Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Session Write Up - 22/6/2009

The story continues. The write up doesn't do justice to just how many natural "1"'s Terry threw this night. It was hilarious...not that all that failure dented the Vyrleen's cockiness! And if you are wondering why Ormid got so shiny since last week, it's because the "Eberron Players Guide" came out and he got the full Artificer class...just don't remind Dave, who is more than a little gutted that there wasn't much Warforged love in it!

And now I am thinking of Warforged porn...ugh.

Anyway...

12:10 – The group emerge into a cold afternoon within an ancient and wild pine forest, apparently growing on the sides of some steep geological formation (like a mountains foothills).

12:25 – After the group have spent some time gathering their wits, and checking their surroundings out. Llewellyn climbs one of the trees and reports mountains marching to the north, east and west, and forest as far as the eye can see southwards (though the land slopes sharply in that direction). The group vote to head south and seek out civilization.

The rest of this day and night pass without event; the group making headway down the slope.

28/11/49 – (Wanderer enters the Segmentum Mortalis) (Local weather; Heavy sleety rain, with thunderstorms developing in the evening)

07:00 – After a cold and wet night, the group continue on their way.

14:00 – The group have made good progress. Ormid has been flicking through the ritual book he got from the Gigorim mage, and has spotted a ritual he thinks could aid them in their travels. He suggests that the group finds a good place to shack up for a bit, so he can master the ritual and work it for them. The group agree.

16:20 – the light is fading fast, and sleety rain falls heavily. The group spy a break in the pine canopy ahead, and move towards it.

16:25 – The break marks the location of an old set of rusted rail type tracks set into the bottom of a cutting. It is half overgrown, but movement along the cutting is swifter and easier going than through the forests.

17:00 – With little light remaining, the group pause to look ahead. However, their rest is cut short when from all around lumbering humanoids; rotundly fat, though thick with muscle beneath, near neckless, and with small brutal faces set within massive, thick skulled heads attack.

Urgorgori (Ogres)!

Fortunately for the group, the Warforged senses the monsters a second before their well prepared (and oft used) ambuscade is launched, and they are not taken by surprise.
A fierce battle breaks out. Llewellyn has a very bad time of it, repeatedly missing badly with attacks, becoming unbalanced and generally doing very poorly (lots of fumbles, and granting combat advantage).

The group are peppered with heavy javelins lobbed by Urgorgori lurking at the top of the cutting in the forest, whilst a force of stinking brutes armed with massive spiked clubs lay about them face to face.

It takes time, but the monsters are either slain or driven off.

17:15 – After a brief rest, the group move on

17:35 – The tracks end at what appears to be a decrepit wood mill. Exploration of the building reveals it to be in poor repair; but good enough for a short stay. With night drawing in, and a thunderstorm full of icy winds and sleet moving in from the north, the group settle in for the night...

18:30-20:00

Llewellyn begins to antagonise Durjani about her binding tattoo and about the vampires heart her master was carrying

They begin to argue bitterly, and Durjani reveals that the heart belonged to Belar Shakem, head of House Shakem and father to Ujan. She reveals that Belar was vampirised in an attack, and that after a brief frenzy of bloodshed he was brought low by the Shakem guard. She states that Ujan, not wanting to have the responsibility of running the house, had arranged for his father to be “brought back” with a priest in Jadasvere. All was going to plan until the Gigorim attacked, and the chest was lost...the group are only too aware of what happened next of course.

Llewellyn and the Warforged argue that Ujan deserved his death, but Durjani angrily puts it to them that they knew how any merchant prince would react when being taunted, especially as they were insulting his honour with their words.

The Warforged seems very confused at this point, unable to grasp the concept or point of honour, and Llewellyn merely continues to pour jibes (or “the truth” as he calls it) on Durjani.
In the end Durjani turns on the Vyrleen, and warns him that she will no longer watch his back in battle (i.e. He gets no boons from her Warlord abilities that affect allies).

With the mood rapidly turning dark, the group go to sleep

Initially Ormid stays up; determined to get an old artifice wood saw working again (he fails his Arcana checks and breaks it instead).

The Warforged takes over watch duty, still vexed by his earlier conversation with Durjani...

29/11/49 (Heavy sleet until dawn, then heavy rain. Drizzle by dusk, and clear by midnight)

03:30 – The Warforged is on watch. He mulls over the conversation, and fails to notice the small band of enraged Urgogori heading towards the mill until they are upon him.

One of the monsters is a huge beast; 9' tall and 7' wide, carrying a massive flail.

The rest of the group awake to the roaring of the monsters, and another frenzied battle ensues.
The group are quickly triumphant, and Ormid's artifice seems to shine with a new power and range.

The leader, blasted by fire and lightning, slashed by the blades of the Warforged and Dundorin, and battered by artifice winds and dark necrotic bolts, flees, screaming as conjured acid eats away at this flesh.

The rest of this day passes without event, though the dark mood of the party remains.

30/11/49 (overcast, cold with patchy rain)

Group remain in the wood mill whilst Ormid studies. By the end of the day he believes he has grasped the ritual and will be able to use it the next day.

31/11/49 (Chilly, windy but bright, growing cloudier towards night)

The group make even swifter progress thanks to the Phantom Steeds that Ormid conjures with his ritual, and by nightfall the group have left the forest and are headed eastwards. Durjani has realised where they are (to the south of the Clouded Hills, northeast of Lumor), and has suggested that they look for one of the numerous towns that crowd the main trade routes, or seek out one of the great merchant cities in the area. The group agree.

31/11/49 – 3/12/49

Group move along the roads. No events of note.

3/12/49 (Cold, blustery, rainy)

18:30 – Group arrive at the “Three Flames” inn, in the small town of Jash'Sharim (5 days to the northwest of the Merchant City of Tajanar).

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

My New Campaign - The Players Intro

Here is the intro I have sent out to those souls who are playing in my new game (which should start in the next month or so). It's set a long time after Ormid and the boys and indeed, four years after the last "present day" game group was active.

THE NEW CAMPAIGN – INTRODUCTION

Third Age - Late Spring, 1472 – Two Years after the Aelwyn War ended

When the wars ended, most people thought that everything would go back to normal; that life could be about things other than death and hatred.

They were, of course, wrong – very, very wrong.

The War of Retribution
The Aelwyn did not operate entirely alone during the three long years of war, and following their defeat, it was decided that their mortal allies too must be purged from the world. Now the tired but determined alliance armies wage a bitter war in Vaesuur and certain areas of Upper Malgoroth, seeking out those who betrayed their own kind during the wars, in order to burn their treacherous lines from the world forever.

Aided by the vast forces produced from the Unified Order's creation forges, and spurred on by their hatred (and the prospect of claiming the rich lands of Vaesuur), they have made steady progress...

...but...

A Land Undefended
Your home land lies barely defended, it's fighting men either slain in the wars, or far away fighting in the Wars of Retribution. Foul things, old enemies of the mortal races, have flourished on the carnage and darkness of the wars, and grown strong. Now, with many of the ancient defences which kept them at bay destroyed, and the civilized lands woefully undermanned, these things – Gorgoth, Gorgryn, the followers of ruinous powers and worse – are making their move, seeking to claim dominion over the realms of your peoples and their allies.

A World in Chaos
Other legacies of the great war cause problems, for mighty magics and terrible powers were unleashed during the dark years of battle, and the world – barely recovered from the upheavals of the Age of Loss – has been sorely wounded. Aberrant magic, mutation and dimensional instability have all become a serious problem, and unnatural plagues and terrible things called from the darkness stalk the world, flourishing on the fear and flesh of the cringing populace. Indeed, in search of answers, many strange new cults, allied to alien or daemonic deities have sprung up, further misleading the vulnerable and desperate in a time when cohesion and strength is needed for survival.

For some the War continues...
Not all the Aelwyn left this world at the end of the wars. In Aeldas'Salviras, those Aelwyn which refused to fight desperately seek to make peace with a world that hates them, whilst others have deliberately stayed behind, determined to win a victory for their people, and to strike a fatal blow to the “footnote races”. Even now there are rumours of terrorist bands and secret covens of Aelwyn who operate with guile and stealth, and form plans that span many human lifetimes, which will see the world return to their “rightful” rule.

The Rise of the Order
Before the wars, the Unified Order had power; regulating, licensing and policing the use of all magic (save in certain realms). Now, after their major part in the wars, and backed by their army of Warforged, they have risen to almost total dominance; having the ear of all governments and helping to rebuild the shattered lives of the common folk. Their magi and war machines even now lay waste to the infrastructure of Vaesuur, and their name is synonymous with power, protection and purity...

...But are they as innocent as they seem, or is there a secret agenda? Have the mortal races fought off one ineffable foe, only to allow another in by the back door? Why do the Order still punish those mages who refuse to abide by their strictures, and why do they continue to accuse and punish so many “wild” talents?

Warforged and Steinsklave
The Warforged and Steinsklave (Goliaths) are now major playable races (the Goliaths were a dirty secret of the Vaessurian's until the war; a captive force of slaves used for their massive physical strength and endurance liberated by the allied armies during their advance), whilst players who wish to play an Aelwyn (elf or eladrin) will find that the world now hates them, and that most people would rather kill you on sight than hear your story.

Beginning of the End
This time represents the middle times of the Third Age, and the start of the events that will (in another 4,000 years time) see the Second Guild War (though this time it will span planets and planes) and the Third Fall of Magic and the birth of the Fourth Age...

Session Report - 16/6/09

In which our heroes complete the current adventure arc...

11:03 – Brundorson launches at Llewellyn in rage after his actions unleashed the Axyraxi, but calms quickly when Durjani reminds him of the situation.

11:10 – The group (after a short rest) enter the monolith...

11:35 – Within the monolith, the group find themselves in the halls of an ancient Dundorin fortress. The very air crackles with overwhelming ambient magic, and unseen presences stir as the group move through. It is immediately clear which way the Gorum'Durrak have gone, as they have unleashed their power at every obstacle. Doors lie blasted off their sturdy hinges, or cannot be found at all. Rubble is blown to pieces, and in at least two of the chambers, the group come across the shattered remains of Dundorin skeletons, which seem to have gained the semblance of life and attempted to stop the rampaging Dark Gorgoth.

For almost half an hour the group push further into the complex, until eventually massed piles of brittle bones start to show up, some still held together in papery armour, or holding age pitted weapons. The stench of ancient death grows stronger, and the group are forced to crunch over the massed bodies. The corpses of animals and children are evident, and the stones are darkly discoloured with the rancid fluids of decomposition.

Eventually they come to a large chamber, who's great stone doors have been blasted inwards with some terrible magic. From within the sounds of battle ring; inhuman screams and roars, and a horrific keening sound. Strange lights flicker and dance from within, and warped shadows leap madly. The air there veritably seethes with energy, and over the sounds of battle, a deep, droning chanting, from which their minds shrink can be heard.

Peering through the door, the group behold a fantastical sight. In the middle of the vast hall, a smaller version of the monolith stands surrounded by the apparently crystallized corpses of thirty Dundorin. The monolith is incandescent with rippling energy, as it is exposed to the dire incantations being chanted by a huge Gorum'Durrak from within a sphere of blinding bright purple flames.

Meanwhile, about fifteen more Gorum'Durrak battle with an 18' high humanoid made from shadow, and edged in a flickering aura of indigo flames. Emblazoned with Dundorin runes of power and guardianship, this thing is setting about the Dark Gorgoth with a shadowy sword and blasts of magic, and looks like it was winning. However, the chanting monster in the sphere is clearly reaching some kind of crescendo, a dark line of corrosive force beginning to form around the middle of the monolith, held at bay for now by a band of dazzling silvery light which appears from the runes, and shortly after the group entered the fray, they realise that each time one of the crystallized Dundorin is shattered, the spectral guardian (a Soul Eidolon) is weakened.

A long battle ensues when the group charge into the chamber, in which they are pushed to their limits. Ormid realises that his artifice, enhanced by the seething magical current pulsing from the monolith enable him to repair the smashed crystals, and with the group slowly beating back the Gorum'Durrak (with the Eidolon's help) he does just that, strengthening the monolith's defensive spells, and eventually, as the last of the monsters are slain, allowing it to strike back at the one within the sphere; ripping her apart with a corrosive stream of raw, potent magic.

11:45 – With the monolith core's magic fully restored, the group are once more knocked senseless by a sudden release of incredible power. During this time they learn that a foul thing named a Morbind'Thruk (Dundorin – literally “sickness stone”) is contained within the monolith core, held in stasis by magics that cost every Dundorin their lives to release long ago. They learn that the stone gave sentience to disease, and created an elemental of plagues, and that the sacrifice of the Dundorin, their live stock and even their children, was the only way to ensure it remained hidden.

12:00 – Group awaken to see a shimmering, ghostly Eidolon of white and silver flame standing guard over them. It gestures towards a selection of items and each character takes one. It them gestures towards a floating rune circle of flickering, ethereal flames. Sensing that the monolith (currently suspiciously quiet) is about to do something that would be unpleasant for them, the group enter the rune circle, and are teleported to a cold tunnel that reaches into wintry air one end, and silent darkness at the other.

12:10 – The group emerge into a cold afternoon within an ancient and wild pine forest, apparently growing on the sides of some steep geological formation (like a mountains foothills).


I won't pretend, despite being a pretty bloody experienced GM (or maybe because of that), I was worried that this final fight (which had a LOT of bad guys, not to mention 30 crystalline statues to keep track of), would disappoint in some way; either because it would be a pushover, a TPK or that it would get really boring.
Luckily, it seemed to pace pretty well (though I did let the last two bad guys die a couple of rounds earlier, as they were 100% doomed, and stringing it out for no reason seemed dumb), and the guys seemed to really enjoy it.
My NPC's were cursed by shitty dice rolls for a good part of the fight, though they got some good hits in, in the end, and I forgot about an ability of one of my monsters which was pretty potent (and actually would have made the battle too hard and too long). However, a good time was had by all, and it was defintely not a push over. Indeed, it was looking pretty bad for the group a few times.

So, the Monolith arc is over...what next? Next game is next Monday, so you will have to wait and see won't you!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Session Update - 4/6/09

Another awesome session in which legendary and unnatural adversaries are uncovered and primal magics are unleashed...

- Group get three rounds to do some preparation before five huge, sleek, Gorgoth like figures; black skinned, rune inked and crackling with eldritch power, come round the corner, weapons raised.

- Brundorson seems to go into shock at sight of them, muttering “but you can't be what you are! You ain't real. You ain't real”

- Sensing that their doom could well be upon them, the group throw themselves fully into battle with these strange and powerful new enemies. Initially the battle goes well for the group, with two of the warrior like monsters falling to their attacks without chance to attack. However, one of the monsters hurls a powerful spell which banishes a number of party members to a terrible dimension, where they are torn apart by primal energies, and though they all fight their way back to the physical plane, the damage from that dark place lingers. Curses are cast which confuse the parties fighters, forcing them to attack allies, and other curses reduce the parties luck, hugely reducing their ability to deal damage or to shake off ill effects.

- However, with perseverance and sound tactics, the group manage to overcome these horrific foes.

00:18 – Just as the last of these new monsters are being slain, a blast of impossible energy, brighter than the suns and full of raw, primal, chaotic power, surges through the corridors, engulfing the party. All loose consciousness...

04:30 – Group awaken, sorely wounded, and take in the their bizarre, distorted surroundings. It seems that whatever energies were unleashed earlier have hugely warped the physical properties of the local area (and indeed, the entire city beyond). Monsters have been slain and preserved in impossible ways, whilst others have been reduced to luminous shadows. The properties of the very rock here have been changed; a glassy layer of shimmering material now forming a layer over the tortured stone.

- The group rest (and witness first hand the dire effects the blast had on some of the creatures, when a faceless Gorgryn, mutated beyond sanity stumbles by).

- Brundorson tells the group that he believes the things they fought were an ancient offshoot of the Gorgoth, who followed dark masters into even darker places towards the end of the First Age. Named the Gorum'Durrak, he explains that they are a horrific legend, and that if they are here then the monolith's power must be dire indeed.

- Group agree (some more reluctantly than others) that they must stop the monsters!

10:45 – Group move towards the mine face

10:55 – Beyond a barrier of warped stone fangs looms the wall of the monolith's side. Impossibly, a perfectly circular hole pierces it, leading to a long tunnel

11:00 – The group discuss their plans, until Llewellyn, bored of the inactivity, charges into the corridor.

- The Vyrleen strikes an invisible barrier, and then flees as potent sorcery drags a flickering apparition of raw chaos into this plane – an Axyraxi.

- Another desperate battle ensues. The monster summons a mote of chaos stuff which it uses to manipulate the battlefield, whilst its own powers teleport the group, and lash them with psychic and force damage.

- The battle swings this way and that, sometimes in the monsters' favour, sometimes in the groups. Several of the party are forced to throw their most desperate and powerful attacks at this foe, despite the fact that they cannot rest or meditate for long afterwards, and with time and effort, the monster is weakened to a point where it can no longer bear to be in this dimension, and it fades from reality, leaving the path into the monolith clear...

So, the Gorum'Durrak were pretty cool to play. I was a bit gutted at first when two of the Gogs (warriors) went down without doing anything, though it was entirely due to some excellent tactics by the group. However, when several party members got transported off the board, and the Gorum'Durrak Hexer got to lay some vicious (as in roll twice and take the worst result style) bad mojo on the group, things got a lot trickier.

As for the Axyraxi, a tough battle, which I would like not to have had to rush - but which still proved suitably challenging and enjoyable.

So, the group are nearing the end of this adventure. Next week is, I suspect, the week my final "it will be awesome, or it will be shite" battle should trigger, so watch this space! Yay!