Against the Giants: Session 104

The party of bold tomb-robbers continue to explore the catacombs, cracking open caskets and urns, lifting the lids on sarcophagi, looting what they can, fighting off wights and wraiths, skeletons, and moving on.

One tunnel opens into a cavern, where the tunnel has fallen into; giants rats swarm up, but are dispatched with ease. Ghouls pop up at the same time, but are also easily cut down; skeletons follow, smashed, then more tombs are robbed and undead destroyed.

They come across a throne room, loot a chest, and continue on through more natural tunnels, where Almahid says he got captured after following the ‘aura of great evil’ he sensed. Calibos and his mentor use their powers to track the strong sense of evil that permeates the catacombs, leading down a spiralling tunnel that opens into a cavern with an altar to Nerull, god of death, on which rests a blood-stained chalice that reeks of evil.

They all gather around…

End of Session

Kills: 4 wight, 1 wraith, 13 giant rats, 4 ghouls, 6 skeletons.

Catacombs of Alam [O]

map of catacombs Part O

Catacombs Area O

Area O

  1. This area holds several plain sarcophagi, two of which are empty and can be pulled to reveal secret tunnels beneath them. The other two simply hold skeletons with no adornments. A statue of the deity of merciful death watches over them, with jet gemstones for eyes [50 gp].
  2. Down the stairs is a simple altar with a prayer etched into the stone, asking for safe passage to the afterlife. A modest sarcophagus holds a skeleton laid on a bed of glass carved to resemble rose petals, dressed in black silk wrappings [150 gp]. In its hands are a silver holy symbol [50 gp] and a vial of holy water [25 gp]. Anyone desecrating this tomb suffers a curse to always hesitate in battle [always goes last in Initiative].
  3. This white-washed stone sarcophagus holds the skeleton of a knight, dressed in plate mail and holding a two-handed sword with a hilt carved like a dragon with small rubies for eyes [500 gp].
  4. A secret chamber that holds two stone sarcophagi that hold the bones of two children, a casket with their clothes, an urn of wooden soldiers, and another of wooden dolls. A locked door leads into the next chamber.
  5. In here are three wax-sealed jars, holding a Potion of Climbing, a Potion of Extra-Healing, and a Potion of Infravisionan urn holding 645 gold coins; and a locked chest that contains assorted gemstones [1,500 gp], a Wand of Fire, and a Ring of Spell Storing (empty).
  6. This portcullis is down, but the level can be pumped to raise it easily. Claw marks cover the iron bars, from the other side.

Catacombs of Alam [N]

map of catacombs Part N

Catacombs Area N

Area N

  1. A temple with a beautifully crafted altar of green and red-flecked marble, flanked by a pair of statues of the deity of merciful death and homes & hearth. Down the steps are old wooden pews, and two more statues, these of old priests in vestments that date back fifty or so years. A wall has been bricked-up, and runes of warding against evil have been etched on the bricks [1d6 turns to break with an Open Doors roll; check for wandering monsters].
  2. In here are three urns, two jars, a pair of wooden caskets (locked), and a locked iron chest with a poison needle trap (save or die poison). In the urns are silver tokens with prayers written in ink on one side [worth 10 gp each, total of 128 tokens]; the jars each hold three quaffs of Potion of Healing; the caskets hold (i) 234 gp, (ii) 345 sp; the chest holds 234 gp, 245 sp, 23 pp, and a handful of small diamonds [750 gp].
  3. A plain stone sarcophagus with a skeleton dressed in consecrated bandages and entombed with three vials of holy water [25 gp].
  4. Another sarcophagus with a bandaged skeleton, but this one is laid with a silver chalice etched with angels [150 gp].
  5. Behind this bricked-up wall [1d6 turns to break with an Open Doors roll; check for wandering monsters] lies a white marble sarcophagus with another bandaged skeleton. An urn of 345 gold pieces, a casket of 878 silver coins, and a locked chest holding a Scarab of Protection.

Against the Giants: Session 103

24th Fireseek, 593 CY

After resting up for a couple of days, long enough for everyone to recover from their wounds and drained strength, they venture back down into the catacombs, this time by using the other stairs that they found in one of the pyramids.

Torches and lanterns lit, Sidni scouting ahead, the begin opening sarcophagi with the intent of looting whatever they can find while also looking out for the ‘great evil’ that Almahid came looking for.

One coffin has coins, another gems, some are empty or have fragile and long-dead skeletons; one has a ghoul, which leaps out to attack, but is immediately turned by Halmary, wounded by Sidni and ran through by Calibos’ sword.

[And unbeknownst to them, a raiding party of sword wraiths and ghouls has returned, heard the party and are approaching along the tunnels]

Another coffin has an animated skeleton wearing an elaborate and well-crafted death mask, quickly dispatched, but before they venture into a domed tomb with a beautifully carved sarcophagus, Xellos spots the sneaking wraiths and their ghoulish minions and incinerates a ghoul with his fiery magic missiles.

Once again the party find themselves fighting in cramped tunnels, ofttimes unable to move past each other or engage the enemy, leaving Sidni, Medmyr and Calibos at the front-line to start off with. A sword wraith charges down the tunnel, slashing Medmyr across the leg, who then destroys it with help from Sidni’s magical spear and a flurry of magic missiles from Phildor’s arcane fingertips. Then a ghoul breaks through, paralysing Medmyr and shoving him aside to get to the others, but is cut down by Sidni who then leaps over its body to cut down another ghoul that rears up out of the shadows.

Calibos advances, kills the last ghoul, allowing Phildor to tend to Medmyr and remove his paralysis with a handy potion of healing.

One of the sword wraiths upends an urn, releasing a wraith, but it is destroyed and the others injured as Halmary releases a flame strike that lights up the catacombs brightly.

Phildor hastes the rest of the party, and they surge forward, allowing Xellos to wound one sword wraith and kill another with more magic missiles, and Ungrid to finish it off with a perfectly aimed throw of his hammer. The last sword wraith is taken on and then taken out by Sidni, and the dust settles.

With the enemy obliterated, they return to the domed tomb and loot it, finding a bejewelled tiara, ring and a necklace that radiates a protection from evil, and makes Xellos uncomfortable. Sidni takes the necklace, the rest goes into their bag of holding, and they move off deeper into the catacombs.

End of Session

Kills: 1 wraith, 1 skeleton, 5 ghouls, 3 sword wraiths.

So I Started this Map…

At the weekend I started drawing a map, an underground city that I have called Holheim or the Hollow City, nestled in a mountain range.

Here’s how it looked when the weekend was over:

map work in progress

Phase 1 begins

Then I carried on drawing during my lunch breaks at work, and slowly added to the map; carefully, taking my time, trying to make as few mistakes as possible so that it looked as good as I could make it:

work in progress

Phase 1 continues

Then yesterday it go to this stage:

work in progress

Phase 1 nearing completion

And this lunch time I completed the first bit, basic layout of the city, streets, mines, catacombs, residential areas, trade district, entries and tunnels deeper into the underground of the mountains:

work in progress

Phase 1 finished

I like how this has developed. Now I need to add some detail (not too much though, as I think that’d spoil), but I also need to add street names, districts, things like that so that I can use it the way I need to use it. My only worry is that it’ll lose something, but it’s a risk I’m prepared to take. This is not for sale or a commission or anything like that, just something for me to use, so if it turns out to be a load of rubbish, I can always try again.

Then… then… two more cities to draw: a city deep in a forest, and another in a mountain valley next to a lake, both walled, but hopefully different from each other. No idea how they’re going to turn out, but it’ll be fun finding out.

Catacombs of Alam [M]

map of catacombs Part M

Catacombs Area M

Area M

  1. This is a small temple, with arches between support pillars, a hanging tapestry depicting a scene of angels carrying a wounded soldier to a light in the heavens [150 gp], an altar of red-painted stone, three empty sarcophagi that has been moved around, and a casket that holds a few crumbs of dirt.
  2. A bricked-up wall has been chipped away at and will take only 1d10 rounds to break down, as well as an Open Doors check [wandering monster check].
  3. In the middle of this room is a low platform around a sarcophagus that has a likeness an explorer. The platform has a landscape sculptured on its surface, in intricate detail, of some exotic land. Inside the centre sarcophagus is a skeleton dressed in explorer’s leathers, with a golden spy-glass [1,500 gp], a sextant inlaid with silver [500 gp], and a pair glasses that are actually Eyes of the Eagle. The other two sarcophagi are plain and contain animated skeletons dressed in leather, carrying maces. They arise and attack if the explorer’s tomb is disturbed.
map of crossroads in the catacombs

Against the Giants: Session One Hundred & Two

sword wraith

The battle continues in the narrow tunnels of the catacombs, as the party find their way out blocked by more Sword Wraiths coming from the side tunnels.

Ungrid wades in with his mighty hammer swinging, felling one of the wraith’s with ease; he hurls it at another, bashing in its breast plate. As Sidni and Medmyr keep another one busy, the still invisible Phildor reads a Scroll of Ward vs Undead and creates a barrier for the undead: just in time, as one of the sword wraith’s hurls an urn, which smashes and releases a wraith, which is quickly turned by Halmary and then obliterated by Xellos’ magic axe. Another pair of sword wraith’s are dispatched, and their leader, wielding a red-hot sword and mirrored dagger, engages Ungrid, draining some of his strength, but the wraiths are losing: one-by-one they are destroyed, first by Ungrid, then Sidni, Xellos, Medmyr, and the leader falls to Ungrid’s axe.

As soon as the battle is over, they loot what they can easily grab, and retreat out of the catacombs, fetching their zombie cyclops from above and make camp in the ruins. They pass the night safely, tending to their wounds, and hoping that their drained strength will return with the dawn… some of it does, but for some of them it will take a few days to recover and no spells seems to help.

As the sun rises, they take stock of their situation and debate what to do next.

End of Session

Kills: 1 wraith, 9 sword wraiths.

Catacombs of Alam [K]

map of catacombs Part K

Catacombs Area K

Area K

  1. Water cascades into this corridor, about thigh-deep, almost submerging the stone coffins that lie nearby. Combat here is at an disadvantage [-1 to AC, fall over on a natural 1 to hit].
  2. This partially submerged sarcophagus holds a sleeping ghoul that lies amidst the broken bones of its last meal. Scattered gold and silver coins [27 gp, 34 sp] are strewn around, as well as a silver comb with a few missing prongs [70 gp].
  3. These three stone sarcophagi have sprung a leak and the bones inside bob in a few inches of water.
  4. Several jars, caskets and urns float or lie beneath the water, holding a total of 233 gold pieces, 147 silver pieces, a dozen tigereye agate gems [25 gp each], a wax-sealed Potion of Extra-Healing and a Potion of Delusion, and a small marble figurine of a dog [125 gp].
  5. This corridor has collapsed under the water, which floods over the edge into a deeper pool. Swimming in it is a x, that was left here by some previous explorers. At the bottom of the pool is a shiny steel-headed magic warhammer: “þrumði” the Hammer of Thunder [a +2 warhammer that knocks opponents prone on a critical hit with a boom of thunder].

Against the Giants: Session 101

map of crossroads in the catacombs

The Scene of Battle

Th party stand by the bronze door, hesitant to enter in case it is a trap. Then Xellos is sure he spotted movement further down the tunnels, and they follow the sounds of clanking bones down into a wide cavern where training posts stand; and six skeletons are training, bashing the wooden posts with their antique swords.

Halmary, Sidni and Ungrid venture into the room, catching the skeletons by surprise: Halmary turns them, then the three adventurers (tomb robbers?) smash the skeletons to pieces.

As the fight is going on, Calibos and Medmyr hear the sound of a gat opening, and head down a tunnel to find a cell, wherein none other than Calibos’ mentor lies battered, tortured and unconscious.

Then, out of thin air, a leather-clad sword wraith materialises near to Xellos and fires off a dismember spell that thankfully misses, and as Sidni races up the tunnel to help, after hearing Xellos shout out, them are both hit by the wraith’s burning hands…

..and then, from the tunnels next to them, a pair of sword wraiths turn round the corner and attack, one narrowly missing an invisible Phildor. The spell-casting wraith quickly falls to a Sidni’s spear and Xellos’ axe, the ruinguard expends his stored spell energy and finishes it off, then absorbs its energy to heal his burns.

Calibos, meanwhile, brings his mentor around with some curative magic, and helps his back into his armour. They return to the party, finding a fight going on, and lend a hand. The wraiths are dispatched by spell, sword and spear, and the bodies looted.

As Calibos introduces his mentor– Almahid– to the others, they return to the bronze door, passing through another tunnel that is a row of seats looking out over an empty arena-like cavern. Almahid warns them that the wraiths will return at dawn, but as they open the bronze door, the wraiths return early… the door opens and a pair of statues on the other side animate and attack; at the same time, Phildor spots the approaching wraiths and warns the others, throwing down a haste spell on the rest of the adventurers.

Ungrid and Calibos smash a statue, wound another, and Calibos destroys the other while Ungrid hurls his hammer at the approaching wraiths… there are more wraiths, some ghouls, and the enemy split up, moving through the tunnels to flank the party: a wraith engages Ungrid as he and Xellos block a tunnel, draining some of the dwarf’s strength. Halmary turns one of the ghouls, but another slips past and manages to paralyse Almahid, before Medmyr– proving his worth again– kills it, and starts to drag the paralysed paladin away.

As the wraiths approach, the party start to retreat, moving into the catacomb tunnel [see map above] as a wraith charges past into their midst…

End of Session

Kills: 6 skeletons, 1 ghoul, 2 statues, 4 sword wraiths

Catacombs of Alam [J]

map of catacombs Part J

Catacombs Area J

Area J

  1. Two sarcophagi sit in these low alcoves, each made of rusting iron and containing skeletons made of glass.
  2. In waist-level alcoves are three caskets holding ashen remains. Each has a single topaz gemstone [150 gp] buried inside the ashes.
  3. Six more caskets stand in more alcoves, each holding ashes and more gems, rubies [500 gp]. Behind one alcove is a secret door, and a bricked-up wall lies behind a second [1d6 turns and Open Doors check to break down; wandering monster check].
  4. A plain, wooden, coffin tightly fits into this bricked-up shelf. The coffin is sealed with iron bands and withered bulbs of garlic. Inside is a desiccated corpse with a wooden stake through its heart. Beneath it is a slim wooden box, a silver Arrow of Golem Shattering [Arrow of Slaying: Golem].
  5. A wooden coffin with a bed of soil inside and a hibernating vampire who intends to return to the surface to rule once the priesthood that hunted her have died off. She has been sleeping for nearly to centuries. She looks like an old hag, dressed in the tattered remains of a ball-gown, with a silver hair wig [50 gp] and a sword-cane in a mahogany casing and with a silver-edged blade [as sword].
  6. An altar of rose-coloured marble, dusty and with a hidden compartment that holds a key to the door in front of it.
  7. This locked room holds a clay golem shaped to look like a hooded, robed monk, that stands watch over the portcullis that keeps the tomb beyond it safe. While the portcullis is down it radiates a Protection from Evil aura that fills the chamber; if the lever is pulled and the portcullis is raised, the protection vanishes and the mummy trapped inside the simple and plain sarcophagus will awaken and seek its revenge on the vampire in # 38. Entombed with the mummy is his royal golden sceptre with jet and topaz gems [2,500 gp], a bone scroll case that holds an ironic Scroll of Resurrection and a wavy-bladed dagger that has seen better days.

Adventurer, Conqueror, King System: 100 Sessions On

Adventurer Conqueror King System

Adventurer Conqueror King System

This Monday gone we played our 100th session of the Against the Giants campaign, using the Adventurer, Conqueror, King System (ACKS) rules.

Of all the rule sets I have used over the past 32 years, this has become my favourite D&D-ish game. For myself, it encapsulates everything I want out of an old school RPG, allowing me to play the way we used to play when I was much, much younger. The rules are simple, easy to adjudicate, and there are enough classes (and more with the addition of the Players Companion) to give everyone different characters if they want them.

For my players, it has been a good fit. They all seem to enjoy the rules, the proficiencies give them something to think about when they level up, the rules don’t confuse anyone, and overall the campaign has been a success.

There are plenty of things to like: the cleave mechanic is great fun and makes the characters more heroic when they are cutting down monsters one after the other; the ability to cast whatever spell is known (limited by the standard daily allowance) gives casters some tactical ability; the proficiencies add a bit of background to the characters, as well as some benefit, but not too powerful to make them essential.

The only downside, and this applies to any game of this ilk, is the often slow advancement of said characters, but that’s more a case of the adventures they go through and the fact that they miss treasure or retreat to live and fight another day, than a reflection on the game system.

For any standard D&D-ish game, I would always use ACKS now. I do have and enjoy other systems (LotFP Weird Fantasy is my second favourite) but they tend to be more thematic in their design, and don’t always capture that Golden Age era that ACKS does for me.

Anyway, that’s just some thoughts on how this system has worked out for our gaming group, with a 100 sessions to reflect back on. We’re still going on, with characters between levels 6-8, over two years in both real- and game-time, with the county of Geoff more or less liberated from the giants and looking to rebuilding, and the party currently looking for a missing mentor in the catacombs that lie hidden in the Stark Mounds.

And still, no PCs have actually died (maimed, scarred, two retired, but no deaths).

Roll on the next 100…

Catacombs of Alam [I]

 

map of catacombs part I

Catacombs Area I

Area I

  1. This corridor has been heavily bricked up and reinforced by bands of rusting iron. It takes 2d6 turns and an Open Doors check to break through [check for wandering monsters].
  2. Pillars support the sagging ceiling, with arches between each holding images of gargoyles, demons, and battling angels. A grimy pale rose marble altar sits in an alcove, and a sarcophagus lies in another. This rose-coloured stone coffin bears the likeness of a robed woman, the features worn away. Inside is a pristine corpse, albeit waxen and painted. It is stuffed full of golden balls of wire [1,000 gp] and the eyes are coloured crystals [25 gp].
  3. A statue of a hooded figure stands watch over a pair of sarcophagi bearing facsimiles of robed women, their faces smoothed away. Inside each is a skeleton wrapped in silver wire [500 gp] wearing a tiara of silver studded leather [75 gp].

Against the Giants: Session One Hundred

100 Sessions!

…draining the strength from Xellos, before they are both destroyed. The finals couple of gnolls falls to his axe, and they party rejoin further in the tunnels, exploring a chamber with a sarcophagus and two stone statues of Kord. Another wraith manifests when Calibos opens the coffin, but that is turned by Halmary and dispatched by Xellos.

However, back down the passage, where Medmyr was standing guard, gnolls suddenly charge in to attack, driven by a sword wraith. The fast-learning fighter holds his own as the other front-line fighters squeeze past and engage the monsters. Ungrid cleaves his way through several gnolls, Sidni kills another, and as Halmary dispatches the wraith, Medmyr earns his pay by cutting down the last of the gnolls.

The party move on, entering a more natural set of tunnels, with a cave where the gnolls slept on crude straw beds. Tunnels lead in various directions, one sloping down, and then they turn a bend and find a bronze door.

End of Session

Kills: 3 sword wraiths, 1 wraith, 16 gnoll slaves.

Against the Giants: Session Ninety-Nine

Leaving Medmyr and the zombie cyclops on guard, the rest of the party approach the second of the three obsidian pyramids and make their way inside. They discover more steps leading down, and several bronze statues of the deity Kord, surrounding a sarcophagus bearing the likeness of an eagle at rest.

Calibos shoves open the coffin, and the four statues naturally animate and attack: they barely last a few seconds, as the fighters and cleric bash them to the ground and step out their life-force.

They move on to the smallest of the pyramids, which turns out to be a temple: as soon as Calibos enters the room he feels evil all around, and immediately a pair of wraiths materialise. One is turned by Halmary, and dispatched by Xellos; the other manages to rise out of the sarcophagus it inhabited but is then smacked out of existence by a combination of magic missiles from Phildor and the powerful hammer of Ungrid.

They have a look for secret doors, then head down the stairs where the statues where, and find themselves in a cramped catacombs, with tunnels branching off, sarcophagi and caskets, urns and jars in niches and alcoves. The very air feels wrong, and the shadows out of the corner of the eye seem to move of their own accord. One tunnel ends in a cave, where the earth has collapsed. Giant carnivorous flies swarm out and attack, but are swiftly dispatched and a few loose gemstones looted from the debris of the cavern. A casket is upended and releases a wraith, but it is destroyed by a flurry of Xellos’ magic missiles. Another coffin holds a simple ghoul, who is surprised and held at bay by Halmary’s faith, and pulverised by Sidni, and another a skeleton that is smashed into splinters.

They start moving along the tunnels, and discover enemies coming from two fronts: gnolls, and sword wraiths; battle is joined and gnolls are slain, and then the wraiths enter the fight…

End of Session

Kills: 7 giant flies, 1 skeleton, 1 ghoul, 3 wraiths, 5 gnolls.

Catacombs of Alam [H]

 

map of catacombs part H

Catacombs Area H

Area H

A wizard’s secret abode, into which the wizard teleports. There is a 2 in 6 chance that the wizard is at home; if not, every hour there is a similar chance that he teleports home, straight into # 25. He is a name-level wizard, but not necessarily hostile.

  1. The cavern extends to a raised area, with a natural chimney leading up to the surface; it is small and only a child can climb it, with difficulty. Fresh air wafts down it, and water trickles down, forming a pool in one shallow alcove. Against the wall is an iron door, locked from inside, bearing a rune of warning. It is also Wizard Locked.
  2. This is the wizard’s lounge, with his bookshelf of valuable books [1,250 gp, plus scrolls of 2d6 spells, levels 1-6], a table and comfy chair, and a coatrack holding a weathered cloak, a walking stick with a draconic head, and a pair of sturdy walking boots below. Doors lead out, both Wizard Locked.
  3. A storeroom holding rations, supplies, and general goods; enough to last the wizard three months. There is a 2 in 6 chance of a useful item being found.
  4. A modest but comfortable bedroom, with another packed bookshelf of rare books [2,500 gp], the wizard’s own spell books, and a map showing the location of a rare and legendary magic item. A chest (Wizard Locked and mechanically locked) holds clothes, a pouch of assorted gemstones [1,000 gp], a pile of 239 gold coins, and a Wand of Cold [7 charges]. Behind the bed is a secret door, opened by twisting the upper left bed knob.
  5. A secret vault holding even rare books [3,000 gp], an ornate silver scrollcase [500 gp] holding 3d6 spell scrolls (levels 1-6), three urns holding 1d6 random potions each, and a chest (double-locked and Wizard Locked) holding 1,245 gold and 345 silver coins, and a fist-sized ruby [2,000 gp].

Against the Giants: Session Ninety-Eight

greyhawk map of stark mounds

 21st Fireseek, 593 CY (winter’s end)

After hiking through the low hills of the Stark Mounds, the ruins marked on their map come into view over the hilltops. In the daylight the ruins look like little more than a shell with a large mound overlooking it, all barren with scattered rocks.

Sidni, using her Ring of Invisibility, goes scouting and quickly finds that the ruins have become the lair of a group of cyclops; they seem weary, dirty, even frightened. She also finds a tunnel leading into the mound, blocked by boulders. Outside the blockage is a gallows, from which hangs a dead naked elf, with runes of warding and other trinkets carved into the flesh or hanging off the limbs.

She reports back to the others and they make the decision to storm the ruins at night. As the sun sets they approach the ruins, while Sindi sneaks inside, after they are all hasted and in position. Halmary triggers their attack by throwing a light spell into the ruins; Sidni follows that with a lightning bolt from her shield, blasting a couple of the giants. Then the others move in, Halmary and Calibos riding in on the paladin’s horse, the rest running behind.

Halmary lets loose with a flame strike, and Ungrid hurls his mighty hammer, breaking a few bones. Xellos, Calibos and Ungrid all attack, wounding giants; Phildor blasts away with his magic missiles, killing the first cyclops. The next falls to Xellos’ axe after being wounded by the others, and as the remaining pair of cyclops are starting to panic, Ungrid fells the third with a hammer to the head. He then steps up to help Sidni, who has been exchanging blows with a cyclops, and finishes it off.

While the others loot the cyclops’ treasure (stuffed into sacks, backpacks, and a stolen cart), Halmary animates one of the cyclops and uses it to remove the boulders blocking the tunnel. When the treasure has been sorted and shoved into the party’s bag of holding, they pass through the tunnel, the zombie leading the way– although it has to duck to get through– and discover the interior of the mound is one large cavern, with three obsidian pyramids standing there, bronze doors leading into each, all engraved with the coat-of-arms of Keoland. They open the doors to the first pyramid, finding a tapestry depicting the battle of Gorna, three empty sarcophagi, and stairs leading down into musty darkness.

End of Session

Kills: four cyclops.

Catacombs of Alam [G]

map of catacombs Part G

Catacombs Area G

Area G

  1. This large cavern is littered with rocks and pebbles, is crisscrossed with fissures and widening cracks and feels unsafe. A horrid stench wafts up from the rear of the cavern.
  2. This cave holds a mass of bones, some centuries old. A ledge looks down upon its 20′ depth, but the bones are only a couple of feet below it. Amongst the bones can be found some treasure: a turn spent searching grants a roll on the table below. The cave is the home of a white ape, who has become trapped here and longs to get free.
1d12 Roll “Treasure”
1 3d6 gold coins
2 3d6 silver coins
3 3d6 copper coins
4 3d6 platinum coins
5 1d4 bloodstone gems [50 gp each]
6 1d4 tiger eye gems [25 gp each]
7 Scroll of 1d4 random wizard spells (levels 1-4)
8 Scroll of 1d4 random cleric spells (levels 1-4)
9 Tin whistle
10 Pouch of Mellow Leaf
11  Vial of Holy Water
12 Potion of Healing

 

Against the Giants: Session Ninety-Seven

As the dust settles and the zombies are defeated, the party decide to retreat back to the edge of the forest and make camp; leaving watchers and guards to keep an eye on the castle.

In the morning, Xellos– on the dawn watch– sees the giants (nearly two dozen in all) exit the castle, packs laden with supplies and treasure. The cloud giant levitates back to the cloud high above, and the fire giants head off into the forest, abandoning the castle.

The party decide to follow them, sending an invisible Sidni and Halmary ahead, to track them down and maybe lay a trap too. They move ahead of the giants when the tall fellows, their women and children rest for the day. Halmary lays down a glyph of warding, but when the giants get up to go, the magic has no effect and merely makes the giants worried; the giants stay where they are and stand guard. Sidni and Halmary are almost discovered, but manage to slip away before the giant’s shaman detects them.

They report back to the party. An invisible Phildor and Halmary are sent ahead. The magic user tries to confuse the giants, but the spell proves in effective, and only a timely darkness and silence spell allow the two spell-casters to escape.

So the party decide to call it a day and make their way back to Pest’s Crossing, to discover that not only has the cloud moved on, but boulders have been dropped from a great house and destroyed the castle and ruined what remained of the town.

They report back to the Duke, telling him that the giants have been sent packing. The Duke thanks them, gives them leave to go about their own business, and asks them to return in a couple of months time to help ensure that the county is free at least from the giants. By then the army will have been resupplied.

So the party ponder what to do next. Calibos mentions that he was looking for his mentor, a paladin who had a vision of a great evil and went off in search of it: someplace called the Obsidian Pyramids; and it just so happens that the treasure map that they found in the dragon’s lair showed where a ruin lay, of the same name!

Coincidence?

The map points to the Stark Mounds. They set off, and as the first month of Spring marches along the calendar, the ruins come into sight…

End of Session

Kills: None.

Catacombs of Alam [F]

map of catacombs part F

Catacombs Area F

Area F

  1. Two sarcophagi with knights sculptured out of the stone lids, each holding a skeleton is worn chain mail, with long sword clasped between their hands. Each knight has gold coins over the eye sockets, a gold signet ring [25 gp] on one finger, bearing a rune of honour, and if disturbed or robbed, it triggers the awakening of the occupants of the other coffins (see below).
  2. These plain sarcophagi each hold an armoured skeleton, dressed in ancient bronze plate mail and wielding broad-edged swords. Each animates as an undead skeleton if the knight’s tombs are disturbed.
  3. These plain sarcophagi hold more skeletons, but these wear copper-scaled mail and wield spears.
  4. This area is rubble strewn, and one stone sarcophagus  has toppled onto its side, although its lid has held on. Both the stone coffins hold simple and ordinary skeletons, servants of the knights that rest here. A 3′ hole in the wall has collapsed, revealing a cavern beyond.
  5. A high ledge (15′) opens into this natural cavern, and rubble is strewn about, making footing uncertain (1 in 6 chance of tripping and falling off, Dexterity roll to avoid).

Against the Giants: Session Ninety-Six

map of pest's crossing

The Ruins of Pest’s Crossing

After the cloud giants disappear inside the castle, Sidni turns herself invisible and borrows Calibos’ helm of teleportation; as the rest of the party wait on the edge of the forest, Sidni sneaks over to the castle and spies on the giants. She repots back by teleporting amongst them, startling the party.

Then, from out of the castle, giants emerge: a pair of fire giants and one of the cloud giants make their way towards the forest and seem to be aware of the where the party are hiding. The giants stop just in range of their rock-throwing and start hurling boulders at the supposedly hidden party, smashing trees and unending bushes. Medmyr takes a glancing blow from a stone, but the rest of the party remain safe.

Deciding to take the fight to the giants, Phildor hastes them all and they spread out, with Ungrid, Calibos and Sidni moving out into the fields, followed by Halmary after he heals himself when a rock splinters a tree and smashes into him. Xellos plunges a darkness globe in the giants midst, forcing them to move out of it, allowing the fighters to close. He is then surprised– and incredibly lucky– when a fire giantess suddenly appears over him, her sword narrowly missing as the Ruinguard ducks a rock; her sword skewers the tree.

Xellos manages to move out of the way, long enough to lob a fireball at the cloud giant, who is also struck by a lightning bolt that Sidni lets loose, which slays the cloud giant!

Ungrid and Calibos engage the fire giants, Halmary joining in, and the cleric lands the killing blow on one, felling it. Meanwhile, Phildor hurries across the field invisible and animates the dead cloud giant as a deathless minion. The other fire giant falls to Ungrid’s magic hammer, and Halmary animates its corpse, and then the other; they send the zombie giants to attack the castle.

Sidni follows and watches, again invisible, while the rest of the party take advantage of the distraction and hide in the burned ruins of the town; the zombies manage to kill a fire giant on guard, wounds others, but they are ultimately put to the sword.

Sidni watches the fight end, then hurries back to the party and lets them know.

End of Session

Kills: 4 fire giants, 1 cloud giant.

Current date: 2nd Fireseek, 593 CY.

Catacombs of Alam [E]

map of catacombs part E

Catacombs Area E

Area E

  1. Another shrine, with a blood-stained altar that has been defaced and chipped away. One plain sarcophagus holds the skeleton of an unjust man, its skull bashed in; the other is a thin stone coffin that holds six skulls, each smashed, lined up in a neat row. Beneath the fourth one from the left is a solitary gold coin that glows blue in complete darkness, acting as a candle for light.
  2. A cracked sarcophagus with claw marks on the outside. Inside is an untouched skeleton, a pair of gold coins covering its eye sockets, and a slender golden headband on its skull [75 gp].
  3. A crudely worked statue of the deity of rage and destruction stands here, with bloodstone gems for eyes [50 gp]. A blood-stained casket holds offerings of 34 silver pieces and 23 gold pieces, as well as a dozen cracked teeth, and the withered heart of a man; a clay urn sealed by red wax holds congealed blood, with a small topaz [150 gp] at the bottom.
  4. This sarcophagus is also scratched, but the lid is ajar and the skeleton inside has been cracked and sucked dry of its marrow.
  5. The corridor has collapsed here, with water trickling in from fissures in the ceiling. A pool of stagnant and dirty water holds rocks, broken bones, and a bloated zombie of a past adventurer who was trapped here after a mis-firing teleport spell. He wears rusty chain mail, a dented helm, and in the water is his rusted sword, a warped wooden shield, and loose coins [23 sp, 17 gp, 2 pp].

Against the Giants: Session Ninety-Five

The battle begins…

Calibos blasts a fire giant with several magic missiles, and Halmary tries blinding it with a targeted darkness spell; it then collapses as Ungrid’s hammer smashes through its chest, arcing back to his hand via a cyclops, giving it a hard thwack on the shoulder, enough to dislodge the boulder it’s about to throw, and crack a few bones. Sidni then pops up from cover, shoots the confused fire giant with a poisoned arrow– killing it instantly– then following up with a well-aimed arrow straight between the cyclops eyes, killing it too.

On the other side, the giants disbelieve the illusion, and turn back to see what is happening with their allies. The party start to cross the river, using the ruins and the smoke and fire as cover. Xellos creates darkness over one of the towers, hiding the giant on watch. Phildor stops by the corpse of a cyclops and raises it as a deathless minion; he sends the giant zombie after the approaching giants. Halmary copies him, and that zombie follows the next. As the zombies and giants close, Xellos lets loose with fiery magic missiles, Ungrid hurls his hammer, catches a glancing blow by a rock, and Sidni pelts the cyclops with arrows, leaving it badly wounded; enough for Calibos to charge in and cut it down.

Phildor fires off more magic missiles at one of the giants in the towers, which is then hidden from view by a darkness placed by Halmary. The zombies and giants clash, Ungrid’s hammer batters the fire giant, and with aid from Sidni’s arrows and Calibos’ warhammer, a zombie crushes a fire giant into the earth.

Halmary throws down another darkness over the gate, blocking all views from the castle, and Ungrid drops another fire giant who is being bashed by the zombies.

With the immediate threat over, Halmary raises another zombie and Calibos heals Ungrid of his wounds. Then they send the zombies to the castle, pounding on the gates until they break. Halmary dispels the darkness and the zombies attack the giants inside: the giants are slain, and the last zombie falls apart as the spell wears off. Sidni scouts the immediate hallway behind the gates, hears giants on the other side of the doors, and returns.

The party retreats to the forest and make camp, keeping watch over night. The town continues to burn throughout the town, and flames are still flickering as the sun rises the following day.

Then, overhead, a cloud of great size moves against the wind and comes to rest over the castle. From the cloud so high above, a pair of levitating cloud giants float down, and enter the castle.

End of Session

Kills: 2 cyclops, 8 fire giants.

Notes: Xellos is now a level 7 Ruinguard, and Medmyr earns his stripes by reaching 2nd level.

Against the Giants: Session Ninety-Four

As the party remain camped, Sidni scouts around to ensure that no giants or other monsters are threatening them. Halmary manages to get some sleep, and in the morning they travel back to the town, Sidni scouting ahead, Invisible. They reach the outskirts as night falls, and while the rest of the party hang back at the edge of the surrounding forest, Sidni investigates the town: she finds barrels of oil stored in the buildings, with wood stacked up in what looks like strategic positions. There are no giants to be seen, except for a few fire giants watching from the towers of the castle.

She reports back, and using the town as cover, the party make their way closer, hiding in a cluster of buildings in the corner of the town, removing the wood and barrels from those ruins.

Hoping to draw out the giants, they set fire to a building in their cluster: however, it doesn’t turn out as they hoped. Rather than simply come out to investigate, the giants start lobbing flaming jars into the town, setting fire to the barrels and stacks of wood; the town is quickly ablaze, the fires spreading through the carefully placed wooden debris, fuelled by the barrels of oil; all save for where the party are hiding.

As the fire rages, Halmary quaffs a potion of gaseous form and slips into the castle, discovering at least a dozen giants; he reports back, and after some discussion they decide to wait to see what happens. A dawn breaks, the ruins now a mass of crackling flames, a patrol does indeed exit the castle: several fire giants and cyclopses. Xellos creates an illusion, drawing half of them away to the other side of the town, but the others draw closer, straight into an ambush!

Halmary blesses them and Xellos hastes the party, and as a pair of fire giants and a pair of cyclops approach their hiding place, Sidni unleashes a lightning bolt from her shield, Phildor confuses one of each giant, and a combination of Ungrid’s hammer, magic missiles from the spell storing spell Xellos gave Calibos, and a flame strike from Halmary blasts one of the cyclops into the ground, killing it.

End of Session

Kills: 1 cyclops.

Note: it is now the dawn of a new year, 593 CY.

Catacombs of Alam [D]

map of catacombs part D

Catacombs Area D

Area D

  1. These two sarcophagi bear the likeness of a knight, from an ancient order that has fallen into legend: the Knights of the Long Walk, an order dedicated to tracking down evil however long it takes. Both hold only skeletons in tattered robes.
  2. This sarcophagus also bears an image of a knight, but inside is a skeleton wearing a suit of well-worn but intact chain mail, with a long, ornate sword clasped in its skeletal hands. The sword is magic: “Drjúgr” The Sword of the Lasting Fight [on the first round of combat it is a normal sword, on the second it functions as a +1 weapon, on the third, a +2 weapon, and so forth until the enemy is dead; the bonus then resets].
  3. Next to a collapsed portion of the corridor lie a collection of offerings in burial urns and caskets: jars of exotic oils [50 gp], 37 silver pieces, 14 gold pieces, a silver casket adorned with zircon gems[150 gp] holding soapstone carved into rose petals [50 gp], and an elegant silver dagger [25 gp] with a scabbard of red leather studded with bloodstone gems worked into hearts [250 gp].
  4. This natural cave opens to the outside world, has a pool fed by an underground spring, and has become the lair of a giant crab spider, which is found here on a 2 in 6 chance. It likes a tidy lair and drags it victims outside to eat and discard of the meagre remains.