Campaign Notes (part 1)

Southern Ra
Campaign Notes

This page last updated 07/02/99 06:51:13 PM

Real Time Date: September 21, 1996 to May 24, 1997

Game Time Date: October 25, 565 to November 25, 556

This first entry summarizes several sessions of game play: dates are

– Several old army buddies (Ceril, Chryso, and Vito) who served under command of Aaryk Arkleson respond to a request for help from Aaryk himself. A Goblinish raid on a caravan some weeks previous resulted in some significant losses for citizens of Chasm, and Aaryk is offering a reward to members of his old unit to recover some missing items. The summons also acts as a good excuse to form an adventuring party, something Aaryk can, due to his war injuries, only participate in on a second-hand basis

– Oct. 25: Chryso and Vito travel up from Port Town, and Ceril travels from Chasm along with newcomers Rydia and Septra. Rydia and Septra were hired guards for the caravan that carried Aaryk’s goods and Gareth’s chest. They were badly injured in the raid and were nursed back to health by Ceril. They each have personal recollections of the raid itself

– Group gathers in Wandering River. The inn houses an unusually good theatre, far beyond the ability of local traffic to support. The party observes an unusual cloaked gentleman who seems to be paid particular deference by the inn’s staff. Investigation reveals little except that his name is Lethander, and he drinks heavily but pays well.

– Oct 33: Party departs Wandering River and encounters Lizardmen and Kobold ambush: Carik arrives to help, tipping the balance in the party’s favour. Ambushing lizardmen are accompanied by a weak looking human man who seems to have unusual magical powers. Lethander arrives in midst of battle on huge war horse, wearing beautiful armour and wielding an obviously magical sword. Briefly, Lethander mistakes Carik for a miscreant because of his orcish appearance . With heavy losses, the Lizardmen surrender. Lethander apologizes to Carik, and explains to the party that he protects the area around Wandering
River from vagabonds

– Nov. 6: Party arrives in Chasm. Meet with Aaryk at Iron Post Inn; briefed on his old adventuring experiences with the Goblins and on more recent Goblin raiding of caravans. Aaryk suspects that the new raiders may have settled in the same abandoned Dwarven exploratory mine he and his associates cleared Goblins out of years ago.

Aaryk, prior to his turn in the Ramshorn military, spent several years as an adventurer. He and his party (Deborah Valenstar- priestess of Illfellrik; Geoffrey Canen- thief/musician; Jacob “Farseer” Delverson- Mage: Wizard of Divination; Lothar- fighter) cleaned out a former dwarven delving of Goblins in 540/41. The party cleared out about 150 Goblins, then attempted (unsuccessfully) to seal the entrance: earth tremors five years later succeeded in closing the entrance. During their time in the delving, the party encountered “a giant mechanical cat”: Aaryk has little additional information, as he took his leave from his partners at about that time to deal with his business interests back in Hilgolden. That was the last time he saw his adventuring companions: the start of the war prevented him from doing any real followup

– The party later encounters a Dwarven weapon smith named Gareth Ironvein, who heard (presumably from Aaryk) that they were considering trying to track the caravan raiders. Gareth offers a reward for return to him unopened of a heavy chest crafted of Dwarven steel. He makes it clear, both by warning and by threatening the reduction of the reward, that the chest should not be opened.

– Nov 10-19: party arrives at waterfall where Aaryk had indicated entrance to Delving could be found. Next several weeks spent clearing delving of Goblins, with the following highlights:

Chryso uses chemicals to cause an explosion during a Goblinish encounter: Septra’s arms badly burned (with permanent loss of one dexterity point)
Party finds two young female survivors of Caravan raid (Adelle, 12, and Katrina, 16); held and abused by Ogre (Skrug Brainrender). Skrug later slain by the party; Adelle described woman who gave orders to ogre and Goblins (“the Mistress”); “pretty, but she wears a funny mask over the top of her face that makes her look like a racoon”; Skrug also has both Gareth’s chest and several other items (cooler boxes) from the caravan amongst his treasures. Carik extracts a damaged but (in his estimation) repairable repeating crossbow of high quality from amongst the Ogre’s belongings
Septra’s horse, Firewhip, killed by unknown carnivore outside he delving entrance
Party creates and activates an impromptu but effective Goblin incinerator using two thousand gallons of oil and an elevator shaft
Vito discovers the high degree of craftsmanship practiced by Goblish elite warrior torturers; the resultant scars on his hand are healed without permanent impact. The last (??) of the goblins were killed shortly thereafter.
The party discovers what seems to be the Mistress’s quarters; a painting in the room certainly left no doubts regarding her (very nice) body but portrayed her with her mask. An examination of clothes that presumably belonged to her identifies expensive if not good tastes: a famous designer label (Brenadar) recognized by Septra was on several revealing items. A hooded woman (or a man with really nice legs) attacks the party, paralyzing them and removing the painting. Subsequent examinations of the Mistress’s quarters reveals a magic lab, a number of expensive items of furniture, a library of reference books, and a secret “door” (apparently of original Dwarven manufacture) behind the bookshelves. The door could not be opened (extraordinarily complex lock)
The party establishes diplomatic relations with the Jermalaine, negotiating a weapons deal in support of aggression towards a mutual enemy (the wererats). In return the Jermaline provide a map to an area with “big nasty flying creatures” and another exit to the outside. The party follows the map, avoiding the nasty flyers and finding the alternate exit. Repairs on the crane at that exit provided the party with a quick way to remove their loot.
Rydia kills a male Griffon outside the delving, possibly the creature responsible for the death of Firewhip; the claw marks on Rydia’s back certainly looked familiar
Septra was hurt in a battle with Worgs; her throat was badly damaged, and she was rendered unable to speak at any volume above a whisper for a month or more

– Nov 20: The party returns to Chasm, and a brief interlude involving several high-profile drug overdose victims occurs. Ceril took care of the victims (adolescent children of Councilman Egan) at the Temple, and Carik visits the place they were found (“Toad’s Hole”). Carik watches a dance/live sex show. It culminates in a sensuous/erotic but rather tame shadow dance that gives the impression that the dancer was some sort of cat-like humanoid. Other than determining that probably anything could be acquired for the proper currency at Toad’s Hole, and that the proprietor (Tomar Blodstahl) is very fat, nothing much was learned

– Nov 25: The party returns to the delving and cleans out most of the remaining goods, including: Aaryk’s chest (found in the Mistress’s magic lab); 2 magical food coolers; a fine and intricate carpet from the Mistress’s bedroom depicting centaurs, nymphs, and satyrs coupling; 4 fine, large high-backed green leather chairs; and fifty books (30x10gp; 20×5 gp)

Real Time Date: November 8, 1998

Game Time Date: Nov 29, 556

[Adrienne, Leaha, Gary, Chris, and “new guy” Travis attending]

[Each character, except Moe (played by Travis) is awarded 3000 exp for previous adventuring]

– Nov 29: the party, including Moe (Travis), join Aaryk at his home for dinner; they regale him with tales of their exploits in the delving

– Aaryk requests that party return to the delving and confirm whether his old adventuring buddies (Jacob Delverson- Mage; Deborah Valenstar- Priestess of Illfellrik; Geoffrey Canen- Thief/musician; Lothar- Fighter) perished there. Aaryk describes rings that party wore (“Silver bands with green stone that allowed communication over a distance”; he shows his own identical ring). Aaryk also gives the party (and Septra grabs) a stone that will open a one-way magical portal leading back to the warehouse attached to his store. The keyword for the portal stone is “Open”. Aaryk suspects that Jacob Delverson may have pursued a theory that somehow linked the Iron Cat they had found in the delving with the locked door (in the remodeled delving, this door is the one behind the Mistress’s bookcases).

– Aaryk makes suggestion that he could probably arrange for the unused space in the warehouse his store occupies to be rented at a good price to the party. Septra and Rydia decide to take Aaryk up on this suggestion, and he promises to make the arrangements

– Moe leaves early (“Moe tired. Moe go sleep now.”), two hours or so before everyone else disperses

– Nov 30: party liquidates/distributes treasure from the delving. Wendell of Wendell’s Collectables buys the Mistresses’ carpet for 50 gp, and the four chairs for 15 gp each. The total collective treasure comes to 477 Gp. Vito takes the ring of invisibility, and Carik keeps the repeating crossbow (currently being repaired by Gareth Ironvein)

– Ceril begins making potions (it will take 8-9 days to make total of 18 for party plus several for temple; donates one cooler chest to the temple of Osfrigga plus a large portion of his earnings); Carik buys some phosphorus bolts (at 10 gp each) and picks up his crossbow from Gareth (10 gp, discounted due to party’s recovery of Gareth’s chest)

– Aaryk confirms that he has arranged for the warehouse space at 5 gp per month; Rydia and Septra buy accoutrements for their new digs (Septra spends 10 gp on a bed). Vito joins in on the deal after the first month rent is paid

– Nov 35: party gets together for a dinner at the Iron Post inn; Vito recognizes some people at a nearby table as adventurers the party had once encountered before (in The Forks: Wagril [fighter], Bertram Handfast [skinny mage], Senara [elf?], and Cassandra [fighter]), and notices a somewhat suspicious-looking character watching them. While Vito and the rest of the party are enjoying dinner, the shady looking individual suddenly leaves the restaurant. As he is leaving, Bertram calls “My spellbook! Thief!” and gives chase

– Vito and Septra join in the chase. Bertram suddenly accelerates (inhumanly) and nearly catches up to the supposed thief. Spells are fired, and the
thief ends up apparently dead. As Bertram retrieves his spellbook, the town police arrive. Bertram is convicted of “reckless endangerment”, and told to
report to the town garrison within 24 hours to pay a 100 gp fine.

– Nov 36: Vito hangs around the Iron Post, and manages to observe the Wagril/Bertram/etc party planning something that looks suspiciously like an adventure. He intercepts them as they leave, and is told by Wagril that the two party’s shouldn’t be interfering with each other: Wagril’s group is going North, and Wagril’s team knows Vito and company go East

– Septra uses her spare time to make some poison

– Nov 38: Septra arranges rental of a horse from Evards Wagons; she “conveniently” forgets that she will be taking the horse cross country, and thus
only pays a fee of 1 gp/week (5gp deposit, 100 gp charge for loss/disabling of horse). The grey horse she rents is named “Aby” (short for Abigail)

– Nov 39: party gathers at Iron Post Inn and sets out

– Nov 40: mid morning on second day, party is attacked by a 2 goblins and 2 worgs. In the ensuing battle, one goblin and one worg are slain: the other goblin and worg pair manage to escape. The quality armour and weapons carried by the goblins match those used by the goblins of the Delving. The party surmises that these goblins might be related

– upon arrival at the meadow near the base of the waterfall, the party spots a crude pavilion. Vito and Carik approach stealthily while Septra strides purposefully towards the apparent camp. An occasional banging sound can be heard from the area of the waterfall, and Septra hears loud snores from inside the tent. By peering in through a hole between the panels of the tent walls, Septra observes a large (9′) bipedal creature apparently sleeping in the darkened interior

– Septra finds Vito, and explains the situation. Vito is dispatched to slay the obviously (??) evil creature in the tent. In the process of slitting the
throat of what turns out to be an Ogress, Vito accidentally awakens her. The female ogre manages to make a noise or two, attracting the attention of others

– The banging sound stops, and five more Ogres appear from the area of the waterfall; a battle ensues just outside the tent. Septra gets the chance to try out her new fireball spell on two of the approaching ogres, injuring but not killing them. The party enters into combat. Vito re-appears from the tent. Ultimately four of the five ogres are slain. The fifth Ogre, upon seeing his last comrade fall, decides to opt for diplomacy. He lowers his weapon, “surrenders”, and introduces himself as Gakum Putridwound, father of the bride Vito just killed. The Ogress was betrothed to Skrug Brainrender, who was greatly overdue to take possession of his bride. After much discussion, the party unintentionally (for some) decided to permit Gakum to leave unmolested.

– Rydia untacks and releases Sparkie at the south end of the meadow, hiding her tack in the nearby trees. Septra does the same thing with Aby

– the party continues under the falls to the delving entrance, where they find four goblinish slaves chained together by their feet. The slaves claim to have been the property of Gakum. Septra takes possession of the goblins

– at the request of the party, Moe moves the ogrish corpses inside the entrance of the delving, stacking them in the collapsed tunnel just north of the door

– the party progresses to the hanging ladder leading to the main area formerly occupied by the Goblins and the mistress. Unfortunately, the goblinish slaves prove to be clumsy when climbing 150′ ladders with their feet chained together: 3 of the 4 perish in the fall. Ceril heals the 4th and frees him

– Vito checks the area formerly occupied by at least one Griffon, and confirms that there is still one adult and possibly several young in the room. The party retreats and continues down the hall in the opposite direction

– the party decides to check out the rooms formerly occupied by the mistress. Several items, including the harpsichord, the remaining books, and all of the expensive and delicate glassware in the Mistress’s lab are gone

– the party finally decides to investigate the Iron Cat. Vito is sent on ahead to approach stealthily. The Iron Cat, seemingly made of some sort of liquid silver metal turns out to be capable of equal or greater stealth. She (no gender is announced, but she seems fitting) pounces on Vito and holds him under a paw, taking the opportunity to chit-chat. The rest of the party arrives, and the Iron Cat jumps up to a ledge, snatching Vito along with her. A fine (thread-thick) wire can be seen running from the cat’s neck to a box in the South West of her cavern

– a complex and philosophical discussion with the Iron Cat follows, during which the Iron Cat claims to have been placed in the delving by the dwarves seven centuries ago. She also claims to have been alive for far longer than that, since “before the dawn of your written history”. The Dwarves moved her from where they found her, somewhere “far to the North”, where she had been serving a similar guardian purpose for millenia

– From their conversation with the Cat, the party concludes that a) Jacob Delverson and, presumably, the rest of Aaryk’s companions acquired a key to the locked eastern door from the Iron Cat; b) Jacob never returned, but somehow the cat has the key again; c) to get the key, another key must be retrieved from somewhere “to the South East”. That key should then be used in the box in her lair where the wire attaches, at which time the Iron Cat will “give them what they need”. Wherever the key is, the Iron Cat senses something “that reminds of birds”

– the session ends with the party working on strategies for dealing with the Griffons, whose lair they believe contains the key they need

Real Time Date: November 21, 1998

Game Time Date: Nov 40, 556

[Adrienne, Leaha, Gary, Chris, and Travis attending]

– Early PM: Vito is released by the Iron Cat as the party continues their planning session re: dealing with the Griffons

– final strategy is determined: the party returns to the entrance of the delving and retrieves the most intact Ogre body (the corpse of the Ogress). Using odds and ends, they manage to fill the ogre corpse’s stomach with five sleeping potions. They then transport the corpse to the meadow outside the delving, and prop it up on all fours: they hope to make it look like a horse. The party then returns to the dungeon and settles back at the “observation point” where the crane is situated

– late in the afternoon, the Griffon arrives and tears a chunk off the Ogre corpse. She carries her prize back her lair, apparently unaffected by the sleeping potions

– Vito investigates the lair (finding a previously-unnoticed goblin skeleton along the way), observes the griffon turning the “haunch o’ Ogre” over to the two baby griffons. The fledgelings (perhaps 200 pounds each) fight over the meal. Moments later, one falls asleep. The mother, suspicious of this sudden
drowsiness, pushes the second baby away (he soon also falls asleep). The adult griffon throws the meat out of her lair

– Vito withdraws and the party prepares a new strategy. Vito and Septra (the only ones who can fit through the passage to the Griffon lair) return to the lair. Vito launches an attack on the adult with phosphorus bolts, presumably to anger the creature and make it particularly likely (?) to fall asleep when Septra fires her sleeping-potion coated blow gun darts at it. As it happens, Septra misses anyway. As the incensed griffon attacks, Vito and Septra fall back and make an escape through the exit tunnel

– Septra confirms the adult is dead by abusing its corpse, then decides to kick the sleeping baby griffons for good measure. The babies attack and nearly kill her.

– having managed to slay the baby griffons, Septra searches the room and disassembles the nest; in addition to a sword, a lance, and several phosphorous arrows, she finds a key matching the description of the one the party is seeking

– Party returns to Iron Cat. Septra inserts the key they found into the to box to which the Iron Cat is bound. She safely retrieves the second key they need from the Iron Cat’s mouth

– Party returns to the Mistresses’ sleeping quarters, and uses the key to open the door behind the bookcase. Beyond they find a small (20×20′) room, with a vertical 10×10′ shaft exiting upwards from the center of the ceiling

– the party climbs the shaft (using a conveniently-placed Dwarven winch which takes 15 minutes or so per person), and finds a trapped room. The entire ceiling drops 5′, stopping 15′ above their heads (probably due to earthquake damage). Simultaneous with the discovery of the trap, Carik decides to test out his new spear (from the Griffon’s lair) by throwing it at a wall. It seemingly produces a lightening bolt which, along with the ceiling trap, causes Carik to be thankful that half-orcs have good bladder control

– in the room with the dropping ceiling, the party discovers flattened remains that they presume to be Jacob Delverson, Lothar, and Deborah Valenstar. They make this determination based on several flattened sheets of metal that might have once been armour, some powdered bone, a few scraps of paper, and two rings matching the description (plain steel bands with green jade stone) Aaryk gave them (one of the rings has the initials “JLD” inscribed within)

– Vito discovers that part of the North wall of the passage with the dropping ceiling isn’t. Beyond the illusionary wall is the mummified corpse of a fourth individual. A spirit briefly appears and comments “Its about bloody time” and then dissipates. A lute, a good short sword, some thieves tools, and a journal near the corpse lead the party to conclude that this was once Geoffrey Canen, another former associate of Aaryk’s.

– the Party follows the passage to the north beyond Geoffrey’s corpse. They eventually come to a pair of partially opened metal doors, covered with scorched wizard-marks and with a shield bearing the insignia of Chasm Delving on the floor nearby. Beyond these doors they discover a strange tableau

– the room beyond the scorched doors contains four mummified corpses; three dressed similarly in grey robes and chain mail, the fourth heavily armoured in dark blood-red plate. Two of the grey-robed corpses are laid upon the floor in an apparently ceremonial fashion, with melted candle stubs and piles of incense dust surrounding them. The armoured corpse is sitting in the corner, cradling the third grey-robed priest in his dessicated arms. A great sword, perhaps 5’6″ long, silver and gold in colour, rests on the floor nearby. A large (7′ diameter), round door, apparently made of steel or a similar metal, protrudes a foot into the room in the center of the North wall. The huge articulated hinges on the west side of the door imply that it is very massive. No handle or key mechanism is visible, although a triangular 4′ pattern in the middle of the door is noticable

– the party enters the room, Rydia approaches the sword, which begins to hum, producing an uncomfortable aching vibration. Moments later, the armoured corpse raises his head, and the red glow of his eyes can be seen. He utters the phrase “the time for mourning has ended”, gently lays the corpse he holds upon the ground, and stands. The silver sword leaps to his hand with a sound like steel claws upon slate, and the massive (6’8″ tall) armoured corpse tells the party to “stand aside lest I slay you all while you tarry”. The party members move out of the way

– as the skeletal warrior departs, Ceril attempts to strike up a conversation with him. He notes that the warrior’s armour bears a scorched and blackened symbol upon its chestplate: a sword and axe crossed, with horn below. Ceril remarks that the gods Illfellrik and Osfrigga are on good terms: the warrior interrupts his progress, turns and looks at Ceril, fixing him with his gaze. Ceril’s heart quakes, his blood turns cold, and the warrior utters “Be–gone”. Ceril is overcome by a desire to be elsewhere, and races back to join the party

– Rydia follows the warrior until he reaches the vertical shaft, where he simply keeps on walking, right off the edge. Rydia observes that he falls unusually slowly

– While the skeletal warrior departs, Carik makes rubbings of the runes that mark every wall and ceiling in the room where the corpses were found. A single pattern of perhaps 15 Dwarvish runes is repeated over and over again

– After a brief delay, the party makes their way down the shaft, perhaps a little less than an hour behind the warrior. They decide to camp out in the
Mistresses’ quarters

– At the entrance to the delving under the water fall, the party notices that the formerly hard-packed sand has been disturbed. It appears that a large, 6′ deep by 10′ long by 6′ wide pit was excavated: the sand is already settling back in.

– the party returns to Chasm, arriving at the town walls as the session ends

Real Time Date: December 19, 1998

[The amazing Santa Claus adventure, with Chris DMing]

Real Time Date: January 16, 1999

Game Time Date: Dec 2, 556

– after arriving in Chasm at mid-afternoon, several party members gather at the
Ironpost in for dinner

– Ceril returns to the Temple of Osfrigga, where he given a letter by Henga Svari, the Second of his Temple. In the letter, the High Priestess in Hilgolden “offers” to release Ceril from his duties as high priest of the Chasm Temple, freeing him to pursue his adventuring interests full time

– after eating and cleaning up at the Inn, the party meets with Aaryk Arkleson to relay the news of the demise of his old adventuring companions. Aaryk suggests that he can confirm the function of the rings formerly belonging to members his party if they are left with him. Aaryk also promises to look into any mention of a Paladin of Illfellrik that might explain the skeletal warrior the party encountered

– later that night, Vito takes a stroll through some of the more expensive parts of town. He follows an expensive-looking carriage that eventually ends up at the estate of Wynora Skymarked. After watching her huge white mastiffs playing in the yard, Vito elects to delay making any sales visits to her home in his role as door to door cloth merchant

– in the middle of the night, the peace of the Temple of Osfrigga is disturbed by several rough men from the Toad’s Hole. The body of Counsellor Egan, apparently killed by some sort of wild animal kept at the Hole, is carried in. Uthor, chief bouncer of the Hole and leader of those who brought the body, explains that the creature killed Egan and escaped. Ceril packs Uthor’s wounds with salt and stitches him up with barbed wire. Uthor thanks Ceril for being so kindly, and leaves a large donation for the Temple

– the next morning, Rydia discovers that Gareth Ironvein, the local Dwarven smithy, has been feeding her super-heavy warhorse, Sparkie, apples. He says he likes the “wee beastie” (Sparkie is a 19hh stallion). Gareth suggests that Rydia could use some real armour, and suggests that human smiths lack the Dwarven touch

– Carik blows up several rocks with his lightening spear; he notes that it stops turning into a lightning bolt after two throws, at which point its head turns from a brilliant silver to a dull, tarnished colour

– Carik and Vito go shopping, and participate in customer surveys on phosphorous bolt purchasing habits

– Vito observes murder reward posters for the “head of the beast” that slew Counsellor Egan. Tomar “Toad” Blodstahl is offering a 100 gold piece

– Rydia goes to Gareth Ironvein’s smithy and talks about armour. She is finally convinced that full plate is what she needs, and tells her she will pay 1000 gold pieces for his work, to be complete “not in weeks, but in months”. Somehow Rydia manages to convince Gareth that she should be able to take the armour with a payment of 500 gold and pay the balance in installments. Gareth takes the necessary measurements and shoos Rydia away

– the party gathers at Aaryk’s for dinner, where they discuss the now-identified rings and the buzz around town regarding the murder

– Vito goes for another walk, this time outside the inner town walls and into the slumtown. He visits the Toad’s Hole, where he speaks briefly to Tomar. Tomar seems to demonstrate genuine outrage at the death of Councellor Egan, and seems earnest in his desire for “justice” through the death of the councellor’s murderer. Vito gets a sample of the herbs supposedly used to control the beast that slew Egan. Vito returns to Aaryk’s late that evening, and asks Aaryk to analyze the herbs

– Moe is asked to work an extra shift at his job in Gareth Ironvein’s smithy. He spends his extra hours pumping furiously on the main forge’s bellows under the direction of Gareth himself

– next AM (Dec. 4) Carik (accompanied by Moe and Rydia) searches the banks of the Thirsty Horse river on the eastern edge of town, looking for tracks of the beast. He finds a few tracks in the mud of the banks; Moe and Carik begin searching east of town towards the military road, heading in the general direction the tracks were going; Rydia goes off on her own

– Rydia transforms into a large cat (party not yet aware of this ability, but they will be soon…); Rydia spends some time playing cat and mouse with the locals, including the Garrison scribe Andrew, who oddly mistake her for the “large black cat creature” wanted for murder. After shaking off pursuit, Rydia manages to catch a cat-like scent that seems to coincide with the cat-like tracks Carik found; she follows these tracks for about 6 miles to the SE; Rydia returns to town in human form, retrieves Sparkie, and heads out to the Military Road near the Signal River bridge (which intersects the general line the scent she was following stuck to)

– …which is where Carik and Moe ended up; they observe Wagril and “his” party of adventurers at the bridge; some sort of discussion is held,
spells appear to be cast, and that group heads off following the Military Road to the SE; Carik, Moe and Rydia are reunited; they return to town

– early next AM (around 2-3 AM. Dec. 5); Ceril awakened by Merit’s Man and taken to meet with Merit himself. One of the groups of three Merit’s Men sent out to find the murderous cat creature has failed to report in for over six hours (Merit indicates they have magical devices and strictly adhere to a two hour reporting schedule). A reward will be offered in the AM for information regarding their whereabouts and/or safe return; Merit expresses concerns regarding reward for cat creature (“wanted dead”, which seems extreme to him), but indicates he can not overturn the will of the town council. Merit also indicates that he fully expects to be told to remove his remaining men from the search in the morning, which was his one hope for proper justice. Merit concludes by giving a detailed location (points to map, about 30 miles E-SE by road) where his missing men last reported from, and suggesting that starting out right away would give Ceril and his adventuring company at least a six hour head start

– session concluded with party planning strategy at about 4:00am

Real Time Date: January 30, 1999

Game Time Date: Dec 5, 556

– party continues to strategize, “remember” a few things that they have done during the last few days; Carik gave Rydia the rubbings he had previously made of the Dwarven runes from the “altar” room of the delving. During her visits with Gareth, Rydia had asked him for a translation; the runes are part of a Dwarven clerical magic called “Stone Death”, which makes stone/earth for a given area unworkable. It “kills” the stone, making it unmineable/diggable/passable by common or magical means; typically used with reluctance by Dwarves to either shore up key areas that have become unstable or to prevent access to dangerous/sealed areas

– party distributes the rings from Aaryk’s old party; Carik has Jacob Delverson’s ring, Vito has the “standard” ring

– party sets out before dawn (approx 5:00 am) heading towards last area guardsmen reported in from. Travelling along military road, at about the 1/2 way mark in their journey; encounter Wagril and company (Wagril, Senara, Bertram and Cassandra); all appear to be in rough shape, Cassandra badly hurt with left arm nearly severed (clean “surgical” cut); Ceril offers aid and stitches Cassandra’s wounds up while the rest of the party carries on; Wagril and others describe an encounter at a “stone circle” with a machine that inflicted their injuries; they eventually had to break and run

– 1:00 pm party moving through woods, within approx. 3 miles of last reported location of guards; find very straight and regular tracks, with parallel “ruts” similar but oddly different from wagon tracks. Whatever made the tracks was lower to the ground then a normal cart, and knocked over small trees with apparent easy; direction of tree bends indicates path was northbound

– Rydia turns into a large (Siberian tiger sized) black feline, after explaining to party that she has this ability now. In this form, she searches the vicinity and finds a parallel and identical path running southbound

– 2:00pm party finds site of Guards demise; guards are in numerous pieces at the base of a large tree, several pieces (arms, legs, heads, spinal columns: one or two arms left behind) missing; surgical cuts, lots of tracks back and forth seemingly identical to those that made the path followed earlier. One horse corpse nearby, apparently disembowelled by a similar “surgical” cut. Guards identifiable by pieces of uniforms and by tack on horse

– bottom four or five feet of tree shows signs of abrasion; on examination, seems connected to tracks of the cart-like vehicle party has followed, appears that the vehicle may have been scrabbling unsuccessfully to get up the tree; further examination of the tree by Vito reveals a lithe, panther sized humanoid cat-creature sprawled apparently unconscious on a horizontal tree limb some forty feet off the ground; creature apparently has a bad leg wound on the upper thigh, the bleeding of which appears to be staunched by a simple tourniquet

– 3:30-5:00pm party determines that cat creature is alive, Carik manages to get creature to the ground, and Ceril begins healing; when the cat creature comes to consciousness, she, who is obviously female (cat-like head/ears/eyes, lithe, extraordinarily graceful and athletic but human-like build, currently unclothed (simple cloth jerkin she might have been wearing originally torn and used for tourniquet), fine/short glossy black fur, long tail, a bit over five and a half feet tall, obviously bipedal, opposable thumb, speaks common clearly but with a slight, possibly Khedish/imperial accent) politely thanks Ceril, who is just as obviously a priest of Osfrigga

– the cat creature, who identifies herself as Shaharizel, proceeds to explain what she remembers happening; through a period of questions and answers, the party determines that Shaharizel was a “manufactured” slave, one of a pair developed by an exclusive slaving organization (House of Cedraphil; chained-hand-clasping-rose brand ‘cold tatooed’ on Shaharazel’s inner right thigh) to act as a combination bodyguard and “bed warmer” for a wealthy but “disreputable” merchant by the name of Vardek in Rinsen. She served her master faithfully for some time, until he was assassinated and her “sister” killed. Shaharaziel was captured during the assassination; drugged and transported by sea to Southern Ra and eventually Chasm, ending up in a cage at Toad’s Hole, performing dances nightly. Shaharaziel described how she is “designed” to respond immediately and completely to several unique herbs: one makes her violent/berserk, one makes her dance and respond sexually, one puts her to sleep; and how Tomar used these herbs and other more common drugs to manage her. For months, she thinks, she was controlled in this way, although all of her memories are very vague, distorted, and disjointed from the constant druggings. She vaguely recalls meeting someone called Egan the other night, a night she seemed more heavily drugged than usual, although she can’t recall exactly what or why he was with her. She suddenly and uncontrollably began to attack Egan at a point during their meeting: she may have killed him. “Voices” told her to run, although she can’t remember any faces: her cage was opened, as was a door, so she did run. She ran, or so she thought, randomly: in retrospect, she thinks she was heading to a specific place, but that could be the drugs talking. Not long after she arrived the compulsion to run seemed to evaporate, and she was almost immediately attacked and injured by a strange, tracked (like tank tracks to us modern folk) machine, with buzzing saws and strange proturbances. She climbed the tree, and the machine tried to follow. Shortly the guards arrived and the machine attacked them: Shaharizel hid in the tree, and
eventually passed out

– party decides that Shaharizel should be released; she claims to be quite capable of looking after herself if given the chance and not under the influence of drugs; party contributes some goods (tunic, belt, dagger; couple of healing potions; a ruby; mustard oil); Shaharizel thanks everyone, asks Vito to destroy the herbs he carries (that he never showed anyone or told anyone about), and heads south

– 5:30pm party follows path of machine to standing stones (each stone 25′ high, 5′ wide, 3′ thick; 25 monoliths, about 18″ between each, each with a horizontal stone from the outer monoliths to a central cylindrical stone also 25′ high; each outer monolith on the eastern side of the structure also has a rectangular hole through it, fitted with a translucent crystal, about 10′ off the ground), which stand on a highly-regularly shaped hill devoid of tree cover; identify signs of combat at the south of ring; After Carik demonstrates, with Moe’s help, how to get onto the top of the standing stone structure; party spends the night on top of the structure;

– Dec. 6: at dawn, party observes central pillar become “glossy/liquid-like” when a white “line” on the pillar is struck by light from the rising sun as it passes through the crystals. The southern most monolith also seems to “disappear” (although its related roof beam oddly does not collapse); the party experiments, discovering that the southern stone behaves as if it really is gone (I.E.: can walk through where it was); strange effects persist for about 30
minutes, ending at the same time the light stops shining directly on the white band. Carik and Rydia gathers some food, demonstrating their boyscout skills

– Dec. 7: at dawn, the party sends Vito through the portal with a rope attached. He returns to report a 100′ diameter hemispherical room with several free-standing archways in a line down the middle of the room and no visible doors; Party then experiments with deer skins and other methods in an effort to block light from the crystals and turn off the portal;

– later in the day, a group of five people, some armoured and all wearing similar white-on-maroon colours, approached the stones on horseback. Introduced selves as the Company of Free Warders, a group of adventurers. They claim to have come to find the group of Merit’s Men missing in the area, and had found evidence of some new threat (the “machine”); after discussion between their cleric (Sasha, of Ukko) and Ceril, they leave this “quest” to Ceril and company, seemingly satisfied that it is in good hands; one of their party members who had “gone missing” early in the encounter re-appears, winking directly at where Vito stood. He had similarly “gone missing” (using invisibility) and continued to be hidden at the time

– Carik uses ring to contact Aaryk; relays news that cat creature had “escaped”, guards dead; machine killed guards; following through portal

– Rydia encounters a couple of “bounty hunters” during her daily search for food; when they attack, she makes fairly quick work of one of them and scares the second silly; she releases him (Pavril; the dead guy was named Dane; and they were looking for the cat creature and thought Rydia might make a convenient target)

– Dec 8: at dawn again; party passes through portal. Moe seemingly gets smarter for no immediately apparent reason (one of the side-effects of having your atoms scattered across half the galaxy…); party finds themselves in the room Vito described; party searches room and finds no further entrances or exits. The portal they had entered by is suspended between two iron posts, and disappears after about half an hour. The leftmost of six (four standing) arches seems to have a glossy/liquid like surface within the archway, black on one side, glossy on the other; party waits for four hours to see what happens. Nothing changes, so they go through the archway

– discover that second archway is “one way”. Ends in a large chamber between two pillars; standing on a stone surface above a stream that flows
underneath heading south to north

– Carik uses ring to contact Aaryk, tells him party is through portal and apparently stuck there

– Carik goes swimming intent on using pitons to provide purchase for moving north from their current location. Carik encounters three troll-like creatures in the water who try to invite him to lunch; he uses one of his pitons to drive the point home that he isn’t on the menue. Alerted to the threat by a now-bleeding Carik running out of the water at a full gallop, the party engages in combat and slays the creatures

Real Time Date: April 24, 1999

Game Time Date: Dec 8, 556

[Leaha, Gary, Chris, and “new guy” Jim Hildebrand

– Carik rests, having suffered injuries as a result of his conflict with the Skrags while attempting to make a way upstream; party generally at a loss for what to do next

– Kennard Loggerson, stuck on an island further north along the underground river, notices “dancing lights” to the south. After noting some humanoid shadows near the lights, he starts “flashing” his own light source off and on in an effort to attract attention. Rydia notices the flashing light, and a shouted conversation begins

– Kennard reveals that he has a broken canoe on his island; after some further discussion, it is decided that the larger party might be able to make repairs on the canoe. Carik inflates several old wine skins and uses them as floats attached to a rope that they then send downstream to Kennard’s island. He ties this to his broken canoe, and it is dragged back to the stone “bridge” upon which the main party resides

– Carik contacts Aaryk with his ring and sends a shopping list (many phosphorus bolts, pig/sheep/goat bladders, oiled canvas in 8×10′ sheets, many healing potions, oil/torches/candles, food/rations, several potions of water breathing). Aaryk indicates it may be a few (three or so) days before he can coordinate the goods and someone to deliver them. He also indicates that he will have to hire or otherwise get additional hands to assist in delivery

– Vito goes swimming under the “bridge” and finds what appears to have been the Skrag’s treasure. Vito then appraises the goods, finding that he has made quite a haul. VIto then “gifts” Carik with two healing potions

– using pieces of Carik’s oilskin rain slicker and some wax, the party manages to patch a foot-wide hole in the canoe provided by Kennard; they attach a rope to the canoe, sending Vito and Rydia to Kennard’s island

– With time to kill, Vito, Rydia, and Kennard begin to explore the island. A large, moss covered, dilapitated and apparently unoccupied structure, perhaps a temple or something similar, dominates the place. Vito decides to investigate an altar they find near the top of the building, with what appears to be some sort of moss-obscured symbol engraved upon its face. As soon as his gloved hand strokes the surface, Vito is struck instantly lifeless

– With Vito’s corpse cooling nearby, Rydia and Kennard decide to be cautious. Kennard stands some distance away and uses a flaming sphere to burn off the moss covering the symbol. The symbol is revealed to be a dagger, picked out in silver, dripping red-enamel blood. A hole can be seen in the roof near the altar, revealing a darkened chamber 20′ beneath with several piles of miscellaneous bones scattered about.

– Rydia and Kennard load Vito’s corpse back into the canoe, and return him to the bridge. Ceril inspects Vito, and confirms that his body is totally lifeless. He casts several spells, including slow poison, with no effect. Moments after the party begins to consider appropriate funeral arrangements, Vito’s corpse lets out a shuddering gasp of breath and suddenly sits up. Seemingly perfectly healthy, Vito recounts having spent the last half hour or so fully aware of what was going on, but unable to do anything about it

– Seeing that Vito survived his ordeal, Carick, Vito, Kennard, and Rydia decide to return to the island. Moe and Ceril stay behind, to operate the rope attached to the paddle-less canoe and to await any deliveries from Aaryk. To be safe, Carik ties off the end of the rope the canoe is attached to to one of the large stone “pillar-trees” on the “bridge”

– Vito et al decide to leave the altar alone, and focus instead on the smaller outbuildings around the main temple. Several of the buildings are largely collapsed, but a couple are still quite intact. One of these is tightly sealed: after Rydia flexes her pects a bit, and Vito works his special ‘magic’ on the lock, the door opens with a puff of moldy, dusty air. The interior of the building is a single room, and both floor and walls to a height of seven or eight feet or coated with a thick layer of moldy/fungal material. A humanoid-shaped “bump” can be seen under the thickest layers of goop. Through use of a grappling hook and several other items of “distance manipulation”, the party manages to extract a gooey corpse more or less intact. Investigation reveals a map, plus a fairly significant “haul” of money and jewelery. A dagger is also found in the biomass. Rydia takes the dagger.

– after leaving the drippy corpse to moulder, the party moves on to the next building. In this one, Vito discovers that not all traps are mechanical: a dense, rubbery pudding significantly larger than Vito himself falls from the ceiling onto his back. In the ensuing combat the party ends up doing more damage to Vito than the monster

– the party decides to tackle the main temple. They lower themselves through the hole in the roof and, after some confusion regarding spatial inconsistencies, accidentally awaken a large number (20 or so) of skeletons: humanoid, animal, and monster (Ogre). Holding the rear while the party regroups, Carik destroys several skeletons but is badly injured. He begins parrying in an effort to avoid further injury. Rydia joins Carik and decimates a few skeletons along side him. Kennard casts a fireball and destroys nearly half of the skeletons. Shortly thereafter, with skeletons still in significant numbers, Rydia succumbs to her own wounds. As Vito makes his way to where she fell, he finds Rydia replaced with a huge, black Syberian-tiger-like cat. Since he has seen Rydia change into a black tiger a few days earlier, Vito figures he knows what he’s dealing with. When she growls, Vito decides take no risks and backs away. With the black tiger holding off the skeletons, Carik is able to withdraw and consume healing potions. Shortly thereafter, the last of the skeletons falls in a cloud of bone dust under the onslaught of an angry kitty

– with no other foes to worry about, Vito tries to get the black cat to drink a healing potion. He fails, and ends up pouring a potion directly on the big cats wounds. It seems Vito makes a friend, and the party eventually exits the temple (the big cat demonstrating significant leaping ability by jumping and clambering up onto the roof). Carik, Kennard, Vito and the large black tiger variously canoe and swim back to the bridge

– The session ends with the party back on the bridge, with kitty sniffing Moe and licking her lips

Real Time Date: May 7, 1999

Game Time Date: Dec 9, 556

[Leaha, Chris, and Jim attending]

– The party spends a night (“night” being a rather vague concept deep underground) resting, with normal watches, on the stone “bridge”; the next day, Ceril heals several wounded party members, including the large black cat that seems to have replaced Rydia. Kennard demonstrates that his staff can heal in some way

– soon after lunch, the black cat suddenly transforms into Rydia, who is badly injured but conscious. Kennard uses his staff again to heal Rydia and, when questioned, gives a vague explanation about “spell energy” being converted to healing

– Kennard spends the afternoon muttering arcane phrases over his staff and a couple of metal objects

– that night, the party is attacked by what Ceril identifies as stirges. Carik uses some sort of magic to project a deafening shout that destroys numerous stirges, including several attached to himself, before succumbing to his wounds and the sound of his own magic. Moe is badly wounded and deafened (as it turns out, temporarily) during the battle. Vito goes swimming to avoid the bloodsuckers, and Rydia turns into a large cat and slays several of them with claw and tooth

– after the battle, Kennard uses his staff to heal Carick back to consciousness. Ceril stitches up many of Moe’s injuries. The party rests for the
“night”, uninterrupted by further attacks. Moe’s hearing eventually returns

– the party spends the 11th of December healing and resting; the night passes uneventfully

– on the 12th, the shipment of goods Carik had requested from Aaryk using his magical ring arrives: 10 phosphorus arrows, 14 phosphorus bolts, 20 sheep bladders, 2 x (8×10) sheets, 10 x 5 hp healing potions, 8 x 10 hp healing potions, 40 torches, 60 candles 6 x (8 weeks)of iron rations, 6 x potions of water breathing. In total, over 500 pounds (probably in excess of 600 gp worth) of material is “dropped” through the portal: from the packing, it was likely all transported on mules or donkeys

– Carik uses the tarps and inflated sheeps bladders to build a strange raft; another night passes uneventfully

– on the 13th, the party migrates to the island, hauling goods behind the canoe in the raft Carik built. They struggle briefly regarding how to move Moe, whose large size threatens either of the available boats. Finally, Carik assembles a huge floatation device by rolling and tying the raft he had built previously: Moe uses it to float and bob over to the island

– The party begins to explore the island more thorougly, travelling clockwise from the southern point. Rydia stumbles onto a patch of shoreline that seems to be under the effects of some sort of “reversed” gravity: she is flung into the ceiling, only to fall back to the floor a few moments later. Rydia is grieviously injured in the process. The party spends some time trying to determine the nature of this apparent trap: Vito is tied to Moe, and similarly locates the “trap” by setting it off (although he suffers less injury than Rydia). Finally, Carik similarly ties himself off to Moe and tests a theory that the reverse gravity might somehow allow travel. Unfortunately, it seems to do nothing more than throw (drop?) the unsuspecting into the ceiling above, then back to the floor once the area of the effect or the duration expires. Kennard uses nearby stones and throws them onto the “reversed gravity” spot, marking it. The stones seem unaffected by the effect

– Continuing their exploration, the party discovers that two of the three river/streams exiting the chamber are blocked by grates. The grate blocking one of them, second along the northern part of the chamber moving clockwise, appears to have been bent or damaged at some point. One of the horizontal bars has been twisted upwards, and two of the vertical bars have been bowed outwards to widen the space between them

– party elects to return to the temple, and investigates the eastern room that they had previously left unexplored. They discover a large sphere of blackness within an even larger room. When exploring the edges of the room where the sphere does not reach, Rydia is attacked by animated shadows. Carik joins the battle, and shortly Kennard orders a withdrawl while he casts a fireball. Several of the shadow creatures are destroyed between the fireball and Carik’s attacks: Rydia’s blows seem to do little harm. The remaining shadow entities withdraw into the black area, and the party withdraws to heal and recover spells

– on Dec 14th, the party re-enters the eastern room. Ceril casts invisibility to undead and protection from evil on himself and Carik, and they explore the room. Eventually, Carik leads the way into the central unnaturally dark area. Even his night vision is ineffective, yet his stumbling progress brings him to a 4-legged metal stand upon which his hands discover a stone sphere. Carik moves the sphere, and Kennard shouts out that the darkness is moving. Seeing the light (:-)), Carik tosses the stone: when it strikes the ground it shatters, and the darkness is dissipated. The party makes short work of the now-revealed shadows.

– a desicated/mummified corpse wearing blood-red robes is discovered crouched beneath the sphere-stand. After carefully testing it, Carik determines that the corpse is unlikely to animate. He removes its holy symbol and a strangely curved blade that rests on the ground at its knees: both items are noted by Ceril as being holy to Surma

– The party completes a thorough exam of all three main rooms. The eastern room reveals a secret cubbyhole with a scroll (which is of clerical spells and which Ceril takes), the large “bone” room seems to hold no hidden surprises. The western room has a large, beautifully crafted but greatly disturbing mosaic on its walls, depicting priests of Surma in holy reverie as they slash and rend dozens of people, spilling blood that collects in rivers along the walls. Writing at the bottom of the mural proclaims the supremecy of Surma, and his eventual domination over all of Erdenkarde

– The session ends with the party exiting the temple, and Carik contemplating further tests of the reverse gravity spot now with the symbol of Surma in his posession

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