Monday, April 7, 2014

Where Shadows May Fall – Prolog

[I'm getting back into the habit of writing campaign summaries and writing in general.  This is a prolog for a Victorian-style Alternate Earth Campaign my wife is starting.  We did a character completion session and the introduction of characters this past Saturday.  The game is slated to run once a month on a Saturday.  I'll be chronicling it from the perspective of my charater, Professor Detlef Strohkirch.]


Professor Detlef Strohkirche
Professor Sappho Yaavne
Major Yevhen Voytko
William, Earl of Redstone, Esquire and Doctor
Ching Shih, Chinese Pirate Queen (ret.)
Dr. Samuel Wilkinson
Charles Cole, Consulting Detective

Diary Entry for: 11 January 1816

Dear Diary,
I attended a tea and dinner with the local heads of the Society of Ravens – the Marchioness of Brisital and the Marquis Raleigh.  This meeting indicated that my application to join the Society was accepted.  Now perhaps I can go about seeking some funding for my next Symphonium Automata – a social club for gathering knowledge with branches at universities across The Continent must certainly have members able to fund my work.

I was surprised to learn that I was not the only one being inducted this day.  Seven others were in attendance.  I started assuming this was the candidate class for this year, but as things unfolded I realized we were brought together as a group for a purpose by the Society.  Hmm.  I’m certain the real purpose will become known, but for now – I’m getting ahead of myself.

Also in attendance were:

  • His Royal Highness, Knyaz of the Transural Steppes, Major of the Tsar’s Imperial Guard, Yehven Voytko, Imperial Russ State Alchemist
  • The Right Honorable Earl of Redstone, William, Lord Temporal [means he sits in the House of Lords, NOT that he is a Time Lord], Fellow of the Royal Society, Esquire [means he is a lawyer], Doctor
  • Ching Shih, Petal (I do not know what this means, but it appeared to be a title of some sort)
  • Sappho Yaaune (one of the Sil*); Petal, Society of the Rose (this might be different that that owned by Ching Shih, but I never got around to asking); Cog, Lund Mechanical Inventor’s Society; Professor at Ros Sorcha University (a full professor!  I was only able to secure an associate professorship.  I wonder if her species had anything to do with it or if she just had better connects – I’ll need to ask around.)
  • Sir Dr. Samuel Wilkinson, Knight of the Realm, Doctor of Surgery (We've met before and knew his father by correspondence during the time Samuel was dead.)
  • [Charles Cole – the player had to leave before we did the introduction scene, so I don’t have all his titles, but he is a consulting detective living in Lundin (game world London)]
  • [Sir Not Appearing This Game Session – a player who had to miss the session due to work, but whose character was assumed to be in attendance]

We arrived at the Savoy precisely at 4:00 pm and were treated to a fancy tea party first.  This seems to be an Anglish social custom as I’ve seen it happen often since arriving in this country a year and a half ago.  A break in the afternoon is a pleasant enough thing, but the Anglish seem to waste time over the whole activity.  In Gotha we’d have a beer and a sausage if we were hungry and get on with things, but that is not the Anglish way of doing things.

I fell in with Professor Yaaune as she is an automail** specialist and she and I discussed the theoretical limits of automail technology and how much of a person could be replaced before they were no longer that person.  We proceeded to discussing possible designs and I was having difficulty getting a design concept across to her.  As she had two pocket watches and some spare automail parts on her, so I cobbled together a design to illustrate what I was discussing.  This was interrupted by a transition to an actual dining room for the actual meal, but we resumed work after getting seated.  I finished the little automata and ran it through a few exercises to verify it was complete by the time the third of fifth course arrived.  (I admit I lost track of which exact course we were on while completing the automata.)  Apparently our hosts also joined us during the transition to the dining room.

The rest of the dinner Professor Yaaune and I discussed some related topics and I will admit I needed Samuel to recite text from a couple of the books I know he has memorized to get past a few points.  Professor Yaaune approaches automail from a biological perspective whereas I work from the mechanical perspective.

Near the end of the dinner (right after the desert cheeses were brought out, which seemed to make Professor Yaaune a bit tipsy – something about the Sil digestive system reacts to cheese like humans react to alcohol), our hosts gifted us each a high quality carriage and Top Hat [high rank and quality coachman].  This seemed an extravagant gift for newly inducted members of the Society, but the Marchioness went on to explain the group of us (minus herself and the Marquis) were to act as a field team for the Society and we are assigned to travel to the town of Glassenbury in Cornwall tomorrow morning via locomotive transport along with a financial representative of the Society.  In Cornwall, we were to contact the Glassen family who own the lands there and verify the contents of a library they are selling to the Society.  Additionally, we are to arrange for the isolation of the library from the Glassen’s home, to which it is attached.

This is not what I joined the Society to do and I believe I could see similar sentiments on the faces of some of the others.  Miss Shih had some very pointed questions about what exact we were to do and what limits there were upon our behavior and options.  We are to not endanger the sale nor anger or offend the Glassen family as the Society was in negotiations with them for several other items in different locations.  This includes avoiding offending any of their peculiar religious beliefs – they apparently are some flavor of the Christian faith and view Angland’s Druidic faith somewhat poorly.  That said, we are to secure the library, including any of the hidden passages and rooms rumored to be part of the library’s construction.  Miss Shih has a very direct way of viewing things and I think I will be able to work well with her.

By this point it was approaching 9:00 in the evening and the dinner finished.  We received some final directions on where to be to ride the locomotive transport to Cornwall.  I’m somewhat curious to see what someone else did applying a steam engine for transportation.

I just realized it has been over 40 years since I built the steam-powered mobile Symphonium Automata in Zagreb.  I still blame the cobblestones for jostling the steam feed and shunting the entire output through the organworks.  I’m sure they've replaced all the glass in the city by now.

After that we all returned to our respective domiciles.  I informed Martijn we would be traveling in the morning and to pack for a trip of a week’s length.  I also informed him I had been granted a Top Hat by the Society and told him to find a room for her in the house and space for the carriage somewhere.  I then proceeded upstairs to make this diary entry.  Now I am going to sleep.  I hope Martijn doesn't make too much noise packing for us.

Guten nacht, Tagebuch.

Note to Self: Learn the Top Hat’s name.  I’m sure she has one – most people do.

* Sil - This world includes a race very like the Silurians from the Doctor Who television show.  Think "fine-scaled snake people" and you pretty much have it.  In-game, they used advanced technology to teach the monkey's to not attack Sil population centers or else, establishing the Pax Siluriana.  They don't generally mingle with Humans, but there is an embassy at most national capitols in Urope (the Europe equivalent).

** automail - Borrowed from Full Metal Alchemist, automail are essentially cybernetic replacement limbs.  I think they work because of magic, but they do need to be designed and built for each wearer.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Campaign Resumes

So I took November off for a couple reasons.  Primarily, I wanted to spend the month writing Draft 3 of my novel.  What actually happened was that work got crazy busy with the end of a four-year project and after spending 8 hours working on field study documentation everyday, I wasn't really motivated to sit in front of my laptop at home.

I did resume work on my novel.  My steering committee and I reviewed a new storyboard for the first three chapters and talked over the new scenes being added and the ones removed and why.  Mostly this was focusing on seven point of view characters (POV characters) to make the timeline that is Draft 2 into a story as Draft 3.

Talking out the storyboard and explaining what I'm thinking to my steering committee helps set the ideas in my mind and provides feedback on what works and what needs work.  It also helped clarify what the point of each scene was and how it progressed the story.  It also brought back two scenes I was planning on cutting as none of the POV characters were there.  The committee members argued that the scenes were important to show and provided greater impact than if I tried to relate them happening off stage.

We have another storyboard review scheduled this weekend to go through (hopefully) the rest of the chapters.

But first, the Blood, Gold, and Lizards campaign Friday Group meets (on Friday, natch).  I've reviewed my notes of what they were up to, but it remains to be seen if they pick up that thread or go off on a different tangent.  I'm looking forward to finding out.

That's it for now - Later!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Blood, Gold, and Lizards - Friday Group - Session 6

[This was a relatively short session as we started a bit late and there was a good deal of discussion during the first half of the session.]

Hugo Underwood – Wood Elf shaman
Felix Lutsk – Human “acquisitioner”
Albrecht Artyom – Human Grey Wizard
Fritz Schmidt – Human scout
Alset Alokin – High Elf mage

Before heading out into the wilds again, the group spent time dealing with business in town.

Fritz became the patron of the owner/operator of a general store in town, Ditmar Lumm.  Fritz directed Ditmar to start growing contacts and a supply chain to support the colony (when established).  [Fritz spent experience points to buy a Follower.]

Uncle Felix’s Armor Shop opened for business and Felix started making plans to bring in weapons smiths as well as the high quality armor smiths he had hired.  [Felix spent experience points to purchase a base with "followers" of it's own - the employed smiths.  Note: the smiths are loyal to the shop, not Felix.]

The loot from the treasure closet was divvyed up*.  The sealed lead chest was investigated and determined to have no traps on it, but it was sealed with a lump of lead instead of a lock.  "Morrsleib" sounded familiar to the adventurers, but most could not remember why.  Hugo remembered it was the name of the green moon, but could not quite remember the significance.

After the lead lump was removed, Felix opened the chest.  Inside was an oversized skull made of glowing green crystal – it was pure warpstone!**  As it’s corrupting energies washed over Felix, he could feel it trying to change him.  Made of sterner stuff, Felix resisted its effects and slammed the chest shut.  He then set about resealing it immediately.  All the exposed skin on his front was red as though sun-burned.  This triggered Alset’s memory: Morslieb was reputed to be the source of all warpstone, so the symbol embossed on the chest was a warning.  [GM wearing an evil grin here.]

Alset commissioned two sets of three copper-covered iron rods from Felix’s smithy and was told they would be ready in a week and a half.  He has plans for them relating to his teleport spell...

Finally, Albrecht decided to bring two handfuls of the unmagic dust with him on the current expedition and Fritz chose to bring three.  The remaining three handfuls were left at F&A Holdings.

The next morning the group mounted up on their horses and headed east along Quarry Road.  At Watch Tower 1 they turned off the road and headed northeast across the plains, aiming for the southern of the two towers out on the plains on their map.  As they got near, their path crossed the fringe of the Wedge Wood, where the forest was growing around a barrier that only seemed to affect the forest.  The adventurers searched the area, finding an abandoned logging camp.  Hugo was able to determine that the camp had been abandoned for at least a year, but there was no indications as to why it had been abandoned.

The adventurers then continued on to the lone hill with a tower on it.  Just like its neighbor to the northwest, Alset was able to locate lines of force emanating from inside the hill.  One line headed to the northwest, directly towards the tower the adventurers had previously explored.  One line of force headed northeast, to possibly link up with one of the lines from the other tower, and the third line headed due east, where the adventurers theorized another tower could be found.  They deduced that there were a total of six towers with something at the center, possibly a seventh tower.

The adventurers examined the tower they were at.  Like the tower to the northwest, it had no windows or doors.  Albrecht teleported to the top of the wall and verified that the tower was completely hollow inside, just like the one to the northwest.  Searching around the hill, they did not find the illusion covered cave entrance where they were expecting it [on the "inside" of the area delineated by the lines of force].  They did find a one on the southeastern edge of the hill, set into a low cliff face.

As it was getting late in the day, the group decided to camp, but back at the abandoned logging camp three miles away.  They rode there and set up in the largest standing building [about the size of a barn].  The doors were long gone on the building, which was significant later, but the building provided cover for the adventurers and their mounts.

On second watch (Alset and Albrecht), Alset spotted a small group of creatures approaching.  The creatures looked similar to the Cold Ones that Dark Elfs ride and were directly approaching the camp.  Alset had Albrecht wake the rest of the group.  The adventurers clustered at the front entrance and readied for the creatures to attack.  All three wizards cast enhancing spells on Felix, increasing his Dexterity and armor protection significantly.  He stood in the front center, ready for the rush of the beasts.

The beasts had been making clicks and trills at each other while approaching and when the rush happened, it did not go as expected.  Two of the six beasts charged the front entrance, but the others broke off into two groups and moved around the sides of the building, heading for the wide open rear entrance.  Felix stood his ground and fended off the two attacking the front, barely scratched by their ferocious attacks thanks to the magics protecting him.

As the fight progressed, the four flanking beasts charged in through the rear entrance and fell on the horses stabled in an adjacent side room.  Horrible sounds of horses dying could be heard by the adventurers at the front, which angered the adventurers.  The group started peeling off from the front fight to stop the slaughter of their horses.  Felix cut down one of the two beasts at the front, driving off the other [who suddenly found its sense of self-preservation], ending the front fight.

The adventurers killed the rest of the attacking beasts, but not before losing all but one of their horses.  With one horse left, the group decided to return to town.  Alset could teleport the group back to town with the horse, but not if they found any significant treasure under the tower as the horse put him at the edge of of his teleportation spell’s capabilities.

Back in town, the group waited a few days until the full moon for the next monthly auction to happen.  They sold off several items they had been holding on to: the wraith crowns, the ceremonial gold bowl, and the gold torc.  They then split up the proceeds and made arrangements for Quetzal and Zoglug to get their shares.

End of Session

* The treasure consisted of:
1. Large dragonhide shield [50% resistant ED damage reduction to fire attacks, 11- Act.]
2. Pendant charm (minor magic) [2rPD hardened vs. missiles, 1 Turn per day]
3. Fingerbone charm (minor magic) [+5 DCV once per day]
4. Potion of Vitality [LS: aging, sleep, and food, plus 0 END Running and STR, lasts 1 hour]
5. Unmagic dust - took a while to identify [Dispel, 10d6 per handful of dust, bag of 8 handfuls]
6. Bronze torc with opals set in the caps (old-style Jicarilla work) - 350-450g
7. 10,000 copper coins, triangular in shape, with the face of an Elf on one side and the phrase "Through Darkness, Light" on the other.
8. 1000 silver coins, triangular in shape, with a skull on one side and the phrase "Through Darkness, Light" on the other.
9. 600 gold coins, triangular in shape, with the face of a Human wearing a crown on one side and the phrase "Through Darkness, Light" on the other.
10. Small lead chest with the Elf symbol of Morrsleib embossed on it.

** Yes, Kasey, the party just found a crystal skull.  ;)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Song of the Jackaroos Delayed

I wanted to alternate between adventure logs from my Blood, Gold, and Lizards campaign and the Adventure Earth! campaign I play in, but the Adventure Earth! write-ups take longer as I do them as journal entries made by my character (as opposed to a simple listing of what happened).  So the Session 6 notes from the BG&L Friday Group will post this week instead (already queued up for posting Tuesday morning at 7:00 AM Central).  I should have the first installment of the Adventure Earth! notes next week.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

BG&L - Saturday Group - Session 5

Marcus of the Shield – Human priest of Shallya, Goddess of Healing, Mercy, and Childbirth
Felix Lutsk – Human “acquisitioner”
Zoglug Ironhide – “civilized” Orc warrior
Quetzal – Lizardfolk scout
Belladonna "Frongle" Leagallow – Halfling of many talents and follower of Manann
Jacien Ghel-Aurum –Human wizard, member of the Gold Fellowship
The group decided to make the Sea Cave their forward base.  To this end, they spent two days gathering supplies to store there and they commissioned the construction of an iron bound door with a frame to hold it.  Jacien requested a large number of eyebolts be embedded in the frame on both sides and across the top.  Felix strongly advocated a good lock be included and this was incorporated into the plan.  The local craftsmen had a door already made that met the necessary specifications, so they only needed to craft the stout frame and embed the eyebolts.  In two days, all the necessary supplies were gathered and stored in Jacien’s shop and on Zoglug’s cart.
The group then boarded the Spider Walker and headed west, walking on the waters just off shore.  The rode for six hours before putting in to shore find shelter for the night.  As they arrived on shore, they spotted a ship moving along the coast, heading east towards Lucan’s Clock.  As it passed, they identified it as the Hellborn Strumpet, flying a Sartosan flag.  As the crew of the ship chose not to engage the adventurers, the adventurers chose to not engage the ship.  Frongol was unable to find a good cave for their camp, but she was able to find a good cliff overhang that was low enough to provide cover from the elements.  Watches were set and the group settled in for the night.
On the final watch, Zoglug and Marcus should have been alert, but fell asleep.  The other members of the group were awakened to the sounds of large animals rummaging through the stores on the back of the Spider Walker.  Two large beasts with heavy armor and a tail like a mace are eating the foodstuffs the group brought with them.  Quetzal talks to them in a lizard tongue and convinces the two beasts that there is better food a bit further on.  The beasts (not being too bright) agree to move on.

Once the beasts leave, Marcus and Zoglug were woken up and an explanation was demanded.  Zoglug just rolled back over, said it was Marcus’s watch, and went back to sleep.  Marcus claimed he had fallen into a meditative state communing with Shallya and had not noticed the beasts as they posed no threat to the group [that was his story and he was sticking to it].
The next day, the group continued heading east on the Spider Walker, out on the waters following the coast.  Two hours in, sharks were spotted circling something further out and the adventurers decided to go investigate.  Jacien directed the Walker further out to sea, slightly disturbing the sharks circling pattern (which changed to now include the Spider Walker).
Deep down in the water some of the adventurers could just make out the top mast of a ship.  They suspected that the Hellborn Strumpet had attacked and sank the ship.  Wanting to see what might be down there Quetzal was willing to swim down, but not with a bunch of sharks circling, so the adventurers decided to clear out the sharks by shooting them from the safe confines of the Spider Walker.  This started out OK, but eventually the sharks got riled and one made a leap out of the water and bit Frongol (who was leaning over the edge to get a better shot).  Frongol was yanked off her feet and fell into the water, bleeding from a serious shoulder wound.
The sharks started circling closer.
Quetzal dropped a rope end into the water and then dove in to help Frongol escape.  Unfortunately, three of the sharks decided Quetzal looked more like food than Frongol did and attacked her.  Quetzal lost an arm to the initial attack and then lost a part of her torso and one of her legs from the thigh down.  She immediately fell unconscious and started bleeding out.
With lots of blood in the water, the sharks started frenzying.
Frongol was able to grab Quetzal’s unconscious form and drag her over to the dangling rope while the other adventurers concentrated attacks to kill sharks faster.  Felix hauled up Frongol and Quetzal once Frongol wrapped the rope around the two of them.  When another shark approached to attack, Zoglug jumped onto the shark and attacked it!  [Yes, that’s right – Zoglug jumped the shark.]  Other sharks attacked the Spider Walker, doing serious damage to it, threatening to pull it under the waves.

In the end, the adventurers killed six of the eight great whites attacking them, driving off the other two.  Four of the dead sharks were harpooned with ropes attached and were dragged to shore with the Spider Walker as it limped back to shore, the two others sank into the gloom of the bottom.  Marcus was able to keep Quetzal from bleeding out and dying during the fight and a regeneration spell cast once back on shore regrew Quetzal’s lost limbs.  A sheltered spot was quickly located and secured.  Jacien spent the rest of the day doing repairs on the Spider Walker while Quetzal skinned and butchered the sharks with great gusto.
That night, everyone had shark steak for dinner.
That night, Zoglug and Jacien saw some klakkers (pterodactyls) fly by high overhead.  A little later, after Jacien’s watch finished and Marcus had joined Zoglug on watch, three more of the mace-tailed beasts started wandering towards the camp.  Zoglug woke up Quetzal so she could talk the beasts into leaving peacefully (everyone had had enough fighting for a while with the sharks).  After a fairly short conversation with the beasts, Quetzal redirected them away from the camp.
In the morning, the group reviewed their map of the area and discussed possible routes they could take to the Sea Cave.  To speed things up, they decided to cut through a nearby part of the Valley of the Landsharks (where they could make better time with the damaged Spider walker) so they could reach the Sea Cave by sunset.  Along the way they found some wild plants Quetzal recognized as edible, watched some more klakkers fly by (except Frongol, who stayed out of sight), and spotted a cow-herd skeleton partially buried in the ground – obviously a victim of a landshark attack.
The adventurers arrived at the Sea Cave just in time for one of the rare rain storms to come by and drench the area.  Quetzal checked the cave for tracks and found signs a Lizardfolk patrol had camped in the cave since the group had last been here (so, sometime in the last week).  The caves were quickly verified to be empty and dry.  After some discussion, the adventurers decided to claim only part of the caves, leaving a few off to one side for others to use (meaning the Lizardfolk patrols).  The group then camped.
After breakfast, Jacien went about the business of opening a temporary warp gate to his laboratory back in Lucan’s Clock.  This magic is still experimental for him and there was some concern about the consequences of failure.  Once everyone was ready, he completed the ritual and the gate opened successfully.  The plan was followed and folks rushed through and pushed Zoglug’s cart full of supplies through the gate from the lab to the cave.  The time necessary to do this was under the minute the gate lasted and all the supplies made it safely.
While the others unloaded the cart, Jacien had Zoglug haul the door from the Spider to the cave entrance the adventurers wanted to be their front door.  Once the door was in place, Jacien made multiple spell castings, filling the gaps on the sides and top with steel chains summoned from the warp.  The chains linked into the eyebolts along the sides of the doors and drove into the stone walls, anchoring the door firmly in place.
With Sea Cave Base established, the adventurers started going about the business of making it comfortable.
End of Session

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Song of the Jackaroos - Dramatis Personae

In the past I've provided an adventure log for the Pulp Hero game a friend runs periodically.  She's recently started running again and I've decided to post my notes again.  I write them as a journal kept by my character, Andrew Ezikial Crawley, Ph.D.  Think "Daniel Jackson, Ph.D." from the Stargate SG-1 television show (specifically) or the same character from the Stargate movie, but mine is red-haired.

The current story arc starts before the last one (The Butterfly Effect) has completely finished, but the switch over happens quick and early in the first game session.  The GM has not told us her name for this adventure, so I've come up with one of my own: Song of the Jackaroos.

Main Characters
Andrew Ezekial Crawley, Ph.D. – red hair, blue eyes, average height, speaks 15 languages and is an archaeologist by training.  Andrew is leader of a team for Adventure Earth Company now, but has developed suspicions about the true nature of the company.  He has developed secret ties to The Planetary Society through his friendship with Elijah Snow, the Society’s founder.

Jack Thompson – tall, short blonde hair, safari clothes and boots, Jack is a Big Game Hunter and ex-French Foreign Legionnaire.  He excels at tracking and his quarry rarely escapes, man or beast.  Also handy with a stick of dynamite.

Kurt Morison – brown hair, tall and lanky, Kurt is the quintessential cowboy, from his beat up hat all the way down to his well worn pair of boots.  He is quick with a gun and able to ride any beast that can support his weight.

Bak Mu – short, aged, white-haired Chinese man, Bak Mu is learned in Chinese Medicine and surprisingly agile for a man of his advanced years.  He is known to be able to punch through a tree with his bare hand.

Helen Amelie Victoria Bridgette Whitney, tPh.D. – red hair, green eyes, and beautiful, Helen was born to an old money family and raised to be a proper lady, but she was also the favorite of her grandfather, who taught her all sorts of non-ladylike skills and instilled a strong desire for adventure.

Reilly Burell – raven-black hair, steel-grey eyes, and ruggedly handsome, Reilly made his money as an engineer early in his life – now he looks for thrills he cannot get with just money, women, and alcohol.

Simone Chevalier – drop dead gorgeous petite blonde from France, Simone’s background is a bit of a mystery.  She is also a member of the Society of Psychical Research and a die-hard skeptic of things supernatural.

Supporting Cast
Colonel Yarborough – Owner of the Adventure Earth Company, the Colonel is apparently well-connected and has extensive resources at his command.  His company provides safaris and excursions to exotic parts of the globe for the wealthy, usually with a twist or a side-job for his employees.  He is rarely seen by the employees of his company, usually only on their first day with the company, if then.

Amanda Decker – A young, shapely, blonde woman, she is Colonel Yarborough’s personal assistant, and an employee’s main point of contact.  She also introduces the clients to the team that will be arranging whatever excursion the client is paying for.

Pamela – Secretary at the New York Office of Adventure Earth Company

Harriet Godwin – head of the Brisbane Office of Adventure Earth Company, she is currently overworked and over-stressed due to a missing team with clients.

The Client

None – sort of. (Again.)  This is more of a rescue mission, but we suspect some damage control will also be necessary.

Previous Adventures:
The Mayan Expedition - never documented. Includes the "finding" of the crystal skull.
The Kilimanjaro Safari - introduces Mr. Parks and our "issues" with him
Berlin Book Blitz - never documented.  We are in the Reichstag when the fire starts.
Tomb of the Lost Pharaoh - never documented.  Cursed tomb of Herihor found.
The Mountain Kings - an incomplete log as I never wrote down Chapter 3
     Chapter 1
     Chapter 2
The Butterfly Effect - never documented, but that might change.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Blood, Gold, and Lizards - Friday Group - Session 5

AttendeesHugo Underwood – Wood Elf shaman
Felix Lutsk – Human “acquisitioner”
Albrecht Artyom – Human Grey Wizard
Fritz Schmidt – Human scout
Zoglug Ironhide – “civilized” Orc warrior
Quetzal – Lizardfolk scout
Alset Alokin – High Elf mage

After some discussion, the group decided to return to the Hollow Tower and finish investigating the caves under it.  The took the familiar path of the Estini Road and then along the northern edge of the Wedge Wood to arrive at the Hollow Tower shortly after mid-day.  There was some discussion about whether or not to descend and explore for a few hours before camping or possibly exploring some of the nearby plains.  It was decided to descend and explore.

Hugo had an idea for bypassing the Black Chandelier and getting to the areas beyond it.  He cast his Cloud of Moths spell, pouring huge clouds of blue moths into the room.  The chandelier immediately started burning them away, but Hugo’s spell poured enough into the room to temporarily completely obscure the chandelier.  He was able to successfully run from the door to the passage out the far corner without getting burned by the chandelier’s magics.  Impressed with the success, the group had Hugo cast the spell twice more so the rest of the group could safely make the transit (except Albrecht, who teleported himself and Alset across – wizards).

The passage beyond descended down a flight of stairs and curved to the left slightly before opening to a small chamber with an ornate door.  The door was made of stone and carved with undulating waves across its surface.  Layered onto the surface were metal triangles about the size of a child’s hand.  They triangles were tinted various shades of metallic grey, creating a sense of flowing colors across the door.  Albrecht checked the doors for traps and declared it safe, so Alset turned the (triangular-shaped) handle.  This set off the trap that Albrecht missed.  The metal triangles on the door surface stood up on one edge and then flew off, filling the room with spinning, flying metal!

Luckily, the edges were dulled by time and while some received scratches from triangles, no one was seriously hurt.  [I rolled near minimum damage on the original barrage.]  While the rest of the group scooped up the metal disks, Albrecht took another look at the door.  He determined that the metal triangles on the door were replaced by a new layer, this one looking much sharper than the original disks [because, frankly, I had to roll better damage if the trap went off again] and that there was indeed a trap on the door.  He took his time to disable the trap without breaking it, thinking they might want to take the door with them at a later time.

Beyond the door was a larger chamber: half cavern, half finished stone.  The right wall of the chamber was finished stone and decorated depicting the flows of the winds of magic, with a door in the center surrounded by symbols.  The left wall was cavern wall and had a passage leading out.  Albrecht and Hugo identify the symbols as warning symbols, symbols usually placed to remind apprentices to leave a summoned creature alone.  Alset activated his See Magic spell and saw purple light leaking around the door.

As purple is the color of magic associated with Death Lore, the group decided to hold off on investigating beyond the door.  Heading down the passage on the opposite wall, they run right into two wraiths lurking in a side alcove.  The wraiths grab Felix and Alset, withering them both.  [It is possible that at this point, Felix screamed like a little girl, but it may have been the elf.  Hard to say.]  Fritz recognized the wraiths for what they were and called out that only magical attacks would harm them.  Few in the group of adventurers had magical attacks.

The following fight was touch-and-go at the first.  Albrecht cast his protective spell upon as many as he could.  This benefited the group two ways: it provided a [minor] measure of defense against the withering touch of the wraiths and made their fists slightly magical.  The tide was turned when Fritz and Quetzal individually called upon their respective faiths and were able to imbue their weapons with a measure of holy power.*  With these weapons they were able to harm and drive off the wraiths [but not destroy them].

Once the wraiths had fled into the walls, the group stayed where they were to re-gather their strength and decide what they wanted to do next.  Those touched by the wraiths slowly recovered from the withering touches, but patches of their skin remained devoid of all color where the wraiths had touched them.  Zoglug dug around in the alcove the wraiths attacked from and found two dented golden crowns.  Alset declared the crowns still had wisps of necromantic energies attached to them.  Zoglug did not care and put them on to wear.  While the debate of whether to advance or retreat continued, one of the wraiths returned and attempted to grab Albrecht.  It failed to grab him, but this motivated the adventurers to return to the surface to camp for the night.

Alset used his long range teleportation to make several teleportation jumps to return to town that night to get the crowns blessed (or at least cleansed).  He went to the Temple of Sigmar and cheerfully explained what he wanted.  The High Priest of Sigmar was not very impressed by this vagabond elf and his wants.  The priest suggested the elf try at the Temple of Manann [god of the sea] if he wanted anything unclean bathed.  The priest did agree to bless the elf’s weapon to fight the undead.  He was even less impressed with the elf when the elf admitted to not having a weapon.  A loaner hammer was secured.  A small one.  And he had to sign for it.  Alset then donated a single gold piece for the temple’s assistance.

Alset then went over to the Temple of Manann and talked with the priest there.  The High Priest of Manann was a bit gruff, but much more helpful.  At first he suggested Alset throw the crowns into the sea for purification and Manann would return them when they were purified.  Alset wasn’t quite ready for that level of deific intervention and asked if there was something that could be done without throwing the golden crowns into the sea.  The high priest then invites Alset in and has him stand in a large pool of salt water.  The high priest then starts invoking the name of Manann and the water in the pool reared up as a wave and then broke over Alset.  Alset checked the crowns and they were now clear of any necromantic energies.  Surprisingly, Alset was not drenched with sea water.  He thanked the high priest and gave a 10 gold piece donation to the temple.

Alset then cast his teleportation spell several times to get back to camp.  When he returned, he related what he had done in town.  There may have been some forehead slapping at this.  Fritz was very interested in the blessed weapon…until he learned it was a hammer from the Temple of Sigmar, whom he and his sect consider heretics (though well meaning heretics).  Felix took control of the small hammer at that point.  Watches were set and the group rested.

The next morning the group descended back down into the caverns.  Working their way back to the location of the wraith ambush, they quickly stepped past the area (ran, actually) and down the passage beyond.  That passage started curving to the left.  At the base of a set of steps leading up, they found a small side room with cloaks hanging from pegs on the wall.  The robes were black with symbols stitched on them.  No one could identify the symbols, but some of them seemed similar to those on the wall of the wizard’s laboratory they found previously.  Quetzal quickly took one of the robes and, determining it was not covered in mold, rolled it up and packed it away.  The other four robes were quickly packed away by other members of the group.

Going up the stairs, the group found a nexus of passageways.  One passage led back to the cavern with the wizard statue and altar.  Another led to a dormitory, long abandoned.  Searching the remains of furniture, the group finds two lengths of gold chain and two skeletons stuffed in two chests.  Zoglug quickly packed away one of the skulls.  Hugo was able to examine the skull of the other skeleton and determines it was human.  Felix carefully packed that skull away.

Having come full circle in the caverns, the group decided to go back and check door with the warning.  Albrecht took his time to check the door and verified it was not trapped.  He then opened the door.  The room beyond was large and square with worked stone.  In the center was a very large and intricate ritual circle with a skeleton lying in the center.  There were three pillars in the room, each in a corner (one to the immediate right from the door and the other two in the corners on the opposite side of the room) and covered in symbols and glyphs.  To the left was a wide passage out of the area.

Alset activated his magic sight and was nearly blinded by the purple energies contained inside the ritual circle.  After a few moments adjusting to the intensities, he was able to determine that three beams of power emanate from the circle, each striking one of the pillars.  The pillars crackled with energy and then each emitted a line of force into the corner behind them.  The lines went through the walls without damaging them and looked very much like the lines of force he had seen emanating from the hill the Hollow Tower sits upon.

Hugo heard a quiet female voice asking him to free here.  He did not mention this.

The group broke up into sub-groups at this point, each investigating a different part of the room.  The three wizards and Felix checked the side passage, finding it ends in a set of double doors.  Albrecht checks the doors and declares them safe.  Meanwhile, Zoglug is poking at different areas in the room with his crowbar and Quetzal is contemplating the skeleton in the circle, which she identifies as Lizardfolk.

Over at the door, Albrecht opens them and the wizards and Felix are hit with a mind blank spell, draining away their minds and memories while they are affected.**  This renders all four of them into drooling idiots for several minutes.  Once they have their minds back and are told what happened, Albrecht re-checks the door and says the door is safe – the trap must have disused itself.  The rest retreat out the original door and tell him to go ahead and open it.  He does so, getting mind blanked again, but opening the door.  While his mind is gone, the rest of the group enters the room beyond the double doors.  This room appears to be a workshop for the final casting of the ritual circle – there are mostly empty bottles of reagents and paints and some test drawings of the trickier bits of the circle.  There is also a small door on the far wall.  Zoglug starts collecting the glass bottles and beakers, emptying them by the simple expedient of drinking the contents.  He regrets the taste of some of them and his tongue ends up plaid at one point, but none of it kills him [immediately].

The group starts discussing what to do at this point.  It comes up that Hugo and Hugo only is hearing a female voice asking to be freed.  Quetzal is also interested in breaking the ritual circle as she is convinced that any mammal ritual that puts a Lizardfolk in a circle to die is inherently bad.  Most of the group moved back into the ritual room to discuss the merits and possible dangers of breaking the ritual circle.  The “Don’t Break It” group eventually convinced Quetzal that the potential dangers of breaking the circle and releasing unknown amounts of energies are too high to be safe right now and more knowledge is needed first.

While this debate was raging, Zoglug got bored and attempted to kick open the small door back in the workshop.  This detonates a large fireball that filled the workshop and flooded back into the ritual room.  Only those furthest from the explosion were still conscious and standing afterwards.  When the wizards awakened, the first thing they checked was the ritual circle – it was still intact.  They all breathed a sigh of relief at that.

Once the entire group was again awake and Albrecht had regained his mind (and been brought up to speed), the next room was checked.  It was a treasure store with several crates of gold coins and other valuables.  The destruction of the lab glass by Zoglug setting off the explosion was instantly forgiven and the group immediately set to looting the treasure room.

Seeing no reason to stay and not wanting to break the ritual circle yet, the group hauled their loot back out of the caverns and camped for the night.  The next morning they rode back to New Zwicke.

End of Session
* Both PCs have faith-based skills: Fritz a Knowledge Skill in his faith and Quetzal has a Professional Skill as a shaman.  Fritz’s player made his roll by a lot and I allowed he remembered enough of the appropriate ritual to make his bow able to smite the undead.  Quetzal made her roll by less, but has practical skill in being a shaman, so she too was able to bless her weapon enough to deal serious damage to the wraiths.

** This was a big INT drain and knocked all but Albrecht down to 0 INT.  I ruled that this wiped their memories of the events just prior to the drain and during the drain.  If the trap had gotten everyone, no one would have remembered the trap going off, just a sort of blink and then they were just standing there wondering what they were up to.  This could have kept them occupied for quite some time in that case.