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Topics - David Roomes

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Announcements and News / Grimstone
« on: August 31, 2019, 09:49:41 PM »
I just posted the initial work on the city of Grimstone. This is one of the new cities introduced on the new map. After Grimstone is done, there will be only one city left to complete... Penketh. Both Grimstone and Penketh are part of the Drakkellian Alliance.

I only posted half of the material for Grimstone this month. I'm going to take all of September to continue working on it and get some good artwork to go with it. Perhaps a city map too. In any case, I like Grimstone and I'm going to spend a little extra time on it. More on Grimstone will be added to its page.

Announcements and News / Three Short Stories
« on: June 21, 2019, 08:22:43 PM »

My best friend and creative collaborator, Mark Price, and I have written three short stories together which have been recently published in Dragon Magazine.

The first was a few months ago. It's called "Secrets of the Deep". The second is "Raven's Reckoning" about two months ago. Those first two short stories both feature a female rogue named Braya. And the third short story, "The Henchman", was just published a couple days ago.

You can find all three of them at The specific issues are below:

Secrets of the Deep - Issue 20
Raven's Reckoning - Issue 23
The Henchman - Issue 26

These aren't Khoras short stories. In fact, the first two take place in the Forgotten Realms. The third was based on the new "Ghosts of Saltmarsh" adventure which Wizards of the Coast just published and that adventure can technically be put in any world. So they aren't Khoras related, but they are swords-and-sorcery fantasy.

Writing them was a lot of fun and yes, we are planning on writing more. I will be more timely with notification here in the forum about any future stories.

Announcements and News / Avisarr Campaign Notes and Session Summaries
« on: June 16, 2019, 06:48:37 PM »
This is just a heads up.

Nathan Sherman, a friend of mine and former member of my gaming group (who is now living in California) is planning on running the Avisarr campaign on his current gaming group. As a favor to him, I'm going to remove the Avisarr notes and session summaries from the website. That way he can show the web site to his players, but there will be no "spoiler" information about the Avisarr campaign on there. I'll be removing that information later this week.

If anyone else out there is currently running the Avisarr campaign or reading the summaries or otherwise wants access to that material, just email me at the Contact link above. I will be happy to share the Avisarr campaign and all related materials with anyone who wants it (except for Nathan's players, of course -  ;) ).

I will re-upload the Avisarr campaign and session summary information back to the website at a later date, to be determined.

Email me with any questions or concerns. Or just to say hi, what the hell. :)

Session 31 Summary - Final Session and Campaign Conclusion

The Player Characters  (aka the "Heroes")

Winlock – orc/dwarf barbarian, wearing heavy chain mail armor and wielding a big war hammer - currently holds the Talisman of Blood
William – the party’s wizard, human male, robed and armed with a broad array of spells - holds the Talisman of Dreams
Belkor – the dashing human swordsmen/mariner wielding twin scimitars - holds the Talisman of the Sea
Listig – the elven thief/archer equipped with several different enchanted arrows
Halimir - An elven archer/ranger. Good tracker. Expert archer - holds the Talisman of the Land

The Current Non Player Characters

"Humble" Almahdi - A likable Padashani beggar with quick wit. Talkative. Funny. Fluent in several languages. Street smart, but somewhat cowardly.
Grim Rigor- A huge ogre warrior. A former slave and gladiator. Extremely tough. Good in a fight. Cured of a zombie infection by Belkor.


Having successfully rescued Radik from the prison level of the Black Guard tower, the party made their way back into the city of Anquar. It was early morning. They managed to evade city guard patrols and made it to their inn… they had rooms at the “Hall of the Green Dragon”, an inn/tavern/gambling hall which was on friendly terms with the Resistance.

They delivered Radik to Matthias and the other Resistance leaders, including Hefdine the Fat, Jassan the Bear and Three Fingered Jack. The leaders said that they wanted to have a meeting there, at the Green Dragon, that night, to discuss the battle plan.

For the rest of the day, the party stayed indoors and out of sight. That night, there was a large meeting in a huge hidden back chamber of the hall. The party was present along with all seven Resistance leaders and a few other Resistance members.

Matthias began. “We seven leaders represent more than 2000 Resistance members. However, we will likely only be able to get between 1300 and 1500 fighters here and ready in time for the dedication ceremony.

The dedication ceremony will take place at Hindol Square tomorrow at the mid-day bell. The reason we propose attacking this ceremony is that we will have Dalmoran out in the open along with the entire government. A wide range of dignitaries and officials will be in attendance, along with all of the cabinet ministers, several of the ranking magi from the Tower of High Wizardry, the High Priest of the Church of Anquar and several dukes or barons from throughout the kingdom who support Dalmoran. There will never be a better time to strike and take them all out at once.

This ceremony is where Dalmoran and the other government officials will dedicate the new statue of Dalmoran. This colossus is made of copper and will be the largest statue in the city. It stands at the north end of the square, more than 20 meters tall. That’s where he’ll be standing, surrounded by his bodyguards… the so-called “Eternal Guard”.

This dedication ceremony is quite the social event and, in the weeks leading up to this, the nobles were clamoring to participate. Only the kingdom’s highest ranking officials and wealthiest noble families will be allowed to attend.

Hindol Square is completely bordered by tall stone buildings with only a handful of narrow street exits allowing entrance. These will be guarded. We estimate that there will be between 300 and 500 people within Hindol Square itself. However, about half of that crowd will be non-combatants… nobles, wives, children, servants, slaves, a few personal bodyguards. But those bodyguards will be more concerned with protecting their charges when the fighting starts.

We propose the following… two groups:

The first group is a smaller group. We smuggle them into the crowd inside the square with the help of a noble that is sympathetic to our cause. Perhaps twenty men. I don’t think we can get more than twenty inside without raising suspicions. But they would be our very best fighters. You five men [here he was referring to the party] will led them. Use them however you like. Use whatever magic you have within the Talismans to strike down as many of the soldiers and guards as you can. Our twenty elite fighters will assist you in the battle. Your job… kill Dalmoran. Kill as many other officials and dignitaries as you can.  It would be best if you could kill all eight ministers, the high priest and the arch magus. But most important of course, is Dalmoran.

The second group, a much larger group, perhaps a thousand, will isolate Hindol Square. We’ll storm the street entrances and blockade them. We’ll also flood the streets and take over all of the buildings around Hindol Square. We can effectively isolate the square and control all entrances. We estimate that there are over one thousand Black Guard soldiers and city guards elsewhere in the city. Once the battle begins and the alarm is raised, those thousand and more men will come running to Hindol Square. Our job will be to completely blockade the square and keep them out, as long as possible, so that you can finish your job.

Make no mistake. Our resistance fighters are brave and ready for a fight. But they are no match for the Black Guard. The guard soldiers have better weapons, better armor and better training. These thousand resistance fighters will be buying you time with their lives. So make it count.

Once Dalmoran and his ministers are killed and Dalmoran’s four talismans are secured, the country will collapse into civil war. After all, we will still have some 20,000 Black Guard soldiers to deal with. They are scattered across the continent, but they will march on the city to reclaim it. However, with Dalmoran’s death and his four Talismans, the people can be convinced to rise up and wage war against the Black Guard and take back the country. After all, the commoners of this land outnumber the Black Guard a 1000 to 1.

Now, before we go any further, let’s address one major flaw in the attack plan. One of the Talismans that Dalmoran possesses is the Talisman of Journeys. This talisman gives Dalmoran the ability to teleport at will. He can also teleport others against their will. And he can open up gates and summon demons and conjure monsters. However, we have a solution to this problem.”

Matthias motioned to the man at the door. “Let him in”. The doors swing open and in walked an old man in wizardly robes, leaning on a gnarled staff. Behind him came a brute of a half orc carrying something on a large wooden tray. The object was covered by a cloth. The half orc set the tray on the table.

“Allow me to introduce Yannathar” said Matthias, “a ranking member of the Order of Karnus, a group of renegade wizards. The Order opposes Dalmoran and the Tower of High Wizardry, but they are generally loathe to get involved in assassination attempts and the like. What word from the Order, Yannathar?”

“I was not able to convince my brethren in the Order to join in the fight. However, I was able to bring this. He removed the cloth. Beneath was a strange device that appeared to be a large sphere resting in a cradle like pedestal. The whole contraption was adorned with mystic runes and seems vaguely mechanical in nature. A number of crystals were incorporated into its construction.

“This is the dimensional purge field generator. Something the Order of Karnus has devised. It uses arkulyte crystals as a power source. Unfortunately, arkulyte crystals are not common. We only have enough crystals to operate this device for less than two minutes. During that time, it generates a field out to approximately three hundred paces. Within the field, no dimensional magic will work. Teleport, dimension door, gate, summoning spells and so forth. None of those types of spells will work. This will prevent Dalmoran from teleporting away. Once the crystals are depleted, the device powers down and the field collapses. Once that happens, Dalmoran will be able to teleport away or open a gate to summon a demon. The device requires constant concentration and I will not be able to help you in the fight. I will be needed to keep this device running”.

[DM Note – This is what I told the players… they had 13 combat rounds worth of energy to run this “teleport purge device”. Once this device is turned on, they would have 13 combat rounds during which Dalmoran can’t teleport. 13 combat rounds to kill him. On combat round 14, he could teleport away or he can teleport in additional help or even summon something big and nasty.]

“It’s possible”, continued Yannathar, “that Dalmoran could use some other spell to try to escape. Fly, being the most obvious. Or he could become ethereal and simply walk through a stone wall. We know for a fact that the Talisman of the Sky gives him the ability to fly at will and to turn invisible. These functions have allowed him to escape assassination attempts in the past. When he realizes that he cannot teleport away, he may try escaping using one of these methods.”

The party agreed to the plan. The Resistance, with the help of a noble, would get twenty of their best fighters into the ceremony. Five of the party (Belkor,  Winlock, Listig, Halimir and William) would also be smuggled in. The two NPCs would not be included. Humble Almahdi would stay out of it because he’s not good in a fight. And Grim Rigor would stay out because he’s too big and too noticeable. But he could help with the fight in the streets and then join the party in the square once the battle was underway and the street entrances into the square were controlled by the Resistance.

The next morning, the party and all of the Resistance groups got into position. The party, along with twenty Resistance fighters, got into Hindol Square and mingled with the crowd. Most of the crowd was noble families and middle class craftsmen, traders and so forth.

The mass of the noble crowd was in the southern third of Hindol Square. A line of city guards was keeping the crowd back. The middle of the square was filled with row upon row of Black Guard soldiers standing at attention in polished armor. Common troopers, heavily armored juggernauts and lean, cloaked stalkers. 

Standing at the edge of the arrayed soldiers was a giant of the mandalar race. He was over 20 feet tall and dressed in giant sized, black lacquered scale armor. He was a soldier of the Black Guard.

Toward the north end of the square was a group of infernal knights, two Dread Lords (the Black Guard commanders), a group of mages and a group of ministers and government officials. At the very north end of the square was the colossal copper statue on a pedestal.

The entire square was stone flagstones, surrounded by stone buildings. A straight line of trees, one every 10 meters, lined the east and west sides.

The crowd murmured excitedly while they waited. William had used the telepathic function of the Talisman of Dreams. The entire party were in telepathic communication with Yannathar, Grim Rigor, Matthias, Radik and all twenty of the elite fighters who were mingled in the crowd with them.

One of those twenty was carrying something concealed under his cloak… the lead box that contained the krysalite (the flying, magic eating creature that the party had encountered a couple of sessions ago).

After a while, a hush came over the crowd as King Dalmoran appears with a flash of light at the feet of the great statue. Surrounding him were six heavily armored warriors, the Eternal Guard.

Telepathically, William told the man with the box to go. The man ran forward, broke free from the crowd, sprinted through the line of city guardsmen and charged down the center aisle between the rows of soldiers standing at attention.

William, Listig and Halimir stood next to each other in the crowd. However, Listig and Halimir were invisible thanks to William. Listig knocked the Jhelquinn arrow into his bow and prepared to draw.

None of the soldiers made a move as the man with the box charged past them. They remained rigidly at attention. Dalmoran made no move other than to tilt his head curiously. Two of the Eternal Guards, answering some unheard command, moved forward to intercept the man. An infernal knight moved to intercept as well. The three blocked the man’s advance and grabbed him. Before they could stop him, he opened the box lid and screamed “Death to Dalmoran!”

Listig drew the arrow and spoke the command word.

The krysalite leapt up out of the box and flew straight toward the group of mages. The krysalite fired out multiple lightning bolts at the mages and began draining spells from their minds as the men screamed. Several knights moved to assist them. A hundred hands went to their weapons.

Dalmoran raised a hand toward the flying crystal creature and unleashed a bolt of energy which struck the krysalite and shattered it. It exploded, releasing all of the magical energy it had just consumed. Several people were knocked to the ground.

But before anyone could react, the party unleashed the second part of the plan. Listig loosed the Jhelquinn arrow. It arced high over the crowd, silent and unseen. At the top of its arc, there was a flash of light and ten arrows came down, trailing lightning behind them. The ten arrows struck at various locations in the arrayed army. Each exploded into a ball of fire that expanded. The ten fireballs merged into a single great storm of flame that consumed the central ranks.

The shockwave knocked many people down. The crowd of civilians at the back cried out in terror as the center of the plaza lit up with the firestorm. Even before the flames cleared, the party was moving. Listig knocked the teleport arrow and drew. Winlock was holding its counterpart. At the same time, Belkor charged forward and made a huge leap with his enchanted boots. He flew up and out of the crowd toward the firestorm.

The firestorm had engulfed the ranks of the Black Guard. Some 150 men were caught in the blast. Most were incinerated, but a few humanoid figures, engulfed in flames, staggered out of the burning clouds. The firestorm dissipated nearly as quickly as it had come into existence revealing hundreds of charred bodies scattered across the field.

Belkor landed from his tremendous leap as the flames dissipated. He was half way toward Dalmoran.

Battle erupted across the whole of Hindol Square.

[DM NOTE: Now what followed was a complicated, confusing and chaotic battle. Although the battle, in-game time, only lasted a minute, a lot happened in that minute. Allies and enemies were moving and engaging all over the battle field. At one point, there were more than fifty active combatants fighting and more than a hundred non-combatants running about, screaming and cowering amidst the battle. I may forget a few minor details or mix up the sequence of a couple of events, but I’ll do my best to capture the highlights of the battle and the overall tone.]

The instant the flames from the firestorm cleared and he had a clear shot, Listig let the teleport arrow loose. It flew across the square, arcing low, aimed directly at Dalmoran’s chest. Dalmoran, however, stepped out of the way a split second before the arrow arrived. Despite the miss, the arrow still fulfilled its purpose. It struck the edge of the stone dais behind Dalmoran and Winlock teleported there instantly. He immediately swung his hammer at Dalmoran. Dalmoran, however, uncannily dodged every blow, always seeming to know exactly where the hammer blow was going to land.

William telepathically told Yannathar to start up the dimensional purge generator and Yannathar confirmed that it was running. Dalmoran’s teleport ability would be blocked from this point on.

Belkor used his boots to make another tremendous leap. He vaulted up into the air, over the heads of the infernal knights and the eternal guard and landed right next to Dalmoran. He also used the Talisman of the Sea to activate his ice armor as he landed.

All three of them, Belkor, Winlock and Dalmoran began sword fighting. The six eternal guards rushed in to protect their king, swinging huge blades at Winlock and Belkor.

Halimir and Listig, both still invisible thanks to William, began firing arrows toward the groups of men up at the statue, near Dalmoran. First a fireball arrow detonated near the mages. Then a series of scorch head arrows into the high priest and the arch mage, to prevent any of the spell casters from using magic. William began casting spells and the twenty elite resistance fighters cast off their cloaks, drew out their weapons and began advancing on the line of city guards.

The infernal knights advanced on Belkor and Winlock with their fire staves leveled and ready to fire. But because of the ring of eternal guardsmen surrounding them, and the proximity to their king, none of them could get a clear shot.

The giant began to advance, walking across the corpse strewn plaza with long strides.

Belkor and Winlock both found the Dalmoran was able to anticipate every sword stroke and hammer swing with uncanny accuracy. Belkor also noticed that the central gemstone of one of the four Talismans attached to Dalmoran’s chest plate was glowing brightly and humming. He was using one of its powers continuously and Belkor guessed that this was how he was able to anticipate every move.

Halimir, Listig and William continued to fire into the battle with arrows and spells, taking out several guards and soldiers, including a few infernal knights. Because of the distance, crowd and invisibility, the minions of Dalmoran were having difficulty determining where the spells and arrows were coming from.

Outside Hindol square could be heard the sounds of fighting. Hordes of Resistance fighters were beating back city guards and Black Guard soldiers in the streets and buildings all around.

Meanwhile, back at the feet of the great statue, Belkor decided to switch tactics. He activated the “water golem” function of his talisman. Immediately, tons of water surrounded him and he rode up inside the giant water golem. The sudden transformation from human warrior to 15 foot water golem knocked Dalmoran off of the edge of the dais. Belkor leapt down onto the prone king, pinning under nine tons of water. With one huge water hand, he grabbed Dalmoran to hold him fast. With his other (human) hand, he reached through the watery mass and grabbed the edge of the active Talisman with his fingers. He tried to pry the Talisman out, but the metal latches holding it in place were strong (and possibly magical). He couldn’t get the thing to budge.

The eternal guards shifted their position to deal with the water golem. With a clear shot now at Winlock and the water golem, the infernal knights opened fire with their fire staves. Many bolts of fiery energy blasted out at Winlock and Belkor. Belkor was protected as the water absorbed the bolts. Winlock wasn’t so lucky and got hit several times.

Listig knocked and loosed an arcane disruptor. It arced and landed in the middle of the cluster of infernal knights. On impact it unleashed a pulse of blue light and all of the fire staves went dark and cold. The area around them was now a magic dead zone, at least for a little while.

Halimir knocked and loosed a winter’s bite arrow and hit one of the two Dread Lords. Ice flowed over the armored figure and [thanks to an abysmally bad saving throw roll] within seconds he was fully encased in ice, immobile and out of combat.

The twenty elite fighters continued advancing and fighting as they came. Grim Rigor also came in to the square through one of the street exits (which was now controlled by the Resistance). Wasting no time, Grim Rigor began fighting city guards and Black Guard soldiers, slowly working his way toward the main fight at the statue.

Dozens of ministers, administrators and other nobles rushed to the exits only to find them blocked by battle. Some were cut down. Others fled to one corner of the plaza.

At this point, the giant arrived at the feet of the statue and the main battle. Belkor, already half dead from fighting the eternal guards, was struck by vicious blow that broke both his legs. Belkor collapsed just as the giant loosed a truly enormous hammer. He lifted the hammer over his head and was preparing to bring the huge weapon down on the wounded dwarf.

Seeing this unfold, Halimir knocked a hammerhead arrow, drew and loosed. The arrow darted across the square, enlarging as it went. It was the size and weight of an anvil when it struck the giant in the back of the head. The giant stumbled forward with a grunt of pain, lost his footing, and came crashing down at the feet of the statue amidst all of the eternal guardsmen.

Winlock used those precious few seconds of distraction to heal himself using the Talisman of Blood. He used its most powerful healing function and was back on his feet immediately, fresh and ready for more battle.

The active Talisman on Dalmoran’s chest plate flared brighter suddenly, but nothing happened. Belkor, face to face with Dalmoran, could see that, behind the steel mask, concern clouded Dalmoran’s eyes. A failed teleport function, perhaps? That was Belkor’s guess.

Suddenly, Dalmoran lifted off the ground, as if dragged by some powerful unseen force. He quickly rose up into the air, dragging Belkor (in water golem form) with him. Within seconds, the two were fifty feet above the battle field. If he couldn’t teleport out, Dalmoran was going to fly out of the battle. Belkor hung on tightly, determined not to let the king shake him off.

At this point, William dropped the invisibility spell on Halimir and Listig and cast a fly spell on each of them.

Seeing the possibility of Dalmoran getting away, Listig drew and loosed an anchor arrow. [An anchor arrow has a gossamer thin thread attached to it which transforms into a heavy hemp rope when the arrow hits something).

The anchor arrow successfully struck Dalmoran and bit deep into his armor. [Being grappled by a water golem was neutralizing Dalmoran’s ability to dodge attacks]. Listig then flew over and tied it to one of the nearest trees.

The giant slowly got back up to his feet.

Halimir flew over to the same tree where Listig was and laid a hand upon it. He used the power of the Talisman of the Land to animate the tree. He then ordered the tree to start reeling in rope that was connected to the flying king (via the anchor arrow).

The infernal knights, realizing they had been hit by an arcane disruptor, moved out of the magic dead zone and began firing again at Belkor and the water golem overhead. Meanwhile, the eternal guardsmen were separating. Three continued to fight Belkor while three more followed the flying king.

The giant swung his hammer and brought it down on Winlock, injuring him badly. But he was still on his feet and still fighting.

Listig switched on his stealth ring (which made him invisible again) and flew up to the roof of the nearest building that bordered the square. He landed on the roof with a good view of the whole square. The roof of the building wasn’t empty. Resistance fighters were battle city guards up here. But Listig was invisible and ignored them. He began firing arrows down Hindol Square, hitting multiple enemies.

Halimir animated two more trees with his Talisman and ordered them to pummel infernal knights and eternal guards. The trees crashed forward, swinging their leafy limbs with great enthusiasm.

William moved toward the center of the square, stepping over charred bodies. His eyes were on the flying king and water golem. He wanted to use a disintegration spell on the king. However, it had limited range and the flying pair were too high, out of range.

Seeing the infernal knights below firing on Winlock and Belkor again, Listig loosed a second arcane disruptor arrow at a cluster of the knights. Again, the arrow hit, unleashed a pulse of blue light and expanded the magic dead zone. Again, all of their magic items went dead.

Grim Rigor was cutting down enemies left and right until one remaining Dread Lord advanced on him and the two heavily armored titans began trading sword strokes back and forth.

Seeing Winlock in bad shape and the giant posing a threat again, Halimir used his Talisman of the Land to enchant his next arrow as a petrification arrow. He knocked, drew and loosed in a smooth motion. The arrow struck the giant in the back. From the impact point, his skin began to turn to stone. The effect quickly spread over the entire giant [failed saving throw]. He stumbled forward and, as he petrified, came crashing down onto one of the eternal guards and the high priest, crushing them under 20 tons of stone.

The first animated tree continued to reel in the anchor arrow rope. Belkor, still in water golem form, smashed a giant watery fist into Dalmoran’s helmet again and again. Scoring a critical hit, Dalmoran was stunned and barely clinging to consciousness.

William watched and waited as the flying king and water golem got reeled in. Once they were within range, he cast a disintegration spell and fired a beam of green energy up at Dalmoran. The damage caused by the beam knocked Dalmoran completely unconscious.

As the tree reeled them in, they entered the magic dead zone. Instantly, they dropped out of the air and right into the center of the magic dead zone. Belkor’s water golem form vanished and both men hit the ground hard.

The few remaining infernal knights fired their staves at Belkor. The bolts of fiery energy, however, winked out of existence as soon as they entered the zone.

Grim Rigor managed to kill the Dread Lord that he was fighting.

The animated tree, mindless and obedient, continued to pull on the rope, dragging Dalmoran through the magic dead zone. Belkor, not wanting to lose Dalmoran, grabbed on to him and got pulled along too.

The four remaining eternal guard charged toward their king to protect him. Much to everyone’s surprise, the instant they reached the edge of the magic dead zone, they all collapse into the zone.  William immediately guessed (correctly) that they were some kind of artificial, magical beings.

The animated tree continued pulling on the rope, pulling Dalmoran and Belkor out of the magic dead zone.

Listig’s bowstring broke. Dropping his bow, Listig pulled out his wand of magic missiles and fired a few missiles at the unconscious Dalmoran. The energy bolts slammed into him, jolting his body and further wounding him.

At this point, there were few enemy left standing.

Belkor got to his feet and brought his blade down, stabbing Dalmoran in the heart and killing him. He then swung again, severing Dalmoran’s head.

Thus ended the reign of the Mad King.

Belkor grabbed the severed head and walked toward the cowering noble families in the back. City guardsmen retreated, their mouths agape in horror at the spectacle. Belkor yelled at the crowd, lifting the severed head high, declaring that the mad king was dead.

Several of the enemy, a wounded stalker, a burned juggernaut, an injured infernal knight, seeing their king beheaded, turned and ran. More than a dozen tried to flee through the square exits, only to get caught up in the fighting out in the streets.

The party continued fighting, mopping up the last few elite minions who still had some fight left in them. But most of the few remaining enemy soldiers were wounded, limping away from the battle field or outright fleeing. The animated trees continued pummeling the last of the infernal knights.

A fireball took care of the cowering ministers in the corner. They could not be allowed to live either.

As the battle subsided, William asked Belkor to level his remaining fireballs (from the gauntlet) at the feet of the great copper statue. It took all five of the gauntlet’s remaining fireballs, but eventually the copper was sufficiently melted that the lower legs buckled and the entire statue came crashing down on to its side. A cheer rose up from Resistance fighters all around.

The battle of Hindol Square was over, but the battle for the city was not. Battle spread throughout the capital city as word of the king’s death spread like wild fire. Peasants and commoners gathered into mobs to fight the Black Guard. Meanwhile, Black Guard soldiers were fleeing the city in groups.

By late afternoon, huge crowds of angry peasants and resistance fighters stormed the Celestial Tower, the Black Guard tower and the Tower of High Wizardry. Dozens of noblemen were hanged that evening and Black Guard officers were put to death.

The Battle of Ipotal raged for a full two days. By the morning of the third day, the city had been swept clean. All those loyal to Dalmoran had either fled or been put to death. A temporary government, led by the Resistance leaders, held things together and these leaders asked the party to stay.

The party members were hailed as heroes. The taverns were filled with talk of the “the saviors of Ipotal”. Stories of their adventures, wildly exaggerated, filled the city. Belkor is to be blamed for much of the exaggeration.

So… this is pretty much where we wrapped up the session and this was the conclusion to the campaign. Afterwards, I and the players talked for a bit about what their characters were going to do after this.

Some talk was given to trying to find descendants of the original eight families that held the Talismans some two centuries ago. But for now, the party was going to keep their respective Talismans. William gave the Talisman of Dreams to Humble Almahdi (as it suited his personality). William took the Talisman of Spells for himself.

The kingdom of Anquar was facing a long, drawn out civil war which could easily last many months. The party agreed that they would stay to help defeat the Black Guard armies and restore the kingdom. That would probably take almost a year. After that, several of them thought they would stay and help rebuild and rule the new Anquar.

William decided that he would eventually return to Endroad Keep (the small village next to the town of Riverfort in Mercia, right at the edge of the Barakose Swamp). He would build a tower there and help fortify and strengthen River Fort and the whole area. He was going to settle there.

The lost Talismans have been found and all eight Talismans have been reunited in Anquar in common goal and purpose. The Kingdom of Anquar has successfully thrown off the shackles of a dictator and is now on its way to rebuilding itself to its former glory.

Thus ends the Pieces of Eight campaign.

Session 30 Summary

The Player Characters  (aka the "Heroes")

Winlock – orc/dwarf barbarian, wearing heavy chain mail armor and wielding a big war hammer
William – the party’s wizard, human male, robed and armed with a broad array of spells.
Belkor – the dashing human swordsmen/mariner wielding twin scimitars
Listig – the elven thief/archer equipped with several different enchanted arrows
Halimir - An elven archer/ranger. Good tracker. Expert archer.

The Current Non Player Characters

"Humble" Almahdi - A likable Padashani beggar with quick wit. Talkative. Funny. Fluent in several languages. Street smart, but somewhat cowardly.
Grim Rigor- A huge ogre warrior. A former slave and gladiator. Extremely tough. Good in a fight. Cured of a zombie infection by Belkor.


At the end of last session, the party began a sea voyage, traveling from Herota to the town of Tenlay in Anquar. They were aboard a small Juenta trade ship with their wagon on the deck of the ship, lashed down by ropes and chains.

The party was travelling with three Resistance members led by a man named Pardak. During the sea voyage, Pardak told them about the Resistance… that it was composed of many separate groups of varying size. The largest groups were in the capital city of Ipotal. Word had begun to quietly spread through the Resistance that the lost Talismans had been found and that Dalmoran’s reign would soon come to an end.

The voyage would have normally taken roughly 40 days, but thanks to the Talisman of the Sea providing perfect winds and currents, the party’s ship made it only 10 days.

During the sea voyage, William used the Talisman of the Mind to scry on Dalmoran. Now that they were heading into the kingdom of Anquar, William wanted to know more about the mad king who sat on the throne.

He varied the scrying time each day and did about an hour each day. It used much of the Talisman’s daily allotment of energy, but his Talisman was not otherwise needed. So, each day, he sat in the sunshine on the deck, pulled out his Talisman, closed his eyes and spied on the mad king.

Day 1 - William saw Dalmoran walking in a courtyard garden within castle walls. He was wearing some kind of plate armor. The four Talismans were worked into the chest plate, physically part of the armor. One of the Talismans was “detached” from the armor and Dalmoran held it in his hands. It seemed like he was casting a spell with it or using one of its functions. No obvious visible effect. Guards in the background followed at a respectful distance.

Day 2 – Dalmoran was sparring with another swordsman, practicing his sword fighting skills. Toward the end of the hour, he switched to wrestling with a different trainer. William judged Dalmoran was quite good at both.

Day 3 – Dalmoran was holding court, sitting on his throne. A line of tax collectors, nobles, guild masters and other officials approached with requests, gifts, problems and various mundane issues of state.

Day 4 – Curiously, William got nothing. The scrying was being blocked. He tried several times. Eventually, he got a successful image. Dalmoran was exiting a room with two near naked slave girls. Very lavish surroundings both in the room beyond the door and in the corridor.

Day 5 – Dalmoran was meeting with a trio of generals.  They were giving him a report on the search for the party. Based on the conversation, it sounded like more than half of the Black Guard was searching the continent of Qeshir for them. The generals indicated that several dozen people in Padashan empire who had seen and spoken to the party were being questioned. However, the party had vanished a month ago and the Black Guard army had lost all track of them. Dalmoran exploded in anger at the lack of progress and storming out of the room.

Day 6 – William witnessed some sort of religious ceremony. Several hundred people were in attendance. William realized that the religion was centered on Dalmoran like he was some kind of deity. During the scrying, Dalmoran suddenly got a concerned look on his face and looked up and directly at William as if he could see the scrying sensor. He stretched out a hand toward the sensor, but William ended the spell, severing the connection immediately.

Day 7 – William did not scry this day.

Day 8 – William decided two days was enough. He attempted again. This time Dalmoran was in a huge cobblestone plaza in a city. He was standing with several men at the foot of an enormous copper statue. Workers were putting the last pieces into place. William realized that the statue was of Dalmoran himself. Suddenly Dalmoran whirled around, clutching one of his Talismans and extending his hand, clearly casting a spell. William cut the connection even as he felt something affecting his own scrying spell. But the connection was severed in time, just barely.

After that, William stopped scrying.

The ship arrived in the port of Tenlay on the morning of the tenth day. They decided that it was possible that Dalmoran and his minions might have learned that the party was traveling in a large wagon. In any abundance of caution, they used the Talisman of the Sea to summon a slow, gradual fog to obscure the port. That way they could dock and offload the wagon and all of them without anyone seeing them.

Pardak took the party to the Wounded Wolf, a large inn and tavern which Pardak assured them was friendly to the resistance and was a safe place.

Almahdi also departed. He wanted to get a feel for the underground and talk to people.

Listig took the party’s wagon to wagon builder’s shop. The party is having a few modifications made and a new paint job to make it look more local so it will blend in more.

The party spent a couple of days in Tenlay, getting a feel for the culture and kingdom. During that time, they found a place called the Shield Hall which was the government building that hired, organized and paid all mercenary companies. With Almahdi’s help, they learned that there were three “tiers” of merc contracts. Tier I, II and III. Tier III contracts were awarded to the most skilled, most trusted companies. Generally speaking, Tier III granted the most rights to weapons and armor, the most access to government buildings and the greatest level of autonomy. So, naturally, the party decided to go after a Tier III group.

Humble Almahdi had already identified the perfect group. A small elite Tier III team that called themselves the “Iron Wolves”. There had eight members including a mandalar slave warrior and a human wizard. Almahdi already had their routine down. They spent most of their time at a gambling hall and tavern. But each day, in the late afternoon, they travelled through the warehouse district to the docks to check on their ship that was undergoing repairs.

The party set up an ambush the next day in the warehouse district. Listig, Halimir and William set up on the roofs of buildings flanking the alley. The rest were in the alley, invisible. They surrounded the merc group. Pardak and his two lieutenants followed the merc group at a distance.

Belkor positioned himself so that he had a clear path to the merc wizard as they group passed by. He lashed out with both blades in a blur of steel and the merc wizard dropped dead to the alley ground before he even knew he was under attack. Seeing Belkor become visible during the attack, the rest of the party launched their own attacks. Halimir, Listig and William fired arrows and spells down into the alley from above. Winlock and Grim Rigor charged in to join Belkor in the fray.

One by one, the mercenary group fell. All except for the mandalar slave. He was particularly large and strong and William’s spells failed against him. Grim and the mandalar squared off against each other. Grim lost his footing and went down. The mandalar took advantage of the opportunity, swept Grim’s blade to the side and then, with a wide swing, buried the blade of his glaive into Grim’s chest. Belkor and Winlock charged and battled the mandalar, decorating him with a half dozen wounds. The mandalar turned and fled but was brought down by an arrow.

The party checked Grim and the blade had pierced his heart. Winlock took the Talisman of Blood and began working on bringing Grim back. Meanwhile, the rest of the party searched the bodies of the mercenary group. They had coins, adventuring gear, weapons and armor. But what the party was interested in was their badges and documents – Tier III permits that allowed the mercenary company to carry weapons and armor. The party took all of these. Each party member now has a Tier III badge and permit.

Winlock was eventually able to bring Grim back, using the Talisman’s most powerful function, but it took a lot of energy from the Talisman of Blood. This was the second time that Grim had been brought back by the Talisman and it was getting harder each time. It is likely that the Talisman would not be able to bring him back a third time.

Now that they had the permits, the party would use the Talisman of Blood to assume the facial likeness of the mercenaries they had just killed. In effect, assuming their identity.

The party realized that, in the guise of this mercenary company, they could take their boat. They went to the docks to test out the disguises. It worked. The shipyard crew leader did not doubt that he was talking to the Iron Wolf merc company. He said the boat would be finished tomorrow.

The rest of the day the party purchased supplies for a short journey on boat.

The party returned to the shipyard the following day, with Pardak and his two lieutenants. They paid off the balance of the boat’s repairs and took the boat. It was a much shorter journey and, with the Talisman of the Sea giving them good winds and currents, they made the journey in less than two days.

As their ship approached the capital city of Ipotal, the party could see, even at a distance, that it was truly immense. One of the largest cities they had ever seen.

As their ship entered the harbor, it was stopped by a Black Guard warship. They were boarded and searched. Their badges and permits were checked, but the Black Guard soldiers accepted it all and waved them on.

Pardak took them to a meeting with the local resistance. There, they met a man named Matthias. He was a tall, lean man with a grey beard and a friendly face. Matthias was the leader of the second largest Resistance group in the city. Matthias explained that the city was preparing for a celebration… a city wide festivity that King Dalmoran was having to celebrate himself. It started tomorrow and would span four days and involve parties, speeches, a masquerade ball, a symphony and the christening of a new warship. But the fourth day was the most important. In a city plaza called Hindol Square, the central plaza of the city, all of the highest ranking military officers and nobles would gather with Dalmoran, his advisors and hundreds of spectators. There, they would dedicate a new statue of Dalmoran and Dalmoran would proclaim himself Emperor.

Dalmoran rarely left the safety of his palace, known as the Celestial Tower. But during this celebration, he would be out in public several times. He would always be surrounded by his personal bodyguards, a group of six knights known as the Eternal Guard. Matthias explained that the fourth day would perhaps be the best day for an all out assault. Although Hindol Square would be filled with enemy soldiers, it would also be the only time that Dalmoran would be gathered with all of his generals, officers, advisors, wizards and elite guards. The party agreed that this would be the best time to strike.

Matthias explained that he had been in contact with other group leaders and that they could summon nearly a thousand Resistance members to join in the fight. These people were not soldiers, he warned the party. They would be ill equipped and poorly trained, but they were ready to fight and die to try to bring the Mad King down. The party discussed how best to use these thousand civilians.

During this meeting, the party learned that the largest Resistance group was named the Fury. They were almost 500 strong and had a reputation for fearlessness. They were fanatical in the cause to overthrew Dalmoran. However, their leader, a man named Radik was imprisoned. The Fury members were absolutely loyal to Radik and would not fight without him leading them. Matthias said that if the party could free Radik from prison, the Fury could be persuaded to join the fight.

The party decided it was worth it to take the time to free this man and get another 500 to the cause.

The place where Radik was being held was the Black Guard fortress itself just outside of town which had a maze of caves beneath it.

Halimir used the “commune with land” function of the Talisman of the Land. This allowed him to become “aware” of all things touching the ground within fifty miles. The party hoped to peer into the tower and get an idea of how many guards were in there, where the prisoners were held and so forth. With that information, the party could fly up to the correct level and use the Talisman of the Land to simply walk through the outer wall and into the cells. It should be easy.

However, there was a problem. Halimir could “feel” the city, the hundreds of buildings, the thousands of citizens and so forth. But he could see nothing within the Black Guard tower. It was shrouded in darkness.

Matthias explained that the tower was built upon a former lead refinery and antimony mine. The maze of caves beneath the tower were the former mine shafts and the ground there was laced with lead. Furthermore, the bricks used in the construction of the tower were also infused with lead. Magic could not penetrated the ground or the walls of the tower.

Halimir noticed that the Celestial Tower and several other buildings throughout the city were likewise “shielded” from his Talisman. It seemed that critical chambers in certain buildings used these lead laced bricks.

So, it wasn’t going to be as easy as they thought.

Pardak suggested getting the floorplans of the Black Guard tower. Such plans would be on file at the city planner’s office and the security there would be less formidable. So it was decided… the party would steal the plans from the city planner’s office and use those plans to help them infiltrate the tower and free Radik.

The party obtained rooms in a city inn suggested by Matthias. The party rested that night and stayed out of sight for the following day while the city began its celebrations.

The following evening, while groups of drunken revelers filled the streets, the party went to the city planning office. Infiltrating the office was  fairly straightforward. Listig and Halimir used a combination of invisibility (from William) and stealth to enter the building. They snuck past a few guards and Listig picked several locks to get past a number of doors. They made their way down into the archives and started searching through hundreds of scrolls and sheafs of parchment. After a half hour, they found what they were looking for… the complete floorplans for the Black Guard tower. They made a copy of the plans by hand, not wanting to steal the original lest that alert the authorities. Once the copy was made, they made their way back out.

The party regrouped at their inn and reviewed the floorplans. The plans indicated a tribe of orcs and a group of trolls inhabiting the lower caverns that were used as guards. The floor plans also showed prison cells on the fourth and fifth floors. One area on the fourth floor was a maze of corridors and traps. At the end of that maze was a single cell. They guessed that Radik might be in that cell. But without knowing for sure, they would have to check them all.

Multiple barracks and guard stations and security check points were on every floor. However, they also noticed that there was a large water spring in the caves below and a small vertical shaft running from the caves up to the fourth floor. It was an internal well system of some type. The shaft was narrow, only about three feet in diameter, but enough for a person to get through.

The party made note of the fact that the floorplans had been made more than 70 years ago. It was possible that things had changed during construction or been altered in the last 70 years. But this was the best they could do.

The following day (day 2 of the festival), the party snuck out of the city and went to the Black Guard Tower. It was perched on a rocky hill and overlooked the city. The party positioned themselves where they could stay hidden behind some bushes, but where they had a good view of the tower and two of the cave entrances leading into the rockface beneath the tower.

William cast arcane eye and sent it into one of the caves. This particular cave entrance was chosen because it was closest to the sprint pool and William was not sure how deep his arcane eye could travel into the caves before the lead in the stone blocked it and the spell failed.

William wanted to get an idea of how many orcs and trolls were inside and also find the best route through the caves.

Almost immediately, William saw that things were different than expected. The floor of the caves was blanketed in thick clusters of putrid yellow mold and fungus with yellowish-white toadstools among it. William described what he was seeing to Halimir, but Halimir could think of no natural fungus that grew in such a way. They concluded that it was perhaps something that had been cooked up in a wizard’s lab.

As the arcane eye floated deeper into the cave, William saw an undead warrior – mostly skeletal with bits of flesh clinging to the bones. It wore rusting armor, a shield and a heavy blade was clutched in one bony hand. Further in, there was a second undead, then a third and a fourth. As the eye went deeper, he saw at least a dozen of undead warriors. Most were stationary and unmoving, but some were walking through the tunnels. As they walked through the thick yellow fungus, noxious fumes and spores were kicked up into the air around them.

Further in, the arcane eye spell began to weaken. The image William was seeing became dark and cloudy. He did manage to spot a pool of water and a hole in the cavern ceiling, directly over the water. This was the cistern shaft, exactly where the floorplans indicated. At this point, the arcane eye flickered and winked out of existence, blocked by too much lead and stone.

The party withdrew from the tower and discussed what William had seen. They decided the best approach was invisibility and flight. If they could go in with a small crew, both invisible and flying, they could fly over the undead, never touching the foul yellow fungus on the floor. They could also fly directly up the vertical shaft and get to the fourth floor. With luck, they would be able to elude the guards, find Radik’s cell and free him.
Since both invisibility and flight would require concentration, William would not be able to cast and maintain both for the whole party. It would be better to have some help. The party returned to the inn and asked Pardak to contact the resistance again. An hour later, the party was across a table from Matthias. They asked him for any invisibility and flight magic that his group might have. Matthias agreed to talk to his people and see what they had.

During this meeting, Matthias convinced the party that they should not simply take Radik out of his cell. If his absence were discovered, it would alert the Black Guard and King Dalmoran. Who knows what precautions the Mad King might take if the leader of the most notorious resistance group were suddenly sprung from prison on the eve of his great crowning. No. Better to replace him. Matthias said that he had many volunteers in his group who would take Radik’s place. And one of them bore a passing similarity to Radik. The party agreed, but said they could do even better. With the power of the Talisman of the Blood, Winlock could make this volunteer look exactly like Radik, for about a day.

They agreed to party company and regroup later.
That evening, they regrouped again and Matthias unveiled several potions of both invisibility and stealth. Combined with William’s magic, it would be enough. They also had a volunteer – a rotund man with curly black hair and beard. His name was Fazeel. Fazeel would accompany the party into the tower and they would leave him in the cell (with his face magically altered to look like Radik) while the party escaped with the real Radik. If the ruse was discovered, Fazeel would likely be executed on the spot, but he was ready to give his life to buy the party another 24 hours.

A few hours later, near midnight, the party ventured back out to the Black Guard tower. Humble Almahdi and Grim Rigor stayed behind. The party included Belkor, Listig, Halimir, Winlock, William and Fazeel.

Between William’s spells and several potions, they were able to get everyone flying and invisible and had one extra potion of invisibility left over which they would give to Radik in the cell to get him out. In addition, the party members covered their mouths and noses with scarves to help prevent breathing in spores or anything else from the yellow fungus in the caves.

They flew in to the cave, William leading the way, toward the pool of water. They flew over a dozen undead and managed to avoid touching any of the yellow fungus.

They reached the pool and, one by one, flew up the shaft. Listig and Halimir, the most stealthy, went first. They walls were wet and slick with green slime. It would have been impossible to climb. At the top of the shaft was a metal cover. Listig listened and heard someone moving about. When he heard them leave, he carefully moved the cover and flew up into the room. It was a small chamber. A female servant was moving away, down a hallway, carrying something. Listig waited until she was down the hall and well out of sight.

The rest of the party flew up and joined Listig in the small chamber at the top of the shaft. The inner walls seemed to follow the layout of the floorplans they had with them. They followed the floorplans toward prison. They encountered a pair of guards, but flew over their heads and managed to be quiet enough not to alert them. When the party was alone in the last corridor, Halimir tried using the Talisman of the Land to phase through a wall. It worked. Apparently, only the outer walls were lead lined. The inner walls were common stone. So he would be able to walk (fly) through the walls here.

Before they parted ways, Listig gave Fazeel two "plague arrows". These were arrows whose blades were coated in the blue slime from the infected from the city of Qazadeen (from many sessions ago). Listig had kept a pair of infected arrows with him all this time, sealed safely. He told Fazeel to keep them hidden and to use them only as a last resort.

Due to the layout of the walls, there was only one stout stone wall separating the nearest corridor from the prison cell which lay “behind” the maze of traps. Listig phased through that wall and confirmed that Radik was in that cell. He then came back out, grabbed Fazeel and Winlock and phased back through the wall, into the cell. Once they were inside the prison cell, William dropped invisibility on Fazeel and Fazeel woke Radik up. Fazeel quickly explained what was going on and told Radik the whole plan. Once Radik was caught up, Winlock used his Talisman to alter Fazeel’s face. Radik was given the last potion of invisibility, which he consumed. They wished Fazeel good luck. Winlock then picked up Radik and the three of them flew through the wall and back out into the corridor, leaving Fazeel in the cell, and rejoined the group.

The party, still invisible and flying, made their way back through various corridors, past several guards, down the vertical shaft, through the caves, past the undead warriors and back out into the night.

So here’s where we are:

The party has successfully rescued Radik from the Black Guard tower prison and managed to do it without alerting the enemy. Fazeel, in the guise of Radik, is in his cell and will keep up the ruse as long as possible.

It is 2 am on day 3 of the festival. The party has approximately 36 hours before the mass assembly in Hindol Square and the dedication of the statue. In that time, they plan to gather as many resistance groups as possible, including the Fury group, and then launch an attack on the dedication ceremony. This will be the final battle. Their primary goal in that battle is to kill King Dalmoran.

This is where we ended Session 30.

Session 31 is November 17th. Summary to follow a few days after that.

Session 31 may be the last session and the conclusion of the campaign.

Session 29 Summary

The Player Characters  (aka the "Heroes")

Winlock – orc/dwarf barbarian, wearing heavy chain mail armor and wielding a big war hammer
William – the party’s wizard, human male, robed and armed with a broad array of spells.
Belkor – the dashing human swordsmen/mariner wielding twin scimitars
Listig – the elven thief/archer equipped with several different enchanted arrows
Halimir - An elven archer/ranger. Good tracker. Expert archer.

The Current Non Player Characters

"Humble" Almahdi - A likable Padashani beggar with quick wit. Talkative. Funny. Fluent in several languages. Street smart, but somewhat cowardly.
Grim Rigor- A huge ogre warrior. A former slave and gladiator. Extremely tough. Good in a fight. Cured of a zombie infection by Belkor.

Having defeated Lothian, the party searched the bodies. Most of the minions had little beyond mundane weapons and armor, basic adventuring gear and a few coins. The party retrieved the stolen artifacts from Lothian and the Talisman. They made their way out of the mountain as quickly as possible.

Upon exiting the mountain, the party found Greywolf and the body off the shaman gone. The massive clock-work golem was laying back in the shallow pit from which it had emerged, apparently deactivated.

At the base of the mountain by the ruins was their wagon. Grim Rigor and Humble Almahdi were standing by the wagon waving up at them.

The party regrouped at the wagon and reviewed all of the treasure and pieces of Kithdari magic that they had taken from the body of Lothian and his minions.

There was a map of the region showing the location of all the Kithdari jumpgates, a small tapestry, a silver statuette, the Talisman they had been looking for, a carved piece of bone with ancient runes, a journal taken from the body of Lothian and miscellaneous coins and minor pieces of art. Of all these treasures, the only one that the group cared about was the Talisman and Lothian’s journal. They took those two pieces and left the rest for the mandalar.

William paged through Lothian’s journal and found it crammed full of notes about the Kithdari, the ruins, the region and activating the Kithdari jumpgates. William kept the journal for future study.

In addition to these items, the party had found a few magic weapons in the armory inside the mountain. Now that they were outside and safe, William took the time to identify them. Most were magic arrows which Listig and Halimir divided up. The most significant were three enchanted arrows that would, upon impact, unleash a blinding light of positive energy which was destructive to undead, demons, devils and such creatures.

The party discussed what to do next. There was a detailed map of the region in Lothian’s journal. The party thought about heading straight through the Border Clans region to the other side and sneaking across the Anquaran border. But they didn’t like the idea. The rough mountains on either side would channel them into another “Throat” and the likelihood of running into an Anquaran patrol was higher than they were comfortable with.

After much discussion, they decided to reverse course and head back toward Salhanrasha. There, in Salhanrasha, they would make contact with the Bellowguard thieves guild again and have them facilitate an introduction with the Resistance group.

Rather than go through the town of Ikemar again, they decided to cut through the Tanlur mountains. It would take longer, but there was little to no chance of running into anyone at all.

Now that they had the Talisman of the Land, one of them needed to take it and bond with it. Listig decided that Halimir should take it since most of its functions would probably be nature related (stone, forest, etc) and it suited Halimir since he was a ranger.

It would take them ten days to reach the mountains. On the first day, William used his Talisman do unlock the Talisman of the Land. So, almost immediately, Halimir could start using its functions. One of the first functions Halimir used was “Commune with Land”. By sitting quietly on the ground with the Talisman for several minutes, he could attune himself to the land and “sense” everything that was touching the ground within 50 miles – terrain, water sources, artificial constructions, caves, tunnels, animals, plants, people and so forth.

He used this function every morning and in this way, the group was able to avoid mandalar tribes on the long journey out of their territory.

After another nine days of travel, they successfully reached the Tanlur mountains with no mandalar encounters. The Commune with Land feature again proved very useful, allowing Halimir to sense the shape of the mountains and valleys. This would help them to find the best passes through the mountains.

As they made their way from valley to valley, they saw that on the map was a ruin called the Tanlur Rings. They asked Almahdi about it. He told them it was a very bad place and that rumors said it was haunted. This did not deter them. Quite the opposite, in fact. The party decided to head straight for the ruin and see if they could pick a fight with ghosts. Listig and Halimir were both interested to see how their new “undead killer” arrows would perform.

It took them three days to reach the ruins. The ruin was a single broken tower surrounded by concentric circular walls of crumbling stone. Only fragments of the circular walls remaining leaving huge gaps between the stones.

The group spread out and stealthily approached the center of the ruins. A hundred feet from the center, they heard a cry of help and turned to see a gaunt skeletal robed figure attacking Belkor. Belkor collapsed and the creature vanished like mist.

Several more of these skeletal undead creatures solidified out of nothingness and attacked. The creatures would appear, strike and then disappear back into mist.

William was struck by icy cold claws from one of the creature. The icy feeling clutched his whole body and he felt himself paralyzed. He collapsed to the ground, unable to move.

Listig unleashed one of the ghost killer arrows. Upon impact, it unleashed a blinding light. All of the creatures howled in agony and were forced to become corporeal. A fierce exchange of attacks followed as the party took advantage of the creatures being both visible and vulnerable from the magical light.

Williams paralysis wore off and he started firing spells. One by one, the party managed to destroy the undead.

During the battle, Grim was struck by claws and paralyzed. He went down. The undead thing continued slashing at him with claws. Listig noticed that one of the undead was dragging a paralyzed Belkor away.

Halimir, eager to try out another function of his Talisman, sprinted to a nearby group of trees. One of the undead pursued and managed to claw and paralyze him before he reached the trees.

William unleashed a chain lightning spell which killed four of the creatures.

Halimir recovered from the paralysis and managed to make it to the trees. He laid hands on two of the trees and, using the Talisman, animated them. Just as the undead skeleton reached him, he ordered the trees to defend him. The trees complied and attacked the skeleton creature. They pummeled the undead into a pile of broken bones and tattered rags.

Listig ran in the direction that the undead creature had dragged Belkor. A short distance away, he saw several bony arms pulling Belkor’s paralyzed body down into a dark subterranean chamber.

Listig ran back to the group. All undead had been destroyed and Winlock was healing the injured. Grim Rigor who was still badly injured and not in condition to continue the fight.

The rest of the party followed Listig and raced off to save Belkor. One by one they jumped down into the subterranean chamber. They found themselves in a large stone chamber  with three of the undead skeletal creatures standing before a dark altar. One of them was wearing plate armor and a great helm.

Both sides immediately attacked each other. One of the skeletons got a vicious hit on Halimir, who fell to the ground with his chest slashed open. Winlock immediately used one of his Talisman’s most powerful healing functions to restore Halimir to full health.

William fired a witch bolt into the body of another. Listig fired another ghost killer arrow at point blank range into the chest of one of them. It detonated in blinding light and causes severe damage to all three of them. Winlock then managed to kill one of the abominations.

William unleashed a powerful lightning spell at the leader and killed it. The remaining one fell quickly under the combined blows of the party.

Now that they battle was over, they had a chance to look around them. The room was square and stone. It was definitely an altar of some kind and seemed to be dedicated to one of the Dark Lords. There were four decomposing bodies chained to one wall. The freshest one had been dead for weeks. The oldest was a moldering skeleton.

There was a long table draped in burgundy velvet. On the velvet were coins, skulls, bones, a crystal in a wooden bracket, a burning brazier, incense and a wicked looking dagger. On the floor next to the table was a large chest and an iron box that was held down with chains.

They checked on their fallen comrade and found that Belkor was in some sort of deep, catatonic state.
William scanned both Belkor and the area for magic and detected a residual aura on the body and an identical aura emanating from the crystal on the table. After studying the aura for a minute, he was able to conclude that Belkor’s living essence (his mind/soul/consciousness) had been transferred into the crystal. Either by a magic jar spell or something similar. William would not be able to reintegrate Belkor’s soul into his body without time and much more study. They would need to take both the body and the crystal with them.

They searched the four dead bodies chained to the wall. They looked like former adventurers who found an unfortunate end. One of them was a Black Guard stalker. His cordweave armor was badly shredded, but his bow was intact. He had several magic arrows in his quiver which Listig and Halimir divided up.

The wicked looking dagger on the table was curved, serrated and the pommel was shaped like a demon’s head. William sensed a powerful enchantment on it, but when he scanned the magic he found that the weapon wrecked of evil intent. It’s enchantment made it a potent weapon only against those of good – paladins, elves, etc. The party decided to leave it.

They opened the chest and found it filled with Anquaran coins.

While the party was searching the room, the small iron box shifted under the chains. As they watched, it moved again, by itself. It was clear there was something alive inside there.

The party discussed it for a time, but in the end did what all adventurers do. They removed the chains and opened the box. As soon as the lid was open, something leapt into the air. It was roughly spherical, but was composed of dozens of jagged crystal shards pointing out from a central crystalline core. It glowed from within and lightning arced and crackled between the crystalline blades.

The creature hovered in the air for only a second and then immediately flew across the room directly at William. It stopped and hovered in front of the wizard. Electricity arced between the crystalline creature and William. It began draining spells and spell energy directly out of him.

William used his telekinesis to grab the iron box and drag it across the floor to him. He then tried to lift it up and capture the creature in it again. However, the iron box was lead lined and was much heavier than he expected. He put the box down.

Sean, seeing the thing attack William, used a function from his new Talisman. Alter Terrain. With a wave of his hand, he caused stalagmites to erupt from the floor. He was fairly certain the creature was trapped, but the electricity connected the creature and William went through the gaps between the stalagmites and the creature continued to drain magic from William.

Winlock rushed over, grabbed William and began hauling him away. Several members of the party noticed that, as he did that, the crystalline creature fired a lightning bolt at his Talisman and hammer and began draining them as well. Clearly, it could absorb energy from mages and magic items.

Listig fired an arcane disruptor at the wall between Winlock and William, creating a temporary magic dead zone. The creature’s lightning bolts stopped and the creature spun left and right as if momentarily blinded and searching for a lost target.

Listig ran forward, grabbed the iron box, hoisted it up with every bit of strength he had and closed it around the creature, trapping it back in the box. He toppled to the ground and sat on the iron box, calling for help from the others. They wrapped the chains around the box again. The creature was contained.

In the course of a few seconds, the creature had managed to drain two of William’s most powerful spells directly from his mind.  The party decided they were going to take this strange crystalline creature with them. They were hopeful that they could figure out some way to use it as a weapon against Dalmoran.

They also grabbed the chest of coins, Belkor’s lifeless body and the glowing crystal shard that housed his mind. They then left the underground chamber and headed back to the wagon.

Humble Almahdi urged the party to leave as soon as possible “before more of those undead things show up”. The party agreed and left hastily. They put another 15 miles between them and the haunted ruin before they made camp that night.

It was another fifteen days through winding mountain valleys before they finally reached the city of Salhanrasha. Once they were settled in the city, they contacted Radik (a member of the Bellowguard Thieves Guild who was stationed in Salhanrasha – they had dealings with him a few sessions ago).

With the help of Radik and the Bellowguard, the party was able to arrange a meeting with a small group of Resistance members. The Resistance is the loosely knit organization that rebels against Dalmoran in Anquar. The Resistance had dozens of small teams out looking for the party. One team was in Salhanrasha – a team of three men.

It took three days to arrange the covert meeting. During that time, the party took advantage of the city. They stayed in disguise (by the power of the Talisman of Blood). Listig began getting a full body tattoo that illustrated some of their adventures.

Also during these three days, William went to the Salhanrasha wizards’ guild and rented time in a spell research laboratory. He took Belkor’s body and the crystal and, over the course of two days, managed to dispel the enchantment and reintegrate Belkor’s mind back into his body. He seemed none the worse for wear.

When the time came, the meeting was held in a private room in a large tavern. The small team was led by an older man named Pardak. William was able to ascertain their true identity and intentions by the power of the Talisman of the Mind.

Pardak assured the party that the Resistance considered them allies in the fight against Dalmoran. The Resistance had been following rumors about the group and their exploits for some time. Based on bits and pieces of information they had been able to acquire, they strongly suspected that the party had uncovered at least one lost Talisman. Pardak was delighted when the party informed him that they had all four lost Talismans.

The party informed Pardak of their plan to go to Ipotal and assassinate the usurper king, Dalmoran. Pardak warned them about Ipotal’s strict laws. It was a city under constant martial law. Citizens were forbidden to bear weapons or wear armor.

However, he did have an idea. The Anquaran government routinely contracted mercenary companies as for a variety of purposes. These groups were little more than hired thugs on a government payroll used to help keep the citizenry in line. But these groups were given authority to bear arms and armor. Such group were badges and documents to prove their position. Pardak suggested the group might pretend to be such a company.

The group decided they would sail to Tenlay and find a group, kill them and take their badges and papers. Thanks to the Talisman of Blood, they could even assume the likeness of the group.

It was also decided that Pardak and his two men would accompany the group. Once they reached Anquar, Pardak would make contact with other Resistance members and introduce the group to them.

Pardak also told the group that the city of Ipotal was preparing for a festival… one which Dalmoran was throwing to celebrate his own rule. The festivities would be stretched out over several days including a masquerade ball at the house of a Duke, the public execution of several captured Resistance members, a display of fireworks and much more. The culmination of the week long festivities would be the dedication of a colossal statue of Dalmoran which was almost complete.

Pardak told them that the usually reclusive and paranoid Dalmoran would be attending many social events during this festival and there would be many opportunities to strike at him. The Resistance had been planning various assassination attempts for many months. The arrival of the party with the four lost Talismans could not have come at a better time.

The next morning, the party and the three Resistance members traveled to Herota, a three day journey. There, the King was delighted to see them again. When they told of their need to sail to Anquar, he volunteered his own yacht. However, such a splendid vessel would attract too much attention. They needed something less showy. With the King’s help, they got passage on a small juenta merchant ship. Not comfortable, but very inconspicuous.

Belkor used the Talisman of the Sea to give them favorable winds and favorable currents and greatly increase their overall speed. Instead of 40 days of sailing, they made it to Tenlay in 10 days.

By sheer luck, they managed to avoid Anquaran military ships and patrols.

We wrapped up this session with them on the last day of their journey, just about ready to sail into the harbor of the town of Tenlay.

General Discussion and Questions / Roads and Dragons
« on: August 16, 2018, 10:26:08 PM »
The new map is finished. I'm going to start replacing the individual nation maps (that appear on each nation's page) with the updated versions.

I have some questions...

1. Should those new nation maps include roads? I was originally planning on including a network of roads, but now I'm second-guessing that. What's your opinion? Should roads be marked on the nation maps or should they be left off for individual game masters to place where they want? Are roads on the map useful? Or is that curtailing creative freedom?

2. Same question with dragon lairs. For those dragons who have a known lair, should those lairs be marked on the map? Or is it better to give game masters freedom to adjust the exact lair location as needed? What's most useful?

I'd be interested in hearing opinions or arguments either way.

Announcements and News / World of Khoras Map - Version 4.0 - Now online
« on: August 02, 2018, 11:31:55 PM »
The new world map for Khoras has been posted to the web site. Rather have having three separate continents, I’m just going to treat it all as one unified world. I’m putting several sizes online – ranging from low resolution (and small file size) to ludicrous resolution (and gargantuan file size). I personally recommend either the 10,000 pixel or 20,000 pixel versions, though they will take awhile to download on older, slower internet connections.

This is actually the fourth incarnation of the Khoras map, so I’m calling this version 4.0. I will put the three previous incarnations of the Khoras map online as well for comparison. The Khoras map has come a long way from that initial hand drawn paper map.

Just like newly released software, I will likely discover a few “bugs” in the map that I need to fix. There are also a few things that I didn’t have time to include in this initial release. So, I’m going to tweak the map a bit, add a few things, fix a few things and then publish a slightly updated “version 4.1” later in August sometime.

This new world map has dozens of small changes. A few towns had their name changed. Some kingdoms have new cities and towns. Other things shifted location slightly. For the next few weeks, I will be making minor adjustments throughout the web site to match the changes on the new map.

I’m also going to spend time this August putting new “nation maps” up. These will replace the existing nation maps. The new nation maps will be higher resolution and will include roads and a bit more detail.

Some of the geography in the new map has shifted a bit.
  • The southwest region of Ithria (Karth and Myria) was enlarged and altered. Karth is also a much smaller nation now, which I think makes sense given the small population of the Karthasians.
  • The Border Clans region that lies between Anquar and Padashan has been adjusted. It now lies truly between those two big nations and forms more of a barrier (as it was intended to do).

The Pieces of Eight campaign, which is nearing its conclusion, introduced lots of new things and those have all been included on the map now. Some of those additions include the city of Qazadeen, the city of Salhanrasha, the port town of Pujar, the ruins of Jaruska, the narrow canyon leading into the Border Clans known as “the Throat” and the ruins of Katroda – just to name a few.

The single most significant change is probably the city of Vogue. I have moved the entire city more than two thousand kilometers. It is now down south near Drakkel and it is now a formal member city of the Drakkellian Alliance. There were several reasons for this. Vogue never really made sense where it was and it was a bit of an anomaly in the north. Realistically, a city of wealth, art and culture with little military strength would have, long ago, been annexed by Vorrik or been razed by an orc horde or suffered some similar fate. The wealth and culture of Vogue fit far better with the Drakkellian Alliance. Also, as a member of the Alliance, it would enjoy some measure of military protection. Overall, I think it just fits better as part of the Alliance.

Speaking of that, the Drakkellian Alliance is going to get a bit of a face lift in the near future. It’s supposed to be an economic and military alliance of five separate, independent major cities and several smaller towns. Now that Vogue has moved down into the Alliance, there are two major cities there. The other three towns will get upgraded to full cities one by one.

So that’s it. The new map is finished and online. I hope everyone likes the new map.

Comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Session 28 Summary

The Player Characters  (aka the "Heroes")

Winlock – orc/dwarf barbarian, wearing heavy chain mail armor and wielding a big war hammer
William – the party’s wizard, human male, robed and armed with a broad array of spells.
Belkor – the dashing human swordsmen/mariner wielding twin scimitars
Listig – the elven thief/archer equipped with several different enchanted arrows
Halimir - An elven archer/ranger. Good tracker. Expert archer.

The Current Non Player Characters

"Humble" Almahdi - A likable Padashani beggar with quick wit. Talkative. Funny. Fluent in several languages. Street smart, but somewhat cowardly.
Grim Rigor- A huge ogre warrior. A former slave and gladiator. Extremely tough. Good in a fight. Cured of a zombie infection by Belkor.
Brokenfoot- A mandalar warrior. Formerly a slave in the Padashani city of Ikemar. Horns are sawn off. Bought by the party to serve as a guide.

This session picked up right where the last one left off. The party was standing on a battle field continuing their talk with the group of mandalar. Grey Wolf was the name of the mandalar leading the group. They were a hunting party pursuing Lothian, a human wizard, who had stolen artifacts from their clan. One of the artifacts sounded very much, based on its description, like the last missing Talisman that the party was after.

Most of the mandalar were wounded and in no condition to travel. Only four of them were in decent shape. It was decided that Greywolf and the mandalar shaman would accompany the party on their joint quest to capture and kill Lothian. The others would stay to tend the wounded. Brokenfoot opted to stay with the other mandalar and offer his aid as well.

Before they left, the party examined the bodies of the soldiers who had fallen during the battle. They were mismatched armor and weapons, but had tunics all bearing the same trading league standard. They looked to be mercenary caravan guards. William cast detect magic on them and discovered a faint, residual aura of charm magic on each of the bodies.

The party asked about the tomb that Lothian had plundered. (the battle had taken place right next to a ruined tomb). Greywolf and the other mandalar could only guess that he wished to steal more kithdari magic and artifacts. Greywolf explained that, among other relics in the tomb, were two of particular importance. Both of them were missing and had presumably been taken by Lothian.

One was a “colossus crown” and with it he would be “able to waken a colossus”. There were many colossi throughout the Border Clans region and they guarded the ruins of the kithdari.

The other item was a gate key. When asked about it, Greywolf explained that, among the kithdari ruins were gates – huge structures that connected this world to others. Each gate had a single enchanted key that could be used to open and close the gate. Because each gate had only one key and each key only worked on one gate, the mandalar now knew exactly where Lothian was going. He would be heading to the gate that corresponded to the key he had stolen. Greywolf and the shaman both said that they were afraid that Lothian would open the gate and use it to summon something terrible.

The party asked about the gate that this particular key was tied to. They told them it was called “Katroda” and was only a day’s ride away.

The party, along with Greywolf and the shaman, travelled the rest of the day and into the night. This was, after all, a chase. They rotated drivers while others slept in the wagon. Greywolf showed them the way and William used the Talisman of Dreams to scan for the last missing Talisman and verify that they were, in fact, closing in on it.

Midmorning the next day, they party crested a hill and saw the ruins of Katroda in the valley below them. Dominating the center of the small valley was a tremendous monolithic towering mountain of stone about 2000 meters tall and 1000 meters in diameter. (Similar in shape to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, but larger…).

A steep and crumbling stone staircase ascended one side of the mountain on a ramp of dirt and ended about half way up the mountain. There was a broad landing half way up the stairs and another at the top. Also, at the top was a large double door set in the mountain side.

At the base of the tremendous stair case was the ruins of a small town. Not much more than a few crumbling stone walls and weed-choked, cobble stone plazas remained. A few tents, wagons and horses were camped next to the ruins.

As the party descended into the valley, they saw a group of humans ascending the stair case. This group reached the halfway point landing and stopped. It seemed as though they had spotted the party’s wagon approaching and now stood in discussion.

As the wagon close the distance, Belkor pulled out his spyglass to get a better look. The group consisted of about 20 people. Many of them wore the same tunic as the dead bodies back at the previous battle… the standard of a trade guild. They seemed to be more charmed caravan guards. Among the group was an older human with a grey beard and robes of blue and purple. The party guessed that was Lothian. Following him was a trio of blue skinned zombies. Ju-ju zombies of some type, William guessed.

The group on the stairs split. Lothian, the three ju-ju zombies and a handful of caravan guards continued up the stairs toward the gate further up the mountain. The rest of the group stood their ground at the half way point landing. One of the, Belkor could see, was holding something circular in his hand. He raised it up and set it upon his head like a crown. A jewel at the center of the crowned flared to life with a brilliant purple glow.

The ground around the party began to shake and the ground shifted. Something rose up from ground with dirt cascading off of it. It was a humanoid shaped clockwork golem. A bright purple glow shined through the armor plating of its chest. It stood about twenty feet tall and was wielding a massive Morningstar.

The party rushed forward. The shaman ran forward with outstretched hands, chanting in a calm voice, calling upon his gods to quiet the golem and gain control of it. The golem swung the Morningstar and crushed the shaman dead with a single stroke.

Belkor used his magic boots to close the distance to the group on the halfway landing and Listig closed range with his teleport arrow. A well placed arcane disruptor arrow aimed at the golem shut it down and soon battle was ranging all over.

Lothian led the other group up to the gate where he raised a triangular object above his head. It definitely looked like the last Talisman. Suddenly, Lothian and those with him walked into the side of the mountain and vanished.

The party continued battling those guards who had stayed behind to delay them. Belkor and Winlock fought toe to toe with the charmed caravan guards while Listig and Halimir stood off at a distance firing arrows into the fray. The golem powered back up again and began to advance. The party concentrated attacks on the enemy wearing the crown in an attempt to shut the golem down before it was able to reach them.

The sudden appearance of a scorchhead arrow in Winlock let Listig know that an unseen archer was around. It took him a little while to locate the hidden archer and they began trading arrows back and forth. The other archer was an Anquaran stalker using a camouflage cloak.

The party and Greywolf managed to kill the crown wearing man, the stalker and the rest of them. With the colossus crown in their hands, they were able to shut down the golem.

With the group of guards defeated and the battle over, the party quickly rolled the bodies. The caravan guards exhibited the same faint aura of charm magic as the previous ones did. From the dead body of the Anquaran stalker, they took another camouflage cloak, a suit of cordweave armor and several enchanted arrows, including scorchheads and arcane disruptors.

Standing at the gate of the mountain, Greywolf told the party that he could not venture forth into the ruins of Katroda. As a mandalar, he was forbidden to set foot on Kithdari holy ground. However, based on what the shaman had said after consulting the bones, Greywolf felt the party should go forth in pursuit of Lothian.

Greywolf reiterated that at the center of the mountain was a gate and that Lothian was heading there to open up the gate. It’s the only reason he would have taken the gate key. If he got the gate open, he might escape or worse… summon something to aid him.

The party assured Greywolf that they would apprehend or kill Lothian before the gate was opened and they would recover the stolen relics. Greywolf indicated he would ride out to make contact with his clan and bring them back to Katroda.

Almahdi and Grim Rigor would stay with the party’s wagon to protect it. Only Winlock, Belkor, William, Listig and Halimir would be heading into the mountain to go after Lothian and his minions.

* * *

The party opened the mountain doors and ventured into the ancient ruin within. The stone chambers within were ancient and crumbling. Most chambers were lit by glowing crystals. The party had learned bits and pieces of Kithdari lore from the mandalar over the last few days. The kithdari were a mystical race that had ruled the region thousands of years ago, but they vanished many centuries ago.

As the party moved from chamber to chamber, they saw hundreds of murals and stone and metal sculptures. Amidst the artwork was a language the party had never seen before. It became clear to William that this place was not just a temple. It seemed to have several functions – temple, arcane school, guild of wizards and a place of magical experimentation and research. He copied down various bits of the language.

In some rooms, the party encountered small clockwork golems powered by glowing crystals (similar to the colossus outside). Some of these small clockwork automatons were conducting repairs, others were cleaning.

In one chamber they encountered the body of an adventurer who had died from dozens of poisoned darts. He looked to be dead less than a year. A quick scan revealed he carried no magic. However, amidst his mundane adventuring gear, the party found a scrap of parchment with letters on it, written in Southen. The letters were: C, C, D, E, C, G, C.

Deep in the mountain, the party came across a tall natural cave with a deep chasm. Three stone bridges crossed the chasm, though all three had long ago collapsed. A  number of huge pipes ran through the room. Several of the pipes had collapsed and one of them lay across the chasm. Based on the collapsed bridges, cracks in the cavern walls and collapsed pipes, iet was obvious that this mountain had been hit by a landquake at some point in its history.

The dungeon was laid out in concentric circles and several passageways were collapsed, causing the party to backtrack at certain points.

Another huge natural cave had a single bridge across a chasm. It also has large pipes running through the room connecting to huge canisters that appeared to be filled with a yellow green churning gas. Several of these big canisters had ruptured and the yellow-green gas was hanging in the air in great clouds above the bridge and throughout the cavern. As the party, one by one, moved across the bridge, the gas moved toward them as if attracted like a magnet. The gas, actually a fine dust, settled on their magic items in greater and greater quantities. Once enough had settled on them, it detonated in a fiery explosion. Winlock, the first to cross, took some fire damage. The rest of them ran as fast as they could, dragging gaseous clouds and fiery blasts with them as they ran.

Another huge chamber was filled with trees, plants and flowers… a kind of garden being fed artificial sunlight from glowing crystals above. While following a winding path through the garden, the party was attacked by vegepygmies and a huge animated tree that managed to swallow Winlock whole. Both were defeated and the tree was hacked to pieces to free their dwarven comrade.

At one point the party came across a pentagram and runes of ash in the floor along with a few bits of charred bone and a drops of blood. William studied the evidence and concluded that something had been summoned recently... within the last hour. Lothian had summoned something big and had used his own magic to do it.

The party came upon an armory. Dozens of unusual weapons and suits of strange armor were on display. None of the armor fit. It was designed for tall, thin beings with four arms. Listig and Halimir did find several magical arrows though, that will be identified later.

The party ventured through various alchemical labs, barracks, libraries, antechambers and spell research chambers.

Finally, they came upon a small round room with a huge set of double doors. Etched on to the metal plating of the wall was a dizzying array of geometric lines and curves spiraling and folding back on themselves. Hundreds of nodes and points and intersections were labeled with strange letters and numbers. After marveling at this artwork for awhile, William suddenly realized that it was a map… an interdimensional map showing paths and connection points to dozens, if not hundreds, of other planes of existence.

The huge double gates were made of a strange metal and would not budge. There was no lock to pick and they seemed magically held fast. In a small alcove next to the doors was a set of seven silver bells, ordered in ascending size. After some discussion, it was decided that these were musical chimes and that the parchment taken from the dead adventurer might be a short musical “key” to open the doors. After some experimentation, they discovered the bells were A through G, running from right to left. They played the notes from the parchment and the massive doors swung open.

Beyond the double doors was a huge spherical chamber. The walls were circular and the floor was tiered. The chamber was dominated by eight huge obelisks situated at regular intervals in a circle around edges of the room. Each obelisk had some kind of mechanical bracket at the top facing inward toward the center of the chamber.

Within the stood Lothian with arms raised and in the midst of spellcasting. He was surrounded by a half dozen armed guards that were forming a protective circle around him. The three ju-ju zombies, standing in a group, charged the party. There was also a large stone golem and a bone devil. The stone golem had, no doubt, been summoned by the power of the Talisman of the Land and the bone devil must have been what was summoned through the pentagram earlier.

Floating in the air, out of reach, were several arcane power nodes… the things that the mandalar called “fire crystals”. These were the standard power source for many of the kithdari magical items (and the same type of power source that powered the anti-magic cannon that the party had stolen from the other mandalar tribe during the road battle).

Three of these power nodes had been “plugged into” a mechanical bracket at the top of three of the obelisk. As the party rushed in, the fourth was just sliding into place at the top of the fourth obelisk and the mechanical brackets closed on the power node, locking it into place. It was clear that Lothian was telekinetically controlling the power nodes and plugging them into the obelisks one by one. As each power node was plugged in, a set of glyphs running along the length of the obelisk lit up.

The party quickly realized that once Lothian had all 8 power nodes in place, he would be able to power up the gate and open it… possibly summoning something much, much worse.

The party launched into an immediate attack. Very quickly, arrows and spells filled the air. Listig and Halimir fired winter bite arrows at two of the columns, directly into the mechanical brackets. Each bracket was choked with ice.

Winlock charged Lothian and began trading blows with the five guards around him.

Belkor used the Talisman to summon a massive water golem in which he rode. In water golem form, Belkor grappled with the bone devil and the stone golem. He managed to pick up the bone devil and wield it like a weapon, striking the stone golem over and over.

While the two largest combatants were occupied, the party was able to whittle down the smaller ones. One by one the guards and the ju-ju zombies fell. Listig and Halimir pumped arrows at Lothian while William fired spells and Winlock used his new battle hammer. With every arrow, spell and hammer blow, a glowing shield around Lothian shimmered and absorbed the attack. Whatever spell it was, it was powerful and impenetrable. Listig and Halimiar fired multiple arcane disruptors. It became clear that each attack was wearing the shield down. It became a race between defeating the shield and Lothian managing to plug in all eight power nodes.

Meanwhile, Lothian fireballed the two iced up column heads to melt the ice and free the brackets. He managed to get the fifth power node plugged in. Then the sixth.
When the last of his guards fell, the party was able to focus their attacks on Lothian and his shield. Lothian telekinetically shoved the seventh power node into place and the bracket closed on it with an audible click. Only one was left to connect. Belkor was continuing his attacks on the bone devil and stone golem by himself, keeping them occupied.

At last, Winlock struck a hammer blow and the magical shield flashed brightly and winked out of existence. With his shield down, Lothian was vulnerable and the next few attacks struck home. With four powerful heroes unloading everything they had on him, the wizard didn’t last long. He fell within seconds.

The instant Lothian died, the stone golem and the bone devil vanished and the eighth power node crashed to the floor and exploded.

The battle was over. Lothian lay dead on the ground, surrounded by the bodies of his various minions and guards.

We ended the session here… right at the very end of the fight.

The party hasn’t even rolled the bodies yet. Next session will pick up right here.

Session 27 Summary

The Player Characters  (aka the "Heroes")

Winlock – orc/dwarf barbarian, wearing heavy chain mail armor and wielding a big war hammer
William – the party’s wizard, human male, robed and armed with a broad array of spells.
Belkor – the dashing human swordsmen/mariner wielding twin scimitars
Listig – the elven thief/archer equipped with several different enchanted arrows
Halimir - An elven archer/ranger. Good tracker. Expert archer.

The Current Non Player Characters

"Humble" Almahdi - A likable Padashani beggar with quick wit. Talkative. Funny. Fluent in several languages. Street smart, but somewhat cowardly.
Grim Rigor- A huge ogre warrior. A former slave and gladiator. Extremely tough. Good in a fight. Cured of a zombie infection by Belkor.
Brokenfoot- A mandalar warrior. Formerly a slave in the Padashani city of Ikemar. Horns are sawn off. Bought by the party to serve as a guide.

DM Note - This is another long one. Turns out this session was mostly one long "road warrior style" battle. So this session gets pretty detailed about the action in that fight. But hopefully I captured the spirit of the fight pretty well. Hope you enjoy it.

The huge wheeled land ship named “Iron Dragon” rolled out of the city gates of Ikemar and began its journey into the Border Clans.

From within their hiding spot, the party listened to the sound of the huge axles turning, the creak of wood, the occasional bellow of the huge landshaker beasts that propelled the enormous vehicle. The desert air brought them the smell of oiled metal, old leather, sun scorched wood and animal sweat.

The mandalar slave the party had freed was with them. They learned that his name was Brokenfoot (a reference to his deformed foot) and they learned a bit about his history, his capture and his years of slavery in the city of Ikemar.

After awhile, the door to the secret compartment was opened and Captain Kaizan let them out. He offered to show them around the ship and introduce the crew.

[DM Note - I'm not going to spend a lot of time introducing specific details about the ship and the crew, but the Iron Dragon is going to be added as a part of Khoras canon and will likely be the subject of a monthly spotlight later this year. So lots of details about this land ship and pictures will eventually be available for the curious. For this session summary, just a quick overview].

The lower level was devoted to the beasts of burden and contained a bewildering array of ropes and pulleys that comprised the steering system. The second level was the cargo hold. The top level was living quarters – bridge, common room and various bunk rooms.

The captain then took them up to the roof. The vehicle was moving at a good pace and the party had a great view from the roof. The terrain was dry scrublands and a high ridge of hills was visible to either side. The wagon was travelling down a long valley between two mountain ranges. Captain Kaizan called it “the Throat”. The wagon was following a wide dirt road down the length of the valley which stretched to the horizon.

One of the crew was up on the roof standing next to a ballista at the front of the vehicle. He had a small spyglass and was looking at the horizon.

Captain Kaizan explained to the party that "this whole land used to be ruled by an ancient people, millennia ago. Called the Kithdari. They’re all gone now. The ruins of their once great civilization are scattered all throughout this region. There’s nothing left but ruins and treasure hordes and bits of their strange magic".

Kaizan showed the party the ballista and then took them to the back end of the roof.  At the back end of the ship was a strange contraption mounted on a swivel base. It was a long cylindrical tube with strange protrusions, metal plates and ridges. A yellowish glow was coming from within and the whole thing was adorned with curious runes and glyphs.

This here is the pride of the Iron Dragon… our only piece of Kithdari magic. This is a lightning thrower. At least, that’s what we call it. No idea what the mandalar call it. We captured this on one of our adventures last year. The mandalar don’t like us having this. Kithdari relics are holy to them. They believe its blasphemy for outsiders to possess such things. They jealously guard kithdari ruins and kithdari magic items and they never fail to attack us. I think they’re trying to get this back.

The party joined the crew for a meal. Kaizan explained that it was a 15 day journey to Anquar. He advised the party to stick with the Iron Dragon for at least 5 days. That way, they would clear the Throat and be out on to the central plains, well past the range of the military patrols of the Padashan Empire. The party agreed.

For the next few days the Iron Dragon traveled down the valley. They made camp each night.

Between Captain Kaizan and Brokenfoot, the party learned a great deal about the mandalar.
•   The mandalar are clan based, patriarchal, led by the strongest male.
•   They are excellent hunters, trackers and warriors.
•   They do take prisoners but stories suggest prisoners are treated well and released after a year.
•   They have a strict code of honor and will never break a vow.
•   The mandalar worship the kithdari as gods. They consider themselves the “chosen race”, chosen by the kithdari and, because of this, they are superior to other races.
•   Mandalar consider kithdari ruins to be holy ground and will not enter.

On day 3, the party passed a pair of huge stone statues that flanked the road. These immense things stood more than a hundred feet tall and appeared to be a stylized representation of a mandalar warrior. Adorning the base of each were bones, skulls, broken blades and bits of armor, both Anquaran and Padashani. Kaizan explained that this was the “real border” and the statues were a warning to keep out.

That evening, they made camp near some kithdari ruins. William noticed that the ruins had the same glyphs that the lightning thrower weapon did. He copied the glyphs down with ink and paper to study later. A quick exploration of the ruins revealed several empty subterranean chambers.

Through weeks of study, William had successfully researched a new spell. Simulacrum. This would allow him to craft a duplicate of a person from a crude form fashioned from ice and snow. The duplicate would be not be as strong or powerful as the original and would be under his command. William was eager to try out this new spell. He had been preparing for this, even going so far as to seeking out a jeweler in a city many days earlier, to convert a portion of their treasure into powdered ruby, a required component for the spell. He planned to make a duplicate of Winlock and thus have another strong warrior on the battlefield to aid the party in future conflicts.

The spell required snow and ice which the Talisman of the Sea could produce. However, the spell took 12 full hours to cast and William needed to keep the ice and snow from melting for that entire time. The ruins that they were camping next to provided the opportunity he needed. By casting the spell at night and in one of the cool dark subterranean chambers of the ruins, the ice and snow would maintain it’s form long enough to make the simulacrum. William (and Winlock who as needed to be present) began while the others ate dinner and worked all night. Shortly after dawn the next morning, his work was complete and the simulacrum opened its eyes. It did not have the ability to speak nor would it take action other than on orders from William. The party equipped their new simulacrum with spare armor and weapons from the wagon.

On day 4, the Iron Dragon left the Throat behind. The land before them was dry scrub lands and rolling hills dotted by the occasional mesa.

Later that day, they were attacked. As the Iron Dragon passed between two mesas, four separate groups of mandalar on horseback rode out from hidden positions and charged the Dragon. Kaizan ordered the Iron Dragon to increase to its top speed while the crew ran to grab bows and man the rooftop weapons.

The party had a very hurried conversation with Brokenfoot. Would he help? Hinder? Brokenfoot said that he didn’t not want to fight his own people. However, since the party saved his life and had granted him freedom, he agreed not to hinder them either. He would simply stay “below deck” and out of sight for the duration of the battle and not aid either side. The party agreed that was fair.

It was also agreed that Humble Almahdi, being a non-fighter, would stay in the common room and out of harm’s way. He and Brokenfoot actually spent the majority of the fight talking.

The party took up defense positions around the landship. Belkor and Grim Rigor stood at the railing of the second level on the port side and Winlock took up an identical position on the starboard side.

William (and the simulacrum following him), Listig and Halimir went up to the roof to have a wide view and clear shot for their spells and arrows, respectively. One crew member was manning the ballista and another was manning the lightning thrower.

Mandalar are humanoid, averaging seven feet tall and completely covered in fur. They have two large forward curving horns coming out of their head, a bit like a bull. Their faces, however, are bestial… vaguely canine. They have manes of hair, some of them dreadlocked. Their fur colored varies, but most are brown, grey or black.

They came riding in on large horses. Their equipment seemed primitive. They had bits and pieces of leather clothing and armor, boots, gloves and so forth. Their bows looked formidable and their large arrows were tipped with flint. Their weapons were varied in form, but were mostly fashioned from wood, bone, stone and twine. A few metal blades and bits of armor were evident here and there, most likely taken from past victims.

One mandalar stood out from the others. He was behind the horses, but he was so big that he stood above them. He must have been almost ten feet tall… an aberrant of some kind. A mandalar giant. He was running on foot and was passing the horses. He was approaching from the port rear side.

William cast a wall of fire spell positioned in the path of the riders approaching from that direction. Several of the riders, including the giant mandalar, charged through it without stopping. A few of them got singed and ended up patting out flames from their fur, but they all kept coming.

Behind the riders, the party spotted a large chariot approaching at full speed. It was being pulled by two horses and had three mandalar on the back along with something else.

Belkor raised his hand and loosed a fireball from his magical gauntlet. Several riders disappeared in a cloud of flame and were left behind. The rest continued closing the distance.

The large chariot was rapidly gaining. William could see that it carried a driver and two other mandalar. The two were doing something with a contraption on the back of the chariot. It was a fat cylindrical object with protrusions and metal plates and tubes. It looked similar to the lightning thrower on top of the Iron Dragon, but was of a slightly different design. William assumed it was some kind of Kithdari magic weapon and they were trying to get within firing range.

Listig and Halimir, along with several crew members, exchanged a constant barrage of arrows with the mandalar riders. The ballista and lightning thrower were firing too. The lightning caster unleashed a bright, thin beam of blue light and lightning crackled down the length of the beam. It struck a mandalar in the chest and he was blown off of his horse.

From the top rear of the Iron Dragon, William had good view of the chariot. The chariot weapon was glowing from within, just like the lightning caster.

William cast telekinesis and used it to pull one mandalar off of his horse and hurl him at the giant mandalar’s knees in an attempt to knock him to the ground. The giant mandalar managed to dodge the flopping body of his comrade and kept on charging.

The mandalar riders surrounded the Iron Dragon, several of them jumping from their horses onto the huge vehicle. One fell and was crushed beneath the huge wheels. Several managed to jump on to the sides and began climbing.

Winlock, Belkor, Grim Rigor and several crew members fought them off. Six mandalar made it to the second level and swung over the railing, to face their enemy on the long narrow walkway than ran along both sides of the vehicle. Battle erupted all over the vehicle.

A low pitched sound began to emanate from the weapon on the chariot and a glow within the object began to appear. The sound rapidly got louder and higher in pitch, as if the weapon was powering up. The chariot began moving to the starboard side of the Iron Dragon.

The giant sized mandalar reached the Iron Dragon and leapt up onto the walkway of the second level. Belkor was closest to him and the two began trading blows – massive hammer against twin blades.

William ordered the simulacrum to follow him. He then leapt from the Iron Dragon rooftop down to the party’s wagon, which was being hauled behind them (attached by ropes). He managed to land on the roof of their wagon and not fall off. The simulacrum made the jump as well.

Two mandalar leapt from their horses to the front of the Iron Dragon and began climbing up toward the windows of the third level (i.e. the bridge).

Seeing the chariot moving into a position to fire, Listig fired a winter’s bite arrow and hit the swivel mount of the weapon. Crystalline ice enveloped the weapon as it froze solid. The two mandalar operating the weapon struggled with it, but could not turn it toward the Iron Dragon. They both began hacking at the ice with hatchets.

Unable to turn and aim the weapon at the Iron Dragon, the chariot driver changed heading and began moving to a position directly behind the party’s wagon (as the weapon was pointing straight ahead, being directly behind the wagon would give them a shot). The two mandalar on the weapon managed to free the elevation adjustment of the weapon, but not the pivot.

William used the ongoing telekinesis spell to hurl a mandalar at the chariot. His aim was good, but the chariot rolled right over the body. When the chariot was directly behind the party wagon, the mandalar gunner fired. A broad cone of brilliant blue light shot out, engulfing the entire party wagon and the back end of the Iron Dragon.

The simulacrum immediately reverted back to snow which began to melt. The lightning thrower went dead. But there were no other visible effects. William immediately deduced that the cone of light was an anti-magic beam of some kind. William wanted that weapon and began to devise a plan.

The two mandalar climbing the front of the Dragon smashed through the windshield and climbed into the bridge. Cries for help were heard from the driver. Almost immediately, the Iron Dragon began veering wildly and went off the dirt road and began going cross country, bouncing wildly as it went. Combatants all over the ship were knocked about.

Listig fell and rolled off the roof. Luckily, he was wearing a safety line and ended up dangling from the roof, swinging wildly in the air, as mandalar shot arrows at him. Listig scrambled back up onto the roof as Halimir raced down to the bridge to rescue the driver.

Meanwhile, combat continued all over the Iron Dragon. Belkor, Winlock and Grim Rigor along with several crew members were still locked in battle with a dozen mandalar who were all over the ship.

Several flaming arrows from the mandalar riders had caught and several parts of the hull and siding of the landship were on fire.

William used the Talisman of Dreams to telepathically contact Listig and tell him to teleport to the mandalar weapon chariot and told him that he would meet him there.

Listig agreed. He fired his teleport arrow at the chariot and with a flash appeared on the chariot, surprising all three mandalar. William, using telekinesis on himself to fly over to the chariot, attempted to land heavily on one of the mandalar. He missed, but managed to distract the two from killing Listig.

Meanwhile, Halimir reached the bridge. There were two mandalar there. A big mandalar was pulling a bone blade out of the body of the dead driver. A smaller mandalar was at the controls trying to figure out how to operate the vehicle. Halimir fired a winter’s bite arrow at the smaller one. It hit dead center in his back. Sheets of ice flowed over and enveloped the driver and controls. The big mandalar advanced on Halimir and swung his weapon.

William and Listig were engaged in a precarious battle with the mandalar on the bouncing chariot. Listig pumped arrows into the gunner at point blank range and dodged his attacks while William used telekinesis to fly, swoop and harass the driver. The third mandalar was still chipping away at the ice, trying to free the weapon’s pivot.

The mandalar fighting Listig slipped on the ice awkwardly and injured his back. Listig took advantage of the momentary vulnerability and threw him out of the chariot.

The fires on the Iron Dragon were spreading. Two wheels and the aft of the huge vehicle were on fire, as were the ropes that were pulling the party’s wagon behind the landship.

Also, the Iron Dragon was pulling out ahead of the mandalar rides. Gradually, it was leaving them behind. The horses could not keep up with the huge landshaker beasts.

The mandalar on the bridge stabbed Halimir. Halimir took out a crystal (actually, this was an enchanted crystal that he had picked up in the dragon’s lair infused with explosive magic) and dropped it between the two mandalar and fled. He managed to make it to the next room and slam the door shut just as the thing detonated. The concussive force blew the door off the hinges and it landed on Halimir. Luckily the door took most of the blast and saved Halimir.

Down on the port walkway of the second level, Belkor was still in toe to toe combat with the mandalar giant and had managed to cut, slash and stab him over a dozen times. Bleeding profusely from the wounds and realizing he could not best the swordsmen, the mandalar giant leapt from the Iron Dragon, landed heavily in the dirt and fled.

With a combination of arrows and telekinesis, Listig and William managed to take control of the weapon chariot from the remaining two mandalar and throw them out. The elf and the wizard were now in control of the vehicle. As the chariot passed the wounded giant mandalar, William fired a lightning bolt spell and killed him.

The Iron Dragon was pulling ahead further, increasing the distance between the chariot and the horde of mandalar riders.

The fire on the Iron Dragon was getting worse. Belkor, having defeated all mandalar on his side of the ship, used his Talisman of the Sea to summon a thick fog that instantly blanketed the area. He hoped that the fog would put out the flames.

Halimir crawled out from under the door and found the two mandalar dead. (Actually the one that had attacked him was lying dead, the frozen one had been blown completely out through the windows and was gone). The bridge controls were destroyed, mangled beyond use. Looking through the window, he saw the wagon was heading directly toward the face of a huge rocky outcropping.  The vehicle would crash into it at full speed. It was less than a mile away. He had no way to steer or slow the ship down. It was at this moment this his vision of what lay ahead was utterly obscured by thick fog. Halimir decided to get down to the lowest level and see if he could stop the ship there.

At this moment, Winlock, having defeated his enemies on the starboard side, ran into the lower level. There he found a mandalar who had managed to get inside the vehicle and was in the middle of attacking the haul master (the haul master was the crew member responsible for the huge beasts that propelled the ship). Winlock killed the mandalar with a single brutal stroke of his hammer.

Halimir arrived in the lower level while Winlock was trying to tend to the wounds of the haul master. He looked around at the pulleys, winches, gears and ropes. Being an outdoor tracker and hunter, he was little familiar with such machinery and had no idea how to stop the vehicle.

Belkor seeing that the fog was not having the desired effect on the fire, ended it with a wave of his hand.

Halimir, being a ranger, had a good rapport with beasts and animals of all kinds. He turned his attention to the six huge landshakers who were still running and snorting in their yokes and harnesses. With soothing words and touches, the beasts began to calm. The huge ship began to slow, but not enough. They were still going to crash.

At that moment, the engineer (responsible for everything mechanical on the ship) came to the lower level. Halimir yelled at him and explained that the bridge was destroyed and they were going to crash into a rock wall if they couldn’t turn the ship. The engineer ran up to the mechanisms and pointed out two levers, one on either side of the vehicle. The engineer grabbed one and Halimir ran over to the other. Together, they pulled on the levers in opposite directions and got the front wheels to slowly turn.

The Iron Dragon turned just enough to miss the giant rock outcropping (just barely) and Halimir and the engineer steered the huge vehicle back toward the road (they were steering by peering through two narrow archer slits).

Belkor evoked another function of the Talisman of the Sea to fight the fire. He raised his hands and caused a jet of sea water to erupt from his hands. He began moving about the vessel putting out the fires with this sea spray.

William and Listig in the chariot chased after the Iron Dragon while the horde of mandalar chased after them. The horde was raining down arrows on the chariot. Now that the Iron Dragon had slowed down, the horde of mandalar riders was gaining on them, rapidly closing the distance.

William wanted the anti-magic cannon. It was nailed to the floorboards of the chariot with iron spikes. He ripped the spikes out with his telekinesis spell and then he and Listig jumped on to the cannon and rode it, flying telekinetically, back toward the Iron Dragon. William ended up taking three mandalar arrows before they landed heavily on the roof of the Iron Dragon.

Now all party members were back on board the Dragon and the land ship was again on the road and picking up speed. Eventually, they pulled away from the horde of horsed mandalar. With each minute, they pulled further and further away.

The party and crew pushed hard to put as many miles between them and the pursuing horde as they could. They knew that now that they had taken the “anti-magic” weapon, those mandalar would chase them relentlessly. They pushed hard for almost an hour until the horde was over the horizon and completely out of sight.

The Iron Dragon turned off of the main road and headed toward a “good hiding spot” that Captain Kaizan knew about. Once the Iron Dragon was parked and well hidden, the Captain and crew began to assess damage to the vehicle. They didn’t have long before the mandalar tracked them to this hidden place so they worked fast.

William and Listig detached the anti-magic cannon from its swivel mount and wrapped it up in a blanket and put it in the party wagon. They did not tell Broken Foot about it, fearing his reaction.

The engineer and the captain made quick repairs to the control system so that they could steer from the bridge again. The captain was very displeased at the damage to the bridge and heartbroken over the death of his driver, but said that the ferocity of the attack was much more than usual. He was glad to have escaped at all. He admitted that the party had been instrumental in the battle and that their fighting prowess had no doubt saved his ship.

The party decided it was time to part ways from the Iron Dragon. They detached their wagon from the Iron Dragon, led their horses down the gangplank from the cargo hold and hitched them up.

The party said their goodbyes to the crew of the Iron Dragon and the two vehicles headed off in different directions. Brokenfoot went with the party. The Iron Dragon continued following the road toward Anquar and the party’s wagon headed in toward the center of the Border Clans region. The Talisman of Dreams indicated that’s where they would find the last missing talisman… the Talisman of the Land.

The party rode for two hours north, away from the road, before parking and camping for the night. They made no fire and maintained a guard throughout the night.

The next morning, William did another scan for the fourth Talisman. It was to the west of them. William was able to determine that the Talisman location had shifted. It was moving! Someone was carrying it.

The party travelled most of that day. At mid afternoon, they spotted a trail of black smoke rising up into the sky from just over the next hill. It was directly in their path.

The party crested the hill and found the aftermath of a battle that had taken place next to a small Kithdari ruin. The ground was littered with the bodies of the dead. In all, there were about twenty dead humans, twelve dead mandalar and a number of horses. There were four mandalar still on their feet. These four were tending to their dead and wounded.

These four mandalar were wounded, exhausted and in no shape to fight. Still, they raised their weapons as the party approached. Both sides were cautious. William used the Talisman’s translation function so that everyone could understand each other. Even so, the party let Brokenfoot do the talking. After some tense and cautious conversation, both sides relaxes, lowered their weapons and talked.

The party offered to heal the wounded mandalar and Brokenfoot convinced the lead mandalar to accept. The party used the Talisman of Blood to heal the six wounded mandalar. This bought them a great deal of good will.

Through conversation, the party learned much. The leader of this small mandalar group was named Grey Wolf. They were of a different clan than the clan that had attacked the Iron Dragon. His group was a warband hunting a “criminal” who had stolen from their clan. The party asked for more details. Grey Wolf explained that a human wizard and his companions had befriended their chieftain by “returning stolen Kithdari artifacts” and with “honeyed words”. Despite the objections of some, the chieftain had let the outlanders stay among their clan for many days. However, this hospitality was repaid with theft. The human wizard, a man named Lothian, had made off in the night like a thief with several pieces of treasure and kithdari artifacts. His companions were captured, but Lothian escaped.

The chieftain declared Lothian to be “aamatu” (enemy of the Kithdari) and sent forth several warbnads to hunt him down and return the stolen artifacts.

After several days of tracking and pursuit, Grey Wolf’s warband had found Lothian first, in the midst of looting a tomb at these ruins where the battle had taken place. They had expected to find Lothian alone. However, he was accompanied by more than twenty humans all wearing the same coat of arms.

The party examined the bodies of the men that had fought Greywolf’s warband. The coat of arms on the tunics of the men seemed to be some kind of trading guild symbol. Based on the symbol, arms, armor and other clues, the party suspected they were caravan guards or mercenaries. Grey Wolf made it clear that these men had followed Lothian’s orders and some had even sacrificed their lives in order to ensure Lothian’s escape.

The party conversed more with Grey Wolf, hoping to get more useful information. They asked about what he had stolen. Among the items, Grey Wolf mentioned a “metal charm”. When pressed for details he said it was a “worthless trinket”, but the description he gave matched the talismans exactly. Also he had broken into a chamber within these ruins and stolen more Kithdari relics.

The mandalar argued amongst themselves whether to continue after the criminal (with less than half their number) or go back to the clan for reinforcements. The party suggested that they join with them and go after the criminal and hunt him together.

One of the warband was a shaman and Grey Wolf asked his thoughts. The shaman said he would “consult the bones”. He rattled a bag of tiny bones and spilled them onto the ground. After peering and poking at them for some time, he declared “the bones tell me that these outlanders are not allies of the betrayer, but their spirit path crosses his, as does ours. I believe the Kithdari wish us to bring this aamatu to justice no matter the cost. They bring us the aid of these outlanders and we should not deny such a gift”.

“Very well” said Grey Wolf. “We go after Lothian together”.

This is where we ended.

Next session is July 7th, so the next next summary is a ways off. Mid July sometime.

Session 26 Summary

The Player Characters  (aka the "Heroes")

Winlock – orc/dwarf barbarian, wearing heavy chain mail armor and wielding a big war hammer
William – the party’s wizard, human male, robed and armed with a broad array of spells.
Belkor – the dashing human swordsmen/mariner wielding twin scimitars
Listig – the elven thief/archer equipped with several different enchanted arrows
Halimir - An elven archer/ranger. Good tracker. Expert archer. Has transitioned from NPC to PC.

The Current Non Player Characters

"Humble" Almahdi - A likable Padashani beggar with quick wit. Talkative. Funny. Fluent in several languages. Street smart, but somewhat cowardly.
Grim Rigor- A huge ogre warrior. A former slave and gladiator. Extremely tough. Good in a fight. Cured of a zombie infection by Belkor.

Session 26 started with the party still in the city kingdom of Herota. They had returned the star sceptre, freed the magrakian captain from prison and set everything right. They had also successfully looted the dragon's lair and retrieved the Star Scepter of Rashi.

To celebrate the return of the Star Scepter, the Khalizar decided to throw a lavish banquet to honor the heroes that had returned the cherished relic. The party graciously accepted the invitation.

As the banquet was the following night, the party had a full day of freedom. They spent the day harassed by a throng of people wanting to ask them about their adventure, the scepter, the dragon, its lair and so forth. They got numerous offerings from tailors for new clothes to wear to the banquet. Several local farmers offered up their daughters for marriage to the heroes.

Amidst all this, the party discovered a copy of the wanted poster on a public board. It looked like it had been up for many weeks. They took it down and asked the locals about it. Apparently, it was no secret that the party was the ones Anquar was looking for. The locals said that an Anquar Black Guard warship had stopped in their harbor a few weeks ago. They searched the city, planted a few flyers but then left.

That evening was the banquet. A courtyard was decked out in silks and sparkling jewels, enormous tapestries, colorful banners and flags fluttering in the wind. Minstrels on a raised dais in the corner played a lively tune as the guests entered. Tables groaned under the weight of food. The air was thick with the heady fumes of perfumed candles, scented oils and smoking braziers.

The party (including Humble Almahdi) were the guests of honor. Grim Rigor, uncomfortable with such social situations, had volunteered to stay with the wagon and guard it and all of the treasures, weapons and armor that were stored within.
The heroes came wearing new clothes that had been given to them, but only lightly armed. They socialized with the Khalizar (king) and the Khals (the nobles) of this tiny kingdom. Everyone wanted to meet the heroes and ask questions. Where were they from? Did they see the dragon? How big was it? How did they escape with the Star Scepter and their lives?

The party answered the questions as best they could without giving anything away about their true quest. For the most part, they stuck to their tried-and-true fictional narrative of being a “big game hunting party” exploring a new part of the world.

Amongst the crowd they spotted a familiar face, one of the thugs from the local gang of thugs that had tried to assault the party on the docks of this city weeks ago when they were stealing the ship. It soon became clear that he was here with several other thugs in various disguises. A brief but loud confrontation between Listig and the man soon had the thugs retreating and the palace guards arrested them.

The Khalizar gave a speech to the assembled crowd and then, much to the surprise of the party, knighted each one of them, giving them the title “Knight Commander and Defender of the Realm”.

Following that was a magnificent banquet consisting of seven courses, each more elaborate and amazing: roasted lamb stewed in fine herbs, pork in pastries, capons filled with fig jelly, pheasant stewed in grapes and honey and chunks of herb rubbed meat skewered on a glittering spiral horn which the master chef insisted was “roast unicorn”.

Finally, during dessert, the Khalizar asked to hear a full recounting of the tale of the Star Sceptre so that all could hear. Humble Almahdi (being central to the story of the scepter, fluent in the language and the most charismatic of the party) recounted the tale. Soon he had every lord and lady hanging on his every word. He embellished the story quite a bit. In his version, the party actually faced the dragon, fought it and escaped a fiery death by mere seconds.

After that, there was much dancing. The princess had softened her anger toward Almahdi and danced with him. A rather rotund noble woman grabbed Belkor and dragged him onto the dance floor. Listig and Halmir both found themselves getting a lot of attention from many lords and ladies who had never before met an elf.

With the Khalizar’s blessing, the party stayed at the palace for another six days as guests. He invited the party to stay in Herota, but the party insisted they must leave. Although he and the princess had reconciled somewhat, Humble Almahdi was determined to see this quest through to the end, and so he opted to stay with the party.

During these six days, Belkor learned to evoke the last two functions of his Talisman. Assuming “water form” and summoning “ice armor”. Both of which he experimented with and learned to control.

Meanwhile, William continued his studies into magic, like all wizards do. During his recent studies, he had unlocked two spells: The first was Delayed Blast Fireball [which could be used to recharge Belkor’s fireball gauntlet] The six day delay allowed William to cast a single Delayed Blast Fireball spell each morning, fully recharging all six gems in Belkor’s gauntlet.

The second new spell was called “simulacrum”. This spell allowed a wizard to form, out of snow and ice, a crudely fashioned copy of a person. Such a simulacrum could accompany the party and even fight with them. William plans to make a copy of Winlock and use the simulacrum on the battle field, during particularly intense battles.

On the morning of the seventh day, the party packed up their wagon, bid goodbye to the Khalizar, the princess and the court, and began the long journey ahead of them.

William, using the Talisman of Dreams, scanned for the last Talisman before they departed. It’s location was the same… somewhere in the Border Clans region that lies between the Padashan Empire and the Kingdom of Anquar. He would not be able to get a more precise reading until they got much closer to that area.

It took three days to reach the free city of Salhanrasha, which lies on the southern border of the Padashan Empire between Padashan and the Juenta Kingdoms.

[DM Note: I may have mentioned this before, but I’ll repeat it anyway… the free city of Salhanrasha, the Padashani city of Qazadeen and the Juenta Kingdoms are all new material which are not on the current Khoras map, but which are being incorporated into the new Khoras map, which I am working on now].

The party was, in essence, retracing their path, heading back up into the Padashan Empire. Previously, the party had passed through Salhanrasha without stopping. This time, they decided to stop for a day, sleep in a proper bed, have a bath and perhaps pick up a rumor or two in a tavern. It was a large town with frequent traffic and caravans passing through. The party felt that they could “blend in” to this city without attracting much attention.

While walking through the city, Listig caught the eye of a young street urchin who had a sudden look of recognition on his face when he saw the party. When the young boy noticed that Listig saw him, he turned and fled. Listig alerted the others, slipped through the crowd and chased after the boy. Between his longer stride, his camouflage cloak and his invisibility ring, Listig had no trouble catching the boy.

"What are you up to, boy?" growled Listig in a threatening voice.

“M-my name is Gellesh. There’s a man here in town… h-he told me and other street rats to keep an eye out for you. He told us what you looked like and your wagon… even had a wanted poster that he showed us. Said if you came through town to fetch him. Whichever one of us spotted you first, he would pay 1000 habans!”

“Why is he looking for us?”

“He said he needs to talk to you… that’s all”

Listig thought about it. One thousand habans [padashani copper coins] was only about 11 Drakkellian gold. Listig took out a small pouch of gold coins and bettered the offer.

"I’ll give you twelve Drakkellian gold coins if you forget all about us".

The boy readily agreed and took the gold.

Listig asked the boy where they could find this man who wanted to talk to them. The boy told them his name was Radik and directed them to a tavern.

The party went to the tavern, found the man and confronted him. The man was Padashani and did not seem threatening. He had the look of a thief about him. They agreed to meet privately in a back room.

The man introduced himself. “My name is Radik. I’ve been waiting for you here for weeks. I work for the Bellowguard. My master is Kalrotus, who now rules the Bellowguard. He bid me find you and give you this letter”.

[DM Note: Just a reminder, the Bellowguard is the thieves guild in Qazadeen, the city that had the hidden tunnel, the plague, the zombie horde and the battle at the temple with the cult].

Radik handed them a letter sealed with a wax seal.

“And this” said Radik, “goes with the letter. He said you would know what it meant… proof that the letter was from him”.

Radik set an iron ingot down on the table. It was imprinted with the standard of the Karoush Mining Consortium, the same type of iron ingot that the party had found at the destroyed caravan, the same caravan they had alerted Kalrotus to.

The party read the letter.

To Those Who Wander in the Wagon,

The Bellowguard has done well since your departure from the city. We recovered the wayward shipment of iron that you alerted us too. We have also been manufacturing and selling the antidote. From both of these endeavors, we have profited greatly. My thanks. I also thank you most deeply for your part in saving the city of Qazadeen.

Things have changed here since the plague. The civil war ended bloodily. Jhad Hassal, who rebelled against the empire, was defeated. He was publicly executed, as were the nobles who supported him. A new Jhad has been installed, one more loyal to the emperor. This change in government has been accompanied by an influx of new noble houses, new money, legions of imperial soldiers and many conscripted mercenary groups. All of this is to stamp out any remaining embers of rebellion.

Your actions in Qazadeen did not go unnoticed. Your battle at the temple, the defeat of the Death March cult, the antidote, the river. Stories of your deeds have spread in Qazadeen and beyond. They call you the Heroes of Qazadeen. The poor love you for delivering them from the plague. Countless families pray for you because the antidote gave their loved ones back to them. Children play mock battles and pretend to be you. As happens with stories oft retold, exploits become inflated, details become fuzzy. However, certain aspects of your group remain known to all – that among your party are two elves, a dwarf, an ogre – all races not common to this part of the world. Take care to conceal these four especially. If these four are seen travelling together, as a group, the chance of you being recognized increases greatly.

These same stories of the Heroes of Qazadeen have made you enemies. The new Jhad and his noble court feel such idolatry for outland commoners is offensive to the natural social order. If your journey takes you once again to Qazadeen, be very careful. Imperial solders march the streets with orders to arrest you on sight. I wanted you to know that before you marched up to the city gates unaware. If you do have need to enter the city of Qazadeen, you may use our secret entrance... the hidden path you used before. You know the one. Do you remember the name of the tavern?

You should also know that King Dalmoran has not stopped his relentless search for you. My own wizard has been unable to spy upon you even with his most powerful magic. I suspect you have somehow masked yourselves from such far seeing spells and that is good.

Dalmoran has scattered his soldiers far and wide. In every city and many a town throughout the Padashan Empire, there are small groups of his soldiers. In many places, they try to blend in with the common citizenry. They dress as we do, eat as we do, some of them even speak passable Padashi. But my men can sniff them out. Be careful. His agents are seeking you always.

I believe that Dalmoran has cast such a wide net because he has no idea where you are or where you are heading. That is your greatest advantage. Be careful if you take to the sea. His entire navy circles Qeshir, searching every coastline, harbor and port city. Ships are being stopped and searched by force.

When we first met, you told me you were searching for clues to the location of a lost treasure. I believe you withheld the full truth. I think you have found at least one of that which was lost, perhaps even more than one. Why else would Dalmoran search so desperately for you?

You are not alone in this fight. There is a group that opposes Dalmoran. Known simply as the Resistance, they number in the thousands. Mostly small groups that meet in secret and cooperate with each other. They work endlessly to overthrow him. They dwell mostly in Anquar, but they also have many agents in the Padashan Empire. The Resistance is searching for you also. They seek you so that they may ask you to join their cause. If you have truly found what you were looking for, then your aid to the Resistance could change everything. I, for one, would like to see my empire triumph over the Mad King. If you ever wish to speak to the Resistance, get a message to me or any Bellowguard agent (such as the one who gave you this letter). The Bellowguard can arrange such a meeting.

Wherever your wandering path takes you, I will pray to great Hram to watch over you. May you find that which you seek.


The party thanked Radik, took the letter and went on their way. They discussed it at length as they ate that night. The next morning, they were back on the road heading north, into the Padashan Empire, leaving Salharasha behind them.

They decided to avoid Qazadeen. No reason to go there. Better to continue on to the next Talisman. There was a brief discussion of which way to go. Sea? Too long of a voyage and not a good idea according to the letter. Cut west directly through the Tanlur Mountains? That would take too long and they would most likely have to leave the wagon behind and go on foot. In the end, they decided that the best route would be to follow the imperial roads... from the Broadlands up to Ankan and over to Ikemar. Ikemar stood at the western border and held the only easy pass through the mountains into the Border Clans.

The party started the journey. It was 15 days travel from Salhanrasha to Ikemar.

Kalrotus’ letter had warned them about the Blackguard leaving teams in every town, disguised as locals and the way two elves, an ogre and a dwarf/orc stood out. They decided that, from here on out, whenever it seemed necessary, they would use the Talisman of Blood to alter the appearance of those four to look like Padashani.

The journey north was uneventful until day 10. On the morning of that day, they came upon a group of bandits in the processing of attacking a caravan. Some caravan men were still fighting, but several lay dead. The women were being rounded up and thrown into a cage wagon.

The party sprang into action. Listig handed Winlock one of the teleport arrows and fired the other. The arrow arced high and hit dirt. With a flash, Winlock was in the middle of the fight, swinging his new hammer. [An enchanted hammer he looted from one of the defeated undead knights last session].

The rest of the party charged in. Among the bandits was a very big one, standing almost ten feet tall. Possibly a small giant. And the giant had a huge ten foot scorpion that he was treating like a pet. Those two proved to be very difficult to kill.

Belkor used his magic boots to race into battle and then used one of the more powerful functions from the Talisman of Sea. Water enveloped him and took the form of a giant humanoid body, made of water, with him riding inside. In this form, he was able to swing huge fists of water and deliver devastating blows. In this form, Belkor and the giant began trading blows, back and forth.

Listig and Halimir kept up a constant barrage of arrows into the fray while Grim walked into battle swinging his sword and William fired spells.

The battle raged for only a minute or two before the tide of battle was turned. Very quickly, a dozen bandits lay dead along with the giant and the scorpion. Another dozen bandits were fleeing. The party noticed that once they were well away from the battle, the fleeing bandits were all heading in the same direction, up into the hills. Their cage wagon was facing that direction too.

After mopping up the battle and stabilizing some of the wounded caravaners, the party charged up the hill in pursuit of the fleeing bandits. About a mile into the hills, they came upon the bandit’s camp in a narrow box canyon with only one way in, a narrow path barricaded by a crude palisade and spiked gate. A cluster of bandits were just inside the gate, arguing with each other, grabbing weapons and making quick repairs to the gate.

William cast fly on Belkor who immediately took to the air. Belkor flew over the gate and the surprised heads of the bandits and dropped a fireball [from his gauntlet]. Ten of the bandits died screaming. Two others managed to dive out of the way, only getting singed a little.

The party quickly destroyed the gate, subdued the two remaining bandits and searched their camp. It seemed the bandits had been at this for months and had amassed a small fortune in stolen goods, partial cargos and so forth. Casks of wine, various foodstuffs and crates of cargo were piled high. They also had several prisoners, a mix of men and women.

A quick scan for magic revealed little. There were a couple of potions and scrolls hidden among the booty, but no major magic items.

While searching through the stolen goods, the party discovered three sets of weapons, armor and helmets of Blackguard soldiers. Immediately, they realized that three of the prisoners that the bandits had put in cages were Blackguard. It was easy to sniff out which three.

The party released the other prisoners and sent them down to join the caravan. The three Blackguard soldiers were kept in their cages. The party questioned them. Two were cooperative, wanting only to live. The third simply spat at the party.

It turned out that these three had become separated from their unit in the midst of a terrible sand storm. Afterwards, they had wandered the desert for three days, almost dying of thirst until they stumbled upon the road and a caravan. They joined the caravan and travelled with them for only two days before the bandits attacked it and captured them.

The three men were just troopers, the most common type of soldier in the Anquaran Blackguard. When asked about the Blackguard army, the men were only able to confirm what the party already knew… that Anquar had lost track of the party and cast a very wide net… that they had small units of soldiers stationed at dozens of cities and towns on the lookout for the four “Knights of Endroad Keep”.

The party discussed it, but decided they had no choice but to kill the three soldiers. If these three somehow found a way to reunite with the Blackguard army, the enemy would have an exact date and pinpoint position of the party. So they killed them. Three unarmed men. A difficult choice, but a necessary one.

Having freed all the prisoners and finding nothing else of interest in the camp, the party resumed their journey.

A few hours later, they reached the city of Ankan. They stayed only one night in Ankan. While in this city, they realized that they needed to return the bones of the man they found in the Juenta fortress weeks before. These were the bones of the man whose sword, Fate Breaker, Belkor now carried. The note found with the bones and the sword had asked the finder to return the bones to his family in the capital city of Aramanda.

The party had been in the empire long enough to learn of its imperial postal system – a network of caravans and horse messengers that connected all the major cities of the empire. The party gave the bones to the imperial messengers along with a note and enough payment to ensure it got to Aramanda.

Having done that, Belkor felt he had earned Fate Breaker.

The party continued on. The rest of the journey to the city of Ikemar was uneventful.

Although the party had been in the Padashan Empire now for many weeks, they had not set foot on the far western side. None of them knew much about this region or the city of Ikemar.

When Ikemar finally appeared on the horizon, they saw that it was built around a huge, central fortress. There were mountains a few miles away to the north and to the south. A tremendous wall stretched from one mountain to the other, a distance of about 40 miles. The city of Ikemar lay exactly in the middle. The fort, the city and the wall guarded the pass between the two mountains.

The party entered with other caravans going into the city and did their best to blend in. They noticed that, despite the intense summer heat, there were dozens of buildings with huge chimneys churning out black smoke. They soon found out that these were kiln houses baking bricks for the wall and that the construction of the wall was not finished, but ongoing.

The party chose a tavern at random, one called the Horn of Plenty. (They liked the name… it sounded less threatening than the Gaping Maw, the Sand Viper’s Den, the Broken Spear, the Desert Dog and others).

Within they were greeted by a hugely obese, bearded padashani dressed in silk robes and covered in rings and jewels. His lustrous black beard was braided and adorned with gems.

Come in my friends, come in! Ah, by the look of you, you have traveled quite some distance. And you have the look of wealth about you. I am Babook ibn Hashan and YOU are my guests.

He snapped his fingers at a mostly nude servant girl who brought out goblets and began filling them with wine.

My elven lords! Welcome! It has been a long time since I have had any of your noble race grace my humble establishment!

Now, all of your… how may Babook bring a smile to your dusty and road weary faces today? May I interest you in a platter of roasted sand lizard? Scorpion surprise? Honeyed fire cakes? Perhaps some hashish? Or a girl? Ask and it shall be yours!

The party began asking questions about the wall and the lands and people beyond. Babook said that, if they were really interested, they should speak to a man who was in the back. Babook had one of the servant girls fetch him.

Not long after, as the party ate and drank, a roguish human appeared. He was an Ithrian southerner, by the looks of him. He was wearing a mix of Padashan and Drakkellian clothing and reeked of ale.

He introduced himself as Kulvarim. He was a mariner on leave while his ship was undergoing extensive repairs. He had travelled to Ikemar to see the wall and see a real live mandalar. He had been living in Ikemar for six weeks. He sat with the party and answered their questions in exchange for ale.

What can you tell us about the city?
The Great Fortress of Ikemar and its city protects the western border of the empire. There are more than a thousand soldiers stationed here. There’s another, smaller fort at each end of the wall.

Why have they built a wall here?
Wall’s not finished yet, but they’re getting close. Another year, I’ve heard. The wall is mainly to stop mandalar raiders from coming across the border and attacking Padashani villages and towns. But also it’s to keep padashani civilians from wandering into clan territory. The jhad, that’s the local provincial governor… he’s declared no one goes across the border without permission. Other than the occasional well armed caravan or military patrol, no one goes into clan territory. It’s pretty much suicide. The mandalar kill everyone.

Tell us about the lands beyond the wall and the mandalar.
It’s known as the Border Clans region. Some ancient empire held sway there a few thousand years ago. Now, nothing but ruins. Lots of ruins. It’s home to the mandalar clans. Big brutes, horns. If you ask the locals, they’’ll tell you all kinds of stories about how the mandalar are vicious, blood thirsty, primitive barbarians. They’ll even tell you stories about the mandalar eating their prisoners. In truth, I think their view is a bit skewed. They’ve been fighting the clans for years. War has a way of brewing hate. I’ve spoken to a mandalar. There’s one living right here in the city. And he didn’t seem like a mindless savage. You should talk to him if you really want to understand the mandalar. He could probably tell you all kinds of things about the mandalar and the lands beyond. He’d know better than anyone. But I’ll tell you this… the mandalar are tough. Tough as iron and strong as an ox. Just one mandalar is worth five padashani soldiers. But what really scares the piss out of both Anquar and Padashan is the horns.

Yeah, a mandalar’s head is crowned by two huge horns. Something about the horns makes it so magic don’t work right on them.

How do we get beyond the wall?
Why would you want to go beyond the wall? All you’ll find is battle and blood. Well, there’s a lot of ruins. But if you’re tomb raiders, give it up. It’s not worth it. They say there are hoards of treasure out there, but there are also a hundred thousand mandalar warriors who are as likely to butcher you as talk to you. The only people crazy enough to go out into clan territory are the caravans and the soldiers. But they do so in groups. Large, heavily armed groups. And sometimes they don’t come back. Well, except for the Iron Dragon. I think that one has survived the journey a dozen times.

Where do the caravans go?
They trade with Anquar. While the Kingdom of Anquar and the Padashan Empire are technically still at war, they do still trade. The wagon caravans are politically neutral and make the occasional trading run.

What’s the Iron Dragon?
A very large and well known wagon. Well, actually, more like a land ship. You’d have to see it for yourself.

The party asked where they could find the mandalar he had mentioned. Kulvarim said the mandalar was a slave working in the brick district. They went there and found the mandalar easily enough. He was a tall, well muscled humanoid covered in grey black fur. His two great horns had been sawn off of his head, leaving only stumps. He limped on a mangled left foot and his back was covered in old whip scars.

There was a confrontation with the slave owner, but after a tense standoff, they came to an agreement. The party would get to speak to the mandalar for 10 minutes and the slave owner got to keep his health. However, the mandalar refused to tell them anything unless they purchased his freedom. The party ended up buying the mandalar’s freedom for 100 ujan (padashani gold coins) in exchange for the mandalar serving as a guide for them.

Having procured a guide, they decided the best way to get into the Border Clans was as guards on one of the caravans. They thought about sneaking through the unfinished part of the wall or hiking through the mountains, but the former could result in capture and arrest and the latter would take a very long time.

They went to the caravan plaza inside the main city gates that face the Border Clans territory. This huge stone plaza held hundreds of wagons. One stood out… a massive contraption of wood and steel. It was as large as a small ship, three stories tall and had eight giant wheels.

They approached the enormous wagon and heard one man yelling at three others saying “don’t come back until you find him!”. The three scattered and the party approached the remaining man. He was a big man with a mane of white hair and a moustache. He didn't look Padashani, more like an Ithrian who had been living here a long time. He introduced himself as Kaizan, Captain of the Iron Dragon.

The party said they wanted to get across the border and asked if they could hire on as guards for part of the trip or as passengers. Kaizan explained that there were only certain guards spots available and they had to be approved. There were also strict laws against smuggling anyone over the border. They discussed a bribe, but Kaizan said doing so would risk his license. For that, he wanted no less than 100 gold coins for each of them and 300 to transport their wagon. They were unable to barter him down.

The party was reluctant to part with more than a thousand gold ujan (which was almost all of the wealth that they had in Padashi currency). They decided to ask him what he had been yelling about when they walked up and he explained that his dog had gone missing three days ago and none of his men could find the animal.

The party said they would find his dog for him and asked if the dog would be worth the price of smuggling them across the border. Kaizan agreed emphatically. If they could find his dog, he would get them and their wagon across the border and into Clan territory, no charge. He would need to come up with some cover story to explain why they were towing a wagon behind the Iron Dragon, but he said he could do that. Kaizan gave them a description of the dog and told them the last place anyone had seen it.

The party walked out of the plaza and William pulled out the Talisman of Dreams. Finding the dog was a trivial matter for the ancient relic and it quickly pointed them to the Desert Dog tavern.

When they arrived at the tavern, it was immediately obvious that this was a cover for the local thieves guild. A number of shady looking characters were scattered about the dimly lit drinking room. William used his Talisman to mentally “encompass” the whole building and probe it. He sensed a secret door in the back with stairs leading down to a subterranean room with three people and a dog.

They asked the barkeep about the dog downstairs and several faces at a nearby table looked up from their card game with alarmed expressions. One of the men got up and growled at threat at the party, telling them to leave. Tensions rose as strong words flew back and forth. The party refused to leave and the thieves threats got more dire. Finally one of the thugs drew a blade and bellowed  “Enough talk!”. He charged.

Listig fired two arrows as William cast a disintegration spell. The arrows sunk into the man’s chest a split second before a sizzling green ray struck him and vaporized him on the spot. Stunned silence swept the room.

"Give us the dog".

The youngest thief at the card table stumbled toward the secret door at the back of the tavern and ran downstairs to fetch the dog.

Ten minutes later, the party was walking back into the caravan plaza with the dog licking their faces. A tearful reunion followed between Captain Kaizan and his dog, “Saffron”.

The Iron Dragon was set to depart at noon the next day. The party laid low the rest of the day and that night, staying off the streets and out of sight, not wanting to attract any more attention than they already had. Early the next morning, they hooked up their wagon to the back of the Iron Dragon and all of them spent the morning hiding inside the huge vehicle.

That morning, as the crew of the Iron Dragon was preparing for departure, the party finally saw what propelled the massive thing… six huge rhino-like creatures, very similar to the beast of burden they had used in the land of the secambru giants. These six enormous creatures were yoked into harnesses beneath the vehicle between the front two and rear two axles. The creatures were completely inside the vehicle and protected from attack.

The party stayed out of sight, hidden in a small cargo compartment inside the Iron Dragon, when a group of city officials came by inspecting things.

At noon, onlookers clapped and cheered as the enormous city gates slowly swung open and the Iron Dragon rolled forward, heading out into the realm of the Border Clans.

And so the adventure continues…

Session 25 Summary

The Player Characters  (aka the "Heroes")

Winlock – orc/dwarf barbarian, wearing heavy chain mail armor and wielding a big war hammer
William – the party’s wizard, human male, robed and armed with a broad array of spells.
Belkor – the dashing human swordsmen/mariner wielding twin scimitars
Listig – the elven thief/archer equipped with several different enchanted arrows
Halimir - An elven archer/ranger. Good tracker. Expert archer. Has transitioned from NPC to PC.

The Current Non Player Characters

"Humble" Almahdi - A likable Padashani beggar with quick wit. Talkative. Funny. Fluent in several languages. Street smart, but somewhat cowardly.
Grim Rigor- A huge ogre warrior. A former slave and gladiator. Extremely tough. Good in a fight. Cured of a zombie infection by Belkor.

Session 25 left off exactly where the last one ended. The party had just finished a big fight on the ground floor of Fort Jegorim. A dozen or so saurians lay dead, including a big hurkyte. From the hurkyte, Belkor claimed the sword named “Fate Breaker”. He decided to wield it and the flaming dagger from that point on.

The party checked the main doors. They were barred now. Peering out through the arrow slits of the guard room, the party could see other saurians out in the courtyard, but they were not roused and no alarm had been sounded.

The party decided to quickly check the rest of the floor. The sound of snoring led them to a metal workshop and forge in the back corner where they found a fat dwarf asleep next to a few empty bottles. He was clearly drunk and sleeping it off. The party assumed he must be a slave of the saurians. They roused him and talked to him. They were right. His name was Mallix. He told them that years ago he had been the blacksmith at the fort. He had fled with the others when the dragon came. A year ago, he and two dozen others had come back in hopes of somehow reclaiming the fort. They did not, however, know about the saurians and were caught off guard. Some died, but many were captured. One by one the saurians sacrificed them to the dragon. Mallix was the last, kept alive because he had useful skills. The saurians forced him to fix things around the fort for them, mostly stone and metal work, at which they had no skill.

Mallix explained that the saurians were a very primitive bunch and they worshiped the dragon as some kind of god. They considered the whole fortress holy ground. There were more than fifty saurians, all led by a powerful saurian shaman. More than half of them were away from the fort, out hunting.

The party asked about the fort and the denizens above. Mallix confirmed and elaborated on what the party had already learned. Undead prowled on the second and third floors. The saurian shaman who ruled the others was good at raising the dead as undead monstrosities. He had successfully created several skeletons. However, some time ago, when he tried to raise the former cleric of this fort, he lost control of the creature and, shortly afterwards, all the undead. Mallix said that he had overheard the saurians talking… that there was some “dark power” on the third floor which is what had allowed these undead creatures to throw of the shaman’s control.

The party asked about the dragon. Mallix confirmed that it had left earlier (the party had seen the dragon fly overhead when they approached the fort earlier that day). He told them the dragon was usually gone for a few hours. He explained that the fourth floor was where the dragon laired and that the fifth floor was essentially gone, having collapsed.

The party informed Mallix that they had just slain all of the saurians on the first floor and the skrell below. They told him that they would arm him and, if he fought beside them, they would make sure he was freed. Mallix agreed and armed himself with armor and weapons from one of the armories.

Seeing nothing else of interest on this floor, the party took the stairs up. At the top of the stairs was a short passageway which connected to a large central hall. Just before it opened up into the hall, there was a doorway to the side. Winlock kicked open the door and inside where two undead skeletons, armed and armored. They turned in unison and attacked. The battle was brief. Winlock’s hammer proved very effective against the brittle bone of the skeletons while Listig and Halimir fired arrows over Winlock’s head.

The two skeletons were defeated quickly. The room they were in was just another guard chamber. That was when the group noticed that the two skeletons they had just destroyed were begin to stir… bones knitting back together, cracks in skulls sealing and so forth. These things were reforming… healing. Winlock took his hammer and reduced them to powder.

The sounds of the battle must have roused the other undead. The party could hear the sound of booted feet ringing against stone and movement nearby. The party rushed into the main central corridor. It had double doors at each end. From the nearer set of double doors, a half dozen skeletal warriors emerged, heavily armed and armored. Beyond them came a skeletal knight in full plate armor and brandishing an enormous sword and tower shield.

At the far end appeared a skeletal figure in heavy blood red robes and another skeletal warrior. Winlock strode forward swing his hammer and was quickly surrounded by the enemy. The priest at the far end began to cast a spell, but William managed to use a counterspell to counter it. Halimir and Listig began firing arrows into multiple targets.

Belkor used his magic boots to race down the hall and confront the skeletal priest. His twin blades flashed out and spun in a dizzying blur. As the group battled the horrific skeletal things, it quickly became apparent to them that these undead were healing continually. And Belkor soon discovered that the priest was healing much faster than all the others. The fact that cutting blades were not very effective against bone combined with the skeleton’s healing made this a particularly difficult fight.

William countered another spell from the priest while the rest continued beating on the skeletons with sword, hammer and arrow.

Two new skeletons appeared, coming down a set of stairs from the third floor. One of them was dressed in black robes adorned with arcane glyphs. The robed one tried to cast another spell, but William managed to counter a third time.

At this point, William was able to sense something. His ring gives him the ability to sense the field of magic around him. Through the power of the ring, he was able to sense that all of these skeletons were connected to a powerful magic source above them. Something up on the third floor was lending them power and, no doubt, responsible for their healing. William called out to the group that they needed to get to the third floor.

The battle raged on. Belkor spun and slashed, over and over, beating on the priest. Winlock smashed his hammer into the chest of a skeleton, shattering it into pieces. Everyone was bleeding from various wounds. Mallix was stabbed in the chest by the big skeletal knight and fell to the floor. It was one of the toughest battles the group had faced so far.

The battle moved out into the center of the hall with opponents moving all over. Eventually, Winlock brought down the last of the common skeletons and Belkor managed to bring the priest down. The only two left standing were the skeletal wizard and knight.

The wizard cast a wall of fire, engulfing Belkor, William and Winlock in flames. Singed and smoking, the three staggered out of the inferno. However, a well-placed sword stroke brought the wizard down. The knight was the only one left. This last remaining skeletal thing and Winlock began trading blows back and forth.

William cast invisibility on Listig and urged him to run up the stairs and find the source of power on the third floor. The knight turned and chased after Listig with William coming up after him.

Listig found a power of double doors at the center of a short hallway on the third floor. He threw open the doors and revolted in horror. In a small room was some kind of dark shrine. It was composed of hundreds of bones and rotting flesh. The entire thing seemed to be bleeding. Dozens of skulls adorned the thing. Many had bits of flesh still attached and some had eyes starring out. The eyes in the skulls were moving and the jaws gaped open in silent screams.

The skeletal knight came bounding up the stairs, ran past the invisible Listig, and positioned himself in front of the shrine, facing outward, as if to protect it from the enemy. William came running up a moment later.

Down on the second floor, pieces of skeletons began to crawl toward each other, slowly reconnecting joints and reforming. Belkor, Halimir and Winlock continued hacking at the skeleton corpses in an attempt to prevent them from reforming whole.

Up on the third floor, Listig drew an arcane disruptor arrow and fired it over the head of the  knight and directly into the shrine. Instantly, the blood stopped flowing, the eyes rolled back into the skulls and the shrine stopped convulsing.

Down on the second floor, half formed skeletons collapsed back into bones. Halimir, Belkor and Winlock raced up the stairs. The party, now united against the skeletal knight, fought him as a team. Without the power of the shrine, the skeletal knight was weaker and no longer regenerating. The party managed to bring him down.

Listig and William weren’t sure how long the arcane disruptor arrow would keep the shrine nullified. Wasting no time, Winlock strode into the shrine and began smashing the bone shrine to pieces. In no time, he was knee deep in a bloody bone shards.

Battle was done, but the party was exhausted. Everyone had been wounded and they had expanded a great deal of their magic. The party discussed whether it might be wise to retreat out of the fort and rest for a day. After some talking, they decided against it. Who knew when the dragon would return? Who knew if the bone shrine might somehow regenerate itself overnight? They decided it was better to loot the dragon lair now, while they knew it was miles away.

Before venturing up to the fourth floor and the dragon’s lair, they did a quick scan for magic and discovered that several of the skeletal undead had been carrying or using magic weapons. The full suit of armor, shield and sword used by the knight were all magical.

The party did a quick search of the second and third floors. On the second floor, they found a kitchen, pantry, library, conference room, throne room, a few bed chambers and a feasting hall. The third floor was smaller and held only the shrine and three opulent, but moldy, bed chambers. Scanning for magic throughout, they picked up a few enchanted objects and bits of treasure here and there on both floors.

Finally, it was time to venture up and into the lair of the dragon. The party went up the stairs to the fourth floor. The stairs opened up into a single huge chamber which was as large as the entire third floor.

Shattered walls, pieces of ceiling, broken masonry, toppled statues and bricks littered the entire floor. It looked as if all of the inner walls had been reduced to rubble. Only the outer walls still stood. One of the outer walls was completely gone and the party could see the tops of trees beyond.

The air was thick and heavy with the smell of ash and sulfur. There were scorch marks on the walls. Looking up, the party could see about half of the ceiling was gone and open to sky. The jagged edge of the ceiling was a tangle of broken wooden beams and crumbling stone overhead.

Scattered across the floor, intermixed with the rubble and wreckage, were a number of corpses. They looked old… nothing more than skeletons. Many of them were still in armor. Several of them were scorched black. Here and there were skulls, broken blades, bones, bits of armor, a stray boot, and so forth. It was clear that, when the dragon first came, it had been one hell of a battle.

In the center of this vast chamber was something that looked like a bird’s nest, but almost twenty feet across. It was made from rubble, broken timber, shredded tapestries and so forth.

In front of the nest was a huge pile of glittering treasure. Tens of thousands of coins were piled up into a neatly shaped mound. Gems, jewelry, silver goblets and other shiny pieces poked out from the pile here and there. The mound of treasure looked too neat and perfect for a creature as large as a dragon to have formed it. The party guessed it must have been the saurians that so neatly piled up the dragon’s treasure.

Ignoring the obvious treasure for the moment, the party began a slow search of the room. William concentrated and began scanning the whole room for magic. Belkor, Listig and Winlock began searching through the rubble and debris, starting at the edges of the room.

Halimir walked over to the nest to investigate it. As soon as he was close to it, a pair of creatures leapt out and knocked him to the ground. They were winged reptiles, about the size of large dogs. They growled and snapped at him, clawing at his face and arms, their stubby wings flapping aimlessly.

The rest of the party rushed over to the nest to help him. Baby dragons! Quite possibly only a few days old. The party immediately realized that they couldn’t kill these hatchlings. They couldn’t even wound them. To harm them in any way could bring down the wrath of a full grown dragon on them.

William pulled out the Talisman of Dreams and used it to charm the hatchlings. Very soon, they were licking the adventurers and hopping about like playful puppies. With a little coaxing, William got them back into the nest and got them settled down. That was when they saw the huge egg in the nest. Greed wrestled with common sense as they discussed what a viable dragon egg would fetch on the open market. But common sense eventually won out and they decided to leave it be.

Having dealt with the hatchling dragons, the party returned to their searching. While the others searched, Listig came upon the body of an archer near the far wall. Judging by the breastplate, hair and bone structure, it had been a woman, possibly elven.  Her leg had been crushed and her armor was burned.

On her back was a quiver of arrows and a beautiful bow. It was a composite longbow fashioned from ironwood and wind dancer wood. It was decorated in silver and ivory and carved with a forest scene depicting elves dancing about a great oak.

It looked like she had dragged herself across the floor in the midst of the battle. Her hand was reached out as if grasping toward something, but she had died before she reached her goal. In front of her was a pile of rubble where a section of wall had collapsed.

Listig and Halimir began digging out the pile of rubble. They uncovered an iron cabinet, rusted and badly dented. Inside were a variety of bows, arrows and a long slender black box. William scanned the whole area. The bow on her back and several of the arrows were magical. They opened up the black box and inside was a single black arrow. William could feel immense magical energy radiating from the black arrow. The two archers began discussing how they should divide up the bow and arrows between the two of them.

Meanwhile, William used the Talisman to help locate the Star Sceptre of Rashi. It was actually above them, in a smashed wooden and metal cabinet, on the floor above, at the very edge of the damaged ceiling. They looked up and could just see a faint blue glow from within the cabinet. (Humble Almahdi had described the scepter and told them the main gemstone always glowed blue). Belkor used his magic boots to jump up to the ceiling, grab a hold of a broken wooden beam, reach in and grab the scepter. This scepter was their main reason for coming to the keep. With it secure, their reason for being here was done.

Having searched the room, sorted through the rubble and plucked out various interesting trinkets, the party began filling their looting sacks with treasure. Gold coins, silver chalices, strings of pearls, sparkling gems and magnificent pieces of jewelry all went in. Combined with the magical armor and weapons that they had taken from the skeletons and their normal adventuring equipment, the party was struggling under the weight of it all.

They decided to leave most of the coins behind. There were tens of thousands of coins and they couldn’t possible take them all. Far too much weight. They were careful to pile the remaining treasure back up into a mound as it had been.

Carrying this much, it would be difficult to get back down four floors, go through the river cave and swing across the waterfall. They decided it would be better to use a fly spell to fly themselves.

William cast fly on Winlock (who was the strongest) and they began shuttling themselves and the treasure out. They were careful to avoid flying over the courtyard so the saurians below would not see them.

It would take several trips. Each trip, Winlock carried one person and a sack of treasure and gear, dropping the person and cargo on the far cliff, opposite the waterfall. That left them at the top of the trail, but they couldn’t manage further because the fly spell would only last a few minutes.

As Winlock was flying back, they all heard a roar in the distance. Several of them could see a dark winged shape against the sky, small with distance, but growing in size. Winlock landed back in the rubble strewn lair. Belkor and Halimir were the last to go and there wasn’t time to take them one a time. They both piled onto Winlock and they took off and (very shakily) flew over the wall.

They managed to get to the cover of the trees just as a tremendous shadow swept over them and the dragon flew past and into the fortress. With the beating of powerful wings, it landed in the now empty lair and roared.

Wasting no time, the party grabbed their loot and made their way down the winding steep trail. They hastened as quickly as they could and did not slow their pace. They kept to deep ravines and forested paths as much as they could, avoiding the open grassy areas, always fearing they would hear the roar of the dragon above them. Luckily, the dragon did not pursue.

The party made their way back to the wagon and regrouped with Almahdi and Grim. They loaded the treasure and gear into the wagon and left as fast as they could. They decided to avoid the abandoned village of Redfield and went around it. They had no desire to deal with the crazy hermit. They travelled until the sun started to set. They could have stayed at the village of Seven Stone which they had passed through the other day, but decided they did not want to interact with any villagers. They made camp in the forest several miles from the village and took turns standing guard throughout the night.

The next morning, they continued their journey, avoiding farms and villages as much as possible. They made their way southwest toward the town of Herota and again made camp in the forest again.

The party was heading to Herota to return the star scepter and (hopefully) remove the price on Almahdi’s head and free him from the life of a fugitive.

On the morning of the third day, as they were nearing Herota, they came upon a man leading a donkey and cart heading in the same direction. He was a farmer brings his goods to Herota for market day. They talked to him and asked him about news from Herota. It had been several weeks since they had left Herota, when they had fled the city by stealing a ship out of the harbor. The party was curious what had happened since then.

The farmer was a wealth of information. He told them that someone had stolen a magrakian cargo ship while the captain had been in jail. The captain was released from jail a few days later only to find that his ship and entire crew were gone with no explanation.

In truth, the party had failed to charm two of the crew members. They had left a bag of gems with those two for their captain and told them that they would bring the ship back with more payment. Since the farmer did not mention those two, it became clear to the party that those two crew members had taken the gems and fled, leaving their captain to his fate.

The farmer continued… the captain of the stolen ship owed a lot of money to the shipping guild because a good portion of the cargo had still been on the ship and not offloaded yet. The shipping guild was a powerful force in the city and not to be trifle with. The captain was financially responsible for the missing cargo and ended up heavily in debt to the guild. The guild had forced the captain into indentured servitude to pay off his debt… with an estimated six years of service.

The party, feeling appropriately guilty about the captain’s plight, decided to do something about that. The party went to the king first. With Almahdi (a wanted criminal) and the Star Sceptre in hand, they had no problem getting an immediate audience with the king and his advisors.

The King was astounded at the return of the scepter and showered the party with praise and gratitude. The party spoke on behalf of Almahdi and the king gladly recalled the bounty on Almahdi. The king had promised the hand of his daughter, Princess Kamala, to the man who returned the scepter. The party gave credit for retrieving the scepter to Almahdi. However, Princess Kamala wanted nothing to do with Almahdi (if you remember, he had promised to steal the scepter  and jewels for her, but then had fled with both, leaving her with nothing). The headstrong princess was still furious about Almahdi’s betrayal and refused to marry him. The king sided with his daughter and so that matter of marriage was dropped.

The king thanked the party profusely and they asked the king’s aid to help free the magrakian captain from his servitude. The king’s advisors argued that the shipping guild was too powerful and would fight the crown on such an order. In the end, it was agreed that the king’s court would pay half of the captain’s debt and the party would pay the other half.

The payment was made to the guild and the captain was released. Although angry at the loss of his ship, the party was far too powerful to fight and the captain accepted his new found freedom graciously. Still feeling sorry for his plight, the party gave him weapons, armor, equipment and a sack of several hundred silver coins to help him out so that he could start over.

We ended the session here.

Next session, the party is planning on making their way back into and through the Padashan Empire. The next Talisman is located in the Border Clans region which lies between the Padashan Empire and the Kingdom of Anquar. The party will be travelling by land to get there and will be passing through a number of towns and cities that they had previously come through.

Pieces of Eight Campaign - 2016 - Run by David Roomes. / Session 24 Summary
« on: December 21, 2017, 07:58:20 PM »
Session 24 Summary

The Player Characters  (aka the "Heroes")

Winlock – orc/dwarf barbarian, wearing heavy chain mail armor and wielding a big war hammer
William – the party’s wizard, human male, robed and armed with a broad array of spells.
Belkor – the dashing human swordsmen/mariner wielding twin scimitars
Listig – the elven thief/archer equipped with several different enchanted arrows
Halimir - An elven archer/ranger. Good tracker. Expert archer. Has transitioned from NPC to PC.

The Current Non Player Characters

"Humble" Almahdi - A likable Padashani beggar with quick wit. Talkative. Funny. Fluent in several languages. Street smart, but somewhat cowardly.
Grim Rigor- A huge ogre warrior. A former slave and gladiator. Extremely tough. Good in a fight. Cured of a zombie infection by Belkor.

So, we left off last session with the party running through the night on foot and being pursued from the Black Elk tribe giants.

They had successfully stolen the Talisman of the Sea from the Kaladath, the Black Elk chieftain, but now they had the entire tribe chasing them.
Although the giants were faster, Halimir was sure that the giants would be moving slowly. The giants were using torches and beating the tall grasses with their clubs, to be sure the party didn’t evade them by laying and hiding in the tall grass.

We had two guest players with us this session. So, to incorporate them into the ongoing story line, the two guest players are running two new characters. Kai, a half elven rogue, and Varys, a sorcerer. Both of them were adventuring partners who had become prisoners and slaves of the Black Elk tribe some months ago. When the battle erupted last session and hundreds of giants were fighting amongst themselves, tribe against tribe, these two used the distraction to grab their personal belongings and make a run for it.

Kai and Varys managed to make it out into the grasslands west of the meet. They eventually ran into Grim Rigor, the party’s NPC ogre warrior, who had also made a run for it. After quick introductions and realization that they were all pretty much in the same predicament, they chose to run together. Grim Rigor wanted to catch up to his party. Kai and Varys wanted to catch up to the strangers who had started the chaos back there and granted them the chance to flee. Safety in numbers and all that.

It took many hours, but before dawn, these three did catch up to the main party. Again, introductions were made. Clearly all of them had a common enemy in the black Elk tribe and that tribe would surely kill them all if it caught them.

By dawn, the party, including the two new members, caught up to the wagon. Humble Almahdi and Belkor (who had recovered from his mysterious illness) was camping out with the wagon. Upon hearing about the pursuit, the wagon was made ready with haste and everyone piled in. The wagon raced west with all the speed that the horses could muster. (Yes, the party has two horses now, instead of that great big heavy native beast that they had initially… they made a trade with the locals in the town of Jaruska and swapped steeds).

Now that the sun was up, Halimir was afraid that the giants would be able to pursue them much faster. After all, the wagon was making clear tracks in the tall grass that even a blind man could follow. Eventually, the giants would come upon the tracks and catch up quickly.

The party discussed various options as they rode along in the wildly bouncing wagon. They could split up and go multiple directions on foot. They could travel south and try to find a boat or ship. They could go north and try to lose them in the hills and mountains.

Humble Almahdi assured them that south was not a good choice. There were no towns or villages or any civilization at all along the south coast here. There would be no place to find a ship or even a simple fishing boat.

The party also wanted to try to get to the iron cairn that they had seen days earlier and marked on the map the last time they had come through the grasslands. They wanted to loot it of treasure. Of course, the cairn was still many miles to the west.

After another couple of hours, the party encountered a group of four giants who were roasting a goat over a large fire for breakfast. These four were from the Hillstalker tribe. The party remembered that the Hillstalkers were the first tribe to walk out on Kaladath and his proclamation of kingship. They had jeered and booed and left in disgust.

The party talked with the giants. It was clear that the Hillstalker tribe considered the Black Elk’s enemies. They considered Kaladath a fool for claiming kingship and for toying with magic relics from outlander wizards.

The party made up a story, claiming that a giant had stolen the relic from Kaladath and the Black Elk tribe was searching the land for him. The party said that Kaladath, in a state of fury, would likely blame them as “outlanders” and kill them, even though they were innocent. [yes, a blatant lie, but one told well]. The giants believed their story. Knowing that secambru giants have a fondness for gems and jewels, the party gave these four giants a bag of glittering gems which they had and asked for their help.

The four giants agreed to help. Three of them picked up the wagon and began carrying it while the fourth giant worked to obscure the tracks of the other three. [The Hillstalker tribe giants are excellent hunters and trackers and are quite talented at leaving no path].

After 10 miles, they set the wagon down. The party had now moved 10 miles with no tracks at all. This would throw off their pursuers for awhile. The four hillstalkers also said they would misdirect any Black Elk tribe they met, leaving obvious tracks that led south.

The party thanked them profusely and continued on west, pushing the horses as hard as they could. They managed to travel the two full days with no encounters and no sight of their pursuers.

The party camped to give the horses a chance to rest, but pushed hard west each day. By noon on the third day, they reached the iron cairn. To most of the party, the land was a featureless sea of grass, but Halimir’s ranger instincts for direction and recollection of various subtle landmarks guided them to the iron cairn on their map. They eventually found it and this time there were no giants around.

The iron cairn looked like a small low hill, surrounded by a circle of large boulders and a huge carved and wooden pole. On one side was a heavy stone slab that blocked an entrance. Grim Rigor and Winlock, the two strongest members of the party, spent several minutes wrestling the huge rock out of the way.

Inside the party found a small subterranean chamber filled with skeletal corpses and a veritable horde of metal: weapons, armor, horse shoes, nails, rings, iron spikes, shields, coins and various bits of treasure and trinkets. Among the bodies were the remnants of a Black Guard strike team.

The party searched the cairn thoroughly and scanned it for magic. Amongst the mundane items they found the following treasures:

  • A bag filled with padashani coins
  • An ornate chalice of metal and embedded crystals
  • An iron horn
  • A long sword (which detected as magical)
  • Four scorch head arrows and two hammerhead arrows
  • The intact iron mask of an infernal knight.
  • There was also a scroll, old and corroded, which contained a map with some hand written notes. The map indicated Fort Jegorim, the very fort that the party was heading toward. The fort was circled on the map with an arrow and the word “Jhelquinn”. The handwritten notes said “Kurlander says it’s in the main treasury on the 5th floor, though the master at arms doesn’t know what it is that he’s got”.

There was also a strange spellbook with metal cover and thin metal sheets. It held only four spells, but all four were unknown to William. The spellbook was written in Inedka, which is a coding system he knows. William plans to study the spells and copy them to his own spellbook later.

Having successfully plundered the iron cairn, the party continued heading northwest as fast as their horses could pull the wagon.

The party decided to head up into the hills and highlands that separate the great Ahtabi desert from the Wind Plains. They wanted to avoid the Wind Plains because that is the land of the mytharians and the party didn’t know much about them beyond stories. They had been told the mytharians were a barbaric culture of nomadic horsemen who would just as soon kill as trade. Varys, the sorcerer, and Kai, the rogue, chose to continue on with the party for safety. After all, tribes of giants and clans of barbarian horse nomads made the entire region a lawless wilderness.

The journey was slow. The hills were steep and then, on the other side, the land at the edge of the desert was hot and dry and dusty. However, this wasn’t a problem. Belkor was spending days learning how to use the Talisman of the Sea. One of the first things he figured out how to do was the summoning of clean, fresh water. With an unlimited supply of drinkable water, the desert did not seem as intimidating.

After several days of travel, the party eventually left the desert behind and came down out of the hills toward the kingdoms of the Juenta again. There were several small villages just west of Fort Jegorim. After ascertaining their exact position, the party headed toward the Fort, stopping by a village that lay along the way. The village had a small tavern with a few rooms for rent. The party purchased food and slept in proper beds for the first time in many days.

In the drinking room, they asked the barkeep about the Fort. He told them of the dragon and said that if they would know more, they should go the village of Redfield, the closest village to the Fort (and currently abandoned except for one mad old hermit who lived their still, despite the danger of the dragon).

The party took his advice and the next morning, headed to the village of Redfield. There, they did indeed find a hermit by the name of Barthos. Apprehensive at first, Barthos quickly took the party as would-be dragonslayers and warmed to them. He believed firmly (and stated quite often) that the treasure in the fort was his by right. If they should slay the dragon, he should get a fair share (the lion’s share of it actually). The party, believing him to be quite mad, assured him that he would get the treasure.

During their conversation, Barthos mentioned several times of how the former commander of the fort, an evil man, had taxed the local villages and caravans heavily. He had also allowed mytharian raiders through the pass for a price and so forth. By playing both sides against each other, the commander had become a very wealthy man. All that treasure had been left when the place had been evacuated during the dragon’s initial attack. And, he claimed, to this day no one has stolen the treasure out from under the dragon.
The party listened to his tales eagerly and asked lots of questions. Barthos also told them that the dragon was not alone. A tribe of saurians had come only a few months after the attack and now lived in the ruins of the fort, worshipping the dragon as some kind of god. The dragon, it seemed, let them stay as they often brought it live goats and the occasional prisoner as sacrifices. This didn’t stop the dragon from occasionally eating one of the saurians and the saurians (so claimed Barthos) considered dying in such a manner a great honor.

In any case, the hermit warned the party that the saurians would likely attempt to capture the party and sacrifice them to the dragon if they were found out. The party discussed how best to approach the fortress. Barthos told them of a waterfall that fell from a sheer cliff face on the far side. It was an underground river that came down from the hills and run beneath the fort. The fort used it as a water supply. The cave from which the waterfall erupted connected to the catacombs beneath the fort.

It was a steep climb up to the waterfall and would require them to swing across a chasm, but the hermit insisted it was the best way to get in to the fort undetected. The party agreed that entering the catacombs and coming up from the bottom was a much better way to engage the enemy.

The party bid farewell to Barthos and headed toward the abandoned fortress, only a few miles away. They left the wagon behind in the Redfield. Humble Almahdi and Grim Rigor both stayed with the wagon to protect it. With the wagon well concealed, there was no chance the dragon would see it, should the beast fly overhead.

The terrain between Redfield and the fort was gentle rolling hills with sparse forest here and there and the occasional rock outcropping.

Before they reached the fort, they heard a tremendous roar in the distance and saw a winged shape on the horizon. The party scattered, scrambling for cover, hiding behind trees and rocks as they could find.

The dragon did not see them, but passed almost directly overhead. They all had a good view of it as it flew by. It was big, more than a hundred feet long and heavily armored in jagged scales that were a dull greyish green. The creature fly with slow lazy flaps of its wings and continued on its way, heading toward the sea. The party stayed hidden until the dragon nothing but a speck on the horizon.

Twenty minutes later, the party reached the fort. They gave the fort a wide berth and worked their way around to the far side until they saw the waterfall up high on the rock face. Across from the sheer face was steep slope with a cluster of trees near the top. The party climbed up to the slope opposite the rockface. They were now very near the top and looking across a thirty foot chasm toward the water fall. They party stood just beneath an overhang from which sprouted tangled roots from the trees above.

The waterfall came out of a cave from the sheer rockface. The party could see that there was a gate of iron bars covering the cave entrance and the river water sluiced through the iron bars just before it fell away as a waterfall.

The chasm was much too far to jump, but the tree branches hung out over the chasm and would provide a good anchor point for a rope.

Listig gave one of his teleport arrows to Winlock and told him to hold on tight. He then fired the other arrow through the iron bars and into the cave. He angled it such that it should hit the inner cave wall a few feet in.

With a stomach dropping lurch, Winlock suddenly found himself in pitch black darkness and waist deep in roaring cold water. The current immediately swept him under, but he dug the arrow into a hard surface at his side and stopped his movement. He raised his head out of the water a bit and let his eyes adjust to the darkness. Within a few moments, his dwarvish dark sight had adjusted and he could see.

He was in a long tube like cave through which the underground river was moving. A narrow walkway flanked the river on either side. The river was only about twenty feet across. The cave mouth and iron bars were behind him. To this left, on the wall, there was some sort of mechanical winch with a large wheel attached.

About fifty feet away, he saw a small spindly creature walking along the walkway on the far side. It was a small humanoid rat-like creature. The creature stopped, took a piss in the river and then returned the way it had come, disappearing into the darkness further in the cave.

Winlock waited until it was gone, then climbed out of the river, grabbed a hold of the wheel and started to turn. The rusted winch squealed in protest. He immediately stopped, fearing the metallic shriek would bring the rat creature back. Winlock had a flask of oil with him and used the oil to lubricate the winch. It worked. The wheel turned smoothly and the iron bars slowly rose up together revealing that the entire thing was a single massive gate.

Once the gate was about half way open, the party threw a rope over to Winlock who tied it to the edge of the gate. They tied the other end to a tree branch and, one by one, slide down the rope and swung into the cave entrance with help from Winlock.

Once everyone was inside, they proceeded up the narrow cave along the walkway with no light. Those who could see in the dark led the way. The humans followed feeling along the wall. The roar of the river drowned out any sound the party was making and helped them creep along stealthily.

After about a hundred yards, the elves in front stopped. Listig and Halimir, peering into the darkness, could make out five of the small rat creatures. Two were on a stone bridge that spanned the river. Three were on one of the sidewalks. They wore harnesses and carried some sort of bladed weapon. Guards of some type.

Listig and Halimir drew and fired while several others also launched various missile weapons. It was over quickly and all five were felled. One fell into the river and was swept away. A quick search of the four bodies found nothing of interest.

William cast some light for the humans to see better. Beyond the bridge, the narrow river cave widened into a large chamber. Besides the continuing cave from which the river emerged, there were three small side tunnels. The party decided to split up and explore the all three tunnels.

Varys, the sorcerer, went to explore one tunnel while Listig, Halimir and Kai explored the second. The rest of the group stayed behind in the main cavern.
Varys found his tunnel sloped down a short distance before branching. One short branch went to some kind of shrine to a dark diety. The other went to a chamber filled with dozens of the rat creatures sleeping in a kind of communal nesting area.

Meanwhile, Listig Halimir and Kai found their tunnel ended in a small chamber where four of the rat creatures were playing cards at a table. The rats were caught unprepared and leapt up in alarm. Before any of them could raise an alarm, all three adventurers sent arrows and throwing daggers into them. One managed to make it past the adventurers, but he was cut down by Belkor has he emerged into the large central cavern.

Varys, having backed up a bit out of his tunnel, cast fireball and sent it down the tunnel into the nest of rat creatures. (I should point out that he did this with the approval of the entire group). The rat creatures were eradicated in the fiery blast. The muffled roar of the fireball down the tunnel was mostly drowned out by the sounds of the river.

Having dispatched their four rat creatures, Listig, Halimir, Belkor and Kai explored the room they had been in. It was some kind of a prison complex. There was a large table and chairs and a weapon rack on the wall. Down the length of the room were a dozen small prison cells. Half of them were empty, but half of them were not.

There was a grumman thief in one cell, an orc mercenary in another and a human farmer in a third cell. The fourth cell contained a saurian and the last was empty except for a skeleton.

The party questioned the saurian, but he only spat at them and would not speak. So they ignored him.

The grum thief was a member of the Ithrian Company and he had been sent here to investigate rumors of a dragon sitting on a treasure horde. He was caught while sneaking in here. The orc was a mercenary  swordsmen who had been serving as a caravan guard and had been captured when the caravan was attacked by the saurians. The human was a simple farmer who had been brave enough to reclaim his farmland, but the saurians had come for him and dragged him back here.

All three of them simply wanted to be released so they could get as far from this fortress as possible.

The party asked them about what they knew of the saurians and the dragon. They indicated that there were at least at least two dozen saurian, possibly more. They were led by some type of saurian shaman who had powerful magic. There were also a couple of big hurkytes ( a very big and strong type of lizardman) working with the saurians. They had a number of slaves working for them as well.

Most of the saurian and their slaves were either on the ground level or out in the courtyard. The second and third floors were empty except for a few undead that the saurian priest had created.

The dragon laired in the wrecked upper levels of the fortress. It was in its lair most of the time, but at least once or twice a week the great beast would fly away and be gone for hours.

The party opened up the cages and released the grum, human and orc. They gave them weapons, food and a light source and told them about the river gate and the rope. The three of them thanked the party and fled.

The party then opened up cell #4 to check the skeleton. The corpse wore leather armor and clutched a scroll in his hand. A knapsack was in the corner of the cell. The knapsack contained rope, spikes, thieves' tools and mundane adventuring equipment. They wanted to see what the scroll was that was clutched in the hands of the skeleton. They opened it and found that it was a note. It read:

My name is Elgyn the Lucky. These cursed lizardmen are going to be the death of me. What a sad end to such a glorious adventuring career. If he who finds my poor old bones be a swordsman, then Fate has brought us together and I grant my blade to you. May it bring you favor and fortune as it did me (despite my current predicament). My blade was taken by the one-eyed brute with all the scars. If you find him, do me a favor and kill him. He holds my sword. You will know it by the inscription on the blade:
Fate Breaker

I ask only one thing… please take my bones back home, to House Silaya in Aramanda, and lay them to rest there.

The party kept the note and gathered up the bones and skull into a backpack with plans to return them to Aramanda.

Having investigate 2 of the 3 side tunnels, they then explored the last one. It led to a stone lined corridor with two branching corridors. The first led led to a wine cellar. The second ended in a door, beyond which was some kind of garbage room. A tentacle emerged from a towering mountain of trash and the party quickly shut that door.

They returned to the corridor and followed it and found stairs leading up. They emerged on the main ground level of the fortress.

They began exploring it, corridor by corridor, door by door. They found an office, a suppy room, a large hall, an empty barracks room. Behind one door, they could hear an argument. Behind a second, the clatter of dice.

As they were (telepathically) discussing where to head, a door at the end of a hallway opened and out came four saurians who spotted the party. They yelled in their guttural language and very soon doors were opening all around them and saurian came pouring out. The party was spread out a bit and engaged in battle with about 15 saurians total in multiple small battles within sight of each other.

Winlock blocked one door from which a hurkyte and a saurian were trying to emerge. The big hurkyte wielded a sword in each hand. Winlock began trading blows with both of them.

Listig fired a hammerhead arrow down a corridor and managed to bowl four saurian over. The first three were killed outright. The fourth, who turned out to be the shaman, got back to his feet.

Halimir ran into one of the barracks room and began pumping arrows into the four saurian in there. Belkor joined him, blades flashing.

The shaman cast a spell and all three of the saurian who had been killed by the hammerhead arose. Their broken bodies shambled forward as undead things. \

Varys and Kai pursued a pair of saurian who were running toward a large door. Those two saurian were heading for the outer courtyard and most likely running for help or reinforcements. Varys and Kai brought them down with spells and thrown daggers.

The saurian priest cast a spell and suddenly a huge serpent like thing, fashioned of humanoid bones, and a huge skull, burst into existence with a flash of light. The giant undead snake thing lashed out as Belkor. Belkor suddenly found himself fighting multiple saurian warriors and the giant undead snake.

William fired a lightning bolt down the hallway, taking out the three undead saurian and severely wounding the saurian priest. The priest fled down a side corridor. Halimir followed in pursuit and ended him with an arrow. With the death of the saurian priest, the giant undead snake vanished.

Belkor managed to finish of the last two saurian near him with some fancy blade work.

Meanwhile, Winlock was still going toe to toe with the big hurkyte in the doorway. The hurkyte was an impressive foe and was a match for the barbarian. But eventually, with help from others, Winlock brought the big lizard man down.

He was the last foe to fall. Once he was down, the party looked around. All of the saurians were dead.

The hurkyte had been fighting with two swords. They lay on the ground next to his bloody body. Etched into the blade of one of them was the word “Fate Breaker”.

This is where we ended. The battle has JUST ended. Next session, we pick up here.

Session 23 Summary

The Player Characters  (aka the "Heroes")

Winlock – orc/dwarf barbarian, wearing heavy chain mail armor and wielding a big war hammer
William – the party’s wizard, human male, robed and armed with a broad array of spells.
Belkor – the dashing human swordsmen/mariner wielding twin scimitars
Listig – the elven thief/archer equipped with several different enchanted arrows
Halimir - An elven archer/ranger. Good tracker. Expert archer. Has transitioned from NPC to PC.

The Current Non Player Characters

"Humble" Almahdi - A likable Padashani beggar with quick wit. Talkative. Funny. Fluent in several languages. Street smart, but somewhat cowardly.
Grim Rigor- A huge ogre warrior. A former slave and gladiator. Extremely tough. Good in a fight. Cured of a zombie infection by Belkor.

Session 23 began with all the characters camping next to their wagon about a mile south of the ruined city.

Kruto,  the secambru giant, had sustained serious injuries from his battle with the clockwork golem. Although they had bandaged him up as best they could, he was still in very bad shape. Luckily, Winlock had unlocked most of the functions of the Talisman of Blood by now and had access to most of its functions, including some remarkable healing ability.

Winlock finished healing all of Kruto’s remaining injuries. He hid the Talisman of Blood from the giant while doing this.

Without the aid and magical healing of the party, Kruto most likely would have died. He knew it. Kruto thanked the party profusely… for saving his life, for witnessing his glorious battle and for their companionship.

Winlock now had access to a wide variety of healing functions in the Talisman of Blood. This included undoing the damage and sickening effect that they had all suffered from the magically irradiated region around the city of the dead. Whatever it was, the Talisman could undo the effects. Armed with this knowledge, the party decided to do a few more forays into the town to scavenge and loot. They also used some divination from the Talisman of Dreams to help them locate useful things.

The spent the entire next day looting the city. Among the treasures they managed to obtain from the city:

Various coins
Various books written in a strange language
A map of the city before it was destroyed
A silver chalice shaped in the likeness of a dragon
A box of copper ingots
A bejeweled scepter
Small wooden chest filled with coins
A detailed map of eastern Qeshir.
Several enchanted arrows including two scorchhead arrows, one arcane disruptor and one lightning bolt arrow.
A beautiful statuette carved from a solid block of lapis lazuli.
A wine cellar from which they recovered 11 intact bottles of wine.

At the end of the day (and over the next few days), Winlock used the power of the Talisman to undo the effects of the magical radiation on each of them.

Belkor was sick with some kind of illness and was in no shape to fight. Winlock had unlocked some of the healing potential of the Talisman of Blood, but he did not yet have enough experience with it to cure disease. So the party put Belkor to bed in the back of the wagon. This is where Belkor stayed for the bulk of this session… in the back of the wagon.

The next morning they left and travelled. Kruto wanted to rendezvous with his tribe. He said that his tribe was travelling to a “great meet” at the ruined city of Jaruska. William used the Talisman of Dreams to get a fix on the next Talisman. The next Talisman was in that direction and so they all travelled together.

Two days later, they met up with Kruto's tribe.... the Fire Eagle tribe. Kruto introduced the party to his father, Chunda, the chieftain of the tribe. The other giants were at first, wary of the party, but after Kruto told the tale of the battle and how the party had healed him afterwards, the giants were more accepting. They were impressed with Kruto's trophy (the crystalline heart of the clockwork golem). Eventually, the party was welcomed into the tribe as guests.

The party traveled with the Fire Eagle tribe for four more days eastward toward the “town of Jaruksa”. On the way, the party learned a great deal about the secambru giants. They learned of the history of the giants, the different generations, the fading magic and so forth. They learned why the secambru choose to live primitive lives with no crafts or building of any kind. [All of which is available for review in the Khoras website]. They also learned about the great meet, which happens once a year and they learned about the ruined city of Jaruska and the Iron Tribe (those secambru giants who have returned to the ways of crafts and trades) and are slowly rebuilding the city of Jaruksa.

During the journey, they passed an unusual mound – it was a circular ring of boulders with an earthen top and a tall wooden pole, carved and painted, at the top. The giants explained that it was an “iron cairn”. After defeating outsiders in the battle, the fallen would invariably have metal weapons and armor and other crafted objects. The secambru wanted nothing to do with such items and so they would bury these metal and crafted objects in great cairns so that “the iron can return to the wounded land and the land may heal”.

The party made note of the iron cairn and marked it on their map. Who knew what treasures might lie within? However, they couldn’t loot the cairn in front of the giants. Clearly, the giants considered it holy ground. The party decided that perhaps they could loot it if they came back this way. There might be other cairns ahead to loot as well. In any case, they marked it on their map and continued on.

The party also learned of the giant's religion, centered on a nature diety named Amurax, a spirit of the four elements. It was a combination of nature worship and ancestor worship, but at the top of their faith was “great Amurax”.

On the morning of the fifth day, the party saw a river on the horizon and a great forest beyond. At the mouth of the river was a city made of stone. On the grass plains on the near side of the river, close to the city, were hundreds of crude, giant sized tents fashioned from trees and pelts and so forth.

There was also a small stone tower, sitting apart from the rest, overlooking the sea. As the party’s wagon slowly closed the distance, they could see a human sized figure sitting at the base of the tower. As they got closer still, they could see it was an elf and he was sitting, smoking a pipe and watching the giants set up their huge tents on the plain.

Listig and Halimir went forth to introduce themselves. The elf stood up and greeted them with a smile. He was a very old elf.

“Well met my young friends, well met. So nice to see fellow children of the forest”.

The party engaged the old elf in conversation and asked him a lot of questions. His name was Quinlar and he was a former member of the lore masters of Ithell. He had been studying the secambru giants for some time. After many years and journeys, he had returned and settled here to live closer to the giants.

The party was curious about the town. It was an ancient ruin, originally built by the secambru giants from centuries ago and later abandoned. The buildings in the town were all giant sized. The Iron Tribe giants had rebuilt a portion of it. Others had come. A pirate ship and later a magrakian ship had foundered in storms nearby and both crews had chosen to stay. There were also humans, a few mytharians, a handful of aswani and a few others. It was a small, independent frontier town in the midst of a vast and uncivilized collection of wildlands.

The party asked what Quinlar knew of this gathering of giants. He explained that the giants met every year to meet and trade, but that it was unusual for them to do it near Jaruska. There were whispers among the giants that Kaladath, the chieftain of the Black Elk tribe, the largest and most powerful tribe, was going to make some sort of proclamation. Some whispered that he was going to proclaim himself king over all the secambru giants.

William, using the Talisman of Dreams, once again scanned for the location of the other Talismans. The one they sought, the Talisman of the Sea, was here… it was somewhere down in that cluster of huge tents, somewhere near the center. The party suspected that Kaladath held the talisman and that he was going to use it to sway the other tribes.

Quinlar said that if Kaladath actually did make himself King and united the secambru tribes, that this might draw the attention of Tolkarus. The party did not know the name and asked who was this Tolkarus. Quinlar explained he was a powerful sorcerer who lived in a mountain on the east coast. He never left his mountain. Instead, he sent out armies, agents, spies and so forth to do his bidding.

The party asked about the ruined “city of the dead” that they had encountered earlier and Quinlar explained that it was Tolkarus who had destroyed the city with a fantastically powerful spell more than three centuries ago. Such was his power.

The party decided to go down and wander among the secambru giants and explore a bit. As guests of the Fire Eagle tribe, Quinlar told them that most tribes would let them mingle. As it turns out, they weren’t the only ones mingling. A few humans and magrakians from the town of Jaruska had come over as well to talk and trade with the giants. The two magrakian sailors with the party went over to the town to talk to the other magrakians there.

The secambru giants were setting up for feasting and trading that would take place the next day. Most giants ignored the party, but some invited them to drink with them. They were drinking a foul concoction called “hoomba” that had quite a kick to it. Of course, Winlock joined in on the drinking.

While getting thoroughly sloshed, Winlock noticed a giant that seemed out of place. This secambru giant was moving from group to group, seeming to listen in on various conversations, but not really participate. Something about him seemed out of place. Winlock scanned him with the Talisman of Blood (one of its functions is to analyze the biology of a creature and reveal strengths and weaknesses and so forth). The readings on this particular giant were… odd. Winlock did not have enough experience using the Talisman to understand what it was telling him, only that there was something not right about that giant.

The party had their wagon parked between the Fire Eagle tribe encampment and Quinlar’s tower. They spent the night at the wagon.

The next morning, the giants gathered at the edge of the river. Kaladath stood upon a large boulder before the throng.

I am Kaladath! Chieftain of the Black Elk Tribe I hold sway over all the central plains. But Great Amurax has seen fit to bestow upon me a higher power. I have been given command over all the waters of the land… the swamplands, the rivers, the sea itself. With this power, I declare myself KING of all the secambru tribes. I call upon all the assembled chieftains to take a knee before me and declare their loyalty.

The reaction from the assembled giants was mixed. There were cheers from the Black Elk tribe, boos from the Hill Stalker tribe, shocked dismay, disbelief and so forth. One big giant up from yelled out “We have no king! We need no king!” Another voice asked “Why should be bend knee to you?”

Kaladath turned toward the river. “I command the waters to rise”. He spread his arms wide and the river water shaped itself up into a towering, translucent wall of liquid. It stood more than two hundred feet tall and stretched up and down river for nearly a quarter mile.

Shocked gasps and exclamations of awe erupted from the giants.

Kaladath gestured with his hands and the wall of water rose up, detaching from the river and formed itself up into a huge quivering sphere of water high overhead. Kaladath clapped his hands together in a single loud clap and the sphere burst. The water rained down upon the crowd of giants for several seconds.

When the rain stopped, a hushed awe fell over the giants. They could not deny what they had seen for their own clothing and hair were soaked. The reality of it was apparent to all. Hundreds of members of the Black Elk tribe, smiling, knelt and bowed their heads. One by one other giants knelt down.

Some giants remained standing, others jeered. Several simply turned their backs and walked back toward the encampment of tents. Chunda, the chieftain of the Fire Eagle tribe spat in Kaladath’s direction, turned and walked away. Kruto and the other Fire Eagle tribe members followed.

The rest of the day was an odd day. It was a festive atmosphere filled with feasting, drinking, trading, contests of strength and other games. However, there was also much discussion amongst the giants about Kaladath’s claim of kingship. Many supported him, others opposed him. There were discussions, arguments and a few threats.

Kaladath had set up the largest tent and the largest bonfire near the center of the whole encampment. Many giants were now coming to his tent bearing gifts and seeking to ingratiate themselves to him. He was at the center of attention.

Several times throughout the day, the party saw the “suspicious secambru giant” who continued to listen in on conversations. The party began to suspect that this was no secambru giant at all, but a spy in the form of a giant. Perhaps even a spy of Tolkarus.

In any case, there was no doubt now. The party knew that Kaladath held the Talisman of the Sea. And clearly he had unlocked some of its powers. The party had no idea how long he had been in possession of it or what he could do with it.

The party decided to try to take the amulet by stealth and trickery. That evening, after the stars had come out, William cast invisibility on Listig and Halimir. The two thieves snuck down to Kaladath’s huge tent and crawled under one side.

Inside the tent they found Kaladath surrounded by servants, guards, slaves and wives. He also had four huge dogs. A number of braziers burned some type of mossy plant and the air was thick with a heady perfume that made the two elves dizzy. They were unable to get close to Kaladath without alerting the dogs and so retreated out of the tent and back to the party.

The next morning the party spoke with Chunda, the chieftain of the Fire Eagle tribe, and convinced him and other members of the tribe that Kaladath was not “blessed by Amurax” but was, instead, using a magical device crafted by dark magic.

Chunda, his tribe and the party publicly confronted Kaladath with accusations of such, but Kaladath surprised them by pulling out the Talisman and holding it in his hand. He showed the other giants and beat his chest.

"The power of the water comes from this, but Great Amurax himself has ordained that this Power should come to me, that this Power should be wielded by my hand. This Power works for me and me alone. I am KING and no one shall defy me."

That was not the end of it though. The party kept up the pressure, talking to Chunda and others, driving home the point that Kaladath was not blessed and not fit to be king. The secambru giants had never had a king before and did not need one now. Kaladath was merely playing at being god by the use of a foreign device.

Quinlar was helping by also spreading such information and talking to many giants. Quinlar eventually found the party and told them something he had learned about Kaladath’s talisman. According to a giant that Quinlar trusted, Kaladath had been in possession of the Talisman of the Sea for several years. It had been a gift from a shaman… a beautiful trinket with a gorgeous central gem, nothing more. However, about four months ago, the “trinket” had suddenly lit up with power, as if awoken. That is when Kaladath realized it was magical and over the last four months, had come to realize its true power. William found this bit of information very interesting. William surmised that either he or the witch must have somehow activated the other talismans remotely with the Talisman of Dreams, perhaps when searching for them.

The other tribes continued feasting, drinking, dancing, trading and so forth throughout the day. By evening, many were good and drunk.

By this time, the party had gotten the Fire Eagle tribe (and others) riled up to the point that they were ready for a direct confrontation with Kaladath and his supporters.

Seeing that Chunda was getting ready for a confrontation, the party made a few preparations. They packed up their camp and had Almahdi take the wagon (and Belkor who was still sick in the back) to the west. They wanted to get the wagon far to the west and rendezvous with it later. They planned on stealing the Talisman and making a run for it.

A little while later, Chunda led a group of giants to confront the Black Elk tribe near the central fire pit. This occurred later in the day around 9pm as the stars were just starting to come out.

Chunda challenged Kaladath to one on one combat, saying he was a “false prophet” and unworthy to rule. He spoke of the “outlander magic” and so forth. Very quickly the verbal argument turned to blows and both Chunda and Kaladath pulled out their clubs and began to fight.

William cast invisibility and fly on himself, Halimir and Listig. All three took to the air to watch the duel from above. Winlock and Grim Rigor remained on the ground amongst the crowd of giants encircling the two combatants.

William also created a telepathic communication between all members of the party (this is one of the powers of the Talisman of Dreams he had recently unlocked). So all party members could communicate easily merely by thinking.

Chunda was outmatched because Kaladath was an older generation giant. Kaladath was bigger and stronger. After a minute or two, Kaladath was driving Chunda back with furious blows from his club.

William cast a slow spell on Kaladath, discreetly helping Chunda. This helped turn the tide and soon Chunda had Kaladath on the defensive. Frustrated, Kaladath raised his hand and unleashed a torrent of water from his palm, blasting Chunda backwards and knocking him off his feet.

The Fire Eagle tribe members roared in frustration at this cowardly act and surged forward. The black Elk tribe members run forward to protect Kaladath and the two tribes clashed in the middle. Within seconds, there were thirty giants fighting. Above this chaotic scene floating Halimir, Listig and William, silent and invisible.

Several times Listig flew down and tried to grab the Talisman of the Sea. Kaladath was wearing it around his neck on a thick leather thong. Of course, it was a giant sized leather thong, so it was more like a corded leather rope. Not easy to cut. The giant was also moving a great deal because he was in the midst of combat. Listig had, thus far, been unable to grab and cut it, but kept trying.

William scanned the area for magic and picked something up. He could sense the Talisman of the Sea on Kaladath and it was powerful, but there was something else down there as well. He decided to cast See Invisible and suddenly saw the “suspicious giant” was in the midst of the battle, invisible and directly behind Kaladath. He was doing exactly what Listig was trying to do, get a hold of the leather cord, cut it and make off with the Talisman.

Listig made another dive and grabbed the leather cord, but Kaladath made a sudden move backward. Listig managed to maintain a hold on the necklace, but ended flopping on the front of Kaladath’s chest. At that moment, Chunda (unable to see Listig because of the invisibility) struck Kaladath in the chest with his hammer. The weapon impacted Listig and wounded him.

At that moment, the invisible giant managed to grab the cord and cut it, all in one fell swoop. William had been ready for this. He immediately cast Telekinesis on the Talisman and the leather cord, hoping to wrench it out of the giant’s hand. Unfortunately, both Fly and Telekinesis require concentration and cannot function at the same time. The fly spell ended abruptly and William and Halimir both plummeted to the ground, landing hard.

William used his telekinesis to yank the Talisman and the leather cord away from Kaladath and attempted to move it straight up and out. This jerked Listig off of Kaladath’s chest and up into the air again. The invisible giant, however, maintained a grip on one end while Listig grabbed the other end. Listig was not able to see the invisible giant, but all party members were aware of what was going on thanks to the telepathic link.

Listig wrapped the cord around his hand to maintain a good grip. The giant did the same, bringing Listig closer. The cord was still straight and taut and angled up at a 45 degree angle because of the telekinesis spell. It was essentially a tug of war between the two invisible opponents and a telekinesis spell on the Talisman and leather cord.

The giant pulled on his end, bringing Listig closer to him, and threw a punch at Listig (seemingly able to see the invisible elf, for some reason). He smashed Listig’s shoulder and Listig’s left arm fell useless (he was holding the leather cord with his right hand).

Because of the punch, the giant became visible. Winlock and Grim Rigor were already aware of the invisible giant. The instant he became visible, the two charged and attacked the giant. Winlock struck him in the back with his hammer, knocking the wind out of him. Grim Rigor brought his huge two handed sword down and, with a single stroke, severed the giant’s arm at the elbow (the arm that was holding the cord). The giant staggered backward screaming as blood erupted from his severed elbow.

All of this had taken only a few seconds since the time the cord had been cut. Kaladath knew the Talisman had been ripped from his neck and turned to find this new giant with severed arm behind him suddenly.

William telekinetically moved the leather cord, Talisman and Listig aware from Kaladath while also bringing closer to ground level. He telepathically told everyone except Grim to grab hold. He could only telekinetically lift so much and Grim was too heavy. Halimir, Winlock and William all joined Listig in grabbing a hold of the leather cord. As soon as all four had a good grip, William telekinetically propelled the Talisman and cord up, lifting all four adventurers up into the air.

Kaladath, spotting the Talisman, bellowed in rage and charged the fleeing group. He leapt up into the air after them, but only managed to grab Halimir’s boot which was pulled off. William continued telekinetically propelling the leather cord up and away from the battle. Hundreds of giants were now battling each other below and only a few noticed the four adventurers fly away into the night time sky. The four clung to the flying Talisman as they soared over the giants’ tents, just outside of the light of their camp fires and flickering torches. A few giants looked up to see the bewildering sight of a cluster of four men flying west.

A few minutes later, the four flew over the last tent and were heading out into dark grasslands to the west of the encampment. After a few more minutes, William’s telekinesis spell was exhausted and he set them down in the grass. The party was now a mile west of the camp.

Once they were on the ground, Winlock used the Talisman of Blood to heal Listig’s broken shoulder. The four party members then proceeded west on foot as fast they could run to catch up with Almahdi, Kenner and their wagon.

Grim Rigor was still on the ground back at the giant’s encampment, but he was working his way out of the fray and heading west on foot. Grim Rigor travels fast due to his long stride and he knew he would soon catch up to the four party membes who had just flown away.

After a few minutes of running, the party stopped for a breath. Listig looked back toward the east and saw numerous small lights moving out across the grasslands. The party assumed these were torches being carried by giants. Most likely, Kaladath was leading the Black Elk tribe out to look for the party and recover the stolen Talisman. The party was fairly certain that at least a few giants had seen them fly overhead heading west.

So, it’s a race. A foot race across open grassland at night. And the party is being pursued by a good portion of the Black Elk tribe… in other words, several hundred 14-foot tall angry giants who know the terrain better than the party does.

This is where we ended the session.

Pieces of Eight Campaign - 2016 - Run by David Roomes. / Session 22 Summary
« on: September 04, 2017, 09:43:32 PM »
Session 22 Summary

The Player Characters  (aka the "Heroes")

Winlock – orc/dwarf barbarian, wearing heavy chain mail armor and wielding a big war hammer
William – the party’s wizard, human male, robed and armed with a broad array of spells.
Belkor – the dashing human swordsmen/mariner wielding twin scimitars
Listig – the elven thief/archer equipped with several different enchanted arrows

The Current Non Player Characters

"Humble" Almahdi - A likable Padashani beggar with quick wit. Talkative. Funny. Fluent in several languages. Street smart, but somewhat cowardly.
Halimir - An elven archer/ranger, who has fought along side the party from almost the beginning. Doesn't talk much. Very loyal to Listig.
Grim Rigor- A huge ogre warrior. A former slave and gladiator. Extremely tough. Good in a fight. Cured of a zombie infection by Belkor.

SPECIAL NOTE: We had a guest player play with us this session. He ran the character of Halimir. He might join us a regular player and he might continue playing Halimir. So, there's a real possibility that Halimir will transition from NPC red shirt to full player character status.

The party had just battled and sunk one of the Anquaran black ships.

The party wanted to put as much distance as possible between them and the location of the ship battle. They were certain that the infernal knight had managed to “phone home” to Anquar and report to his superiors. The party assumed the worst… that King Dalmoran and his generals now knew the precise location of the party, the type of ship they were travelling in and the direction they were travelling.

As day turned to evening, the Retching Dog headed southeast toward a grey and stormy horizon.

That evening, William began studying the books and scroll that Belkor had brought over from the Anquaran ship. They were all written in Quaryn, but William translated them with a spell.

The first book was the captain’s log. It was clear from the log that the ship they had just sunk was one of a dozen ships that were patrolling various coastlines around the world. These wide ranging patrols began weeks ago, shortly after the party had eluded the Anquarans in the city of Freeport. The nearest patrol ship was somewhere in the Fire Isles, a good 10 days away. The party was hopeful they would reach the mouth of the Uras River before that ship found them.

The second book was some sort of Anquaran holy book. It detailed the official Anquaran state religion based on the worship of King Dalmoran. It also provided insight into the ranks of the soldiers and mages that served him. From this book, William learned that the infernal knights learned their magic at a single great academy  and cast spells as wizards. However, they were also a part of a vast magical network that connected them all with Dalmoran at the center. The book implied that energy could be sent through this network to bolster the powers of any infernal knight. The infernal knights are the elite warrior mages of the Anquaran military and there are only one hundred of them. William also learned that many of their magical items, such as their iron masks and iron staves, were enchanted in such a way that they would only function for an infernal knight. The masks were their connection to the network.

William thinks that, perhaps, with enough time and research, he might be able to break the spells that bind the mask and staff and perhaps use the items or even gain access to the network. He would need a functioning iron mask taken from one of the infernal knights. Unfortunately, the mask belonging to the knight on the boat was destroyed when Winlock crushed the man’s skull with his hammer.

The third book was the infernal knight’s spellbook. It was written in Lasyne, the magical coding system used in Anquar. William knew enough of the Lasyne system to read the book and will work on adding some of the spells to his own book.

The fourth book was a book of poetry and song entitled “Songs of the Usurper”. Most of the songs glorify King Dalmoran in some way.

The scroll was a navigational map including detailed coastlines, safe harbors, notes on sea currents, shoals and so forth. This map was more detailed than the one that the magrakians had and so Ragnoth, the magrakian first officer, claimed it for the ship.

William studied the four books all evening and all the next day as the ship sailed into the storm. By the end of that day, the sea was rough and towering grey clouds darkened the sky above them. Belkor remembered that the Anquaran ship had been sailing with all its canvas out, racing to the west. He surmised that they had been trying to outrun this storm.

The group discussed their options. Turn and flee back toward the isle of Kasadem. Continue southeast and plow right into the storm. Turn northeast and run toward the nearest coast as quickly as possible. Or turn south toward deep sea and try to go around the storm. As a group, they decide on the last option.

Belkor and the magrakians worked the rope and rigging while the rest of the party huddled below decks. The Retching Dog raced to stay at the edge of the storm. The storm, however, moved west relentlessly and quickly overtook the ship. Powerful winds and blinding rain swept the deck as waves battered the hull. Very quickly the party and crew realized that the storm was much worse than they had anticipated. Despite the magrakians’ boasts about the sturdiness of their ship, Belkor was worried.

As evening turned to night, the storm grew worse and the waves grew bigger. Soon the ship was riding up the side of monster waves, cresting the top and then plummeting down. With each wave, the hull shuddered from the impact. Belkor was convinced that the storm was too strong to be natural and shared his concerns with William. William sensed magic in the storm and a consultation with the Talisman of Dreams confirmed his fears. King Dalmoran was using his four Talismans to fuel this epic storm.

As a precaution, William cast water breathing on the entire party and the three magrakian officers. (That was as many people as he could do). The water breathing spell would last for 24 hours.

Again and again, the ship climbed a towering wave to crest and plummet the far side. The ship only survived another half hour of the abuse until a particularly long drop broke the hull. The forward third of the ship broke away amidst splintered wood and a tangle of rigging and sails.  As the ship began to tilt at an alarming angle, the magrakian crew hurriedly tossed supplies into the two longboats and worked to lower them into the water.  In the chaos, the party managed to cut the ropes that held their wagon down before the ship went down.

William, Listig and Halimir found themselves in the water all too quickly. They had lost sight of the rest of the party. With blinding rain, hurricane force winds and utter darkness, visibility was severely limited.

The three men spotted their wagon, which was floating! Keep in mind that the doors on this thing were designed to seal tightly shut to keep out sand during sandstorms. It was also designed to ford rivers without leaking. The wagon was air tight and floated quite well. The three of them swam over to the wagon and scrambled on board.

As the ship rapidly sank, a dense field of debris rapidly formed. Before the ship went down completely, Listig swam over to the wreck and cut free some sail and rigging and brought it back to the wagon.

The three of them clung to the wagon as it rode up and down the waves. They ended up tying themselves to the wagon for free of being thrown off. They spent a very uncomfortable night clinging for dear life as the wagon was tossed about the sea.

The next morning, the storm had completely blown itself out. William, Listig and Halimir were still huddling on the floating wagon. They could not see any sign of the other two life boats. Listig fired one of his pyrotechnic arrows. It burst high in the sky like a firework. He hoped it would be a beacon for the others.

Bits of debris floated around them – pieces of wood, bits of rope, barrels, boxes, etc. They fetched what they could. They managed to pick up a pair of oars.

The three of them set to work fashioning a crude sail from the material Listig had cut free. They managed to rig a sail and put oars to the water as well. William used his Talisman to determine which direction the closest land was. They headed in that direction.

William cast a sending spell to send a short message to Belkor. He asked him if they were alright, where they were and if they had seen the pyro arrow.

Belkor responded that he, Grim, Almahdi, Winlock and three of the magrakians (the officers who had benefited from William’s water breathing spell)  were in a longboat. They had not seen the pyro arrow. Belkor believed that they were far southeast of them, further down the coast.

William, Listig and Halimir paddled and sailed their small crude wagon/boat for a full two days before they spotted land. As they approached, they saw slate grey cliffs towering over a narrow, pebble strewn beach. They brought the wagon into shallow water and William used a telekinesis spell to turn it so the wheels were down and they then rolled the wagon onto the beach.

Listig and Halimir climbed the cliff. Standing on the top, they saw a vast grasslands stretching away inland as far as the eye could see.

William sent another sending spell to Belkor, asking for an update. Belkor responded saying that they had managed to harpoon a hornwhale, but that the beast had dragged them further down the coast for several dozen miles before they were able to kill it and carve it up for meat.

William’s telekinesis spell was not quite strong enough to lift the whole wagon, nor did it have the range to reach the top of the cliff. They decided to empty out the wagon and take off the wheels. With help from the two elves, William positioned himself half way up the cliff. From this position, his telekinesis spell could reach the beach below and the cliff top above. He used the spell to life the wagon up to the cliff top followed by the wheels, one by one and the heavier supplies. The rest they brought up by  rope.

Once the wagon was fully assembled on the cliff top and restocked, they decided to search these new lands for a beast of burden. William sent his crow out to scout out the area. The crow returned a few hours later with news of a herd further inland.

The three men followed the crow until they crested a low hill and saw a large herd of strange beasts. The creatures were hairless, heavily muscled quadrupeds with thick leathery grey hides and broad flat tails. A massive Y –shaped single horn sprouted from their head.

The party approached by stealth, staying low as they moved through the tall grass. They managed to separate an older male from the herd. Listig dipped an arrow in a paralysis poison (which he had acquired a few sessions back). He fired and hit. The big bull jerked in surprise and took a few steps away, but then stopped.

Their attention was suddenly drawn away from the old male as they noticed several places where the grass was being parted as something moved toward them. Suddenly, a number of creatures erupted form the tall grass and charged. They were tall lean feathered reptilian creatures, a blend of lizard and bird. There were five of them. Each was almost two meters tall. One of them seemed to be a bit bigger and thicker than the others. It also had thicker and more colorful feathers than the rest and it had four horns sprouting from its feathered head. [A male and four females].

William dropped a black tentacles spell between him and the big male. Thick rubbery black tentacles erupted from the ground. The male bird, however, was fast and agile. It managed to run through the maze of waving tentacles, dodging as it came.

Halimir sank an arrow into one of the females while Listig fired a scorch head arrow at the male as he backed up. The scorch head arrow struck and ignited the male’s thick plumage.  The big male began dancing around wildly, screeching it pain as it tried to pull the arrow out.

The four females circled and charged just as William cast a dimension door and relocated himself several dozen meters away. Two of the females managed to score bites on both Halimir and Listig. The two elves returned fire with their bows. The male, at this point, was running away, completely engulfed in flames.

William fired a chain lightning spell which arced from female to female. Three of them dropped, convulsing on the ground. The fourth turned to flee but died as the two elves fired arrows into it.

The three men tracked down the male, whose dead carcass was smoldering a few hundred meters away. Listig field dressed the bird and carved off about 90 pounds of meat.

Much to their surprise, the big male herd animal was still standing where he had been, continuing to graze. Halimir, who had a way with animals, approached the creature while speaking calmly to it. The animal was drooling slightly and had a glazed look. It seemed the paralysis poison on Listig’s arrow had worked, somewhat. Although it had not dropped the beast, it seemed to have put it in a semi-euphoric state. With some rope, they fashioned a makeshift harness and led the docile creature back to their wagon.

The three men built a fire and cooked the meat from the tall bird/lizard creature. While they ate, William cast another sending spell to contact Belkor and see how the other group was doing. Belkor responded that they had reached land, climbed a tall hill to get a better view of the land and (through the spyglass) could make out what looked like a city on the distant horizon. They were going to head for it.

William, Listig and Halimir were certain that the other group was down the coast from them, southeast. They began travelling along the coast in that direction.

They travelled for six days. During that time, the terrain remained consistent… vast grasslands and cliffs along the coast.

On the morning of the sixth day, they spotted someone on the horizon. It looked like a man, a lone hunter, with a spear casually slung over his shoulder. This lone individual was travelling in the same direction, southeast down the coast. The party had come up behind him. They followed this lone individual discreetly for an hour or so before the person noticed them. He waved to them and began approaching. They noticed he had a limp.

As the hunter approached, it quickly became apparent that he was not human. He was much bigger than a man. The hunter stood at least ten feet tall. He had, slung over his shoulder, a number of spears and an unstrung bow. A massive stone headed hammer was slung on his back. He was dressed in primitive furs. Hanging from his belt was the feathered pelt of one of the giant bird/lizard creatures. The giant’s long tangled hair was dirty and knotted. It was braided in places with bits of carved bone jewelry woven into it. This was, undoubtedly, one of the secambru giants that they had heard about. They noticed that this particular giant had a club foot which caused his limp.

The giant stopped a few feet away and smiled at them. “Detaya!” he called out to them and waved again, “Imoya brool tak. Donaten Kruto dena brasti fae”.

William cast a comprehend languages spell on Listig so that they could converse. Listig began a conversation with the giant.

The giant was friendly and curious about them. They quickly learned that his name was Kruto of the Fire Eagle Tribe and that he was on a personal journey called a “spirit quest”. He was searching for his “fate kill” to “claim his honor”. After some conversation with him, it became clear that this giant was a young giant out on his first long distance solo hunt. He was supposed to make a worthy kill and return to his tribe and take his place among the hunters. However, he was also the son of the chieftain of that tribe. Kruto feared that, because of his lame foot and because of who is father was, he needed to return with a truly magnificent kill in order to be accepted as a warrior. Coming back with a common game animal would not do.

The party asked him what animal he thought would be worthy enough.

“I will go to the city of the dead and I will kill the great fire belly. I will pluck out its crystal heart and return that to my tribe as a great trophy. That will impress all the hunters, even my father”.

Kruto told them that the city of the dead lay southeast, further down the coast. The party wondered if this might be the same city that Belkor and the other group had seen from the hill top, the city they were heading toward.

They asked him how far it was to the city of the dead. Kruto told them it was only a few more miles down the coast. They would reach it tomorrow.

The party asked if they could accompany him and “witness this glorious victory”. Kruto said that he would enjoy the company, but he sternly warned them that they must not interfere with the battle. He needed to defeat the great fire belly by himself, or else there would be no honor in the kill.

“Better to die with honor than live in shame”.

The party agreed that they would watch only. And if Kruto fell in battle, they said they would bury him and bring word to the Fire Eagle tribe of his defeat.

The three men camped with Kruto that night. Kruto told them a bit about his tribe. His tribe was, at that moment, travelling to the east to meet up with other secambru tribe in what Kruto called “a great meet”. This great meet had been called by a powerful chieftain of another tribe. After killing the firebelly, Kruto would travel east to meet up with his tribe at the meet.

The next morning, all four of them travelled down the coast with Kruto walking along side the wagon. It wasn’t long before they spotted a large city on the horizon. As they approached, they could see that it was a vast ruin.

They decided to park the wagon about a mile outside of the city and give Listig a chance to investigate closer. Listig was, by far, the most stealthy of the three. He circled the city, skimming the outer most buildings. He noticed that the grass gradually faded away to nothing near the city and the streets between building were stone and dirt. On the far side of the city, he came across tracks where the grass was trampled down. It led from the shore cliffs directly toward the city.

Listig decided to follow the tracks back toward the cliff. He found an outcrop of rock and laying hidden in the nook of the rocks was a magrakian sailor. It was one of the officers from the Retching Dog. He was covered in blankets, but was shivering, covered in sweat and his skin was ashen colored. The magrakian was alive, but unconscious.

Listig then followed the tracks back toward and into the city. The place was ancient. The stone buildings were badly weathered and broken. Any wood in the city had rotted away long ago. Many buildings had collapsed. Rubble littered streets and plazas. Here and there was a bone, a skull or a partial skeleton. Based on the bones, it seemed that the inhabitants of this city had been humans.

Listig found a taller building and climbed up to the third floor to get a better view. It was a large city, perhaps enough room for 20,000 inhabitants. At the center of the city was a vast bowl shaped crater. Movement at the edge of the crater caught his eye and he watched as something moved between the buildings. It was large and he couldn’t see it clearly. Eventually it come out from a street and into a plaza.

The thing was some type of clockwork golem. It was quite large… around twelve feet tall. Metal armor plating covered most of its body. Something inside its chest was glowing brightly. The thing was rusted and looked heavily damaged from old battles. It appeared to have, at one time, had four arms, but only two arms remained. Listig watched the golem for awhile. It seemed to be wandering the streets randomly, perhaps patrolling the city. Listig climbed down and headed back to the wagon.

Back at the wagon, William was casting various divination and detection spells. The magic field here was different and William was able to sense it. It seemed that the magic energy field was distorted in some way… almost as if it was fractured. William cast a few minor cantrips to test the field. One of four test spells failed to function.

When Listig returned, the party decided to go to the magrakian sailor he had found and see if they could help him. They fed the magrakian a healing potion, but William deduced that he was suffering from a poison or toxin. The healing potion roused him briefly and they asked him where they others were. He pointed in the direction of the city and said that they had entered sometime in the last day or two (he had slipped in and out of consciousness and was unsure how long it had been).

Kruto recognized that the magrakians was suffering from the venom of a beast native to this region. He took out some berries from his rawhide sack, ground them into a paste, and applied them to the magrakians wounds. Kruto told them that the berry paste would cure the poison, with time and rest.

The party decided to leave the magrakian where he was and come back for him later. The party then accompanied Kruto into the city. As they entered the city, William sensed that the magic field was even more distorted here.

The party followed the giant until they could hear the golem coming. As it approached, the three men took up hiding spots nearby.

William cast a few subtle beneficial spells on Kruto to give him a combat advantage. Although the three men had promised not to interfere, William was certain Kruto would not be able to tell that any magic had been cast. William felt the magical energy straining against some resistance, no doubt the distorted energy field around him, but the spells worked.

The giant waited for the clockwork golem in a large plaza and they rushed each other as soon as they saw each other. The giant was swinging a huge stone headed hammer while the golem swung with huge metallic hammer-like fists.

The battle raged all over the plaza as the two huge opponents pummeled each other mercilessly. At one point, a metallic whine began to emanate from the golem, growing louder and higher in pitch. It reached a crescendo at which point the armor plating of the chest opened up revealing a bright blue crystal within which unleashed a blinding bolt of energy. The energy bolt struck Kruto in the chest knocking him forty feet back. He landed on his back, momentarily stunned. The golem marched over to the downed giant and raised his metallic foot to crush his opponent’s head. Kruto managed to roll out of the way at the last second as the huge metal boot came crashing down.

Listig used his magic ring to go invisible and sprint over to the golem. He grabbed a large rock and leapt onto the thing’s back. Finding a crack in the battle damaged plates, he shoved the rock into the gears in an attempt to jam them. He then leapt off and fled. Looking back, it did look as if one of the arms was having trouble functioning.

The two giants continued beating each other. Kruto was knocked down several times, but managed to get to his feet each time. Finally, he connected a particularly devastating hammer blow against the golem’s knee and the entire mechanical leg shattered in a shower of plates, bolts, rods and gears. The golem went down hard and was unable to get back up. Kruto swung his hammer again and brought down several hard blows on the golems head and arms. After several more hammer blows, the huge golem was twitching amidst electrical sparks.

Kruto took out a stone knife and pried open the chest plates. He then tore out the crystalline heart of the golem and held it high and roared in triumph. He then collapsed. The party members ran over to the badly injured giant. He was bleeding from multiple wounds and had several broken bones.

The party spent the next hour binding the giant’s wounds and giving him what little healing they could. William recognized the crystal taken from the golem as an arkulyte crystal, a naturally occurring crystal which is highly charged with magical energy. This type of crystal is often used by mages to power certain types of golems and other magical constructs.

Once Kruto’s wounds were bound, the party searched the city. They found human sized booted tracks ranging all over the southeast quarter. They eventually came across a number of crudely fashioned cages. Within most of them were skeletons and corpses. In the cage at the very end, a cage that seemed recently built, they found their comrades imprisoned – Winlock, Belkor, Grim Rigor, Humble Almahdi and the magrakian first officer. Several of them were injured, but everyone was alive and conscious. William used a spell to rip open the cage and they freed their comrades.

The party looted the skeletons in the other cages (who still had some gear on them). Among the skeletons was the corpses of several Anquaran soldiers, including an infernal knight and a stalker.  William investigated the remains of the clockwork golem. It had a number of runes upon it that he did not recognize. Furthermore, one prominent symbol showed up on several places. He made a sketch of it, thinking it important. It was obvious that a powerful wizard had crafted this golem. Although it was old and damaged before the fight with Kruto, it was obvious that this golem had, at one time, been quite powerful.

Afterwards, most of the party returned to the wagon parked outside the city. William and Listig, however, travelled to the center of the city to explore the crater there.  As they neared the crater, they began to feel ill, nauseous and overheated. This become worse as they entered the crater. With every step, they began to feel more sick. Seeing nothing of interest at the center of the crater, they turned back. Only hours later did they realize that the illness had permanently affected them.

The party is now camped outside of the city by the wagon. The giant, Kruto, is with them, as are two of the magrakians. These two had been with Belkor’s group in one of the long boats and were still with them. Ragnoth, the first officer/navigator (who had been in the cage with them) and Raiden, the third officer/quartermaster (who was the one who had been poisoned).

In any case, the group is reunited now and, other than a few wounds here and there, all of them are ok.

They all exchanged stories of their travels. Belkor’s group related that when they came upon the city, they went in to investigate, but were immediately attacked by the clockwork golem. Despite outnumbering it, they had lost the battle. It’s primary weapon, the central beam weapon, had been very effective at stunning them one by one. It had then imprisoned them in a cage that it assembled using bits of debris, stone and metal.

While they all ate dinner, they reviewed the loot they had obtained from the cages. Most of the skeletons had something on them. It seemed that the golem had battled and imprisoned them, but had no interest in taking away their weapons, armor or treasure.

Besides various coins and a few precious gems, here’s a list of items they recovered:

Two potions
A scroll with a couple of wizard’s spells
One arcane disruptor arrow
One winter’s bite arrow

Other items were recovered that should have been magical, but weren’t. The mask and staff of the infernal knight were both drained, as was the stalker’s chameleon cloak. William surmised that the distorted magical field around the city may have an adverse effect on magic items as well. He guessed that long term exposure to the energy field might have drained some of the items.

We ended the session here.

Behind the DM's Screen

The sickness that William and Listig experienced in the crater... in game terms, the characters lost several hit points permanently. In fact, all of the characters had been slightly, but permanently, weakened by their time in the ruined city, to varying degrees. The whole city is affected. Sort of like a high radiation zone. Cumulative effects. The longer you stay in there, the worse it is. The closer to the center crater, the worse it is. That's why everyone experienced some loss. Belkor and crew weren't near the crater, but they were in that cage for a full day. William and Listig walked right into the crater and suffered the worst. All of this is connected to the "damaged" magical energy field in this region. This is also why there was no response to the last couple of sending spells that William used. Belkor was close enough to the city at that time that long range communication spells were being blocked.

Several things appeared in last session and this session that aren't on the main website. We're venturing into territory that has not been fully fleshed out on the site. This includes the town of Salhanrasha, the Juenta Kingdoms (including the Kingdom of Herota), the dragon occupying Fort Jegorim, the Star Scepter of Rashi, the ruined city that they encountered this session and various new fauna. This campaign is uncovering a lot of new details in this part of the world. All of this material will eventually end up on the web site.

The reason I separated William, Listig and Halimir from the others with the storm is simply because I had only three players. The players for Belkor and Winlock were both unable to attend this session. That means I would have had 3 player characters and 12 non player characters! Twelve! (Winlock, Belkor, Alhamdi, Grim and eight magrakians). That's far too many. So I used the storm to get rid of all the NPCs at once and that allowed me to focus on just the actual three players who were across the table. Much more manageable!

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