One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
Some few weeks have passed for all of you, after having made your individual ways to Verbobonc. All of you had heard great tales of the city and were drawn there for various reasons. Now, in mid Reaping with the sun beating down on the city, you all have found yourselves traveling south from Verbobonc with the Greenway Caravan, bringing supplies to the gnomes of the Greenway Valley. At least traveling along the Nigb Run, you will have ample opportunity to cool yourselves in its crisp waters while you ride south.
Elrae arrived recently from Woodstock, where he participated in the annual festival last Wealsun. He gained a small bit of fame for is singing, and landed a nice job at the College Lane in Verbobonc. However, an ill-advised dalliance with a lady had him skipping town with the next caravan.
Derry had found some gains in Verbobonc, but the city was beginning to boor the young halfling. He had spent a few months in the city, tumbling at the Laughing Rogue and "gambling" at Lester's House of Cards. Unfortunately for Derry, he picked the wrong pocket, and was picked up by the constabulary. Lucky for him, a fight erupted in the street as he was being brought in, and he was able to slip away. With his last few coins, he paid for passage with the Greenway Caravan. A township full of gnome gem merchants seemed just the right kind of place....
Gotrek found city life much to be desired, and frankly was sick of being so crowed in with humans. He hired on with a caravan shortly after arriving, anxious to leave Verbobonc. The caravan was taking him closer to home, and that made the battlerager chew his lip in frustration. It seemed so often that the place pulled at him, and only the frenzied ecstasy of combat would pull him from his doldrums.
Bynrul too hired on as a caravan guard. Though he had little desire to travel any closer to his home of Celene, his money was running out and a job was a job.
Marcellus had traveled to Verbobonc, having read of an Elemental School of Magic. Once here he found the school had burned down some years back, and after the problems with the Temple of Elemental Evil, it had never been rebuilt. He tried to enroll in the Silver Consortium, but with virtually no credentials, he was sent away. However, Juelihm the Conjurer, head of the Silver Consortium, found himself intrigued by Marcellus's keen intellect. With a wry smile, he gave him a letter of introduction to an old friend of his along the High Road, a mage named Byrne, at a small crossroads village called Hommlet.
The caravan creaked in protest as the city of Verbobonc faded from sight. Gotrek took a deep breath. He was relieved to be away from the trapped stenches "civilized" life. The clean air made him feel invigorated. He felt free again. He looked around from the atop the caravan, beside the driver. He cursed. Everything looked peaceful. The caravan driver, Mikal by name, opened his mouth to start a conversation. He abruptly stopped, when he noticed Gotrek's one eye glaring at him insanely. Wild tattoos seemed to glimmer strangely in the light. Gotrek's nosering jingled as he snorted. The driver thought of a mad bull. Mikal began to sweat. From the sun, of course.
The caravan travels without incident throughout the day, stopping just before nightfall at the crossroads to Penwick. A small village, little more than an inn, stables, and smithy surrounded by farmland marks the site. There is a large plot of land beside the road which the caravan uses to set up a couple trade booths, attracting some of the village farmers. The farrier checks the horses, while others prepare for the night. Having ridden all day besides Gotrek, the Mikal slips away to the Flask and Sword, the crossroads inn, needing to calm his frayed nerves with a stout drink.
After a long ride on the caravan, Gotrek was annoyed. It was a very bumpy ride. After the tenth hour, he was gnashing his teeth. Foam started to dribble from one side of his mouth. Mikal had pretended not to notice. Gotrek hated riding. Unless he can walk alongside the caravan, he will never offer to work one again. He stretched his legs and grumbled. He took a swig of his fermented goat's milk(gutshaker) and noticed he only had one sip left. Now he was really getting angry. He needed some more drink in him. He decided to take a walk, and see what kind of piss these humans were serving as drink. After a few minutes, he saw a sign for a bar named the Flask and Sword.
"Humans," he grumbled. He entered the inn.
Derry loved to travel. Nothing was better than the gentle fall breeze wafting through the hair on the tops of his feet and he made certain to enjoy every minute of it. THe only issue was the dust. It did seem to get into everything, which meant he had to constantly clean his attire. He did hope they would get to this gnomish village soon though. The coin in his pouch was getting rather light for his liking. Maybe there would be a few half-blind gem cutters who might wish to part with their wares...or at least not notice that they were gone. But in the meantime, there did seem to be a nice little tavern nearby that a few of his traveling companions were headed toward. Maybe he could get some money for tumbling or at least find some money laying about unclaimed.
Bynrul looked around and surveyed the treelines from his post atop the middle wagon. He pulled on his bowstring once, twice, three times, testing the draw yet again. The caravan was rounding a gentle bend and he could see the lead wagon. He could also hear the grumbling of the heavily armored dwarf that sat next to the driver. Sullen and grumpy this Gotrek was...but the same as every other dwarf that Bynrul had ever come across. Always parading around with their chests puffed out, bellowing at the top of their lungs about how inferior every other race was. It was always the same with them. Especially in battle. Bynrul shook his head and frowned. These dwarves would charge head first into battle, heedless of their allies or number of enemies present, caring only to be the first involved in any melee. Many times such tactics would prove victorious...over less skilled and courageous enemies. But Bynrul had killed many a dwarf, by proving that patience and skill could overcome savagery and brutality. Oh to see the faces of those dwarves as he defeated their initial onslaught and then dodged, parried and riposted his way to his enemies death. Foolish dwarves would have such a look of bewilderment on their faces, wondering why their arms and legs did not respond to their brain. They could not comprehend that even though they suffered no gory dismemberment, one hundred minor wounds that Bynrul had bestowed upon them could cause such a bloodletting, sapping their strength and stamina, allowing him to toy with them for crowd pleasure before delivering the death blow. Still though, to untrained fodder, dwarves were a formidable foe and they had their purpose. This Gotrek beast was no different, although he did carry himself a bit better than most of his kind.
Looking to the rear Bynrul noticed the halfling sitting in the wagon behind his. Reflexively he felt for his coin purse at his belt, relaxing a bit when he felt it where it should be, frowning when he thought that it seemed a bit lighter than yesterday. Bynrul spat on the ground and watched the dust swallow it. Thieves were good to have around but you always ended up with a lighter share than what you earned. Still though you had to take the good with the bad. This particular thief named himself Derry, and Derry seemed a bit unhinged...always grooming himself and worrying about a few specks of dirt and grime. He seemed to be ill at ease on the trail, more comfortable to city life. Something must have drove him here, or someone. Bynrul turned his gaze farther down the caravan. We all have demons that will never stop chasing us he thought to himself.
In the last wagon of the caravan rode the bard. At least that's what he called himself. Truth be told, he wasn't much of a singer. A bit pitchy at times. Bynrul had sailed with pirates who were better at carrying a tune...and they did it while in battle! Elrae wasn't all bad though. He seemed to be handy with a sword the few times that they sparred together. And he was quite a storyteller, earning a fair amount of coin in the few villages that the caravan had stopped at so far. Coin and women. The wenches seemed drawn to Elrae, and Elrae was more than willing to share. Still though, talking and practicing swordplay does not an adventurer make. Battle would seperate the deserving from the undeserving, and Bynrul felt battle fast approaching.
The caravan fully rounded the bend and entered a small village, Penwick by name. Bynrul had seen the village's name on a sign a mile or so back up the road. As the wagons came to a stop he spied a sign hanging above a decrepit looking building. The sign had a picture of a flask of ale with a sword sticking out of the top of the flask. The name on the sign fittingly read "Flask and Sword". The obnoxious dwarf beast had already jumped from the lead wagon and was entering the swinging double doors of the inn. Seeing that the laborers were moving to secure the caravan's goods for the night, Bynrul jumped down and headed towards the inn. He reached for his coin purse, frowned again at the apparent lightness, and entered the through the swinging doors.
[That's a bit of a taste of the main characters. I'll start summarizing from here on. I may give more word-for-word accounts of certain parts. We'll see.]
Last edited by ragnar on Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
[I'd like to catch everyone up on my campaign, so I'm going to be doing some mega-summarizing!]
The party moved along, when they came across another wagon being attacked by strange looking goblins. Bynrul was slain almost immediately! The rest of the party defeated the goblins and saved the wagon driver. They returned with him to his farm, which turned out to be a spider silk farm.
[Incidentally, this was the The Spider Farm by Stuart Marshall.]
They defeated the goblins, saved the man's daughter who had been thrown into the spider pit, and gained a new member which filled a huge void in the cleric department. This was Thorgrim, and dwarven fighter-priest. The most memorable part was actually when Thorgrim arrived. I'll quote that part of the fight:
"The bolt slams hard into the goblin's foot, causing him to fall. Elrae is targeted by two goblins, and takes an arrow to the jaw, causing three points of damage. Derry shoots at an archer but misses.
Suddenly, a vicious looking dwarf with white hair jumps out from behind the goblins, screaming BLOOD and VENGEANCE! The power of his voice knocks the goblins flat on their backs. [Battle Cry spell from Netbook of Prayers. It became his favorite spell, which caused it to get eventually bumped up to a 3rd level spell. Danged netbooks!] The party is able to dispatch them without any trouble as well as the other sleeping archers.
"Not my jaw!!! I'd rather take an arrow in my heart than my jaw. I need to be able to sing and perform and not have some nasty scar that will scare away my audience. If there is a cleric around kind enough to heal me, I'll tribute their deity in song and praise."
As the dwarf step across the clearing, he pauses a moment to slam his great pick into the rear of a prone goblin's head, muttering, "...son's of bat-droppings." He steps on the goblins back, and pulls his pick out with a sucking sound, swinging it away to get the goblin brains to fly from the head. Seeing the bard holding his jaw, he strides over takes a look. "No sense beggin' fer help lad," he says after seeing the wound was not bad. "You be singin' again, don't you worry." He turns back to survey the others, adding, "Sides, suren there be more killin' work for this day ends."
[Elrae was not happy to not be healed, especially by the new cleric. Guess he's not going to be just another combat medic!]
It's 2nd ed rules, with a sprinkling of 1st thrown in. Actually, I pull from pretty much any source. Being a bulletin board based game, I've really had to stretch my method of DMing, doing a lot of thing differently than I have ever done. So far, it seems to be working. :)
As for levels, the party has started at 1st level. We all just dove into this thing together, with nobody really sure how playing via a forum would work. The posts come at all kinds of paces, and there's almost no actual "live" gaming. So, it's been a learning curve to say the least.
The party spends the four days moving farther inland. There is little merchant traffic on the road, despite evidence of a fair amount of trade in the recent past. The roads are paved with cobblestones that have well-worn grooves from wagons and there are ample rest stops along the way which are still in good order despite the lack of use. You do get the sense that these were cared for until recently. One thing that you do feel as you travel is that you are being watched. You cannot tell from where or by whom but something does not feel right.
You reach the town without incident. The place is a mining town, perched on two sides of a narrow canyon. The road runs along the western edge of the canyon, through the western half of the town, before crossing a sturdy bridge built across the canyon, which is perhaps 50 feet across at its narrowest point and 200 feet deep. The inn you are looking for, the Silver Nugget, is in the eastern part of town. The road continues onward, presumably to the mining areas.
The buildings here are all built of dark granite with slate roofs and are very sturdy. When you arrive at the inn, you can see the property is kept in good order. Two boys come out to take your mounts but seeing you have none, they assist you with your gear instead. You are led inside and are greeted by the innkeeper. The common room is empty apart from you.
“Hello friends, we haven’t seen travellers in some time. You are adventurers from your garb, I would guess. Come in and take a load off of your feet. My name is Gorby Hillsborn and I own this place.”
You are led to your seats and the innkeeper brings over some food and drink. The dwarves are given tankards of fine dwarven ale and the others in the party are given either elven wine or beer. The innkeeper sits down with you and say, “So what brings you here?”
"Elrae the bard at your service, and with me are my fine travelling companions, Gotrek Goreblade, a fine fellow with an axe and hammer. Just give him wide berth after he starts singing. Thorgrim the valiant, blessed are those that see the light of his god. Derry, a wee lad who will bite your ankles if yea not be wary but a fine dresser none the less. And our mysterious mage, master of the mystic arts, whose name does now escape me. We traveled from Etterboek and slayed countless goblins, smashed through dank spider pits and rescued a spider silk merchant's daughter from certain death. Far and wide will the exploits of Elrae be known.
We were told from the tavern master at the Flimsy Gimlet to seek you out, Gorby Hillsborn. You would lead us in the direction of adventure, monsters, treasure and the chance to save fair maidens in distress."
“Well met all,” he replies. "I know the innkeeper of whom you speak well. His reputation as a fair dealer is well know, so I will assume that anyone he trusts to send my way is also cut o good cloth.”
The innkeeper leaned forward and his face took on a sober look and he spoke in a serious tone.
“You likely noticed that we’ve not been as busy as we likely should be?” A few heads nodded in agreement, “Well, there is a reason for that. Miners have been going missing or in a few cases, found slain. We’ve tried to do what we can to maintain production in the silver mines but most of the miners have fled, leaving us in a difficult situation. We sent a group of men into one of the mines to retrieve what ore we could from earlier diggings but not a one has returned. That was three weeks ago. None of us have dared go look for them for fear of our lives. We don’t know what is taking or killing our people but some says they feel eyes on them in the dark. Would you, good adventurers, take up this task and investigate what is going on, perhaps even rescuing our fellow miners and ridding the area of the problem? We can’t afford to pay much but your meals and board would be covered here at the inn, as well as the drink. We can also give a small sum of money and you can keep whatever you might find in treasure.”
At the talk of entering mines, Thorgrim and Gotrek grin at each other. Nowhere else on Oerth are Dwarves more at home! Plus, free drinks!
"Lead us to the mines then and let our next adventure begin." Elrae checks his belongings and grabs a few more torches. He is the only human in the party and his eyes don't see so well without sunlight. If he could only find that pair of darkvision glasses.
The sun was still high in the sky when the party made its way toward the mines, which lay in the hills to the east of the canyon. Their guide, a local woodsman name Orgon, took them about two thirds of the way and then turned back, indicating they need only follow the road until they reached the forks, which were a mile father on. There were six mines in the hill, each chasing a different vein of ore.
The landscape was hilly, with the road following the most level path possible to accommodate ore wagons. The road itself was wider than most in hill country, being fifty feet across. In some cases, sides of hills had been removed to accommodate it, leaving a sheer face where it had been cut away. The vegetation was typical of the area, mostly scrubland and pine trees and quite rocky.
The party is almost at the forks when arrows come flying out from the trees.
Arrows slam into both Derry and Brytallis, grazing Derry’s head and driving through Brytallis’ left hand. The other two arrows miss badly. What do you do?
Elrae tumbles towards a large rock to take cover, avoiding any arrows flying towards him. Once behind the boulder he pulls out his heavy crossbow, takes aim at the archers in the trees and fires a bolt.
Derry and Brytallis also dive for cover.
Gotrek charges forward across the open road. Derry fires his sling at the partially concealed figures and one falls to the earth with a dull thud as Brytallis casts a spell. Suddenly, the hill is covered in a thick grease. Two of the figures lose their footing and come sliding down the hill on their backside. It is now clear that you are fighting orcs. Elrae’s crossbow bolt slams into the upper arm of one of the sliding orcs.
With the orcs at Gotrek’s feet, he is able to get a free attack on one but misses badly as an arrow caroms off his armour.
"BLOOD AND VENGEANCE!" cries Thorgrim, calling upon the power of Clanggedin as he charges towards the orcs. [ooc: Battle Cry again.]
Thorgrim shouts out a battle cry spell as he charges forward. The orc, who had remained standing, is knocked flat on his back by the shout and sides partially down the hillside, getting stuck on a tree stump. Gotrek kills the two orcs who remain prone in front of him before they could get up. Elrae pins the orc stuck on the tree stump in the head with a crossbow bolt, killing it.
All your enemies are dead and two of your party members are fairly seriously wounded.
"Well I'd help but I don't know anything about dressing a wound. Good show there with the grease. And by Fharlanghn's Boots, what a cry to battle that was. Your god, he seems to be a powerful and vengeful one."
Elrae goes to investigates the orc bodies, careful to avoid the grease. He has his wineskin ready, but what a waste of good wine if he had use it a cleaning solvent. Are they wearing any strange garb or identification of what clan they may belong to? Usually when there are some orcs, there are a whole lot more nearby.
They appear to be typical orcs with poorly crafted armour and weapons (short bows and clubs).
Returning to town after the brief fight, the party finds two new members. One is Salamander, a human druid. The other is Jordan Dawnbringer, a human paladin of Heironeous. Together, the party heads back into the hills, seeking the mines.
Last edited by ragnar on Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:30 am; edited 1 time in total
It's 2nd ed rules, with a sprinkling of 1st thrown in.
'Nuff said, for me...
As for levels, the party has started at 1st level.
Figured you were, but wasn't sure.
We all just dove into this thing together, with nobody really sure how playing via a forum would work. The posts come at all kinds of paces, and there's almost no actual "live" gaming. So, it's been a learning curve to say the least.
Good luck on your new enterprise. I once DMed using email... Do what works, or what ya gotta do!
Well, these journals are from back in mid 2010. We have really come a long way in all this time, and the method has become almost, well, normal. I dare say that while the pace is slow (we do more in one night of FtF gaming than in a month online!) it's like you said, you do what you have to do. :) But hey, we are still playing with a party of about 10 players now, so we must be doing something right!
Elrae: Human Bard
Derianagin (Derry) Bushytoes: Halfling Fighter/Thief
Thorgrim Duerkas: Dwarven Fighter/Priest (now taken over by a new player!)
Gotrek Goreblade: Dwarven Fighter-Battlerager
Brytallis: Human Magic-user (NPC)
Salamander: Human druid
Jordan Dawnbringer: Human Paladin of Heironeous
Soon the party headed back out towards the caves. They quickly found them this time, and after a short discussion decided it would be best to scout them out. They found a bunch of orcs, which they killed. Derry was really upset that his favorite shirt was ripped, and Thorgrim continued with his profuse swearing, this time calling the orcs, "Stinking, porridge-eating, sewer rats!" When Sal tried to patch up Gotrek's arm, wounded in the fight with the orcs, he denied the aid.
"Don't be ridiculous!" said Sal. "You can't kill orcs if your arm falls off and you can't swing an axe."
"That's why Clanggedin gives us TWO arms!" said Thorgrim as he strode towards the exit. "Besides, it ain't us gonna be a losing their arms."
Anyway, the party finished up a few mines, getting quickly into a squabble about what to do with some orcs they caught. Of course, the paladin didn't want to just slay them, while the dwarves, especially the battlerager, couldn't wait to kill them! I should also note, there are many many songs which were sung by the bard throughout all this time. Usually just cut and pasted songs from various sources, with the lyrics changed slightly to fight the moment. Finally, we switched DMs. I had started things with the Spider Farm. The Canyonford/Orc Mines was the Derry player, who was DMing so I could play for a bit. However, he decided to make his own game, so I went back to DMing after this.
Eventually, the party overruled the paladin and killed the orcs. He wasn't happy, but what paladin really ever is happy? they then cleared another cave, taking an orc leader captive. This one they decided to question first. As Thorgrim was the only one who knew orcish, he was asked to do it.
"Girly, anvil-dropping, puke-for-brains orcs!" says Thorgrim, walking over to the captive. "I hates talking to orcs, 'cept wit mah pick. But he'll talk else I'll spill its brains like its kin." Staring down at the orc he says, "capish?" [cept he says that in orc which sounds more like, "ugh".]
With the intimidating battlerager slobbering at the chance to finish him off, the orc tells them all about the rest of the tribe, giving locations, numbers, etc. There were a few hundred orcs total, which was way too many for the party to rashly take on. Done with the orc captive, they killed it. The paladin was rather upset, but they basically said, that's how it is. He could always leave if he was too squeamish!
They then moved on, taking out the orcs very systematically. They first used the orc tactics on themselves, ambushing the couple of orc patrols, before moving on the remaining caves. The idea was to hit the leaders, forcing the rest to flight. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out. The orcs figured out they were being attacked and met the party in force, with ogres too! The battle was short and fast, with both ogres being killed, though Gotrek nearly died [dropped to -8 with no more healing available]. So, of course, the party fled back to town. What followed became known as the Battle of Canyonford.
Back at town, the party decided to split their forces. Gotrek was nearly dead, and had to stay behind, much to the battlerager's chagrin. Brytallis stayed as well, and used his illusions to make it look like the bridge had been destroyed. When the orcs attacked, the rest of the party would sneak into the now-undefended mines, find the shaman and maybe the chieftain, and kill them.
Gotrek was really unhappy being left in Canyonford, wounded. " PAH!! GGRR. Get me up!!"
He looks around. He is in a bed back in the inn. No one is around. His axe is within reach. He grabs the cold haft, and anger fills him. Anger at his present condition. Anger at not being there to help his new friends. He bows his head and prays to Clangeddin. If he cannot physically fight, how can he help against the evil scum? A plan forms, whether his own, he does not know. Does he feel a little stronger already, or is it adrenaline? He will oversee the towns defenses, put out the word for healing potions and spells to put him back in fighting form, and keep these people safe.
The orcs attacked the town, and they lay waste to the far side. However, they fall for Brytallis's illusion and believe the townsfolk destroyed the bridge to escape their wrath. Content with sacking and then burning the buildings on their side of the canyon, they finally leave after about 4 hours of pointless mayhem.
Another thought enters Gotrek's mind. Kill the leader, kill the threat. He grunts silently, as he gets out of bed. One step, then two. The steps get quicker. A basin of water is nearby, and he washes his face. He looks down upon his reflection. One brown eye gleams back in anger, the other hidden by a patch.
"Are you weak, son?" The question is whispered in the wind. He knows the voice. It is his god.
Water drips from his red beard back into the basin.
Gotrek growls, and smashes the basin with his right fist.
" Go forth. Punish your foes."
Gotrek puts on his armor. By the time he puts on his helm, he is sweating. Not from sickness, but from suppressed rage. He clenches his teeth, and he does not know he is growling. He will kill, directly or indirectly. Hah! Who is kidding who? Directly.
Gotrek makes it outside where he sees the flames from the other side of the canyon. The villagers are caught between sorrow at the loss of their buildings and relief that the orcs were fooled. A couple express awe at Gotrek, in full armor, as he steps from the sheriff's home, but he pretends not to notice. He makes it almost across the square before passing out, falling to the ground with a loud CLANG!
When he comes to, half of the village is around his bed it seems, faces full of concern and relief, and all respect. The son of the blacksmith hands him a mug, ale frothing at the top, "I thought you may want this, sir."
Gotrek is forced to bed, but is downing ale very heavily. No one will dare take it from him. He soon falls asleep, utter exhaustion his enemy this time.
"Sleep heals. It is the best medicine."
It is Clangeddin again. Gotrek cares not, and cannot tell, if the tone is mocking or not.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party successfully found the orc shaman and killed him. They stuck his head on a spear as they left, taking the orc treasures with them.
Everyone leveled up, and they found some important items. One was a magical axe of orcish make which would be important later. The other was a stone of controlling earth elementals, which the druid took. They rested in town a few days, before returning to the caves. They found them empty; the orcs took off to the south. They also find the orc chieftain dead next to the shaman, well, his head. Looks like he lost his job! Though the danger to Canyonford was over, the party couldn't let a band of over 100 orcs run loose through the hills, so they set out to follow them.
You follow the orc trail, which is pretty easy to follow, for the better part of a day. The trail turns south, and eventually crosses an old road. It seems it used to have once had a decent amount of traffic, but has fallen into disuse. The road runs roughly East-West, and the orc trail crosses it and continues to the south. Night is fast approaching, but you may be able to catch up to the slower moving orcs if you continue.
The area definately has the feel of wilderness. You were passing through a portion of the Kron Hills knows as The Etters, for the number of Ettercaps in the regions. That region is pretty wild. You have now have come across a rather large, though unused road. From leaving Canyonford, you have seen no sign of habitation.
The party camps for the night, not wanting to approach too closely on the orcs in the dark. They wake up in the morning and begin to track the orcs once again. Their trail continues to the SE for a few hours, then starts to angle South. The hills are starting to become more wooded and less tall.
Derry climbs a tree to get a good look around.
"See anything shorty?" calls Gotrek.
From a taller point he can see that the hills become a true forest off to the East, and the forest runs north and south as far as he can see. They are clearly on the borders of the Gnarley Forest. The orcs are probably headed that way. Coming down, they follow the orc trail throughout the rest of the day. Late in the day they come across a couple of dead orcs.
Salamander stops to examine the corpses. "Now how did you two die, I wonder?"
They look like they were thrown here. As you proceed you hear a deep voice singing up ahead, from the top of the hill you are climbing. The path breaks out of the woods and you are in a wide open area with many large rocks scattered about. Ahead of you and off to the left of the path is a huge giant, 20' tall at least, stacking up a bunch of orc bodies in pile.
Gotrek looks like a kid about to be given a sweet. He charges the giant, beginning to sing his warsong! Salamander had barely started to look up from the orc corpses when he sees Gotrek charging. He just shakes his head and wonders what the airspeed velocity of a laden dwarf might be...
[DM note: Is that a European dwarf or an African dwarf?]
[Gotrek player's comment: Better question might be, what kind of giant is about to kill Gotrek?]
"Mmm," says Elrae. "That giant was stacking up a bunch of dead orcs. And lots of broken stones around. He was probably playing a game of bocce orc. Looks like the work of Stone Giants, not necessarily evil, but definately not good. Well it appears as if Gotrek is attempting the first line of diplomacy, chop first, ask questions second. Be wary of others giant friends who might be on the other side of the hill lobbing boulders at our party." Elrae begins singing a song [posts Killer of Giants, by Ozzy]
Derry scream, "Don't hurt him mister giant!"
The giant looks over, as he drops another orc onto the pile. Seeing Gotrek running across the broken ground, screaming like a madman, er, maddwarf, he reaches out his free hand speaking in a strange language, "gilidéxi rixugú daxáno."
Suddenly Gotrek rises off the ground. His little dwarf legs keep pumping, but they are just spinning in air. The giant raises his index finger and Gotrek floats a little further into the air, nearly 10' high now.
As everyone stares dumbfounded, and Gotrek struggles futilely against the air, the giant lets out a bellowing guffaw. "Definately a European dwarf."
"Social ingraces and all, he's our dwarf, sir giant...would you mind please not damaging him too much?"
He tosses the other orc on the pile, barely giving a glance to you, as he pics up a mug from a rock. You could swear it was a barrell, for the huge size of the thing, and as he lifts it to his lips, a huge wave of foamy beer spills over the lip. Even Gotrek's eyes bulge at the sight. "Now, will you behave yourself little dwarf that I can let you down."
The giant grabs the dwarf out of the air and holds him upside down by his left foot and shakes him a little. The giant seems to be amused by his new "toy". "Ho little man, I will shake this madness from you." The giant belches in Gotrek's face and starts to notice the dwarf was not alone.
"Ho, giant!" says Jordan. "Pardon our overzealous companion. I wish I could say that he meant you no harm, but, well, he simply didn't know better. If you could release him into the custody of his fellow dwarf, we'll make sure he troubles you no longer. We are in pursuit of a band of orcs, which you have obviously met and sent packing further off."
You can see that the giant stands just over two stories in height, has violet skin, blue black hair and purple eyes. He wears a loose tunic, sandals, a headband, two anklets and several rings. He is also carrying a rather large two-handed sword slung over his back. He appeared to be interested in the singing from Elrae, but is more interested in Gotrek now. Upon hearing Jordan's request, the giant looks down at the paladin, and ponders the request.
The garishly dressed halfing looks up...waaaaaaay up....and says, "Hello Mister Giant, sir. Thank you for not hurting Gotrek. He isn't very wise and attacks things he should better leave alone. My name is Derry. Who are you?"
"What kind of bleeping Giant are yous, anyway," Gotrek roars as he still dangles in midair.
He then sniffs. "And you smell worse than a orc!"
"Let me down. Me rage is gone."
"Hmmm ... say please little dwarf. Being small does not excuse you from proper manners. I am a giant of the storms. My name is Byleist. I was taking a nap in this wilderness when this rabble of orcs started poking and prodding me with their sticks", said Byleist. "A rule for future adventures, little people, never awake a sleeping giant. The consequences are often catastrophic. Some of the orcs realized their error and fled to the west. I was just cleaning up the mess when", he shakes Gotrek a few times, "he came charging at me." Byleist shook the dwarf a few more times and placed him on the ground.
"Byleist, you going to share yer drink, or what?" says Gotrek, shaking off his embarrassment.
"Hooooom ... giant ale is too strong for the delicate palet of a dwarf." Byleist replies.
Thorgrim puts a hand on Gotrek's shoulder, "Ye sure ye be wantin' some giant ale laddy?" Looking up at Byleist he shakes his head. "Don't know what he weighs, but suren it's a might. Could be giant ale's too much fer a dwarf, even a battlerager."
Derry dips a finger in, tastes it, then pukes!
Elrae begins singing Riders on the Storm.
"Well little friends, you must be on your way, and I must be back on my way," says the storm giant.
"How about leaving us some of that fine ale of yours?" Thorgrim asks, before the giant leaves. Byleist laughs, and hands his mug to the dwarf.
"Here, I have more in my portable hole," he continues, and gives them a small keg. With that, he raises his hand in the air and a bolt of lightning arcs from his hand to the clouds. He seems to actually hold the lighting as he rises into the air and begins to fly across the heavens. "Farewell my friends, and happy hunting."
With that he is gone, and as he flies away you can hear his giant voice singing as he disappears into the East.
Elrae sings Lightning Strikes Again, as half the party partakes of the giant's ale, leading to serious drunkenness, stupidity, and the next day some serious repercussions, which I will spare everyone; I use the netbook of alcohol!
[Sorry, had to post the full conversation. It's not every day we have an encounter solely for comic relief. Although, and nobody knew it at the time, it turned out to be an important encounter.]
The party tracked the orcs west, and eventually found them camped along a dry river bed. They surrounded them and ambushed them, killing a bunch, while about half escaped with the females and young. Brytallis nearly died again, after trying to get the party to be cautious, only to have Gotrek charge in heedless of danger. He is starting to not like being with this group. This is strengthened when Gotrek fails his Wisdom check for a few rounds, and nearly kills a couple of the party members! Only Salamander stops him, by summoning an elemental with his stone, which grabs Gotrek until he can come out of his rage.
[The party was seriously beat up, with two almost dying. Here are the notes on damage:
Brytallis is at -6
Derry at 0
Elrae at 1
Thorgrim at -8
Salamander at 7
Gotrek at 5
Jordan at -2]
"Why don't you send the elemental to bring back the orc cheiftan?"
So who's down and out? I've got one extra-healing potion. I was going to drink it but I guess there are some more unfortunate than good ol' Elrae.
"Brytallis you have a potion too. Just don't get the extra-healing and poison mixed up."
Salamander dismissed the summoned elemental after thanking it.
"Such a creature should not be used as our errand-boy, Elrae. We can hunt the orcs ourselves later. I have all the injured stabilized for now, so save your potion for a true emergency. While I work on these men, please make sure our position is secure and no one else is lurking about."
The party rested, then set out after the orcs once again.
The party has been traveling overland for almost a week now, and really do not know where they are exactly. As they follow what seems like the orc trail they come across a small path. A scrub of thorns, thistles, weeds, and shrubs grows thickly along the edge of the track which leads to the northeast. The track is mostly overgrown and cluttered with fallen braches and trees; however, they can tell that it has seen some recent traffic. It could be the orcs you were following. [anyone recognize these lines...?]
Here and there, the track is washed out, and in those sections it is clear there has been traffic along the path. After about two miles, the landbegins to sink and become boggy. The track turns more northerly, and tall marsh plants grow thickly where catails and tamaracks do not. Off to the left can be seen the jagged silhouette of a fortress.
The track banks high to cross along the edge of a marshy clearing, within which lies a ruined fortification. The bogs here stink, and he vegetation appears dense and prolific, but somehow sickly and unhealthy. Creepers and vines throw their strangling loops over the skeletons of dead trees, and work into the very stones of the structure, facilitating its destruction.
[Only one player noticed what it was, but he kept silent.]
Though they talked of having Derry sneak up to take a peek, Gotrek just walked up, heedless of danger.
"Here we go again," said Brytallis and Salamander in unison.
As Gotrek began to make his way down to the moathouse, he saw some dead orcs along the path. There were also the bodies of 4 hugely bloated giant frogs. Flies buzzed thickly around the frog bodies, and they didn't look like they are that old.
Derry rushed up to Gotrek, magic short sword in hand. "I'm with you," he said, and Gotrek just smiled.
From the broken gates, you see about a dozen orc warriors, and another dozen or so females and young. They are gathered around the middle of the courtyard. Derry yelled at them to surrender, but the orcs turned to them suddenly, the females clutching the young tightly. "Get them!" yells a large orc pointing at them.
The fight is pretty tough, with orcs firing from the arrow slits on the ground floor. One hit Brytallis in the back, knocking him unconscious and into the moat. Derry leaped in after him, even though he couldn't swim (6 wisdom!), moaning about his poor clothes. While the party ended up defeating the orcs, Salamander saved Derry and Brytallis.
Gotrek charged in, again, and killed the three largest orcs. Soon only females and young are left, huddled up around the well and looking very scared. One woman charged out at Jordan, who punched her in the face, knocking her out.
As Gotrek approached, Jordan glared at him and then the rest of the party. "Not this time!" Turning back to the orcs, he said, "Who among you can speak the common tongue best!? Come forth now!" Jordan will scan over the huddled females and young, tossing the one he pummeled back to her fellows.
One comes forward, hesitantly, "I speak man-tongue," she says. "You no kill us? No kill childs?"
Jordan wants to know where they came from, and how they started causing problems at the mines in the first place. The orcs had lived near the edge of the Gnarley Forest, but they were driven away by others. Gnolls, bugbears, ogres, trolls, and men, men with great power. They drove them away and the orcs fled to north. Eventually they found the mines and moved in, after slaying the humans that were working them. What you see here is are the last remaining orcs of the tribe, except for whatever small groups are still off wandering.
As for the ruins here, they only just entered them, fleeing from you. Since they ran into the giant, they have been travelling lands they had never before entered. They saw this ruin and hoped they had found a place long-forgotten by everyone. A place they could call their new home. For the warriors it was a place to regroup and establish their power again. For the females it was a place to raise their young. Their new chief apparently ran inside when the party attacked this time.
Derry says, "Let them go. They don't pose a threat anymore. Once Brytallis is ok, we can explore this place. I suggest we make camp here tonight but deal any entrances to the lower levels with something that will make a lot of noise."
"You are free to leave now," said Jordan. "Know that if you return to plunder the lands of goodly folk again, as you did with the mines, your fate will be the same or even worse." Jordan will usher the remnants of the orc tribe out, keeping on guard in case of treachery with sword drawn.
Gotrek kicks the dead orc at his feet, and even Thorgrim looks unhappy, letting orcs, even females, free.
The party rested in the courtyard, tending to Brytallis again as they discussed what they should do. Derry scouted up the main stairs, discovering a bunch of men waiting behind some overturned tables, weapons pointed at the doors. While they considered their options, Elrae decided to check out a large tower in the corner.
As he was about to enter the tower, and young slender man comes rushing through the broken gatehouse. He wears banded armor and carries a bow, with two swords at his belt. His large backpack is stuffed, and the worn yet sturdy appearance of his gear bespeaks a man who knows how to take care of himself. He stands about 5'8, and is only about 150lbs, and his white hair and grey eyes tell of his elvish heritage.
As soon as he sees you he shouts, ""Dread has come upon you all. A dozen gnolls are on my heels. Quickly to the drawbridge, it is the easiest place to defend from."
[And so appears a new player. This is Berenn, a ranger-priest. He actually played the Storm Giant for me, and liked playing so much he decided to join. He's a priest of St. Cuthbert, a new kit we created called a Warden. It's a new branch of St. Cuthbert's priesthood made up only of ranger-priests, as their job is to see to the faithful on the periphery of civilization.]
The fight that ensued was pretty tough, with gnolls firing at the party from the small rise to the SW. This time the party used the arrow slits, with Derry fighting from atop the wall and Jordan and Gotrek holding the broken gatehouse. Berenn went into the tower, and was attacked by a giant spider which he barely defeated. The gnolls were in a better position, which necessitated Jordan and Gotrek charging them. Somehow, the party totally forgot about the men inside. Once the two warriors left, the men inside attacked.
It turned out to be a close one, nearly a TPK. Once all the enemy was defeated, the half-elf finally spoke.
"I suppose some introductions are in order. I am Berenn Silverwood a hunter and follower of St. Cuthbert. I overheard that you intend to stay in this moathouse, may I suggest another alternative? The village of Hommlet is not far from here and would make a much more suitable place to rest. I have a tent that could be used to carry your injured friend [Brytallis]. If we do head to the village, I would assume the persona of travelers, the people are somewhat suspicious of new folk. Better to think you are just passing through."
The party took his advice and left for the Village of Hommlet, the players now all knowing where they were and what they were about to get into. And so ended the first part of the campaign. The party, now all 2nd-3rd level (IIRC) would now proceed to go through T1-4.
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