"Out of the Frying Pan" - Book II: Catching the Spark (Part One)

Blood Jester

First Post
Whew! Just caught up!

Question and comment.



In the Academy info it says that:
The only rules regarding the colors are that no two students in the same graduating class may choose the same color and students refrain from adopting the colors black, red or white as to not be confused with the members of the Conclave of Sorcery).

Question:

-Why was 'Richard the Red'?

Comment:

I love the story, so please forgive me, but...

-It jumped out at me as well that Jana's gift was the only one with a (know by the readers) drawback, and one that seemed not needed to balance it's power relative to the others.

Ignore this at will. :)
 

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Re: Whew! Just caught up!

Blood Jester said:
Question and comment.

In the Academy info it says that:

Question:

-Why was 'Richard the Red'?


Well, two things. . . First the Conclave has been organization has been retroactively changed - so that Academy info (in regards to that) out of date - rather it should read that the colors white, red and black seem "cursed" and bad things happen to watch-mages who are given those colors - so in the last fifteen years or so the colors have basically been eliminated from use - but Richard the Red having graduates in around 542 H.E still fell int he time where red was more of an option.

The "curses" for these three colors are (and under stand this is a superstition and there is no evidence of a true curse and no official Academy rule against it): Black: Tend to Go Evil, Red: Tends to Abandon the Academy agenda and either sequester themselves or do their own thing, and White tends to die horrible deaths early in their career.



Comment:

I love the story, so please forgive me, but...

-It jumped out at me as well that Jana's gift was the only one with a (know by the readers) drawback, and one that seemed not needed to balance it's power relative to the others.

Ignore this at will. :)

I plucked it from another source (wuith tweaking) and it just kind of came out like that. . The other items have their drawbacks as well - some not as obvious as others - and not as readily noticible at this time.
 

Caster stuff

Actually, it seems that Jana and Martin are just a bit lower level than I presumed.

I really like the concept of the "commune with dark powers" SOR variant, Nemm. Flavor-wise it's very cool, IMHO, and it DOES seem that Jana's self-limitation of her power has a lot to do with role-playing decisions, which is cool.

Don't worry, Martin, illusionists can be very nasty. Many illusion spells have one of the greatest powers imaginable in the hands of the player - vaguely worded descriptions! :eek:
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #24 (part II)

Tirhas took the rope from Jeremy, “You go next. I have another way to get down.”

The young Neergaardian paused for a moment, and then made his way down as far he could.

“We have to hold them to the crack, so only one can attack us at a time,” Ratchis said, returning a club-blow with an even stronger one from his hammer. The quaggoth fell in place, blocking the crack.

Jeremy did not pause, when he got to the end of the rope he simply let go hoping for the best.

Jana pulled the lantern from her pack, but it had cracked in the rough descent. Martin crawled back to the edge of the stone slide to get away from the melee behind him. Kazrack brandished his halberd, and moved to hold Ratchis’ side. He could now see two more quaggoths waiting behind the fallen one waiting for an opportunity to get in the tiny cavern.

The quaggoth leapt to its feet and stumbled towards with his club at Ratchis. The half-orc side-stepped the blow and brought his hammer down on the hairy beast again.

Jeremy landed on Jana, and they both lie there scraped and with the wind knocked out of them. However, desperate to see what was happening, Jana was able to cast her light spell on a her dagger, breathing through the pain and keeping her concentration focused on the arcane gestures. Tall shadows moved against the wall. The hooting of the quaggoths echoed up and down the shaft.

Cowering in the corner, Martin cast shield on himself.

“We have to get out of here or we’ll be overwhelmed in here,” Kazrack said, as he buried his halberd blade into the quaggoth, and gave it a hard twist to the right. It collapsed in a pile of blood and fur, but another leapt over it and slammed his stone club into Ratchis, who almost fell from the blow.

Ratchis slammed his hammer into the creature’s face in order to give himself more breathing room. The quaggoth’s nose crunched loudly, and it spit out a tooth as its hoot went up three octaves, and it began to puff up. Kazrack thrust forward again, but the quaggoth twisted his body to avoid the blow and slammed his club into Ratchis again. The half-orc cursed loudly.

Jeremy stood and took the lit dagger from Jana.

Ratchis buried his war hammer into the quaggoth’s shoulder, and there was a large crunch and rip, and it collapsed. Ratchis stepped back from the crack to allow Jeremy to take his place, but just as he did, the last quaggoths bullrushed the Neergaardian. Jeremy had pulled his short sword, so as he was slammed against the opposite wall, clearing the crack of an opening, he shoved the blade into the thing. Kazrack was slow in reacting and his blow went wide.

Jana adopted her silent and grim fighting face and swung her own club at the creature that was now assaulting Jeremy, but missed. Martin stepped forward with dagger in hand as if he were going to join the melee, but then stepped back into the corner.

The quaggoth had his club in the air to bring it down on Jeremy, but Kazrack thrust his halberd into its lower arm and it dropped the club.

At that moment, beside Martin, Tirhas landed, floating down like a feather on the wind.

Ratchis crushed the quaggoth’s skull, but even as it fell it still kept trying to rip at Jeremy, so he thrust his blade into it, and it finally stopped moving.

Kazrack moved to the crack to see if more quaggoths were coming and what the landscape out there was like.

Ratchis turned to Jeremy and placed a hand on him, “Nephthys, please allow me to heal this young brave warrior so he may live to see the sun again.”

Jeremy felt the healing warmth fill his body. “Thank Nephthys,” he muttered.

Ratchis did not pause, and slipped his chain shirt on.

“We have to get out of here,” Tirhas said in her typical detached-sounding voice. “This is a terrible place to get stuck.”

Kazrack walked back in. “The riverbed is just out here, if we follow it out to the right we will get out of here, or so Silverback said.”

He poured some wine into his dwarven rune stein and spoke the rune “sonn” (90) and drank the contents.

Jana, Jeremy, Martin and Tirhas poured out of the crack. It opened onto a narrow ledge about five feet above the riverbed. The jumped down one by one, followed by Kazrack and Ratchis.

“We have to go that way,” Kazrack said pointing to the right. “Run!”

Jana, Jeremy and Tirhas began to run, but Martin paused and looked back to Ratchis and Kazrack. And then ran, falling out of the range of the light Jeremy carried. He tried to pour on the speed.

“Let’s go,” said Ratchis to Kazrack.

“I’ll only slow you guys down,” the dwarf said. “I’ll hold them off. Go!”

“Don’t be stupid,” said Ratchis. “Run. If we have to fight them, let’s make as much room between us and them first. We might find a place to hide or the exit might be close. They may not come outside.”

They were now facing the opposite direction from where the others were running, and before them the echo of hooting echoed. It sounded as if it were getting closer.

“Run. I run too slow. I will only endanger the others,” Kazrack said.

“There is no reason for you to do this,” Ratchis insisted. “I am not going to leave you here.”

Kazrack made some half-hearted progress down the riverbed, with Ratchis only about fifteen feet ahead.

“Look!” Tirhas cried out to the others. “There is a narrow crack. Maybe if we go this way we can hold them off, or lose them and find a place to hide.”

“I don’t see anything,” said Jeremy.

“I can see further with less light,” said Tirhas. Jana stopped running, as did Martin, both looking back to see where the others were.

But it was too dark and they could not see five quaggoths charging at Ratchis and Kazrack, and not hat far away from them. All they could hear was the maddening hooting, and then the sound of combat.

Martin scrambled to light the remaining lantern, while Jeremy passed the dagger to Jana and pulling both his swords ran to the edge of the light, getting ready to attack any quaggoth that emerged from the darkness. Tirhas leapt up to where ledge where the crack she had discovered was.

In the darkness, a quaggoth ran with all its might at Kazrack and swung his club, but the dwarf ducked deftly, and sliced the beast right across the crotch. Blood splattered the moist ground, as its inner bits and pieces started to tumble out of its body. It tried for him even as it collapsed, and in that moment a spear appeared in the air, but it was translucent and mildly luminescent. It thrust itself deep into the quaggoth’s exposed neck and the creature stopped moving.

Jeremy and Jana moved back a bit more followed by Martin, throwing their light onto the scene of the battle. Tirhas pulled her bow and leapt back down from the ledge.

“Finish these things quick and make for the crack!” she called.

“Run! Everyone run!” Kazrack said, shaving a bit chunk of hair and flesh from the side of the beasts. “Save yourselves. I will hold them back.”

“Have you gone crazy?” Jeremy asked. He readied himself for the three quaggoths following that first one. One cam right for him, and he thrust his long sword into it, but he still felt the weight of the club on his shoulder. He shuddered as his chain shirt did not protect well against blunt weapons.

Another of the quaggoths was a blur of movement as it charged Ratchis. There was a moment of limbs and groans, and the thing stood above Ratchis’ unconscious form, hooting and swinging his club above his head.

The last quaggoth joined its brother attacking the dwarf, and brought his club down with all his might. Kazrack moved his halberd to parry the blow with the shaft, but he was too slow and swung too high. The stone club slammed into his shoulder and there was sickening crack and the sound of tearing flesh, as a shard of bone now poked through the side of his now useless right arm. Kazrack’s halberd and defenses were now down.

The dwarf screamed in agony.

Jana spoke her arcane words to blind one of the quaggoths attacking Kazrack, but it shook off the spell’s effect.

Martin moved to one side and cast a spray of colors at two of the quaggoths, the one over Ratchis fell unconscious, but the other acted as if nothing had happened.

Tirhas carefully fired an arrow into the fray, but it went over the head of the quaggoth she aimed for and disappeared into the darkness.

Kazrack struggled with his two quaggoth opponents, barely staying at out of harm’s way, while failing to connect using his light flail in his off-hand. Finally, the quaggoth that had broken his arm struck again, in the shoulder of the same arm. Again, the dwarf cried out, blood pouring down his twisted arm in torrents.

Jeremy struck a deep blow with his elven short sword, but the angered quaggoth returned the favor and the Neergaardian fell.

Jana fired his ray of sickly green light at one of the quaggoths attacking the dwarf, but being careful to not strike the dwarf, the ray went wide missing completely.

Martin took his crossbow off his back and began to frantically load it.

In the distance there was more echoed hooting.

Tirhas dropped her bow and casting forward a handful of sand spoke the word, “dormu”. The quaggoth over Jeremy and one of the ones one Kazrack fell into a sudden slumber.

Tired of her failing spells, Jana pulled out her club and rushed the remaining quaggoths, shoving the end into its ribs. She grunted with satisfaction. Martin stepped over to one side and taking careful aim sent a crossbow bolt to skim it and get tangled in its bloody fur.

Tirhas tried and other gesture and another word, but the quaggoth did not react, continuing to struggle with Kazrack as if all else were a minor annoyance in comparison to the dwarf.

Jana swung again, but held back her blow as the quaggoth and dwarf spun about each other suddenly and she would have struck her companion.

Martin hurriedly loaded and calmly fired again. This time the quaggoth shrieked, as the bolt went deep into its calf.

Tirhas drew her sword and slit the throat of one of the sleeping quaggoths.

Kazrack took the moment’s distraction and slammed the head of his flail agianst the thing’s chest and knocked it backward and down on the ground. The dwarf hurried backed away from the thing, and Jana followed suit dropping her club and fumbling for her crossbow. The quaggoth leapt up and looked at Kazrack. It made ready to leap at the dwarf, but it stood bolt upright as a crossbow quarrel pierced its neck. Its hands clawing at the shaft as it collapsed in order to bleed to death.

Everyone let out a sigh of relief, and then the quaggoth that had been color sprayed leapt up at Kazrack.

Everyone was startled but the dwarf channeled his sudden rush of adrenalin into a fierce swing of his flail, slamming the thing in the face.

“Check on the fallen,” Tirhas said, drawing her sword and joining Kazrack.

Jana hurried over to Jeremy to check and make sure he was still alive, while Martin ran over to Ratchis.

The quaggoth was hooting and leaping and swinging its club wildly. Jana looked up from binding Jeremy’s wounds to see Tirhas take a nearly crushing blow. The elf cried out, and sliced the things thigh with her short sword.

The quaggoth leapt high up and began to shake, tossing its club away. Its chest and arms and shoulders began to puff up with incredible swollen strength.

“Hey ugly,” Kazrack said, swinging wildly at it, and it grabbed him on either side of the head with its long dirty claws and lifted him up, pulling bloody pieces of scalp off. The dwarf slid to the ground, bleeding to death.

Tirhas was breathing hard, trying to find an opening to the wild things vitals, but its brute strength and seeming ability to ignore painful wounds made it difficult. She could barely keep up with it, and as she dodged each blow she knew she was tiring.

“I could use some help over here,” she called to Martin and Jana, and she thrust her sword forward, but the thing twisted away with a hoot, and brought its claw backhand across her chest and neck.

Jana and Martin went back to their dropped crossbows.

Tirhas cried out again, as she took a bite to the same shoulder the spider had gotten her in. She cut into it, but barely enough to make a patch of hair fall off of it.

She pulled away from the beast, and quarrels from the two spell-casters dropped the thing.

“Jeremy is stabilized,” Jana said calmly. The hooting seemed more distant, but still around them. “Their sounds seem to probably echo in the tunnel. They might not know where we are yet.”

“What are we going to do?” Martin asked nervously, looking down at the bloody bodies of their warriors breathing shallowly laid out on the riverbed.

Jana looked up from where she was binding Kazrack. “On Ratchis you will find a ceramic vial,” she said. “Pinch his nose and pour it down his throat, while Tirhas and I move Jeremy and Kazrack up to the crack.”

“A potion? Where’d you get it?” Martin asked, searching the half-orc’s pack for the ceramic vial.

“Well, I am hoping it is a potion of healing,” Jana said. “We found it on a Menovian captain who we saw drink a potion and become healed.”

“So, wait, for all we know this thing I am about to give him might turn him into a rabbit or something?” Martin asked, holding the vial in his hand.

“At least a rabbit is easier to carry than he is,” Tirhas said, grabbing Jeremy under the shoulders as Jana grabbed his feet.

They hefted him up to the ledge, as Martin poured the contents of the vial (a clear blue liquid) into the half-orc’s throat. Ratchis coughed and spasmed for a moment, and then opened his eyes.

“Where am I?” he said groggily.

“It worked,” Martin said, amazed. He looked up at Jana and called, “It worked!”

Ratchis sat up. Martin explained to him what had happened.

“I am severely weakened, but I think I can drag Jeremy along if the three of you carry Kazrack.

The hooting got louder.

“We’d better hurry,” said Tirhas.

“They are coming this way. They are not far. I can hear them,” Ratchis said groggily.

“What are we going to do?” asked Jana. “They will see us in the passageway.”

“No,” said Martin the Green with sudden confidence. “I have an idea Everyone up into the passageway!”

They scrambled up the ledge and down the narrow crack in the stone wall in the tunnel created by a long dry underground river. Martin took up the rear, as the other laid Jeremy and Kazrack on the cold stone floor of the narrow way.

“Now everyone keep quiet,” Martin hissed and then with an arcane word and pulling a fluff of wool from his cloak. A wall of stone now covered the opening of the passage way between them and the riverbed.

“This will only last as long as I concentrate,” he whispered. “So, let’s be patient.”

A moment later they heard the sound of many quaggoths passing the opening on the other side along the dried river. They hooted and hollered, and the party could hear the their padded feet sloshing in the mud,

Jana, Martin, Tirhas and Ratchis sat there in the dark, trying to not even breathe. Everything ached.

When they had heard no other sound for over twenty minutes, Ratchis finally spoke, “ We need to find a place to hide. I’ll scramble ahead and see what I can see.”

“Isn’t that what got us in this mess to begin with?” said Tirhas caustically.

“I’ll be right back,” was Ratchis’ only reply.

He shuffled off in the dark and was back ten minutes later. To those sitting in the dark waiting for him it seemed an eternity.

“There is a huge chamber up ahead with plateaus of various heights that kind of recess into the walls,” Ratchis said. “I think we may be able to hide up on top of one of the lower ones without too much trouble, but we’re going to have to be very quiet.”

“I can use that scroll the gnomes gave us,” Martin whispered. “It will create an opaque shelter. I’ll make it gray-colored to bled with the background as best as possible.”

Ratchis hefted Jeremy over his shoulder, and led the others down the narrow passage. Martin let his illusion spell drop. Jana and Tirhas struggled to carry Kazrack between them.

Ratchis and Tirhas climbed up to a plateau on the right side of the chamber first and then dropped a rope to pull up the two unconscious companions.

Martin and Jana followed.

Martin read the spell from the scroll and a black hemisphere appeared around them; opaque from the outside, but transparent to those on the inside.

“I need to rest,’ said Ratchis.

“We all do,” replied Tirhas.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Notes:

(90) The dwarven rune pronounced “sonn” can be translated as “endurance”.
 



handforged

First Post
Great job, Kazrack's player did really well trying to save the party despite the chance of loosing his character. Great roleplaying. Good job everyone with escaping one of yoru most horrible fights yet.

~hf
 

Metus

First Post
Hey, I know my responses can be kind of spotty, but just wanted to say I'm reading every update and enjoying the story. I didn't like how that other party was sassy to the group, especially after the party had saved their lives. Also, I was genuinely worried that someone was gonna croak in the lastest installment. I was especially worried about Tirhas!
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Horacio said:
Nemm, wonderful!
As usual, of course :)

Have you ever thought about writting a Aquerra novel?

While I really appreciate all the praise I get for my writing here - I really have to give credit to the players who are the ones who really bring these characters to life and who interact with the world very aggresively (for lack of a better term). I doubt I could write so many different characters so well at once.

To answer your question about a novel - I have thought about it . .. . but thinking is likely to be all I will ever do.
 

Horacio

LostInBrittany
Supporter
nemmerle said:


While I really appreciate all the praise I get for my writing here - I really have to give credit to the players who are the ones who really bring these characters to life and who interact with the world very aggresively (for lack of a better term). I doubt I could write so many different characters so well at once.

To answer your question about a novel - I have thought about it . .. . but thinking is likely to be all I will ever do.

That's an error, my friend. You have the right stuff to be a writer, IMNSHO. You could produce a good deal of Aquerran stuff, maybe not a novel (too much work) but short tales, and they could both help developping the setting and enjoy your ever growing fan base :)
 

Sammael99

First Post
Caught up ! (Finally !)

Hey Nemm,

I finally caught up, eating on my working hours (bouh !) these last few days. Great stuff.

I will undoubtedly be stealing some ideas from you. Would you mind clarifying a few things :

* I'm still unclear as to how the Witch class works. i checked aquerra.com but it seems not to be listed. Could you give a little more detail ?

* I have the feeling that the additional combat rules you've tucked on top make combat a lot more complicated and longer. How do you handle it, especially when you're running NPCs alongside the PCs mostly all the time !

* Have you thaught of designing a "Cure Exhaustion" spell or would you rather not ?

* Are the cleric's spelllists customised or do they have access to all spells (I'm currently customizing spelllists for my clerics' campaigns)
 

Sammael99

First Post
(32) The Aquerra Campaign Setting uses a chart of critical hit (and fumbles) results.

Nemm,

Is that chart available anywhere, or could you post it ? Also, I remember you mentioned the penalties for exhaustion somewhere but I can't find them now. Could you re-post ?
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Answers for Sammael :D

The Witch Class

Basically, it is an alt version of the sorcerer – but instead of simply choosing your spells or having “the blood of dragons” or whatever spells are gained from “tokens”. Tokens are objects used as a key to summon an extra-planar creature which teaches the witch spells. The witch basically negotiates with the creature to get the spells she wants, but is not guaranteed to get it. She can take what she is offered instead –or refuse it and try again later. Of course, not every token creature has access to that many different spells – there are four kinds of token (minor, lesser, standard and greater) and the power of the creature within determines this. These creatures can also teach the witch meta-magic or item creation feats (if it knows them), and can be a source of information about other planes.
In addition, witches begin with the Brew Potions Feat – but can never gain the Scribe Scroll feat as their magic traditions are strictly oral. A witch can use a scroll, but only if it is of a spell they already know.

Extra Combat Rules

Longer? Maybe at first – but not by much and now that everyone is used to it – not at all. All dice are rolled at once (attack roll, damage, percentiles (for crit/fumbles) and knockdown die.

Exhaustion

I have a Remove Fatigue spell. Third Level Priest spell (for those that get it (see below).

Remove Fatigue
Necromantic [healing]
Level: Priest 3*
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: Touch
Targets: One Creature
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None (harmless)
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless).

By casting this spell you remove fatigue effects from one creature. This includes fatigue from recovering from negative hit points or taking subdual damage from environmental effects or a forced march. The target creature’s Strength and Dexterity scores immediately return to normal and may run or charge as normal. However, if the source of the fatigue is subdual damage from an environmental effect or forced march as soon as they take more damage the fatigue returns. However the DC for Constitution checks returns as if it were the just first hour of exposure or marching.
This spell makes exhausted characters merely fatigued. This spell may only effects a creature once per 24 hour period.
Material Component: Lavender steeped in boiling water, the vapors of which the creature to be effected must inhale.


The rules for Exhausted characters are in the DMG under conditions (p. 83).

Cleric Spell

Yes, they are customized by priesthood.

Crit Charts

I had posted them to Nutkinland a while back – but are likely gone – I’ll see about posting them to my website soon.

--------------------------------------------------------
I hope that helps. Thanks for reading!
 

Sammael99

First Post
nemmerle said:


The Witch Class

Basically, it is an alt version of the sorcerer – but instead of simply choosing your spells or having “the blood of dragons” or whatever spells are gained from “tokens”. Tokens are objects used as a key to summon an extra-planar creature which teaches the witch spells. The witch basically negotiates with the creature to get the spells she wants, but is not guaranteed to get it. She can take what she is offered instead –or refuse it and try again later. Of course, not every token creature has access to that many different spells – there are four kinds of token (minor, lesser, standard and greater) and the power of the creature within determines this. These creatures can also teach the witch meta-magic or item creation feats (if it knows them), and can be a source of information about other planes.
In addition, witches begin with the Brew Potions Feat – but can never gain the Scribe Scroll feat as their magic traditions are strictly oral. A witch can use a scroll, but only if it is of a spell they already know.



OK. I'd gotten that much. My questions essentially concern the tokens : what kind of creature are bound to the tokens, why, by whom, etc. Basically, what I'm getting at (and this is essentially a consequence of reading the heated part in the Gnome village between Jana and the others) is : can you be a sorceror and not be "connected" with the perceived evil act of parleying with bound and possibly evil creatures.

If the answer is that tokens can hold good creatures, then that doesn't seem to work either since these creatures have been bound by someone and hence the good thing would be to release them...

Can you detail how you solve this conudrum if you solve it ? If you don't, then can you explain if you allow good witches and how it's justified ?

To go to the bottom of this : I'm very seriously thinking of stealing the whole concept from you, but I'd like to know as much as I can before I do ;)

Exhaustion

I have a Remove Fatigue spell. Third Level Priest spell (for those that get it (see below).

Remove Fatigue
Necromantic [healing]
Level: Priest 3*
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: Touch
Targets: One Creature
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None (harmless)
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless).



Wow ! Third level ! That is harsh ! I was thinking of making it a 1st level spell. I even envisaged of making a temporary version (1r/lvl) at level 0... Can you explain why it's so high in level ?

Cleric Spell

Yes, they are customized by priesthood.

Is there a list available anywhere ? I'm in the process of doing this myself, and I would like to have a look if I may...

Crit Charts

I had posted them to Nutkinland a while back – but are likely gone – I’ll see about posting them to my website soon.

To quote an old song : "Please, please, please..."

Thanks again for keeping us fed ;)
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Aquerra Message Boards

Hey Sammy, I'm not trying to avoid your questions (I love answering them and helping you out if I can) - but rather than take up space in the story hour thread -I'll be happy toanswer them at the Aquerra Message Boards, - Just post your question there in the General Discussion forum and I'll give you all the length explanations I can.

In brief though, good witches are very much possible (Priestesses of Isis are multi-classed priests/witches) - not all creatures that are "bound" are done so unwillingly and not all are evil.

As for the spell lists - I do not have them posted anywhere - but will be part of the Aquerra Player's Guide.
 



el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Well, the APG has been pushed back amny times in the last year because the amount of work required for it is insane. . . And I am basically working on it on my own (with some help on the spells & magic section from Cairan (who plays Martin the Green).

The APG will be a downloadable PDF -though I am hoping to get some print copies made up just for myself and my immedaite (and near-immediate) group of players.

One of the things that I am worried about actually is a substantial lack of art in its pages. The way it looks right now it is going to be about 228 pages of pure info - both crunchiness (feats and spells and stuff on skills and changes to classes, etc. . .) and background info (overview of races and nations and organizations, etc. . )

I am looking into someone doing some one page art pieces for between the chapters - but getting someone to do art for nothing or next to nothing is difficult.

So what is the answer to the question? When will it be out? I hope by GEN CON (early August) - let's see how it goes. .
 

Martin Olarin

First Post
A few ideas

Have you tried just coming up with an interesting pattern that you can border the pages with? Combine this with mining public domain art and you should be able to break up the text. I'm not sure on what the copy right laws are on art from a while back but I'm pretty sure that anyone can publish medieval texts without having to pay anyone so you should be able to do the same with art. Creative cropping and enhancement can help a lot too - find a picture of a guy holding a sword up, crop out everything except the sword and add some outward pointing lines to suggest rays of light and you have a glowing magic sword. Crop out some demons for the witch section and you are all set. If you'er good at manipulating pictures it might not even look that cheesy - even if it does though at least it will be cheap.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #24 (part III)

“I’m afraid Kazrack will not survive the night,” Ratchis said.

“He looks stable to me,” said Jana.

The party was gathered beneath the gray hemisphere of the sheltering spell (91).

“I cast a spell on him earlier that increased his endurance, and later he drank something from his dwarven cup that increased it even more,” Ratchis explained. “I think if it weren’t for those he’d be dead, and when they run out his wounds will overwhelm him. Unfortunately, I am out of healing spells.”

“Then there is nothing we can do,” said Jana. “Except…”

“Except what?” asked Ratchis, barely keeping his eyes open.

“Well, we saved you with that potion the Menovian captain had,” Jana explained. “And we have another vial of some black stuff that belonged to one of those evil gnomes that attacked us that time. We can take the risk and try that on him.”

“I think we pushed our luck enough once for today,” Ratchis said, gulping.

“But if he is going to die anyway,” said Jana.

“I don’t know for sure,” said Ratchis.

“Well, I have a potion prepared for me by my brethren of Aze-Nuquerna,” said Tirhas cautiously. “But I am severely wounded, and planning to use it on myself.”

“But you are alive, and he may die,” said Ratchis. “Don’t you think you should use it on him?”

“And what good would that do me if we end up getting attacked up here and I die?” Tirhas said coldly. “Even with my potion he will still be unconscious and I will be injured. However, if I use it on myself I will benefit from it greatly, and therefore so will you if we have to fight or flee again.”

“On the other hand, Kazrack is too strong a warrior to let die,” Ratchis said, calmly. “If he dies the chances of any of us getting out of here alive is greatly diminished, let alone accomplishing what we came down here to do.”

“And if we both die, what do you think of our chances then?” Tirhas asked.

Martin just looked at the elf in amazement, unable to believe that she might allow their companion to die when she had the means to possibly save him.

“It is up to you,” Ratchis replied. “I cannot force you to do anything you don’t want to do, but I hope you will do what you think is right.”

Tirhas Tesfay was silent for a time.

Finally, she spoke again, “ Here administer it to him. All I ask is that if I die that you do not leave my body here to rot if you can at all help it. Bury me above in elven soil.”

“No one is going to die,” said Ratchis. “Not yet anyway.”

-------------------------

The night was long. Or was it night? They lay huddled in the dim light supplied by the magical dwelling, feeling comfortably warm and dry, but they had no idea how much time was passing. In the next few hours Jana, Martin and Tirhas them took turns staying up, and Jeremy and Kazrack moaned and stirred, while Ratchis slept deeply, re-invigorating himself so that he might pray for and prepare the divine gifts granted to him by Nephthys.

Tholem, 4th of Dek – 564 H.E.

In time, Ratchis awoke and after spending an hour communing with his goddess, he lay his hands on the others and healed them with her power.

Finally, Kazrack stirred and slowly sat up, feeling as if there were a weight on his chest, and wincing as he tried to move his arm (which Jana had set).

“I am not dead?” Kazrack asked.

“No, you are not,” Martin replied. “But from the way you were acting I’m as surprised as you are.”

Kazrack frowned. “You should have run,” the dwarf said. “I was trying to give you all a chance to get away.”

“You forgot two things, Kazrack,” replied Ratchis. “Firstly, that Martin barely moves any faster than you do, and secondly we wouldn’t leave a friend behind to die.”

“I am not afraid to die, especially to help my companions,” said Kazrack.

“Don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of chances of try again,” said Jana scathingly.

---------

They continued to rest in the dark, beneath the cover of spell’s shelter. Martin had told the others it would last close to 18 hours.

In time Kazrack was able to regain his own spells and he lay his hands on Jeremy called on Rivkanal, the dwarven goddess of motherhood and the hearth to heal his wounds.

Jeremy stirred.

“Oh, everything hurts,” was the first thing Jeremy said.

“Keep it down,” whispered Ratchis. “This spell of Martin’s might not last much longer.”

“What happened to Silverback? He never cam down with us?” Jeremy asked.

“No, I am not sure how he would have made it down that ramp anyway,” replied Ratchis. “He is likely dead by now if he went through his plan.”

“Speaking of plans,” Tirhas interjected. “What is ours?”

There was no reply for a time.

“I’m not sure if we can survive an assault on the central chamber,” said Kazrack.

“I am fairly confident that we most definitely cannot,” said Martin the Green.

“So, we are leaving here?” Jeremy asked.

“After we rest some more,” Kazrack said.

“If we are going to leave, I recommend we do it right away,” Tirhas suggested. “The longer we sit up here, the more likely we are to be spotted or heard. I do not like sitting in one place for so long.”

“I heard Rahasia’s voice,” said Ratchis, suddenly. “Or what I thought was her voice, speaking in the language of those things, the quaggoths. It sounded as if she was giving them orders.”

“Do you think they knew she was coming? Or that she called them?” asked Kazrack.

“I doubt they would have had time to arrive here from the Plutonic Realms so quickly if she had called them somehow,” said Tirhas.

“Perhaps Richard the Red is in contact with other drow, perhaps he arranged for the creatures to be here to help her return to her people,” speculated Jana.

“If that is the case, she is likely beyond our reach by now,” Tirhas said.

“So, that means we leave?” Jeremy said again, groggily.

“We’ll wait until the spell ends and then we’ll make our way back to the dry riverbed and follow it out,” said Ratchis.

“I just hope we can get out there with no trouble,” Tirhas said. “I heard quaggoths pass through this chamber a few times while you slept. They are patrolling. Looking.”

--------

A few hours later they clambered down from the plateau, Kazrack requiring lots of help because his right arm was in a sling, and made their way as quietly as they could back to the riverbed. Jeremy had barely shrugged off the fatigue of his injuries when they set off.

They walked arranged in a straight line, with Ratchis in front with a rope about his waist, and Kazrack in the rear, with all those who could not see holding on to the rope to guide them in the darkness.

The going was very slow.

They crept along the riverbed, stumbling over each other, and occasionally hissing at each other angrily.

“We need light,” Jana insisted, after they had walked for over an hour, but had not made much progress.

“Yes, I think we do,” Ratchis said, surveying the area before them.

Jana spoke an arcane word, and in a moment light emanated from her dagger.

Before them the riverbed broadened, and sunk down into a wide depression filled with drying muck which was at the foot of a black stone cliff forty feet high that must have once been a waterfall. The cliff was flanked on either side by tall groupings of volcanic rock that created natural pylons that could be climbed.

The moved single file along the muddy bank to the left of the cliff, and Ratchis, taking the rope, went up first. The climbing was not too bad, though in places the stones leaned way over making getting over on top of them hard, but gave stable footing once upon them.

Ratchis was about three-fourths of the way up when the others spotted movement above him. A quaggoth hooted in the shadows above as he dropped a heavy stone on the half-orc’s head. Blood poured from his scalp, as he struggled to maintain his footing and pulling a dagger from his foot tossed it straight up. The quaggoths tried to knock it away, but the blade pierced his hand and he hooted again, more loudly and more angrily.

Tirhas had her bow out and an arrow nocked even as the stone was still falling. However, the arrow arced low and struck Ratchis in the small of the back.

Ratchis roared in anger.

Jana passed the dagger with the light spell to Kazrack, who despite needing to use his off hand tossed it up to the cliff to light up the shadowed foe. It was now illuminated, ad so they were able to clearly see him this time as he lifted another rock and dropped it on Ratchis’ head again.

The half-orc raised his hands above his big head to block the stone, but its weight and speed struck him hard and Ratchis tumbled backward, landing on the hard bank below and them rolled down into the muck.

Jeremy fired his crossbow, striking the hairy thing in the shoulder and this time it cupped its hands around its mouth and gave a long series of loud hoots. Martin scrambled to load his crossbow, snapped into action by seeing Jeremy fire. Tirhas continued firing arrows, but they continued to miss their mark.

Kazrack also struggled to load his crossbow, but the pain of his broken arm worked against him.

Jana spoke an arcane word, and the quaggoths hands went to his eyes.

The creature stumbled backward out of sight, as Kazrack ran down to Ratchis.

“He is bleeding to death!” the dwarf cried, as Jana cast light again, this time on her club. She then went down and bound Ratchis’ head wound.

“What do we do now?” Kazrack asked. “Between Ratchis’ unconscious form and my broken arm, getting us all up there and out of here is going to be much harder.”

“We have no choice,” Jeremy said, with unusual decisiveness. The Neergaardian grabbed the rope and placed a dagger in his teeth and began to climb up, as Tirhas nocked an arrow and kept it aimed at the top. In the distance, behind them the heard the echoed hooting of quaggoths seeming to answer the call of the one that had just fled.

“We have to hurry,” said Tirhas.

Kazrack, Martin and Jana pulled Ratchis out of the muck and back up the bank.

Jeremy pulled himself over and up on to the top of the dried waterfall, and stood just in time to see the quaggoth who had fled bull rushing him to send him back over the side. On instinct alone, Jeremy pulled the dagger from his teeth and thrust forward with all his might, bracing himself for the impact, but it never came. He opened his eyes to find the thing impaled on the dagger and gasping for breath as it collapsed in order to bleed out and die.

Jeremy sighed and thanked Osiris under his breath and turned around.

“I’m okay,” he called down. “I am going to see how close the exit is. I’ll be right back.”

The Neegaardian jogged down the cavern with his crossbow out. He had gone a few hundred feet when he saw that the corridor began a slow ascent. The ground was wet, and he could see some snow up ahead and dim light streaming down. He ran back.

“The exit isn’t far,” he called down. “I’ll cover you.” He watched as Tirhas Tesfey made her way up deftly.

The distant hooting did not sound so distant all of a sudden.

“Martin, you next,” Kazrack said.

The watch-mage did not argue, and tied the rope Jeremy lowered about his waist and climbed a bit, but mostly Jeremy pulled him up as Tirhas kept an arrow readied, keeping an eye open for the end of the radius of light for any approaching quaggoths.

They lowered the rope again, and Jana and Kazrack fastened it about and beneath Ratchis’ shoulders, and Jeremy and Tirhas carefully pulled up the unconscious form. They checked him over when they got him up to make sure his wounds had not opened again, and then sent the rope down.

“You next,” Kazrack said to Jana.

“No, you are injured,” Jana said. “I can climb on my own if I have to, but you need help. You go first.”

“No, I insist,” Kazrack said, stubbornly.

“Don’t be a fool, Kazrack,” Jana said.

The hooting of quaggoths was very close behind them now.

“Hurry!” Jeremy called, holding the rope as Tirhas readied her bow again and stood beside Martin.

“Just go!” Kazrack said, and stepped away from the rope.

Jana sighed, grabbed the rope and wrapped it around Kazrack’s waist.

“I told you to go!”

Now it was Kazrack’s turn to sigh. He stepped up to the stones and scrambled up a bit, but soon Jeremy was simply pulling him up slowly, hand over hand.

The dwarf was barely one quarter of the way up when two quaggoths came charging out of the darkness. Jeremy re-doubled his efforts to pull Kazrack up, as Tirhas fired an arrow, but it disappeared into the darkness behind the thing.

Jana, panicked, ran for the stone pilings and began to climb.

The quaggoth in the lead let out a high-pitched hooting shriek and threw its club with all its might at the young witch. It missed, but one of Tirhas’ arrows caught the creature in the foot. Martin pulled the trigger on the crossbow, but nervous he had not finished properly aiming. The quarrel went into his own foot.

“Damn it!” the Watch-Mage cried out, and dropped the bow on the ground.

Jeremy had to take a breath, leaving Kazrack dangling about halfway up.

The second quaggoth passed its companion and hiked its club over its shoulder and tossed it sidearm at Jana. She cried out and her fingers slipped off the slick stone and fell backward onto the bank knocking the wind out of her, and she slid down the bank into the muck.

The first quaggoth hooted with glee and charged down into the muck, and as Jana looked up she received a vicious claw to the neck and chin. Blood began to gush from her wound, as she collapsed unconscious.

The quaggoth still on the bank happily picked up the club he had just thrown and threw it a second time, and again he found his target. Kazrack was sent flying away from the stone wall and swung there for a moment as Jeremy tried desperately to keep the dwarf’s ascent as steady as possible.

“Let me back down,” Kazrack called. “I have to help Jana!”

Jeremy did not obey.

Tirhas fired an arrow at the quaggoth getting ready to rip out Jana’s throat for good, but missed. However, Martin thought this was the perfect opportunity to try one of the spells the elves of Aze-Nuquerna had taught him. He pulled a live cricket from a pouch and spoke the word ”dormu!”

The quaggoth near Jana tumbled into a sudden slumber, but the other charged up the side of the stones after Kazrack (having lost his club with the second toss). Tirhas leaned over the side and plunked an arrow right into its face. It fell off the stones and slid down into the muck beside Jana’s bleeding form.

Jeremy finished pulling Kazrack up.

He left the dwarf to watch over Ratchis and he and Tirhas hurriedly climbed back down. Jeremy went straight to Jana and tried to bind her wounds, but Tirhas took a moment to slit the throat of he sleeping quaggoth and then joined him.

They stabilized her and then Jeremy climbed again and slowly hoisted the young witch up. Tirhas followed.

Jeremy and Tirhas carried Jana’s unconscious form to the cave mouth. The cold air blew down on them sharply, but they felt elated when they saw the last bit of the bit of light disappearing in the open sky above them, and the snow-covered plain before them.

Jeremy ran back and sent Martin to the cave mouth, who then sent Tirhas back to help the Neergaardian drag Ratchis’ hulking form to the exit, accompanied by a sullen Kazrack, cursing his broken arm under his breath.

The party took some time to catch their breath, but soon they were shivering. At the base of the bluff, which was littered with cave entrances, they saw three cloaked figures. One seemed to be shaking the hands of the other two, and a moment later one was climbing up the side of the bluff by means of a narrow path, while the other two headed back southward.

“Should we call for help?” Jeremy asked.

“No,” said Tirhas. “We do not know who those people are.”

“We need to do something,” said Kazrack. “Let me go back to town and see what help I can get us.”

“No, let me go,” said Martin. “I will likely be more successful than you at that. No offense, but dwarves don’t seem all that well liked around here.”

“True,” Kazrack acquiesced.

“I’ll try to hurry,” Martin said.

The watch-mage made his way up the craggy path to the top of the bluff, which brought him right to the edge of town.

He hurried through the streets of Ogre’s Bluff to the inn, and as he opened the door and the smell of ale and burning fat struck him in the face, he saw Beorth coming out.

“Thank Isis!” Martin cried. “Beorth, hurry. We need your help!”

End of Session #24

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Notes

(91) This spell (Leomund’s Tiny Hut) has many different names. It is often referred to as Instant Hut, but it is thought it has its origins as a priestly spell provided by the halfling goddess Rhianwen, and called “Rhainwen’s Lodge”.
 
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