Seravin's Tales of the Night Below (Two Updates this Week - 07/24/07)




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    Seravin's Tales of the Night Below (Two Updates this Week - 07/24/07)

    Title: Seravin’s Tales of the Night Below
    Author: Seravin
    Number of Threads: 1

    Type: Fantasy
    System: D&D 3.0e and 3.5e
    Setting: Empire of Shtara / Homebrew

    Started: 26 February 2003
    Status: Ongoing
    Average Installment Length: Short to Medium
    Average Frequency of Installments: Bi-weekly

    Available for Download? No
    Style: Usually 3rd person narrative prose but can vary

    Overview: A story version of my players journey through the Night Below Campaign box set. The characters discover that spellcasters of all sorts are being kidnapped. They decide to find out why and stop it.

    Reader Comment: “Just wanted to leave a quick note to say that I am enjoying this SH. Your updates are written with a direct style and tempo, which I like.” - Capellan

    Special:
    Night Below - The Heroes and Villains
    Night Below Conversion

    Warning #1: If you’re playing in a Night Below game then be aware that Here Be SPOILERS! Lots and lots of them. There may also be some Speaker in Dreams spoilers (if you’re playing in the WOTC Adventure Path series).

    Warning #2: I get wordy. I like to write, however I don't have as much practice as I should. This should get better over time, but I expect it to be a little rough until then. Let me know what you like and what you don't.

    Welcome to our Night Below game. We started it around November of 2001 and the players are a little over half way through. My early campaign logs are a little spotty, but I’m getting better at recording what’s happening.

    I hope you enjoy reading these logs and feel free to comment. My only request is that you please don’t post anything about the module that hasn’t been revealed in these logs, as at least one of my players browses through here. I’ll be happy to open another thread elsewhere to discuss things my players haven’t done or haven’t quite discovered yet.

    Finally,
    Thanks to those DM’s who have posted their conversions – they’ve been helpful.

    Game Settings:
    *Ruleset: 3e, errata, and faq as I recall them
    *Books: Whatever I own and approve – but the players are keeping mostly to the PHB.
    *Style: Loose. An even mix of role-playing and combat, but it’s not very immersive.
    *Special: I wanted to see how tolerant the system would be and decided to keep monsters and treasure mostly as they appear in the module – really only converting them to 3e equivalents. It’s been surprisingly robust, but the high treasure is going to do odd things to my game world – but strangely it all fits in.
    Also, this is a remote game. Two players are in Michigan while two players are in Alaska with me. We use NetMeeting and a camera to coordinate.

    Things to know:
    The Place: A shared world that a friend of mine created, mapped, and setup the initial politics. I've taken a bit of this world and based my campaigns there - Thanks Tamara.
    Most of the action takes place around Haranshire, a county that I’ve place in the Duchy of Larence that is in the northern heartlands of the Empire of Shtara, on the world Brae-Tasa. There’s a lot of history here, I’ll try to include relevant events as necessary

    Important Gods:
    Latina: Patroness and Defender of the Empire. Holds sway over Good, Law, Nobility, and Protection. The Imperial Family rules by right of descent from the Lady.
    Sarath: The General, Latina’s War Leader. Defense of the realm falls to him. He holds sway over Good, Law, and War.

    The players starting out:
    Ashimar, Human, Rogue – Running from the recent past. The player is the most tactically minded and has lots of 1e and 2e experience.
    Jallarzi, Half-Elf, Sorceress – Looking for great magic. This player was new to DnD completely when she started.
    Kestral, Human, Rogue – A friendly and trustworthy courier for hire. A long time player who likes to choose a concept and go with it. She also plays in my RttToEE game.
    Kellron, Human Paladin of Sarath – time lost on a quest. Another player in my RttToEE game. Also a long time player and DM.
    Panther, Half-Elf, Bard – Looking for a story and a song. Another of my tactically minded friends. He doesn’t mind hampering his characters for a story effect though.
    (edit: Properly attributed the world.)
    Last edited by Seravin; Tuesday, 24th July, 2007 at 09:01 AM.
    The best laid plans of mice and men are often acts of desperation. -bac

    There are terrible things in the Night Below. See what happens when those things come up for a visit. There have been five deaths now - who will be next?

 

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    The past through today

    What has gone on:
    ~232 years ago
    Near the village of Harrow, just past the Corlean pass, the combined Imperial Forces readied themselves for yet another attack by the barbarian hordes. The Shtaran Empire had expanded to this point over fifty years ago, yet the native tribes still persisted in trying to eradicate the imperial colonists. It fell to the Imperial Army to protect this village.
    The odds were grim but the Imperial Mages had a plan. With the aid of some artifacts in their possession as well as a couple spells, they could teleport a contingent of soldiers behind the enemy after the battle was joined. The unexpected flanking maneuver would certainly shatter the native forces and render the area safer for many decades.
    Sadly, a traitor-mage with dreams of power sabotages the effort. A key wizard is assassinated as well as two of the commander’s aides – putting the magical burden on a relatively inexperienced journeyman. The contingent, the entire chapter of the Sundering Sword, is indeed teleported – but they are scattered randomly across three hundred miles of hostile terrain. Some, like Kellron, are never heard from again.

    ~170 years ago
    Due to various intrigues from a variety of groups, magic is outlawed in the Empire. The Imperial Mages are disbanded. However, the mages have their own redoubt, The Library, located in a mountain fastness. They go into exile there whilst the Empire tries to ignore them.

    ~62 years ago
    Magic is once again legal to use in the Empire and the wizards of the Library setup embassies in the larger cities.

    3 months ago
    A minor craftsman, by name of Dariv Tjerdon, finds a book describing certain rituals that could grant him power and wealth. Believing the world owes him a living, and a comfortable one at that, he has no care what some of the rituals entail. Nor does he question the mysterious circumstances in which he gained the book. Within a week he has more wealth then he has ever seen before and is introduced and apprenticed to a renegade-wizard.

    2 months ago
    Kestral, A young woman of a minor family, uncomfortable with her life in the southern Duchy of Relk decides to leave her adoptive parents and get away. Needing money, she offers to carry missives and small packages to any place north of her home. Over the next several weeks she eventually makes her way to the Imperial Capital of Kalta. She never looks back.

    At about the same time, Jallarzi, a woman of elfin and human parentage comes into her own in the village of Eferdu. Her mother’s line traces six wizards of note across eight generations. Young Jallarzi finds that her family could trace seven – if she can find the training. Leaving home Jallarzi decides that it is now time to find herself and determine what she wants to do with her life.

    After weeks of spending much gold, Dariv draws unwanted attention to himself. Ashimar, a small-time thief raids Dariv’s apartment stealing a small amount of wealth and a very interesting book that seems to call to him.
    The next night, a creature that looks like a demonic child attacks Ashimar. Ashimar barely survives and flees northward with the book and a hideous scar on his chest. Sensing the power of the book, Ashamir begins to study, hoping that there will be something in there that will help save his life.

    3 weeks ago
    Rumor has it that a party of mercenaries, commissioned by the Lordan Trading House, has discovered a lost dwarven ruin apparently inhabited by orcs; the first orc tribe seen south of the mountains in over two hundred years.

    2 weeks ago
    Kestrel accepts a commission from the Library to ferry a small message to their embassy in the town of Blasingdale.

    1 week ago
    Kellron, having seen the mages start their casting, steels himself for the rough jolt he’s told to expect. There’s a flash of light and a ‘presence’. ‘A darkness has started to form, yet so far in the depths that none may find it yet.’ Says an infinitely patient voice. ‘Generations from now it will cover the landscape unless someone is willing to take up the sword. We ask you to leave here, your home, to awaken in the time of your great, great, grandchildren. Your order here is lost and scattered. Accepting this task will ensure that there will be some survivor of your chapter to stand firm. Will you do so? Your family will be cared for.’

    Kellron hesitates only a moment as regret overcomes him. ‘Give them my love.’ Is all that he asks. Moments later he is thrown to the ground as harsh reality grabs hold of his senses again. Looking up at the stars he sees that he’s south of mountains. North of him he can see the walls of a town or small city, with foothills starting not far from there. With a prayer and a sigh, he checks his weapon and shield and makes his way to this new place.

    That same night, an itinerant minstrel who styles himself ‘Panther’, a bastard-child of human and elfin blood, performs before his first audience on the streets of the city of Blasingdale. He manages to make a few silver coins and is invited to play at the inn just across the street.



    Day 1, Late-Spring (May) – Blasingdale, near the South Gate.
    It was quiet in the early morning at the Blue Standard Inn while the handful of guests in the common room took breakfast. There were only four guests in the room, each sitting apart and minding their own business. None of them were obviously merchants.

    Without a doubt the most striking of them was a flamboyant looking young man, dressed in black leather and a wild mane of brown hair. A cursory glance of his slightly-too-large gray eyes and his just-too-long ears peeking up through his hair showed that elfin blood was somewhere in his parentage. Despite his mode of dress, Panther had a devilish look in his eyes and looked more like a boy ready to steal a pie off the window then a man looking to cause trouble. Next to him was the harp he had used to earn his bread and room the night before. If he hurried he would be able to set up on the street corner on the main thoroughfare and make a fair amount of coin.

    The next most striking amongst the small group was the young woman sitting across the room from Panther. Her body and face declared to all that she was a young woman in the prime of her life, yet her long hair was the color of snow. A closer look at her face and her violet eyes hinted at her half-elfin parentage though and quickly explained the odd hair and eye color in one so young. Despite being a young woman all alone, the serving wench treated Jallarzi with a surprising amount of diffidence. One of the girls had seen the young woman use magic to clean her room.

    Between the two of them, his back to the wall and eye to the door, sat Ashimar, seemingly a dark mirror to Panther’s lively manner. Sharing a similar build, the young human presented a contrast to the wandering minstrel. A hunted look guarded his eyes and he kept track of every movement. Ashimar was plainly someone who had lived on the streets – and was spooked by what he saw.

    Finally there was the dark haired gentleman sitting in the corner. He had been staying at the inn for a week now and while quiet, he was unfailing courteous. He sported the thick frame of someone use to wearing something far heavier then clothing, and the sword at his side had the worn and nicked look of something well used, like a craftsman’s tools. Kellron was still astounded at the changes that had occurred, and wondered briefly if the elfin folk felt the same way when they looked back over the years. Granted, the empire was as strong as ever, and even laid a tentative claim all the way to the Northern Shore. But magic had been abandoned for almost a full century and only lately permitted within the borders again.

    Jallarzi’s sharp ears hear something that sounds suspiciously like a spoken spell coming from the open window nearby. When she turns to look she gets a good look at a dark-haired man with pinched features finishing the final gestures of a spell.
    Brimstone fills the air moments later and three large, black rats with burning red eyes materialize in the center of the common room. Ever wary, Ashimar is already in motion, drawing his rapier to attack the rat closest to him.

    Whether from heroism, basic goodness, or curiosity, Kellron, Jallarzi, and Panther all decide to help this unknown stranger. With their help the fight is short. Like Ashimar, Panther also wields a rapier; while Kellron shows that he has a more than passing familiarity with the military longsword at hi side. And Jallarzi impresses them all with bolts of raw magic.

    Introductions are made and Ashimar thanks these people for helping him, letting them know the attack was probably directed at him. Jallarzi’s description of the man confirms it. The menacing nature of the rats convinces Kellron that something has to be done. Tired of running and with potential allies, Ashimar decides to go after this sorcerer. Jallarzi and Panther also agree to accompany them for their own reasons (power and curiosity respectively).

    A short investigation gives them a small lead in finding this mysterious man. A man of the description they are looking for has been seen entering the South Gate in the morning and leaving by the gate in the evening. Thinking about it the group decides to head south knowing that there are some abandoned farms down the road a ways. Sure enough, a few hours travel brings them upon an abandoned farmhouse that seems in reasonable condition. A quick search reveals the place is housing a transient of some sort. They decide to lay in wait.

    Many hours later the man they are looking for arrives. Tired, the party rushes him. The fight is brief and the man is quickly overwhelmed and killed, managing to only summon a cloud of fog. Kellron realizes that his actions were precipitous and resolves to ask more questions first. The sorcerer was undoubtedly guilty – but he was laid down without a word in edgewise.
    Last edited by Seravin; Thursday, 27th February, 2003 at 07:44 AM.
    The best laid plans of mice and men are often acts of desperation. -bac

    There are terrible things in the Night Below. See what happens when those things come up for a visit. There have been five deaths now - who will be next?

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    The party is gathered and the quest begins

    The twilight hours are giving way to night now and the four allies decide to head back to Blasingdale. Before they can put action to thoughts however they hear the sound of pounding feet followed by shouts of ‘Get her!’. Looking carefully through the dim twilight the group sees a small woman (or child) running towards the farmhouse, being pursued by three men. The woman zips past the startled party and around the farmhouse. It takes only a moment for the party to decide to intervene.

    Ashimar and Kellron stop the men and question them briefly. The men claim the woman stole from them, but Ashimar’s street senses tells him they’re lying. He calls them on it and short fight ensues. Kellron is a trained fighter though and Ashimar has fought in a few street fights and the party easily wins.

    With the men subdued or killed, the woman comes back around the corner of the house. She introduces herself as Kestral, a courier for hire. The men had waylaid her as she was preparing to camp in the woods, but she had managed to get away. Introductions are passed around.

    Again they decide to head back to Blasingdale and again their plan is interrupted. This time by what looked to be a small child who marches with purpose up to the farmhouse. As it gets closer though they see that this child is made of stone and while it has the form of a man, it looks closer to a demon. With a haughty voice it demands the body of the sorcerer as ‘spell components’, claiming that it’s master had a deal with the sorcerer. Not really needing to, Kellron extends his senses and discovers that the stone-demon is irredeemable.

    They defy the stone-demon, eventually pounding it’s rock body to rubble. It was a hard fight however, and everyone is panting before it’s over. Deciding not to push their luck the party decides to spend the night at the farmhouse.

    The next morning comes early and the five newly made companions finally return to Blasingdale with the corpse of the mage. Taking him to the city guard they discover that there’s a small reward for the capture of one Dariv Tjerdon, the sorcerer they have killed. There are some questions to answer but the crimes of Dariv and the cooperation of the party sees them quickly on their way with the reward money.

    Next, seeing the cost that follows the book he stole, Ashimar decides to turn it over to the church of Latina. The priests there are horrified that a book of abyssal knowledge had been loose in the world and are gratified that it was turned over to the church. They give Ashimar their thanks and their blessings. Ashimar feels like a weight has been taken off of his soul.

    Kestral, then finishes her courier job by delivering her package to one Master Kiel of the Libray of Blasingdale. Through chatting he learns of the near robbery on her journey. Liking her courage and ability, Master Kiel offers her another delivery. This time a small chest to be sent to Tauster, a wizard who lives in the village of Thurmaster about a weeks distance. He offers the staggering sum of 180gp plus another 20gp for expenses. There is a catch though, she needs to take a guard, and the people who helped her seem to be just the type. Kestral doesn’t really like the idea of splitting the fortune, but even a five way split is many, many times more then she could normally make. When she approaches the other four they readily agree to help – but first they have to purchase some horses.

    The next two days proceed at a comfortable pace as the five companions make their way to Milbourne. From there it will be another two or three days to Thurmaster. Easy money, and who knows what will happen then?
    The best laid plans of mice and men are often acts of desperation. -bac

    There are terrible things in the Night Below. See what happens when those things come up for a visit. There have been five deaths now - who will be next?

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    DM Notes

    And that's how the little group got together. It was sort of cliche to start it in an Inn, but at least the mysterious stranger didn't offer them a job.

    By this point I knew kind of where the players wanted to take their characters.
    Ashimar was going to multi-class to fighter and then go back and forth with rogue.
    Jallarzi was going to go to wizard right after sorcerer.
    Kellron was going to stay Paladin for the forseeable future.
    Kestral was going to be the diplomatic demon from heck. She put an 18 in intelligence and dedicated herself to learning every language possible as well as always putting something in diplomacy. She also was going to dedicate her feats to those things that improved her social skills.
    Panther was going to be a bard who knew a little bit of everything.

    For those who are interested:
    Kellron came close to an alignment violation when they cut down the sorcerer. I probably should have pegged him with it, but it was the first session and we were still figuring out what a Paladin of the war god represented.

    The little stone-demon was just a small earth elemental given a demonic facelift.

    The 'Book of Abyssal Lore' that Ashimar had was the gem of a great idea that will appear later.
    Last edited by Seravin; Sunday, 16th March, 2003 at 05:28 AM.
    The best laid plans of mice and men are often acts of desperation. -bac

    There are terrible things in the Night Below. See what happens when those things come up for a visit. There have been five deaths now - who will be next?

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    Welcome to Milbourne

    By horse, Milourne lays almost two days east of the mining town Blasingdale. The road follows the north bank of the Churnett River through gently rolling countryside filled with copses of oak and elm. Along the journey there are a handful of farms, but for the most part there is little sign of civilization.

    To the north lie the foothills that lead to the range known as the High Mountains. The High Mountains are a nearly impassable barrier forcing travelers to use either the Corlean Pass to the east or head west around the range. The range is rich in silver, copper, and iron; as well as the gems found with those minerals. To the south lies the interior of the Empire with all of its might and grace.

    -------

    It was late in the afternoon of the second day of travel, and the five riders were traveling through a wooded area. As they rounded a bend in the road they caught their first sight of the farmers sitting along the side of the road, obviously resting. Kestral and her guardians rode up casually without much interest. The farmers, seeing the riders stood up, stretched, and started walking down the road towards the group.

    The two groups were about fifty feet away from each other when the arrows started to fly out of the woods on the north side of the road. None of the farmers are hit, but they cry out in alarm and rush towards the riders. The five riders keep themselves close as they move forward a little bit, their eyes searching for the bowmen. As soon as they are close enough the bigger farmer yells out “Get the girl!”. With that, the four farmers and two bowmen attack the group.

    A rough fight ensues, with one of the ‘farmers’ knocking Jallarzi out. Fortunately luck and skill is with these riders. Two of the so-called farmers are killed as well as two of the bowmen. Kellron invokes the Grace of Sarath and heals the wounds he can. They then try to question their captives.

    Unfortunately this doesn’t reveal much. The bravest of them is hostile to the party in general and to Jallarzi in particular. “We don’t need your kind here!” He states to the sorceress vehemently. Carlanis, their leader, informed them that a sorceress was coming to town to practice her evil magic. The five couriers look at each other. This sort of attitude is not unknown, even now, but none of them like it. They decide to take their prisoners onto Milbourne.

    It’s only a couple hours to the little community and the five couriers immediately find out that a man name Garyld is the defacto lawman in town. They turn their prisoners over to him and give them their story. After that they head off to ‘The Baron of Mutton’ to find a place to stay. The inn is comfortable but they find that a tragedy has struck the owners of the Baron. Their eldest son’s fiancée, Jelenneth, is missing. More, Jelenneth was a wizard in training who was visiting her family and friends.

    It seems Jelenneth was staying at the inn for the last couple days. Last night she had turned in early, but this morning she was gone. Moreover, they found her bag of spell components shoved under the bed. There was no sign of struggle and she left no note.

    The whole group decides to help, offering to deliver a message to Jelenneth’s master, Tauster, who is the very mage they’re delivering their package to. Additionally, they take the time to search Jelenneth’s room as well as sweep the area outside her bedroom for tracks. Hearing that Jelenneth sometimes went looking for spell components and such, they decide that in the morning to head up to the abandoned mines.
    Last edited by Seravin; Sunday, 2nd March, 2003 at 05:04 AM.
    The best laid plans of mice and men are often acts of desperation. -bac

    There are terrible things in the Night Below. See what happens when those things come up for a visit. There have been five deaths now - who will be next?

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    DM's Notes

    My players are psychic. That's the only answer that comes to mind.
    They get the lead about Jelenneth and then start nosing about town trying to get the lay of the land. Well and good, I understand that.
    But their very next thought is: "Let's head to the abandoned mines." :rolleyes:

    I've seen it again and again. It's a strange world some days.
    The best laid plans of mice and men are often acts of desperation. -bac

    There are terrible things in the Night Below. See what happens when those things come up for a visit. There have been five deaths now - who will be next?

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    A day and a half trip

    The community of Milbourne grew up to serve the needs of miner who dug for the semi-precious garlstone in the Blanryde Hills to the north. Laying at a natural ford in the Churnett river, it was a natural stopping point for those traveling to or from the bigger mining city of Blasingdale. Eventually the locals began logging the nearby woods, and harvesting the local apple trees for sale to the city. Milbourne was now a well to do, if quiet little village. Now days however the first mine, called appropriately Garlstone Mine, was closed after being played out. The miners have moved on to a newer mine, closer to Milbourne and have been working it steadily for over two decades.

    The morning comes early with a slight overcast. Knowing that there is no deadline for delivering Tauster’s package the group decides to find Jelenneth; each with their own reason.

    “If I was going to hide out as a kidnapper, it would be at the mines.” Remarks Kestral. The rest of her new companions agree, so putting deed to words, they take their horses and head northwards, veering a little eastwards of the hills until they find the right path that will taken them to these mines. It’s an easy enough journey for the group and their horses and by noon they start their climb into the hills. A mere two hours later they’re tying the horses to the nearest bit of scrub and looking at the forbidding entrance to the mine.

    The cave entrance is about fifteen feet across and almost as high. Decades of tailings have rendered the area immediately adjacent to the mine devoid of all plant life – despite having almost twenty years to recover. Only black and gray rock decorate the landscape. Here and there bits of abandoned pieces of metal, rusted and useless, lay forlornly on the ground. Only a few yards away the remains of building can be seen, though it looks like a fire has taken them all, leaving only blackened timbers and charcoal. The only sound the companions hear is that of a slight breeze rustling their cloaks and clothes.

    “Think anyone is there?” Asks Kestral.
    Kellron lets his pack down and pulls out a torch. It takes him only a minute to get a flame going and soon the torch is blazing, dancing in the soft breeze. “I’ll find out.” He tells them as he heads towards the entrance, drawing his sword with his free hand. The sun has moved into the western sky and now illuminates at least ten feet of the interior of the dark tunnel.

    He’s checked at the entrance though with a bestial roar echoing from deep within the tunnel. “AAARRRGG!! Take that light away!” Comes a deep voice.

    Kellron pauses momentarily. The voice is too deep to be human and the imperial tongue is clumsy on it. Perhaps it’s a really big orc; hopefully nothing bigger. He steels himself as he tries to peer into the darkness. Taking a step forward he speaks up. “Excu…”

    “GO AWAY!!” Roars the voice again. Louder this time and perhaps only twenty feet away in the darkness. Before Kellron can collect himself there’s a whuffing of displaced air and a rock about three hand-spans across comes flying out of the darkness. It hits the paladin high in the chest as he tries to twist out of the way, knocking him and twisting the metal rings of his chain shirt. He wasn’t sure but he thought he heard a bone crack.

    Gasping for breath Kellron steps back and to the side out of the way of any other boulders. The other four companions did likewise.

    “What the hells is that?” Asks Ashimar.
    “Ogre maybe.” Says Kellron through clenched teeth. With a whispered prayer he feels the grace of Sarath touch him. “Thank you.” He whispers. He then looks over his companions. “Do you want to chance it?” He asks. The paladin is willing if needs be, but the risk is great and the reward is uncertain.
    “I don’t think so.” Says Kestral slowly with some thought. “Not unless we can come back with something bigger. Besides, we don’t know that anyone has come through here at all.” She looks at the cave entrance again. “How did an ogre get down here anyway? I haven’t heard of any within the empire in over two centuries.”
    “Who knows?” Replies Panther. “Perhaps there’s some secret route from the mine that goes north under the mountains.”
    The five confer some more and decide to head to the active mine south of them.

    The Carman Mine was started almost three decades ago by the same Carman family that watched over Milbourne. Like the Garlstone Mine it produced the whorled and translucent blue garlstones that were used in decorating jewelry.

    The five companions made it to the Carman Mine as the sun was hanging low in the sky. Unlike the last mine, the buildings are still standing and there was a lot of activity to be seen. Unfortunately the companions learn nothing upon questioning the miners here, except that the miners are generally unfriendly and uncommunicative. However Ashimar and Kellron are able to wrangle permission from the suspicious miners to spend the night as the sun was going down and they were unwilling to travel back to Milbourne in the dark.
    The best laid plans of mice and men are often acts of desperation. -bac

    There are terrible things in the Night Below. See what happens when those things come up for a visit. There have been five deaths now - who will be next?

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    Personalities of Milbourne

    I’ve given the people of Milbourne short shrift recently. Upon recollection the very first day the group arrived in the sleepy little town they made an effort to meet everyone. Kestral and Panther made an especially hard effort.

    So, names that you’re going to see further on include:
    Lord Carman, the most prominent landowner of Milbourne and he owns the Carman Mines to the north. He reports directly to Count Parlfray whom you may hear about later. For the most part the elderly Lord Carman is the de-facto mayor of Milbourne.

    Garyld, the town’s law man. This older gentleman has been in these parts for a long time and people respect him. He makes his living working wood (furniture, bows, and the like), but he’s also responsible for making sure that strangers don’t get too rowdy and that trouble generally stays away. Though he walks with a limp now, people still remember that he was a member of the Imperial Scouts once.

    Semheis, of Latina. One of the town’s newest members, he was assigned to Milbourne by the Church of Latina out of Corlean. Semheis is responsible for the spiritual welfare of the villagers and aids in healing those with minor hurts and ailments. Additionally he can be called upon to interpret matters of law. However Semheis is relatively young and has only been in Milbourne for about a year. Zealous and idealistic, Semheis has not become the important figure in the village that he thought he would be and church attendance is dropping.

    Old Grizzler, a miner from way back. He worked the Garlstone Mines for over a century before they closed. He’s now retired, spending his time at The Silver Crown, the town’s tavern. Alternatively if he’s not there he’s terrorizing any fish brave enough to come within a mile of Milbourne. Old Grizzler has a thousand tales. And he’ll tell you all about them. Repeatedly.
    The best laid plans of mice and men are often acts of desperation. -bac

    There are terrible things in the Night Below. See what happens when those things come up for a visit. There have been five deaths now - who will be next?

  • #9
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    Onwards to Thurmaster

    On the new morning the five companions head back to Milbourne, about three hours away by horse. Upon arriving in the small town they quickly find Garyld and inform him of the ogre up at the Garlstone Mine. Garyld is naturally concerned, but it’s a ways away. He promises to look into it and thanks the party for their efforts and information.
    After that the group collects their belongings, let Andren, Jelenneth’s fiancée, know that they have not found her yet and continue on to Thurmaster.

    The first day of travel is uneventful while they follow the north bank of the Churnett to Thurmaster. However fortune is with the small group. There are farmsteads all along the riverbank between Milbourne and Thurmaster and as the five travelers are thinking about finding a place to sleep, they happen across one such. It’s clean and well kept with a small stock of cattle and two medium size fields growing some sort of grain or such.

    They quickly decide to see if they can sleep in the barn or some such and go up to meet the owners. The owner is one Kupier, also a former Imperial Scout. Kupier grew up in the region and settled here after his stint in the scouts. It turns out that he also likes to keep an eye on things hereabouts. Kupier is immediately concerned at the party’s tale of Jelenneth’s disappearance and tells them he has not seen her in over a week. But he does know that the woman will sometimes hunt for herbs around a place called Hog Brook, located in the Thornwood forest across the river. The aging scout offers to lead the group to the places she sometimes visits. The group quickly accepts the offer.

    The next morning dawns quickly enough and Kupier and his family rises with it. After a quick breakfast, Kupier ferries them across the river on his boat (the horse being left at his farmstead). The six then make their way deep into the forest, cautioned by Kupier’s tale of giant spiders.

    There is no sign of the wizard-apprentice though. Certainly no sign that Kupier can divine. As the sun passes it’s zenith they do come upon a wild-woman, dressed in furs and hide and accompanied by two wolves. Kupier raises his hand in greeting and asks the companions to wait while he talks to the woman. After conferring with her he comes back and introduces her to the party as Oleanne, a follower of the Forest. Oleanne has not seen Jelenneth but she has her own plea for help. Maxim, the son of another farmer in the region has recently changed into a bear! There’s been no luck in finding Jelenneth so Kupier asks for their help in finding and calming Maxim. Thus the group of seven people and two wolves continue on until darkness forces them to take their rest.

    It is not a peaceful night though. As clouds roll in from the south and Jola, the silver moon, begins her descent, the wolves wake to some noise in the wood. Fortunately Panther was on watch at the time and he quickly wakes everyone. Just in time to as almost a dozen orcs charge from the darkness, intent upon killing them all.
    At first it looks grim, but the wolves quickly turn the tide of battle and soon eight orcs lie on the ground dead while three survivors flee. Oleanne decides to follow them. Orcs aren’t suppose to be south of the mountains and she wants to know where they lair. She bids them farewell and wishes them luck with the boy-bear.

    Early the next morning, only a little while after starting out, Kupier picks up the trail of the boy Oleanne was following and it quickly leads to a wounded and angry bear. Kupier pulls two nets from his pack and hands one to Kellron and the other to Ashimar, telling them he’ll draw Maxim’s attacks.
    It’s a short skirmish and eventually the bear is netted and brought low to ground, despite its struggles. Finally the struggles get weaker and weaker until the bear passes out. The form then shifts underneath the nets into a young boy who is just starting to grow peach fuzz on his chin.

    From there the five companions, Kupier, and Maxim head back to Kupier’s farm, with the old scout trying to cheer the young man up and take his mind off the change. Once at the farm the companions thank Kupier and say goodbye, heading off to Thurmaster.
    Last edited by Seravin; Wednesday, 12th March, 2003 at 02:14 AM.
    The best laid plans of mice and men are often acts of desperation. -bac

    There are terrible things in the Night Below. See what happens when those things come up for a visit. There have been five deaths now - who will be next?

  • #10
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    Welcome to Thurmaster

    Night had fallen a little while ago when the five companions finally made it to the stockade that surrounded the village of Thurmaster. Perhaps a hundred people live within the wooden walls providing lumber and food to the city of Corlean further north. There wasn’t much to recommend a person to this village though. Only forty years ago reptilian beastmen boiled out of the swamp that lay a few miles to the south. The beast-creatures had attacked and sacked the village. Two things came from that devastating raid. The first was the stockade, built even before the village-folk began rebuilding their homes. The second was that Count Parlfray had dug deep into his purse and hired mercenaries. Within a month most, if not all, of the beast-folk were dead. There were still rumors that some of the scaly-folk had survived and were even now living deep within the swamp, in places where not even winter touched, but no proof of such.

    The cost of rebuilding and the cost of the mercenaries had been high though. It was only now, four decades later, that the village was finally starting to regain it’s feet – though slowly. Many farm buildings still stood in ruin outside the stockade’s walls and when the season was wet the interior of the stockade was only slightly better than a mud pit.

    The doors to the stockade were closed and locked when the companions made their way to the gate. Fortunately there was a guard somewhere nearby though, for when Kellron called out they were quickly answered. The five were questioned to their identity and their business within the small village by the surly and suspicious gate guard but in the end they convinced him they meant no harm. Kestral mentioning that she bore a package for Tauster seemed to satisfy him. They got directions to Tauster’s home (“It’s the one with the tower. What do you expect from a high and mighty mage?”) and started to make their way there.

    Kestral wouldn’t have bet there were more than a score of buildings in the stockade as they walked through the quiet streets (though calling them streets was pretentious in the extreme). Naturally enough Tauster apparently lived at the far side of the village, but the walk wasn’t far. Quickly enough they saw the small stone cottage with a light in the window. Attached to the cottage is a little two-story tower. They spare glances for each other and shrug. Ashimar then goes up to the cottage door and knocks.

    A few moments later (interspersed with mutters of discontent from inside) and the door is opened by an elderly man with long white hair and a lean frame. He was dressed comfortably in clean trousers and a gray flannel shirt. His gray eyes appraised the strangers before him for a long time before he suspiciously asked “What do you want?” Jallarzi noted that his fingers were long and curled in such a way as to suggest that some powerful magics were barely waiting to be unleashed.

    What that spell was they never found out – fortunately. Ashimar promptly informs him that they have a package and a message for him. Tauster is suspicious a little while longer but crows in delight when he sees the small box that Kestral bears for him. The box bears components for many powerful spells – he happily countersigns their contract from Master Kiel and lets them know that Squire Marlen can fulfill the voucher in the morning.
    Tauster is less happy to hear that his apprentice is missing and listens to their story with grave concern. Given that they went to the extra trouble to try and find his wayward apprentice Tauster offers to pay for their stay at the local inn, the Hounds and Tails (“But stay away from the meat pies he serves unless you’re part dwarf.” He warns.)

    The five companions and the old mage chat well into the night and they find many things to talk about. Most significantly Jallarzi mentions that she has sorceress talents and is looking for a little tutoring. Tauster is unsure but promises to think about it, however he tells her to stop by his place in the morning and he’ll loan her a small book to see what she makes of it. He also offers the group another job, this time to bring a message to Kupier. Further, he offers a reward of 50gp each if they can find Jelenneth. “I never wanted an apprentice.” The old man confides. “But she was persistent and I find I was lonely for conversation beyond what the harvest was going to be like.”

    The morning doesn’t come soon enough. The Hounds and Tails is not known for it’s housekeeping or food. Jallarzi expends some of her personal magics to de-flea her companions. Then it’s a stop at Squire Marlen’s house, the village’s tax assessor and Count Parlfray’s right-hand man in the village. The miser only haltingly pays out the monies due them and the party is relieved to get out of his house without paying any on the spot fines that the man is noted for. Finally Jallarzi stops by to talk to Tauster and get the book he promised, and they then set out upon the road back to Milbourne.
    The best laid plans of mice and men are often acts of desperation. -bac

    There are terrible things in the Night Below. See what happens when those things come up for a visit. There have been five deaths now - who will be next?

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