January 24

Against the Giants: Session 144

map of cavern

Cavern of Fire

The battle continues

Behind the walls of fog the giants gather, while Calibos and Ungrid retreat to join the others at the bottleneck by the cave mouth. The paladin gets knocked by a boulder as he withdraws, but it is a mild irritation to the tough fighter. The leader of the giants shouts for them to surrender, and Ungrid replies by hurling grontdrengi at a giant poking his head around the fog. As soon as everyone is back together, Xellos throws up an illusion of more fog and Halmary creates a globe of darkness, blocking the view of the cavern from both sides. Beyond it the giants can be heard gathering, their hell hound pets getting closer. The leader again shouts for them to surrender, but the heroes don’t bother replying.

Sidni quaffs down a potion of growth, doubling her size and strength and she drags one of the dead giants out of the zone of silence so that Halmary can animate it. Xellos throws up a wall of ice just behind the darkness, hoping that anyone passing through it will walk straight into the ice barrier. Two hell hounds do exactly that, smashing throw the ice, sliding to a stop in front of the heroes’ shield wall: Ungrid and Xellos take them out before the hounds can get their bearings.

Seconds stretch into minutes, and the heroes get the impression that the giants are stalling. Xellos thinks that maybe there are giants sent to flank them, and is proven right as a group of giants– who left by a tunnel to the surface and circled round– charge at their rear: at the same time, alerted by the war cries of the giants, the remaining hell hounds are sent in, the other giants advancing as their priest cancels the darkness with a light spell; battle is joined.

The battle is decidedly one-sided: a hell hound falls to Calibos’ sword as the beasts hurls out of the dark; it doesn’t even get a chance to flame the paladin. The other hound does burn Sidni, but she just stabs it back, leaving it open for Calibos to cleave it in two. Ungrid proves himself the most capable of dwarven giant-slayers and slays a giant as it charges into the battle. He then takes out another, then a third in quick succession. Halmary proves he is more than just a cleric as he takes out one too, albeit with the help of his pet zombie. Sidni blasts a pair of giants with her lightning bolt shield, then charges it and stabs one through the heart, spinning around and striking the other, leaving that one for Calibos to finish off.

Ungrid charges in: another giant falls to his giant-slaying hammer; Calibos takes out a second, leaving the path open to the giants’ leader and priest. That priest blesses his allies, but then an invisible Xellos cleaves it from behind, killing the giant. Calibos and Ungrid charge the chief, the last giant now standing, and the paladin badly wounds the giant, leaving Ungrid the honour of the killing blow!

With the enemy slain, the heroes check that there are no more lurking in the shadows, leaving the various buildings for later, and then head straight for the temple. Inside are old statues, an altar, steps leading below. On the altar is a warm sphere of semi-molten lava, which they– at first– believe to be the Seal of Fire. They wrap it up in wet cloth, bag it, and after a brief discussion head down the steps, looking for loot. Stone sarcophagi and caskets lie below, each looted in turn: they hold the skeletal remains of giants, fire opals in their eye sockets. The caskets are heavy obsidian, valuable too, so they too are looted. One last coffin is more ornate and inside is another skeleton, more gems, along with a ring, a cloak and a rod that is so large that for the heroes it is more of a staff. Calibos discovers a false bottom to it, opens it to find a lever and pulls it.

In the wall a secret door slides open. Beyond that, a passage, a stream of lava cutting across it, and a pit at the far end going deeper below the earth…

End of Session

Kills: 10 fire giants, 1 fire giant priest, 4 hell hounds.

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January 15

Against the Giants: Session 143

At the mouth of the cavern of fire, an invisible Sidni scouts out the huge cavern and finds an old temple, watchtowers, and several stone building with giants inside. Bridges cross rivers of lava, and the whole cavern is warmly lit by the lava flow. She reports back to the others and they decide to retreat to the fort above the cave, hoping that more giants will come out and talk to the– now dead– giants in the fort. Everyone but Sidni heads up and takes turns sleeping, whilst Sidni settles down for an uncomfortable night by the cave, with loose stones scattered around to alert her of anything approaching.

The night passes uneventfully, and no giants turn up. That morning the heroes head back down, their zombie with them, and send the undead giant into the cavern, just so it is visible to those on watch. A giant hails it, gets no answer, and draws closer. Halmary has it back off, and another giant comes out to see what is going on. Shouts ring across the cavern, and not long after– as Halmary prepares for battle and blesses the party– another giant comes across the bridge, several very large hell hounds with him. Halmary places a globe of silence across the narrow pathway between the cave and the lava; Calibos enlarges himself; Halmary casts striking on Ungrid’s hammer; and Xellos hastes them all as the giants approach and spot the intruders; battle is joined!

Calibos and Halmary fell the first hell hounds, drawing others in, as a fire giant moves in to attack. One of the hell hounds breathes fire on Calibos, singing the paladin; Ungrid hurls his hammer across the floor, smacking the giant; and Xellos shoots a hound between the eyes and drops it. Another hound falls dead as Calibos cleaves it in two, but one of its pack flames him again; he, Halmary and Sidni gang up on the fire giant; Sidni delivers the killing blow, and the giant drops like a stone. Other giants are see approaching, alarms sounding. Another hound falls down, and as the fighters begin to back off, hoping to draw the giants into the narrow cave mouth, Halmary cures some of the paladin’s burns by laying on hands. Meanwhile, Xellos summons a pegasus and Ungrid leaps on its back, taking to the air. The dwarf hurls a hammer at one of the giants in the towers, but then the other giants hurl boulders at them: the horse is hit again and again and again, breaking its bones, ending its life. It disappears and Ungrid plummets, rolling as he hits the floor, bruising his pride as much as anything. He climbs to his feet, and spins his hammer through the air, taking out one of the hounds moving in.

The party withdraw, Xellos covering their retreat with walls of fog. Another giant falls dead as Ungrid bludgeons it with his hammer and Xellos shoots it between the eyes. Sidni lets loose with some of her magic arrows, badly wounding the giants. Calibos charges into the middle of the cavern, straight towards the giant’s sub-chief: he slays him with a single blow, and Halmary tries to give him cover from hurled rocks with a globe of darkness. Then, from inside the temple, an unseen giant dispels the magic: the darkness vanishes, as does Calibos’ haste and enlargement, but Xellos conjures up another wall of fog and Calibos ducks behind it, quickly joined by Ungrid.

The others prepare to advance, Xellos improving his defence with a mirror image, as the giants gather…

End of Session

Kills: 5 fire giants, 5 hell hounds.

Category: ACKS | 1 Comment
January 10

Against the Giants: Session 142

map of the valley of fire

Valley of Fire

11th Coldeven, 594 CY

After a month’s rest and scroll scribing, the heroes follow the directions given to them by Malachi and head deep into the Crystal Peaks in search of the final Seal, to a secluded valley known as the Valley of Fire. Lava bubbles up from chasms in the earth, and a river of lava flows from a large cave mouth, eating its way through the rock. Dotted around the valley, three forts, manned by fire giants keeping watch on the valley.

Invisible Sidni scouts them out: in each are three fire giants, two on duty, one asleep. There is enough cover from the sloping mountain sides and various rocks for a cautious party to get close. They wait for darkness, and make their way to the first of the forts. Under cover of a silence spell, Sidni climbs in through a window unseen and manages to drag a crate over to the door, lifting the heavy bolt to let the others inside. As they sneak in, one of the giants, alerted by the sudden silence, wakes up to find himself all but surrounded. Halmary, Ungrid, and Calibos hack and slash at it, leaving Xellos to finish it off before it even has a chance to rise. They then turn on the other, waking it up with a broken nose; Calibos drives his sword through its heart. Up the steps to the tower an invisible and silenced Sidni creeps up and surprises the giant: it manages to whack her, staggering her back against the battlements, as the others climb up and finish the giant off; Xellos again delivers the final blow. They loot what they can (several valuable fire opals) and then cross the valley under cover of darkness to the eastern fort opposite the one above the cave mouth.

As they hurry across the open ground, the fire giant on the tower spots Ungrid and hurls a rock at him. He retaliates by hasting himself and hurling Grontdrengi, the mighty hammer making short work of the giant. Meanwhile, the others enter the fort– again with Sidni climbing in through the window to open the door– and wake the sleeping giants inside by whacking them with mace, spear, sword and axe: Sidni kills the first, and they wound the second badly enough for Ungrid to walk in and deliver a killing blow to its head. More gems are looted, and they head off to the final fort, this time unseen. Sidni again climbs inside, but as she lifts the bar from the door, the giant nearest to it wakes up, spots them and rolls out of bed, picking up its giant-sized sword.

Outside, Ungrid hangs back so he can hurl his hammer at the giant on the tower: a few throws and the giant falls down dead. Inside, the other two giants are quickly cut down, Sidni and Ungrid again finishing them off. A few more gems are looted.

Halmary animates on one of the dead giants, and they make their way down to the cave mouth. Somewhere inside there should be a temple, below which the vault holding the Seal of Fire can be found. They enter the cave: inside lava lights the vast cavern, revealing watchtowers and stone buildings, and across a bridge that spans a river of lava stands an old temple…

End of Session

Kills:  9 fire giants.

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January 3

The Curse of Ravenmere

I’ve just released my first ‘published’ adventure on DriveThruRPG.

cover of The Curse of Ravenmere

A low-level Adventure

The blurby bit:

Ravenmere is a small village situated between the market towns of Appleby and Cricklewood, and once supplied both with cattle and the odd sheep. Today the village has been isolated by the local lord, for a plague has come to Ravenmere and all of its villagers are dead by their own hands. What will bold aventurers discover in the isolated village?

It is a small village, with events already in motion, a site of potential adventure. No artwork, but it has a map. I might get someone to do some art for it and update it in the future, depending on whether anyone downloads it. It’s on Pay What You Want, for this is a new thing for me and a bit of an experiment. I’ve got another one in the works, just getting artwork sorted for that one before I release that into the world as well.

If anyone ends up running or playing in it, let me know. I’d love to see how different people take it on.

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December 31

Against the Giants: Session 141

map of vault

After further discussion, the heroes finally decide to rest the night in the damp, but no longer flooded chamber. Before they bed down, Halmary communes with his goddess and asks questions: “Do we have to go back through the east door to complete the quest?”, “Can we disable the lightning room by smashing the statues?”, and “Will opening the south door flood the room we are in?” Yes, Yes, and No are the answers whispered to him as he sleeps.

In the morning (or whatever time of day it actually is) they memorise their spells, tend to their wounds by laying on hands and head south. The rooms they pass through, leaving first Xellos, then Halmary and then Sidni behind the doors, Calibos and Ungrid reach the third of the levers: they pull it, releasing the third bolt. The rooms, free of water, have a rune to summon elementals, defaced by hammer and chisel; and three skeletal fish, that they smash. Nothing attacks them, and feeling more confident they head back through the east door. They quaff potions of water breathing and Xellos puts a spell on Sidni again, and they shrug off the brief lightning flashes from the statues (too solid and iron to actually smash) and Xellos uses a Passwall spell to bypass the gate into the partially flooded room of the tentacles. Now faced with dwindling time, they leave Halmary and Xellos behind, and the others hurry through into the chamber where the ruins of the statue sits in the few feet of water. They head north, opening another gate and releasing water elementals that surge forth and attack: Calibos enlarges himself and Ungrid hastes himself, and Sidni backs them up with her Biter spear. They engage the elementals, taking a couple of hits, but dispatching them with ease. They leave Ungrid and Calibos behind the gates as Sidni finds the last lever and pulls it, releasing the final bolt.

And in the room of the tentacles, where Xellos stands alone, more tentacles suddenly erupt from the holes and flail at him, slapping him. He grabs his shield and sword, defending himself as best he can as he quickly opens the door. Ungrid, Calibos and Sidni hurry in and join the battle, cleaving through the tentacles, until the oily black things are no more. With time ticking away, they hurry back through the passwall and make their way back to the first chamber, shrugging off the lightning, and rejoin Halmary.

The gem-studded gate is now open, revealing a domed room full of water; at the bottom sits the sphere of water that is the Seal of Water. They lower Sidni in; as soon as she enters the water, two water elementals erupt: they pull Sidni up, the elementals following: and everyone gangs up on them and dispatches them more swiftly than anyone expects.

They net and bag the Seal, flood the chamber by opening the main gate, and swim/wade out and back to land. They head home and learn from Malachi that he has located the last Seal, in the Crystal Peaks, beneath a temple guarded by fire giants.

End of Session

Current Date: 11th Readying, 594 CY.

Kills: 4 water elementals, eight tentacles.

Category: ACKS | 1 Comment