Tag Archives: fantasy

The Downfall of Dunross

19 March 2012

Present: Ferrisa, Frelest, Goran, Wulfric, Zanatos

Two pyres were built: a crude pile of sticks for the bandits and a proper funerary pyre to honorably send the family of Hralf Haraldsunu to the afterlife. Gates were repaired, outbuildings secured and provisions gathered from the stores of Hralf.

While two of the party remained at their newly-won stead, the others continued north toward Aslov. A lone rider on horseback approached from the way they had come, a large man with long auburn hair and long beard gathered in braids. He wore a bright chain shirt, bore a gold/black round shield on one arm and gripped a long single-bladed battleaxe in the other. After a wary moment, the party exchanged greetings with Aethelred the Tall, whose keep stood nearby to the stead of Hralf. A small village lay several miles farther west and the folk there considered Aethelred their Hearthmaster, for he was mighty in battle and fair-minded. He sought an accounting of the events at Aethelred’s stead and the party’s story, corroborated by so many witnesses, among them Iron Guild warriors, was deemed truthful and sufficient. Aethelred offered to speak with them further when they returned to the stead to take up residence, then galloped back south.

After another day’s travel, the party entered the fertile farms and fields that surrounded Aslov. The Icebarrier mountains towered in the distance and the black smoke of many fires issued from the walled city of Aslov. The farm folk of the outlying steads gazed northward in wonder and worry. Two days ago the fires had started, they said. Refugees from the north, fleeing famine and war, clustered around the three great gates of the city. Others, unwilling to wait patiently to die of starvation, headed south.

It was decided to send Zanatos ahead to make contact with the recipients of the grain and iron, and to arrange for protection of the caravan from the throngs outside the gate. Moving quickly and with purpose, Zanatos completed his mission unhindered, except by desperate folk begging for food or coin. Twenty guards of the town constabulary would emerge to form a shield wall around the wagons and escort them to the High Quarter. The Iron Guild, whose mission it is to protect caravans and trade routes, would provide no assistance without payment.

The party approached the Great South Gate and dozens of refugees pressed forward seeking food. The constables emerged with clubs and shields to keep the throng at bay, but several among the crowd were armed and attempting to incite violence. A single sword thrust toward an Iron Guild guard but he cracked his spear haft on the hand that wielded it, after which a mighty warcry from Wulfric cowed the remaining instigators. The party passed within the South Gate without further incident.

Aslov looked like a city under siege. Smoke rose from many parts of the city, especially near the city’s mill. There had been a food riot two days earlier and the streets were filled with the starving and dead. Aslov guardsmen and private mercenaries hired by the city’s many merchants were posted at every important intersection and building, giving the impression of martial law. The mill was surrounded by burning wreckage and cordoned by guards who allowed no one to enter or leave the block. Grain and flour was now raised and lowered to the site from the High Quarter wall on makeshift lifts.

Shipments were finally delivered: grain to the granaries, supervised by a young lad named Wilkin who had responsibility beyond his tender years, and steel to a representative of the High Constable. The party’s diligence and sense of duty were recognized with a referral to Rodgar ap-Annwn, a merchant in need of security for his own shipments. He would meet them that evening at the Last Chance Tavern by the South Gate.

In the interim, Goran volunteered his services to the Sisters of Mercy at White House, the nearest thing Aslov had to a hospital. Zanatos and Frelest sought knowledge at the library of the Temple of Var.

The party arrived at the Last Chance and made the acquaintance of the proprietor, a retired Hearth Knight named Jorg Nader, who told tales of battles beyond the Icebarrier. Rodgar arrived late and joined the group for a round of drinks. The city was still well-stocked with drink but food was scarce. His proposal: take a wagon to the mill town of Dunross, pick up a shipment of flour and bring it to the baker at Dalsetter. The flour would be worth its weight in gold scields and must be protected from harm and theft. He provided the group with a map of the area around Aslov. They set out with the empty wagon the next day at first light, heading southwest to Dunross.

A small raiding band of orcs of the Eye Piercer tribe, know for their archery and black garb, botched an ambush and the party defeated them with steel and coldfire. One of the two Iron Guild guards was brought back from the brink of death as Goran healed a grievous arrow wound. Several miles on, the party discovered a dead horse and rider, possibly killed by the same Eye Piercers. The rider carried a note from Dunross to Aslov about a plague of rats that threatened their grain supplies and very survival.

As the sun set they discovered a travel tower of the Road Wardens, built at intervals along trade routes to provide shelter to travelers. The tower was deserted but an empty wagon and two dead draft horses were found outside. Each horse bore the bite marks of some animal and the wagon cover bore the emblem of Dunross, crossed barley sheaves over the letter D. Inside were the skeletons of two people, flesh gone and gnawed to the bone. Rats were suspected, in great numbers and of unusual ferocity. The party moved everyone, including the horses, inside the tower and barred the door for the night.

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The Stead of the Dead

5 March 2012

Present: Ferrisa, Frelest, Goran, Wulfric, Zanatos, Aethelred, (Michele)

The party is escorting a small shipment of steel ingots and grain through the eastern Freelands, north to the city of Aslov which nestles against the Icebarrier Mountains. Their route leads them up the River Crystalflow, making landfall at Bridgewater, continuing along the western borders of Nordmark, and crossing into the Freelands at the town of Nara. It is the month of Snaermonan (Snowmoon) and high winter is approaching the Hearthlands, the frigid wind already howling down from the mountains. The two carts, drawn by four shaggy draft ponies, are under Iron Guild protection, for this winter will be a hungry one and the Freelands are under threat from rough and desperate folk.

The ambush was hastily laid and reckless, and the party was ready. Bowmen rose on either side of the snow-covered track and loosed arrows. Moments later, the assailants to the left were ablaze with Coldfire and those to the right cut down by spear and axe. The bodies were poorly clothed in mixed Saxa/Anari fashion and emaciated by hunger, perhaps refugees from Heligioland to the north. Heligioland, where the winters are longer and harsher and the harvest less bountiful, home now mostly to orcs, wolves and worse.

Continuing north, they came upon a strange sight by the side of the road. A lone man sat on the ground, head buried in his hands weeping. He was a Saxa by his dress and long hunting spear. The party approached to investigate and have words with the fellow.

Hralf Haraldsunu was his name, a farmer whose stead lay to the west. A armed band of strangers had appeared at his longhouse and requested hospitality. Hralf offered it but these strangers were dishonorable men. They helped themselves to his food and drink and roughly treated Hralf and his wife and two children. When Hralf raised his voice in protest, the men slew his wife and children without thought or hesitation. Hralf claimed that he was severely wounded by a knife in the side but managed to escape. Now he wept for his shame and begged the party to take vengeance on his behalf. If they swore on the gods to do so, he would bequeath them his house and lands, for he no longer had the heart to set eyes upon the place again.

Wulfric Dagsunu swore the oath and the party set out to deal with the situation. Zanatos searched the ground thereabouts for tracks but strangely found none. No footprints or blood trails led to or from the spot where Hralf sat, nor was there sign of the passage of a large number of men. Hralf was wounded, as he had claimed, and bore the symbol of Thunor, God of Storms, about his neck. Goran the Frost Dwarf tended to his wounds.

Zanatos scouted to the west and found Hralf’s stead after a mile or two. The single thatched farmhouse was surrounded by a four foot high wall of stone, behind which could be seen three or four men with spears. Smoke issued from the central chimney and the smoke of campfires wafted from within the wall. The party moved the wagons to a clearing a mile away from the stead, under guard from four Iron Guild spearmen, and decided on a course of action.

[Can’t recall exactly who did what or the sequence of events; players, feel free to jump in and correct my account]

Aethelred the Loud openly approached the gap in the wall where a fence once stood while the others quietly arranged themselves behind cover of the wall. Markus proclaimed his presence to the two bandit guards and requested hospitality. The bandits, confused but not fearing this lone stranger, went to deal with Markus as several other guards approached.

[GM memory failure]

Long story short, the guards were disposed of as the other bandits, numbering a good dozen, shut themselves inside the house. The party’s warriors bashed the door open and the rout was on. Ranged fire covered the rear door through which the bandits imagined they could escape. None did. Ferissa’s Coldfire once again blasted many foes.

A strange mist had suddenly crept up toward the party during the battle and just as suddenly disappeared as the last bandit was slain.

Searching the stead, the party found the bodies of four Saxa: a woman, two children and a man who in every respect resembled Hralf Haraldsunu, including the silver token of Thunor. The learned among them surmised that they had encountered a genganger, the restless spirit of one who leaves some task unfinished in life and cannot proceed to the afterlife to be judged by the gods. Under auld Saxa law, the oath of a genganger carries the same legal weight as the oaths of the living, and thus the party found itself in possession of their own steading… assuming the claim can withstand challenge.

pcfarm HralfStead

 

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Hellfrost – Heroes

Our heroic band of heroically heroic heroes. Heroically speaking.

  • Aethelred Sigmundsunu (Markus)- Saxa Iron Guild warrior
  • Ferissa (Ozge)- Frostborn Hrimwisard
  • Frelest the Cursed (Eric)- Lorekeeper of the Reliquary
  • Goran (Rich)- Frost Dwarf Runemage
  • The Unnamed (Michele)- Noble Frostborn Iron Guild warrior
  • Wulfric Dagsunu (Brennan)- Saxa warrior
  • Zanatos (Mike)- Saxa hunter, tracker, ranger

 

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Dungeon Crawl Classics Intro

Yesterday I ran the Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) RPG, by Goodman Games, for the family.  DCC is a new system with streamlined d20 mechanics that is a stylistic throwback to 1970’s-era D&D, right down to the rulebook artwork.  I will describe features of the system as I retell our game sessions.   

DCC strongly encourages groups to begin a campaign with a technique they call “the funnel.”  Each player randomly generates 2-4 level 0 characters–a motley assortment of clowns, ne’er-do-wells, wannabes and zeroes–who are then thrown into a beginning adventure.  A high body count is expected and characters who survive the funnel (if any) attain 1st level and can then choose a class.  Humans can select from Warrior, Thief, Wizard and Cleric, while demi-humans are forevermore Dwarf, Elf or Halfling (i.e., race as class).

Links to reviews of the system can be found at the Goodman Games website.  Next, our zeroes start out on their lives (often brief) of adventure.

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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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