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.