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General Discussion and Questions / Re: Subterranean sailing?
« Last post by David Roomes on January 07, 2018, 07:59:19 PM »
That's an excellent question. And you already struck upon one of my chief answers... geothermal energy. I think geothermal energy could heat air in a large cavern (perhaps one end of a very large underground cavern) and cause a weather system where one end of the cave is consistently higher temperatures and higher pressures which might result in a constant gentle wind that blows all the time across an underground lake.

Keep in mind that when I say "very large cavern", I'm talking about truly stupendous, gargantuan caverns that simply dwarf anything we have on Earth and equally huge underground lakes. The largest underground lake on Earth is Dragon's Breath cavern in Namibia. However, I'm thinking of something like that scene in The Two Towers where Gandalf and the Balrog are falling and fighting for a very long time and then suddenly emerge from the roof of a vast cavern holding an immense lake. THAT is the kind of underground lake I'm talking about. Caverns and lakes measured not in feet, but in miles. So big that we have no equivalent on Earth that we can even study. It's possible that a cavern that large could experience strange atmospheric effects that we aren't aware of. Maybe. :)

Other possible sources of wind: fast moving underground rivers, underground water falls, tunnel caverns that connect to the surface, leaking gas fissures, subsurface volcanic activity and so forth.

However, you bring up a very good point. There would probably be only select places in the underground world where there would be enough wind to justify the use of sails and the dwarves would obviously only put sails on vessels on lakes that have sufficient wind.

Most places probably wouldn't have enough wind and the dwarves would be forced to use other methods. This strikes me as an opportunity. Rowing, of course, would be an option. But the dwarves are ingenious engineers. Perhaps they would have invented some kind of primitive propeller system and turn their shafts using coal-fired steam engines! The dwarves, no doubt, have access to vast coal reserves.

General Discussion and Questions / Re: Subterranean sailing?
« Last post by tanis on January 07, 2018, 02:00:24 AM »
That's actually a good question. I hadn't thought about that until you pointed it out, but you're right, that does seem a bit strange.

Though, one of the nice things about fantasy as a setting is that we have the opportunity in this sort of situation to ignore concerns about plausibility, and come up with a cool explanation for how exactly this can work.

Maybe Dave can find a cool thing to add to Khoras, or dwarves, or whatever, now! :D
General Discussion and Questions / Subterranean sailing?
« Last post by Drul Morbok on January 07, 2018, 01:36:27 AM »
Hi everyone,
reading the page about the dwarven race, I stumbled upon the following sentences:
"There are a number of underground rivers, lakes and even seas in the vast underworld of Khoras. The dwarves sail these subterranean waterways in squat, thick hulled vessels called durogars. These sturdy vessels have broad bellies, are typically three levels tall, are tiller steered and have two square sails."

This made me wonder about subterranean wind conditions.
I can easily imagine even strong winds in narrow tunnels, but I guess that a cavern would have to be rather huge to feature air circulation within it, and for air currents passing through a cavern, the narrow entrances should pose some kind of bottleneck for the amount of passing air, so in the wider sections of the cavern, there should be close to no wind.

But then again, my assumptions might apply only for rather regional underground complexes, and not for continent-wide underworlds, or I might fail to consider other wind sources like geothermal heat, magma reservoirs and the like.

As with all my questions, I aim for an open discussion about game world mechanics rather than for judging right or wrong.
Pieces of Eight Campaign / Re: Session 24 Summary
« Last post by David Roomes on December 31, 2017, 09:24:10 PM »
Looting a dragon's lair! Yes, we don't often see that in a campaign. Next session is going to be a fun one!

Announcements and News / Re: Merry Christmas
« Last post by David Roomes on December 31, 2017, 09:22:27 PM »
Happy New Year's, Everyone!

I hope everyone has a fantastic and productive year.
Announcements and News / Re: Merry Christmas
« Last post by Drul Morbok on December 26, 2017, 02:39:29 PM »
Merry Christmas and a happy new year also to you and everyone else.
I wish you all some peaceful days with your dears and a good start in the new year.
Announcements and News / Merry Christmas
« Last post by tanis on December 25, 2017, 06:26:02 PM »
Happy Holidays, everyone, and I hope you've been having a wonderful time with your friends, families, animal companions, or whatever traveling companions you travel with on your adventures!
Pieces of Eight Campaign / Re: Session 24 Summary
« Last post by tanis on December 25, 2017, 06:23:27 PM »
Wonderful! Looting a dragon's den is a big step up in Khoras (though, to be fair, they do have three of the Talismans of Anquar now).

I've been eagerly awaiting the next Session Summary, and I was far from disappointed. :D
Pieces of Eight Campaign / Session 24 Summary
« Last post by David Roomes 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.

Pieces of Eight Campaign / Session 23 Summary
« Last post by David Roomes on October 14, 2017, 10:16:36 PM »
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.
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