mikeawmids runs Rise of the Runelords (in Savage Worlds)

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Fortress of the Stone Giants / Week 3 – Part 2 (26/10/2017)
Leaving the cell block, the heroes find themselves looking down into a natural pit. Sunlight floods in from a hole in the roof and a wide ledge cut into the rock face spirals from the top to the bottom of the shaft. A wooden platform laden with crates waits to be raised to the surface via a series of thick metal chains. Opposite the lifting mechanism, two juvenile red dragons have been chained to a boulder, their wings clipped and their jaws muzzled.
“We should kill them and harvest their organs for alchemy!” Rast said.
“Wait!” Andor hissed, “What if they are related to the red dragon we fought in Sandpoint? They’re not exactly honoured guests here, right? They look more like hostages.”
“You think the giants have compelled Longtooth to join them by threatening his offspring?” Karrack asked. Andor nodded.
“That changes everything.” Rast agreed, “We should kill them and harvest their organs for alchemy!”
“No!” Karrack snapped, “Let’s get down there and try talking to them.”
The party approach warily. The dragons watch them through slitted eyelids.
“No sudden movements….” Andor warned.
“Nice dragon.” Rast said soothingly, “I’m just going to unhook your muzzle so we can have a little chat. Nobody wants to harvest your organs. No need to try and bite me the moment this thing is off….”
Conversing in draconic, Karrack and Andor establish that the two brothers were indeed sired by Longtooth and are indeed being held as hostages by Mokmorian to ensure the red dragon’s compliance. The party decide that by releasing the wyrmlings, they remove Mokmorian’s leverage over the dragon and the giants lose their most powerful ally. Asha grows short of breath as the ogres strain their slab-like muscles to break the chains binding the two young dragons to the rock. Unable to snare the wind in their torn and tattered wings, the two brothers charge up the ramp to reach the surface and call for their father. Karrack follows them up to watch the fireworks.
The appearance of two furious dragons into the inner courtyard throws the fortress into disarray! The mammoth stables are ablaze before the giants are even aware that the dragons are amongst them. Panicked mammoths, their shaggy coats aflame, trample their riders underfoot. The sky darkens as Longtooth descends upon the walls, his massive wingspan momentarily eclipsing the sun. The red dragon strafes the citadel, blasting the defenders with his fiery breath. Landing in the courtyard, Longtooth picks up his two flightless offspring and carries them off. Blinking the ash out of his eyes, Karrack took in the chaos in the dragon’s wake. Smoke billowed from the burning stable and a second building had collapsed entirely. The black tower itself seemed unmarred by dragonfire, it’s surface as smooth and glassy as the surface of a dark lake. There did not appear to be a way inside at ground level.
“Longtooth is out of the picture.” Karrack confirmed, “We should keep going before the giant regroup and think to check who released their dragons.”
---
The party continue searching for Ameiko. They don’t find her in the next area of the dungeon, but they do find a golden teleportation circle inlaid into the stone floor. A control console nearby is indented with a seven-pointed hollow that likely fits the activation sigil. Next, they reach a pair of intimidating doors decorated by monstrous imagery.
“Woah, guys, strong sense of deja-vu,” Rast said, “Aren’t these creepy doors real similar to the creepy doors we saw under Thistletop?”
“The entrance to the shrine of Lamashtu, where we batted Nualia and her yeth hounds?” Karrack clarified.
“Fun times.” Grogg reminisced happily.
"You weren't even there," Rast said.
“Get ready,” Karrack warned, “Whatever is on the other side of these doors is unlikely to be good.”
---
Rast pushed open the door and stepped into the cosy taproom of the Rusty Dragon. The wooden stools had been stacked upside down on the tables and the bar was clear of flagons and drunken fishermen. Rast stood and breathed in the familiar scents of ale and wood polish. Ah, that was the smell of home! Something seemed strange though. Rast could not place his finger on it. How had he come to be home? Hadn’t he been talking to Karrack and Grogg just moments ago? He glanced around the empty taproom, no sign of either of them. Odd. A noise from upstairs caused Rast to lose his train of thought and he meandered over to the stairs that led up to his and Ameiko’s private rooms above the tavern. He could hear voices from the room where he and his wife were sleeping while the Kaijitsu mansion was refurbished. Heading in, Rast found his wife lying in bed, attended by two other women.
“Your wife is very fortunate,” said the first woman, “She is going to have a child.”
“A special child,” the second woman agreed, “We are here to assist with the birth.”
Both of the women smiled encouraging. Rast noticed that their smiles were much too wide to fit their faces, but that hardly seemed to matter right now. He was going to be a daddy! He hustled up to his wife’s bedside and took her clammy hand in his own. Suddenly, Rast heard the sound of breaking glass from the room below, followed by the sound of the taproom getting trashed.
“They are coming to take your wife and kill your child.” the first midwife hissed.
“Please Rast, don’t let them hurt our baby!” Ameiko moaned.
Rast scowled and readied his daggers. If anyone planned on hurting his family, they would need to go through him first!
---
Grogg and Fred the Ogre forced open the grim portal and led the way into a large, star-shaped ritual chamber. Human sacrifices were chained to stone pillars at each point of the star and in the centre of the room stood a squat, stone altar. Ameiko lay upon this altar, moaning and writhing in silent agony. Flanking the altar stood two lamia, monsters with the lower body of a giant snake and the upper body of a beautiful woman. The party had fought these dangerous creatures before and both times it had been a slog.
“Ah, so these are the fools who killed our sisters?” the first hissed, “So strong and so handsome – and soon to be so dead.”
“Let these people go!” Karrack commanded, brandishing his spear.
Rast stood beside him, slack jawed and glassy eyed. Karrack nudged him with the butt of his spear.
“You want to step in here, maybe? That’s your wife on the altar.”
“Huh? Nobody hurts my family!” Rast growled.
Suddenly, Rast turned and threw his returning dagger at Grogg! The knife only nicked his shoulder, but immediately Grogg’s muscles locked up as the paralyzing poison on the blade spread through his body.
“Kill the lamia!” Karrack said, “They have Rast under their control!”
The first lamia cast Fear at the lizardman, catching Andor in the spell’s AOE. Both heroes are suddenly required to confront their greatest fears! Karrack finds himself standing in a swirling blizzard, the wind howling all around him. A nightmarish snowman with blazing eyes looms over the lizardman, reaching out with skeletal arms. Meanwhile, Andor saw himself standing in the Sandpoint cathedral with all his old mercenary buddies watching from the pews. An elderly organist plays the wedding anthem and a veiled woman wearing a bridal dress appears beside him.
“I now pronounce you man and wife,” said the priest, “You may kiss the bride.”
“Noooooooooo!!” Andor wailed, falling to his knees.
Asha – the only member of the party able to function normally – started hurling bolts of celestial energy around the room, hoping to disrupt the sorcery disabling her allies. The lamia maintaining the Fear power loses her focus, releasing Karrack and Andor from their waking nightmares. Karrack darted forward and jabbed at her with his spear. Andor charged the other but ended up trapped in her scaly coils. Inexorably, the lamia started to crush the old warriors bones. Asha took out the first lamia with an empowered bolt, freeing Karrack up to go to Andor’s aid. Together, the two fighters fillet the second lamia and Andor rips out her spine to use as a belt. With the lamia sisters vanquished, Rast returns to his senses and offers Grogg a healing potion to apologize for stabbing him. Grogg chugs the whole flask down in one go and burps cavernously, that’s the good stuff right there!
Rast lifts Ameiko off the altar and carries her away from that dreadful chamber. She is alive, but her pulse is weak and her pallor deathly pale.
“Is it true, my beloved Are you with child?” Rast asked.
“Yes Rast, we are going to have a baby,” Ameiko said, “I only found out myself the night before the giants came. I wanted to surprise you.”
“I am surprised!” Rast agreed.
The party carry Ameiko back to the secret tunnel and leave her in Solaris’ care.
“I should stay with you,” Rast said uncertainly, “The baby….”
“You must go with the others,” Ameiko said weakly, releasing Rast’s hand from her own, “We’ll talk about this when you get back.”
Rast nodded somberly, planted a whiskery kiss on his wife’s brow and went with the others to confront Mokmorian.
To be continued….
 

log in or register to remove this ad

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Fortress of the Stone Giants / Week 3 – Part 3 (26/10/2017)
Back in the teleportation circle, Asha inserts a glowing, star-shaped relic into the control console. She had found the strange, golden device on the corpse of one of the dead lamia sisters and known immediately what purpose it served.
“Seven points, seven possible destinations,” she explained, “Twist the dial and off we go.”
She twisted the dial and off they went.
The room around the party blurred and their stomachs lurched as they were hurled into the space between dimensions. A moment later, they reached their destination and appeared atop a mountain overlooking a ruined city of truly epic proportions. Even giants would have been dwarfed by this ancient, urban sprawl! A golden road winds through the crumbling buildings and climbs another mountain on the opposite end of the valley. The side of the mountain has been carved into the likeness of a stern and imperious face. Dragons wheel through the clouds above the city and the streets below teem with giants!
“I think we’re a little under-levelled to be here.” Karrack said, “Where else does this thing go?”
---
The circle moved and the heroes appeared in a tall, circular chamber. The walls are lined with shelves, upon which are stacked ancient, dusty tomes taller than Rast. Karrack notices that the walls and shelves are crafted from the same smooth, black stone as the tower. A cowled figure appears on a balcony overlooking the room. It is clearly a giant, but hunchbacked and twisted like a gnarled and dying tree. One grey hand grips the railing and the other clings to a black staff topped with the severed and rotting head of a black dragon. A string of severed and leering heads have been draped around the giant’s neck.
“Welcome to the black tower, heroes of Sandpoint,” the giant sneers, “I am Mokmorian, lord of Jorgenfist and the architect of your doom! Do you like my library? I hope so, for your bones will lie here for the rest of eternity!”
“Why did you send your giants to attack Sandpoint?” Karrack demands.
“It is the will of my master that this ‘Sandpoint’ fall to ruin,” Mokmorian answered, “There are secrets buried in that place that will accelerate his inevitable return to this world. Not that any of you will live to witness it! Prepare to face my headless lords! Mwuhuhuhuhu!!”
Six undead ogres stomped forward to stand between the heroes and the giant. Each was clad in black armour and wielded a pair of fearsome battle-axes. None of them had a head, just a bloody, rotten stump where the neck ended. Grogg and Fred charged!
“THIS – IS – STRNEGTH!!”
“THIS – IS STENCH!!”
“This is - not working!!” Andor added, his sword bouncing off the headless lords black armour. No matter how well they fought, the party could not seem to wound the undead ogres!
“Wait!” Karrack cried, his lizard mind racing in overtime, “Asha! Destroy the heads around Mokmorian’s neck!”
Asha released a wave of holy bolts at the giant, destroying two of the severed heads on his gristly necklace. Immediately, two of the headless lords collapsed.
“You are too clever for your own good! Mwuhuhuhuhu!!” Mokmorian laughed, pointing at Karrack with his staff. The severed dragon head on the end opened its maw and fired a blast of necromantic energy at the lizardman. Karrack somersaulted out of harms way and threw his spear back at the giant. The point sank deep into the giant's stony flesh!
“GRAAAAGHH!!” Mokmorian shrieked, “Teraktinus, the Giant-Slayer!! Where did you get that weapon?!? And why is there a rope tied to the end of it?!?”
“Well, Solaris loaned it to me,” Karrack explained, “But he got it off a benevolent spirit in an old shrine out on the plateau. And the rope is tied on so that I can do this!”
Karrack dropped off the bridge, swung across the room and started to abseil up the massive bookcase below Mokmorian. Grogg and Andor leapt across to add their weight to Karracks. The giant dropped his staff in order to brace himself against the railing, the rope drawing him closer to the edge. The balcony groaned ominously under his massive weight. At this pivotal moment, Rast jabbed his little knife - coated with his last dose of paralysing tentamort venom - into the giant’s foot. Mokmorian flubbed his vigor roll to resist the effects and found his body suddenly unresponsive to his brain. He lost his grip on the railing and was pulled over the edge! Karrack swung himself and the others out of the way as the giant fell past, hitting the ground below and impaling himself on the stone spear stuck in his chest!
To be continued….
(Ok, so I took some creative liberties there, but you got the job done).
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Week 4 [03/11/2017]
The heroes were feeling pretty pleased with themselves after defeating Mokmorian and ending the threat to Varisia - when the giant warlord sat back up, eyes blazing with arcane fire.
“So these are the heroes of the age?” Mokmorian intoned, “You look more like gasping worms to me.”
The giant’s body moved jerkily as though being manipulated by an autistic puppeteer. His voice sounded different too, now it dripped with cultured malice.
“Come then, heroes. I – Karzoug, the Runelord of Greed - will await you atop the golden spire of Xin Shalast. Know that every minion of mine that you slay only serves to make me stronger and your own doom more certain. After ten thousand years, is this pitiful band really the best the world can do?”
The malevolent flame behind Mokmorian’s dead eyes flickered and faded and the giant slumped to the ground. Grogg stepped up and chopped off his head. He rolled his gory prize onto the balcony overlooking the giant encampment and threw it off to get the armies attention.
“Giants of the Storval Plateau!” Grogg roared, “Mokmorian is dead! Galenmir is dead! Your dragon has turned against you! Your conquest of the lowlands is over! Disband and return to your homes! Return to the old ways and pray for the forgiveness of the gods you abandoned! Don’t make me come down there and bang your heads together!”
With the head of the snake severed (and subsequently splattered across the inner courtyard), the stone giant army wandered off.
“What should we do now?” Asha asked.
“I will escort Ameiko and the other civilians back to Sandpoint.” Rast said, “I will ask Solaris to accompany me, for the road south will be long and fraught with peril. I will wait for you there.”
“The rest of us could experiment with the teleportation circle and see where else it goes.” Asha suggested.
Twisting the star-shaped control rune to the third position, the party found themselves standing in a dark cave that smelled like goblin. Another turn teleported the heroes into the midst of swirling blizzard. Karrack immediately turned blue and began to freeze. Asha twisted the sigil to the sixth point and the party found themselves underwater!
“Glubglubglub?!” Asha cursed, turning the rune to the seventh/final point on the star shaped console.
The party land in a stone chamber, soaked through and draped in foul smelling weeds. The walls glitter with a strange, sparkly purple stone and blue torches burn in iron braziers. A mysterious merchant offers to trade Karrack a jar of 100 eyeballs in exchange for one of his own. The party get a real ‘Needful Things’ vibe of the vendor and decline his attempts to barter. He is able to advise the party that they have stumbled into a chalice dungeon, a random assortment of traps, treasure and monstrous encounters that will be different every time they visit.
“Well that’s neat and all,” Asha mused, “But it doesn’t help solve our runelord problem.”
For lack of better options or signposting from the GM, the party return to the goblin cave and have another poke around. Grogg noticed a hole in the ceiling blocked by a heavy block of stone. Karrack climbed up on the half-orc’s broad shoulders and Asha clambered atop Andor. Working together, they shifted the obstruction and climbed into the room above. Karrack realised that they were back in the ritual chamber under Thistletop where they had fought Nualia Tobyn at the very beginning of their adventure and the stone block they just knocked over was the accursed altar to Lamashtu. Asha picked up a statuette of the Mother of Monsters herself and sets to bashing it in with a rock. Thistletop is a day’s travel from Sandpoint, so the party headed back there, wondering how they would explain their hastened arrival to Rast and Solaris.
Calculating that they have two weeks to kill before the rest of the party make it back, Asha visited the Pathfinder Lodge in Magnimar, returning the amulets that the party recovered from the dead Pathfinders on the Storval Plateau. She asked to make use of the Pathfinder’s library to research the fall of ancient Thassillon and how to combat the Runelords, should one actually be waking up. She finds information pertaining to a site called Runeforge, where a magical metal called Ithilliom could be used to craft weapons capable of killing the Runelords. No one runelord could be entrusted with control of this resource, so all seven maintained a presence here. The only thing the ancient scrolls do not reveal is the actual location of this mythical runeforge.
Meanwhile, Karrack, Andor and Grogg returned to the Storval Plateau to make sure the stone giants had abandoned their warlike practises. They find a group of elders restoring the abandoned shrine to Minderhal and Karrack promised to return the giant-killing spear Teraktinus once the Runelord Karzoug had been defeated. Grogg attracted the romantic attention of a young stone giant huntress called Sapphire. Andor persuaded the other hunters to take him mammoth hunting and they returned several days later dragging the corpse of majestic beast. The elders agreed to help the party decode Mokmorian’s journals and return to the Black Tower to do so. The party learned that Karzoug had compelled Mokmorian to seize several sites of interest (tenuously explaining the attack on Sandpoint), but seemed particularly interested in one specific ruin situated beside a frozen lake in the shadow of Mount Rimeskull, far to the north in the land of snow and swirling blizzards. Karrack curses his -4 racial hindrance in cold climates.
To be continued….
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Week 5 / Part 1 / 10-11-2017
Two weeks after leaving the fortress of Jorgenfist, Rast and Solaris lead the convoy of weary civilians into Sandpoint. Ameiko floats a few inches off the ground, Rast having decided that his pregnant wife is too good to walk with the rest of the herd and gifted her with his ring of flying. The heroes are re-united at the bar of the Rusty Dragon and enjoy a rare drink together before going to report to Mayor Deverin and Sheriff Hemlock at the town hall. Andor opted to remain in the pub and drink himself into oblivion, having received the coin promised to him by the town council for his professional aid during the siege of Sandpoint.
“Thank-you for rescuing the men and women taken by the giants,” Mayor Deverin said, “As well as being my responsibility, many of them are my personal friends. The township of Sandpoint owes you all a great debt, even that drunken sot Drake. You are all welcome to stay in town and relax for as long as you like, I’m sure you could all do with a rest after your last adventure.”
“We can only afford to stay a few days,” Karrack sighed, “Much as we would all like to remain longer. For many months now, ever since our initial investigations into Thistletop and the Skinsaw Man, I have suspected a hidden hand behind the movements of our enemies. A nameless force that scars its wicked servants with the seven pointed mark of the Sideheron. That nameless force is nameless no longer, he revealed himself upon the death of his servant Mokmorian. The enemy we face is no less than Karzoug, the Runelord of Greed.”
“Karzoug… that name sounds real familiar,” Sheriff Hemlock said, thoughtfully rubbing his sandpapery chin, “Where have I heard that before?”
“The Runelords were the seven rulers of ancient Thassillon,” Asha explained, “Sorcerer kings – and queens – wielding godlike power. It was believed that they were destroyed during the cataclysm that ended their empire, but it now appears that at least one of them managed to survive.”
“That’s it!” the sheriff said, snapping his fingers, “Broderick Quirk, the mad old scholar living down by the waterfront. Every night, he’s in the Rusty Dragon, banging on about how the Runelords aren’t dead and it’s only a matter of time before they return to the world. The lads round him up every few weeks for being drunk and disorderly. He sleeps it off in the cells and then totters off home in the morning.”
“I think we need to have a word with this mad scholar,” Karrack said.
---
Bleary eyed and blinking owlishly, Broderick Quirk answered his front door maybe five minutes after Karrack started banging on it. Grogg had wanted to kick open the door and loot the room beyond until Solaris and Asha managed to convince him that that sort of thing was not acceptable outside of a dungeon.
“What delinquent devilry is this?” Quirk demanded, belligerently brandishing an empty wine bottle, “Think it’s clever to wake an old man up at… at ….”
“Four bells past noon.” Rast supplied, unhelpfully.
“ … at this ungodly hour? Well, do you? I’ll tan your hides, you rowdy brutes!”
“We’re here to talk about ancient Thassillon!” Karrack said hastily, as the old man began fumbling with his belt strap.
“Why didn’t you say so?!” Quirk beamed, thrusting the bottle into Karrack’s scaly hand, “Come in and have a drink!”
The scholar’s home was a mess, piles of books and dirty crockery rose in precarious towers from any flat surface upon which they could be stacked. Karrack whistled and an elite group of goblin cleaners descended on the cluttered abode.
“Those hideous children are stealing my precious filth!” Quirk cried in alarm.
“Calm yourself, scholar!” Karrack commanded, “Tell us about the Runelords.”
Referencing a selection of ancient scrolls and dusty manuscripts, Broderick Quirk explains how the realm of men was once governed by a race of powerful humanoids called the Azlant. The seven most formidable men and women of this legendary race became the Runelords and divided the continent into seven territories that each would govern with absolute power;
Karzoug, Runelord of Greed.
Zutha, Runelord of Gluttony.
Bellimarus, Runelord of Envy.
Xanderghul, Runelord of Pride.
Kruul, Runelord of Sloth.
Alaznist, Runelord of Wrath.
and finally Sorshen, Runelord of Lust.
“Why are these last two pages stuck together” Rast asked, “Eww. Nevermind.”
“Tell us about Runeforge and Ithillion.” Karrack said.
“Ithiliiom is a mythical metal that was scarce even in the days of old Thassillon,” Quirk explained, “It was mined from veins of crystallized mana in remote areas where wild, sorcerous energies saturated the ground. It was as much the stuff of magic as it was of the earth and could be fashioned into magnificent weapons and armour. Of course, no normal forge could handle so rare and wondrous an ore, so the Runelords built the Runeforge, the only site in all of Thassillon where Ithilliom could be refined. No one Runelord could be entrusted with control over such a valuable resource, so all seven maintained a presence at the forge, assigning favoured servants or monstrous guardians to safeguard their interests there.”
“So we’ll need people with smithing and sorcery skills to hand?” Solaris said, “With the spiritual guidance of my super magical Uncle Aereon - whose soul now resides within my sword and whispers to me in my sleep – and the technical guidance of that drunken death merchant Andor Drake, I’m certain I could use the runeforge to enhance our existing weaponry with the runelord-killing properties of Ithillion.”
“And then we’ll give Runelord Karzoug a spanking that will make him wish he had died in the cataclysm!” Rast added.
Having thanked the scholar for his time and promised to return with some genuine Thassillonian relics, the heroes of Sandpoint prepare to face the freezing foothills of Mount Rimeskull. Thick, warm coats are crafted from the mammoth fur Andor bagged on the Storval Plateau and Rast stocks up on potions that will protect his comrades from the cold. Once the party are as ready as they are going to get, they head for Thistletop and use the teleportation circle there to transport themselves to the shores of Lake Stormunder.
To be continued….
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Week 5 / Part 2 / 10-11-2017
The party materialize in the eye of a raging blizzard! The icy wind howls like a banshee and the heroes huddle into their mammoth fur coats for warmth and the +2 vigor bonus against the cold. Despite these extra layers of protection against the hostile elements, it quickly becomes clear that Karrack will not survive in these harsh conditions for long (racial hindrance: cold blooded). Asha drives a spare spear into the icy ground and ties the end of her rope around the shaft with numb, trembling fingers. The party range away from the teleportation circle, using the rope as a lifeline to lead them back should they need to beat a hasty retreat. One hour and several coils of rope later, they stumble upon the edge of the frozen lake. The heroes set out across the black ice. The trek across the lake is a tortuously slow and singularly miserable affair, with each cautious step onward carrying the risk of the ice underfoot cracking open and spilling the heroes into the dark water below.
With their elite warrior training, Grogg and Andor are the only two party members alert enough to notice the wolf pack before the stealthy beasts’ spring their ambush. Claws scrabbling for purchase against the ice, three lean, hungry wolves burst from the blizzard in a tangle of grey fur and glistening fangs. They leap at Solaris and drag the half-elf to the ground, sinking their jaws into his legs and attempting to drag him into the night. Grogg leaps forward, cleaving all three beasts with one swing of his trusty axe and hauling Solaris back to his feet. More wolves harass the party, snapping and snarling and generally proving pretty ineffectual against veteran-level PCs, until the dire wolves turn up and shift the balance back towards Team Jacob. Asha screams as a dire wolf locks its jaws around her arm and violently shakes its furry head, trying to wrench the limb from her body.
Suddenly, a deep, ominous roar rolls across the frozen lake and the wolf pack whimper and flee the battle. The heroes have but a moment to ready themselves, before a monstrously overgrown polar bear lumbers out of the swirling snow! The bear rears up on its back paws and Andor darts in with his spear, sinking the shaft deep into the beast’s hairy breast. The bear roars and bats the old mercenary aside. Leaving his spear buried in the bear’s body, Andor switches to his glowing longsword and bounces back into the fray, swinging his blade at the beast’s head and hacking off its jaw! Karrack darts in and drives his spear up through the exposed roof of the bear’s mouth and into its tiny bear brain! The beast shudders and dies, spilling its hot bear blood across the ice. Everyone crowds around the furry corpse and spoons it for warmth. Karrack takes things a step too far, slicing open the beast’s tummy and crawling in amongst the warm, gooey entrails. He refuses to come out when the others tell him it is time to move on, so Grogg and Andor are forced to drag the dead bear across the ice with Karrack huddled inside.
The party reach the island in the centre of the frozen lake, upon which stand seven monolithic stone heads, each one marked with the runic symbol of a different Runelord. Rising from the centre of the island is a stone circle that remains curiously clear of the snow piling up on all sides. Unsure how to activate the ancient runes and reveal the entrance to Runeforge, Solaris communes with his haunted sword and the ghost of his super magical uncle.
“Each Runelord drew his power from a specific sin,” the sword reveals, “Charge their runes with strong memories of sinful behaviour and the way ahead will open to you.”
Solaris shares this information with the rest of the party. Rast steps up to the rune of greed and presses his grubby little palm against the dark sigil. The stone head feeds on Rast’s greed and lights up like a beacon. Grogg activates the rune for Pride by remembering how he left a ‘Grogg the Smasher’ action figure on the altar Minderhal. Asha activates the rune for Lust by recalling how she once surprised a virtuous and well hung paladin at the temple baths. Solaris activates the runes for both Wrath (killing his twin brother atop the Moonspike Monastery) and Gluttony (eating a load of cake and getting fat, before the monks whipped him back into shape). Andor activates the rune for Sloth due to the years wasted propping up various bars across Varisia, rather than doing something productive with his life. Finally, Karrack activates the rune for Envy, due to how he feels about the strength and togetherness of the humans he was raised amongst and how he has always yearned for that closeness, yet been pushed away due to his monstrous appearance (aww). Once all seven stone heads are illuminated, the stone circle in the centre of the island rumbles and shifts, creating a flight of wide, spiral steps descending beneath the lake. Steeling themselves for the trials ahead, the party enter the Runeforge.
To be continued….
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Week 5 / Part 3 / 10-11-2017
The heroes descend into a vast, domed chamber, easily two hundred feet in circumference. The space is dominated by seven 25ft tall statues of the seven Runelords. Behind each statue, arched tunnels lead off into the various wings of the dungeon, each area controlled by a rival faction. The centre of the dome is filled by an array of smithing apparatus, cold pipes and dark flues tangled together like a nest of iron serpents.
“The fires of Runeforge have slumbered for thousands of years,” Rast said with a dwarf’s surety, after resting his hands against the cool metal, “But I can rouse them again, given time.”
The party debate which of the seven wings to explore first. The consensus is: any one except Greed. For [reasons] they decide to do Lust first and head through the arch behind the statue of Runelord Sorshen. It is difficult to ignore (since she elected to model in the nude) that for all her megalomaniacal ambitions, Sorshen had a pretty fine ass.
“I would tap that.” Andor confided to Rast, with a suggestive wiggle of his creaky hips.
Rast grunts. He is not impressed by Sorshen’s smooth, perfect skin. He much prefers his women coarse and hairy.
The tunnel terminates on a stone ledge overlooking a seemingly bottomless abyss. Iron cages dangle over the pit from lengths of rusty chain. Pitiful figures wrapped in strips of greasy leather languish within their hanging cells. A larger cage looms near the centre of the cavernous space, hanging in space like a fat, iron spider in its web. Brightly dyed fabric has been draped over the sides and cavorting shadows writhe alluringly against the colourful cloth. The only sounds in the cave are the moaning of the prisoners and a suspicious, leathery flapping noise from the darkness above.
“It looks like we need to jump from cage to cage to reach the pavilion,” Karrack said, securing Teraktinus to his back, “And we used up all our rope marking the route back to the teleporter. If you’re coming across, try not to roll snake-eyes on your agility die.”
“Huh? Whussat?!” Grogg said. His mind had been elsewhere. What was it Karrack had just said? Oh well, it was probably not important.
Karrack and Solaris deftly hop from cage to cage without plunging to their almost certain doom. Halfway across the abyss, they are challenged by a skanky looking harpy waving a spear.
“Who seeks the pleasurable embrace of the Lady Delphine?” she squawks.
“We are mighty heroes, seeking tools to destroy Runelord Karzoug!” Solaris declares grandiosely, “Lead us to your mistress so that we may trigger the next combat encounter!”
“Follow me!” hisses the harpy, wondering when mighty heroes became so mighty predictable.
The cage into which they are led is a riot of garish colour and intoxicating smells. A smoking censer in one corner fills the room with a sweet, narcotic haze and both Karrack and Solaris begin to feel a little woozy. Several naked human prisoners are strapped to metal bed frames around the pavilion, moaning with some potent cocktail of pleasure and despair. Several more harpies are busy tormenting the prisoners with a variety of ghoulish looking instruments. A violet-skinned succubus with come-to-bed eyes and stab-you-in-the-face claws presides over the orgy from an uncomfortable-looking metal throne.
“Whatever have you found, sister? Fresh meat for us to grind?” purrs the succubus, rising from her seat and slowly circling the heroes like a hungry shark, “I am the Lady Delphine, mistress of the Iron Cages of Lust and devoted servant to the Runelord Sorshen. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
She offers her hand to Karrack, who makes a valiant attempt to kiss it despite his lack of lips. She turns to Solaris, who offers her a brisk, business-like handshake instead. She is less than impressed.
“So how can I help you two handsome studs?”
“We have reason to believe that Runelord Karzoug conspired to survive the cataclysm and now he’s gathering strength to conquer the world.” Karrack explained, “We’re gathering Ithilliom ore so that we can forge weapons capable of killing him before he regains his full power.”
“Let me get this straight,” Delphine said, “Runeforge is unsealed for the first time in a millennia and Runelord Karzoug is gathering allies to his side?”
“Err…” said Karrack.
“Yes.” said Solaris.
“And you idiots have already wound him up to the point that anyone delivering your bodies to his feet would likely gain immense favour in the new world?”
“Err…” said Karrack.
“Yes.” said Solaris.
“I guess I’ll be doing that then.” decided Delphine.
“You said you were devoted to Sorshen!” Karrack protested.
“Darling,” Delphine answered with a pitying smile, “To please powerful men, you sometimes have to be flexible.”
Karrack readies Teraktinus and moves to engage the succubus, while Solaris fends of the spear-wielding harpies.
“Sounds like fighting!” Grogg cries, reacting to the familiar clash of steel from within the pavilion, “Follow meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
Rolling snake eyes on his agility die, Grogg trips over his own feet and falls into the pit.
Fortunately, the GM is too much of a nice guy to kill a PC for one crappy roll and Grogg manages to grab onto the underside of the closest cage. Unfortunately, he can only use one hand to hold on, as he needs the other to fend off the swarm of harpies flapping over to kill him.
Rast, Asha and Andor thin their numbers from the ledge and Grogg makes short work of anything that he can reach, as the cage swings wildly on the end of its rusty chain. Once all enemies are defeated, Asha casts Boost Trait to improve Grogg’s agility and the half-orc makes it back onto solid ground.
Seeing that she is outmatched, Delphine surrenders her treasures in exchange for her life. Solaris accepts her terms and rummages through her stuff. He finds one Ithillion Shard, a demonic Kama Sutra and a +3 sentient sex toy.
“Please take me with you!” it pleads, “The things I’ve seen!”
To be continued….
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Savours / Session Six / Part 1 (16/11/2017)
Having cleared the Iron Cages of Lust, the heroes return to the Runeforge hub and deliberate over which of the remaining six wings to assault next. Grogg suggests that his sideheron tattoo might allow him to infiltrate the fanatics loyal to Karzoug and the party head down the tunnel behind the big man’s statue – all except Rast (whose player was absent this week), who opts to stay behind and begin reigniting the runeforge. The passage ends at towering golden door studded with large, glittering gemstones of various hues. Andor examines the portal but can discern no handle nor keyhole with which to open the way ahead.
“It’s a good job that Rast isn’t here to see this,” Andor said, backing away from the golden door, “He’d probably try to do something stupid like prise one of the gemstones out … of… the….”
He trails off as Grogg steps forward and starts trying to prise one of the gemstones out of the door. There is a flash of light and a smell of burning Grogg as the half-orc gladiator pops a large ruby out its socket and is catapulted 10ft through the air by the resultant burst of arcane energy. Picking himself up off the floor, Grogg limps away to ask Rast to appraise his prize. Rast peers at the blood coloured rock and bites it experimentally, before declaring it to be a worthless piece of costume glass and tossing it over his shoulder. Grogg deflates like a little, sad balloon and slopes back to join the others at the golden portal.
“You boys look like you’re getting all hot and bothered,” said a silky voice, “Maybe I can help.”
Lady Delphine approaches brazenly, now dressed in figure hugging travelling garb and knee high boots that may or may not have been crafted from human skin.
“What do you want?” Karrack demanded, “I had hoped our paths would not cross again, demon.”
“Well, I was hoping to persuade you to return the special toy you took from my parlour,” Delphine purred, “You’re collecting Ithillion, right? You have no need of it and it has… ahem… sentimental value to me. It was a gift from my mother.”
“Don’t let her take me back!” cried the magical dildo from the depths of Solaris’ haversack.
“No!” the half-elf snapped, “I need it for… strictly academic purposes!”
“No harm asking,” Delphine sighed, “Anyway, I see you’re having some trouble with Odrikon’s front door.”
“Who is Odrikon?” Karrack asked.
“Karoug’s mortal representative here in Runeforge,” Delphine explained, “A tedious fellow, by all accounts, but he shares your interest in Ithilliom. I wouldn’t tell him why you’re gathering it though. He might not be too enamoured with the idea that you’re planning to kill his master.
“Since we’re bonding here, maybe you’d be kind enough to tell me where Runelord Karzoug has set up shop in your world? I’d simply love to catch up with the old rascal.”
The party form a huddle and try to establish which of them has the greatest chance of bluffing successfully.
“I can hear you.” Delphine sighs.
“We … don’t know where he is.” Karrack lied. Unconvincingly.
“Riiiight…” Delphine said, stepping up to Grogg and gently caressing his scarred cheek, “You want to give me what I need, don’t you stud?”
“Xin Shalast!” Grogg blurted out, succumbing to the succubus’ demonic allure.
“Aww,” she pouted, “I had hoped you’d last longer than that. Well, I’d love to stay and cuddle darling, but I have places to be! If you are determined to get through that garish entrance, you’ll need to touch the stones in a certain order. What was it now? Ruby, Emerald, Emerald, Amethyst, Diamond… I think. I’m sure you’ll work it out! How many combinations can there be? Cheerio darlings, until we meet again!”
Andor steps up to the door and presses the gems in the order than the succubus suggested. There is a crackle of energy and he is blasted across the room to crumple bonelessly in the far corner.
“Curse that deceitful succubus!” Karrack cried, shaking his scaly fist to the heavens, “If you can’t trust a demon, who can you trust?”
The heroes almost TPK themselves trying out different combinations, before wisely deciding to attempt a different part of the dungeon and return to this maddening puzzle later. They tap Rast for healing and soon the only thing still injured is their pride. Appropriately, they decide to visit the Shimmering Veils secreted behind the statue of Runelord Xanderghul.
To be continued….
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Savours / Session Six / Part 2 (16/11/2017)
The heroes approach a room lined with floor to ceiling mirrors on opposing walls. Karrack motions for the others to remain in the passage while he investigates the room. Immediately, two identical copies of the lizardman monk emerge from the reflective glass and twirl their stone spears aggressively.
“Don’t worry Karrack! I will fight with you!" Andor cries, charging into the fray.
Immediately, two identical copies of the human mercenary emerge from the reflective glass and brandish their glowing longswords aggressively.
“Don’t worry Karrack and Andor! I will fight with you!” Grogg cries - before being rugby tackled to the floor by Solaris.
Andor throws his spear at one of Karrack’s doppelgangers, misses and strikes the mirror from which it emerged. A crack appears in the cursed glass and the clone is shaken!
“Break the mirrors!” Karrack cries.
Without entering the room, Asha casts Bolt to begin smashing the mirrors, first on one side of the room and then the other. As the mirrors that spawned them are destroyed, the clones of Karrack and Andor explode into tiny slivers of glass, that crunch underfoot as the party press on into the Shimmering Veils. They enter a cathedral-sized chamber illuminated by four huge, golden chandeliers. The centre of the room is dominated by a large stone peacock statue, standing proudly upon a raised, wooden dais. Twelve identical human wizards are lounging around the room when the party enter. Each copy is of the same handsome, blonde haired man in a flowing robe of peacock feathers. The clones rise and speak in unison.
“Master Vraxeris is meditating and is not to be disturbed. Please keep your screaming to a minimum. Thank you for your co-operation.”
Three of the clones summon a wall of fire surrounding the party. Another four sprout magical wings and fly up to the golden chandeliers, from where they can bombard the heroes with combat spells. Karrack is not standing for that nonsense and returns fire with the throwing stars he had forgotten he had on his character sheet until this session. When a clone is killed, it pops out of existence leaving no evidence that it had ever been there in the first place. The fight with the Vraxeris clones is short but brutal, the clones cannot take much damage but they can sure dish it out in adult portions. Karrack suffers three wounds and only avoids a fourth because Grogg stands over him and absorbs the incoming attacks. When the last clone is slain, the chamber falls silent and the heroes are finally able to catch their breath.
The door that the clones were guarding leads into a small study lined with bookcases. A pungent smell wafts from an incense dispenser crafted in the likeness of a golden swan. Seated at a desk is a skeleton dressed in a resplendent peacock feather robe. In one bony hand, it holds a golden mirror and appears to be admiring its own skull in the reflection. Karrack carefully steps around the rug (“nothing good ever came of stepping on a rug”), grabs the mirror and breaks it on the corner of the desk. Then he tips the skeleton off his chair and scatters the bones across the floor. The skull comes to rest against the far wall and stares back at the lizardman reproachfully. Karrack ignores it.
“I think this was the wizard who created all those clones,” Asha said, “Let’s look around and see if we can find any more Ithilliom.”
Andor finds a small silver key amongst the scattered bones and Asha discovers a secret panel concealing a slender lockbox. They open it up and find a second Ithillion shard and a spell scroll allowing a single use of the Summon Ally: Clone power.
---
The party return to the central chamber and find Rast working industriously to rekindle the long dormant runeforge. They decide to tackle the Festering Maze of Sloth next and set off along the tunnel behind the statue of Runelord Krune. The party find themselves on a slime-slick stone walkway running adjacent to a turgid channel of noxious slurry. The smell is indescribably foul and everyone in the party suffers a level of fatigue as they breathe the loathsome, poisonous air. Nevertheless, they soldier on, following the flow of rank sewage to its source. Three metal pipes disgorge fresh foulness into the tunnels in a slow but relentless torrent. Karrack spots three slime-encrusted levers on the far wall, but reaching them would entail crossing several treacherous walkways over the river of filth. The whole set-up screams ‘set piece combat encounter’ so the party decide to leave the levers be for now and instead investigate where the sewage ends up. After following the river of filth through a maze of twisting sewers, the path ends abruptly on the lip of a large stone basin overflowing with muck. The tunnel continues on the far side of the pool, but there is no clear way to cross without paddling through the vile slop. Nobody much fancies that prospect either, so the party return to the runeforge hub to see how Rast is getting on.
He’s getting on just fine and tells the rest of the party to stop pissing about and find some more Ithilliom!
The heroes decide to see what’s going down in the Ravenous Crypts of Gluttony. They emerge in a domed chamber decorated with a gristly skull motif. The way forward is obstructed by a heavy, metal portcullis. Andor sheathes his longsword and begins hauling on the rusty chain to raise the gate. Immediately, the stone skulls decorating the wall open their mouths and vomit a dozen mummies into the room. Andor raises the portcullis while the rest of the party deal with the undead. Beyond the gate lies a stone bridge crossing a dark chasm buzzing with flies. The party steel themselves to undertake this sinister crossing.
To be continued….
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Week 7 / Part 1 (24/11/2017)
Beyond the portcullis, a narrow stone bridge spans a dark chasm. The air is thick with bloated, buzzing flies and the rank stench of rotting meat rises from the pit. Karrack crossed the bridge (using his spear and superior agility to maintain his balance in adverse conditions) and prised open the heavy stone door at the other end. The room beyond had once been a crypt, now repurposed as a makeshift laboratory. Upturned sarcophagi were being utilized as worktops, where alchemical apparatus now bubbled and brewed. Several hooded figures laboured industriously at their workstations, while others struggled to attach a flaccid tentacle arm to the torso of a hulking corpse golem. Karrack’s patience snapped like a cheap, plastic ruler. Why couldn’t any of these dungeons be nice?!
Rast and Grogg stepped onto the bridge together. Neither of them possessed Karrack’s natural grace, but they were doing well until a fly the size of a pig’s bladder collided with the side of Rast’s head and sent him stumbling over the edge. Grogg lunged to grab the falling dwarf, pulling out a handful of his magnificent beard but failing to arrest his descent. Rast plunged 30ft and landed atop a great pile of mutilated, partially dismembered bodies. As though his predicament was not already grim enough, Rast did not think he was alone in the darkness. The pile of corpses shifted beneath him and several rotting arms extended from the main mass to grasp at his legs! Slapping away the groping claws, Rast withdrew a stoppered vial from his pack, where it had been hidden since he concocted it in secret. His discretion had been necessary, if Asha discovered he was dabbling in necromancy, she would surely have some stern words to share. Breaking the wax seal around the neck of the bottle, Rast poured the potion of zombie control over the gelatinous mass of decomposing limbs. The mass writhed as the macabre elixir took effect, then succumbed to the dwarf’s will.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party burst into the crypt/laboratory of the lich Azaven. Cursing the interruption, Azaven commanded his corpse golem to attack! Spilling glassware across the ground, the golem lifted one of the heavy stone sarcophagi and hurled it across the room! Asha rolled to one side, but Grogg was trapped beneath the weighty stone. Not to be upstaged by a slab of decomposing muscle, Grogg lifted the sarcophagus and flipped it over to crush two of Azaven’s ghoulish assistants. Displeased by this cavalier treatment of his beloved underlings, Azaven raised his crystal-tipped staff and sucked up all of the shadows in the room. With an artisan’s care, the lich moulded the raw shadowstuff into a disc of perfect darkness. He cast the disc onto the floor at the party’s feet and they immediately begin to sink as though stranded in quick sand. Grogg pulled himself free and Karrack hopped up onto another sarcophagus, out of reach of the sucking shadow surface. Only Asha remained trapped in the black mire, her shapely legs and lower torso already absorbed into the floor!
Suddenly, a human centipede of dismembered corpses snaked into the room, grabbed Asha and pulled her free of the shadow sink! Having commanded his new zombie thrall to deposit him back on the bridge, Rast observed the paladin’s plight and dispatched his undead minion to enact a last minute rescue. Asha is conflicted! She has devoted her life to destroying the undead and now she owes her life to one! She detects a crisis of faith (and possibly a side-quest) in her immediate future!
Karrack kills the corpse golem (which falls into the shadowstuff and slowly sinks) and advances on Azaven. The lich cackles and extends a withered fist that crackles with life-draining, necrotic energy. Karrack sidesteps the attack, swings his spear up to sever the arm at the elbow then pirouettes and drives the point through the lich’s eye! Azaven shrieks, smokes and crumbles into a sad little pile of grey dust! His Staff of Hungry Shadows clatters to the ground and rolls to a stop at Andor’s feet. The human mercenary raises his boot and stomps down on the dark crystal, shattering it and returning the stolen shadows to their proper place. Karrack digs through Azaven’s remains but does not find any Ithilliom. Searching the crypt, the party discover a hidden vault opened by the lich’s (broken) staff. It contains a third Ithillion shard and a pair of pale, lacy gloves that make the wearer’s hands intangible.
“Now I can punch ghosts!” Grogg declares.
To be continued….
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Week 7 / Part 2 (24/11/2017)
Having cleared the Ravenous Crypt of Gluttony, the party return to the Festering Maze of Sloth. This time, they are prepared for the diabolical stench and wrap their faces in mummy bandages that Rast has soaked in a pungent alchemical solution. The heroes retrace their steps to the three levers controlling the flow of effluence into the sewer. This time, the levers are defended by a host of mucky sewage elementals! (At this point, we trialled the Savage Worlds Quick Combat rules and they worked pretty well!) The heroes fight their way through to the control panel and shut off the flood of sewage. The ‘water’ level immediately begins to drop.
With the source of fresh slime blocked, the large basin at the other side of the dungeon begins to drain, until the heroes can just walk across the bottom. The demonic squid that had lurked in the noxious pool now splashes helplessly in a few inches of filthy water. The party bombard the beast with ranged attacks until it bursts like a wet sack full of grey custard.
Beyond the basin lies the lair of Joromundus the Slimancer. The obese, bald wizard lounges on his floating black throne, his filthy robe open to the waist, revealing quivering man-boobs and a writhing, tentacled mass imbedded in his chest.
“What would you ask of the great wizard Joromundus?” the rotund Slimancer demanded.
“We seek Ithililliom!” Grogg answered.
“Zzzzzzzz.” snored Jorumundus.
“Wake up!” Grogg roared, throwing his axe at the wizard’s head.
The axe sinks into Joromundus’ flabby shoulder. The Slimancer rolls his beady eyes in exasperation.
“Hohoho!” Joromundus guffawed, “You cannot harm me with your puny weapons! The slime heart of Jubilex protects me!”
The party test this claim by bombarding the Slimancer with ranged attacks and magic. He does seem impervious to their puny weapons!
“If only he had some obscure weakness that we could exploit!” Andor cried.
“The slime heart of Jubilex protects me!” Joromundus said.
“There must be some flaw or gap in his impenetrable defences!” Asha wailed.
“The slime heart of Jubilex protects me!” Joromundus said.
“We must be missing something!” Karrack mused.
“THE SLIME HEART OF JUBILEX PROTECTS ME!”
“Hey!” said Grogg, “Let’s try hitting the slime heart of Jigglypuff!”
“Jubilex!”
“Jubblyjuice?”
“Jubilex!!”
“Jobblejam?”
“JUBILEX!!!”
The party target the slime heart of Jubilex. By exploiting this obscure weakness, they manage to defeat the Slimancer! Tipping him out of his floating throne, Andor finds a secret compartment in the arm, containing a fourth shard of Ithilliom and a band of slimy metal. Asha identifies it as a Ring of Slimy Secretions. Andor slips it onto his finger and immediately oozes pale mucus from every pore on his body, granting him +2 on agility rolls to escape being grappled or slip through tight spaces.
The party decide that four Ithilliom weapons will be sufficient to deal with Runelord Karzoug and pass on exploring the dungeons of Greed and Wrath. They return to the Runeforge hub to smelt the enchanted ore. Suddenly, the 25ft tall statue of Karzoug animates and attacks!
“You again!” the stone golem boomed in the Runelord’s voice, “Neither you nor your weapons will reach Xin Shalast! Your fate is to die in Runeforge!”
The heroes defy fate by defeating the golem!
“Fine!” the Runelord grumbled as his stone avatar crumbled, “Come to Xin Shalast if you want, see if I care! You will never reach the Eye of Avarice!”
The party use the small amount of Ithilliom that they managed to collect to enhance four weapons (Andor, Grogg, Karrck & Asha).
“This is it,”Karrack said solemnly, “The final push. We’ll head back to Sandpoint to prepare, then we’re taking the fight to Karzoug!”
To be continued….
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged) Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Session 8 / Part 1 (30/11/2017)
Having forged four ithilliom weapons and defeated the stone avatar of Karzoug, the party abandon Runeforge and return to the teleportation circle on the far side of the frozen lake. The party return to Sandpoint via Thistletop and begin preparing for their imminent incursion into Xin-Shalast. Grogg struggles to find a buyer for the solid gold swan statuette he carted back from Runeforge. Karrack suggests that he pay a smith to melt it down and cast the molten metal into commemorative gold ‘Grogg the Smasher’ figurines.
“Are these for the contest?” asked the smith as he fired up his forge.
“What contest?” Grogg replied, a frown of befuddlement creasing his leathery brow.
“The Contest of Champions in Magnimar, of course!” the smith answered, “It starts tomorrow. I would have gone myself, but someone has to mind the store. I would have thought that would be right up your – Hey! Hey! You forgot your bird!”
Moments later, Grogg burst into the taproom of the Rusty Dragon, labouring to breathe after sprinting across town in a full suit of plate-mail.
“Contest!! Magnimar!! Go!! Now!! Please!?”
“We do kind-of have a ‘save the world’ situation here, Grogg,” Karrack answered, “I don’t really think we have time to go gallivanting off on some side quest. No, don’t you give me those big, sad puppy dog eyes! It doesn’t work with half-orcs, it just looks odd.”
“Come on Karrack,” Andor said, “Karzoug has slept for thousands of years, a few more days won’t make much difference.”
“You’re only saying that because all the taverns in Sandpoint have cancelled your tab,” Karrack snapped.
“All this adventuring is thirsty work!” Andor replied defensively, “Plus, I hear the women in Magnimar are beautiful.”
Ameiko gives Andor a dark look across the bar. Rast’s hand creeps towards the dagger at his belt.
“Not that Sandpoint women aren’t without their rustic charms!” Andor added quickly, “I like a cheap ale just as much as a fine wine on occasion!”
Silence descended on the tavern, broken by the screech of chairs being pushed back from tables as the men of Sandpoint rose.
“Ok! Let’s go to Magnimar right now!” Karrack said hastily, his lizard-sense tingling, “No time to finish your drinks! Let’s leave this instant!”
Karrack and Asha bundle Andor out of the tavern and down to the ‘Everstill’ before the locals can form a proper lynch mob. The refitted river boat slips its moorings and starts powering against the current, leaving a crowd of angry civilians glowering on the dock.
---
The ‘Everstill’ arrives in Magnimar the next morning. The bazaar of sails is abuzz with excitement for the contest and a crowd of cheering onlookers forms along the waterfront when Grogg’s vessel is recognised. Never one to shy from the limelight, Grogg stands on deck, performing feats of strength for the crowd, while his goblin lackeys toss handfuls of ‘Grogg the Smasher’ merchandise into the mob.
Grogg spots a large crate being lifted off an adjacent barge by a metal crane. The crate has conspicuous air holes bored into the side and a menacing growling emanates from within the box. Suddenly, the crane arm buckles and the crate falls, breaking open against the side of the boat! A ferocious beast bursts from the wreckage! It has both a dragon head and a goat head attached to the powerful torso of a lion. It’s not immediately clear which head is most angry, they both look pretty pissed. Then the dragon head breathes a cone of fire into the crowd and that clinches it.
“Monster!!” Grogg shouts gleefully, hopping up and down on the spot, “Ooh, Karrack, can I kill it, pleasepleasepleaseplease?”
“Did you finish your chores?”
“Yes!”
“Then off you go, you little scamp.”
Launching himself onto the feathery back of his pet roc, Grogg rose majestically into the air above the deck of the ‘Everstill’. At this point, it becomes apparent that Grogg has not invested any development points into the riding skill and his ascent become a whole lot less majestic as he barrel-rolls into a tree. Karrack leads Andor and Asha down the gangplank in pursuit of the rampaging chimera.
Asha and Andor get stuck behind a group of people queuing for fresh oysters. Karrack takes a different route through the labyrinthine bazaar and spots the monster up ahead. He snatches a tender bunyip steak from the nearest vendor’s stand and throws it at the chimera, hoping to distract it. Fortunately, the meat lands in front of the beast’s carnivorous head and it pauses to gobble it up. This gives Andor time to break free from the mob of oyster lovers and t%## it with a stick. The goat head bleats and it runs out of the market into a busy intersection thick with foot and horse traffic.
Andor chased after the retreating beasty, leaping over a wheelbarrow full of eels. Asha caught up just in time to be caught in the cone template as it spun around and blasted them both with fire from its dragon head. Fortunately, a passing carriage blocked the flames! The frightened driver leapt from his doomed conveyance and rolled in the gutter until his burning clothes were extinguished.
Turning away, the chimera launched itself through the window of a tavern on the opposite side of the street. Andor, Asha and Karrack followed it inside and discovered there was already a full scale tavern brawl in place! Andor punched a man in the face and seized a frothy tankard off the bar, waving Asha and Karrack to go on without him. The chimera headed up a flight of stairs at the back of the taproom and the two heroes gave chase. Suddenly, the window at the top of the stairs shattered inward as Grogg hurtled through the grimy glass!
“THIS – IS – STRENGTH!!!” he roared, swinging his twin axes and severing both heads!
“Where did you come from?!” Asha gasped.
“Fell!!” Grogg answered, pointing a bloody axe to the broken window, where his pet roc could be seen circling overhead.
“Fight!!” Grogg states, noticing the brawl raging in the tavern below. He raises his weapons, eyes wild with unsated bloodlust.
Karrack tries to explain that a tavern brawl is not traditionally a fight to the death. Meanwhile, Asha attempts to stop the fighting by performing a sexy dance on the bar, i.e: Coyote Ugly (I’ve not seen the film, but that’s the premise, right?). She is moderately successful, as her alluring gyrations distract the remaining participants sufficiently for Andor to pull off the coup-de-grace.
“The winner!!” Andor cries, standing atop a mound of unconscious brawlers.
Then Grogg punches him in the face! Andor goes down hard!
“The winner!!” Grogg cries, standing atop a mound of unconscious brawlers.
The bartender emerges from the back room and starts pouring drinks. He advises the party that it is a local tradition that whoever is still standing after a brawl gets a free pint. Asha suspects this tradition might explain the high number of brawls in the city.
“I can’t wait to tell all my bartender buddies that THE Grogg the Smasher won a brawl in MY tavern!” the bartender said, “Wait! Shouldn’t you be at the colosseum by now? The opening ceremony for the Contest started hours ago!”
To be continued….
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
[Savaged) Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Session 8 / Part 2 (30/11/2017)
The colosseum is packed with spectators baying for the bloodsport to commence! Merchants and lords rub shoulders with beggars and thieves as they all jostle for the best positions to witness the spectacle about to unfold on the arena sand. The event organizers are in a state of great anxiety however, not only has the reigning arena champion failed to arrive, but now the warm-up act has cancelled at the last moment!
“I don’t see any alternative,” one official said, “We’re just going to have to cancel and give everyone their money back.”
“Do you jest?” spat another, “That crowd won’t be satisfied until they’ve seen blood spilled. Do you want it to be ours?”
“Wait! What’s that in the sky?”
“Is it a bird?”
“Is it a dwarf with a glider made of harpy wings?”
“No! It’s Grogg the Smasher riding a baby roc and carrying a headless chimera!”
Grogg landed in the arena to tumultuous applause from the stands.
“Wow! What an entrance!” roared the announcer, his voice magically amplified to be audible over the din, “Grogg the Smasher! Reigning champion of the arena, returned - at the last possible moment - to defend his title against the brazen challenger; Gruggle the Demolisher! Let’s hope this fight ends better for Gruggle than it did for the last upstart to challenge Grogg on these sands!”
A single tear rolls down Grogg’s cheek as he is reminded of how he killed his oldest friend and rival Huggle in this very arena during a moment of mindless fury. He looked down to blink away the wetness and saw Huggle’s severed arm crawling towards him! A moment later, the guilty apparition was gone.
“But before we see those two titans clash, we have another event to whet your appetites!”
One of the organisers hurried over to Grogg and explained how the team of amateur heroes that were supposed to warm up the crowd had cancelled at the last minute and left everyone in the lurch. Grogg suggested that some of his adventuring sidekicks might be able to step in. Reluctantly, the rest of the party agree and sign the waivers releasing the organisers of all responsibility for loss of life or limb during the contest.
“Ladies and gentleman!!” bawled the announcer, “Without further ado, allow me to introduce the Heroes of Sandpoint!! Karrack Goblinhero!! Andor Drake the Well Endowed!! Asha the Fire Princess!! Today, you will witness these renowned heroes face a monstrous predator from the darkest depths of the Mwangi jungle! A beast so dangerous that the last group we hired to fight it chickened out and ran away! Here it comes! Let’s hear it for… REX!!!”
The massive gates at the other end of the arena burst open as a huge, armoured T-Rex enters the colosseum! It emits a deafening roar that silences the cheering crowd, then turns its hungry gaze upon the heroes!
Asha throws a blessed bolt at the beast, which bounces off its thick, black armour! The dinosaur responds by snatching the priestess up in its monstrous jaws, chewing her up and swallowing what’s left! The crows cheers!
(GM Note: I let Vic run the monster in this fight since Grogg was not supposed to be involved and his fighting/damage rolls were red hot. I should let him run all my monsters from now on!)
Andor realises that he and Karrack don’t stand a chance unless they can pierce the dino’s armour. He targets the thick, leather straps holding the metal plates together and exposes a section of the beast’s scaly belly. Karrack darts in to drive Teraktinus into the dino’s stomach.
“Careful not to hit Asha!” Andor said, only half-joking.
Rex howls and snaps at Karrack. Karrack drives his spear into the roof of the monster’s maw, but it gets stuck there! Rather than abandon his weapon, Karrack hangs on to the stone shaft, struggling to maintain his balance atop the dinosaur’s bloody tongue!
“Are you not entertained?” cries Andor.
“Eat him! Eat him! Eat him!” jeer the crowd.
“It’s not looking good for the Heroes of Sandpoint!” the announcer announces, “How much longer can they stand against the indomitable Rex?!”
Grogg hears this and decides he had best muck in. Ignoring the organiser’s protests, he enters the arena and goads the dinosaur into charging him! At the last moment, he rolls aside and cuts off one of Rex’s legs! Andor climbs up onto the downed beast’s back and continues working on the straps holding its armour in pace. The armour falls off with a mighty crash and Grogg ends the T-Rex!
“THIS - IS - STRENGTH!” Grogg roars, hacking off the T-Rex’s head.
Karrack and Andor draw straws to determine who has to climb inside the stump to fetch Asha out of the dead dino’s belly. Karrack loses, disrobes and clambers down the bloody neck.
“Wow! What a result!” the announcer cries, “Things were looking rough for the Heroes of Sandpoint, but Grogg the Smasher saved the day! Will he fare so well in his next battle? Hold on to your butts!”
To be continued…..
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
[savaged] Rise of the Runelords/ Sins of the Saviours / Session 8 [Part 3] / 30/11/2017
Karrack, Asha and Andor leave the arena and are treated for the injuries they sustained battling Rex. Grogg alone remains on the bloodied sand of the colosseum, readying himself for his duel against Gruggle the Demolisher. He is winded from his fight with the dinosaur, but determined to defend his title as champion of the arena. A lone figure approaches. Much like Grogg, he is tall and brawny and his greenish skin hints at no small amount of orcish blood. His face (in fact, his entire head) is covered by a metal bucket helm that appears to have been riveted to the armored plates protecting his neck. His right arm is thick with muscle, but the other arm has been replaced by a formidable metal limb.
“Grogg. Do you remember me, Grogg?” Gruggle asked, his deep voice oddly distorted by the metal bucket on his head.
“No.” Grogg answered, at length, “Who are you?”
“Neither enemy nor friend. I am back from a world where such words mean nothing. Only in a battle to the death with you will my soul find respite. Either I will kill you, or you will kill me. It makes no difference.”
Grogg readied his axes. Cryptic messages from bucket headed men made his brain hurt, but fighting was something he understood!
Grogg charged. He swung his axe at his opponent but Gruggle blocked the attack with his metal arm. Grogg felt a powerful electric charge pass from the artificial limb, along his axe and into his own body!
“What was that?” Karrack snapped.
“Ooh! It doesn’t look like Grogg was anticipating Gruggle’s shocking grasp!” the announcer cried, “Stronger and more versatile than the mortal limb that it replaced, Gruggle’s metal arm is a triumph of gnomish artifice!”
“Wait!” Karrack said, “Grogg killed his old friend Huggle by severing his arm and leaving him for dead! Now this ‘Gruggle’ turns up with an artificial limb and a hateful obsession with murdering Grogg?”
“Yes, thank-you for the recap, Captain Obvious.”
Karrack wrestled the announcer’s wand away from him.
“Grogg! Listen!” the lizardman yelled, his voice magnified by the announcer’s strange device, “Gruggle is Huggle! He survived and now he wants revenge! Be careful!”
Hearing this, Grogg stood dumbfounded and Gruggle/Huggle fell to his knees and started banging his bucket helm against the ground.
“Agghhhhhhhhh!” Gruggle/Huggle cried. He struggled to his feet, pointed his metal fist at Grogg’s head and fired an electrified rocket punch across the colosseum. Grogg took the blow on the chin and went down like a puppet with its strings cut! Gruggle stumbled over and stood over his incapacitated foe, mad eyes staring at Grogg’s unconscious form from the narrow slit in his rusty bucket helm.
Karrack dropped back into the arena and attacked Gruggle from the flank, inflicting a wound.
“How can you defend someone capable of doing this to me?!” Gruggle howled.
“Grogg has changed since you knew him!” Karrack said, “The man who left you for dead all those years ago is gone. A different man lies before you now. A better man, a man who I am proud to call my friend.”
“Agghhhhhhhhh!!” Gruggle cried, unable to reconcile Karrack’s words with own memories. Unable to finish Grogg off while he lies helpless on the bloody sand, he turns and flees the arena.
---
End of rotation: Following the revelation that Huggle is alive, Grogg goes looking for his old friend. Asha seeks healing for the permanent injuries sustained in the colosseum and discovers that she must atone for her sins [owing her life to the undead abomination Rast sent to her rescue in Runeforge] before she will be granted the goddess’ blessing. Karrack returns to Sandpoint to prepare for the final assault on Xin-Shalast. Andor finds his celebrity status has made him a babe magnet and spends the next few weeks rattling the headboards at various taverns around the City of Monuments. Rast remains in Sandpoint to support his wife through her pregnancy. Finally, Solaris disappears in a cloud of funky smelling smoke and nobody really knows if he is ever coming back.
To be continued… in a future rotation!
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Spires of Xin Shalast – Week 1 / Part 1 (10/10/19)
The Heroes of Sandpoint have returned to the costal village where their fellowship was first forged. Where better to prepare for what will likely be their final adventure?
In the months since rescuing Ameiko from Jorgenfist, she has given birth to a beautiful baby girl. Rast dotes over his daughter and names her Gara, after a legendary dwarven hero. He and Ameiko ask Karack and Asha to be Gara’s godparents.
After his brush with death in the coliseum, Andor Drake decides he would rather seek self destruction at the bottom of a bottle than at the hands of a mad wizard king. He leaves his runeforged bow with Karack, before riding for Magnimar and a pauper’s grave.
Shalelu Andosana approaches Karack and pleads with him to abandon this doomed quest and run away with her.
“Let Karzoug have Varisia”, she cried, “At least we will have each other.”
“I cannot leave Asha and Grogg to face this evil alone,” Karrack answered, cupping her tear-streaked cheeks within his scaly hands, “They will need me before the end – as much as I need you.”
“In my heart, I knew this would be your answer,” Shalelu said, gently pushing Karack away, “That’s why I love you, even if that love will tear us apart.”
The teleportation circle beneath Thistletop is the most direct route to Xin Shalast, but the heroes soon learn that it has been disabled, most likely by vandalising the glyphs on the other side. It looks like the party will be taking the scenic route after all, for which they’ll need a guide to lead them through the snow covered spires of the Kodar mountains. Brodert Quink (eccentric scholar of all things Thassilonian) recommends the Faresight twins; Aeleana and Forbin, a pair of elven treasure hunters known to brave those lonely peaks in search of frozen tombs lying undiscovered beneath the ice. The siblings agree to join the party in exchange for Karack’s grand promises of “unlimited wealth”.
Preparations complete, the party board the Everstill. Mayor Deverin announces a public holiday to see the Heroes of Sandpoint on their way. Cheering crowds jostle along the waterfront as the old paddle steamer chugs out into deep water and turns north, toward the mouth of Kazaron river. Over the next few days, trapped aboard the Everstill under the feet of the goblin crew, the old guard get to know the new blood. Karack and Asha entertain the two treasure hunters with stories of the attack on Sandpoint, the Skinsaw murders and the battle for Skull’s Crossing. The Faresight twins recount the particulars of their tragic backstory.
On the fifth day of their voyage, as the Everstill approaches the town of Wolf's Ear, Asha is on deck topping up her tan (surreptitiously oggled by both Faresight twins), when she notices a movement on the plains. A dozen desperate refugees are fleeing from a band of orc savages! Lumbering behind the orc pack are a pair of hill giants. A pair of Black Arrows are doing what they can to buy the refugees enough time to reach the town.
"Captain Grogg! Stop the boat!" Asha cried, "Ware giants to starboard!"
There is a splash as Captain Grogg abandons the helm, grabs his runeforged axe and leaps overboard. The rest of the party gather to watch the muddy half-orc clamber up the bank and charge across the plain.
"I did say starboard." Asha said, turning to glance at the giants rampaging on the other bank.
"Nevermind. He'll turn up when he's hungry." Karack said, "First Officer Snot, take the wheel. Bring the Everstill into Wolf's Ear. We are going ashore to help those people!"
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Spires of Xin Shalast – Week 1 / Part 2
While the goblin crew dock/crash Everstill into Wolf's Ear, the party disembark and race to intercept the marauding orcs. Asha calls down a pillar of radiant flame, scattering the horde. The Faresight twins hunker down behind a low stone wall and pick off any raiders straying from the herd. One of the two giants peels off to deal with the heroes. Karack climbs a tree and leaps at the brute, driving Teraktinus - the giant slaying spear - through the giants head. The first wave of foes are decimated, but the main body of the orc host have reached the town.
The party head into Wolf's Ear, hot on the heels off the pillaging orcs. The townsfolk have barricaded themselves inside the temple of Erastil. The orc warchief hacks at the temple doors with a massive axe. The second hill giant spots the heroes and hurls a wagon in their general direction. The Faresight twins roll clear and return fire. Asha waves her hand and a flaming blade scythes across the street, severing the giant's legs. The top half crawls away to die.
Karack hears a scream and interrupts a trio of orcs in the middle of widowing a young woman. Karack slays the raiders and gives a healing potion to her wounded husband, saving his life.
The orcs break through the temple doors and swarm over the barricade. The Faresight twins rush to aid the helpless villagers. The orc warchief guards the threshold. He swings at Aeleana, the axe cuts deep and injures grievously. Aeleana screams. Forbin frowns and fires two arrows into the warchief's skull, killing him dead. The warchief collapses against the barricade, twitching spasmodically. Asha heals Aeleana's wounds.
Meanwhile, Karack runs through the graveyard adjacent to the temple. A few more orcs pop up from behind the headstones. Karack makes short work of them and crashes into the temple via a side door. A group of human villagers cower behind the altar, beneath the bow-like holy symbol of Erastil. Clad in the distinctive dyed leather of the Black Arrows, two old friends cross blades with a half dozen howling orcs.
"Ben?!" Karack exclaimed.
"Karack!?" Ben Kotek cried.
"Karack?!" shrieked Shalelu, "Look out!!"
Too slow, Karack twists aside as an arrow scrapes across his leathery hide. A second Shalelu - the one who has been with the party since leaving Sandpoint - stands behind him. She tosses her bow aside and sighs.
"How unlucky can a girl be?" the imposter pouts, "What are the odds of bumping into you here?"
"Who are you?!" Karack demanded.
"Catch me and maybe I'll tell you."
Not-Shalelu turns to dash away through the graveyard. What promises to be an educational foray into the new chase rules is cut short as Asha casts Sloth on the imposter. Aeleana decides that exposition is for chumps and slashes Not-Shalelu's throat. As the imposter dies, she reverts to her true form, that of the succubus Delphine, who the party last saw leaving Runeforge to hook up with Runelord Karzoug.
"I'm sorry Master," the succubus whispers, as her body crumbles into smouldering ash, "I have failed...."
Despite their victory over the orcs, Karack is despondent. He had believed Shaelu wanted to be with him, now he realises it was all a ruse to get him alone and drain his vitality through kinky demon sex. At least there's still the chance of rekindling his relationship with the real Shalelu....
"I'm sorry, Karack," Shalelu says, reaching to take Ben's hand, "I've found someone else. You were always off dungeon crawling with your adventuring bros and I had needs that weren't being met. They call you Goblinhero, but I needed a hero too."
A single tear rolls down Karack's scaly cheek. Maybe he should just accept his destiny and marry a nice goblin girl. Snot does have a sister....
It's too dangerous to stay in Wolf's Ear with orcs and giants roaming unchecked. The townsfolk are herded onto Everstill and shipped to Sandpoint, where they will be safe. The heroes will continue into the Kodar mountains on foot.
TBC
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Spires of Xin Shalast, Week 2 / Part 1
With its people fled, the town of Wolf's Ear is ominously, oppressively quiet, save for the buzzing of the flies that crawl across the bodies of the slain orcs. The Heroes of Sandpoint scavenge enough provisions to last a week, after that, they'll be singing a song of arrows for their supper.
The party shoulder their packs and head into the mountains, the Faresight twins taking the lead. They are soon on the trail of the Vekker brothers. The first day passes uneventfully. On the second day, Aeleana rises with a nagging sense of impending peril that a hearty breakfast does little to quell. Forbin has grown to trust his sister's instincts and scouts the area for trouble. He spots an orcish hunting party following them up the mountain, a pack of direwolves snuffling greedily at their scent.
Forbin raises the alarm! Moments later, orcish arrows are falling into the camp and a half dozen snarling direwolves are among the party! One wolf lunges for Asha's throat, but Karack tackles it in the air and breaks its neck before they hit the ground. Nodding her thanks to the scaly monk, Asha raises her holy symbol and summons Sarenrae's wrath down upon the orc snipers hiding in the trees. A trio of orc fighters make the mistake of thinking 3-1 are good odds against Grogg the Smasher. Grogg swings and Monica sings and three orcs heads go rolling down the mountain.
Amidst the carnage, the Faresight twins find themselves surrounded by three bloodthirsty direwolves. Aleana drops her bow and readies a pair of elvish daggers. She buries a blade into one wolf's flank, but the injured beast twists and bites her savagely, jaws locked around her bloodied wrist. Forbin cannot help, he is hard pressed keeping the other two beasts at bay. Suddenly, a cry from the trees, as as a young, beardless dwarf in an oversized chainmail vest springs to the rescue! He brains the wolf menacing Aeleana with what appears to be a saucepan! No time for introductions, there are more orcs to kill! No, wait, they're all dead. The dwarf introduces himself.
"Hi! Er... I'm Silas. That's my name. Well, part of it. Vekker. That's... er, the other bit. Yeah. It's nice to meet you. I've been watching you for a while. No, that sounds creepy. I mean, I was, er... watching, but in a normal, curious way. Yeah."
"Did you just say your name is Vekker?" Karack asked.
By happy chance, it seems this awkward teenager is one of the two dwarven prospectors that the party are looking for.
"I mean, Karivek was the one into gold and stuff," Silas explains, "I just came with him because dwarven girls get a wide-on for miners."
"Where is your brother now?" enquires Forbin.
"... Dead."
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Spires of Xin Shalast, Week 2 / Part 2
Although it pains him to talk about it, Silas recounts the events leading up to his brother's demise.
"We came out here, just Karivek and I, to stake a claim and make our fortune from this ore-rich earth. We started digging, but we didn't strike gold, or silver or even copper. What we found was much older, and much more dangerous. We broke into a cavern and found a huge, golden door. We were dizzy with excitement, imagining what treasures might lie beyond. We never found out. As we approached, we were attacked by a massive blue demon with breath as cold as a widow's bed! Karivek held it off just long enough for me to escape, but I heard his screams as I fled. I still hear them now, every time the wind blows from the north...."
"Will you lead us to the mine?" Forbin asked gently, "We need to find that golden door and slay the creatures that guard it. You can come along too, it might be therapeutic!"
Silas Vekker (reluctantly) joins the party and takes them to his camp.
An unnaturally cold wind howls from the entrance to the dwarven mine. Drifts of powdery snow have accumulated around the brother's camp. Silas warns that he and Karivek set traps to defend their claim against thieves. The Faresight twins take point and proceed with caution, until Grogg gets tired of their dithering and charges ahead. He triggers every trap in his path but passes unscathed thanks to sheer, dumb luck.
The party reach a shaft descending 60ft into the dark. Silas repairs the broken winch and lowers Karack and Aeleana into the pit. Karack pauses to light a lantern, but Aeleana rushes ahead and slips on a patch of treacherous ice. She bounces down a flight of giant-sized steps and sprains her ankle at the bottom. Looking around, Aeleana realises she is in a cavern, facing a huge golden door.
'Ooh, shiny!' she thinks, completely forgetting everything Silas said about monstrous guardians.
Aeleana hobbles over to the glittering portal and caresses it hungrily. She is still trying to calculate the street value of all that lovely gold when a massive blue demon (straight outta the Hellfrost bestiary) looms from the shadows and claws her back to bloody shreds!
"Arrrggghhhh!!" she screams, then "Arrggggghhhhhh!!!" as two more ice demons pop up.
Hearing his sister's shriek gets Forbin moving. It'll take too long for Silas to crank the lift back up, he abseils down the shaft and rushes to her aid.
Silas panics! Those high pitched, girly screams!! It's just like last time!!! He can't do this! What was he thinking, coming back here?! Mewling like a newborn babe, Silas flees out of the mine, leaving the heroes to their fate.
Noticing that the intruders have bunched up near the entrance to the cavern, one of the demons exhales a cone of icy breath in their direction. Karack's fingers go numb and he struggles to hold onto his giant-killing spear. Gritting his teeth against that life-draining chill, Karack presses forward until he is close enough to drive the spear through the guardian's chest! He whips the weapon free as the dying demon freezes in place.
It's all Aeleana can do to defend against the first ice demon. Asha casts Protection to enclose the beleaguered half elf within Sarenrae's flaming bosom. The demon reels back from that hateful, holy fire. Seizing his moment, Forbin opens fire and the second guardian is turned into an ice sculpture, with an arrow sticking out of its eye.
Grogg exchanges blows with the final demon. Suddenly, a cry from the darkness, as as a young, beardless dwarf in an oversized chainmail vest springs to the rescue! Leaping over Grogg's head, Silas swings his brother's pickaxe with all his might, burying the pointy end into the final guardian's skull! The demon falls backwards as its body turns to ice, exploding into a million frozen crystals as it hits the cavern floor.
"You fought bravely!" Forbin congratulated the young dwarf, "Karivek would be proud."
Karack approaches the golden portal and spies a sideheron-shaped depression in the otherwise flawless surface. He produces one of the many Thasillonian medallions the party have accumulated over the campaign and slots it into the hole. Sorcerous glyphs inscribed into the door light up for the first time in millennia and the gateway to Xin Shalast swings open.
Light floods into the mine, blinding the heroes. As their eyes adjust, they see the face of their hated enemy - Karzoug - carved into the side of a smoking mountain in the distance. The Runelord's stony likeness looks out over a sprawling ruin of giantish proportions - but between the heroes and the city lies a rime encrusted marshland, shrouded in glittering clouds of ice crystals.
Before the party face Karzoug, they must first survive the Icemist Fen.
TBC
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Spires of Xin Shalast, Week 3 / Part 1
Sore from their battle with the ice demons, the heroes opt to rest before heading into the fen. While the rest of the party gather fuel for the campfire, Silas collects stones to raise a cairn atop his brother's body. His voice cracks as he sings an old dwarven mining shanty, whilst splashing a bottle of Sternhammer Special across the makeshift grave.
As the dirge ends, a ghostly figure coalesces from the icy mist.
"I'm sorry, brother." Silas says, tears falling down his smooth, beardless cheek, "I was scared. If I had stayed... If I had fought... Maybe...."
"Hear me, Silas." intones the spectre, "I bear you no ill will. Though the beating of a prideful heart stilled my living tongue, know that I loved you. You found your courage, in the end. My death is avenged.
"My story ends here, but you have yet to forge your own legend. Travel with these friends of yours. They will have need of your newfound strength before the end.
"Take a stone from my cairn and carry it with you, to remember me and to find yourself."
The ghost fades back into the fog. Reverently, Silas kneels beside his brother's grave and slips a smooth, round stone into his pocket.
"Hey! Was that your dead brother?" Aeleana cries, crashing into Silas' grief like a car full of clowns ram-raiding a funeral home, "How can I also benefit from your personal tragedy? What was that he gave you? A magic rock? I want one too! Gimme!!"
"Get your thieving paws of my brother's grave!!"
---
A red sun rises over the Kodar mountains, imbuing the icy mist with a baleful, bloody hue. The heroes break camp and head into the swamp. They need no compass, the golden spires of Xin Shalast are their beacon, yet the way ahead is still perilous. Geothermal vents beneath the mire cause the fen's icy crust to thaw and re-freeze almost instantaneously. Asha leads the party, confident her fire magic will melt through the thick ice, should anyone get stuck on the wrong side. Unfortunately, her survival skills are not as strong as her faith in Sarenrae and she leads the expedition into the hunting grounds of a giant rimewyrm.
The heroes scatter as the gargantuan serpent smashes up through the ice. Over one hundred feet long from teeth to tale, the beast towers above the party. Scaly armour - as thick as a bank vault - covers its body, impenetrable to all but the heaviest of weapons.
The situation looks grim! The heroes face a foe they cannot best and the treacherous ice prevents escape! Suddenly, figures appear from the mist; a half-dozen pale, beautiful women, stark naked despite the cold. In voices clear and cold as fresh snowmelt, the ice dryads weave a song to distract the monstrous wyrm.
"Quickly! We can only be holding it for a little time!" cries one of the dryads, "You will be coming with us, ja? We are knowing a safe place!"
The party must decide whether to trust these odd, wintry women - and soon. Already, the rimewyrm is shaking off the hypnotic effect of their song.
"Alright. Lead the way!" Karack says.
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Spires of Xin Shalast, Week 3 / Part 2
The dryads lead the party to a sheltered grotto in the heart of the fen. Slightly eggy smelling steam rises from a bubbling hot spring, in which several more dryads are splashing playfully.
"You are being safe now, ja?" says a beautiful fey lady, beckoning the heroes to join her in the steaming pool, "My name is Svevlanka and these are my sisters. We are not getting many visitors. Please, be telling us what is bringing you to our home?"
The heroes shed their suspicions, then their clothes and slip into the water with the nubile dryads. Immersion in the healing water soothes their aching bones and eases their troubled minds. The dryads are having some difficulty with giants, who are building a golden road through the fen. If construction continues, the road will pass through the grotto and their home will be destroyed.
"We also oppose the giants," Karack admits, "If what you say is true, Karzoug will be able to march his army into Varisia, once that road is finished. We have to destroy it."
"Then we are being allies, ja?" Svevlanka says, "If you are destroying the golden road, the giants will be going nowhere fast and our home will be being safe. If you are doing this thing for us, we will be giving you two magical daggers, ja?"
"Yes!" Aeleana cries, being the only party member without a +1 weapon.
---
The party leave the dryad's grotto the next day and continue north, toward the towering walls of Xin Shalast. The new road emerges from the giant city, straight and true as a golden spear. Frost giants oversee a workforce of enslaved yeti. There are too many giants to challenge in a frontal assault and the disposition of the yeti slaves is unclear.
Karack formulates a plan. He shares his plan with the rest of the party. Asha and the Faresight twins blanche, but Grogg grins from ear to ear. This is definitely his kind of plan! Grogg mounts his pet roc and flies back south. The rest of the party hunker down to wait, wondering if they will ever see the deranged half-orc again.
Hours later, Grogg returns, circling low over the golden road. The yetis down tools and gawp skyward as the frost giants hurl rocks (with a k) at the roc (with a c). Suddenly, there is a deafening roar as a furious rimewyrm breaks through the ice and lunges for Grogg, smashing into the road and reducing weeks of hard yeti labour to a field of debris.
"It worked!" Karack cries, "I can't believe it worked!"
The yeti flee! The frost giants stand their ground! Grogg swoops down on the back of his baby roc and beheads a giant with his runeforged axe! The rest of the party rise from the snow and charge into the fray! The enraged rimewyrm continues to pursue Grogg, snaking across the battlefield and destroying anything in its path!
The heroes make short work of the giants and scramble up the flank of the ancient wyrm as it thunders toward the gates of Xin Shalast. The beast smashes through the city wall as though it were made of paper and continues on through the streets, leaving a trail of ruin in its wake. The heroes cling to its icy scales for dear life.
The rimewyrm approaches a tall, golden pagoda in the shadow of the mountain. A 40ft tall rune giant, enclosed in a suit of obsidian armour, guards the entrance. With one swing of its massive sword, the rune giant severs the head of the mighty rimewyrm! The ride is over, now the heroes must fight!
TBC
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Spires of Xin Shalast, Week 4 / Part 1
The headless body of the rimewyrm thrashes, destroying several giant-sized buildings in its final death throes. Dark blue blood pulses from the severed stump, drenching the terrace in inky gore. Thrown from their monstrous mount in the moment of its death, the heroes rise from the rubble, dusting themselves off and reaching for their weapons. The rune giant towers over them, almost as tall as the golden pagoda it defends.
Asha casts Armour on the whole party, surrounding each of her allies in a nimbus of radiant fire. Grogg and Silas charge! The rune giant raises a foot to squish the plucky fighters. Silas spots a glowing rune etched into the sole of the giant's sabaton as it eclipses the sky. Silas cant read ancient Thasillonian, but he knows a conspicuous glowing weak spot when he sees one.
Grogg leaps clear of the rune giant's crushing boot and realises he can now fly. Asha gives him the thumbs up from across the battlefield. A half dozen golden gargoyles perched atop the pagoda take note and swoop to intercept the flying half-orc. Grogg spins through the gargoyles like a cyclone of steel and dizzily observes a second rune on the giant's helm. He smashes it! There is a blinding flash and the rune giant roars in rage (and is Shaken)!
Forbin takes aim and shoots the foot rune with his rune-forged bow. The giant swings his sword - longer than the Sandpoint cathedral was tall - demolishing another building and wounding Aeleana. Karack notices a third rune on the back of the giant's hand. He runs up the length of the giant's sword and drives his spear through the giant's palm! the rune giant reels away! Karack backflips, landing on the hilt of the giant's sword, still embedded in the debris of the collapsed building.
The heroes cannot see the final rune! The giant roars and stomps around like a bear with a sore head. Eventually, Forbin spots the fourth rune in the small of the giant's back. But how to reach it?! Asha casts Smite (with 6 points of AP!!) on Silas' trademark pickaxe and the delusional dwarven miner starts to climb. Karack sees his chance! Leaping from his vantage point atop the giant's sword, he lands on the pickaxe handle (crushing Silas' fingers beneath his scaly toes) and springs up towards the final rune. The tip of his runeforged, giant-killing spear barely scratches the edge of the rune - but it is enough! The ancient Thasillonian spells animating the rune giant fail with the destruction of the four runes and the final guardian falls, slumped over its own sword.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top