Session 17 Summary

Started by David Roomes, February 02, 2017, 08:48:21 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

David Roomes

Session 17  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

Halimir - An elven ranger, who has fought along side the party for several game sessions now. Has proven to be very lucky.
Almahdi - A  likable Padashani beggar with quick wit. Talkative. Funny. Fluent in several languages. Street smart, but somewhat cowardly.
Nassan - A Padashani priest of Hram. Dour, sullen, doesn't talk much. Skilled at herbalism and alchemy.

We began the session right where the last one left off. The characters had just exited the sand troll's cave and come out to the wagon to rejoin Halimir, Almahdi and Nassan. There was a dead female sand troll on the ground that Halimir had killed with arrows protecting the other two.

They loaded up the wagon and headed back to the town of Hefelia. The journey back to Hefelia was just a few hours. During the journey, William cast identify on the magic items they had retrieved.

The ring was a "Ring of Light Foot". It reduced the weight of the wearer's footfall to almost nothing. While worn, the ring wearer would leave virtually no footprints on most surfaces. He would be able to walk across pressure plates and weight activated traps without setting them off. Finally, he could walk across the surface of a liquid for a short distance if the surface was calm.

The second item was a pair of silver arrows. They were identical in every way except for the markings on the shaft were mirror images of each other. Instead of bladed tips, these arrows had a flat dull iron head that was dented and scratched from much use. These were a set of teleport arrows. Simply put, you fire one arrow and when it strikes a surface, whoever is holding the second arrow is instantly teleported to the location of the first.

The third item was the dagger. It was gifted with a sharp blade that struck true. Beyond this it would ignite in flames upon command. Finally, whosoever held the dagger in their hand was greatly protected from heat and flames.

Listig took the arrows. Belkor took the dagger.  Winlock took the ring.

When they arrived, they went to the temple. The temple was functioning as a hospital. Dozens were sick and being tended to by the priests and family members. Those infected appeared pale, thin and losing their hair. But most striking was the numerous bluish sores from which radiate patterns of dark veins.

They found Yaqibe, the old man who had sent them out, in the back. They gave him the mushrooms and he thanked them profusely. He was going to make an ointment and elixirs to try to slow the progression of the infection in the sick. The party asked if they could get some of the healing elixir to take with them and Yaqibe agreed.

The party resupplied and then continued their journey south toward the city of Qazadeen. Yaqibe gave them four bottles of elixir and one jar with enough ointment to make a dozen poultices. They knew there were heading into territory that was suffering both a civil war and an illness that was, apparently, spreading through multiple villages.

It was a three day journey to the next major town through a dry rocky badlands. The region was relatively unpopulated. As they journeyed, William continued his studies of the Talisman. Their anti-scrying charm occasionally glowed, indicating that somewhere was still trying to scry them (and being blocked by the charm).

Around mid day of the second day, the winds began to pick up and they saw a mass of clouds to the east. They quickly realized it was a sandstorm and that a wall of airborne sand was going to engulf them within minutes.

They pulled the wagon over to the side of the dusty path and looked for shelter. The wagon was large enough for all seven of them to comfortable sit in side. The doors and windows of the wagon could close and seal tight to keep out sound. So they weren't worried for themselves, but rather their two horses who would be exposed.

The region had rocky hills and mesas, but the nearest rock formation of any significant size was about two kilometers away. They would never make it. They decided to use Williams tent as a tarp and fasten one end to the top of the wagon and one end to the ground (weighted down with rocks).  The tarp, slanting from the top of the wagon down to the ground at an angle, formed a lean-to of sorts. They got the horses under the tarp and tied their harnesses to the wheel. They realized, however, that sand would be blowing under the wagon (the wagon was quite large and the bottom of the carriage is a good four feet off the ground). They quickly began piling rocks and water barrels up to try to create a wall beneath the wagon to keep the sand out. It didn't work. They didn't have enough material and the sandstorm was already upon them. They all began choking on the sand and were blinded by it. After some discussion (shouting over the roar of the sandstorm) they decided to flip the wagon on its side and reposition the tarp. It took all seven of them together, including Winlock who is just ridiculously strong, but they managed to turn the huge wagon onto its side. This turned out to be a better approach as the side of the wagon was able to make a fairly good seal with the ground and sand and wind could no longer get through underneath. Between the wagon, the tarp, three water barrels and a couple dozen large stones, they managed to make a decent shelter for the two horses. The party then took shelter inside the wagon (which is essentially a huge wooden box), closed up the door and waited. The storm raged for a full four hours before subsiding. The players emerged to find the wagon and tarp mostly buried. They began to dig the wagon out.

A half hour later, they had the wagon dug out and right side up. Both horses had survived. As they were packing things back up, they heard the sounds of people singing. Down the road was coming a long trail of people. It was a caravan of about sixty people, a dozen small carts and a miscellany of camels, mules and other animals. The people were singing a folk song together. The group included a mix of women and children. Several of the carts had sick people, suffering from the same strange blue lesions, who were too weak to walk. At the head of the procession was an old man on a donkey with a staff. He stopped and talked with the group as the procession passed them. Almahdi translated for the group.

Through Almahdi, the old man told man told them that there was much sickness in the south and it was spreading through multiple villages. Also, several villages had been destroyed in the war. Most of the people were all that remained of the village of Jahiya, which had been burned to the ground by imperial soldiers. A few others had joined them from other villages, fleeing the war and the illness. They were heading to Visaal in hopes of finding safety and aid.

The two groups said their goodbyes and the party continued on south. They asked Almahdi what he knew about the next town. Almahdi said "Hazrathat is the largest town on the journey from Visaal to Qazadeen. It's exactly half way. It lies right on the border between the two provinces. It pays tribute to neither provincial capital and has a reputation for being independent. Hazrathat has declared itself neutral in this civil war. I expect we will see more refugees there. It is a good town. We will be able to buy anything we need there – food, water, supplies – whatever we need".

The next day, they saw the town of Hazrathat on the horizon. It was a small walled town with several towers and flags fluttering from pinnacles. As they approached, they saw a large gathering of people just outside of town. It turned out to be a burial ceremony of sorts. They were laying about a dozen bodies to rest in a mass grave. A few men and women were wailing, Hramish priests intoned prayers and many people were praying.

At the town gate, there was a line of people and carts waiting to be let in. The guards at the gate were carefully inspected every. Carts and wagons were thoroughly searched. Those wanting entrance were forced to disrobe and show that they had no lesions on their bodies.

The party showed that they had no illness. When Winlock took off his helmet and armor, the guards raised their eyebrows at the strange site (a dwarf/orc hybrid is something they had never seen), but otherwise said nothing. The party was charged an entry fee and allowed to pass.

Inside the city, they saw a large market plaza. On one side was a one standing on a small stage addressing a large gathering. Almahdi translated what the man was saying...  "and that's why we need to join with our brothers and sisters in the Empire. Karoush is befouled by wickedness. We all know that the plague is to the south. But who brings this plague upon us? You know as well as I. We've all heard the rumors... the Death March has returned. [the crowd gasps] The old stories are true. The Death March threatens our city. This evil must not spread. We have to join the empire and march on Qazadeen".

They party asked Almahdi who the Death March was.

"The Death March was a religious cult from years ago", almahdi told them. "It was said that they worshipped a demon, that they kidnapped people for sacrifice, killed children, defiled graves, robbed tombs, created undead. They were known for wearing masks made of human skulls. Very very not nice people. The Death March was outlawed and eventually wiped out. That was more than 20 years ago. If the Death March has returned... well, that can not be good for anyone".

The party spent some time looking around the town. There was a large temple to Hram here and it was tending to many who had fallen to the illness. This town was coping with the illness as best it could – quarantining the sick at the temple, checking people at the city gates, etc.

The party wanted to add a hatch in the floor of the wagon as an "escape hatch". They asked Almahdi to go find a competent carpenter. Nassan went off to purchase medicinal herbs.
While Almahdi was away, the party purchased some food and water. While they were wandering around one of the plazas, a young woman came running around the corner, her dress torn, hair disheveled, face bloody, and ran right into Winlock. Immediately behind her came five armored men, brandishing weapons. The girl cowered behind Winlock while the leader of the pursuers yelled angrily at Winlock and pointed at the girl. Winlock stood between the five men and the girl. Almahdi and Nassan were away on errands, so there was no one to translate. William cast a tongues spell on Listig who was then able to hear the big leader yelling "That is MY slave girl! I just bought her! Stand aside whelp!"

The instant Winlock heard Listig say the word "slave", he swung his war hammer into the man's chest. His four companions quickly rushed to their leader's side and the five of them surrounded Winlock, raining down blows. Belkor rushed forward, blades flashing to take one of them from behind. Listig and Halimir loosed arrows, concentrating their fire on the same enemy. William threw a spell. Very quickly the battle turned. The leader and one of the others fell. The other three, bleeding from multiple wounds, turned and fled.

The party examined the bodies. They both had a rough leather patch sewn onto a part of their garments... a black serpent on a tan background. It looked like a mercenary insignia. When Almahdi returned, they explained what happened. Almahdi volunteered to go make some discreet inquiries about who these warriors were.

The party took the girl back to the wagon and did their best to keep themselves, and her, out of sight. They questioned the girl and she told them that she was from a family in one of the northern provinces. She had been kidnapped several months ago and sold into slavery. She had been moved around, traded, sold and moved again. She was put upon the slave block this morning and sold to the man that the party had just killed only an hour before. When she saw an opportunity, she made a run for it and ran (literally) into the party.

Almahdi returned a short while later and informed them that the group that had fought with was a small portion of a mercenary group known as the sand vipers. There were about fifty of them and they were all in town. However, the two that the party had slain were the commander of this mercenary company and his lead warrior . Now that word had spread that the commander of the company was dead, the remaining mercenaries were squabbling over who should now lead.

However, there was more. The Slavers' Guild was not happy with what had transpired. They considered the girl an escaped slave and their reputation had been sullied. They wanted the girl back in irons and the group responsible punished.

Almahdi informed the party that the girl, although safe for the moment, would surely be recaptured by the guild the minute the party left town. They talked with the girl and tried to figure out the best course of action. Taking her with them was ruled out. Although she'd be safe with the party, they were heading into a war zone that was also dealing with plague. Better for her to go north and try to reunite with her family. Eventually it was decided they would buy her a new dress, a hooded cloak, a fast horse and give her a money pouch filled with silver. She would ride north as far and fast as she could to while the party rode south. Hopefuly the Slavers' Guild would follow the party if they decided to do anything.

With the girl safely away and no sign of pursuit on her tail, the party slipped out of town quickly and quietly before the Slavers' Guild managed to convince the remaining Sand Vipers to go after them. The party traveled down the road another four hours before making camp.

The party began the next leg of their journey which would be another three days before they reached the towns surrounded Qazadeen. The first day was uneventful. During the second day, the party spotted a body lying a ways off of the road. The party stopped the wagon and approached cautiously. The body was a male padashani wearing light leather armor, but missing his sword. He had a bloody wound to the back of his head. Judging by the footsteps, he had staggered out from around the far side of rocky outcrop and collapsed here. The body was the same temperature as the air, but not yet stiff. He had died very recently, within the last couple of hours.

The party followed the footsteps for a hundred yards. They were out of sight of the road. They could hear a crash coming from ahead, followed by another. They entered a small clearing between rocks and found a trio of large, hard top wagons. Scattered around the wagons were a number of dead men laying in the dust. They were all dressed like the body they had found. The ground was also littered with debris – splintered wood, twisted bits of iron, coins, jewels, large grey rocks and iron ingots. The first wagon was damaged, the second had its back ripped apart. The third wagon shook even as they watched. Something was on the other side of it.

Listig approached stealthily so he could get a look at it. It was a large creature, but unlike anything they had seen before. It had a barrel shaped body with four legs and four arms radiating out from the central body. It had no eyes, ears or face of any kind. Only a huge toothy maw at the top of its body. Embedded in its grey hide were many large ovals of a black glossy material. Listig watched as the beast picked up an iron ingot from the third wagon's cargo hold and dropped it into is gaping maw. It then tore open a small iron box, emptied the contents (glittering jewels) into its mouth and then ate the iron box that had contained them.

The creature gave no indication that it had noticed them and saw the party took up positions. Listig climbed up one of the rocky outcrops and got into a good firing position. Halimir stayed on the ground and readied his bow.  Belkor and Winlock got as close as they could, ready to jump and charge, respectively. Almahdi and Nassan stayed with the wagon.

Belkor used his magic gauntlet to launch a fireball at the creature. The blast was well aimed and engulfed the creature. The fireball also blew the second and third wagons to pieces. At almost the same moment, Listig fired an arrow into the creature's mouth and the creature let out a loud roar of pain. As the flaming pieces of wooden debris came raining down, Winlock charged and Belkor used his boots to jump in to the battle. Halimir fired an arrow, which flew straight toward the beast, but suddenly veered off at the last second. Winlock and Belkor both attacked but found that their weapons slowed down a bit during the swing as if swinging through some kind of invisible barrier. They called out to the others that it had some kind of magical protection. The creature lashed out at them with rock hard claws.

Listig drew one of his phase arrows and fired. The dimensionally shifted arrow shimmered as it streaked toward the beast and then solidified deep inside the creature. As the arrow slammed in, the crystalline rocky hide of the creature split with a loud crack where the arrow had entered, scattering chips and bits of broken hide. This elicited another deep, guttural howl of pain from the creature. William tried dispelling all magic on the creature, hoping to neutralize its protective barrier, but it apparently had no effect. Halimir fired again, but again his arrow veered from the target at the last second. Meanwhile, Belkor and Winlock swung and hit the creature over and over. Each time the swung weapon passed through some invisible barrier and slowed. They were hitting it but their blows were not landing as hard as they should be.

Winlock was suddenly catapulted backward by some invisible force, but managed to land on his feet some fifteen feet back. At the same time, three iron ingots lifted off of the ground as if telekinetically controlled and then suddenly were flung at Listig, Halimir and William. Listig dodged the speeding iron brick which embedded itself in the rock wall behind him. Halimir was struck in the head by an iron ingot and fell to the ground , dazed and bloody. William dodged the ingot thrown at him. Winlock, back on the ground, charged the creature again.

Listig fired another phase arrow and split the creatures hide again. Pieces of the crystalline like armor flew from the new crack. Halimir fired again and again, but each time his arrow veered away harmlessly. The creature flung more iron ingots at party members and lashed out at Belkor and Winlock who continued to hammer away at the beast with sword and hammer. Belkor felt the invisible force tug at his sword and almost yanked it out of his hands, but he managed to keep his grip on it.

William suddenly deduced the nature of the beast. The beast was controlling magnetic fields, using it to deflect Halimir's arrows, slow incoming weapons and hurl iron ingots. He tried to think of a way to exploit that. Meanwhile, the battle continued to rage. Belkor and Winlock had each landed several good blows and multiple cracks had appeared in the crystalline armor. The creature continued to fling iron ingots, managing to hit Halimir in the arm and spin him around. Listig fired a third phase arrow which blew a sizeable chunk of the creatures armor off and the creature fell over with a resounding crash.

[DM Note – for those interested, this creature was an iron eater, which can be found on the Khoras site].

The party did a quick search of the area to verify that there were no other foes. Once they were satisfied that no other threats were present, they sheathed their weapons and tended to Halimir who was wounded from two of the flung ingots. He had a gash on his head and a broken arm, but was otherwise ok. They gave him some healing potions.

An examination of the creature revealed several strange things. The creature's hide was crystalline and hard as rock. The phase arrows had been devastating to it. The beast had a thick leather cord tightly tied around one of its ankles. Wooden pegs were hammered in to secure the leather cord. It seemed to be some kind of leash. The leash was frayed and burnt at the other end.

The creature had a symbol burned into its hide, like a brand. The same symbol was imprinted on all of the ingots and painted on the side of the wagons. They fetched Almahdi and asked him if he knew what the symbol was.

"Oh yes", Almahdi replied. "This is the standard of the Karoush Mining Consortium. The province we go to has many mines and most towns are mining towns. The Consortium is a powerful economic guild with great political power in the province".

Judging by the cargo, this was no doubt a guild caravan taking iron and goods to the northern provinces. The party searched the wreckage and debris that covered the ground. It took a couple of hours, but they carefully organized and inventoried everything that was here. The cargo had consisted of several thousand pounds of raw iron ore and hundreds of iron ingots. There were also assorted iron pieces (rods, bards, strips, hoops, hooks) and many finished goods (horse shoes, nails, hammers, axes, plows, scimitars, shields, anvils and so forth). This was all well and good, but what the party really wanted was the treasure. It took them quite awhile to get it all (the coins and jewels were flung far and wide thanks to the fireball). Also, some of them were inside the creature which Winlock hacked his way into. Avoiding powerful digestive enzymes, they were able to retrieve quite a few jewels and coins from the monsters belly.

All told, they counted up several thousand coins (of various denominations, but all Padashani) and 37 jewels. A large wooden chest and a small iron strongbox had survived the battle intact. Both of them were locked. Listig attempted to pick the lock on the chest, but was struck by a poisoned needle trap and immediately felt quite ill. They decided to get their poisoned comrade back to Nassan for care. They gathered up all the treasure and a single iron ingot and headed back to the wagon. They thought the ingot might be useful to prove their story if they decided to convince someone that they had seen this caravan or perhaps sell the knowledge of its location.

Happy with their victory and considerably wealthier, the party made camp a few miles away from the wrecked caravan.

During the third day of travel, William took out the Talisman of Dreams and used it to ascertain the location of the Talisman of Blood. He wanted to see if it had moved. After several minutes of mediation, he sensed it. Based on the distance and direction he felt it, and judging by the map they had, the Talisman of Blood was still in or very near the city of Qazadeen. He was sure of it.

After a third day of travel, they reached the first town in the Karoush province, the town of Shumata. This was a small unwalled town, just a few dozen buildings around a central plaza and well. As the party approached, the saw men carrying wrapped bodies out to a mass grave just outside of town.

In this town, the illness seemed much worse. Hundreds were ill. It was the same illness – the blue lesions, the dark pattern of veins, the pale skin, the milky eyes. The temple was filled to capacity with the sick and with overworked caregivers. Most of the larger buildings, including two taverns and the town's only inn, were now serving as makeshift hospitals. The central plaza was likewise filled with sick people laid out on blankets... a hospital under the open sky.

With their wagon at the edge of the large plaza, they talked. Being surrounded by plague made the party nervous and they debated leaving.

At that moment, Listig noticed a man on a balcony not far away looking at them. Recognition was in his eyes. He quickly pulled out a scroll and looked from it to the party and back. He then quickly rolled it up, put it in his pocket and went into the building. The party had been recognized. Listig quickly relayed what he had seen to the party and told them he would take care of it. He walked over to a shadowy nook between two buildings and activated his invisibility ring. He then chased after the man. In a flash Listig was up to the balcony, through a room, down a set of stairs and into a hallway. He found the backdoor open and chased the man out into the street. He found him, walking hurriedly down the street. Listig followed at a distance.

The man was walking toward four men sitting on the porch of a building drinking and playing a game. It looked as if he was going to call out to them. Listig drew and fired an arrow. The arrow went straight through his back, the tip punching out through the man's chest. Without a sound, he went down. Listig ran over and grabbed the scroll from the man's pocket. With the scroll in hand, he retreated. At that moment, the four men saw the other in the street with an arrow in his back. They seemed to recognize him and rushed over to his aid.

Listig put two buildings between them and him before he dropped his invisibility and then hurried back to the plaza to regroup with the party. When he got there, he showed them the scroll. It was a copy of the wanted poster that the Anquaran army had back in Ithria. It was identical. Clearly, this was the same wanted poster, the same artwork. The party didn't know if the man Listig had killed was an Anquaran spy or not. He didn't look Anquaran. He looked Padashani. Of that Listig was certain.

The party wasn't sure what was going on, but they knew they didn't want to stick around. They rode out of town as quickly and quietly as possible and rode until they ran out of daylight. They camped well off the road with no fire that night.

The next morning they continued on their way. They were now on the road between Shumata and Qazadeen. They were less than a day from that major city. Early in the morning, they passed a group of refugees who were travelling north. Several were wounded, many were sick. All had the same symptoms – the blue lesions and and so forth. Almahdi spoke to them in Padashi as they passed. The refugees spoke of a great battle to the east, villages attacked and plague everywhere.

A few hours later they passed a grave on the side of the road, but the dirt was scattered all over and the grave was empty. Blue ichor stained bits of the soil.

In the late afternoon, they came across a tiny village and saw smoke rising from the middle. The party stopped the wagon on the road and went into to investigate. There was a small plaza around a well. One of the smaller buildings was on fire. On the ground they found a broken sword, a bloodied cloak, a basket of spilled fruit and many footprints, but no people. The entire village seemed empty.

As they looked around, a humanoid creature stepped out of a building. The hairless, pale thing glared at them through milky eyes and blue ichor flowed freely from multiple sores on its body. Another stepped from around another building. A third crawled up from the well. A fourth was crouching on a rooftop. The party quickly heard the sounds of others coming. The creatures charged them. The party fled. Dozens of the creatures came running out from buildings and from the far side of the village. It became a running fight. The party swung weapons as they ran, killing a few of the creatures. One of the creatures vomited a stream of blue ichor at Listig who protected his face with a raised arm. But the blue vomit stained his parang (the padashani robe he was wearing).

William dropped a well-placed wall of fire and several creatures ran through it, igniting themselves and dying quick deaths. The party came charging out of the village at a full run with a dozen creatures right behind them. They yelled at Almahdi to get the wagon moving and leapt on to the wagon as it raced away. Listig and Halimir climbed to the top of the wagon and began fired arrows back at the creatures that stilled pursued them. Eventually the wagon had enough speed that the creatures could not keep up and they abandoned the chase.
Listig quickly took off his parang and cast it aside and changed into his old clothes. The party kept up the rapid pace until they were well away from that village and then slowed down to spare the horses.

As the wagon continued rolling down the dusty road, the group discussed everything they had seen. It was obvious to them now. This illness was much more that they had originally thought. Some kind of infection was spreading like wildfire and those who died rose again as... something else. Undead? Infected? Zombies? They weren't sure. The creatures that had attacked them back at the village seemed barely human.

Two hours later, the party crested a hill and saw the city of Qazadeen before them. It was a large city with high walls and magnificent towers. There was an outer city of hundreds of buildings clustered around the main city walls. The entire city  sloped gently up the side of the first of the Fekwar Hills. Several towers and huge domed buildings could be seen even from this distance.

The party's wagon rolled toward the city. As they got closer to the city, they began seeing groups of people running between buildings in the outer city. Archers on the tops of the walls were firing arrows into the outer city. The wind shifted and, very distantly, the party could hear the sounds of battle.

It quickly became clear to them. The infection here was out of control. It looked like the outer city was in the midst of fighting hundreds, possibly thousands, of the infected. Judging by the archers on the wall firing on the outer city, it was likely that the infection had not yet gotten into the city center. The sandy plain before the city was dotted by small groups of people fleeing the city, some on foot, some riding steeds... some were being chased by infected.

And this is where we ended the session. The party is sitting on their big wagon, looking at the spectacle before them. The city of Qazadeen appears to be on the verge of being overrun by a horde of infected. And the magical talisman that they are seeking is somewhere in that city.
David M. Roomes
Creator of the World of Khoras