Thursday, 22 March 2012

Ormid et al - Session Report - 19/3/2012

08:30 – 08:35 – The air trembles as the last of the Ifrit fades, screaming, out of existence, the stench of brimstone and a dusting of fine ash the only hint of its presence in this plane. Everyone has taken a few good licks, and most of them bear raw patches of burned skin from the fire-genies' lambent attacks.

Hmm, the shutters are still down.” muses Llewellyn, rapping his knuckles of one of the durium alloy sheets that descended when the protective mechanisms were triggered.

Of course they are idiot!” Snaps Ormid, already shifting his awareness into the arcane spectrum, “Now shut up whilst I try to find a way out of here.”

The group wait as the artificer moves round the corridor as if in a dream, his eyes unblinking, his lips moving slightly as if he is talking to himself. A cold sweat beings to shimmer on his brow as he perceives not only the gossamer cloak of enchantments laid upon this corridor, but the writhing, glutinous energies that shudder and reach upwards from far below. After a moment or two, he spots several motes of light that are almost certainly the delicately balanced points upon which the spells holding the shutters down are pivoted. Looking closely at these, Ormid spots that a number of trembling lines of energy are wrapped around them in a way that would suggest they are triggers of some sort, and he realises that there are deadly sub-systems of enchantments woven around the primary wards, which will, if triggered by errant tampering with the primary defences magics, send a second wave of death into the physical world. Silently cursing the paranoia of mages, he spends a moment psychically tasting the energies there, his mind flooded by sharp metallic tangs and acrid, dirty aromas.

A conjuration to summon corrosive blades of force eh? I need to be damn careful here, or we could all be in trouble.

Reaching out with his powerful psyche, the artificer begins the manipulation of the magics, the entire weave of energies trembling like a spider's web around him as he applies delicate, but definite arcane pressure to the appropriate areas...

...Back in the physical world, the group are tending to their wounds, and trying to ignore the waves of pressure that seem to pulse from the artificer. All keep their weapons to hand, and Vladislav, perhaps, a little more sensitive to what is going on, keeps a shroud of killing power sizzling over his massive, spiked gauntlets.

Sudden however, there is a vague sensation of release, and with a shriek, all the durium alloy shutters fly back into their hidden slots, revealing that some other power has whisked the potent items away to a safe area. Ormid's tampering has also awoken several other systems of spells set into the chamber, which had malfunctioned with the first Xixian intrusions soaked the area, and soft blue lights silently awaken in the arched ceiling of the corridors, casting their starlight glow over everything.

08:36 – 08:41 – The group carefully move towards the end of the corridor, and find that it does indeed link to a corridor that circles the entire exterior of the tower. The corridors are both made of the same polished stone, and bear similar alcoves to the ones the group just raided (also emptied of their contents). The right hand corridor is empty. The other however has an inhabitant; an individual wearing the hooded pale robes of the collegiate, sat hunched up against a large alcove set midway along the outer curve of the tower, head down. Their features are hidden by their hood, and the group can see that they are soaked in blood, which shines black in the blue glow of the lights. It seems to drip down their arms and off their elbows, the mage's hands being hidden in the folds of the hood, apparently holding whatever they are eating.

Gristly squeaks and loud chomps issue from the hidden mouth of the figure, and Llewellyn, his stomach lurching slightly, moves slowly towards them, crouching to give himself a better view of what they are eating. His nose scrunches up as he comes within a few feet of them, the sharp reek of emptied bowels mixing with the rich coppery stink of freshly spilled blood, and suddenly the rogue isn't too sure he wants to see what is going on.

Hello?” He asks hesitantly, “Are you okay?”

His voice is thready, his mouth strangely dry, and he is almost glad when there is no reply. He edges forwards, bending over to look under the hood, and immediately wishes he hadn't, leaping back with a gasp.

Vaenya wept! He's eating his fingers!”

It's true. The mage has chewed the tips off the fingers of both hands, the squeaking being the sound of his teeth slipping over the bones as he gnaws still further along his digits. Between noisy bites, he is breathing heavily, and whispering to himself, a wide, bloody grin stretched across his face.

08:42 – 08:45 – The group move around the mage, deciding to let him live, and regard the alcove. Almost at once they all realise that it is some kind of lift; a fabulous construct of expert artifice. Ormid is particularly taken by its “exquisite” architecture, and eagerly enters its cage of wrought vothniir, tutting loudly as his companions follow and crowd him.

A single control orb, resembling a smooth ceramic egg on a pedestal rises from the middle of the cage, and although it is clearly the control mechanism for the lift, the artificer is unable to see any clear activation mechanisms. Llewellyn however, shaking his head at Ormid's failure, manages to slightly lift the orb's shell up, and after a quick peek at the folded mechanisms within, gives a grin and asks to be held up so he can access its top. Vladislav obliges, and with a wink, Llewellyn swipes his hand over the surface of the egg, top to bottom, a line of pale green light appearing where he leaves it.

I'm assuming we are going to the bottom, where the icky energies are at their thickest?”

Ormid nods, and everyone takes a deep breath, realising that they are likely to be in the thick of danger sooner rather than later.

The doors slide smoothly shut with a slight click, and the lift begins to silently glide downwards, entering a brightly lit shaft of carved pale marble, the bass reliefs worked into it apparently showing schematics of some kind. Ormid is very interested in these as they appear to show alternate methods of constructing and awakening Iron Golems; a construct that normally takes a long time and a lot of resources to build.

The lift picks up speed, and as it moves deeper, so the air begins to shiver with growing malevolence; a choking weight of confusing leaden wrongness that seeps into each adventurer's mind and leaves greasy, spoiled thoughts in its wake. Everyone begins to feel fear growing within them, their faces growing pale, their mouths dry, and Ormid gives the control panel a quick look, as if expecting something to happen.

It does.

The control orb suddenly begins to glow with a greasy light, as if the mechanisms within had suddenly become infested with foxfire, and the lines of an insanely grinning mouth are clearly depicted in what looks like bloody finger daubings on the interior surface. A jolt of horror shocks through everyone as they see this, growing to near panic as the lift suddenly gives a wild jerk, and begins to hurtle at breakneck speed down the shaft; a banshee like wailing keening from the bearings as they are almost torn from their moorings.

Stop this damn thing!” Screams Shadevia, gripping the walls of the cage with manic strength.

Shit” Screams Llewellyn as he rips the cover off the control orb to get at its workings, “what the hell is this?”

What it is, is a brain – a mottled human brain, covered in bloody slime, connected to the column by a length of grey spinal column. Maggots of dark energy writhe below its surface, making it deform and warp before the sickened vyrleen's eyes.

Choking in the dense, putrid energies into which they hurtle, Ormid grabs his newly acquired staff, and tries to ram it into the stone walls outside the cage, hoping to slow the cage enough to reduce the impact. As he raises it, the light begins to fade, and everyone becomes aware of voices that begin to echo in their minds – braying, gibbering, singing, swearing, howling voices that snarl obscenities, give praise and advice, or simply shout inane nonsense. A stench that none can define chokes the air, and each adventurer feels their terror rising around them like water, their sanity drowning under its suffocating weight.

Ormid plunges the staff out with his massive mechanical arm, bracing himself for the ripping impact, and praying that the spells within it gives it the supernatural strength needed to withstand the forces it must surely bear. As it thrusts out however, it meets little resistance, and with sickened revulsion, Ormid watches as it tears into the “stone”, ripping a spurting, stinking wound into it. His gorge rises as he realises that the shaft is actually some kind of gullet, and feels his mind melting under the crushing horror of their situation. Around him, his allies mewl and moan, soiling themselves in primal dread, and it takes the artificer a moment to realise that the sobs he can hear (over the cacophony of voices screaming in his mind) are his own.

However, suddenly, a thought springs into being; This cannot be! This surely isn't real? Even with the power of the source of this madness, this seems...too much. Could this be....

08:46 – Ormid convulses, and before the disbelieving eyes of his comrades perishes, his eyes erupting from his face in a burst of pus and steaming gore, his tongue leaping as if yanked from his mouth to stretch obscenely around this throat, where it tightens like a noose. He makes only a choking gasp as his life ends, his body twisted and warped by the seething insanity that now engulfs everyone like a corrosive fluid.

The lift hits the bottom.

The voice scream in triumph as each of the surviving adventurer's are blasted by the unholy, mind consuming midden of putrid wrongness and cosmic madness into which they have plunged; darkness, lit by frantic, horrific sigils of infinite complexity and sanity consuming form, overwhelms them, and they scream soundlessly as it devours them...

08:47 – 08:55

Get up you fools! It was another illusion! Get up and stop screaming!

Pain soaks their minds, made worse by the distant angry voice that scratches at their resolve like a cats claw across their minds.

Come on! You're fine! Well, you are all bleeding from your noses, and I suspect have had your marbles shaken a bit, but come on, you're far from dead!

That voice....seems familiar.....but....it's impossible, he died in the most horrific way imaginable......it can't be him....

Seriously you lot, get off your fecking arses and snap out of it. Are you all so weak minded that you truly believed the waking nightmare?

Each of them opens their eyes, their bodies shaking with adrenaline and shock, their vision blurred. Before them, standing by the control orb is Ormid, alive, and apparently furious with them.

At last! It was another psychic attack. Some kind of fear ward or maybe even a tendril of Xix's dimension intruding into this world. I realised that a moment before the nightmare reached its crescendo, and managed to break free of it all. Didn't you wonder where I went?”

Vladislav is violently sick within his mask, and the Veteran struggles to adapt to the normal world, his mind still alive with the unfamiliar, and deeply unpleasant effects of being almost lethally afraid. Shadevia simply stares at Ormid, her eyes even darker and larger than normal, her slight frame wracked by jarring shivers. All of them are bleeding from their eyes, ears and skin, their bodies physically damaged by the sheer intensity of their fear a moment ago. By a miracle, all have managed to avoid any deeper mental trauma.

09:03 – 09:05 – It takes the four a good few minutes to process what they just experienced, and a few more to motivate themselves to do anything other than leave this cursed tower, never to return. However, still shaking, they mentally gird themselves, and allow Ormid to activate the lift, the cage, as before, smoothly gliding down the shaft, the same schematics blurring past as they descend. This time however the lift does not take on a life of its own. There is no brain glistening within the orb, and the walls remain solid carved marble.

Five floors pass by – one alive with insane screaming and singing, another pitch black and redolent of burned food. Still another appears untouched (though as the lift descends the air grows more thickly weighted with the presence of tangible madness, and the voices from the nightmare return, mocking and distracting). The fourth floor is sealed off from the lift by heavy vothniir gates, and the stink of sulphur is strong in the air, whilst the fifth floor is dank with pulsing, planar wrongness.

Eventually, the lift reaches the bottom of the shaft, the gates opening. At this depth, the psychic chaos is an almost physical thing, and each member of the party fights to ignore the chorus of voices that intrude into their minds, mocking and cursing them. Their flesh crawls with the intrusion into their psyches, and it is all they can do to keep a lid on their sanity in light of this hideous violation of the sanctity of their selves.

09:06 – A wide corridor reaches away from the lift, splitting off into two diagonal corridors after about 25', one to the left and one to the right. Between them stands a substantial doorway of durium and stone, from behind which can be heard a man singing a banal, vile song in tradespeak, his voice broken and ragged.

Slice the scalp, and tug the guts,
Boil the fat, and drink it up,
Paint with blood, and wash with spit,
Snap its back to make it sit!”

Smash its smile, and pop its eyes,
Chew the tongue, for bloody dyes,
Peel the flesh, and smack the bone,
They'll scream out loud,
When you get home!”

Rip the stomach, Split the spleen,
Punch the lungs to make it scream,
You're my plaything, I'm your God,
Now sit and beg, you naughty dog!”

It carries through the dancing, shivering air with an idiot presence that is both childishly amusing and nightmarishly horrific, and everyone feels again their fear spiking within them. The voices in their minds are a dizzying barrage of distraction and each wonders if they will ever be free of them again.

Lets' shut him up.” says Shadevia suddenly, her voice firm and determined.

That sounds like an excellent idea.” Replies Vladislav, the Veteran raising his deadly axe in silent agreement.

We're gonna' have to get those doors open first though.” Whispers Llewellyn.

Believe me,” Growls Ormid, flexing his mechanical hand, “If it means shutting that moron up, I'll punch my way through it if I have to.”

09:07 – The group move to open the door...

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Building Your Own Constructs!

4e allows you to make magical items with ease, which is a good thing. However, there are no rules for building constructs, and this, in my opinion, is a shame. So, to address this, I have come up with the following rules...

::Caveat - these are highly experimental, and have not been play tested. See what you think and if you use them, let me know how it goes::

Requirements:

To build a construct, you must first possess the rudimentary skills needed to craft a variety of magical items, as well as, depending on what you want to make, other skills.

  • You must have the Enchant Magic Items ritual.
  • If you are wanting to make a construct from organic components (such as a Flesh Golem), you also need to be trained in the Heal skill.
  • If you are planning to make inorganic constructs (Such as Iron Golems) you must be trained in the Thievery skill.
  • If you wish to create a being that combines the two (for example, a living construct), you must be trained in both.
    • Artificers do NOT need the additional skills to build constructs, as they are considered to already possess the knowledge needed to create them.

Restrictions

  • You can only make a construct of your level or lower.
  • Unless your GM is happy to let you (See below), you cannot make elite or solo constructs. Your GM will be able to stat up standard versions of any construct you wish to make with little trouble.
  • You cannot create Intelligent constructs (Intelligence or Charisma score higher than 3).
  • You will need to obtain the appropriate materials for the construction of your creature. Usually this is part of the price (see below). However, in some cases, your DM may require you to quest for additional materials (for example, you may need to slay a potent toxic beast to give your Iron Golem its poison attacks, or have to mine Adamantine Ore from a deadly planar mine for your Adamantium Golem).
  • You will need a workshop of some kind. The cost for this is not a part of the construction costs, and again, is something your GM will decide.

Building Your Construct

  • Cost: Your construct will be a fully functioning party member, and is far more potent than a magical item. Therefore, it costs the same to build as a rare item 5 levels higher than the constructs level. For constructs of level 25+, increase the price by 500,000 gps per level above 30th.
  • Time: Whilst enchanting your construct only takes the time it takes to cast your Enchant Magic Items ritual, the preparation of its body, the summoning and binding of the appropriate entities (which your GM may rule requires additional rituals, costs and time) and similar processes takes a lot longer. A construct takes a number of days to build equal to its level +5. These are full days of work, and no other activity can be undertaken during them.

Maintaining Your Construct

  • Unlike normal constructs, the one your build has healing surges equal to its level divided by 3 (rounded down) + its constitution modifier (minimum 1).
  • Your construct also gains action points, and counts as a character when drawing Fortune Cards.
  • Your construct cannot be raised from the dead, but is considered to have rolled a 10 on all death saves (before additional modifiers) if it rolls lower than 10.
  • Levelling Your Construct: You must re-enchant your construct to increase its level, paying the difference between the two costs. This only requires the Enchant Magic Item ritual, and does not take the time it originally took to build.

Special Rules

  • Making Elite and Solo Constructs: You may want to make a golem that exactly mirrors those in the monster manuals, or which is better suited to keeping you safe when no one else is around. This is possible (though the GM must bear in mind that an elite construct is worth 2 characters, and that a solo is worth 5-6 characters).
  • Building an elite costs twice as much, takes 50% longer, and results in a construct that has an additional 3 healing surges.
  • Building a solo costs five times as much, takes 200% longer, and results in a construct with a +2 bonus to all defences, and an additional 6 healing surges.
  • A standard construct can be upgraded as written above. However, this requires that the fundamental structure be altered, and requires additional time to be spent in the process. This time is equal to the time taken to make the original construct subtracted from the time needed to make an elite or solo version.
  • Your GM will almost certainly want you to undertake additional work to build such an epic monster!
  • Your GM may let you make more intelligent or potent version of monsters for increased costs, or with the completion of additional adventures. This is entirely up to them to adjudicate.


An Example

Icarus, having reached the cusp of epic level play is getting nervous. Things are getting pretty serious and he feels he needs some additional support. He therefore decides to build himself an Iron Golem and sets about gathering the materials he needs.

Icarus travels to Lorehaven where he secures the use of a workshop for 100 gold per week. He also discovers that to build his construct he needs to spend 625,000. Furthermore, he will have to enact a ritual to summon and bind a powerful earth elemental to a crystalline heart (to drive the golem), and must seek out a elder purple worm in order to extract and study its poison sacs.

Discounting the time those things will take to do, it will take Icarus 25 days of solid work to get his golem ready for enchanting.

Having gathered everything he needs, the mage sets about his task, and nearly two months later, has enchanted his golem! However, things get even tougher than he imagined, and he decides he wishes to upgrade his golem and turn it into a solo!

This will costs an additional 2,500,000 gps (5 x 625,000 gps = 3,125,000 gps [-625,000 gps] = 2,500,000) and will take an additional 50 days of hard work. Worse, he has to obtain some pure resonant ores from a decaying dimension orbiting the sullen heart of a collapsing nether-plane, has to summon and control a 30th level elemental Lord, and has to permanently sacrifice one healing surge to awaken the thing.

In the end Icarus decides he will take his chances with his current golem and leave it as it is.

Eventually, Icarus hits 21st level, and wants to upgrade his golem (who he has named Mr Punchy). Mr Punchy can be levelled up for 500,000 gold (luckily he has some residuum knocking about by this time to throw into the mix), and with the casting of an Enchant Magic Items ritual. Simple!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

D&D Next - My Thoughts...

When Wizards of the Coast announced 4e, I felt fury - pure, elemental fury, that boiled over into distilled nerd rage and galvanised me into a paroxysm of angry forum commenting and furious name calling. I was incensed that my game was going to be superseded by "$th edition" , and vowed I would not be playing, or paying, for it.

Ha!

Of course, I was wrong. I feel ashamed to admit it now, but I was one of the hundreds that got hold of the "accidentally" leaked .pdf's of the new books, and quite quickly, I found myself beaming at what an awesome game 4e was. As soon as they were released, I had purchased multiple copies of the dead tree books, as well as (back when you could still buy them) .pdfs.

Now, only a few years later, before any of my campaigns have even reached epic level, 5e, or D&D next  or whatever it's going to be called is announced, and despite some fairly distant release times, it feels (especially over at the D&D website) like 4e is winding down with great speed.

And my feelings this time?

Oddly enough....nothing. No rage. No anger, and worst of all, no real interest. By the time 4e was announced, we had been playing 3.0/3.5 for a good few years, and the cracks were well and truly showing. We had pretty much houseruled it into another game, with custom spell point rules, damage vs armour type rules and a host of other rules too. 3.5 actually needed an overhaul - be that Pathfinder, or 4e - and once my initial anger had died down, I realised it was a good thing.

4e hasn't failed me yet. We have a few houserules regarding action points, critical fumbles and how we use fortune cards, but generally we play the game as it is, and it works. It works incredibly well for us. The idea of D&D Next (I'm typing 5e from now), is a nice one, but me and mine simply don't need it - 4e beautifully captures our style of play, and we are really starting to find the best ways to play it.

I know that many struggle with high level 4e play, and I know that some folks feel (for reasons that honestly, make no sense at all) it doesn't support roleplay, but personally, I have found it to be the best system I have played to date (and remember, I have played since the original red box). I don't currently feel the need to change, and although I will almost certainly buy the three core 5e books, I simply can't see myself changing again.

So, I wonder, how many other folks feel the same? And let me be clear, I'm not just talking about 4e players.

Wizards of the Coast are great game designers, and I may look back on this in a few years and laugh at my stupidity. However, I'm massively sceptical about a game made by committee, not to mention, not convinced that folks will abandon the games they have stubbornly defended and stuck by, to try a new game that essentially, does the same thing. I could be wrong, and I do actually hope it does really well. However, I just wish Wizards had decided to try and push the 4e envelope a little more before giving in, and gambling the future of D&D on a new edition...

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

State of Play - Shneckes' Wolves - 27th February, 2012

7/7/1472 – 16/7/1472 – Moon of Fury heads north, towards Cran'Aurym. Party get settled into cramped quarters, and Lia, Jaeger and Varracuda take note on how Takeshi flies the vessel. By the end of the 12th, they are confident that they could, if needed to, fly it themselves.

Grigori spends the first two days breaking down spare magic items into residuum, and creating upgraded or new items for several party members. Shnecke spends the time trying not to eat anyone.

On the 9th, Akemi (who it is noted has some kind of bond to the ship – being able to soothe its engines with words, and to “heal” damage it sustains with softly spoken chants and gentle stroking), announces that the fuel (the “Black Ingots”) are almost exhausted, and that the Moon will not make it to Cran'Aurym.

It is late morning on the 16th, in the midst of a tropical storm that the Moon's engines give out, and the ship crashes in fertile savannah some 20 miles to the south of the southern Island of Gembu (Cran'Aurym, once an impossibly vast city that in the 2nd Age covered over 1,000 miles, is now spread over 12 huge islands, the vast bulk of the ancient city having sunk beneath the waters of the western Sea of Splinters). The group agree to head out into the wilderness to seek out the artificer Ajendu, who lives on Zebora, the largest, and most central of the Aurymite City Isles.

By nightfall on the 16th the group have made it across the dangerous landscape, to a trade outpost a few miles from Gembu. They chat with the locals (who are black-skinned folks, with tightly curled black hair and a penchant for coral jewellery), and decide to push on towards the city proper.

17/7/1472 – They cross the wide bridge that leads from the main landmass to Gembu, and at once notice that almost every structure is decorated with Vothniir plated skulls. There are also numerous columns, pyramids and other decorative structures made from skulls, femurs and others bones absolutely everywhere.

Grigori explains that the Aurymites do not worship the deities that most other people do, and instead worship their ancestors. When someone dies, their body is either burned or put into one of the millions of tunnels that honeycomb the rocks beneath their feet, as they are deigned to be unimportant. The skull, the seat of the soul however, is plated with gold by their spiritual leaders, and set in open view – thus allowing the spirit to see into, and affect the mortal world.

This also explains the clouds of scented wood smoke that continually shrouds the city – offerings to the dead (which have the beneficial side effect of masking some of the stench of sewage, dead fish, animal dung and other less than savoury things that would otherwise be strong).

Jaeger makes it clear to the group that he will personally kill anyone that tries to pry a skull away, or to strip any sacred objects of their valuable, golden metal.

Exhausted the group pay for rooms (using gems) at the first inn they find within the crowded, stinking docks of Gembu's southern district.

17/7/1472 – 27/7/1472 – The sheer scale of the task before them become apparent the next day when they realise that the Island of Zebora is some 350 miles to the north of their current locale, and that they will have to travel through at least two other city isles to reach it. In the end they decide to hire a guide, and soon meet with the mongrel aelwyn Arjaen; a friendly fellow originally from Fey, who not only speaks their native tongue, but knows the city inside out, having lived and guided here for over 20 years.

For the next ten days the party are immersed in Aurymite culture, their guide enthusing about everything from the local cuisines, to their history. They learn about the ancient wars that shook 2nd Age Cran'Aurym, the legendary Solumite crusades (all of which stopped in the city at some point – often trying to “educate” the “savages” about their “barbaric” beliefs), and the more recent wars (some 50 years past), between the islands, after several tried to secede from the others to form independent city states. They drink sap wine, distilled snake venom shots, and consume some things they would have puked even considering eating before. Jaeger sees his first elephant (and declares it the “most ridiculous thing” he has ever seen), and everyone tries to ignore the fact that both of the undead seem well fed the entire time they move through the city...

27/7/1472 – The group meet with a Unified Order mage named Naskem Ardron, who is walking his pet (an ugly weasel/cat/dog thing he calls a Leucrotta). The portly wizard is very happy to see the party, and makes a number of racist comments about the Aurymites. He, it seems, it in no hurry to return to active duty for the Order, and states that even if he were, it is unlikely they would be in any state to give him work anyway. When asked what he means, he tells the group that the has heard that the most powerful mages in the order were “consumed by their own magic” as the sundering hit; some going insane and rampaging, others simply “burning out” with lethal effect for themselves and anyone too close to them. He has also heard “from a little imp” that the legendary high-security Unified Order prison, the Durance Occulta, failed when the sundering struck, and that many of its deadly inmates have escaped.

He also tells the group that “Fey is a disaster area”, and that when he tried to scry Irin, “My scrying crystal shattered. All I saw were giant mushrooms before that.”

It is at this point that Naskem shows them a mutation he picked up when his own magics backfired during the Sundering – a half-open human eye, which oozes tears from his left palm.

Naskem also lets slip that there is a known apostate in the city – one Vacris Rhethe – who may have been in Irin when everything went insane. The assassin asks where this man can be found; “The 'Tear of the Ancients Winery” within the Hrujja districts”.

The group ask Arjaen where this district is, and the half-aelwyn tells them about two days to the east of their current locale.

Jaeger asks Naskem if he has any messages for anyone on Fey. The portly mage tells them that a mage named Azoll owes him money.

The group agree to keep their guide on for a few more days – partly because they need him, but also because everyone really like him – and that they will seek out Vacris before they head into the heart of the island to find Ajendu.

They make their way to an inn named the “Ugara'Juguntu”, which sits atop a bridge of basalt that arcs over a lower road, and are soon drinking agave beer in its gardens, enjoying the night air.

28/7/1472 – At 01:40, a huge Mythen Stone begins to fall from orbit, and plummet, trailing fire, towards the very district in which the group currently reside. Roughly 2 miles above the island, it shatters into a hundred smaller shards, many of which are large enough to survive their fall and hit the ground.

Initial shock and panic turns to action. The streets resonate with fearful moans and screams as the fiery shards snarl and crackle towards them, and Arjaen tells the group he knows a place “no one else will go”, where they can hide. There is some arguing amongst the group as they try to decide whether being underground or on the surface will be the least deadly option, and eventually they decide to follow their guide.

They are taken to a side alley, which ends in a small shrine. The shrine is filled with unadorned skulls who's eye sockets have been filled with what looks like tar. Before the shrine, facing it, is a semi-circle of gold plated skulls, all of which bear a triangular glyph on their crowns, and it is clear they are “keeping an eye” on the undecorated skulls. Thatari realises – and Arjaen confirms – that the undecorated skulls belonged to criminals, and that those watching them are keeping their spirits confined. Behind the shrine – which the group can now see has been roughly jammed into a tunnel carved into the rock of the island – is a set of crude steps which fall away into darkness.

The shrine is smashed down by the barbarian, and the group tumble into the narrow stone tunnel, and run down into the darkness, only the bobbing light of the cleric's lantern showing the way.

They are about 40' down the stairs when the first of the meteorites hits, the shockwave and concussion blast screaming down the tunnel, collapsing it. Arjaen is killed in the cave-in, his body lost. Everyone else is thrown forwards by the force of the blast, Grigori suffering significant injuries, Lia and Thatari also suffering wounds from flying debris and being thrown forcibly into the darkness ahead.
More impacts rumble through the rock of the tunnel, and still terrified of being killed, the party pile on forwards, suddenly finding themselves in a badly damaged chamber, carved into the basalt of the island.

More skeletons adorn the walls of this place, all of them undecorated, and everyone can immediately feel the sudden presence of coiling, hungry evil in the atmosphere as five misty, black figures rise from the darkness; vaporous things that emit terrible icy moans, and whose very presence weighs on the soul like despair.

Wraiths.

A fierce battle ensues, the immaterial undead falling with surprising ease thanks to the ardent, who's psychic aura wreathes her allies weapons with dimensional energy, enabling them to strike the vaporous spectres as readily as they strike physical foes.

As the last of the horrors is sent, wailing, back to the grave, so the group become aware of the cacophony of horror echoing down the passage from the city above. They are shocked to hear not only the roaring of flames, and the screams of the dying and wounded, but the distant, unmistakable sounds of blades impacting flesh, and savage voices raised in apparent praise to “Adathraine! The Great Devourer!”

Some Slight Changes On Their Way

I am running a LOT of games at the moment; five games of D&D, and soon a Deathwatch campaign too. I also have a full time job, a subscription to Star Wars the Old Republic, a Minecraft habit, Magic the Gathering cravings, and soon, Guildwars II.

My point?

I also need to find time to do something else - like walking - before my heart calicifies and I explode in a sticky mass of giblets and half-digested pies, and with all these less than active hobbies, as well as the write ups, I am struggling to find time.

So, I shall be changing the way I do some of the writeups a bit, in order to give me more time to play outside.

I shall continue to write up the Ormid et al game as I always have. It was my first 4e "proper" campaign, and it has a definite stop point written into it (though in real time, it is probably 1 - 2 years away). Two of my other groups don't currently get write ups. However, I would like to start a "State of Play" style write up for them, as well as the Shnecke's Wolves and Seren / Emmiven games, which will give you quick low-down on what's going on, who killed who, and where possible, some nice stats to go with them.

I know this might be seen as a bit of a blow, but truth be told, I currently find the writeups a bit like homework, and find myself no longer looking forwards to them - mainly because I would rather be writing new stuff for the next game.

So that's how it will be from now on. I hope this doesn't piss anyone off too much - you will still be following the adventure's of the undead barbarian and his suspect allies, not to mention getting updates on some adventurer's you have not met yet, but you won't be getting the flowery prose and long chunks of dialogue.

Unless someone else out the game wants to do them of course?