Monday, December 31, 2018

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Terrinoth #21 - Rescue Wilgold Part 2

(image from Heroic Maps)
Campaign Diary

It was late when Professor Wilfrey led Entana, Gio, and Percy to the Council House. Despite the lateness, the University Council was summoned, and our heroes quizzed over the events of the evening and the past few months. Having given their accounts, the trio were dismissed, while the council deliberated over what course of action to take.

(Click here for PC profiles)

At dawn the next day our heroes were once again summoned to the council chambers. There, the council offered them a quest.

It was the council's belief that Markos had come under the service of Waiqar the Undying, and that his theft of the Diaries of the Mad Mage Kovac could mean only one thing: Markos plans to continue Kovac's work and create undead versions of the Ironbound!

Our heroes' quest, if they chose to accept it, was to travel to Nerekhall and hopefully find Kovac's laboratory. If they did not find Markos there, they are to destroy the laboratory; if they did find the necromancer there, they are to kill him, and seal the laboratory.

"What if he surrenders?" asked Percy.

"He is a necromancer - he is too dangerous to be left alive." Wilfrey replied.

"Should he not be brought back to face justice?" Percy persisted.

"He is too dangerous to be left alive." Wilfrey repeated.

Markos has had some forty days of head-start on our heroes, and during good travel season. Adding to the difficulty of the mission was the requirement that it be conducted in strict secrecy - if word of the loss of the diaries under the guard of the University reached the Barons, there would be grave consequences, the Council warned. The mission will also need to be kept secret from the rival Academy in Nerekhall, which meant they could expect no aid at their destination.

In return, the Council let our heroes name their rewards if they succeeded in the mission.

Entana asked that the mission be considered his dissertation for his Master's degree, in practicum.

Gio asked for a reward of 1500 Gros, the sum owed in weregild for his family's freedom.

Percy asked to study wizardry at the University, and was offered a full scholarship upon her return.

The party was given horses and travel expenses, and sent on their way. Even as they made ready their mounts at the University stables, they saw a dozen riders being sent out - the Council had made plans in case their mission was a failure.

Prepping and Running the Game

As I mentioned in the previous post, the conclusion of this session set the stage for the completion of the character arcs for all three PCs: Entana must face an enemy from his past to succeed in his short-term goal; Gio has a chance of completing his short-term goal if he survives, although the fact that he had been sworn to secrecy means this quest will not help his long-term goal of becoming the most famous gnome in Terrinoth; Percy has a chance to learn rune magic.

The next session will see Entana and Gio reunited with Strigoi, and over the next two sessions the climax and resolution of this campaign arc.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Terrinoth #20 - Rescue Wilgold Part 1

Gio is trapped in the room by the Ironbound

Campaign Diary

Five days after leaving Nornholt, Entana, Gio, and Percy find themselves in Greyhaven, home to the famed University, where Entana had learned the magical arts. Entana led the party through the outer city into the university grounds, only pausing for a pint at his favourite pub, before meeting up with his mentor, Professor Kroft.

(Click here for PC profiles)

Kroft's face grew grave when Entana related the party's tale and showed him the purple runebound shard which he had taken off Mondock, and he bade the party to seek the opinion of Emeritus Professor Wilfrey, who had his residence at The Tower, an ancient building located about an hour north of the city.

Percy asked if it would be customary for them to bring a gift - at this Kroft noted that Basil, Wilfrey's manservant, had not come to claim his master's stipend for more than a month. The party bought some food and beer at the local store, and made their way to The Tower.

The origins of The Tower had been lost in time, although local legends said that it was built by Timorran himself. Now it served as the official residence of the Emeritus Professor of the University, and housed the most precious of the university's collection of books and scrolls. To protect this collection, The Tower was protected by powerful magic.

It was close to sunset when the party reached the tower. Right away the heroes noticed something was not right - light shined from the windows of the tower, but the snow on the path to the front door had not been cleared for many days. Approaching the heavy double-doors, Entana made the glyph of unlocking, and pushed the doors open.

There in the foyer was the prone form of a man. Entana recognised the man as Basil, Wilfrey's manservant, from his clothing and build. Instinctively Percy rushed through the doors to aid the man, and as she passed the threshold she felt as though she had moved through an invisible curtain - right away a stench assailed her senses - Basil had been dead for many days. Percy crouched down next to the body, hoping to find out what had killed the man. As she did so the corpse reached out a bony hand and attacked her. Entana and Gio rushed to Percy's aid. Entana attempted to cast a spell of fire, and when it failed to work he recalled that a spell put on The Tower prevented the use of fire within it. Gio decapitated the undead, and Entana crushed its head with his staff, for good measure.

Entana called out to Wilfrey, but there was no answer. The trio searched the ground floor of the tower - the interior of the tower was lit with magical lights - but found no sign of the professor. Gio pocketed the coins he found in Basil's quarters - while Percy looked on with disapproval.

A search of the second floor revealed that the professor and a guest had been interrupted mid-dinner several weeks ago. A search of the professor's quarters revealed no further clues, although Percy, inspired by Gio, decided to take a detailed map of Terrinoth that she had found there.

Climbing up to the next floor, the library, the party was confronted with a terrible sight: the library was in disarray, with books and scrolls strewn across its floor. Standing almost motionless in the room were eight skeletal warriors. On the ground laid what seemed to be a full suit of plate armour, and piled around it were many more skeletons, crushed and broken, as well as many rusty weapons.

Our heroes decided to tackle the problem head on. Gio called on the power of Fortuna to conjure up an oil slick in the midst of the skeletons, and the party revealed themselves. The skeletal warriors charged towards them. A few of the undead slipped on the slick and fell, and Entana summoned a thunderous wave to throw back those who reached them. In such a fashion they prevented the skeletons' superior number from bearing down upon them all at once, and Gio's sword found the joints between their bones and one by one took them apart.

After the battle the party surveyed the room. The suit of armour turned out to be an Ironbound, a magical construct that acted as guardians. With still no sign of the professor, the heroes ascended to the next floor. Opening the locked door to the fourth floor with a key he had found in the library, the party saw a large room with glowing magical patterns upon its floor. On two corners were two pedestals, with arcane patterns carved upon them. Standing motionless at each end of the room were two Ironbounds. The room, Entana reasoned, must hold the runebound shards that powered the lights and the magic that protected the tower.

The party closed the door to the room, and made their way to the top floor of the tower, where Entana knew the observatory was located. Near the top of the staircase, Percy struck her head against an invisible barrier. A voice called out:

"Who is there?"

Entana recognised the voice - it was Professor Wilfrey.

A disheveled man appeared at the top of the staircase. The elderly wizard explained what had happened:

Some forty days ago, a former student of the University, one Markos of Nerekhall, expelled for cheating - and caught in the act by Entana no less - several years ago, appeared at his door. He had with him a runebound shard, he said, which he hoped to show the professor. When he produced a rare, purple-coloured Necromancy shard, the wizard's curiosity overcame him and he lowered the magical barrier guarding the tower and invited the former student in to join him in his dinner. However, in the middle of the dinner, skeletal warriors entered the tower and attacked his manservant. Wilfrey fled to the rooftop observatory, activating the tower's protection as he did so. In his sanctuary the wizard was safe from the undead, but he was also trapped there until the magical force field could be deactivated by an ally. There he heard the intruders ransack the precious library, and when no help from his manservant came even after they had left, he assumed the worse. For the next forty days he survived on rain and snow - for water and air could still pass through the magical barrier. Now he needed the party to enter the room in the floor below, and remove the Force runebound shard which powered the magical barrier in the tower from its pedestal and free him; the other pedestal held a Light runebound shard, which provided the tower with its light. Unfortunately for the party, the Ironbound were charged to attack anyone but Wilfrey or Basil if they entered the room; fortunately for them, he revealed, one of the Ironbound was actually just a plain suit of armour!

Knowing the power of an Ironbound, our heroes was unwilling to risk a confrontation. Climbing through a window was not an option, even though Gio was small enough to pass through one, as the magical barrier also covered the windows. Eventually they decided to use speed as their strategy: Gio and Percy would run into the room simultaneously, grab one of the crystals each, and then run out again before the Ironbound could react.

That, at least, was the plan.

So Entana unlocked the door, and Percy rushed headlong to the pedestal in the far corner, while Gio ran for the nearer one. But as Gio passed the Ironbound by the wall, it moved with surprising speed and swinged its two-handed sword at him. Gio ducked under the weapon, and continued to the pedestal... and then the whole room, and indeed the whole tower plunged into darkness - Percy had removed the Light runebound shard from its pedestal.

Entana cast a spell of light on his staff, illuminating the room. Percy ran back through the door. Entana cast spells of attack on the Ironbound, but they did not seem to affect it. Gio lifted the Force runebound shard from the pedestal, then eyed the Ironbound, hoping to duck around it and run back to the door when it moved against him.

But instead of moving towards to rouge, the Ironbound stepped in front of the doorway, and blocked his escape.

For a minute all four figures were still and silent.

Then Entana had a thought: if the Force shard had been removed from the pedestal, then the barrier across the window would have been lowered - Gio could jump through the window, and simultaneously he would cast a spell to slow his fall so he would not come to any harm.

Gio agreed. Entana cast his spell, and Gio made a running start, ducked under the Ironbound's sword once more, dived through the window... and floated safely to the ground fifty feet below.

The party returned to the now-liberated wizard - the ham that they had with them turned out to the best gift they could have brought. Even as he chewed on the first food he had for weeks, Professor Wilfrey asked to be brought to the library. After some frantic searching, his face turned grim as he declared that it was as he feared: Markos had taken the diary of the Mad Mage Kovac, who experimented on fusing dead flesh with steel to create constructs - essentially undead versions of the Ironbound, more powerful and resilient than zombies and skeletons, and proof against magic. When news of his unholy experiments leaked, the wizards attacked Kovac in his laboratory in Nerekhall and killed him. His dairies and plans were taken, and would become the basis of the Ironbound later. His laboratory was sealed, and all records of its location deleted... except for the diaries.

Wilfrey replaced the Force shard in its pedestal, and gifted Entana with the Light shard. Then, the four made their way back to the University, where Wilfrey planned to summon the Council.

Prepping and Running the Game

This session was based loosely on the module Rescue Wilgold by Dragon Turtle Games. The basic idea was that a wizard had been trapped in his own tower, and the PCs must rescue him.

For the layout of The Tower and the battlemats, I used Heroic Maps' The Wizard's House, adapting the adventure to the map, instead of vice versa. This required a bit of a thought, as one of the problems with any tower adventure is that the PCs can essentially just go from the ground floor to the top floor by taking the stairs, bypassing all the floors in between, or climb up or even fly to the top.

To make sure that they had to go to the two floors with the "monsters", I built in a couple of fetch quests: the force field had to be disabled by entering the runebound shard floor, and the key to the floor was located in the library, where the skeletons were.

As it turned out I did not really have to worry: after their experience in the B Team game, the party decided that the prudent way to clear a tower was to go floor-by-floor, so they would not be caught by enemies both before and below them.

I had expected the fight with the Ironbound in the runebound shard room to be the boss fight of the session - the plan was to show them how powerful an Ironbound was, so they would realise the level of threat an army of undead Ironbound posed. However, the players simply assumed that it was a formidable foe based on the lore, even before the fight began, which was always gratifying for a GM. The way they overcame the challenge was classic PC, and made all the more cool by this passage about the Ironbound from the Realms of Terrinoth book:

"The Ironbound lack initiative and drive, though, and can often be defeated through cunning and ingenuity."

The conclusion of this session sets the stage for the conclusion of the character arcs for all three of the PCs - in the interest of length I will discuss this in a subsequent post.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Terrinoth #19 - Blood of Malar

Fight at The Golden Lion
Campaign Diary

Therion Lakemane was closing up his store ('Lakemane's Luxries') for the day when he heard a knocking on his door. Looking through the glass of his door, Therion saw a bald, middle-aged man with a salt-and-pepper moustache, dressed in the clothes of a merchant.

Therion opened the door, and the man introduced himself as Weiss, a shipping merchant, and asked if he could enter the shop and speak with Therion. He had found Therion through the blacksmith to whom Therion had sold the good-quality chains he recovered from the ruined keep in Blackwing Swamp a month ago. The chains, he said, were stolen off his barges, presumably by his rival, one Aris, and he had hoped to learn more about the circumstances of their recovery, so he could bring a formal complaint to the merchant's guild.

Therion played dumb and claimed that the chains were recovered by his employees, and that he himself did not know where they were found. Weiss then offered to buy Therion and his employees a round of drink the next evening at The Golden Lion tavern, as a means to thank them, and also to learn how the chains were recovered from them.

The next evening found Therion, Giso, Whisper, and Risvir at The Golden Lion. Tom, busy with tending to a new wave of red mist victims and the temple, was unable to join the party.

(Click here for PC profiles)

Therion related his encounter to the party. The name Weiss immediately stood out for Whisper, who recalled coming across it when the party investigated traffickers of the drug red mist, under the employment of one Lazar. The name Weiss was a common one in Terrinoth, and Therion had not managed to find any more information on his visitor, but our heroes decided to continue to play dumb in the hope of making Weiss reveal more about himself.

Weiss arrived at the appointed time and began to politely ask our heroes about the chains, but was met with feigned ignorance. Just then, Whisper noticed a carriage coming to a stop on the street outside the tavern - it resembled Lazar's carriage. Moments later four tough-looking men entered through the tavern's door, scanned the room, and then started to move towards the table where our heroes were seated.

Therion bade Weiss to move to a table further away from the front door, and signaled for the others to move to block the new arrivals. As our heroes sought to distract the men, they heard a cry, followed by a clatter, behind them. Turning around, they see that the serving girl had left a dagger in Weiss' back, and was drawing another dagger from inside the folds of her clothes. Whisper and Giso leapt into attack, driving the assassin away, while Therion and Risvir blinded the men with a combination of mind tricks and enchanted fog to cover the party's escape.

Leaving with the gravely wounded Weiss through the side door, the party soon realised that the snow on the ground would make it easy for their enemies to track them. Summoning what remaining strength he had, Weiss asked them to enter the sewers, and from there make their way to the outlet to the river, where he had a boat stowed for just such an eventuality. With no other option, the party entered the next manhole they found, and entered the sewers.

Now the old city of Tamalir was built upon the old city that was devastated during the Dragon Wars, and its old streets now served as the sewer channels of the new city. Risvir summoned up a magical platform formed of shadow, that floated a few feet off the ground. Onto this they placed the now-unconscious Weiss, whose wound would not stop bleeding despite the healing spells our heroes cast upon him. Desperate, they eventually took the risk and removed the dagger and cauterised the wound with a heated dagger. The bleeding slowed to an ooze. Therion examined the dagger - it had a triangular profile, and upon its blade were carved arcane runes. Was it a cursed blade?

With Weiss seemingly stabilised, the party followed the flow of the sewage towards the river, Therion opting to ride upon the floating disk so as to avoid soiling his shoes. For a while it seemed that they were alone in the sewers apart from some rats, but half an hour after they started their journey, they could hear footsteps echoing though the tunnels behind them.

Then they came upon a channel in the sewers which was too wide for them to cross easily. While they pondered over how to cross the span with the aid of the floater disk, a giant lamprey broke the surface of the foetid water and attacked them. Our heroes drove the beast off with steel and spells, but the din of battle had drawn the attention of their pursuers - there was need for haste now.

Whisper noticed a thieves' sign marked upon a wall - they were near the river now. As they continued south there was a change in the air, and light coming from ahead.

Whisper scouted ahead. Not far from where they were the sewer tunnels widened and opened into the river, and there two boats were moored. Here the ceilings were taller. Several ruined houses had new doors on them, and standing outside these, as if on guard, were a few armed persons... one of whom was the serving girl from The Golden Lion! The area was lit by a few torches set on brackets on the walls, and the moonlight reflected off the surface of the river.

With pursuers not far behind them, the party decided to launch an assault on the guards and seize one of the boats. Whisper led the attack, shooting off arrows from her bow and then rushing out from the tunnel... only to be ambushed by an attacker she had not seen hiding just around the corner. Giso moved forward to aid Whisper, but the other guards also moved forward, trapping the party at the mouth of the tunnel. Missiles and magical energies were exchanged. The party could not break through. Behind them the pursuers were getting closer. Risvir cast an enchantment upon his dagger, whereupon it became a spinning cloud of blades that blocked off the passage - but the spell would only last one minute...

In the sewers of Tamalir

One by one their enemies fell, and the serving girl from the tavern abandoned her comrades and fled in one of the boats. The party rushed forward to seize the remaining boat, with Risvir carrying Weiss on his back.

But as they were passing by one of the room, Weiss moved himself off Risvir's back, grabbed a torch from its bracket on the wall, opened one of the doors, and threw it in. Inside the room was crates and boxes, which quickly caught alight. Before the surprised eyes of the heroes, Weiss calmly walked to the remaining boat, and asked them to join him.

The party rowed out into the river, and was soon taken outside the city walls by its flow. Not long afterwards, Weiss pointed out a spot on the south bank where they could land. Our heroes accused Weiss of being less than honest in his dealings with them, and he wryly replied that they had been less than honest with him regarding the circumstances of the discovery of his chains. Now seemingly completely well, Weiss stepped off the boat, and disappeared into the nearby woods.

The next day a sum of 200 Gros was delivered to Lakemane's Luxuries, which Therion split equally with the others.

Prepping and Running the Game

This session was a natural follow-on to the last B Team game - my players came up with the idea of investigating the origins of the chains which they found on the beings at the ruined keep, and I reasoned that the person who had the chains made would likewise try to find those who took the chains via the same means. The sewer-crawl idea came from the module Blood of Malar, which involved the party escorting a merchant through the sewers while he was being hunted.

I will not yet reveal the true identities and purposes of Weiss and Lazar, but it is now obvious to the players and PCs that they have been employed/used by both sides in a conflict, and that the drug red mist was somehow in the middle of all this.

In the post-game talk they speculated that Weiss was perhaps an undead - maybe even a vampire - and that red mist was perhaps made from vampire blood. To prove this hypothesis, they wanted to find someone who knew more about undead and vampires, someone who could put their hypothesis to the test.

At the same time, they also asked to investigate Lazar, and to track down the serving girl-assassin who had twice eluded them.

This gives me fodder for at least three more sessions. The players are now so determined to get to the bottom of the mystery they are not asking about reward for what they are going to do next. On my part I have promised that the truth will be revealed in the future. But for now, I shall not spoil it for them or for my readers here.

This was again a light-prep session - light to the point that once I had the basic ideas and the maps chosen for the session, I had little else to do on game day.

The maps that you see in the photos above are from Loke Battle Mats. These are A3 sized spiral-bound books with gridded battle mats which can be laid open to form an A2 size playing area, or even an A1 size area with two books. There are around 60 different designs per book - I got two of their fantasy ones and a sci-fi one off kickstarter.

You can find a place to buy a copy by googling "giant book of battle mats".

The glossy surface of the maps are a bit too reflective for photography, but they are dry-erase, and durable. They are not as flexible as the Heroic Maps tiles which I buy and print myself, but they are a lot more convenient, especially if you are a traveling GM.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Terrinoth #18 - Bad Moon Rising Part II

Percy encounters the werewolf

Campaign Diary

Entana, Gio, and Percy watched A'bomb'we's wolf form disappear as he raced north, tracking the scent of the ferrox, and then they ventured into the woods.

(Click here for PC profiles)

Percy led the party westwards, guided by her sense of direction honed from years of living in the wilderness. After an hour, the brambles gave way to a clearing. In the daylight, the party saw that in the clearing there were shallow mounds of bare ground, aligned in a single row. Each bare patch was about four feet long and two feet wide, with one being only three feet long.

With a sense of foreboding, Entana summoned up a magical servant to excavate one of the mounds. When about two feet of earth had been removed, the stench of decay became apparent - lying in a shallow grave was the body of a gnome, perhaps not two weeks dead. His clothing suggested he was a merchant, and the injuries on his body were those made by weapons and not the claws or teeth of a werewolf. Percy searched the clearing and found human tracks leading north.

Entana ordered the magical servant to rebury the gnome, and the trio made a promise to have all the bodies relocated for a decent burial, and they continued westwards on the trail of the second ferrox.

After an hour the party arrived at the cave which Percy had seen the ferrox take refuge the night before. Inside, they found the wounded creature and slew it.

As they returned to Nornholt with the carcass of the ferrox they were met by the burgrave's guards. A crowd gathered around them as the hideous form of the ferrox made its way to the towerhouse. The party was met by Gleeson the Steward, who paid them the reward promised, and the young burgrave, who declared a feast in the trio's honour.

Over dinner Gio regaled the guests with the heroic deeds of the party, while Reynard, the burgrave's half-brother and chamberlain, tried to seduce the shy Percy, without success. After his performance, Gleeson took Gio aside and handed him more silver, and bade him to keep the news of the slain gnomes a secret and leave the town the next day and not return to the woods.

After the dinner the party made their way back to the inn where they had taken rooms. There, Gio noticed that they were being watched from afar by the burgrave's guards.

The next morning the party made a great show of leaving town, but once out of sight of the town walls they returned to the woods followed the tracks from the clearing north. After an hour, they came upon smoke from a cooking fire rising from the ruins of a tower.

Sneaking closer, Gio found six armed men sheltering in the ruined tower. Around them were crates and barrels of goods. They grumbled about the cold, and spoke of "doing one last job" before returning to town.

Calling upon the magic of Fortuna, Gio took the form of a gnomish merchant and approached the men, pretending to be a lost and asking for their help to find his way back to the road and his cart. So convincing was he that the bandits fell for his ruse. However, as Gio led them closer and closer to the clearing, they grew nervous and drew their weapons on him. But Entana and Percy were laying in ambush, and after a short fight the leader of the bandits was killed, and the others surrendered. Our heroes disarmed the bandits, and a quick interrogation revealed that they had targeted gnomish merchants and had buried their bodies in the woods while spreading rumours of werewolf attacks. The party bound the hands of the bandits and began to lead them back to Nornholt to face justice.

The sun had set when the party emerged from the woods, where they found themselves met by a patrol of the burgrave's guards. After hearing their story, the guards offered to take custody of the bandits... and when they were handed over, the guards cut their bonds and passed them weapons, and together they turned on the party!

Although already wounded from their early encounter and outnumbered, our heroes fought with a fury, and soon overcame their enemies. Two of the bandits fled back into the woods - Percy gave chase, but before she could catch up with them, a large, dark, shape emerged from the undergrowth and mauled them. Under the light of the waning gibbous moon, Percy saw a towering creature, half-wolf, half-humanoid, blood dripping from its claws and jaws - she turned and ran back to the party.

When she had regained her breath and her composure, she told Entana and Gio what she had seen. But to their relief, the werewolf had not pursued her.

As our heroes pondered over whether they should return to Nornholt or just continue on their journey to Greyhaven, they spotted someone approaching from the direction of the town - it was Gleeson, alone, but clad in armour.

Gleeson surveyed the scene with a look of frustration, and asked why the party had returned to the woods despite his words. Our heroes in turn accused Gleeson of conspiring with the bandits, a charge which he angrily denied. The steward once more bade them to leave town, promising give the gnomes a proper burial, but would not say more than that he had acted to preserve the honour of the burgrave's family.

Unable to get more from him, our heroes decided to continue their journey to Greyhaven... but they will cross paths with Gleeson again...

Prepping and Running the Game

As mentioned in the previous post, this post covers the second half of the session.

I had expected that the players will track down the bandits immediately after they have killed the ferrox, and so had to improvise a whole feast scene, which actually gave me the opportunity to flesh out the NPCs.

Again, I am impressed by how the players have decided to seek justice for the gnomes even though it would mean further delay to their main quest.

I had expected them to attack the bandits in their lair instead of luring them out, which was a creative touch. Gio's player's original plan was to lead them to the burial ground, hoping that it will lead them to reveal their involvement in the murders, but unfortunately the dice meant the bandits became suspicious of him before they arrived - had he been successful, I thought it would be cool if he took the illusion of the dead gnome to spook a confession out of them.

Once again I was able to dupe the players and put them in a disadvantage at the start of combat, this time by having the guards free the bandits. I fear they may become paranoid after this encounter.

The whole story behind Gleeson's involvement is still not revealed to the players (and to the reader either - I must apologise) and there are speculations to the identity of the werewolf. I hope to return to this mystery in a future session, so stay tuned!

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Terrinoth #17 - Bad Moon Rising Part I

A'bomb'we is ambushed by a ferrox

Campaign Diary

Nine days after they left Dawnsmoor, Entana, Gio, and A'bomb'we were traveling on the road to the town of Nornholt when they heard a commotion ahead of them. Moments later, a riderless horse came charging towards them. Entana caused a burst of light to appear before the horse, which caused it to panic and run into the brambles on the side of the road, where it became trapped. A'bomb'we calmed the frightened animal and led it back onto the road, and our heroes found that it appeared to be a draught horse.  Proceeding down the road with the horse, they found a cart tipped on its side. The contents of the cart were spilled onto the road, and a gnome was pinned under it; another gnome was standing next to the cart, looking helpless.

(Click here for PC profiles)

Gio approached the gnomes and offered the party's help. Together, they lifted the cart and pulled the gnome out from under it, but he was severely wounded. A'bomb'we's offer to heal the wounded gnome was met with doubt by his companion, but Gio "explained" that the orc was his servant and could be trusted. Calling on the healing powers of Nature, A'bomb'we mended the broken ribs on the gnome's chest. The gnomes were profuse in their thanks. They explained that they were merchants from Nornholt who have decided to leave the town for good after a spate of attacks in the recent months on gnomish and human merchants traveling to and from the town. The attacks were blamed on werewolves, although there have been no survivors or witnesses to the attacks. The gnomes informed the party that their horse had been jittery all afternoon, and that something in the woods seemed to have spooked the horse just now, causing it to bolt and upsetting the cart.

Even though they were by now close to Nornholt, our heroes (being heroes) decided to accompany the gnomes back south towards the nearest village.

Later that night, as A'bomb'we looked out of the window of the inn where the party was staying that night, he felt a strange presence in the woods outside. The party ventured out of the inn to investigate. A'bomb'we caught the scent of death as he entered the woods, and it became stronger as the party traveled deeper in. Then suddenly, a humanoid form glided from the side of a tree nearby and landed onto A'bomb'we and attacked him with its clawed hands. Entana and Gio raced to help A'bomb'we, but two more of the creatures leapt down from nearby trees and engaged them. After a short, sharp fight our heroes slew one of the creatures, but the other two escaped by climbing onto trees and gliding from tree to tree. One had torn a lock of hair from A'bomb'we's head before it fled.

Under the light of the gibbous moon our heroes saw that the dead creature had pale green skin and hook-like claws at the end of its fingers. Thin membranes which stretched between its arms and torso had allowed it to glide. Entana recognised it to be a ferrox, a creature said to be a servant of Waiqar the Undying, but which was seldom seen outside of the Mistlands. A'bomb'we was anxious to hunt down the ferrox which had taken his hair, fearing that dark magic would be done to him with it, but it was impossible to track the swift creatures.

Our heroes decided to continue their journey to Greyhaven the next day, and arrived at Nornholt that evening. Chatting with the locals at the inn, they soon realised that the people of Nornholt were a superstitious lot who seemed to attribute every good or bad thing to supernatural causes.

The cause of the recent attacks on merchants was attributed by many to the prophecy that bad things would happen to the town if the position of the burgrave was not passed on to the eldest son of the previous burgrave: the previous burgrave died two years ago, but as his only son had died before him, leaving only an elder, illegitimate son and a younger, legitimate son, the position had passed on to the younger son; some townsfolk believed that the elder grandson should have been made the burgrave, as the previous burgrave had recognised his grandson after the death of his son, but others argued that the prophecy referred only to legitimate sons.

The next morning our heroes sought an audience with the burgrave to inform him that the so-called werewolf attacks were in fact committed by ferroxes. When they arrived at the towerhouse they were conducted into the great hall, where they were met by Gleeson, the burgrave's steward. Gleeson listened to their tale with concern, and then told them that the young woman also in the hall had arrived before them with the news that she had spotted a creature matching the description of a ferrox entering a cave in the nearby woods. Steward Gleeson offered the party a reward for the carcass of the ferroxes, which he hope would convince the townsfolk that the culprits of the attacks had been eliminated.

The young woman introduced herself as Percy Hazard, and claimed to be a servant of Kellos. She told them that she had traveled to Nornholt from the north the night before, and had spotted a strange creature in the woods which she trailed to a cave. Wary to entering the cave alone, she decided to bring her account to the burgrave, and now she offered to lead our heroes there. As our party was about to leave the hall, a young man dressed in rich clothes entered. He introduced himself as Reynard, the burgrave's half-brother and his chamberlain. He asked about their story and listened with interest, and his eyes lingered on the face of young Percy, before he wished them good luck on their journey.

The party left town and made their way towards to woods. Just outside the woods, A'bomb'we picked up a scent on the road leading north: it was the same scent of death he had met two nights ago. Hoping that it was the scent of the ferrox which took his hair, he took the form of the wolf and turned to track it, leaving Entana, Gio, and Percy to hunt down the other ferrox in the cave.

Prepping and Running the Game

This campaign diary actually covers one-and-a-half session - I have decided to cover the first part of the second session for better narrative flow.

The scenario is based on Bad Moon Rising, from Frog God Games' Quests of Doom compilation. The module has a rather interesting background, which I have more or less adopted 'as is', but the bulk of the session we ran was focused on the ferroxes.

I had introduced the ferroxes not just as an encounter combat, but to impress upon the players that their characters have now earned the attention of the dark forces.

I had initially assumed that the party would continue on their journey to Nornholt after they helped the gnomish merchants, and had planned to launch the attack on them when they were closer to the town. I did not expect them to go the extra mile and accompany the gnomes southwards, effectively losing a day of travel time - I had earlier impressed upon them that winter was closing in and that they had a narrow window to reach Greyhaven and/or Nerekhall to pursue the plot-hooks. I had to adjust things a bit to make sure the attack still took place, but I was proud of their decision.

I had one of the ferroxes grab A'bomb'we's hair as I was planning to curb the character's Wild Shape ability - the original plan was to have the bad guys utilise some form of voodoo magic to perhaps enchant a collar, which when placed on the beast form of the character would "lock" it in its beast form; finding a way to remove the enchanted collar would then be a challenging side-quest for the party, and an interesting (I hope) roleplaying opportunity for the player.

Unfortunately, A'bomb'we's player had to drop out of the A Team, so the whole hair thing became a plot device to separate him from the A Team. At the same time, Whisper's player asked for a spot in the A Team too, which helped me fill up the roster.

So far A Team has suffered three drop-outs, but I am happy to announce that Strigoi's player will be rejoining the table in January next year, which will add some much-needed melee power to the party.