Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Barrowmaze #19: Labyrinth of Skull Mountain

Lurking skulking skullduggers dug into the depths of Skull Mountain.  They discovered a labyrinth of hidden pits and trapped doors around every twist and turn.  Finally, a group of cultists was found and battled, then a secret passage and the Red Altar discovered in the room of the demon maw.  Aliontus stepped forward to desecrate the altar, but was himself made to feel the immensity of the mountain within who vastness he walked.  He stumbled, bowed down by the weight of Skull Mountain.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Barrowmaze #18: Journey to Skull Mountain

The Barrowmaze has been left behind for a spell. On to Skull Mountain! The Dolmenwood is slowly being introduced as well.

A prince was missing and an old foe to be dealt with.  The Company rode north along the east edge of the Dolmenwood as a pink comet crossed the sky westerly. On the second day Skull Mountain was sighted.  Itinerant peddlars gave some rumour of the place, as did the half orc turncoat Gruk.

The rescuers approach carefully, wary of the numbers of cultists and bandits celebrating fiery rituals at the mouth of the skull.  Leaving the horses with Friar Buck, they clambered around and scouted from above, discovering the “eyes” were barred caves housing look outs.  Descending, the group set an ambush on the trail, assailing a pair of bandits at the first grey light of morning.  The prince was “within”  Finally, the group ventured forth, rappelling from the dome of the skull to the mouth itself, sneaking inside quickly.  They found stairs and ascended, slaying to the two archers of the eyes.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Barrowmaze #17: Ambushers Ambushed and Prisoners Taken

Tall Tales Come All Too True
The most recent session's events were the result of player schemes, villains known and secret, and the innocuous firing of an animal handler. In short, four months of Carousing rolls finally created its own session. The Barrowmaze was not even approached. Indeed it may lie fallow for a time as the party is now headed to Skull Mountain. However, I do hope to return, for I've enjoyed this form of dungeoning immensely.

The Company of Crows donned hooded hairshirts in the damp drizzling dawn and hurried after the caravan departing from Ironguard Motte, destination Helix village.  Their cover story was that they were pilgrims of Ygg doing a penance walk for all those dead in the Barrowmaze this season.  Tall tales have a way of becoming all too true, and so it was that this caravan, a mere covered wagon lugged by mules and pushed by mud begrimed teamsters was also accompanied by two horsemen, a callow youth and a stout warrior of the Lord Ironguard’s retinue, Dangar.  It seemed that Kay, the youngest son of Lord Kell wished to visit his brother Korthos before the summer was ended, to learn how lordlings do their carousing.  Dangar recognized the “pilgrims” from late nights at the Leaky Barrel and he welcomed their strong sword arms.

Indeed those arms were needed soon enough, when the caravan, bogged down in a mud pit was ambushed by boglings, strangely silent and bilious when squashed, the ambulatory frogmen were a mere preamble to the true danger as the warhound Mr. Sinister, ordered forward by Eric who had fired the trainer, was inspired by its feasting on the frogling to grow into an enraged man beast, a werewolf, which required the mighty blows of Eric and Stur to slay,  but not before sending the mounts beneath Lordling Kay and his man servant galloping north across the fields.  

Even as that betrayal of man and dog unfolded, a group of ne'er do wells dismounted some distance behind.  A slim figure tossed a glittering cloud of lethe upon the panting victors, sending weary heads to rest in the muck.  Then hulking tower of brazen authority called out in guttural tones of command, “Give up your striving, take your fallen and retreat, or the Outriders of Uleck will make you suffer as never before.

The Company of Crows could hardly sustain such a blow to their reputation.  They fought tooth and nail.  Stur was horribly killed by the murderous Keelgo but eventually Gruk the Half-Orc surrendered and his companions fled.  The orc was brought to Helix as a prisoner, but soon converted to Aliontism.  Then came word that the Lordling Kay had been captured, “The bandit Vargas sends word that he holds the boy ransom in Skull Mountain.  Duke Korthos Ironguard offers 1000 gold for the return of his son, and another 1000 for the head of Vargas.”  Skull Mountain is two days' travel north, through the eastern boughs of the Dolmenwood.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Barrowmaze Session #16: The Moor from Ironwood Motte

The Barrowmaze campaign continues, with two players now, and six characters in the party of 2nd and 3rd level. The maze itself is still the focus, but the players have begun to ask about the wider world around. I have emphasized the Dolmenwood to the West, and hinted at a Skull Mountain to the North. Easterly, I have not decided but I may offer the Slumbering Ursine Dunes. I'd like to explore more of the maze, and I am waiting on a couple of projects due in the summer that I would enjoy running as well, the upcoming Forbidden Caverns, and Operation Unfathomable. Essentially, anything can happen, but I'm really enjoying this game! The homebrew rules work great and my friend mentioned he enjoys "grinding for gold and xp."

A confusing mash of whispers, half remembered lies and clumsy conspiracy made truth itself slippery as a bog eel.  The Company of the Crow set out to the big town of Ironwood Motte to scout out the route of rumored gold laden caravan only to discover they themselves as the conspirators.  So they scouted out the possibilities of banditry they themselves had hoped to incite.  The investigations were long and complicated, and finally they hired a guide to take them back to more familiar discomforts within the Barrowmoor.  
Approaching from the north, in the angled light of early fall, the muck and covered mounds were clear, though known landmarks were out of sight.  In the distance, large birds circled high and dove.  The Company decided to excavate the first mound they found, a toil that lasted most of the day, paused only to fight off the immense toads attracted to the slinging of filthy earth.  Finally, a white marble mausoleum was breached, but offered only mystery without reward.  Slender white marble columns interspersed excellently sculpted depictions of men of action, men-at-arms, an elf, a hobbit, even a centaur, flanks pierced with arrows, rearing before an unseen foe.  Beyond the row of tableau a bronze door denied further progress.  The verdigrised slab was held shut by a sophisticated mechanism in the shape of a scarab beetle.  No key fit this lock.  
It was late, and the group returned quickly to Ironwood Motte, where they caroused half-heartedly, more interested this week in the warriors’ fitness regimen offered by the local mercenary captain, Sgt. Box.  They were ready to spring their trap on the elusive bandit Vargas.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Storm King's Thunder Session 5: Secrets of the Harpers

The campaign is deep in the "North" of the Forgotten Realms. They have the map. They roam where they will. I was out to lunch this session, making encounter rolls and trying to keep up with the game.  The group was excited to join the Harpers and discover a way to jump around the map.  Not so excited that they couldn't bring their horses with them.  

The Company of the Raven made their way to Everlund, then the lovely city of Silverymoon. They made friends with an organization called the Harpers, a secret network (everywhere but the Silver Marches, a haven for just minded folk) that sought to share information and promote the ideal of the yeoman farmer throughout the Realms. Occasionally the Harpers even play music.

The Company was introduced to Krow Valharrow, an old wizard who shared the secret of the Circles of Instantaneous Transubstantiation, and the man thereof. He also shared his theory that rather than possible allies, he suspected a dragon, or dragons was actually behind the Breaking of the Ordering of Giants.

Finally, the warrior Apollo acquired the Iron Blade of GiantSlaying.

Barrowmaze Saga XIV: Revisiting Defiled Ground

A minor expedition. Little of note. Some treasure. An elven blade. No death. New life.

The wizard Mazzarian the Magnificant approached the Company of the Black Dragon as they lingered in their cups: “I have scried upon my damn drune rival Necron, he who owes me his life in forfeit for the picture he stole.  I saw him crawling through cramped tunnels beneath the southern Barrow Moor.  Go forth with this elf, Resper, and find him!  I will reward you handsomely.”  The Moor did not molest the venturers as they walked through cold spitting rain to the bog that held their dire misfortune.  They decided to enter through the “Well”, the western-most entrance.  

Creeping through looted passageways with their yellow-eyed wardog, they discovered a fallen cleric of the dwarven All-Father.  Hungry rats were feasting on his face, but once beaten back he was found to be carrying treasures.  An elven sword “Goblin-Biter”, and a map of “Skull Mountain”.  After some more tepid exploration the fighter who had bitten bitten savagely by rats began vomiting violently.  Swiftly, the group returned to Helix to supplicate Brother Othar for healing once again.  

In the days that followed Aliontus the Cleric became betrothed to Sister Cella, Cleric of St. Ygg, who is pregnant.  Stirr and Dan spoke of a rich caravan headed to Helix.  Clonin became closer still with Merda the Barmaid and Brother Gamdar, the Orcish Friar of of the One True God.  He spoke of incompetence of the Duke Ironwood and of the heathen perils of the Dolmenwood to the West.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Barrowmaze Saga XIII: Escape the Maze!

A fun session here with two friends, each playing a fighter and a cleric, using my Uncommon rules.  As well, they brought two men-at-arms and a torchbearer.  They have gone through so many hirelings at this point the Guild of Ordinary Gentlemen is charging ten gold a day.  We had paused at the end of last session, so they were low on torches, food, spells, and hit points.  This style of game is a refreshing contrast to my D&DV campaign, which has reached giant slaying 9th level.

Of interest is that the first loop has been created in the dungeon map.  All previous sessions have extended out from one of three discovered entries.  In this session they were able to find an alternate route back to the stairs.  We use Roll20 to play online and I reveal the map as they explore it.  It made for a nice moment, and they were thankful for the map-gnome with perfect spatial sense.  

With retreat cut off by a lurking golem of flagstone, with the wizard dead, and a torchbearer lost to spider poison, the explorers stumbled through darkness, falling into pits, desperate for an exit.  They crept upon a nefarious battle. Acolytes of two dark gods, pentagrammatical Orcus and bone masked Set clashed in an echoing hall. Hiding from the victors, the chastened would-be heroes slunk southward, happening upon a familiar band of ne'er do wells who accepted a hefty bribe of nine golden scarabs to show the way to the fresh air above ground. "Vargas thanks ye for the gold!" they jeered as the survivors ascended.

The sun was setting then, and the bog itself came alive, grasping, a shambling mound of earth and moss possessed by evil intent nearly caught one bravely fleeing warrior, but he lived to tell the tail over flagons at the tavern, lusty lays of relief and life.  Merda the Barmaid listened intently, as did Brother Othar and Brother Gamdar, keenly interested in the stories of fallen knights, fonts of law and pits of chaos hinted at below the barrow moor.  The horse emblazoned shield and shining winged helm of Sir Guy du Veargne proved all.