Stormspear Keep

FullSizeRender[5]The last I left my players, they had slain a Mist Drake that had been chewing at the taproot of a “World Tree.” They had dressed and armed themselves in the crafted remains of the dragon carcass and had set back out into the world.

Remember, Rahjin, the half-troll barbarian, is searching for the test tube in which he was concocted. A trapper that once served with the Blackravens, the very people who had destroyed all the vile half-trolls and had spared just this one (Rajhin, the “runt” of the litter, a meager Medium-sized humanoid), had told Rahjin that the frost-giant sorcerer had reinhabited the icy ruins at the Winterwall Glacier across the Hagreach border in Irrisen. So that’s where they were heading.

I promised Rahjin’s player that he would have trolls to beat up on, so that’s what I brought him. But first…

On watch while camping during the darkest, early hours of the first night since leaving Huldra Hill, Dromar’s (the Drow Magus) Dire Bat mount noticed something in the sky with him. Dromar immediately Feather Fell off the mount (he had been patrolling by air), shouting for the camp to awake. That’s when Drow Rangers, likewise mounted on Dire Bats, began firing arrows into the camp. The arrowheads were tipped with Drow poison, of course, and spelled with Darkness. Some PCs took some of these arrows, but they succeeded at their saving throws and didn’t succumb to unconsciousness, which is an effect of Drow poison. Continue reading

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Huldra Hill

 Starting now, I’m going to stop numbering my adventures. Each one will have its own stately title instead. Also, if I happen to have any subscribers out there, please note that I’m composing most of these now in a phone app. I don’t see a mechanism for saving drafts, so any first “publication” will be devoid of images and some additions. If you care, please read final versions on the blog “proper.”

It feels like from here my campaign really takes off. The PCs’ crawl through the Vexgit compound mostly was a failure. Sure, they found Gripple Grout — dead, pierced within an iron maiden. I think they learned something about role playing: one PC dared to ask for a “reward” for bringing back to the surface world the dead body of Grazzle Grout’s daughter. I decided to play the gnome patriarch as so overcome with grief as to be rambling in his thoughts and interactions and often unresponsive. The PC chose to leave, without reward, the Grout family in its grief.

The other failure in the compound was the PC inability to prevent the mischievous Vexgit from pumping a fair amount of “Nidhig venom” into Hornhall’s water supply. In the next few days, a growing population of the denizens of Hornhall will fall prey to the effects of this poison. They will become undead (or just crazy–I’m still not sure if I’ve worked it out to my own satisfaction) and kill everyone in sight. In time, the town’s collective moral fiber experiencing such erosion, Hornhall itself will literally collapse, invaded in the night by hordes of Duergar rising out of its depths, looted by the encamped Tengu when the Duergar retreat during the day. Continue reading

Adventure Two: Hornhall (2 of 2)

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Here’s the Vexgit compound.
So here’s the second part of what I drafted for what I ultimately have titled Hornhall. It originally was called “The Fang of Chaos” — a lot cooler sounding, I believe, but ultimately not a thing that the characters had anything to do with. This is  because this is where the characters started drastically shaking my expectations. If you read my notes to the last adventure (but I’d be surprised if you did! :)), you will know that Bo will have had a religious experience with a Norn and have obtained a Thunder-Oak Wand. You also will know that Cyris will have had a mystical experience with Korg a Dwarf Monk of the Temple of the Stalwart Stone (something that never happened, for Cyris dropped out of the game). The coolest part of the journey is when the characters get into Ogrekin territory. When they camped, and when Rajhin was on watch, the half-troll noticed that the aurochs in the area instead of sleeping became restive. This is because, as Rahjin soon was find out, Ogrekin were using the smell of their own bodies to herd the aurochs into a position to trample the players when the Ogrekin chose to spring out and startle them. This happened. Gish used a Hero Point to spring into a tree. The other players were mostly trampled but not quite dead. The Ogrekin charged up behind the aurochs, intending to loot the dead bodies. I think Rajhin intimidated or smashed some charging aurochs enough to foul their charge. Someone used a potion or oil of Obscuring Mist. The Ogrekin came right up to the edge of the mist, and Rahjin used his scent to step out and kill them. This was a pretty fun encounter, and the players got creative in a bad situation.

Next the players were supposed to have an encounter with Ranchers and Dogs (Blue Heelers), for the Dogs did not like the smell of the half-troll. This situation was defused. The players were supposed to get enamored by gothic, undeady, bony wares in the Tengu Bazaar in the midst of the massive camp that had been set up around Hornhall, but by this time they were way too afraid of pickpockets and the generally cloying atmosphere of all those raven feathers, thick and miasmic in the air, so that they totally ignored Chiruk, who tried to join their party after stopping some Tengu children from pickpocketing them (aptly seen through as a confidence game), and the many dainties that the shopkeepers dangled in front of their faces. Gish was dead set on getting this message to Herm Hammerhand. So they got through the Tengu encampment, met Arva, leader of the Heeders of the Call (an Order of Cavaliers) at the foot of the road to the heights of Hornhall, then ignored everything possible to get to the top as soon as possible. At this point, as GM, I was very surprised to find them up here already. I had no more content prepared. I totally didn’t know what was going to happen in an encounter with Herm Hammerhand. I said that we must continue later. There was disappointment, particularly on the face of Rahjin’s player: we hadn’t fought anything this session! So I had a Gray Ooze pop out of a nearby stream. It was fun! We ended the session with a little more satisfaction. Continue reading

Adventure Two: Hornhall (1 of 2)

Initial brainstorm for Hornhall.
Initial brainstorm for Hornhall.
As I get caught up on the campaign journal, I’ll go ahead and post whatever gaming materials I’ve composed so far. For the last adventure, “Hammers Under Cold Hearth,” I gave notes about what my players actually did. I’m forgoing that device here, for I intend to give a full account in whatever mode I ultimately decide on for the proper journal. But maybe the notes here might be of some use to GMs.

Gish has created a phial of Chillbane.

Type disease, inhaled, injury; Save Fort DC 17; Onset 1 day; Frequency 1/day; Effect 1d4 Con damage and target is sickened and fatigued; Cure 2 consecutive saves

Knack with Poison: +2 Fort vs. poison; +2 Craft (alchemy) to make poison. Replaces illusion resistance and obsessive.

Bo is visited by the Norn Urd in a vision. He awakes wherever he sleeps, and she is using a drop spindle to spin thread in the corner of his room. She sees him watching her, smiles, and says, “Erastil looks kindly on you. He thinks you deserve a reward.” If Bo seems overanxious or asks about Erastil’s Shot, Urd just smiles and says, “Watch for the thunder-cleft oak.” Then she lifts a large pair of shears and cuts the thread. At the sound of “snick,” Bo awakens.

Should take about two days, on foot, to make it to Hornhall. Kolbern summons the PCs to his private chambers (with Vigg and Hild) to ask them to travel there and continue the investigation. Hornhall is nearest, and Kolbern additionally wants them to deliver a scroll – affixed with his seal, black wax with the impression of an arrowhead flanged with raven claws – to Herm Hammerhand. Kolbern hopes to count on Herm for reinforcements if – more like when – Irrisen again attacks en masse. The way is seldom used. There was once a dirt road, but it most certainly is grown over by plains grasses now and is probably only distinguishable by milestones. There are reports of a family of Ogrekin who have moved into the area, so Kolbern expects they will need some reinforcements.

Introduce Rahjin. Vigg opens a door, and Rahjin enters from an adjoining chamber. Some of the PCs now may remember heaps of food that routinely left the main hall. Rahjin has been kept secret in the depths of the Stone. Questions? Rahjin will have to take care when encountering NPCs and may have to keep to the fringes of civilization. Continue reading