mikeawmids runs Rise of the Runelords (in Savage Worlds)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued....

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

Player Characters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

And then the ogre babies attacked!

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

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

To be continued....


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

Player Characters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued....


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

Player Characters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued... in a future rotation!


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

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

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

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


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

“Oh, well done, Solaris.”

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

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

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

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

“Get Rast down here!” Karrack calls.

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

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

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

“We could draw straws?” Karrack suggests.

“Arm-wrestling!” roars Grogg.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued….


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

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

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

“Ogres?” Vale Temros enquires.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grogg recovers his vision just as the battle ends.

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

New Treasure

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…!

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

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