Using My Monsters

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Meanwhile...

I run an occasional game set in the later years of the 3rd Age, after the madness of the Sundering has become normal to those living in the world. The party currently consists of Shada (Changeling Rogue), Voght (Warforged Barbarian), Lamorak (Human Ranger), and two NPC's; Angur, priest of Banturn and Zin, Dwaer'Syth necromancer. I don't have time to keep anything other than paper notes most of the time. However, I have typed up the last couple of games, and thought I would share them with you, to give you an idea of what else is going on in the world.

28/3/1715: 06:45: Seeking escape from the Dwaer necromancer's lair, the group enter a chamber inhabited by a Lesser Bone Golem and a number of decrepit skeletons. It is a hard battle, but they are successful.

Following this, the central rune circle is examined, and found to be a potent source of necrotic energy, and the rogue realises that undead within it would be constantly healed - whilst they would suffer horrific effects from being exposed to such concentrated death magic.

There are three heavily armoured doors leading from this chamber, all three bearing blatant symbols or warding. Each also has a line of red glowing runes carved around their frames.

The rogue surmises that the glyphs are loaded with necrotic energy, and advises the rest of the group to be careful. Voght obtains a skeletal limb from the remains of the golem, and uses it to try and force the western door open. Although the dead appendage does not trigger the sigil as soon as it makes contact with the door (which a living creature would have), the act of forcing the door (and failing to open it), ignites it - a blast of rotting purple radiance engulfing the warforged, sapping his resolve, strength and health.

Annoyed by his wounds, he powers on through the door (now the sigil is gone), shattering it. He crosses the line of runes with no thought (and fortunately, these are designed to act as a barrier to the undead, and pose no threat to the living), and finds himself in a storage chamber. This is searched, and found to mostly contain necromatic odds and ends. However, some spell components useful to the group are recovered, as are three potions - each able to protect an individual from the touch of necrotic energy.

07:00 - 08:00: The group continue to search the Dwaer labs, finding several other strange devices and chambers, apparently intended to accomplish unguessable feats of dark magic. However, things get nasty when they come a vast sepulchral chamber filled with the unearthed, and shattered burial shrouds and coffins of Irin's dead. It quickly becomes clear that this is where the raw materials of the Dwaer's work is stored before use, and the group grimly prepare to move through...however, the massed dead flesh and untapped marrow has drawn a pack of ghouls, lead by a foul ghast, and soon the party are fighting them.

It is another testing battle, but eventually, with several of the undead slain, the others flee, shrieking in fear, and the group are able to move on...

A thorough examination of the room reveals only more and more depressing sights; piles of discarded skeletons waiting to be animated, shattered headstones, bits of mouldering flesh, and broken grave goods - defiled, trampled and treated like spell components. It also reveals that there is no way out...a problem, as this had been the group's last hope of escape.

Remembering a well they had spotted in one side chamber earlier, the group return, hoping at least for some underground cisterns to check for an escape route. However, as they peer down they spot a most wretched sight - a bedraggled, shivering dwaer'syth, dressed in the robes of an apprentice necromancer....

He looks up, almost blinded by the light the group wields, and through shivering lips, in his own tongue (which the bard can partly understand), he begs for their help, offering his own in return.

The group quickly decide to take the dwaer up on his offer, reasoning that they can quickly overpower him if he tries to betray them. He is dragged, dripping, from the well, and after composing himself, introduces himself as Zin - a necromancer formerly in the employ of Arithane...now.....willing to work with anyone to ensure his continued survival.

Zin offers to show the group out, asking them if they know the "password to bypass the heads". He takes them back into the "storage crypts", and to a dusty section of wall. Searching with his pale red eyes, he sees something the group missed, and presses a section of wall. At once, a prickling release of energy is felt, and a section of wall 10' x 10' slides silently away, revealing a dimly lit flight of stairs heading upwards.

The group follow Zin, who raises his carved bone staff before him, and begins to pick his way forwards. As he goes, the dwaer'syth shivers, and it is hard to tell whether it is due to his wet robes and the chilled air, or something else.

As they near the top of the stairs, the group see a ghostly, flickering light, as of a pale candle burns ahead, and they can hear dusty, tittering voices growling and squabbling. As they reach the top, they see a small chamber, within which sits an active portal. Floating around it are three mummified heads, each of which emits a ghostly lambence. As the threshold to the room is crossed, they each hiss, and turn to attack. However, Zin holds up his hands and loudly proclaims "Isstavissari, Sevveth Y'ishaeryth", and the heads immediately retreat, mumbling and growling with anger. Zin looks at the group, bows, and points towards the portal, warning "a final watch point, manned by my kin and some of the Gorashym slaves lies beyond this gate. However, it lies within the area of Irin known to you as the roofs, and as such, is a way out."

08:01 - 08:10: As predicted, four Dwaer and a Gorashym wait on the other side of the portal. However, they are taken by surprise thanks to Zin's distraction (he strides through and begins to talk to them about mundane things. The last things they expect is to be fighting for their lives seconds later),and although the battle is hard fought, the group enjoy a convincing win, with no enemies surviving (despite three of them trying to flee as the fight turned against them).

Having defeated the dark aelwyn, the ground cautiously move along a decrepit tunnel leading up to the streets of the Roughs. Aware that there may be traps, the rogue stops suddenly as she senses a strange energy vaguely clouding the air of the corridor. Zin joins her, and shortly (with the aid of Milly) confirms that a black glyph - a necrotic ward - protects the corridor. Fortunately, Zin is well equipped to manage its removal, and with the bard's support, he makes short work of it, the stones on which it was scribed aging and rotting before them as its magic is dispersed safely into them.

10:40: The group scramble back into the stinking misery of the Roughs. It is sleeting, and the air is bitter with smoke and misery. Dragging Angur's body with them, the group decide, after a short conversation, to take him to the House of Annointed Veterans - the "new" temple fortress to Banturn'Vortax, raised on the ruins of the ancient temple site. They plan to try and get him returned to the lands of the living, although the dwaer'syth seems to think it is a forlorn hope.

"Do you understand quite how dangerous the rituals needed to bring the dead back to life are in this time? To accomplish that task you have to simultaneously open and hold shut to a degree wild metaphysical doors, which, given the shabby state of reality, is not easy even for accomplished spell casters."

The group move into progressively more affluent parts of the ancient city, drawing more than a few disapproving looks from the locals (Zin says he will meet with them once they are done, as he does not feel he would be welcomed in many places within the city). However, they make it unmolested to the fortified edifice of the Banturnite temple; a full blown citadel that rises above the surrounding districts on its own summit. Moving through its outer wall (and the fortress that guards the main entrance), they are soon climbing the slippery, frosty steps that lead to the massive temple proper. Either side rows and rows of defensive fortification form a deadly barrier, and the group can see signs that the steps themselves can be quickly changed into something less welcoming to an invading army - though what is a question they cannot answer. Rows of primed cannons are positioned on top of the temple's reinforced walls, manned by grim gunners, ready, at a moments notice to unleash hell.

Around them, the temple is alive with activity. Priests of various tenets within the main faith argue - sometimes verbally, often physically - over points of contention, whilst warriors of many stripes come and go, hoping to curry the favour of the "War Mantled God". The group drag their fallen into the main hall; a truly huge edifice lit by several massive braziers. Huge armoured columns, mantled in shattered weaponry and other trophies support the vaulted ceiling, whilst ahead, on a 15' high dais of steel and stone, rises the Grand Altar itself; a 20' high slab of stone carved with life sized reliefs of warriors and priests destroying a wide variety of enemies, over which towers a brutal statue of Banturn himself; a bear-like warrior, clad in battered plate armour. Flanking the altar are two cannons, with attendant gunners, and atop it can be seen piles of shattered weapons, scalps, broken suits of armour and other offerings to the war God.

Heavily armoured guards patrol this hall, though the altar itself is flanked by robed and plated priests, each wearing long vestment of blood red, onto which have been sewn numerous fragments of metal - pieces of vanquished foes weapons, each one carved with a prayer to their bloody handed deity.

The group approach one of the guards and make them aware that they seek to have their friend - a priest of Banturn - returned to life. The armoured giant looks from them to the corpse, and after a few moments, begins to laugh.

"This isn't the First Age! We can't just wave our hands and bring the dead back you know!"

The group look crestfallen. However, it appears that their appeals have been overheard by one of the clerics; a towering man with a shaved head and a huge metal plated hammer. He wears thick plate under his vestments, and despite the heavy arms and armour he bears, moves with practiced grace and fluidity. He regards the group with piercing blue eyes and then speaks in a voice turned rough by a sword thrust many years past.

"Leave him here. It is very unlikely that we will move to bring him back. However, as one of the brotherhood, it is possible. I will speak unto the High Pugilist and seek his advice.
"Return on the morrow. Either way, you will have you answer by then."

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