Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Session #4 - Griffin Island - "Up the Shaft and the Room of Holes"

Unaware that Andres, Adam, and the frozen Thracian perished while Bam and Hark are alive but trapped in the tomb, Xan and Barbara return to the ship for additional resources.

Eldwin, Cad, and first-timer lock pick extraordinaire Cory return to the ruins without Barbara or Xan.  On the way, they spot a four-armed white ape deep in the jungle but not far from camp.  The creature avoids them.

The three take the usual route through the ruins.  They find the Gnoll and Minotaur guard posts empty and the trap door leading to the frozen hallway held open by a rock from a nearby crumbling wall.

Upon reaching the tomb area, they see the cut rope and Eldwin immediately spots Bam looking down at them.  

They throw a new rope up and tie it to the gargoyle statue as before.  The three climb it pulling the rope up behind them.  Then they hear the tragic water trap story and see the evidence of the frantic digging into the two-foot thick stone doors.

The group quadruples their efforts finally breaking through.  A river of water torrents out the hole creating a river of water that waterfalls into the statue room below.  Eventually, the torrent subsides into a small but continual flow as the vault empties.  Eldwin spots Andres’ ring float by and scoops it up.

The hole is now big enough for Eldwin to enter.  He sees the grisly twisted and melted bars formally blocking the ceiling chute and the three corpses of his fellow explorers.  The group works the hole so it is big enough for all to pass.  The thief deactivates the original trap mechanism and then they investigate the chute.

Cory climbs up and hammers in pitons to reach the landing where the Thracian met his fate.  The elf follows in support.  They take out the adamantine snake construct and begin inventorying the treasure it guarded.  They leave the chest with the king’s dinner set, copper coins and demonic-looking ring, but remove all the other Thracian coins, a golden magical bowl, and an awesome-looking golden glaive.

Thinking the shaft up might lead to the surface, the thief scales it to a forgotten secret trap door.  Opening it, he emerges into a circular room of decadent Thracian design.  Standing guard in a Deathwalker wearing a skull painted facemask and exorbitant Thracian plate mail.  Cory sneaks up from behind and slits his throat killing him in seconds.  He then peers behind the mauve curtains and witnesses a tall black statue of the god Thanatos.  He closes the curtains and returns to the others.  As he closes the trap door, he slips almost falling seventy feet, but a piton provides stopping power as it gashes his chest.  Saved and bleeding, Cory climbs down and joins the others.

About this time, they decide to avoid the minotaur, gnoll, and dog brother war band waiting in the rivulet-divided statue room below.  The group avoids the beastmen then investigates the unexplored web-clogged stairwell leading north.  They use torches to burn the web and quietly make their way to the top of the stairs.  Who knows when or if the Beastmen will follow.

From the top, they open an ancient door closed for millennia into a hallway lit ghastly green from the glowing eyes of skulls mounted every five feet down either side of the hall.

They turn left to an empty chamber with a 40’ ceiling.  Once they step inside the room, everything changes. A near blinding column of golden light shines down directly on a pedestal on the rooms opposite side.  None of the light touches anything but the pedestal, but illuminates the room.  They see the walls decorated with ornate fresco paintings showing activities of unknown gods and heroes.

Basking in the light lounging on the pedestal is Ontussa (a gynosphinx) as she introduces herself.  She riddles them about what knowledge they seek.  The immediate answer is not to her liking so she requests gold for their naivety.  She wants all the Thracian coins she detects they carry. The group, not immediately forthcoming and somewhat taken aback by her rudeness, hesitates.  She symbols a sign of sleep; Cory, Harkness, and Bam drop to the floor snoring.   Eldwin and Cad remain awake.

Cad bows in fake sincerity then swings a sneaky mace uppercut surprising the gynosphinx.  Battle ensues.  The two heroes finish the haughty sphinx then wake the others.

At this time, the door behind the sphinx’s pedestal opens revealing a glowing blood red hall beyond.

They investigate and a werelion statue at hallway’s end animates transmuting through the stone floor as it attacks them.  

After destroying the living statue, Cory peers behind the set of curtains to see what the werelion guarded.  He finds a circular room with two remarkable and large holes: one a central pit possibly leading to the abyss and the other a strange black shallow darkness containing a chest.  It is at this moment Cory realizes his hands are affixed to the curtains!

They burn off the gluey curtains terribly scarring Cory’s hands.  They now look ghastly but remain functional.

The session ends after they detect chest’s contents and hole it sits in are both magic.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Session #3 - Griffin Island - “Waking King and Queen E’Head to the Wily Water Trap”

Session note: The only players for the session were James, Brad, and Scott.  We also were missing some character sheets specifically Xan (Rogue), Cad (Cleric), and Barbara (Barbarian).  We played it this way: Xan, Cad, Eldwin the Ranger, and Barbara returned to the ship for supplies. They met up with Harkness and Bam on way.  Hark and Bam learned the route to the crypt and met today's characters there.  Xan left his magic rope so the party had a way in and out of the elevated crypts.  
Harkness and Bamard rejoin while Eldwin, Cad, Xan, and Barbara return to the ship.  After solid rest and some reorganization, they renew their explorations.  
Andres casts a light spell and someone has a torch burning as well.  Harkness the Fighter, Bam the Dwarf, Daneus the ‘ancient’ Thracian Monk, Adam the Bard, and Andres Zaris, mission leader and Wizard gather to decide what to do about the gladius that lay beneath the crystal lid.  They note it has a well-preserved leather-wrapped handle suggesting magic.  Determined to explore on without aid of the holy man or lock pick, they ask Hark to pry the lid off with his two-handed sword.  He tries, and of course, the worst happens, he stumbles and loudly smashes the lid to pieces.  An instant later, the sound of undead awakening surrounds them.   There feel smashing and crashing. They hear maniacal crying and homicidal screaming.  There is a wall of sounds deriving from the known secret vault doors.  However, they hear the loudest and angriest noises coming from the opposite side near the northeast corner.  All around them, there are undead things filled with rage and hate coming for them.  
They move into a defensive circle.  One by one, undead emerge from the vaults.  First a Barrow Wight, then armed skeletons, and then from the furthest western vault behind the locked iron bars, a skeleton queen emerges donning a golden crown not unlike the design of the throne.  The banging from the north though is different.  They now see past what must have been an illusion.  They clearly see heavy stone doors where there once was a solid wall before.  Furthermore, there is a huge oaken beam and a Thracian King’s wax seal across a door lock blocking any exit of the entombed.  Someone is not supposed to get out apparently.
Daneus, Hark, and Adam immediately engage the Barrow Wight while Bam guards the northern door.  The oak beam splintering from the force of whatever it is trying to breakout.  With battle raging, the queen sits upon the throne, casts some sort of magic circle, and then silences Andres who had just cast lightning bolt at her.  Adam then disengages leaving Daneus and Hark to finish the wight and skeletons.  
They see a mummy behind the sealed doors carrying a black sword.  He occasionally swipes at the beam and punishingly smashes his body into the door.  This beam will not hold for long.  Meanwhile Andres runs toward the queen.  She is behind the bars and locked door so this prevents a direct attack with anything but long weapons.  Andres stands up to the queen at the locked gate so she lies in the radius of her own silence spell.  Rendered mute, she angrily goes for Andres’ throat who does his best to stand just out of her reach.  This is when the mummy, King E’Head, breaks out.  Bam stands his ground while Hark closes in.  The two of them cut down the mummy at about the same time Adam severs the queen’s neck.
With no casualties, they search the various tombs.  They find much magical treasure and precious ancient Thracian coin.  After resting and consuming healing potions brought back by Hark and Bam, Andres identifies some of the collected load.  They find that the gladius below the crystal is cursed.  The mummy’s black sword is magic and absolutely evil and he has a ring that resists fire.  Hidden away in the Barrow Wight’s tomb they find a mithril set of Gauntlets of Ogre Power and a six magical golden shurikens in an ancient urn.  The queen’s golden crown is magic, but pure evil.  From her vault, among a treasure of brass, coin and a ruby, they discover a magic dagger of Mage Bane with a matching sheath that permits one to see invisible things once a day.
Later during their investigation, a noise comes from the tomb’s forty-foot tall echoing entrance hall alerting them.  The dwarf investigates since he does not need light.  Instinctively looking behind as he approaches the upper ledge, completely on the other side of the room, he glimpses a faint bluish light creeping below the mauve draperies on the far west wall.  Then, he turns his attention back toward the sounds from the east.  He looks down when he reaches the ledge between the gargoyle statues and sees what look like a group of sneaky little dogmen conversing covertly and about to point upward.  Bam pulls his head back and relays all this information to the group.  Then they all hear the unmistakable sound of a snipped rope, followed by a second of silence, followed by the sound of something crashing to the floor.  
They move toward the dog brothers as Daneus calls them. Twenty-five feet down they only see a litter of bones. Attached to the southern gargoyle, they find remnants of a severed rope!  Without a way safely down, they turn their attention to the faint blue light
They take down the mauve curtains wary in case another Ochre Jelly hides.  Behind the curtains, a magnificent pair of stone doors carved to resemble the face of a beneficent man stand before them.  The face glows with a very subtle blue light.  Without a thief at hand, Bam reviews the doors to be wary of any oddities.  He does not detect a lock or even a door handle.  The group carefully pushes the double doors inward.
This opens into a ten foot wide, thirty foot long stone walled hallway.  The walls maintain the same dim blue light as the face on the doors.  The ceiling is also stone some fifteen feet up.  On the far western side is a pair of unmarked massive stone doors with exquisite brass-wrought door handles.  Bam and Hark stay back whilst Andres, Adam, and Daneus investigate.  After looking around and carefully examining the handle, Adam attempts to open the door.
The doors open upon touching them. A river of water torrents from behind. The force of the water makes them nearly impossible to close.  Simultaneously, the eastern doors slam shut and lock.  Immediately the hall begins to flood.
Adam, Daneus, and Andres attempt to close the western doors but do not have enough strength.  Outside the trap, Bam and Hark, smash at the outer doors.  They knock off the beneficent man's nose, but this amounts to nothing.  Inside the three nervously look for a way out.
The water rises quickly, they estimate about a minute before it reaches the ceiling.  Daneus has no trouble staying afloat but the others are not so skilled.  Daneus does what he can to keep them afloat but Adam struggles as his chain shirt weighs him down. Then as the ceiling closes in, they all spot a shimmering three foot circle area above that changes appearance to an iron grate as if a mirage.  The grate blocks a chimney leading up.  Daneus leaps out of the water, grabs the bars, swings his feet to the ceiling and pulls with all his might.  When close enough, Adam pulls as well, but they are unable to do more than bend the bars a few inches.  Andres calls them off and unleashes a massive lightning bolt directly at the bars.  Andres’ spell unblocks the chimney by destroying the bars but electrifies everything else.  Andres and Adam do not survive the blast; Adam gulps water as his last breath. Still alive, but now in complete darkness, Daneus floats up the chimney with the rising water.  
After about twenty feet the water stops rising and Daneus makes out a golden light from a shimmering Glaive thrust into a pile of treasure.  The treasure room is in a cave accessible through a small tunnel leading south just above the water level.  The chimney continues up far beyond the monk’s vision.  Eyes back to the treasure, the glaive is magnificent, possibly a holy weapon.  Also upon the pile of gold and silver coins is a massive bejeweled chest.  Then, from behind the chest an adamantine mechanical snake, coils and springs across the chamber into Daneus’ head.  The construct rips Daneus’ carotid artery killing him instantly.
Not knowing any of this, the lone survivors - Bam and Hark, pound and smash on the outer doors.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Session #2 - Griffin Island - "Frozen Thracians to the King's Crypts”

The adventure begins with the party entering the frost vault.  Twenty inches of caked ice and snow pack the room’s surfaces.  Two Thracian bodies lay on the floor: a female armored seductively and a male in monkish-type robes.  Xan fearing they might be frozen demons or zombies loses an arrow into the unarmored male.  Still motionless, the party drags the frozen bodies back toward the chute.  Careful for any sign of evil or violence, they debate what to do.  Andres confirms the clothing and armor appears genuine Thracian.  Before long, the bodies miraculously begin thawing more rapidly than expected.  Perhaps the cold in the frost vault is of magical nature.
Surprisingly, the robed male stirs as if awaking from a long sleep.  He immediately animates, speaking in ancient Thracian about a Beastmen revolt.  He must find the Beastmen base to save good King Agamemnos.  While Andres interprets, Xan readies his weapon for the kill, as he did not trust this awakened Thracian.  The monk says his name is Daneus, and begins speaking in a more understandable Ancient common tongue that is still odd sounding.  His female counterpart, Epicaste, thaws as well, but does not awaken.  She is dead.  Daneus covers her body while Andres and Xan inventory her possessions for later collection.  Over the next hour or so, the party convinces Daneus that he has been frozen for over millennia, the King is long dead, and that the Beastmen have already taken over.  Daneus cautiously joins the group.
Xan uses the flame tongue sword to thaw ice from the vault walls.  Eldwin the Elven Ranger stands beside, looking for doors, traps or other secrets.  After about 30 minutes, half of the Eastern wall ice is a puddle on the floor.  Xan touches the wall and a supernatural door with glaring eyes manifests.  The door attacks the party with elemental cold and charm magic.  The party attacks back.  Some of them become charmed and subsequently try touching the door only to suffer severe frostbite.  Cad the Cleric identifies this living door as chaotic and evil.  The others hack it down.
Beyond is a forgotten dusty hallway that leads north and south. To the north, up about thirty feet, they find a stairway leading east.  At the landing thirty-feet up, they spy the back of a secret door on the north wall.  Beyond they hear Beastmen converse and the growling of what sounds like bears.  After some debate, the party agrees to leave the Beastmen and return to the secret sub-level.  
At either side of the dust-filled north/south hallway, they find secret doors.  Carefully, behind the northern secret door they discover another dusty hallway turning 90 degrees to the east.  On the opposite side of the north door, it is not secret.  In fact, there is a Thracian warning written on it: “It is not given that man should interrupt the sleep of his ancestors. Do not transgress beyond this point.”  Knowing they have already “transgressed”, they close the door leaving the hallway beyond for another time.
The southern hallway secret doors opens down the middle, each side sliding into wall recesses.  Beyond is a massive room of flickering lights and mythical statues.  Ten columns support the ceiling twenty-five feet up, they flicker a strange ambient torch-like light throughout the room.  Eerie sounds dart here and there making the statues all the creepier.    On the far eastern end, entry stairs rise ten feet to a pair of double doors.  
Without warning, every couple of minutes, the columns begin flashing brilliantly in unison, temporarily blinding anyone looking directly at them.  After a few moments, the lights stop strobing and become like torches again.  After a while most of the party realizes there is a pattern and knows when to shield their eyes or look away.
The statuary with estimates of gem values includes: (A) a sphinx carved of porphyry with huge quartz sphere eyes (200 gp each); (B) an eight-headed hydra carved of black marble with amber eyes (25 gp each); (C) a minotaur carved from soapstone with jade eyes (400 gp each); (D) a dryad carved of black basalt with small citrine eyes (50 gp each); (E) a griffon carved of glistening white marble with fire opal eyes (350 gp each); (F) a manticore carved from black marble with red tourmaline eyes (200 gp each); (G) a harpy made of green marble with brilliant cut green emeralds (400 gp each); (H) a black lava hippogriff with small peridot pupils (50 gp each); (I) a satyr carved from pink granite with eyes made of rubies set on diamonds (1,000 gp each); and a white marble centaur with aquamarine eyes (300 gp each).
Xan carefully pries one of the eyes from the satyr.  After removing, a loud crashing sound comes from below to the west.  Everyone looks in that direction.  A sound comes again, seemingly as loud as to shake the dungeon.  Edwin notices plaster falling from the middle part of the western wall; He can see the outline of a door secreted behind.  BOOM!  Another thunderous crash that could wake the dead and closer this time.  Something big slowly approaches from behind the western wall.  Some of the party positions themselves behind the columns or to either side of the western secret door.  Others find the eye baubles too irresistible to leave alone, and continue prying more out.  The crashing becomes angrier.  Instead of waiting for it to crash through the wall, Barbara opens the secret door and they see it.  Behind the door, there is a flight of stairs leading down.  Coming up is the Stone King!  
The eight foot tall, Stone King appears to be a regal man wearing a black crown whose eyes and mouth burn with orange flame. The crown has three, large violet gems.  The Ranger shoots arrow after arrow into it as it methodically moves forward.  The King emerges from the hall.  It attacks by breathing fire and pounding its massive fists.  The internal magics that give it life magically slow some of those close enough.  Near the back of the room, Bam and Harkness continue pulling gems from statue’s eyes!    With each gem removed, the Stone King’s countenance darkens and bits of broken and chipped stone heal.  About halfway through the battle the room’s pillars begin flashing blindingly again.  By this time, most of the party knows better to look directly at the pillars.  Still, the king smashes Adam into crippled unconsciousness. Saving the day, the elf’s magic arrows strike the monster’s head in succession felling it.  It collapses to the floor.  

Post battle, the group revives Adam and explores down the stairs from where the Stone King came.  About forty feet down there is a huge circular room lit with a bright violet light. The walls of the room appear to be on fire with cold violet energy. Flanking the base of the stairs is a pair of placid pools of water. Every so often, the water ripples and moves as if something lurks below.  They leave the room alone.  After the Rogue and Ranger return to the rest of the group, Daneus removes the golem’s head with an amazing series of punches.  The jeweled head rolls down the stairs and falls into an undiscovered pit right between the pools of violet water.  Not wanting to explore the pit, they save the head for later.  It is at this time, Bam and Hark leave the group to report to B.T. back at the ship.  
Next, they remove what gems remain in the statues and turn their attention to the entrance doors on the far eastern side of the room.  The doors open into a 30’ square room that is very tall - almost forty feet.  To the north, a ten-foot wide stairwell choked with spider webs leads up.  Lining the room’s blank stone walls are human skeletons, a total of sixteen.  Each skeleton’s eyes glow with an eerie orange light.  Directly above the entrance appears a landing or ledge that is just out of line of sight.
Cad raises his Lords of Orhan holy symbol and seven skeletons immediately cower.  The party engages the rest and in moments destroys all sixteen.  Directing their attention to the ledge twenty-feet up, they see statues of green gargoyles on either side.  Between them is a passage leading west that is directly above the flashing pillars room.
Xan scales the wall to the ledge and investigates.  The gargoyle stone is harder than any he has ever seen.  He lets down his magical rope so the others may climb and they do.  They make their way into the unlit room past the green gargoyles.  They discover the upper works to be a crypt.  With Andres and Daneus decrypting clues, they reason this to be tombs of dark kings and nobles that were worthy of burial.  They think it has been over a thousand years in this place since the last visitor. On the south wall fallen bits of the decorated plaster walls reveals numerous hidden burial vaults and crypts. Andres explains that the darker Thracians interred here were the vilest Thracian society had to offer.  
At the west end, they find a green drapery blocking the rest of the room ceiling to floor.  Xan carefully peers inside, waves his flaming sword up and ahead and sees something astonishing.  Beyond the drapery is a wall of thick iron bars with a 10-foot wide locked cage door in the center.  Beyond the bars is a crudely constructed gold plated throne.  Monster faces and undecipherable runic symbols decorate it. The throne radiates moderate magic, chaos, and evil.
With everyone ready for anything, Xan picks the gate door lock and steps aside for others to enter.  Barbara makes for the throne as if to challenge the power of the place.  He sits and waits for something to happen.  Nothing, however, happens, at least anything noticeable.  Meanwhile, a monstrous ochre jelly engulfs Adam after he examines what is not a maroon tapestry behind the throne. The bard, once again, begins taking catastrophic damage.  His clothes burns, his papers and notes become worthless, and his skin scars.  Andres and the Ranger pelt the blob with missiles while the warriors try not to split it into too many pieces with their swords.  The Thracian Monk makes killing blows on each of the remaining entities with his quarterstaff ending the battle.
They leave the caged throne area and investigate the secret vault doors beginning with the easternmost door.  The first door pushes in easily revealing an empty stone vault.  On the far wall Andres reads the Thracian script to the others that says, “I have been waiting for you.”  Carefully Xan and Eldwin enter.  Shortly after entering, each hears a voice (fully understandable) that says, “Ahhh…it’s been a long time! I have been waiting for you to come! Ha ha ha.”  With that, the vault door begins closing on its own.  The Rogue and Ranger attempt a hasty retreat back to the main room, Barbara and Daneus hold the door just enough so they are successful.  The vault door slams closed.  Ok, moving onto the next door…
They open the door and enter the next room.  Against the far wall, there is a chest of stone with a transparent crystal top. Apparently carved out of the bedrock, the chest appears immovable.  The next instant, a spectre materializes above the chest.  It begins some incantation, but before finishing, Edwin manages to pierce it with a magic arrow, while Daneus, the Monk, steps up and hammer strikes the energy-sucking creature in the face annihilating it in one blow.  No one here has ever seen a man do this to an undead with bare hands…

End of session #2.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Session #1 - Griffin Island - "From Ship to Chute"

The uneventful voyage from Warwick to the misted coastline of Griffin Island’s Thracian Bay required two weeks.   The group took the time getting to know one another and the layout of the ship.

The protagonists today are mission leader and Wizard, Andres Zaris; Adam the Bard; Xanlannan the Rogue; the mysterious Barbara the Barbarian; Eldwin Aladar an Elven Ranger; the Fighter, Harkness the Menacing; Cad the Cleric of Orhan; and Bamard the Beardless Dwarf Fighter.  A few other “adventuring types” stayed onboard with Captain B.T.  If not, they went ashore to oversee the reconstruction of the wooden base.

The eight heroes made their way to the ruins first light. Apparent in the rainforest were the multitudes of interesting flora and fauna.  Following Milo’s map (yeah, he stayed back…) and about halfway to the ruins, they came to an ancient Thracian bridge spanning the sixty foot wide river and appearing quite solid.  On the Western side, they see mounds of sickly white feces. The field of dung appears to be a demarcation between the Western forest and the road to Thracia. Eldwin finds numerous giant ape tracks near the piles as well.  Not wanting to dither, they cross the bridge and march on to the ruins.

A couple of miles past the bridge they find the lost city nestled between a large swamp and two sheer cliffs. The sedimentary cliffs soar almost 1000 feet above, shading the city until midday.  A magnificent torrent of water bursts from the cliff about 300 feet up between the cliff faces. This feeds a beautiful waterfall down to the river and through middle of the ruins.  There are narrow treacherous stairs winding to the top of each sheer cliff face.  Thracia appears the typical “classic ancient ruin,” with fluted, toppled columns and ornate marble buildings carved with bas-relief images of Greek mythos gods and warriors. The roofs of the buildings are flat or triangular. Many buildings no longer stand and there is little left of them save stone foundations overgrown with thick bushes and clinging vines.  Trees are beginning to grow in many places as well, as the rainforest slowly reclaims Thracia.

Eldwin’s pure blood elf ancestry provides the party a tactical advantage visually in the misted afternoon air. A large villa to the south billows smoke.  Seen leaving it are men painted as white skeletons... “Deathwalkers…” Andres mutters.  They decide not to investigate the villa choosing to cross the nearest bridge to the other side.  

Xan takes the lead, sneaking from one ruin to the next.  First, a prison-type structure that reeks of the freshly dead.  Then a burnt-up warehouse with blackened doorways piled with skeletons. They also spot a nearby arena/amphitheater slopping into the earth some one hundred feet.  As a group, they decide to search the warehouse: a place with potential to be a safe house.  Cad detects two undead swaying near the top of the stairs.   Xan climbs an exterior wall to the second floor and decapitates what turns out to be a wight.  The rest take out the other coming from the stairs below.  There is no treasure to speak of, but the place does seem safe enough for a rest now that the undead are gone.   It appears the bodies near the doorways may have been offerings to the wights.  The party rests and takes in the city view from the second story.

They see a couple of  long reflecting pools possibly populated by giant crocodiles; some fallen temples, one apparently patrolled by beast-like men; what appears to be a library, a gaping twenty foot diameter dark hole and many other interesting structures all across the city.  They decide that the arena is close and might lead to the underground entrance Andres is so interested in finding.

Vines and other vegetation choke the arena.  They find no underground entrances, but they do find two 50-foot assassin vines.  Barbara epically takes out one of them instantly.  The group finishes the other off in a few seconds.  There are corpses near their lair and they discover a magical flame tongue short sword.  The party decides Xan can make best use of it and he agrees.

Next, the band formulates a sneak attack against the patrolling beastmen.  As they approach more closely, the elf sees beneath the foes a dark opening to the depths below.  The party ambushes and finds a minotaur amidst them hiding down a twenty-foot wide flight of white marble stairs.  The party slaughters the lot without much trouble.  They lean two gnoll corpses against the ruin walls so, from a distance, as to appear still at guard.

After some eighty feet down into the blackness, by torchlight they see the stairs turn black with guano.  Bats cover the buttressed ceiling and flutter about in the smoke and fresh torchlight.  There are three possible ways for the party to take: left, straight, right.  They follow the beastmen tracks to the right (which is east).  The passage winds north and then west until Eldwin and Barbara trip into a double spear trap nailing them each. They quickly slay a pair of guard gnolls coming around the corner. Then then finish off the room of six gnolls a bit further down the hallway.  They do not find much of anything good, so move on.  

Eldwin spots a secret door.  Xan manages to crack it open after some time.  When open, they surprise a room with four lizardmen sleeping in makeshift cots.  Piles of muck cover the floor especially each corner, the smell is awful, but does not prevent their quick deaths.  The normal door across the room leads to a great hallway, the floor deep in guano and even more bats.  Worse, across this open hallway, clusters of giant centipedes make straight for them.  Not wanting to fight them standing in slippery dung with hundreds of bats above, they close the door.  They are back in the lizardmen lair.  They camp for the night taking turns for watch.  While Cad slept, he dreamt of a time when Thracian was not in ruins.  When the beastmen were slaves.  When the real city of Thracia was actually in a great cavern beneath a magically lit sun.

Sneaking back through the secret door, they heard gnolls back in the room where they just slaughtered eight.  This time is turns out to be five gnolls and a brutish minotaur comically wearing a man-sized Thracian breastplate.  This gaggle did not last long.  Finding the breastplate and a cheap ruby necklace on the minotaur, they continue past the secret door.  The hallway turns west and slowly begins descending.  After over 200 feet, the hallway turns south and then a granite staircase leads down further than anyone can see.  

Down they go.  After 60 feet down, the passage opens into a large cavern, the floor carpeted with rats.  Light came from a lit temple of some Thracian god on the far east side of the cavern. There are gnolls and other beastmen creatures over there.  Continuing in front of them is a passage to another room.  Xan moves ahead leading the investigation.  He finds the room has one door and hears gnolls chattering to themselves behind it.  The floor is thick with garbage.  Xan calls them over, be quiet, but be quick.  The whole group manages their way across the open cavern to this room.  Eldwin steps on a rat, but it is of no consequence; no one seems to notice.  All in the room, they notice an area where the garbage sinks a bit lower than in the rest of the room.  Xan locates a trapdoor beneath the garbage at this spot.  After a quick trap check, they open it and, using Xan’s magical rope, lower the Ranger down the sloping chute.

About twenty feet down the forty-foot chute, Eldwin notices the walls covered in archaic and crude paintings. The paintings depict hunting hippopotamus in a river and the god Zeus directing the people to a hidden cave. Within the next ten feet down chute, frost clings to the walls.  Near the bottom where the chute flattens into a hallway, the ice is almost two inches thick.  Relaying status above, the group decides to take their chances in the chillsome hallway rather than face gnolls and possibly minotaurs from either side.  They close the trap doors behind them.

All eight, ready and rested, gather in this frozen hallway, ready to take the next step.  


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Griffin Island Campaign Setup - Castles and Crusades

We're switching from DCC RPG to Castles and Crusades.  The world stays the same: my take on the Wilderlands.  I rip off classic Judges Guilds modules also the best stuff from Shadowworld, Greyhawk, Glorantha, etc.

The DCC group remains on the hunt for Macrobius.  A tale that may continue some day.

Further north, a different band of heroes find themselves cruising from the port city of Warwick to the lost ruins of Thracia.

Their expedition leader is Andres Zaris.  This story begins after his recovery of a 100-year-old map created by the great hero Aigonus Windsword.  This map of Griffin Island obviously holds many secrets.

 There is a single place name on the map of interest to Andres Zaris and that is the Ruins of Thracia.  Being a renowned antiquarian of Thracian artifacts, with the map in hand, finding and exploring this lost city became the pursuit of his career.  He then hired a ship, crew, and exploration team.  This was almost two years ago.

Upon arriving at Griffin Island, they docked at the town named Soldier Port, stocked up on supplies, and fished for rumors.  Then they sailed to the bay near the ruins.  After mooring ship, the various teams went to work.  Some carpenters from Soldier Port built a cabin near the shore while an investigation team set out to find the ruins.  Only one man from that team made it back alive.

The lone survivor told that a group of natives known as “Deathwalkers” had ambushed them before they set foot in the city.  However, the survivor did discover that the ruins were vast and beautiful with waterfalls cascading into a river flowing right through the middle of the city.  There were artifacts and statues, aged and covered with layers of moss and debris, all obviously ripe for collecting.  Milo, the survivor, did manage to pocket a few broken bits of pottery later verified as authentic Thracian.  Nevertheless, the Deathwalkers with their frightening deathmasks and poisoned javelin tips put an abrupt end to further explorations.

Obviously, this crew was not up to challenge the ruins.  Andres Zaris ordered the cabin boarded up for later use and the teams to return to the ship.  They left Griffin Island for another day.   The second exploration effort would have far more resources, a seasoned captain and multi-talented crew with a larger ship to load with Thracian artifacts.  Lastly, he hired a powerful band of adventures to fight the Deathwalkers, explore dangerous ruins, and make the place safe for more exhaustive investigation.

Today, two years later, Andres Zaris is again on his way to Griffin Island.  This time in a larger ship, a cog named “Trahan’s Queen” captained by the very capable Burumir Thurumir Hammerhund (B.T., as he is known).  These two leaders and their men sail now with a seasoned team of adventures some of whom have their own secrets, agendas, and other connections to Griffin Island.

This is how the story begins; each player character is one of the hired adventures.  You are all sailing toward Griffin Island, which is about ten days away.  Andres Zaris shared his map of Griffin Island and a rough sketch of the region surrounding the ruins.  Maps in hand, mission ahead, it is time for the adventure to begin.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Session #13 - The Search for Macrobius’ Lair - Year 4433, Day 106 - 107

The group of six hill giants and five ogres marched toward the keep. The orcs, still in full retreat more frightened of the hill giants than anyone imagined. Keep archers train every missile attack at their disposal on the giants.  Before the giants and ogres enter ballista range, something in the woods distracts them.  The giants spot the Elves!  The giants change direction, move toward the woods and begin shaking trees. Those with night vision witness at least two elves shaken from a tree and then pounded horribly .  With this single violent event, the other elves scatter.  Emboldened the lead hill giant swings his massive serrated two-handed sword in the air directing the ogres to lead the way to the keep!  Just as the ogres enter range, the Castellan takes aim and let loose a ballista round pinning the lead ogre to the same tree the elves fell from.  The hill giants, perhaps seeing the keep well-manned, alert, and occupied with magic missile casting wizards, avoid it completely and instead follow the road southeast right behind the orcs.

The keep peoples celebrates the giant’s disengaging after the Castellan’s winning shot but the moment is brief.  Everyone returns to the problem at hand: dealing with the aftermath of Macrobius’ invasion.  The group and Castellan talk strategy.  Find Macrobius’ lair, enter it, and slay him once and for all?  Or, as the Castellan boldly suggests, take on the Steading of the Hill Giants by surprise.  The Steading is in a difficult to reach vale some 15 miles southwest in the Stoneheart Mountains.  The Castellan says that the giants are stronger today than ever and are now in league with other types of giants as well.  In the end, everyone agreed Macrobius is the immediate threat.  The giants, however, may be the next.

Morning arrives.  The party travels the to where their records say the barrows should be between the Caves of Chaos and Blueheart's Tower.  They take the path straight through the Fellgrim Forest following the trail of undead that retreated from battle the night before.  About halfway through the forest, they clash with a traveling band of four mutated ettins!  The warriors engage and wizards let loose their magic.  The Ray of Enfeeblement once again shows its usefulness deadening the power of one ettin.  Nilbog’s Scorching Rays of Mitra sets two of them aflame.  In the end swords, arrows, magic missiles, and sleep magic put all the ettins down.

Before searching for Macrobius’ barrow they make plans to construct a quick base in Blueheart’s old tower.  Before moving too closely to it, they spot orc tracks everywhere and find the windows shuttered from the inside.  They forget the base and head toward the supposed location of the barrow.  To the southeast, about six hundred feet, they find a set of five earthen mounds one of which is in the Fellgrim.  Each has dugout entrances leading underground.  The center mound is about twenty feet high and sixty feet in diameter.   Then there are four satellites about ten feet high and twenty feet around.  The group searches and finds skeleton and zombie tracks emerging from the outer mounds.  The center mound has all sorts of tracks leading to and from it.  They decide to explore larger central mound.

About twenty feet down the passage opens into a dark cavern.  There is a stench of death and decay.  A pack of feral giant hedgehogs attacks the party.  The party takes them out sustaining a few minor quill injuries.    They continue exploring the passage the leads deepest and the cavern path takes them to a set of stairs.  Being careful, they find themselves in a maze and sense a familiar presence.  Winding through the maze they stay in formation.  Despite this, the elephant-headed minotaur-man beasts still manage to surround the group.  Faldalf, Rothaga, Darthon hold both sides while the spell caster’s and Chopper finish them off.  They find a pile of about 500 gold pieces in the creature’s lair.

They discover another set of stairs leading even further underground.  They pass a couple of intersections and find themselves in a room full of old broken statuary and furniture.  Heaps of junk lie everywhere and there is a reinforced wooden door on the left side of the room.  The next thing anyone realizes, fungaloid-tainted men creep from the clutter and engage the party.

To be continued in session #14.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Session #12 - The Battle for the Keep - Year 4433, Day 105-106

The party re-groups in the red masked orc cavern and decides to go back to the keep.  By way of the teleporter cavern, they arrive on the keep rooftop in minutes.  They find everything and everyone sleeping: people, beasts, insects, and plants, nothing stirred.  Sometime after 5 PM, they begin waking keep leadership starting with the Castellan.   From there, the Castellan leads Morgan to each important area of the keep, providing names as he wakes them individually.  Morgan curses himself for the condition he placed on that sleep spell. 

The name identifying and waking process goes on until sunset around 7:45 PM.  Most of the officers are awake but there only limited crews’ man the walls.  The vast majority still sleep.   Nilbog’s visions show him undead, humanoids, and other demonic creatures invading the keep, led by Macrobius.  At the urging of Nilbog and the party, Morgan beseeches his Elven patron Cilborith to dispel the sleep magic he unleashed.  Cilborith answers by waking everything up but neuters Morgan’s legendary Sleep spell permanently in return.  It was no matter, all at once, slowly, the place became alive again. 

The Castellan leads a disciplined soldiery.  The men are fully aware of the Orcs of the Purple Claw refuges massing at the Caves of Chaos this past month.  They knew that undead of the barrows walked again.  And they fear Macrobius.  They all fear the lich.

At sunset, the orc drums and war cries become discernable.  Nilbog senses evil creeping in from behind.  Undead are coming through the forest Nilbog warns.  Just then, about thirty elves from Pale Wood arrive.  They hide in the trees, prepared to ambush monsters and aid humans.  They learn from the elves that the Gnomes of Lightelf are helping as well.  The gnomes are spreading the word throughout the region. 

At about 9 PM, the orc war party assumes a tactical position outside ballista range.  They ready their crude battering rams and ladders.  The shamans cant and the wicked barbarians rage, over 100 orcs all told, ready to take the keep. 

Minutes later the elves shout word they see approaching undead.  They spot a pack of spider ghouls and a barrow wight leading a hoard of skeletons and zombies.  There must be well over one hundred undead.  The elves know of the spider ghouls and their climbing abilities.  The spider ghouls climb the trees and attack the elves.  The skeletons and zombies make way for the keep’s eastern side to the drawbridge led by the barrow wight. 

The keep soldiers fire at anything resembling undead within range.  About then the orcs make their move toward the keep using whatever cover they find.  Also at this time, the lich Macrobius emerges from keep fortress into the inner yard where the party is assembled.  Following him are two Set-faced Death Knights, two wraiths, four elephant-headed minotaur’s, and three fire-breathing devil boars! No one accounted for the secret underdeeps passage!

So Macrobius takes off flying and from about fifty feet up throws down a massive fireball right in the middle of the party.  Then the whole inner ward erupts in melee.  For the next three minutes a most epic battle takes place. The Castellan and about forty of his men occupy the same courtyard as the party.  The party warriors Darthon, Fema, Rothaga and Fardalf Wydigast fan out with the Castellan to engage the strongest enemies.  Chopper, the thief, stays mobile, firing magic arrows at Macrobius repeatedly.  Cleric of Mitra Nilbog launches more than one holy bolt and also heals many of the wounded.   The wizard’s Morgan, Baum, and Melkin pepper Macrobius and the rest with magic missiles and other spells.  All the while, keep forces engage in battle all around.  Darthon and Melkin suffer tragic injuries eventually resolved in battle by Nilbog.  More than a few battle scars for most everyone involved.

Macrobius continues throwing down massive high-level magic and flies even higher avoiding arrows and spells.  The enemies focus on the Castellan for much of the battle, but he never falls.   Melkin casts a powerful magic missile that reaches the lich five hundred feet up.  This one hurt.  Macrobius retreats via teleport, probably back to his as of yet undiscovered lair.  The surviving Death Knight and minotaur beast blink out as well.     

Most of the undead now retreat upon Macrobius’ departure.  The orcs retreat as well, but for a different reason.  Down the western road obvious to everyone, a squad of hill giants and ogres, about ten of them, head and on their way to the keep in obvious conquer and pillage mode.  Apparently orcs don’t think much of hill giants and they route back to the Caves of Chaos.  The elves see their retreat will be interrupted by a band of orc-hating lizardmen from the Baleful Bogs.  Perhaps the gnomes alerted the lizardmen?

Meanwhile the giant’s…  Not looking for prey just yet, they sought boulders and other large objects with which to lay siege.  The elves already pivoted from the spider ghoul slaughterfest to the forest edge near the giants, undetected, waiting to hit and run. Keep personal not involved in healing or dying, rush to defend the keep.  The giants are 675 feet away.  We will see what happens in session #13

In the end, the estimated body count is as follows:

Enemy Forces
The Lich, Shang Macrobius
Death Knights
Elephant-Headed Minotaur’s
Fire breathing Swine
Barrow Wight
Spider Ghouls
Orc War Priest
Orc Leaders
Orc Shamans

Keep Forces
The Party
Captain of the Guard
Sergeant of the Guard
Corporal of the Guard
Corporal of the Watch
Medium Calvary
Heavy Calvary
Men at Arms