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

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.

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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The Summoning – Chapter 3

  1. Black Smoke, Red Sky.

Safely across the bridge, the Adventurers head to the border town of Jarl’s Knot to purchase supplies and confront the man named in the letter found on the Ork warchief. Following the river path, they exit the forest in the late afternoon and find themselves on a well-traveled road passing through cultivated farmlands and orchards.

As they near the town, they spy black smoke billowing into the sky. The sound of battle rings from over the next rise. Back at the homestead, the Duke’s men had mentioned a surge in raids. Jarl’s Knot is under attack.

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The Road to Jarl’s Knot
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Plot Point 1 – the Abandoned Wagon
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Not abandoned after all! A Gnoll raider surprises Brekr.

The party advanced down the first stretch of road to find an abandoned wagon, signs of a struggle and traces of blood. Whoever was driving it is long gone or dead nearby.

The Barbarian mercenary was the first to reach it. He was no more than five paces away when a Gnoll raider leaped out and attacked. The Skald immediately charged forward, Gnolls being his mortal enemy, but Brekr swiftly dispatched the beast.

Alert, the party moved to the first turn. There they found a fighter beset by two vicious raiders. He is holding his own but yips and barks in the underbrush mean more enemies are fast approaching. Iobus the Mage – now Leader of the party –  decided they would come to his assistance.

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Putting the hurt on the rabid puppies.

Figuring the Barbarian and Skald could help the fighter with a few Gnolls, Iobus and the Ranger head to the third Plot Point further down the road near the split. Bad move: more Gnolls emerge from the trees, accompanied by an Ogre.

Iobus calls back to his comrades. “If you’re done cleaning up that dog mess, I could use a hand here.”

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The Ranger fires at the Gnolls with deadly accuracy as the fighters advance.

A nasty brawl see-sawed back and forth between the Ogre and the Mage, with the Mage taking two brutal hits. Only his Healing Amulet saved him. Shoved back a third time and about to be hit by that massive club again, the Barbarian rushed to Iobus’ rescue. It was a tough fight but Brekr finally takes the Ogre down.

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The Mage did better than expected but some enemies are better left to the brawlers.

Finally, all enemies were either dead or fleeing. The Skald put his Horn to good use this game. (Deamir’s Horn: Character may spend 1, 2, or 3 Actions to blow the Horn. All enemy models in applicable range must test for Morale, 1 die per Action Spent. Failure = Retreat S/M/L depending on Actions Spent. Enemies currently in Melee may be subject to Free Hack.)

The party agreed to hire the Fighter for 10 GP. He now joins their quest to rescue the Duke’s  niece.

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The Adventurers

Another good game: supplies replenished. the party reinforced, Advances gained for enemies killed, but what awaits them in Jarl’s Knot?

***

Two new fighters from Bronze Age Miniatures, shown here with Reaper Barbarian for scale. The dynamic and detail is great. I’ve got a couple dogs in the painting queue and I’ll put them with the guy on the left and make a Tracker. I’m thinking they’ll make an appearance in the near future.

Thanks for looking.

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The Summoning – Chapter 2

  1. WATERS DEEP AND RED WITH BLOOD.

Joined by a Ranger, one of the Duke’s trusted men, the party pursues the raiders into the Westholm Wilds. The trail is clear and soon it brings the Adventurers to a swift, unnamed river, deep in the forest. Nearby stands one of the province’s many Border Towers, usually manned by a small company of the Duke’s troops. Some distance away, a rugged stone bridge spans the river’s dark waters, while on the far bank the party spies a Waystone, one of the ancient, rune-etched markers said to protect the kingdom from the Dark Gods Cronach and Cruenor. Legend also holds the Stones will bestow treasure, knowledge, even special powers to those deemed worthy.

The path ahead seems easy, but an unnatural tension thickens the woodland air.

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The reinforced party trying to rescue the Duke’s niece.

The game opened with no visible enemies and two visible Plot Points, the Guard Tower and the Waystone. The party advanced.

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A walk in the woods.
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Knock, knock?
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A bridge over troubled waters?
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Which way, stone?

The Mage and the Ranger went to check on the guard tower while the Skald and the Barbarian trudged through the trees toward the old stone bridge. At the tower, the Mage reached for the doorknob only to have a werewolf burst out, spitting and snapping. (Strange creatures are said to haunt these border lands)  The fight is on.

The Ranger lends some timely assistance and the noise draws the Skald and the Barbarian hurriedly back to help. (Better late than never?) A Search of the Tower reveals four dead guards, a healing scroll, and a map of the area with a notation for a ford a stones throw from the tower.  A quick debate and the party elects to try the ford rather than cross over to the bridge.

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Heel, damn you!

The party follows a path to the river, disturbing a lone Ork warrior guarding the ford. The Skald moves to engage (not a fan of greenskins) but Brekr the barbarian hacks the brute down first. With no further enemies around, the party crosses the river.

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First across the river, Brekr searches the area around the Waystone and finds a piece of jewelry, a broach with the Duke’s emblem, something a young girl would wear. A fresh trail nearby leads north.

However, their splashing and talking alerts a warband of Orks who were waiting near the bridge in ambush. Enraged, the Orks charge along both sides of the riverbank, bellowing war cries and swinging massive weapons. So much for this being a quiet walk in the woods.

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Combat swirls on the riverbanks and even in the water, but having lost the element of surprise and forced to come at the Adventurers in a line rather than from all sides all at once, the Orks are disadvantaged.

An ugly brawl erupts between Brekr and the Ork Warchief, and Brekr is drien, stunned, back in the river. The Ork is about to deliver a killing blow when the Ranger looses and arrow into his neck. The greenskin falls like a sack of rocks, much to the dismay of the rest of the attackers. Panicked, the remaining Orks flee into the woods.

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Come back, you cowards!

Turns out the Ork Warchief was a third plot point. A Search yields an Amulet of Courage (+1 to Morale rolls) and a letter from an unknown person that describes the Adventurers, and gives the name of a man in a nearby border town who will pay the Orks a hefty sum once they deliver proof of death. (a head or other important body part will suffice)

Enemies dispatched, loot scavenged, the Adventurers now face a choice: Follow the fresh trail in pursuit of the kidnappers, or Confront the man named in the letter in the nearby border town, and gain better information on this mysterious situation.

Which will they choose?

Demise of the Liche King

From the first confrontation with Gnoll raiders at the Seer’s Farmstead, to Orc warbands on deep forest trails, swarms of mutated vermin, a Giant’s lair, vampires, werewolves, ruthless mercenaries, waves of hideous rotting minions spawned by the evil magics of Necromancers, our heroes have waded through carnage, sorrow, and trials to finally confront Dal’Kosh the Undying.

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Skeletons, Barrow Knights, Undead Lords, a reanimated Giant, the Liche King’s force stood ready to destroy any who opposed him.

The two original parties were reinforced in the final portion of the quest by a third band of valiant warriors led by Thaumaturge, Malik ‘D’Orr.

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The party prepares for battle.
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Latecomers but vital to the campaigns’s triumph.
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Tried, tested, battle-scarred, yet resolute, these clerics carried the day against the Undying Triumvirate.
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This warband hacked and hewed a way through the relentless tide of skeleton warriors, carving the path to victory.

Though  every one of the adventurers persevered against great odds and prevailed over the most dreadful, unholy creatures, standing when any other mortal would fall, let it be known that one name will echo in the halls of royal power for decades. One name will be on the lips of kings, priests, lords, and ladies for generations. It shall ring in the streets, hailed by grateful crowds. This man –  a first among equals –  will be woven as the golden thread in the epic tales of seers and hallowed throughout history, immortalized in statue, the historian’s tome, and in the songs of bards for generations to come. That man is…

NORBERT THE NOVICE! 

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Norbert brings the pain down on the Liche King

Occasionally a plan does survive contact with the enemy.

Our intrepid heroes squared off against the Liche King, advancing cautiously in the face of a rushing tide of death. Skirmishes broke out on the left and right as clerics and fighters battled skeleton warriors, Barrow Knights, and the Skeleton Giant. The Liche King’s lieutenants advanced their army across a broad front, supremely confident they would soon hoist the corpses of the meddlers as trophies before their liege lord. But alas…

Steeled by a holy fury, aflame with righteous indignation, guided by the hand of his God, Norbert sprinted across the battlefield on the path cleared by his fellow warriors. He shrugged off multiple attacks from the left and right, and climbed onto the Dias of the Black Moon.

Seeing this impudent mortal approach, the Liche King’s cruel, mocking laughter sounded over the din of battle. He stood and loosed a powerful blast of foul magic. But to his astonishment, Norbert stood steadfast.

Battle swirled all around. Friends fell under the wicked blades of the undead horde. Resolute in the face of ancient and arcane terror, Norbert raised his blessed mace, charged the Corpse Throne, and swung with every fiber of his being.

Ever hear a 300-year old skull shatter?

Sounds like a clay beer jug hitting the floor; an oddly homey noise to signal the end of a centuries-long reign of evil.

And thus did the Liche King fall.

***

Turns out Derek had been saving up every ward, holy anointing oil, potion, amulet, and talisman he looted in treasure caches for the past three sessions and  put them all on Norbert. All his eggs were in the Norbert Basket. 

+ 11 against Undead. WHACK! Gruesome Kill. Game over. 

 

Ranta Cravis – the Right Hand of the Liche

Our Song of Blades and Heroes campaign is coming to an end.

This past Tuesday eve, our intrepid adventurers were reinforced by an additional party led by Thematurge Malik D’Orr. Together, the combined force squared off against Ranta Cravis, a cruel Necromancer and chief lieutenant to the Liche. Cravis had bolstered his zombie horde with a Spectral Warrior and a Ghast champion, Sorik the Undying.

The trail to the Liche led through the ruins of an ancient monastery in the foothills of the Stormcrag mountains. It was there, the Necromancer planned his ambush.

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Ancient Monastery with graveyard.

Entering through the main gate, our adventurers wisely opted to advance together, supporting one another while individuals split off to check the treasure caches  on either side of the road.

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Malik D’Orr and his companions (led by newcomer, John)
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Matt fielding three of the Elf Exiles
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Derek’s clerics armed, armored, and anointed for battle. 
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Cravis and the horde
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Ghast, Spectral Warrior, and a swarm of locally sourced, corpse-fed, free-range rats.

As expected, the battle turned into a straight up brawl in the middle with our heroes slugging it out with the Undead. Thankfully, the two treasure caches yielded some holy salves and ointments that proved a bane to the Necromancer’s shambling mass. (at one point, Norbert the Novice was wading into zombie swarms with a +6 C bonus against the undead. He was unstoppable)

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Alas, the victory was not without cost. Two of the elf exiles fell to the Necromancer’s foul minions. (Not that Matt cared; he only played elves this game to avoid casualties to his regular crew prior to the big showdown)

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Elf rogue confronts rats while moving on last treasure cache

Final game scheduled two weeks from now. Our heroes may have defeated the evil Necromancer and routed his force, but can they stand against the Liche himself in the ruins of Stormcrag Keep?