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After-action reports

The Desolate Highway Cafe

SESSION 1, part 1

Arkham, Massachusetts

Friday, August 26, 1927

The Desolate Highway Cafe, with its low ceilings and dark, sticky walls of heavily varnished wood, was filled with the usual Friday night clientele – immigrants, students, scions of the idle rich, poets and poseurs, seekers of the exotic, foreign or unusual.  Rumors abounded of easy access to illicit narcotics and liquor, sexual depravities and the many benefits of friends in low places.  Some came once to escape the dullness of conservative Arkham and, easily sated, never returned; others took up residence as regulars, clustered in high-backed leather chairs around too-small tables, partially obscured by cigarette smoke in the inadequate lighting.

Among the regulars was Stewart Portman, a wealthy bachelor in his early forties and owner of Arkham’s largest collection of rare manuscripts.  He never experienced much difficulty impressing Miskatonic coeds half his age, girls like Connie DeCaprio, a naive freshman student of history from some tiny, blue-collar town in Connecticut, far from the usual demographic of Misktaonic.  The older man was embellishing a tale of travels in foreign lands, of drinking brandy with the upper crusts  of the European intelligentsia and being privy to forbidden works that spoke of matters too esoteric and incomprehensible for the masses.  Gifts of cheap costume jewelry and kitschy African carvings almost always sealed the deal.

Jonathan Drake, a rich lay-about and degenerate, son of a disgraced but once prominent astronomer, sat at his appointed table.  “Jonny” was in the circle of Asenath Waite Derby – small and dark but with the protruding eyes so characteristic of her home town of Innsmouth – a troupe of bohemians apparently attempting to effect the final victory of style over substance.  Dropouts, drug addicts, erstwhile artists and trust fund babies spoke in a pretentious concocted language designed at once to conceal their vapidity and impress those same young coeds whose sole intent was to follow someone or something in their quest for intellectual credibility and worldliness.

The immigrants, primarily European, kept to themselves, monopolizing the cafe’s only chess set and associating only with others from their particular region or city, and the transients appeared for a night or two intent on making a score; of what, nobody asked.

Tonight, however, four of the customers who spoke in low whispers did not fall into any of these categories.

(character names are linked to their .pdf character sheets)

Dr. Kenneth Lokar, Professor of History at Harvard, was in town to attend a presentation chaired by Miskatonic University Egyptologist Dr. Ronald Galloway.  The topic was an expedition planned for 1928 to the deserts west of Cairo in search of the fabled Valley of the Winds, long believed to be the resting place of heretical high priest Nophru-Ka.  The trip would be a welcome respite from the stuffiness of staid Cambridge.

Raymond Learson, archeologist and hunter of antiquities, also attended the presentation.  Noted for his unorthodox methods and lax adherence to academic, scientific and (in more cases than he would readily admit) social norms, Learson heard of the presentation through the archeological fraternity and invited himself to attend.  The infamous German archeologist, Dr. Wilhelm Fuchs, was rumored to be trying to raise funds for a competing expedition to Egypt, and Raymond wanted, in his words, to “hop on the first train out of the station.”

Jack Storn was a reporter on the city beat for the Arkham Advertiser.  The cafe was right next door and Jack was always on the lookout for unusual leads.  Jack had a keen eye for stories where the evidence just didn’t add up and it was all his editor could do to redact the unsourced accusations and bizarre connections with which Jack was inclined to spice up his reports.

Jenny Barnes was a wealthy heiress and unrepentant flapper in a part of the world where the excesses of the Roaring Twenties had never taken firm root.  She frequented the Desolate Highway to sate her appetite for the unusual and dangerous, at least until 9:30 when the cafe closed and she danced away the hours until midnight at the adjacent Commercial House.

The four fellow-travelers shared dubious stories of preternatural, occult or simply bizarre incidents and phenomena until closing time approached.  Individuals and small groups filtered out into the night, including Jonny Drake, who, much to the confusion and chagrin of his fawning companion, loudly boasted of being late for a tryst with his lady love before stumbling out the back door.

It was the last anyone would ever see of Jonathan Drake alive.

 

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Silver Marches, April session

Before leaving Dead Snows, Cetan inquired on the sheep snatching in the upper pastures to see about claiming a reward from the green dragon that he, Nongo, and Brother Logan slew a week or so earlier before meeting the rest of the group and the merchant’s mission. Apparently sheep are still disappearing, so some other evil force is at work.

The group joined the caravan heading to Sundabar in the morning. It was around the 22nd day of Eleint, with an 8 day journey planned with arrival just prior to the Harvestide holiday.  Cetan ran into an old drinking pal, the fighter Vidar (Mark Z.). Vidar said he would join the group for the time being. Morgyn met with the Argent Legion who would escort the caravan, but a messenger appeared with official documents say that the Silver marches were at war with the orc tribes, and the Argent Legion rode off to Adbar. The caravan leader, Fuad, accepted the group into the 13 wagon caravan (with several prospectors on foot and some sheep herders) and Morgyn volunteered to scout up ahead.

On the first day of travel, the caravan crossed the Icespear river bridge, and Morgyn averted a pit trap off the trail leading to the Forked Road. Later upon investigating a foul upwind odor, he stumbled across a lair entrance in the form of a smelly ground hole. The caravan reaching the Forked Road and camping for the evening, most of the group opted to go back and investigate the hole in the ground. Vidar and Drungar stayed behind.

A 30 foot shaft of wet rough rocks and roots was descended, with Brother Logan bouncing down the last 20 feet or so and needing to heal himself. A sloped wide and short lozenge type stone opening was traversed that led to a larger cavern. A magically lit stone was thrown ahead giving the impression of a 60 foot wide and at least 100 foot deep area sloping down. Tarena and Morgyn spotted Otyughs within. The group would have left at this point, but Nongo charged in to kill them. He briefly ended up in the embrace of one, whcih he killed with the help of Tarena’s flaming sphere spell. The remaining two rushed into battle after taking ranged damage. Tarena and Cetan killed one, while Brother Logan and Morgyn killed the other. Morgyn and Nongo had both been bit by the diseased mouths of the Otyughs, but both made their Fortitude saves.

At the end of the cavern, a cave-in was investigated. Cetan and Morgyn climbed through to the other side into a chamber (not a natural cavern) with a doorway and longer hallway beyond. They came across some treasure in that chamber and a gas trapped chest, which Morgyn narrowly disabled (thanks to his masterwork thieves tools). It surely had the capacity to kill Cetan and Morgyn had he failed. They transferred some of the silver pieces, 9 potions, and 3 scrolls into a sack, as well as taking a small metal shield, bow, and crossbow back through the narrow hole as sounds of something approaching was heard in the hallway beyond the chamber.

The caravan continued. A stampeding herd of Rothe was diverted by Vidar getting trampled a bit, and spells from Tarena and Cetan (calm animal and grease). In the distance, Morgyn spied two Worgs that had been pursuing the Rothe herd. They turned away from the caravan and disappeared from view behind the hills.

About halfway to Sundabar (prior to the trail to Newport) they ran into some locals who relayed a rumor of a dungeon uncovered outside their village by an earthquake. The caravan continued on and the group entered Sundabar. Vidar visited the Hall of Vigilance and was told there wasn’t a massive orc invasion or war (at this time).  Cetan went about appraising the treasure from the most recent and last adventures, trading in several scrolls in order to get “identify” cast on the other items. He also sold some of the other loot, and the other people in the party went about buying items.  Cetan also researched the ruins from the first adventure and discovered that it may be an old abbey of Selune that had been taken over by a cult of Shar before its destruction. The group also received a charter to investigate some disappearances north of the city for 100gp each, which is  where we will begin next session.

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Silver Marches, March session

Quick recap of events from the March session. (Nongo, Tark, Cetan, Terana)

The group had packed up the goods into the wagon and begun the track back towards Dead Snows, along with the freed dwarf prospector Throed. Morgyn (Rich) volunteered his horse for the wagon and scouted on foot as the party made its way back along the original route.

Things were going fine until the scene of the ambushed merchant’s wagons was approached. The group encountered a hungry scavenging giant stag beetle.. The beetle dodged the entangling druidic powers of Tarena (Michele), and in combat tore through the horse of Nongo  (JT) throwing him to the ground.  That had the group rightfully worried. Nongo bounced up in a rage and into the fight. General battle was joined. The first beetle was soon put down by blade and spell but was joined by 3 additional beetles in the area.  Tarena used an entangle scroll, Cetan (Markus) a grease spell, and many crossbow and bow shots were fired amidst the chaos. In the end John, Paul, Ringo and George were dispatched, Nongo collapsed from his wounds as his rage wore off, but Tarena and Cleric Brother What? (Mark K) healed him back to consciousness.  During the battle a group of roughly 17 orcs had been spotted by Morgyn about a half mile away moving north towards the mountains. They ignored the group and appeared to have some wounded among them.

Following the battle, the group sought out the beetle lair. In a small wooded glen a cave was located. Some old remains were discovered of a human and halfling within the cave, along with a sizable amount of treasure. The group made it back to Dead Snows arriving late at night and staying at the inn within the town walls, with Morgyn taking his leave until the next day.

The following morning, the group went to visit the salt merchant to return the recovered supplies and collect reward. Cran Frinch however had left shortly after the group departed Dead Snows on the the adventure. The group was left to haggle with his assistant and came out with half the money of the salt and the wagon, with promise of the other half if they return a week later. Anxious to purchase items of great value and to sell some of the treasure, the group decided to tag along with the next caravan to Sundabar. It was perhaps ordained that such a caravan was leaving for Sundabar the next day.

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Silver Marches, Session 2

SESSION 2 (for JT/Nongo)

PCs present:  Tark, Nongo, Morgan, Cetan

The party had burst out of the old chapel into the exposed cellar of the ruins and fought off the gnoll ambush quite handily and also with the aid of a stranger (Morgan), who came to the group’s aid.

The meager treasure of the gnolls was quickly gone over, and the decision was made to investigate what appeared to be the gnoll lair, that doorway at the base of the earthen ramp where the previous night’s battle had been waged. The group descended along a sloping and at times stepped corridor to a guard room and then a turn left continuing as before but deeper into the mountain. Two large but damaged doors led to a long, tall, hall with rubble and a statue initially thought to be a gnoll waiting in an alcove. The group continued down stairs at the far end of the hall to another room. This chamber had a very high ceiling, like an old construction shaft. There was also a very deep, unexplored, square pit opening the group crossed via a plank to an alcove and concealed door beyond.

At this point the concealed curtain of leather led into a more roughly hewn or mined space. The group found some of the stock of the salt merchant Gran Frinch in the second room and some other items. The space beyond was the gnoll common room. Our cleric (Tark) turned a gnoll zombie chained to the floor in a side passage and just beyond a conflict in a prisoner holding area erupted. The party interceded in a human and dwarf fighting in chains with 2 orc prisoners. The group killed the orcs. Around this time the group was also dealing with another evil presence. Beyond a partition on the other side of the common area, an obscuring mist and darkness were penetrated and an evil shrine with the spell casting head of an animated undead gnoll shaman needed to be overcome. This was eventually accomplished.

Hostilities subsided, there was a questioning of the human and dwarf held in the store room. The dwarf identified himself as a prospector named Throed. The human man identified himself as Hiraz Ganoch, Frinch’s partner, when aggressively questioned by the group. During the group going through the store room, Hiraz fled, was shot at and kicked the plank into the deep pit as he ran out of the dungeon.  The group has some of his belongings, included a rough map and some coins wrapped in an oddly patterned cloth.

A wagon wheel was found in the storage room to repair one of the wagons found along the way to the ruins. The group decided at this point to return to town with the goods, and not search the other entrances around the inside of the ruins. We left off with the beginning of that trip back. Throed has joined the group until you get back to  the village of Deadsnows.

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Alred, Session 4

Session #4

Characters:
Assfacé
Bouya
Hagop
Sudifi

The party pulls itself back together after the run-in with orcs. The green-grey bodies are scattered around the road and among some of the boulders nearby. When searched, it’s found that each of the younger orcs was carrying a large sack of silver coins, a total of 8 270 sp. The leader of the pack had a vial of some sort of potion hanging around his neck, which Sudifi identifies as a Potion of Shape Change, though he can’t tell what shape the drinker will take. Hagop takes the leader’s scimitar, whose hilt and blade are carved with orcish writing. They consider heading back to get treatment for their hurt allies, but decide it would be better to press on.

The next night, they reach the rock where they are supposed to meet the moss woman. They arrive later than expected, due to the two injured militiamen, not to mention Sudifi always hobbling around with his bum leg. However, their contact is still there waiting and they devise a plan. About two miles from Mayn-am-Leit, they chop down some trees to build a large raft. The mule, the war dog, and the two injured militiamen are to stay put while the rest journey on. The rest of them get on the raft and the moss woman directs them across the Troltliern River, where they can walk less than a mile south to the White River, which she tells them can take them to the heart of the city undetected. Bouya uses a pole to move them through the shallow water, but his inexperience with it causes them to travel further downstream than they had wanted. Luckily, other moss people were keeping the trees occupied, so they didn’t notice when the raft landed across the river from them. They portage the raft south and push themselves into the water. Bouya manages, with much difficulty, to get them to the far southern side of a small island that lies in the intersection of the Troltliern and White Rivers. Out of view of the trees or anyone else in Mayn-am-Leit’s mainland that may be watching them in the middle of the night, they pull the raft ashore to explore the island portion of the city.

The island itself is fairly small, just under a mile long and about half a mile across at its widest. There is a pier on the northern side, where Troltliern spills into the White River, and an old fort at the eastern tip. There are a large number of what appear to have been stone buildings that were destroyed years ago, with rubble everywhere, and a mostly crumbled stone wall around the western, northern, and eastern coasts. Upon closer inspection, they find that much of the damage came from attacks from the north, where the mainland city stands. The other damage they find seems to come from the center of the island itself, as if something exploded there and blew the island’s structures apart – there are still burn marks on a number of stones surrounding the dirt-filled area where the explosion probably originated. They find no life here – vegetable, human, or otherwise. Continuing their exploration, they move to enter the fort, a hulking stone triangle that looks hundreds of years older than anything else on the island.

Assfacé finds an entrance on the northern edge of the western wall and peaks inside. There he sees a large courtyard full of weeds, the first sign of life on this desolate grey land. Seeing nobody inside that would be hostile to them, the party saunters into the fort. That’s when they notice the runes. Along the upper part of the walls inside the courtyard, there are hundreds of runes – each one approximately two feet tall and glowing a faint blue. Sudifi isn’t happy with what he sees. “Runes on the inside instead of the outside? It seems like they’re trying to keep something IN.” Bouya inspects them closer and determines that they are magical runes of protection of some sort, though he can’t tell what or whom they are protecting.

On the opposite side of the courtyard is a building they presume to be the keep. And in the center of the courtyard is a small stone structure, six feet tall and 18 feet on a side. It has runes all around it, also, though slightly smaller than the ones on the courtyard wall and of different designs. Hagop and Assfacé approach it to get a better look and notice that no grass or weeds grow within two feet or so of the smooth stone building. Sudifi is not nearly as curious as the rest of them and leaves the fort – he feels safer waiting outside among the rubble and dirt than in that fort of glowing mystery. Hagop can’t help himself, though, and puts his hand on the stone and finds it to be hot to the touch, though it doesn’t heat up the air around it at all. He knocks on it and finds that it makes virtually no sound, as if it is solid, dense rock. Bouya tries to read the runes, but can only tell that they are another kind of magical protection.

Assfacé is getting bored with the runes and the little building and decides to climb the northern wall and see what’s happening on the mainland now that the sun is starting to come up. He sees the trees around the city, as he expected, but also some activity in the northeastern neighborhood, where the buildings look like they were larger before whatever happened to destroy the landscape. From his new vantage point, he also sees that there is a large design carved into the top of the mysterious stone building down below. A five-pointed star is inscribed within an eight-pointed star, and it is glowing just like the other runes around it. He hops down and tells everyone what he saw and they decide that now is not the time to figure this thing out. They head out to where Sudifi is hiding out and all lay down for a rest before continuing on to the mainland.

After a few hours, they wake up and make their way by raft down the White River to the piers of Mayn-am-Leit, well outside the view of the trees they have been trying so hard to avoid. There they find two trading vessels docked. They are both empty of crew but full of crates. Hagop tries to sneak aboard one of the ships to inspect the crates, but makes a terrible racket doing so. He pries a crate open and finds it full of fine linens, exactly like the ones made in Alred. Assfacé, keeping a watchful eye on the city while his small friend breaks into the ship, hears some scurrying coming from behind a building a few blocks inland. He and Hagop make their way back to the rest of their allies at the foot of the pier and they all decide to investigate the noises.

Assfacé takes charge and leads them down rubble-strewn streets to when he hears movement in a back alley. A block away from the alley they find three ratmen, swords in hand, trying to sneak up on them from a side street. A block back, where the rest of the party is bringing up the rear, two more ratmen appear down another street. Up in front, Assfacé and Bouya try to lay low to see what the ratmen will do, while in the rear Hagop attempted to talk the rats out of their aggression.

Front scene:
A ratman lunges at Bouya, attempting to wrestle him into submission. Bouya is quick, though, and throws a bolt of flame at him before he could get too close. The rat ignites and drops in a pool of blood and singed hair. The other two ratment, seeing their friend murdered in front of them, rush out from the side street and make their way toward Assfacé. The Saurian is quick, though, and grabs one of his attackers, trying to protect himself. The two crossbowmen, standing a good twenty feet behind Bouya, fire at the other assailant while Bouya throws another bolt at the rat in Assfacé’s grasp. Both are killed instantly, without harming Assfacé, thankfully. As luck would have it, this all happened fast enough that the two ratmen down the street didn’t hear any of it and dealt with Hagop and Sudifi in blissful ignorance. Bouya and Assfacé quickly hide the bodies before the others find out.

Rear scene:
Hagop sheaths his sword and raises his hand. He tells the ratmen that he and his allies mean them no harm.
“Pirates?” the ratmen ask, in strange hoarse and hissing voices.
“No. Not…um…not pirates. Friends?” Hagop replies, not sure if they understand him. The ratmen look aggitated but seem to lower their swords slightly.
Sudifi thinks for a brief moment before pulling a potion out and drinking it quickly. He approaches from behind Hagop and engages the ratmen.
“We are not pirates. We are here to gather information about this city,” he says in perfect rat-speech, even mimicing their local dialect. “Who are you?”
“Us? Who are you? We heard someone attempting to man our ships, so we thought there were pirates. My name is Krthlun, and this is my brother Sruuptil.” The ratmen seem to be more at ease now that they can speak clearly. They lower their weapons.
“We are just traveling to gather information. How long have you all lived here in this city?”
“How long? For many many years.”
“I see. Who was here before you? Whose city was this?”
“What do you mean before us? Nobody. This is our city. We’re from here.”
Sudifi feels like he isn’t getting anywhere with this line of questioning. “Who is your leader? May we speak with him?” Sudifi asks.
“You wish to speak with our leader?” The ratmen look at each other and mumble a few words back and forth. “I suppose we could be convinced to allow that. Convinced with gold, if you know what I mean.” They snicker as if this is the most clever thing they’ve ever done.
“Fine. Whatever. How much?”
“Ten?” They seem surprised that asking for a bribe worked.
“Alright, here.” Sudifi hands over ten gold pieces as the ratmen chuckle like they just got away with some great con.
“Meet us here tonight. After sunset. No weapons. We’ll take you to Ti-Krin.”

Sudifi agrees to the arrangement. With that, the ratmen scuffle back down the street and Sudifi explains the deal to the rest of the group. Tonight they will get to meet with the head of the ratmen of the city of Mayn-am-Leit. Hopefully, they will get some answers.

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Alred, Session 3

Session #3

Characters:

Hagop
Sudifi
Bouya
Assfacè
Urlach (The player was absent, but we assume Urlach is still with the group trying to play nice.)

After successfully putting out the brush fire that they started, the party is introduced to Eovas, the leader of the trees. He walks them into the old city of Mayn-am-Leit, under the watchful “eyes” of the forest that has breeched the city walls. The area within a quarter mile of the interior perimeter looks much like the outside, lush and overgrown with little to no signs of the ruins that should have been all around them. Eovas takes them to a clearing that he describes as his “throne room”. There he tells the group of the problem he and his green friends are facing.

It seems that the city is full of ratmen and arachnaurs. The trees wish to run them out, but have been unable to press any further into the city. They want the party to help them bring nature back to this land. The party, however, is leery of the idea. If the trees can’t defeat rat- and spider-people, how could they? And if the trees succeed, will they invade Alred next? The trees claim that they will not, that they are just seeking to reclaim this area. All other questions, about where they came from and why they are fighting for control of the city, are answered vaguely. In return for their help, the trees will allow the party to examine the city as they like.

The party says they’re unprepared for this sort of thing and would need reinforcements from Alred. Now Eovas starts to worry that after defeating the enemies, soldiers from Alred will claim the city for themselves. So they ask for collateral in the form of an Alred town elder, to be held by Eovas until Mayn-am-Leit is turned over to him. This arrangement doesn’t please anyone, and the group says they don’t think they can be of help. They leave Eovas and his forest peacefully, quietly forming plans to sneak into the city without the trees finding them.

As they begin the walk back to Alred discussing this, Hagop hears a voice coming from behind a rock. “Psst,” it says. “PSST!” He takes a look behind a large stone just off the path and sees one of the trees’ servants hiding there – a moss-person. She offers to help the group sneak into the city. They are suspicious of her help. She explains that she and her kind are kept under the thumb of the trees and would like to break free from them. She sees these people as her saving grace. If they agree to help her and her people overthrow Eovas and his trees, she will help them get into the city. They agree, and she explains that the moss-people live in and around the White River. The group will return in seven days, at this spot, and she will be able to sneak them around the city gates via the river, and get them to the docks.

The party gets back to Alred and explains everything they have seen to the town council. The council does not approve of a raiding party, they simply wanted to invesigate an abandoned city. Sudifi and Hagop convince them to send them with six militiamen and a mule to get into the city and explore further.

Later that night, they head to Sorgin’s for the weekly fight and many pints of golden ale. The fight is raucous and money is made and lost. After the fight, gossip flows with the beer.  The local clan of orcs is unhappy about the death of Veldani and is seeking payment in blood. The town council is trying to deal with it peacefully, but the orc chieftain doesn’t want to compromise.

Some people are talking about Uolvos still being missing. They say there is an area to the northwest of Alred where children have been spooked. They say it could just be children playing where they shouldn’t, but they would feel more comfortable if they knew where the local sorcerer was.

There is also a rumor floating around that the Duke of the region is very ill. Some are saying he was poisoned, others are saying it’s just a sickness that’s been spreading in the Northwest near the border of Da’Raal.

While all of this is going on, Hagop approaches a man that looks like a world-weary adventurer. It turns out that he’s an out-or-work actor looking for a gig. He wants to tag along with the group when they head out to Mayn-am-Leit in a few days. He’s very light on his feet, he says, and won’t be a bother.

A few days later, Sudifi, Bouya, Hagop, Assfacè, four infantrymen, two bowmen, one mule, Bouya’s war dog, and Ballou the unemployed thespian head out towards Mayn-am-Leit. At the end of the first day of travel they are ambushed by a crowd of teenage orcs with bows and swords. They get into a bit of a scuffle and the leader of the group comes out. A large orc bully in studded leather wielding a scimitar.  The fight is fast and ends in the Alredians’ favor, with one orc ruffian scampering off alive, but there are some injuries. Two of the infantrymen are badly hurt and the party has to decide whether to move on towards the cursed city or head back to town to get help for their friends and possibly ask for more reinforcements.

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Alred, Session 2

Session #2

Characters:

Sudifi
Bouya
Urlach
Hagop the Halfling carpet salesman
Assfacé the escaped Saurian convict

Sudifi, Bouya, Urlach, Hagop, and Assfacé all decide to sign up to explore this “cursed” town. Hagop has some business with the town council first. He speaks with Trent about some carpets and manages to sell some fine rugs to the council for 2500 gold, payable in installments. He gets some paperwork together and sends the information back to his town in the country of Da’Raal in the lands to the North. He talks to Trent about exploring the nearby town and learns that the reason they want to explore it is that it’s in a prime trade location, at the intersection of two rivers. It had been abandoned a few years back and Alred wants to annex it and use its docks to make up for the business it lost after their falling out with Ferndale, the city to the South. Hagop says he’ll help out, but only for more money. They negotiate a payment of 400 gp, twice what the others are getting for the exploration, and Hagop leaves happy.

The group meets up when talking to Leema, the head of Alred’s militia. She supplies everyone with some basic armor and whatever minor supplies they think they’ll need. Urlach isn’t happy with the armor and gets Hagop and Assfacé to go with him to the local blacksmith to haggle for some better gear. Sudifi and Bouya head to the stables to rent a pack mule for carrying stuff along the way. The two head to Uolvos’ house, where they rent a spare room from Uolvos’ servant to use as a lab for the day so Sudifi can prepare some potions. While walking through the house, they notice stacks or papers – drawings, plans, theories – in multiple languages, written by multiple people, about some type of prismatic shard.

After Urlach gets his reinforced chainmail armor (which requires a good deal of haggling from Hagop and some IOUs written by Urlach) and Sudifi prepares his potions, everyone meets back at Sorgin’s tavern for a decent night’s rest before they head out for Mayn-am-Leit.

The trip to Mayn-am-Leit takes two days, wherein very little happens. They walk along the edge of the Troltliern river on a well-worn path through the rocky landscape. As they near the town, the forest – previously to the Northwest – appears to have grown closer to the river. Within a mile of the town gates, the foliage is so dense they cannot see the walls surrounding the old trading town. As the group approaches where they think the path should lead, they hear a strange humming coming from the bushes. Urlach has little patience for all of this, so he chops at a nearby shrub. The humming increases in volume and thorny vines reach our from the ground at the intruders. Bouya and Hagop find themselves in the thrall of the Siren Bushes, lashing out at their own compatriots. Bouya recovers, after smashing Sudifi in the head, and throws some fireballs at the bushes.

The fire seems to help against the bushes, but the trees seem to come alive and start swing branches in retaliation. Some of the trees awaken and stomp into the fray (one of them unfortunately getting set on fire in the process). They are huge, sixty to seventy feet tall, with trunks three feet in diameter; and they are not happy. Things don’t seem to be going well at this point, so Hagop offers a truce. They agree to lay down their arms and extinguish the flames if the forest agrees not to kill them. That’s good enough for the trees, so they form a bucket brigade and put out whatever fires remain. Two trees and three bushes are lost to the flames, and the remaining trees summon their master to speak with the group. Eovas, an enormous tree over a hundred feet tall, saunters out from within the town gates. The other trees call him the Lord of the Forest and demand that the little people pay him respect. He offers them a truce if they will assist him.

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Alred, Session 1

by Brian L.

Session #1:

Characters:

Hogap the Halfling carpet salesman
Sudifi the lame alchemist
Bouya the arrogant battle mage
Melody the traveling minstrel
Urlach the Half-Orc wanderer
Maal-laam the Half-Orc/Half-Elf mercenary
Paul Vazquez the peaceful and confused cleric

The scene is a well-run tavern in the town of Alred. Sorgin, the Dwarf barkeeper, keeps the patrons happy with greasy food and ever-flowing golden ale. The characters are all hanging around for various reasons and hear about the Friday night event that Sorgin runs – a sanctioned bar brawl. The previous week’s winner takes on a new contender, with 50 gold as prize money. Maal-laam immediately signs up to fight last week’s winner, described by Sorgin as a “very nice young lady.”

In the days before the fight, the rest of the crew wanders around trying to get a feel for the environment. There are signs posted all over Alred asking people to sign up to explore a nearby town, Mayn-am-Leit, that had been abandoned some years ago. Everyone they ask says it’s haunted and nobody in their right mind would investigate it, but the town council is offering 200 gold plus expenses per person for the job. People are also talking about a local mage, Uolvos, who has recently gone missing. Though it’s usually thought to be a bad sign when someone like that disappears, the general consensus is that he should be left alone and he’ll come back when he’s good and ready.

When Friday night rolls around, Maal-laam is ready to fight. The bar is full of drunks, including a tall snake-looking guy at the end of the bar face down in a bowl of ale. Sorgin keeps filling up the snake’s bowl as he welcomes the out-of-towners to his event. He calls out for the other fighter, Veldani. A hulking orc stands up at a nearby table and the crowd quickly makes room in the center of the tavern for her and Maal-laam to duke it out. Urlach’s blood starts to boil when he sees the orc woman strut to the open space. He hates orcs more than anything. But any curses he manages to mutter are drowned out by the hollering of bets going on all around him.

The fight is fairly short, since Maal-laam didn’t stand much of a chance against such a strong opponent. While Veldani gets another beer at the bar – and one for the drunk snake guy – Paul runs over to the badly beaten Maal-laam to see if he can help. He manages to somehow heal the orc/elf, but is not quite sure how. And when Sorgin asks what he’s doing, he snaps at the barkeep to shut up. Sorgin doesn’t take that kind of language directed at him in his own bar. He grabs a strange looking carved stick and starts to walk over to Paul and Maal-laam. Paul panics and casts a cloud of darkness around Sorgin, who then flips out and swings the stick wildly, smacking Paul in the chest. A less organized bar brawl ensues, with Sorgin and Veldani beating the tar out of Paul and Urlach getting accidentally caught in the crossfire. His hatred for Veldani grows, but since he doesn’t trust Sorgin or the snake guy not to kill him he doesn’t make a move.

When the blood and bodies are cleared and the tavern goes back to its normal drunken volume, everyone collects their money from all their bets and Veldani heads upstairs to go to sleep. Urlach gets a room upstairs for the night and asks Sorgin about Veldani, pretending he’s interested in her. Sorgin smirks and gives Urlach a wink. Everyone else gets rooms for the night and eventually everything quiets down, with the snake guy passed out in his bowl. When everyone is asleep, Urlach sneaks to Veldani’s room, cracks her skull open with his axe, and closes the door quietly behind him.

That night, Maal-laam unsuccessfully tries to get to a doctor and ends up sleeping on the side of the street outside the tavern with Paul Vazquez. The next morning, he goes back to the bar to try to get his revenge on Veldani. When Sorgin doesn’t let him upstairs, he strikes at the bartender, who quickly bludgeons him to death with an enormous maul that he keeps under the bar to deal with unruly patrons. The snake guy, still in his seat at the bar takes the body and drools on it, turning it to a whitish liquid which he then drinks.

The other patrons come downstairs for breakfast and peacefully prepare to sign up for the expedition to Mayn-am-Leit.

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Hydra & Klan

SESSION 4

PCs present:  Ulrich, Yaroslav, Rupert, Smokey, Sam & Noah (both motionless, staring vacantly into the distance)

Clods of wet earth erupted in geysers around the downed Liberator as six reptilian heads burst from the ground.  Overhead circled two fighters of the Birmingham Air Force, possibly surveying the confusing situation, while Ulrich’s eagle eye spotted more Klan reinforcements en route to the scene.

COL Jimmy Stewart was on the wireless with Redstone Arsenal, frequency hopping to elude the Klan’s jamming attempts.  His crew frantically tried to rip valuable equipment – radios, wiring, tools, etc – from the B-24.  Smokey took over the top twin .50-cal turret when the local farmers headed screaming for the hills as the killing zone got even hotter and creepier.

[to make a long story short, since I can’t recall many of the details]

Ulrich was the first to recall something he had heard regarding hydras and how to kill them:  make sure to apply fire, don’t simply shoot them.  Of course, the group then proceeded to simply shoot them.  Eventually someone fished Smokey’s flamethrower out of the sidecar and Yaroslav had the novel idea of attempting to blast the hydra with the hot exhaust plumes of Noah’s JetPack.  Yaroslav, unfortunately, was not versed in the controls and was lifted off the ground while hanging onto the hand grips.  He nimbly strapped himself in mid-air — no mean feat — and tried to singe the hydra.

Meanwhile, more truckloads of Klansmen appeared and began communicating via radio with the fighters overhead.  The two planes dove toward the firefight in line astern and began strafing runs.  It turned out that ground attack isn’t the best role for pilots with meager flight training and the planes did little harm.  Ulrich attempted to snipe the pilots but missed.  Smokey turned his turret toward the Klansmen and hosed them down.  The hydra was gradually brought under control after having sprouted two heads for every one lost, doing surprisingly little permanent damage.  Yaroslav lost control of the JetPack and flew towards the Klansmen, but these were luckily dealt with before he got into any more trouble.  He then flew into the ground, not knowing how to land safely, and came away with bumps and bruises.

So the chaotic fight ended successfully and the group awaited the arrival of transport from Redstone, summoned courtesy of COL Stewart.

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Silver Marches, Session 1

As the summer month of Flamerule yielded to the even hotter month of Eleasias, a military escorted caravan from the city of Sundabar made its way east towards Citadel Adbar along a dusty road in the Silver Marches of Faerûn. Two travelers bade farewell to the safety of the caravan and made their way alone on horseback to a village called Deadsnows. There was adventure to be found here and possible wealth with the discovery of gold in the nearby hills a few months ago. The two were a odd match. The first a minstrel, an adventuring bard, who we only know currently as Bard, is quick with his rapier and given to song and music. His companion, a war priest of Tempus, was more keenly focused on his own purposes in pursuit of his own goals (that’s code for CN alignment). Brother Blood was his name.

The two rode along the trail to Deadsnows and soon found themselves in a wooded area. Ahead on the trail, a short but muscular barbarian lad on foot began waving to them. He beseeches their help to defeat an unidentified monster he’s been tracking for a short time. They are most skeptical of this ally of unknown quality. However, Bard senses a sincere motive in him so they indulge his request. Brother Blood is wary and insists this man, Nongo, lead the way. They tie up the horses and begin to follow the new trail of broken underbrush through the wooded and rocky hilled terrain. It’s an easy trail to follow. Nongo pauses when a large outcropping is visible perhaps a hundred feet away. As he and the others examine the tracks for evidence of what this creature could be, all he can discern and describe is ” Big..Four legs…and a tail!” Brother Blood, alert and looking down the beaten path, notices a small rise in front of the outcropped rock formation and the hint of the top of a cave at its base. It is hard to see anything else due to the shrubs.

Just as the small party discusses and prepares to move off the path to flank the cave, an aggressive, but rather young Green Dragon bounds above the low rise from the position of the cave headed straight towards them. It’s larger than a heavy warhorse as it bears down on them, knocking Nongo to his feet in the opening confrontation. Both the minstrel and priest fire their crossbows errantly, dropping them immediately to draw weapons to deal with the dragon in their midst. The barbarian strikes out at the dragon from his prone position but his falchion swings short of his foe as he regains his footing. The dragon feeling superior to the three men attacks at this point attacks with taloned claws and a toothy bite splitting its fury between the priest and barbarian as Bard moves into a flanking position behind it and began singing as the combat continued. The war priest missing with his battle axe steps back to cast Bull’s Strength on himself. The dragon swings around at this point to fight Bard and Nongo who have both done minor damage even though they’ve scored critical hits. Nongo goes down briefly and Bard rushes to his aid, healing him back into the fight, . Brother Blood rejoins the combat and with a mighty swing of his axe delivers a massive blow to the dragon.

At this critical point, the dragon is suddenly as close to death as his foes and lunges away to turn and breath a cone of acid on the wounded men that could surely seal their final fate. Nongo however seizes the opportunity as the dragon rushes past him and is able to deliver the killing blow before the dragon can finish its maneuver. Victory is had. The wounded heroes investigated the cave, finding the near consumed remains of 3 prior adventurers, some gold, a small number of gems, one with great value, and a potion of unidentified power that is a thick blackish liquid smelling of charcoal. Nongo takes some claws and teeth, and Brother Blood beheads the dragon so that their glory can be lauded upon arrival in Deadsnows. After some rest, the three set out for Deadsnows together, the barbarian leading the way again…

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