mikeawmids runs Rise of the Runelords (in Savage Worlds)

mikeawmids

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

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

After several days rest, Grogg regains consciousness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is no answer, just more knocking.

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

“What are you doing here?” Solaris asks.

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

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

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

< the next paragraph is obscured by blood >

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ahem….”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grogg looks confused.

“Him!” the monk spits at Solaris.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Dwarf overbird!” Ben shouts.

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

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

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

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

To be continued...!

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

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mikeawmids

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued….

(GM Notes: Meh).

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

mikeawmids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…!
 

mikeawmids

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What happened to Cubbin?” Asha asks.

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

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

“Oh, yes. Yes I did.”

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

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

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

“It feels personal.” Rast growls menacingly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ben!!!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Leave some for us!” Ben complains.

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

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

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


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

mikeawmids

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

mikeawmids

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

mikeawmids

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

mikeawmids

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

mikeawmids

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

mikeawmids

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

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