Posts Tagged With: Age of Worms

A Letter to Frater Nikolai

Nikolai,

I trust this letter finds you well and that you have found what you needed during your time spent in contemplation. I wish that I could say that that I am sorry to be writing you, and in one way I am for I would not bother you unless there was the direst need for both your dedication and your skills. At the same time, I must admit that I happy that you will be actively bringing the Light to the world once again.

A situation in the Kingdom of Llyr has come up that requires your special insights as I am sure the following letter will explain.

You may have heard, even in your isolation of the young Lord Devin Tresendar? Well, the rumors are true, he is Touched by the Lord Sc. Michael and has been blessed with a series of miracles as he brings Light in Darkness. He and his companions have even travelled to the Shadowlands in the pursuit of a series of threads regarding a prophecy of an upcoming Age of Worms – I have arranged to have more details gathered and awaiting for you upon your arrival and this is perhaps the greatest reason for choosing you to attend to this matter.

Fighting against the Vanguard of Sertrous which seeks to bring about this coming Age, Tresendar confronted them and thwarted their plan to summon forth their long-dead commander. If this was not miracle enough he recovered the great sword Merthuvial, the Kingmaker, and confirmed as its rightful wielder.

Returning home, it became become apparent that there is old rot within the lands of his family and Tresendar discovered a cult deeply entrenched in fabric of Diamond Lake, a prominent mining town of the kingdom, and one that was part of his family lands for generations – though mismanagement and misfortune had passed control to the Consortium in his grandfather’s time. Investigating and striking quickly, Tresendar and his companions discovered a long buried fane – one older than anything that you can imagine or even guess.

Our aid was requested by Tresendar to deal with the guardianship of the fane, so I have arranged for a company of troops to be at your disposal, under your good Watch and Judgement. I also think that Lord Tresendar would benefit from some advice and counsel, as well as he has done so far he is surrounded by a curious set of companions – please see the attached letter for details.

But, the Community of the town has not only lost its leader, it has seemingly lost its way as well. The former Lightbringer of the town, one Jierian Wierus, was a fanatic and by all reports unhinged. Perhaps it was the dire influence of the cult or the close proximity of the fane, or perhaps he was simply weak, but in any case he has left the community there in dire straits with his death in the fane. While many in the town are of the Faith, the recent events have shaken them and it is important that they know that the Church has not forgotten them.

Also, given the chaos involved in the discovery of the cult, the entire leadership of the town itself is uncertain. I have dispatched this letter before word has come from the King as to how he is handling the disposal of the town.

I will commit no more to paper on this subject my friend. You must witness it for yourself. Grace in Light, Strength in Darkness.

 

Sancta Loren

The Most Reverend Gregorius Sc. Thiede, by the Lords of Light and Proclamation of the Sarim under the Lord Sc. Metatron, Lord High Archon and Primate of the Rite of the Congregation of Loren.

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What’s happening!?!

So, we are on a bit of a break from the D&D 5e Siyahchal Campaign, the characters have liberated the town of Diamond Lake from it’s corrupt mayor and the worst of the mine owners as part of the process of dealing with the Cult of the Ebon Triad. Devin has been installed as a Baronet with responsibility for the town and much of the surrounding area. We’ll pick things up again in a couple of months “real-time” and a year or two “game time” when the stars shift again, threatening an Age of Worms…

In the meantime we are playing Call of Cthulhu 7e, and Pulp Cthulhu at that. One player is taking a break (Cthulhu really not being her thing) but everyone else jumped at the idea of this system. I’m setting the game in Chicago, starting it in 1920, and continuing on somewhat from where I left the small campaign set in wartime Paris that I was playing with MR and KT. I’ve combined the classic Haunting scenario and the more recent Edge of Darkness scenario into one larger, interlinked narrative.

We’ve played one session and everyone seemed to have fun, I’ll do what I can to keep people abreast with what is happening. You can follow thin links above and see what characters people have, and while I have modified the traits for Pulp Cthulhu somewhat (and I’ll post my changes here in the next week or so), the “double hit points” and extra rules for luck makes a good start to a more survivable game.

TTFN!

D.

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Call of Cthulhu 7e has arrived!

So, this past Monday I was happy to find on my doorstep the box containing my long awaited Call of Cthulhu 7e rules – and I have to say that I find browsing and reading the rules much easier in physical form than on the PDF’s I’ve had for awhile. It also means that I’ll have to update a couple of my previous posts to be more in-line with 7e rules. (EDIT: Done and Done)

I’ve also been looking at the fact that I’ve been running my current 5e campaign for about a year-and-a-half now – and as the Age of Worms continues to threaten it would easily continue to run for many more years. That isn’t exactly a problem, but historically I’ve tend to run games/campaigns for between 1-2 years and then flipped to another game/genre to help rejuvenate myself creatively – and I’m certainly hitting that point now.

So I think that I have one solid chapter in me for the 5e campaign. The party has successfully plundered the Whispering Cairn, discovering treasures and lore of the Wind Dukes that have been long-hidden and is now preparing to investigate one of the local mines – suspecting the owner of being part of the Cult of the Ebion Triad and working towards bringing about the Age of Worms. The party can complete that and I’ll have an excellent place to leave things and even give the party some significant downtime before we pick up the campaign again.

That begs the question of what I could run next. I have a strong vote from at least one player for Call of Cthulhu though to be truthful I’d rather wait until I had Pulp Cthulhu on hand to use. I’m interested enough in what they’ve done with 7e that I think that Pulp Cthulhu might be a good substitute for my own pulp rules – or at least mesh with them well enough that they added significantly to the game (or add a better framework to manipulate).

My other two “stand-bys” are also possible – Cyberpunk 2020 and Traveller. Now I’ve run many games with a mash-up of the two, but I have been somewhat fond of the Mongoose 1e version of Traveller and have the entire SRD saved to hand out to players if need be. It is a simple game that hearkens back to Classic Traveller in many ways, and I’ve been tinkering with a non-OTU setting for a couple of years now (much of it, thankfully, not lost when my hard drive crashed). I’ve been really pondering the concept of Proto-Traveller a great deal, and somewhat consciously rejecting the OTU – while at the same time amused and amazed at how different the OTU seems to be from what everyone assumed after reading Agent of the Imperium by Mark Miller.

Cyberpunk 2020 is a very rich setting with a very easy engine. It’s theoretically hampered by the conceptual twitching provoked by the idea that it is actually set in the year 2020 – and that could be hard to sell a great many people. I think that it might work better as a “Cyberpunk 2200” set a couple of hundred years in the future, that changes the canon timeline but much of the flavor text of the game can remain the same. Perhaps a future where the solar system has been explored and settled but where there is no FTL travel so we remain stuck in orbit around Sol for all intents and purposes – though I suppose a bit of Bladerunner-inspired flavor means that the Tannhauser Gate could be a thing…

TTFN!

D.

 

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Lol, missing Game Logs…

So, well, yes, clearly I haven’t written up a Game Log in forever…

I keep meaning to, but I keep failing miserably and then keep falling behind. We just finished the 29th session of the current campaign I think I need to grant a very broad overview of what has happened.

The party managed to survive the Shadowlands mostly unscarred – though the gnomes were hit hard. Fonkin was brought to the brink of death by the strange magics and creatures of the Shadowlands and transformed into a Shade while his henchman and cousin  Wren died. From the cold lands of Shadow the party followed another gate to the sweltering heat of the Jungles of Ith, where they found gates home but were also able to return quickly enough to thwart the Vanguard and prevent the Reborn King from fully manifesting. In the process Ilda was almost lost (but managed to invoke her Ancestors successfully) and Rhys went missing though divinations suggest that he is not dead.

After all of this the party took a much needed break, resting up after their travails and travels – and capitalizing on the tales of their adventures, strange dress, and potent magic. This included Dorje Jarvic travelling off to train as a Warrior Monk and Lord Devon and his wife finally starting to rebuild the Tresendar hunting lodge in Phandalin. In turn, Ilda was given a series of visions as to the location of Wave Echo Cave by her Ancestors and the party decided to investigate – especially given their early failures with the Rockseeker brothers as well as their concern over the “Forge of Spells” falling into the wrong hands. There they found another group of adventurers, with legal documents asserting their right to explore the cave, and they were shocked when Dhagri was seemingly convinced to join the other group by a powerful Khazan after they had retreated to Diamond Lake

Doing their best to readjust after the loss the party added a couple of new members (despite some misgivings on some folks parts). And under the prompting of the strange tome of Misset al’Namat, they party sought out the Whispering Cairn that they had heard about during their earlier visit to Diamond Lake. Currently deep inside, they think they may have found the entrance to the true tomb of one of long lost Wind Dukes.

So, all in all, the group completed the modules Barrow of the Forgotten King (2nd level characters), The Sinister Spire (5th level characters), and Fortress of the Yuan-Ti (7th level characters). They have mostly completed the starter module Lost Mine of Phandelver (1st-5th characters), and have made excellent inroads into the first installment of the Age of Worms adventure path, The Whispering Cairn (1st-3rd level characters).

This has the brought the core of the group into solidly 7th to 8th level, though there are also a smattering of lower level characters. We’re still liking 5e (clearly) though we switched to non-XP advancement awhile back and transitioned to achievement/story based leveling. It actually seems like a better fit for the system. I’m still underwhelmed with the 5e sensibilities when it comes to magic item placement – so I’m happily ignoring it. The party is also clearly coming into their own, power-wise – preventing the Reborn King showed just how powerful they were. They also, in this latest scrape with the other group of adventurers in Wave Echo Cave, learned what it was like to be on the receiving end of a couple of powerful spell-casters backed by a powerful warrior.

TTFN!

D.

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The Kingmaker and Queen’s Brooch

So, just to throw some content out there – here are my conversions for the Legacy Magic items from Barrow of a Forgotten King and The Sinister Spire. It is interesting because of the lack of Feat progression in 5E, so I basically dumped that entire mechanic. I was also not much of a fan of the special ritual “unlocking” mechanic because I think it creates more work for the DM rather than opportunities for the player.

Yeah, there are at least a couple more coming along here once the players aquire them, and I’ll be sure to post those stats as well.

Merthúvial – The Kingmaker

A masterwork longsword made of shining adamant, with the runes of Aleph in spelling out Merthivial (or “Kingmaker”) along the blade. It has a plain hilt set with a single large pearl in the pommel.

Requirements:

  • Good or Neutral Alignment
  • Persuasion Skill
  • Proficiency in Longsword

Properties:

  • +2 Adamant Longsword
  • Considered Enchanted
  • Has Advantage against all non-Adamant Armor
  • Does double damage dice (2d8, or Versatile for 2d10)
  • Has the Finesse Quality (weighs half normal)
  • When drawn and held, it glows with white light equal to a torch in strength. In combat this light becomes distinctly reddish in hue, though the brightness and intensity stay the same.

Level Bonuses:

  • 5th: Detect Thoughts – 1/Day
  • 7th: Strength of Kings – (+2 Strength while worn)
  • 8th: Loyal Servitor – (Continual Unseen Servant)
  • 10th: Merciful Redress – 3/Day – “Your Strength Shall Return” (Lesser Restoration)
  • 11th: +3 Bonus, Plus Keen (Doubles Chance of Critical)
  • 13th: Lordly Orator – Advantage on Charisma Skill Checks while Targets have Disadvantage to Resist
  • 14th: Expel From The Realm – 1/Day – “Begone!” (Banishment)
  • 16th: Loyal Minions – 1/Day – “To Me!” – (Monster Summoning V)
  • 17th: +4 Bonus, Adds Shocking (+1d10 Electrical Damage, doubled on Critical)
  • 20th: Kings Command – 1/Day – “Hear and Obey!” (Dominate Monster)

Spell Save DC’s are equal to 8 + Proficiency Bonus + Charisma Modifier + Weapon Bonus


Banrhialorg – The Queen’s Brooch

A Masterwork Brooch of unblemished gold, it features a draconic head with sapphire eyes and ruby tongue. Close examination reveals that faint lines and joins in the brooch and it’s chain form a sequence of arcane runes.

Requirements:

  • Arcane spellcaster
  • Arcana skill
  • Female

Properties:

  • When an arcane spellcaster uses the brooch, the sapphire eyes flash with lightning and the ruby tongue burns with fire, shedding light like a candle. The wielder can suppress this effect with a reaction, but must do so each time the brooch is used.
  • The wielder may also double the duration of up to three spells each day as a Reaction.

Level Bonuses

  • 5th Level: Arcane Cipher – Can use Detect Magic, Read Magic, and Arcane Mark as a normal Action.
  • 6th Level: Arcane Alacrity – The wearer can memorize and prepare spells in a third of the normal amount of time.
  • 10th Level: Arcane Resistance – The wearer has Advantage on saves vs. Spells.
  • 13th Level: Arcane Persistence – The wielder can double the duration on up to an additional three spells that they cast as a Reaction daily.
  • 14th Level: Arcane Repulsion – The wielder has Resistance to magical damage.
  • 16th Level: Arcane Reserve – The wielder can store up to three levels of spells in the brooch.
  • 17th Level: Arcane Acumen – Grants a +6 to Spell Save DC and Spell Attack Modifiers. In the event that the wielder has multiple arcane classes they must pick one class that the bonus applies to.
  • 20th Level: Arcane Empowerment – The wielder can increase the power of up to three spells that they cast per day. This increases the range, damage, area-of-effect, and duration by 50%.
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Intersession #18.5 – Through the Leygate (Fiction)

Stepping through the leygate was an exercise in willpower, the crackling, eldritch energies raced through one’s body and it was easy to believe that instead of translocating space your body was ripped apart and reassembled within the span of a flash of lightning. But the memory of that awful moment of being in two places at once thundered through the body for long moments as each member of the party stumblingly caught their breath, trying to make way for the next with limbs that moved numbly and awkwardly.

Rhys had been the first through, now he stood on the edge of the barren and ancient road the leygate had taken the party to. Eyes alert on the surroundings, his cloak already pulled up around his face to keep out the black and grey dust that was whipped up by the low wind that moaned across the ground and through the surrounding hills, Rhys absently scratched Lockheed’s head as the dragonet wrapped itself across his shoulders, staying close in the unfamiliar and alien terrain.

He’d been the first to investigate the low stone terrace that they all rested upon now, where the leygate had opened to. There were a pair of ancient stone plinths standing in the terrace, deeply graven with runes and sigils, the site of the leygate terminus. They were now cold and silent rather than alive with arcane energies. The leygate had closed scant minutes after the company had arrived, removing the only way to return to Kingshom that the party knew of – the first sign of things going horribly, horribly wrong. Rhys had also discovered the body lying in road in his sweep of the area, a human dressed in violet robes, filled with arrows and bitten about the face and shoulders by snakes. The twin sacks turned out beside the body had been similar to the ones the tomb-robbers had carried and had the remains of grave dirt and tomb dust, but the note in the corpse’s hand had been in no language he’d ever seen before.

After that had gone Dhagri. The young Khazan’s eyes had been big and bright as he passed through the leygate, uncomfortable with the unfamiliar and arcane nature of the travel. He paced around sniffing the bitter tang to air that was cool with the wind. Like Rhys, his eyes focused outwards at the bleak rocky hills, watching for danger, looking for a clue as to what to do next. As he unconsciously played with the wrappings of the hilt of his axe, his eyes drifted off to the distance where it seemed darker, like the coming of night, but it came no closer, grew no darker as Dhagri watched. Instead it seemed as if the Darkness waited, and watched him in turn, patient and silent and hungry as a grave.

Fonkin sat on a small rock, shivering in the shadowy twilight they had found themselves in. Gnomes were creatures of the surface world for all that they burrowed in the earth for its treasures, and too much time away from the fresh air and warming rays of the sun brought with a malaise for the Little People. One hand on the body of his cousin Wren that lay wrapped at his feet, Fonkin rocked gently and prayed quietly that they could revive him rather than leave him in such a desolate place. Reaching out to his Patron, the link felt hollow and weak, and he shuddered to think of himself left alone in the darkness here, still and lifeless, with no-one to remember him. The light of Faerie seemed very distant, fading the same as hope threatened to.

Even the knowledge that his Patron was pleased with him barely cheered him, for while the contents of the note had been revealed to him, the turned out bags beside the corpse meant that another task lay before them…

Fadheela,

I have been delayed. My servant carries the king’s bones and all the items of his champions that I could find. Merthúvial I cannot locate. I shall spend a bit more time it, but I am sending these on so our rendezvous is not compromised. Please give the Vanguard my regards. I shall be along shortly.

                                                                                                                -Xeron

Ilda’s eyes flickered over the party in turn, then to each of the corpses in turn, as well as toward the same Darkness as Dhagri’s eyes did – consciously or unconsciously everyone cast a glance in that direction regularly. Having pulled out the dulcimer from its’ storage place, the dwarf was calmed by checking to make sure that it had survived the recent combats unscathed. This place was like nothing the dwarf had ever encountered before, and the lays and lore tumbled through Ilda’s head trying to figure out where they were. Like all of the party, the dwarf was tired – the miraculous blessing of the Celestial seemed days distant rather than hours.

Lost in a numb reverie, Ta’sara sat next to Rhys, unconsciously looking to family for comfort. Coughing at the dust, all she could hear was the wind blowing across the stones. Not a bird, not an insect, not any animal that she could identify. She hoped that this place would not be the death of them all, the same that the tomb had been for Wren and their distant kin Leera. The wrapped body of the young bard lay where it had fallen as Ta’sara had stumbled through the leygate – the incredible and essential wrongness of the place like an ache in her joints, a weakness in her bones, a queasy feeling that settled in guts like spoiled meat. The quiet, the dust and incredible dryness, the lack of vegetation made her think it was desert of some sort – but this matched no description of any desert she had ever read about. Beyond that, even the light of the distant stars was wrong and cold. There were none of the natural rhythms and currants that she was used to or even expected – only dust, shadows, and a distant lurking Darkness.

The tracks that had surrounded the purple-robed corpse had walked in the direction of the road and then stopped in mid-stride. Whomever had slain Xeron’s servant had teleported away in midstride and there was no way to know where they had gone. The Forgotten King’s remains and the equipment of his champions was nowhere to be seen and Ta’sara had no clue as to where to look next, no idea how to solve the problem in front of them, let alone the looming issue of the Vanguard and whatever their mission was in the threatened coming of the Age of Worms.

Face illuminated by the endless flame he held cupped in his hands, Jarvic listened to the song of the Great Dragon in the wind that swept across the land. It was a harsher, darker song, one that he had never heard before and it matched the ache in his muscles and the tiredness he felt in his very soul after the travails of the Barrow. Here, in this wide open space with nothing but rock and wind and dust Jarvic could hear the Great Dragon like never before, not just one Great Voice, but a multitude of lesser voices that sang in harmony and melody. It was so strong, these combined voices that made up the Great Dragon, the Great Dragon was so strong, that it felt like Jarvic was all but lifted off the ground, like the wind would carry him. The breeze eddied around him, filling his lungs so full that they would never empty, a constant presence and reminder that the Great Dragon was near, was present even here, was with him even with the Darkness so close.

The Darkness, Jarvic looked towards it. It weighed heavily on his mind, its presence almost adding a physical weight to his shoulders, adding to his weariness, holding him down where the Great Dragon would raise him up. The flame in his hand seemed dimmer here, less warm, colder, like the distant stars that could be seen through the twilight gloom of the sky. Stars that were in no configuration that he had ever seen nor any that he had read of. Their pattern reminded him of the writing that the Necromancer had stolen from his mind, not that it should be possible, but he felt weak and uneasy when he thought to deeply on the matter and his thoughts fled from half-remembered dreams of terrible things and worse possibilities.

While Fonkin had been able to read the missive from the tomb-robber Xeron, it was due to some arcane trick. Jarvic had recognized the script, even if he wasn’t skilled enough to read it. It was elaborate glyphs of the Ithian language – the language of the slavers that his family had escaped from when he was nothing but a child. An ancient and cruel people, of inhuman lusts and infamous plots, who dwelt far to south in a jungle empire built on the ruins of races and empires far worse than they. This rocky, desolate wasteland was not the jungle of Ith, so where had this Vanguard led them?

Shivering slightly as the wind picked up, Devon stared at the gleaming sword lying on the ground on a ripped and tattered cloak before him. The adamantine blade glowed faintly in the darkness the black and grey dust refusing to settle upon it. It sat there where he had placed it, almost dropped actually because gazing upon his companions he had been overwhelmed by the cacophony and hopelessness of their thoughts, their confusion, pain, and their fear. It had not happened again, but Devon was wary of that flood of information again. It made the young nobles own fear worse, that he would never see his wife again, that he would fail not just his family, but the Light itself by allowing the bones of Forgotten King whose sword this had been to be used in whatever fell ritual they were intended. The weight of that responsibility was crushing, weighing him down despite already being exhausted by the fight with the Betrayer and his companions.

Devon glanced in the direction of the Darkness and shuddered, it was as if he was living the tales and parables of the Enchiridion. It was hard, he knew he needed to be an inspiration even when he doubted himself. There is no Light greater than that found within the soul of the Faithful. It shines through the longest nights, in the deepest Darkness, and provides a beacon for those in the greatest need – was the quote and he remembered Frater Simeon reciting it as he learned Aleph in temple. Devon just wished that he was as strong as the blade in front of him, he knew he was unworthy, knew that he was merely weak flesh rather than celestial steel.

.

..

….

…..

….

….

..

.

Startled by the almost simultaneous low whistle by Rhys and soft coughing bark by Dhagri, the company came to their feet, grasping at weapons and looking in all directions. Appearing out the shadows, gliding silently down the road, a small landbarge – more of wagon actually – had appeared. Rarely seen, no one in the company had ever seen such a small one before. It floated silently down the center of the well-worn cobblestones of the ancient road, and as it drew closer they were all able to see who helmed it.

Sitting there, holding the wheel, was a broad shouldered dwarf, but not like one that any of them had ever seen before. Dressed in a long black skirt, the dwarf also wore a heavy, dark leather greatcoat over a tight fitting shirt the same shade as his skirt. While this was odd enough it was the rest of his appearance that drew the most attention – the ashen-colored skin and glittering black eyes with no whites and no iris were like nothing any of them had ever seen.

Pulling up a short way off from the party, the dwarf nodded and smiled, calling out in a deep baritone in Dwarrune, the private language of the dwarves. Ilda stepped forward and responded as the dwarf climbed down from the helm of the landbarge and smiling as nodding as he did so.

“Well met travelers, and unless I miss my mark from the Heartlands of Avalon too. Harsh winds this span, but you have travelled far to get here and I am called Heart of Coal, a humble merchant of the Shadowlands. Perhaps you would like to see my wares?”

The words were harshly accented, but clear and unmistakably Westron, surprisingly welcome after the long silence that the party had not even realized had settled upon them as they had sat with their thoughts. But the words themselves held within in them the terrifying answer of where they were.

The Great Realm of the Shadowlands.

Ruled by the Witch-King and his Ebon Council, who had alternately plagued and saved the Heartlands since time immemorial, and bordering the Great Realm of the Dead, the Shadowlands were the home of daemons, succubae, and deadly beasts that were the stuff of both legend and legend in the Mortal Realms.

It wasn’t the Pit of Hell, but tales said there was a road from the palace of the Witch-King that led straight to the throne of the First of the Fallen.

By the Light, the Great Dragons, and the Old Powers – what exactly was this Vanguard and why had their minions fled here of all places?

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Session #18 – The Forgotten King

This party began the session with Ta’sara tending to the wounds of the unconscious half-elf that they had discovered bound last session, the rest of the party was beginning to work at making the room more defensible while they had the opportunity to rest up. The young woman, Leera Scornbul, woke quickly and her story was not what the party expected – though it would be hard to say what exactly that would have been based on the current circumstances.

A sage who had studied at the University of Navarre, Leera had been hired by the group before realizing just who and what they were – which even somewhat obscure to her as well. But the presence of the khazan and the goblins, as well as the repellant nature of the sorcerer Xeron spoke volumes even if their exact motives – beyond the contents of tomb of the Forgotten King – were unknown. Her information was enough to let the party know that the tomb-robbers had been in conflict with themselves, that they had faced most of them already, and that it was the leader, Xeron, and his main lieutenant, a khazan warrior named Jerog, that were left for the party to deal with. Leera was also able to give the party more information on the history of the Forgotten King himself, his rise, and his betrayal and fall.

While the Ta’sara was gathering this information, Devon was moving rubble and reached down to pick up a small Argentos he found there – and the party was granted a winged, celestial Visitation!

“Fear not! You must make haste, evil has come to the this place and seeks to work more evil still. Beware the Age of Worms and move quickly lest you lose your chance.” Drawing His sword, the light of the angel’s word was like the dawn of new day, renewing the party as if they had been fully refreshed – full of life and energy. He stared at the group, then at Devon in particular “In this war as all others, you must choose a side, so go forth and vanquish the evil ahead of you or perish and fall, with the world, into darkness.”

With a bright flash, the angel was gone with a clap of it’s wings.

Emboldened, the party girded their loins and pressed on into the next room. It was eerie, the air was damper then elsewhere, and the room was draped and wrapped in webs. The party moved in to investigate a statue (much as the tracks suggested the tomb-robbers had done) only to be attacked by hordes of large, fist-sized black-and-red spiders that swarmed over the group – as well as a web-wrapped body of some sort that spilled forth another swarm of spiders when it was attacked. As the party struggled to vanquish the venomous arachnids a giant horse-sized spider attacked the group as well. The cold chill that passed over those bitten pained them deeply, with Leera being overcome almost instantly, and Wren being struck down by the giant spider before the party slew it. Much to the Ta’sara’s dismay attempts to revive the two met with not only failure, but seemed to provoke another round of poisoning that damaged them further. Unsure of what to do but knowing that they needed to press forward, Jarvic cast Gentle Repose upon both of them in the hopes that they could come back and recover the bodies to revive later with more puissant magic.

Sobered by the loss of their new companion and Fonkin’s cousin, the party continued to onward to the next room – which seemed to be the final resting place of the Forgotten King. It was a large, square room, with fountains that poured out of each cardinal direction, the water running through carved channels in the floor to empty into a large well in the center of the room. Across from entrance, a figure sat on a throne, flanked by the bodies of warriors along the wall – with another figure sitting at the it’s feet.

There was no sign of the tomb-robbers, nor any sign of another exit.

Carefully, the party made it’s way across the chamber skirting the wall and focused on the figure on the throne – though some could faintly hear the sound of picks or stone breaking emanating from the well. Upon drawing close to the throne, the figure spoke, inquiring as to if it was time for the Forgotten King to return? If the Age of Worms was upon the world? The beautiful woman at the figure’s feet nodded along, smiling at the party. Confused, but curious and not wishing to give offense, the party tried to understand where the tomb-robbers had gone, while the figure on the throne continued to inquire as to why the party was there.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Jarvic struck out – sensing that something was wrong – much to horror of the rest of the party. Roaring up in rage, the figure revealed itself to be hideous, fused to it’s armor, with crazed and lidless eyes gleaming forth from beneath it’s helm. The beautiful woman became a bloated, stumbling corpse, and the bodyguards were equally repulsive, eyes burning with hate and resentment. As one, they advanced upon and engaged the party in combat.

The fight was short, brutal, and devastating – though no more members of the party were slain. The Betrayer was able to turn Dhagri against the party for much of the fight, Fonkin and Ta’sara found much of their magic was useless against the undead, the hideous consort exploded causing much damage, and Devon and Rhys were barely able to take down the Betrayer at the very last. Drained by the fight, wary of the magic of the tomb after such a battle, Rhys used a hoarded piece of magic and dropped a globe from a Necklace of Missiles down the well to take of what they were certain was the tomb-robbers rather than try to figure out how to get the party down without being picked off one by one.

When no more noise was forthcoming, the party eventually investigated – finding the charred bodies of a human and a khazan, a series of broken sarcophagi, and a still-active leygate in the corner. As they decided what to do, knowing that they needed to decide soon if they chose to go through the leygate (because they did not know how long it would last), Devon was granted yet another spiritual visitation!

The spirit of the Forgotten King rose up, explained that the tomb-robbers had taken not only the equipment of his companions and champions, but his own bones well! Charging Devon with returning his bones and stopping the Vangard the king reached down into the stone underneath his tomb and drew forth an adamant longsword scribed in Aleph with the name Merthuvial, or “Kingmaker” and handed it to the surprised noble.

With this, as well as the realization that they didn’t know how to return the way that they had come, the party gathered up what loot they could, the bodies of their companions, and passed through the leygate – hoping that it wasn’t leading to a murder room in the fortress of the Vanguard…

…..

….

..

.

  • So, this marked the end of the Barrow of the Forgotten King. It was a decent enough module, through it was far too linear and tried much to hard to be clever. This last session was almost entirely rewritten though I kept the monsters from the module I staged them differently and come up with an entirely new map.
  • My apologies for taking so long to post this, it’s been a busy few weeks – in all I think it has given me a better pace of prepping for the next stage of the campaign. I’m still running the group through the Age of Worms, but I’m tweaking it significantly to fit my campaign world as well as the 5E engine.
  • The angel replaced an utterly and ridiculously out of place fossergrim from the module, though it’s spring was kept “in spirit” with the fountain and wells in the Betrayer’s chamber. It was used to what I think was much better practical and dramatic effect. It certainly worked better for my game at least and fits the narrative about a million times better.
  • From here I’m proceeding to The Sinister Spire, though I’m changing it significantly to better fit my campaign setting. One of the things I like about is that it seems much more role-playing and much less combat oriented. This module turned into a bit of a slog because of the linear nature of the single-path tomb-complex.
  • This module trio was written, to the best of my understanding, to introduce Legacy weapons to 3.5E. I certainly like the idea of magical items that get better as the character levels up, but the feat investment is way out of place in 5E. I’ll write up my version of Merthuvial in a couple of days, and it is pretty much spot on. It also included a single piece of a magic item set, the Vestments of Divinity, I’ll include my 5E interpretation of that as well.

TTFN!

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Session #13 – Kingsholm – R&R&R!

“R&R&R” aka “R-Cubed” = Rest, recuperation, & Replenishment.

The game session yesterday as mainly a paperwork session in many respects, though it had a couple if very surprising results that promise some nice future sessions and fun roleplaying.

The party arrived in Kingsholm, a small city of 1800 urban, and 3600 suburban inhabitants – with another 1800 in surrounding small villages. The seat of Duke Blackadder, it is known mostly for it’s large and ancient graveyard of mausoleums, catacombs, and columbariums.

Knowing that they needed to get their guild memberships in order as well as probably establishing an adventuring company the party was less than interested in these details. Additionally, most everyone wanted the opportunity to do things like finally buy horses and a selection of other equipment, so being in the local seat of power was less interesting compared to being someplace with an alchemist.

I will say, as a DM, that this is where I relatively intentionally dropped the ball. I could role-played the heck out of this but instead merely let people “buy stuff” – even from the places like the local Magic Shoppe (which keeps minor consumables on hand). Yeah, yeah, “theatre of the mind” but I wanted to get a lot done and this was faster – besides, everyone had a fun day anyways.

So, while a couple of characters could avoid guild memberships (Devin Tresendar as a noble, Jarvic as a cleric, and Aneirin as a paladin) everyone else pretty much joined some form of guild. Dhagri got his papers in order with the Mercenaries Guild, and Fonkin made sure that Ren was a member in good standing. Fonkin and Ilda both made the appropriate gifts and paid for the right drinks to get into good standing with La Fortuna (the relatively informal Entertainers Guild), and Gwynneth even joined the Collegium (the Mages Guild) despite being a noble and essentially a foreigner and not exactly needing to.

Rhys, it must be said, spent a lot of money making all of the right people happy – the Mercenaries Guild, the Collegium, and the Syndicate.

The party also spent some time deciding upon a name for their adventuring band, finally deciding upon “The Company of the Spell and Blade” which they then registered with the Adventurers Guild (and thus avoiding the need for individual memberships, or at least pushing that decision off until another day). Lastly, the various party members all ended up getting bank accounts so that they could do something with all the cash they had been accumulating.

After this, Gwynneth (and Aneirin) went off to Silverveil via Navigator to see what she might discover talking with her people there, while Rhys went off to visit his family due to some obligations there (which will allow me to sync up that timeline with this one finally). It remains to be seen if they return in time for the next session’s adventure.

Jarvic arrived at the city’s Kirk, to find out that Dorje and others had been trickling in for the last couple of weeks, summoned by Great Dragons Themselves, and we waiting for his arrival and the coming Revelation. There were a great many councils (many of which had him feeling rather like Frodo and Elrond’s gathering) but in the end it was decided that while he would have the support of the Kirk, that this mission had been given to him for a reason and as such he would be the one to carry it out. While not exactly thrilled with this, Jarvic understood the responsibility and spent some time researching both the Age of Worms and the Maiden of Storms – learning mainly that the Maiden had been a prophet during the days of the Black Empire and her title was better translated as “Maiden of the Oncoming Storm”.

The rest of the party spent the next two months in the city doing research, catching up on personal business, and just generally carousing. This provided the opportunity to roll on the Carousing Table in the DMG, which was pretty amusing as we tried to make sense of it all. Fonkin managed to blackout and spend more money than he intended and Dhagri, valiantly outnumbered, lost a fight with two or three gazebos (he was drunk, so he’s not quite sure how many there were, it was very dark and they kept moving around). Ilda learned that while Dwimmervolk Skald-Gild didn’t have any specific legends of an “Age of Worms” at least a couple of them would make inquiries elsewhere to see if they uncover anything else.

Devin on the other hand…

First, he went to go speak with his brother in order to fill him in on what Devin had discovered about the state of the family lands. He didn’t intend to tell his brother about the prophecy, but it all came spilling out anyways. This wasn’t a disaster, but his brother did bring in Lord Bimmerle, a member of the Quiet Council, to listen and offer advice – thus spreading the news of the Prophecy even further. His brother also suggested that what would be helpful would be for Devin to rebuild the Hunting Lodge/Manor in Phandalin as the start to establishing a Tresendar presence again. While an expensive proposition, Devin agreed that this would be an excellent idea.

After all of that, Devin decided that he was going to spend some time carousing with his circle of friend (aka “the young noblemen”) and after close to two solid months of doing so woke up one morning to find himself enwrapped with marital bliss with a beautiful Tiernaese courtesan by the name of Sabriye. Now, being a courtesan is perfectly respectable profession, but they aren’t generally considered marriage material for gentlepersons of Devin’s station (unless possibly some form of morganatic marriage – which this wasn’t much to the displeasure of Devin’s brother). After some very tense discussions, Devin decided that it would be best to set Sabriye up in her own household (and doing so, incident, at a higher standard than his brother lives). Devin swears that it is a true love-match, and Sabriye certainly seems to be affectionate and to care about him, so there is perhaps some hope that her social skills and charisma can offset Devin’s sometimes flawed social graces.

Lastly, Dhagri managed to avoid a duel after some amazingly crude statements regarding Sabriye upon meeting her, and spent his time hanging out at the Mercenaries Guild. He also was approached with the party’s next possible adventure – someone is messing with the graveyard, would the party care to investigate..?

TTFN!

D.

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Session #12 – From Phandalin to Kingsholm

So we played yesterday, and while we didn’t have any combat there were a decent of developments and things moved along pretty well. Also, the day saw Jarvic, Dhagri, and Rhys all go up a level from accumulated experience.

The party made their way back to Phandalin to return Gundren’s body to Sildar Hallwinter, even sans head there is the small chance he could be Resurrected and at the very least his body could be returned to his clan if his brothers don’t return to claim it. They also hoped to be able to dispose of the collection of loot that they had accumulated and was at this point starting to significantly weigh them down.

On the way back they ran into a patrol of Duke Blackadder’s soldiers led by a Lieutenant who seemed quite familiar with the Tresendar family and lands, who had a quite a time trying to figure out what to do with the group. The one mounted knightly-looking fellow was a henchman of the walking elf sorceress, the younger brother of the local Baron was walking around dressed like a commoner, and there was also a dwarf, two gnomes (one of whom was at least a member of the Cartel in good standing), and even a half-goblin that the Tresendar was willing to vouch for! Eventually the patrol just decided to move on and report the presence of the rather large  adventuring company or mercenary band or whatever it is to higher authorities.

Upon returning to Phandalin, they met with Sildar (and Garaele Half-Elven, the local Druidess), filling them in on what had happened since they were last in Phandalin – omitting the encounter with the Maiden of Storms and the prophecy of the oncoming Age of Worms. Meeting with Linene Graywind of the Lionshields Merchant House and Halia Thornton of the Miner’s Exchange they were more than able to exchange their loot for script.

Except for Dhagri Khazann, who doesn’t trust “paper money” and loaded up with gold instead.

After some discussion, the party decided that they needed to go to Kingsholm, the nearest actual city (which many of them had actually come originally). It’s actually a pretty small city, the seat of Duke Blackadder, himself a rather minor Duke, but it’s closest thing to actual “real civilization” within a month’s travel. As a relative whole, the party realized that they need to get their guild memberships in order, probably get some sort of charter for an adventuring company. The encounter with the Duke’s patrol convinced them that their days of running “under the radar” were done – and especially since they were likely to get lots of attention from the “Powers That Be” when they get to Kingsholm and reveal the prophecy.

They spent a day in Phandalin, then started on the road to Kingsholm, where they were introduced to a whole new level of “Powers That Be” – because they had the distinction of being the first players to meet the Necromancer in something like fifteen years. He’s actually a former player character from the Padawan Campaign who went bad in the search for power and has been lurking around behind the scenes as an NPC ever since.

His arrival announced itself with the death of the small creatures and the silence of the grave and his presence brought with cold and mist that surrounded the whole campsite. A tall man, dressed in the blackest black, with ivory-pale skin, and bearing the wand and kris of a wizard. He came, knowing of the Maiden of Storms, and inquired as to Her prophecy, also seeming to know who had been present for Her warning of the Age of Worms. Seized for a moment Jarvi was suffused with a radiant light, lifted by the winds, and the Maiden of Storms repeated Her warning to the Necromancer. There was more, the Necromancer plucked the troubling memories of the writing from Jarvic’s mind, warning him that there were “thing man was not meant to know, that can be a very a cancer upon both the mind and soul.” He also warned the group that they were now part of the larger world, that would be attracting the attention of powerful forces –  “if they hadn’t already done so” he said with a smile both wry and grim.

The Necromancer also managed to spark a memory for Gwyneth when he mentioned the Wormgod, of her fighting a gaunt human with blazing red eyes with  sockets full of writhing green worms and skeletal, clawed hands of bare bone. He suggested that it was time for her to return home, where more of her memories might return. Lastly, Rhys asked how they might contact the Necromancer again if they needed to (after no one else asked the question) – after which the Necromancer drew him close and whispered something in his ear – Words of Power that shook Rhys to his core, revealing his mortality both to himself and everyone watching.

And then the Necromancer left.

The remainder of the trip to Kingsholm  was uneventful.

TTFN!

D.

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Session #11 – Cragmaw Castle (Part 2)

Disagreements about experience points aside, everyone continues to enjoy 5E greatly. This session was proof of that again – everyone did their thing, and the bad guys all fell down. I think everyone felt pretty effective, and most everyone was able to use class features and weapons alike.

So, strangely enough, “nothing much” happened this session – by which I mean that the party survived the assault by the remainder of the goblins. Despite some relatively clever maneuvering by the goblins who took advantage of the layout of the western half of the ruins, the ultimately superior firepower (in the persons of Gwyneth, Ilda, and Jarvic) and just general superior prowess in combat (everyone else) was more than enough to prevail.

The group was essentially split, inside and just outside of the kitchens, Rhys being caught in a ceiling trap this session rather than falling into a pit trap – while Gwyneth finally started to unleash “the big guns” by way of a Lightning Bolt – when some archers tried to pin down the party – and discovered how much of a mistake that was. The party had a very bad moment when the goblin shaman attacked them (Inflict Wounds is pretty nasty!), but it was essentially at the end of the fight and the party quickly marshalled themselves and killed them in short order (along with the beast that inhabited the goblin shrine).

Taking some time to recover, the group decided to rest for a short period, while the rogues investigated rest of the keep – discovering the recently decapitated body of a badly beaten dwarf* in what was obviously the goblin chief’s quarters. While the party is unsure, it appears to be the body of their former employer, Gundren Rockseer – they decided to preserve the body and return it to Sildar to do with as he wished.

In fact, after a short discussion, that was the decision of the party – to return to Phandalin and then, assuming that Sildar was in agreement, find Wave Echo Cave with the help of the druid Reidoth. The revelations of the coming “Age or Worms” suggest that the group needs to resolve this local matter quickly so that they can attend to whatever that coming threat is.

Plus, at the very least, Gwyneth has decided that she absolutely has to return home in order to get some decent new clothes…

TTFN!

D.

 

 

*Yes, for my players, this is a change from merely having his throat slit. After spending some time reviewing the Players Handbook this was actually the most logical method of killing the dwarf (under the circumstances) in such a way as to make reviving him as difficult as possible.

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