the Vision Bowl.
  • What did Icare’s vision really detail? Was that an event of the present, the past, or the uncertain future?
  • The Unknown Lizardman was left in his magical coffin, still in stasis for the time being.

NPCs Encountered

Misc. Loot of Note

  • The Knife What Keeps Stabbing (see Items page)
  • 3x pronged metal pike heads, clearly Ancient in origin but in perfect condition
  • Onando’s spell book, offered to Nyll as payment by Feldrinas for safe escort

Chapter Rewards

The chapter comes to a conclusion as the party makes to escort the survey team back to the town of Eaststeading.

Everyone has earned a base of 4125 XP. Those of you with a 5% XP bonus from high Stats will earn a total of 4331 XP. Those of you with a 10% XP bonus will earn a total of 4538 XP.

PLEASE NOTE that due to leveling pace limits, you can only advance a single experience level at one time. Any XP you would have earned beyond what is needed for the next level are “banked” for the future. Thus all of you are able to make it to level 2. However, any of you that would have made level 3 or beyond are still level 2, but will advance again next time experience is awarded. No XP is lost, merely banked for later, to preserve power pacing.

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And So It Begins

It has been scarcely a week and already this new world has shown me both hope and despair. The very land here is different, cluttered with foreign plants and strange animals which bleed into every day life. Exotic pelts and herbs are gathered with ease and shipped back to the homeland where I am sure they will fetch a price many times exceeding their worth. There is so much promise here, of new possibilities…

But also, such much of the old worlds. Already these people carve out social strata for themselves that mirror what they experienced before. Under the guise of possibility people are drawn, but little do they know how quickly they come to a new set of rules; a new set of rulers. Money, lust, and power drive the world here, just as they do elsewhere.

Yet, as I depart the city with new-found companions I am reminded of just what this place holds for me; the magical resonance of the place is unlikely anything I’ve seen before. Still wild and untamed – purer and cleaner. I do not know what paths the ancient people may have walked, but I know they did not tread the path followed by those I have studied.

There is much to learn.

Nyll

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Journal of Nyll - Day 4

It is with a tired hand that I write today’s entries, for the hours have been long. Our travels have taken us inland after we discovered the ambush of an expedition party. The path was arduous and wrote with danger, but my companions seem to somehow form a well rounded set of skills. What they lack in academic knowledge they make up for in worldly talents.

But such things are not what truly interest me – today’s explorations have led us to discover a branch of humanoid’s entirely unknown to me. They were large and brutishly strong, while their clothing and use of primitive tools suggested only a base intelligence. If that had been it I would have still been elated – an entirely new branch of the human tree, hidden away in this shard of the world! Sadly, none could be captured for questioning – those who travel with me are all to familiar with lethal force. Still, I have learned much from observing their habitat and their physiology. I suspect they may be some offshoot of Orc, to be honest, though the particular habits of their queen, or Brood-Mother, make me wonder what other taints have afflicted their bloodline.

It is this aforementioned queen that I find most interesting of all. A massive, oozing pile of flesh, which seemed to exist only for consumption and procreation. Surely, the finer points of movement, let alone higher thought, were lost to the creature. Yet, they possessed a certain cunning and ferocity that I had to admire.

My cohorts have proposed that the creatures be named ‘Wart Men’ or some other crude variant, for the warrior males were all predisposed unsightly STD’s. I, however, find something that captures their nature to be more appropriate – “Rage Born” or “Wild Spawn” both strike me as interesting, but I will be hard pressed until such time that I learn more.

Beyond the realm of these creatures we have discovered a long sealed passage. I have high hopes that it shall hold some clues to this places’ mysterious past.

Nyll

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Chapter 02: The Woes of Eaststeading

Scenes and Events

Battle at the Gates

- Effective use of Hold Portal!
- What’s in the stolen chest?
- Nyll gains a new wand.

Icare Gone Missing

- Paid his price of the bargain by giving up 24 hours of his life to a succubus
- Woke up in the bed of the son of Jonah Hardcastle

Settling in at Eaststeading

- Learn: Murders in town? Huh?
- Learn: Attempts to rebuild nearby Ancients fastness were halted due to “haunting” conditions
- Learn: attempted raids from the “pygmy reptilioids” have increased over the last few months.
- Carousing at the bars for information
- Zsofia gets “politely mugged”
- Ghim begins to develop his own superstitious religion
- Nyll meets Xavier, the Self-Respecting Gerrymanderer

First Journey to the Ruined Keep of the Ancients

- Nyll gets fucked with on the road by a malicious something-or-other
- Found a collapsed well of Eeeeeeviillll
- Rats! Rats everywhere! Retreat!
- Nyll gets fucked with some more, loses his original wand

Second Journey to the Ruined Keep of the Ancients

- Back with reinforcements!
- One torch, keeps the sea of rats at bay
- The second effective use of Hold Portal
- fought some giant rats and some were-rats
- maybe Chiara is cursed with lycanthropy?
- found some treasures, including a magic earring and a signet ring of House Thissenford
- bloody corpse of Sparky the mule
- gave a Redcap his “treasure” back

Party Roster

  • Nyll: Magic-User and Master of Contracts
  • Icare: Trap-finder and Dandy Dilettante
  • Afwanne: Scandalized Elf on the verge of Disowning
  • Zsofia: Wandering Cleric of the Farstrider
  • Ghim Gorimsson: Dwarf Adventurer and Mining Expert
  • Chiara : Archer and Tracker

Loose Threads

  • What’s up with that huge milky white sphere?
  • Has the Redcap been truly appeased?

Portents of the Future

- first-annual highland games at the New Thissenford logging town, in the “Shivers” to the west
- recent storm has revealed newly-uncovered ruins in the rocky islands off the eastern coast
- Gharm is still an unknown, said to have traveled south to the lost expeditionary camp.

NPCs Encountered

New Creatures and Enemies

- the lizard-pygmies
- the armored dinosaur thing: 8 HD! AC 0! 3D6 damage! whoah!

Misc Loot of Note

  • New Wand for Nyll
  • Book of spells split between Nyll and Afwanne
  • Gnarly earring made out of a tiny rat skull: a Ring of Vermin Control
  • Non-magical signet ring of House Thissenford

Chapter Rewards

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Chapter 03: Trek Through The Shivers

Scenes and Events

Travel Arrangements

- enter mule #2, aka Lazarus (and the charmed merchant)
- Afwanne’s speech, the Broodmother’s head
- possible patron, the “Marquis”
- Icare fucks it all up
- acquire new patron, MUCH lower pay

Travel to the

Day One

- the ash-bark birch trees
- the dickfruits
- the sloth-centipedes in the trees
- dickfruit cider! and bones?
- Icare vomits forth a coin, while Nyll feels a watchful presence…

Day Two

- Afwanne’s adventures with Meth
- The strange spike-rock ridge, and the flying Rocs; ruins of wagons and other things at the distant base of those rocks
- discovery of the Ore mine!
- more contract negotiation

Day Three

- Chiara’s hunting excursion leads to discovery of poopfeathers
- mid-day battle at the stream! / battle at the poopwall! / the dinosaur!
- Icare the saviour of the fords!
- Zsofia’s vision: “the first person you see” (Icare!) will lead her to a new Path of the Farstrider!
- Zsofia and Chiara acquire “Death’s Door” upgrades
- Icare kills a lone lizard pygmy!
- the halfling in a bag! Gerwaldde joins the party
- Gerwaldde knows local bandits, led by a dwarf (recently promoted) named Borgul, 1d4 x 10 of them present at any one time
- the storm comes!
- night camp: camp early/leave early (amden’s challenge to the suggestion of early camp), short watch, icare’s dream, ghim’s fearful sights during his watch, Nyll + Gerald = BFFs, Chiara and the raw meat

Day Four

- the chasm
- the Odette situation, and the ensuing party rift
- Nyll’s new ley line?
- new arrivals! the marquis!

Days Five through Eight

- trip takes a few days longer

Party Roster

Loose Threads

Portents of the Future

NPCs Encountered

- that merchant guy who loves Nyll
- Lazarus, mule #2
- the “Marquis”
- the merchant’s assistant girl
- Amden Sternfinger

New Creatures and Enemies

- centimede sloths? in dickfruit trees?
- Rocs? Details unknown…

Misc Loot of Note

Chapter Rewards

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Journal of Nyll - Entry 5
Of Places and Things Most Bizzare

I have been so thoroughly lost in my explorations of this world that it is only now that I realize I have not scribbled down what I have witnessed. Though my mind is sharp and crisp, it may not always be so – age and the arcane arts may take their toll.

Note: My apologies to my future students and disciples for the color of this ink. It is certainly not fitting for the style of text, where a reddish black would have been more appropriate. Unfortunately, I believe that Amden Sternfinger, the Dwarven Brewmaster who we travel with has taken a liking to my Ink as a ‘fancy new flavor enhancer’. My only condolence is knowing that his customers will likely be experiencing some terrifying mornings when their bowl movements and urine come out dark red.

But, I digress. Allow me to speak on a matter most intriguing to me -

Zoological Observations

The creatures here continue to be amazing, and I am left wondering how such a vast difference exists between the old world and this one. We have encountered all sorts of strange, niche-focused creatures, as well as indications of an entire reptilian or draconian based society. But few, if any, are familiar to me. Given normal species distribution, some of them should have show up in other parts of this world – at the very least, the massive Roc-like birds should have made an appearance.

But all of my studies indicate that to not be the case. It is possible that this diverse biological array comes from elsewhere, or it’s possible that they are recovering from some long passed cataclysm and have not yet needed to venture elsewhere. But, one thing is certain – this place, and it’s creatures are foreign to everything we’ve known.

Geographical Observations

The landscape continues to be interesting, with a particular edge of harshness. The cliffs and hills are blasted by the winds, stripping away the soil almost as quickly as it can accumulate. This has lead to some incredible sights and sounds, as well as the opportunity for profit. Already we have found forgotten ruins and a freshly exposed vein of precious metals. What more does this land hold that I might learn, or profit from?

Magical Observation
My tutelage is nearing it’s conclusion, which is well enough; I am eager to fully claim my title as Nethermancer. Yet, despite my Grand-Mother’s claims that she is eager to be done with my, I suspect she may yet try to keep my company. Perhaps not as a student, but in some other capacity. I suspect that she may hope to gain passage into our world through my growing power. Only time will tell, but I consider it wise to be cautious in this matter.

Meanwhile, I continue to find the magical energies of this world strangely warped. Though they are not tethered to places of power, as they would be in the old world, they still have a certain pattern to them. I have yet to figure out what it is, but there is a flow and rhythm to it. Discovering and harassing that power will be crucial to my rise in power.

This must conclude my writing for now; we are about to set out, and I will not have my handwriting marred further by the bouncing of a wagon. What I have to say, what I have to record, is too important to suffer such flaws.

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Chapter 04: The Highland Games

Let the games begin, hurrah!

Scenes and Events

Arrival at New Thissenford

After the both exhilarating and harrowing events of their journey, the party arrived in New Thissenford with only the current day between them and the kick-off of the First Annual Highland Games. They escorted Gerald of Hightower’s wagon to his final chosen set-up spot, and he paid them for their time and trials.

On the way into town, they passed a fairly small graveyard, and nearby was an old gnarled Hanging Tree, from which gently swayed the dangling fresh corpse of a large, hooded man. Other than that, of note was the fact that the grave yard was remarkably small for a community in such a harsh climate, signifying that the camp probably has its own Crusader (likely a Raenite) tending to its needs.

After the pay-out there was a brief reunion with Treyhern, the personal valet of their previous short-term employer, the Marquis Valentrellis. Treyhern expressed concern for his missing cousin Veitan, who was sent forth as a lone rider the night before. The party secretly suspects that Veitan was killed in whatever explosion collasped the path that night, but they keep this suspicion to themselves for now.

Also during this time, Icare met and mingled with the newly-encountered Burrenfolk – massive bear-people who apparently live in this region. There was much drinking and talking and banjo-playing shared by them, indeed. He met at least three of them, named Hurf, Dingle, and Ello.

While the rest set about buying tents and creating their own camps, Nyll met with the current “leader” of the town, who was actually the brother of the merchant Feldrinas they had assisted much earlier in the campaign. Through this man, and the rest of the party’s rumor-mongering, the following bits of information were discovered:

  • A new mining prospector’s town (called Panner’s Hollow) has sprung up just a few days deeper into the hills – they’ve found gems and precious metals galore! It’s the right time to go check things out before everyone stakes a claim!
  • A Gorimsson has arrived to win the Games! [Kinda true: Ghim has arrived!]
  • Adventure opportunity: the manservant of the Marquis is organizing men to search for his missing rider. He fears something in the dark of the woods.
  • The former Cleric of the town, a Raenite named Martin, was just yesterday murdered by a crazed logger named Wendel Gort. Gort was caught in the very act and hung shortly after. He is now also suspected of being responsible for two other murders shortly before Martin’s.
  • The former patron and namesake of the town, Lord Thissenford, had built a mansion-like hunting lodge just up the river on a beautiful private lake. Two weeks ago, that lodge burned to the ground, leaving no trace of the Lord. There’s no proof of cause, but given recent crimes, the suspect is the late Wendel Gort.

With both Lord and Cleric gone, the town has no one who can officiate the Games, and that would be a bad omen indeed. Nyll tries to convince Zsofia to do it, but she’s reluctant. He uses some clever illusion magic to convince the rest of the town that she’s the chosen one, however, and she changes her mind, agreeing to do the job.

Our session concluded there, and will kick off again next time with…

The Games Begin!

On the second morning, the Games officially began. The crowd was successfully taken in by Nyll’s magical theatrics, and truly believed that Zsofia was officially there to bless the opening of the event. Everyone followed her up to the main podium, where she gave a rousing convocation, commencing the events with the blessing of Jay-kob the Farstrider, Patron Ascendant of Travelers. Much applause followed, and all the while Icare and Gerwaldde picked the pockets of the distracted attendants.

At this point, the Signup roster was complete. The list of contestants:

  • The Party of Heroes (5): All five of the players chose to participate. The entrance fee was minimal, and it was well worth it for all the free food and booze!
  • The Burrens (2): Hurf and Dingle of course chose to try their might in the competitions.
  • Borgun Sternfinger, aka “The Ünderhammer,” a famous dwarf adventurer from the homeland
  • The Marquis Emile Valentrellis, aka Emile Hardcastle, Icare’s one-time secret lover and the party’s one-time potential employer.
  • Revelle, a lone black-haired elfess of unknown origin.
  • Ari Heivem, some random human bloke
  • Miro and Milo (2), the Halfling fraternal twins
  • The Lumberjack Contingent (6): Tancia and Gorfela (the sisters), Maxwell, Rupert, Vilhelm, and Waldegund.

The Games, Explained (Mechanics)

We worked out a set of mechanics to use specifically for these events, so as not to just make everything a boring old one-roll, pass-fail, single-die test. Each Games event is a matched “Feat of Athletics.” For every such event, each contestant rolls 2d10 added together (instead of the usual 1d20 roll). The goal is to roll as high a total as possible under your relevant attribute for that Feat, without going over. For example, the Keg Tossing event is a Feat of Strength, and participants rolled to get under their Strength score.

Different circumstances might give you an advantage, such as being trained in a very relevant skill, or being the size of a bear-man. Whenever you have an advantage, you roll another d10 in the set, and then pick the more favorable two dice of the results. If you manage to hit the exact score of your attribute, your final result is considered an amazing four points higher. So if you have STR of 13, and you roll a total of 13, your successful result is treated as if it were actually a 17.

Additionally, each character starts with a Bonus pool of three D10 dice, directly modified by both STR and CON bonuses and penalties. Characters with d6 Hit Dice (Crusaders, Elves, and Thieves) get +1 additional Bonus Die for each character level. Characters with d8 or higher Hit Dice (Bowmen, Dwarves, Fighters, and Vulterrans) get +2 additional Bonus Dice for each character level. Any participant can sacrifice (as in not going to the central kitty) any number of their personal Risk Dice (bennies) for the session to add more dice to the pool on a one-for-one basis.

Each die added is a D10. Once each participant’s Bonus Pool is built, all of them are rolled – and this is done before any of the games are played. Write down each die’s result separately. During each following Feat of Athletics, after their 2D10 roll is made, a contestant can choose to modify the result by plus or minus the scores of one or more of their already-rolled bonus dice. Cross those individual dice out of your bonus pool forever. Bonus dice must last you the entire two days of events, so spend them wisely!

The events are scored based on the final roll total. Each of the events has a maximum of 5 base points you can score, and you score a point for every increment of 4 points of your final rolled test. A roll of 1-4 would be 1 point, 5-8 is 2 points, 9-12 is 3 points, 13-16 is 4 points, and 17-20 is 5 points. If your roll is under your Stat, you gain that many points. If your roll is over your stat, you lose that many points. And if your roll hits your stat square on the mark, you gain points as if you had rolled 4 higher (critical success!).

Every event has a Score Multiplier. These are randomly rolled immediately before the new event is played out. The GM will roll a single D10. A result of 1-4 = x1 multiplier, 5-7 = x2 multiplier, 8-9 = x3 multiplier, and 10 = x4 multiplier. Your final score result from that related Feat is multiplied by that amount.

Finally, if ever your score reaches negative, you’re disqualified and out of the ranks for good.

The Games Events: Day 1!

After a hearty breakfast shared by all, the events of Day 1 were announced: a Drinking Contest, a Keg Tossing contest, a Drunk Tossing contest, an Arm Wrestling contest, a Sheaf Tossing contest, and finally the Highland Games Trivia contest would conclude the day’s competitive events.

Rather than break everything down into play-by-play recounts, I’ll just share some of the more memorable highlights of the Events:

  • During the Drinking contest, only three contestants didn’t cut the mustard: Gorfela, Vilhelm, and the Marquis. They were added to the list of Drunks to be tossed in a following event (the rest being rowdies arrested from the previous night’s mass of drinking and revelry).
  • Icare was randomly roped into filling in for one of the missing announcers for the second contest, and did a fantastic job of it.
  • During the Keg-Tossing contest, Dingle the Burren got a bit confused and just kept drinking from his keg, and passed out, joining the list of drunks-to-be-tossed.
  • There was much tossing of drunks, oh yes! Most of it was proportional, although Zsofia got stuck with tossing Dingle, which she did most mightily.
  • During the Arm-wrestling contest, contestants were paired off by relevant scores. The matches were pretty much spot-on, and the only disqualified negative score went to Miro the halfling.
  • The Trivia event was pretty silly, and several new world facts were established as a result (and others just plain vetoed out of silliness).

When all the contests of the day were complete, Zsofia (the most consistently bad ass member of the group) stood in the lead with 57 points, followed by Borgun Sternfinger in second place with 53 points. Tied at third place with 51 points each were the burren Hurf and the surprisingly-strong elfess Revelle. Fourth place was held by the lumberjack Maxwell at 41 points, Somehow, the tiny Gerwaldde is also doing well enough to have attained sixth place, with 37 points, only one behind Ghim’s 38-point hold on fifth. Even Nyll scored an amazing 35 points, a testament to the power of his sheer ambition.

The conclusion of the day’s contests quickly transformed into more mass revelry. Icare and Gerwaldde spent some time picking more pockets, and Gerwaldde even managed to score something from the pocket of none other than the Ünderhammer – specifically, an ancient metal key with the head of a bearded dwarf. Shiny! At some point she even managed to get lucky with Milo, the still-in-the-running Halfling contestant. Score!

This was followed by drinking, chatting, socializing, and much inter-athlete flirtation. After uncharacteristically complementing Nyll on his good ranking, Zsofia wandered off to the “winner’s tent” to join the other top-ranking contestants. She ended up in an impromptu three-way flirt-off between herself, the elf Revelle, and the dwarf Borgun. Well, one thing led to another which led to yet more, and the next morning they wake up in a sans-clothing dwarf-human-elf sandwich. Oh my!

Icare’s luck wasn’t so good, though. He attempted to flirt with Maxwell, but accidentally called him the wrong name “Marcus,” which garnered the response of another guy actually named Marcus (a big beefy “man with the strength of a bear, that has the strength of two bears”), and the two ended up off in yet another tent. “Save vs Rod/Staff, Icare.”

On the less-sexy end of things, Nyll wandered the camp and cast out his mind, opening it to the world, looking for feelings of power and strangeness. He was contacted almost immediately by some form of spiritual presence, accompanied by harplike music, a seemingly-angelic force that promised him ways to change the world. This concluded with a tug in the direction of the woods, and a sudden awareness that a nexus of ley line energy lied in that direction, and not too far away!

Finally, Ghim’s own wanderings led him to something else interesting: an encounter with a crazy (aka “sky-touched”) dwarf from the wilds. The poor thing could barely form sentences, and had clearly been through something traumatic, and recently. Adding complications to the situation was the clear-as-day branding of a marked bandit on his hand (missing knuckle from a finger). He talked of “the ancient waters that see all” and the end of days, and the night coming to swallow them all. Ghim took him off with him to talk to Amden who had become a friend and advisor over the last few days. Amden agreed to take care of the dwarf, as dwarves tend to do.

Our session concluded there, and will kick off again next time with…

The Games Events, Day 2!

We’ve got a new player joining us this time, Matthew’s friend Corinne, taking over the role of Chiara.

After a morning of hangovers and some awkward post-romantic realizations, everyone gets back to the breakfast tents for the opening of Day 2 of the First Annual Forthalome Highland Games! We also learn that Zsofia has a sure-solid preventative for hangovers: exercise, power squats, and a concoction of moss and leaves. Interesting.

To start things off and get Corinne right into the thick of things, we play out a short series of scenes from the day before. Earlier the first day, we learn that Chiara has been busy trying to get chummy with other local woodsfolk, so that she can possibly find more work should the whole “adventuring party” thing fall through. Always need something to fall back on, right? Anyway, she learns that one of the local woodsmen is a Trapper named Marcus, who has trapped and brought with him a number of foxes, which are to be hunted as part of the opening event of Day 2. She then secretly decides that she is going to free those foxes, and gets to planning.

On the evening of the first day, she gets her chance. When the cage wagon is finally left unwatched for a moment, she moves in and unlocks their cages, using a bit of putrid meat-oil (ewwwwww) as lubricant to keep the cages from squealing. Her training keeps them following her into the woods, where she sets them on their way.

Anyway, back to the morning of the second day, Icare wakes up in bed with said Marcus, and while making an exit he steals an exquisite fox-fur cloak from the man. He immediately sets out into the woods and buries the cloak, but Chiara witnesses him. After he departs, she digs it back up and burns it, willingly sacrificing what could be a magic item for her character’s beliefs, and immediately gaining XP.

Anyway, the next day of The Games is played out. The planned events of the day are (along with base stat and score multiplier)

  • fox hunt! (canceled last minute! all been set free!)
  • archery (DEX) x2
  • stone put (STR) x1
  • knife-throwing (DEX) x1
  • hammer throw (STR) x4
  • axe-throwing target competition (STR) x4
  • caber tossing (STR) x4
  • dance thrown-down (CHA) x4

Highlights of the proceedings:

  • The Fox hunt is canceled, due to all the foxes having been freed!
  • During the Stone Put, a brawl breaks out as Marcus finally catches up with Icare, thinking the thief both stole the cloak and set free the foxes. But everyone joins in while the stones are still being thrown, resulting in a very memorable new sport invention.
  • After the brawl, Icare is jumped by thugs! They attempt to get him to leave with them, but he sends forth his magical dagger at their leader instead. They knock him out, though, and he doesn’t come back to until much later that evening…
  • A nice three-way dance performance by Gerwaldde, Ghim, and Borgun, showing traditional dwarven kick-dancing.

In the end, the final rankings are:

  1. Zsofia the Walking Harbinger, with 154 points
  2. Borgun Sternfinger, with 124 points
  3. Ghim Gorimsson, with 116 points
  4. Revelle, with 116 points
  5. Gerwaldde (!!!) with 103 points
  6. and Hurf the burren, with 100 points

After the conclusion of the final events, there’s yet another long night of partying. The first, second, and third place contestants each get some hefty cash rewards, and the first place winner is also named the Honorary Spiritual Patron of the town for the next year, and given the, ahem, “presidential” suite at the Lodge for the full year (it’s not penthouse-quality, but it’s still pretty awesome). Zsofia moves her stuff into the suite and then immediately sets to the noble and time-honored task of getting completely trashed.

I… I admit to losing track of what happened to Ghim. Someone care to fill me in?

Nyll convinced Chiara to escort him into the woods in search of that magical energy he felt the night before, knowing that her woodsy skills would be most useful on finding their way back again. After a mile trek into the woods, though, they are diverted by a distress call… wait was that Icare?!

Icare has woken up buried neck-deep in the ground out in the woods, being eaten alive by poisonous ants that were deliberately set next to his head. Making matters more complicated, he is also in some ridiculously complicated trap that turns out to be made from the skull of a dragon. Chiara and Nuyll manage to partially disarm it, freeing Icare but somewhat hurting him in the process. Chiara runs back to get some healing draughts, leaving Icare with Nyll…

We conclude our session there. Probably only one more to go of this Chapter!

What’s Out There in the Woods, Anyway?

Our final session involves the exploration of the weird energies deeper in the woods. We pick up where we left off last time, with Nyll “guarding” Icare while Chiara runs back to the camp to get help. Unfortunately for Chiara, night is falling as she makes the return trek, and the full moon rises bright above the woodlands, triggering some kind of horrible transformation! Yay lycanthropy! Thankfully, because she has invested some prior “death rewards” into eventual control of the form, I allow her some saving throws (which she makes) to run off another direction into the woods instead. The benefit of this is that while she is definitely not in control, neither does she run toward the town nor back toward her companions, effectively removing her from the scene as a potential additional threat.

Nyll and Icare trek forward, really wanting to know what’s deeper in the woods. They discover a beautiful and serene misty lake, and the charred ruins of a small “keep-like” lodge on its shore – this must be the remains of the old Thissenford Lodge! Nyll is quite certain that the call of power is emanating from beneath that lodge, which is a two-tower structure spanning the water between the lakeshore and a small rocky island in said lake. Without waiting for reinforcements (because Nyll is in fact being magically compelled to want to know more), they navigate the treacherous rubble and enter the ruin.

Meanwhile, back at the camp, Zsofia is partying it up when she has an incredibly sobering and humbling vision from her Patron Saint, Jay-kob. The vision appears as a great armored paladin standing before her, and chastises her for celebrating her own personal selfish victory while those she has sworn to protect are in danger. Before he leaves her, he removes his helmet and reveals his face: a white-haired, busy-browed, “Mark Twain”-looking older man with a striking resemblance to Nyll! (Potentially a vision of Nyll’s very grandfather)

Zsofia ceases partying immediately, and finds Ghim and Gerwaldde. They divine the general location of Icare and Nyll (G & G had seen them heading into the woods with Chiara earlier), and head in that same direction. Their panic is increased when they find Chiara’s torn gear thrown madly about a torn-up hollow in the woods, and they pick up their pace, fearing the worst.

They arrive at the tower just in time to see the bodies of Nyll and Icare – fallen in battle! – being dragged into the nests of the roach-monsters that downed them moments earlier. The heroes make a quick work of slaying these creatures, and as fortune would have it, they arrived in time to still be able to heal their fallen allies, bringing them back from the very brink of death.

Nyll is thankful of the rescue, and persuades them to keep pushing into the ruin, to discover what lies within. The surface ruin is pretty barren, having been burned down at some point in the last month or so, leaving only the stone outer walls still standing. Some pieces of buried treasure in the form of candlesticks and such remain, but for the most part the ruin is picked clean. They even cross the precarious span between the two towers, making their way to the separate island but accidentally collapsing the span behind them.

On the island they find another secret: a hidden cellar entrance covered by a well-placed bush. They break in and find an underground stone dungeon, clearly dug and constructed by dwarves, sometime in the last year. Inside they discover the true hidden lair of the late Count Thissenford. As it turns out, Thissenford was a man of many eclectic personal interests, including fine cigars, violins, Restructionist Commonwealth-period sculpture, and necromancy. Thissenford’s basement is full of all kinds of nick-nacks and boxes and furnitures, and he could safely be called a “hoarder” by modern definitions of that word.

Of note among the things found within are some twice-dead dwarf corpses (killed, reanimated, and killed again, all before the party arrived), some carrion crawlers (which they dispatch), another corpse – a halfling thief! – that looks just like Gerwaldde, a room full of “taxidermied” undead “trophies” of Thissenford’s various experiments (his wife, his servant, and his mother in law; all blasted to ash by Zsofia), and a magical study full of all kinds of interesting books and implements (Nyll takes one book for now, intending to come back and take more later).

Of even greater note is the final chamber built around an underground Ley Line Nexus, clearly Thissenford’s attempt to harness its power for his purposes. Also, the Angelic being just hanging out in it – well, only Nyll sees an angel, actually, as everyone else sees a massive worm-monster just waiting to eat all of them. Combat immediately follows! Nyll (charmed by the creature) tries to intercede, but gets hurt and knocked out. Ghim blows his awesome dwarf-horn – twice! – and triggers a countdown for an impending cave-in. The clock is now kicking down as they try to escape. During the escape, Chiara and Zsofia try to fight it while also simultaneously trying to get Nyll’s near-dead body out of danger.

Three really interesting decisions are made here while the rest of the party flees. First, Icare gets grabby and opens the final unchecked door of the basement complex, which lets free five dwarf zombies which were being kept inside! Second, Chiara drops Nyll (leaving his body to be handled by Zsofia) and focuses entirely on killing the worm-thing – and she succeeds! Third, Zsofia remains as the cave-in happens, choosing to put rescuing Nyll as a higher priority than saving herself, even leaving her precious Order Shield behind. Awesome.

Dice are rolled, damage is dealt, and in the end Zsofia comes running out with Nyll’s body right as the rocks finally close the basement off for good. But it’s too late: as Nyll is laid down for the application of healing, his last hit point fades away and his soul is gone across the door of death. Thus occurs the first PC death of this campaign. Zsofia is devastated, and we end the game session right there.

In retrospect, if Chiara had not stopped to fight the worm-thing, Nyll probably would have made it out in time to get saved. However, the thing also would not have been killed, and might have either kept on coming or escaped to come at them another day. Plus, they wouldn’t have gotten the XP for defeating it.

Party Roster

  • Chiara
  • Gerwaldde
  • Ghim
  • Icare
  • Nyll (RIP)
  • Zsofia

Loose Threads

  • What’s the deal with the hanged murderer?
  • What caused the Thissenford Lodge fire?
  • What made the dwarf bandit so crazy?
  • What really happened to Treyhern’s rider?
  • What the hell was that Worm-Thing?

Portents of the Future

  • Panner’s Hollow sounds like an interesting place to check out next!

NPCs Encountered

  • The Burrens: Hurf, Dingle, and Ello
  • Marcus the Fox-Trapper
  • Mister Knife-in-Your-Back, the now-probably-dead thief
  • Mohlo the Sky-touched Dwarf

New Creatures and Enemies

  • Massive Roach-Monsters
  • Dwarf Zombies
  • The Worm-Thing in the Thissenford Basement

Misc Loot of Note

  • The book Nyll grabbed in the Thissenford dungeon

Interesting New Facts and Tidbits

Throughout play, we established new new facts about the world:

  • When dwarves go crazy, other dwarves refer to them as “sky-touched.”
  • “fat-belly stew” is a dwarven delicacy, from fat-bellied scorpion moles
  • cut-and-branded knuckle on the right hand is sign of a captured Bandit in the new world. You’re given “one more chance” basically.
  • TRIVIA: Gorm Gormson (Relative of Ghim) was founder of Port Hope.
  • TRIVIA: Smith Anvilleg is the greatest smith in the land.
  • TRIVIA: The nearby River is knows as Tears of the Weeping Mountain

Chapter Rewards

Death’s Door

Only two characters tempted death and came back from it. Icare and Nyll both were downed during their exploration of the ruined Manor, but were brought back to health by their allies. I haven’t decided what Icare’s bonus will be, but I’m thinking it might have something to do with Nyll’s influence.

XP

These are specifically before individual class XP multipliers, and have not yet been divided by the number of characters involved. We will determine final rewards at start of the next session.

Group Rewards

  • Participate in the Highland Games! (All) Base XP 300 each
  • Defeat Marcus (Minor, All): Base XP 120 total
  • Defeat the 3 Roaches (All): Base XP 360 total
  • Defeat the Worm-Thing (All): Base XP 1400 total

Individual Bonuses

  • Participation Bonus (aka “just showing up and playing” each session, worth 100 XP/session):
    • Chiara: +200
    • Gerwaldde: +300
    • Ghim: +400
    • Icare: +400
    • Nyll: +400
    • Zsofia: +400
  • Make it to the top 6 in the Games! (Zsofia, Ghim, Gerwaldde) +300 each
  • Win the Games! (Zsofia): +300
  • Setting the foxes free (Chiara): +100
  • Continued fantastic dwarf-playing and world-building (Ghim): +200
  • Defeating Knife-in-Your-Back (Icare): +100
  • Actually trusting Nyll (Chiara): +100
  • Awesome Sexy-Times (Zsofia, Icare, Gerwaldde): +200
  • Dat Jack-o-lantern (Ghim): +200
  • Minor Loot from the Manor (Icare): +120 (the GP value of all of that stuff)
  • Damn fine charmed-character role-playing that led to his demise (Nyll): +400
  • Clever Use of the Dwarf-Horn (Ghim; seriously, it caused all kinds of cool things to happen, including deafening everyone and making them immune to the monster’s charm-song): +300
  • UNLOCK ALL THE DOORS (Icare): +200
  • Killing Blow to the Worm-Thing (Chiara): +200
  • Defeat Nyll (technically Ghim killed him with that cave-in…): +100

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Chapter 05: The Slumbering Past Awakens

Scenes and Events

The Wizard is Dead: Long Live the Wizard

In the wake of Nyll’s death, the party is somewhat traumatized – especially Zsofia, who feels that her failure to protect him is an insult to her god.

Icare is startled to discover that Nyll’s Wand has apparently “taken a liking” to him. He sneaks off with it to see if he can actually use it, and after a bit of experimentation he is able to activate, and with little effort. While he is quite excited by this, Gerwaldde – who secretly followed him to watch – is somewhat horrified, to the point of physical sickness. She immediate;y seeks out her good friend Ghim, and says: “You’re a dwarf and you’ve seen some shit, I know that… There was this tongue… I gotta go take a bath…”

Zsofia panics upon finding Icare missing, and when he returns she scolds him most mightily.

They find a dwarf-made canoe hidden on the other side of the water. Chiara swims across and brings it back over to begin ferrying the people one by one back to the shore and out of the lake.

However, there is an ambush on the other side! Some crazed bandits attack – in fact, they;re some of Gerwaldde’s old bandit crew! And they have some weird lizardman they’re towing along as a prisoner? Eh? The heroes dispatch the bandits mightily, however, and Slav the amnesiac lizardman joins the party (cue jointheparty.mp3).

Chiara’s Gone Missing

Ghim and Gerwaldde take Nyll’s corpse back to town via the canoe, while everyone else hoofs it over land. Slav, Chiara and Icara hang out just south of the lodge, while the rest go in for rest and a bit of relaxation. Some shopping happens, with the last merchants who are just now closing up their shops and heading back north to the coast and the warmer climate. The party also hires on Afwanne as a continuing hireling, in addition to Ello (burren minstrel) and Odette (merchant and cook). Icare even trades Nyll’s spellbook for Afwanne’s fabulous cloak. They also discuss their next plans heavily, and decide to try and root out those bandits once and for all, both curing a blight on the region and perhaps finding out more about Slav’s identity.

During the night, however, Chiara goes missing, having run off as she once more felt the lycanthropic transformation upon her. The rest of the team gets worried at her absence and assembles a search party, but they are unable to track her. Meanwhile, beast-Chiara stalks the outskirts of the town, finds a lone merchant taking a piss, and savage him. Shortly afterward she ransacks his wagon and accidentally sets it on fire, then runs off into the night.

She awakes again the next morning, covered in gore and aghast with the stark clarity of the night’s memories. She washes and returns to camp, and passes her absence off as “needed alone time.” This upsets Zsofia, but everyone moves on anyway.

Into the Quarry

By midday they have located the quarry – the target of their current adventure, and known bandit lair. Gerwaldde’s been here before, and she suggest they try a rarely-used back entrance. They find it partially-collapsed under a rockslide, and fight some angry rock-crabs at the bottom. The crabs were quite a match for them, though, so wounded and low on resources, they return to the top of a nearby hill for rest and planning.

At camp, Chiara finally drops the bomb: “I think I’m a were-rat.” This shocks everyone, including Zsofia, who pledges to kill her if she harms innocents. There is some intense argument and negotiation, after which a plan of action is finally decided.

- Slav gave Ello a magical silver lute
- Ello and Slav can communicate easily!
- Zsofia and Gerwaldde come up with an idea to make a “joint” of paralyzation (yay knowledge smokeables!)
- the party makes the joint! Slav lights it with his firebreath
- Gerwaldde and Icare both take a hit
- chiara smokes the whole thing, and is allllllll riiiiiiight
- next they tie her to a tree. Slav does ceremony to try and heklp, icare does the ropes, afwanne will be on sleep spell duty
- watch order: ghim / icare / zsofia / afwanne / slav
- party kills a single rage ogre! 56 HP, 6 HD
- they push its body down the hill and toss it into the quarry hole.

Into the Quarry – Attempt #2

- found rageborn fertility statue, 10 feet tall
- found dessicated spider corpses
- found a fancy magical earring! (Cha +1) on a human corpse
- chiara and icare failed to save vs the mist! ooooh
- after several fights and a trap, Icare is now eating a corpse, and Chiara is cowering in fear
- Slav uses blood magic and a weird ceremony to make temporary mist-immunity potions

Into the Quarry – Attempt #3

- uh, we’re just gonna skip that optional side dungeon, ok?
- a shitload of money!

Wrapping Things Up in New Thissenford

- turns out that Gerold of Hightower was brutally murdered the night before ans his cart set on fire. Who coulda done that?

Party Roster

  • Chiara
  • Gerwaldde
  • Ghim
  • Icare
  • Slav
  • Zsofia

Loose Threads

Portents of the Future

- Icare is now manifesting Nyll’s abilities!

NPCs Encountered

New Creatures and Enemies

- Rock Crabs
- Rage-ogre
- Desiccated Spider Husks
- Crazed Bandits
- Pygmy ragers that explode
- Deep Ragers (Flopstick and Meathammer!)

Misc Loot of Note

Interesting New Facts and Tidbits

Chapter Rewards

Death’s Door

XP

Group Rewards

Individual Bonuses

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Scribblings in the Sar - Tas

Lore: The ‘Sar Tas’ is Slav’s spell book, as well as his Journal. Traditionally, the disciple writes from left to right when inscribing spells, beginning from the front of the book, while the journal is written right to left, beginning at the back of the book. The intent is that eventually the two writings will meet, and a Disciple who has been exploring the world and his thoughts, will have as much musings as spells, and the two will meet in the middle. Either way, the ‘weighing of the words’ is considered a method for judging a Disciple’s path, and that moment is considered a significant one.

The term ‘scribbling’ is one of humility, as the disciple tries to down-play the value of his own words at this stage. Generally, the script is all well written and carefully inscribed. At this point, lacking a proper writing tool, Slav writes in ash – carefully writing, and rewriting the pages so it isn’t dusted away.

Entry – Rebirth

It is with great pleasure that I turn my hand to writing once more. My initial captors did not offer me a method to write, and tragically much of what I experienced is dulled from being deprived such recordings. How clearly I could share the details of my pain and servitude, had I been afforded the chance to record them. Instead, my mind already tries to push them behind, and to forget the time in which I was a servant to them, or as they say, ‘their bitch’.

The past two days have seen my fall in with a much wiser and more amicable group, who have gifted me with a Sar Tas, several fangs, and even a pair of simple clothing. Clearly, they still see me as the ‘bitch’, but I cannot fault them for this – I am an outsider in this hairy circle of companions. And what a strange circle it is – I still cannot fathom who leads them, truly, and even direct questions have yielded little clarity. I think, perhaps, they are like the Hydras of old – many headed and ferocious, but sometimes apt to bite at itself.

I will speak of them clearly here, and I have little fear that they may take my words ill – in fact, I have little confidence that any of them, save the Priestess and the Drunk, can even read and write. I have never seen them draw forth paper and ink, even though I have been within their company for several days. Still, even if they were to read it, I trust that they would see my words as true and fair. Either way, I must catalog them to be true in my observations.

Afwanne – Despite being a figure capable of magic, this strange figure seems to be an outsider in the group. The others frequently engage in debate, but he/she is just as comfortable keeping to herself and her drink. I assume the liquor addles her mind to the point that she is not fit to advise.

Ello – This large figure is certainly the most straight forward of the group, and has proven his talent with music and muscles on several occasion. Like me, I expect that the group sees him as a servant. As their ‘bitch’ he serves, but is given little say in matters. From what I gather, this suits him well enough, and he seems happy to carry on as he does. Tragically, I believe the humans, with their flapping lips and flailing arms are deft to the subtleties of his communication.

Gerwalda – This tiny figure insists that she is not a child, despite her stature, but I can think of no better way to describe her. Small, foolish, and prone to misadventures and missteps. Based on her respect for the Dwarf, I think it possible that she is part of his clutch – or litter – I forget the term for such offspring.

Ghim Gorimsson – At first, I thought this figure might be a leader – the other group had placed one of these Squat fellows at their head, yet that appears not to be the case. Still, he is level headed and prudent in his actions, which bodes well. I have also noted that he appears to pay homage to some gourd-based demon. I am not familiar with this figure, nor it’s ghoulish pumpkin visage, but Ghim finds great solace in it.

Icare – I have yet to see anything concrete about this figure. At times, he claims authority, at other times he seems only to care of himself. Sometimes, he acts cleverly and clearly, and othertimes he resembles a jester. He seems overly attached to possessions, and would rather horde them than see them put to use. Yet, perhaps this is the way of his people – I have noted that they are careful to parcel out their shared resources, and seem content to squirrel much of it away on their pack-beast. Either way, this man is a wild-card, and I fear what trouble his temperament might bring.

Kiara – I might have thought this one of little note – clearly a warrior, and a capable archer. Yet we have recently seen that she harbors a transformation most foul. We have restrained her in order to protect and observe, but it is clear she gives her form over to that of a demon-wolf. It is also clear that this ‘trait’ is new, as the party seems repulsed by it. The only cure they have found so far is sedation, but that hardly seems as though it will serve them in the long term.

Odette Miller – I suspect this one is a nurse-maid of some sorts, perhaps sent to watch over the child and the mad-one. She cooks well, and tends to their possessions, but seems both frail and squeamish. I must assume she is along as some sort of bribe, caretaker, or servant of the others – though I think she would be better left at home.

Zsofia – This woman is clearly a priestess, and she serves someone known as Jacob, who she reveres greatly. In many ways, I see that she should act as the head of this group… but also I see that she gives much attention to the mad-one. It seems caring and protective, and also not without a bit of bite. In this way, she perplexes me as much as the others – with her might, cunning, and magical talents I can only wonder what she gains from their companionship.

Normally, I might be concerned by their chaos – yet, in a way, it seems fitting for this world. The world seems different, the order that I knew lost to a time I cannot even measure. Yet, if there is any chance of recovering those lost memories, and finding what remains of my people, it will lie with this entourage. They are brave and foolish enough to go where no one else is willing to, and accept both the mad, cursed, and forsaken into their ranks. I cannot tell if it is compassion or desperation that gives them such open arms – perhaps a bit of both.

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Chapter 06: Return to the Coast

Scenes and Events

Trek Back to Eaststeading

- Slav is everyone’s ally – “Cause of the pee” they said

Preparing for the Coming Battle

- New NPC, Rodolfo the human shoe-shiner and fence
- New Farstrider notes: They are postmen! And their shrines have books of knowledge and local lore that priests update when they pass through.
- Gorimsson Business in Eaststeading: 100g/month rent, two months paid
- Ghim made a family deal with Gerhardt Goldcastle, dwarf jeweller
- Ghim arranged for his shield to be embossed with gems and carved into a jackolantern
- Gerwaldde bought Strawberry the pony
- Slav tried to buy a baby from a whore and a john
- long chat with the Gerrymanderer, who met Slav
- Gerwaldde hid, and suddenly she can understand Slav’s language!

Return to the Ancient Tower

- set up a “trap” for the red cap
- they really kicked the shit out of it, good job

Party Roster

  • Chiara
  • Gerwaldde
  • Ghim
  • Icare
  • Slav
  • Zsofia

Loose Threads

Portents of the Future

NPCs Encountered

New Creatures and Enemies

Misc Loot of Note

Interesting New Facts and Tidbits

Chapter Rewards

Death’s Door

XP

Group Rewards

Individual Bonuses

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