June 24

Against the Giants: Session 162

9th Wealsun, 594 CY

After travelling for over a week into the deepest valleys of the Crystalmist mountains, accompanied by a scholar named Scully, our Heroes reach the bottom of a switchback path that winds up a mountain to a small plateau hundreds of feet up. They have been hired to escort and protect Scully as he goes in search of the legendary First Blade, said to be the first blade ever forged that was used to murder. It is reported to have been kept and worshipped by monks in an isolated monastery, long abandoned. The blade, according to Scully, lies in a sanctum within the temple of the monastery.

After camping in the cold, snowy gully, the Heroes begin the long hike up the snow-clad path, keeping to the sloping sides, away from the drop. Halfway up they pause as they spot a wyvern circling overhead, but it does not approach and as the sun begins to set they reach the top. Sidni, invisible, goes ahead and scouts out the immediate area: old walls, broken in parts, a gatehouse with broken doors, no sign of life. After lengthy discussion, as the sun slips behind the craggy mountains, they decide to venture inside to explore before they find a place to camp. They enter a large courtyard, trees sprouting from the snowy ground, a frozen fountain in the middle, cloisters and buildings worn away by time and the elements but still standing. It is dark, only the light of stars and pale moons providing dim illumination. Halmary conjures up some continual light, and torches are lit. Sidni goes off exploring by herself, finding doors, a watchtower, and what appears to a temple. The others locate the walled gardens, which is partially covered by rubble that has fallen from the mountain. Giant rats inhabit the gardens, and watch the intruders warily. The gardens are warm, a pool of water unfrozen, and flowers bloom. They leave the rats alone and all meet up, Sidni too, outside the double doors of a great hall.

Now they begin to see ghostly figures moving about: monks going about their daily business, tending the grounds, exercising, walking; all silent and paying no heed to them. Into the great hall go Halmary, Sidni and Calibos, Ungrid bringing up the rear while Xellos waits outside guarding Scully, who is making notes in his battered journal. The hall is strewn with rubble, with old tables, some upturned on their sides. Halmary and Sidni step on caltrops hidden amongst the rubble, and Calibos narrowly avoids being pelted by rocks as he trips a wire: then a voice, gruff and stern, calls out to them “Leave now! You are not welcome here. Turn around and go”. They actually listen and back out, heading towards the watchtower Sidni discovered to use it for their camp.

The watchtower is crowded with everyone inside and guards are set, standing atop the roof. On the roof is a harpoon-firing crossbow, intact and relatively rust-free. It is loaded and more harpoons are below. As the others sleep, Calibos stands guard and spots a wyvern, possibly the same one, making its circle above them. It begins to descend, then suddenly dives!

Calibos shouts out to alert the others, and they slowly awake. Then he turns the crossbow on the plummeting monster and fires off the harpoon, striking the wyvern and throwing off its aim as it swoops down and tries to carry Calibos off. It flies overhead and is pelted by magic missiles as Xellos steps outside. As it begins to turn round for another pass, Calibos hurls a spear at it and again hits: the wyvern turns tail and flies off, driven away.

The rest of the night passes uneventfully and in the morning they head to the temple and find the stone doors immobile. Ungrid and Xellos use their magic to try and open it, but it is impervious to their attempts. Ungrid levitates to see the top and spies a skylight at its apex. They gather at the doors: a carving of a crude blade in on the left-hand door, and on the right is a broken bowl protruding from the wall, the other half nowhere in sight. The interior is stained black.

They discuss options as the sun begins to shine.

End of Session

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June 21

Against the Giants: Session 161

With the dragon slain, the Heroes loot the dragon’s hoard of treasure and take some scales from the corpse. Then they head up out of the dungeon, into the lengthening day. They hike out of the mountain pass, Matilda and Patricia with them, and as night falls they make camp in the outskirts of the forest. During the night, as Ungrid and an invisible Xellos stand guard, giants (desperate, outlaws, exiled giants, remnants from the defeated invasion) spot their dwindling fire and try to catch them unawares.

Xellos spies them approaching and uses his wand of illusion to distract them long enough to start waking the others. A semi-naked Calibos grabs his sword and charges at the first giant he sees, wounding it, taking a wound himself, then retaliating and slaying a hill giant. Meanwhile, the trees part as a fire giant lumbers into the camp, and beyond the light more movement can be seen. Xellos uses an other illusion to distract any new giants, while Sindi attacks the fire giant from behind, stabbing it in the back; Ungrid leaps up and clobbers it one too, then follows it up with a hefty undercut that fells the giant. As it falls heavily to the ground, Halmary conjures a light where the other giants are, and finds just one more hill giant momentarily confused by Xellos’ illusion. Calibos charges in, wounding it badly, then putting an end to its miserable life.

The Heroes assemble back at the camp, where Calibos discovers that is girdle of giant strength is missing. Halmary and Xellos both saw Patricia and Matilda near his bedding, and accuse the women of stealing. When they deny it and a search reveals nothing, Xellos uses his locate object sword and discovers it is on Matilda. Halmary tires to hold person, which fails. It does, however, prompt both women to suddenly shape-change into doppelgängers, who are swiftly dispatched.

The Heroes return to Pest’s Crossing, carouse and spend gold, take some downtime to recover from their latest venture, and learn that the Duke has increased taxes to 50% and is arresting any dissenters, making them work double-time on the ever-increasing wall. They also take time to have their new collection of magic items identified: a sword that wipes spells from a mage’s mind; a spear that allows limited flight; a staff of healing; a glowing warhammer; and a mace that does double-damage with a critical hit.

For their next adventure they are approached by a scholar who wants an escort deep into the mountains west of the forest, to where a legendary weapon is said to be held in an old abandoned monastery.

End of Session

Kills: 1 fire giant, 2 hill giants, 2 doppelgängers.

Level-Up: Halmary is now a level 10 cleric.

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June 19

City of Bones: the Tour

map of city

A long time ago now I began a campaign set in a city of temples and catacombs, with a chasm for dungeon delving and wilderness exploration. The campaign didn’t last long, as the birth of my late daughter put an end to it. Although I doubt we’ll either start it up again, I put a lot work into  it and keep meaning to go back and tweak it; mostly I want to redraw the maps, since my map-making skills are now so much better.

But, before I delve into that, I thought I would re-post the text here in instalments and see what interest in generates. So, without further ado, welcome to the City of Bones.

Godstone

City of Bones, City of Prayers, the City of a Thousand Temples

The City Tour

Welcome, welcome, come closer, don’t be shy. Allow me to introduce myself: I am Hamesh, and this morning I shall be your guide.

Our tour begins here, at the start of TEMPLE AVENUE, the main thoroughfare of Godstone; or, as it is better known, The City of Bones. To the North is the TEMPLE QUARTER, crammed full of temples, churches, shrines, and the homes of the devoted. Any god you care to mention, well-known or obscure, has some place of worship in that quarter; and below lies the extensive network of catacombs and crypts that attract many a treasure hunter. Not that I’d advise you to have a go yourself; aside from the disapproving priests, there are things down there that’d rip your face off, before you even realised you were in danger.

Why so many temples? Well that you ask, for the answer to that also explains the name of the city, its reason for being, and why the WEEPING CHASM– which we’ll get to later– exists.

Several centuries ago, so history tells us, a great battle was fought here; the likes of which were never seen before or since, and hopefully never again. It was a battle between the gods, or to be exact, their Avatars: physical manifestations of their divinity, more powerful than the greatest cleric or magi; and there were hundreds. Some were allies, but for the most part it was every god for themselves, with thousands of their followers, clergy and soldiers, magi, monsters and constructs.

There was a city here long ago, the heart of which was but a few miles west of here, where the chasm is at its widest. No one knows who lived there, for it was laid to ruin during the battle. Such was the might, majesty, and wrath of the gods, that the very land was devastated; thousands of mortals died, their blood staining the land for miles around; which is why the stone here has a reddish cast. Not only mortals died, the Avatars too were slain in their hundreds; laid down by mystical fire, divine might, and powerful magic. At the height of the battle the death of several Avatars, all at once, split the very earth, ripping the ground apart; a great fissure opened, right beneath that ancient city, plummeting it, its inhabitants, and more than a few gods to their death and destruction. The WEEPING CHASM is the result.

When the battle ended, with no clear victor, only handfuls of clergy survived. All of the Avatars had been slain, their corpses scattered across the vast battlefield. To this day no one knows why the gods fought, although many suspect that it was over some artefact kept in the ancient city that once stood here.

The usual carrion-feeders, scavengers and looters soon swarmed to the battlefield, to profit from all that death and destruction. Word spread, attracting others, together with worshippers who came on a pilgrimage to the graveyard of the gods. These faithful quickly laid claim to the land, fought off the looters, and reclaimed the bones and rotting carcasses of their fallen gods. Over time a settlement formed, which was soon absorbed by the expanding kingdom.

Today, this city officially called Godstone, this City of Bones, has become the most holy city in all the realms. It might not be the largest, but it is certainly one of the busiest. We get all sorts here: pilgrims and mercenaries; merchants, artisans; adventurers and tomb-robbers; historians, explorers, archaeologists; rich men and poor. Most end up in either the TEMPLE or MERCHANT QUARTERs; those that live and work here, and can afford it, call the RESIDENTS QUARTER home; we even have a quarter that has been claimed by those with the gold to spare and spend: the NOBLE QUARTER; although it’s not just full of nobles– it’s also home to the library, the museums and art galleries, and the most expensive restaurants and coffee-houses to be found in the city. Then there’s the GREEN HILL– you can see it from here, peeking above the buildings to the West, that fortified, walled hill– that’s where the rulers of our city run the place, some even making their homes there. It’s also where the council chambers, courts, prison and barracks can be found. The last section of the city, enclosed and walled off from the rest, is where the WEEPING CHASM begins. We’ll pay a visit there, when we take a stroll to see the DELVERS’ GUILD.

Every quarter is busy, even at night. They say the city never sleeps, and although it is quieter in the dead of the night, its true that there is always something to do, someplace to see, places to eat, drink, fuck, and spend whatever gold and silver lines your pockets. There’s something for everyone.

We’ll start our tour here, and I’ll guide you through each section of the city, ending back here before the end of the day. If we’re lucky, we might even finish before midday, just in time for a bite to eat. If not, rest assured, there are are plenty of places to refresh yourselves between now and the end.

I’ll take you through the TRADE or MERCHANT QUARTER first, show you the GRAND BAZAAR, and the taverns that sell the best ale; you’ll briefly visit the ARTISANS DISTRICT and the STONE DISTRICT, where the dwarves make their home away from home; we’ll pass within sight of, but not smell of, the infamous OFFAL PITS, and you might even catch a glimpse of an URBAN ELF, natives of Godstone since the city was founded.

Next we’ll take a quick detour through the RESIDENTS QUARTER, but only a brief visit as there’s not a lot to see there, it being mainly homes and ‘local’ shops for the residents of the city. I’ll show you the legendary WEEPING CHASM, as well as the DELVERS’ GUILD who allow adventurers and the like to enter the ruins and tunnels below. Then we’ll take a walk through the NOBLES QUARTER, with its wide tree-lined avenues, fancy houses and restaurants. You’ll see the MONKS’ LIBRARY, the MUSEUM of ODDITIES, and the TWIN TOWERS THEATRE.

Finally, we’ll make our way through the TEMPLE QUARTER, past some of the most beautiful temples and old churches, including the CHURCH OF THE DIVINE FLESH, which I know some of you are curious about. And then we’ll end our tour back here, outside the PILGRIM’S INN, where you can dine if you so desire; tell them Hamesh sent you, and they may even give you a discount.

Right, if there are no questions, let’s make a start.

June 15

Against the Giants: Session 160

In the lair of the wererats, the vizier surrenders and is tied up and interrogated about the whereabouts of Matilda’s and Patricia’s missing daughters: he directs them to the caverns below this level, past the giant worm, which- he tells them- is trained to back off from troglodyte smells. They gag him, loot the place, then leave him behind as they make their way to the worm cave, picking up a troglodyte corpse from the levels above. They descend the stairs, entering more natural caverns. Sidni and Halmary scout ahead and spot some monster backing off into the darkness. Halmary warns the others, while Sidni follows it into the dark. The monster turns out to be a Minotaur, who spots the party coming from a side passage and attacks. Calibos moves off to intercept it, but triggers a trap: rocks fall, bruising the paladin, and blocking the side passage; the others are forced to go the long way round. Sidni attacks it from behind as it charges in to attack Calibos; at the same time, from further down the cave, a pair of giant lizards move in to join the battle, smelling fresh meat!

Once again the monsters prove no match for the party: between Calibos and Sidni the Minotaur falls dead, the explorer landing the felling blow; the lizards are tougher to put down, requiring Ungrid, Xellos and Halmary to hack away at them; one falls to Calibos’ sword as he joins in, the other is hacked to death by Xellos’ axe. They find coins to loot in the cave where the Minotaur laired, and stairs down to a pebble beach of an underground lake. Footprints, troglodytes, lead off along the beach, and the Heroes track them, Sidni leading the way.

The footprints lead to the lair of the troglodytes, who are scared of the party and are sent off to visit some ogres, who might have the women’s daughters. Xellos wizard locks the door, trapping the troglodytes inside. The ogres are unfriendly, even more so when Calibos charges in, followed by Sidni, Halmary and Xellos. One ogre falls after another, more injured as Sidni releases her lightning bolt from her shield, and the last are crushed by Ungrid’s hammer. More loot is bagged and they head further along the beach, to a cave with fanatic troglodytes who immediately attack, the Heroes waste no time parleying and Calibos wades in, cutting one stinking lizard down after another, splattering his armour in gore. Ungrid joins in. Xellos scares some more by chucking an ogre head at them.

They ascend a stairway: into the lair of a black dragon!

Halmary activates his giant strength and flame strikes the dragon before it can do more than open its jaws; Ungrid hastes himself, and Xellos activates his dagger of spell-turning; the dragon spits acid, burning Calibos, Halmary and Ungrid, but they survive and Ungrid charges in, ending the dragon’s life with a mighty swing of his hammer!

End of Session

Kills: 1 minotuar, 2 giant lizards, 8 ogres, 8 troglodytes, 1 black dragon.

June 7

Against the Giants: Session 159

The heroes continue to explore Dyson’s Delve…

…burning their way through a room of  yellow mould, and descending deeper (to level nine). They descend into a hall with statues scattered around, in poses suggesting a battle scene. Halmary immediately spots an uneven wall, which turns out to be a secret door: inside the small room beyond are chests of old coins and gems. They loot the chests and cautiously advance down the corridor, coming across a door blocked by statues of elves posed in an attempt to pick the lock, two rearguards fighting off an enemy no longer present. Scorpions them come at them, giant-sized with deadly stings: none of the monsters prove much of an obstacle, and Xellos and Calibos cut them down, with a little help from Halmary, Ungrid and Patricia.

Further exploration reveals a giant skeleton with four arms guarding a doorway, and a room of cockatrices that react aggressively: the lizard-chickens are slain by Calibos. Ungrid gets the skeleton to attack by hurling his hammer at it, and Halmary discovers it is a bone golem rather than some undead guardian when his turn undead fails. As the golem attacks, the doorway opens and wererats charge into the battle. The golem is swiftly dispatched, Calibos once again landing the killing blow; Ungrid kills a wererat Halmary attempts to knock out, and Xellos webs a couple more. As Calibos slays the last, the others try to negotiate, but Xellos peppers them with magic missiles instead. Other wererats flee, disappearing down some stairs. Calibos goes after them, while the others– unaware that Calibos descended– investigate a barracks and find another secret door: behind it a giant worn rears up, but before it can attack, the door is slammed shut.

Below, Calibos finds himself held as a wererat priest freezes him in place. More of the creatures move in, intent on carving the paladin into bite-sized chunks, but Xellos comes to his rescue and flies into the room, killing two of the creatures before they realise what is happening. The noise attracts others and alerts the other heroes, and a short battle occurs in the chamber: Xellos slays one wererat after another, cutting down the priest as well; Sidni skewers one on her spear, and Halmary steps in and takes down the wounded wererat king after it has been bashed and bruised by the others. He proves himself just as capable as the others by cleaving the head of a wererat too. He then steps up to Calibos and removes his paralysis. The paladin leaps into action and slays one more, leaving the last wererat– a robe-wearing vizier– who throws its paws up in the air and surrenders.

End of Session

Kills: 4 yellow moulds, 4 giant scorpions, 2 cockatrices, 1 bone golem, 15 wererats (including a priest and their king).

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