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Giant
 
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:23 pm
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 Post subject: Re: Story Hour- DCC53 Sellswords of Fallcrest via Maptools
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:12 pm 
The Friday Knights

The truncated version- and so I just don't have the time, sound familiar, so it's either abandon the game, or the write-up, or find another way of cataloguing the adventures of the Friday Knights that isn't so time consuming. I'm so far behind the action; the action I have described to date brings us in game terms to the end of the second actual session of play, it'll be the 35th session this Friday coming (21st August 09), and we play every week.

So here it is, the truncated versions of play, a narrative of sorts but much much simpler- to read and to write, sorry if it's not what you want but it's all I can manage.

Background to the Adventures of the Friday Knights.

My last game went and broke, player A no longer liked player B and the rest of us either picked sides or tried to wait it out- I'll not go into detail. Fed up I hunted high and low, and after weeks of frustration took the plunge and offered my services as a DM for an on-line game of 4th Edition, thanks to Maptools, ENWorld and Skype within ten days I was in business.

I sent out the campaign details, hand outs et al- cobbled together from the snippets about Fallcrest and the Nentir Vale in the 4e DMG. The first adventure was set to be set in the city itself, a reworking of Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classic #53 “Sellswords of Punjar”, Sellswords of Fallcrest if you like.

And so from the four corners of the globe they came, the players-

Cathal, Human Fighter; an abrasive, firm but fair, mercenary with a higher calling- a big fan of Kord, a local lad, a citizen of Fallcrest. Cathal will later pick up the moniker “Sarge”, and it will fit him like a glove. Cathal is played by Simon. (Representing the UK)

Kullervo, Human Rogue; the quiet and uninitiated farmer's boy fleeing home, home being Phsant a small village just outside the Fallcrest city walls. Kullervo gets his nose into everything, often leaving the others to do the actual fighting and such. Kullervo is played by Rob. (Representing the US, but resident in Spain)

Ignaran, Human Druid; worldly wise- or at least he pretends to be, slightly aloof but with homicidal tendencies- kill them all, let Mother Nature sort them out, that kind of thing. The thinker in the party. Ignaran is played by Mike. (Representing, and resident, of the US)

And so our story, in note form, begins (again)...

But first, ahem, a note about 4th Edition; prior to this campaign I had played (DM'ed, I don't play, it's beneath me) 4e on I think six separate occasions, two of the six ended in TPKs. The first was in the Keep on the Shadowfell, one of the Kobold Ambushes, the one with the Kobold Wyrmpriest and the Dragonshields (and some minions I think), anyway... TPK. And this with a group of players who, they swore, had never TPK'ed ever... ever, honest, and had been playing D&D for, hang on I'm going to work it out- I need more fingers, 70 years in total, that's four players, the least experienced with eight years under his belt. Needless to say a few weeks later when I did it again, with the same players- different characters (obviously), in an RPGA scenario, CORE 1-2 The Radiant Vessel, the last encounter I believe- well, they weren't impressed.

So if you think the start is a little cautious then in truth I was very wary. I soon realised my problem however with the two previous TPKs, I had the wrong players, then again how was I to know, I had yet to meet the valiant Friday Knights...

_________________
Read the Friday Knights Storyhour at http://forums.rptools.net/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=9438&start=0 now with added pictures, the 4e related adventures and shenanigans of a bunch of ne'erdowells playing via Maptools.


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 Post subject: Re: Story Hour- DCC53 Sellswords of Fallcrest via Maptools
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:17 pm 
The Friday Knights

Session 1- Sellswords of Fallcrest Part 1. To the Gate.

The characters find each other in an Inn, hey that sounds familiar- Cathal has heard that there's money to be made venturing into the lair of the Beggar King, indirectly the Beggar King is bound to have some money and the like hoarded away; more directly the local Thieves Guild- the Shadowmen, have set a 500gp bounty on the Beggar King's head. The Fighter wants some of that, all he needs is to find some unsuspecting... Ah, here we are.

Kullervo has just escaped his home, he's in search of adventure, and also starving, lost and alone in the big city- and he wants in.

Ignaran is in Fallcrest on business, he hates Fallcrest, and cities in general. However the business is important, Nimozaran the Septarch of Fallcrest (Chief High Honcho Mage) has a job for the Druid- there's a strange phenomenon he wants Ignaran to investigate, an odd black cloud sometimes seen surrounding a tower in the Dock Quarters. Ignaran can't say no to the Mage, all he needs then is to find some likely individuals to accompany him in his investigations, for protection, and to carry things, and the like.

It turns out that the tower cloaked in black haze is part of the Beggar King's domain- wouldn't you know it, the Friday Knights are gathered.

Much of the first session is spent in the Blue Moon Inn in Fallcrest, the Knights drink a little, laugh a lot and keep an ear out for rumours and gossip about the Beggar King, the tower etc. There's plenty of gossip flying around as it happens; talk of a turf war between the the Beggar's Guild and the Shadowmen, tales of the Beggar King's long lost treasure, even stories of black clouds descending from the aforementioned tower into the streets of Fallcrest to attack passers-by. Black clouds capable of stripping a man's flesh from his bones, supposedly.

The hunt is on. At midnight the Knights head out to Cutpurse Alley, the entrance to the Beggar King's domain, alas the way ahead is blocked - an ornate gate, which Kullervo attests is “trapped to 'igh 'eaven.” There's talk of abandoning the project, Ignaran however has other ideas and boosts Kullervo up onto a low roof, sometime later all of the Knights are pressed against the cold wet shingles, spying down on Cutpurse Alley.

They get wet, very wet- the weather is atrocious.

The three head along the roofs, careful like, till they find a nice spot; ahead are lights, a low roof on the opposite side of the alley, a burning brazier, several guards, well hidden- at least from the front gate, now obvious. One of the guards is eating a pie, one stares at the moon and gibbers, the last squints into the dark.

A minute later Kullervo has one down, a beautiful flick of the wrist culminating in a dagger buried in the pie-eating guard's back- the guard falls, backwards, and lies still on the cobbled floor of the alley- deathly pale. The young Rogue has never killed or harmed anyone (much) in his life- he's a little terrified, well played that Player.

Cathal in the meantime goes all action hero, sprints down one slick roof, leaps to another, runs up and along and drops down on the moon-gazing guard, and stabs him through the heart- dead. Cathal takes death and destruction (of others) in his stride- doesn't bat an eyelid.

The squinting guard is three rooftops away by the time the above has played out, sword scattered and not looking back, or ever coming back- now officially unemployed.

Kullervo is briefly ill, just after looking at the mess he's made of the pie-eating guard on the cobbles below.

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Strike one for Kullervo & Cathal, Ignaran grips onto the roof and curses the foul weather.

[DM Interlude Encounter #1 [300 XP = Level 1] 3x Human Sentries (Level 1 Skirmishers). Easy I know but before prior to this campaign I had played only six sessions of 4E via Maptools, two of which ended in TPKs- that's quite a strike rate. Conservative, and wanting the players to gain some early success I decided to give them a couple of encounters to get into the swing of things.]

So it comes as quite a shock when the formerly pie-eating guard peels himself off the deck and hares back down the alley and to a door, flings it open and dashes within, all the while screaming something along the lines of “intrewgers, intrewgers”, while wiping the remains of his scalding hot pie from his face.

The Knights do a double take, what next?

They don't have long to wait- Fernando Del Amitri is a fighter and a lover, a bounder and a cad, with an excellent pedigree and a great first line...

“I am Fernando Del Amitri. I killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Cathal leaps down into the alley to prove his prowess, a test of arms, and steel, and grit, and other macho exhortations- he darn near breaks his legs and lands in a heap, prone before Fernando, who cuts him up a little, it seems he's not big on fair play.

However before Fernando can really get to work Kullervo flings another dagger, and connects again; a moment later Ignaran conjures and a Wolf appears at Fernando's side. The Wolf stares at the Swordsman, the Swordsman stares back- then the Wolf does its best to eat the swarthy swordsman.

A little later, still struggling with Wolfie, Fernando finds respite- Cathal finally gets to his feet and slashes through his armour and deep into his chest with his longsword, Fernando dies, it seems Cathal doesn't mind a bit of dirty fighting either.

Image
Fernado Del Amitri, his dad's dead, don't worry- he'll be seeing him soon.

[DM Interlude Encounter #2 [125 XP = Level 1] Human Tough (Level 2 Brute). The second easy encounter to allow me and the players to get our collective eye's in, as it were.]

The session ends as the Knights nose further into the alley, after robbing the fallen of course- nice work Kullervo. Only two combat encounters but two thirds of the session was given over to character creation, roleplay in the Inn, background detail et al.

Finally a note about XP, I do it differently, always have- name the edition, I do it differently. Players get XP for everything- good roleplaying, investigation, smart play, killing stuff, finding the things they are looking for, being amusing, or emotional, or emotive, or... everything. Obviously it takes more XP to get up levels, I'm not going to explain exactly how it works save to say it does- also I don't tell the players how many XP they need to get to the next level, I like to keep them in the dark a little. That said the players earned 844 XP this session, that's between the three of them- it's split equally.

_________________
Read the Friday Knights Storyhour at http://forums.rptools.net/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=9438&start=0 now with added pictures, the 4e related adventures and shenanigans of a bunch of ne'erdowells playing via Maptools.


Last edited by Goonalan on Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Story Hour- DCC53 Sellswords of Fallcrest via Maptools
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:24 pm 
The Friday Knights

Session 2- Sellswords of Fallcrest Part 2. The Mercenary Experience.

The Knights are-

Cathal, Human Fighter, devotee of Kord, Level 1.
Ignaran, Human Druid, the nature nutter, Level 1.
Kullervo, Human Rogue, ex-farm boy, Level 1.

The Knights settle themselves after the fracas, and then head along the alley into an enclosed courtyard, two and three story buildings on all sides- at least one of them with lights showing- there's someone at home in the Beggar King's domain, and something odd-looking on the far side of the courtyard.

Kullervo is about to go reconnaissance when there's much banging and crashing from back down the alley, the Knights ready themselves, a moment later striding into the courtyard comes a big, and I mean big, black guy- all muscles and greataxe. This is Astaroth, the fourth Friday Knight.

Astaroth, Human Fighter; a loveable lug, Astaroth is smitten with Lady Constance- who has disappeared. She's an older women and local landowner. He's heard rumours that Lady C. has been taken by the Beggar King's minions (not actually minions mind) and brought to his lair, he doesn't know why, all he knows is that he's here to save her. Astaroth isn't big on “knowing”, he also doesn't hold with “book lurnin'”, he's played by Akshay. (Representing, and another resident of, the US)

[DM Interlude, all the PCs are humans- weird.]

A moment or two later, stories swapped, Astaroth is on board- the newest Friday Knight.

The strange shaped object at the end of the courtyard turns out to be a crude depiction of some foul demon, actually not “some” foul demon, but specifically “a” foul demon... Lord- it's Orcus. Care and trepidation follows, at least for a moment, that is until Astaroth smashes the head off the statue, this will prove a signature move- for all Aksahy's characters. Kullervo relieves the decapitated demon head of its gemstone eyes- wondering why no-one has bothered to do this before.

Guess who just happens to be on-line and watching at this exact moment, that's right the big badass with the ram's head. The Knights make their first enemy, and it's a big one- aim high that's what the Knights say. If you're going to piss someone off, then go straight for the top, call Tiamat a ten-eyed loser, tell Demogorgon he needs a shave, or Jubilex that he's put on some weight and looks out of shape.

Job done, Demon Lord's statue smashed and desecrated the Knights head into the Bazaar of the Bizarre, a Beggar Shop, Cathal informs them- he knows a little about the area.

Into a cramped and foetid room, full of all manner of filth and semi-usable crud, the Knights advance- Astaroth finds a curtained alcove and pokes his head in, a hole in the floor of the chamber beyond, mud and excreta, he thinks he's found the middens.

Then it kicks off.

The ex-pie-wielding sentry is back and at Cathal in moments. Behind a crude counter Arthuro the Fence, the shopkeeper, bobs up and flings his magical dagger which returns to his hand, while screaming for “TIMMY!”; and in the midden TIMMY! explodes from the mire. Timmy is an ancient and bedraggled Otyugh.

The fracas is short, Cathal stabs the ex-pie eating sentry in the gut, the sentry expires. Ignaran and Kullervo are at and on the counter, respectively, in seconds; and soon after Arthuro is injured and in retreat- into a small study area- screaming all the while “Irocar!”, oh what it is to have friends.

As for TIMMY!, Astaroth connects with the first critical of the game and, well... the Otyugh sinks back into the mire and flees, having been bloodied by the man-mountain in one furious swat.

Image
Poor TIMMY!

[DM Interlude Encounter #3 [450 XP = Level 1] Human Sentry (Level 1 Skirmisher), Arthuro the Fence (Level 4 Skirmisher) & TIMMY! Old Otyugh (Level 4 Soldier). This time I thought, this time... I didn't think it for long, about ten seconds as I recall.]

However the Knights don't have time to catch their breath, behind the counter a crude set of stairs lead up into... a crude curtain prevents further revelations. Rushing down the stairs like a herd of elephants come two grizzly looking men wearing dogskins, as in family pet- dogs, not great slavering hounds. They are representatives of the Dog Brothers a wastrel gang that will do almost anything for coin.

Battle is joined, Cathal trips the first down the stair, or at least knocks him back into his brother, leaving the pair sprawled on the floor. He follows this up with a cleave that injures both brothers- leaving one bloodied and the other limping badly.

Meanwhile Arthuro pops up again and tries to make his presence felt, a short-lived enterprise, which ends badly for Arthuro as Ignaran conjures Wolfie, his faithful... well- what else, Wolf. Moments later Arthuro is screaming and writhing as Wolfie chomps down on the Fence's groin area. Arthuro surrenders, vociferously, and repeatedly.

Image
Arthuro makes a run for it, maintaining his dodgy appearance throughout the manoeuvre.

The Dog Brother pair flee back up the stairs- Cathal and Astaroth in hot pursuit. Ignaran follows after as Kullervo ties up Arthuro, and does a little investigating on his own while the rest of the Knights are playing with their new-found friends..

Upstairs Cathal and the others spill into a crude bed chamber, all stinking bed rolls and bottles of rot gut, the Dog Brothers' kennel, a third Dog Brother is present, and something larger- Irocar, the Dog Brother War Captain- a grand title for a not-so-grand-scumbag. Irocar wears chain armour, grasps a wicked looking bastard sword in one hand and a heavy shield in the other. He also wears a dogskin cape- very fetching.

It kicks off.

Astaroth gets scratched and bumped a bit; Cathal takes a shellacking from Irocar, including a Brute Strike; one of the Dog Brothers is killed by a Lightning Fist, courtesy of Ignaran, the Druid is all smiles; and the remaining three, eventually, including a sobbing “I want my mum!” Irocar, are taken prisoner when they all, almost, run out of Hit Points.

Image
Cathal gets a little nearer to his god.

[DM Interlude Encounter #4 [475 XP = Level 1] 3x Dog Brothers (Level 1 Skirmisher) & Irocar, Human Fighter (Level 4 Soldier). At no point did this feel like a level 1 encounter, partially because there were only three players involved in the fracas, but largely to do with Irocar hitting Cathal with a Brute Strike in the opening rounds and reducing the player to below 10 hit points. The DM is sated.]

Meanwhile Kullervo has bullied Arthuro through to another small chamber, the Fence's bedroom, swiped all the coin he can find, including gold coins - I mean he's seen them before but he's never actually had a gold coin of his own.

Arthuro is meanwhile trying to manoeuvre Kullervo around, the bed in his chamber is trapped, alas the rogue has other ideas and spots a ledger and a secret panel in the room. The ledger has lots of coded entries in it, an account book of sorts. The secret panel has a beautiful, wondrous chest within. The chest, make that treasure cabinet, has seven locked drawers- each of which has a symbol chalked onto it. Kullervo sets to work and... Fails repeatedly on all manner of rolls- sure he's found traps, locks et al, but can he disarm them... not a chance.

Image
Kullervo looks determined, Arthuro continues to look dodgy, the chest looks nice.

The rest of the Knights arrive, after kicking the Dog Brothers and Irocar, out into the street- although without their arms, armour, money and pride. They have also learnt that the Beggar King has need of mercenaries, like the Dog Brothers, it seems there's been a Beggar cull going on. Specifically they learn about Madame Zeb, a corpulent Tiefling Witch who lairs a little further in. She has eunuch guards wearing nought but their underpants- which is nice.

And so the chest won't open, or at least Kullervo can't open it. Well... Astaroth fixes that, and rolls the (his) second natural '20' of the session, the chest spills its contents, but that's not all- every trap on the chest goes off.

A poison needle shoots out and... [DM rolls... hmmm] strikes Arthuro in the forehead, the Fence wilts and staggers forward, just in time for...

A scything blade which... well, scythes. Cuts deep into... [DM rolls... hmmm] Arthuro's midriff, who staggers back and is grabbed by Cathal- who's obviously concerned for the Fence's welfare, and not really trying to get a meat-shield.

As finally a spear shoots out at great speed, thumps into... [DM rolls... sigh] Arthuro's chest and lifts him out of Cathal's grip and off his feet, and sends him crashing back into the far wall.

The rag doll Fence then flops forward onto the bed.

The bed, something about the bed, the DM remembers.

Arthuro is impaled as half-a-dozen sharpened wooden stakes rip through the thin mattress, and thereafter Arthuro.

Astaroth nods and leans on his axe, the rest of the Knights stand and stare.

The ledger and the chest, lots of good stuff, the Knights, or rather Ignaran, identifies a +1 Cloak of Resistance, a +1 Dagger, actually two +1 Dagger's- Arthuro won't be needing his any more, and a +1 Bastard Sword, the later courtesy of Irocar. Also a bunch of other stuff, including poisons and a little money. A good day's work already. Suitably re-equipped the Knights head up the stairs and further in.

From the Dog Brothers kennel up again into a loft, Irocar's personal quarters, and a dead end. That is until Kullervo spots the secret door, then the trap on it, and even better he disarms it- his first full house.

On again- this time into a crude and relatively unused storeroom, not unused by the Rat Swarms however, who like to refer to the place as “home.”

The rats attack, it gets messy for a while but by hook or by crook the Knights see their way through, the remains of the rat swarms scurry off to fight another day.

[DM Interlude Encounter #5 [250 XP = Level 1] 2x Rat Swarm (Level 2 Skirmisher). Window dressing really, swarms on their own are annoying- I'll try not to do this again.]

The Knights soft pad, as best they can, through another equally crude bed chamber- this one much larger, fat greasy candles, or rather the stubs of them, burn here- there's no money to be found in the flop house.

Kullervo hears voices ahead and creeps forward to see; there's a flight of stairs heading down to a door, and an arch through which the rogue spies activity. He continues to spy for a while and then heads back to get the rest of the Knights up to speed, it seems they've located Madame Zeb and her eunuch bodyguards- two fat men dressed in their underpants.

Moments later the Knights charge into Madame Zeb's chamber, a blasted laboratory full of all manner of foul brews, taken unawares Zeb and her crew are swiftly cut down. One of the eunuch's actually cut open by Cathal, the other bloodied and in retreat. Madame Zeb also takes quite a beating- this after she ignites much of the chamber with her Flames of Phlegathos, which also singe Astaroth badly.

Image
One dead, one dying & one desperate- Madame Zeb surrenders.

[DM Interlude Encounter #6 [375 XP = Level 1] 2x Human Eunuch (Level 1 Soldier) & Madame Zeb, Tiefling Warlock (Level 4 Artillery). The DM cackles a little as he takes a big chunk of hit points out of Astaroth.]

The run down lab is searched and then smashed up. Three healing vials are found and taken, Madame Zeb's armour turns out to be +1 Cloth, a scythe made from the fused bones of some kind of demon is also appropriated. The prize find however is a large, still warm, egg- Ignaran speculates as to the egg's contents, Astaroth solves the mystery by making an omelette, he confirms the contents to be egg.

Madame Zeb is pressed for information- it seems the Throne Room of the Beggar King is but a little way off, through a courtyard and an aged warehouse. She's never been in the place but Madame Zeb believes it to be a dangerous. The Tiefling also warns the Knights that other mercenaries have been hired by the Beggar King, including a scoundrel who goes by the name of Black Shet, some sort of freelance assassin.

The Friday Knights make tea and eat sandwiches, the second session over, four combat encounters completed, lots of new information gained and a fair bit of good roleplay.

The players earned 2409 XP this session, that's between the four of them.

_________________
Read the Friday Knights Storyhour at http://forums.rptools.net/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=9438&start=0 now with added pictures, the 4e related adventures and shenanigans of a bunch of ne'erdowells playing via Maptools.


Last edited by Goonalan on Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Story Hour- DCC53 Sellswords of Fallcrest via Maptools
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:28 pm 
The Friday Knights

Session 3- Sellswords of Fallcrest Part 3 Look out below!

The Knights are-

Astaroth, Human Fighter, love-struck man-mountain, Level 1
Cathal, Human Fighter, devotee of Kord, Level 1.
Ignaran, Human Druid, the nature nutter, Level 1.
Kullervo, Human Rogue, ex-farm boy, Level 1.

Rested, the Knights leave Madame Zeb's laboratory, after freeing the Tiefling and her eunuch companion, out of a door and into a courtyard- a ramshackle affair.

Ignaran can see the tower from here, the tower with the dark swathe of shadow surrounding its summit, even at night, in the rain, he can see it. Kullervo however spies something else, while the Knights traverse the courtyard the young rogue makes for the angle, where two walls meet, and climbs.

The remainder of the Knights back pedal, they were about to enter the dilapidated warehouse, just as Madame Zeb described; they instead stop to see what young Kullervo is up to.

Kullervo climbs to a window, he spies a furze of light within, the Beggar King's Throne Room. There's something darker pressed against the glass, blocking his vision, he realises he's trying to look down into the a chamber over the shoulder of someone, not something, pressed against the glass. No time to think Kullervo punches through the window, grabs the black clad figure, and yanks him out and onto the sloped roof on which he stands.

Black Shet's face registers many things - shock, horror, confusion, fear and finally pain; as he skitters backwards down the slate roof and then over the lip- he suffers no damage in the fall to his torso, or indeed limbs, as he lands head first in the courtyard.

At the same time the doors to the dilapidated warehouse are shoved open and a squad of miserable looking Beggars lurch out muttering foul invocations such as, “giz 10 pee”, and “spare sum change guv'nor.” Battle is joined.

Astaroth and Cathal mix it with the Beggars, Kullervo is down from the roof in a flash and all over Black Shet, while Ignaran is otherwise engaged. The shadowy mist that surrounds the far tower stretches out one dark tentacle down into the courtyard, the tentacle stretches so thin that it breaks- and a swarm of shadowy bats suddenly encompasses the combatants, it's every man for themselves, the bats are not bothered who they lunch on.

Ignaran fights desperately to keep the bats at bay.

The Beggars are no match for the warrior pair, it's a massacre, all eight of them are left dead. Black Shet is a whisker away from death when his screams for parley are finally heard, while the Shadow Bat Swarm is eventually sent packing- dispersed.

Image
Aggressive begging scales new heights.

[DM Interlude Encounter #7 [573 XP = Level 2] 8x Beggar (Level 2 Minions); Shadow Bat Swarm (Level 3 Lurker) & Black Shet, Human Rogue (Level 4 Skirmisher). Save the bats the whole fight is over in seconds. Funny this 4e, the fights you think are going to be difficult often turn out not to be- sometimes terribly quickly.]

Black Shet is searched, slapped and subdued- the first of the mercenaries the Knights have captured so far that's reluctant to speak. Killing in cold blood is ruled out- the Friday Knights drag their prisoner with them as they head on, they also discover on Black Shet their third, yes count them, one, two, three... +1 Dagger. [DM Interlude- Harley Stroh, what were you thinking? Only kidding.]

The Knights head through the dark and dingy warehouse and then up to another loft area, and from there, via an open window, into the Beggar King's Throne Room, still dragging Black Shet along.

The room is fairly opulent (that's not the right phrase- 'fairly opulent', that's like saying 'mostly perfect', gah!), there are three sentries over the far side of the chamber, although they are clearly low paid, and therefore low quality, none of them have stirred and the Knights are not famed for their stealth, save Kullervo.

Also on the far side of the chamber is a low divan, complete with recumbent figure swaddled in blankets, although this figure too seems to be unmoving.

Lastly on the far side of the Throne Room is a gold coffer, whoever heard of such a thing, a coffer... made of gold, atop the coffer is a crown- gem studded, more gold.

Twenty feet of thickly carpeted and cushioned floor lies between the Friday Knights and the Beggar King and his treasure, it all seems a little too easy.

Kullervo shoves Black Shet, now hands bound and mouth gagged, into the centre of the room- THUNK- the floor falls away, or else flops open- a trapdoor, another dull thunk is heard, then nothing.

Up top still nothing has stirred.

The Knights creep to the edge of the now open trapdoor, bellow is a huge cavern, looking down- twenty feet below is a metal cage, suspended from some great chain. One corner of the cage is swathed in a sticky red substance, and sprawled in the bottom of it is an unmoving Black Shet; either he's dead or he's up for an academy award. Thirty feet below the slightly swaying cage is an underground river which swells and foams.

A little while later the three guards turn out to be mannequins, and the figure on the divan turns out to be an eleven year old girl called Glaffin, who misses her mum. Kullervo does the decent thing and hot foots it from the Beggar King's lair, back into the streets of Fallcrest, and delivers the much relieved urchin into the arms of the authorities, and then hot foots it back again.

On his return Kullervo takes his time, checks everything, twice- and discovers all the treasure is junk. The crown's not gold, and the gems in it are paste; the chest is painted and trapped, and locked- and when he finally gets it open there are only fake gold coins inside.

It seems the Beggar King possesses a fine sense of humour, it seems the Friday Knights must press on to discover who will have the last laugh.

Ropes are lashed to the cage from the beams in the room above, Kullervo fixes it all up, it's a lot easier than barn building, roping horses etc.

The Knights, safely and securely, shimmy on down and into the cage, Kullervo having previously divined that the cage is part of the trap previously triggered by Black Shet. Victim or victims fall into cage, cage door slams shut and the whole mechanism descends, somehow, down to a beach he can see a good way to the north. Obviously everything is disarmed, all they need to do is play their part and see what happens.

As quiet as they can the Knights get settled, the cage clangs, although not shut, and moments later lurches forwards, it descends like some great cable car.

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Land ho!

En route the Friday Knights spot a number of sights, they pass over a set of crude pens on the beach, within which are a handful of desperate looking individuals including, Astaroth spots, Lady Constance. Cathal clamps his hand over the big lugs mouth to prevent him from vocalising his feelings.

Then voices, the Knights sight their next opponents, atop a low plateau, above the beach, a flurry of activity- a great capstan around which the chain coils- powered by some massive brute, and the welcoming committee- three large well-armed, heavily armoured Hobgoblins.

The cage grounds, the Hobgoblins approach and lightning fast the Knights are in position- Astaroth is the leg up man, he flings first Kullervo, then Cathal, and then Ignaran up and out of the cage, which takes the assembled Hobgoblins by surprise.

One of the monstrous humanoids breaks ranks and frees the great brute responsible for winding in
the chain, a Great Ape, which soon lopes over to join the fun.

The ape however is the first to fall, Astaroth launches himself out of the cage and into the creature's path, it goes very badly for the oversized monkey soon after. Two of the Hobgoblins are bloodied and broken, they surrender, the third also bloodied heads for the exit at speed, he doesn't get far. Wolfie and a thrown dagger severely impede his progress, he's killed.

Image
Astaroth and Cathal go bananas.

[DM Interlude Encounter #8 [450 XP = Level 1] 3x Hobgoblin Slaver (Level 1 Skirmisher) & Great Ape (Level 3 Brute)]

The Hobgoblins are tied up and questioned, then dragged down to the holding pens on the shoreline and incarcerated- it seems Slavers are the new black. The Knights learn that the Beggar King has not been seen for a little while, meanwhile a group of slavers has been operating out of his underground lair.

The slavers, it seems, are present in great numbers, Goblins and Hobgoblins from a tribe calling themselves the Bloodreavers; lead by a pair of Mages, an Eladrin and a Human, with a pair of Gnolls that serve as bodyguards to one of the Mages- Blackfang Gnolls apparently. A Dragonborn mercenary who directs the slavers' attacks and the lair's defences, is also present. And maybe one other- the panicked Hobgoblins are not sure, a dark and shadowy figure; still there's plenty to be going on with.

In the meantime the captured citizens of Fallcrest are set free, including Lady Constance, although also present are a couple of Beggars who were discovered drunk on watch, a dwarf tinker, an old human sage and Lady Constance's two ladies-in-waiting, who giggle and guffaw at the size of Cathal's moustache.

Kissing and smooching follows, terms of endearment disguised as naked lust, Astaroth and Lady Constance are prevented from consummating their relationship by Cathal, he can do stern. Eventually the rescued slaves are packed back in the cage, with Cathal, and then are winched back under the Throne Room, there they safely ascend, or are lifted up- to freedom, promises of rewards- monetary and physical are made, the gaggle depart.

Back to the serious business, the Knights head off again, through a low cavern and up some stairs, the stone passage curves around to head south, more stairs ahead to a pair of double doors, on the right hand wall a seemingly once sealed passage has been broken open- Kullervo gets to work.

First the once sealed passage, investigation suggests that there was at one time a clay seal on the wall here, to keep people out, of course. Kullervo heads in and up a short flight of stairs to a small chamber which looks like some sort of ancient chapel, the room is lit by candles on the floor, in the centre of the room is the dessicated corpse of a robed human, over the far side there's something on one of the walls. The room is smoky, no hazy, no smoky, no- whatever. Kullervo has a good look around and then shuffles in a little and grabs the corpse by its legs and drags it out, back down the stairs and to the waiting Friday Knights it's a dead end, he reports.

The corpse is that of a Human Mage, or so the Knights think, after all it wears a pointy hat and no one else would bother to advertise the fact they're a seven stone weakling. Also it has a rotten backpack which contains a Ritual Book, Ignaran grins and takes it.

The dead wizard is also wearing a pair of silver etched bracers, far too large for his delicate skeletal arms, Kullervo puts them away for safe keeping, then heads to the stairs and the door ahead, spotting on the way the jutting spikes of a portcullis above- clearly a trap.

That's when it happens. The doors ahead are flung open, the portcullis drops, and is set to cut Kullervo off from his companions; in the chamber ahead, illuminated by small fires, are a gang of six Goblin Archers and four Hobgoblin Slavers- the Bloodreavers, in their midst a Dragonborn Warlord swirling a greatsword above his head.

And here the third session draws to a close, only two combat encounters, we play approx. five hour sessions, but there's bags of chatter and roleplay, and some great investigation. It has to be said that maptools and Skype sometimes make it a little difficult at times, lots of “what did you say?” followed by dead air, but we're getting there.

The players amass 3360 XP this session between them, which is still not enough to advance any of them a level, I'm a cruel, cruel DM.

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 Post subject: Re: Story Hour- DCC53 Sellswords of Fallcrest via Maptools
PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 10:16 am 
This is like reading a short story, very fun :)

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 Post subject: Re: Story Hour- DCC53 Sellswords of Fallcrest via Maptools
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 2:28 pm 
trevor wrote:
This is like reading a short story, very fun :)


You're too kind sir, too kind.

And now some more of the same...

The Friday Knights

Session 4- Sellswords of Fallcrest Part 4 Shadow Born.

The Knights are-

Astaroth, Human Fighter, love-struck man-mountain, Level 1
Cathal, Human Fighter, devotee of Kord, Level 1.
Ignaran, Human Druid, the nature nutter, Level 1.
Kullervo, Human Rogue, ex-farm boy, Level 1.

Astaroth rushes forward, just as the portcullis slams down, the man-mountain grabs it and... bloody hell, lifts in straight back up into the ceiling. CLUNK, it locks back into place- that's his third natural 20 in this scenario, darn on-line dice rollers.

Kullervo is saved from a lonely death, the Knights go mental and rush in where fools (quite rightly) fear to tread.

The six Goblin archers try to shuffle back but are battered, and scattered- they fall like flies, the Hobgoblin Slavers however are made of sterner stuff, but Wolfie and Ignaran are in the mix. Cathal and Astaroth meanwhile are chopping through anything that gets close to them, the pair are soon at Orliss the Goat, nice moniker, the Dragonborn Warlord, leader of the Slavers defences.

The Goat brays and hollers, breaths a swathe of fire, scorching all before him, including one of the Hobgoblin Slavers and then attacks.

Image
All for one, and lots for all- there's plenty to go around.

In short order the Goblins are no more, Gorliss only stays upright by using his Inspiring Word every chance he gets, but it's just not enough, and soon enough he's a bloody pulp. Cathal is so disgusted with him he doesn't allow the Dragonborn to surrender.

There are only two survivors, a pair of Hobgoblin Slavers who are off and running- and with the Knights in hot pursuit.

No time for a short rest- gulp.

Across a rickety wooden platform the Knights head out of the chamber. Below the platform another beach, a skiff moored there, oh and look, a pair of Gnolls loading chests into the beached boat, with two robed figures directing operations and on the other side of the wooden platform a shadowy figure - a drow- Cathal is suddenly wreathed in inky blackness.

It goes wrong very quickly- two separate encounters become one, it's beautiful when that happens n'est-ce pas?

Image
Excreta, with impetus, meets fan.

Already injured, the Knights give ground quickly, which is fortunate as one of the Gnolls, Wrix, smashes the struts holding up the wooden platform. The whole structure crashes down.

Which leaves Kullervo dangling briefly, clutching onto and scrabbling at the cavern's rocky wall, he makes his mind up and goes for a controlled descent, dives into the shallows below, surfaces with only minor cuts and bruises.

Astaroth is more direct; he launches himself down and at the nearest Gnoll, Reiko, uses him to cushion his fall. Cathal, with a grimace - remembering his last rapid descent in Cutpurse Alley - follows after.

Ignaran points and gestures and Drazen, the Drow Rogue, is engulfed in Blinding Bats. Unsighted the Dark Elf battles furiously to stay on the ledge.

Then something odd happens, the Human Mage scuttles out of the beached boat and fires a Chill Strike into Vermouth, the Eladrin Mage, and chief Slaver, leaving the Eladrin hurt and dazed, and that about turns it. Vermouth fires off Force spells, and Fey Steps when it looks really bad, back into the boat but...

The fight rumbles on a while, Drazen the Drow finally succumbs to the Blinding Bats and Kullervo's magical dagger and plunges into the water- he doesn't surface. The Gnolls are also quick to fall, although Astaroth and Cathal have a patchwork of bruises to show for the encounter, and broken ribs in the man-mountain's case.

Vermouth attempts to flee in the boat, he doesn't get far, the Knights concentrate their fire on the fleeing Slaver Chief.

Which just leaves one Mage standing- Aeolace, who introduces himself, drops to his knees and begs for clemency, he was lead astray, a misspent youth- it's easily done apparently.

[DM Interlude Encounter #9 [1250 XP = Level 6 (now with 5 PCs)] 6 Goblin Archers (Level 1 Minions); 4x Hobgoblin Slavers (Level 1 Skirmisher); Gorliss the Goat, Dragonborn Warlord (Level 3 Soldier), and then- 2x Gnoll Overseers (Level 2 Brute); Drazen, Drow Rogue (Level 3 Lurker) & Vermouth, Eladrin Mage (Level 3 Controller (Leader)). This one was a mess, and took ages, prior to play I couldn't see a way to separate the two encounters, and with the fifth player arriving, and set to switch sides and get the drop on the bad guys, I just thought why not.]

There follows an extended discussion regarding the suitability of a traitor, Aeolace, for membership of the rather exclusive, and all-conquering, Friday Knights, which slowly mutates into an extended rest.

This after Kullervo is sent back up the rocky slope and a little ahead, down the passage on the far side of the now ruined wooden platform, just to make sure there's no-one else about. The Rogue spots some odd things, more later, and discovers a solid looking iron door which is hot to the touch. He decides that discretion is the better part of valour, particularly as his resources are low, he's out of Healing Surges and already injured, oh and on his own. He returns and signals all clear.

Aeolace, Human Wizard, is the fifth member of the Knights, a little bit impetuous, a resident of Fallcrest down on his luck, running with street gangs. One thing lead to another and the next thing he knows he's trafficking human slaves for a bunch of crooks in the Beggar King's lair, try not to judge, we've all been there. He wants out, and then the Friday Knights come along. Aeolace is played by Paul.

[DM Interlude- Nine combat encounters, approximately ten hours of play before the need for a rest, with level 1 characters, that seems to work.]

Kullervo gets to work on the chests. Clearly the Slavers were packing their things and fleeing, things were getting too hot to handle - the Knights want to know more- Aeolace fills in the gaps, see below.

Kullervo, the young Rogue, finds all of the traps on the chests, eventually, and gets the treasure- semi-precious stones, copper and silver coins, 15 silver trade bars- marked with stamps to show they are Duergar in origin- odd; and a do-it-yourself assassin/thief kit- with poison, blow gun, silk rope, masterwork tools and more- marked as being the property of Vadicion Cainnae, whoever he or she may be.

[DM Interlude, Vadicion Cainnae is a “Slayer”, notice the quotation marks-, the “Slayers” mean business- this may be a plot point. As to the Duergar that's Foreshadowing, as are the Bloodreavers- more of this much later.]

Aeolace, as stated above, supplies a few more details. The Slavers have been at work down here for a month or more, at first in conjunction with the Beggars, but latterly, after the Beggars took a severe beating courtesy of the Shadowmen (Fallcrest's premier Thieves Guild), with help from the Bloodreavers- the Goblins and Hobgoblins who come from... Aeolace shrugs, he has no idea.

The Beggar King himself is ahead somewhere, and changed, from a capering paranoid homicidal maniac to a... Aeolace shrugs again, he's not sure, but he's changed, and hasn't been seen for a while.

The slaves are transported through the sewers to... Aeolace has no idea, again.

The Friday Knights are somewhat reassured, clearly Aeolace is a low-level miscreant, not management, perhaps he's telling the truth, perhaps he was lead astray, they're certain however that he deserves a second chance. Cathal barks at the Wizard a while, ostensibly making this very point- a second chance to make something of his life, to follow the path of righteousness and... He goes on, and at length gets his point across.

Rested up the Knights improvise their way up off the beach and head on down the cavern passage, Kullervo points out the things he found earlier in his scouting foray. The passage ends in a chamber with a huge statue of a Giant Rat, the stone rodent has a scattering of coin at its feet. Aeolace remarks that he was told by Vermouth, the Eladrin Mage, that this is some kind of terrible trap, and he was not to take the coin, the Knights see the sense in this and move on to the metal door.

Image
Anyone got any cheese?

The door is not just warm, it's hot- burning; alas there's nowhere else to go, Astaroth kicks it in, and reveals a sight straight from hell.

The floor of the chamber ahead is littered with bones, a wave of heat blasts out, the bones are smouldering- licked by spectral flames, in the midst of the mess is the Beggar King, a once bloated corpulent individual his skin now hangs in folds, like a fleshy robe.

The Beggar King is screaming and thrashing all the while- he doesn't look at all well.

Cathal takes the plunge and charges in, he needs the Beggar King's head as proof of his demise in order to collect his reward, bursting from the floor come five skeletons, each swathed in flame; the smouldering floor is however safe to stand on.

The rest of Friday Knights launch themselves into the fray, the Skeletons fling Flaming Orbs, or else claw at the Knights with their burning talons. The Beggar King however has much more in his arsenal- Shadow Bolts and Bursts deliver Necrotic damage, Flame Gouts burn, and all the while the capering madman screams and struggles with some unseen foe, and yet he still retains control over the Cinder Skeletons, he even possesses the power to teleport the burning undead about the chamber.

The fight is protracted and furious, all of the Knights are singed, scared and necrotised in the end. The final blow, the killing blow, comes when Cathal decapitates the Beggar King, and in doing so births something ripped straight from the Shadowfell.

Darkness encompasses the room, all light is lost to the black, the flames go out, a bloated bolus of shadow rises up the throat of the tower- and to the roof, the light slowly returns.

Image
At last, a hot meal.

[DM Interlude Encounter #10 [1025 XP = Level 5] 5x Cinder Skeletons (Level 2 Artillery) & The Beggar King (Level 5 Elite Controller (Leader))].

[DM Interlude- Cathal, Kullervo and Ignaran are an extended rest away from being 2nd Level.]

Cathal looks at Astaroth, Astaroth looks at Kullervo, Kullervo looks at Ignaran, Ignaran looks at Aeolace, Aeolace looks at the stairs leading up to the roof- and gulps.

The Knights catch their breath and then take the stairs three at a time, Cathal, holy warrior of Kord leading the way, singing, “onward Kordian soldiers, marching as to war, with the sword of Koooord, slaying all before.” Alas Cathal couldn't carry a tune in a bucket.

The Knights burst onto the roof of the tower, a buckled and broken edifice, riddled with great rents- and come face-to-face with a Shadow Dragon, clearly an immature member of the species, but still...

The Dragon flaps its newly formed wings, hovers a moment and then lurches forward- the finale unfolds.

All, save Aeolace, are caught in the Dragon's Breath Weapon, and then the DM rolls- and misses all four of them, later, much later, when the session has ended and the players are tucked up in bed, this power will recharge, fingers-crossed, because it didn't for the rest of the darn fight.

Thus the Dragon's glory is short lived, at one point it tries to escape but alas some slender sliver of shadow still connects it to the slumped dead body of the Beggar King far below.

Image
Shadow boxing.

Tail Slaps and Bites do bits of damage, at one point Astaroth is forced to retreat but only for a moment, his Healing Surge kicks in and he's back at the beast- a war of attrition, and yet it's soon over for the Shadow Dragon, which however has one last trick to pull.

The final blow, a blast of energy, a Magic Missile from Aeolace, and the Dragon swells for a second and then bursts- waves of numbing coldness and the deathly certainty of the grave wash over the Friday Knights, who although battered, bruised and weakened still manage to stand to salute the Shadow Dragon's demise and the first glorious rays of the new day sun.

[DM Interlude Encounter #11 [750 XP = Level 3] The Shadow Dragon (Level 3 Solo Lurker)].

The Beggar King is dead.

The Shadow Dragon is dead.

The Slavers are dead.

The Prisoners have been freed.

The Friday Knights are victorious

And yet...

With that the fourth session draws to a close, the Knights managed to clock up a further 4388 XP this session, with only three Combat Encounters, however all of them were corkers, and so... good night for, and from, the Friday Knights.

[DM Interlude- Astaroth is up to level 2.]

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 Post subject: Re: Story Hour- DCC53 Sellswords of Fallcrest via Maptools
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 12:16 pm 
The Friday Knights

Session 5- Fallcrest's Crest Falls.

A little while later, fully rested, the Knights return to the Blue Moon Inn, they have rooms there now, nice rooms at that, they also have lots of shiny new toys. Cathal has been about his dark business, the Beggar King's head has netted 500gp - this courtesy of a gimp-like “information broker and go-between” called The Goose- the Shadowmen, it seems, are very happy with the outcome.

The terrible shadows that haunted the Beggar King's tower are gone, there's simply no sign of them, it's as if they never existed. Nimozaran is of course delighted, he expresses his delight by allowing Ignaran and Aeolace access to many of his Rituals, he also rewards the Druid with a +1 Staff for his efforts.

The Red Wizards, Fallcrest's premier enchanters and magic item creators, have been busy - using their arcane knowledge to break down the magic items discovered, or transfer their enchantments onto weapons better suited to the Friday Knights arsenal.

Astaroth is in love, scratch that in lust, his busty benefactor, the Lady Constance, and her Ladies-in-Waiting are staying in the City, an extended break away from their country pile. Astaroth totters around the city on weak legs, his step cushioned by the six inches of air between his feet and the cobbled streets, toting a smile that a chisel could not remove.

And yet, even though they're the talk of the town, or at least in the small circles they inhabit, there's an itch that remains unscratched, and questions that need answers.

Such as-

Where did a chest of 15 silver trade bars, with Duergar manufactured stamps, come from - none of the merchants in the city will touch the stuff, it remains unsold, such is the potential threat attached to such items.

Where did the Shadow Dragon come from, well inside the Beggar King of course, but why?

Who are the Bloodreavers and what are they doing in the city of Fallcrest, snap for the Blackfang Gnolls- Wrix and Reiko the Gnoll Overseer's, ditto for Slavers?

The authorities have been informed and have got involved, the now empty Beggar King's lair has been investigated, and soon after sealed, with the surface buildings being either demolished, or else put to better use. The authorities, or rather the Friday Knights liaison, Sgt. Murgeddin, a bluff Dwarf, alas have no answers.

The mystery, or at least the shadow of the mystery, remains.

Still the Knights are finding friends, there are queues around the block to hear their stories, and so one fine night a few of the Knights find themselves, once again, in the bar of the Blue Moon Inn; the fine night comes to an abrupt end when the Inn is attacked.

But that's not the bigger picture, the City of Fallcrest is attacked.

[DM Interlude, session 5 took place just before Christmas 2008, alas there were only three players available, thus we had to improvise a little, although we knew this was going to happen- holidays and life get in the way, therefore alternative characters were macroed up ready for play with maptools. To my further consternation the maps I made for Maptools for this session were consumed in a computer related mishap which wiped several hard drives- foolishly I didn't put copies on my external hard drive, in short- no pictures for two sessions.]

The Friday Knights for tonight's session are-

Aeolace, Eladrin Wizard Level 1– the traitor turned good guy.
Antaurea, Eladrin Ranger Level 1- bow for hire (see below).
Cathal, Human Fighter Level 2- instrument of Kord (and destruction).
Immeral, Eladrin Artificer Level 1- arcane enquirer (see below).

[DM Interlude- Aeolace has changed to an Eladrin Mage- Paul has had a re-think.]

Which is far too many Eladrin for me, popping in and out of existence with their Fey Steps, it's not natural.

And so, and suddenly, one side of the Inn collapses burying a number of patrons under broken rubble, dead or dying- worse the Inn is on fire.

The front door is smashed open and a group of surly looking Goblins and Hobgoblins spill into the bar- several of the Goblins are toting improvised fire bombs, it gets a little hot under the collar for the good citizens therein.

Leaping into the fray are the Knights present- Cathal and Aeolace, happily two other wannabe heroes join in the fun, they are-

Antaurea, Eladrin Ranger, a wastrel, by high Eladrin standards, content to offer his services to anyone with coin- a guide to the wild lands that yet manages to spend much of his time in solitary contemplation, just him and his bottle. Antaurea is played by Mike.

Immeral, Eladrin Artificer, an unworldly tinkerer in the arcane, more used to spending time at his workbench than involving himself in combat situations. And yet when the Inn is invaded and Immeral's peace is disturbed, he stands up to be counted.

[DM Interlude, Mike is unhappy with Ignaran for some reason, the Druid was created using Expeditious Retreats Advanced Player's Guide, the Wizards of the Coast Druid Character Class has yet to be released. Therefore Mike has decided to try a different character.- Antaurea]

And so to the action.

The Hobgoblins, all ten of them, prove no more than a distraction, they make their mark on the non-adventuring population of the Inn and the City at large, but are no match for for the Friday Knights, or their neophyte friends. The Hobgoblin grunts are cut down in a trice, Aeolace even adds a Scorching Burst to the mix, taking out four in one go. What the hell, he figures, the bar's on fire anyway.

The Goblins prove to be made of only slightly sterner stuff, the pair of Molotov cocktail throwing idiots are taken down- one killed, one, Angry Willy- by name, knocked unconscious by a forward thinking Cathal- he wants to know what's going on here.

It soon becomes obvious that the Goblinoids are Bloodreavers, that name keeps popping up. They have the same markings on their armour, weaponry and skin as those fought previously in the Beggar King's lair.

The attack is easily repulsed, however the screams from outside the Inn alert the Knights to new danger.

[DM Interlude Encounter #12 [630 XP = Level 3] 10x Hobgoblin Grunts (Level 3 Minions) & 2x Goblin Blackblades (Level 2 Skirmishers). A jolly little fracas especially when the fire gets a hold of the Inn.]

The Knights spill out onto the street; houses and businesses burn, people run screaming and parked about ten yards away is a Fire Engine, think about the words, a cart pulled by a huge brute of an Ogre that stops every now and then to throw barrels of already burning pitch into populated buildings- like now.

The Knights watch as another flaming missile sails over their heads and smashes into the slates of the Inn, and explodes showering its fiery contents onto the roof, and down to where the Knights are standing.

Accompanying the Fire Engine are a small group of Hobgoblin Archers, balanced in the back of the wagon, along with further pitch barrels. They take pot shots at the screaming inhabitants of the city as they attempt to flee to safety.

“This must end!” Cathal declares, and right on time Aeolace ends it, scooting forward a fraction and then dropping a Flaming Sphere directly beneath the wagon- it gets hot very quickly for the inhabitants of said cart - they take to sniffing the air, the burning smell seems to be coming from somewhere very close to them.

BOOM!

Splinters of wood and a slivers of Hobgoblins take momentarily to the air, spread out rapidly, and then rearrange themselves like some vast unfathomable jigsaw in a three hundred yard radius.

Standing very alone, very burnt, and very deafened is “Big Lesley”, the Ogre Savage who repeatedly thumps the side of his head, hoping to make the the buzzing stop. The other Knights take a moment to stare slack-jawed at Aeolace, whose grin matches Astaroth's, and then make mincemeat of all that's left of the Ogre.

[DM Interlude Encounter #13 [800 XP = Level 5] 3x Hobgoblin Archers (Level 3 Artillery) & Big Lesley, Ogre Savage (Level 8 Brute). Wow! I mean. Wow! A natural '20' was involved but the damage rolls were just... Wow!]

As an encore the Knights rush back into the bar, set about saving people or else bark furiously and organise bucket chains, a difficult Skill Challenge follows; of course the Knights prevail and the fires in the Inn are doused, the citizens saved.

And yet still their work is not done. The Knights head back out onto the streets of Fallcrest, guards are running hither and thither, more buildings need to be extinguished, the Knights help out some more, however the Bloodreavers are gone. Sgt. Murgeddin, when they bump into him later, tells the rest of the story.

The Bloodreavers it seems moved into the southern section of the city, which is mostly in ruins, not repaired after the Bloody Hand's assault nearly a century ago. There they hid until some signal- many buildings have been burnt, although few have sustained any serious damage- it seems the attack was a diversionary tactic. A good number of Fallcrest's citizens cannot be accounted for, eye witnesses report snatch squads grabbing people off the streets- the Bloodreavers delivered destruction, but came for slaves.

Which leaves the Knights in the frame, they've fought the Bloodreavers before. Murgeddin wants them to meet with a man called Eoffram Troyas, a Fallcrest Council Member, he has a proposition for the Knights.

However before the meeting can be arranged something else comes up- fame. Already gaining a name for themselves in the City, Aeolace is about his business one fine-ish morning when he spots a member of the Fallcrest youth wearing a very thin sleeveless cloth shirt with a crude depiction of him on the front, it bears the legend “Firestarter- Twisted Firestarter.” It seems two stalls on the Fallcrest Central Market are selling them.

En route to investigate the matter he spies other variants of the shirts, bearing other legends, such as- “Aeolace says- play with Matches, or else!”; “Burn Bloodreaver Burn, It's an Ogre Inferno!”; and “Look out! It's Aeolace's Fiery Balls.”

The market does indeed have stalls selling the aforementioned items of apparel, furthermore said items are selling like, forgive me, hot-cakes. There are not however two stalls selling them- there are three, and by the time Aeolace is lead away by the Fallcrest Constabulary, there are five. Public appearances, particularly heated exchanges it seems, are good for business.

Cries of “drop da bomb Aeolace”, ring out as the confused Wizard scuttles back to the Inn.

The other Friday Knights react to Aeolace's new found fame with a mixture of jealousy, amusement and a desire to cash in on it fast.

Aeolace has learnt something however, the producer of the shirts is known to all and sundry as... The Goose.

Back in the Blue Moon the Goose is located, and repeated attempts are made to show him the error of his ways. Alas the Goose fails to see what he has done wrong, and interprets these forlorn attempts as a device to increase Aeolace's share of the profits.

After a protracted meeting involving all of the Knights available it's settled. Aeolace's image rights are valued at 15% of the nett profits, further lines and other merchandising and concessions are subject to trials, cost efficiency reports, and product testing. Sometime in the future there will be meetings about further meetings. For now, Aeolace sulks back to his room 100gp richer and now complete with a manager, he's also signed up for some Marketing style Public Appearances.

A little while later the Knights get to sit down with Eoffram Troyas, and are given Angry Willy, the captured Goblin Fire-Bomber, to play with.

A Skill Challenge ensues, Cathal's opening statement “this is going to hurt me more than it is you”, proves to be an outright lie- Willy, at the end of the session, is so pliable he confesses to be being each and every one of the Dark Gods in disguise.

The Friday Knights however garner a few snippets of information; the Bloodreavers are a gang of sorts, a conglomeration of disaffected individuals from numerous tribes, rallying to the banner of a great Goblin Chieftain called Sinruth, tall and muscular, able to cut a man clean in two, such is his strength.

Furthermore, the Bloodreavers are working out of a place near Winterhaven, a small fortified town to the north, up the King's Road.

Lastly the Bloodreavers are slavers, although Angry Willy is sketchy on the details, he's a fairly new recruit, the attack on Fallcrest his first and last foray.

Thus armed and informed the Knights sit down with Eoffram, although the meeting gets crowded a little later as other authority figures arrive to tell what little they know of the tale.

Eoffram tells a story about an ancient artefact called the Rod of Ruin kept safe and closely guarded in a secret temple dedicated to Bahamut. That is until just recently, when the temple priests and guards were slaughtered to a man, turned into the walking dead, and the Rod taken- the name Kalarel was overheard by the lone survivor of the ordeal, although who Kalarel is...

Eoffram wants the Knights to do their damnedest to rescue the innocent citizens of Fallcrest swept up in this bloody tide, to return them safely to their homes, their loved-ones and their lives.

With that in mind Eoffram would like to pay the Knights to travel to Winterhaven and discover exactly what's going on, get the Rod and rescue the captives, and return to Fallcrest. The money is very good- the Knights agree, nods and smiles all round.

It's at this point that Marla, High Priest of the Church of Pelor barges into the meeting chamber and tells a tale about reports of Death Cultists in Winterhaven. She demands that something be done, even though the reports are old, Eoffram is forced to offer additional rewards for the defeat of said cult, or any cult involved in these activities.

Prices are agreed, everyone is happy, that is until Nimozaran turns up- mutters something about a friend of his called Douven Staul, an eminent archaeologist who travelled to Winterhaven three months ago and has not been seen since. He too offers a reward, although it's a pitiful amount. Regardless the, Friday Knights take on the task- the more the merrier.

A day is spent equipping for the road ahead to Winterhaven, three days on foot. However all of their preparation is put on hold when Murgeddin arrives at the Inn later that night screaming for the Knights to “come quickly”, and something about “Bad Mustard!”

And at this point session 5 comes to a close, only two Combat Encounters but also a shed load of roleplaying and background information uncovered, a little more character development and 2446 XP between the Knights present.

_________________
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 Post subject: Re: Story Hour- DCC53 Sellswords of Fallcrest via Maptools
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 3:08 pm 
The Friday Knights

Session 6- “Bad Mustard.”

[DM Interlude- this is the second of the Christmas sessions, once again not all of the Knights are available, also we decided what with festivities ongoing, to only play for a few hours.]

For this session we have only three Knights-
Cathal, ever-present, Human Fighter level 2, adherent to Kord. Played by Simon.
Aeolace, Eladrin Wizard level 1, the Firestarter, or so it seems. Played by Paul.
Immeral, Eladrin Artificer level 1. Also played by Simon.

And then we're on with the action...

“Bad Mustard” Murgeddin explains, on the way to the catacombs, was a rascal, a bounder, and a cad; only he doesn't use such purty language- “Bad Mustard” was a bad bastard, a robber and a murderer.
“Was?” Cathal enquires.

It turns out “Bad Mustard” has been dead a dozen years and yet his tomb has been disturbed, seemingly in the Bloodreaver attack. Earlier today a bunch of the living dead staggered out into the light and waylaid several terrified citizens, they were eventually destroyed by the Fallcrest Guard.

The Friday Knights are tasked to enter the Tomb and discover what's going on.

[DM Interlude, as with session 5 there are no pretty pictures to go with this report, subject to the same computer crash, and the same failure to back up the files- normal service, rest assured, resumes with session 7.]

“Bad Mustard”'s tomb turns out to be a maze of corridors and small ante-chambers, there are few signs of life, although there are signs of passing- clearly someone has been here recently.

Eventually the someone's passing are located, the bodies of three Goblins, charred and cindered, burnt to a crisp, they look to have fallen foul of some sort of flaming trap.

The Knights, ever cautious, press on and finally emerge into a large central chamber that seems to have been locked away in the darkness for the last dozen years, except...

On the far side of the chamber is an ornate sarcophagi.

It has been opened.

The Knights creep closer, there are various other exits about the chamber, Immeral pulls up short; he's heard something. Over to the right a large beetle chomps on the remains of a human skeleton, trying to get at the marrow in the bones.

Immeral whips out his javelin and flings it, it smashes through the Carrion Beetle's hard carapace and kills it dead. Immeral's javelin turns to a wisp of smoke and reappears in his hand, a neat trick.

With a self-satisfied grin the Eladrin Artificer nods to Cathal who leads the gang over to the opened sarcophagi, it's at this point that eleven more of the Carrion Beetles chitter into the chamber, making either for the the fallen body of their companion, or else for the fresh flesh of the Knights- it kicks off.

The Knights are soon kicking donkey, however seconds later a half-dozen or more Decrepit Skeletons rattle forth from the same dark exits and close in on the Knights.

To make matters worse a rancid wreck of a body pulls itself up from within the sarcophagi, grabs a hunk of its bloody bloated flesh, and hurls it at Cathal, “Bad Mustard” corrupt in life, corrupt in death- a Corruption Corpse.

The Knights are quickly surrounded - although this proves to be an ill-advised tactic - as Immeral unleashes his arcane powers, Aeolace “Firestarter” conjures a Flaming Sphere which clears a path in seconds, while Cathal remains at the front, shielding his companions and slicing through the myriad Minion enemies.

The Knights win through and close in on “Bad Mustard”, who very quickly has nowhere to go, hemmed in, he is hacked, stabbed and burnt and... buggered.

Soon after the tomb returns to silence, as silent as the grave...

[DM Interlude Encounter #14 [675 XP = Level 6] 12x Carrion Beetles (Level 1 Minions); 8x Decrepit Skeletons (Level 1 Minions) & “Bad Mustard”, Corruption Corpse (Level 4 Artillery) Too easy again, I'm going to have to learn to just let loose.]

Enemies vanquished, the Knights take a turn to investigate the tomb of “Bad Mustard”. They find nothing- nothing at all of any value, not in the sarcophagi, not down any of the dark exits- which lead to further disturbed tombs. Nothing, save a message.

Scratched on the inside of “Bad Mustard's” sarcophagi are some odd shaped symbols, Aeolace gets to work and uses a Comprehend Languages Ritual, ten minutes later he has his answers.
“It's written in Abyssal, it says 'the mirror is not here.'”

Which leaves everyone puzzled, furthermore Aeolace thinks the writing was done by “Bad Mustard” himself, while in the grave, while dead- clearly the message was, or is, important- important enough perhaps for the Bloodreavers to take time out from their raid to break into the tomb.

The Knights retrace their steps and head out to meet back up with Murgeddin, they tell all, the Dwarven Guard Sergeant has no clues, clearly another mystery.

And so without further ado the Knights head back to their preparations, ready themselves for the road to Winterhaven, all except Kullervo, who makes a decision.

At precisely 4 AM, when all in the Blue Moon Alehouse are sleeping, Kullervo departs- breaking out of the Inn.

The young Rogue is never seen again.

[DM Interlude, alas due to work, rest and play commitments Rob, who plays Kullervo, has had to leave us- therefore no more Kullervo, a sad moment for the me and the rest of the Knights.]

And so the very short session ends, only one Combat Encounter and a total of 975 XP, which is enough to take Aeolace to second level.

Next time the Knights head off down the King's Road to Winterhaven, until then, adieu.

_________________
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 Post subject: Re: Story Hour- Keep on the Shadowfell via Maptools
PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:15 am 
The Friday Knights

Session 7- The Keep on the Shadowfell Part 1 The Kobold Menace.

[DM Interlude, and so we're onto the Keep on the Shadowfell, many of the PCs are level 2 so I have of course upped the levels of the creatures and encounters, as you'll see. At this point I was hoping not to TPK the players, which is an odd thing for a DM to hope for.]

And so sans Kullervo, who is nowhere to be found, the Knights take to the King's Road heading for Winterhaven, in play this evening we have-

Antaurea, Eladrin Ranger Level 1
Astaroth, Human Fighter Level 2
Cathal, Human Fighter Level 2
Ignaran, Human Druid Level 2
Immeral, Eladrin Artificer Level 1

Yes, Astaroth has been prised from the tender ministrations of Lady Constance- he's back.

The road is long, and windy, and yet is encounter free, our guys get into a routine - it's two and a half days of solid marching to Winterhaven afterall, and all goes well - until that is they have the walls of the town in sight. It's at this point, when the Knights are off-guard, that a pack of bloodthirsty Kobolds leap out from behind whatever cover is available, and for the most part, charge at the Knights screaming for their heads.

Perhaps the Friday Knights fame has spread this far?

[DM Interlude- 'pack of bloodthirsty Kobolds', it just doesn't sound right; Kobolds, 3.x edition are more likely to suffer fatalities getting the top off the sauce bottle, darn 4th edition messing with Kobolds, the minions minion.]

ImageTo Koboldly go...

Kobold Minions rush screaming at the Knights, herded forward by a pair of heavily armed and armoured Dragonshields, and at the rear a lone Slinger perches atop a rock, screams up a hullabaloo, and lets fly.

The Knights however are a well oiled team; Cathal and Astaroth are straight into the fray and already four of the Minions lie dead , the Slinger is soon bloodied and searching for a way out. Then the Dragonshields arrive and, soon after, start taking a pounding, it's a massacre.

The Slinger almost escapes but Antaurea is deadly accurate with his Twin Striking Longbow. There's little hope for the ambushers, the last to fall are the Dragonshields which turn tail and flee when their comrades have bitten the dirt, the pair are also cut down.

“Right then, Winterhaven.” Cathal declares and points the way, after a brief search of the deceased the Knights head on, having barely broken a sweat.

[DM Interlude Encounter #15 [580 XP = Level 1] 5x Kobold Minions (Level 2 Minions); Kobold Slinger (Level 2 Artillery) & 2x Kobold Dragonshields (Level 3 Soldiers). In truth the Friday Knights never missed an attack roll throughout the entire encounter, I knew then it was going to be one of those sessions.]

The Knights arrive at Winterhaven at midday, disperse and begin to pump the locals for information.

Cathal introduces himself to Rond Kelfrem, Captain of the Winterhaven Regulars, stories are swapped- gruff men with tall tales of daring-do, eventually Cathal asks whether Winterhaven has a Kobold problem. “It's funny you should mention that”, Rond states and grins. Rond will arrange for Cathal, and the Knights, to get an audience with Lord Padraig, the ruler of the town. They do indeed have a Kobold problem and Rond doesn't have the manpower to do much about it- the Friday Knights may score some brownie points with the locals should they resolve the issue.

In fact everyone in Winterhaven has something bad to say about the “blasted Kobolds”. Eilian the Old is soon getting along famously with Astaroth, which may have something to do with the fact that the man-mountain keeps buying him beers in Wrafton's Inn.

Eilian considers himself to a man of lettres (sic.), a learned man, a local historian, almost a sage- he's also able to burp show tunes, which he does now and then when the conversation turns dull. Eilian thinks Redcaps are the problem, he's not sure what a Redcap is but he's heard that they are “mean buggers”, and red.

Astaroth, the lug, is foolish enough to ask about Cult activities in the area, which gets the old farmer excited- he offers to pay a pretty silver to watch a virgin being sacrificed- the pair get on famously, Astaroth, it seems, has a friend for life.

Antaurea, also in Wrafton's Inn, chats with the owner- Salvina Wrafton, she too has only bad things to say about the Kobolds, rumours of darker deeds, kidnappings and the like, attacks on the road- all bad for business. She also remembers Douven Staul, the archaeologist that Nimozaran back in Fallcrest was harping on about, he stayed at the Inn for a while, but left after talking to Eilian.

Antaurea and Astaroth redouble their efforts and soon enough, actually three and a half pints later, Eilian reveals that he directed Douven to an old burial site to the south west of the town, supposedly the last resting place of a dragon. He'll draw them a map for a shiny silver coin, for a gold coin he'll even colour it in. Astaroth and Antaurea go for the silver option, although Astaroth regrets it instantly, thinking perhaps he could have helped with the colouring in... perhaps next time.

Ignaran in the meantime has found Sister Linora, Priestess of Avandra, she's desperate for help, and Ignaran is desperate to help- a match made in heaven. It seems the Kobold menace is serious, farms have been attacked, people are missing, and Lord Padraig, despite her pleas, has done nothing about it. Ignaran knows just the people, she smiles wistfully, and he departs.

The Knights take a further hour to chat to a number of other townsfolk including Bairwin the Shopkeeper and Thair Coalstriker the Dwarven Smith. The Smith swears a lot and spits into his forge, not much enamoured with Kobolds; while the Shopkeeper, Bairwin proves less forthcoming.

The Knights also fail to speak with three other townsfolk, not for the want of trying- Lord Padraig is busy at present, although a future meeting is on the cards- Rond assures Cathal; Valthrun the Prescient, a Sage- no really, and wise-man. No amount of hammering on the door of his tower is enough to stir him; and lastly a beautiful Elven lass called Ninaran, a local hunter, who is wary of Antaurea's advances in Wrafton's Inn, the Eladrin however is certain she is just playing hard to get.

The Knights take lunch and share their findings, a plan of action is agreed and after only two hours in Winterhaven the band hit the road again, bound for the Burial Site that Eilian the Old spoke of, after all it's less than two hours distance, and they haven't killed anything in ages.

All does not go as planned.

No surprises there then.

While on the road discussing what to do should another Kobold ambush take place they are ambushed by some Kobolds, what's the word- like coppery... irony, that's it.

A wall of Kobold Dragonshields come rushing forward, charging into the fray and cutting Cathal and Astaroth before the pair have had a chance to even draw their weapons. An Energy Orb bursts and blasts Ignaran badly scorching his armour and body, a critical hit.

The Knights spring in to action but not before the Dragonshields manage to hit both Fighters again, it's serious now. Astaroth and Cathal set to work; chopping, slicing, dicing and blocking. Ignaran conjures Wolfie who appears close to the Kobold Wyrmpriest- the Energy Orb slinger- which causes the creature to cease his infernal flinging.

Immeral joins the fray and Antaurea peppers the closest targets, soon the Dragonshields are losing ground, two are quickly bloodied, then equally quickly despatched, freeing up Cathal to charge the Wyrmpriest. It's at this point that the Kobold Skirmisher, hidden thus far, dodges from behind a rock and sinks his spear into Cathal's back, the warrior of Kord is very bloodied.

Right on cue the Wyrmpriest cuts and runs- which alas proves to be not soon enough, Antaurea remains as far away from the action as he can get and yet in range of everyone, the Wyrmpriest is killed, two arrows in his back- bullseye.

From there it just gets worse for the remaining Kobolds, those left standing attempt to scarper but none get far, they're all cut down.

[DM Interlude, and this DM is relieved, I wanted to get past this encounter, I TPK'ed a group here last time I played Shadowfell. I feel better that the Knights are still alive, I can start trying to kill them now.]

ImageCower before my great Orbs of Energy...

[DM Interlude Encounter #16 [750 XP = Level 3] Kobold Skirmisher (Level 2 Skirmisher); 3x Kobold Dragonshields (Level 3 Soldiers) & Kobold Wyrmpriest (Level 4 Artillery (Leader)) Relieved this one is over.]

A brief search follows, with little of interest found, except for a crude brooch in the shape of a ram-horned demon, that would be Orcus then. Which gets the Knights attention.

Soon after the Knights head off again- on the road to the Burial Site. An hour later they're at the site, and there's a friendly Gnome on hand to help them with their investigations, how nice.

The Burial Site is a large crater in the ground, with a fenced off area in the centre, four rough looking fellows swing picks and shovels at the behest of a smiling Gnome by the name of Agrid. He spots the Knights, smiles some more and motions for them to come and join him down in the crater. The rough men, labourers likely, lean on their spades and gap-toothed gawp at the Knights.

Which leaves the Knights floundering for a while, bonhomie is not what they're used to, now if they'd thrown spears the Knights would have known how to react, and yet a number of their collective spider-senses are tingling, all is not as it seems, they think out loud.

Antaurea remains hidden in a bush a little behind the action, a broken conversation takes place, all affable one-way (Agrid the Gnome), and heaps of suspicion the other way (the Friday Knights).

The two groups trade increasingly barbed remarks, particularly when Agrid and his diggers state that they have never heard of Douven Staul, and yet, eventually the Knights, or at least four of them head down into the crater to have a look around.

That's when Agrid springs his trap, but to be honest the Knights are ready and waiting, put a map on the screen in maptools and the Knights kinda get the feeling they should be rolling initiative.

[DM Interlude, I actually have lots of maps that are not combat encounters, and I sometimes try to keep from revealing the map as long as I can, but when it's needed as a visual aid, well it's difficult- bit of a give away though at times. Obviously when I'm doing the ambushes (Encounters #15 and #16) I don't reveal the map until the encounter has already begun.]

As I was saying, Agrid and friends launch their attack.

ImageDem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones...

“Destroy the meddlers”, Agrid declares, then buries a crossbow bolt in Cathal's chest, to add insult to injury a Halfling, Jersey Turnpike, appears from behind some rocks and twirls his sling around his head, and then makes three sling attacks- two of which hit home - Ignaran and Astaroth, although the damage is not great.

The Human Rabble stride forward swinging their picks and spades, which actually isn't that terrifying to behold, alas the ragged foursome are cut down in a matter of seconds. The Halfling Slinger is also sent scurrying when Antaurea's Twin Strike proves too hot to handle, particularly as one of the hits was a critical.

Then the reinforcements arrive, a pair of Guard Drakes scuttle around the fenced area and into the midst of the Knights; Astaroth, Ignaran and Immeral are drawn into close combat, Cathal is in hot pursuit of Agrid who is back-pedalling furiously, while Antaurea remains out of reach, content to snipe at the piddling enemies.

[DM Interlude- the Ranger, I believe, has yet to take even one hit point damage since its creation, and I've targeted him, believe me, I've just not hit once. However he's usually last in line and partially concealed much of the time.]

The Guard Drakes prove to be tough opponents, particularly as their bites seem more effective when the pair are fighting in tandem, that said the Knights still manage to make short work of them. Agrid is backed up the slope and out the other side of the crater, and then is struck a mighty blow by Cathal; result- the Gnome disappears from sight and scurries away at top speed, leaving Cathal looking somewhat bemused, and silently fuming.

[DM Interlude Encounter #17 [727 XP = Level 2] 4x Human Rabble (Level 3 Minions); 2x Guard Drakes (Level 3 Brutes); Jersey Turnpike, Halfling Slinger (Level 2 Artillery) & Agrid, Gnome Skulk (Level 3 Lurker (Leader)). Lovely bit of roleplay to start us off, the Knights know, or rather- think, it's a trap but are trying hard to find the words to get the Gnome or the Rabble to give the game away.]

The Rabble are searched, as is the area, thoroughly, and in a bed roll, tied up, the Knights discover Douven Staul, a blustering old wreck who “could'a handled 'em 'imself”, if the Knights had only given him the chance, and boy does he have a story to tell.

The archaeologist had just started to remove the bones of the ancient dragon from the ground when the Gnome turned up, it went downhill rapidly from there, the Gnome it seems was looking for a mirror, Douven tells them.
“A mirror?” The Knights parrot back remembering the message on the inside of “Bad Mustard's” tomb.

Douven, the wily old bugger, however kept the mirror secret, he'd found it much earlier in the dig and had buried it just a little away from the crater, and marked the place- he fetches the mirror for the Knights to take a look.

Ignaran and Immeral get to work, the mirror seems to be some arcane device, perhaps used as a focus for some Ritual, they're not sure what sort of ritual as of yet. Douven allows them to keep the thing, for saving his life- he also offers a further reward, it seems Agrid stole his locket from him. The locket contains the only picture Douven possess of his recently deceased wife, he wants it back, and the Gnome brought to book. The Knights can keep the locket, it is after all magical, he just wants the picture of his wife back, the old romantic.

Before the Knights head back to town Douven takes them on a guided tour of his dig. He seems to have uncovered the bones of a great dragon, dead many centuries, the dragon it seems died in battle with a number of large winged humanoids- possibly demons or devils, odd.

The Knights take the slightly battered Douven back to Winterhaven, getting back to the town just before the great gates are shut.

Douven has one last nugget to pass on, before he's sent upstairs to sleep his ordeal off, “there's a spy in Winterhaven”, he hisses to Cathal and without further explanation stomps off up the stairs.

Which leaves the Knights with time on their hands and a pub full of people, the inevitable drinking session is averted when Rond appears and indicates that he has secured a meeting with Lord Padraig...

Who turns out to be the cloaked figure accompanying Rond, Lord Padraig is younger than they expected, and for all the complaints of the townsfolk at his inability to deal with the Kobold menace, a good man- just beset by too many problems.

The group secure a private booth out of sight and away from eavesdroppers, Lord Padraig proposes that the Knights solve the Kobold problem, Rond nods and agrees, in short a deal is done. The young Lord then announces to the Inn that the Knights are here to save the day, that the Kobolds will no longer menace the highways and byways, and on he goes.

So, no pressure then.

The Knights are bought drinks, Antaurea spots Ninaran, the Elven Hunter and marks her as Quarry, the two retire to a corner for a quiet chat. Ninaran is all smiles and glad tidings, she does however refuse Antaurea's offer of a cosy bed, instead she shares her secrets- she knows where the Kobolds are and is happy to provide what little information she has, wanting only to see them punished.

Ninaran describes the route to a cave behind a waterfall, perhaps six miles to the northwest of Winterhaven, worse still she believes that this cave is not only home to the “blasted Kobolds”, but also to some dark cult- she has seen hooded men within the woods. Antaurea promises, and an Eladrin never breaks his promises, that he will end the Cult and the Kobolds, tomorrow, lead his men (get him) into the fray, as he always does- from the front.

Cathal, listening in, nearly falls off his stool at this point.

There's more to the evening however, Bairwin the shopkeeper has a quiet word with Immeral and Cathal. He tells a tale of a dishevelled Gnome, trying to sell him some ancient mirror, he had found a buyer in Fallcrest for such an artefact, however the Gnome failed to complete his end of the bargain- he never saw the miscreant again.

Before Cathal can counter, Astaroth butts in and states that the Knights have the mirror, and how much is it worth exactly. Bairwin is surprised and then delighted- he offers 100gp, here and now for the thing, he doesn't want to disappoint his buyer in Fallcrest.

Before the deal can be sealed however a messenger arrives, from Valthrun the Prescient, who the messenger states had predicted the arrival of brave adventurers to the fair town of Winterhaven this morning while reading the leaves of his breakfast tea.

The Knights are expected, in his tower, now.

The audience with Valthrun is... well judge for yourselves.

Valthrun, swathed in a voluminous purple crushed velvet robe (actually an old pair of curtains worn like a poncho), swoons hard left, then hard right. Effects a gruff quacking voice and begins.

“I am in contact with the spirits, I'm getting a name, beginning with...”
The Knights lean in, against their better judgement, mesmerised.
“K.” Vathrun declares.
Cathal goes for “Shush”, but Astaroth gets to “Kalarel” first, and blurts it out.
Valthrun swoons some more, then finally declares...
“No, that's not it- what is your name spirit?” He screams.
Causing Ignaran to spill his drink down himself.

And on it goes

By the end of the evening Valthrun has been asked to look into the history of a ruined Keep, half a days journey to the Northeast of the town. The Knights have heard stories of it in passing, nothing concrete, but by the end of the evening they just want to get out of Valthrun's tower- the man is clearly a charlatan.

Gone midnight, the Knights tramp back to the Inn and head for their rooms, and rest- tomorrow the Kobolds, and the Cultists, two for the price of one.

For those still interested the spirit's name turned out to be 'Keith.'

The next day the Knights rise and a little after head out of Winterhaven, en route to the Kobold/Cultist lair. they've not gone far up the track however when they run into trouble, a dying man stumbles up the road- fails to make words and collapses, dead- he looks to be a drover, or an impoverished farmer.

The Knights rush on, towards smashing sounds just over a rise in the road, ahead they spot a caravan, mid-ransack, at least eight Kobolds, all shapes and sizes- without further ado the Knights charge in.

Kobold Minions pour forward to meet them, a Kobold Hurler- standing on the back of a wagon - takes aim. Another Kobold armed with a pike defends a second wagon.

Cathal and Astaroth again cut through the Minions. The Kobold Hurler looses a flask of fire which singes Ignaran somewhat and puts him off his stride, and to make matters worse a Kobold Slyblade skulks out from beneath one of the wagons and buries his short sword in Cathal's knee, which hurts a lot.

Once again Antaurea hovers at the rear, his arrows however are incredibly effective, the Kobold Hurler is soon permanently put out of action. The Minions are likewise quick to fall, and soon after only the ducking, dodging Kobold Slyblade and the Pikeman are left alive.

The Slyblade falls next as the wagon he hides under, the same wagon the Pikeman prods down from, is surrounded- the creature falls to a hedge of blades.

The Pikeman runs, but doesn't get far, and this time the Knights choose to capture the creature, it takes quite a chase but they get their Kobold.

The Kobold Pikeman proves to be not that well informed, the Knights learn that there is indeed a Waterfall Cave, that they are on the right track, and that the Kobolds lair there. They also learn that the Kobolds are lead by a Goblin known as Irontooth, who turns out to be... wouldn't you know it, a Bloodreaver General. Cathal thinks the 'general' bit may be an overstatement. Nothing about cults however.

Suitably informed of what lies ahead the Knights ponder what to do with the captured Kobold, while they are pondering Astaroth kills it.

ImageKobolds, available in an increasing number of flavours.

[DM Interlude Encounter #18 [661 XP = Level 2] 6x Kobold Minions (Level 2 Minions); Kobold Hurler (Level 3 Artillery); Kobold Pikeman (Level 3 Brute) & Kobold Slyblade (Level 4 Lurker (Leader))]

[DM Interlude, Immeral now has enough XP to advance to Level 2 after an extended rest.]

The Knights rest a short while, after discovering a rough Kobold encampment, and a little further down the road the body of the second drover- nothing more of import alas. They decide to pick up the drovers' bodies on their return journey to Fallcrest, such is their confidence. Of the horses there are no signs, except for snapped reins.

They plunge on, off road, through the woods, Antaurea giving directions, remembering the route that Ninaran told him.

An hour or so later the Knights are paddling across a shallow stream, ahead they can see a low waterfall - this must be the place - when Ignaran spots something, or rather some thing. A little way ahead a bored Kobold Minion picks his nose and fails to notice the Knights mid-stream.

The Knights do their best to stay silent and creep a little closer, then they unleash the artillery, result – dead Kobold Minion, the attack however rouses the as yet unobserved other Kobolds present- all twelve of them.

The Knights are swiftly surrounded and in the thick of it, as Kobold Minions pour out of the woods, a Kobold Slinger takes aim and clonks Immeral on the head. A Kobold Dragonshield stands within some sort of magic circle and squeaks for Cathal to come and fight him.

ImageFriday Knights all right for fighting.

Once again the Kobold Minions prove ill-equipped to thwart the Knights, they're quickly despatched, as is the Slinger, again courtesy of Antaurea.

The Dragonshield gets his wish, Cathal advances, takes a few hits and then slays the thing. While this is happening a Kobold Skirmisher dashes out of concealment from within the woods, stabs Antaurea hard in the side, and then scarpers back out of sight.

[DM Interlude, a hit, a hit- a palpable hit on Antaurea, the first. Of many, I hope.]

There follows a conga of Knights lead by the Kobold Skirmisher through the woods, reminiscent of a Benny Hill Sketch, the Knights get their Kobold before the creature manages to circle back to the entrance to the waterfall cave, just mind you, the creature is at the lip of the cave and climbing when he's finally brought down- Immeral's javelin this time doing the damage.

[DM Interlude Encounter #18 [650 XP = Level 2] 10x Kobold Minions (Level 1 Minions); Kobold Slinger (Level 2 Artillery); Kobold Skirmisher (Level 2 Skirmisher) & Kobold Dragonshield (Level 3 Soldier)]

The waterfall guards are dead.

The way ahead is clear, and those inside the cave have not been alerted, probably.

And thus the seventh session draws to a close, and what a session, gone is the fifteen minute day, banished forever with 4th Edition, all you naysayers.. doesn't matter, this is not the place to resurrect the argument. Five combat encounters and a shed load of investigation, the Knights are on track, earning a total of 6805 XP between them.

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 Post subject: Re: Story Hour- DCC53 Sellswords of Fallcrest via Maptools
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:49 pm 
And the story continues :)

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 Post subject: Re: Story Hour- DCC53 Sellswords of Fallcrest via Maptools
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:07 pm 
trevor wrote:
And the story continues :)


Every Saturday another session, subject to unforseen acts of nature.

Thanks for reading (and looking).

Goonalan

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 Post subject: Re: Story Hour- Keep on the Shadowfell via Maptools
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 11:33 am 
The Friday Knights

Session 8- The Keep on the Shadowfell Part 2 The Spy in Winterhaven.

[DM Interlude, time for a player shuffle, which is always a problem when you're writing up the action- several of PCs used in the last session are retired, temporarily perhaps, as new players are available for the game.]

And so hotfooting it from Winterhaven come another two Friday Knights, having caught up at last, only recently arrived from Fallcrest, the first is known to us, Aeolace is back in the action, the second however is a new face- he's called Lucan.

Lucan, Elven Rogue, a dashing young thing with a cruel smile and glinting eyes. He's the replacement for Kullervo, although he'd argue that Kullervo was just warming his place. Lucan is another native of Fallcrest, although he's a slum dweller, unlikely to move in the same circles as Cathal, the other resident of the city. Lucan is played by Jack.

With the changing of the guard, then, Antaurea and Ignaran are sent back to Winterhaven- the Druid and the Eladrin Ranger are... Well, Mike who plays the pair has had to work, and seven characters are too many to take with us.

I know it's unsatisfactory from a narrative perspective but this is the way that games go when players are not always available.

So just to confirm, players for this session are-
Aeolace, Eladrin Wizard Level 2
Astaroth, Human Fighter Level 2
Cathal, Human Fighter Level 2
Immeral, Eladrin Artificer Level 1, after an Extended Rest Level 2
Lucan, Elven Rogue Level 1

The Knights chat a while and prepare themselves for what lies ahead, cautiously- Lucan first, hiding as best he can in the shadows, the Knights head into the Kobolds' lair in search of Irontooth, the Goblin Bloodreaver leader, and the members of the dark cult said to lair here.

They enter a world of pain.

It seems they are expected - the first wave, a smattering of Kobold Minions; screaming, hollering and gesticulating wildly- the wave breaks against Cathal and Astaroth who hold the line.

Behind the Minions, Kobold Skirmishers dash in, spears at the ready, and there are more Kobolds, and worse, coming towards the Knights.

But now Aeolace and Immeral have shuffled through the waterfall, a Scorching Burst suddenly appears amidst the massed ranks of the enemies, it devastates and breaks the second wave. Immeral tosses his Javelin which lands in the rough ground and then sprays out spectral thorns, lashing and cutting through Minions.

Less than twenty seconds later there are only two Minions left standing, one of the three Skirmishers has fallen, another is bloodied. However, added to the Knights woes are a pair of Dragonshields which advance in step, slashing with their shortswords. Behind them a Kobold Wyrmpriest who tosses Energy Orbs into the Knights, and leaps from foot to foot and cackles with glee- the Wyrmpriest is called Pensacola, remember that name, the Knights will.

Then finally stepping into the fray is Irontooth, the Goblin with... you guessed it, iron teeth.

The scene is set, the battle joined, it gets bloody very quickly.

Image
Here comes Irontooth.

Immeral takes on all comers with his javelin, rarely misses, another Kobold Skirmisher falls. Astaroth tries to fend off Irontooth's ferocious blows, fails more often than not, and is quickly bloodied and sinking fast. Cathal is pressed against the Kobold Dragonshields, trying to get through to the Wyrmpriest, but not succeeding. Lucan stays towards the back, either spiralling out daggers from his hand or else nipping in to stab a lone Kobold in the back. Aeolace stays as far away as he can, and flounders a little before coming up with his master plan- Sleep.

Suddenly several of the Kobold feel woozy, it's like they're moving in quicksand, five of the remaining Kobolds, and Irontooth are slowed.

The fight goes on, Cathal is bloodied, Lucan is dragged into a knock-down fracas with the last Kobold Skirmisher and one of the Dragonshields, he's not as effective going toe-to-toe. Astaroth is almost on his knees, on 4 hit points and fading fast. Immarel is needed now, his Curative Admixture Encounter Power to the fore, healing the Knights as fast, nearly, as they are being battered down.

Then Irontooth falls.

Asleep.

As do two other Kobolds.

[DM Interlude- yep, I'm failing saving throws like it's going out of fashion.]

The fight is lost, the Kobolds see into their immediate future- it's pretty bloody, and flee. Alas it's only Pensacola, the Kobold Wyrmpriest that manages to escape the Knights clutches. The chafing Kobold plunges through the waterfall and disappears out into the forest. I wonder if we'll see him again?

In the chaos Astaroth has his revenge, Irontooth, snoozing happily, is however still the target of his attacks- the Goblin finally manages to tear himself away from Aeolace's Sleep spell's grasp. He's not done, and yet... He has nowhere to go.

Vainly, furiously, he battles on, even when he's surrounded he continues to swing desperately- bloodying Lucan and Immeral before he falls- pierced, pounded and thumped.

Irontooth is dead.

Titanic.

[DM Interlude Encounter #20 [1510 XP = Level 7] 10x Kobold Minions (Level 2 Minions); 3x Kobold Skirmisher (Level 2 Skirmisher); 2x Kobold Dragonshield (Level 3 Soldier); Pensacola, Kobold Wyrmpriest (Level 4 Artillery) & Irontooth, Goblin Brute (Level 4 Elite Brute). Until the sleep spell hits it was in the balance, with Astaroth a round from down, Cathal almost down, and Irontooth and Pensacola almost without hurt.]

The lair is searched, and much treasure found- Irontooth has a chest, Lucan has a lockpick, a little later the Knights have the best part of 500 gold coins in their hands, and a suit of well made +1 Dwarven Scale, Immeral confirms with his arcana check.

Image
Lucan arrives just in time to rescue the treasure.

Also in the chest are Irontooth's orders-

“My spy in Winterhaven suggests we keep an eye out for visitors to the area. It probably does not matter; in just a few more days, I’ll completely open the rift. Then Winterhaven’s people will serve as food for all those Lord Orcus sends to do my bidding.”

Signed Kalarel, which makes the Knights smile and nod knowingly- now they're in the hunt.

All they have to do is find out where this rift, “portal”, Immeral translates, is. Best guess is the Keep not so very far away from the town of Winterhaven. This then, it is agreed ,will be the Knights' next port of call, after they return to Winterhaven to tell their tale, and root out the spy.

The mention of Orcus gets their collective attention- Cathal goes for a stirring five minute speech exhorting his colleagues to vanquish the Lord of Undeath and all his scumbling fawning foul servitors- those that understand it are put right in the mood.

Further searching reveals another, very short, note- crudely scribbled on a strip of leather, clearly cut from from a larger piece- the notes simply states, “they're coming!”

The “they” Cathal confirms are “us”, the Friday Knights- clearly Irontooth was warned of their approach- now who have the Knights been talking to?

However the Knights are spent, they rest- sleep, stay put in the cave and get their breath back after the titanic battle with Irontooth and his Kobold army.

[Cathal now has enough XP to move to level 3 after the battle with Irontooth, and after the Extended Rest he rises, ready for more adventure, a more experienced warrior. Immeral is also level 2 now.]

It's early evening when the Knights head back out again, at pace and in silence they travel, back the way they came- towards Winterhaven. They're almost back to town two hours later when they hear some strange noises- screams in the night.

Lucan and Immeral lead the way, through woods and into a farmer's field, lights ahead, from the farm house, and when the Knights get closer still they can see that the front door of the family home has been smashed open.

The Knights spread out, approach at Cathal's signal- a poor imitation of an owl hoot, and head in- the screams continue, someone's in trouble and the Knights are here to save the day.

They get the drop on the Bandits within the farm, who are too busy making merry with the farmer's family- women and children scream and wrestle with their captors, the farmer barks and brays tossed back and forth between two Human Lackeys.

A Magic Missile flies from Aeolace's outstretched hand, Immeral's javelin takes down the two Lackeys playing with the bloodied farmer. Cathal cuts another Lackey down and charges on, Astaroth leaves his greataxe in the back of a Human Ruffian, while Lucan's dagger finds a home in between the shoulder-blades of yet another Human Ruffian.

All is chaos, the Bandits attempt to take hostages but are prevented by the continued flurry of spell and blade, almost in an instant the Bandits are broken. That is, until a huge monstrosity seemingly carved from stone strides into the chamber, the Killinator, a retarded axe-swinging monster of a man- sound familiar.

Astaroth's eyes light up, he slays the Ruffian he is battling and races forward to get his man. Then from the opposite side of the farmer's home a familiar face appears, Jersey Turnpike, the Halfling Slinger the Knights last encountered in the company of Agrid, the Gnome, at the Burial Site.

The few Bandits left renew their efforts, but it's still not enough. A swatting Human Mercenary accompanying the Killinator, leads the retreat. Bloodied he flees, diving through perhaps the only still intact window in the building; he escapes into the night.

But he's the only one, Astaroth goes axe to axe and wins the day, eventually, against the Killinator. Cathal and the others mop up the remaining Bandits; Jersey Turnpike, battered, bruised and bloodied is captured- still alive, and shoved in a sack and kicked for a while, till he goes quiet.

Image
Knock! Knock!

[DM Interlude Encounter #21 [1000 XP = Level 5] 4x Human Lackeys (Level 7 Minions); 2x Human Ruffians (Level 2 Skirmishers); Human Mercenary (Level 3 Soldier); Human Berserker (Level 4 Brute) & Jersey Turnpike, Halfling Slinger (Level 2 Artillery (Leader)).]

The farmer family are made comfortable. Although their home has been destroyed, their lives have been saved- the Friday Knights are hugged, kissed, wept upon and otherwise made to miss their own homes and families. Uncle Astaroth dandles a child on each knee, plays horsey and grins like a chimp.

Except for Lucan, who mooches about the residence, “clearing up”, and helping himself to anything valuable he can find.

Which just leaves us with Jersey Turnpike, the now awake Halfling Slinger, he's turfed out of the bag and taken into another room for a quiet chat. A little while later the terrified Halfling sings like a canary- “it's Bairwin, Bairwin the shopkeeper, he pays us- that's all I know! Please don't kill me.”

Astaroth, still in tears after his welcome from the farmer's family- Uncle Astaroth as he will be forever known, well... he's not inclined to clemency. The man-mountain strangles the Halfling- kills him dead, with the other Friday Knights watching on, not helping.

[DM Interlude- the Friday Knights have a mean streak.]

The Knights have pressing business in Winterhaven. They stay a while longer, give money to the family, actually two years worth of wages and then grab the farmer's cart, now packed with the farmer family and their belongings, and head off to Winterhaven- it's getting late.

Strange, the doors to the town are wide open, and the Knights are off again, all action. Ahead a body flies through the window of Wrafton's Inn, Bairwin the shopkeeper is temporarily forgotten, they leap into action and weapons drawn spill into the Inn.

It's Agrid making trouble, more mercenaries, the locals are trying to contend with them, but are losing the battle fast.

Image
A quiet drink at Wrafton's.

The tide turns very quickly, faced with the Friday Knights again Agrid and his companions do the best they can for a little while, and in cramped conditions- several of the Bandits pick a window, smash through them and flee.

Cathal notices that Ninaran, the Elven Hunter, seems to be subject of a number of the Bandits ire, he dashes in to save her.

The fracas is short and to the point, the Human Thugs are all left dead, the Human Ruffians either flee or are killed, the Human Mercenary is out of the bar in a flash- Agrid himself tries to escape but is brought to a stand still by Lucan's Positioning Strike, like the Halfling before him, he's bagged and beaten.

Soon after, the Inn returns to calm.

[DM Interlude Encounter #22 [749 XP = Level 2] 4x Human Thugs (Level 2 Minions); 2x Human Ruffians (Level 3 Skirmishers); Human Mercenary (Level 4 Soldier) & Agrid, Gnome Skulk (Level 3 Lurker (Leader)).]

The Knights are still in a rush however, they quickly take to beating Agrid, looking for confirmation of their target- “it's Bairwin, it's Bairwin!” Agrid screams.

The Gnome is left in the capable hands of Rond, who has now made his way to the Inn, it seems a good half-dozen of the Winterhaven Regulars are dead. Rond is also informed of the Kobold attack on the caravan on the north road. He promises to take care of this in the morning, when the town is properly secured.

The Knights double across the road to Bairwin's Grande Shoppe, Astaroth kicks in the door and the lot of them charge inside- empty, save the shop's wares, which Lucan takes to searching through, looking for the till float- and anything else he fancies.

Immeral however has found a trap door, stairs down, lights and chanting- something dark and nasty sounding, Cathal grins and leads them in.

Straight into a dark shrine dedicated to the Death Lord, Orcus- Bairwin (possibly) in a cowled robe at the front leading the chant. Two twisted Goblins, Dark Servants, spot the Knights and interrupt Bairwin's ceremony with screeches and shouts.

The fight is joined and, as the Knights move forward, from the walls of the dark chapel come a pair of almost formless shadows- Sightless Reapers, armed with spectral scythes.

The Dark Servants block their passage using their daggers to deliver necrotised slashes and slices, although they're nowhere near as effective as the Sightless Reapers with their scythes- Cathal and Astaroth are almost bloodied in the opening moments.

Bairwin uses Darkness Unleashed, calling on the power of Orcus, and leaving Immeral blinded, wounded and spun back, and out of the action. Then the Knights find their feet, Aeolace's Scorching Burst makes a mess of the Dark Servants who are then cut down by Astaroth and Cathal, who surge forward and onto Bairwin- the Cult leader, the Spy within Winterhaven, or so the Knights think.

He struggles hard against them, limited to trying to block and parry their blows with his Quarterstaff, alas he's not up to the job.

The Sightless Reapers prove their mettle, but are finally taken down by the force of the Knights, almost at the same time that Bairwin is at last slain.

The fight is short but very bloody, the Knights breathe a sigh of relief, the menace within the town is ended, they heal and set about searching the fallen, and the chamber- intent to find further evidence of Bairwin's foul activities.

Image
A Cult Hit.

[DM Interlude Encounter #23 [825 XP = Level 3] 2x Dark Servants (Level 3 Skirmishers); 2x Sightless Reapers (Level 4 Soldiers) & Bairwin, Human Mage Cult Leader (Level 4 Controller (Leader)).]

[DM Interlude Astaroth now has enough XP to get to level 3, after the next Extended Rest.]

Bairwin has in his possession Douven Staul's amulet, the Friday Knights grab this to return to the aged archaeologist. A secret chamber is revealed with a number of books dedicated to the worship of Orcus, also a stash of money and a Ritual Book which Aeolace gets his hands on.

There are also yet another set of orders, once again from Kalarel, it seems the Knights are working their way up the management structure. Cathal reads aloud-

“Your latest shipment of supplies should meet the Keep’s needs until the ritual is finished, which should be any day now. I require more sacrifices however, see that Agrid and his men locate more supplicants. Rest assured that you will be rewarded for your actions on behalf of Orcus once the rift is open. —Kalarel.”

Which fills in the missing gaps.

The Knights head back to the Inn, inform Rond of all that has occurred, and then exhausted head to their beds after a quiet drink. The mood is sombre, there's been a lot of death one way or another.

A beautiful morning puts a slightly better spin on things. The Knights are in a rush to get to the Keep and yet Lord Padraig and Valthrun the Prescient have already left messages, they both need to see them as soon as possible.

Sister Linora is also at the Inn for breakfast, she's been busy all night dealing with the dead and the wounded. And yet she still has a smile for the Knights, and a clutch of Potions of Healing, all she possesses. She knows they are bound for the Keep, and fears it will prove to be an extremely dangerous place.

The Knights head off. First stop Lord Padraig's Manor, the young Lord is smiling and yet serious, concerned that more citizens of Winterhaven, and the surrounding farms, are not in further danger. He listens to the Knights story- the destruction of Irontooth and the Kobolds, it's at this point the Knights realise that Ninaran was only half right about the Kobold lair- there were no Cultists to be found.

Lord Padraig pays his reward and then fetches out two lists of names, names of citizens of Winterhaven that have gone missing in the last month or so- most from surrounding farms. The second list is from Eoffram Troyas, the Knights patron in Fallcrest, it arrived yesterday afternoon - a comprehensive list of those presumed taken in the raid on the city.

All told, 34 innocent citizens have been taken. The Friday Knights are charged with the recovery of the missing- alive; the reward is generous; they swiftly agree to attempt the task.

Lucan, looking over Cathal's shoulder at the list of those taken from Fallcrest, notes his brother's name- Dikkon, but says nothing.

They shake hands with the busy Lord and are swiftly out of the manor and back to Valthrun's residence. The fake sage is quickly to the door and ushering them inside, he has been busy- and he's had some success.

Valthrun with a skull in one hand, and refreshments in the Knights' hands, stands one foot on a rickety stool and recites-

“In shadowed keep of tumbled stone,
A peril lurks, for years unknown,
The Kinslayer's spirit guards it yet,
'Gainst a newfound vile threat.

The Kinslayer once was proud and strong,
Until the Blood Lord came along.

The thing of evil sent dark dreams,
Nightmares wrought of tortured screams,
The vowed defender's mind did bend,
And with his blade he did rend.

Awakened to the awful truth,
Shattered bones of men and youth,
His wife and children, pride and joy,
Mistaken for demons he was forced to destroy.

The Kinslayer fled to meet death alone,
For wicked deeds he must now atone,
And so the fallen paladin must wait,
For heroes to arrive and reverse his fate.

But twisted whispers echo through the halls,
And ghostly blood runs 'long the walls,
None can face those cursed remains,
Fear like water in their veins.

A Blood Lord follower from a cursed line,
Now threatens to awake the unholy shrine,
Dark power craves as men do thirst,
Confining spells to be reversed.

Storm clouds gather with the demon's approach,
And the living dead will soon encroach,
The forces of good will never survive,
For the Prince of the Undeath will soon arrive.”

Which leaves the Knights stunned.

[DM Interlude, the above is taken from Myrhdraak's brilliant conversion H1-3 Demon Prince of Undeath Conversion, which can be found here- http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1089353; go there, you may have to sign in I can't remember, it's fantastic. I will be using this in further adventures in this series, although I've also added my own twists here and there.]

Astaroth looks confused, perpetually, but more so now. Cathal gets a little of it, Valthrun proves his worth and explains.

It seems the Keep used to be a bastion of the Nerath Empire. That was until it was brought low- broken from within by a traitorous act perpetrated by Sir Keegan, the Paladin leader of the men stationed at the Keep. Sir Keegan awoke, it is said, a man possessed- slew his family and then set about slaying all of his men- he however was successfully repulsed and eventually sealed within the catacombs beneath the Keep. Soon after the Keep was abandoned.

Spin forward a century and the Keep is once again inhabited and heroes are expected, the poem confirms. There's a portal somewhere within the Keep, and some dark follower of the Prince of Death, Orcus, is set to loose a host of Undead into the Nentir Vale.

Gulps, wide-eyes and open-mouths are the order of the day, Valthrun is thanked, the Knights shuffle out- their task better defined, they must be heroes again, they must save the day, save Winterhaven, save the Nentir Vale.

The Knights head back to the Inn, remember to return Douven's amulet to him, the old archaeologist opens the amulet and takes the picture from within, his dead wife, and then passes the amulet back to Cathal.

“Keep it, for luck. You're going to need it.”

Then the old man shuffles off.

The Knights make ready and then head out of Winterhaven, en route to the Keep on the Shadowfell, and there endeth Session 8, with four combat encounters, and another 7946 XP to share about.

Till next time.

And thanks to Trevor and lots of other people here at RPTools for making our game possible.

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 Post subject: Re: Story Hour- Keep on the Shadowfell via Maptools
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2009 7:28 am 
The Friday Knights

Session 9- The Keep on the Shadowfell Part 3 Into the Keep.

And so the Knights make their way to the Keep (on the Shadowfell), Lucan regaling them with tales of his bawdy antics the night before in the Inn, with not one, but two, of the serving girls. Several of the other Knights affect either not to care, or else pour scorn on the young Elven Rogue's kiss-and-tell stories. They're above that kind of thing, or else jealous of the rakish Lucan's charms.

Which causes the young Elven Rogue to change tack completely, he calmly informs the Knights that one of those missing from Fallcrest is his brother, Dikkon...

The Knights continue on, a little more reserved now- hoping to find the Rod of Ruin, to rescue Dikkon and the other prisoners, and finally put an end to this nonsense, also to prevent the portal from opening- to save the world, or at least their corner of it.

Soon after they arrive at the Keep, a mess of fallen stones, search hither and yon and discover that humanoids, most likely goblinoids, have been this way. There is a set of rough stone stairs leading down into darkness.

A grim and determined Lucan leads them down.

In play this week we have-
Antaurea, Eladrin Ranger Level 1
Astaroth, Human Fighter Level 3
Cathal, Human Fighter Level 3
Ignaran, Human Druid Level 2
Immeral, Eladrin Artificer Level 2
Lucan, Elven Rogue Level 1

[DM Interlude- some of the players are having problems being available for every Friday night session.]

Into a rough and ready guard chamber, Lucan instantly spots the danger ahead, a poorly concealed pit trap- he calls a warning. However there are also, as of yet unseen, Goblins beyond the pit trap, out of sight- a hue and cry and the Goblin Warriors come running, a pair of Sharpshooters maintain their distance and pepper the Knights as they rush into battle.

The Goblin Warriors are easily overcome, the one left standing after the initial clash is bloodied and back-pedalling furiously, all to no avail.

Cathal and Astaroth are on the trail, the pair burst into a rough Goblin bedchamber, the other Knights rush to support. The Sharpshooters see they're outmatched and attempt to flee, both heading for a pair of rotten double doors, alas they're much too slow- one is cut down, the other captured.

The fracas is livened up a little way in when a swarm of rats, bored of guarding the bottom of the aforementioned and assiduously avoided pit, climb out and harass the back marker Knights, however they too are eventually scattered- their gnawing menace swiftly curtailed.

The Knights search the Goblins and the area, discovering a few filthy coins and a foetid supply of Goblin food and drink, alongside some horrendous Goblin lodgings. Stranger still are the scrawled markings on the wall, “I killed them, the shadow comes...”, and various others in a similar vein. Immeral declares them to be the rantings of a madman- Sir Keegan probably.

The Knights spend a little time with their captured Goblin Sharpshooter- divine that Sinruth, the Bloodreaver leader of the raid on Fallcrest is here, and that the lair's defences are the purview of a fat Goblin called Balgron the Fat, apposite really.

Alas Astaroth tires of the chat and brains the Goblin- dead.

Image
The Friday Knights receive a warm welcome to the Keep on the Shadowfell.

[DM Interlude Encounter #24 [700 XP = Level 1] 2x Goblin Warrior (Level 2 Skirmishers); 2x Goblin Sharpshooters (Level 3 Artillery) & Rat Swarm (Level 3 Skirmisher).]

[DM Interlude- Antaurea has now enough XP for level 2, all he needs now is an extended rest.]

The Knights head out, forsaking all other exits, they make for the rotten double doors to which the Sharpshooters were fleeing.

They descend stairs into darkness, a maze of tunnels or so it seems, and then a light, a great arcane symbol blocks their path. Before they can properly investigate this new discovery, moans and groans are heard, from the south, the east... oh and the west- in fact from every direction except the north, from which direction they entered this maze of chambers.

The Knights form a defensive line, as shambling around various corners and into sight come a gaggle of Zombies, Rotters and worse, the Knights retreat to the stairs and reform, to make their stand.

Ranged attacks are the order of the day until, that is, the Zombie horde have them hemmed in on all sides, then the fighting really begins.

Wave upon wave of the shambling dead throw themselves at the Knights but the line stands fast, the artillery continue to batter and burn, until finally the last of the undead have fallen.

The Knights wait a while, catch their breath, and listen intently for any further moans and groans- silent; silent as the grave.

Image
The Dead Centre.

[DM Interlude Encounter #25 [1040 XP = Level 3] 10x Zombie Rotters (Level 4 Minions) & 4x Zombie (Level 3 Brutes).]

[DM Interlude- Lucan now has enough XP to make level 2, all he needs is an extended rest.]

The next half hour is spent in a complicated game of hopscotch, Lucan is sent leaping about, trying desperately to find a path through the maze, and avoid the arcane symbols that litter the route. Behind him Ignaran and Immeral put their heads together and use their arcane knowledge to make safe the the other, less athletic and acrobatic, Knights' passage.

It goes wrong only once. Lucan mis-times a leap and ends up flopping flat on his face on one of the symbols, which explodes in fury sending out tendrils of dark energy, which in turn cause the unfortunate Rogue to run pell-mell into a long forgotten chamber. The rest of the Knights eventually catch up with him there.

The chamber is decorated with the further bloody rantings of Sir Keegan, writ in some sort of fresh, yet spectral, blood; also within are the emaciated bodies of two of the captives they have come to rescue- the pair died of starvation, Ignaran confirms.

[DM Interlude- 34 citizens to find, two located, alas both dead; not a good start.]

Solemn, the Knights head off again, finally make their way to a chamber with yet another set of stairs leading down into darkness.

They descend, there's a lit chamber ahead, Lucan quietly shuffles forward and takes point.

The young elf finds his way into a guardroom, he knows this as there are two burly well-armed, and armoured, Hobgoblin Warriors standing less than fifteen feet before him, on guard. He swiftly turns tail, he's seen enough and heads back to tell his story.

Moments later the Knights enter the chamber, rapidly- that is charging and screaming all manner of obscenities and threats to a person.

Which catches the Hobgoblin Warriors out, Cathal sends one of the pair tumbling into a deep well the other manages to stay alive a little while longer, long enough at least to scream and holler and summon his kin.

A pair of Hobgoblin Grunts launch into life and rush down a passage to the north, which is strange as the Knights are fighting in the south of the guard chamber, from another passage to the east more Hobgoblins come, from a door to the west and yet more... you get the idea.

Soon enough a wall of interlocked shields and stabbing blades sweeps towards the Knights, from both sides of the well, the stairs- the exit, once again behind the Knights.

Antaurea's bow sings, Immeral's Javelin takes to the air, Ignaran fires Flaming Fists, Lucan manoeuvres to get into position and Cathal and Astaroth slice and dice.

Punch holes, eventually, through the Hobgoblins' shield wall and resolve.

That is until the Spider appears.

Spotted at the last moment by Lucan, the elf with the eagle eyes, alas just too late- the hairy beast, a Deathjump Spider, springs over the Hobgobins, and over the Knights; and almost to the stairs, blocking the Knights retreat; and then it has the audacity to take a chunk out of Astaroth and poison him for good measure.

The Knights realign their aim, all effects and attacks are turned inward for a moment, and at the end of it all, in ten seconds, the Deathjump Spider is destroyed- from there it goes easy, not one of the Hobgoblins escapes the Knights' fury.

[DM Interlude- darn Action Points, the Spider lasted a little more than one round.]

Image
Enter the Spider.

[DM Interlude Encounter #26 [1120 XP = Level 4] 5x Bloodreaver Hobgoblin Grunts (Level 4 Minions); 4x Bloodreaver Hobgoblin Soldiers (Level 4 Soldiers) & Deathjump Spider (Level 5 Skirmisher).]

The guard room and associated chambers are mostly empty, a few gewgaws here and there, a scattering of coin, and that's it.

Exits to the south and east are located, the most travelled seems to be the one heading east; the Knights alas are starting to tire. Only three fights into the Keep but Immeral and Lucan are already low on Healing Surges, then again the young Rogue is only a neophyte at this adventuring lark (Lucan Rogue level 1).

They head south- darn them.

[DM Interlude- the Knights have made their way through the first level of the Keep's catacombs with only two encounters, this from a potential 12 encounters. Now, on level 2 of the Keep they are making their way, seemingly, directly to the finale of this adventure. I think I may have to put a stop to their game.]

So south it is and into a much larger chamber- empty and dilapidated, once again the Knights spread out and try to discern which of the two double doored exits is the least travelled. West it is, and along another corridor, they've not met any resistance for a good twenty minutes now. The passage turns south and ends in a decrepit pair of metal doors, both very badly corroded, barely hanging on their hinges.

Lucan levers one open and takes a look inside, the passage continues south and seems to open at a t-junction, not a sound...

The Knights head in and shuffle down to the t-junction- east or west; the east passage looks to be only short, ending a little ways off, it also sports a number of empty looking alcoves, the west passage turns quickly and continues south.

Lucan looks for advice, Cathal points south and grunts, the young elf nods and heads over, the rest of the Knights hold here.

Lucan has gone a little way south when something strikes him as odd- the floor is clean, really clean- as if it has been swept regularly, he shrugs his shoulders- strange, and heads on. The south passage seems to open up ahead into another larger chamber.

Meanwhile...

Back with the pack, and Astaroth is squinting hard- intent on something down the much shorter east passage. The big man is having trouble making out exactly what he sees - every now and then the air before him seems to glisten slightly, as if the light is being reflected back to him off some polished surface.

Astaroth is about to vocalise his thoughts, more than likely grunt and point, when Immeral and Antaurea spot the intruder- a large Gelatinous Cube is heading directly for man-mountain, that would account for the wink of the light.

The pair scream warnings and open up with Javelin and Bow, it gets violent and bloody (or jelly) very quickly.

And at the same time a pair of stinking shambling wrecks of men hove into Lucan's vision, he screams as the first creature rips a fleshy chunk from his body and hurls it at the frightened Rogue, a pair of Corruption Corpses.

It's all action.

Image
More Jelly than even Astaroth can eat.

Astaroth takes a hunk out of the cube before he is immobilised, grabbed up and sucked into the foul creature's jellified body. Leaving the big lug aimlessly flailing with all his might stuck within the cube, not trying to escape- trying to attack, dazed and burning up, courtesy of the creature's acidic secretions.

Cathal and Ignaran, with a little help from Wolfie and the odd arrow from Antaurea, manage to keep the cube from progressing on to engulf any more of the Knights.

Lucan and Immeral manage to bring the first Corruption Corpse down before it can do too much damage. Still at range, the second, already bloodied, shuffles forward into melee with the pair. Antaurea is helping out both fights, stood behind the Knights offering artillery cover in all directions.

Eventually the second Corruption Corpse is destroyed, it expires in a foetid burst which delivers yet more necrotic damage to Lucan.

Meanwhile the semi-subdued Gelatinous Cube is battered and bruised, more octagon than cube, it's lost corners in the fracas, and still Astaroth is caught within the creature, but not for long- the dashing Cathal plunges his hands within the beast and, with the big man's help, heaves him out.

Astaroth's armour is scoured clean and worse, the acid has taken its toll.

All of the Knights focus their fire and fury on the cube, and soon enough the terrifying jelly comes to a quacking-farting halt, and slowly implodes, melting into puddling, squirming globules.

[DM Interlude Encounter #27 [900 XP = Level 3] Gelatinous Cube (Level 6 Elite Brute) & 2x Corruption Corpse (Level 5 Artillery).]

And with that the ninth session comes to a close, four combat encounters and a good deal of exploring, with some nice work from Lucan checking out the way ahead, not bad for a first level character. Alas however, Lucan is down to his last Healing Surge, and has already made use of one of Cathal's Healing Potions.

The Knights gain 7313 XP to be shared between them, they just need to take an Extended Rest to reap the benefits.

Until next time...

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 Post subject: Re: Story Hour- DCC53 Sellswords of Fallcrest via Maptools
PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 8:52 am 
The Friday Knights

Session 10- The Keep on the Shadowfell Part 4 Battling the Bloodreavers.

In play this week we have-
Antaurea, Eladrin Ranger Level 1 (Level 2 after an extended rest).
Astaroth, Human Fighter Level 3
Cathal, Human Fighter Level 3
Ignaran, Human Druid Level 2
Immeral, Eladrin Artificer Level 2
Lucan, Elven Rogue Level 1 (Level 2 after an extended rest).

Jack, who plays Lucan is late into the session, he misses the first fight.

[DM Interlude, as I said in the last report, the Knights have skipped a whole host of encounters here, and that makes me less than happy- therefore I have decided, well... just you see. Let's just say that the Knights introduction to the catacombs beneath the Keep has been noted, the Bloodreavers are on their trail.]

Having despatched the Gelatinous Cube and the Corruption Corpses the Knights check out their new abode, hopefully somewhere they can rest up for a while.

A pair of sarcophagi are discovered in the larger chamber to the south, wrenched open, smashed to the ground and then hammered and bashed into pieces, the Knights are not big on sarcophagi it seems.

A door leads into another lonely room. Not much in here save an ancient looking chest which, with a little help from Lucan, delivers up the toys and mementos, Ignaran presumes, of the mad Sir Keegan's children.

“Valuable” Lucan states and is met by glares, that's until one of the amulets found is discovered to be magical, a +1 Safewing Amulet, the Knights squabble for a while until Ignaran grabs hold of the precious find and makes it his.

Having searched and secured the place, and discovered there's only one possible entrance/exit, the Knights decide to bed down for an extended rest.

They're two hours into their rest when the Bloodreaver Patrol, possibly following the trail of blood and bodies the Knights have left in their wake, pay a visit.

Fortunately eagle-eyes Astaroth is on watch, which almost leads to the patrol getting a surprise attack on the sleeping Knights, Astaroth shouts warnings, and kicks awake his companions with only seconds to spare.

Battle is quickly joined as the Knights scrabble for their weapons and rush to meet the Patrol. Hobgoblin Grunts dive into the thick of it, a pair of Hogoblin Soldiers form a shield wall behind them and move forward in unison. Behind the melee attackers are a pair of Hobgoblin Archers, and leading the Patrol, from the rear, 'Dread Tony' a Hobgoblin Warcaster.

The Grunts are swiftly cut to pieces, that's their job. The Soldiers however are a different proposition, and yet they're all the Knights have to aim at. They therefore attract a considerable number of attacks- the Knights realise that the first job is to break the line, get the Fighters through to the less well armed missile wielding types beyond.

And this they do, with a surge and they're through, one Soldier dead, the other now cut off as the Astaroth and Cathal smash into the Hobgoblin Archers.

The Hobgoblin Patrol attempts a tactical retreat, which involves both Archers and the Warcaster fleeing into the previous, much larger chamber and resetting their positions, then letting loose with the artillery as soon as the Knights hove into view. The last Hobgoblin Soldier gives his life in attempt to slow the Knights down.

Image
Your morning call Mr. Astaroth.

It's not enough, only one of the Hobgoblin Archers escapes with his life, fleeing north. The Friday Knights however can't be bothered to continue their pursuit, they're tired, and much bruised and bloodied. They wait a while longer in the larger chamber, weapons and spells poised, just to see if anyone else is going to turn up.

[DM Interlude Encounter #28 [1051 XP = Level 5] 4x Bloodreaver Hobgoblin Grunt (Level 4 Minions); 2x Bloodreaver Hobgoblin Soldier (Level 4 Soldiers), 2x Bloodreaver Hobgoblin Archer (Level 4 Artillery) & Dread Tony, Bloodreaver Hobgoblin Warcaster (Level 4 Controller).]

The bodies are searched, and twenty minutes later the Knights retire, back into the former home of the Gelatinous Cube, save for Lucan (now he's here) who is next on watch. The young Rogue remains in the larger chamber, with orders to come and wake the other Friday Knights directly should anything else untoward take place.

They don't have long to wait, only ten minutes later Lucan comes running back to rouse them, more Goblins it seems. The Knights head out and are met in the larger chamber by...

The Bloodreavers, all of them, it must be all of them.

Ten Goblins spread out around the room- four Cutters, three Warriors and three Sharpshooters- all ready to rush the Knights; but that's not all.

It seems the management has deigned to pay a visit to the front line- Balgron the Fat, it must be a he, a corpulent Goblin with a club at his belt and a loaded crossbow pointing directly at Cathal.

To Balgron's side a huge Hobgoblin, Boggis the Torturer, brandishing a still glowing poker and clad in blood red leather armour.

Further back still is a familiar Kobold, the Wyrmpriest Pensacola, bane of the Knights. The Acid Orb flinging Kobold has a Guard Drake at his side, champing at the bit.

But most noticeable, for all the wrong reasons, is Sinruth- the mighty Goblin Bloodreaver General, he stands a little over three feet tall- admittedly he looks like pure fury, but there's not much of him to see. Sinruth gesticulates wildly and marks time behind the Goblin Warriors.

Then something strange happens, the Knights try to talk their way out of the fight.

[DM Interlude- caught me by surprise. All of the Knights are down to one or two Healing Surges left, Lucan has none, and he's injured still.]

Pensacola, the Kobold Wyrmpriest, does the talking for the Bloodreavers, alas it's mostly threats- the Knights are abruptly told to either surrender or try to fight their way out, which of course will result in their certain death.

Even when Cathal and Ignaran attempt to persuade the Bloodreavers that the Knights wish only to head on - to destroy Kalarel and prevent the rift from opening, and then go on to describe the hordes of undead that are set to spill from the aforementioned dark portal... Even then.

While Pensacola is convinced, the same cannot be said for Balgron, Boggis and Sinruth- the bubble bursts and Sinruth leads the charge.

Image
The Bloodreavers, including management.

The Goblin Cutters are killed in the opening furious flurry, the Goblin Warriors however hold the line and manage to get a few hits in- Sinruth is straight into the mix with Boggis. In the opening exchanges Astaroth, Lucan and Cathal all take wounds, which for Lucan is really not a good thing.

Then the Goblin Sharpshooters, Balgron and Pensacola open fire- result the same three Knights mentioned above are bloodied, and the fight has only just begun.

[DM Interlude- Lucan is down to 3 HP already.]

Immeral drops back and provides what healing he can.

[DM Interlude- and then all action points and remaining dailies get spent.]

Astaroth's Boundless Endurance kicks in, he starts to regenerate, Sinruth feels the effect of his Villains Menace, and soon the tiny Goblin Chieftain is having to give ground, and is bleeding profusely from a myriad wounds.

Antaurea Fey Steps to a safer position and then unleashes the artillery, Twin Strike followed by Two Fanged Strike, followed by more Twin Strikes- culminating in a Hunter's Bear Trap on Boggis. The Hobgoblin Torturer is brought to his knees and then swiftly killed.

Cathal clears the way with a Sweeping Strike, uses his Healing Word- 'by the power of Kord etc.' to heal himself, and then puts up his Shielding Sides and drifts into the thick of it- slaying Goblin Warriors left, right and centre.

Ignaran conjures Wolfie and sends him into the mix, then settles a swarm of Blinding Bats into the midst of the Goblin mass- even Sinruth is caught up in the effect.

Immeral, as previously stated, continues to use all of his skills to heal the Knights before they fall, that and launching his deadly javelin attacks.

Lucan stays as far back as he can, content to throw his magical dagger again, and again, and again. Remember he's only 1st Level and without Healing Surges, and very bloodied... He tries to remain as anonymous as possible.

The Knights battle hard and soon enough break the line- Pensacola, the Kobold Wyrmpriest, is the first to flee, abandoning the rest of the Bloodreaver management to their fate.

Balgron, already bloodied, is the next to depart, then one, then another of the archers, although the last of them to flee is cut down as Antaurea looses yet another Twin Strike.

Moments later it's just Sinruth and one Goblin Warrior left standing, and a little later there are none... Sinruth is dead.

[DM Interlude Encounter #29 [2424 XP = Level 9] 4x Goblin Cutters (Level 2 Minions); 3x Goblin Warriors (Level 2 Soldiers); 3x Goblin Sharpshooters (Level 3 Artillery); Guardian Drake (Level 3 Brute); Pensacola, Kobold Wyrmpriest (Level 5 Artillery); Boggis, Hobgoblin Torturer (Level 4 Brute); Balgron the Fat, Goblin Chieftain (Level 5 Lurker) & Sinruth, Goblin War Chief (Level 3 Solo Soldier). Which is quite a lot of XP you'd have to agree, and yet... Another titanic fracas which could have gone either way, save for some well timed dailies and Immeral's Healing Admixture.]

[DM Interlude- Immeral and Ignaran now have enough XP to reach level 3 after their next extended rest- which, at long last, is not too far away.]

The Knights decide against retreat to the Gelatinous Cube chamber this time, it's brought nothing but bad luck so far. Instead they opt to hold the chamber they are in, an extended rest is called for, guards doubled- and the Knights snooze. This after the assorted dead are thoroughly searched- Boggis has a suit of +1 Bloodcut Leather armour, which Lucan takes; while Sinruth has an Ironskin Belt which Astaroth lays claim to; there's plenty of gold to be had too.

The extended rest is complete, and at last without further interruptions.

[DM Interlude- only six encounters before the extended rest is taken, but what encounters; particularly the finale. In truth, Lucan did very well to stay out of trouble, or rather the other Knights made every effort to keep him safe. Rest assured I attempted to target him, but he had positioned himself behind two, and more often three, of his companions- it didn't seem fair to keep on trying, particularly as the bloodied fighters in the front row (Astaroth and Cathal) were much more of a menace to the Bloodreavers.]

Fully rested, the Knights head south, through another pair of metal doors, and into a huge chamber. In the centre of which is a massive statue, a warrior in platemail armour wielding a great axe, Lucan's spider senses instantly begin to tingle, either that or his sinuses are playing up.

Also in the chamber are a pair of large statues, drakes or dragons, poised to attack.

Lucan creeps in, and absolutely to form, the monstrous statue awakes, begins slashing its axe around in a furious arc. But not fast enough, Lucan leaps aboard the great contraption, clambers up the thing and quickly discovers a control plate, gets it open and delves inside- into the guts of the machine cum trap; all the while of course hanging on as the statue pivots and gyrates.

It takes a while, but eventually the statue grinds to a halt- the rest of the Knights venture in.

Next stop the dragon statues.

Lucan goes to take a look but is sent tumbling back; a blast of air from the nearest dragon statue's mouth forces him to retreat at haste.

The Knights pull back some more, take aim, and unleash all they have at one and then the other statue, the result being both dragon statues are destroyed.

Image
Lucan is head and shoulders above the other Knights.

The Knights head to the southern exit, there are four cherubic statues forming a square before an ancient looking pair of double doors. Lucan is not amused, and less amused when he steps closer to have a look, a forcefield suddenly appears behind him, splitting him off from the other Knights.

Which is bad enough, but then the enclosed area, Lucan still within, begins to fill with water- spewing from the cherub statues' mouths. Lucan gets to work, while the Fighters smash at one of the cherubs, Immeral uses his arcane knowledge to attempt to investigate yet another of the statues in an attempt to bring the forcefield down.

The cumulative effect is enough, two of the stone cherubs are destroyed, the forcefield collapses, and Lucan spills out surfing a foetid tide- wet and cold but otherwise unharmed.

The Knights take a short, well-deserved, rest and then head on again, to the southern portals.

Lucan, still full of confidence, squeezes into the chamber beyond, takes a quick peek and then squeezes back- a little excited and out of breath, but grinning- “Zombies”, he whispers and rubs his hands together in glee.

The Knights grin a bit themselves and then head on in- in a rush. The opening charge sees a good half-dozen Zombie Rotters trashed, smashed, burnt to crisps and in general made to see the error of their wanton undead ways.

However the Rotters, there are over a dozen of them at the start of the fracas, summon reinforcements, ostensibly by moaning very loudly- a pair of Zombie (non-Minions) shamble forward. While at the back of the pack a slavering Ghoul dodges in and out of the shambling horde in an attempt to get to the succulent, fleshy Knights.

Which just leaves one other enemy unaccounted for, the Flesh Prince, a Clay Scout. The winged homunculus watches from afar for a while, firing off a Mind Touch power to daze Astaroth, it's a wonder it had any effect- Astaroth is to all intents and purposes a mindless killing machine.

The odds shorten, dramatically, in less than thirty seconds- the Zombie Rotters are all gone, the other Zombies are looking, well... shambolic, which suits their look. The Ghoul, while having some success, clawing and immobilising Cathal, then for good measure biting a large chunk out of the warrior of Kord, and stunning him in the process... well, the Ghoul's bloodied already and only just hanging on to unlife.

The Flesh Prince scarpers, that is flaps off, through an open set of double doors to the east of the foul-some chamber.

The other inhabitants, including the Ghoul, are soon accounted for- Cathal needs healing but the other Knights have barely broken a sweat, it's a tough life this Defender malarkey.

Image
The Knights latest undeadly enemy.

[DM Interlude Encounter #30 [1272 XP = Level 5] 13x Zombie Rotter (Level 4 Minions); 2x Zombie (Level 3 Brute); Flesh Prince, Clay Scout (Level 3 Lurker) & Ghoul (Level 6 Skirmisher).]

The Knights rest up a while, have a nose about the chamber, Lucan discovers a hole in a wall, beyond a very narrow passage; he squeezes in and discovers... nothing, and a dead Dwarf- he ignores the Dwarf and concentrates on the nothing.

Nothing, that is, except a sack seemingly larger (more voluminous) on the inside than it is on the outside, yeah, a Bag of Holding, containing 176 gold coins.

The dead Dwarf turns out not be dead, only unconscious- after Lucan robs him, he wakes him.

“Nah! Nuthin'! Only 'nuther bloody Dwarf.” Lucan returns to the rest of the Knights affecting his finest peeved expression, the little liar.

Welcome to Farkill, the newest member of the Knights, Farkill is played by Zoran who is Skyping in from Serbia. Farkill is a Dwarven Cleric of Moradin Level 1, a wayward soul, a wannabe adventurer who wandered into the Keep two days ago after being attacked by Bloodreavers looking for more Slaves. He escaped his attackers and somehow made his way here, to this chamber, almost entirely unharmed, apart from his earlier beating (yeah, unbelievable I know but it's our narrative).

The Knights rejoice a while- they've found a Cleric, and in five minutes flat are firm friends. Farkill heals himself and is ready for the fray, only all his money seems to have disappeared- funny that.

Lucan grins some more.

The room, from Farkill's point of view, spins for a second, voices, voices in the his head- the screams and cries of the innocent, a warning, a sign... Farkill, in a gruff voice, chunters “onwards”, waves his executioner's axe about and points to the doors through which the Flesh Prince earlier departed.

Cathal leads the Knights off down a great long (and very dark) stair.

Into the Cathedral of Shadows.

Actually into the ante-chamber of the Cathedral of Shadows, Lucan gulps once and then switches over to scouting mode, he disappears into the darkness and shadow.

He's gone a good five minutes, and in all that time doesn't roll anything less than a 25 for his stealth checks, he silently circumnavigates the great and deadly chamber.

Crimson trails of blood lead into the central area of the vaulted cathedral, the blood spills through a grate in the floor- a deep dark shadowy hole. Crystal columns illuminate a robed man at a dais in the northern part of the chamber- incanting and chanting, calling upon Orcus, the Demon Lord of Undeath.

There are several other unsavoury looking creatures dotted about- waiting, Lucan takes note and returns to tell the others.

Image
Lucan, stealth fighter (actually Rogue).

And there endeth the 10th session of play, the Knights gain 8843 XP, till next time...

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 Post subject: Re: Story- Friday Knights in Keep on the Shadowfell (with Pics)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 6:39 am 
The Friday Knights

Session 11- The Keep on the Shadowfell Part 5

In play this week we have-
Antaurea, Eladrin Ranger Level 2
Astaroth, Human Fighter Level 3
Cathal, Human Fighter Level 3
Farkill, Dwarven Cleric of Moradin Level 1
Ignaran, Human Druid Level 3
Immeral, Eladrin Artificer Level 3
Lucan, Elven Rogue Level 2

Seven PCs, that's too many- we'll sacrifice some along the way, particularly as two of the players are doubling up- Simon with Cathal and Immeral; Mike with Antaurea and Ignaran. However nobody wanted to back down for the final fight, particularly after the fracas earlier with the Bloodreavers. I think they see me as a cruel DM out to push them to their limits, in truth the series of encounters after they entered the Keep's catacombs were extremely difficult, especially for the lower level characters- but also heavy on the Defenders too, racing through their Healing Surges. Zoran, who plays Farkill, is a godsend- Immeral couldn't keep up with the damage being dished out to the Knights in the previous battles.

So we'll be dropping a few of the secondary characters as soon as we're able.

Now back to the action.

The Cathedral of Shadow has been fully investigated by Lucan, all of the enemies except the Dark Creeper, RumpledSplitSkin, had been spotted prior to the Knights' charge into the fray, and that's the tactic they know best- with Cathal and Astaroth in the front row the Knights rumble into the fight.

The stout defenders charge into the Human Barbarians and instantly make their mark, which draws out all manner of creatures- actually mostly Vampire Spawn, who menacingly glide to attack.

The fact that they are minions is soon divined, much to the chagrin of the players, Cathal cleaves through two of them with a swat of his mighty longsword.

There follows a concerted effort by all of the Knights and moments later there are only the Berserkers, one of whom is badly bloodied, the Flesh Prince who has yet to hit anything and Fat Ralph, the Orcus Underpriest- who has yet to miss.

The Underpriest gets up close quickly, buffs one of the Berserkers with his Infuse With Shadow power; hits Farkill with a Shadow Curse- welcome to the Knights, and then goes mental with his Mace as he's dragged into the slugfest.

And just when the Knights think they're really winning, with only Cathal and Astaroth bloodied, RumpledSplitSkin, the Dark Creeper appears and plants his dagger in Ignaran's back.

It's not enough however...

[DM Interlude- will it ever be enough I ask myself, kidding- loving it as usual.]

Soon after, the bad guys are biting the dirt with alarming regulatory, the Human Berserkers fall, the Dark Creeper keeps taking bow shots, and Lucan has moved behind Fat Ralph - which usually means the bell is about to ring to signal the end of the fight.

The Flesh Prince, the Clay Scout who has been pestering the Knights for a while now, takes the opportunity to, in the idiom of the streets (here in the UK), 'do one.' He heads below, down the bloody hole in the centre of the chamber.

And so it goes, and so it goes...

The Cathedral of Shadows, briefly illuminated by the Friday Knight experience.

[DM Interlude Encounter #31 [1315 XP = Level 4] Vampire Spawn x5 (Level 6 Minions); Flesh Prince, Clay Scout (Level 3 Lurker); Dark Creeper (Level 5 Skirmisher); Human Berserker x2 (Level 5 Brutes) & Fat Ralph, Underpriest of Orcus (Level 6 Controller)]

[DM Interlude- Antaurea now has enough XP to advance to level 3, all he needs is an extended rest.]

The Knights search the dead and find little of value, Farkill has made a friend in Astaroth- the pair take out their frustrations (whatever they may be) on the statue of Orcus in the chamber, and the altar- they smash the place up.

The blood however continues to flow- which is extremely off putting.

Eventually the Knights congregate around the bloody hole, there are chains leading down into the abyss below, and lights down there.

“Follow that Clay Scout.” Cathal declares. There follows a scrambled descent of the chains, all the more miraculous because none of the Knights, save one- Astaroth, the big lug, make the descent without injury and in good time. It's a shame, then, that their climb leaves them standing knee deep in a massive trough of blood.

“My armour!” Cathal declares, chews on his 'tache a moment and then launches himself at the nearest enemy, a flailing tentacled monster, a Dolgaunt Warrior.

The chamber the Knights find themselves in is huge, to the south is an altar affair guarded by a cowled figure, which is initially identified as the end-of-level-bad-guy; alas the shy creature turns out to be 'the Stig', a Deathlock Wight, still he's pleased of the company.

To the east is a great portal, that is to say a stone arch of ancient construction, captured within it's window an inky black screen which shapes and bulges, as if something terrible were trying to break through its fragile skin. Before the portal a great magical circle which fizzes and spits with raw power.

To the west another huge statue of Orcus, the Lord of Undeath; Farkill pulls Astaroth from his bloody bath and nods towards it- the pair lick their lips (metaphorically you understand).

To the north is another altar, at which Kalarel stands- ah here's the end-of-level-bad-guy; a cowled and robed man, subterranean white skin and bulging eyes, he's no looker. The fell Scion of Orcus points a skull-topped rod at the Knights and declares- “my master awaits your embrace...”

And it kicks off.

Naturally there are quite a few bodies preventing the Knights getting straight to Kalarel, including a pair of flailing Dolgaunt Warriors, also a pair of heavily armed and armoured Skeleton Warriors and the Flesh Prince, yep he's back, and about to make his stand for homunculi everywhere.

Cathal forgets what he's doing, dazed - courtesy of the Flesh Prince's dark powers. Which more than makes up for the fact that the Dolgaunt Warriors seem not to be able to hit a barn door from a yard away- they flail ineffectively right through to their inevitable demise.

The Skeleton Warriors are much better equipped however. Soon Cathal, Astaroth and Farkill are bloodied. Immeral is consigned to healing duties once again; Ignaran is having a very tough time with 'the Stig', and is soon after bloodied also; Lucan is just staying out of the way as much as he can- content to fling daggers into the fray with only limited success.

The Knights' situation goes from bad to worse when Kalarel's Decaying Rays start to hit the defenders, leaving them weakened and only able to dish up half damage, when they do manage to connect.

[DM Interlude- it looks like I've got them, the Dolgaunts are not making a difference, but the Knights are missing a lot, and getting worn down quickly.]

Farkill has to back out of the fight, badly in need of more healing, he finds a safe-ish spot and concentrates his efforts on healing the others and failing to hit with his ranged Divine effects.

[DM Interlude- Farkill failing to hit things will become one of the most prominent themes of this saga, when the going gets tough Farkill's dice are almost always found wanting- never in my life have I witnessed a player roll so many natural 4's. Uncanny.]

And what turns it is this- Ignaran and Immarel take down 'the Stig', alas not some titanic assault rather a war of attrition, death by a thousand paper cuts, that's not to say it's anti-climactic, for a long moment the Knights' struggle has gripped the undefined on-line confines of our collective imagination, er... where to go with that statement.

'The Stig' falls, his last words a plea for forgiveness- “I'll see you in hell, I'll be the one gnawing on your spleen!” directed at Lucan, who delivers the final blow- from a safe distance you understand. At least I think it was a plea for forgiveness.

Which frees up the artillery nicely, less than thirty seconds later the Dolgaunt Warriors have packed their tentacles up and shuffled off this mortal coil, the Skeleton Warriors soon after go the same way.

A brief game of cat-and-mouse with Immeral, Ignaran and the Clay Scout plays out- brief and bloody- and most of all one-sided. The Flesh Prince meets his unmaker.

Which just leaves the babbling Scion of Orcus- Kalarel.

It looks like it's going to be a lopsided affair- one versus seven.

And so it proves.

Briefly.

Tentacles are so in this season.

Kalarel is quickly bloodied, and the Knights' collective grimaces have turned into grins.

However...

Kalarel blinks out of existence and reappears within the confines of the magic circle, worse, the black sheen behind him finally breaks, sends shards of shadowfell crafted black glass shattering into the chamber, and from the inky madness emerges a riot of lunging, lashing tentacles.

The Shadow Portal is open.

I think Astaroth best sums up the mood- “crud!”, he exclaims, with gusto.

And thus the tension is cranked up again.

[DM Interlude- I should have known.]

Cathal leads the charge, it's one-for-all-and-all-for-one, or so it seems- every one of the Knights unleash whatever manner of fury they have not as yet spent, and Kalarel lasts a little more than ten seconds.

[DM Interlude- bugger!]

The tentacled monstrosity dances forward, grabs the corpse of the Scion of Orcus by its feet and drags Kalarel back into the shadow...

Cathal, Ignaran, Immeral and Farkill begin to intone; words of faith and arcana- the portal slowly knits back together, the black sheen returns to the space beneath the arch, the inky black shards of shadowfell skitter and scuttle back the way they came into their inky-hell.

The Shadow Portal is closed.

[DM Interlude- I wish it'd make up its bloody mind!]

[DM Interlude Encounter #32 [2325XP = Level 7] The Flesh Prince, Clay Scout (Level 3 Lurker); Dolgaunt Warrior x2 (Level 3 Soldiers); Skeleton Warriors x3 (Level 4 Soldiers); Stig, Deathlock Wight (Level 5 Controller); Skill Challenge- Close the Shadow Rift (Level 4 Elite) & Kalarel, Scion of Orcus (Level 9 Elite Controller). Titanic, and for a good while I thought I had the Knights, at last, foolish.]

[DM Interlude- Farkill now has enough XP to advance to level 2, all he needs is an extended rest.]

The Knights rest, just after Ignaran gathers up the discarded Rod of Ruin.

Alas their rest is not without incident, a collective dream, a waking dream- pieced together later.

A vision.

A cloaked Tiefling.

An army of demons pouring into and across the Nentir Vale, blood-letting on an apocalyptic scale.

The same Tiefling, swathed in Shadow, entering a green-hued portal, seen through the portal a dense and lush jungle, the Tiefling is leading the demon army.

The Rod of Ruin clutched in the Tiefling's hand- pointing the way.

The demon army fighting... and losing, the jungle is the Feywild, the defenders of the place Eladrin, thousands of Eladrin- fighting for their homeland.

The demon army withdrawing, a tenth of its original size, retreating- back through the portal.

The shadow.

Like floating at the edge of black.

Like floating at the edge of the end.

The end of everything.

Then a flicker, a single image, the same Tiefling seen earlier standing atop a great stepped stone pyramid, the Tiefling's robes fluttering in the winds, its eyes...

Then nothing.

The vision ends.

Rested, the Knights eye each other suspiciously, Cathal breaks the spell and tells the others what he has seen, the others nod, and add detail, for they have seen it too.

Confidence grows, the Knights eat and then go about their business, Kalarel it seems was not alone in his efforts to open the portal, he has orders, orders from someone calling themselves 'the Bringer of Change.'

He's one to look out for, clearly.

The orders are very chatty, and go a little like this-

“Greetings Kalarel,

I am happy to hear that your plan is progressing well in Winterhaven. I approve of your suggested change in the Ritual of Unbinding, I think you are on the right track. The Nerath seal will soon be broken and our dark Lord's hordes will yet again stalk the lands of the living. Keep an eye on the Bloodreavers, they have started to ask questions. If you require further assistance you have only to ask.

The Bringer of Change.”

As I say- chatty. It seems the ultimate evil have been working on their 'Investors in People' status.

More treasures are located, a good deal of gold and a magical +2 dagger- which Lucan lays claim to.

The statue of Orcus you ask, and you really need not, presume the worst for statues from here on in. Skilled craftsmen may have toiled for millennia but that don't mean crud when you have a big hammer and/or axe, preferably both, and two ignorant lugs to wield them.

Astaroth and his buddy Farkill set to work.

Everything is smashed.

Don't ask... everything.

Eventually the Knights leave the rubble strewn chamber and head up back into the lower catacombs of the Keep, back through the chamber previously packed with the shambling undead, through the chamber with the trapped statue, and straight back into the clutches of the Bloodreavers, who have prepared a suitable reception.

The fight gets bloody very quickly.

The Knights are outnumbered, particularly as the decision is taken on exiting the Shadow Portal chamber to abandon Antaurea and Immeral for the remainder of the session.

[DM Interlude- and yet I still decided to throw the full weight of the next encounter at the reduced Knights, meh. I have a black heart, it matches my soul rest assured.]

The bad guys form a queue, or at least that's how it seems.

Back in the Lower Guardroom there are nine Hobgoblin Grunts, five heavily armed Hobgoblin Soldiers; two Hobgoblin Archers; a Hobgoblin Warcaster; Balgron, the Goblin Chieftain; Pensacola, Kobold Wyrmpriest (remember him) and Tra'ak, an enormous Hobgoblin Warchief- who leads the horde.

As usual the Grunts are cut down like chaff, although with their shields locked in defence they still need well aimed blows to take them down. The Soldiers and the Archers take a beating, the Warcaster is hit enough for him to retreat.

Balgron the Fat is targeted for some serious abuse, and is swiftly killed- he was still much injured from his previous encounters with the Knights. Pensacola too is badly injured, and flees, again.

The Knights are winning the day. Still, this is only their first encounter after their extended rest down in the portal chamber.

[DM Interlude- note I had a plan here, it sometimes helps. I wanted the fight to be as difficult as possible and to generate the required emotions- see below for how it all turns out, which is pretty much what I wanted to happen.]

Eventually someone sees sense, the someone being Tra'ak the scimtar wielding Bloodreaver Chieftain- he calls for parley, and in an enlightened moment the Knights agree. There are still a lot of bad guys standing, only the Grunts and Balgron have fallen, and they're taking plenty of hits.

It seems Tra'ak just wants to be off- away from the Keep, to lead his Bloodreavers elsewhere, there follows much chin scratching and moral questing- do the Knights let the Bloodreavers go? Lucan couldn't give a darn, he's all for the easy life... The chatter goes on for some time, no threats just heaps of suspicion from the Knights.

[DM Interlude Encounter #33 [2596XP = Level 10] Bloodreaver Hobgoblin Grunt x9 (Level 4 Minions); Bloodreaver Hobgoblin Soldiers x5 (Level 4 Soldiers), Bloodreaver Hobgoblin Archer x2 (Level 4 Artillery); Bloodreaver Hobgoblin Warcaster (Level 4 Controller); Balgron the Fat, Goblin Chieftain (Level 5 Lurker); Pensacola, Kobold Wyrmpriest (Level 5 Artillery) & Tra'ak Bloodreaver Hobgoblin Warchief (Level 5 Elite Soldier)]

Image
Bloodreavers Party on Dudes!

Eventually Astaroth comes up with a mature and sensible compromise. I know, I was surprised too.

It goes a little like this- he will fight Tra'ak single-handedly, if he wins Tra'ak will surrender; if he loses Tra'ak and his Bloodreavers will be allowed to leave unmolested. The rules are agreed and the fracas kicks off.

It's a massacre.

Astaroth is reduced to a bloody mess by the Hobgoblin Bloodreaver leader in a matter of seconds (I'd say approx five rounds). Farkill has to scuttle to the fallen Astaroth and administer emergency healing, so bloodied and battered is the man-mountain.

Tra'ak grunts a while, barely wounded, grins a little and points his scimitar at the other Knights, declares 'next time', and leads the Bloodreavers off.

Leaving the Knights, and in particular Astaroth, to lick their wounds.

[DM Interlude Encounter #33 [800XP = Level 13] Tra'ak Bloodreaver Hobgoblin Warchief (Level 5 Elite Soldier)]

Image
Astaroth takes a kicking- he never stood a chance!

The Knights, somewhat subdued, take to wandering the halls; discover any number of deserted chambers abandoned by the Bloodreavers, all empty, at least of treasures and clues. Rather forlornly, and in silence, they mount the stairs and head back up to the first level of the dungeons.

And so endeth the eleventh session of the Friday Knights adventures, with 9609 XP gained.

More next time...

_________________
Read the Friday Knights Storyhour at http://forums.rptools.net/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=9438&start=0 now with added pictures, the 4e related adventures and shenanigans of a bunch of ne'erdowells playing via Maptools.


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