February 26

Against the Giants: Session 149

coloured map

Vault of the War Machine


18th Planting, 594 CY (low summer)

The Heroes arrive at the secluded gully mid-morning under a heavy squall. They find a stone door, marked with symbols of the elements. Calibos puts his back into it and manages to lift the door: beyond lies a short corridor, the ceiling engraved with symbols for the element of air; the floor covered in symbols for the element of water; and the walls bearing the symbols for fire and earth. Opposite, another door, again marked with the four elemental signs. Expecting it to be warded, Halmary prays to find traps and the walls, floor and ceiling glow in response. The Heroes suspect that they have to use the Seals to enter, and Calibos touches the Seal of Water against the floor, which vanishes to be replaced with a 10′ deep pool of pure water. Unfortunately he also drops the Seal, and it sinks to the bottom. Xellos, flying, touches the other Seals against their respective symbols but all that happens is that when he touches the Seal of Air against the ceiling, a gust of wind nearly blows him down into the water.

Halmary and Sidni use the cleric’s net and ladder to make a crude fishing-net contraption and hook the Seal from the water. The floor returns when there is nothing there, but touching it with a foot makes the floor disappear again. Calibos tries the Seal of the Earth: the floor disappears, he holds on to the Seal, but then a freak wave grapples him and drags him underwater: a water elemental tries, unsuccessfully, to drown him. He retrieves the Seal and climbs out using Halmary’s ladder, after Xellos single-handedly slays it.

They deduce that the Seals have nothing to do with the trapped corridor, and instead fly over the water, open the other door and enter a hallway with passages to either side and another door opposite. They shore the front door up using branches, light a lantern, and with an invisible Sidni leading the way, they head north [right on the map] and come to a chamber with two passages: one guarded by an air elemental, the other by a water elemental; both quite large. Calibos tries to just walk past them, but they are having none of that nonsense and attack… by running into each other and merging, forming a hybrid blizzard elemental!

The Blizzard Elemental is quickly surrounded: Calibos uses his shield to enlarge himself, Halmary uses his shield to grant himself short-lived giant strength, Xellos pelts it with fiery magic missiles, and Sidni and Ungrid just wade into it with spear stabbing and hammer swinging. It manages to wound Calibos, who has to back off to heal himself, but the others gang up on it and Ungrid delivers the killing blow. The whirlwind fades away. The two passages each lead to a smaller chamber, pedestals of gemstones resting within; each just the size to hold one of the Seals. They place the Seal of Air and Water on the correct plinths, which glow, and somewhere inside the vault the sound of chains breaking can be heard.

Down the south corridor they head, following a twisting corridor to another chamber, this one guarded by a fire and earth elementals. Halmary blesses them, and bestows resist fire on Sidni, while Xellos increases his necromantic potency; then Ungrid starts it all off by hurling his hammer at the elementals: they too merge, but a swing of Xellos’ magic axe Hewer dismembers and separates them: each is then quickly destroyed, falling to Ungrid and Halmary. Two more chambers, two more Seals placed. More chains break. The vault shudders.

The Heroes hurry back to the first hall: they lift the door, and are surprised to find a trio of dark elves and spiders waiting for them. Halmary takes two of them out before they have a chance to do much more than swing a sword; the other falls to Xellos’ axe, and he follows that with a couple of cleaving blows that take out a couple of spiders. The third and last spider, however, manages to bite Sidni: she falls to the floor, poisoned! Xellos kills the spider. Calibos chugs a potion to neutralise poison and Sidni gets back up, unharmed.

Another doorway is lifted free: inside is a huge domed chamber, barriers of elemental energy dominating the centre. They are breaking down, fading away. Chains lie broken and dissolving around the chamber.

The Heroes gather. The final barrier disappears…

yep, this is a very big critter


…and a 120′ tall behemoth comprised of the four elements stands up: for 20′ all around it, fire and wind, bits of rock and ice, swirl and tear up the ground. It reaches up to the ceiling and begins to tear its way out; daylight, rain, and the forest are revealed. The Heroes try calling to it, telling it to stop, that is has to obey them, wondering (hoping?) that this is the War Machine they came to get for the Duke, and not just some terrible monster they’ve unleashed on an unsuspecting realm.

Then Sidni blasts it with a lightning bolt and Ungrid hurls his hammer: both hit, barely scratching it; but they catch its attention and it looks down at their small bodies and stomps towards them. Xellos quickly hastes everyone, just before it pummels Halmary and Calibos, and everyone suffers as the behemoth’s area of destruction envelops them…

End of Session

Kills: 1 Blizzard Element, 1 Fire Element, 1 Earth Element.

February 24

Recent Maps

I get to work quite early most days, long enough for me to sit down and draw a map before I start work for the day. I tend to map during my lunch break too. Sometimes these maps aren’t for anything in particular, just a means of relaxing and keeping my map-making skills in practice. I tend to take pictures and post them, but usually forget to follow that up with posting a scanned copy of the map.

Well, today I shall rectify that. Here are some maps that I have drawn lately. Feel free to use them for your games, and if anyone wants to commission me for making maps, I’ll be happy to discuss.

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February 22

Against the Giants: Session 148

The sitting, feasting nobles scream and cry out as the men-at-arms skewer them with spears and chop them up with their swords.

Our Heroes leap into battle, placing themselves between the would-be assassins and the Duke. Xellos and Sidni dimension door into the banqueting hall, right on top of the Duke and immediately start slaying the assassins. Halmary drops a flame strike on the baron who made the toast, incinerating the fellow, while Ungrid and Calibos grab the nearest potential weapons (a carving knife) and hack away at the enemy; Ungrid hastes himself too, since he still wears his magic ring. Halmary clobbers another with a chair, and grabs the bag of holding lobbed at their feet by Sidni; the cleric draws forth his mace, as the others pile into the assassins and arm themselves with the swords of the fallen men: or are they men? Every time one of the men-at-arms is slain they fall to the floor, shattering like glass; just like the lords that accosted them in the cavern of fire.

The men-at-arms manage to slay all but one of the sated drunken lords and ladies, before the Heroes out the assassins to the sword. None are spared, but the Duke, Malachi and the High Priest of Pelor survive.

Loyal guards finally break down the barred doors and are tasked with clearing up the mess while the Duke, Malachi and the Heroes retire to the Duke’s study. There he thanks the Heroes for saving their lives, and they decide to now tell him all about the attack after they retrieved the Seal of Fire. The Duke believes that some of his lords are planning a coup, and that the assassins are part of that. There are rumours that some of these lords went hunting in the Dim Forest, which is now blockaded and thick with shadows. They suspect that the Shadow Dragon and the Portal that ripped open in the elven city might be responsible; no doubt a consequence of the Heroes not wanting to deal with that when the elves asked for help nearly two years ago. It seems there are consequences to inaction.

Which is why the Duke and Malachi believe securing the Vault of the War Machine is vital, in case anyone else gets their hands on what is inside. The Heroes at first want to investigate the Shadows of the forest, but decide to at least take a look at the vault, as it lies on the way to the forest in any case. The Duke arranges for horses and provisions, secures a few potions and spells to recharge Xellos’ ring, and bids them farewell.

Before they leave, Halmary restores life & limb to repair Sidni’s leg, but the restoration drains her [-10% XP until next level] and she requires bed rest. While she recuperates, Halmary brews up some potions of healing, and Xellos fetches the Seals from their hiding places. When everyone is ready, they off to the Oyt Wood, arriving at a seclude valley in the midst of a downpour and approach the Vault of the War Machine.

End of Session

Kills: 20 men-at-arms, 1 baron.

Date of Arrival at Vault: 18th of Planting, 594 CY.

February 15

Against the Giants: Session 147

Camping in the mountains, the party interrogate their captive (Baron Hector of Westown) and he tells them that he was merely following the Marquis’ orders and had no idea that he was an evil man; he did, however, think that they were considering staging a coup and removing the Duke from power, but he wasn’t certain. He claimed to have no idea why the Marquis and the Count shattered when killed. They keep him tied and head back to Pest’s Crossing, throwing him in jail until they can investigate themselves. Wary of the Duke and Malachi, Halmary communes with his goddess and believes that the Duke is not involved in the conspiracy and that Malachi may be either a bad guy, or someone is manipulating both of them. With only one way to be sure they decide to head off to Gorna to talk to the Duke. As luck would have it, while they are home, a message is passed on: the Duke is holding a banquet for the noble Lords and Ladies of Geoff, mid-way through the upcoming festival of Growfest. The heroes are naturally invited.

They lock three of the Seals away in Calibos’ vault, and Xellos takes the Seal of Fire and buries it under the earth somewhere close. Then they all travel to the capital, suffering through a rainstorm on their way, an arriving the night before the week-long festivities of Growfest. They decide to split up and arrive in small groups: Halmary and Xellos disguise themselves using magic and enter the city as weary travellers, Sidni following along invisible, while Ungrid and Calibos enter the city as themselves and are welcomed heartily by the men on duty. They take separate rooms at the same inn, and in the morning spend the day collecting rumours and gossip.

Ungrid and Calibos go to see the Duke, and are welcomed in by him and Malachi. The meeting goes well and they leave feeling that all appears well. They give Malachi the false Seal, but he tells them to keep it. The Duke wants them to complete the quest, by taking the Seals to the vault of the hidden war machines, but not until after the banquet. They return to the others, who have learnt that the Duke has increased taxes to 50% to support the building of the great walls (a couple of miles long now); that the Dim Forest has been declared out-of-bounds as Shadows have darkened the forest and all contact has been lost with the elves. Soldiers are watching the roads, not allowing anyone in or out. There are also rumours of nobles hunting shadow-creatures inside the forest.

The following day the heroes take long walks through the city, judging the mood of the people. They seem tired and a few complain about the taxes and labour of the wall, but the festivities have helped them to blow off some steam. A mob threatens to break into violence when the heroes pass by, spurred on by a stranger who quickly disappears when Calibos manages to calm the crowd down and send them home.

On the third day the heroes head off to the banquet. Halmary, Calibos and Ungrid leave their weapons and armour behind, dress as nicely as they can, and join the other nobles at a dusk-to-dawn feast, with music and song. Xellos and Sidni remain outside, invisible, and flying and watching the feast from the air, peering through the loop holes. Guards line the walls inside, keeping an eye out for trouble.

The banquet begins well enough, and people are eating and drinking and enjoying themselves. Then one of the Barons, Morris, raises a toast to the Duke, starting friendly enough and then turning insulting to not only the Duke but the heroes too. He finishes the toast with “…and may the gods have mercy on his soul. Death to the Duke!’

At which point the guards lining the walls of the hall charge at the feasters and attack!

One guard makes straight for the Duke, but Malachi dives in front of him and takes a spear to the chest, falling down and taking the Duke with him.

Then the guards reach the banquet tables and the slaughter begins!

End of Session

Kills: None, but a mob was calmed down.

Level-Up: from the XP of last session, Calibos is now 10th level.

February 8

Against the Giants: Session 146

map of temple

Temple of Fire

The hydra surges forth out of the lava, following the party into the corridor as they retreat. Xellos manages to bag the fourth segment, Calibos enlarges himself and Halmary blesses them as the hydra moves in to attack. Sidni attacks it from behind, and Ungrid joins the paladin and cleric in a frontal assault: under their combined might, the poor beast is slain within moments, before it really got a chance to bite anyone.

The party fit the four segments around the fiery sphere in the other room, triggering an explosion of light and fire: the Seal of Fire is re-formed, but Ungrid and Halmary also find themselves blinded by the flash. Fortunately, a prayer to his goddess, and Halmary restores their sight with ease. They wrap the Seal up in hydra skin, make a stretcher for it, and head off back to the caverns above. Xellos is sent back to collect the diamonds they found, and everyone makes their way into the temple.

Expecting trouble– paranoid, but it often turns out justified– Sidni nips outside, invisible, and finds them twenty-odd guards and a few Lords are waiting for them, all recognised as members of the Dukes court: they don’t trust these newcomers, even when one of them shouts out to them, saying that they have come to help. Their distrust is reinforced as the guards advance. Then, two undead fire giants stumble into the temple and attack; one is invisible to begin with, but quickly fades into sight as it fails to clobber Calibos from behind. Halmary tries and fails to turn them, leaving Calibos, Ungrid to battle them; the cleric joins in, as Ungrid hastes himself. Meanwhile, Sidni is still outside, watching: she is detected by one of the lords, who pelts her with magic missiles, prompting Xellos to stick his head out and lob a fireball at them: a couple of guards are incinerated, the spell-casting lord and another are badly burned. That mage retaliates by erecting a wall of fire across the temple entrance.

Meanwhile, back inside, the two giant zombies are dispatched and the heroes inside quickly use some healing magic and then brace the wall of fire by leaping through it. Ungrid goes first, rolling forward and coming up with grontdrengi ready to hurl: the deadly hammer flies through the air, sweeping across the enemy, slaying three guards before they even realise what is going on, then smashing the mage to the floor, killing him, and rebounding off a marquis before returning to the dwarf’s hand. Sidni gets her own back by unleashing a lightning bolt, slaying a couple of more soldiers, wounding the captain of those men. They notice that the mage, and the lords that fall afterwards, all shatter like glass as they die; not so the guards, who simply die.

The marquis charges Sidni and they duel: the fight goes badly for Sidni, but she is saved as Calibos comes over to help, slaying the lord, after him and Ungrid cut and bash their way through another lord. One lord remains, and is held by Halmary, Xellos takes out several guards with fiery magic missiles, and the others are mopped up by Ungrid’s hammer and Calibos’ sword.

They gag and bind their captive (Baron Hector) and head off to find shelter in the hills. They camp for the rest of the day and night, tending to their wounds, and pondering what to do next.

End of Session

Kills: 1 hydra, 2 fire giant zombies, 20 guards,  3 lords.

Level-Up: Calibos is now level 10.