Ancient Blood (Campaign Record)


Steel Realms

Quest for Ancient Blood

Tracing the blood lines of the ancient Riverdans. A sub-campaign to the main
Dunstrand Rising Campaign.
The events and play scenarios beyond the larger campaign come directly from the
[Ancient Blood] excursion series.
See the character reward record here.

Backdrop of Dunstrand: War has been brewing in the north for years. The forces of Gwinn have taken islands and coastal communities and is at war with the Norther Merchant Cities and Umbak.
Dunstrand remained neutral until the Tarmysian Peninsula was invaded. Tarmysia and the rest of Dunstrand are separated by a
thin neck of jagged hills, with seasonal access only through a place called Gillman Pass.
The Scar Flow and Dwindor Swamp provide an inpenetrable barrier after that.
The forces of Gwinn have held onto Tarmysia for a year or more now.

  • 9141 CY, Month 5, +8 days; Belim arrive in Bar-Innis on order of his superiors to find out more about what’s going on there and a group called The Band of Crows
  • 9141 CY, Month 5, +10 days; Belim travels with the crows and finds Troubles in Mosshaven
  • 9141 CY, Month 5, +25 days; Belim leaves The Band of Crows to return to Dunstrand City for the Faire.
  • CY 9141, Month 6, Day 1-7; The Dunstrand Faire
  • CY 9141, Month 6, Day 20 – Hareen Bladeheart, of the Crows of Bar-Innis, has a vision and is chsoen by Rastur, lord of Lions, to go north and do try and defeat The Confessor – high preist of Elancil. Many flock to his standard.
  • 9141, Month 8, Day 6; The Crows enter the north lands on their quest; some have stayed behind to divide the agents of Gwinn.
  • 9141, Month 9, Day 19; The Band of Crows kill The Confessor (The Gwinnish forces religious leader) in an epic bloody battle
  • 9142, Month 1, Day 4; Holy War is declared by Gwinn
  • 9142, Month 2, Day 25; Bounty for the Band of Crows posted by the forces of Gwinn
  • 9142, Month 3, Day 7; Word comes out from the north that Northgate Garrison is under full scale attack, somehow a cult of Malek is involved
  • CY 9142, Month 4, Day 24; The Rosewood Vase, symbol of the north’s salvation, is miraculously returned to the Temple of Aerna at Karolak
  • CY 9142, Month 4, Day 25; Signs of famine in the north; military campaigns slow in the north
  • 9142, Month 4, Day 27; News of Hareen Bladeheart’s death at the hands of one of the Lich Kings himself; heroes of the previous generation died trying to save him from the fallen lord of undeath.
  • 9142, Month 5 – The forces of Gwinn retreat from Bar-Innis (though still occupy Tarmysia) and the bounty is rescinded; things begin to calm down.

Character’s Come Together

Belim and Beeddel leave the Dunstrand Faire together CY 9141, Month 6, Day 8. Belim has 4 months left on his enlistment.
Beeddel serves as his groom until CY 9141, Month 10, Day 1 when Belim musters out of the High King’s army, in the capital city of Oerdney.
They slowly make their way back Dunstrand, hoping to possibly meet up with their companions, but as news from the area continues to reach them, they grow more fearful.
Countless rumors of the deaths of the Crows circulate and then by CY 9142, Month 3, Day 2 the word of the bounty reaches them and Belim and Beeddel
think twice about their association. Belim instead decides to go to one of the contacts he met at the The Dunstrand Faire, in Dunstrand City and see if he cannot
find some leads there. Besides, Beeddel is well liked there for seeing the spirit of the woods.
They are temporarily taken into the employ of the Duke’s Honor Guards, with Belim having the rank of Corporal. After a couple months (9142, Month 5, Day 24), they are released from service as the cost of the honor guard is being shifted toward regular soldiers.
They are released the same day with a young man named Bill Clay, just come from
the western reaches of Dunstrand and the war there. The three of them all know some of the same
people, the talk of the Dunstrand Faire, the legendary Band of Crows (Bill corrects them and informs them they are going by the name ‘Brave Companions’ now).
They drift a bit, but money is getting tight, even with the good will from the Faire (it seems like so long ago). War, strife and famine abound and all begin to fear they may be pressed into a force the Duke is raising to defend the western lands of his duchy.
Then they are introduced to sira Goll Saren on 9142, Month 5, Day 30, a merchant’s aide and a representative of ‘certain powers’ who have an interest in
the struggle for power in Dunstrand. Goll tells them he would like to hire them for a task, a research task.
Belim, Bill, and Beedel were busy waiting for Goll Sarens’ summons to meet with the researcher when they discover Gellwin.
They are out scouring the armories for good prices when Belim recognizes the halfling from his hair color in a crowd.
Surprised and happy, they all reire to a local tavern to catch up. Prior to their meeting with sira Goll, Belim sends word of a new addition to his ‘crew’ that Goll must include in the hiring.
Goll introduces them to Grumwell, a scribe (though the man is nearly 2m and a massive body suited more for war with a balde than a pen) and says that together they will be traveling to southern Dunstrand to
perform this task – should they accept. As to why a scholar needs protection – well, he says that certain parties may not be happy with the outcome of the research.
Sira Goll says only that he works for the Shady Rock Merchants (part of a larger allied group or merchants called The Surefoot Merchant Coster), and that with war and all the uncertainty that been brought to Dusntrand, his masters
want to be able to take advantage of whichever way the wind blows, and need more information to do it.
Specifically, they want you to research the blood lines of the ancient Riverdan houses and trace all of them to as far as possible. Grumwell
says that a couple are said to be fallow – their line ended long ago. Sira Goll says it may be true, but they want confirmation – the old houses lost their power when the course of the river
turned, but change is inevitable, and the course of politics may change in Dunstrand to their favor and the merchant houses want to be able to capitalize.

Gellwin Joins

The taciturn and dour halfling Gellwin joins the group in meeting, brough at the last minute by Sira Goll.

Dunstrand City and Pekki

Go to the Blackfoot Stables in Dunstrand City – seek out Pekki Netherwood, the owner of that fine establishment.
He can help supply you and get you started on you path, the merchants and him are allied in this matter, and all further contact should be through him.

The Riverdans Info

[Riverdans]

Original Family Names

  1. Oihgnan (oy-nan)
  2. Urma
  3. Vongleur
  4. Quirrelmyn
  5. Groostman
  6. Zerburre
  7. Thindle
  8. Baramatchu
  9. Loish
  10. Tuffmein

Taking the Job

The crew goes to meet Pekki Netherwood at the Blackfoot Stables. There, they also meet Grak (a big half-ork who prefers to be called Abani), and Don – Abani’s assistant. Pekki pitches his deal, 200 silvers a month, healing, equipment replacement – he even claims that it may take a year (which we were all interested in – more silver). We excused ourselves to talk about the deal away from the stables and prying eyes of our potential employer.
They have given us a strange ring, so that their affiliates along the way will know us as allies and aid us – a ring with some sort of raised, black lizard on it. We talk over our fears; ‘certain parties’, and ‘certain powers’ always scare us…we really don’t know who we are dealing with. On the other hand, we’ve all been given a bonus of 100 silvers without doing a single thing. We confirmed our desire to work on the research project after meeting Grumwell and discussing it. Pekki seemed please and said we should contact Grak with all issues. Grak gave us a list of all the place in the ‘dans where we can find shops and persons part of the Surefoot Merchant Coster which could reimburse us, re-supply us, and help with healing. Its about 1 place in every other ‘dan territory, and widely varied in their business (smith, crofter, etc.). We were told to talk to the locals for any supplies we may need. Belim haggled down the cost to nothing in a few cases, but the most we paid was half price for any goods. Don helped us find a bed and we vowed to set off the next day.

Phony Statues of the White Sisters

[– Play Scenario Reference: Aiding the White Sisters –}

9142, Month 6, Day 5; Before we left, Pekki brought us into his office and said there was something we could do for him. Apparently he ‘knew someone’ that was having problems locally. The church of Aerna was having its authority undermined and losing money to counterfeit statues. The White Sisters’s work was being cranked out and passed as the real deal. At first it was annoying and but then the industry grew. Over the last few months, they have investigated and narrowed it down to one area of the city they think its coming from… and the reward is 400 silvers – plus healing and re-supply. WE agreed, as there seemed to be hints that it would be a short job.

Turns out, the short duration is due to the fact that people who go investigating are usually ‘taken care of’ in about 2-3 days. They’ve spent months collecting information, zeroing in on the culprits, but its cost a dozen dead and more wounded. There’s 6 candidates for the culprits, and they all live in or near Mandarn’s Cross (called ‘mans cross by the locals). It ranges from houses, apartments, and even one shop. The addresses where the only thing turned in by the last scout they sent into the area.

The first thing we tried was the bait method – we posed as people coming late to market weekend wanting to buy a statue. Belim, towards the end of an almost fruitless day, got a contact of a drunken boisterous priest. They made arrangements to meet after rest day.

9142, Month 6, Day 8; Attack on the Gang Headquarters: [combat]

[Seeking clues to the culprit]

9142, Month 6, Day 9; [running out of time after one assassination attempt, the group starts breaking down doors.
No one is obvious and beat up and wiped out, the group decides its best not to make a mistake and reports back
to Grak.]

After our First Job

Leaving Town: 9142, Month 6, Day 10 – After brief discussion we decided to tell everything we know to Grak, but not to fromally
accuse anyone. We suspect the man and kids in the apartment with the sign of Aerna on the door,
but thats about all we are willing to commit to. Wounded, poorer, and tired from being up all night, we left town
at first light…embarassed. Grak said the he told Pekki the job was probably too much for us, but
he did not listen.. maybe he should have told us!

[Bill Clay] Alright Grumwell, i think you better follow Gellwin’s
request this time and tell us what exactly are you? You are no simple
scholar, those powers you have shown don’t come from nowhere – i’ve
seen magery before and i know its stench. I’ll be damned if i get into
another fight without knowing just what you can do to back me up.

[discussion]

Before leaving the city, The halfling Gellwin decides that he is not suited, and wishes to
return to the more remote areas of the Duchy – perhaps to see his home again.

Arrival of Vraxen Pax

9142, Month 6, Day 10; Abani Yorton meets the group on the road out of town. He brings with him a large
and powerful man named Vraxen Pax. Vraxen and him seem to know each other – though the half orc
speaks of Vraxen as if he just hired a new mercenary. Vraxen is a troubleshooter type,
served in the Dukes Guards and protecting his interests. He desires to get out of Dusntrand City
and is seeking a new adventure independant of a specific lords interest. He strongly hints
that it would be in the party’s best interest to take him on as a partner in the
research endevor. The party briefly confers and decides that another warrior
could not hurt…

Applebottom Farm

[– Play Sceanrio Applebottom Farm –]

9142, Month 6, Day 11; We meet the peddlers Jim and Jack and decide to travel with them.
They move too slow – trying to sell their wares, so we decide to split off.
They tell us about Applebottom Farm – a place to hole up before reaching the city so we do not have to travel at night.

9142, Month 6, Day 13; An ancient legend of a curse and pride; The nightmare effect; psychic maelstrom and spirits, cannot get out.
Spend several nights under attack from spirits and undead. Beddel manages to find
some strange goat like people and get them to guide us away, intot he earth and through the
lands of their enemies.

Free from Applebottom

9142, Month 6, Day 15; The moonlight faded from view behind us. We felt that the caverns we were in had not been tread
in an ancient long time. Beeddel kept his wits about him, and guided us through the caverns,
following the directions of the goat-people shaman. Just as we began to hear pursuit in the caverns behind us,
we came out into fresh air; in a gully, under the
midnight stars, quiet, alone and without threat. The moonlight makes
the fading gate to The Deeping glitter… the ‘moon’ door slowly fades, and you can
make out snake-like faces on the other side in the fading darkness…

Grumwell says he remembers some half forgotten legend about the snake
folk… he thought they were myth – along with the Drunnad (the goat
folk)… it bears studying the matter – but old powers are at work
here, and have made you all part of the ancient struggle… Beeddel’s
connection to Dunstrand is likely what gave you the way out – again,
these matters bear much more study! Belim (being the military man he
is) says that while that may be true – you have to stay focused on the
job at hand. As Bill gathers wood for the fire, both Belim and Beeddel
stay his hand – ‘best not to tip off those who may be waiting’ says
Beeddel…

Rest and Onward to Taddeus

[Beeddel] I’m not sure about the rest of the gang, but I’m fairly beat up. I’m not so comfortable hanging around this place at night, though, either. How far away is town?

[Belim] Tadeus city is about 4 hours away in the dark – obviously a
safer/faster journey if it was daylight – and we run the risk of
getting lost without a good outdoorsman.

[Bill] I would agree, i’m in pretty bad shape –
a glancing dagger can kill me at this point,
and i would rather wait for light where i can see foes coming and use
range weapons where my thrown spear is my best weapon…

[Grumwell] yea, daylight and at range is best.
I’m not hit hardly at all, but i have little mana to spare…
morning would be better. I can get off 2 ‘Darts’ as it stands now and a lame-ass crossbow shot.
Also daylight with range and human combatants could mean they are more
susceptible to fear. Maybe i can ‘Mist’ up a couple of you if we know
we are going to get shot at; that would give incoming missiles a severe disadvantage.

[Belim] Trying to make the whole run to the city in the dark, and beat
up, seems like a bad idea; however, we are not staying right here. We seem
to have been spat out the back door of a very bad place, and I am not going
to stand around waiting for those snake people (or any of the other uglies in there)
to figure out how to follow us out. So I say we put about a mile between
us and this place and find a good lie-up point where we can see back (and
around) as much as possible. A low hilltop or something would be great.
Do we have any moonlight? (I’m not in too bad condition right now – some
healing cuts and bruises, but nothing debilitating.)

[Grumwell] sounds like a good plan. I’m in.

[Bill] With full moonlight, lets send Beedell out to see if we can find a
copse of trees or something. We have nobody with any outdoor skills…

[Beeddel] You know, i’ve been watching and thinking on a lot of this stuff, and i think i can figure out our direction….
at least keep us out of the effect. I’ve been paying close attention to which way we were going and i
think i’m begining to get the hang of orienting us.

Beeddel leads the group out of the gullies on the far side of the hill between us and Applebottom farm. At the very least, he does not allow us to get back into the effect zone, and finds an obvious copse of trees to picket the animals and set up watch against…
No fires, though you do make a bunch of noise as you are hurt and tired, but no one jumps you or tries to attack you during the night.

[Grumwell] I have a few more 1 point poultices that can be used for healing
checks for those that are down.

[Bill] I’m willing to burn through any mundane healing we got, as any
brigand weapon can drop me with an average hit. This does obviously
point to the need for even some leather armor possibly when we get to
Tadeus… but i am not sure i can hold my shield and wear armor
without being slowed down. I’ve been really trying to focus on being a better defender –
i’m just not a warrior like some of you, but I can be a shield-man. Some day i’m gonna retire from this life and get my own farm.
Animals and plants, farming and markets… i gotta stay focussed on learning that too.
Maybe i even want to be an animal doctor. I gotta get some sort of really light
armor too – for when the blows that i can’t defend come through.
Something that won’t drag me down…

We all discussed it and agreed to wait until light to move. Vraxen complained of a soreness in his back, and we all thought nothing of it until morning, when we found immobile. Bill checked him and we found a tiny needle where his soreness started – a minute dart with a serpent design carved on it. Perhaps the serpent people had gotten to us after all. Beeddel scouted the path back to the road. In the distance, coming from the east was a solitary traveler. We decided to seek what news we could and travel in larger numbers… we were not sure that the peddlers Jim and Jack, and their possible ally ‘Pete’ may not be waiting for us out there.

The Coming of Horace

9142, Month 6, Day 16; The traveler turned out to be a man named Horace, called ‘Ace’, from Dunstrand City. He had been sent by Pekki to aid us. Apparently Pekki took care of his family while he was away, and he had returned to the city and Pekki sent him to help. He makes no mention of Grak, Bill suspects him of not telling the whole truth, and by the looks of the rest of the party, they all agree. Oh well, we all have something to hide. Ace claims to be an information man and scout… he’s a ‘city scoundrel’ says Bill. Beeddel says thats alright, since he’s preferring the air outdoors to the life in the city, perhaps we can use someone who is more skilled in an urban environment. He also brings word to avoid Applebottom Farm – a bit late. At first most of the party is upset, then we all have a laugh. At least we know he’s not with the peddlars. All is well and we set out for a 2 hour trip to the city.

Ambushed by Steele Eyed Pete

After we travel for about 30 minutes and a large wolf-dog darts out from the underbrush and spooks the mounts, snarling and barking. Belim is not able to get his buckler in time, and Grumwell’s mount makes of with his crossbow. A group of 5 men rush us as we try and prepare for attack and Belim fires his crossbow while Beeddel snaps off a shot with his long bow – our foes cover the distance quick and we find ourselves in combat. For bandits, they are well organized. One, the leader, faces off against Belim with a broadsword, another 2 have short baldes and the last 2 turn out of be the peddlers Jim and Jack. Ace and Beeddel each fight 2 foes, one of them armored on each of them. Bill is stuck trying to control his mount while the wolf dog attacks the horse he on. During the course of combat, Grumwell enshrouds the half wolf in flames, causing it to run away, and allows Bill to unmount and enter the fight. Both Beeddel and Ace manage to hold their own, but things are not going well – three of our foes have leather armor and good weapons – hardly bandits in the normal sense. Belim and the leader with the sword square off in a match of blade on blade. A dizzying exchange is made with neither gaining the upper hand. Nearly a minute of full combat passes before our first foe is fallen. Grumwell climbs atop the rocks that held our foes from view and surveys the scene. An arrow flies from the distance as the hunter Steed attempts to take out our wizard. Grumwell decides that its too risky to be the only target out of combat, and with no skill launches himself upon the man fighting Belim, catching him by surprise and drives a dagger strait into his skull. They both tumble down in a heap. Over the next 30 seconds, Belim rushes the archer while Bill enters combat, turning the tide and the foes are whittled away. Though Belim shouts for captive, in the heat of battle and without coordination all our foes are downed – except Steed the hunter whom we take captive.

Steed the Hunter and Pete’s Lair

We take a few moments, move off the trail, bind our wounds and discuss what to do next. Steed offers information of value to us and to lead us to the groups hideout. He says he is a hunter and only fell in when times got rough. We discovered that we had killed Steel Eyed Pete – a local ruffian and highwayman. We agree to the deal with Steed, and he tells us we can collect a bounty for Pete, and that he got the sword recently and has been acquiring the armor and weapons over a period of time – some before Steed joined. The marks on the blades all indicated they were made in the Merchant Cities – north of Dunstrand. Steed leads us to the cave, about 4 hours away. Beedel and Bill stay with the animals while the rest and Steed (who we force to go first) go into the cave. Apparently Pete did not tell Steed everything, as the trap and collapse kills Steed and seals the rest of the party in for three days. However, we do manage to get hundreds of silvers in goods and treasure. Belim, Ace and Grumwell found a keg of brandy and managed to drink it during the three days – who knows how much that was worth.

Tadeus – Sir Stuart and Rom’s Mount

9142, Month 6, Day 16; We make our way to Tadeus, There we make contact with the Darrow Brothers Crofters and Pekki’s agents. We tell them everything so far and get a night of rest. The next day we find quarters at the Goats Blood Inn, inside a section of the city called Rams Gate. The old city was never finished, and the dilapidated keep reflects this. We get another night of rest while learning the lay of the land. We then try and talk to the Oighnan family – the rulers of the fief of Belmain. We are told that without an appointment, it will be 2 days before Sir Stuart will see us. We bathe and heal, learning more about the city. Sir Stuart believes our story of searching for a relative married into nobility ages ago. He tells us of the sorrowful times the Riverdans have come on. He does indicate we are in luck though,as full genealogy records exist – but these are all from memory and copies. However, in the ancient family crypts of the old capital of Gnedfort City, the noble families would bury their people with stone tablets citing ancestry. The families often intermingled, so any family tomb could be a wealth of information – rubbings can verify some key points of the genealogy copies, so it should be enough to legally serve as evidence. However, Gendfort is a city of the dead and the locals, who have made peace with their dead ancestors, will not appreciate us stirring up trouble. Because Grumwell is of the ‘dans and noble, Sir Stuart says that he trusts him. As long as no desecration is done, a few rubbings of bloodline tablets is not something Sir Stuart would worry over. He mentions Rom’s Mount as the place to search for the ancient crypts.

9142, Month 7, Day 4; Deciding that wounded is no way to go into this, we decide to hire a healer and spend 2 weeks healing up. We live well, Beeddel trains with a local hunter to improve his survival and Ace learns more of the city while Belim gets us a crude map of the region. All together we discover a lot of information. We have to leave Vraxen Pax in the care of the Darrow Brothers for the time we are in the city – he seems to have gone into some sort of comma (so the healer says). What we find out is very interesting.
Gnedfort was THE shinning gem of the Riverdans. It was the largest of the cities in all the ‘dans, supporting a population of 40,000. It had three hills, one of which was dug out at one end for the Temple of The Earth – A holy place to the followers of Darupet. On Rom’s Mount was a tin mine and a small quarry. Haldor’s Hall was a craggy mount, entered through a tunnel going beneath the hill, and held the houses of many rich and on top of which stood the Fire of Pexmuth – a small keep, built by Pexmuth Oihgnan as a watch tower with its ever-burning fire which was a symbol of protection to the people. The ancient city was devastated by the river course change. Some of the ancient buildings on the rises and hills survived, and for a time levies and dams channeled the river… but ultimately it was ruined. When the levies broke, many were drowned. It is now a city of spirits, and it is said the dead walk there. Few who venture into its environs come out again. Annually at the spring festival, the clergy of Ezrilus holds a vigil to keep that which is dead barred from the fields and homes of the living in the areas around it. The locals do not appreciate anyone disturbing the peace they have made with their dead ancestors.

Rom’s Mount was named after Erwilla Rom, the first priestess of Darupet and the family priest of the founders. The great Temple of The Earth had its foundation laid in her time, mostly due to her efforts. The mount is a rock hill which had its south side washed away – it was mostly earthen. The family burial crypts were all carved into the mount. It is said the under the mount was an entrance to The Deeping. For many years these crypts stood locked and watched, opened only at times for burial.
The mount was also a place where public processions were guided over – into its shadow for mourning or onto its plateau into the sun for celebrations. The tunnels flooded and crypts were ruined by the river, though damage was minimal compared to the rest of the city. A few crypts are visible from a distance – boulders of a different color marking their sealed entrances. It is said though that there are other crypts and pitfalls into the caverns that are merely covered by overgrowth. The is where most of the treasure-seekers go.

Exploring Rom’s Mount

9142, Month 7, Day 6; We travel to Terrovere, a small village east of Gnedfort. The locals all get silent when we enter the only inn. We stay a night, keeping our ears open, but we learn nothing new. We tell the locals we are on out way to Malby. We try and scout to make sure we are not followed, and Beeddel hides our trails when we go off the road. We find a place to picket the horse in the rolling grasslands without being seen. We slowly approach Rom’s Mount. During our approach we are all subjected the The Suffering Tread – a manifestation of The Deeping where it seems as if a giant is about to tread on us. Wind sucked out of our lungs, panic in our throats, and a great weight descends. A few of us are unable or unwilling to back down, and though the ground drops in fornt of us, and vertigo makes us swoon, the 2 caught in the effect muster the will to resist. It leaves us with a sense of vertigo for a moment, and leaves no physical evidence of any kind.

As we approach, cold winds start blowing over us, and we hear the sounds of riots, screaming, horse hooves and the smell of death. Something horrible, in addition to the river flooding and killing thousands, went on here. All of us are on edge, our sanity is beginning to fray, but we manage to circle the mount to be out of sight, and come round to the earth temple. Deciding that the earth temple is the easiest way, we make our way up the rubble pile inside. Our best climbers are assailed by cold blasts, treacherous footing, fetid scents, and sink holes that tried to pull us under. Beedel made his way up to Cairn Top and scouted a bent iron we saw growing from the undergrowth – a family tomb entrance. The rest of the party made it up, with Ace’s escort for us all in case we fell. We bent back the bars enough for the average size characters to squeeze in and began to explore. There were traps enough for the unwary, including a collapsing ceiling, flooded chamber, and 2 armored, skeletal guards. The whole system consisted of a entry, a receiving chamber, columbarium, crypt proper, chapel, supply area, reliquary, and a whole set of flooded chambers over 120 feet deep that we surmised may be drained by some operation in the earth temple. The crypt of family Crithomyssis remained an enigma until we finally discovered the concealed door and lured away the armored skeletons. The stone tablets of genealogy we were seeking were found in the reliquary they guarded. We took our rubbings and got out, though one of them struck at Belim as he crawled out, a deep gash into his leg. Grumwell examined them and declared that he remembered a text he had read in the Oighnan family records in Tadeus – we had the proof we needed.

We endured the trip back down the hill While Beeddel scouted from above – spotting a pair of men making their way to our mounts picket line. He hurried back, suffering the horrific visions, smells and dangerous conditions as best we could. Many times we felt pursued by some unknown force, and could not shake the sightings at the edges of our vision. Beeddel and Ace went ahead and captured the 2 men, who claimed to have long ago sent word to town. We discussed what to do, but before long our decision was made for us by the sound of an angry mob – the locals were not taking kindly to our trek into the dead city. Apparently some hunter from the village saw us go into the ruins and found our picket. We began to saddle up and prepare to move out when that giant’s tread sound came out of nowhere, rushing in and scattering our mounts and us alike. Belim and Beddel managed to avoid its affect, and when the rest of us, including our captives, were pulled into the effect they tried to pull us out as the ground vanished beneath our feet – succeeding only in securing themselves to us to join us as we feel. Feel is perhaps the wrong word, sunk into the earth and through it, without touching anything is what happened. After a great feeling of sickness and nausea we were deposited unceremoniously in some vast cavern, in the dark. A horrendous sense of vertigo could only mean we had been pulled into The Deeping – the dark mother’s veins. Some of us retched, and the 2 hunters began to scream – attracting the attention of whatever may dwell in the caverns. In the dark, we spoke in whispers, contemplating what to do next.

Vraxen Follows

Vraxen Returns – Vraxen had been following, trying to catch up to the group after doing some scouting in the local towns.
Too late he discovered the group would provoke the wrath to such a degree by where they were going. He managed to
discover some of the locales were preparing a ‘welcome’ and eventually wandered in at the last second, to watch the Suffering Tread’s
effect of bending space and pulling the hunters in ambush and the rest of the group into its effect.
Terrified, but fearing for his companions, he examines the area where he last saw them. Hearing the Tread return, he simply waited and hoped that he would rejoin his companions.

Caverns of the Bolg Morda

[– Play Scenario: Cavern of the Bolg Morda –]
Belim, Vraxen, Ace, Grumwell, Beeddel, and Bill

Initially Beeddel and Belim are both knocked unconcious.

[]

The Bolg Morda is lured by the hunters who fell and Bill Clay.
They stand heroically, but are completely and utterly wiped out – the rest of the
group attacks tactically while the expendibles go down – the Bolg Morda is nearly killed.
He is driven off.

Posing as Everdark, the group fools the goblins into attacking the Bolg Morda! The caverns are turned into
a nightmare of savegery as the multitudes of goblins and humanoids one time servants of the half troll turn against it.
Wounded and in fury, the caves run red with blood. The Orrish leaders, convinced their god was directing them, all die in the fight.
The group slinks the the blood spatered caversn, searching for the giant’s lair where the their they caught told them was a magical device that could get them out.

The group gets into his chambers, and Grumwell uses his limited knowledge of the items
to transport them group back to the surface!

[More shit happens]

A Conversation

Belim: I was thinking, its probably useful to have a better idea where our characters stand. Cattle raid aside (and we were hoping to avoid bloodshed on that one) our characters have been
pretty much on the ‘good’ track, if not quite saintly knights, which would be my preference. “Focus on our mission, try not to hurt anybody ain’t got it coming to them, no mercy for anybody does got it coming to them”. There’s your mission statement for the simpletons.
When quizzed about our name (as a group) we didn’t have any answer except the casually dropped ‘Miserable Bastards’. Not really suited for noble courts and priestesses is it? I think we should have something cooler sounding, although I’m not full of good ideas.
Something not pretentious – that’s for sure – the ‘Black Company’ would be right out. ‘Lords of the Riverdans’? Nyuk.
As for the decision making process in the group, it’s always been that me making the battlefield decisions where there wasn’t time for deliberation; but when there was time for a consensus was always made by a group decision (as quickly as we could). I think that was a good method.

Jiles: I agree. I would second the notion of being basically… well, ahem, ‘good’. I would even go farther and say it may means sometimes we are on the other side of the law. There’s the
greater good of what we are doing too – I am a patriot of the Riverdans (all underdogs really; courage being his faith!) and if there’s coming political change and these geneologies will help that
cause he is all for it – so be it if we have to step on a few toes. Belim has had previous service and seems to be the leader in all things by default. I think we definitely need someone we all
acknowledge when we are paralyzed with indecision or need to cut through concensus. I’m open to anyone in the group leading, each has different qualifications – Horace has definitely been around and seen
a lot more things, Beedel’s got the spirit of Dunstrand with him, and Grumwell is by far the smartest amongst us. I am intent on increasing social skills – persuade, CHA and such and trying to use
his faith connections to move the party ahead as a right hand man sort. Position him as the guy who goes into town and can calm the locals, put a good face on the group, arrange for services and such.
Though its cliche, i’ll focus on healing too so the rest of you dont have to beyond whats already there. As for a name, the “Bondeuchebags” is probably out. Our goal is to range across the entire Riverdans ferreting out this information – how
about Belim’s Rangers?

Belim: I have to say I’m kinda not down with attaching a character’s name to the group. Characters die sometimes (and the tooth fairy isn’t real – sorry); and something more poetical might create a little more mystique (and we need all we can get); and
I’m not the kind of guy that would want his name out there like a big bullseye (or bigger than it already is). How ’bout channeling heroes with ‘The Last Patrol’? Sounds just downbeat enough to suit us…

Beedel: Men In Search of a Good Rubbin’

Jiles: The Screaming Benders?

Belim: The Rubbing Rovers? The Roving Rubbers? Who made that first ‘rub’ joke? Was it me? Shame, shame, shame.

Jiles: The Runaways? Seriously, i have no clue… Along my original line, the
Rough Rangers? No rump ranger references on that one. This is hopeless…

Traveling West

[shit happens… Jiles Dies, Samedi comes in]

A Town In Need

Belim’s Journal:

– Continued searching the massacred village, found an elf and freaky spider that had killed each other in combat; took the elf’s sword and [heart-stone? soul-gem-thingy?] to return to the elves.

– Spotted, and barely defeated, a corrupted elf and his 2 air elemental toadies. Belim made the first of only 3 successful combat rolls all day here, to evade what might have been a fatal staff to the guts, and only got crit’ed into unconsciousness.

– Found the Blue Griss in the deep basements of one of the wealthy houses. Belim made the second of 3 successful combat rolls to get in the killing blow (after softening up by everyone else), right before things went real bad. (Belim had a very bad day with the dice, and we all were burning AP, CP, and blessings faster than I have ever seen.)

– Got back to the elves, they told us to go find the last Evil_Elf hiding in the woods and take him out, and that the Elven woods wouldn’t mess with us.

– Barely survived multiple traps, and the elf jumped Beedel at the last one for that 81 point shot. Everybody lit him up with whatever they had, and Belim charged (as usual) and got that third success with a 01. The elf only had 4 points left, so that was that. Hayden’s pumice armor saved our sorry butts more times than I can count.

– The elves called us ‘friends’, and we can ask them for help in the future.

– We made our way to Zerburre (a decent sized town at last), heard about some religious troubles along the way, and never let on anything about what we had seen or done. Which brings me to some thoughts:

* Unless the party feels otherwise, I think we should stay under the radar: no insignia, no group name, no confirm/deny on our activities. That said, confirming rumors about a nameless party of unknowns, and exaggerating their exploits somewhat, can’t hurt (for now at least.) The completely unknown is a hell of a lot scarier than everyone knowing it’s just us schlubs. We’ll stick to our mundane cover stories for now.

* That means the local noble we may soon be working with needs to keep us anonymous too. Especially if we get mixed up in religious conflicts; I’m tempted to say we should get some ‘ninja masks’ for when we do the real dirty work.

* On a different tangent, I’d like to make a small shift with Belim: I’ll say that in the moment when he was flying through the air–between getting his chest stove in by the elf and bashing his head on the street and passing out–he had a bit of a realization that he isn’t the best suited to act the heavy fighter. While “Fortune Favors the Bold” and “Forward! Forward! Forward!” are good in principle, they don’t always work out great on a personal level. So I want to have him retain that attitude tactically, but take a better thought out approach overall (call it ‘maturing’). That is to say: work on the leadership skills to make the group work better as a combat team. I’ll have to request the GM’s help, since I don’t know the rules and skills from bupkis; but I currently have Leadership(1), Unit Tactics(1?), Persuade(2), Military Lore(3?), Combat Leadership(0 – working on that one after one more level of Lore), so there is some leadership potential there. After the last adventure we have some individual CP and some ‘group’ CP to be used however is most beneficial; we’ll need to sort that. Maybe there are some officers in the Zerburre garrison and books in the noble’s library that can help me out with training.

– Next tangent: reconnoitering towns as we arrive, such as Zerburre where we just got to. The splitting up to get the lay of the land (where are the inns, garrisons, good/bad neighborhoods, markets, merchants, etc.?) worked well. If we have the standard group of 6 again, maybe it goes like this: In safer towns, 3 groups of 2 with a streetwise/urban-survival character in each; in a shadier town, 2 groups of 3, same skill division; and I suppose in a totally hostile area we just stay in one group.

– We have either a couple days or a couple weeks in Zerburre before we take on the religious conflict – if we choose to do that. We’re having a dinner with the noble to discuss the details of that; let’s just make sure we don’t alienate the wrong religion. In the meantime, for what it’s worth, Belim will be having a hammer commissioned (roughly in these dimensions but not decorated: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Polish_Horseman%27s_picks_from_XVII_century.PNG), repairing and refitting, and generally relaxing and chatting up the local female populace. As should you all; I mean, what else would a bunch of young guys who’ve been stuck in combat and sleeping on the ground for weeks do?

Belim, Son if Hardivan

Queens Own Tonbridge Dragoons (inactive)

Balthazaars Fire

Along the way, the party comes across a church to Balthazaar! the Lightbringers have no place in the Riverdans usually. A closer inspection reveals it to be a church of the Wyld Faith at one time, but its obviously been converted. The crossroads is Terbans Cross. There is the church, a small stable and an Inn. the Inn proudly displays the signs of Gaia – and tensions are apparent. Perhaps this is some of the religious conflict you have heard about.

The party has Rabat join them in seeking out highwaymen – he is the messenger that the Lightbringers use to get the party’s attention. Horun is sent by the faction of Gaia to represent – there is strife in the party, but Belim keeps everything under control. Balthazaar is pleased that trade is restored. The Flame of Balthazaar was restored to the temple, but Rabat accidentally handled it. It drained him forever, but gave him the light of wonderment!

Samedi Leaves

Samedi has spent the last couple days on the road healing the group as much as he could. He excuses himself to think while the group makes plan for securing an audience and stowing gear in preparation for entering the castle grounds ahead. Belim gathers the group outside of the castle to make sure everyone is one the same page. Samedi announces that he feels it is time that he make a sojourn to the woodlands – he is not sure when he will return. He must commune with the beast lord to make sure the path he is on is the right one. given the open hostility between his Wyld faith and that of the Lightbringers growing in this area, he thinks it best to seek out his path before the party is seen to take sides ahead of time. He wishes Belim and his crew the best, and hopes to see them again. “Who knows that the best lord has in store for me!?” he says. “But for you, i see strange things… unnatural things. Where you go, the best lord’s gaze is hazy… just know that the moon is your friend while you are there – her light does more than illuminate!”

Coming to Zerburre

One of the first things you notice is the strong Lightbringer presence – totally out of the normal for the Riverdans. A well wishing from Aerna stands inscribed above a gatehouse to the city. It is also the first walled city you have seen in the Riverdans. It was obviously once a majestic city… and although it would be highly defensible, only 2 guards now stand at the gate and none seem to man the walls themselves. They stop you and asked the business of armed strangers.

You state you are seeking the Burren clan family, you are pointed to the obvious castle at the highest point in the city – what seems to be a man-made hill upon which an old but solid keep stands. The soldiers pay proper respects to those proper followers of Lightbringers faith – even a nod to those not their own. The guards make sure you understand that there is a iron rule of law. Keep your bows unstrung and weapons sheathed at all times – no bare blades under order of the marshall except to defend your life under similar attack. Violence is unwelcome here. Prayer time for those following The Light is at the cathedral in the morning (as they tell you this, as if on cue, bells ring faintly).

From the courtyard, the town seems overly quiet. There is not the normal bustle you would associate with a town that can hold a few thousand. The people look at you and make little eye contact. Its obvious that sanitation is a low priority – probably for a few years now.

Scanning around, you spot the pair of Ace and Vraxen. Both appear to be in good spirits, and are gaming with some off-duty guards in the courtyard, outside the stables. Even from this distance, you can see Vraxen drop a card behind his back and Ace steps on it – out of site from the guardsmen. It seems the antics of those who once traveled with you have not changed… you sigh heavily and shout their names. Ace drops to “tie his laces”, picking up the card, and Vraxen claims a win! Alas, as you draw closer, you discover that even cheating was not enough – Vraxen has lost again. Smiling and with arms outstretched you reacquaint yourselves. Seems that fortune has brought you together again.

Rivin’s Hedge Maze (the Feywild)

The Crystal Noose

Though your sojourn in the Feywild took no time in this world, it did not leave you without effect. Some may have tried to get a couple more hours sleep after your wee-early-hours return to this plane, but largely failed. Shortly after dawn you’ve all given up on sleep and repair to the Ponce for breakfast. You feel battered physically and mentally; waves of nausea wash past throughout the day, as do headaches and dizziness. You mull events, trying to get a grip on the strangeness of your adventure, which is already taking on a dreamlike quality. Looking down a street you experience a double-vision effect and see the landscape of the Feywild overlaying it – or is it just a hallucination? In the dining room of the inn all the patrons briefly flicker into visions of fey creatures – don’t they? It’s a day for rest, healing, repair, and perhaps even a moment of relaxation if possible. By evening the effects have mostly passed. It’s autumn in Dunstrand vale and you’re able to enjoy a ‘dinner in’ at the lodge Sir Anthony and the lord have provided, and somewhat come to grips with what’s real and what might have been imagined (or what you might want to tell yourself you only imagined). Fresh venison from the fall hunt with late season vegetables give you a sense of being grounded in a more normal world again. Leaves rattle around the courtyard in the gusting wind, but the skies are clear and the duchy is a good place to be in the harvest season.

THE COMING OF TAZIA – The Witch

RABAT: You are surrounded in your dream by a circle of your friends at first, but it splits. A strange, beautiful woman clad in a gown nearly translucent walks through the broken circle to you. Sparkles of all colors drop off of her as she moves to you, creating a shimmering effect that transfixes you. She reaches and and caresses your face. “My servants have done well with you”, she murmurs. “They were right to extend the path of power to you, and your friends. I will guide you along that path human-child. In return you swore service to me. You cannot refuse me now when I say to you that you must go as you were going, seeking what you were. Among the faerie folk you will meet one known as Syree S’pree. Her you must ultimately remove her from her position for she works against your purposes and mine. However you choose to accomplish this is irrelevant. Remember this, you OWE me. I giveth, and i taketh away. You will be rewarded well. I give you this (she waves her hand and a bag appears floating in midair, which you take). Place in it a token of her so that i know you have done the deed – her head, or whatever you think will appease me and when you close it, it will return to me” (she laughs a little too boisterously for your tastes, you visibly cringe) – “Ohoh I am sorry, I did not mean to make you fear me. I wish your service out of love!” She takes your hand and begins to dance. You spin and spin and time passes. She and you laugh with joy and scream in delight. She makes you promise your service to her and she promises power to you. You wake up feeling supremely serene, but with an incredible hangover. Standing around you are your friends, you appear to have broken several mugs and furnishings around you… embarrassed you stand up. They tell you they all had the same dream, then you were dancing for hours through the night – keeping everyone awake, and no one had the strength to stop you. They only heard one side of the conversation while you are dancing (in describing the shouts you were making), and it makes them visibly suspicious.

You decide there is no harm in telling them about your new found powers and how they came to be, since they basically already know anyway. “The Summer Queen of Faerie” is your patron”, says Tazia. “And now we are all embroiled in the politics of that fey land. For a long while i have stayed clear of the Unseelie politics, focusing on my mission to help women. But now it seems we are to be drawn in. We must tread lightly, these maneuverings can easily get us killed.”