PCs Present: Baldwin, Ebin, Huggra, Reeny, Thorg
Four of the party members contracted severe fevers after being bitten by giant rats. Overnight, they each had a very similar dream: they were in a torchlit procession of figures wearing deep purple robes and hoods, with the symbol of a black inverted ziggurat on the front. They descended a spiral staircase in utter, freezing darkness except for the gradually fading light from their torches. Finally they reached the bottom and found themselves alone in a dark room with an old man who gestured to a door behind them, asking them to open it for him. Behind the old man stood a pale young woman with jet black hair wearing armor, staring off into the distance. When they awoke, their fevers had broken and they felt considerably better.
Chaarogn, the orc chief charmed by Huggra, was left in the custody of Zeleth for questioning, which did not go well as Chaarogn had no intention of cooperating with anyone but Huggra. He eventually became combative and had to be restrained. Hagalpin, the Curate, successfully converted more of the party to the worship of St. Cuthbert in exchange for healing. While he ministered to the wounded, Inverdia, another priest of Cuthbert but belonging to the doctrinal purity arm of the church, came by to visit the sick and wounded. Hagalpin was visibly nervous in his presence, but Inverdia proved to be a friendly chap and even offered his assistance on the party’s next raid against the caves.
The party set out later than usual the next morning, intending to take the road instead of cutting through the woods to throw off any humanoid patrols. But alas, the hobgoblins under their chief, Mogogek the Plunderer, had set up an ambush where the road narrowed and passed between the heavy woods and the stream. About a dozen hobgoblins, archers and warriors, surprised the party. Fortunately, the party had taken along groups of crossbowmen, halberdiers and pikemen from the Keep garrison and so were not outnumbered. It appeared they would fight through the ambush relatively unscathed when Mogogek himself appeared with his bodyguards and and enormous troll, Khuh Spine-Breaker. Huggra was able to charm Mogogek and turned him against the troll while the others finished off the ambushers. Khuh slew Mogogek and refused to die as its severed limbs continued attacking until the party was able to douse the body with oil and set it alight. It was a near-run battle which resulted in the deaths of several of the garrison and severely wounded Thorg, who, by now, is used to that condition. Neither Mogogek nor his troops possessed any valuables but the party did find a black iron slave collar hanging from the chief’s belt. Once again they retreated to the Keep to recuperate.
Zeleth had more information for the party: two nights previous, the guards in the Upper Bailey had captured a human scaling the outer walls. He was a slight, wiry man, armed with a bandolier of daggers and what appeared to be vials of poison (the alchemists will test it to be sure) so it seemed obvious that he was an assassin. The man could not be interrogated because his tongue had been cut from his mouth, so they are holding him in the cell block next to the old guild hall, guarded around the clock.
Also, rumors among the guards had it that figures were seen skulking about the garrison burial yard outside the north walls (near where the assassin was captured). Whenever the guards went to check the area, no one was there. They are believed to be aiding the assassin.
Generous tithing to the Church of St. Cuthbert assured that the party was healed back to full strength, so they set out once more. Soon they were met by one of the escaped slaves of Turkey’s band, who informed them that the hobgoblins had raided their camp and taken several of them, including Turkey and Squirrel, prisoner.
The scene of the ambush was as they had left it, bodies and blood strewn about. They cut through the woods, taking their accustomed route, and stopped briefly to spy on the portal dig site. Chaarogn was sent forward to scout and reported that he saw the gnoll and bugbear chieftains apparently arguing with each other while the other humanoids were running about in confusion. Chaarogn mentioned that the bugbears appeared to be the only tribe left unscathed by the party’s relentless attacking; the gnolls were not involved with the activities of the other humanoids, being paid in food and loot merely to scout the area.
The party sought the now unguarded chambers of the dead Mogogek, hoping for an easy haul of treasure, so that’s where Chaarogn led them. The party was quite large by this time, having retained the services of the garrison troops while adding Inverdia, his silent acolytes and Chaarogn to their numbers. The hobgoblin caves were no longer heavily guarded and the few warriors present were easily swept aside. They discovered a vast armory, beyond which lay the quarters of Mogogek. It was at this point that they decided to rest and take inventory of the armory.
PCs present: Baldwin, human magic-user; Ebin, human cleric; Huggra, elf; Mike, human thief; Orwill, halfling; Reeny Reenmel, halfling fighter; Thorg, human fighter.
Safely back at the Keep once more, the party found the Curate, Hagalpin, firmly refusing to cure their minor wounds. Orwill and Reeny joined the Congregation of Cuthbert as a result and paid their yearly tithe in full. They again enjoyed a short work day, relaxing at the tavern of Zorga Zvar, the one-eyed, one-armed, one-legged dwarf (none ever doubted HER military service).
For the third consecutive day, the party set out at dawn and took the same route to the caves. Word of their raids had obviously spread among the humanoids, however, as the portal dig site was now surrounded by a hasty palisade of sharpened logs, more a hindrance to movement than a defense. More goblin archers had been posted (and swept aside) and the party headed to caves across the ravine from the goblins.
Orcs of the “Gutshank” tribe occupied this area and the party made short work of the entire warren in a short series of very lopsided battles, Huggra charming their chief, Chaarogn, in the process. Reeny did fall when he made a headstrong charge, alone, into four orc guards but he was stabilized and brought to safety, along with Huggra’s new BFF.
Session 2 opens with the party having escaped from the goblins and carried their two severely wounded members safely to the Keep.
PCs present: Ebin, human cleric; Erb Draug Gurth, elf; Huggra, elf; Mike, human thief; Orwill, halfling; Reeny Reenmel, halfling fighter; Thorg, human fighter.
The party requested healing from the Curate Hagalpin, a priest of St. Cuthbert, Order of the Billets. He refused at first since they were not members of his faith but the Prefect, Zeleth the Steadfast, exerted his authority and finally persuaded him. They learned that Zeleth was a popular, highly decorated war hero who had risen from poverty to command the Keep’s garrison. Zeleth’s story was in sharp contrast to that of the Keep’s other resident celebrity – Luciano “the Bold”, the greatest living dwarven tenor. A pompous prima donna, Luciano was also very well-connected in the best social circles and boasted of many friends in high places. He requested a posting to the frontier to gain military experience in preparation for a political career. Luciano was not as well-liked nor respected by the garrison, despite his frequent impromptu performances (in fact, BECAUSE of them!).
Having spent the remainder of the first day and night resting, they decided to venture out at dawn, taking the same path they had been shown by Squirrel the previous day.
The goblins obviously expected their return and posted archers in the trees which ambushed the party. The scouts were easily defeated despite their advantages and the party formulated a two-pronged plan to deal with the remaining goblins. Most of the party approached the ogre, Kurchunk, in his cave, thinking the previous day’s payment would ensure his aid. Meanwhile, two party members planned to toss a goblin head with a light spell into the cavern, hoping to affect the goblins’ vision. The two groups would then attack from two sides of one of the main hallways.
Kurchunk, unfortunately, turned out to be two-faced and attacked. Another lucky light spell blinded him and he was rather easily slain. The rest of the encounter went according to plan as the goblins were temporarily confused by the bright light and hit from two sides. They slightly outnumbered the party but superior ranged firepower made the difference, and the rest of the goblin cavern was cleared.
The party’s luck held out and they withdrew in good order to the Keep.
On August 4, 2010, the group began a Greyhawk campaign using Mentzer Red Box D&D rules and the Keep on the Borderland. The campaign was originally intended as a short demo of old school D&D but expanded beyond that due to popular demand. As such, we eliminated preliminaries and started the party in situ, having already met, been recruited and transported to the Keep and immediately ready to strike out for action.
The setting is the World of Greyhawk, on the border between the Principality of Ulek and the Orcish Empire of Pomarj. PCs are Ulek natives from the captured eastern provinces attempting to harass humanoids in the untamed lands beyond the Jewel River.
PCs present: Ebin, human cleric; Erb Draug Gurth, elf; Huggra, elf; Mike, human thief; Orwill, halfling; Reeny Reenmel, halfling fighter; Thorg, human fighter.
Players were given the following briefing:
“You were all recruited within the Principality of Ulek. Humans, dwarves and halflings are citizens of the eastern provinces within the Disputed Territory and have volunteered for dangerous missions involving getting revenge and wreaking havoc on humanoid invaders. Elves can either be citizens of Ulek or refugees from the northern front of the war. Create your PCs with this background in mind and then discuss amongst yourselves specifically how you came to be together. You saw the call to battle being pounded onto every post in Havenhill, and you answered, swearing yourselves to the service of Prince Corond of Ulek.
Eventually you were all able to arrive at the Fortress of Ogard, snaking your way through hazardous, enemy-held territory, made easier by chaos and dissension in the enemy ranks. Large swaths of land in Ogard Provice are not being controlled by anyone and this has helped you go unnoticed. Signs of atrocities and property destruction are everywhere, along with evidence of enemy clans fighting each other. The following communique awaits you at Ogard, along with official letters of Marque stamped by the Prince himself:
Situation Briefing, Common Year 591, Month of Readying (the first month of Spring) Welcome! No matter your place of birth, you are all now sworn subjects of His Highness, Lord of the Peaks of Haven, Prince Olinstaad Corond of Ulek. Forthwith you will be informed of the current situation in the Principality and of your particular mission. Seven years ago this very month, as many of you are already aware, the pond-sucking, scum-fucking, shit-eating, ox-humping… … humanoid forces of the criminal and illegitimate so-called “warlord” Turrosh Mak of the Pomarj, with overwhelming numbers, invaded the Suss Forest, and thence across the Jewel River into the Ulek States. Our eastern provinces were overrun and the city of Havenhill nearly captured before our glorious counter-attack, aided materially by our great friends, the Knights of Luna, and financially by our good neighbors, the Lion Throne of Keoland.
Since that time the forces of Ulek have battled without rest to recapture our rightful lands, up to our ancient border of the Jewel River. Our enemies, as is their wont, fell to infighting and chaos and we have made great inroads against them. Their situation became so dire that just this past year Mak was forced to withdraw his human mercenaries, bandits and sell-swords from the area. The disorganization of our enemies led directly to the heroic reconquest of the Fortress of Ogard on the banks of the Jewel and of several lines of communication to and from it.
You yourself came to Ogard by circuitous routes to answer the call of His Highness. We do not expect the current favorable situation to persist indefinitely and so we must take every advantage to bring the fight to the lands of our enemies. By our best reckoning, we will have one campaign season in which to conduct “special missions” across the Jewel. You are being sent to a restored watch keep which guards the old road through the borderland between Ogard and Strandkeep, the latter now held strongly by our enemies.
Follow the instructions of the good Castellan, Dame Carspadmir Tiransdottir, and bring glory to yourselves and to Ulek. The keep itself is beyond our traditional borders and WITHIN THE POMARJ ITSELF, so exercise caution! Therefore, be informed that all lands beyond the Jewel River, and all those traveling within who do not properly establish their identities as friends of His Highness, are to be considered HOSTILE and subject to TERMINATION ON SIGHT. We trust to your discretion as agents on-the-scene.
I have authorized Dame Carspadmir to offer bounties on confirmed kills as she sees fit; she will no doubt brief you in greater detail upon your arrival. At a minimum, you shall consider all humanoid races (orc, goblinoid, ogre, troll, giant, etc) as enemies, likewise miscreants, bandits and highwaymen, as well as all agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood. I do not wish to hear of acts of mercy or kindness with regard to such.
Duke August Clinkerfire, Commander-in-Chief of the Forces of Free Ulek
Once across the river, you push on about a day’s march with several heavily-guarded supply wagons. Looming ahead on a high shelf of granite north of the road is the Keep on the Borderland. The road has climbed higher as you enter the forested and mountainous country. You now move up a narrow, rocky track. A sheer wall of natural granite is on your left, the path falling away to a steep cliff on the right. There is a small widening ahead, where the main gate to the KEEP is. The blue-clad, spear-wielding, men-at-arms who guard the entrance shout at you to give your names and state your business. All along the wall you see curious faces peering down at you – eager to welcome new champions of Ulek but ready with crossbow and pole arm to give another sort of welcome to enemies.
Your party is greeted by a human, Athatas, corporal of the guard, who examines your letters of Marque before he escorts you to the Castellan, Dame Carspadmir Tiransdottir, a humorless dwarf in magnificent full plate armor with a fine surcoat of blue. She is rumored to be the sister-daughter of Duke August. Skipping the preliminaries, she confirms the rules of engagement set down by the Duke and informs you of the current bounty levels (requires proof of kill):
Humanoids: 10 gp each
Bandit, dead: 20 gp each (Carspadmir wants them eliminated once and for all)
Bandit, alive: 50 gp (one time only, for interrogation)
Bandit leader: 100 gp dead, 200 gp alive (one time only for the second)
The Castellan also gives each of you a voucher worth 100 gp at the provisioner, trader and armorer for any equipment you may need. This is over and above your starting coin. Equipment signed out on the voucher must eventually be returned intact or the bearer will be responsible for reimbursing the keep.
It is early spring. Intermittent light rains are in the offing and runoff from the high hills swells the rivers and streams. The air smells fresher and cleaner than in Ne-Ogard but there is still the distinct taint of smoke wafting in from the east, along with the odor of fenlands to the southeast.
The humanoids are almost exclusively nocturnal and are comprised of orcs, goblins, hobgoblins and perhaps other types working in concert. We do not know how they manage this; perhaps they are under the control of Turrosh Mak himself. With the approaching good weather, more clans are sure to try to move through the area going east to west. We have already sent one team out to the east but we haven’t heard from them since. There were two dwarves, an elf and a human. Avoid the road as it is bound to be watched.”
The party split into two, the majority slowly taking the road east while Orwill and Mike tried to find some way to navigate the stream through the fens, thinking such a route stealthier and less expected.
Orwill spotted a very young bulette “land shark” floating with the current and successfully hopped on for a ride (bonus silly points for this). He hopped off when he spotted humanoid figures observing from a hill to the east, deeper in the fens. Meanwhile, the bulk of the party attempted to slowly track their expected progress.
Orwill and Mike met a group of human slaves who had escaped the orcs, living now simply for vengeance. Once bona fides and favorable intentions were established on both sides, the group – Turkey, Squirrel and Hawk (apparently having so named themselves) – agreed to act as guides and scouts. Orwill and Mike cut back to the road and rejoined the others.
Squirrel led them off the road and through the thick woods toward a large clearing. Here, said Squirrel, many tribes of humanoids had established a work site near some huge, bizarre stone portal set into a hillock. Under the direction of several ogres, they were digging at and around this portal, and attempting to pry it loose by brute force. Strange reddish runes adorned the lintel and the trees had become progressively more black and twisted as they approached the area.
Squirrel then led them to the creatures’ lair, numerous caverns set into the walls of a ravine northeast of the dig site. The party took the direct route to the nearest cave opening, whose stone portal was shaped similarly to the great portal nearby. The opening led into a natural cave, which then opened up into a worked series of caverns. It became apparent that at one time the caverns were finished in a mosaic of black and red tile, which time and disrepair had mostly stripped away, leaving a rough layer of grout or mortar.
A series of sharp skirmishes followed, during which the party defeated a great number of goblin guards and warriors of the “Lasher” tribe. They also had a tense meeting with Kurchunk the ogre while chasing a goblin guard. They cleverly offered him the bag of money the goblin was delivering to procure the ogre’s aid and got the ogre’s promise of future assistance.
They barely escaped with their lives, however, when a goblin hunting party returned at just the wrong time to cut them off from the outside. The party managed to collect their wounded and fight through to safety and, guided by Squirrel, who had lurked in the nearby woods, returned to the Keep to recuperate.
by Mike W
Attendees: Mike, Rob, Tony, Sandy, Edith, Alan
Mike and Rob showed up first, so the ubiquitous round of cribbage followed. Mr. Lucky lost to Rob but managed to round the skunk marker before the end. Mike got in trouble because he actually miscounted one of Rob's hands and shorted him two points! (Rob asked how he could count so fast, just one of the advantages of being an Idiot Savant!).
In the mean time Edith M. showed up. She is a new recruit from Picatinny, but she probably won't make the Fuddrucker meetings. Tony and Sandy also arrived.
Next up was "Wizard" with six players. Edith took an early lead and was unstoppable till the end, Mike trailed closely but the others were far behind. Win for the newbie!
Alan A. from Picatinny then showed up, Rob brought out "Moto Grand Prix",
We tried to start playing, but the rules seemed less than clear. Rob: For next time print out the cheat sheets on boardgamegeek, also check the warnings about the stands for the motorcycles and how to modify them. We got confused by the rules and will try this again some other time.
Next was 6 Nimmt, http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/432. In this game you are trying to get rid of cards but not take sets. At the end of each hand you count the number of bull's heads on your pile. Once someone gets to 66 the game is over and lowest count wins. In this case Mike, Alan and Tony went bust with high final counts; Rob bested Sandy with a lowly "7". (Mike twice had his last card being one that was one more than a pile of 5 on the board – no way out with that combo).
A final quick round of the Great Dalmuti, http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/929
followed with Mike losing his "Muti-ness" the first hand and Tony taking charge. Also the Peon and Lesser Peon's switched (Alan and Sandy). Rob remained in the middle as a Merchant. It's been a long time since we played Muti – at Maggie's they had a great big round table that was great for this (as you must move around based on your status with the the current Dalmuti being the center of the universe).
Next time, Fuddruckers in Parsippany on April Fool's Day. Post to Yahoo groups PIGSLIST if you are planning to come.
Recap by Mike W –
First Mike and Augie played cribbage; Mike (Mr. Lucky) bested Augie 2 games to 1. Someone walking by said he thought they only played cribbage in Boston – guess not!
While awaiting Ron, Augie broke out his reprint of “Can’t Stop”. Ron later said he thought it was a pretty good reprint considering some others he has sent. Mike continued his string on this game – he lost as usual. If Sandy was around, she would have won as usual. In any case Augie got 5 numbers to Mike’s 2 or 3 and he won.
While Mike and Augie were finishing Can’t Stop Ron showed up with Perikles, Oltremare and something else in tow (Oltremare is also a reprint – Mike had brought the original version once, but it was like a miniature game compared to the reprint). We voted on Perikles and he started punching out the pieces. Regarding pieces there were quite a few wooden blocks and counters. Ron is a brave man for bringing them to Fudd’s – many a piece has been almost been eaten up by the black upholstery of the round table we sit around in the back by the bar. Bringing a flashlight to check for missing pieces before we leave might be a good idea.
Perikles is a game from Martin Wallace. Players assume the role of a noble family seeking to become the leader of one or more of 6 ancient Greek city-states. The game plays out in two phases:
In the first, players vie for area control in each of the six states, which end in elections. Players who win the election in each state can then “control” that state’s army.
In the second phase, players use cards to move their armies to attack or defend one of seven battles (each tied to a state, and you can’t attack your own!) that are up for grabs that round.
Ron jumped out to an early lead, Mike and Augie tried to stop him but there always seemed to be an opportunity to grab some easy battles that lead Mike astray. Mike twice (out of three rounds) got a nice collection of city-states that had few or no battles for that turn (you get to see where the battles will be before you vie for control of the city-states). One reason is that Ron stole Mike’s “Mr. Lucky” hat – I recall a lot of 10, 11’s and 12’s being rolled by Ron to win battles (while Mike had quite a few 2’s with the double dice. Did I tell you I hate wooden dice? Can’t get the right “action”!). Assassinations were rampant and screwed up many a plan. I think Augie cold have won, but he did not contest Sparta the last round with a candidate even though he had the most influence to peddle.
Ron won with 61 pts, Augie 53, Mike 51. The statues one gets for keeping track of past control of city-state’s are quite powerful, some of the larger states give 9 victory points for controlling that state for a turn (assuming it didn’t lose too many battles during the game) – that’s the same as winning a huge battle (battles seem to range from 3 to 8 pts). Gotta watch that if this is played again.
Boardgame Geek says it plays best with 5 people, with three there was little negotiating going on.