[S&W] Last Night's Game Session

For the first time in a long time, I ran an adventure I wrote.  Set in the Lost Lands, it revolved around the PC's exploring a massive old lighthouse near a village on the Coast Road.  In the past, the lighthouse was the bread and butter of the small fishing village - it allowed larger ships to safely navigate the waters and was a huge boon to trade.  Over the years though, the cult of Dagon had other plans, and the great lighthouse - atop an island several hundred yards out into the sea had been abandonded due to their machinations years ago.  The lighthouse has fallen into ruin and the bridge that leads out over the water to it via three smaller islands known as the Stepstones has been shunned by the villagers.

We had four players, all of whom were new to Swords & Wizardry - one new to gaming in general. 

In classic fashion, the party started out in the local tavern, the Blue Goose, and got to know each other.  There was Cleetus the human fighter, Lump the aged cleric, Juice the elven fighter / magic user, and a strange man who only called himself 'the Guardian', a neutral human assassin.  Juice, the new player, decided right away that he needed some muscle to help him out.  After getting to know the party, he concocted a plan to cast Charm Person on Morty, a big burly soldier at the bar.  The group agreed, and distracted him while Juice magically made himself Morty's best new friend.  They also learned of a missing fisherman, Bobby, who had presumably gone out to fish off of one of the islands leading to the lighthouse.

With a new 'companion' all set, the group headed out to the bridge that arched out over the water.  Statues of sailors flanked the bridge, and they could see why the islands were called Steptsones.  They were small, barely sticking out above the waves, and there were three, each with a tower atop which the bridge ran from island to island until reaching the largest where the lighthouse stands.  After a quick search of the bridge, the group decided to hold off until morning so Juice could prepare his one spell for the day.

The group returned to the bridge in the morning and decided to have a closer look at the statues.  In a small hidden compartment (which Juice sweet-talked Morty into opening) they discovered a sealed clerical scroll with light spells on it - presumably a backup for the lighthouse when it was in use.  Pressing on, they made their way across the bridge, several hundred feet out over the water to the top of the first tower.  There they found a rotted trapdoor that led down from the top of the tower inside.  Cleetus used the Guardians ten foot pole to break it in, and the group lit torches and went down the revealed stairs.  Below was the remains of a room, the floor covered with sand and stone.  Three large piles of sand were pushed up against a wall, and the Guardian poked at them with his pole.  With a burst of sand, a monstrous crab clawed it's way out, snapping at the Guardian and tearing flesh.  Hurt but not out, the Guardian tumbled backwards and out of the way as Cleetus, Juice and Morty surged forward.  They struck again and again, doing little damage to it's thick shell.  Lump snuck around and managed to slip a leather bag over one of the claws, pulling the drawstring tight - finally Juice brought his bastard sword around in a glittering arc and caught the lobstrosity in its unprotected underside, killing it.

The group searched the room, finding a smattering of coins, fishing gear, and the body of Bobby the missing fisherman.  Outside the tower, the small island was explored and the group retreated when they saw not one, but two more giant crabs in the surf.

Back inside, Lump used his one bonus spell to heal the Guardian, and the group continued on towards the next tower, vowing to have a crab leg dinner when they returned. 

The next tower was in worse shape, and beyond they could see the bridge had a gap in it.  Deciding to search the second island and tower, they found a similar trapdoor, this one rotted completely through.  Below were thick webs - they all knew what was going on here - spiders.  Quickly it was decided to light up the webs - inside they could hear spiders squealing - two made it out the trap door only to be quickly slashed and squashed by Juice and Lump.  Unfortunately, the smoke made the tower off limits for a while.  Deciding to take their haul back across the several hundred feet of bridge to the town they spent the evening in the Blue Goose, whose owner bought the five foot crab for some coin and a couple of free nights in the inn.  The local blacksmith told Cleetus he could make a shield out of the crabs shell and Cleetus paid him to do so. 

 

--

 

Long story short, we had the makings of a Wednesday night game.  Everyone had a blast, and despite a close call with the first crab, we didn't lose any pc's.  We actually only played for about an hour and a half of our two and a half hour session, much of it went to stories and talking and, well, y'know the second best part of gaming - hanging with friends.  On my end, it was incredibly gratifying to have the players enjoy something I wrote, and makes me want to continue writing!  On top of that, being right along the Coast Road, it's very probable that the party will soon be hearing about a little dungeon a few miles north... it's right along the coast - I hear you can see it from the road if you look close - there's this sunken graveyard and green stone mausoleums.  I think they'll love it.

Mojo's picture

Congrats on the great adventure man!! I also say you better keep writing!! Your adventure had me engrossed, and I was just reading it. I know that your group and espically the new kid Juciy had a blast and cannot wait until the next session. Making the crab shell into a shield sounds very cool!! Great work and please keep it up!!! I want to continue ot follow the daring deeds of this very fun group!!! Thank you for posting it!!!

michaelsandar's picture

We've managed to keep this adventure going - it's been a blast, and for being (for us) very short gaming sessions - about 2.5 hours each, they've gotten a lot done.  Thus far there have been three runs on the Lighthouse itself, 2 of which actually made it past the Stepstones and into the lighthouse proper and one wilderness trek with a small dungeon inside a giant tree. 

It's been great, and the players are still having fun, despite a couple of setbacks.  The Guardian was killed by a green slime that dropped square on his head, engulfing him in seconds, and last week we lost Lump the cleric (when he was SOOO close to second level) to the strange mist dragon who lurks atop the lighthouse.  They've been replaced by Barry Barrington the magic user, and Gidget the hafling thief. 

Tonight brings another adventure, and more hooks.  As we've played, I've had real time pass between adventures, so it's been about a month and a half, and things change in Saemish, the town.  The players have had the option of picking up random 'adventures of the week' or tackling the lighthouse.  The big hook tonight revolves around the local priestess.  Their goddess, Miru, is a giant sentient / awakened coy fish in the nearby caves, and the water has been blighted by the priests of Dagon, attempting to undermine her power.

Should be fun!  The players are really liking S&W at this point, which is a major plus in my book!

michaelsandar's picture

..and sometimes players ignore your adventure hooks and go traipsing off into the wilderness.  :)  Last night's session we were down a player, the party consisted of Flick the ranger, Juice the elven fighter / magic user, his henchman Morty, and Barry Barrington the magic user.  Instead of going for the fresh hooks, they followed up on an older hook they'd had - a necromancer out in the swamp around the village of Saemish.  A group of adventurers - the Saemish Seven - had gone out there several weeks ago in search of the necromancer and not come back.  So now it was their turn. 

*some spoilers for Hall of Bones*

 

The dungeon was the Hall of Bones, and it went over very well.  They managed to hit every room.  The ghoul paralysis took Flick out, but they were able to rest undisturbed for the two hours it took to wear off.  Instead of using the cages to get through the spider room, they opted to simply set the place on fire - there were webs everywhere.  Some good luck with dice rolls and several hours later, they had a cleared out room to investigate. 

They finished up following the passage down, down, down to the Bone Cobbler.  Things were going really well until that fight.  Not having a cleric is showing, as Morty went down in a spray of blood as the Cobbler's hammers slammed into him over and over again.  Morticant the Blue (who always wears red) was dead. 

Still, the Cobbler was beaten and the world rid of another undead menace.  The Saemish Seven were (unfortunately) found to have been killed in the dungeon.  And most importantly - treasure and xp for our heroes!  A couple are getting close to second level. 

Interesting to compare how your players navigated the Hall of Bones... As I recently posted over in Tome of Adventure Design, my players currently are stumped at the spider room. Now, like your players, mine decided to set fire to webbing, but we had a fair bit of Internet research concerning the two propositions that 1) Spider webs are considered a fire hazard in older buildings and 2) When they come in contact with flame, they just kind of shrink away and "melt" like cellophane. So I made some die rolls and we decided that they succeeded in burning all the webbing but that this didn't burn away the spiders. So the players shut the door on almost 60 (they had killed a couple) giant spider's with faceted eyes angrily glowing in the embers of their sizzling webs.

Matt Finch's picture

This sounds great! :)

michaelsandar's picture

It has been great.  I started our Wednesday night game to bring in a couple new players.  The guy who plays Juice had never gamed before - he's in his fifties, and the oldest of us, Guardian / Barry Barrington played by my 12 year old son, who hasn't had a whole lot of gaming experience.  The others are long time players, but it's definitely a different dynamic in the world of the OSR, even when stacked up against AD&D.  The only thing that's quick and easy for an adventurer is death!

Despite a couple of setbacks, they are still having a lot of fun.  It's hard to put into words the hilarity that ensues when these characters go out adventuring.  Each character has had their own quirks making them fun and interesting.  There have been a lot of laughs and even some sad moments - the shock of Guardian getting green slimed in an instant (btw, green slime is so strange, almost no mechanics in any of the old editions - I rolled to hit then had him make a save), the death of Morty the Blue (who always wears red), Lump getting bit in half by the mist dragon (2d8? ouch!).

Even their "worst session" was still a blast.  They made a run on the lighthouse and managed to avoid combat and any real damage until they found the center of the lighthouse.  Inside was a miniature magical sun that powered the light atop and above, the mist dragon who had taken up residence.  They fought it for a round (Lump died) then they fled back to town.  No treasure meant a busted game for xp - I gave them a couple each for good role playing, but no one complained.  I've never seen that happen before.

 

Omote's picture

Great stuff michaelsandar.  I've been trying to come up with some adventure ideas for the Coast Road myself, so please don't be offended when I say that I am going to use your stories as inspiration!  Sounds like a great time.

~DukeOmote

michaelsandar's picture

Hey, thanks Omote.  I've considered just typing up all my notes and sharing it... maybe I'll get a bug and sit down, get it all typed out - it's a couple dozen hand written pages of notes right now. 

I've set it on a little jut of land south of the south of the Ruined Fort.  If you look at the Sinnar Coast map - just east of Lowwater Road (which turns into the Coast Road) on the Amrin Estuary there's a hex of land that sticks out into the ocean.  I've continued the swamp from the hex to the west and placed Saemish right on the furthest east bit of land.

Right now the areas of interest are:

The Stepstones and Bridge:  Three small islands with two floor, single room towers, each connected by a bridge arcing out over the sea

The Lighthouse:  seated on the largest of the islands, the lighthouse has two levels up and two dungeon / cave levels down

The Caves of Undertide:  a series of strange, wet caves that house the local fish goddess Miru

The Old Tree:  a massive bole seated on one of the few pieces of dry land in the Great Salt Marsh.  Rumored to be a dryads tree, the PC's have recently discovered that the tree was invaded by evil fey, twisting it and poisoning the ground.  There is a wooden 'dungeon of caves' inside the giant magical tree, and the dryad stuck somewhere inside.

michaelsandar's picture

Another rollicking session last Wednesday.  Our party now consists of:

Flick - human ranger 2

Juice - half elf fighter 1 / magic user 1

Barry Barrington - human magic user 2

Tatterbottom - halfling thief 1 (wasn't present)

Gidget - halfling thief 3

Last week the group managed to actually slay the mist dragon atop the lighthouse in a hard fought battle and turn on the lighthouse.  We ended the session with them escaping to find the light turned back off by a shadowy figure.  When this weeks session started, they had immediate plans to relight the lighthouse and find whoever turned it back off - but they soon found themselves side-tracked, and fighting some of the many pirates they'd so far managed to avoid. 

The pirates were led by a priest of Dagon. A battle erupted in a hallway featuring 12 pirates and the priest versus the characters.  The priest cast hold person on Giget and fled through a magical tapestry (that leads to Stonehart Valley) and Juice managed to "sleep" most of the pirates.  In their... exuberance ... to catch the evil priest, the group neither looted the fallen pirates nor remember to pick up Gidget... and as they turned around, after stepping through the tapestry / portal ... they quickly realized it was one-way.  The last remaining pirate ... well, lets just say that Gidget didn't live long...

This has been probably the biggest 'face palm' moment so far, but kudo's to the Gidgets player for staying silent, I could see he was waiting to see if someone said they were grabbing her or not.  Overall, despite the loss of a PC, it was absolutely hilarious, and we now have a recurring bad guy, who can lead the party to Fairhill and then on to the Stoneheart Mountain Dungeon.

michaelsandar's picture

Another few great sessions.  After last nights session we have the following PC's (we use a stable, a player can have up to 3 PC's, but only use one per session.  It's good for downtime for spellcasters and such - a * denotes an active PC) :

*Flickinger - human ranger (hit 3rd level at the end of the session)

*Juice - elven fighter / magic user, now 2 / 2

*Barry Barrington - human magic user 3

*Peta - human druidess 3

Chucky - man-at-arms (npc)

Jorus - hireling cleric (npc)

Snoop - Barry's war dog (npc)

Tatterbottom (hasn't been present) - 1st level halfling thief

Cleetus - (we found the missing character sheet!) - 1st level human fighter

The players have been slowly gathering info about Sir Kevan, they now know that he's hanging out in Stoneheart Mountain dungeon and has a way back and forth from Stoneheart Valley to Saemish.  They figure (rightly) that it's another magical tapestry.  What they don't know is that he's in cahoots with the priests of Tsathogga.  Still, while their anger simmers over the death of Gidget, they've so far avoided going to the mountains in search of him. 

Two weeks ago:

Trolling around Fairhill, the party heard of the missing bard-to-be, daughter of the local blacksmith.  With newly hired Chucky and Jorus along, the group travelled north, following both the tracks of the wananbe adventurers and the missing Sir Kevan.  A chance encounter with a unicorn in the forests led them straight to the missing bard - being held captive by a very confused ettin.  The ettin had a helm of opposite alignment on one head, making him both Lawful and Chaotic.  He had captured the bard and her companions, now keeping her as the sole surviovor to soothe his temper. 

Shockingly, the party of (at the time) first and second level characters, concocted a plan to lure the ettin out so they could fight it in the doorway of his ruined tower, where he would be constrained.  Their careful planning went well for all with the exception of Chucky, who took a nasty blow from the ettins club, throwing him to the ground in a spray of blood.  The ettin was finally slain, the maiden saved, and treasure looted.  In particular were several thousand silver pieces, and the helm of opposite alignement.  They, having no way to carry the silver, buried it in secret, swearing to come back for it with a wagon.

Last week I started the Crucible of Freya storyline.  The party had planned to go after the buried silver in the morning, but during the night, orcs from Eralions Keep attacked the town, stealing the holy relic of Shandril, priestess of Freya.

They managed to sneak into the ruined keep - avoiding the green slime and made their way directly to the old chapel.  There they faced off against Tavik, Vortigern, and their orcish guards.The battle was hard-fought, and Vortigern was the last standing after Tavik, orc priest of Orcus disappeared in a puff of smoke.  With luck, Vortigern was knocked down, and Peta slipped the helm of opposite alignment on him!  Very quickly, there was a new friend to the party.

Last night, after some discussion of finding Kevan for good, it was decided to go back to the ruined keep and finish off the orcs.  They snuck in the same way, this time taking out an orc with 'bomb's of green slime (Barry just managed to avoid being green slimed!).  They took out the ogre who had moved into the guardhouse, then fought Nagrod, the orc cheiftain and his cronies in a brief, bloody battle (thanks in large part to critical hits - max damage).  Unfortunately, Jorus the hireling cleric who had just hired on for his fourth adventure, was slain by the cheiftain.  Near the end of the session, they discovered the hidden chambers beneath the orc lair, but were stymied by the Wizard Lock. 

If I had to guess, I would say their next adventure will revolve around breaking that lock to get at Erailion and his treasures!

Loved the use of the Helm of Opposite Alignment. Very clever. And the recurring green slime sounds like it's keeping the party on its toes.

Great summaries. Thank you for the ideas.

michaelsandar's picture

Last night's session was fantastic.  We had a rare treat that all the players were able to make it to the table.  Active PC's were:

Flickinger - ranger 2

Tatterbottom - halfling thief 1

Peta - female human druid 2

Juice - elven fighter 2 / magic user 2

Barry Barrington - human magic user 3

Vortigern - human magic user 3 (NPC)

 

The party, based out of Fairhill in Stoneheart Valley spent some time gathering information.  After last weeks run-in with the shade of Eralion, the party was very interested in learning more about him (and getting ahold of the treasure down there).  The group asked around hearing several rumors, but nothing substantial, until they tracked down Old Pap.  Pap is a kindly old dwarf who tells stories to children in the Drunken Cockatrice from time to time. 

From him, they learned that Eralion was cursed to never grow old and was forced to watch his love, a beuatiful woman named Feri, age and pass from the Lost Lands.  His failure to find a cure for his curse or a way to keep her young drove him to madness.  He had attempted to concoct a potion that would - like the ritual to turn ones self into a lich - turn both he and his love into Baelnorns (good liches, often elven).  The ritual failed however, and Orcus took his vengance on Eralion.  For Orcus would suffer no good liches, he turned the now mad wizard into a shadow of his former self - literally.  It is said he can only be laid to rest by returning his lost love or slaying his shade.

Unsure of what gear they would need to take on a shadow mage, they spent some time pondering and came up with this idea.  Arialle, the young bard in training they had saved from the ettin would write a song about Eralion and his love, while Peta would be dressed and have her hair dyed to look like Feri, Eralions love.

But first - they wanted treasure.  Out in the wilderness near the ettins tower, they had buried several thousand silver that they hadn't been able to carry home.  They made extensive preparations, purchased horses and a wagon, and set off for their buried treasure.  They retreived it with no issues, but were waylaid by bandits on the way back.  Juice charmed their leader before they could attack and they learned that they had been overheard by one of the bandits informants in the Drunken Cockatrice.  Now full of revenge, the party rushed their loot back to Fairhill, where they intimidated the informant.  He managed to escape, after a race through town with Barry, but left behind his magical scabbard, which Tatterbottom confiscated.

Now the party felt ready to take on Eralion... except ... they needed a way past the wizard locked door to his crypt.  This time the magic users spent some time investigating.  Barry found a what was needed to create a circle of protection if they needed it, while Juice learned of a wizard in the nearby Stoneheart Forest named Kayden. (From Sword of Air).  Word had it, he would be willing to trade for some spells.

Once again, the party side-trekked, heading to Stoneheart Forest.  At the edge of Kaydens Swamp they were greeted by his butler.  There were gulps all around as the butler - a giant blue skinned ogre mage witha  British accent named Chauncey - led them through a hallway of fog that obscured the whole of the swamp.  He warned them to avoid stepping off the path and they obeyed.  They were pretty feaked out by the magic user who had an ogre mage for a butler.

Inside Kaydens Mansion, they met the rather ostentatious wizard, along with his familiar, a black cat named Steve.  Kayden, lonely man that he is, was happy for the company and offered the party a job.  "Not many come to see us here, he began.  The swamp scares them away.  But you seem to have, perhaps, what it takes.  I can give you a scroll of Knock to get past this door.  But I need for you to bring me the remains of the potion that Eralion had left.  Do this, and I can give Juice and Barry an old spellbook each.  And perhaps we have some other jobs you could be useful for." 

There was much discussion, but the magic users were very intrigued by the spellbooks, and so the party agreed and trekked back to Fairhill, scroll of Knock in hand, and finally to the ruined keep.

Their plan was put into action.  Faerie Fire and Levitate were cast on Peta to look as ghostly as possible, while Arialle began singing her song of lost love, and Juice cast the Knock spell, opening the door.  From below, Eralion was convinced that his love had finally returned for him.  Peta spoke plaintively of all he knew from the legend, and the shadow mage was convinced.  But Orcus will not let one he tortures go so easily.  Below as well were seven zombies in chain mail with magical chains that they whipped at the shadow mage.  The chains stuck in the body of the helpless creature, binding him to torment. 

In a fit of heroics, Tatterbottom, Flick, and Juice jumped down to the crypt below and began swinging - not at the zombies, but at the chains.  They quickly learned that with enough damage they could knock a chain out of Eralions incorporeal body, freeing him just a little.  Soon the rest of the party - once convinced they would have to fight the shadow mage - was intent on saving him from his torture.  The battle (the only of the night) was fierce, and Juice and Tatterbottom both nearly went down, Juice falling to exactly 0 - unconcious but not gone.  Then, finally Peta destroyed the protective circle and all the chains were pulled out and the room plunged into darkness.  A voice, Eralions, whispered in Peta's mind.  "I know you're not her.  But thank you.  I leave behind my earthly posessions and my power."  With that a strange feature filled her mind and Peta realized she could once per day throw a light spell. 

When the light returned, the zombies were nothing but smoking mail on the ground.  They quickly gathered Eralions belongings, the broken potion vial for his Baelnorn ritual, and hustled back to Fairhill.

michaelsandar's picture

It was supposed to be an easy job...

 

Flickinger - human ranger 3

Peta - human druid 3

Tatterbottom - halfling thief 2

Barry - human magic user 3

Vortigern - human magic user 3

After recouperating from releasing Eralion's shade in the ruined keep, the party prepared to head out to Kayden's mansion to deliver the broken potion bottle.  However, word had gotten to Flick that the stable-boy in town had been asking around about him.  It seems while they were out of town, Sir Kevan had passed through again.  The party figured he had a way to teleport back to Saemish, and now their suspicions were confirmed.  He was checking in somewhere in the Stoneheart Mountains and returning through the magic tapestry that brought them here.

In the meantime, Tatterbottom hooked up with Lannet, another halfling thief who was able to get him a good price for some stolen silverware.

Still, before facing off with Kevan, the party wished to finish their quest for Kayden.  So, off along the Kings Road they set, travelling back to Stoneheart Forest.  About three days in to their trip, the group was shocked to find themselves being hailed from a nearby copse of trees by a small group of orcs.  The orcs were surprisingly non-threatening, and hailed the party, claiming to be in need of help.  Barry rode forward asking what kind of trouble.  The orcs brough forth their leader, an orog by the name of Gnarg.  Something very strange had happened to Gnarg - his eyes had been turned pitch black and his tongue removed, leaving only a black strip behind.  The orcs claimed he was cursed after investigating an old well there in the trees.  If help couldn't be found soon, they planned to leave Gnarg. 

Tatterbottom and Barry were eager to explore this well - figuring if it was guarded with magic, there was probably treasure.  Figuring they could probably put Gnarg to good use if he was cured, they paid the orcs to leave Gnarg behind.  They're problems solved, they quickly slinked off with a handful of gold coins while the blind, tongueless orog stayed behind. 

Flick lowered Tatterbottom into the well, where he discovered a ladder leading down built on the inside and a passage just above the water level.  Soon, the entire party (minus Gnarg) was down there, pushing their way through a cramped tunnel.  The tunnel eventually opened up into a larger packed-dirt cavern.  Strange sounds could be heard coming from the two visible exits, and the party opted for the quieter of the two. After another long tunnel, it opened into a wide perpendicular tunnel with a stream of sludge slowly flowing through the center of the passage.  It appeared to open into a chamber to the party's right, but went as far as they could see to the left.  Weird slurping sounds echoed along the cave. 

Peta cast a light spell on a stick and tied it to a rope, throwing it to the right, into the nasty stream.  It illuminated some sort of strange idol - they were too far away to see clearly - briefly and the light-stick began to float downstream.  They watched it float past them and to their left before it was set upon by a giant frog covered in muck and slime.  As the large frog splashed at the light, more croaks could be heard behind it, and the party retreated back up the tunnel where there was a quick and brutal battle with the following killer frogs.  The first frog went down with a shot from Tatterbottom and a magic missile from Barry.  The second went down in a flash as Peta and Vortigern engaged it.  The third managed to whip it's tongue out at Tatterbottom and wrap around him, pulling the struggling halfling into his mouth. 

The fastitious halfling squealed and in a fit of rage pulled out the Chalice of Miru (stolen from the temple several sessions ago while in Saemish - basically an everful mug, creates water and saltwater) and upended it down the frogs gullet.  After a round, the frog choked on the deluge of water spitting both Tatterbottom and several gallons of water all over the floor.  Barry rushed up and finished off the choking frog. 

Now curious to see what was in the chamber, the party pushed forward once again, finding the chamber warded with runes, but still dark inside despite their torches and light spell.  Barry cast a detect magic spell and was able to read the rune "JUBILEX".  He said the word to his party (who all then discussed it), and a low roar began to fill the room.  All backed off except Peta, who attempted to fling an antidote to poison type potion on some of the slime.  Finally, the room was revealed and Peta saw fully the horror inside.  A statue of slime and eyes, tentacles and teeth began to move, to feed and to feel about.  Sheer horror struck through her mind and everything went dark.  As she stumbled back, Tatterbottom grabbed her and pulled her away, keeping his hood drawn over his eyes.  The party fled the dungeon beneath the well, finding that Peta had suffered the same fate as Gnarg - both eyes were pitch black and her tongue removed. 

Unsure of what to do, but hoping that Kayden could help, they abandoned the area for Stoneheart Forest, taking the blind orog with them. 

A few days later, Kayden was happy to find the party returned with the broken vial, and Barry was allowed to pick a spellbook.  He chose one called Galadaster's Orizon.  Then, they told him of their predicament. 

A couple of things happened here -

a) Kayden deduced that a remove curse or more powerful spell would be necessary to remove the slime covering Peta and Gnargs eyes

b) Steve the Cat egged Tatterbottom on into picking the pocket of Kayden.  He succeeded (much to the delight of the cat) in taking a ring of so far unknown properties

c) Kayden offered the following deal:  I will fix this problem.  But I will require a service in return.  I will cast a Geas spell on Peta to return to me within a month with the eggs of a manticore - or better yet - a baby manticore. 

The party agreed and Kayden led Peta off to a small spellcasting chamber.  There, he changed the deal.  Help your friends retreive the manticore egg, fine, no problem - but the Geas will require you to, within one year, assault the keep of my archenemey... the evil wizard Sorten.  And say nothing to your friends of this.

With that, the PC's packed up and headed to Crimmor, searching for rumors of a manticore in the area.

michaelsandar's picture

Back at it this week with a smaller cast:

Barry Barrington:  Human magic user 3

Juice:  Elven fighter 2 / magic user 2

Flickinger: human ranger 3

Vortigern - bad guy NPC turned good due to Helm of Opposite Alignment - MU 3

Groot:  Cleric 2, NPC hireling

 

The party had been spending the last week in Crimmor, and due to the constant threat of stirges from the forest, a few of the party were down an out.  The remaining members hired on Groot, a passing cleric of Vannithu of the Steadfast Guard and decided to try to track down the evil Sir Keven once and for all.

They knew he had been spending time in Stoneheart Valley - particularly in the mountains to the north. After a days travel by horse, the group reached the Old Path leading up into the mountains.  Flick was able to make out both recent and old horse tracks, as well as the trail of hundreds of passing humanoids - they assumed orcs. 

The path led upward into the mountains, and they were only accosted once.  Midway up the Old Path a half dozen stirges assaulted the party, but when half were dropped in the first round the rest quickly flew away into the surrounding mountains.  As the path finally leveled off, going from great steps cut into the side of the mountain to a flat plain, the group saw two anceint and shadowed temples, situated near an overgrown lake.  Flick again checked for tracks, finding the horse tracks leading between the temples and on  across the clearing to the trails continuation.  The party followed, but stepping out of the shadows of the ruined temple were five undead horrors.  Groot quickly identified them as ghouls - perhaps ghasts - it was hard to tell and called upon the power of Vannithu to force them away.  Unfortuanately, in his fear, his faith deserted him and the ghouls advanced unchecked. 

The battle that followed was fierce - Groot was the first to fall paralyzed after barely a scratch.  Two of the ghouls were sent back to the afterlife, but one emitted a stench of horror and filth-  a ghast.  Taking small hits, Flick and Juice were suddenly paralyzed by the evil of the undead and Vortigern and Barry were left alone.  In desperation, Vortigern tore a page from his spellbook to use as a scroll (a house rule we've used for years - he can no longer memorize the spell until he finds another copy) and cast a Web at the ghouls.  All three were entangled, but so was the paralyzed form of Groot.  Fortunately, the two magic users were able to cut him free and pull their paralyzed friends to the relative safety of one of the temples. 

In old times it had once been dedicated to Muir, goddess of paladins, but now was almost hopelessly defiled.  Barry and Vortigern made quick work of barricading the entrance as much as possible and explored the ruined chapel while their friends recovered.  Barry discovered several sets of runes.  Three fo the sets were evil looking, while one at the base of the destroyed statue of Muir was written in the language of celestial magic.  A read magic spell allowed him to puzzle out a riddle, and while recovering the group managed to guess the three virtues of Muir - Honor, Courage, and Truth.  This rolled the statue back revealing a secret door - and below, three more riddles which were quickly figured out.  The party rested in the undercroft, regained the appropriate spells and opened the secret doors below, discovering a powerful set of magical chain mail and long sword.  Flick appropriated these and was gifted with a visage of the High Justicar of Muir.  He would be allowed to keep the weapon and armor if he would undertake a quest to find the Stone of Tircople, in the old Burial Halls. 

The party, figuring that's where Sir Keven was anyways, agreed.

 

We wrapped there with a new quest and a second temple, and a new dungeon to explore... Stoneheart Mountain Dungeon!

michaelsandar's picture

This week in the Lost Lands:

Juice - elven fighter 3 / magic user 2

Flickinger - human ranger 3

Barry Barrington - human magic user 3

Peta - human druidess 3

Vortigern - bad guy NPC turned good due to Helm of Opposite Alignment - MU 3

Groot:  Cleric 2, NPC hireling

--

The group began in the temple of Muir, and many a discussion was had about what to do next.  Peta finally let slip that Kayden had lied to them and changed the terms of the Geas he cast on her.  Instead of having a month to go retrieve manticore eggs, he had charged her with killing the evil wizard Sorten within one year. 

The party was surprisingly ok with it...

So the quest for manticore eggs was out, and instead the group decided to take the nearly two week trek to Kaydens to retrieve Juice's spellbook.  Along the way, they discovered a waystation along the Tradeway that had been overrun by gnolls.  Judicious use of a pair of sleep and web spells wiped out the gnoll gang before they even had a chance to retaliate.  The party collected their loot - a substantial amount of gold - and moved on. 

At Kaydens, Carson met them at the edge of the swamp, as he usually does (one of these times, Carson won't be home and the party will have to find their way to Kaydens without the benefit of Carsons illusions) and informed them that the wizard was not home currently (he was, but didn't want to see them).  Thinking quickly, Juice asked if Steve was available.  Carson said he was and soon, they met the cat in the foyer and it presented Juice with a floating spellbook for his previous services.

The trek back was long, but mostly uneventful as the party travelled by day and stuck to the roads where they could.  Finally, they returned to the twin temples in Stoneheart Valley and began to explore the ruined Temple of Thyr.  They quickly puzzled out the riddles and with some rest time (and the scrolls found in the temple of Muir) they were able to cast the required spells to unlock the secret doors.  While exploring, Barry accidently set of a Glypho of Warding, but despite some minor burns, they were fine.  They were excited, as there is a LOT of usable treasure in here in the form of potions and scrolls, but a warning from Groot kept the party from going overboard and taking everything.

Rested again, they decided to eschew the wilderness and head straight for the old Burial Grounds.

Through the forest they finally reached the entrance to Stoneheart Mountian Dungeon.  Barry and Juice both noticed more Glyphs, but the party ignored them (we ruled like in AD&D wizards and thieves have a 5% / level chance to notice and avoid).  Two small side rooms were found to be empty, and an easily spotted secret door was noted.  Juice attempted to destroy the runes using holy water (I gave them the same chance 5%/level failure means they go off) and that idea became a theme - using holy water to wash away the evil runes.  Unfortunately, he failed miserably and the Glyph of Warding went off as well as a Glyph of Summoning.  In the large room to the north was a despicable fountain full of blood and bones - from the depths of the blood rose eight skeletons. 

Groot called out to his faith and was able to turn four of them, and the party rushed to the fray.  The room was spattered with blood from the fountain, making the battle against the animated bones a bloody affair. A vile red rune pulsed on the edge of the fountain.  Flickinger went to battle with a flash, dropping two skeletons quickly, but more were pouring out of the fountain.  Peta cast purify water on the blood in the basin (which I ruled would stop the next wave from animating) and Barry and Juice both tried throwing holy water to wipe away the vile rune. 

Things got really interesting here.  I ruled it would work as per the other runes we'd encounterd, but I warned them this one was really, really evil - a bad throw of the dice would result in the summoing being upgraded (essentially summoning the last thing it normally summons - a Vrock).  Barry's throw hit the rune but did nothing, Juice however rolled a 99 and then ... bampf!  A Vrock is summoned into the room.  Not to mention six remaining skeletons at this point.  The vrock uses it's first turn to (that's right!) summon another Vrock!  In sheer terror now, the party broke from combat, taking several hits along the way and bolted back outside and through the woods to the relative safety of their barricaded temples. 

The party was running scared there at the end, as things went from bad to worse, but surprisingly, they all made it out alive.

Juice advanced to 3rd level in magic user and Barry hit 4th level.  Things are looking up for the party - three strong magic users are proving them to be a powerful group.

michaelsandar's picture

It keeps getting better.

We've been at this campaign for nine months now.  The we lost one player to job obligations, but gained another.  We've had one PC - Juice, the elven fighter / magic user last from the beginning.  The group has been from the Amrin Estuary, to Lowwater Road; magically travelled to Stoneheart Valley where they've fought a basilisk who cries gems, delved to the temple of Orcus in Stoneheart Mountain Dungeon (three times!), been to Bards Gate and back, and treated with the wizard Kayden.  So much has gone on, it would take a lot of time to fill it all in here. 

What I wanted to share was this however:  the party finally assaulted the temple of Orcus in SMD fully prepared to take them down.  This was a 2+ hour S&W battle!

The good guys:

  • Juice - elven fighter 4 / magic user 4
  • His henchman Rolf, cleric 2
  • Barry Barrington - human wizard 5
  • His henchman Tank, fighter 1
  • Peta - female druid 5
  • Her henchmen Dunkin, dwarf fighter 2 and his merc retinue Bunkin, Lunkin, Gunkin, Tunkin, fighter 0
  • Tatterbottom - halfling thief 5
  • His henchman Mate, thief (unknown to party)
  • Slayhammer - cleric 1 (new player)

the bad guys:

  • high priest (cleric 10)
  • 2 priests (cleric 5)
  • 3 lesser priests (cleric 4)
  • 4 acolytes (cleric 2)
  • 4 shadows
  • 4 ghouls
  • 6 zombies
  • 6 font skeletons
  • 2 zombie warriors

Neutral

  • 14 black orcs

The party had convinced the black orcs from the mines to the south that it was the followers of Orcus who were killing them off (and not the party - this was all done outside and during the day - they still dont' know about the dragon) and then followed the orcs in to the dungeon.  The orcs were out for blood and knew the secret passsage past Urillisgool.  The party wanted nothing to do with that, and had previously mapped a back way to the temple (through the secret door, the wind tunnel, north to the stairs past the pool and down to level 4). The party and the orcs ended up allying briefly to take out the clerics.  It was a massive battle, and tons of fun.  I'll post more details later as I can.  There's a whole lot of story leading up to that point!

 

michaelsandar's picture

Lost in Rappan Athuk.

That's where the party ended up last night.  After the massive battle in the temple, the group was only catchign their breath when reinforcements began to arrive in droves.  Finally, sealing the doors as good as they could, they descended down the sacrificial pits to level 5 below.  Minor spoilers - incredible luck found the PC's investigating Korashaag's secret lair on level 5 of Stoneheart Mountain Dungeon.  Inside there is a portal that leads to RA.  I couldn't quite bring myself to drop them directly inside the Lower Temple of Orcus, so I had it dump them right outside the doors on level 9. 

I had almost completely disregarded the chance that they would find this incredibly well-hidden secret door, but as luck would have it, Juice still had his active Wand of Detect Secret Doors in hand.

So now, they're on level 9 of RA.  The party dwarves can tell they're in a completely different dungeon by the type of stone (and the group strongly suspects RA - it's not hard to see the DM grabbing a big black book off the shelf, all while grinning like a fool) and their number one goal for the moment is "let's get out of here!".

If anyone is still out there reading, maybe you can help me on this a little.

The party immediate ran back to area 1 and took the stairs leading up to the Phase Minotaur level. Yet the location they arrive at says it's getting hotter and goes down to level 9A.  Did I miss something here?

Shadow Demon's picture

Ok, looking at Level 7A map on page 217, "To Level 9" yet the description in 7A-7. Passage to the Lava Pit goes to Level 10. Disgard 7A-7 as written instead this leads 9-1. Level 10: The Lava Pit can only be accessed Level 9-1 from yet another stairway or from the chute from Level 13A-2. The passage to Level 9A: Hydra's Lair is from 7A-8.

The RA side view map also shows the above.

michaelsandar's picture

Thanks!

You know what they always say, "The Shadow (demon) knows!"

michaelsandar's picture

~~"We've got to get out of here," was the theme for last night.

The party wandered through the maze, finally reaching the Hall of the Phase Minotaur King. This is a nasty battle in and of itself. Top that off with being in over their heads...

The party consisted of all those noted above except Slayhammer, whose player couldn't make it.

The cavern of the minotaur king was nearly 250' across to the nearest exit, and it's floor and craggly mess that would be dangerous to run across. The players quickly tried to assess the odds, but the constant phasing of the beasts kept them from ever being sure. Tatterbottom and Juice quickly took to the air, T-Bot with his cloak of the demon, Juice with a Fly spell.

The rest of the party made a fighting retreat towards the nearest exit, moving only 60' per round. The state of the cavern floor required saves for each full movement or slipping and taking 1d3 damage. The minotaurs, phasing in and out had no such restriction and took to charging with a head-butt, then phasing out while the next wave did the same. Others threw spears at the fliers. Juice pulled out his sentient (and somewhat crazy) magic bow Honor and began firing shots at the king, while Tatterbottom activated his cloak again, with a 30% chance to summon a vrock, he dropped it right next to the king.

About this time, two spears transfixed Juice mid-air, killing him. His body dropped unceremoniously to the floor about the same time the dwarven hireling Lunkin was hit by a charging minotaur and skewered atop it's horns. The next round, Tank was dropped to 0 hit points exactly (unconscious).

Peta and Tatterbottoms players pulled me aside at this point. "How much of Juice's body do we need to cast a resurrection on him?" I told them they'd need a little, but not much, but odds of getting a resurrection were very slim. A finger would do.

They took the whole head and some gear. Y'know. Just in case.

As battle with the minotaurs swirled around them, their fighting retreat finally reached the door opposite and they began hauling butt up the tunnel. The minotaurs, sated with dwarf and elf flesh let them go and turned to help their beleaguered leader in trying to fight off the summoned vrock.

Far up the tunnel, Barry cast a Rope Trick spell and provided a place to rest for a time.

The party quickly found themselves at the bottom of the rat cliff in level 3A (the Well). Some clever engineering and rope use got them up the cliff and (mostly) avoided the rats. The displacer beasts were more of a problem, and the group fled through the only exit they could find, scenting fresher air ahead. Suffice it to say it was a running battle for the last hour of the session, rushing away from the beasts. They couldn't all fit through the 2' passage leading to the well so they rushed through the sideways cavern, ran blindly through the stirge cavern and hall of the false black skeletons, and came to an intersection. I gave them each a chance to detect fresh moving air, and Tank noted it to their right. They continued with their run, now being chased by displacer beasts, stirges, and skeletons and finally made their way to the pool beneath the Well.

That's right. The party, completely lost, made a running, screaming escape through the fabled "Don't go down the Well" Well.

Outside, they quickly set to getting their bearings. Peta remembered hearing of a renegade druid who lived nearby... Drusilla. Some great reaction checks and role playing called for friendship, and the crazy druidess agreed to cast reincarnate on Juice, making no promises to his form. The party agreed (Juice's player hesitantly), and the spell was cast. They used components - his familiar (a Lucky Golden Cat) the magic bow Honor, and his trusty dagger Whisper to

Juice arose as a lizard man, and thinking quickly, I gave the former fighter / magic user a few options.

Either way he was stuck in a lizardman body (which he loved) and got to roll his hit dice. I gave him 5 as he had been a 5th level fighter.

He could either keep this current spell capacity and continue to advance as a lizard man, gaining hit dice and saves but never advancing as a magic user, or

He could continue to advance as a magic user, but never gain any more hit points or increase in save.

He opted for the latter, so now we have a lizard man magic user in the party. 8O

We wrapped for the night here. It's hard to convey all the running, yelling, scrambling, and laughing we did, but this is probably one of the best sessions I've run in my 22 years of gaming. Fantastic. It was loose, fast and harrowing, just the way it should have been.

Sounds great :)

michaelsandar's picture

Our long campaign continues!

 

Way back in June, the druidess Peta was Geas'd by the wizard Kayden to kill Sorten.  Through all of the adventures these guys have had (most recently passing through the Fethine Grove outside of Rappan Athuk, and turning north to Eastwych) this has driven them the most.  I've not done a great job of keeping up with the mini journal here, but suffice it to say, we've had about (40?) sessions over the last year and they've done ... well, a lot. 

Last week, things finally came to a head.  They didn't expect it, and neither did I. 

Peta's geas was driving her a little crazy.  The party had finally reached Eastwych and were in the midst of investigating 10 magic disks they'd found.  After some luck with a sage, they decided to work on another quest - killing Sorten.  Now, everything they've heard about this Sorten is that he's actually a really good guy.  A wizard, of course, so kind of weird - but definitely "good" or "lawful". 

Peta researched an herb that could be found in the Hot Springs  of Tannesh - a strange poison that could kill, but had a remedy - perhaps the geas could be gotten around.  Sorten is 'killed', but immediately brought back, and Peta is free from the spell.  A ship took them northward, hugging the coast to avoid any entanglements with the Empire of Oceanus, finally to Freegate.  There, on a jut of land over the sea, Sorten's Tower in shining silver.

Here's where things got interesting.  We only had 3 players that night, so all we had were Barry Barrington, Juice, and Peta.

Peta decided she just could not wait any longer; the geas was driving her insane.  She called in a favor and cashed out all of the gems she had (about 10k) for a contact she had made in Bards Gate several months back - an assassin.  The assassin could arrive in 1 weeks time, and would (using the old AD&D tables) have a chance to kill Sorten.

Barry and Juice, suspecting something was wrong... went to Sorten.  They met with him via his apprentices and told him of the issue.  Sorten was all out of Sorts (heh) when he realized his old ally / frenemy was after him.  They all suspected at this point that Kayden wanted Sorten out of the way so he could get at Cerannan (one of Sortens lost apprentices, who knew the location and contents of the Shagasponium - Sorten had erased this from his mind magically to prevent it from being known).  Sorten agreed to use a wish to remove the geas from Peta, but she would need to be brought to him, and they would owe Sorten 'big time'.

Peta, meanwhile, approached the largest temple of Freya she could find and asked for sanctuary from 'the men who were disturbing her' for a week - just enough time for the assassin to do his job.

Over the next several game days, Juice and Barry searched for Peta, finally finding her with Sortens help.  The players - not the characters - role played this amazingly.  Juice and Barry did their best to get Peta to leave, falling short of assaulting the temple (thankfully).   Finally, Peta convinced them to wait a week - wait and I'll go meet Sorten with you.

The morning of the meeting, the bells of the city rang with the announcement of a death. 

The look on the faces of Juice and Barry's players... ha!  Word quickly got around... Sorten did not die in the assault, but one of his apprentices did.  The assassin had a 30% chance of success at Sorten and a 45% chance at an apprentice, and the player made the rolls knowing the odds. 

Furious at her failure, Peta agreed to 'meet' Sorten.  At the same time, Sorten assumed what had gone down via his talks with the others.  In the rain and lighting Peta, Sorten, Juice and Barry faced each other on the point of land over the sea, in front of the doors to Sortens tower and a quick spell duel took place. 

Juice cast web at Peta

Barry cast web at Peta

Peta cast call lightning at Sorten

Sorten cast Power Word Stun at Peta

And... Sorten won the initiative, snarling he cast his spell then debated with himself of just disintigrating the druidess who had ultimately killed his apprentice.  Finally... he used the wish to remove the geas and with a growl, walked away, back towards his tower.  At the door he stopped, then turned before entering. 

"Our deal.  The favor you owe me?"  He paused. "Kill Kayden."

michaelsandar's picture

The game continues on, and after over a year of play, the group finally hit part of the fast track to the Sword of Air - getting their first hard won clues.

Last week the group - at the behest of Sorten - searched the quarters of his former apprentice Cerannan and discovered his trip to the Plane of Shadow.  This had been several years ago, and he still hadn't returned so the group followed through the portal with his familiar Chephare as a guide.  The bleak and blasted Shadowlands led them through several encounters with shadow mastiffs, and strange creatures - and up a ridge towards the old monolith and it's 'statues'.  Along the way, wizard extrordinairre Barry Barrington was swarmed by shadows - four of them - all who managed to strike him and draw away his essence. His shadow was ripped away as his body dissolved into shadowstuff, creating another enemy for the party!  The player took over one of Barry's henchmen - a halfling fighter name Diggy.

Finally they were able to reach the statues, and discern which one was Cerannan and using a scroll cast Stone to Flesh.  Quick thinking by the druidess Peta neutralized the poison, but they were still left with a crazed magic user, and more shadows closing in.  Diggy remembered some strange notes about dimenion door spells being particularly powerful in the deep dark and their escape (a clever ploy, I thought) was to dimension door back to the material plane.  Now, I don't know for sure if that was the intent, but it seemed a good logic jump from the notes they had found.

The party was safe, having been transported back to a random location in the Lost Lands (much farther north than they'd ever been) and finally had in their hands the Shaghaspondium.  They know of three very powerful people who want the book and the map inside, but will they keep it for themselves or trade it off?  Hard to say at this point, but we'll see next week!

michaelsandar's picture

Well, I'm way behind on my updates, but suffice it to say, I expect this evenings game will see the players take their first foray into the Tomb of Aka Bakar - after a year and a half of weekly play.  I think they may still be a little low in level, so it could go bad really quick - but I have some pretty smart players.  We'll see how things go!

This is excellent! Thanks Michael.

michaelsandar's picture

~~Journey to Aka Bakar's Tomb
Obviously - spoilers - tread lightly, those who are not GM's.  Read on and risk Tsathogga's great eye turning your way!
------------
Over three sessions so far, our party consisted of the following:
Peta - female human druid 7
Diggy - female halfling fighter 5
Tatterbottom - male halfling thief 7
Juice aka Daarwich - male lizardman magic user 7
Slayhammer - male human cleric 6
Gentle John – male human assassin 5
later on - Bobby Adam aka BA - male human knight (from Majestic Wilderlands book) 5
---
After spending several weeks in Elise with sages and scholars at the Great Library, our steadfast allies set out west with a caravan making the long trip to Bard's Gate.  They followed the Old Road south and west towards Tsar, passing the Hazed Canyon on the way.  Their plan - find the Crossroads of Tsar, then head north and skirt the edges of the Desolation until they reach the Southern Pass of the Stoneheart Mountains.  For those following along on the map... that's a frickin' long way.  We estimated the journey at around a month.  There was much flavor text. 

However, things started off interestingly, as the group braved the acid rain and horrors of the landscape around the ancient city of Orcus.  At the Crossroads of Tsar, they made camp as usual but were visited by a strange apparition.  On watch at midnight, Diggy the halfling was astounded to find a strange peddler, whose face was hidden offering her whatever she wished.  She tried frantically to wake the rest of the party, but to no avail.  The Dweller at the Crossroads turned to leave as Diggy hesitated, but then stopped, a grin crossing its hidden face as she called out, “I wish for items to aid us in our quest to find the Sword of Air.”  The Dweller snapped his long, bony fingers and Diggy fell into the deep sleep that had affected the rest of the caravan. 
When they awoke, tufts of ash fell like rain around them, covering everything.  They were deep in the Desolation – the Ashen Wastes.  Before them stood a tomb with no discernable entrance.  The group immediately began scouting the area, looking for the best way to get the caravan back on track towards Bards Gate, and set about questioning Diggy.  Once it was determined what had happened – the wish had sent them to this tomb – they began investigating.

The structure was old, from the time of the great war and siege of Tsar.  With luck, Tatterbottom managed to discover a secret entrance into the ashen edifice.  Beyond the secret door, strange symbols and writing in the language of magic could be perceived.  Hoping to avoid a blasting spell, Tatterbottom dove in, away from the runes.  Alas, it was a summoning spell, calling four Azer warriors in a puff of noxious fumes to battle any intruders!  Tatterbottom immediately used his cloak of the demon to drop a globe of darkness over himself, while the rest of the party engaged the four fiery dwarves.  The battle was short and sweet, with Diggy taking one down in a single blow, while Tatterbottom backstabbed one of the creatures as he emerged from the darkness. 

Moving on, the group entered a room of strange scintillating light and a pedestal with a swirling orb of red mist.  Rightly the group avoided it, searching the great double doors to the south.  Despite discovering a magic trap, the group attempted to break through as they had no way of dispelling the trap for the moment.  Gentle John took the brunt of a scorching ray trap to the chest, and just managed to stay alive. *note* the tomb was shortened to accommodate our shortened session, and I didn’t want to have to leave them stuck in the wastes for another week – it’s far too dangerous.  Beyond was the “tomb” of a paladin named Argos -  trapped here centuries ago by Zelkor.  Having been released from his eternal slumber, he gifted the party with magic – a suit of Celestial Armor in particular, along with various other baubles.  A low chuckle; that of the Dweller at the Crossroads; echoed in Diggy’s mind – the wish had been fulfilled, but the near death of Gentle John weighed on them… it had nearly come with a high price. 

Now better equipped, the group set out west towards the newly scouted north / south road through the Desolation, headed north back towards the Crossroads, while the caravan turned south towards the Camp and Bards’ Gate. 

A near months’ worth of travel followed, as the group trekked northward, then west into the Southern Pass of the Stoneheart Mountains. Much sign of habitation was seen, particularly of hobgoblins, but none of the small parties threatened the heavily armed and armored group.  Finally, the Faergotha Plateau was attained. 
Once a beauteous land, now a blasted desert waste.  Miles upon miles of sand and bare rock stretched before the party.  In the mountains, they loaded up on supplies and set out across the waste.  As they travelled, they crossed strange rock formations that looked unsettlingly like the ruins of old towers, cities and massive buildings of strange construction.  The kingdom of Arcady – fallen long ago, to the best of their knowledge by the depredations of the hobgoblin and orc forces from the mountains during the last reign of Aka Bakar.  It was north, and north, and further north they travelled, finally reaching Baen’s Pass… to be continued…
 

 

 

michaelsandar's picture

Despite wrapping my last post by saying 'to be continued...' I evidently have gotten worse at keeping things up to date here!  But just because I haven't been posting about it doesn't mean the game hasn't been happening.  We've managed to get in a session just about every week and the Sword of Air is still the main objective.  Obviously, there will be some spoilers here...

 

Much has happened since the last post - the group not only reached Toh Kristael, but found and began exploring the false tomb of Aka Bakar.  So much has happened, that it's easier to just bullet point some of this...

  • Juice was killed by the banshee, and replaced by Juice's cousin Myrin Zule, another elven fighter / magic user. 
  • A second tomb was found (of my own design), the Tomb of Margon.  This tomb contained a few minor clues to Steve and the truth behind the Tomb of Aka Bakar.  More importantly, it got the PC's some much needed xp and a few items.
  • A teleport trip was made to Freegate and back to resupply
  • The rest of the first level of the tomb of Aka Bakar was explored, the lich defeated, and the false SoA recovered.  Some smart play and cautious use of divination type spells led them to believe it was not the real Sword, and they learned of the levels below
  • Peta and Tatterbottom both turned their allegiances to Hecate, Peta making a pact with her  and sacrificing a piece of the Tree of Life to bring Barry Barrington back to life
  • The first level of the real tomb was uncovered and after a few false starts, the group was able to navigate it (made even more difficult by my inclusion of a live beholder at the end)
  • Careful use of divination reveals more about Steve, now known to the party as Stefano, and realized to be the great demon fought by Aka Bakar, Margon, and Alcythron.
  • The second level is about 90% clear now, mostly through cautious play... but also through a couple of moments of braggadocio and sheer luck.

All in all, I have to say this is the most successful campaign I've ever run.  We're closing in on two years and this group is still going strong.  Huge props and thanks to Bill Webb and the Frogs for giving us this campaign to play in.  It's been a blast, and we're going on two years now.

michaelsandar's picture

After two years of gaming using homebrew material, Stoneheart Valley, Bards Gate, The Wizards Fued extension book, and the Sword of Air as primary influences, my group has acquired the Sword of Air. February 2017 marked our two year point in this campaign, and it's still going strong. The Hel's Temple Dungeon - Aka Bakar's Tomb - was beyond my expectations and brutal for my players, taking something like ten 3-4 hour sessions to work their way through. Despite it's 5 levels, it's actually kind of small compared to something like say TOEE, but it is dense. There's a lot going on there.  Now that they have the sword, they have some decisions to make.

The party makeup hasn't changed much (well, kind of, but only because we play fast and loose with the rules - there's been some dual classing and a major ritual performed to bring back Barry the Magic User, plus house rules regarding level limits).

Barry Barrington - human magic user 8

Diggy the Doorbreaker - Halfling fighter 8 (maxed)

Dame Mirin Zuul - elven fighter magic user 8 / 9

Peta - human druidess 11 / cleric of Hecate 7

Tatterbottom - halfling thief 11

Slayhammer - human cleric of Freya 10

There are several other henchmen who have been made into backup PC's, but this consists of the main group.  It's been a heck of a ride so far...!

 

michaelsandar's picture

Just a quick update as we near a conclusion in our campaign.  We had a session on Monday and the party has finally decided upon a plan for the Sword of Air.

One of the (I think) cool things we've been doing is keeping things in real time - if it's been a week between sessions, we've had a week of downtime.  Dame Mirin Zuul has spent real time off doing two very important things (a) buying and improving property on the Hill in Bards' Gate and (b) creating an iron golem with a Manual of Golems she found a while back.  While she was doing this the party had several other adventures (including a very fun "Dead From Above" from QoD".  They have saved quite a bit of funds and turned to paying exorbitant amounts of cash to sages, talked with Sorten, and used connections at temples to gain the information about the destruction of the Sword.  They have chosen to feed it to the Beast of Tannesh.  

The golem is to carry the sword to avoid it's evil influence.  To bypass a months-long journey to the Hazed Canyon (with a speed 6 iron golem in tow) Mirin and Tatterbottom worked out a carefully worded Wish - using a scroll acquired in their travels to transport the party 50 miles south of the Hazed Canyon.  They succeeded in finding themselves deep in the Dragon Hills, and set about avoiding a nearby dragon encounter!

Upon arrival, they found the trail leading down, making it about halfway before the iron golem fell into the mists! (he saves on a 3... the player rolled a 2!).  The massive amount of noise generated by an iron golem falling 150' down a rocky escarpment brought Duncan the Antipaladin on his Nightmare to investigate.  His plan was to strafe the party, hit them a time or two, and return to his castle... Barry had other plans, casting a wall of force in front of the diving/charging Nightmare, and then the party peppering them with arrows as they attempted to regain their flight. 

Long story short - with all their costly research and planning, they have arrived in the Hazed Canyon, the now damaged iron golem carries the Sword of Air slowing them even more, the know about the pylons, and Steve is hot on their trail...