Muskets & Magic (GURPS campaign thread)
This thread will be dedicated to the GURPS campaign Im running in Tokyo. Summaries will be here for the players to remember things between sessions, as well as a place to ask questions or set the tone for the next session.
The young acolyte Zauker, a half orc named Trunk, and an apprentice wizard called Rodrick by various means find themselves "loaned" out to the Far West Trading Company and made an offer:
They accompany a ship to Far Way Island where the Trading Company had attempted to set up a colony to provide a base half way to the new islands of the west, and to collect valuable pelts from the Giant Hairy Boars of the island. Word was expected back after 2 years. It has now been 3 1/2 years without word so a new team is being sent to investigate.
The team along with a couple of other members boarded ship for the 6 week journey.
Two weeks into the journey Wizard Pirates were encountered in a fast ship. The party's own ship was magically held in place despite full sails. When things looked particularly bad Rodrick made them worse when he mis-cast a spell and ended up shredding the main sail with rocks when trying to ignite barrels of oil thrown into the water by Trunk and Zauker. On his third or fourth try however Rodrick managed to ignite a barrel just as the pirate ship crossed it exploding the front of the pirate ship and sending it bobbing in the water like a cork, stern up. However, the barrel had been to close to the party's own ship and the rudder was blown off and some minor damage done. Repairs have to be made.
A couple of notes for next time.. Trunk is Half Orc.. we forgot apply the racial template. In addition to how you designed him.. you should increase his Health by 1, Decrease his IQ by 1, ad one Hit Point (separate from Health), and have +1 to Hearing. Usually people will react to at a -2.
Magic Users -- your spell casting when in Corsland should have been at -1 as its a low Mana area.
Luckily extra canvas had been stored in the hold with thoughts of repairing any damaged ship that might be found at your destination, and the damaged rudder was found mostly intact in the sea, floating among the splinters
After a couple days of hard work your ship is back on course, slower but seaworthy.
The next 4 weeks pass mostly without incident and you busy yourselves with study, commitments, practicing your various skills and so on. Third Mate Yans takes to Truck and shows him the ropes, Truck, youve never quite met someone like Yans. Its not that he particularly likes Half Orcs, he just doesnt seem to care.
The captain doesnt seem too friendly, but as a matter of course is willing to give of his time as well and teach what he can.
(practical effect -- you each get 200 hours of study of a skill you could learn on a boat. If you put it all in one skill you get 1/2 a point. Or you can divide it up, as you will be getting more study time as well, youre still 2 weeks out and then there is the return journey..if you live.)
Two weeks into the 4 weeks we are talking about you all start to notice a small change among the crew. Its hard to place your finger on, but there seems to be turn towards the negative -- doubts about the destination, doubts about the motivation, doubts about the captain. Not everyone, but enough that there is a more noticeable negative "vibe".
When we pick up you are still about 2 weeks out (so consider that when you think about what to study..you will probably have another 100 hours to add in, for a total of 100. Most of you have 40 hours in as well).
Skills you can study while on the ship from others:
gunner - ship cannon
Area Knowledge - Northern Seas
eugeniolcv last edited by
Awesome description and interesting to know about the "negative vibes" from the crew. I'm wondering if there is "something" at work...
(session 2 summary)
As the ship sailed towards its destination the negativity manifested itself more tangibly. The First Mate, Bolles, spent more and more of his time below decks, or staring out over the sea. Unable to work or even concentrate, he became a liability just as a number of crew started showing more of the same signs of anxiety, demanding the ship turn around.
Rodrick and Zauker brought their concerns to the captain who agreed to talk with Bolles himself.
The meeting must have gone poorly for the next morning the party awoke to yelling up on deck and a tense scene: Bolles had the captain by the neck with a pistol to his head, with 4 sailors along with him, demanding the ship return.
Zauker cast a spell to protect the captain while Rodrick and Truck tried to solve the standoff with violence. Unfortunately Rodrick's spell fizzled and Truck's thrown ax missed its mark.
Bolles fired point blank at the captain's head, but Zauker's magic saved him: miraculously the bullet missed. The captain's relief was only fleeting however: a sailor turned on his and buried his ax in the captains nose and forehead.
The common sailors were, however, no match for a trained party of adventurers. Within seconds 2 of the mutineers were put asleep magically, Bolles and another through himself into the sea and a third was relieved of his head by Truck, after falling unconscious.
Mutiny averted and with little to be learned from the survivors, the ship continued on.
A week or so later the ship arrived at Far Way Island. A quick survey of the island showed no signs of life, but the abandoned colony was spotted as well as a possible former native settlement with a still functioning magical lighthouse.
It was decided to go ashore at the former Far West Trading Company's colony. Unexpectedly there were two ships in the small harbor -- one the Far West Trading Company ship Quick Sea Eagle, and another ship sunk in harbor of Fleurian origin.
The first night Rodrick and Truck searched the half sunk Quick Sea Eagle, finding trouble from two sea serpents that had made their home in the hold along with many crates of rotted pelts plus two valuable finds: a box containing bracelets made of rare sea shells and ancient coins, and a fine wood box containing tusks of some type. In another room above decks were found some books, a log of sorts and a portrait of a rich man , his wife and their daughter (presumably). Two religious necklaces were found.
The next day the party further explored the little hamlet itself. The pier had some pelts still in fair shape and those were kept. The town was less promising -- drying racks held chewed on remains of boar skins, the warehouse lacked even a door -- nothing of real value had been there but there were some useful ship stores.
The large, fine house that once stood in the center of the hamlet had been burnt down. The frame of its front and back doors remained, along with some of the walls. Clearly the doors had been shut and boarded up from the outside and house burned down. A voice could be heard, from nowhere, urging the party to leave and bemoaning the lack of fairness, and promising to spread it. In the ashen remains of the home three people -- two adults and a child. The remains had rocks stuffed in their mouths, and had religious symbols around their necks.
Little was found in the the A frames other than a diary. In the other part of the town, near the church was found a burning pit still containing what look to be human bones. Near it were two mounds of sand covered with some , but not enough, stones.. in the older one bones stuck out here and there, and in the newer one the bones had some flesh on them.
Rodrick felt a wave of decency come over him and decided to uncover the dead to bury them proper, and Acting First Mate Yans joined in on the other mound. After a few moments though 3 of the dead from each mound arose and attacked. They were quickly put down but not before Yans had a quick call and a zombine had bitten Truck, leaving him wondering if it were infectious....
Leaving that question to later the party decided to check out the largest building in the settlement.. a two story temple of The Mount, made of rough wood with a small tower on top of it. The temple had clearly been attacked, with fire damager scattered, and the entire first floor being a jumbled ruin. On the second floor the former priest was found, or rather his remains.. tied to a chair and severely tortured. He did not have a pleasant ending.
A bit uneasy over the state things have been found in, the party contemplates its next move. Despite the tiny size of the island and its location mid-ocean..somewhere a wolf cries and the cry carries through the mist and rain. The party looks over the tiny settlement, the large unexplored cemetery, the burned home, the rotting pier...the endless drizzle. Rodrick looks at Zauker, Zauker looks at Truck, Truck looks at Yans..
Ok..to get the narrative caught up!
After the horror of the desecrated temple Trunk, Zauker, Yans, and Rodrick retire for the night to the ship hoping the morning brings with it some insight or lightening of the mood.
And lo! The morning reveals a small sloop in weighing anchor -- the Double Quick, with a additional crew and workers the trading company felt would be needed but hadnt been able to gather in time.
Sir Bamiyan introduces himself and its obvious he is there to supplement the "muscle" side of the endeavor. With his animal print shirts and pants its tempting to take him lightly, but his serious nature and serious weapons would make anyone reconsider that.
The morning doesnt just bring good news however -- 3 crew lay sick, seemingly drained from wounds in their wrist. With the available evidence, the group concludes there is at least one vampire and maybe more inhabiting the island -- possibly with werewolves.
Not feeling confident enough just yet to tackle the forest, nevertheless the group decide to venture to outside the stockade to where a circular set of long staves were set in the ground. Upon observation from a distance, it seemed 3 men sized figures were in the center. Before examining them, Sir Bamiyan shot and shredded one with a shot from his flintlock rifle -- there being no response the party examined and found 3 corpses with a silver dagger, a flint lock piston with 3 silver bullets, and a knife coated with some substance. The weapons had been laid out in preparation, and the weapons were divided among the party.
The party then decided to split from the main group and investigate the village theyd seen previously from the ship, that appeared to be a Native village with some sort of "lighthouse".
Upon arrival the party quickly made for the lighthouse almost immediately. Pausing at the base they found themselves under attack from 2 skeletons with long obsidian spears. Slightly bloodied from the encounter, focus turned back to the source of the blue light coming from the "lighthouse".
The lighthouse seemed to be older than the village itself, and of a different type of construction -- all smooth stone, with stone steps inside. Zauker took the lead, working himself up the tower until coming across a round small area at the top, with a stone suspended in the middle. Prying it lose and pocketing, Zauker decided not to worry his comrades with the details as a great trembling and roar came from outside and the blue light emited from the tower stopped. Trunk and others dropped back down and stepped outside the tower to find themselves confronted by 2 stone phoenixes come to life, large red stones for eyes filled with malice.
In a near thing, the stone demon birds were defeated -- and their jewel eyes taken for good measure. Battered and bruised from the investigation of the village the party decided to head back to their main group when it was discovered Yans and died and Rodrick was teetering at Death's door, fresh wounds on their wrists.
A few hours later the Double Quick sailed back into the main harbor of the island. Putting all the information that they had together but not quite knowing what to make of it, the party decided to to have another stab at investigating the haunted remains of the Quick Mansion. The burned out remains were further burned, and the bones of the former inhabitants smashed and otherwise attacked -- while the ghost that inhabits the Mansion reacted strongly, nearly to the death of Zauker.
The decision was made to test the crew and workers reaction against silver and to plant the sick people on a ship, with the idea the vampire of the island wouldnt be able to get to them there.
The party settled in to lick their wounds and think things over.
After a number of days of healing up, the party decided to head back to the Native village, this time bringing Mr. Candlestick with them for even more additional muscle.
An investigation into the main of the village remains nearly started poorly as SOMETHING inhabiting one of the ruined long houses "attacked" -- but in the end disappeared leaving just a desolate ruin of what seems to have once been a semi prosperous community that raised pigs and built dozens of obelisks.
Only upon the discovery of the graveyard did things take a more interesting turn as one of the more permanent , upper class stone sarcophagi had been "dragged" out, despite seemingly weighing a couple tons.
That night the group stayed the night in the ruins of the town.. and in the dead of night found themselves being stared at by a 12 year old, light blue..almost translucent young girl who seemed desperate to talk but couldnt not make herself understood. She left behind a drawing as a final effort to communicate and then was gone.
In the morning the group decided to follow the village trail into the forest at the base of the mountain.
A number of killed boar were found, with traces of both wolf and human prints about them.
Pressing further eventually the party came across a small clearing, filled with crows and strange markings dug into the ground, with a moss covered cave at the end of the clearing, its entrance sealed from the inside by a boulder.
Approaching the clearing, the party was beset upon by dozens of crows -- pecking and clawing at them. Desperate to escape Trunk opened the cave and the group ducked inside leaving most of the angry birds behind. The remained of the ravens seemed to calm under the influence of Sir Bamiyan's cooing to them. Lighting lanterns the group found a large stone tomb in the cave, as was missing from the native cemetary -- the marks and carvings on its based obliterated.
With the boulder still closed, the Bamiyan and Trunk opened the tomb.. in the dim light of the lantern, the young blue girl from the night before sat up, and gazed upon the party -- seemingly not to happy to have her rest disturbed! A few seconds of confusion later, Trunk moved the boulder to partly open the entrance way again. The daylight struck the girl, and smoke wisps whirled off her skin where the sunlight beams struck her. Sensing the jig was up, Candlestick rose his pistols and fired.. the sunlight and bullets seemed to enrage the girl and she attempted to bring Zauker to her own aid.
Seeing 3 bullets eventually have no effect on the blue girl in the tomb, Sir Bamiyan and and Trunk escaped out the partially open cave entrance. Zauker made no attempt to flee, and Candlestick made the belated decision to escape. throwing his weapons down and trying to get out ..only to have the boulder slam shut!
The girl advanced on Zauker, sucking his blood from his wrist from wounds opened by 4cm fangs in her mouth. Outside, hearing the chaos inside Trunk and Bamiyan decided re-open the door.. but try as they might Bamiyan could not seem to gain a solid grip. Finally the door opens a bit and Candlestick throws himself through the door.. but sticks halfway! Zauker moans as blood overflows from the girls mouth and pours onto the floor.
Candlestick manages to squirm through the door..and the boulder slams shut again! Sir Bamiyan and Trunk put their backs into opening the entrance again as Candlestick collapses onto the ground screaming again and again "She's coming! She's coming!!"
Seconds pass.. Bamiyan cant get his end of boulder to budge. Is there another force at work? Is it he moss and slime of the perpetually damp forest? Is it just his destiny? The sounds from inside grow dim.
Finally, the boulder gives and moves....the scattered daylight breaking through the clouds and forest canopy reveals Zauker, laying in a heap on the cave floor, his right arm extended, covered in blood, with more blood all about the floor.
There is no sign of the girl. The crows take flight, circle the clearing twice, then fly further inland.
Is Zaulker alive? Dead? Perhaps..undead?
(Long over due update..catching up 2 sessions!)
Bamiyan and Trunk check on Zaulker.. he is alive. Barely. Taken back to the ship he and Candlestick give slightly different accounts, but agree the vampire girl is dead. Trunk, Bamiyan and others are dubious and soon an expedition is led by to the liar of the Undead blue girl. Zaulker removes the heavy lid of the vampire tomb with ease and nothing but dust and sand remain inside.
Satisfied the vampire is gone the party head back to the Double Quick, with plans to head back to the main camp.
Soon, it is obvious there is still something out there: 2 sailors died.
The party divides over whether to declare victory and head home or to keep searching. Eventually a deal is struck with the acting captain and one more search undertaken.
At Sir Bamiyan's suggestion the Double Quick is sailed into the interior, up the river spotted when the party first came to the island.
Miles up the river it divides and the Double Quick takes a course that eventually shows itself to form an island when the water way meets up with the main river again. On the island some man made structures are seen.. a log palisade and more.
Sailing to a little harbor, the party discovers a ship abandoned many years before. They made land and found the remains of a small village.. in the distance they see an estate. It is built in the style of a wealthy mansion in Corsland, but somewhat roughly done.
Entering the mansion and into a lavish entertaining room a woman greeted them..and was immediately disposed of... it becoming obvious she was no true woman but almost a bag of blood with magic powers and an attractive outlayer of skin fashioned onto "her".
The rest of the house was eventually searched and cleared.. with each member of the party having different recollections of how it went. What was clear was: no vampire. Out the south window however a trail led into a thick grove of trees.
The trailed was followed and led to a small cave with a tomb inside. The lid was removed and a middle aged, distinguished looking man lay inside. His eyes went wide but before anything else was done a stake was driven into him and he turned to dust.
The next couple of days were spent searching and acquiring valuables from about the island: thousands in gold, furniture, weapons, gems, books, mirrors, and more.
Preparations were made to sail home, with work crews left behind to set up trapping and trading.
Six weeks later the Double Quick arrived in Vale to a hero's welcome. As word spread that Far Way Island had been explored, cleared and put into operation ..and that a small group of heroes had returned as Vampire Slayers the excitement in the town was palpable.
The docks were crowded with those on official business greeting the ship and others just hoping to get a look at the Vampire Slayers, and others trying to see what exotic cargo might have been brought back from Far Way Island. Only one man seemed less than overjoyed at the appearance of the Double Quick: Renfield DeWitt, the high level clerk in the Far West Trading Company who organized the expedition to Far Way Island. He appeared slightly puzzled by the ships return, and perhaps fearful. But in the event, too much was happening to get further into.
The Far West Trading Company gave the party a compound in Dwarf Town near the Steam Line and parties and invites flowed.
That very same night Trunk, Sir Bamiyan and Zaulker attended a hastily arranged party in their honor held in the Castle.
Many people toasted them, and listened with rapt attention of their exploits and vanquishing of the Vampires of Far Way Island, and Bamiyan at one point was heard to exclaim the vampire was laid low by his custom made rifle.
One person seemed less than taken in by the stories and voiced skeptisism at the whole thing.. a man who turned out to be Marshal Bennington, First Secretary to the Provincial Minister and Chief of the Provincial Guards. Things turned ugly and eventually a duel was challenged.
In the meantime, dances were held and went reasonably well, except for Bamiyan who trampled the feet of a poor girl.
Seeking to make up for the embarrassment, Bamiyan accepted a shooting challenge: a target at 100 yards (90meters). Bets were made, with Bennington betting heavily against Bamiyan making the shot.
In fact, judging the wind and using the precision sights on his high quality new rifle Bamiyan made the shot cleanly, winning those who had bet on him hefty sums. When Trunk attempted to collect from Bennington he refused to honor the bet with liars and cowards and things quickly turned violent -- full on combat was narrowly avoided and the duel confirmed for the next morning at the Government Pier.
Morning came and Trunk asked Bamiyan to step into his place. Seconds and observers in place, including a Lady Benshell and her entourage -- at the invite of Trunk. The neutral judge seemed to object to the initial weapon chosen by Marshal Bennington, and he had to swap out weapons.
When the duel began, Bamiyan was utterly calm and cool and collected. He drew his pistol first, a fraction of a second faster than Bennington, took quick aim and.. the pistol blew up in his hand! His fingers and palm a bloody mess Bamiyan bravely accepted his fate and Bennington , with a self satisfied grin aimed a fatal shot and fired! But only managed to WOUND the stalwart Bamiyan.
Then the followers of both sides were at the verge of spilling into the fight.. a sleep spell was cast as the crew of Bennington closed onto the scene with an eye of making it a larger ordeal. Calmer heads prevailed and the risk of arrest being very real the sides separated, neither feeling satisfied. Lady Benshell took the opportunity to invite the party to an event celebrating the New World and its Wonders two nights later.
Following that the party decided to take the time to follow up on their treasures from the Vampires.
They discovered upon visiting various magic shops that Zaulker had Power stones in his possession, stones which store Mana (magic power) and in the weakened magic state of the world, are in depend by wizards.
And then upon visiting the old wizard Dorithastus the Incomplete that the Vampire Journals were written in Alametasian. Alas, Dorithastus can not read them.. no one can read the ancient magical language except for a very small handful of Magical Scholars. Doristhastus offers to introduce one of the few remaining wizards who can read it, if the party can just bring him 2 Dwarven Kindling Stones to use in the magic brooches he was working on. The party agrees, and takes monetary help -- 500 gold!
The next day brings a further surprise as a visit is paid to their compound by an old friend of Dorithastus, who offers his help on their journey. He offers up a sword for them to use, an ancient, magicked sword and also the assistance of his most trusted warrior. The party agrees and continues preparations to head south to visit the dwarfs to acquire the Kindling Stones.
Zaulker visited his home Temple and had a short talk with his immediate Older Brother.. who seemed a bit concerned with him while also offering to induct Trunk and Bamiyan onto beginning to climb the Ladder. They beat a hasty retreat.
Finally the party prepared to attend the Benshell New World Wonders event. Trunk sought advice and prepared flowers and a ribboned dagger for the Lady Laurina Benshell.
The night of the event, the group arranged a coach and arrived in high spirits looking forward to more well earned foods, drinks, and entertainment. After weeks on an island of terror the perils of the social circles of Vale proved to pale in comparison.
But from the first moment things went wrong. Alighting from the carriage into the courtyard, the party notices 4 cages: one in each corner..well lit by torches. In each cage stood a blue humanoid.. varying shades of blue.. with long hair, clothed in nothing but a breech cloth. Immediately the party recalled the Native Vampire of Far Way Island. Invited to poke or prod the humanoids in the cages the party declines, Trunk outraged at the treatment, perhaps remembering his own treatment as a half orc at the hands of full humans who disagreed to this day that even half orcs should be admitted to polite society.
Inside the party Trunk confronted Lady Benshell about the captive New Worlders, knowing it must be some mistake or appealing to her "humanity". She laughed off his concerns, letting him know this was the Natural Order of things and inviting him to sit and enjoy as soon they would be passing about artifacts and stories from over the sea.
While Zaulker and Bamiyan made the best of the party, flirting with attractive women or making the acquaintance of important people about town, Trunk left his presents intended for Lady Benshell on a desk top and made his outside.
Looking at the cages, his mind was made up. He would free the New Worlders, protect them, shelter them, and show everyone wrong. He would show them they were people too! He broke open the the first cage, preparing to greet his new made friend and fellow persecuted being.
The New Worlder immediately went for Trunks throat! Trunk was too fast and too strong for the long captive being though and quickly escaped the situation, as the Benshell family guards closed in to investigate! He made a dash for the front gate and made his escape, hearing throttled screams in the background.
Inside at the party, Lady Benshell a few moments later turns white as her butler whispers in her ear. The event is cancelled -- the New Worlders have escaped and killed 2 guards and injured another.. and are on the loose in Vale! Everyone is asked to go home , with their lackeys keeping an extra careful look out. Murderous New Worlders on the loose.. Vale will not sleep easy tonight.
Everyone wonders how they escaped, and someone notices that Half Orc was no where to be seen.. and the ribboned dagger he had awkardly carried was there on the table. Yes, he had left early in a huff. The injured guard remembers how the Half Orc Vampire Slayer had set on him with 2 of the New Worlders!
Zaulker and Bamiyan exchange glances, but no words, ignore their hired carriage and hurry back to their compound in Dwarf Town, wondering if Trunk will be there, and will he be with New Worlders? By morning will he be a wanted criminal? What about them?
What a change a night brings.
(new session..much carnage)
Trunk jogs the kilometer or so back to the compound. If he had the intellect and disposition, he might be scared. As it is, he barely manages a slight nervousness from the nights events.. but the nervousness turns up when a young human confronts him outside the compound.
"Are you..one of the..Vampire Slayers?" the young looking boy asks. His slender build and smooth face place his age about 15 or 16.
"Uh... maybe...why?" Trunk replies.
Soon Trunk realizes the boy is an admirer, not a threat and they take the conversation inside.
Not long after they are joined by Bamiyan and Zaulker, having caught up quickly in the carriage.
Introductions are made.. The boy is there to ask assistance in avenging his parents, but this night has something else in store for them all.
Not too long after, the lackeys announce a guest -- Sir Raymond. "Word is making its way around now.. already.. Trunk has let the New Worlders free and killed the Benshell guards! One survived and recognized his half orc face!"
Discuss .. maybe too much discussion followed..confusion reigned. Flee? Make their case? What exactly were their options?
Another visitor arrived, still not the authorities. The Far West Trading Company's DeWitt arrived with more distressing news: Lady Benshell's body has been found with Trunks knife in her, the ribbon he'd attached tied around her neck. The boy, Saizerius looks around the room. These are the Heroes he was looking for? Did they just kill a Lady? And Guards??
Sir Raymond tells them he can get them out if they leave NOW. DeWitt offers them passage on a ship if they can quickly made it to the wharfs. Time is of the essence, but while the party gathers things to bring and decides what to leave.. and scouts the various doors in their compounds..time runs out.
"Trunk of the Vampire Slayers!", comes the call from beyond the front gate, "Surrender yourself now!"
A survey shows 2 Provincial Guard at each door, 6 plus their officer at the main gate. Each sat upon a grey horse, armed with short musket and sword.
Several attempts to stall them fail, Saizerius leads Trunk to the roof where they use a grappling hook to make their way over the street to the next compound.DeWitt and his men join while Bamiyan and Sir Raymond make preparations to stop any force coming in through the gate.
With danger rearing its ugly head, Zaulker stealthily retired to bed...
The front game comes crashing down, Sir Raymond charges and Bamiyan takes aim.
On the roof, the party making their way across the roof runs into trouble: DeWitt falls 15 meters to his death, and Provincial Guards are alerted. They shoot at the fleeing group, Trunk throws axes back at them.
The fight in the courtyard is over in seconds. Sir Raymond is cut down along with 2 of the lackeys. Bamiyan starts to take down the rest.
The fight on the roof moves to the neighboring compound and DeWitts guards, Trunk and Saizerius move through out trying to make their escape, but being confronted by those living their and their guards. DeWitts bodyguard and troops fall, while Trunk and Saizerious take out those in the alley.
Back in the courtyard Bamiyan has killed or wounded most of the Guardsmen, the remainder flee.
Eventually the party gathers together once more in the bloody courtyard of their Dwarven built courtyard, after Bamiyan chases down the last remaining Guardsman and kills him alongside the Iron Transport.
Their allies dead, and 15 Guards along with them the party takes a long breath. It is 4am. They decide they had best get out of town. They decide to flee in two groups and meet up in Wizards Den, the nearest town to the south.
Bamiyan and Trunk leave by cart, taking along the sailor and Rodrick hidden in the golden vampire coffin. Although some suspicious were raised, they manage to make it out of the city of Vale.
That left Zauker and young Saizerius to do the hard part: get their money and items from the bank vault. Dressed in Guard uniforms and with hastily forged but properly sealed documents they attempted to bluff the bank into handing over all the valuables of the party. The ploy worked, to a degree. Eventually the bank officer became suspicious over the waiting cart and summoned Town Marshalls.
The chase was on..with most of their items and 3000 of their gold Zaulker and Saizerius , with their remaining lackey, made for the city gate. Fighting off the chasing party and evading obstacles they made it through, Zaulker proving decisive in getting the boarding marshalls off their cart.
Free from danger at last, Zaulker took a last look back at the gate. Four shots from sharpshooters on the guard tower rang out. One bullet struck Zaulker in the shoulder, he cried in surprise and pain. The cry cut short as a second round entered his skull and exited the back. He slumped back into his seat and fell over.
Once out of range the lackey and Saizerius stopped the cart, covered the treasure and Zaulker. Unsure what to do with the body they kept it with them as they headed south.
As planned, the met up with Bamiyan and Trunk at the third inn spotted from the main road as they arrived. Making arrangments for the cart and horses to taken care of and , more importantly, left alone!
Bamiyan and Trunk have a private, large room on the 3rd floor of the Shining Tadpole Inn and bring Saizerius and the young lackey up, where Saizerius tells the group of Zaulker's downfall and their narrow escape. Then Saizerius is introduced to Rodrick the (Aspiring) Wizard and Lensworth the Sailor.. who woke hours before from their comas.
Rodrick tells of dark dreams of chants being said over him nightly by a robed figure with Zaulker's voice.
Sauzerius is sent with the lackey to bring up breakfast and comes across The Wizards Den News, transmitted from Vale hourly by ManaLetter, scribbled on the notice board:
"Horror! Trauma! Grief!
Residents of Vale this morning are advised to stay in their homes today. Advices report 3 overnight massacres in city walls, all by the same vile gang.
First an elegant affair at the Benshell Mansion was cut short when the guards were attacked and 4 savages from the New World were set free by the dastardly Orc Trunk, a mercenary formerly employed by a noted shipping concern!
The new and savage group then ambushed the Orc's former boss, a Gentleman DeWitt, killing him and his accompanying friend Sir Raymond of Glass on the Downs. Provincial authorities were not far behind, however Orc Trunk and his gang of savages and other never do wells ambushed them as well leaving 15 Guards dead or at death's door this morning. Finally the vile group invaded the SafeHaven Estate next door and killed several members of the household.
Members of the public are urged to keep a look out and report any sightings of the gang that is known as The Vampire Slayers for their blood thirsty ways. The gang is described below:
Trunk the Leader. Giant orc of freakish strength and fair appearance for an orc. Fond of flowers and pretty , feminine things, often recites poems while killing. Pictured below.
Zaulker the Cleric. A follower of The Ladder, since ex-communicated. Blesses the gangs dead.
Bamiyan. A former knight with a magic rifle. Stands over 2 meters tall, is left handed and wears only animal skins.
4 New Worlders are presumed to be in their company.
2 Lackeys are travelling with them, one of the Houll's household employed just 3 days and the other an unknown youth who appeared to witnesses to be about 15.
Armed and Dangerous!
2,000 gold for their capture or killing!
(below that is a picture labelled Trunk but it its unmistakably Bamiyan, but made to look more "brutish" and orc-ish).
The group huddle together in a large room at the inn. They exchange information and stories, pausing a moment to pay respect to fallen Zaulker. Not wanting to spend much time in the middle sized town of Wizard's Den, the party made fairly quick preparations for a departure south, taking not the King's Road, but the less traveled but also more difficult back trail south to Stoneville, home of the Dwarfs. Before leaving, they noted already the presence of Provincial Guard and apparently bounty hunters!
Once out of town and clear, a quick burial was held for Zaulker and he was buried in a shallow grave, after Trunk cut his head off. (sorry Eugenio..)
The road south was rather uneventful the first day, the second day on the road being notable just for the assistance lent to an old man with his cart full of mechanical "scenes". While at first tempted to charge the elderly man for assistance, eventually the party decided to just help for helps sake, to be good for goodness sake. The man introduced himself as Nikolaus and noting they were "good boys" gave them one of his mechanical works.
The next inn things were less smooth.. the party was recognized, or at least strongly suspected to be The Vampire Slayers! The timely appearance of Nikolaus headed off any blood shed, at least temporarily. A bargain was struck.. the party would use its power or Orc-an influence to track down and eliminate the threat of the orcan bandits that had of late been preying on the small hamlet and even more so on the hamlets just to the south.
Agreeing to the deal, the party headed out on horseback, leaving all their carts and possessions in the hands of the good people of the hamlet. Tracking into the area of the Iron Hills, where the bandits were supposed to be hiding out, the party noticed a single line of smoke off in the woods to their south just as the ruins of an old wizards double tower came into view ahead.
Making the decision to investigate the smoke, the party came across a two story quaint house with a little tower and a gate -- all seemingly made from sweet breads, cakes, candies and cream! Trunk immediately took to filling his gullet while exploring the home. Inside they found all kinds of magical ingredients, books on How to Serve Mankind and Better Deserts with Boys, and a boiling cauldron unattended.
Downstairs they rescued a young boy and girl -- siblings, who were both tremendously fat. As they attempted escape a rapier leaning against the wall danced to life and attempted to block the path, only to be swatted aside by Trunk. The group went up the stairs and shut the gingerbread door behind them.
Out in the yard, danger loomed -- an old woman in long flowing black robes, carrying a walking stick that she leaned on heavily slowly moved toward the house, by her side a large manticore!
Sauzerius took that as a cue to engage! And so, he started to slowly crawl towards the older woman..
The manticore and woman exchanged spells, shots, and flying horns with the party holed up in the house. Relatively short work was made of them, but the young boy was struck by 3 horns and was near death.
Lensworth was given two of the horses and told to guide the children back to the inn, while the party pressed forward, up the valley towards the presumed bandit camp.
The party followed a creek and soon found themselves crossing fields dotted with scare crows. The collection of farm buildings beyond were burned, except one..and from that one fled a young boy up the hils towards the towers!
Soon however he was chased down and eliminated. The party continued up the mountain and arrived at the ruins of twin abandoned wizard towers, both 15 meters high, connected by a bridge on the 3rd floor. Searching around, 2 dead bodies but not much else was found.. until an entrance was found into an underground floor!
In the first cavern they entered after descending into the basement (dungeon?) floor they found men, not orcs.. apparently meant to be on guard but instead fast asleep. The entire visible floor was filled with 8 humans and their 2 kobold "housekeepers", and they were all overcome quickly. There was no sign of any orcs however. Some persuasion was used on the remaining humans and a secret entrance into another set of caverns was found, these caverns were naturally formed.
Initial success was had against a look out and another couple of orcs down the passageway, but some of the orcs were fleeing before them.
Finally the party felt they had the orcs back up into a corner. Turning that corner the small party found themselves against at least 12 well armed orcs and their chieftain on a small dias waving a double sided war ax.
Suddenly things looked grim.. when the orc chief bellowed "HUMANS!! We want NOT YOU! Leave us your half orc and we will let the rest of you live and forgive the terrible wrongs you've done us. Just leave us the orc that he may join his TRUE people!"
Trunk looked over his friends. Looked up at the orc chieftain. The power, like his. The echoing voice..the intellect, like his! But his friends.. they meant a lot. But they may die anyway and he was a wanted man.
As his friends considered the wording of their refusal they heard Trunk's voice shout out "Uh.....I mean..uh... Ok."
The party, even the new members looked at Trunk. Betrayed? Relieved? Everyone had come to love "their" orc. And everyone had come to trust his axes. Could they leave him behind? Then the other thoughts came in "Wait..HE is the one who is most wanted.." .. "His obsession with beheading HAS gotten us into trouble..".
"Well Trunk, it was good knowing you. I hope you know what youre doing..good luck"
Trunk stepped towards the orc chieftain without a look back.. nervous.. but excited.
The party made its way out of the dungeon and back to the inn..2 days ride away. It was a silent ride. They hadn't done what they had set out to do.. what would the little hamlet do?
Here is a background post that may give you guys ideas to explore if you feel like trying to rehabilitate your party's image. A quick over view of politics, influence, law enforcement, religion.
Corsland, your country, has a king. The King lives in VIctoria, the capital designed after Victory over the Triangle Alliance in the Three Season War. During that war Corsland emerged victorious but only after the monarchy proved unable to win the war on its own. It had to depend mightily on the cooperation of local lords and merchants throughout the country, along with the churches and the magic guilds. In return, the lords and commoners negotiated shared power. The king retains many rights but there is now a Small Hall and Big Hall. The small hall represents commoners and is made up of appointed members from various guilds in each province. The Big Hall is made up the various royalty from through out the country. The king then has direct advisors from the churches, magic guilds, and the elves, plus others (military, et al).
In each province the King has a representative who looks after the Crowns interests and has some executive power, while the local lords maintain the remainder. At the province level the Kings representative competes for influence with the local lords, the churches, and guilds. Typically actual power lies with the Kings representative but the local lord collects taxes, and makes decisions that are "local".
On the province level there are different types of law enforcement / military / militia.
Vale is typical and it breaks down like this:
Kings Rep -- Provincial Minister. Has direct political control of national military based in Vale. Also in theory controls the Provincial Guard , though this is in reality a duty given to an underling. The Provincial Guard enforce Royal Law and protect the King and Corslands interest in Vale.
Town Council -- Vale lacks a local lord, rather is controlled by a town council made up of 15 members from the 15 largest guilds in town. They fund the Vale Provosts.
Local Barons -- the country side is divided into Counties, controlled usually by a Baron, sometimes a Wizard, who typically have a force of Sheriffs.
Each religion also has a police/militia force, to protect morality and their church's interest.
In Vale the 3 major religions are pretty evenly spread and each has their own force.
Obviously as the interests of all parties don't always line up there are sometimes tensions between various police forces and levels of government. Some locals tend to begrudge the Kings presence in Vale as Vale is a commerce center, with little care or attention given to nationalism. On the other hand, some locals are more given to nationalistic feelings and consider the local politicians short sighted and sometimes corrupt. The churches may have their own ideas completely about how things should be going.
Ok.. 2 sessions worth to put in here , and some of this was a month ago..but here is the summary:
The party made it back to the inn, meeting up with their sailor and the 2 children from the witch's house along the way. The sailor had had his share of adventure and quietly slipped away, hoping to catch on with a ship somewhere.
The town considered the the bargain fulfilled, mostly as they assumed the mere return of the group itself a sign they must have "won". Avoiding giving too many details, the group set out and travelled the next week or so with out trouble, then arriving in Stoneville.
Stoneville is set in the foothills, just where the proper mountains are starting and where mountain streams form into a river that meanders its way to the lowlands. Set in the hills and mountains is a Dwarven Stronghold, a city of unknown population where the Dwarfs and their gnome friends make their living with their quarries, mines, workshops and more. On the step of their stronghold they have allowed a town of 2000 humans to build up, a prosperous town of merchants for the most part. Until recently they governed themselves but eventually as it grew too big it attracted attention and though the town exists on what all agree to be Dwarven lands, the Provincial Guard moved in, claiming to be needed to keep the peace but they seem most intent on taxing the inhabitants.
The group settled in the biggest inn, a 4 story wood structure, finely built and with reasonable prices but fine food and rooms. They went about their business. They attempted to pawn the two children off on the Temple of the Ladder, but were put off and instead left them with the Mount Temple, who offered to take them in after little discussion.
After casting about the group got in touch with a gnome merchant who proved useful.. they sold off their gold vampire coffin, a few other items and made some purchases. He also got them in touch with a mining team that could get them Kindling Stones.
The next day they went to the mines themselves, travelling down, down far down into the heart of the mountain. Their the dwarven miners were using a team of 4 Stone Hounds and a Xorn to mine for gems and Kindling Stones. Needing 2 Kindling stones, the group was fortunate and ended up with 4... though the Xorn became increasingly aggravated and eventually broke lose, perhaps trying to get at the magic sword Bamiyan held.
In the ensuing chao kobolds from the lower levels escaped, the Xorn ate the magic sword that Bamiyan had on loan, and several dwarves were killed. The escaped kobolds were destroyed or surrendered and eventually the party made it out, Bamiyan filing a grievance for his lost weapon.
Waiting for a day for some commerical transactions to be made, the next morning the party was awoken early. First the inn manager gave word the carts were to be picked up on the other side of the river landing.. which in hindsight was probably a tip off. Next, a young acolyte from the Temple Mount showed up, Hans and Greta in tow.. he brought word the children were in danger as was the whole party. The priest didn't seem to believe, thankfully, all the rumors about the Vampire Slayers, but did let them know they were exposed. Looking outside, already the inn was being surrounded and the Gnome merchant could be seen collecting a fee, along with the Head Priest of the Temple Mount of Stoneville.
Springing into action the party searched for a way out and found no easy won -- the building was surrounded and already a few Provincial Guard were tentatively making their way into the inn. The young priest, finding himself de facto a member of the party, wasted no time swinging into action and jumping down the stairs to confront the Guard, while Bamiyan , Saizeriya and the rest covered them. The Guard were quickly eliminated, put to sleep by Rodrick or killed outright. The party burst into the back alley and made short work of the Guard there and stole their horses and dashed towards the Dwarven side of the town, to where their carts were.
Just as the group passed into Dwarven town, 6 Guard giving chase caught up to them.. so they released Enchanted Caltrops-- which sent the following horses sprawling and their riders falling. 4 of the 6 horses had broken legs and would later be put down.
The group cleverly sent 3 Guards watching their carts on a false errand and coerced the remaining guard to join them, on a trip down a river. They negotiated a quick deal with a boat owner, who gave a very reasonable price to those he deduced were the Vampire Slayers.
The small push boat made its way down the river, past two guard towers and into more easy going passage. Though the river was relatively crowded, no more problems were enountered and by night fall they were in the small hamlet of Fast River (population 250).
They settled into the inn , making friends and enemies. Eventually they confronted 2 bounty hunters they had met. The bounty hunters and proven who they were by showing Trunks head on a pole..that settled their fate. The party ambushed them in their room, killed them quickly and replaced Trunk's head with the bounty hunters head-- giving Trunk as close to a proper burial as they could.
Then the party confronted their reality -- while they had the Kindling Stones they could trade, things were "hot" right now. Guardsmen and bounty hunters were crisscrossing the countryside looking for them. They had killed more Guardsmen and all of them had been seen clearly again, and now their number was increased by a renegade priest of the Mount. In the end, they decided against going straight back to Vale, but rather decided to confront the remaining Guard in Stoneville, and see if they could hold up their for the coming winter in the mountain and see what Spring might bring.
The inn keeper agreed to take in the children as apprentice innkeepers.
The group made preparations to head to Stoneville. Saizerius sat a little apart from the group. He had joined this group believing they could help him avenge his parents..but things werent what he imagined. They werent hunting vampires and tracking werewolves. They had spent their time on the run after massacring government agents. Was this where he belonged?
"Guys, I'm going to have to sit this next one out. I will catch up with you back in Stoneville, but if this is the way its gonna be.. I gotta do a couple things first." He wasn't sure if he would be back, but he knew he needed to figure out if this new life was really for him.
The priest looked up over the spear blade he was sharpening and at Bamiyan and Rodrick.
Rodrick nodded at Saizerius, "You must do what you think is right, of course. We will look for you at Stoneville. If things go right, hopefully we will be the authorities when you get back!"
Ok.. this will be a multi post post! First will be a narrative post to get it caught up. Then will be the post that fills the time of winter, that needs some replies..either here or in our Line conversation. I may also throw in some more general background info in a post.
Saizerius rounds a bend and is out of sight. The remainder of the party looks at the distant mountains, in the foothills is Stoneville, where they head back to.
The river is heavy with traffic as is the King's Road on either side of the river, as trade with Stoneville reaches its peak -- the last trade in heavy items before winter slows trade down to smaller goods until the snow break.
Not long into the journey back the party comes across a merchant family having trouble with their animals, and dealing with it rather violently. Sir Bamiyan sought to teach an even more violent lesson on the perils of animal abuse but the cooler head of their acolyte priest prevailed. In exchange for "wisdom" the merchant leader agreed to help smuggle the party into the town, and for once the best laid plans worked out.
Reaching Stoneville past nightfall, the group quickly made for the warehouse and workmen area of the small town with rebellion in their hearts. A plan was hatched to rile up the folk, greased with plenty of free drinks passed around their tavern, and all the neighboring taverns. Soon, with coins and ale and stirring speeches made the crowd is united in expressing their discontent.. the Provincial Guard has butted their noses.. GREEDY noses in where it is neither needed , wanted nor even APPROPRIATE. The crowd from several tarvers spills into the street and The Priest as everyone in the crowd has taken to calling him, stands on a table.. giving voice to their grievances!
Reaction comes swift..its not long before the Provincial Guard with Mount Priests by their side are spotted coming down the dark , midnight streets of town. They grew ever closer and The Priest riled up the crowd against them, while Bamiyan and Rodrick positioned themselves for the inevitable trouble.. and trouble it soon was. The Party, supported by a dozen or more townspeople were fired upon and responded..at the end of the skirmish, several towns people lay dead or dying, while just 2 of the Guard escaped the fury of the people.
A tavern owner offered to shelter them in his basement as they plotted their next move. Morning brought the propaganda, and several interesting offers during the day were made as the Party stayed out of site, licking their wounds.
Finally The Priest decided to call , at their invitation, at the Mount Temple, after the Party had made arrangements to meet the wealthy council members of the town in the burned out tavern theyd previously stayed.
The Temple meeting proved an ambush, with the Priest taking a crossbow bolt from an unseen sharpshooter. Making his escape he decided to wait where their meeting was to be held later. There, he was surprised to find two Guardsmen..dressed differently but there was no mistaking their identity. As they made their way into the basement he trapped their, and thereby exposed the ambush.
With no real meeting with the council arranged the Party discussed their options. They learned the next day , at the Janus Festival, 3 tavern owners caught up in the riot would be tried -- an odd break with tradition as the Janus Festival is nothing but a joyous, community festival marking 6 weeks before All Jule, the Festival of giving, and the onset of Snowdays.
The decision was made to free the tavern masters at their trial during the Festival.
Hiding weapons in the burned out tavern that bordered the large town plaza where the Fesitval was held, the Party first took a bit of time to take in the crowds and feel the people out, while also participating in some of the good times. Bamiyan entered a shooting match, though did not have his best day , eventually losing to a member of the Provincial Guard that did not recognize him.
Finally the Trials started -- from the outset an outright show trial. The Party leapt into action to save the tavern owners, taking down the Guard on the raised dias, and shooting the cooperating priests. While one tavern master was lost the remaining two were saved and Vince, head of the local Provincial Guard was dead.
With this victory in hand there was a thought to consolidate, but quickly things escalated -- the mob, semi "led" by the Party made its way to the Provincial Guard Tower. After brief negotiations ended with another arrested citizen being dropped on the mob in front, the tower was stormed. Short work was made of the 8 remaining Guardsmen, who surrendered after their leaders of the last stand fell.
Arresting the Guards, the Party led mob had one more stop.. the Mount Temple. This too was made short work of, with The Head Priest leaving this world for the next.
The Janus Festival would never be the same. Stoneville would never be the same. The Party..would never be the same.
The fire in the Mount Temple eventually burns itself out.. the night is dark.. but tomorrow is a brighter day!
Heavy snow falls throughout that night and by morning the blood throughout the town is covered in pristine white. No one makes a conscious decision, but the damaged Mount Temple becomes the Party's home, and soon , more than that. In midday when 2 of the Council of Ten show up and consult with the Party over re-holding the Janus Festival the next week at first nearly everyone in the Party fidgets and looks at each other, but then they "approve" the plan. Is this how it is then? Is this how it will be?
All the files and boxes of letter, journals and charts are brought from both the Temple and the Guard Tower and started to be read in great depth.
Bamiyan and Rodrick focus on reading the Guards documents, particularly Vince's, while the Priest and occasionally Willis went through the Temple's papers.
Reading the Temple's papers, the blasphemy of the Head Priest is laid bare. His notes to his Sacred Scrolls and Mevas (the God Chronicles) and The Opins (Commentary on the Will of Gods) transforms in the 3 years since he established the Temple. From fairly orthodox and unimaginative sermons and comments in the beginning, the Head Priest Botha slowly focused more and more on racial issues, and resentment of dwarfs and also on a new view of hierarchy of existence, not just of mortals and immortals, but classes among mortals .. a strange obsession with dragons creeps in.
In his private diary Botha speaks originally of ideas in his head he fears, but as time goes on he embaraces them. He talks of the source of the ideas as held in check by the Dwarfs. Eventually as time goes on he names his source of new ideas about the Gods and existence Melek, and writes openly of Melek as Messenger of the Gods. He envisions Melek as a dragon and talks of doing his bidding.
Its also obvious that most of the Priests of the Temple had been taken in by his subtle ways of introducing new ideas, but that the 3 Warrior Priests had rejected and once secretly confronted Botha. From that point on he'd been forced to use a powerful charm gifted him by Melek, who warned him to use it sparingly as it drew from Melek himself.
He mentions eventually using it on just one other person.. Vince Bennington, Captain of the Guard.
Vince's letters are to many people. The main ones of interest are to someone he refers to only as "M". Until a year ago, the letters speak mostly cryptically of creating threats to wake the people of Vale and its surroundings. There are occasional disparaging words said about the capital city and an expressed desire to see Vale as the new and proper capitol.
There are mentions of "agents" abroad that M manages, and their contracts and promises, and also of bandits, ruffians, and demihumans to be led.
From a year ago, the letters take a twist. "M" seems to take Vince to task for being unfocused, and to berate him for talking nonsense about mythical creatures as allies. He is encouraged to keep collecting taxes and forwarding them to different groups referred to only in code.
Very recent letters talk about the Vampire Slayers and how they should be arrested but not killed, and that they could be proven useful. He mentions 2 special men of special focus will be brought to help them as there are indications the Vampire Slayers may be heading south.
So that is what is found. Any questions are welcome.
Next...what happens over the next few weeks:
A chill comes in and the snow continues to fall. The lake that serves as the loading and work area for shipping things down river much of the year freezes over and soon docks that normally have goods piled high are transformed into areas for renting skates and equipment for special games played on the ice. Only one small area is still in the business of business, and goods are loaded onto sleighs rather than barges.
The town plaza still has the ice statues in them and is further decorated for All Jules Festival. Dwarves create water proof platforms and soon one more ice rink is created in the plaza, this one for free to all.
The wizard who checked for magic cheating during Janus Festival Games seeks out Rodrick. His name is Poet, and he is a kind, middle aged man. He speaks always softly, but earnestly and after a few minutes of talk understands Rodrick is skilled and holds much potential, but is in fact still new with magic and the wonders of Mana. Without being asked, he starts almost immediately to teach.
The Council shows up with 20 young men with tools. Although its tough to work in winter, and its the traditional time of rest, they set about fixing the Mount Temple, and the people assume The Priest will take it over and continue to offer services. The Highest Rung of the rival Temple of the Ladder visits and expresses his desire the two religions live in peace together once again, with Botha's madness removed and forgiven.
Even the Dwarfs send a representative. He mostly seems considered that business will continue , and that maybe the taxes will be lowered on their human partners as it seemed unjust and arbitrary previuosly. Not knowing whom to bow to the lowest but wanting to be polite he takes his leave calling the party collectively "Mayors".
You are invited to dinners, some of which you make it through easily, some painfully as it becomes painfully aware youre really not equipped for polite company at this point in your lives. It becomes more urgent when you notice that several attracted women seem to have taken notice of the young, important and mysterious men whove taken charge of their town -- Vampire Slayers or not!
Six weeks later All Jules Fesitval takes place, with much gift giving, plays on stages, feasts of fresh meat brought in from hunters. The coal used to heat the homes gives off a certain amount of soot making the town seem almost like a monochrome print, with just points of color added by Juletime decorations. You are surprised to see the old traveler from the road arrive in town, Nickolaus Klaus. He delivers a present or three to every household, and then leaves to visit the next hamlet over, though no one sees him arrive or actually depart.
The New Year is celebrated soon after, the only Festival not jointly celebrated with the Dwarfs. And with the coming of the new year the Council starts to express some worries.. the town kicked out and perhaps slaughtered in some peoples opinion, the Provinical Guard and priest of the Mount Temple.
Soon, the snow will break.
Decisions must be made.
Everyone can have 800 hours of study ..4 points of study if its something that would have a teacher. 2 if not.
Issues: what did you do with the Provincial Guard? What do you tell, if anything, the Provincial Temple of the Mount in Vale? Do you contact your friend in Swift River and have things brought up?
Let me know what you want to study, what actions you take during the winter, etc.
Veda the Moor last edited by Veda the Moor
Rodrick agrees to study with Poet, and in exchange for being taught agrees to help create some new PowerStones with him, of which he will get to keep one as well. Just before closing himself off for the multiday rituat he sends a letter to Angela O'Hara , the innkeep down in Swift River, the riverside hamlet. She packs up her things and the Party's carts and begins the journey up the foothills, sending word ahead she will be there in a couple of days.
Meanwhile, the Party sets about tying up loose strings in Stoneville. 15000 gold.. probably 2 years worth of taxes meant to be collected by the Provincial Guard (if indeed the taxes were even legal..) are found in the Mount Temple. Taking a mere 1/3 as a finders fee the remaining 10000 gold are quickly allocated:
1 Chief and 3 Sheriffs are hired to take over the basic policing of the town. Non military types are hired, and their payments for 2 years provided for. They take up in the Station House of the Guard.
A school is set up in the Guards Tower, since renamed Truk Hall. At the beginning the idea is for free basic education for the children of the town, but with much room for expansion it is hoped a college or colleges may eventually be founded. Already Rodrick is in Poet's ear to teach magic there, with the idea the Dwarfs could possibly be convinced to teach some of their human appropriate techniques here. Again, 2 years of payments are given to get the ball rolling.
The town council is encouraged to take up more formal governing and responds favorably.
Four Unicorn Inn , burnt down, has its rubble cleared away and plans made for its rebuilding, when the snow breaks. Already it has a new name and the sign, at least, goes up: Four Unicorns and the Phoenix.
Caston the Gnome sends a peace offering of 5,000 gold and a letter of apology, describing the situation he was in and how he felt forced to give up the party. It also explains as much as hed like to have dinner to set feelings right, he will be wintering elsewhere.
Those affairs taken care of the Party settles into serious study of documents. "Melek" comes up again and again and they take this up with the Dwarfs.
The Dwarfs express some surprise at Humans using their tongue and explain Me' Lek means "The Spleen of a Mountain" --usually used in contrast to the Heart of a mountain. Me' Lek in these lands usually refers to the Dwarven fairy tell told to children to get them to behave.
The Dwarfs guide the party down a couple of levels to an out of the way small plaza. In the middle is an old, old statue of Me Lek, labeled "The Capture of Me Lek".. the statue shows a dragon type creature somewhat coiled up like a snake, with its wings extended. Over the statue is an 8 meter long giant, dull lance labeled Me Lek's Bane. As the statue claims Me Lek was captured, this would seem to be a contradiction -- but this would work itself out.
To hear more about Me Lek the party visited the Dwarf Historian and Keeper of the Dominoes: Glimmerin the Inkstained. The Party enters his chambers a bit deeper into the Dwarf City and immediately take care not to knock anything over: the entire large chamber, save for the far wall where a dusty desk and bookshelves are is covered in dominoes being set up.. shelves and tables create 3 levels are there are 10s of thousands of dominoes.. the higher up areas have numberous wires and that attach to a number of cuckoo looking clocks about, minus their clock faces. Glimmerin takes little notice initially, but once Saizerius helps him balance 4 dominos on a small table at the same time he finally gives help, including 2 books about Me Lek. Once he is convinced the Party really is onto something he takes them to see the King of the Dwarfs.
King Thule II rules from the Andune Chamber.. a chamber that is exceptionally ornate in carving and decoration even by Dwarf standards. Gold and silver furnishings, plates, pots, cups, chalices are everywhere and only the 6 beds up against the wall seem more humble..elderly Dwarf advisors speaking their wisdom as they lay on the beds to the gregarious (for a Dwarf) King. The wealth coming in has meant the often dour Dwarfs are more often than not in a good mood.
Hearing the story the party tells, that Brother Botha seems to have had something to do with Me Lek, the Dwarf king scoffs -- "Its a MYTH". Then an aged but firm voice carries from one of the beds "Well.. that's not QUITE true.." The advisor lays out that 847 years ago it really happened..the Dwarfs and Elves split over who was responsible for awakening an Under Dragon. Some call it a Dragon Vampire. The advisor confirms long circulated rumors that the Dwarf City wants went MUCH further down.. and explains where it was sealed.
The King , his nephews and a few advisors head down..and down..and down. Despite their economic success, Dwarf numbers are dwindling in the city and the lower levels past the newer mines are rarely used. There were signs only that "young" Dwarfs came down to do whatever it is the young do out of site of adults do.
A particular plaza was found with 5 mock Turn Polls in place. The Polls numbered the wrong amount, were the wrong material.. it was long assumed they were decoration.. but they were turned and the floor indeed opened as the ancient advisor said it would. Below was a level that hadnt been seen in 847 years..
Or shouldn't have been. Instead -- there sat 12 kegs of gunpowder! Fresh! On makeshift ladder and shelves, trying to be right up against the floor! Broken pottery, empty vessels and footprints showed the area had been used very recently. By kobolds! And at least one Orc!
The King sent the Party and his two nephews to investigate. Sazerius took the lead, sneaking in and out of the plentiful shadows and finding a small party of kobolds on a lower floor.. it was easy to find them through the cacophony of "music" they were playing on trumpets, kazoos, and whatever else they were using. On that floor was also a roughly carved winged figure..possibly a dragon or maybe a hippogriff..or a griffin maybe. All about it lay stones in a pile..and in front of the stones were bones of bats, mice, rats and other small animals. Looking in a window at the humanoids, Sazerious was struck at how thin they all looked..
And that made them that much easier to kill. Panicking them with a gunpowder keg, the dwarves and party made short work of the creatures.. stopping only to question one.
Eventually through tunnel after tunnel, and going around magically sealed areas.. the party reached the true lowest level. Saizerius snuck forward once more.. once more wondering about his career choices.. and before he knew it was standing looking into an odd scene:
A giant room.. lit up magic sources. 12 ghostly white Dwarves sat about 2 big tables playing poker..with no money..only playing for tricks: headstands, somersaults, juggling moves.. and behind them on a 3 tiered stone cared dias was.. was.. What? The front looked like an immense Blue dragon.. but very pale. The back half was mostly rotted away..no flesh, just the bones.. half way up the chest it gained more and more flesh..at its neck and head it was an intact blue Dragon, of an oddly pale shade.
Saizerius thought to run, but was soon convinced rather to play cards with the Dragon, the Dwarves taking no mind of him.
Soon the party joined and combat joined however.. with only Saizerious still ready to play cards. The Kings nephew and Bamiyan were wrapped in lightening shooting from the Dragons mouth, and beat a hasty retreat. When Saizerius tried to leave the Dragon insisted he meant him no harm.. it was his friends who caused the fuss.. as a sign of good faith he offered 1 or 2 of the giant sapphires that were about the room.
The Party escaped..and regrouped up in the Upper Floors, where the King waited. Mourning began for the dead Nephew, and an angry, but cautious King offered all the support he could give and a reward worthy of a Kings Remembrance if the Party eliminated the the threat they had just disturbed. Me Leks Bane was brought.. the final gift from the Elves , meant to be used if Me Lek ever were a threat again. The dull long case was discovered to be a CASE, and inside was a 5 1/2 meter long Elven constructed lance, with many inscriptions on it, obviously magic.
The Party took stock of their situation.
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