mikeawmids runs Rise of the Runelords (in Savage Worlds)

mikeawmids

Explorer
(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 4 (13/09/2012) - Part Two

The party abandon the beaten path and retrace the wounded ranger's tracks, back to the occupied farmstead, where the rest of the Black Arrow survivors are (not) enjoying the hospitality of the ogres. Ben and Antony creep into an overgrown field of long untended corn, hoping to get closer at the distant farm buildings. The rest of the party hang back, recalling their last excursion through a cornfield (where they were swarmed by ghoulish scarecrows).
Ben and Antony notice that the ground is rumbling beneath their feet - moments later, several Black Arrows hobble/crawl out of the tall crops (several have had their legs broken - or simply hacked off at the knees).The crippled rangers are pursued by a terrible engine of death - a group of merry ogres are pedalling a crude combine after their human prey! Even as the two heroes dive to safety, one unlucky ranger stumbles and vanishes beneath the scything blades with a (short) scream and a splash of blood. Mortified, Asha hurls a fireball at the ogre steering the awful machine, causing the brute to slump senselessly across the controls. Picking himself out of the mud, Ben centres a Blast spell on the reaping engine and plays an Adventure Card to double his damage output - reducing the threshing machine to a smoking crater and filling the air with fragments of deadly debris! Rast narrowly avoids decapitation as a length of jagged metal flies passed his head.

While the rest of the party search for survivors, Karrack stumbles upon a dazed ogre still reeling from the explosion and (miraculously) manages to prevent Grogg from immediately executing it. The SPILL THE BEANS Adventure Card is played (again) and the captive brute speaks at length on the deployment and disposition of the ogres of Hook Mountain. The party learn that the ogres are now under the command of the giant wizard Barl Breakbones (he's a giant AND a wizard, not just a really tall magic user) and since the change in management, the ogres have all been painting themselves with the seven-pointed Sideheron star. The party deduce that Breakbones has deceived the ogres (not difficult) into believing that the ancient rune is a powerful symbol of strength - and that every enemy they kill who has been branded in this fashion will only hasten the return of the malevolent despot whom Lucrecia spoke of during her last villainous monologue. This revelation is lost on Grogg, who beheads the chatty ogre the moment that Karrack's back is turned. The party watch as a spectral form (the ogre's soul) is sucked into the Sideheron star like a helpless spider being flushed down the toilet.

Having splinted bones and cauterised ragged stumps, Asha and Antony manage to work together to get the wounded rangers back on their feet (or foot, in some instances). Rast addresses the Black Arrows, attempting to persuade them to "man up!" and avenge their fallen friends - but their spirits have been broken and the party are denied their expendable ogre fodder as the maimed host wobble off.

Meanwhile, Grogg has devised a brilliant plan! Since he has also been marked with the Sideheron rune, he theorises, perhaps the ogres can be convinced that he is a favoured underling of Barl Breakbones and NOT attack him on sight. The rest of the party encourage the half-orc to test his hypothesis, then discretely wager how long before his cover is blown and the ogres eat his head. Rast decides (unwisely, as it turns out) to follow, shielded from sight by his cloak of shadows.
Hearing a great uproar from the large, ramshackle barn, Grogg is reminded of the fighting pits back in Magnimar and heads over to investigate. He is challenged at the entrance by a suspicious guard, but gets passed after flashing his cursed tattoo. The sentinel proves surprisingly perceptive for an ogre and spots Rast lurking about. The alarm is raised and while a group of angry ogres chase Rast around the muddy farmyard (cue the Benny Hill theme tune), Grogg slips inside the noisy barn.

Inside, the ogres have knocked up a primitive fighting pit, they are crowded around a groaning wooden balcony overlooking an enclosed arena. They are cheering on an immense spider, as it faces off against a bearded man wearing an eye-patch and wielding a small knife. Wasting no time, Grogg takes advantage of their inattention to shove several unsuspecting ogres into the pit! Meanwhile, the veteran ranger vaults onto the giant spider's bristly back and from there leaps up onto the balcony!

Outside, Ben Kotek casts Blast at the ogres bothering the dwarven alchemist and showers the rest of the party in ragged strips of char-grilled ogre steak, which also destroys the facing wall of the barn! Rushing across the rain-swept yard, the rest of the party enter the fray just in time to watch helplessly as Grogg and the ogre he is grappling with both tumble into the pit. The giant spider abandons the ogre it had been eating in order to menace Grogg - who ducks beneath its swollen abdomen and sweeps 'Monica' around in a ruinous arc that simultaneously severs all eight of the monster's spindly legs! As the helpless spider rolls around and gnashes its mandibles, Grogg bellows his famous catchphrase "THIS IS STRENGTH!!!" and buries his axe into the cluster of bulbous eyes above the spider's venomous maw!

To be continued....
 

log in or register to remove this ad

mikeawmids

Explorer
(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 5 (20/09/2012) - Part One

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk with grand revolutionary ambitions. A political pioneer fighting for the rights of the little (green) man. Vive la Goblin!)

Vic : Grogg (Gladiatorial champion of the downtrodden masses, this muscular half-orc is rarely parted from his beloved axe 'Monica' or his 'lucky' talisman, strung with tokens from previous champions)

Mal H : Ben (The black sheep of a wealthy family from distant Minkai, after reading the journal of a demon-possessed serial killer, he has developed some disturbing hobbies....)

Crusader Hank: Rast (Dwarven rogue with a diverse catalogue of curious scars/twitches. A dabbler in alchemy, with an unsavoury habit of drinking the foul humours he extracts from fallen foes - all in the spirit of scientific enquiry, or course!) Recent wed to Ameiko Kaijitsu.)

Andrek : Asha (Crusading priest of Sarenrae, also turns out that 'he' is actually a 'she' - and not above using her body to get what she wants!)


Cowed by Grogg's demonstration of TRUE STRENGTH, the remaining ogres surrender to the blood-soaked fighter. He cheerfully executes two - before remembering that by doing so, he is inadvertently helping the bad guys! Rast suggests that he scrub the sideheron star off the final prisoner before hacking off its ugly head, but Grogg (somewhat uncharacteristically) takes pity of the brute and spares its life. He instructs the ogre to release the second ranger; Vale Temros, from his cage.

Shalelu Andosana rushes to the side of the wounded ranger with the eye-patch. Having sustained several nasty injuries during his fight with the ogre's pet spider, the creature's deadly venom is now coursing through the the man's veins. Shalelu reveals that this dying human; Jakardros Sovark, is her biological father and pleads with the party to save her dad! Asha draws the poison from the grizzled woodsman's wounds - which Rast eagerly bottles for future use.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party prepare to assault the farmhouse, where they suspect the last of the surviving Black Arrows are being held. Grogg's new disciple is quizzed, re: the layout/denizens of the area, but quickly proves itself to be a font of ignorance. Its only worthwhile contribution to the discussion is that the farmhouse is the lair of Mama Graul and her many 'husbands'.
Leaving Shalelu to tend to her weakened father, the party warily approach the forsaken residence across the muddy farmyard.

Creeping ahead, Rast listens at a boarded-up window and hears movement within. The dwarven alchemist tries to break through the barrier, but it too puny to get inside that way.
"WHO DAT' TRYING TO GET INTO MA' BOUDOIR?!" a gravelly voice roars from beyond. Grogg shoves passed the frail dwarf and applies his TRUE STRNEGTH to the problem. He is immediately thrown backwards by a blast of necromantic energy! Witnessing this, the rest of the heroes storm the front door!

Ben Kotek reaches the portal first and reaches for the handle. Rusty saw-blades erupt from the woodwork, but Mal plays the MALFUNCTION Adventure Card and the (potentially) deadly trap grinds to a shuddering halt - mere moments before the spinning blades would have severed the ranger's outstretched hand!
Ben, Asha and Vale Temros barrel headlong into the dark interior and narrowly avoid tumbling into a stinking pit as the floor gives way beneath their feet. Disdaining the front door, Karrack prepares to backflip through a boarded-up window - only to bounce ingloriously of the unyielding surface. While Ben chuckles over the monk's humiliation, he fails to notice the long, creeping tendril emerge from the gaping hole in the floor - until it wraps around his leg and snatches him into the hungry darkness below the farmhouse! (Why is it always Mal/Ben who gets picked on by the tentacled monsters? First the Tentamort beneath Thistletop, now a Tendriculos!)

MEANWHILE... still reeling after receiving a faceful of Mama Graul's bad mojo, Grogg struggles to find his feet in the treacherous muck. Rast pours the foul tasting contents of a bubbling flask down the half-orc's gullet. Grogg chokes and splutters as the ogre-blood potion burns his throat on the way down - suddenly, the muscles on his right arm only ripple and enlarge to freakish proportions! Clambering in through the broken window, Grogg confronts the grossly obese ogre necromancer and her three undead 'husbands'. A Black Arrow cowers in the far corner of the room, cradling the bloody stump of his left wrist (Mama Graul had been snacking on the severed hand before being so rudely interrupted). Grogg wastes no time introducing 'Monica' to the ogre matriarch's face, forcing her to throw up a magical barrier to deter a more intimate relationship with the half-orc's beloved battle-axe.

BACK IN THE BASEMENT... Ben Kotek finds himself dangling upside down in the foetid darkness below the farmhouse, suspended over the yawning maw of a HUGE carnivorous plant! The disorientated ranger panics and casts Blast - and rolls a CRITICAL FAILURE on his spellcasting die. The sorcerous explosion misses the tendriculos - but does destroy the floor above, showering the plant monster in debris. Karrack and Vale Temros plummet into the inhospitable hole and start hacking at the mass of writhing tentacles, while Ben is swung this way and that like a flag on coronation day. Asha invokes the wrath of Sarenrae and reduces the vegetative horror to ash in a pillar of righteous fire!
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 5 (20/09/2012) - Part Two

MEANWHILE... while Grogg fends off Mama Graul's zombie grooms, the fat ogre matriarch steals away his sight with black magic! The blinded half-orc swings his axe wildly, demolishing the wall into the adjacent room and blundering into the hole that Ben's clumsy casting left in the floor. The human ranger targets Mama Graul with a second Blast, utterly obliterating the external wall that Rast had (until this moment) been cowering behind rather successfully. One of the undead ogres lumbers towards him and boots the feeble dwarf across the farmyard. It's a field goal! Hurrah!
The whimsical gods of exploding dice favour Andy this session, as Asha again rolls ludicrously well on her attack/damage, transforming Mama Graul's filthy nest into a ranging pyre. The ogre necromancer is far too overweight to escape the flames of celestial judgement!

As the farmhouse burns in the cleansing fires of the sun goddess, the party recover the Black Arrows' gear. Ben eyes Jakardros' magical longbow covetously, silently cursing the old ranger for surviving his encounter with the giant spider. Karrack inherits a pair of arrow-catching gloves from a dead man who doesn't need them any more (after the ogres pulled off both his arms). Rast finds a copy of the Zombie power scrawled across a piece of parchment fashioned from a human face, while Grogg hits the healing potions HARD (on a whim, I gave Grogg an additional hindrance: Habit [Addiction to Healing Potions], maniacal laugh!).
While Rast bandages the wounded ranger's ragged stump, he learns the man's name is Kaven Windstrike and he was captured by the ogres alongside Jakardros and Vale.

Poking around the basement, the party stumble upon the workshop of loveable Uncle Hucker, the elderly, hunchbacked ogre responsible for all the delightful traps that the group have bumbled into since invading the farmhouse. The party waste no time expressing their displeasure with his handiwork.

The heroes head upstairs and hurry through the ogre's foul-smelling kitchen and into the dining area beyond, where there is evidence of a meal recently disturbed. The diners had been gorging themselves on the glistening entrails of a rather surprised looking corpse, his slimy gizzards strewn across the table like paper-chains. Grogg is sickened by this gruesome spectacle - who would eat human entrails without the proper seasoning? Disgusting!

A curious gibbering draws the party further into the farmhouse. They encounter a deranged old woman locked inside a nursery with a horde of wailing ogre babies. Blissfully ignorant of the hungry stares and dribbling saliva their appearance has provoked, Grogg, Karrack and Asha force a path through the sea of hideous infants to rescue their insane nursemaid. They establish that the old woman lived here even before the ogres moved into the area and murdered her kin, and that she alone was kept alive to babysit the younger ogres (as Mama Graul was far too busy to fulfil her maternal responsibilities).

And then the ogre babies attacked!

Grogg and Karrack beat off the savage little ankle biters, while Asha is dragged down beneath a swarm of ravenous monster children! Vale Temros bursts into the nursery, brandishing his twin axes and completely mad with berserker rage! Grogg throws the mad old crone over his shoulder and withdraws, leaving the vengeful ranger to his bloody business.

Returning to the barn, the three surviving Black Arrows gratefully accept the offer of aid recapturing Fort Rannick from the ogres of Hook Mountain. Jarkardros reveals the existence of a secret entrance into the fortress, which should enable a stealthy party to avoid the majority of the ogres occupying the keep. Karrack notices that Kaven seems less than enthused by the prospect of storming the ogre-held fortifications and sends the cowardly cripple back to Turtleback Ferry with instructions to mobilise Snot and his goblin commandos and rendezvous outside Fort Rannick.

To be continued....
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 6 (27/09/2012) - Part One

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk with grand revolutionary ambitions. A political pioneer fighting for the rights of the little (green) man. Vive la Goblin!)

Vic : Grogg (Gladiatorial champion of the downtrodden masses, this muscular half-orc is rarely parted from his beloved axe 'Monica' or his 'lucky' talisman, strung with tokens from previous champions)

Mal H : Ben (The black sheep of a wealthy family from distant Minkai, after reading the journal of a demon-possessed serial killer, he has developed some disturbing hobbies....)

Crusader Hank: Rast (Dwarven rogue with a diverse catalogue of curious scars/twitches. A dabbler in alchemy, with an unsavoury habit of drinking the foul humours he extracts from fallen foes - all in the spirit of scientific enquiry, or course!) Recent wed to Ameiko Kaijitsu.)

Andrek : Asha (Crusading priest of Sarenrae, also turns out that 'he' is actually a 'she' - and not above using her body to get what she wants!)


Having cleared out the Graul farmstead, the weary party retire to the barn to recoup and plan their assault on Fort Rannick. The secret entrance begins to sound much less appealing after the rangers divulge that it is occupied by a colony of fiercely territorial shocker lizards.
The Black Arrows are increasingly uncomfortable with Grogg's fondness for Fred the Ogre and cannot comprehend why the half-orc appears to be grooming the violent savage for a life of domiciliary servitude. Tempers begin to fray and Grogg is impelled to intervene when Vale Temros (who is not the greatest fan of ogres, after his entire family were slaughtered by them) lunges for Fred's throat. Relieving him of his bloody hatchets, Grogg suspends the vengeful ranger from a convenient hook until he has chilled out. Considering the froth bubbling from Vale's mouth, he will likely be hanging there for some time. Realising that co-operation between the party and the Black Arrows will be impossible while Fred is lumbering around after Grogg, the others convince the half-orc to cut the ogre loose. Their parting is an emotional one. Grogg stands in the rain as the ogre melts into the dark forest, so the others do not see his tears.

The sun rises on another miserable, rainy morning. The party (with some prompting) begin to suspect that the unseasonal storms might be the result of magical tampering with the weather. Rast takes some samples and tests the water for any unusual properties. His investigation suggests there is nothing extraordinary about the rain, other than the sheer volume of it.

After plodding through the wet foliage for several hours, the party spy the battlements of Fort Rannick looming on the other other side of a raging, rain-swollen river, dangerously close to bursting its muddy banks. Ogres patrol the walls of the fortress, though they clearly lack the vigilance and discipline of the fort's former garrison. Creeping passed the inattentive sentries, the party soon reach the waterfall and the cave entrance hidden behind the curtain of plunging water. Jakardros bids his daughter remain outside where she is less likely to come to grief, Shalelu looks to Karrack for support, but the humble Saurion only echoes her father's concerns.

One by one, the party cross a wobbly ropebridge spanning a deep, dark ravine. Jakardros (still woozy from the spider venom) staggers - but Karrack grabs the old ranger's arm before he can tumble into the abyss. (Nobody thinks to look down, and so nobody notices the skeleton of a halfling on a ledge some 20ft below, or the dim glimmer of the +1 magical shortsword clutched in its bony fingers.)

As the party venture deeper into the cave, the air grows increasingly foul as they draw closer to the warren of tunnels where the shocker lizards have made their lair. Ordinarily passive omnivores, the lizards can get vicious if their eggs are threatened. Rast goes into stealth mode and creeps through their nesting area - although the lizards cannot see him, they certainly pick up his distinctive scent (a potent combo of stinky cheese feet and chemical detergent) and grow agitated.
Reaching the opposite edge of the lizard's territory, Rast squirms through a narrow crawlspace and emerges into a dusty and disused crypt, sealed off from the rest of the fort when the shocker lizards first started making a nuisance of themselves. With a cheerful disregard for the effort that must have gone into crafting such an item, Rast sets to dulling the blade of his magical dagger by scraping away the mortar from between the stones of the sealed stairwell. His labours are interrupted when the skeletons of the former Black Arrows pop out of the dark alcoves where they'd been lain to rest, their repose disturbed by the industrious dwarf's infernal racket.

Alarmed by Rast's (somewhat girly) shriek, the rest of the heroes rush into the crowded lizard warrens. Karrack plays the PARLAY Adventure Card and address the shocker lizards in their own (forked) tongue. The lizards see the Saurian monk as an avatar of a superior race - the apex of their own evolutionary journey, as a result they are surprisingly receptive to his suggestion that they all go kick some ogre butt!
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 6 (27/09/2012) - Part Two

Back in the crypt, Rast is hard-pressed to fend off a group of undead rangers, garbed in tattered leather and brandishing rusty swords with nothing short of the skill they must have honed in life. Asha and Ben are the first to reach the dwarf's side, hacking the skeletons into an untidy jumble of mouldering bones. To their vexation, the fragments immediately begin reassembling themselves, like some ghastly jigsaw puzzle. Ben's keen eyes spot a spectral figure floating nearby, so he targets it with Jet. Pierced by the sorcerous beam, the baleful ghost implodes, showering the ranger in ectoplasmic residue (re: ghost goo). Rast scoops some into a flask, so as to explore its alchemical qualities at his earliest convenience. The rest of the skeletons collapsed when the spirit was banished.

Digging through the pile of bones, Ben finds a fine bow with one skeletal fist still firmly attached. Attempting to prise the bony fingers loose, the shrivelled hand suddenly scuttles up his arm and grabs him by the throat! As the ranger begins to turn a funny colour, Asha lunges across the crpty and wrenches the murderous fist off Ben's jugular before pulverising it into a fine, white powder (which Rast surreptitiously scrapes into a small, leather pouch).

Grogg barges through the weakened wall into the dingy dungeons beneath Fort Rannick. The familiar figure of Kaven Windstrike dangles upside down from a knotted rope, blood from many wounds pooling between the flagstones below. Before the party can cut him down, the Lady Lucrecia (former owner of the 'Paradise' riverboat) appears on a balcony overlooking the heroes, flanked by a group of heavily armed/armoured ogres. She explains how Kaven first betrayed his brothers-in-arms for little more than a few nights of sordid passion, then returned to sell out the heroes - not that the ruthless Lamia ever had any intention to reward the ranger's (dis)loyalty with anything but a lingering death.
Three armoured ogres carelessly swinging spiked flails wade into combat, while the other (less formidably attired) brutes hurl blocks of rubble down from the balcony. Karrack drives the shocker lizards into the fray before joining the battle himself. He becomes entangled in the chain of an ogre's flail and topples to the ground, struggling helplessly as the fight rages on all around his prone figure. Another ogre drops a huge block of masonry on a cluster of his reptilian allies, squashing them into jelly.
Ben casts Blast, but the ogres duck behind their heavy shields and advance. Rast lingers in the stairwell, buffing his stealth modifiers - when he tries to join the fight, he discovers Lucrecia has summoned a Barrier to prevent the party retreating into the tunnels - and him from leaving them to help his friends! Grogg brawls his way up onto the balcony and charges towards the Lamia Matriarch, who attempts to restore her compulsion over the half-orc, via the Sideheron star inked onto his skin. But Grogg has already broken her spell once - and he resists again! The expression of surprise scarcely has time to register on Lucrecia's face before 'Monica' cleaves her beautiful head from her shoulders!

Even with the Lamia defeated, the armoured ogres remain a daunting threat and someone (I forget who) plays the REINFORCEMENTS Adventure Card to pull in some much needed support. Up out of the caves spill a small army of goblin warriors, with Snot at its head! The party finish off the ogres and secure the area before contemplating how to deal with Kaven Windstrike.
The traitor pleads for his life, swearing that Lucrecia used her magic to seduce and trick him into betraying Fort Rannick to the ogres. Jakardros and Vale are unmoved by his pleas - the Order of the Black Arrow was almost destroyed thanks to his duplicity - and chop of his head.

Mounting the goblin fighters on shocker lizard cavalry, the heroes emerge into the inner bailey and engage the rest of the ogres in a brutal contest for occupation of the castle. While individual shocker lizards do not present a dire threat to the ogres, so many of them congregated in a confined space has a curious effect on the storm-wracked skies - bolts of lightning bombard the compound, blasting whole groups of armoured ogres into wide, smouldering craters! Grogg imbibes more of Rast's marvellous medicine and bulldozes through the enemy lines, scattering ogres like tenpins in the wake of a particularly ugly, green bowling ball.
In the midst of the battle, the five heroes find themselves separated from their allies, facing off against the leader of the ogres, a mountainous specimen looming a whole head and shoulders taller than any of its kin; Papa Jargaath Kreeg!

While the rest of the party engage Papa Kreeg's entourage of ogre mages (their eyes and mouths sewn shut with human hair), Grogg and Ben Kotek clash against the huge ogre patriarch. One of the ogre wizards casts Shrink Person on Grogg, reducing the half-orc to the height of a gnome! Papa Kreeg roars with good cheer and raises his foot, preparing to stamp the pint-sized gladiator into the muddy ground, but Mini-Grogg braces himself against the sole of the ogre's enormous boot and pushes back - shoving the patriarch off balance! Enraged, Papa Kreeg sweeps his ogre-hook in a deadly arc, grievously wounding Mini-Grogg and eviscerating Ben Kotek, whose lower intestines make a surprise guest appearance. Plucking the helpless ranger out of the mud, Papa Kreeg smacks his lips and readies to suck Ben's delicious entrails out of his stomach.....

To be continued....
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 7 (04/10/2012) - Part One

Player Characters

Val : Karrack (Lizardman monk with grand revolutionary ambitions. A political pioneer fighting for the rights of the little (green) man. Vive la Goblin!)

Vic : Grogg (Gladiatorial champion of the downtrodden masses, this muscular half-orc is rarely parted from his beloved axe 'Monica' or his 'lucky' talisman, strung with tokens from previous champions)

Mal H : Ben Kotek (The black sheep of a wealthy family from distant Minkai, after reading the journal of a demon-possessed serial killer, he has developed some disturbing hobbies....)

Crusader Hank: Rast (Dwarven rogue with a diverse catalogue of curious scars/twitches. A dabbler in alchemy, with an unsavoury habit of drinking the foul humours he extracts from fallen foes - all in the spirit of scientific enquiry, or course!) Recently wed to Ameiko Kaijitsu.)

Andrek : Asha (Crusading priest of Sarenrae, also turns out that 'he' is actually a 'she' - and not above using her body to get what she wants!)

Steboucha : Antony (aka Solaris, the elven warrior monk! Formerly a handsome vagrant with no recollection of his own history, a chance encounter while adventuring with the party unearthed many painful memories - memories that perhaps may have best been forgotten....)


Mal kicks off the final session by immediately playing the SECOND WIND Adventure Card, which removes all wounds that one character has taken during the current combat. Ben Kotek staggers back into the fray, holding his guts in with one hand and brandishing his katana in the other! He casts Jet against Papa Kreeg, pinning the ogre patriarch to the ground (after Vic played another Adventure Card that caused the hefty fellow to fall arse over :):):) in the treacherous muck). Karrack leaps onto the flailing brute's broad chest and sinks the two serpent fang daggers (looted off Lucrecia's headless corpse) into his bulging eyes sockets. Blinded, Papa Kreeg hurls the lizardman off and recovers his feet, swinging his great-axe wildly and hitting nothing (not with a cumulative -11 penalty on his Fighting roll!). Still shrunken, Mini-Grogg scampers merrily beneath the blade and attaches himself to the towering ogre's shin, like a dog dry humping it's owners leg. Papa Kreeg roars and tries to dislodge the midget menace. Seizing the moment, Karrack vaults onto the ogre's shoulders and stabs him in the ear. Papa Kreegs totters as blood streams from his sightless eye sockets, then topples face first into the mud. Rast glances across sheepishly from where he has has been busy looting the dead ogre mages, while the rest of the company fought for their lives.

With the defeat of their patriarch, the surviving ogres cut their losses and abandon Fort Rannick, retreating back into the wilderness. Antony/Solaris is almost trampled beneath the stampeding horde as he swaggers back from another of his mysterious absences.
Having recaptured Fort Rannick, the heroes tend to their wounds. Asha stitches up Ben's stomach, while Rast creeps around under his mantle of invisibility, looking for unattended treasure. The pious dwarf decides against pocketing the change out of the collection plate in the desecrated chapel, but eagerly prises a valuable-looking battle-axe from the stony grip of a statue of Erastil.
Karrack and Snot mourn the goblin casualties, while Grogg piles ogre corpses onto a roaring pyre.

Jakardros Sovark and Vale Temros both emerged from the fighting with minor injuries. Shalelu Andosana agrees to delay her return to Sandpoint, while she helps her father rebuild Fort Rannick and recruit/train a new generation of Black Arrows. Grogg immediately volunteers and a lucky Persuasion roll convinces the rangers to (grudgingly) suffer the goblins and shocker lizards to co-inhabit the caves below the castle and serve the order as mounted scouts.

Having completed their primary objective, the party consider their immediate future. They could return to Magnimar and claim the gold for a job well done - but in light of recent revelations (the trifling matter of an evil giant inciting the ogres to wage war on Varisia) - they cannot bring themselves to abandon the good people of Turtleback Ferry while Barl Breakbones is still at liberty. They resolve to make haste for the Kreeg Clanhold on Hook Mountain, where the giant is overseeing the muster of his army. Grogg is dispatched to track down Fred the Ogre, whom the party suspect can lead them straight to the remote clanhold. Rast accompanies the half-orc, hoping to extract some more venom from the body of the giant spider they left mouldering in the barn.

Several hours after the two of them set off, the heroes recuperating at Fort Rannick hear an ominous thundering that rattles the foundations of the castle. Looking to the north, they are appalled to see a large section of the Skulls Crossing dam has broken away! Water from the great Storval Deep is flooding the valley! The strong walls of the fortress protect those fortunate enough to be behind them from the deluge, but the subterranean lizard warrens below the keep begin filling with water. Karrack and the goblins risk their own lives to rescue the unhatched eggs from the flooded tunnels.
Meanwhile, Ben Kotek casts Blast over the forest, hoping to draw Rast and Grogg's attention to their IMMINENT DOOM!!!!
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
(Savaged) Rise of the Runelords > The Hook Mountain Massacre
Rotation 2 / Session 7 (04/10/2012) - Part Two

Trudging through the murky forest, Rast and Grogg glance over their shoulders as Ben's magical flare explodes overhead. They spot the towering wall of water rushing towards them at tremendous speed and absolutely brown their britches. Rast clambers into the upper branches of a convenient tree and spreads his makeshift wings, waiting for the opportune moment to launch himself into the air. Grogg (who cannot fly) has little alternative but to make a mad dash towards the Graul farmstead and hope to find shelter from the monstrous wave.
Rast waits until the last moment to make his Flying check - and he rolls a CRITICAL FAILURE! The harpy wings become fouled in the branches and the dwarf has barely enough time to curse his misfortune before the wall of water hits him like a colossal warhammer.
Meanwhile, Grogg reaches the farm mere moments ahead of the wave. Fred the Ogre lumbers out of the barn (having crept back to scavenge for food after the party had left). The two of them leap into the bed of the wagon parked beside the neglected cornfield and hang on for dear life as the water snatches up their little boat! Grogg spots Rast's limp body rushing passed (Vic spent a Benny to facilitate this fortunate coincidence), his ruined wings keeping him afloat. The half-orc scoops Rast into the cart and applies mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Rast regains consciousness - but immediately wishes he hadn't.
This unlikely trio eventually drift into the flooded town of Turtleback Ferry, where the townsfolk are too preoccupied saving their possessions from the rising water to much care about the group's unusual mode of transit.
Rast and his wife are briefly re-united, before he packs her off to the (dubious) safety of Fort Rannick with the rest of the villagers, while he and Grogg help the Mayor evacuate the town.

Meanwhile, Karrack ascends the tower overlooking the castle to better survey the damage to Skulls Crossing. He can make out familiar, ogre-shaped figures at work along the top of the dam. He also spots a huge shadow being swept towards Turtleback Ferry. The leviathan breaks the surface momentarily and the Saurian monk glimpses the aquatic terror known locally as Black Maga, a primeval terror whispered to occupy the lightless depths of the Storval Deep. Karrack, Ben Kotek, Asha and Antony/Solaris pile into the Black Arrow's only boat and start rowing after the monster.

Having crowded the residents of Turtleback Ferry onto the free giant turtle-shell rafts that gave the town its name, Rast and Grogg begin the arduous voyage back to Fort Rannick, a crippling struggle against the swift current. One of the three rafts is capsized, spilling screaming villagers into the swift water as Black Maga makes her presence known! Three huge, scaly heads on the end of long, sinuous necks snake out of the flooded river and begin preying on the terrified townsfolk. One head exhales a cloud of poisonous breath over the little boat that Grogg and Rast have commandeered. The dwarven alchemist has developed an immunity to fouler fumes than this creature can produce (re: every time he passes wind) and is unaffected. Grogg leaps to his feet and cleaves the offending head clean off in a single stroke, nearly upsetting their own vessel in the process! A second head pluck Fred the Ogre out of the boat - but has trouble swallowing the struggling brute, whose thrashing legs protrude comically from the monster's fanged jaws.
As the rest of the party s-l-o-w-l-y catch up, Karrack slips overboard and swims ahead. Ben and Asha target the monster with ranged attacks (both magical and mundane) from the rocking boat, while Antony/Solaris rows them in circles.

Misliking the (acquired) taste of ogre-flesh, Black Maga retches what's left of Fred back up. Dripping corrosive stomach acid, the ogre's trusty hook snags on the leviathans scaly armour and fillets the serpentine neck as he plunges into the river, opening its throat like the zipper on a winter coat. Two down, one to go! The final head smashes the small boat into flotsam, tossing Rast and Grogg into the roiling water. While the prudent dwarf paddles for higher ground, Grogg splashes recklessly towards Black Maga!
Ben, Asha and Antony/Solaris float up just in time to witness the half-orc severing the final head, hacking into the scaly trunk as a lumberjack would an ancient oak. As the dying leviathan's death throes churn up the bloody water, Karrack rolls a CRITICAL FAILURE on his Swimming check to get clear of the flailing tentacles. The Saurian monk is entangled and dragged down after the sinking body. Rast immediately dives after his scaly friend, a tense thirty seconds pass and neither emerge from the turbulent depths. Grogg instructs Fred the Ogre to help, then watches the ogre sink. Thoughtless of his own safety (or just generally thoughtless), the half-orc (still wearing full plate mail!) wades out after him. Rast - hacking at the thick tentacle wrapped around Karrack's torso - pauses to watch as first Fred, then Grogg plunge passed on their way to the bottom of the river. Once freed, Karrack rolls his eyes and swims after them. Somehow, the lizardman manages to haul the armoured half-orc up to the surface (Doug rolled really well on his Swimming roll, even with the -5 penalty).

Having defeated Black Maga and saved (most of) the villagers, Mayor Shreed pleads with the party to make all haste to Skulls Crossing and prevent the ogres from demolishing the rest of the dam. If they succeed and the Storval Deep spills into the valley, Turtleback Ferry, Fort Rannick and all of the neighbouring villages along Lake Claybottom will be utterly obliterated! The heroes shanghai a couple of fishermen to ferry them to the foot of the crumbling Thassilonian edifice, where they disembark and begin the exhausting climb. Along the cliff-side stair, they encounter evidence of a violent struggle between the ogres and the tribe of trolls that have long laired within the dam. Atop Skulls Crossing, the two forces are still in conflict - even as the dam cracks and crumbles below their feet!

The heroes must triumph over both bestial factions and find a way to avert ABSOLUTE DISASTER - before the dam falls apart with them still inside it!!!

To be continued... in a future rotation!
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Rise of the Runelords (Season 3) – 27/02/2014 (Hook Mountain Massacre)

By the time the heroes reach the top of Skull Crossing, the Kreeg ogres have slain the trolls inhabiting the ancient dam and set to demolishing the crumbling stonework.

“I told you we shouldn’t have stopped for ice cream!” Ben Kotek chastises Grogg, as the half-orc wipes a smear of raspberry ripple off his chin.

The party must wade through rushing water to reach the ogres. Karrack fumbles his Agility roll and is swept away. The plummeting lizardman manages to drive his staff into a deep crack in the face of the dam. He dangles there for a while, admiring the view. Two ogres are killed before the others even notice that they are under attack. Most of them are wielding huge hammers/flails, but a couple begin throwing large clay vessels imaginatively called boomjars (because they go boom!). Ben Kotek mislikes the notion of ogres tossing explosives around and casts Entangle to prevent further munitions from being lobbed. Unfortunately, the muscular brutes are rolling d12+3 to break free, so they do not stay entangled for long. Solaris takes careful aim and shoots an ogre as he is picking up another boomjar. The clumsy monster drops the clay vessel, setting off a chain reaction that detonates the rest of the explosives.

KABOOM!

Fred (Grogg’s pet ogre) is vaporised in the subsequent firestorm, while the rest of the party are pelted with chunks of smoking masonry. Picking themselves up, the heroes soon realise that the explosion has blocked the entrance to the dam with smouldering rubble.

“Oh, well done, Solaris.”

While the others mock the elven monk, Rast siphons blood from the few ogres not completely char-grilled in the explosion. The dwarven alchemist notes that several ogres are missing their eyeballs. Ben Kotek whistles nonchalantly, pockets bulging. Far below, Karrack notices that the cracks spreading across the face of the dam have opened an alternative route inside. The rest of the heroes abseil down to the lizardman’s position. Grogg struggles to squeeze his girth through the narrow crevasse.

“You’re stuck, aren’t you?” Karrack asks, after a few, uncomfortable moments.

“No.” Grogg lies, “It’s just a bit tight.”

“You shouldn’t have eaten all that ice cream!” Ben says smugly.

“Get Rast down here!” Karrack calls.

Rast coats Grogg in an alchemical lubricant distilled from tentamort fat. The half-orc emerges from the crevasse slippery and stinking of squid. The heroes make haste to the control room, searching for the mechanism to open the floodgates and avert the imminent calamity. They soon discover that the flood gates are powered by the life force of two ancient demons, trapped for aeons within a pair of magical circles. The first is barely alive and the other has been reduced to dust (which Rast scoops up) the last time the device was activated. The surviving fiend stirs and introduces itself as Avaxial, promising eternal servitude if the party release him from his prison.

“A vacancy has just opened up….” Grogg muses, lamenting the loss of his pet ogre. The rest of the party pile on top of him, before he can scuff out the magical circle trapping the demon.

With time running out, the party waste precious minutes bickering among themselves. Nobody wants to risk being reduced to dust, just to save the people of Turtleback Ferry.

“We could draw straws?” Karrack suggests.

“Arm-wrestling!” roars Grogg.

“How about a beauty contest!” counters Solaris, looking simply fabulous.

Ultimately, the groups three magic-users work together to channel their arcane energy into the empty circle, which (they hope) will fool the device into believing there is a living being in each one. Surprisingly, this actually works! Rast throws the huge levers, opening the floodgates. Turtleback Ferry is saved! There is much cheering and clapping of backs. Avaxial is vaporised of course, but that’s his problem.

The groups revelry is cut short when a siren wails, deafeningly loud. By flooding the magic circles with power, the party have overcharged the device! The power is building to perilous levels! If the party can’t find a way to stabilise the circles, the dam may still be destroyed!

“There’s got to be something we can do!” Ben says, “I know! We can run away!”

Karrack and Grogg race after the cowardly ranger, dodging falling rubble as the dam continues to break asunder. Rast and Solaris stay behind, determined to delay the explosion long enough for their friends to escape the blast radius. (This sequence was treated as a Dramatic Task. They managed to accumulate nine of the ten successes required to avert disaster).

“It was nice knowing you.” Solaris says to Rast, as the energy reaches critical levels.

Suddenly, Steve (Solaris’ player) decides to play the Malfunction adventure card – and the deadly arcane energy dissipates harmlessly into the surrounding stone. Rast and Solaris share a sigh of relief (otherwise, they would have both taken 3d10 = 27 damage in the resultant explosion).

Triumphant, the heroes return to Fort Rannick, where the refugees from Turtleback Ferry are being housed until the floodwaters subside. Now that he has the Repair skill (d4), Rast repairs his makeshift glider (making a couple of modifications to the design) and comforts his wife, who is not enjoying her honeymoon as much as she’d hoped. She had been expecting more candles and fewer ogres. Karrack persuades Mayor Shreed to allow several goblins to shadow the human stone-masons sent to repair the (extensive) damage to Skull Crossing. Grogg paddles down to the flooded village to recover several of Black Maga’s heads. He stacks this gristly totem in the castle courtyard and poses beside it, while a goblin artist paints his portrait. From the window of his chamber, Ben Kotek gazes avidly at the six, huge eyes staring lifelessly from the hydra’s three severed heads. How magnificent they would look in his collection! He begins to gibber and drool, scrawling unknowable glyphs onto the walls.

Vale Temros (one of the three rangers whom the party rescued from the Graul farmstead) approaches Grogg and convinces him to participate in a daring raid on the Kreeg clanhold, high on Hook Mountain. When Grogg tries to sell the others on this course of action, it begins to sound less like a daring raid and more like a suicide mission.

Vale had intended to assault the main entrance of the clanhold head-on. Ben Kotek scouts the rocky foothills and locates a network of caves, which he believes will enable the group to sneak into the ogre stronghold from below. These natural tunnels lead into the Kreeg’s mining operation beneath Hook Mountain. The heroes immediately begin slaughtering the fatigued miners (so much for the stealthy approach!).

To be continued….
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Rise of the Runelords (Season 3) – 06/03/2014

Following the rusty rails of the old mine-cart track, Rast advances ahead of the party, shrouded in his Cloak of Lurking Menace (+2 stealth). He is soon crouched on a ledge overlooking a huge cavern aswarm with industrious ogres. The sweltering air rings with the clang of metal as the muscular brutes labour at their anvils, pounding shapeless metal into crude, oversized weapons. Two enormous vats of molten iron bubble and spit – and beyond that, the shaft of a large freight elevator ascends through the roof of the cavern. This mechanism is powered by a miserable collection of human/dwarven prisoners, trapped in a huge wheel at the base of the shaft. Their pleas for water and mercy are distantly audible, even over the general clamour of the foundry.

Rast returns to the party, reporting that the area ahead is teeming with ogres.

“Ogres?” Vale Temros enquires.

“Yes, lots of ogres,” the dwarven alchemist answers distractedly. “I propose that we sneak passed without drawing their attention and see if there’s any way to rescue - ”

“OGRES!!!” Vale Temros roars, charging off down the tunnel.

“He really doesn’t care for ogres, does he?” Ben Kotek observes, readying his bow.

(GM Notes: Again, so much for the stealthy approach, although this time it was an NPCs fault).

By the time they catch up with the bloodthirsty ranger, he is already trading blows with two of the hulking ogre metalworkers, while yet more crowd around to watch. The Kreeg overseer cracks his whip, ordering the distracted brutes to return to their work.

Rast flings himself from the ledge, the harpy wings of his glider snapping open on recently oiled springs. The thermal currents rising from the two huge vats of molten iron allow him to remain airborne almost indefinitely. One ogre takes umbrage with the dwarf’s blatant disregard for the rules of gravity and hurls a hammer at his head. Rast looses a couple of teeth, but remains in the air.

Grogg and Asha rush to support Vale, while Solaris snipes from the ledge. The burly ranger takes a nasty blow to the head and falls unconscious. The ogres place his body on an anvil and prepare to beat his skull into a more pleasing shape. As the hammer descends with bone-shattering force, Asha leaps forward and slices off the ogre’s arm. The hammer strikes the anvil (inches away from Vale’s head) throwing up sparks. Another ogre grabs the sun-worshipping cleric in his muscular arms, tendons straining as he begins squeezing the life out of her. Grogg hurls his magical battleaxe at the ogre’s head, burying the wicked blade deep in the monster’s skull.

Meanwhile, Ben Kotek repeatedly casts Blast (burning through Power Points like a fat child eats Smarties), mangling ogres left, right and centre. At the far end of the cavern, the large elevator begins to descend, groaning with the weight of its load. An angry stone giant emerges from the lift and tips over one of the two vats of molten metal. Everyone (except for Grogg and a couple of ogres) make their agility saves and get up onto the oversized anvils to evade the puddle of death. Grogg takes 3d10 = 6 damage (oh, fickle dice!) and refuses to catch fire. The half-orc begins splashing around (incurring horrific burns, but no actual wounds), searching for the magical axe that he threw earlier in the combat.

(GM Notes: The other players thought I was too lenient on Vic’s character and should not have allowed Grogg to wade around in a pool of molten metal. I rolled 3d10 damage for every round that he was splashing around (Vic really wanted that axe back before the iron cooled/solidified) and not once did the result exceed Grogg’s TN - even without his AV bonus. Those rolls could just have easily exploded for massive damage. Perhaps I should have rolled 2d10+4 instead).

Still flying, Rast circles the giant and chucks a pot of alchemical glue at its legs, adhering its great stone feet to the ground. Ben targets the immobilised giant with Jet (rolling exceptional damage on 2d10) and kills it with just the one spell. The giant topples over backwards, crashing through the huge wheel at the base of the lift shaft and releasing the prisoners who had been trapped within. Grogg and Karrack both play adventure cards to establish themselves as folk heroes in the vicinity of Hook Mountain.

“Thank-you for rescuing us!” one particular dwarf says, pumping Rast’s hand in his, “My name is Silas Vekker. Tell me, where is my brother? Is he well?”

Silas explains that his brother (Karivek Vekker) escaped from his cell two days ago and climbed the elevator shaft, hoping to escape from the clanhold and return with reinforcements to free the rest of his kin.

“Never met the fellow!” Rast answers cheerfully, “He’s probably been eaten. Did he have any good treasure?”

(GM Notes: This was a long battle for Savage Worlds, with lots of combatants and environmental hazards. With TN 12, ogres can be tough to put down, but most of the players are now dealing enough damage to take them out pretty quickly (Grogg is a viking in melee, Ben with the Blast power, Solaris using the Aim + Double Shot edge combo) Maybe I should give Savage Worlds ogres the Hardy ability, so that a second shaken result does not incapacitate them. Doug did had some trouble, I’m pretty sure that Karrack spent the entire fight trading blows with the same ogre. Gary did not build Rast for close combat and he avoids it religiously, relying on alchemical devices and his returning dagger to attack from range. I did impose the unstable platform ability to attack from the air, but that can be negated by taking the Steady Hands edge on a future Advance. I enjoyed running this fight, even though it did take ages, I just hope the players were not bored between turns).

Following Karivek’s example, the heroes climb the lift shaft and enter the ogre hold unremarked. Having learnt their lesson, Asha distracts Vale Temros by displaying a shameful amount of cleavage, while the rest of the party range ahead and slaughter any sentries that they find. Eventually, the party enters a noxious-smelling cave, where three ogre-sized hags cluster around a bubbling cauldron. This coven of loathsome old crones (Briselda, Grelthaga & Lorastine) are responsible for the unnaturally heavy rainfall plaguing the region.

Grelthaga is dealt a Joker during initiative and acts first, enjoying a +2 bonus to her spellcasting dice. She casts Blind and Ben, Grogg and Asha are all suddenly robbed of their sight.

(GM Note: I don’t like how the Blind power works in the rules as written, so I changed it up to impose the standard -6 penalty to do anything based on vision for the three rounds that the power lasts. Grelthaga could have extended the duration by spending power points, but that would have been a dick move and I didn’t do it. I got the impression these three players were not happy about being knocked out of the combat for three rounds, but I did advise them there was nothing to stop them wading in and rolling their attacks with a -6 penalty, dice do explode after all. I had thought that Grogg would have done that, but he ended up cowering in the tunnel, waiting for the spell to expire like everyone else).

Karrack rushes forward and drives his spear through Briselda’s eye, killing her instantly!

(GM Notes: This was a stupid GM mistake, I forgot that each of the hags was a Wild Card with multiple wounds – by the time I remembered, it was too late to do anything about it. I did consider dropping this fight altogether and going straight to the confrontation with Barl, but the heavy rainfall was such a big part of the villain's plans that I didn't feel I could overlook the cause of it).

Grelthaga lashes out with her filthy claws, scoring deep gouges in the side of the cauldron as Karrack ducks behind it. The final hag casts Baleful Shapechange against Vale Temros, transforming him into a pig. Her wicked cackling is interrupted when the animal sinks its teeth into her shin. Infuriated, she snatches the scrappy man-pig up and bites off its head! Salty pig blood gushes from between rotten, brown teeth.

Next, Lorastine attempts to transform Karrack into a frog, but he resists the effects of the spell. The lizardman monk subsequently kills her and Grethalga in a flurry of scaly fists!

Rast dredges the bottom of the cauldron and finds the skeletal remains of Silas Vekker’s missing brother, recognisable by the distinctive ring on one of his bony fingers.

Grogg recovers his vision just as the battle ends.

“Is anyone going to finish that pig?” he asks, stomach rumbling.

New Treasure

Ring of Miner’s Luck: A plain copper band that grows warmer the closer the wearer is to an unworked seam of precious metal. Highly valued by dwarven prospectors.

Vekker’s Pick: +1 (fighting/damage) pickaxe belonging to Karivek Vekker, functions as a +2 weapon when brandished by a dwarf.
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Rise of the Runelords (Season 3 / Episode 3) – 13/03/2014

The party confront Barl Breakbones (the stone giant necromancer responsible for the attack on Fort Rannick) in his throne room. The centre of the cavern is dominated by a deep pit, which the heroes soon discover is chock full of corpses (mostly ogres).

“So! You must be the meddlers who have been….” Here Barl pauses, struggling to find the right word, before lamely deciding on; “Meddling. In my plans.”

Rast runs to the edge of the corpse pit and takes wing (GM Notes: I dearly hoped Gary would botch this roll and fall into the hole). Barl’s two stone giant bodyguards swat at him ineffectually as he glides towards the throne. The necromancer waves his hand lazily, conjuring an invisible wall of force between himself and the dwarven bomber. Rast collides with the magical barrier and falls out of the sky. One of the bodyguards raises its huge, stone foot to stamp on the stunned dwarf. Rast rolls out of the way, bouncing down the oversized steps. He stops himself just short of rolling straight over the edge of the corpse pit.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party tackle the last handful of Kreeg ogres left on Hook Mountain. Moments after the heroes cut them down, Barl’s hands crackle with necromantic energy. He reanimates the slain ogres as lumbering zombies! Barl’s bodyguards wade into the fray, swinging their tree-trunk sized clubs in devastating arcs. Several undead ogres are knocked into the air, after shambling mindlessly into the path of these huge weapons. Grogg gets himself incapacitated and both Karrack and Ben are crippled (with two & three wounds respectively).

(GM Notes: The players agreed this was easily the toughest fight thus far in the campaign. This was most due to three factors. 1: I had previously been capping wounds at 4, making it much easier to recover from injury on the subsequent soak rolls, I only realised my mistake at the start of this rotation. 2: The ogres are rolling d12+d8+3 on a standard hit and the giants were even stronger! 3: My dice were on fire tonight, around 50% of the (fighting) rolls I made exploded, adding additional d6 to the already horrific amount of damage that the opposition could deal out.
The players could have retreated… but they wouldn’t have done. The combat could possibly have resulted in a TPK if Gary hadn’t played the Reinforcements adventure card when he did – see below).

Things are looking pretty grim for the heroes. Asha crouches next to Grogg’s body, forcing healing potions down his throat. Ignoring their grievous injuries, Karrack and Ben struggle to hold the stone giants back. Suddenly, seven of the dwarven prisoners that the party rescued during the last session charge into the throne room. The dwarves occupy the remaining ogres, allowing the heroes to focus their attacks on the two stone giants. Karrack kills the first by driving his staff up through the roof of its mouth and into its brain. The second giant roars and sweeps its club towards the Saurian monk. Karrack channels his chi into his staff. When the two weapons meet, the giant’s club explodes, leaving the towering thug dazed. Karrack takes advantage of his opponent’s confusion to jab his staff into the giant’s eye socket!

Barl Breakbones rises from his throne and joins the battle. The heroes pile into him. (GM: The players inflicted some significant damage in that first round, but Barl rolled really well on his soak rolls, leading to some frustration around the table as the necromancer shrugged off what should have been debilitating attacks). Doug plays the Villainous Monologue adventure card and Barl wastes his next turn explaining (at great length) his role in the imminent invasion of Varisa.

“My master Mokmorian is gathering giants to his fortress of Jorgenfist!” he says, “The weapons being forged below this very mountain will arm his horde. Your cities will be reduced to rubble beneath their feet and your kinsmen taking as their slaves.”

Eventually, after exhausting all his bennies, inflicting three wounds and one level of fatigue (tentamort venom!), Asha finishes Barl off with a 3d6 bolt of holy fire, reducing the stone giant to a pile of steaming slag.

(GM Notes: The players agreed that this was easily the most challenging fight of the campaign to date. I was reasonably happy with how things went. There was a real risk of death, but nobody actually died. I designed the confrontation to be difficult, as Barl is the BBEB in this module of the AP. The group are now 50% of the way through Rise of the Runelords.
I won’t deny that Savage Worlds is ‘Fun’ and ‘Furious’ (because it is!), but it’s perhaps not as Fast as advertised in the blurb. Sometimes, there are just too many modifiers on any one roll for things to run smoothly. Some players were rolling Fighting + Wild Attack + Gang up bonus + Large target modifier – Multi-Action penalty – Off-Hand penalty = too much math!!!).

The heroes loot the room. Beside the throne rest three large, stone chests; each one is brimming with gold and precious stones. A note (written in giantish, which Jarkardros later translates) from Mokmorian instructs that the treasure should be used to buy the support of the local giants.

“I can think of a better use for all this coin.” Grogg says, filling his pockets.

“Money won’t buy you happiness.” Solaris warns him.

“I don’t want to buy it,” Grogg replies, “Just rent it by the hour.”

Amongst the gold, the heroes find a number of magical items; +3 damage slingshot, +1 attack/+1 damage spear, +2 damage halberd, scroll of Obscure, ring of power surge. Looting the dead, Ben Kotek claims Barl’s Belt of Exceptional Intellect (+3 smarts) – which the stone giant had been wearing as a bracelet.

“Quick! Someone hand me a Sudoku!” he calls, buckling it around his waist.

He solves the puzzle easily. Rast watches the ranger enviously. He wonders if Ben would consider exchanging the belt for bucket of eyeballs.

(GM Notes: All of the treasure (apart from the stuff taken off Barl’s corpse) was randomly generated using the table in the Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion. I regret asking the players to roll 1d100 to see if they found something, as everyone succeeded except Andy. I should have just let everyone roll up one random item and then decide amongst themselves how to distribute them amongst the party. You can sometimes get some strange results by randomly generating loot (magical bagpipes?), but this time they got a fairly decent haul of magical weapons. Karrack claimed the spear and Asha will wear the ring, but I doubt the sling or halberd will see much use, regardless of the modifiers they impart upon fighting/damage).

The heroes return to Fort Rannick with Vale’s (headless) body and Barl’s (bodiless) head (which the Black Arrows mount over their gate). The players get to enjoy some well deserved downtime. Wearing the Ring of Miner’s Fortune, Rast locates a promising vein of silver ore and uses his share of the party loot to stake a claim. He offers jobs to the dwarves rescued from the ogre clanhold and employs Silas Vekker as his foreman. Ameiko does not care for her husband’s jealous love of gold and badgers him to take her home to Sandpoint. (GM Notes: The issue of Rast’s surname came up this session, as now that Ameiko is married to him, surely it is her surname also? Ultimately, Gary decided on Sternhammer. I wonder how this will affect Jade Regent if we ever play that campaign in the future?). Karrack oversees the repairs to Skull Crossing and Solaris goes looking for elf friends with whom he can share his elf problems. Meanwhile, Ben Kotek struts around Turtleback Ferry, enjoying the sense of smug superiority that his new belt affords him.

Grogg uses his share of the treasure to repair and refurbish the ‘Paradise’ riverboat, restoring the vessel to some semblance of its former splendour. He renames it the ‘Everstill’ and opens for business. He advertises for a captain and Snot the goblin applies for the job. Grogg rejects his application out of hand. The next day, construction work on the dam grinds to a halt, as ALL the goblins form a picket line along the waterfront.

“We’re only goblins, what’s the worst that can happen?” they chant, waving their placards.

Karrack is forced to mediate between Grogg and the goblin union. The half-orc grudgingly agrees to hire Snot on a trial basis (“If we sink and drown, you’re fired”).

(GM Notes: The whole group were suspicious of Snot’s enthusiasm to become captain of the ‘Everstill’, they all thought I was planning to destroy the boat that Vic had spent so much character wealth investing in. Not so! I just wanted to keep Snot in the story and though the idea of a goblin captain was amusing. Most of the decisions I make are determined by what I think will be most amusing).

After several months downtime, the heroes decide to return to Magnimar/Sandpoint. They plan to travel in style and comfort aboard the ‘Everstill’. Tempers flare when Grogg announces that he expects them to pay for their passage. The riverboat docks in Whistledown to pick up passengers & provisions. Grogg is approached by two gnomish gentleman calling themselves Stickle and Badcrumble. They claim to be huge fans and ask him to join them for dinner. Grogg is flattered and goes with them. He doesn’t come back. The next day, the rest of the group start looking for the wayward gladiator. Rast finds him unconscious in an alley, with a string of stitches around the circumference of his head. Solaris examines the drooling half-orc and opines that someone has cut open his skull!

To be continued…!

(GM Notes: I regret that I handled that last bit a bit clumsily. I wanted to sew the seeds of a Grogg-centric side mission later in the campaign, but for it to work, I needed a piece of Grogg’s brain. There were altogether too many opportunities for the rest of the party to get involved and interrupt what was going on, so I took Vic aside and asked his permission to narrate what happened to his character with little opportunity for the rest of the characters to intervene. Hopefully it didn’t taste too bitter going down. I’ll be giving Vic an extra benny per session until he recovers what was has been stolen).
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Rise of the Runelords (Season 3 / Episode 4) – 20/03/2014

(GM Notes: Doug was absent this week, so Karrack was flying on auto-pilot).

After several days rest, Grogg regains consciousness.

“Please don’t be alarmed,” Solaris says gently from the half-orc’s bedside, “Someone has stolen a large piece of your brain. You should probably have died, but because you used that organ so infrequently, your body has adapted to managing without it. Of course, you could drop dead at any moment – but you should be alright, providing you don’t try to think about anything.”

Forced to confront the grim prospect his own mortality, Grogg summons a (goblin) lawyer to draft his will. It decrees that in the event of Grogg’s untimely death, ownership of the ‘Everstill’ passes to whoever possesses the necklace of gristly trophies (fingers, ears, etc; collected from his opponents in the arena) presently draped around the half-orc’s thick neck.

(GM Notes: Vic seems convinced that I’m trying to kill Grogg off and is taking precautions to ensure his character wealth can be easily/lawfully transferred to a new PC, preventing the rest of the party (coughRastcough) plundering his assets).

Meanwhile, Ben and Asha haggle with the merchants of Whistledown. They’re eager to exchange all the redundant magical gewgaws they’ve accumulated for something they can actually use. The gnomish traders have little to trade beyond intricate clockwork toys and ingenious clocks. Ben sighs and accepts a credit note.

Donning his deerstalker, Rast investigates the mystery of Grogg’s missing brain. After turning over enough stones, he learns two names; Samwick Stickle and Rollo Badcrumble. The former is a disgraced surgeon, the latter a brilliant – but deranged – engineer. The town militia have been looking for the duo due to allegations of unethical experiments being conducted on stray animals and the homeless. They were last known to be hiding out in a dilapidated warehouse on the riverfront. The building appears abandoned, yet the padlock sealing the front entrance is shiny and new. Rast picks the lock easily and slides the door open with a squeal of rusty runners. A half-taut tripwire catches his eye and he disarms the trap easily, disdainful of the sloppy work. Although most of the cavernous space is empty, one corner has been cordoned off. Bloodstained surgical tools lie discarded on a long table, dazzlingly bright amidst the dust. Something dry and brittle crackles underfoot. Dropping to one knee, Rast picks up something small and white(ish) and guesses it is a stray fragment of Grogg’s skull. Rifling through the hastily abandoned lab, Rast uncovers evidence that Monsieur’s Stickle and Badcrumble fled Whistledown earlier that very morning. Their destination: Magnimar. He also finds blueprints indicating that the body-snatchers were assembling some sort of humanoid construct, although the prototype of this device is nowhere to be found.

Once everyone is back aboard the ‘Everstill’, Captain Snot casts off. Goblin sailors scurry to make the vessel ship-shape (what other shape would it be?). The ‘Everstill’ putters west along the river. It is now early spring and the weather is bright, yet chilly. Asha takes the opportunity to soak up some sun, the rest of the passengers take the opportunity to perv on her scantily clad figure. Ben Kotek closets himself in his cabin with a mountain of magical literature (or so he claims, he was really reading the Twilight trilogy). Rast and Ameiko Sternhammer relax and enjoy each other’s company, often sharing meals with Karrack and Shalelu in the casino restaurant. Goblin waiters scurry up to take their order. Uninvited, Grogg pulls up a chair, completely ruining the romantic atmosphere.

Meanwhile, Solaris is enjoying a leisurely soak in the bath. He is washing the ogre blood out of his hair, when someone begins knocking urgently upon the door.

“Who’s out there?” he calls, wrapping a towel around his waist.

There is no answer, just more knocking.

Frustrated by the interruption, Solaris throws open the door. A bloodied dwarf falls forward into his arms, two black arrows sticking out of his back. Immediately, Solaris recognises him - it is the same mute, dwarven monk that the party rescued from Thistletop at the very beginning of their adventuring careers!

“What are you doing here?” Solaris asks.

The monk does not have the strength to respond. With his dying breath, he presses a scrap of bloody parchment into Solaris’ palm.

“Rest in peace, old friend.” Solaris says, lowering the dead dwarf to the floor. A golden whistle dangles from a string around the corpse’s throat. Unfolding the letter, he struggles to decipher the monk’s crabbed handwriting.

‘Brother Solaris,’ he reads, ‘You are in gravest peril. Agents of the Moonspike have escaped the shadowglass, they have abducted your super magical Uncle Aereon and corrupted the sacred relics of our order. I suspect that I have been allowed to escape only so that I may lead our enemies to you, yet find you I must! I can only hope this warning reaches you before it is too late. Your uncle thought he could separate you from your darkness and lock it away, but he was wrong.

< the next paragraph is obscured by blood >

‘Use the whistle to summon envoys of the Sunspire, they will deliver you to the Tower of Two Faces. There you must - ’

A sudden sensation of creeping disquiet causes Solaris to lower the letter. Two black-cowled figures step out of the shadows and attack. Both assassins wield nunchaku, one of which smacks the surprised half-elf in the face. He reels backwards, blood streaming from his nose and narrowly avoids slipping into the bathtub.

“Prepare to die, child of the dawn!” the hooded killers whisper in eerie unison. Both men have elven features and ghost pale skin, luminous beneath their cowls.

Unable to conjure a witty rejoinder, Solaris simply screams for help.

“Keep your girly shrieking down!” Ben Kotek yells, emerging from his cabin, “Some of us are trying to read!”

Realising that Solaris is in trouble, Ben casts Entangle, manifesting a length of magical rope with which to lasso the two robed intruders.

“Who are your creepy looking friends?” Ben asks, bundling the struggling assassins into a broom cupboard.

“Assassins, they were trying to kill me.” Solaris answers.

“Well, aren’t you popular?” Ben chuckles, looping another piece of enchanted rope around the handle, “That should hold them.”

“Ahem….”

Ben and Solaris turn. Asha is standing in the corridor, having emerged from her own cabin to investigate the disturbance.

“I think you’ve dropped something,” she says, averting her eyes. Solaris glances to where his towel fell when the assassins first jumped him.

Meanwhile, Rast’s romantic supper is rudely interrupted when some hooded, albino freak astride a giant owl firebombs the restaurant. Two more assassins appear out of thin air (GM Notes: imagine the way Nightcrawler teleports all over the place in the X Men movies) and attack!

“Ameiko! Stay with Karrack!” Rast instructs his beloved, before dashing onto deck.

Four owls circle the ‘Everstill’, winged shadows in the moonlight. Mounted figures snipe down at the boat or drop jars of alchemical fire, spreading pale blue flames across the deck.

“They’re burning my boat!” Grogg cries, “Nobody burns my boat but me - and maybe Snot!”

The half-orc rushes to the ballista mounted in the prow and begins the arduous process of loading it. An owl swoops towards him, talons poised to claws at his face. Aiming at the bird’s feathery breast, Grogg pulls the trigger (and rolls a critical failure on his unskilled shooting roll). The weapon jams! Realising something is wrong, Grogg dives to one side at the last possible moment and the owl collides with the ballista, tearing the weapon from its frame.

Ben, Asha and Solaris (still wearing naught but a towel to protect his modesty) emerge from below decks. Another owl swoops out of the sky and snatches the ranger up in its claws, carrying him off into the night. Asha casts Bolt, flash-frying the unfortunate bird. The two monks who had been riding the owl teleport to the deck. Ben grabs hold off one of them as they fall and is taken along for the ride. Both men appear, shaken and disorientated by the shared experience. Grogg hammers his shield into the stunned albino’s face, knocking him senseless.

“Who are you people?” the half-orc wants to know, “Why did you attack my boat?”

(GM Notes: Vic played the Spill the Beans adventure card, so the prisoners were more forthcoming that they might have otherwise been).

“We are the shadowcursed monks of Moonspike,” the prisoner responds, “We were dispatched by our master to slay the child of the dawn.”

Grogg looks confused.

“Him!” the monk spits at Solaris.

“Me?!” Solaris asks, “I don’t even know you people! What have you done with my super magical uncle?”

“He is being held prisoner within the Moonspike. If you wish to free him, you will have to return there. Our master is waiting for you. He has been waiting for so long….”

Solaris produces the whistle taken from the dead dwarf and blows into it. Doing so summons a convocation (apparently, thanks Google!) of large, celestial eagles, which bow their heads, inviting the heroes to clamber aboard their broad, feathery backs.

“Look after my boat!” Grogg instructs Captain Snot. The goblin gives him a big, green thumbs up. This seems to satisfy the half-orc.

“Rast Sternhammer! Where do you think you’re going?” Ameiko screeches, storming up to her husband, “Get off that bird this moment! What about the foot massage you promised me?!”

“Sorry darling,” Rast calls over his shoulder as the eagles take off, “I’ll make it up to you when we get back, I promise!”

Her response is lost in the howl of wind as the eagles launch into the sky. They ascend until the ‘Everstill’ is just a ill-defined blot on the blue ribbon river. The eagles soar northerly at great speed, while the heroes cling on for dear life.

“This is a decidedly second class experience!” Ben howls at Solaris, “Couldn’t you have summoned some more comfortable eagles? Mine doesn’t even have a cup holder!”

“Are we there yet?” whines Grogg, “I need the toilet!”

“You’re going to have to hold it!” Solaris snaps.

With all their bitching, it’s no great surprise that the group fail to notice the enemy fliers until they are amongst them. A great fiendish owl hurtles towards Rast’s mount and attacks it in a flurry of blood and feathers. Realising that his eagle is doomed, the dwarf throws himself into the abyss.

“Dwarf overbird!” Ben shouts.

“I can’t believe you just said that!” laughs Asha.

Plunging towards the distant ground, everyone around the table gets very nervous when the GM asks Gary for a Flying roll to activate his glider (GM Notes: Oh, how I prayed for a critical failure!). The harpy wings spring open and Rast glides along beneath the aerial combat, unobserved (for the time being).

Meanwhile, the rest of the heroes clash with the shadowcursed several thousand feet above the mist-shrouded mountains. Ben rolls a critical failure on his attack roll and somehow beheads his own eagle.

“Oh shiiiiiiiiiiiit!” he curses, tumbling through the clouds. Rast spots his falling friend and angles his wings to intercept - but he is not the only one to have taken an interest in the plummeting ranger (GM Notes: Mal played the Out of the Frying Pan adventure card). Flapping out of the dense clouds, a huge, mommy roc grabs Ben out of the air and carries him back towards her nestful of hungry babies. Rast glides after her, hoping to rescue his friend before he is eaten > regurgitated > eaten again....

To be continued...!

(GM Notes: I wasn’t too happy with how this session went. I decided to deviate from the adventure path and run a few homebrew excursions to encourage the development of certain characters (in this instance, Grogg and Solaris). This essentially meant derailing the story in order to put them onto a new track of my engineering – and the transfer was more than a little jarring. Andy immediately noticed that we were going off-piste.
Another regret was that I hadn’t prepped for the session as well as I could have done. Because Savage Worlds needs so little time/effort to prep (in comparison to other systems), sometimes I overlook elements that I should have paid more attention to. I’d statted up all the new monsters, sure – but I hadn’t given much thought to how these adversaries would respond to the PC’s outside of combat (interrogation) and how they would phrase the information that I needed them to relay, without it sounding clumsy/wooden/forced).
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Rise of the Runelords (Season 3 / Episode 5) – 27/03/2014

Karrack and Solaris chase after the shadowcursed monks that abducted Asha. By the time they catch up, she has freed herself, defeated her captors and hijacked their owl.

Meanwhile, Ben is carried towards the nest of the roc, where her chicks wait impatiently for breakfast. Ben hacks off the roc’s leg and falls 30ft into the nest. Rast throws a pot of alchemical glue at the enormous bird, sticking its feathers together and hindering flight. The bird lands awkwardly, tipping the nest at an alarming angle. Grogg flies towards the disorientated roc and delivers the coup de grâce.

The heroes adopt the surviving roc chicks as cute party mascots. Grogg slaughters one to feed the other two. Flying on, the heroes soon reach the Sunspire monastery and meet the sunkissed monks that live there.

The monks remember Solaris. They explain that Aereon is not his uncle at all, but the abbot of the monastery. Long ago, a darkness festered within Solaris’ soul and Aereon tried to lock that darkness away. Iit could not be contained and now reaches out to abduct the abbot and the sun relics holy to the monk’s order. Solaris and the others agree to travel through the cracked shadowglass to the Moonspike (a dark reflection of the Sunspire monastery) to release Aeron and defeat Solaris’ dark shadow.

The heroes defeat more shadowcursed monks as they ascend the Moonspike. Atop the tower, they confront the dark fragment of Solaris’ soul. Asha sustains a terrible head injury and collapses insensible near the edge of the tower (only a ridiculously good soak roll avoided death). Gary plays an adventure card on Grogg that allows the half-orc to bypass one character’s invulnerabilities (completely f*cking up the story). Grogg defeats the dark Solaris, who transforms into a dragon!

To be continued….

(GM Notes: Meh).

(Additional GM Notes: I think I’m going through Savage Worlds burnout (again). Deviating from the adventure path has been nothing but trouble and I regret doing it at all and hope to get the plot back onto Paizo’s railroad ASAP. I plan to burn the Savage Worlds adventure deck as soon as this rotation is over, as they have finally outstayed their welcome. I don’t blame Gary, I dealt him a card that gave the party an advantage in what should have been a difficult combat and he used it. However, I hadn’t anticipated how devastating this would be on the plot I had laid out*. I don’t know how to reconcile those plans considering how things panned out at the table, so I’m going to scrap the whole plot and move on from this whole, shambolic episode. I apologize to my players if my general disinterest in the system of late is having an adverse effect on their enjoyment. Thankfully, it will be over soon).
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Rise of the Runelords (Season 3 / Episode 6) – 10/04/2014

Atop the crumbling shadow monastery, Grogg the Smasher demonstrates his heroic strength once again by slaying a terrible dragon. Shadow-Solaris reverts to his humanoid form and dies in the half-orc’s muscular arms. His body dissipates into an inky black murk, leaving Grogg throttling an empty suit of (magical) armour. The real Solaris rushes over to intervene before the angry half-orc damages his inheritance. The two sunblessed monks summoned to aid the heroes during the final confrontation with Shadow-Solaris stare at the elf in slack-jawed confusion.

“Master Solaris…!” they stammer, “The prophecy indicated it would be you that defeated the shadowcurse, but you didn’t really do anything.”

“It only looked as though I did nothing!” the flustered elf explains, “I was pretending to be weak and useless to catch my enemies off guard… and it worked!”

The monks do not appear convinced. One asks Grogg for his autograph. The half-orc presses his bloody hand against the man’s chest, leaving a vaguely fist-shaped smudge on the fabric.

“I’ll never wash this robe again!” the monk promises.

Abbott Aereon appears, his frail body supported by two younger monks. The old man has been mortally wounded during his imprisonment within the shadow monastery. Before he dies, he pulls Solaris close and restores the elven wanderer’s memories. Solaris remembers who – or rather, what – he really is. He giggles like a schoolgirl, but chooses not share this revelation with his companions just yet.

Having made peace with Solaris, Abbott Aereon dies. A halo of blinding light encompasses his earthly remains, forging his soul into a magical blade. Grogg grabs the sword as compensation for the damage that Shadow-Solaris and his cursed monks inflicted upon his beloved ‘Everstill’.

Noticing that Asha is still lying unconscious with blood pooling around her head, Karrack insists that the monks attend to the cleric’s wound. He and Solaris decide to remain at the monastery while Asha recovers her wits. They make the most of this time to meditate and learn some kung-fu (GM Notes: I allowed Andy, Doug and Steve to take their advance mid-session, rather than at the beginning of next week to represent this training montage). The rest of the heroes leave much sooner, celestial eagles deposit them on the deck of the ‘Everstill’ the next day.

The boat docks in Magnimar and the heroes visit Mayor Nivlandis to make their report. For restoring Fort Rannick to the Black Arrows, each member of the group is rewarded with 1000gp.
Grogg is disappointed to learn the grand tournament has been delayed due to problems with the construction of the new arena (GM Notes: I had planned to run a second side quest focussing on Grogg’s reputation as a famous gladiator, but decided to try and get the AP back on track instead. This can always be explored in a later rotation, assuming I can rekindle my dying love for Savage Worlds).

The heroes return to Sandpoint (except Karrack, who visits the goblin shanty town of Hope (Stinkpoint) that he helped build). They have been absent for a long time and Ameiko is keen to get back behind the bar of the Rusty Dragon. She is outraged to learn that her tavern has been seized by the mayor’s office on some trumped up charge. The building has been stripped bare and boarded up. Storming over to the town hall, the heroes learn that Mayor Deverin has been displaced by their old enemy Haldeem Grobaras (formerly the mayor of Magnimar, before the heroes revealed his corruption and ineptitude). The new mayor has bought in his own man (Cubbin) to replace Belor Hemlock as the town’s lawman, he and his goons are little more than a band of officially sanctioned thugs.

Rast concludes that Grobaras is nursing a grudge against the party after they sabotaged his political future in the City of Monuments (GM Notes: No s##*!). The heroes pay a house call on the former moyor. She expresses her suspicions that Grobaras rigged the recent election through a combination of liberal bribery and physical brutality. The heroes resolve to speak to the other members of the Sandpoint council about their involvement in this mess.

Meanwhile, Karrack discovers that the small goblin community of Hope has been burnt to the ground. He picks through the ashes and finds tracks leading north, into the Nettlewood. Since their homes were destroyed, the Stinkpoint goblins have returned to Thistletop. They recognise Karrack and explain that the new sheriff drove them off. Karrack resolves to return to Sandpoint and confront the arsonist. The lizardman is also able to reassure Snot the goblin’s concerned mother that her precious snotling is alive and well.

Back in town, Asha visits Father Pascal at the Sandpoint cathedral and notes the priest is sporting a black eye. She persuades the meek mannered cleric to open up to her and learns that Sheriff Cubbin roughed him up to ensure his support for the new mayor. Meanwhile, Rast and Grogg find Belor Hemlock drinking heavily in Fatman’s Feedbag, a sleazy dive on the waterfront, supposedly run by the Sczarni. Their former adventuring companion, Sergeant Krogg (GM Notes: Cariryn’s PC from rotation one) is trying to convince the former sheriff to drink responsibly. Together, they manhandle the grumbling sot over to Ben’s warehouse to sober up. Rast encourages the guardsmen to ignore the pickled eyeballs staring down at them from around the room (they were harvested exclusively from animals and humanoid monsters, each jar is meticulously labelled to avoid confusion/prosecution). Ben himself is busy hobnobbing with Titus Scarnetti. He manages to discourage the lumber baron from further business dealings with Grobaras. Finally, Solaris calls in on Cyruss Drokken, proprietor of the Sandpoint Theatre, who supported the new mayor’s campaign in exchange for the promise of a generous patron. Drokken turns out to be a vain, self-centred dandy who cannot comprehend the threat a man like Grobaras presents to the community. Solaris also learns that Drokken has composed a musical called ‘Grogg!’ and the titular half-orc has already given the green light on the production (for a paltry 5% of the profits).

Resolving that something must be done about the new mayor, Rast spends the rest of the morning in the makeshift laboratory he has set up in the basement of Kaijitsu manor (where he and Ameiko are staying until they recover the deed to the Rusty Dragon). He formulates an embarrassing but non-lethal poison and dedicates the afternoon to watching the town hall for an opportunity to administer it to his target. While he is waiting, he notices smoke rising from the Kaijitsu estate. His wife’s home is burning! Rast takes to the air and flaps towards the fire. The rest of the heroes also spy the smoke and join the dwarf outside the burning mansion.

Sheriff Cubbin and his men stand around the house, preventing anyone still trapped inside from escaping the inferno.

“I’ll tell you what I told those filthy goblins!” the lawman shouts over the crackling flames, “You aren’t welcome round these parts no more! Turn around and we’ll let you walk away!”

Rast goes into a dive towards the burning house. He hits an upper storey window with enough force to break the harpy wings affixed to his back. Crossbow bolts ping off the exterior wall.

“Ameiko!” Rast cries, shrugging off the splintered glider.

The heat inside the mansion is intense and the dark smoke fills his throat. Rast breaks an azure bauble off the bracelet that Ben gifted him on his wedding day. Shattering the gem summons a water elemental to douse the flames, while the dwarf searches for his beloved.

Meanwhile, Solaris charges the corrupt lawmen, who turn out to be a little more dangerous than your regular sellswords. Cubbin’s first attack opens a hole in the elf’s stomach. Entrails glisten between bloodied fingers as Solaris applies pressure to the grievous wound. Cubbin raises his sword to finish the job, but the blade is knocked aside by Karrack’s staff.

“You must be Sheriff Cubbin,” the lizardman says, “Let me tell you what I told ‘those filthy goblins’, that I would find the man responsible for destroying their homes and make him pay!”

Asha drags Solaris out of the way and implores Sarenrae for healing. Two of Cubbin’s goons advance on Grogg, who swings his new, magical sword and severs both of their heads in one ruinous arc. The flaming blade instantaneously cauterises the ragged neck wounds, Grogg is disappointed, he quite enjoys being doused in arterial spray (it looks good on the posters, y’know). Before the bodies hit the ground, the half-orc is charging across the lawn, heading for the burning stables where the baby roc was being kept. A halfling maid employed by Ameiko’s family staggers from the front door, coughing and spluttering. One of the sheriff’s men readies his sword to cut her down, only to find an arrow sticking out of his upraised arm.

“Let her go!” Ben commands, readying a second arrow, “You won’t get a second warning.”

Karrack disarms Cubbin and strikes the man between the eyes, knocking him on his ass. The lizarman wrestles with his conscience as he watches the bloodied thug crawling towards his blade. Before he can come to a decision, there is an explosion from within the Kaijitsu mansion, the force of which knocks everyone off their feet! The fire has found Rast’s alchemical stores and set of a dangerous chain reaction! Poisonous green smoke begins billowing from the house. Cubbin and his remaining men take this opportunity to fall back towards the town. The heroes are faced with a difficult decision – pursue the scoundrels before they warn Grobaras or rescue Rast and his wife from certain doom?!

To be continued…!
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Rise of the Runelords (Season 3 / Episode 7) – 17/04/2014

Poisonous green smoke fills the Kaijitsu mansion as the volatile contents of Rast’s laboratory are consumed by the flames. Rast is unconcerned by this development, he is a dwarf with a plan. Breaking another bead off his bracelet, he summons an air elemental and commands it to clear the air. The elemental complies, sucking the poisonous fumes out of the house and dissipating them into the air over the bay (where they will likely do untold damage to the local ecosystem, but hey!). The water elemental continues to douse the flames as Rast searches the house for his beloved Ameiko.

Meanwhile, Ben Kotek stands between the sheriff’s men and the road back into town.

“You shall not pass!” he intones, standing his ground.

Two thugs raise their crossbows and shoot him in the chest. Seeing the ranger is grievously wounded, they switch to their long-swords and move in for the kill. Ben curses his own stubborn bravery.

Solaris notices that Sheriff Cubbin is making a run for it, leaving his men to cover his cowardly ass. Benefiting from the Quick power, Solaris effortlessly speeds ahead of the fleeing villain and readies his bow. When Cubbin comes puffing into view, Solaris double-shots him in the face.

“What happened to Cubbin?” Asha asks.

“I shot the sheriff,” Solaris sings, “But I did not shoot the deputy.”

“Yes you did. You shot him earlier. His body is over there.”

“Oh, yes. Yes I did.”

Karrack and Solaris run into the burning mansion to find Rast and Ameiko. Solaris moves from room to room in a blur of motion (maintained Quick power), he swiftly finds Ameiko’s body and drags her onto the lawn for healing. Karrack emerges with a choking servant draped over each of his scaly shoulders; then runs back into the burning house to ensure nobody has been left behind. Ameiko has inhaled a lot of smoke, but Asha is able to restore her breathing with the blessing of Sarenrae.

With the sheriff’s demise, the rest of his men throw down their weapons and beg for mercy.

“We were only following orders!” they wail, "It was nothing personal.”

“It feels personal.” Rast growls menacingly.

“We might still be able to reach an understanding…” Solaris suggests.

Suddenly, Grogg buries his axe into the guard’s skull.

“Gah!! What the hell?!” Solaris yells, wiping blood off his shirt, “I was talking to that guy”

“Roc chick hungry!” Grogg explains at length, “Need meat!”

As the half-orc dismembers the corpse into bite-sized morsels, Solaris turns to the next man in the row of prisoners.

“Sorry for the interruption, where was I? Oh, yes. We might still be able to - ”

“Yes! We’ll do whatever you say! Just don’t let that mad bastard feed us to his bird!”

Having secured the prisoner’s cooperation, Solaris returns to loot the sheriff’s body. He is surprised to find someone else has beaten him to the punch. Examining the body, he notices that the dead man is also missing his eyeballs.

“Ben!!!”

Once he becomes aware that his plans have gone awry, Haldeem Grobaras barricades himself inside the town hall, hoping the heroes will leave him alone. Surprisingly, this is exactly what they do – for the time being at least. Sergeant Krogg and the former guardsman still loyal to Belor Hemlock surround the building, preventing the mayor from doing a runner (or waddler, considering how grossly obese he is).

Asha, Karrack and Solaris commandeer a boat to Magnimar and report directly to Mayor Nivlandis. A bounty is placed upon the fat head of Haldeem Grobaras for his role in the unlawful attacks on the Stinkpoint goblins and the Kaijitsu estate.

The heroes return to Sandpoint to apprehend the mayor, but he isn’t coming quietly. Ben casts Blast and demolishes the front wall of the town hall in a fiery explosion.

“You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” Rast chides the overzealous ranger.

Karrack moves through the flaming wreckage into the council chamber beyond. Two of the mayor’s goons spot him emerging from the smoke and raise their crossbows. The lizardman reaches them first and incapacitates both men in a flurry of blows. A third thug lunges at Karrack with his sword, the Saurian monk grabs his extended arm – breaks it in three separate places – then flips him over onto his back.

“Don’t get back up,” Karrack suggests, stalking off.

Two guards on the balcony spot the lizardman approaching the stairs and take aim. Karrack snatches both crossbolts out of the air and starts up the steps two at a time.

“Leave some for us!” Ben complains.

Radiating righteous anger, Asha follows Karrack into the hall (GM Notes: Andy was dealt a Joker during initiative. Several weeks ago, he picked up a magic ring that gives him +2d6 additional power points every time this happens). The door to the mayor’s office bursts open and Grobaras emerges onto the landing, flanked by two armed bodyguards. He chucks a flask of alchemist’s fire at the heroes, Karrack bats it back with his tail. Grobaras retreats into his office and locks the door. Ben casts Blast, reducing the mayor’s refuge to a smoking crater. They find Grobaras curled up beneath the scorched remnants of his desk; a lobster-red, twitching wreck. His hair and clothes have been burnt away by the explosion. Asha stabilizes the fat villain and Grogg rolls him outside and into the custody of the waiting Justice. He is returned to the City of Monuments to stand trial for his transgressions.

The citizens of Sandpoint reinstate Kendra Deverin as mayor, although the town hall will need to be rebuilt before she resumes that office. Ben bankrolls the renovation work (GM Notes: the Rich edge may be a tad unbalanced, 150,000g every twelve months?!). Titus Scarnetti and Cyrus Drokken lose their seats on the town council; they are replaced by Karrack and Ameiko.

The heroes enjoy a period of well deserved downtime, but it is not to last. Rumours abound of giants raiding along the Lost Coast. The heroes remember what Barl Breakbones told them about his master Mokmorian and his plans to conquer Varisia. Steps are taken to ensure Sandpoint is prepared to repel the giants should they come calling – which they most certainly will… in a future rotation!
icon_biggrin.gif


(GM Notes; Thanks again to my players for bearing with me during my mid-campaign crisis).
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Rise of the Runelords – Week 1 / Part 1 (13/10/2017)
Andor Drake is propping up the bar at the Rusty Dragon, nursing his third flagon of strong ale when the recently reinstated Mayor Deverin slides onto the stool beside him. The former mercenary recognises her from the corner of one bleary eye and grunts in acknowledgment, before draining the last, foamy dregs from his glass.
“Miss Deverin. Congratulations on your re-election. I’d raise my glass, but it’s ill luck to toast with an empty cup.”
“Thankyou Andor, but I’m not here to celebrate. You’ve heard that there are stone giants on the march? It’s only a matter of time before they reach us. The town’s walls were built to deter wolves and goblins, they won’t hold against what’s coming.”
“Should have built a bigger wall.”
“We’ll have to make do. What we need are men to defend that wall and someone to lead them.”
“I don’t envy that poor bastard,” Andor chuckled, “Commanding a mob of farmers and fishwives against a giant raiding party? They’ll be wiping you off the soles of their stony feet! Hahaha – hold on, I can see where this is going! Nonononono, not interested!”
“Be reasonable Andor, you were a mercenary for ten years. You’re the only person in ten leagues with the kind of experience these people need. You’ve seen battle, even won a few - ”
“More than a few!” Andor interjected hotly.
Mayor Deverin leant forward, sensing that she had hooked the old warrior.
“If anyone is capable of turning these ‘farmers and fishwives’ into a fighting force able to hold their own against these odds, it’s Andor Drake.”
“I’m not saying that I’ll do it….” Andor said slowly, “But let’s say that I do… what’s in it for me?”
---
In the damaged council chambers of the town hall, the heroes of Sandpoint prepared for the imminent onslaught. Messenger birds had been dispatched to Magnimar and Fort Rannick to solicit aid from the heroes’ allies, but would the promised reinforcements arrive in time to turn the tide? Karrack the lizardman monk was drilling his goblin cohorts how to mimic his formidable spear fighting technique. Whilst tensions between the humans of Sandpoint and the goblins of Hope remain strained, the threat of mutual destruction has done much to turn the enemy of my enemy into my friend – even if he is green and a bit smelly.
“Heroes of Sandpoint, this is Andor Drake, the veteran I told you about,” Mayor Deverin said, gesturing to a man in rusty armour that had clearly seen better days, “He’ll be working alongside Sheriff Hemlock to co-ordinate the defence of the walls.”
“For which I will be handsomely compensated.” Andor reminded her, his voice sill slightly slurred by drink.
“Once we replenish the town coffers, yes,” Mayor Deverin sighed, “Haldeem Grobaras embezzled most of what the council had saved, but we’ll reclaim what he stole after his trial. Then you’ll be paid, as promised.”
This seemed to satisfy the mercenary, who joined the other heroes around a map of the Forgotten Coast. Reported sightings of the giants had been marked on the map with stone figures. The other people around the table needed little introduction, having been elevated to near celebrity status for their recent heroics;
Rast Sternhammer, dwarven sneak with a healthy marriage (to local businesswoman Ameiko Sternhammer) and an unhealthy fascination with debilitating poisons.
Grogg the Smasher, half-orc gladiator famous for his tacky merchandise and for bellowing his catchphrase at the slightest provocation; “THIS – IS – STRENGTH!!” Currently wrestling with an addiction to healing potions after gnomish artificers stole part of his brain.
Karrack Goblinfriend, benevolent lizardman monk and ally to the downtrodden, single-handedly responsible for humanising goblins in this setting, transforming them from a low level menace to a skilled workforce of tradesmen and artisans.
Asha the Almost Naked, scantily clad warrior priestess of the goddess Sarenrae.
and Solaris, an elf who thinks he might be a dragon (or maybe it is just a scaly rash?).
Shalelu Andosana bursts into the room, interrupting the meeting. She reports that the stone giants have been spotted!
“TO THE WALLS!!” Andor roars, rattling his sabre and trotting towards the frontline.
To be continued....
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Rise of the Runelords – Week 1 / Part 2 (13/10/2017)
Casting Quick on himself, Solaris began shooting arrows at the giants, nocking and loosing arrows faster than the human eye could follow, his bowstring glowing red with friction. Asha joined him on the walls, calling upon the sun goddess for aid in the battle and casting bolts of radiance into the giantish horde. Forgoing the safety of the walls, Grogg dropped down into no man’s land and led a one-man/orc (morc?) charge against the giants, his enchanted battleaxe wailing a song of ruin as he carved a path through their ranks. Andor Drake witnessed this display of true strength /reckless idiocy from the walls and – despite himself – felt the old flicker of battle lust rekindled within his old bones.
“You men, with me!” Andor commanded, drawing his longsword from its sheath. Despite the rust on his armour and the grey whiskers in his beard, the former mercenary’s sword positively gleamed. In fact, it glowed with a bright green luminescence that surely indicated there had been sorcery involved in the crafting of the blade. Clambering over the barricades with the vigour of a man half his age, Andor led his troops into the breach Grogg’s onslaught had torn through the giants front rank.
And then the dragon came.
With a roar that rattled windows and shook the cobblestones, the dragon dropped out of the clouds and spewed a sheet of flame across the walls, cremating the men of Sandpoint where they stood and stranding Grogg and Andor on the giant’s side of the inferno. Surrounded by enemies and with no line of retreat or hope of clemency, the two warriors stood back to back atop the mound of giant corpses they had made and readied themselves for their final battle.
Atop the highest point of the Sandpoint cathedral, Rast watched the red dragon swoop around for another strafing run over the town. His wife was down there, sheltering her neighbours in the cellar of the Rusty Dragon whilst the battle raged through their streets and rocks fell upon their homes.
“You picked the wrong town.” Rast said, yanking the lever that extended the wings on his home-made wingsuit. Leaping off the tower, Rast fell towards the ground before pulling up sharply and soaring after the dragon.
Grogg and Andor watched the dwarven aeronaut pass overhead in the wake of his scaly quarry.
“Well,” Grogg said, pausing to lop off a stone giant’s arm at the elbow, “At least we’re not the only ones about to have a really bad day.”
“You mean Rast?” Andor asked.
“I mean the dragon.”
“Looks like they’re getting ready for another crack at us.” Andor said, gesturing with the point of his sword to where another group of stone giants were mustering, “Hey, if we get out of this alive, can I have your autograph?”
The battle was brutal and although both warriors fought valiantly, they were eventually overcome by the giants’ strength and numbers. Andor struggled to rise, the blade of his magic sword sinking into the stony ground as he used it to lever himself to his feet. Grogg lay sprawled nearby, his thick skull ringing from one too many blows to the head. A shadow fell upon them both, as the nearest giant raised his massive foot and prepared to grind them both into a meaty paste beneath his sole.
Suddenly, the giant howled in pain! Andor looked up to see a spear buried between the monster’s toes! Attached to the spear was a goblin, riding on the shoulders of another goblin, who in turn was riding on the shoulders of another goblin (and so on). A scaly claw grasped Andor by the wrist and hauled him to his feet, as the giant hopped away on his good foot.
“You can’t die yet, General Drake,” Karrack said, passing the mercenary his sword, “It’s only the first week of the rotation.”
---
Meanwhile, above the battlefield, Rast pursued his winged adversary amidst the smoke rising from the burning town. He had taken care to stay out of the dragon’s peripheral vision and was pretty sure the beast was unaware of his proximity. Adjusting his thick flying goggles, Rast studied the dragon’s broad back, densely ridged with razor-sharp, armoured spines. Without pausing to reflect on the wisdom of his course, Rast dived! At the last moment, he levelled out, cut through the straps holding him into his glider and landed clumsily astride the dragon’s back. Sensing he had been boarded, the dragon rolled to dislodge the fearless dwarf, but Rast had already stabbed his dagger between the beast’s scales and now held on for dear life until the great lizard straightened out.
“WHO DARES RIDE THE MIGHTY LONGTOOTH AS THOUGH HE WERE A COMMON MULE?!” the dragon roared, “YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS INDIGNITY WITH YOUR LIFE! YOU WILL DIE IN FLAMES!”
Rast grimaced and continued climbing. Dragons were notoriously difficult to poison due to their massive size, but if he could empty an entire vial of his patent-pending paralysing potion directly into its eyes, he could maybe blind the bastard. Reaching the dragon’s head, Rast bit the cork out of the flask and cursed as his lips and tongue immediately went numb. Leaning out over the scaly eyelid, he splashed the contents of the bottle into the huge black iris staring back at him.
“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGHHH!!” Longtooth roared, “MY EYE!! I AM PARTIALLY BLINDED!! MY ABILITY TO PERCEIVE DEPTH AND MAKE RANGED ATTACKS IS SIGNIFICANTLY PENALISED!”
Whipping his head from side to side and blinking furiously, Longtooth managed to dislodge Rast before the dwarven rogue could bugger up his other eye too. Fortunately for Rast, the dragon’s struggles had carried it out over the shallows where the ‘Everstill’ bobbed merrily in the grey surf. Goblin sailors hauled him from the water and lay him - sodden and half-drowned - on the deck.
“Abandon ship!” Captain Snot cried, casting a green finger at the sky, “The dragon comes!”
Longtooth had watched Rast’s fall and subsequent rescue with his one good eye. Half mad with rage, the dragon abandoned his assault on the town and dived towards the little boat upon which his prey had taken refuge. Scorching heat rose in his gullet as he called forth the fire with which to turn Rast and the ‘Everstill’ into fossil fuel!
To be continued….
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Rise of the Runelords – Week 1 / Part 3 (13/10/2017)
Terrified goblins threw themselves overboard as the enraged dragon descended upon the ‘Everstill’.
“THE WATER WON’T SAVE YOU!” Longtooth crowed, “I WILL BOIL THE FLESH FROM YOUR BONES!”
Barging his way through the fear-addled mob, Rast forced a path to the deck mounted ballista that Grogg had installed when he upgraded the vessel from pleasure ship to floating tank. Ropey muscles straining beneath his sodden armour, Rast loaded a bolt as long as he was tall into the device. Waiting until he could see the flames rising in the dragon’s throat, Rast fired the black arrow! He had been hoping to send the bolt flying down the beast’s gullet, but his aim was slightly off and instead it punched through the side of Longtooth’s scaly maw.
“RAAAAAAAAGGHH!!” Longtooth roared, “MY CHARISMA MODIFIER!!”
Veering off course, the dragon crashed through a row of waterfront property and flapped away.
Demoralised by their dragon’s retreat, the stone giants were further disheartened when the reinsforcements from Magnimar and Fort Rannick swept into their wavering flank. From his vantage point overseeing the battle, the stone giant general Galenmir saw that the battle was lost and cursed the heroes who had inspired a mob of commoners to defy his army. To return to Jorgenfist with this disgrace hanging over him would be intolerable! The dragon Longtooth landed nearby, a spike of black metal protruding from his scaly jaw. Closing his stony hands around the shaft, Galenmir wrenched the arrow from the wound.
“This battle is not over yet.” he said gravely, clambering astride the dragon’s broad back.
---
Injured and exhausted, the heroes of Sandpoint gathered in the town square to report their victory to the leaders of the town. Their celebration was short-lived as the dragon Longtooth landed on the roof of the town hall, showering the party with fragments of brick and loose slate, General Galenmir, leapt from the dragon’s back, landing with such force as to knock the closest heroes off their feet! Wielding an enormous sword in one hand and an equally massive shield in the other, the stone giant commander was an intimidating sight!
“You may have defeated my army,” Galenmir growled, “But you have yet to face me!”
Karrack and Grogg charged the giant. Galenmir swung his massive sword, putting enough force behind that single blow to cut a mammoth in twain! Karrack cartwheeled over the blade and kept moving, but Grogg stood his ground and raised his twin axes to block the giant’s sword. With a screech of metal and a shower of sparks, Grogg somehow stopped the attac!
“Wait for it….” Rast muttered.
“THIS - IS - STRENGTH!!!” Grogg bellowed.
"There it is."
Still perched upon the roof of the town hall, Longtooth extended his serpentine neck and belched forth a cone of dragonfire upon the party. Asha and Solaris ducked out of harm’s way with only superficial burns, but Andor Drake was not so lucky and went up like a firework on the eve of the Swallowtail festival!
Meanwhile, having got inside the stone giant’s defences, Karrack drove his magic speak up through Galenmir’s chin and into his skull. The giant sank to his knees and died. Using the giant’s slumped body as a ramp, Grogg hurled himself at the dragon. Putting all his forward momentum into his attack, he carved a nasty wound in the beast’s scaly underside. With a cry that was equal parts fury and pain, Longtooth took wing and fled north in the wake of the defeated army.
Before their victory could even sink in, Shalelu approached Karrack with dire news! While the heroes had been fighting Longtooth and Galenmir, the defeated giants had abducted a number of prominent Sandpoint citizens, including Rast’s beloved Ameiko! Resolving to catch up the giants and rescue the hostages, the party lingered only long enough for Asha to treat Andor’s disfiguring burns before heading north. The tracks led to the very edge of Varisia, where a sheer cliff face marked the boundary of the giant’s ancient stomping ground; the Storval Plateau. Ignoring the Storval Stair on the grounds that if the giants were planning an ambush (which they were), that would be the place to spring it (which it was), the heroes elected to scale the cliff itself with the aid of the trained roc chick that Grogg had adopted several months previously.
The Storval Plateua spread out ahead of them like an lefeless, grey desert. Somewhere beyond that ashen horizon lay the stone giant fortress of Jorgenfist - and the heroes only hope of bringing their friends back alive!
To be continued….
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Fortress of the Stone Giants / Week 2 / Part 1 / 19-10-2017
Steeling their resolve, the heroes of Sandpoint head into the grey wasteland in pursuit of the surviving stone giants. The Storval Plateau is an arid, ashen wasteland created by the volcanic smoke belching forth from the fiery mountains to the north, grey dust settling over the land like a mourning shroud. The party spot a swarm of carrion birds circling a nearby dune and leave the giant’s trail to investigate. They interrupt several giant buzzards hunched over the body of a dead explorer, pecking hungrily at the dry, desiccated flesh. Rast finds an amulet strung around the corpse’s neck, identifying the unfortunate soul as a member of the Pathfinder society, a well-established fellowship of adventurers with lodges and outposts across the continent. Rast notices that the amulet gently pulls northward when allowed to dangle from its chain, granting whoever carries it a +2 Survival bonus when attempting to find their way. The party also find a rare Potion of Intangibility and a Ring of Flying (after Gary used an Adventure Card to get a roll on the random treasure table).
Andor wants to sever the corpse’s arm to use as ‘bait’. It’s unclear exactly what manner of prey he is hoping to ensnare with this grim ploy. Solaris knocks that idea on the head by setting the corpse aflame with a sorcerous spark. Unfortunately, the smoke from this human barbeque attracts the attention of a stone giant patrol (who had been tracking the dead explorer). Rast spots a cave opening nearby and the party conceal themselves within while the giants poke around the area. Rast and Grogg (the only characters with some form of darkvision) venture deeper into the cave and discover that they have stumbled upon an abandoned shrine to the giant god Minderhal. The forgotten altar is attended by a lonely stone giant elder called Conna, who offers the group sanctuary and respite from their quest. Conna asks what purpose drives the party into giant territory and Andor (the only member of the party to speak the giant tongue) describes the raid on Sandpoint and the abduction of their friends. Conna sighs deeply and explains that their friends are likely being held in the fortress of Jorgenfist, an ancient black edifice that loomed over the plateau even before the stone giants colonized the area.
“The lord of Jorgenfist is a stone giant wizard named Mokmorian,” Conna rumbled in a voice like distant thunder, “Stone giants with innate spellcasting potential are often born small and weak. Mokmorian was such a runt, yet as he grew older, he never developed the magical potential he had been expecting. He grew bitter and twisted and left the tribe. I know not what befell Mokmorian during his absence, but when he returned to the plateau, he was transformed. Not physically, he was still a runt, but something inside him had changed. He turned the young warriors against the elders and led them to the ruins of Jorgenfist where he now raises an army strong enough to threaten the lowlands. Mokmorian has abandoned the old ways and leads our people astray. If it is your goal to slay Mokmorian, then we share that desire and maybe there is something I can do to aid you in this.”
Conna reached into the altar, the hard stone yielding to her touch like soft clay. When she withdrew her arm, she grasped a slender, stone spear of antiquated giantish design.
“This is Teraktinus, the Giantslayer,” Conna explained, planting the point into the floor of the cave, “The edge will cut through stone as though it were papyrus and grievously wound any giant whose flesh it pierces. I do not give this boon lightly, for this weapon represents a dire threat to all giants. Yet, if you hope free my people from Mokmorian’s control, you will surely need it.”
Solaris darts forward and licks the spear, in the hope that now nobody else will want it.
“You are welcome to rest here tonight,” Conna said, “The giants of Jorgenfist have forgotten their gods and will not trouble you.”
---
Andor kindles a friendly campfire in the centre of the cave and the party gather around it, soaking in the warmth from the dancing flames. Rast is feeling uncharacteristically mellow and passes around a flask of moonshine liquor distilled with his alchemy kit. For a while, the only sound is the crackling of dry tinder in the heart of the fire. Then Rast begins to speak. He speaks of his love for Ameiko and how he treasures her for her shrewd management of his many businesses. He explains how he must rescue her from the giants before the end of the current fiscal year, so that she can complete and submit his tax return on time. A single tear rolls down his whiskery cheek. When Rast falls silent, Solaris clears his throat. He expresses his grief over the death of his super magical uncle Aeron, who sacrificed himself so that the party could vanquish Solaris’ wicked shadow twin at the Moonspike Monastery. Karrack agrees that it was very sad. As the mood around the campfire turns melancholy, Grogg decides to unburden himself and speaks for the first time about the guilt he feels after accidentally slaying a friend and fellow gladiator in a moment of battle madness. Having exhausted themselves both physically and emotionally, the party slip into a restful slumber under Conna the Elder’s watchful gaze.
---
The heroes wake the next morning to find grainy sunlight illuminating the cave. Conna the Elder is knelt beside the altar, but when Andor attempts to converse, he realizes that she has been dead for weeks! The party spend a moment of silence to honor the departed giant and the gift she bestowed upon them from beyond the pale. With renewed determination, the party leave the cave and continue north toward the walls of Jorgenfist!
To be continued….
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Fortress of the Stone Giants / Week 2 / Part 2 / 19-10-2017
Later that same day, the party get their first glimpse of the stone giant fortress. A 50ft wall encircles a courtyard, from which rises a towering spire of black stone. Outside the walls, the ground teems with giants and their monstrous allies.
“I don’t much fancy the look of that,” Rast grumbled.
“Why don’t we use the secret tunnel Conna told us about?” Andor asked.
“What?” Asha said, startled, “That wasn’t mentioned in the last write-up.”
“Maybe the GM had forgotten about it until now.” Andor replied, “He’s a busy guy and he’s putting these write-ups together at work when nobody is looking. Cut the guy some slack!”
“Fine! Let’s try the secret entrance.” Karrack said, “I just hope it's not’s not full of monstrous guardians and dangerous traps this time!”
---
Waiting until inky darkness had flooded the valley and the giants had gathered around their roaring bonfires, the heroes crept stealthily around the outskirts of the sprawling encampment. Three hours and a few close calls later, the party gathered on the edge of the ravine upon which the fortress had been built. Rast used his new ring of flying to search the cliff face for the tunnel Conna had indicated would deliver them into the dungeons of the citadel. The rest of the heroes made the descent more carefully and soon they stood upon a narrow ledge, staring with some trepidation at the hidden entrance. An unpleasant smell of decay wafted from the dark fissure in the rock. Grogg took the lead, hacking through the sticky strands of spider silk obstructing the passage with his twin axes. The floor of the tunnel seethed with small spiders and Grogg took enormous pleasure stomping on them as he walked. Rast paused to examine the critters more carefully and realized that they were undead, the desiccated husks of dead spiders animated by foul necromancy. Up ahead, the tunnel narrowed and became completely blocked by a wall of webbing. Nobody in the party is particularly surprised when they are ambushed by a swarm of large zombie spiders (yawn). They are surprised when they discover that the spider’s venom carries a powerful paralyzing agent that turns their bones to jelly! They are even more surprised when a massive zombie spider the size of a retirement bungalow comes skittering out of the darkness, gnashing its axe-like mandibles and generally scaring the s*~& out of everyone present! Then Grogg hits it with his axe, inflicts 40+ damage and pretty much kills it in a single blow.
“THIS – IS – "
“Yes, we know, give it a rest already!” Solaris snapped.
Rast is already reaching into the dead spider’s mouth, groping for its venom gland. He finds a horrible white sac of goo and gives it an experimental poke, causing it to explode like a pus-filled appendix.
With the demise of Deathweb, the rest of the undead spiders flee into the dark recesses of the cave and the party continue on into the dungeons of Jorgenfist.
To be continued….
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Fortress of the Stone Giants / Week 3 – Part 1 (26/10/2017)
We re-join our heroes in the fetid lair of Deathweb, the flaking husk of the megarachnid lying inert where it was slain. Tiny white spiders swarm over the massive corpse like a pallid veil blown by the rank breath of some dread deity. Karrack’s torch flickers as he edges along the wall of the cavern, poking the flaming brand into each crack and fissure wide enough to conceal either a lurking spider or the way ahead.
“Here!” Karrack rasps, crooking a claw to beckon the others, “There’s a tunnel leading on and – urggh. What is that smell?”
Never one to pass up on investigating a horrible smell, Rast waves the others back and stealths on alone. The tunnel terminates on a narrow, crumbling ledge overlooking a small cave. Three ogres stand around a stone basin, stirring the noxious contents with long wooden poles. The vile brew smells of vinegar and cat’s piss and brings tears to Rast’s eyes (although it’s unclear if this reaction is motivated by disgust or admiration). Scraps of leather and dripping fur marinade in the stinking broth and Rast deduces that he is in a tannery. He reports back to the others, who decide that they can probably take three stinking ogres.
Grogg leads the attack, positioning himself in a heroic (albeit precarious) pose on the ledge above the tanning pool.
“THIS – IS –FRED?!?”
“What?!” Rast spluttered.
“FRED!!” Grogg cried, dropping down from the ledge and grabbing hold of one of the ogres in a masculine hug, “It is you! I thought you were dead! You’re not dead… are you? Because we just fought this spider….”
“Grogg kill Deathweb?!” Fred asked, jaw dropping.
“Yes! I totally killed Deathweb! Pretty much by myself. It was awesome!”
“Do you guys know that thing?” Andor asked, slowly returning his longsword to its scabbard.
“Grogg and that ogre had some sort of weird bromance going on while we were liberating Fort Rannick from the Kreeg clan,” Rast explained, “We all thought he’d been killed. I don’t recall that any of us cared, except for Grogg. He built a little shrine back on the Everstill. It’s actually kinda’ sweet.”
“Sweet is not the word I’d choose.” Andor grunted.
“Grogg come to kill giant leader?” Fred asked eagerly, “Come to seize control of giant army and conquer puny human lands?”
“Yes, maybe and probably not.”
“Fred will fight with Grogg again!” Fred decided, “Just like old times! Others will join us! I have told them tales of the mighty Grogg the Smasher! I even copy your catchphrase, listen… THIS – IS –STENCH!!”
The other two ogres grinned big, stupid grins and did a little ogre dance to express their merriment.
“So the ogres are on our side now?” Asha asked, licking her lips and gazing longingly at the bulges of their massive ogre junk beneath their filthy loincloths. (I’m not even kidding, this actually happened in game) :sick:
“Fred, can you show us where the giants keep their prisoners?” Karrack asked.
“Prisoners?” Fred looked confused, “What is prisoners?”
“Little people locked in cages?”
“Oh, you mean food!! Yes, Fred will take you to get food! Fred hungry too!”
“What?! No eating the prisoners!!”
(This unplanned scene occurred after Vic played an Adventure Card that resulted in him recognising a familiar face or ally).
---
The party dash to keep up with Fred, who leads them to the giants gaol. A hulking, two headed humanoid sits beside a grindstone, sparks flying from the edge of his executioner’s axe as he hones the blade. One head drools and chunters a childish rhyme in giantish whilst the second is hidden beneath a greasy, black leather hood. The giant rises to defend the room but is quickly overwhelmed. Grogg buries his axe in the hooded head and Andor reduces the idiot head to tears with harsh words. Rast and Karrack work together to lift the giant-sized keys from the ettin’s belt and release the prisoners from their cells. There is no sign of Ameiko. The other captives report that she fell ill during the journey north and is being held elsewhere in the fortress. Solaris agrees to lead the prisoners out through the secret tunnel and re-join the party later, whilst Rast and the others continue to search Jorgenfist for his wayward wife.
To be continued….
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top