Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tycho has a thought

Tycho Nikias knew that The Collectors of the Lexicon were active in Stormhaven, yet the master chessman had yet to figure out from where they were gaining entrance, nor how many.   The elf was frustrated with his progress and knew that The Kingmaker’s would be disappointed as well.  How Myrddin had known to place him here all those years ago caused Tycho to marvel at the breadth of his friend’s foresight. Smiling to himself, he was consoled to realize there were several names he was prepared to add to Myrddin’s book.



Tycho now realized he had been slow to see all the pieces in play.  All these years and he had never realized Tiamat was on the board, let alone the Queen.  This Queen has many suitors, be they would be kings or opponents.  The “Age of Dragons” no longer seemed such a romantic turn of phrase for the times the elf wizard lived in.

                                                                        Myrddin Og===>

Monday, December 23, 2013

Tales of Men of War

Fires burned everywhere in the Cinder Block. Red and orange tongues of flame danced on sconces, braziers, even some of the exquisite collection of liquors and ales seemed to simmer with a low yellow radiance. Music danced on of the many patron’s shoulders causing them to move and sway rhythmically with the song while hired servants tended their beverage or pipe smoke necessities. Large squat candles burned slowly at every table where raucous party-goers toasted, wagered, and played at games of chance in Durg’s honor. At one of these tables sat Spade and Farley who spoke conspiratorially where only they themselves could hear each other amidst the party tumult.
 
Manowar?” asked Farley incredulously. His tone was one of sincere outrage.


“That is what they are calling themselves they have a reputation in certain circles with a pretty fantastic past as a matter of fact.” Spade agreed, now amused at Farley’s strange offense of this group of adventurers and their moniker. What is it to Farley if they called themselves Manowar, Triforce, or Three’s Company? All Spade knew were rumors though they indeed were latecomers to the Neutral Grounds Tournament.

Nonplused Farley continued, “They should call themselves ‘MENowar’ or ‘Men of War’ not Manowar that sounds stupid.” Spitting as he talked Farley refreshed his parchment with a long drought of Pilini’s best Dwarven ale then wiped the froth from his mouth.

“They once numbered four,” Spade began, “proclaimed as Kings of Metal and War where they come from. They would sing boisterously while in combat chanting war psalms charging into battle working as a team to glorious victory.” Spade said as he drowned a grin under a furious gulp of ale followed by a rich deep belch.

“Well they seem to have taken to Durg.” Farley said motioning to the group in question as they toasted Durg the Destroyer, Durg the Furious, or Durg the Dracarian for the umpteenth time.
 
Spade watched as Farley unconsciously clenched and unclenched his hands.

“It is said that the time before Stormhaven they fought for a King Randor who was corrupted by a magical ring that seduced him into creating six summoning circles from the blood of neighboring kings from which the ring could summon its minions. When Manowar discovered the nefarious plot they turned on their king, each landing simultaneous killing strikes unknowing of the dominating ring’s power over King Randor. It was his blood that either anointed their weapons or cursed them.” Spade was delighted with Farley's response. They ordered another round. 

“Sooo wh-what happened to the fourrrrrth MAN of war?” Farley slurred curious now that there was a story and another round.

Spade gave Farley a look of earnest gravity, “The ring had to have a new owner.” 



Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Architect

Evaristus Phocas listened to his Lordmaster, silently praying that he would only be admonished with words and knowledge, not tormented by the wracking pains of Evaristus’ Truename being used against him.

“The Architect is moving forward with his plan and it is a brilliant one.  It is of no use to try to learn his truth, yet his plan’s only flaw is if someone beats him to the punch.  He has the advantage, he knows the Truenames of his children, which obviously is his path to the names of Sin.” The Lordmaster explained. 

“Lordmaster, the whelps don’t use the magic and the wizard, while of course not approaching your intelligence, is quite formidable.” Evarisus reminded.  “How am I to trick them into revealing what they do not know?”

“Is the whelp as smart as Tiamat? For that is our opponent!” the Lordmaster hissed. “Her failure is my destiny.  We will use Jaren’s intelligence against him.  Make sure this book finds its way to the whelp wizard’s attention.  If Jaren tracks down Eystein , we may not need to get our answers from Jaren!”

“Lordmaster, you were successful?! Truly you will rule.  Have you revealed your control to Eystein yet?”


“No Phocas, I think I will hold that surprise until a more opportune moment. “ 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On The Far Side of the World, Ages ago in the Future...

The old man wrapped the red and orange robes around him, not for warmth, although the alpine climes would surely have frozen lesser mortals, but to keep him from stepping on them and falling to his death among the rocky crags. His breath puffed out in huge, white clouds as his wizened eyes picked his path, his feet as nimble as the goats that the monks shared these slopes with. There, on an outcropping of rock, was his destination, and the man he sought. As softly as as a feather falling on water, the ancient monk stepped up behind his prey and waited.
  The man kneeling before him wore the grey robes of a novice or visitor. His hair, once well groomed, has since grown long and shaggy, tied back in a ponytail, covering his faintly pointed ears. An unkempt beard covered his thin face, helping hide his mixed elven blood. He opened his eyes onto the distant vista of granite peaks. "Even here on the mountain side, you sound like a herd of elephants, Mi Yogi san," the kneeling man whispered, a slow smile spreading across his face.
  The elder chuckled, his eyes disappearing in the mass of wrinkles as he too smiled widely. "I once was able to creep up on a spider, when I was young... "
  Jerit McCaugh, turned and stood, facing his friend and mentor, "What brings you to my cliff, disturbing my morning meditations?"
  Mi Yogi looked down, his face clouding w/ concern, his brows drawing down. "You have spent years traveling the world, studying magics of different peoples... the sand magics of Al-Tahira, the dark magics found in the jungles of Kush... why is it so difficult to accept that there's a magic that even you cannot learn? You have been here 17 years, and yet you still have not been able to lift a feather with your mind..."
  "I know I am close, Mi Yogi san, but I have been distracted of late." Jerit began, he too looking embarrassed down at his feet.
  "Yes, this growing dread you've spoken of before, this unknown gnawing at your mind... have you come any closer to an answer, in your meditations?"
  The mage sighed and shook his head, "No, I have not... There's something there, in the back of my mind, something bad is coming... i just have no idea..."
  The old monk sighed as well, nodding and turning back to the monastery "Perhaps it is time for you to go back home, live your life... find a wife, raise children... Our mind magics are not to be shared with you, it seems. But that is no reason to put the world on hold. And besides, the coming terror may reveal itself to you out there...:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Barabbas Unchained

Barabbas 
Barabbas the Sarglagon stood unbelieving- freed from his prison, staring into the eyes of his most hated enemy- the Silver Paladin. 

Through the ages the devils of hell could not corrupt him or could confirm if the Silver Paladin was just one ageless man, a mantle that was passed down through the generations or something else. Incorruptible, he attracted several apprentices all wielding identifying silver long swords and hunters of devil kind. 

Barabbas tried to piece together what was going on as the Paladin stood there still as a statue, his hand resting comfortably at his sides looking across his bow and at the city that broke the horizon. There was no sea breeze. 
                                                             
From the lower deck two more confused Devils gathered by Barabbas. Dysmas and Gestas, Magaav devils with twisted horns upon a monstrous skulls; noxious fumes leak from between their yellowed fangs; they hovered with impossible control, each of their vicious foot talons clenched and unclenched as they looked hatefully and quizzically at Barabbas.

His last words to me before he imprisoned me,” Barabbas croaked, he had a watery voice. “Was ‘I will not kill you devil, but take you to where one may utter your vile truename and end your existence- erase your place in the multiverse.’” His words had an effect like a sermon to the faithful. 
The Silver Paladin liked to travel in style. 

The three devils gathered around the Silver Paladin who stood motionless like the rest of the crew and even the ocean waters around them- it was like they were frozen in time. 


Barabbas could not recon that the paladin's statement was the one time in his existence that he felt the slightest tremor of… trepidation. This uncomprehending unease enraged him to his core- what was going on here?

Dysmas, “I know that place- that is Stormhaven.”

In the distance they could see Stormhaven like a still-life paining, silent with out a frame, and larger than life.

Gestas, “Many times have I come here to collect on infernal contracts.”

Yes,” Barabbas agreed. “Yon city is also home to the Knights of the Wave who have fought me at every turn as guardian of Hell’s waterways- they must have some truename magic.”
 
Barabbas looked to Gestas and Dysmas, “are there others below deck?”

Gestas, “Yes but they are too ignorant to escape, we will have to free them.”


Then go and free them!” Barabbas croaked in his watery voice. When he said this the Sarglagon Barabbas slammed his muscular arm into the Silver Paladin for emphasis knocking the helpless warrior down onto the exquisite deck. “Free them and tell them they may begin feasting on this one, and then we will draw contracts out on the Knights of the Wave and I will own the oceans of this plain.”

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Flashback: In Good Company

The ogre-oxen-centaurs came at them in a ground shaking charge, howling in blind blood rage. Trees surrendered to the lumbering monstrosities as they attacked from each side of the marooned Waterdeep adventurers.

Blain and the others had stopped for a short respite bedside a natural spring from a formation of natural rock; however before their survivalist Sanford was able to warn his companions of their danger, the half-ogre/half-oxens attacked hurling primitive javelins as big as tree branches as they trampled everything in their path.

To the dwarf Blain they were as big as giants; smelled like giants; and too were possessed of their strength judging from the intimidating javelins they threw. Before Blain could react one of the javelins impaled his leg knocking him down in sprawl of confused pain and anger.

To his left Tyrus Skullborn looked stunned and horrified at Blain’s leg wound when a similar weapon flew by
narrowly missing the wizard as he stood- oblivious as to how close he came to dying right then.

Sanford, the only one here with enough time to react, was also the target of two opening volleys of angry javelins. Picking out the largest of their quarry two of the ‘ogren’ chose Sanford; one javelin was easily dodged however the other penetrated Sanford high on his left arm causing him to let out a cursing grimace of pain.

Blain, now reduced to hobbling on one leg, rolled to the left and pulled leather. His deadly shots could not have been farther from their mark, but the sound of his sterling revolvers seemed to unsettle and anger the ogren. How many rounds did he have left? He hoped it would be enough.

Elad saw the battle around him with a kind of extrasensory eye. There is a unique stage-play at work during combat where everyone had their places and everyone had their lines; as in dueling, dancing or politics… that was how Elad Edals perceived the battlefield and how he waited for an opportunity to cut in.

Instinctively Claudia Kelton reached for her trustworthy bow, it seemed to gather the shadows around her, and raised it level to the beast bearing down on Tyrus. She lamented her diminishing arrow supply but let fly nevertheless. Unfortunately for the Red Wizard her slight hesitation affected her aim and she missed cleanly, another arrow lost to the great forest beyond.

Tyrus snapped out of his momentary shock at Blain’s wound and pulled out a crimson parchment scroll and swung it at the approaching brute. Covered in sigils and glyphs of war Tyrus brought the scroll to bear as it took on the likeness of a two dimensional sword; as impressive as it looked the ogren dodged it easily. The beast seemed to become suddenly distracted so Tyrus tried to take advantage of the opportunity but pulled the crimson scroll to himself where it changed into a semblance of a shield shape of parchment.                                               
Standing protectively near Meaghan, Shar cleared his drow mind and focused his magical energies where it would be the most effective… he decided on two of the ogren monstrosities flanking the warrior Sanford. Suddenly a vivid cone of flashing dissident purple colors lanced out from Shar’s outstretched palm. One beast bore the full dazzling effect falling blind and sunned to the ground while the other ogren escaped behind the bulk of its unfortunate mate.

Sanford, thankful for the support where ever it came from nodded toward Shar then switched his full deadly attention on his remaining ogren. He roared striking true with his oddly curved kukri swords, weapons that were now both sheathed in grey fire and then sidestepped to put the creature between himself and…

It was time to cut in. Elad produced two exotic curved swords, weapons won from a Calashite pasha,  and stepped deftly out from cover and swiftly flanked the beast in a grand ‘you’re welcome very much’ fashion- only it clearly was just for show because his weapons just fell short and actually situated  himself where the beast could easily attack either Elad and Sanford or both.

Yes Sanford thought to himself, he was the only fighter in this adventuring company.

The ogren completely ignored Elad and roared in after Sanford striking the warrior with a loud crack of its tree-like club. Sanford reeled off balance as his breath was suddenly stolen from his lungs but Sanford was tough and managed to regain himself quickly.

On the other side of the camp Meaghan, standing stern and protectively near Shar, bespoke divine words of guidance to her allies. Her motivating words flooded into her allies in this sudden life or death struggle. She looked and saw Shar was also using magic and thought of how that effort must be draining him.

The first two ogren were indeed distracted they had caught a scent and both turned to its source; one ogren –the closest- turned toward Meaghan while the other ogren reached for Claudia who was unaware of her new attacker.

Meaghan saw that the smaller of the two brutes bore red warpaint above its brow as it reached out and grabbed her. Its grip was unforgiving and when it finally had her struggling under control it made an odd wet whistling noise from its capacious nose. Meaghan began to scream.

The larger of the two ogren had no warpaint but bore several battle scars over its broad harry chest; it easily grabbed Claudia in its vice like grip then it too snorted deeply. Claudia tried first to break free, but the iron grip of the beast was beyond anything she had ever felt; she too began to scream for help.

Blain now reloaded stood, squared up, and began to fire silver death at the ogren that held Claudia. Taking care not to hit the girl, Blain’s shots missed but the thundering gunfire startled the creature giving Claudia enough of an opportunity to escape.

Tyrus, undiscouraged by his earlier production in combat spun and threw his crimson scroll at his former
opponent, the beast who now grappled Meaghan. The crimson scroll flew like a spear; its two dimensional proportion bit deeply into the right side of the brutes face before returning unerringly to the Red Wizard’s waiting hand. Blood sprayed from the wound as Tyrus watched both of the creature’s eyes begin to fill with blood. Meaghan continued to struggle but could not break free from the tenacious beast.

Shar took a protective step away from the large beast that held Meaghan and whispered mild, sobering words in order to induce magical sleep in the ogren. As he completed the spell the ogre-beast lazily dropped Meaghan and collapsed to the ground like a sack of manure. His breath labored heavily through its vile mouth.

Sanford meanwhile held to his old reliables and waded into his opponent, his twin blades flashing. Leading a spin his left kukri Sanford cut savagely across the beast’s left flank; then following that up with a second attack nearly slicing away the creature’s left arm with his right blade. The beast staggered drunkenly a step then fell with a crash. Sanford roared to Tempus in victory.

Seeing how battle was now turning in their favor Elad moved to Shar’s blind and stunned beast and ended its suffering. To Elad’s right he could hear Meaghan uttering magical words healing upon Sanford who had suffered a javelin strike to his lower shoulder.

Blain watched as the beast that once held Claudia now turned his blood rage on him. Blain who had the terrible thunder-makers! He held up guns in futile defense but his weapons felt heavy and stupid in his hands but before Blain could ponder this curiosity further the monstrosity swung its bestial club down slamming full-on into the chest of helpless dwarf.

------------------------------------

Blain Brightmantle suddenly awoke; he had fallen from a low rock in his sleep but now sat up rubbing his chest, eyes casting about. His hand went to his guns as it often did these days after their battle with the ogre-oxen; the ogren. Blain took in his surroundings as the fog of sleep cleared. Was that smokewood he smelled?

Their dwindling gear, ammunition, and equipment troubled Blain greatly but it was the utter absence of modern resources like gunpowder, alchemy, and serviceable tools that has kept Blain up at odd times for the past weeks and days.

As a result, Blain often volunteered for longer night watches and maintained their traveling camp, such as it was. The routine calmed Blain’s anxiety somewhat but what he really found himself doing was taking a mental inventory of everything and sizing up everyone.

The fact is they were all marooned with only the clothes on their backs, and the equipment in their sacks. Supplies were hastily dwindling and in his estimation that made those things crucial to their survival… and melairkyn dwarves are survivors. 


The breeze calmed and the summer heat swelled in the mysterious forest; tonight was going to be hot again. Blain stood and raised his face to the air; the smell of smokewood was gone as if it was never there at all. Twenty yards away Blain watched as Sanford and Claudia returned from scouting the foot trail ahead, they acted excitedly and spoke enthusiastically. Blain silently wondered if they would confirm what he already suspected from the presence of smoke.

From beside Blain a thickly accented eastern voice spoke lazily but directly. “You don’t believe we are going to find a settlement or keep out here… wherever ‘here’ is… that will supply for our specialized needs do you dwarf?”  Tyrus asked. The wizard had his own ways Blain mused; Tyrus had obviously identified the signs on his own. 

“No,” Blain answered. “but what is your point… Thayan?” returning his crass ethnic regard.

The Red Wizard appeared amused but his only reply at first was a glance toward Shar Auvryndar, calling the dwarf’s attention to the drow, he was greatest potential liability of the party in Blain’s estimation. Everyone knew the drow was weakened because of the surface environment; and Meaghan, who wore a piecemeal outfit of clothing they happened to have, was somehow caring for him. The drow and woman seemed to have formed a bond that was not physical but something else.

“How do you think people out here… if they are people Blain… are going to react when they see a dark elf or a Thayan for that matter?” Tyrus stated frankly.

“Get to the point.” Blain said now irritated.


“That only a few of us approach this settlement or whatever there is to discover what’s what. We all see the signs but let us consider and not blindly walk into…”

“Split the party? We just had this conversation Tyrus.” Blain reminded the Red Wizard.

“Yes you needn’t remind me but you and I have special needs. It won’t be long before they realize the truth. That we- you and I Blain, are in fact our greatest liability.” Tyrus motioned to Sanford, Claudia, and Elad- but mostly to Sanford.

“Strictly speaking if it was not for Shar’s weakened condition his sorcerous blood actually makes him crucial to our survivability and by contrast further weakens our value. In short Blain you and I encumber our resources and yet provide no return.”

“But that is about to change.” Blain retorted motioning to the others who were holding their own council on how to proceed. Were they coming to the same conclusion? He hoped so.

“Is it? For them yes.” Again the Red Wizard motioned to the others, “but for you and me…” Tyrus let Blain reason out the rest. He and Tyrus would still be marooned without resources such as gunpowder for him and spells for Tyrus- they needed firepower.”

“I have already spoken with Elad Edals who agrees that one individual should be sent to investigate any civilization we encounter- I believe he reasons for more profitable gains but I think he sees the overall logic in caution.”

 
“Who else?” Blain asked skeptically. 

Tyrus shook his head regretfully, “It is unlikely we will persuade anyone to delay now that the news is apparently out,” Tyrus said now hunkering down leveling himself with the dwarf. He motioned to the rest of the party as they packed their belongings.  “I want to know if our needs are going to be met, if not we need to be proactive here wouldn’t you agree Blain?” He asked in a low voice.

Blain nodded skeptically waiting for the other boot to hit the ground.

“I want to know what everyone has.” Tyrus said greedily. “we do not want to be taken unawares by some magic or device we did not account for. Do we Blain? We need firepower.”



Review (12/11/2013)


 Gear from the evening: oil of greater magic weapon, oil of keen edge, potion of magical vestment +5, 
potion of barkskin +5, potion of haste, mithril shirt, 4 masterwork javelins, 
masterwork cold iron great axe and 15,000 in gold and gems. 
From the Mind Flayer: Ring of protection, scroll of web, wand of darkness (12 charges). 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Platinum Ring of Elensar "The Bright Evening Star"

Judging from the style of the setting and the form of the Elven letters in the inscription, Elensar, meaning Evening Star is of high-elf craftsmanship. The name “Alenea Elensar” is the full inscription, Alenea, elven for pure or bright light, is possibly a reference to the sorcerer Alenea. An adventurer, Alenea was also the lover/wife? of the wizard Eldarniel Elensar. Eldarniel, a legendary elven crafter of magic items, is likely to have created Elensar for Alenea to aid and protect her during her travels.

Martera Iracudia

Filii Invidia salutem Martera Iracudia

     We are most pleased to present ourselves to your grand presence. It should be explained that recent movements of the disc has exposed your halls to some surface people of Stormhaven. These citizens, like most of their brethren, have come to depend on my brothers and myself to enlighten them to realities beyond their ken, and so came to us for help. Most, of course, are paralyzed by such a majestic presence as yours. Out of discretionary caution we advised them to stay away so that we could investigate further. We revealed no details of our observations, nor of this hopeful correspondence.

     If it should please you, we would welcome an opportunity to personally introduce ourselves, at a time and location that is most convenient for You.

     On behalf of my brothers
     Durg, Vercel, and Auge

                                                                           cura ut valeas
                                                                           Jaren, Magister of Draconic Relations

Monday, December 9, 2013

What's a girl to do?

Sanda Leocadia was rarely surprised but the time disjunction that the Black Crown had undertaken had provided a mystery capable of challenging her best Spellguards.  A missing Crown member, another spell being released during the disjunction, and the revelation of the aberrant plot had left Sanda surprised and somewhat in awe. She had taken her time but would now set her two best investigators on the trail of Brita Francisca.  Privately she doubted even their unique skill set would prove to enough to solve that mystery.  Sanda believed she owed her missing dwarven friend the Spellguard’s best effort.

Sanda cast her spell, sending magical messages to the elves Moenium and Aedilis.  Neither Moenium or Aedilis were members of the Black Crown and for now Sanda thought that best. 
 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Return on Investment


Uvrok, Nerith Alia, and The Unnamed stood in the humid chamber admiring their work.  The first 4 rows of eggs had matured and would birth within the week.  Four hatchlings would be ready for sale within weeks of their birthing; Uvrok’s time cultivating the red whelps had trained him well on the process. The Unamed was certain that each generation refined here would eventually provide the appropriate information to deduce greed’s true name.  Nerith Alia was responsible for the cloning process while The Unnamed had arranged trade with various Underdark agents.


Nerith could feel Uvrok’s hatred and fear of the children of greed every time Uvrok argued for their delivery to the Warden.  The Derro had lost the most out of their secret trinity and the angry little creature rarely let them forget.  The Unnamed sided with Nerith’s arguments against an attempt to deliver the dragon’s brood to the prison.  She and the Unnamed still needed Uvrok, although at times it felt like a race between the two women to learn what they needed from the Derro and then be rid of him.

 
The Unnamed

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Review (12/04/2013)

Happy 293rd Durg! 

Anyway it was a huge turnout with nearly everyone on the Upside either dropping buy for a drink in Durg's honor or leaving a tribute. It also had an unexpected but welcome boon- almost everyone came ready with coin to spend. Orders were placed with various shops, deals were brokered, and the Vial and Flask emptied of all its stock.

Auge was utterly pleased until he received a pompous message from Hogni Bluesafe an arcane blooded alchemist who was remembered as creating the ‘Hogni formula’ a key component to RAGE. He expressed interest in employment in the souk with his arrogant words. Auge replied with a likewise supercilious message, via Gnome Courier Service, but Auge's was an invitation to an interview for Monday after the meeting with Robalar; Hogni is to bring his best work for appraisal.

At the party the Planeshifter knife was trembling with energy at the presence of outsiders, a couple of tieflings, and brief indications of low flybys.

Durg detects the smell of ‘wrath’ on a patron who must have spent time with her. Drug introduces himself and talks briefly with the individual. Mr Jakpeck Gatesong, a human from the eastern provinces who reeks of the dragon of wrath. During their palaver Gatesong seemed relaxed in the presence of dragons. 

Meanwhile Jaren and Versel plan our warehouse attack as Durg notices an elf lift something off a Duergar dwarf. When Durg goes to grapple the thief he immediately breaks free and flees for his life.
 
“Stop that thief.” And there was much laughter and applause as the man of the hour tries to rouse aid against the fleeing elf. 

As this is happening the Duergar begins to move; Durg the irritated moves after the elf eventually dropping the rouge but not killing him. After relieving the elf of the troublesome magical ring (and matching masterwork ring) Durg returns to his party.

Jaren surmises the rings bear markings of a Noble Elf family (to be researched later) and that returning them may be prudent and profitable. The ring was purported to bear a 'door' into new knowledge of truename magic.

As for the Duergar with the uniquely designed beard and accouterments, he was gone but for Auge the description and the obvious smell of the ocean lead him to conclude this duergar was in the prison with Auge not long ago.

Excusing ourselves briefly from the party Jaren teleports us to the illithids warehouse HQ, a part of the upside that was looked emptied, avoided, and under the pall of the squid mind fllayers.


After a successful battle with 3 farspawn guardians, a female fiend-blooded warlock, and a lone mind flayer (who teleported away before we could kill it) we moved to enter the storage pits below, beyond that to a magical gate, and even beyond that eventually into the Underdark. 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bar - Bazu


He hated the word tiefling, but he hated more the fight to make people understand the difference between his blood and lawless chaos of demons.  He hated dealing with people outside his house, The Twilight House. He hated that people got afraid.

He remembered when he first noticed the dragon brothers, the same time the rest of the House noticed them. But what he really noticed was how quickly they had gained the trust of Stormhaven. People were terrified or them, sure. But powerful people, people who had no need to be afraid of them, respected them. And they had earned a level of acceptance from the folk of the Rat's Nest that propelled them to leadership positions in both politics and business. People were over with assuming the worst of these "men" based on their appearance, something Bar-Bazu had been trying to accomplish for years now in the stair gaurd.

As he left the Souk and sought the one known as Jaren, Bar-Bazu felt enervated and ready for action. As he spoke the words of obedience, he envisioned ferocious battles as the steel of his two handed curved blade sword fought and killed at the command of his leader, slaying any who would betray their contracts or smear the reputation of his commander. The air certainly smelled of impending battles, and Bar-Bazu felt certain he had chosen the right side. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Flashback: Strangers in a Strange Land

None of it made any sense to Sanford, all the hours these days were filled with talk about wild magic, secret promises, and bad ideas. It was all nonsense to him and had nothing to do with their immediate problem- they were seven lost individuals in a forest full of plants and strange animals none of them had seen before. They all agreed they were no longer in the north, but no one could fathom when it was either. It was actually Sanford that ended the rambling and got everyone working together on their main problem.

It had been a strange and tense four days for the group and each of them individually had challenges to overcome; for Sanford it was that he was tasked as only fighter of the group, which implys that he is the designated protector of the party. As for the others individuals around him…

Being close to these two in the past Sanford observed a stark change between Elad and Claudia; once close partners and Shadow Theives they now seemed to be at odds. They disagreed about something and it merited investigating.

The Brightmantle dwarf, to Sanford, overly worried about what supplies we have at our disposal, specifically ammunition. He is out of his element away from the forges and is afraid of being a liability. So far Blain has done more than his share of nightly watches, skilled work, and camp upkeep.

Tyrus Skullborn is likewise worried about supplies however his worry stems from magical resources, specifically over his spell book, he does not have it. That makes him a liability; he knows it and he knows Sanford knows it. Tyrus will be on the lookout for any spell casters and spellbooks and will use any methods he can to obtain even a scrap of magic. 

Meaghan had the most fascinating story claiming to be reborn in another body- one with a strange divine birthmark on her shoulder- the mark of Mystra. She arrived without any clothes in a body no one had ever seen before. She was quickly aided by the drow who was somehow impacted greatly by the birthmark.

Shar Auvryndar awoke before any of them the day they appeared in the forest. Sanford acknowledged that the drow could have killed all of them if that were his intention, but did not and that as far as Sanford was concerned good enough. The drow has fallen ill however and it is now Meaghan who cares for the drow. Shar’s drow physiology is rejecting the surface environment.  

On the fifth day the centaurs attacked. They were not exactly centaurs but that was the closest thing any of them could come up with after the first wave. The monstrous humanoids had the lower bodies of an oxen, broad and muscular with the upper portions being that of  feral ogres, bearded with thick heavy fur.

The brutes used fist and hoof seemingly in an attempt to grab one of the women but were scared off by Blain’s deadly gunfire- obviously these creatures had never seen or heard the effects of a gun. They may be easily scared but Sanford believed they would be back, and in greater numbers.

Finally! Sanford thinks; it’s time to move on.
“But which direction?” Claudia asked tabling the obvious question looking expectantly at Elad Edals. Sanford thought this was perhaps the root of their disagreement.

“I believe I have detected sounds late at night; faint wisps of sound coming from the west or maybe to the south... to the south-west.” Elad Edals finished confidently.

“Sounds of what exactly?” asked Tyrus anxiously.

“I cannot tell.”

“Then it would be dangerous to follow ghost sounds.” Claudia stated flatly. “There could be harpies or any other number of malign fey ready to turn a man’s ear and will.”

Ok, there it was. Claudia fears being led into a trap.

What followed next was a great meeting of minds that all adventuring companies eventually conduct in order to weigh benefits and risks of splitting the party. Such discourse creates the adventuring bond between warrior, clerics and magic users in a way few other professions can relate to.

And after some days and weeks later the seven lost adventurers finally came across the first sign of civilization they had seen since arriving in this strange land. A narrow overgrown trail extended east and west, the trail ruts just barely visible through the tall grass. Sanford judged it had not been maintained all season; maybe a year and thus would only abide single file traffic; there was no visible indication or clue as to which direction they should take next.  

Goblin's Have Green Thumbs

It was early in Stormhaven. The endless sounds of breakers from the ocean and the salty air had a heightened feeling- like the day was tensed in anticipation of a clenched fist. One by one the tallest of the Upside’s towers and minarets were ignited with morning light as the sun crested the sea. Light spilled down like candle wax until the entire World-disk was alight with a new day and new opportunities.

Using the gold they earned from their last assignment, the goblins Janisgoblin and Scuttlefish purchased a horse to expand their earnings potential. Of course the foolish Scuttlefish did not think of this, for Scuttlefish his baser needs usually came first, he had hoped the horse was dinner if not entertainment.

The destrier was a retired warhorse nearly seventeen hands tall and its name was Ogre. The horse was mostly ashen gray with a black mane and tail to match; and it carried an irregular fan-shaped marking on is left flank in the shape of a certain Evening Isle. When Ogre’s former owner said something about the curious mark both goblins looked confused. What was an island?
 
Neither goblin could ride the large warhorse with any expertise but both would say they could handle animals; however even the sum of their skills was not enough to attach a simple cart to the old but proud Ogre.

“It doz not want to do it. Ezery time Iz goz to fix the rainz it kiks me!” Scuttlefish lamented to Janisgoblin
who looked down sourly at her counterpart. Standing in the cart she regarded him sternly. Her intense demeanor could usually ‘motivate’ Scuttlefish into some worthwhile action, but Ogre was proving too much for him. She let out an exasperated sigh.

“If we miss this delivery it will be your fault!” She promised. “This is a big order and we need the cart to make the delivery unless you want to carry all these sacks to the Liquor Commission yourself.” She said in perfect common all the while taking on a woman’s sexy-time tone. “These are the last of the grains before more can be had.” As far as she was told. 
 
Scuttlefish did not hear her words however; he was transfixed by the goblin woman. Breaking his stupid fascination Ogre kicked Scuttlefish again this time sending him flying into the path of an approaching mob on course to the Cinder Block.

A spell or incendiary went off startling Ogre causing him to rear and flee pulling a cart that held on desperately for purchase. Janisgoblin fell out of her seat and onto the few sacks of grain they could muster that morning; she too held desperately for purchase.

Scuttlefish was getting his ass handed to him by the angry mob who had decided to take their wrath out on him. 2x4’s and axe handles came down on his head repeatedly, he was still able to hear the fading cries of help from Janis. He somehow got free of the mob and followed the trail of upset people and upside fixtures to where Ogre had taken off to. 

Nearing the edge of the World-disk Scuttlefish’s heart sank as his panic showed him visions of Ogre pullng the cart with Janis falling to their death over the edge. 

"Son of a bitch," he began to weep. But before he could descend into hysterics Scuttlefish heard weak confused sounds over what he took for the edge; on the other side of a small rise he found they did not fall to their deaths as he feared.

About fifty feet from the rise (and the edge of the world disk) Ogre stood casually among the remains of the cart, it clung to him like tattered barding. Broken boards and busted wheels were all that remained of the cart; near by was Janisgoblin was just now standing a small cut colored her shoulder in red from one of the many rocks littering the ground. 
Janisgoblin stood, taking it all in; the broken cart, Ogre, the ramp on which Scuttlefish stood and the sacks of grain. Each sack tore open when the cart crashed down after coming up over the rise, Ogre of course had jumped the ramp but the grain intended for the Liquor Commission now spread in low heaps over the quarter acre of land.


Janisgoblin smiled at their good fortune. “Hey ‘Fish do you know how to tend a garden?”

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Auge’s Journal: Out of Time

The moneychangers’ guild provided me with invaluable tools and methods; gold and wealth in which to improve and speed my craft. Added to my formula library are three formula books and a collection of notes and theories on rare discoveries....

The steel cover of this slim journal has taken its fair share of abuse; acid scars and minor slag spots show where the journal was subjected to intense working conditions. Equations, balances, and chemical notations mark the margins of the pages—with some formulae, it is difficult to tell where the notes end and the formula begins.

Journal of the Beast Within
This ragged collection of scorched and stained notes is tied with cheap twine between wooden covers. A few formulae appear to have been deliberately obliterated, scratched through so thoroughly that the paper is torn in places.

Chymist’s Guidebook
The pages of this formula book are carefully varnished. Sprinkled among the formulae are details and diagrams of alchemical devices, many of which seem to defy the normal conventions of alchemy and physics. The last page contains incomplete notes on the preparation of experimental mutagens.

The Formulae of Master Gebr
These four cloth-bound books are neatly printed—as with a printing press or some other form of mechanical transcription—with a title page, a table of contents, and a useful cross-referenced index. They have been treated well and are clearly reference works, rather than laboratory notes; the writer was obviously a most disciplined and focused inventor.

But now after my visit to the Black Crown and thanks to Adalgrim Redhammer’s tribute I have what I need in which to create a helmet to defend against the mental attacks of the illithids as well as a safety net for practical purposes...


Aura: moderate divination; CL: 9th Slot: head; Price: 1,500 gp; Weight: 1 lb.
Description
This mask depicts a dragon's face, and covers the wearer from chin to crown. When the wearer of the hannya fails a saving throw against a spell or effect, he may choose to attune the hannya to that effect as an immediate action. The wearer then gains a +1 competence bonus to future saves made against that specific effect. If the wearer fails a second save against an effect the hannya is attuned to, his bonus to future saves increases to +2, and if he fails a third time it increases to +3. A hannya of hard won wisdom may be attuned to only one specific spell or effect at a time, and if it is attuned to a new effect, all its benefit against older effects is lost.
Construction Requirements: Craft Wondrous Items, guidance; Cost: 750 gp.

*(Adding this loot for less ability still keeps construction time to two days.)

Adalgrim Redhammer

Adalgrim could not remember a time before the Rockhammer dwarves. For as long as he could cast his mind back it was these burly folk who adopted him into their family. His fathers said he was what others called a Halfling and a special one at that; they would not divulge his origins further only that they were well aware of his special talents that ultimately resulted in his indentured servitude to them.
                                                                      
One of the things that made Adalgrim Redhammer special was that he could naturally speak draconic, as a matter of fact some of his dwarven father figures said that was all Adalgrim spoke until he was in his late youth. A phenomenon unheard of but benefited the linguistics scholars of the Rockhammers greatly. The second trait that made Adalgrim special was his magical talent of mending.

The dwarves of Rockhammer recognized this ability in him early and honed it to a profitable skill by which Adalgrim was able to earn his freedom. Being a Halfling raised by Rockhammer dwarves brought the brawler out in Adalgrim and quickly grew with a warrior's heart and stength. He found that he greatly enjoyed pummeling opponents (usually dwarves) in combat or at play. When not at play however the dwarves put his magical talent to work repairing armor, and mending shields and helmets.


Most of it was blacksmith work, but what Adalgrim took joy in was expressing his magical talent in a torrent of creativity in mending the battered and dented helmets into beautiful hannyas of exquisite detail. It was in fact Adalgrim’s tribute to the Cinder Block. 

Review (11/27/2013)

The session begins with a flashback to Jaren at the Black Crown fulfilling his civic duties by aiding remote viewing of locations in Stormhaven in an attempt to learn who or what caused the ‘disturbances’ ie who was active during the Time Stop. This skilled work taxed his magical energies for the day; but he learns and adds clairvoyance to his spell repertoire as a result.

We catch up to Friday morning and a mob of individuals ready to take action against the squid-heads; they obviously do not understand the enemy we face. Just their presence undermines everything we work for. Council member Versel, undoubtedly voiced the seed of this fruit before us, addresses the masses:
  • Do not engage the mind flayers.
  • Look for strange or uncharacteristic behavior or speech from friends or family.
  • See something say something.
  • It is us vs. them- don’t confuse any actions to the contrary.
  • We open our doors to one on one consultations.

Many individuals who were wrapped up in the emotions that a mob often generates disperse leaving a handful of competent and pragmatic nobles of wealth and four fearless fighters of steel.

Eric Theron Starkmore (brother of Etrain Starkmore of the Rain of Blades Academy) and Galdan of Foxrun (big game hunter) present themselves willing to invest in endeavors against the aberrations.

Undaunted at their initial proposal, Jaren waxes at length our successes and indicate our immediate goal of the warehouse hive. Galdan asks for nothing in return for his tribute; he thus credits us for defeating the Edana Estate monsters that bordered his property and livelihood.

Eric mentions possible political favors from his brother but does not abide for certain. He does however inform us of newly opened tunnelage under his estate since the Stormhaven rise; passages that are sure to extend under the Red Keep. He thought we should know.

While solidifying the deal Jaren prefers incorporating with the underwriters guild over opening an account with the moneychangers. Fuck em. 

Meanwhile four warriors gather at the Vial and Flask for RAGE and magical items posted for sale. (Hand of the Mage, Cloak of Resistance +2, shiftweave, hit kickers)

9am. Twilight House we meet with Arkiel to exchange information on our common enemy. When we arrive we see that many individuals here were in fact unaffected by the Time Stop; however, no actions were taken in what was described as multiple stand-offs. Aside from that Twilight House thrives under his leadership.

Joining Arkiel we share our knowledge of the warehouse hive and information would help our assault.
  • He said a hive of that size likely has 5-7 illithids.
  • Most can control 2-3 at a time, rare few can dominate more than 5-6 at a time.  
  • The aboleth is a legendary creature- millenniums old.

 We ask if he knows of the ‘jump forward’ sensation that occurred during the Time Stop and the many theories about missing people. All he could say was that he did not know but would try to find the answers.

Jaren again expounds on our recent successes and mentions well of our recent benefactors and reiterates this is of the highest importance.

It was here that we also came up with Operation: Durg the birthday boy.

After Twilight House we went to the Black Crown so Jaren could gather his magical energies and memorize spells while Auge purchases two mind blank scrolls and moves to introduce himself to Robalar; playing out ameeting that was negated because of the time rewind. The meeting had a strange out of place deja-vu to it.

In the meantime Versel poses several questions: what is the aboleth after, what is its ultimate (centuries spanning) end-game? The answer: Truename magic or as we intuit the Maleficus Arcanum, a book of truenames and truename magic.

Jaren surmises that the news White Spider relayed was suspect regarding Tamros’ search for the Maleficus Arcanum and that the aboleth seeks the tome through unwitting accomplices. So where could this possible centuries lost book of truename magic be? 

We decide to investigate these newly opened world disk tunnels. To the Red Keep.

Under the Red Keep we do in fact find new tunnels and discover the architect had worked in truename utterances in some areas including a passage sealed like a prison cell. Deciding not to investigate further… yet, we head over to the Starkmore estate.

Once there the birthday boy notices an odor that he had encountered before. We insist that the accidental archeologist lead us to their new world-disk tunnels. Although fearful, the guy leds us to three tunnels; these tunnels obviously lead under the Red Keep and we also believe is the entrance to Iracudia’ lair- the dragon of wrath.

Respecting her space we leave a small tribute of RAGE; an eternal wand- Auge’s signature brand; and a note of formal introductions, intent of non-hostility, and the possibility of a face to face meeting at a time of her choosing.

Retreating back to our territory Jaren deciphers the utterance Knight’s Puissance (in a guardpost) that benefits allies while imposing upon enemies.  Back at the prison door Jaren puts to use his new divination spell and sees a most invocative scene.

Dark creatures some robed while many seemed to be of otherworldly origins; extraplanar beings and gruesome undead-looking creatures all pointing and speaking to a four-armed long tongued creature that had an utterance emblazoned on his forehead- it was painful to regard. They drove back the foul tongued speaker into a glowing portal and presumably sealed it behind the door under the Red Keep. One of the ‘prisoners’ seems to turn to Jaren and ends the vision.


We begin next session Saturday night with Durg’s Birthday party and our attack on the mind flayer hive.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sitting Duck

“Ok Kiton, we can go with your plan, run straight away and rob Tick Tock Castle of presumed wealth, risking the ire of neighbors not to mention OUR BOSS, or we can try my plan, which involves offending strangers on ships and provides us with many more, “sitting duck” targets, I suspect with a greater probability of wealth!” White Spider ranted, “OH I’m SORRY, you don’t know what probability means do you Kiton?”

Kiton tolerated her insults because Auge supported the young Halfling and because, in this case she was right.  Auge had just warned them against making stupid mistakes.  

Farley appeared shocked at the responsibility of coming up with 18,000 gold.  Farley had just made the most money he ever had in his life, now Auge wanted more and it wouldn't even be his.  

Kiton knew that the Sea Ranger Spade would support White Spider’s plan.  Not for the first time, Kiton wondered if the two had become lovers.

“Your plan is the better one Spider, show us the way.” Kiton’s low growl rumbled. “Just remember that our benefactor’s patience is much shorter than mine.” 

Spade surprised Kiton by speaking up, “Speaking of our benefactors, we should do what Vercel has done.  Let’s make our profit be at some ally’s benefit.  Surely there are ships out there that someone in town doesn't like or want succeeding.  If we fulfill a task for someone else it’s at least another way of bringing in those funds.”

The Halfling woman known as White Spider smiled at Spades words.  “I believe someone in the Embry family should be able to provide just the type of work we are looking for, good thinking de…Spade.”