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Wednesday, 6th October, 2004, 12:22 AM #71
Great, great story, JD!!!
I must say I was about to start an Eberron Campaign when I found your SH... Yours and Barssom`s have just the "tone" I had in mind!!!
Can`t wait for the next installment...
Last edited by Black Bard; Wednesday, 6th October, 2004 at 12:24 AM.
Thursday, 7th October, 2004, 02:31 PM #72
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Cool, thanks! Good luck with that Eberron campaign; it's a setting that greatly intrigues me in many ways.
Thursday, 7th October, 2004, 04:49 PM #73
Originally Posted by Joshua Dyal
I've tried to mix a few of those elements into our WW2 supers game, but it just doesnt jive because, well, those guys just aren't scared of anything till it blows off a limb or two. And then they mostly just get angry. Something about being super, I dunno... .
Most of our recent one-off's have featured horror as a major theme or element, and our next major campaign will have that as a facet as well.
Thank you! As you can see, I tried to make sure the PCs had plenty of potential avenues to continue doing things after this adventure came to a close, which will probably happen with one more update.
Friday, 8th October, 2004, 03:49 AM #74
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Thanks again. Although, despite all the hooks to follow, we had a session or two where we kinda floundered directionless before I got some real firm direction from the players on what and where they wanted to head. Our session last week was particularly mediocre, I thought. It had some good moments, but then it bogged a bit.
I'm looking forward to continuing next time with some real firm direction that I can plan ahead for and come up with something a little better than; "uh, here's another ambush..."
Friday, 15th October, 2004, 10:02 PM #75
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The middle of page 3 simply won't do .
Sunday, 17th October, 2004, 02:49 AM #76
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Yeah, it's the update that I'm way behind on putting out that does it; if only I'd add it, the page would stay up front a bit longer...
Friday, 22nd October, 2004, 10:16 PM #77
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Module I: "Blasphemous Rumours" Part XI (conclusion)
The next day they found themselves poking around through the dim, cloyingly chill mists of the swamp again. The directions they had received were only so much help; the swampie village tended to migrate slightly from time to time. After a few hours of searching, Konrad was able to find a trail, and shortly thereafter the sounds of habitation came drifting softly through the muffling blanket of the mist.
Ahead of them was the swampie village, a ramshackle collection of old, warped and silvered wood buildings built on rafts made of pylons. The rafts also featured thick wooden wheels, allowing them to move through either watery or the semi-solid land of the swamp as the villagers wandered in search of better grounds to practice their trades. They approached the half-dozen or so buildings quietly. Dirty women, old men, and thin children stared sullenly at them from their tasks; scraping the skins of dog-sized swamp rats, snakes, or worse creatures, boiling the poison out of various swamp plants in huge iron cauldrons so they could be eaten, patching faded, worn and torn woolen or leather clothes. Rosham nodded and smiled as he walked directly up to a sleepy looking middle-aged man with only a few yellow teeth, and a grizzled beard stained by reddish brown roots that the habitually smoked wrapped in brown paper. One such home-made cigar dangled limply in his left hand as he dozed, now stone cold and ashy.
"Good day, sir!" he said cheerily. "My companions and I have been directed to your charming and picturesque corner of the world to enlist your aide in finding a location deep in the swamp. Might you know of an individual who could accomodate us?"
The main opened one eye and looked at him quizzically. "What you say, man?"
Tson shoved Rosham gently aside and stood right in front of the man. "We need a guide in the swamp, and we've got gold. Can you help us?" With that, he pulled a few coins from his belt pouch and tossed them lightly in the air, catching them again with a satisfying jingly sound. The old man sat bolt upright.
"Yessiree, why don't you say so de first time, eh?" he said. "I can help you, yesseree. I have a nice boat, I take you anywhere in the swamp you wants to go."
Rosham looked at the man distastefully, evidently put out that his diplomatic entrance had gone over the old man's head. "We need to go to the Wellhead, and we need to go now," he said.
The old man whistled softly. "De Well 'ead, eh? You's is all crazy, den. Dat cost you more."
"Ten gold now, and ten when we get back," Konrad said.
The old man's eyes nearly bugged out of his head at such an astronomical (to him) amount of money, and he eyed the group appraisingly for a minute. He noted in particular their tall, muscular bodies, their bright steel and the hard looks on thier scarred faces -- and decided that it wasn't worth attempting any funny business with this crowd. "OK, den, I's your man. Come dis way, I've a good boat, she take you safe and lickity split."
'Good boat' was definately a value judgement that the three Inquisition agents did not share when they saw the old man's boat; it was an ancient tub, a steel steamer covered in green algae and rust, and the residue of years and years of wood-smoke soot. The boat smelled foully and lurched uncomfortably as they walked out on its deck. But it didn't sink immediately as the old man dumped a smelly burlap bag full of mossy and soggy wood, with the occasional lump of coal, into the boat's boiler, fired it up, and slowly put the boat out to water, leaving the taciturn village to disappear behind them in the mist. The swamp was relatively open here; almost a broad lake, with the skeletons of occasional soaked trees poking their black branches up through the water like claws. They heard burbling sounds in the water from time to time; whether it was just fish poking up to see what caused the ripples in their lake, or something darker and more noisome they didn't ask, but their imaginations made up the difference. They traveled in silence mostly. The old man had tried to make conversation for a while, but Rosham, Tson and Konrad were too focused on what was waiting for them in the center of the swamp to desire it. He quickly dropped the effort and fell as silent as they did. Their own silence made the various noises of the swamp stand out all the more, as they listened to insects, frogs, fish, and something that they never saw, but heard often from just beyond sight that rustled in the vegetation and howled, and made disturbing gurgling and chittering sounds. The terrain closed in around them, as the open water turned into narrow and choked passages that meandered past black, rotted trees.
Konrad spotted something out of the corner of his eye then; hanging vines that seemed to be moving just a bit unnaturally. He brushed them aside with his mace, but it suddenly lunged forward to wrap around his arm as he did. He shouted, and Tson and Rosham, taut as harpstrings, had their weapons out, slashing at the vines. They noticed a vast network of the hanging vines, now weaving sinously like snakes and groping for them. Rosham dived to the floor, out of reach, and slashed upward with his rapier. Tson threshed his spiked and bladed chain like some kind of twisted harvester. The vines retreated. The old man was shaking and muttering to himself that he was glad he had left these folk alone.
They remained crouched and watchful, their weapons ready, until several hours later the water opened up again onto a broad, shallow black lake. The mist was thicker here than anywhere they had yet been, cutting their visibility to just a few yards. Suddenly a large dark shape lurched out of the mist, but as it resolved itself, they all let out sighs of relief. A thick metal pipe stood straight up out of the water, nearly ten feet in diameter, and covered in greenish slime and rust. Huge rivets thicker than Tson's thumbs ringed the various plates that made up the pipe, and corroded and weak-looking rails provided a way to climb to the top. "'ere we are, yessiree," the old man said. "The Well 'ead itself."
"Wait for us," Konrad said grimly. "And there'll be another ten gold in it for you." With that, they hoisted a rope and climbed up shakily to the lip of the pipe, flaking off rust and slime as they did. Inside it was dark, and they heard a steady plopping sound of dripping water echoing through the tube below, but they could just see a damp floor below as the pipe levelled off. They lowered themselves one at a time into the dark.
Inside the smell was thick with rotting vegetation and the kind of fungus that thrives on moisture and death. Ahead of them, the tunnel opened up, and they could step outside of the pipe and walk along a hard tunnel that went through the solid bedrock. Konrad lit a torch; the other two didn't need one. The tunnel was only a few feet larger in diameter than the cold, sweating metal of the pipe that ran through it's middle, so they brushed both it and the rock sides as they descended at a fairly sharp angle into the darkness under the earth. From time to time they passed level landings of rock that looked like they had been used as storerooms. Ancient barrels and crates dotted with black rot still stood in the corners, though they disintegrated when touched. Occasionally, they even passed smaller tunnels moving off to the right side, although they ignored them. Presumably there were other passages on the other side of the pipe, and although occasionally Konrad would climb up on the pipe to see what was there; it was always empty.
After nearly half an hour, they were deep within the tunnel. Although the pipe itself was still wet with condensation, the rock and the air around them had turned noticably drier as they progressed. Konrad pricked up his ears and stopped the march of the others. "I think I heard something behind us," he said. They all drew their weapons. And then they all heard it; a coughing growl, and the scrabbling of claws on the rock and metal behind them. Glowing yellow sets of eyes appeared both behind them and above them; apparently some of the creatures could climb sufficiently well to get on top of the pipe. Then the bodies of the creatures came into view.
There were at least three of them they could see immediately, although it sounded like there were more further up the tunnel, and maybe even some on the other side of the pipe. They were covered in a brownish gray fur, with a stiff mane that ran up their sharply inclined necks. (Imagine something that looks vaguely like a hyena, but almost the size of a black bear. I used slightly toned down dire badgers for the stats, and a Sam Wood picture from The Legacy of Dragons to show the players. I'll see if I can cut that image again and post it as an illustration for the storyhour later.) The first of the creatures pounced on Tson, savaging him through his leather armor. Konrad and Rosham couldn't reach past Tson to attack it, but the creatures were also similarly prevented from attacking more than one at a time.
Rosham cast his eyes around wildly, looking for an avenue to attack. He climbed up on top of the pipe, although the ceiling was low enough that he had to duck to avoid scraping his head on the rock above him. On the floor of the tunnel on the other side of the pipe, he saw several more sets of stiffly furred bodies and glowing eyes. With a snarl, one of the creatures leapt full on to the pipe, scrabbling with its claws as it snapped at Rosham. The gray put his hand down for a moment to keep his balance on the slippery rounded footing of the pipe as he lunged forward, driving the point of the rapier deep into the creatures shoulder. It yelped and growled deep in its throat like rumbling thunder, but it lost its balance and fell behind Tson. Konrad eagerly rushed it, bashing in its skull with his mace. "Thanks!" he called up. And then, "back here! There's a landing; we can spread out."
"So can they," shouted Tson through gritted teeth. He had finally killed one of the beastly creatures, but another had stepped up to take its place, and the hulk was dripping blood and animal saliva from a number of heavy bites. But he was slowly backing up under the continuous applied pressure of the creatures' attacks.
Rosham hopped down to inspect the landing, but as he did, two more of the creatures jumped up on top of the pipe, and then pounced down behind Tson near the landing. One of them attacked the hulk in the back, savaging him more fully, while Rosham and Konrad quickly waded into melee with the things, dispatching one of them handily between them, and then attacking the second one in the back as it was concentrating on Tson. Konrad dealt it a heavy blow to the withers that caused its rear legs to cave in, and then Rosham leaned forward to stab his rapier through its torso. It turned on them savagely, limping on its hind legs, blood streaming from its sides, and Rosham and Konrad finished it quickly. Tson had backed up by this point, and the two remaining creatures spread out on the landing. The three of them fought better when they could maneuver, however, so they killed the savage creatures quickly once the combat had opened up.
They stopped for a moment to catch their breath; Tson ripping cloth from his cloak to bind his many bleeding wounds. Konrad had lit several scraps of wood on the landing that had probably once been a crate, and he threw them down the sloping tunnel ahead of them. A hundred yards or so later, the lit brands skidded out on to a level floor. "Almost all the way down," he said with a wry smile. "Let's see what this place is all about."
"You first," Tson said. "You're the one best suited to scouting our way ahead, right?" Konrad shrugged and set off lightly down the slope, followed by the big man and the slight gray.
At the bottom of the tunnel was a wide, though not tall room, with square edges; obviously carved by intelligent hands. There were a few lit torches in sconces at the far side, and a small natural-looking tunnel that continued laterally. All of them had a strange feeling; a smothering oppressiveness, and the conviction that they were not alone. They did not speak. Konrad motioned that he was going to go ahead into the natural tunnel, from which a flickering orange light could be seen. He walked in as silently as he could, crouching low. Soon he could hear voices ahead of him, although he wasn't close enough to make out the words. One of the voices was a strong female voice; clear and musical, while the other was a cold rasping whispery voice that seemed to echo dully, as from a tomb. He crept closer to hear them.
"Very well," the female voice was saying, "I will return when the next dark cycle hits the city, and seek it out. Should we concern ourselves with these reported meddlers that are poking around Bricktown?"
"No," said the whispering voice. "Leave now, and I will concern myself with the meddlers. Unless I am very much mistaken, they have found their way here, and are now crouched just outside this room in the corridor."
Konrad swore softly to himself, then stood up with a yell to attract his comrades. And he nearly dropped his mace from what he saw. The female voice must have belonged to the shapely, armored woman, with soot-dusky skin and a shiny bald head. Her face was turned towards him curiously, although not particularly alarmed. She had thick hakama pants on over her reptile-skin-like body armor, and two large, curved swords hung from a sword belt at her hips. But the whisperer blighted his eyes with its blasphemous appearance; it was a large construct of iron and brass, sturdily built like the industrial steamjacks used in Razina. But in place of the head of one of those semi-sentient constructs was a yellowed skull, with parchment like skin pulled tight over it, cracked and mummified. Lank, rotting hair still hung from its dusty scalp, and a cold, feral light glowed obscenely in the eye-sockets. It raised it's metallic fists, pistons and greased metal joints humming slightly. A crackle of eldritch energy arced like lightning from its fists.
Tson and Rosham came running into the room behind Konrad, but stopped as if poleaxed at the sight of the strange undead being. "Take the book and return to your safehouse," the cold voice said. "I will deal with these interlopers."
With that, the dark woman seemed to disappear into a shadow, to reappear instantly at the far side of the room, where they could just spot a small wooden door in the gloom. She quickly passed through it and then closed it behind her. They could see another small alcove back near the door, and there was something in it... but they couldn't quite make out what.
"I think maybe we should run back up the tunnel..." Tson started saying, just as Konrad and Rosham were tightening their grips on their weapons and advancing. "Oh, what the hell..."
The hulk rushed forward with a shout, swinging his spiked chain in a wicked, gleaming arc. It wrapped around the ...undead thing, and scraped with a metallic screech over its body, leaving shiny scratches. It didn't seem to notice the attack, although it did turn towards Tson and backhand him almost casually. The hulk flew through the air, arcing blood, to smash heavily against the stone wall. Rosham ran with a cry towards the hulk, convinced that maybe running was the right idea after all. Konrad, on the other hand, sprinted to get past the Undead and to the alcove. As he approached it, he could see that it contained a huge, black sword laid out on an obsidian altar. The sword was longer than he was tall.
As he dashed past it, the undead monstrosity suddenly dashed forward with alarming speed, striking Konrad hard and sending him spinning through the air to clatter heavily near the altar. Then it came rushing forwards towards him again, as if anxious to stop him. Konrad was convinced that it didn't want him to get anywhere near the sword. He could see that it was a very baroque weapon, with leering, daemonic faces carved into the blade. He reached out and put his hand on the two foot-long hilt...
...as he did, he seemed momentarily to black out. He could hear voices screaming, whispering, groping over his mind, filling it with blasphemies, heresies and worse. He turned pale and broke out in a cold sweat.
Rosham suddenly began chanting in a loud voice. The Undead turned to look at him, perhaps disturbed by the inhuman words and tenor that suddenly came over the gray. Then a strange presence seemed to fill the room; a dark, unnatural presence, and the Undead was thrown backwards to crash into the wall, it's iron plates dented and clattering loose. Rosham shrieked and collapsed to a fetal position on the floor, muttering and shaking like a leaf. Then Konrad struck it with the sword. The weapon keened through its metallic body with a shower of sparks and a screech; the voices in Konrad's head seemed to rise to a feverish pitch with their blasphemous, mindless bloodlust. He felt a piercing pain in his hand, and his grip on the hilt of the sword was suddenly slick with his own blood. He looked at the sword, and the leering faces were dancing and mouthing obscenities at him, moving along the blade like rats. He had the distinct impression that one of the faces had bitten him when he attacked with the sword.
The Undead bellowed in alarm and flailed wildly at him. Konrad was able to avoid its blows and attack it again, and the mind-blasting daemonic influence, and the painful bite on his hand struck again as he did so. Then the obscene creature hit him, sending him sprawling to the floor, not getting up. Tson had crawled to his feet, though, and rushed forward to pick up the sword before it could reach it. He swung the massive blade forward, cleanly severing its mummified head from its metallic body. He too felt the unholy whispers, the arcane attack that withered his hand, and he hastily dropped the sword with a clatter.
The mummified head started rolling away, rattling like a bag of sticks, but Tson ran forward to grab it and stuffed it in a sack, where it continued to wiggle and squirm. Konrad lay on the floor bleeding his life away, Rosham was still curled in a fetal position, and Tson dropped to his knees from the combined effects of mental fatigue and loss of blood. Then he did what he could to clean up his companions.
(GM's notes: Wow, what a climactic combat! At the end of it, Konrad was in negative hit points and had lost enough Sanity to be in "Sanity Crisis mode"; he would have, if he was still conscious, gone temporarily insane. Tson was in single digit hit points, and Rosham -- dude, that character's got a pair made of iron. With an extremely low starting Sanity right off the bat, he went ahead and learned and cast that spell (Fist of Yog-Sothoth for the curious) anyway, knowing that even a single use of it was a big risk for going temporarily insane (which is exactly what happened.) If Konrad had waited even one more round to go for that sword, this encounter would likely have been a TPK. And I had toned this villain down and ignored some of his abilities in combat as it was! And I loved their reaction to the sword; every attack you made with it did 1d6 damage to you not to mention 1d6 Sanity damage. I think they were grateful it was there, but they have no intention of ever touching it again...) As the end of the first "module", the culmination of several sessions and nearly six months of playing (we only play once a month or so, though) everyone levelled up following this session as well.
Last edited by Joshua Dyal; Monday, 25th October, 2004 at 07:39 PM.
Monday, 25th October, 2004, 05:03 PM #78
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Love it, man. I just simply love reading the DM's version of our game session events told from his POV after the fact. This particular night was probably the best session in the campaign to date (with perhaps one or two others competing for that honor), and the results were rather harrowing . For the first time Tson took not one, but two beatings; Boh's Sanity was further compromised, but we learned he has the moxie (and wherewithall) to cast spells; and Konrad just keeps tempting the reaper.
The undead construct monster was freaking brilliant IMHO, and the dark sword was equally cool. I believe that Rosham also wielded it for one blow during the fray after Konrad was knocked unconscious. He then slid it along the ground to Tson and began casting that fateful spell...which scrambled his brain while saving our hides!! Also, it was a great plot device having us unwittingly stumble onto the dark lady we've heard so much about, only to have her quickly flee the scene without so much as a backward glance.
For those interested, I thought it would be neat (interesting?) to create a savvy, nimble character who was high on intellect and knowledge, but equally low on common sense and impulse control. I realize that building PC's with low Wisdom scores isn't too bright for games which involve Sanity (given that your starting Sanity score is 5x WIS), but it just felt right for this character...and seemed like a LOT of fun to roleplay. What's made it even better, is that Rosham sees the arcane/occult tomes and relics we've stumbled across as interconnected to his search for knowledge about the great sundering...and thereby the origin of the Gray race. Thus, he can't help reading these accursed texts and further jeopardizing his already fragile psyche. I must say that Rosham Boh is one of my favorite PC's in over 20 years of gaming, and I owe a lot of that to Josh and my game companions Stockdale and shadowlight.
Monday, 25th October, 2004, 08:47 PM #79
GREAT update man. I love what you did with it.
The undead-construct combo is something I especially liked; we're doing a similar type game we've been planning for a while and will feature some creatures like that. It was nice to see one described so well.
As far as the old guy and his boat, all I could think when I read that was this quote:
"We're gonna need a bigger boat..."
Excellent stuff JD.
Monday, 25th October, 2004, 10:39 PM #80
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Originally Posted by ledded
I had thought of picking up a Warmaching steamjack, snipping and filing off the head, and putting a plastic head from the Warhammer zombie regiment in its place.
However, I think I'd actually be better off making the creature just a little more svelt after all, and using a Warmaching Bane thrall to represent it. Then the only converting I'd have to do is remove the big ole axe.
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