Dustin's Fantasy campaign

Session 12
Speaker in Dreams - Part 4

- Paiero joins the company
- Found evidence in the medusa and grimlock warehouse
- Attack on temple of Pelor
- While heading for the Fallkeep, pass by ‘Reality Wrinkle’ and encounter strange babbling; enter the shop and begin fighting alienist cultists, the wyste and a gibbering mouther

+3 cp for the team, and MVP was Liana for holding three cultists at bay even while stunned half the time, not to mention slaying multiple enemies in one turn with those brutal rapid strikes. Seye Tieg deserves an honorable mention for tying up their whole right flank by himself with his crazy martial arts moves; handy having Nakar around to dispel magic when enemies buff themselves!

The Reality Wrinkle encounter was fun to build. I’m always trying to mix new elements into these fights – this time we had the weird shop itself as an environment factor, a group of low-powered wizards with heavy Blur spells on (making deceptive and targeted attacks much riskier), backed up by a powerful wizard leader throwing lightning around, a high DR + high HP + hard hitting monster in the wyste and that creepy gibbering mouther that forced a lot of Will saves to avoid stunning. Never underestimate these heroes though! Good teamwork carries the day again.

Session 11
Speaker in Dreams - Part 3

- Finished the fight in the bell tower; Seye disabled Squim and got him to unsummon the wyste, but it took Arthur’s shield into the void; after interrogation Arthur took the wererat to the temple of Pelor for rehabilitation, then woke up Jarrett Barclay in the middle of the night to update him
- Party members staying at the inn experienced disturbing dreams, Konshu awoke with Bad Temper; Paeiro the Gnome appeared in the morning and reported that fellow gnomes seemed to have been murdered in Southspur; party went to investigate and followed the blood trail to some abandoned warehouses
- Party breached the roof and jumped into a warehouse, encountered some grimlocks; Seye almost got his arm sliced off but saved by Obad-Hai’s blessing; medusa named Felga appeared from behind some crates and nearly turned Paiero and Nakar into stone; Felga fired off a few arrows and threw some grenade bottles, but then had to flee as her grimlock followers fared badly against the party; Nakar and Peiro worked together to beat one grimlock down, short people pride!

+3 cp for all, and MVP was Seye Tieg for forcing Squim to unsummon his wyste and taking some punishment for the team against the grimlocks and Felga. Ffej called it immediately – trying a normal non-deceptive grapple against an opponent armed with an axe was in retrospect maybe not the ideal approach.

It was fun welcoming Gene to the table! Glad he made it out and seemed to enjoy the session, and he did well playing Paiero the Gnome. Looking forward to seeing his first proper character next time!

Part 4 of Speaker in Dreams will be on March 19 due to GM schedule conflict on March 12. I anticipate the full Speaker in Dreams story arc running somewhere in the 5-6 sessions range if we take it to completion.

Session 10
Speaker in Dreams - Part 2

- Liana, Arthur and Konshu retrieved the dwarf loot; shake down by Company of Adventurers guys; sold treasure for $3500 profit each
- Went to pauper’s graveyard; met grave diggers and senile priest of Pelor; uncovered Ferringray’s body sans brain and took it to the central Temple of Pelor; trailed by suspected wererats on the way; learned through divination that he died after speaking to Lord Taine about city guard staffing and posting for the fair, killed by a suffocating, blinding grapple-type attack
- Group went to the Fallkeep itself to report findings to Lady D’Alencourt; after learning from gate guards she was meeting with Taine, burst into the fortress using Arthur’s great charisma and leadership; found D’Alencourt and Taine unharmed, but the lady’s violent anger at being disturbed was noted by Arthur as out of character; Company of Adventurers guys sent the party a mocking letter while at dinner
- Group elected to investigate the bell tower; a flying, invisible Seye began heading to the top but encountered living gargoyles and returned down; group entered the bottom floor and the elderly tower keeper called out for Squim, leader of the rats; party stormed upstairs and fought wererats and rat swarms on the stairs; Squim, observed by Seye, used a scroll to summon a monster Nakar described as a wyste; Seye lured Squim near a window and hurled him out of the tower

+3 cp for all, and MVP was Arthur D’Bruin for showing great initiative, good role playing by Cory and fearlessly confronting the wyste during the fight in the bell tower. I felt Seye was a close honorable mention for his awesome bait-and-judo-toss on Squim haha. At 10 sessions, Fantasy is officially our longest-running GURPS campaign.

Good investigative work by the team, some choice clues uncovered, and that observation by Cory and John that Lady D’Alencourt seemed to be overreacting was well done. Seems like a few different pieces to the puzzle are coming together, and the plot thickens …

Session 9
Speaker in Dreams - Part 1

- Fallkeep spring festival, party deputized by D’Alencourt, run-in with Company of Adventurers guys
- Wererat fight, interrogation
- Search for Nathan Ferringray, Nakar’s Seeker, Fiona’s divination
- Meeting with Murdoch Clive; report of murders

+3 cp for everyone, and MVP was Liana the Lionness for charging brazenly into battle, slaying rats left and right while absorbing a few nasty rapier stabs. I honestly thought that despite Cory showing up very late, Arthur should get an honorable mention for some great diplomacy and solid role playing.

Part 1 of Speaker in Dreams was a lot of fun from the GM’s side of the table. Seemed like a good mix of tactical hex play, investigation and RP. Also glad we took some time at the beginning to clear up some bookkeeping matters and rules clarifications; we’re all learning more about GURPS every day haha. Fun fact – Fantasy is now tied with Monster Hunters for our longest-running campaign. I’m excited to play Part 2!

Due to GM scheduling conflict, we’re moving back Session 10 to Feb. 19 instead of Feb. 12.

Session 8
How Not to Host a Murder

Following Zarek Ironbeard’s hasty retreat the dwarf soldiers in the compound agreed to surrender, but only under the condition that they be allowed to safely depart with their wounded comrades, Lear Ironbeard and the manor’s domestic staff. The party agreed, but not before demanding that the dwarves leave their downed comrades’ weapons, and that the badly wounded Lear open the door to Zarek’s workshop first in case it was trapped (it was not).

Knowing that the Fallkeep city watch may be arriving soon, the party split up to hastily gather loot. Liana, while looking through the pantry for some convenient sacks, happened upon the Ironbeard wine cellar and began filling a bag with expensive vintages. Inside Zarek’s laboratory, which showed signs of having been hastily picked over (it seemed likely that the dwarf wizard had first teleported to his study in order to grab his most important books and treasures), the party found the iron flask hovering in some kind of magical stasis field, which Seye grabbed and tucked into his pack. Upon Zarek’s desk rested two books that Nakar immediately identified as grimoires, but as Konshu picked up the first book he was afflicted with a Wither Limb spell and cried out. Nakar dispelled the trap and tucked both tomes under Konshu’s good arm; the books would turn out to be Zarek’s Air and Necromancy college grimoires, perhaps left behind in his haste to flee. On another nearby table sat a number of unique magical curiosities, which Otsuke shoved into a bag for later examination. Most of the group headed above ground at this point, but with Lear Ironbeard’s key in hand, Nakar convinced Konshu to quickly investigate the nearby trophy room as well. There were a number of very valuable-looking objects adorning the chamber, but the pair had to satisfy themselves with taking only a beautiful jade and onyx chess set, a set of fine Lustrian cigars in a handsome case and Lear Ironbeard’s personal strongbox containing coins and gems; Konshu set off a potentially lethal poison gas cloud while opening the latter, but his blessing of Obad-Hai saved him from harm.

The party regrouped outside the mausoleum, gathered up all the loot and began heading back to town. Reasoning that they had essentially engaged in banditry and showing up in town with a wheelbarrow of dwarven goods for sale may draw unwanted attention, the group paused some distance off the path to cast Shape Earth and bury the majority of the loot for later recovery, and Fiona disguised the site as a used camp circle.

Back at the company office, Jarrett Barclay took possession of the iron flask and made arrangements with Lady Chanteuse for the group’s agreed-upon fee ($1,800 each following the 10% payment back to the company). After inquiring about Zardrae and learning of his death, the Barclay took his magical dagger and agreed to try to locate his next of kin. The mage also identified the rare magical items as Bracers of Might (which Liana took possession of after a heated dispute with Otsuke); an Amulet of Proof Against Poison (which Konshu claimed); a Crimson Ioun Stone (Nakar had it in his pocket almost before Barclay finished describing it); a set of Boots of Springing (which went to Seye Tieg); a Ring of Evasion (which Fiona accepted); a Crown of Kingly Splendor (everyone agreed Arthur would get much out of it); and a pair of Slippers of Spider Climbing (which Otsuke asked Jarrett to take to his wizardly contacts and see if they could be exchanged for something else).

In the week following their adventure, Nakar’s companions noticed that the sudden influx of cash had gone to the small wizard’s head. He moved into a large rented manor house in the High District of Fallkeep, and began talking incessantly about his upcoming birthday (along with the halfling tradition of gift-giving). His friends soon received a letter inviting them to a special murder mystery party, where it would be upon the guests to determine the identity of Nakar’s killer. Sadly, Liana and Ostuke had been detained by the city watch after a very public disagreement over the recently acquired Bracers of Might, and Arthur was called away by temple duties (even paladins occasionally have to empty the chamber pots of their superiors).

Gifts in hand, Seye, Fiona and Konshu arrived on Saturday evening and were greeted by Paiero the gnome, whom Nakar had hired for the event as maitr d’. The trio were led inside and met the other guests while a rather untalented trio of amateur musicians crooned off to the side of the parlor. First was Pathos Gloomblight, a sickly, unfriendly-looking necromancer who had attended wizarding school with Nakar; Kira, a beautiful assassin and former lover of Nakar’s, apparently also in Fallkeep on business to kill an unnamed adventurer; and Ms. Brimhoof, an elderly tiefling woman who had rented a room to Nakar during his days at school and looked upon the halfling as a sort of godson. After a few minutes of snacks and mingling, Paiero announced that he would get Nakar from his study to begin the evening’s festivities, but shortly thereafter his shriek of alarm summoned the party-goers to investigate.

The group found Nakar slumped over the desk in the lavishly appointed study, actually for-real dead. In looking around the room and investigating clues, it became clear that Pathos Gloomblight’s real name was Gerald, and that he had been plotting a way to get back at Nakar for some perceived slights from back in their school days. The necromancer had devised a special version of the Soul Jar spell to trap Nakar’s spirit inside a gem, still clutched in his lifeless hand, which had been delivered as a gift just prior to the party. Upon realizing that his ruse had been uncovered, Pathos ripped open his robes and a pile of bones came tumbling out, which quickly animated into a pair of evil skeletons!

As the heroes prepared to fight Gerald and his minions, Kira stepped behind Konshu, then drew her swords and attempted to impale the fighter through the back! At her signal, the “musicians” from the parlor dropped their instruments and rushed into the study with swords drawn, revealing themselves to be <gasp> ninja assassins! A three-way fight was quickly in progress, Pathos attempting to acquire the soul gem, Kira and her cronies attempting to murder Konshu and the heroes fending them both off, while Ms. Brimhoof meanwhile fainted in surprise and Paeiro quickly made to hide beneath her.

The resulting melee was kind of slapstick and very destructive. Fiona used Create and Shape Fire along with the application of Flaming Armor spells to herself and Konshu to damage their enemies. A skeleton was knocked back into the fish tank in the study and shattered it, spilling water all over the floor. Kira tripped over a chair before ripping the window curtains swinging high over the flames to drop on Konshu with a snarl. After picking up the soul gem and feeling that he had access to Nakar’s Most Excellent Force Missile, Konshu aimed the bolt at Pathos and failed to hurt him due to an Armor spell, but the recoil blasted the samurai across the room (Nakar makes it look easy, but his magic is powerful stuff!). Seye dodged one of the ninja’s shuriken with a “Hiya!” and the blade embedded itself in the wall an inch above the unconscious Ms. Brimhoof’s head. While later trying to make her escape, Kira executed a daring somersault and leap to crash through the huge window in the study. By the end of the night the room was in shambles. Seye clearly demonstrated his martial prowess in this fight, defeating two of the ninja assassins in single combat with judo throws, acrobatic dodges and potent Deathtouch spells. While Pathos frantically ordered his minions to focus on grabbing the gem, the Blood Moon warrior then came up behind the necromancer and cracked him in the back of the skull with his staff, killing him instantly.

By the time the fires had died down, the skeletons had been destroyed, Pathos and two of the ninjas lay dead (the third having been rendered unconscious with a Sleep spell by the necromancer), Kira was forced to make her escape with a crippled right hand and all that remained was to find a wizard to re-ensoul Nakar. It was agreed by all that this was definitely how not to host a murder.

+1 cp for Konshu, Fiona and Seye, the only (living) party members present. MVP for another +1 cp was Seye for his brutal finishing blow on the necromancer while delivering a great line, plus his badass kung fu moves in dealing with the ninja assassins.

It was a totally goofy, nonsensical side quest designed for a reduced party, but seemed like everyone had fun, I know I personally got a kick out of running it. After the intense tactical fights during the Iron Flask mission, I wanted to switch it up a little and do something with a little more humor and role playing, but of course had to throw in a fight at the end! I especially liked the level of destruction inside the house – blood stains on the rugs, floors set on fire, fish tank smashed, window shattered, Konshu left a cracked impression in the plaster when he got thrown back by the recoil firing that force missile, shuriken stuck in the wall … no way Nakar’s getting his security deposit back on this one.

Session 7
"You have made an enemy this day!"

Konshu arrived later than expected at the adventuring company’s office, entering the foyer to find Jarrett Barclay conversing with what appeared to be a blind fisherman leaning on some exotic walking staff. Barclay gave Konshu a thorough grilling for his tardiness and ordered the ronin to take this newcomer and catch up with the rest of the party at the Ironbeard dwarfhold.

As the team members collected their breath and mourned the loss of Zardrae, Konshu and the company’s newest recruit arrived on the scene. The group seemed puzzled that Barclay would send them a blind man to assist on the mission, and Liana in particular seemed to take an instant dislike to him. While Konshu created illusory masks to hide their identities, the group piled up their loot outside the mausoleum and proceeded downward into the dwarfhold.

At the bottom of the stairs, before the imposing doors leading into the dwarfhold proper, the party was confronted by the ghostly apparition of a Kazik man with a long, flowing mustache. The spirit spoke to Seye in their shared tongue, introducing himself as Seong Chow, a former martial artist whose remains had been unceremoniously exhumed from this crypt by the Ironbeards years ago. Fiona approached him with her holy symbol in hand but her True Faith did not drive him back, suggesting that the ghost was not evil and bore the party no ill will. After learning that the team intended to raid the complex, Seong offered to assist by possessing one of the party members in order to impart some of his many skills. [Rob’s character] agreed, and after allowing the ghost to enter his mind, he received a boost to his acrobatics, stealth and unarmed combat skills.

After learning from Seong that two soldiers typically stood watch on the other side of the unlocked great doors, Nakar blanketed the area under a Silence spell before Liana and [Rob’s character] blasted open the doors with powerful blows, pinning the guards against the walls. The team observed a well-lit great hall and grand staircase beyond, at the bottom of which stood two sinister-looking iron statues, while two dwarf guards with crossbows on the far balcony immediately took aim and called out to Lear in an attempt to raise the alarm. While Liana struck both of the pinned soldiers down, a Hasted Seye and crouching Konshu moved across the foyer toward the staircase, Fiona threw a fireball at a guard on the balcony and Arthur shot the other in the face with his crossbow, and a Great Hasted Nakar cast Invisibility on himself before moving toward the doorway leading to the rest of the soldiers’ barracks.

Unseen by the party, the shadowy rogue Lear Ironbeard took aim at Seye from the balcony and shot him in the back with a poisoned crossbow bolt, afflicting the martial artist with a numbing concoction that hampered his speed and coordination. The thief simultaneously shot his second pistol crossbow at the gong on the upper landing of the great staircase, sending a mystical reverberation throughout the dwarfhold that seemed to awaken the constructs at the bottom of the stairs (and unbeknownst to the party, also activated the traps inside the complex). Lear then faded back into the shadows as Liana, Seye, Konshu and [Rob’s character] stepped forward to take on the golems. Seye was hammered and knocked back by a maul swing and Konshu was grazed in the torso with a blade thrust, but in short order Liana’s enchanted sword and a power blow from [Rob’s character] eliminated the constructs.

Nakar, meanwhile, cast Shape Earth to warp the stone doorway around the soldiers’ barracks just in the nick of time, forcing the dwarven reinforcements to hack down the wooden door with their halberds and buying the team some precious seconds. The halfling then ran over to Seye and administered some minor healing before casting Flight on himself. The martial artist then made to run up the grand staircase, but the bottom steps were armed with a series of cunningly concealed poisoned blade traps that sprang out and slashed open his foot, dropping Seye unconscious. Fiona rushed forward to remove the toxins from his system and awaken her team member while Nakar cast a Deflect Missile to protect her from a dwarf soldier’s crossbow shot. Konshu stuck close by and threw up an illusory curtain (depicting dwarves shamelessly delivering their gold to a gnome!) to conceal the group while they patched up Seye. As the barracks door burst inward and a phalanx of armed dwarves emerged, [Rob’s character] rained down a devastating series of power blows that knocked back entire lines of soldiers and threw their formation into disarray. After Nakar floated over and blanketed them under a Darkness spell, the troops stood little chance against the blind staff master, who shattered shields and used the dwarves essentially as projectiles against each other.

Arthur spotted the dastardly Lear skulking around up on the balcony and fired a crossbow shot at him that barely missed (shearing off a portion of the poisoner’s mustache!) before executing an acrobatic run and jump, flipping up over the banister to confront the rogue, who in turn attempted to throw poisoned knives at D’Bruin’s feet to little effect. Arthur threw his empty crossbow back at Lear before fast-drawing his blade and readying his shield, Lear unsheathed his own shortswords, and the two cautiously faced off while vying for position. Lear’s initial probing strikes were parried aside; Arthur’s counterattack shield rush was expertly evaded; Lear’s attempt to slip around behind Arthur was rebuffed; but then a critical hit to the face by the paladin dropped the thief to the ground with a pained grunt. D’Bruin intimidated Lear into releasing his swords and spotted a key hung from a chain around the rogue’s neck, which Lear stated would open his personal strongbox.

During the confusion, Zarek Ironbeard emerged from an upstairs hall with more soldiers and immediately began weaving spells, first shielding himself with a Force Dome and then casting See Invisible on himself. Not to be outdone by Arthur, Liana attempted to vault up to the balcony, failed embarrassingly, then lifted herself up on her next turn. Balancing expertly atop the banister, she moved around a pillar and attempted to charge Zarek, but was turned back by his Force Dome. Realizing that her magic sword could pass through the barrier, she attempted to slash at the wizard with her superior reach, but he continually Blinked away before afflicting her with an Agonize spell. Zarek also attempted a Flesh to Stone spell on the nearby Nakar but his blessing of Obad-Hai protected him, and the halfling gasped with relief “I’m alive!”

Seye, meanwhile, regained his feet and moved up the grand staircase. He was confronted by another soldier, but the Blood Moon warrior parried a halberd swing and executed a swift judo throw on the surprised fighter, tossing him onto another section of trapped stairs where a set of poisoned blades snapped out and rendered the dwarf unconscious. Nakar lanced out a Most Excellent Force Missile, catching another dwarf in the eye and dropping him half-blind and stunned to the floor. Fiona cast Armor of Flame before ordering the few soldiers still standing downstairs to submit; given the vicious battering they’d suffered at the hands of [Rob’s character], they quickly accepted and made to withdraw.

Seeing his minions defeated, his constructs destroyed and his son prone beneath Arthur’s leveled blade, Zarek gave Liana and Nakar a cold stare and rasped, “You have made an enemy this day!” With a snap of his fingers the wizard then teleported away, leaving the heroes to find the iron flask and make off with their loot.

+3 cp for the session and another +4 for essentially completing this mission, for a total of +7 cp. Three-way MVPs for +1 cp each were Seye Tieg (for taking a lot of poison damage for the team and his badass judo throw on that dwarf on the stairs), [Rob’s character] (for his ridiculous and hilarious staff strikes to throw the downstairs soldiers’ formation into disarray) and Arthur D’Bruin (for his acrobatic leap up to the balcony to take on Lear Ironbeard in single combat). There was the potential for another +3 cp or so on top of that, but we didn’t complete a “clean run” (Zardrae’s death) and did not achieve the bonus objective (Zarek got away with his staff).

And man, this party has some serious badasses haha. I set up the whole Ironbeard mission to be what I thought was on the tougher side – a dangerous weapon master + his vicious dire boar mount up top, magic-resistant constructs + traps + poison + a strong wizard inside the dwarfhold, but this gang steamrolled right through it. Good tactical play and solid teamwork from the group of course, combined with well-built characters who all have their useful specialties. And of course we did lose Zardrae, which was a serious blow to the adventuring company, but even that was just freak bad luck.

I am cooking up a few new ideas now … but since we’ll be at a reduced party with DJ and Rob leaving early next time, the coming session is going to be a little change of pace, I have kind of a humorous one-shot for our heroes in mind.

Interesting thought for the group – is it feasible to sell this dwarven loot in Fallkeep? Those soldiers you released are going to tell the authorities in town that a group of masked raiders stormed their embassy, maimed a number of guards and made off with their stuff. If the next day we come whistling down Merchant Row with a wheelbarrow piled high with dwarven armor and weapons, someone is probably going to put it together. To the city watch we’re probably no better than armed brigands! Even if they don’t just execute us out of hand, Nakar for one cannot do time – do you have any idea what happens to halflings in human jail?

Session 6
Thaezun Stormbellow's Last Ride

The party ended up with a month of downtime between the return from Traynor’s Island and the beginning of Lady Chanteuse’s contract. Liana and Nakar spent many of those evenings carousing, but the halfling wizard was able to pick up some new spells and develop Nakar’s Most Excellent Force Missile, a low damage but high precision magical attack. Fiona, meanwhile, was able to imbue the party’s magically enchanted gear with large stores of energy, and petition her god Obad-Hai to Bless the entire party except for Arthur, who the deity decreed must rely on the protection of his own benefactor. She also spent a few days on a personal pilgrimage to a shrine out on the moors, where a druid of Obad-Hai was able to bestow a similar blessing upon the cleric in exchange for a future favor.

The elven noble woman and arcane summoner Lady Chanteuse approached the party with a dangerous mission. Her fey spirit familiar Firx had been captured in an iron flask by the dwarven wizard Zarek Ironbeard, master of a small dwarfhold on the outskirts of Fallkeep. The mission was to raid the manor and bring back the iron flask for a reward of 100 gp each; the lady was also offering a bonus of 50 gp each should the party bring her Zarek’s staff of power, but she emphasized that she was not hiring the group as assassins, and she would prefer that Zarek be left alive to endure the shame of his defeat.

The Ironbeard compound was located beneath an old Kazik mausoleum that the clan had purchased from the city some decades before. The entrance from the mausoleum to the manor proper was sealed with powerful magic, and only Zarek Ironbeard, his son Lear Ironbeard and the stronghold’s fearsome champion Thaezun Stormbellow had the power to unseal the doors. Living inside the mausoleum, Thaezun was a dwarven knight of no small reputation, most famous for supposedly defeating the red dragon Tyranthraxis in single combat. He was also well-known for riding a man-eating dire boar mount named Kortha into battle. In order for the party to gain entrance to the dwarfhold, Thaezun would have to be subdued and forced to open the way.

After observing the mausoleum for some days, the party determined that Thaezun and Kortha remained ever vigilant, always armed and prepared for battle. A rotating squad of six Ironbeard dwarf soldiers were also stationed above ground at all times. The party contacted a gnome rogue and friend of Nakar’s named Paeiro, who supplied the team with several healing potions as well as a noxious chemical substance that he “guaranteed” would foul any beast’s sense of smell. After applying the powder to a hunk of meat, Liana expertly tossed it over the outer walls the day before the planned raid and landed it right in Kortha’s food trough, causing the boar no small amount of discomfort, but Paeiro’s guarantee may have been a bit exaggerated.

After Nakar set up a series of Delayed Great Haste and Invisibility spells on Liana and Zardrae, respectively, the team prepared to move on the dwarves. Seye crept around the rear of the mausoleum and made to climb the outer wall, Fiona conjured a fire elemental and stood some distance back from the main gate alongside Arthur D’Bruin, while an invisible Nakar stood by at the ready. Liana and Zardrae then brazenly approached the gate, the swashbuckler demanding that Thaezun come out to duel her while Zardrae yelled loudly that he had a large wager on the outcome of the fight. After some back and forth between the heroes and the guards, Thaezun eventually emerged, mounted Kortha and agreed to battle, promising to feed the swashbuckler to his beloved pet.

Liana drew her sword, Zardrae ducked back around the gate entrance and Thaezun charged just as Nakar activated his delayed spells. The dwarf knight was initially surprised by Liana’s blinding speed and failed to trample her or strike her with his initial pass, was wounded in the arm in return and dropped his magical axe. An invisible Zardrae then ran alongside Kortha, slashing one of the straps holding the saddle in place and causing Thaezun to tip awkwardly. Unfortunately, as Nakar moved up past the gate entrance, a botched Stealth roll alerted the guards to unseen foes, and several of them immediately swung their halberds at Liana, slashing her badly across the back.

At this point Fiona unleashed her fire elemental on one of the Ironbeard soldiers, leaned around the corner and then tossed an Explosive Fireball into the melee, doing little damage but forcing several guards to hit the dirt. Liana harried Kortha with a series of vicious sword blows while evading the dire boar’s attempts to ram her. Seye slipped over the back wall to the grounds and began sneaking around the side of the mausoleum while preparing a Great Haste spell for himself, while an invisible Nakar tossed Stone Missiles and Sunbolts into the battle. Zardrae attempted a running slide beneath Kortha with the hopes of yanking on the loosened saddle and unseating Thaezun, but Stormbellow invoked his draconic powers and breathed out a jet of dragon flame that forced Zardrae and Liana to the ground, then directed Kortha away from the melee and dismounted before consuming a healing potion and fast drawing another axe from his belt.

Arthur stepped forward and stabbed one of the kneeling dwarf soldiers while Fiona created a Flame Jet in her hand, and the pair were able to intimidate two of their opponents into fleeing. Zardrae began stabbing more of the dwarf soldiers from behind, killing one and forcing another to dive for cover into a bush. Fiona’s fire elemental did an admirable job of holding yet another soldier at bay, its diffuse nature rendering halberd swings largely ineffective. Kortha charged Liana anew, but after consuming a strength potion the swashbuckler was able to fend off the beast while raining down devastating slashes and thrusts with her armor penetrating bastard sword.

Seye rushed forward and attacked Thaezun with a Wither Limb spell on his staff, but the hardy dwarf resisted the effect easily with a growled threat. Zardrae then brazenly charged at Thaezun with the hope of stabbing at his eyes, but was shocked when the knight seemed to sense his presence despite the Invisibility spell and parried aside his dagger thrusts. Stormbellow then retaliated with a pair of brutal axe swings to the skull, managing to slay Zardrae despite the protective blessing of Obad-Hai. As the dwarf turned back to grin menacingly at Seye, Zardrae’s dying action was to thrust his blade into the Thaezun’s skull from behind. Liana finally managed to dispatch Kortha, then ran up behind Stormbellow and delivered a pair of swings that cleanly severed his right arm and crippled his leg, sending the warrior sprawling to the dirt with a howl of rage.

Turning his head and seeing his slain pet, Thaezun let out a cry of grief that his last friend in the world was now dead, and agreed to submit to the party. Fiona healed the worst of his injuries and then offered to reattach his arm, but the knight refused, saying that his injury would forever serve as a reminder that he had been bested. Heaving himself painfully to his feet, Stormbellow cried over his beloved Kortha for a moment before hobbling inside the mausoleum. After speaking the words of power that would unseal the doors, he shed much of his armor and left the Ironbeard grounds in disgrace. The party quickly gathered up dropped weapons, looted Thaezun’s home of valuables and prepared to descend into the manor, where the session closed.

+3 cp for everyone, and MVP was Liana the Lionness for brutally dispatching Kortha and disarming Thaezun (literally!).

That was designed to be a challenging encounter – Thaezun and Kortha together were built on a lot of points. The dwarf knight in particular was fun to design – in addition to being a high ST + high HT + high HP weapon master, he had a bunch of cool dragon-themed abilities like extra DR, fire resistance and that breath attack that came online only once he suffered a certain amount of damage. Clearly he absorbed some of Tyranthraxis’ power! He also spent a good chunk on points on Blind Fighting, as Zardrae found out the hard way.

So we had our first PC death, and I thought Rob showed a lot of class taking it so well. Excited to see his next character! I’m always trying to build encounters right on that fine edge, I want the big dramatic events to be dangerous and challenging and maybe a little scary, but never unfair. From a GM’s perspective, Liana in particular is a difficult character to take into account when designing combat encounters, particularly when she has an armor penetrating sword and Great Haste on her. So I made Thaezun pretty badass and gave Kortha a gigantic reserve of HP, and even then Kortha did basically nothing aside from absorbing blows and Thaezun only got a couple of lucky shots in before going down hard haha. It just so happened Rob got some very unlucky HT rolls, otherwise that encounter wouldn’t have even been all that damaging to the group.

Session 5
Pirates and zombies and necromancers, oh my!

Following the surrender of the pirates, the badly wounded were drained of energy and dispatched while their gear was collected as loot. Nakar, a sometime-dabbler in psychology and interrogation, advised that a tough tack might be most effective, and the surviving pirates and the lesser wizard were intimidated into revealing that they had a ship anchored off the far side of the island and served a powerful necromancer. Liana ultimately executed the mage despite his cheeky attempt to Blink away from her strikes. The sole remaining prisoner was loaded up with gear to serve as a mule while Nakar extolled for him the virtues of working for the adventuring company and stuffed an application form in his pocket.

Emerging from the cave and working their way back along the mountain cliff face toward the beach, the heroes managed to spot several enemies in the jungle just as the team was ambushed. Puke-spewing zombies backed up by human pirates came crashing out of the foliage, a horrific wraith materialized in front of the party, an earth elemental seemed to step directly out from the rocks along the path and a patch of magical darkness high on the mountain slope obscured the necromancer, who shot down bolts of lightning into the fray. Liana bravely confronted the earth elemental in single combat, managing to keep it from ravaging the group’s flank and ultimately destroying it with a series of powerful blows. Arthur stood toe to toe with one of the zombies, hacking at it with his sword while blocking its acidic bile sprays with his shield. Konshu was able to levitate another zombie while Zardrae used his acrobatic teleports to stab it repeatedly while high in the air. Seye went to work with a combination of vicious staff strikes and high damage Deathtouch spells, managing to drive off the wraith and drop several of the pirates as well. Even David got into the fight, using Winged Knife spells to throw his dagger around the battlefield. A Great Hasted and invisible Nakar cast Flight on himself and moved up to confront the necromancer. Shouting at the enemy wizard to get his attention, the halfling cast Flash and was satisfied to hear a grunt of pain from out of the darkness; after moving in and probing the area with staff swings, however, it appeared that the pirates’ leader had escaped again with a timely teleport spell.

As the dust settled, Liana noticed that the prisoner had dropped his load and fled into the jungle, and the swashbuckler went crashing after him while Nakar flew out over the canopy to assist. Arriving at the beach, she saw the pirate ship moored a hundred yards out and their captive swimming out toward it. Liana threw a rock and managed to clip him painfully in the arm, and then Nakar flew directly over him and demonstrated the adventuring company’s employee retention policy with a staff swing to the skull, sending him under the waves. The halfling considered moving closer and trying to burn the pirate ship’s sails with a Sunbolt, but reluctantly returned to join Liana, and the pair headed back to the rest of the group.

The group collected their loot, returned to the Hag’s Bounty and ultimately made their way back to Fallkeep without further incident. It came to light during the journey that their new gargoyle companion seemed both attracted to and an enhancer of arcane energy, though Nakar was miffed that the creature didn’t seem to take as kindly to him as the other mages in the party, grumbling something about all-too-common racism toward halflings. Upon completing the mission, the enchanter’s guild, true to their word, paid each of the heroes the agreed-upon fee and provided a free enchantment to one piece of gear.

One month later, an old friend of Jarrett Barclay named Lady Chanteuse arrived at the company office with a new contract for the team, where we’ll begin Session 6.

+5 cp for completing Traynor’s Island. Dual MVPs were Liana for single-handedly defeating the earth elemental and Konshu for some timely spells that controlled the battlefield. Now that we’ve got some money in our pockets, time to stock up on healing potions gang – I’ll tell you right now, Lady Chanteuse’s proposed mission will be no walk in the park.

Session 4
Traynor's Island

Several uneventful days at sea after slaying the kraken, the tall peak of Traynor’s Island was spotted off in the distance. Nakar created several Continual Light stones and handed them to Zardrae, Konshu and Liana. While the heroes along with David, Strom and several sailors rowed toward land, the halfling then sent forward a Wizard Eye to scout ahead but found no evidence of any pirate ships or fortified positions awaiting them.

After making landfall, while the sailors hunted fresh crabs on the beach, Strom informed the group that the captain would wait one week for their return and distributed a pair of magical flares that could be used to signal for the launch. Heading into the thin strip of jungle toward the mountain, following David’s notes, the team initially encountered little but mosquitos and the sounds of exotic birds.

The party proceeded along the mountain cliff face for over an hour with Zardrae scouting ahead, until he rounded a bend and blundered straight into a waiting group of six wicked harpies! After an initial screech of alarm from the lead monster, Zardrae, Liana and Arthur rushed into melee range. Before the harpies could collectively utilize their painful song abilities to full effect, a Great Hasted Nakar ran up and blanketed the area under a Silence spell, changing what could have been a dangerous encounter into essentially a mop-up exercise. While Konshu threw out a Winged Knife stick and Nakar hurled a Stone Missile to subdue one of their foes, Liana, Zardrae and an invisible Arthur carved through the rest of the coven with hardly a scratch.

After a few minutes of rest to regain fatigue and then applying first aid and an Awaken spell to the captured harpy, interrogation revealed that these monsters tended to inhabit caverns higher up on the mountain and that many pirates frequently come and go on the island, but the harpies had no knowledge of the magic statue from David’s writings. The team eventually released their prisoner, despite Nakar’s misgivings about allowing the she-beast to rejoin her sisters.

Before long the group came to a cave mouth that seemed to correspond to David’s notes about the statue. Nakar cast Infravision and sent another Wizard Eye down into the cavern, where he noted several branching passages leading deeper into the mountain as well as a large room containing what appeared to be boxes and barrels of goods. The heroes cautiously proceeded underground and reached the chamber without incident; a search of the area uncovered some fine wine that piqued Liana’s interest, several good-quality weapons, a sack of silver coins and a cleverly hidden secret door which Arthur and Liana forced open.

The hidden room beyond contained only more seemingly plain barrels. However, as Seye began searching them, something seemed decidedly unusual, as if what he was feeling did not correspond to what he was seeing. Taking his ornate dagger, the martial artist struck the barrel and pierced through an illusion shell, revealing instead a fine locked chest standing on its side. Nakar drew power from Arthur’s manastone to cast See Secrets and detected a poisoned needle within the lock. After carefully bypassing the trap and opening the chest, a horrific spirit emerged and demanded a password, but with his knowledge of illusions the halfling immediately saw the specter for what it was, and another stab of Seye’s dagger dispelled it instantly.

The chest contained several gems, powerstones, potions, gold coins dating back several hundred years and the mystical statue described in David’s texts. Upon speaking the command words, the figure animated and revealed itself to be a rather friendly gargoyle with a taste for fish, and the creature expressed its willingness to return with the group to Fallkeep.

At this point Liana, still in the outer chamber replacing the water in her skins with some of the fine wine, heard the approach of footsteps down the tunnel and tossed an empty bottle toward the group to grab their attention. Nakar hastily cast Invisibility on himself and Zardrae, Seye charged a spell on his staff and the team readied themselves for action. Moments later, down the passage ran several zombie pirates accompanied by human raiders and what seemed to be a pair of mages leading the group. In the resulting melee Liana and Arthur carved through their opponents with lethal sword strikes, Nakar lanced out a pair of Sunbolts to fell a zombie, Konshu launched his Winged Knife at the pirates and Seye went to work with his whirling staff. Zardrae, while attempting to sneak forward on the enemy spellcasters under protection of the Invisibility spell, noticed that one of the wizards seemed to be observing him without difficulty and whispered a warning to his companion; giving the leader a wink, the fighter stepped forward and thrust his ornate dagger directly at the other caster’s eye, nearly felling him with one attack. At this point Liana crippled the shield arms of two pirates at once with brutal rapid strikes and Arthur ran forward to demand their surrender by the authority of Heironeous. The unscathed enemy mage got off a quick spell to teleport away, Nakar ran forward and struck the wounded caster unconscious with his staff, and Zardrae and Liana chased down the last fleeing human pirates to force their surrender as the session closed.

+3 cp all around, and tied for dual MVPs were Liana the Lionness (for subduing so many foes with ridiculously high damage and well-placed targeted attacks) and Nakar the Unseen (for controlling encounters, bolstering allies and gathering useful information with handy spells).

Where did the enemy caster go? Surely there are more pirates somewhere on this island, escape with our lives is still far from certain!

Session 3
The Hag and the Squid

As the Nerull cultists realized that the heroes had slain their lich leader Yuro, a tremor of fear seemed to wash through the band, and they started with withdraw. Disgusted with their cowardice, Isegard leveled his blade at Arthur again and warned that their business was not over, a challenge that Arthur gladly accepted. The cowardly lot then slammed the door to the temple shut and fled.

After taking some time to lick their wounds, regain some energy and thoroughly loot the temple and library, the team returned to Stromguard and received their promised payment from the village headman Longtread. The townspeople also came out in large numbers to thank the heroes for their courage. The party then returned to Fallkeep, sold off their loot and paid the Black Marches Brigade their agreed-upon share; Arthur also personally thanked the mercenaries for their valiant service and sacrifices, which impressed them greatly. At one point during the selling spree, Arthur had opened negotiations with a merchant in the market district when a tough-looking armored dwarf accompanied by a grinning tiefling entered the shop bearing an enormous haul, and Arthur recognized them as members of the Company of Adventurers, a rival organization in town. Some snide remarks were exchanged as Arthur was forced to take his goods down the street to another dealer, after the newcomers cleaned out the merchant’s available funds. When the party later presented their 10% payment to Jarrett Barclay at the company office, they were introduced to Nakar the Unseen, a friendly, cocky halfling wizard who had just recently signed on with the company, and told that they had another job to handle.

Following a week of resting, recuperating and carousing (during which Fiona also imbued many of the party members’ gear with mana for later use), the group reassembled at headquarters and were informed that Lord Ravenguard was very displeased at Liana’s theft of his expensive liquor, and that as compensation the nobleman demanded that the company assist his cousin Cornelius with a dangerous acquisition (at a discounted rate). Heading over to the office of what appeared to be an up-and-coming enchanters’ guild, the wizard Cornelius and his assistant David outlined the details – the party, with David in tow, would take passage on a ship named The Hag’s Bounty to Traynor’s Island, a remote patch of beach and mountain jutting out of the ocean, about a week’s travel from Fallkeep and known to be a haven for pirate activity. Apparently the island was also last known resting place of a rare magical artifact, a 2’ tall stone statue that could be a great boon to the guild in their enchantment efforts. In addition to the modest payment offered, the guild master also promised to provide a free minor enchantment for each of the heroes as compensation upon completion of the job. While Arthur inspected David’s kit and several of the party members set out to look over the ship that had been commissioned, Nakar conducted some research on the island but found few useful details in the mages’ archives.

The team set sail on a clear, balmy morning. The captain Varska, his Kesha first mate Strom and the crew seemed a capable, seasoned lot. One the third day of travel, however, the ship seemed to flag under its sails. Peering over the gunwale, the team was surprised at the sight of thick rubbery tentacles reaching up out of the water – an enormous kraken had seized the boat in its grasp! While the crew members grabbed bows and axes, Arthur, Liana and Strom hacked away at the tentacles nearest them, Seye cast Wither and Paralyze Limb spells to neutralize another, Fiona cast Flaming Armor on Konshu before the samurai rushed into the melee to assist a crewman, Zardrae slid down the sail from the crow’s nest and began running for the stern of the Hag, and Nakar cast Great Haste and then Hawk Vision on himself before lancing out a series of scorching Sunbolts at the tentacles. As the terrible head of the kraken emerged from the water, Zardrae tossed up his teleportation dagger and proceeded to blind the beast with a daring and acrobatic set of stabs to the eyes, avoiding a snap of its horrible maw in the process. Nakar cast Flight on Liana and the swashbuckler joined Zardrae in melee, ultimately thrusting her sword deep into the kraken’s brain to slay it (inflicting 96 points of damage on a critical hit!).

As the kraken’s body reeled over, the crew quickly lashed ropes to its corpse before it could drift away. Konshu and Nakar cast a series of Seek spells and detected steel, gold and magic radiating from the monster’s belly. Donning a set of Created Object goggles from Konshu, Nakar shed most his clothes and climbed inside a foul-smelling orifice, ultimately recovering several half-decomposed bodies bearing corroded armor, weapons, coins, jewels and a powerstone, the last of which the halfling pocketed for himself. After the loot was brought aboard and Nakar was thoroughly keelhauled to wash away the pungent black ichor, the tastiest bits of the kraken were cut away and cleaned for a series of calamari feasts.

The session closed several days later as the crew spied the high mountain peak of Traynor’s Island off in the distance.

+4 cp for defeating the Nerull cult; +3 cp for the kraken; MVP for +1 cp was Nakar for monster spelunking and some handy spells – close close runner up was Liana for her absolutely brutal killing strike on the monster. Great having John take the helm, fun session! I’m super excited for Traynor’s Island!


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