Sundered Lands 1

The Sundered Lands of Palladium

Session 1
January 31, 2016

Rendezvous on Lopan

Campaign Prelude

Much has happened in the year and a half since you a the companions recovered the Star of Pure Light. Through Kyrie and Colwyn Dray, everyone began receiving different tasks and parted ways again. For a few months, things seemed to be going well, missions were being completed and the minions of the Lords of Chaos were repeatedly thwarted in their evil, twisted plots. Then, when winter hit, everything changed.

News came from the far west and north that something evil was brewing in the Land of The Damned. This distant corner of the world was known to most everyone, though no one had ever known anyone to travel there and return. Stories were told that smoke and fire could be seen frequently and numerous earthquakes shook the area for several months. Reports began to come through from brave ship captains that the Land of the Damned had actually broken apart from the rest of the continent. It appeared that the dividing range, the Northern Mountains, had somehow disappeared or sunken into the earth, allowing seawater to flow up between the Land of the Damned and the western parts of Ophid’s Grasslands and the Great Northern Hinterlands. Sailors from Bizantium in the north confirmed these reports with similar stories. This water was, some believed, to be 100 miles or more wide. A few ships tried to sail through it, but none were heard from again.

Other than altering the landscape in a far distant land where no one really lived, this event in the Land of the Damned had no real affect on the world, but it was talked about. The events that followed, though, did have widespread impact. In the coming spring, pirate activity began to pick up in the Inland Sea and news came in that it was increasing in other places as well (Northern Sea, Sea of Scarlet Waters, and all through the seas to the south.) The tribes and roving bands of monsters living in the Old Kingdom began making more and more frequent forays north and east into the Eastern Territories. Ships on the Old Kingdom River were often assaulted and sunk. Groups of monsters crossed the river and caused havoc among the many communities along the border. Much chaos was sown throughout the southern reaches of the Eastern Territories.

In the north, Canine and Human settlements began clashing again, despite the hard fought treaty that had been keeping them out of each other’s way. The fighting escalated quickly and nobody's quite sure what exactly happened. Several factions in the Wolfen Empire worked hard to keep the peace along with several factions from Haven to the south, but the fighting and violence drown out all the voices for peace. Now the Eastern Territories, scattered and independent kingdoms and city-states, were surrounded by enemies. Wolfen and Coyles to the north, monster armies from the Old Kingdom to the south and aggressive pirate activity along their coasts and rivers.

Through this all, the Guardians of Bletherad continued to do their best, fighting against the powers of evil. It was clear that the Chaos Lords were somehow behind all of this new surge of activity around the world. The lands surrounding the Inland Sea and nearly all of the Eastern Territories were engaged in some form of warfare and things were starting to look bad. That summer, things got even worse.

The rumors of what happened are not quite clear but they were all bad. Some sort of explosion rocked the easternmost regions of the Western Empire along the Inland Sea. The city of Shinkasa was said to be at the epicenter of this devastation that spread for hundreds of miles in all directions. A cloud of dust and fire spread over the entire Inland Sea for almost a month that summer and when the dust finally settled, the unimaginable magnitude of the event was finally observed. The entire stretch of land that separated the Inland Sea from the Sea of Scarlet Waters to the south was gone. The easternmost tip of the Western Empire was destroyed, cutting it off from its connection with the Old Kingdom and wiping out several cities and hundreds of thousands of people in the process.

The entire island nation of Phi was gone, obliterated into just a few remaining rocky crags jutting out of the ocean. Lopan lost a good portion of its southwestern coastline after it buckled and crumbled into the sea when violent earthquakes and massive tidal waves assaulted it for nearly a month. Even a large chunk of the Old Kingdom had disappeared when most of a large peninsula sank beneath the waves, leaving only its tip as a large island cut off from the mainland.

There were rumors about what happened, but the truth was very elusive. The Western Empire placed the blame for it squarely on the shoulders of the Eastern Territories and their allies, calling it an act of war not seen since the terrible Elf-Dwarf War of ancient history. The Easterners all denied the act, but assumed it was some weapon of the West, possibly aimed at Llorn or some other more highly populated area. Regardless of the truth of any of these accusations, the Western Empire used it as an excuse to declare full-fledged war upon the East. Now the beleaguered Eastern Territories were faced with yet another enemy at their gates.

By the end of summer, the fighting between all three sides had escalated to full-on war. Tales of atrocities from all sides were flying about like wildfire as each group accused the other of worse and worse acts. All attempts at peaceful resolution were ignored as the body count increased.

The world was being torn apart, quite literally in some cases and only true heroes could possibly save it. The Guardians of Bletherad knew some such heroes and summoned them once more. Each member of the team was magically instructed to a secret meeting in Lopan City. The Library itself was right in the middle of the conflict between the Wolfen and Humans, though no damage had come to the Library, access to it was quite restricted. The island nation of Lopan, though, was one of the few places in the region that was not currently involved in direct warfare due to its deep roots in the Western Empire and its current outlook of being part of the Eastern Territories. The Guardians of Bletherad placed their hope in this last group of more than capable warriors, sorcerers and mystics. This gathered band of companions might be the saviors these sundered lands need.

These are the Sundered Lands

Session Summary

The heroes, Seeker, Fortis, Valinya, Talks With Rocks and Silver, had all been called together in Lopan City to a small seedy tavern, The Screeching Mare, by their friend and handler, Colwyn Dray. When they arrive, there are some happy reunions, as no one expected to see the others there. They took a table near the wall and quietly caught up on old times while waiting for Dray.

While Talks With Rocks made some attempts to sell some mushrooms to the other bar patrons, he noticed a well dressed but nervous man in the corner watching his companions. He alerted Seeker but before they could address him, the man stood up and approached, revealing himself as Colwyn Dray.

Dray apologized for the disguise and making them wait, but he explained that he was worried that he was being followed. He looked ragged and nervous, more so than they had ever seen him. He starts to explain why he had recalled them and told how all the recent events in the world had been connected and what the Guardians of Bletherad had been doing to stop it. 

He told them about the Shadow Pearls and how a team of Guardians had been sent to stop one of them from reaching Llorn which resulted in the explosion in the Western Kingdom. He hinted at the fact that they may have been well acquainted with some or all of the agents responsible for it. He also said that they believed there were more Shadow Pearls en route to various other cities in the Eastern Territories and Wolfen Empire. 

He also brought up the Vanderboren family of Essanos and told them to start their search there. For some reason, he was convinced that they were important and could help in some way. At the very least, they could help by supplying the Guardians with much needed funds. 

Dray begins to reach into his pocket to retrieve something with the tavern erupts into chaos. A troop of goat headed demons burst through the back door, flinging a hapless young man head-first into the fire. The companions move quickly to intercept them as they move into the room and begin attacking anyone they can reach. 

Valinya starts a spell but the demons focus their attacks on her, and nearly slice her in half with their pole-arms. She manages to keep the spell on hand casts Great Haste on Seeker before falling unconscious. As everyone else moves to attack, Talks With Rocks goes on the defensive, pushing a table in front of the fallen Valinya before wading into the fray with Sunstroke. Fortis sends bright, flashing Sunbolts into several of the rampaging beasts while Silver transforms into gleaming silver Dragon. 
The reunion is interrupted by some demons

Seeker wades into the fray, moving twice as fast as normal and chopping Demons left and right, though he is also struck by one of the Demon's weapons. After a few moments, the far corner of the room, near the front door, explodes and a huge demonic ape enters the room followed by a mob of disgusting little demons.
More demons join the party!

The ape beast lets out an angry roar that tries to rip the flesh off of bone as it enters the room. His pustule-covered companions move into the room and begin attacking the other scared patrons who had taken cover behind some tables when the first demons entered. Fortis quickly turns his aim on the ape beast, taking him to be either the leader or the biggest threat but the demon's powers apparently include teleportation and he manages to blink out of the way every time Fortis fires upon him. 

Silver flies across the room and tries to engage the ape demon as well but just gets laughed at and tossed aside so he turns his attention on the other, smaller demons and manages to take a few of them out before they start filling the room with a nauseating stench. 

When Dray sees the ape demon, he abandons his fight with one of the goat headed demons and runs toward the nearest exit... a window but the ape uses its teleportation powers to catch up to him. Dray manages to slip out of through the window while his 15' tall pursuer gets stuck in the opening. 

Colwyn Dray slips out the window and the huge demon ape gets stuck in the opening...
A handful of more goat-headed demons bursts through the doorway just as Dray crashes through the glass and hits the street. The beast pursuing Dray is not hindered for long as it quickly teleports out into the street, stopping him before he could get any farther away. The companions watch in horror as the demon smashes their friend into the ground then seems to take something off the body before disappearing. 

As they turn to face the newly bolstered demon ranks inside the Screeching Mare, they hear a familiar voice and see the Dwarven warrior, Arn Ironfist charging into the battle, the eyes of his Demon Hunters helm glowing bright red and his enchanted mace, Olum Kanat Sican, flying this way and that, smashing demon skulls. 

When the demons were finally defeated, some companions rushed outside to check on Dray while others tended to the wounded tavern patrons. Their friend Colwyn Dray was dead in the street and his killer had vanished.

Session Notes

This session was just a "getting to know you again" type of session. It has been a long time since I have GMed these characters in this campaign and I threw together a quick little rendezvous to sort of set the stage. Then we fought some nasty bad guys. 

I let the characters re-introduce themselves, did some social and perception based skill rolls on each other and patrons in the tavern. I presented them with the challenge of the changed game world since last time and introduced what would be their role in it, then of course took their contact away so they would have to fend for themselves. But that's just what I do. Give them a little to work with and they do the rest. 

Campaign Notes

It is nice to get back to this game finally. We started this campaign, the Wandered Roads of Palladium, with (some of) these same characters (Seeker, Fortis, Valinya and Arn) back in May of 2008. We played steadily for the next several years and I ran two different groups of PCs through a shared game world every alternating Sunday night. We put the campaign on hiatus towared the end of 2011 and went on to play the Dark Paths of Riddleport campaign for several years, but that was always only meant to be a "break" and we had all intentions of returning to the Palladium world. We wrapped up the Riddleport campaign in September of 2014 and then in November we returned to Palladium... except I was not GMing. 

We decided that it was someone else's turn to take over the GMing duties for a little while. I was tired and getting burned out on the campaign so +Arne Jamtgaard (Seeker, Kyrie) took over the GMing duties and ran some "Interlude" adventures involving the Palladium campaign characters (not his own, and I ran a former PC turned NPC turned PC again.) That went on for just over a year and ended in December of 2015.

Over the last month, I ripped the Palladium campaign world apart, literally, advanced the timeline about a year and a half from the end of the "Wandered Roads Interludes" and bumped all the characters up to [400] points through a combination of player and GM point allocations. I let everyone pick up a smattering of gear and crossed off a few items that had been there before to simulate the usage/breakage/loss of some items and we were ready to go. 

I am currently running 3 different campaigns, one face to face table top game monthly, and two bi-weekly online games and busy as hell, but I love this group, this game, these characters and everything about this campaign. Of my 6 players, 4 of them are original from 2008 and the other two came in '09 and '10. It's been a long run and honestly I think it's just getting started again! I look forward to where we go with this!

Cast of Characters: 

+Arne Jamtgaard plays Seeker, a Wolfen warlord
+Ben Zittere plays Fortis, an Ellyl trickster and mage
+Stephen Kolmetz plays Valinya, an Elven Wildsong Mage
+Mike Biancone plays Arn, a surly Dwarven warrior
+Amergin O'Kai plays Moonscar, the esoteric Kankoran Druid
+Daniel White plays Silver, a young and curious Dragon 

Precis - The return to our old GURPS Palladium fantasy campaign after quite some time away. The companions meet an old friend and battle some demons!


Grand Duchy 75

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 75 December 12, 2015 - January 13, 2016

Mountain Rain

Nytdain 22 Yarthmont

Unhappy Skies

The constant rain covers the ancient road with water
The Grey Company quickly makes their way to the far side of the ancient bridge, watching the skies for more signs of the swooping and hungry Griffons. The rain continues to fall, making everything slippery and wet. Water pours off the mountainside nearly flooding the road in places, making travel very difficult. The food supplies are running low, especially after it was noticed that several pieces of Elven Waybread had been destroyed in Firewild’s fall. The group huddles together under the slight protection of a narrow outcropping above, resting for a moment before pushing on. Remar stands calmly a bit away from the party, out in the rain but smiles coyly while the shimmering stone circles magically around his head, keeping him as dry as if he were sitting comfortably inside in front of a fire. “So, what’s next? Keep movin’ on? Seems pointless to head back at this point,” he says cheerfully.
“Indeed, no point to abandoning our quest at this point. We’ll make it, one way or another, and between our wits and the protection of the gods, we’ll not go hungry,” Draven says.
“In fact, the sooner we get moving the better. Let’s saddle up everyone,” he suggests, trying to put a bit of cheer in his voice, though not expecting much given how sodden everything is becoming.
Griffin winces at Draven’s upbeat tone. He is still haunted by the look in Firewild’s eyes as she slid into the abyss. He’d done everything he could to make it safe for the horses to cross. Everyone else’s had made it. What had he done wrong?
He takes a deep breath. Suck it up, man. Shit happens. If he started moping around because his horse died, how could he expect to lead this group?
He sighs. “Okay, team, Draven’s right. We’ve faced down dragons before. We’re certainly not going to let a little rain slow us down. I’ll take point. Let’s see what’s over that next ridge.” He stands and throws his saddle bags over his shoulder.  
“No need to burden yourself, brother,” suggests Draven when he sees Griffin’s load. “We’re all afoot for the time being, and Softie here can easily accommodate a little more weight on his sturdy back.” Mr. Softie replies to this with a disgusted sounding whinny. “Hush, you.”
Griffin manages a small smile. “Thank you, Brother. I appreciate that.” He throws his bags onto Softie.
The sodden Grey Company presses on, making their way slowly but surely up the mountain trail. They stop occasionally to scout the nearby area with climbing and magic, but the rain and terrain reduce visibility considerably. Eventually, late in the afternoon, they come upon yet another obstacle to their progress.

The Broken Bridge

Another stone bridge lays in front of them, across a narrow gorge. The problem is, the bridge has been mostly destroyed, probably by a rockslide or some other force of nature. The gap between the two ends of the bridge is only about 6 or 7 yards, but much too far to jump or get the horses across magically. Upon closer inspection, there appears to be two possible paths to get past. Both routes follow the broken ground down into the ravine, one to the left appears to be a slightly easier route down to the bottom then back up to the other side, though a slip and fall on this side could result in falling out into the valley below while the “path” off to the right seems steeper and more uneven, a fall would not be as permanent or far. It will probably take the remainder of the day to get all the horses down into the ravine and back up to the other side, even if multiple horses are taken at once. Taking a slow, careful approach, it should take one horse close to 3 hours to bypass the broken bridge by itself, though the crossing could be staggered by about 15 minutes each to save time.
Considering the last crossing, Draven needs no prompting. “We should take this slow and safe, along to the right, one horse at a time. We might even do well to unburden them first. We don’t want any… further accidents.”
Everyone nods in sullen agreement, realizing that there is no possible way to get even more wet and begins unloading the horses. It is decided that someone should go down first to scout the path and be on the look-out for any other dangers.
With but one hand, for all that the stump had begun to itch intensely and was always pink and raw, Draven volunteers for the scouting mission this time. “I’ve got a good set of eyes on me, and these boots in case I slip or anything. I’m not much help at unloading the horses anyway.” Brooking no argument, and expecting little in any case, he heads along the path, holy symbol at the ready, moving cautiously and pausing often to listen and look for possible ambush points.
Looking over the team and the tasks at hand, Griffin nods and says, “Marcel! Best if Draven isn’t doing this solo, just in case he runs into trouble. You go ahead - we’ll get the horses unloaded.” Griffin’s Elven cloak is up, and the rain drips off the hood. “Iris and I will work with the horses to get them calmed down before we start our descent.”
With a nod, Marcel follows Draven down into the ravine, carefully stepping and looking for the best possible route for the horses. It looks like it is going to be tough going regardless of the rain or shadowy light in the gorge. After about 10 minutes, the two companions finally make it down to the bottom of the ravine. A narrow trickle of water flows down the center. Draven begins scanning the far side for a path back up while Marcel pokes around, looking around the base of the ravine. He looks back over his shoulder and realizes that he cannot see his other companions back at the top due to the uneven terrain. He cannot hear them either, over the rain, though an occasional horse snort can be discerned.

Trouble at the Bottom of the Ravine

Draven calls for Marcel, indicating what looks like it might be a path back up to the far side of the broken bridge. As the two approach, Draven brings his right arm up, covering his nose with the inside of his elbow. “What is that smell?” he asks, his words muffled by the folds of his sleeve. Marcel squints and scrunches up his nose and points with his spear toward a dark spot on the side of the ravine near where Draven’s path leads up. “Coming from there, I think,” the Traladaran says. Marcel crouches down, jams the butt of his spear into the wet and rocky ground and holds his hand above his eyes, trying to shield them from the falling rain. As he does so, the sound of something scrambling over rocks comes from the mouth of the cave. A thick waft of sour air hits Draven and Marcel as a large, disgusting lizard comes charging out of the opening. The creature is at least 10’
The resident of the ravine is not happy with intruders
long from nose to tail, covered with bumpy, pale, olive colored skin and large curved spikes along its neck and back. It’s wide, splayed toes end in sharp talons and a long, purple tongue flicks out of its mouth, returning to hide behind rows of small, sharp teeth. It’s wide eyeballs rotate independently, examining the entirety of the ravine before focusing back on Draven and Marcel. It tenses and lurches forward to attack!
No time to fumble with his awkward shield, Draven lets his holy symbol fall back to his chest and grabs up his mace, preparing for the onrushing lizard. Have to trust to staying away from those teeth and claws rather than the trusty shield.
Marcel steps up next to Draven and contemplates readying his shield also. Seeing as his companion has decided not to, Marcel drops his and takes his spear up in two hands, watching the rapidly approaching lizard.
The oncoming creature zigs and zags as it approaches, keeping low to the ground and at the last minute, it veers to Draven’s side then darts in, snapping its sharp-toothed mouth at the priest’s unarmored leg.
Meanwhile, up above, near the base of the broken bridge, Griffin, Iris and the others continue unloading the horses of their gear and waiting for a signal from their companions down below to let them know that they should begin sending horses down. Griffin peers down the rocky slope into the darkened ravine trying to catch a glimpse of his friends, but finds no sign of them. He adjusts the collar of his cloak again and wonders what they might be up to.
Anticipating the attack, Draven jumps back, leading the lizard to land on a loose stone. Landing hard and lurching to one side, it wobbles but doesn’t quite fall, scrambling for purchase in the loose rocks underfoot. Taking the opening, Draven steps in and aims a mighty blow at the creature’s head but misjudges the rocky terrain and widely misses, nearly taking a tumble himself.
Seeing Draven swing and miss, Marcel steps forward and turns toward the lizard, hoping to take advantage of its misstep. He swings his shield out to the left, hoping to catch the lizard on the back of the head but the creature jerks its head out of the way at the last second. With its attention focused on the shield, though, the creature fails to dodge the incoming spear strike, angled low to catch its underside. Marcel’s spear penetrates the lizard’s rough hide deeply, nearly poking out the other side. The creature lets out a deep croaking sound and spits blood all over Draven in the process.
Draven and Marcel engage the large, smelly lizard at the bottom of the ravine
The lizard then lurches back, away from Marcel and his spear, turns and begins crawling away, much slower than it moved when it initially approached. A dark smear of blood and guts can be seen on the rocky ground in its wake.
“Do we chase after it,” Draven asks Marcel, “is it good to eat, do you suppose?”
Marcel ponders this question for a brief moment as they watch the giant lizard clamber back into its dark hole, “Yes, I am sure that I can cook up something suitable for a king, of course,” he then looks around again, and back up the slope, squinting his eyes as the raindrops pelt his face, “but I think we have more pressing matters at hand. We need to get our caravan to the other side of this ravine before nightfall, and as it is, it seems we might be running out of time. We can scout the path back up and once we start the process of moving the horses through, I will stand guard by the lizard’s front door. If it comes back out, we will use it to supplement our rations. If we have enough time after crossing, or maybe in the morning even, we can go back after it. I think my spear found its mark. I would bet the creature does not live through the night. One strike from sorcerous Marcel is all it takes, now all lizard kind will know not to stand in my way!” He puffs his chest out and grits his teeth as if posing for a portrait, then laughs. “Let’s see where this path goes,” he motions toward their best bet at getting back up to the road.
Draven and Marcel both have trouble with the climb to the other side, but in doing so, they discover the best possible path for the horses and make it back to the top. From the far side of the broken bridge, they call and wave to their companions back on the other side. It looks as if they are just about done unloading the horses and will be ready to start moving through the ravine by the time they climb back. Sporting scraped hands and bruised legs, they both head back down into the ravine, keeping a careful watch on the dark opening to the lizard’s cave. Marcel takes up a position at the bottom of the wet ravine and signals Draven to go on back up and show the others the best route while he watches for the lizard.
Draven makes it back up and explains the route to Griffin, Iris and the others. Ree grabs her horse’s saddle bags and looks at Draven, “Ok Brother, lead the way.” Draven grabs some extra gear and Mr. Softie’s reins and heads down, leading Ree along the narrow and slippery path.
The fate that befell poor Griffin’s horse fresh and vivid in his mind, Draven has a hard time keeping Softie calm, but the horse has seen tougher roads since joining the party and seems to take his nervousness in stride.
It takes nearly 2 hours but Draven and Ree make it safely across. Marcel reports that he has detected no activity from the lizard hole when they passed him. Draven offers to watch the horses on this side as Ree heads back across to help the next group. The young priest was familiar with the path now, but beginning to tear himself up a bit more than he expected. The climb was rough, especially with the use of only one hand. Ree could remember the trail easily enough and help the others back across.
The next trip consisted of Ree leading Marcel’s horse, Roxanne, along with Stephan and his mount, Ruby. The rain finally eased up a bit, though it did not make for much easier going as the ground was already as saturated as it could get. Ruby and Roxanne struggle along the passage quite a bit, but both horses manage to make it across safely.
Ree heads back for one final trip to lead the rest of the group and the final 2 horses across. Ree assists Iris in leading Duke and Griffin helps Remar with Alpha, though Remar quietly defers to Griffin, realizing that he has a much more even hand when it comes to the horses.
By the time the Company has all made it to the far side of the fallen bridge, night is approaching and it is clearly time to set up camp. The rain seems to have moved on finally, though everything is still soaking wet and slick. Griffin locates the driest spot available on the mountainside, though it is far from comfortable, it is somewhat concealed and with darkness closing in, the Company accepts it as their best option.
Camp is made and everyone nearly collapses from the exhaustion of the day’s hike. On top of the tiredness, the Company is a bit disheartened at the thought that they probably only hiked a mile or two the entire day due to the weather and the terrain. Remar weaves his magic mist around the camp and then proceeds to climb immediately into his bunk. Marcel begins to pull out his cooking gear, then stops, passes out Elven Rations and also finds his sleeping blanket. The night is calm and dark, the half illuminated moon often covered by light clouds, not enough to block its light, but enough to obscure its view.

Loshdain 23rd of Yarthmont

Plodding Along

The sun rises the following day and fog has filled the valley below as it has before. Though it is early, the sun beats down warm already and the air is moist, nearly everything has a dampness to it. “It’s gonna be a hot one today,” Griffin mutters as he rubs the sleep from his eyes and helps load gear onto the horses he had Iris have spent the last half hour preparing.
Shortly after getting back on the trail, the Company rounds a bend that juts out over the narrow river valley below and, looking back, can see nearly the entire route they have traversed over the last few days, snaking back and forth between the ravines and crags of the Black Peaks. With squinted eyes, Ree is almost sure she can even see the round structure on the bridge at the top of the waterfall.
“Look, there it is, just there, to the right and below that jagged peak,” she points off into the distance. As she looks, her face darkens. “Oh. Oh no. I think I can see another group moving across the bridge. Do you think it is that blasted wizard, Golthar, and his slavers? It could be the Gnolls finally getting up enough courage to climb the tower.” She continues to strain her eyes trying to see more but cannot as whatever she thinks she saw passes from view behind intervening rocks.
“Are we worried about them following us,” Stephan asks. “I am sure we have left plenty of signs of our passage, if they didn’t observe us enter the tower in the first place. We can leave some traps or just try to hurry on and keep ahead of them. Unless they are expert mountain climbers, I would assume it will take them at least as long to get to this point as we did.”
Remar chimes in, “Yea, but you forget, that Golthar is a wizard. He can fly. We don’t know the capabilities of his other allies either. Some of them were dark priests or wizards too for all we know!”
“I’d welcome the chance to take some dark priests down,” says Draven, “but there’s precious little to be gained by worrying or wasting time. I say we redouble our efforts and try to make as much of the lead we have.”
Griffin nods his head. “Wise words, brother. We don’t know what the evil mage’s purpose is here. Best to keep moving, find what we can before he arrives. Perhaps a more defensible position, at the very least.” He ponders. “Although except for the ability to fly that Remar mentioned, that canyon climb would have made a great place for an avalanche ambush.” He looks thoughtful. How does one defend against someone who can fly? “Don’t give his magical gifts too much credit. We’ve seen how tiring even the simplest magics can be for our own mages, and he isn’t free from such worries himself. Don’t ascribe to him fearsome traits he likely does not own, lest we find ourselves afraid of our own shadows next. The righteous man walks in the clear light of day and is saved by the will of the Lady of Justice.” Draven pauses, realizes he started in on his pulpit voice, and returns to speaking normally. “All the same, the good gods help those who help themselves, so let’s get a move on.”

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 
Marcel Maasa homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin 
Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 
Iris Vardaa Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli 
and +Jason Woollard as The DM

Precis - The Grey Company deals with hazards from above and below. The rain continues falling and they find a giant, angry lizard in a gorge!


Grand Duchy 74

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 74
December 3, 2015

A Precarious Path

Moldain 21 Yarthmont

The Grey Company continues along the ancient road through the mountainous Black Peaks. This leg of their journey would present some difficult challenges for the intrepid adventurers. Instead of evil sorcerers, ravaging beasts or bloodthirsty hordes, the companions would face the mountains themselves. 

The first obstacle encountered is a stretch of broken road. The ancient roadway seems to have just crumbled from the side of the mountain, leaving a rugged and rocky gap to cross. Not wanting to take any chances, the Company unloaded each animal and made numerous trips back and forth, using two people to help each horse across. The process took several hours but in the end it paid off as everyone made it across safely.

A little further along the road, another obstacle rears its ugly head. This time, a rock-slide has covered the road. Careful study of the situation leads the Company to believe that this is not as dire as the missing road from earlier in the day. The members of the company dismount and carefully lead their own mounts across the jumbled rocks and make it with no troubles at all except the extra time taken to step carefully.

The final obstacle to cross came in the form of a very narrow path that hugged against the cliff wall to the right and dropped away to the Foamfire River valley to the left. The ledge itself was no more than a foot or two wide at best and became even more narrow in many places. The horses would not even approach the ledge on their own and had to be coaxed by Griffin and Iris and blindfolded before they would even make the attempt.

It was getting late in the day and it was decided in the interest of time that the horses not be unloaded for this crossing as that would no doubt lead to trying to cross at least half the horses in the dark. The first six horses went over easily but something happened on the last crossing and Firewild, Griffin's mount, took a bad step and went stumbling off the ledge. They young Thyatian tried with all his might to hold the lead rope as his mount slipped away but he could not maintain his grip. Griffin watched as his mount, the second one he had lost recently, died on the rocks below.

After an emotional moment, Griffin readied his long climbing rope and went down to try to salvage any gear he could. Draven, using his magical boots of levitation, joined him. Most everything was salvageable, though some of the food supplies were smashed beyond use. 

With night falling soon, the Company moved forward and found a decent place to camp for the night. They could also see, further up along the trail, past several loops and switch-backs, a large high bridge that would need to be crossed sometime in the next day. While camp was being set up, several large and hungry Fire Beetles ambled into camp and made aggressive moves toward some members. They glowing bugs were squashed quickly and efficiently by the companions.
A quartet of Fire Beetles assaults the Company

Nytdain 22 Yarthmont

The rain starts falling a few hours before sunrise making everything just wet enough to ruin a decent night's sleep. Soggy and groggy, the Company rolls out of camp and continues quietly along the ancient Hutaakan road. Though none says it aloud, some in the Company are beginning to doubt the viability of the current mission. Supplies are low, transportation is low, energy is low and no one even knows if they are close to their destination.

By mid-day the Company arrives at the bridge they had seen the night before. It is a long, wide expanse stretching across a deep gorge between two of the Black Peaks. Carefully, the Company begins to cross and right as they are about halfway across, shrill cries come from above and two large, dark shapes come swooping in. Griffons! The horses immediately panic and several bolt as the eagle headed lions lunge for horse flesh. Half of the Company quickly adopts defensive postures while the others try to wrangle the horses. Crossbow bolts fly and Remar sends bolt after magical bolt into the flying beasts. After just a few moments, the Griffons are driven off and the horses are brought back under control and led to the far side of the bridge. Someone makes an attempt to joke about being attacked by a Griffin, but the rain has nearly washed everyone's sense of humor away.
Griffons attack the Grey Company as they cross a desolate bridge in the Black Peaks.

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Marcel Maasa homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Iris Vardaa Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli 

and +Jason Woollard as The DM

Precis - The Grey Company faces challenging terrain along their path through the Black Peaks. One wrong step sends a valued member of the group to death far below. If that wasn't enough, the next day brings dangers from above as well!


Grand Duchy 73

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 73
November 20 - December 2, 2015

The High Road

Moldain 21st Yarthmont

The First Step

The Grey Company stands at the beginning of what looks to be an ancient road that leads up into the rocky and unwelcoming Black Peaks. The sun shines warmly though an occasional cold breeze sneaks past, reminding everyone that they are not just going for a walk through a peaceful meadow. The horses seem well rested and are in cheerful moods, no doubt due to the fact that the food supplies they have been carrying are diminishing rapidly.

After a few minutes of climbing up the old road, the mountains on the left fall away to reveal the Foamfire River down below. The road keeps climbing up through the mountains, in most cases a sheer rock wall stretching up to the right and a steep, rocky slope down to the river on the left. Even at this height, a fall from the road could prove deadly and ahead, the track continues to rise into the peaks.

Remar, Iris and Ree all stand together, looking at the two items picked up from the debris in the bridge tower. “Well, the scroll is definitely magical, but this crystal wand doesn’t look magical at all. It’s finely crafted and feels nice and sturdy, but not magical.” Remar waves it around over his head, pretending to cast a spell, “See, no magic. It does have some etchings in it, though. Here, around this smooth part. They look like little bells or something.”

Meanwhile, Iris carefully examines the scroll tube. She unstoppers it and slides the rolled parchment out slowly. “It looks like a spell scroll, but I’m not familiar with the language, looks old though. I think I’ve seen something like it before, but I can’t read it. Think it might be Taymoran. Some of these symbols on the tube look like something from that civilization.”
“Keep that ‘wand’ safe - it might well be a key rather than a wand, or otherwise situationally useful. Before we go, let me hold it for a moment, to test the sanctity and orientation of the object, if it has any.”

Taking the wand briefly and opening his mind to it, Draven recognizes that it is in fact a holy object of some type. Seeing it in a new light, he tries to make out the symbols, to see if they jog his memory about any divinity in particular, or otherwise indicate an allegiance associated with the wand.

“I think, perhaps, I should hold onto this one, actually. There’s divine provenance to it, though it will take some research and attuning of the object to know for sure.”

Griffin looks at the mages and shrugs. “Iris, why don’t you hang on to the scroll. Draven, keep the wand until we can get back to civilization. Maybe it’ll be worth something there.”

Griffin looks up the ancient road. “Based on the guardians, I think we are the first people to have made it this far in a long time. All new territory. Hopefully those guardians will deter any followers, either gnoll or Golthar. But it’s still uncharted territory. Food’s low, so let’s forage as we go. Standard operating procedures, folks. I’ll take point.” Griffin readies his crossbow and kicks Firewild into a canter.

“I’ll take up the rear this time. We’ll want to make the best time we can, given our limited resources. It’ll be a balancing act either way.”

Iris beams at Griffin. “Oh, golly. I get to hold the scroll! Wait, I hope that didn't sound sarcastic.” She briefly looks to Griffin in concern, but then turns away in embarrassment realizing that nobody else thought to recognize her response as sarcasm. She can’t help but continue to grin, though -- this was what she left her home for.

Draven grins at Iris’s barely suppressed glee. “When we have the time for it, you’ll have to tell me about this scroll. Perhaps between us, with our disparate training and scholarship, can solve the riddle of the thing.”

The Company makes good time up along the mountain trail. Marcel and Ree seem a bit overly tired, but that is the way of the trail sometimes. Forage along the trail is quite sparse and animals and birds are quite infrequent.

The Stream

After about an hour on the trail, a wide stream cuts through the rock ahead of the Company. The water flows down the mountainside to the right and splashes across the narrow trail to become a waterfall, cascading down to the left, eventually splashing to the Foamfire River far below. The crossing looks quite treacherous. The group makes a quick study of the scene and thinks that the horses will be at a risk of falling if care is not given to their crossing. It is estimated that it will take about 5 minutes per horse to cross. Ideally each horse could be ridden across slowly, but moving slower, or leading the horse might make it easier.
A dangerous crossing.

“Griffin, you still have your ropes? I think I, of any of us honestly, can pave the way for the horses, and give us something extra to keep everyone on the straight and narrow,” says Draven.

Griffin looks quizzically at the young priest, but quickly pulls out his climbing gear. “Here you go, brother. What do you have in mind?”

Iris looks over to Draven and Griffin, and then back to the stream. None of her spells seem to be useful here - water is the crux of the matter, not fire, and direction or distance do not seem to be a concern. She ponders the situation, surveying the area around for any ideas.

Griffin eyes the crossing. It seemed that Brother Draven had a handle on this, so he turns his thoughts to other things. He realizes that the crossing would be the perfect time for an ambush, and tried to assess their options to deal with that.

Iris studies the water hazard in front of the Company, trying to get an idea of the lay of the land beneath the rushing water. As Draven makes his way across with one end of the rope, she gets a better idea of what they are dealing with and calls out some advice to the others, pointing out some tricky spots and suggesting that the horses be led in a specific, zig-zag path across when the time comes.

Meanwhile, Griffin surveys the surrounding area, picking out quite a few potential areas that could provide ample ambush spots both above on the cliffs to the right and a few places down below on the left that could possibly be hiding places as well. The young Thyatian realizes that their biggest problem here will be time. The packed horses should be able to be ridden over in about 5 minutes each, but that still will take over a half an hour. Dismounting and leading the horses one by one will add a little bit to this time but unloading the horses and leading them over will at least double the time needed. He tries to calculate the odds of danger from rushing across verses taking their time and being careful but he just cannot decide which is worth it.

Draven makes it to the other side of the water and tries securing his end of the rope to a small, stunted tree growing out of a crack in the cliff wall to the right. He leans against his rope, hoping to give it some additional support and signals to the others that this side is as secure as he can make it.

Iris will aid the crossing of the horses by carefully using some of her magic to soothe the animals, limiting herself so she does not push herself into exhaustion. She desperately hopes that this will make things easier.

As the plans for the horse crossing gets completed, Stephan steps up and says, “I’ll lead Ruby over first. I think I’ll walk her, were not in that much of a hurry are we?” He carefully steps into the flowing water, pulling the lead of his mount close behind him. The two take their time and easily make it to the far side in about 8 minutes. He turns and waves back, signaling for the next to come.

Remar hops up and says, “Well, hell, that didn’t look to hard. I’ll go next.” He urges his mount, Alpha, forward, speaking to her quietly as he attempts to ride her across. He keeps Draven’s safety line tucked under his arm as he directs his horse across the watery stretch of road.

Remar seems to be pushing his horse a little too quickly and he tries forcing her to take steps she does not want to, but in the end, they make it safely to the other side and join Stephan and Draven.

Marcel volunteers to go next. After seeing Remar’s struggle with his mount while riding, he decides to take it on foot and lead Roxanne. He grabs the safety line and leads his horse to the water. She dips her head and takes a long gulp of water before following him across. They pick their way carefully and shortly they are across, waving to the others to follow.

Ree looks around and shrugs as she decides she will go next. “What are we going to do about Draven’s horse? Try to take two at once, let him cross on his own or send someone back for it? I can do that once I get Chai safely over.” Without waiting for a reply, she urges her mount forward, attempting to ride her horse across the dangerous passage. Within five minutes, they are on the far side. Only Griffin and Iris remain on this side with their horses and Mr. Softie, Draven’s mount.

The safety line is also tied around a rock outcropping on this side of the water hazard. It seems to have been working ok, though no one has really had to use it yet and it does require a person leaning and pulling on it from both sides to provide the right angle and tension for it to be helpful. Unless someone else comes back over for the last mount, it will have to be untied and not utilized for the final trip.

Iris is happy to see that the horses have not been upset or worried at all about making the crossing, no doubt because they do not really understand the consequences of falling. To them, it just appears to be any normal stream that they are used to crossing any given day.

Griffin clears his throat to say something to Iris when sound and movement from above catches his attention. He turns and looks, raising his loaded crossbow in time to see a large dark shape plummeting down toward him. The motion and sound of the object suggests something flying at him and he fires his crossbow at it before stepping aside. A loud squawk can be heard and feathers fly as a large, fat bird crashes down upon the trail near where he had been standing. The bird, a turkey by the looks of it, skitters across the trail then tries again to lift off before plummeting over the edge of the trail. Everyone watches as the bird bounces, feathers flying, from rock to rock until it disappears in the distance below.

Griffin continues to be anxious. As soon as the turkey business is over, he looks at Iris and nods his head to the far side. “Let’s send Mr. Softie across, then you follow. I’ll be right on your tail. I don’t like being separated from the others for so long. We’re sitting ducks, or turkeys maybe, here on this ledge of a road!”

Iris nods and decides to use her magic to help out Mr. Softie on his solo trek across the top of the waterfall. She pulls his lead close and speaks some magical words, waving her hands above the horse’s head then pats his mane and urges him forward. She watches anxiously as the horse cautiously picks its path across. After several minutes, he reaches the other side. Draven takes his lead and presses his face into the horse’s neck.

Iris lets out a sigh of relief then leans down and speaks into the ear of her mount, Duke. “Alright, boy, let’s do this. We don’t need any magic, do we? We can make it across, right? Just you and me. Let’s go!” She leans forward and Duke takes a few steps into the water.

Almost immediately, Iris starts to panic. Duke is not following her commands and getting upset. He steps onto a loose rock and it gives under his weight. The horse starts to panic and hops forward. Iris holds on for dear life and tries to calm her mount but it does not work. Duke slides a bit then rears back and tries to take a few steps back.

Not willing to risk her mount, nor herself, Iris drops the reins and quickly begins chanting the words she knows that will calm the scared horse carrying her. Almost even before she finishes the words, she feels Duke relax beneath her. He slows and then stops, bending his head down to take a loud slurp of water. Iris stifles a chuckle as she looks off to her left. Just a few feet further the water rushes over the rocky edge of the ancient Hutaakan road and crashes down a steep, rocky wall to join the Foamfire River far below.

She picks up the reins again but does not direct her mount forward. Instead, she speaks quietly to him, “Whenever you’re ready, Duke. Take your time.” The horse throws its head back and lets out a playful snort then begins to move again. Soon, Duke and Iris are safely on the far side of the wide stream. She wipes the sweat from her brow and kisses Duke on the back of the head. She turns to wave to Griffin and sees that he has already untied the safety rope and is making his way across. Draven and Stephan are slowly taking in the slack as their companion and his horse make their way across.

Griffin and Firewild are nearly to the other side when a slick rock causes a misstep. Griffin’s stomach drops as his horse lunges forward, braying loudly. Fearing for a fall, Griffin leaps off the horse’s saddle and yanks the reins away from the precipice a few yards away. The mountain water is cold, nearly freezing as it rushes past his legs, soaking him all the way to his seat. Fortunately, the horse does not fall over, it just sits there, leaning forward, on one knee in the water. It bleats and looks at Griffin with pain in its eyes. As he approaches, Griffin can see blood in the water. It looks as if Firewild has cut himself on a jagged rock. He helps the horse forward and the beast limps weakly to the far side. The company is finally past this obstacle, though not all made it unscathed.

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Marcel Maasa homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Iris Vardaa Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli 

and +Jason Woollard as The DM

Precis - The Grey Company enters the Black Peaks, following an ancient Hutaakan roadway in search of some long lost treasure. What they find is a difficult hike along a dangerous mountain river valley.