Tharnulf’s Crypt – Part 2

“Where have you been?” the Paladin snapped. “Spiders, roaches, ogres, all manner of creepy crawlies coming out of the stonework, and you’re upstairs looting bodies.”

“Scared of bugs, are you?” the Dark Elf corsair smiled thinly. “Don’t tell me I have to hold your hand.”

***

The party was joined by a Dark Elf Corsair, (Max) who probably was looting bodies. He arrived just as his woodland cousin the Druid handed the keystone to the Orc mercenary who unlocked the pillars blocking the way into the rest of the crypt. Together, the five of them advanced down the corridor to the library.

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Advancing cautiously, the group entered the library, weapons ready. When nothing dropped down out of the ceiling or sprang from the shadows, the proceeded to search the bookshelves in the far wall and the pile of debris on their right. The only unusual thing about the room was the loose flagstones under their boots – as if the library’s floor was poorly set on sand – and a strong odor of freshly turned dirt.

“That’s human masonry for you,” the Dwarf muttered. “Shoddy work. Doesn’t even last two centuries.”

A search revealed several items including a tome of engraved copper plates, half a dozen strange gold coins, several jars of mystery ointments, and a thin, silver letter opener.

“What am I supposed to do with this?” the Ork asked. “Help a werewolf open his mail?”

Before the Paladin could come up with a snarky reply, the floor erupted in a shower of dirt and rocks…. a carrion worm!

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The ensuing battle lasted a number of rounds, with the worm retreating back into its hole only to reappear somewhere else. Consequently, the fighting moved from the library to the next corridor to the large pillared room outside Tharnulf’s Chamber.

As the larger half of the party moved down the passage in pursuit of the worm, they triggered the next wave of hostiles: a mob of goblin scuttlers, backed by a gibbering shaman and a drooling brute.

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“Never split the party”  is time-worn, proven advice. But they did and it almost cost the adventurers the game. Fortunately, some good rolling and a Gruesome Kill helped our heroes fight off the attack.

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When the last surviving scuttler had fled wailing down the dark passages, the bloodied, exhausted party found themselves outside Thernulf’s Chamber. The passage however, was blocked by a mysterious well. An eerie glow emanated from its depths and the head of an ancient goddess was carved on the standing slab behind it. From one angle, it appeared the goddess was smiling at the viewer – from another, she snarled.

“Wait a minute…” said the Dwarf. “That looks like the face that’s stamped on those weird coins I found in the library.”

Yes. It is.

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Tharnulf’s Crypt

“Well, that’s kinda obvious…”

The party had been hired by a local duke to pursue a gang of thieves that has been terrorizing the towns and villages on his lands. After the most recent raid, the group – an Elf Druid, an Orc Mercenary, a Dragonborn Paladin, and a Dwarf Runemaster –  tracked the bandits to their hideout in some ancient, unnamed ruins, deep in the hills.

They watched and waited, and attacked after midnight once most of them were asleep. It was quick work, bloody work. After all, the Duke made a point of saying all trial costs would be deducted from the bounty, so proof of death was all that was really required here.  The Orc made sure you had several small barrels and a large bag of salt on hand to preserve the necessary evidence.

However, a few of the thugs tried to make a stand in what was left of the old keep. That just made the job take about 15 minutes longer. Once that was over though, the Elf noticed a draft coming from a fissure in a stone wall at the back of the ground floor. Even more odd, he noticed the masonry didn’t match the rest of the keep. It was old yes, but different stone, poorly cut, crude.

Curious, another 15 minutes, a crow bar, and some sweat revealed a passageway behind the false wall, with steps that lead down into the dark. Someone raised a lantern and there on the second step under the dust and cobwebs was a gold sazide: a coin from the first Prahan Dynasty. The last of that line died two centuries earlier, but the detail on that coin is as crisp as the day it was minted. The gold alone is worth a month’s wages, easily; the coin as an artifact is worth twenty times that to a collector or historian.

The Dragonborn Paladin snorted. “Well that’s kinda obvious.”

Down they went.

***

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THE INSCRIPTION ROOM

The steps end in a corridor. Raising a lantern, the party spies the Inscription chamber dead ahead. Aside from the usual muck, musty air, and rotting barrels, the passage is clear.

Inspection of the Inscription Room reveals a carved dedication to

‘Lord Aolin Tharnulf who secured the Northern March for the Empire, ruled justly and wisely for 68 years, and brought Light and Law to the land.’

There is a diagram of the Tomb that shows both Lord Tharnulf and his Seneschal are interred here. This Lord Tharnulf must have been part Dwarf or had serious connections with the clans because the Crypt Builder’s mark is a very ornate Dwarf rune. And his Steward’s name was Manus Graybeard.

“A Dwarf named ‘Graybeard’… that’s not cliche,” snarked the Paladin.

 

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Meanwhile, the Elf takes up guard facing the right passage while Orc moves left to find the hall barred by a pair of interlocked pillars. No way past them but there’s a clear opening for a keystone to unlock them.

“Guess we’re going right,” the Orc calls out. “Eyes peeled for a keystone, everyone.”

The party moves into the other hallway only to be attacked. A huge spider and four giant cockroaches drop from the ceiling.

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The insects prove incredibly difficult to kill, to the point of mauling the Orc so bad he needed healing. Eventually (far longer than expected) the party dispatched the insects and proceeded into the large chamber.

All four members were so excited about two chests in a small side room that yielded useful items that no one noticed the large black pillars covered in arcane symbols in the middle of the chamber.

The Dwarf spotted the Seneschal’s Tomb and in his haste, stepped between the pillars on his way to the hall.

The air quivered and popped. The room temperature plummeted. There was a deep grind of stone as a section of the wall slid back and out stepped three ogres. Angry ones. With clubs.

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‘Nasty, brutish, and short’ was the phrase that came to the Orc’s mind as he reflected on the battle afterward. (for he was a rather pensive greenskin) Fact is, the ogres were destroyed in the time one would think it would take a group of experienced adventurers to squash insects.

Once the smiting and slaying were accomplished, the four comrades entered the Seneschal’s Tomb, located more treasure, a rather ornate keystone which definitely looked like it might fit in a pair of interlocked pillars, and (finally) noticed an inscription engraved around the base of the stone throne.

Four are the Guardians of Lore

Three are the Doors to the Tomb

Two are the Keys forged in War

One is the Portent of Doom

“Oh great, a cryptic rhyme,” muttered the snide paladin. “Probably some kind of long lost prophesy. Guess we’ll find out next week in the other section of…

*cue scary music and echo-y voice*

THARNULF’S TOMB

Start: the dungeon of Sagra-Bayar

The modular dungeon of Sagra-Bayar, that is.

 

Completed the latest round of glass work this weekend and allowed the hobby to take over one of my shop tables for a couple days. Now this idea had been bouncing around my head for a while: 3D dungeon tiles using faux-stone vinyl tiles. Seemed like a fast and simple way to get a sturdy, stone floor. Add a hunk of 1″ insulation foam, some cheap craft paint, a couple paint pens, lots of elbow grease scoring the stone work, and glue.

The result is three 12″x 12″ rooms, six 6″ x 12″ corridors, and eight 6″ x 6″ rooms.

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I know there’s lots of detailing yet to be done. I’m going to scour my bits box and the internet for details and banners, and I suspect I’ll want to pick up a couple sets of 28mm scenics and furniture, but I think this is a good start. So far, the project cost less than $50.

More pictures coming as I progress. I’m looking forward to our next dungeon crawl even more now.

Have a great day.

 

Dark Rituals

Our ASOBH game continues as the adventurers come upon the Necromancer Varro Desecrae conducting an dark ritual at the Shrine of the Sky Stone.

In addition to his Hell Knight bodyguard, the vile mage hired a goblin shaman and a mob of goblin scuttlers (backed by a Toad Demon) to insure the ritual is goes off uninterrupted.

The forces of evil dominated the first portion of the game with the goblins swiftly advancing on the attack and Varro Desecrae banking 6 successful actions to summon a skeletal giant.

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The battlefield
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Goblin mob with extra demon power!
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Minions of the Necromancer
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Desecrae invoking the power of the gibbering dark.

Our heroes responded sluggishly. (poor dice rolls, esp by the Elf Druid and Werebear) While the Dragonkin cleric squared off against the Toad demon, the two Ork trackers were overwhelmed by the goblins.

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Fierce combat see-sawed back and forth. The Dragonkin couldn’t catch his breath to summon his dracolisk.
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It was like fighting a mob of 6-year olds. Death by a thousand cuts: a brave attempt but the Orks eventually succumbed to the incessant slice and jab.

THE TIDE TURNS

Perhaps it was the Orks’ death. Maybe it was sheer bloody tenacity, but there was a distinct sea change midway through the game. The slow and steady Dwarf advance paid dividends as they felled the Hell Knight, then advanced on the Shrine itself, interrupting the Necromancer at his fell purpose.

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Down goes the Hell Knight!
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Down goes the Skeleton Giant.

Bodyguards dead, Dwarf warrior approaching, Desecrae flees the field and leaves the ritual unfinished and a mysterious icon on the shrine dais.

Squealing in triumph, the goblin scuttlers attack the Druid and Werebear, only to be bloodied by spear and broad axe. The survivors scatter.

On the other flank, the Cleric finally lands a solid blow with his mace, crushing the demon’s head.

With heavy casualties and their leader gone, the forces of darkness flee. A near thing but the adventurers claim victory.

The severely wounded Orks will recover but have to do battle next week with penalties to either their Q or C. (their choice)

Hard fought, hard won. Game over.

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However this campaign turns out, the consensus is the Dwarf Warrior’s victory over the Giant Skeleton will be remembered in song and saga for generations to come.

Reluctant Allies

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More Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes gaming this week, with Matt, Derek, John, and Pat each fielding a Hero and Sidekick as they search for the Treasure of Sagra-Bayar.

Each player has their own reasons for finding the treasure, but their goals align  – at least for the moment – and they must work together against a common enemy.

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Choose, you must.

As this was the first meeting, each player had only one player model available for the mission. (Got to make sure they’re going to play nice together)

Even worse, they were forced to make a difficult choice right away: rescue the Seer under attacked by murderous raiders, or save the ancient rune stone about to be smashed by an enraged giant. Each offered different benefits and rewards, but given their strength and time constraints, they could only help one.

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Hearing the giant’s hammering blows in the distance, the party chose to aid the Seer. The battle quickly devolved to individual combat as the raiders turned to face the new threat. Boasting and over-confident, the Ork Tracker went down early on, severely wounded. His new-found companions came to his rescue however, including the Seer, who revived him.

Derek’s Elf Druid dispatched two of the crazed barbarians with his spear while Dragonkin and the Dwarf accounted for one more apiece. Seeing his mates dispatched, the remaining raider fled.

The grateful Seer not only resurrected the Ork but informed the party as to the whereabouts of a possible entrance to the treasure fortress. Each player also received an enchantment on one weapon or article of equipment.

Unfortunately, the Rune Stone was demolished.

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The Hand of the Runesmith, searching for the ancient Dwarf artifact, Uldur’s Anvil
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Blood-Sworn Ork trackers, seeking revenge on the Necromancer, Varro Desecrae and the return of a sacred clan totem.
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Winterthorn Emissaries, sent by the High Council to locate sacred, arcane texts which might reverse the fading power of the Eldar.
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Dragonkin Cleric and Dracolisk familiar. Legends say the Treasure Fortress of Sagra-Bayar is guarded by a great, abyssal demon. This terrible evil must be destroyed.

 

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These make the perfect crazed raiders.

 

Reluctant allies for the moment, the party bound up their wounds, re-sharpened their blades, and went off together toward the Pass at Guhna-Tel.

More next week. Have a great day.

Dark Templars

“A moment of laxity spawns a lifetime of heresy.”

Bobby Jackson sculpts straight from Reaper Miniatures. These heavily armored knights in dark livery make for the  perfect band of zealous crusaders.

Led by Confessor Malcador Izzik, they are out to purge every trace of blasphemy and wickedness from the realm.

 

They were scheduled for an appearance in one of our ASOBH mini-campaigns but our sudden lurch to the neon grit of New Kowloon set them on the back burner for now.

But they’re patient…

 

Dusk Wardens and a new Wizard

Not a lot of photo ops from our recent DnD sessions, altho we last left our heroes carrying an injured old man with dementia to safety while his family farm burned  in the distance. (the goblin bard swears he had NOTHING to do with that. He only set the pig pen ablaze.)

That was after the invisible, tentacled were-cow thing in the attic and the zombie-mom in the bedroom, so yeah… We’re going to bring him to the town for safety before we head back up and sift the smoldering ruins of his once-prosperous homestead for the entrance to an underground lair wherein we’ll most likely find the cause of the mysterious goings-on.

In the meantime, Other-Pat blew us off last night – some lame excuse about ‘celebrating his anniversary’ – so the Dusk Wardens sallied forth to recover treasure from an old border tower.

 

Opposing them stood the twisted conjurer Sothek Fael, a pair of gibbering familiars, a Plague Knight, and a Dark Elf Assassin. Fael had also employed dark majiks to turn the nearby waystones into necromantic portals that spawned 4 ghouls each.

 

The battle was straightforward with no real surprises. (everyone had had a long day at work) Still employing Multi Hit Points for Named Characters, the Dusk Wardens soaked up some serious damage to prevail against the fell hand of the evil mage and his minions. I think HP should max at three, otherwise the players wade in with no real regard for damage. Three allows them to be brave and game cinematic-style but makes damage a serious threat, and health potions and healing much more important.

 

The night ended with the Dusk Hunter at the doors of the tower, the Dusk Quarreler trotting right behind him while the rest of the Dusk Watch bandaged up their wounds.

All in all, it was a solid if undramatic game.

In other hobby news, we’ll be moving into some Savage Worlds Cyberpunk once this current DnD adventure ends. Derek is working his way through the Pathfinder edition of Interface Zero 2.0 as well. And then there’s Gloomhaven 2nd Ed. According to the Kickstarter updates, the box is on the way/getting prepped for shipment.  So it looks like we’ll be brightening our dreary winter nights with plenty of RPG games.

Oh and here’s an new Reaper Wizard. Sorry I didn’t catch the subtlety in the shades of gray on him. A simple PJ but I’m pleased with him. He’s pictured here with another recent addition.

(BTW: the Reaper figs listed below are still available. $125 takes the lot. USPS Priority Shipping included in the ConUS. Let me know if you or anyone you know is interested. These need a good home.)

Thanks much. Have a great day.

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