March 23

Against the Giants: Session 151

24th Planting, 594 CY

They Heroes travel on through the Dim Forest, occasionally losing the path in the enveloping darkness. The day passes without encountering anything, although during the night faint screams can be heard coming from deeper in the forest. Sidni suffers from night terrors and has a restless, sleepless night. In the morning they continue on, the darkness sapping their strength and will. They arrive at Hocholve around dusk, the abandoned town that the remnants of the forest elves took as their home while the Heroes dealt with the dragon and the portal. The place is a ghost town, the buildings falling apart, the ground dry and grass and trees withered. They approach some dark buildings after hearing noises of movement within: as soon as they enter, Shadows of elves detach from the walls and swarm in to attack!

Xellos finds himself a target for several at once, but shakes off their cold touch and manages to slay them instead. Ungrid, Halmary and Calibos wade into the mass, Sidni stabbing from behind. The Shadows prove easy to slay. Further search of the town reveals no one living, and no sign of where anyone went. The Heroes leave town and find a sheltered spot amongst the trees to make their camp. Another night passes, their vitality slowly ebbing away; Halmary has to resort of healing magic to keep their life force intact.

On the fourth day the continue following the path towards Derelion, to see what they can do with the portal. More screams are heard in the morning, and as dusk falls Sidni– scouting ahead invisible– spots a pair of Shadow Giants (shadowy hill giant figures) heading in their direction. Halmary activates his Giant Strength shield and Ungrid hastes himself. The Shadow Giants walk into their midst, and one is slain immediately as everyone piles on it, swords and axes, maces and spears stabbing, cutting and bludgeoning away. The second follows quickly after, barely able to raise a fist to defend itself.

Another night in the forest gives Halmary night terrors, disrupting what rest he needed to cast spells the next day. Guards are posted, and during Xellos’ shift, four strange bulbous sacs of raw flesh festooned with eyes floats into the camp, totally surprised: Sidni incinerates two using her lightning bolt shield, and Ungrid takes out the others. They relocate the camp and sleep poorly.

In the morning, tired and feeling drained, they continue onwards up the path to the lost elven city and encounter another four floating fleshy eye sacs: Sidni again blasts one with a well-placed lightning bolt, then kills two more with her spear, leaving the last for Calibos to cut down. None of the party have any idea what these things are.

As dusk falls on the fifth day, they reach the outskirts of Derelion. There they make camp, and during the night they are attacked in their sleep by several Slow Shadows: two each cling to Calibos and Halmary, sapping their strength and life and slowing them down; it feels like they are still asleep, struggling to wake. Ungrid, on guard, calls out the alarm, and finds himself kicking Sidni awake, dragging Shadows off Calibos and killing them. Xellos slays one and helps Halmary by pelting the ones on the cleric with magic missiles. The Shadows are soon destroyed, and for once the rest of the night passes without trouble or terrors, and in the morning everyone is refreshed and their vitality restored with more divine healing.

Standing before them: Derelion.

End of Session

Kills: 7 Shadows, 2 Shadow Giants, 7 Slow Shadow, 8 Bulbous Flash Sacs.

March 4

Against the Giants: Session 150


As the behemoth rages, the party at first decide to withdraw; but then Ungrid hurls his hammer at it, and Xellos fails to charm monster, and the massive creature’s attention is fixed on them. It tears through the stone and walls of the vault, the whirl of elemental energy ripping the rocks apart, and scouring the heroes. Undaunted, they decide to fight, unwilling to let it loose on an unsuspecting Duchy.

Sidni heads off to remove the Seals from their plinths: she topples two of them and then heads back to see if it had any effect. Meanwhile, Halmary flame strikes it, with no effect, and Xellos tries to disintegrate it, again with no effect. Calibos and Ungrid wade in to fight, ignoring the swirling aura of destruction, taking blows from the beast, but managing to eat away at it with hammer and sword. Calibos quaffs a potion of giant strength, but has to back off to heal himself, leaving Ungrid to batter it down: fortunately, the behemoth keeps missing, stomping on the ground and punching the air, the heroes narrowly skipping and dodging, allowing them to heal and regroup, and attack again, and again, and again. Sidni comes back in time to loose a few magic arrows, and the monster starts to fall apart. It manages to stomp on the dwarf, but he rolls out of the way to be healed by Halmary, leaving it to Calibos to deliver the killing blow!

The behemoth falls apart, destroyed.

They search the vault, loot the dark elves, but find nothing that might be a war machine, no hidden chambers, and nothing much to loot. Unsure whether that was the war machine or not, unsure as to whether the Duke or Malachi had set them up, or if it was simply a lack of understanding about how to deal with it, and wondering what the dark elves were doing there, the heroes rest for the night and decide to head off to the Dim Forest rather than return to the duke; thinking that whatever is going on, maybe the portal and the Shadow Dragon have something to do with it.

They head to the forest via Hochoch, and find the forest cloaked in shadows and darkness so thick that their lights can barely illuminate more than a dozen feet. They follow the road, heading towards Hocholve, where the elves relocated to after losing their city. It has been two years since they were asked to seal the portal in Derelion, and the consequences of their inaction is plain to see (or not see, since the dark limits their vision).

No sooner have they embarked on their journey, they encounter none other than the Shadow Dragon itself: out hunting it decides to attack, and with its deadly breath weapon manages to fell the cleric and injure others; unfortunately, it is badly wounded in return, and before it can fly away to safety, Sidni and Calibos cut it down, slaying the mighty dragon! Halmary, it turns out, was merely knocked out, and recovers quickly.

They continue on, camping for the night, and around midday of the following day they find that they have lost their way after taking a detour around a fallen tree. As they try to decide which way to go, a trio of Shadows reach out of the darkness and attack, but are swiftly defeated. They carry on, and as night falls (or as best as they can tell), they find the road again and make camp.

End of Session

Kills: 1 behemoth [30 HD], 1 Shadow Dragon [14 HD], 3 Shadows.

KO’d: Halmary (just knocked out).

Current Date: 24th Planting, 594 CY.

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.