Friday, January 28, 2011

Tremor with fear

Vogir follows the rest of the group back into the binding chamber. The very walls are shaking now and, as he passes into the chamber leading to the pit, he sees why.
The creature. The enormous creature is half out of its prison.
Stopping in his tracks, Vogir watches as his teammates rush into action. The Shadow chain Dwarves set two of the artefacts down.
The Rib and the Hand.
Bayern places the Heart and the fleet footed Niema sprints to place the Eye.
All of them chant the binding prayer and the Stone Titan reels.
Ghanash and Orestes rush towards the mountainous demi-god.
Rudha-an also closes.
Vogir, momentarily paralyzed with fear, stands beside the Dwarven cleric: Bayern.
Notching an arrow and steadying his breath, Vogir fires an arrow into the only vulnerable spot he can see.
Its eye. Its single remaining eye.
The arrow flies true and hits dead centre!
But it fails to penetrate. A scratch at best.
The others strike at the stone behemoth like bees around a bear.
It’s only the loss off its eye, hand, rib and heart that prevents it from crushing everyone like bugs.
Despite its disabilities, two of the Dwarves quickly get trampled under its terrible heel.
Rudha-an and Orestes are dominated by the creature’s massive will and in confusion turn against themselves.
Finally though the creature starts to weaken and it’s only then that Vogir feels the courage to advance.
His arrows have done a little damage but he knows that his two magical swords can do more.
Vogir isn’t there long however before the Tiefling demoness appears out of the shadows and topples the Titan with more of her dark magic.
Looking directly at him, Niema licks the dusty blade that brought down the creature.
As their eyes lock, a feeling of icy fear trickles down Vogir’s spine.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A childhood furnished in early Febrillan woodwork

I will not hit others. I will treat others with respect.

He wasn’t happy at all. His thick fingers struggled with the quill as he scrawled the cheap ink across the oh-so-costly parchment. He remembered the look on mother’s face as the merchant had quoted her the price for it last week. Why was he even going to school? It wasn’t like he would ever have a need for any of it, and he always got into fights. It was bad enough that he was the son of a craftsman, but an orcish craftsman made him even more of a target.

There was a gust of air, and a welcome smell of sawdust as the door to the kitchen opened. He looked up as his father entered from his workshop, his tusks and fangs gleaming in the dim candlelight. Orestes smiled up at his father, only to be met with lowered eyebrows and a porcine snort, “Iph say you in trouble…not a good boy?”

Orestes groaned. Obviously, his mother had told his father what had happened. “Look, dad, do I really need to do this? Can’t I just help you in the workshop?” His father grunted in retort, “No Orry, you stay. Work hard, make Iph proud.

Orestes, sighed, his hand putting the quill back into the wooden inkwell. “But dad, didn’t you work with your father, wasn’t that how you learned your trade?

Orestes’ father stiffened, and he turned away to busy himself, arranging some cups on the far shelf. Orestes heard a low chuckle from his father, “Orry, my father not a good man. My father murdered my mother, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins. My father did bad things.

Orestes looked straight at his father back, his mouth open. He had never heard his father speak about his grandfather before. “So, he was an orc then, dad?”.

Quaking with fear

Despite the sudden increase in the incidence of the earth tremors, Vogir’s teammates still seem lackadaisical in regard to the urgency of their mission.
The demoness, just returned from her scouting mission, tells them that at the top of the spiral staircase there are just three orcs guarding the final piece of the Stone Titan…
She heads back up just as the ground shakes again. Unwilling to wait any longer, Vogir charges past the slow-witted Half-orc and Dragon-born Warriors and up the stairs.
How tough can just three orcs be?
Charging toward the first one he sees, Vogir sticks his sword deep into the belly of the dragon-masked orc.
He doesn’t fall.
However, spurred on by his action, the others follow his lead and rush to attack the remaining orcs.
Vogir sees the cowardly demoness slip out of sight just before the three orcs summon spirit creatures from a large pile of bones.
The spirits streak across the room knocking everyone down except the dwarf Bayern and the invisible Niema.
The shock of injury overcomes Vogir for a moment and he rolls for cover under a nearby table. Taking a deep breath however, he gulps down two potions and springs to his feet.
He charges at the nearest orc and slices him open before spinning around and ramming both his swords into a second one.
Thankfully the conjured creatures are pulled back to the spirit world with their now dead masters.
Still injured, Vogir then rushes to bring down the last but largest of the shaman orcs.
He is protected by magical forces and seems to be hovering rather than standing on the ground.
It does him no good however against the combined weapons of the Dwarves, the Half-orc, the Dragon-born, the demoness and his fellow human.
Unsurprisingly though, it is Vogir again who claims the kill.
All three of the kills.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Titan is Just a Mortal with a Bigger Shadow

Covering herself in swirling shadows she follows Ghanash into the room darting for the drawing on the floor. For the first time she gets to see the massive body of the titan. She'd killed large and even mythical creatures before but that opponent definitely will take the first place on her list! Feeling into the shadow realm the shadow of the titan stands out in front of her and she places an invisible shroud on it to make a connection. Passing Ghanash, who started to take a stand to grant her cover, she lunges into the circle on the ground and places the eye in the center, muttering the words Duggin had told her. While the eye merges with the drawing on the ground she rolls over, to get into a better fighting position, greatsword lifted over her head ready to parry any attack.
A quick look across the room shows that all three dwarfs have placed their parts in the according circles! The party can begin

She concentrates, strengthening the power of her shroud connection to feel for weaknesses of her target. Without looking she flicks her hand and a black dart of shadows leaves her hand, burring itself deep in the titans flank. She notices Orestes suddenly walking and falling into the pit as if controlled and she can feel the power emanating from the titan also probing her mind. Resisting the urge to follow the titan's commands she quickly tightens the grip of her shroud, feeling for a weak spot through the thin shadow connection. Suddenly, spotting a weakness in the defense, she pulls herself through the shadow realm along the connection. She calls forth the strength of her ancestors which transforms her body and leaving the shadow next to the titan's body, buries her sword deep in his side. Almost instantly she can see the large hand swinging at her, but somehow weakened through forces that seem to emanate from the cleric. Her sword swings a second time but gets parried and the massive hand passes through her now insubstantial body. To get away she reaches for Ghanash's shadow next to her. She quickly finds the connection towards the druid which she uses and leaves the shadow next to Rudha-an.

While she issearching for the next point of attack, the druid bends down near her to take the eye out of its position, clearly fighting a battle in his mind against the overpowering will of the titan. Niema's hand, already half way towards the dwarfen daggers she took of the dead bodies in the passage, stops, as she can see the druid finding back to his senses. The loss of the eye could have meant the end of this battle and the death of them all and she would have been ready to stop Rudha-an with a quick throw, companion or not.

She closes her eyes to see the shadow link that keeps the titan in this plane getting weaker. It won't take much now to sever it. A quick look around makes her realise that also the rest of the group had taken a beating. She focuses her powers and could feel the diabolic blood giving her strength. Before stepping back through the shadows towards the opponent she shapes the shadows on the opposite side into the form of her body as a distraction.
Closing her eyes again she looks at the manifestations in the shadow realm and pulls herself along the now weakening connection towards the massive shape. Taking together all her powers, she again leaves the shadow realm to push her sword into the titans body, aiming towards the empty space where his heart once was and where the shadow links are anchored.

On the way down the massive body pulls her sword upwards and while keeping the grip, she rolls upwards to end up on top of the chest as the body hits the ground. She can see the face of Vogir appearing next to the body and while looking straight at Vogir she twists her sword, feeling the last link being cut and fading away. They had won and the titans shadow had left this plane once again. She pulls her sword out of the body and stands up looking down over the battle field. Feeling her body transforming back to its normal form she lifts the blade to her mouth.
Looking at Vogir she licks along the blade tasting the sweet blood of a titan.
"The sweet taste of victory! Tastes almost like human......just bigger!"
She smiles and winks at the ranger and, gleaming with satisfaction, walks past him to somersault off the body to check on the others.


See ya Josh.
Your Dwarven badassness will be missed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Team Apocalypse vs The Knighty Knights

Team Apocalypse's challenge begins in earnest.
Looking at the scoreboard they're currently running equal to the Hellrazors.
If they beat The Knighty Knights only the Denim recruits can stop him claiming the cup!
Saying that, despite losing their first match, the Knighty Knights are also capable of winning over all.
As are The Denim Recruits.
In fact even the War Pigs could claim second place...
Suddenly the Hellrazor's don't feel so cocky.

Maybe the Final Joust

The three primal warriors stood around Pestilence in silent excitement. She was kneeling in a stone circle on top of the small hill which she used to commune with the spirits.
The warriors could feel the raw primal power flowing through this place. Powerful spirits were close!

Suddenly her eyes opened, showing only the whites of her eyes. She started smiling.
"The spirits have spoken! They can see four knights in shiny armour; Two that wield their sword with divine devotion and two that can strike at a distance. They will enter the arena in the evening of the 33rd day after the winter solstice. The gods expect our presence!"
Her eyes turned back to normal and she slowly stood up. Death looked at her
"So! Paladins and rangers, then? Sweet! Can I take the paladins? They are always so eager to die!"
Both War and Famine looked at each other, eyes rolling.
Famine, taking his sword and putting his hand on Death' shoulder, started to smile
"Just make sure this time that you don't 'trip' again while attacking them, ok?"
War started laughing but with a more serious voice added
"Let's just make sure those rangers don't get too annoying. All in all, we should be back for dinner. We still have some pork roast leftover!"

Friday, January 21, 2011

All of a Quiver

Vogir shakes his head and sighs.
A cavernous room full of Orc archers and what do his associates do?
Wander out of cover and charge headlong towards them.
With swords drawn!
Frankly it’s only the Dwarf: Bayern keeping them alive.
If he were ever to fall or worse, abandon them, they wouldn’t last long.
Still, there was one glimmer of good news.
Vogir smiles as he wanders between the dead Orc archers. Whistling, he gathers up their spilled arrows until all three of his quivers are completely refilled.

Player Types: Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering.

The Power Gamer.
The Power Gamer wants to make his character bigger, tougher, buffer, and richer. However success is defined by the rules system you're using, this player wants more of it. He tends to see his PC as an abstraction, as a collection of super powers optimized for the acquisition of still more super powers. He pays close attention to the rules, with a special eye to finding quirks and breakpoints he can exploit to get large benefits at comparatively low costs. He wants you to put the "game" back in the term "roleplaying game", and to give him good opportunities to add shiny new abilities to his character sheet.

The Butt-Kicker
The Butt-Kicker wants to let off steam with a little old-fashioned vicarious mayhem. He picks a simple, combat-ready character, whether or not that is the best route to power and success in the system. After a long day in the office or classroom, he wants his character to clobber foes and once more prove his superiority over all who would challenge him. He may care enough about the rules to make his PC an optimal engine of destruction, or may be indifferent to them, so long as he gets to hit things. He expects you to provide his character plenty of chances to engage in the aforementioned clobbering and superiority.

The Tactician
The Tactician is probably a military buff, who wants chances to think his way through complex, realistic problems, usually those of the battlefield. He wants the rules, and your interpretation of them, to jibe with reality as he knows it, or at least to portray an internally consistent, logical world in which the quality of his choices is the biggest determining factor in his success or failure. He may view issues of characterization as a distraction. He becomes annoyed when other players do things which fit their PCs' personalities, but are tactically unsound. To satisfy him, you must provide challenging yet logical obstacles for his character to overcome.

The Specialist
The Specialist favors a particular character type, which he plays in every campaign and in every setting. The most common sub-type of specialist is the player who wants to be a ninja every time. Other specialists may favor knights, cat-people, mischief-makers, flying characters, or wistful druid maidens who spend a lot of time hanging about sylvan glades with faeries and unicorns. The specialist wants the rules to support his favored character type, but is otherwise indifferent to them. To make a specialist happy, you have to create scenes in which his character can do the cool things for which the archetype is known.

The Method Actor
The Method Actor believes that roleplaying is a medium for personal expression, strongly identifying with the character he plays. He may believe that it's creatively important to establish a radically different character each time out. The method actor bases his decisions on his understanding of his character's psychology, and may become obstructive if other group members expect him to contradict it for rules reasons, or in pursuit of a broader goal. He may view rules as, at best, a necessary evil, preferring sessions in which the dice never come out of their bags. Situations that test or deepen his personality traits are your key to entertaining the method actor.

The Storyteller
The Storyteller, like the method actor, is more inclined to the roleplaying side of the equation and less interested in numbers and experience points. On the other hand, he's more interested in taking part in a fun narrative that feels like a book or a movie than in strict identification with his character. He's quick to compromise if it moves the story forward, and may get bored when the game slows down for a long planning session. You can please him by introducing and developing plot threads, and by keeping the action moving, as would any skilled novelist or film director.

The Casual Gamer
The Casual Gamer is often forgotten in discussions of this sort, but almost every group has one. Casual gamers tend to be low key folks who are uncomfortable taking center stage even in a small group. Often, they're present to hang out with the group, and game just because it happens to be the activity everyone else has chosen. Though they're elusive creatures, casual gamers can be vitally important to a gaming group's survival. They fill out the ranks, which is especially important in games that spread vital PC abilities across a wide number of character types or classes. Especially if they're present mostly for social reasons, they may fill an important role in the group's interpersonal dynamic. Often they're the mellow, moderating types who keep the more assertive personalities from each other's throats -- in or out of character. I mention the casual player because the thing he most fervently wants is to remain in the background. He doesn't wnat to have to learn rules or come up with a plot hook for his character or engage in detailed planning. You may think it's a bad thing that he sits there for much of the session thumbing through your latest purchases from the comic book store, but hey, that's what he wants. The last thing you want to do is to force him into a greater degree of participation than he's comfortable with. (Of course, if everybody in the group is sitting there reading your comic books, you've definitely got a problem...)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gamer personality types

PLAYER Dag Scott Sven Assif Josh Kirk Christoph Hagen
STORY TELLER 92%83%83%58%83%75%75%?
BUTT KICKER 92%92%17%83%67%67%33%?
SPECIALIST 67%33%58%25%58%75%58%?
CASUAL GAMER 58%50%25%75%42%25%17%?
TACTICIAN 58%67%83%50%83%75%83%?
POWER GAMER 50%83%75%50%83%67%58%?
METHOD ACTOR 33%33%83%0%42%67%83%?

Explanation for the classifications in next post :)

Egil's Lullaby

(With Apologies to Eugene Field)

The sea is dark and the waves crest white,

As the hern-king speeds from the deeps to night

And this is the song the hern-king sings

As over his children his cloak he flings

“Swim, swim, little ones, swim;

be mindful of nets and hooks and lines;

and swim, little ones, swim”.

The sea is wild and the waves crest high

As the hunter sinks to the deep and dies

And this is the song the hunter sings

As back to his children his last cry rings

“Run, run, little ones, run;

I killed the king and his blood wants yours

so run little ones, run.”

The king may sing as he speeds through night

The hunter cry as he fades from sight

But you and I are safe and dry

and I will sing this lullaby

“Sleep, sleep little one, Sleep;

You and I are safe and dry,

so sleep, little one, sleep.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Wrath of the Dragon

The sheriff closed the door behind him and looked at the prince.
"I've just got news that they've attacked the money transport again."
He stopped when he saw the emotionless expression on the prince's face. Very slowly the prince lifted his head and looked straight at the scarred face of the head of his guards
"So just to be clear: We sent out 3 identical carts with identical number of guards on three different routes through the forest and only the one with the tax money got attacked? Apart from us and the inner circle of people, who else knew which was the correct one?"
"Only a handful of people who were involved in loading the carts. Except for two of them, they all were guards who were with the carts and got killed in the attack."
"Who are those two?"
"Two stable boys who dealt with the horses"
"Arrest them and hang them tomorrow morning on the suspicion of working together with Rob Inwood."
The sheriff nodded and was just about to turn and leave the room when the prince continued:
"The emissary of his majesty, the Dragon made it quite clear to me yesterday that the Dragon starts to suspect that we are making up the attacks to avoid paying the tax for this region for our own gain. Should the next tax payment not arrive, they will send out troops to take control and I guess we both know what that would mean. His majesty really doesn't like people who don't pay their taxes!"
"Yes Sire, I heard the stories. I will send out Enric, the tax collector, immediately to get the new shipment together. The people won't like it, but I guess they won't like the Dragon's troops taking over either."
"We have to make it clear to those farmers that collaboration with this criminal in the woods means death. This criminal endangers the peace we have right now and that we pay for by taxes. Do whatever is necessary to get that message across! I trust in your expertise. And before you hang the stable boys, try to find out who their contact was or whether they know where that criminal is hiding!"
The sheriff nodded and turned round to leave the room, closing the door behind him.
The prince walked to the window and looked over the lake and the forest. He heard about the fate of the other leaders who weren't able to pay the taxes. His hand automatically reached up to rub the neck. He can't let that happen. There were rumours that Rob Inwood robbed the carts to give the money back to the poor. That means they have the money again to be taken.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A little bit of story explanation

I sent this very brief summary to Sven - might help answer a few questions:
  • The Glintshield clan used to have a stronghold and run the pass - the only way across the Ironwall mountains.
  • Then 100 years ago they mysteriously disappeared. Rumours of infighting and civil war.
  • Recently the Glintshield clan reappeared and started rebuilding the citadel and re-opening the pass.
  • Then their blood enemies - the Severed Eye orcs, attacked them. Those dwarves not killed, fled into the pass and sealed it behind them.
  • The Shadowed Chain were a secret cult inside of the Glintshield clan.
  • The civil war was over the theft of the rib - used to bind the titan.
  • The cultists had managed to recover the rib and spent decades convincing the Thane to reopen the pass. They hoped to return the item to the binding site when the pass was made safe, but fate - and the orcs - intervened.
  • This is why they had the rib. The other parts were stolen from the binding site and were in possession of the orcs.
  • Note that it is not possible to bind Stonefang without all 4 parts, but one part can be missing for some time (as evidenced by the stolen rib).

The messenger

The dwarf was taken by surprise when the dark shape stepped out of the shadows of the storage room.
"How did you get in here?"
"It is our job to get into places people don't want us to be in. That is one reason why you pay us, I guess! I am here to confirm that the council has received your money and has accepted your request. Things are already in motion."
"And you are here already to do it? The time is not right, yet!"
"No, I'm just a messenger whose job it is to inform you of acceptance. The request will be dealt with at the time and place and with the conditions you have requested in your application."
"Good, see, the reason.."
"The reasons are of no concern to us! If you want to change your mind, now is the last chance! But remember that the deposit is non-refundable."
"No, I'm seeing this through!"
"Glad to hear."
With the last word, the dark shape merged again with the shadows. The dwarf stepped forward into the corner but it was empty. He looked around the room once more to see how the messenger could have disappeared but the only way out was the well lit corridor. It seemed that the praise he'd heard from his contacts about this organization wasn't unjustified.

He went back towards the surface. Now that he knew that the matter will be taken care of, he had to prepare a few things.

Cartoon time

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I get knocked down, but I get up again ...

... only to be knocked down again, and again and again until I'm pulp.

The party found their awesome last session with some very effective collaborative fighting. The orcs, despite being decidedly tough hardly got a look-in.

From a position of tactical strength with archers up high and a brute of an orc upon a dire boar down below, the orcs were utterly destroyed. Rudha-an deserves some special praise for his thorny whip as does the incredible Duggin. Without Rudha-an pulling down the archers so effectively you would have had to get up there (as Niema did against one of the archers) or rely on Vogir to pick them off.

As usual, the combination of Ghanash's leadership and rousing along with Bayern's all-round awesomeness insured the party was never facing a fully fit (or vertical!) enemy and that any hit you sustained was quickly healed.

From the courtyard up to the citadel, nothing changed. Now they faced hydra-head orc reavers that grew extra arms and an orc rampager with 90 hit points. Orestes was in his element and there was not a point where the orcs were able to really let loose and before long (an hour max) all the orcs were dead.

Party awesome. DM has to rethink a little. Dragon headed orc leader next ...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Releasing the Chains - Part 2

After the battle with the Troll Shaman and his pet Ogre, the party moved into the rooms at the other side of the cavern. Here they found orcs lying in wait for them. The orcs had been besieging the last group of the Shadowed Chain dwarves. The party could hear them chanting, evidently to keep up their last magical defence.

The party, now adept at dealing with a few orcs quickly dealt with the enemy and came to the 4 dwarves and explained who they were and that they were sent by Rangrim.. The elderly dwarven leader Gwendar, magnificent in his tattoos of servitude introduced the others; Serka, devoted apprentice of Gwendar, and entirely disapproving of the ramshackle party, Rigdin, the young recruit racked with panic of their situation, and Duggin, stout and tenacious warrior.

"Thanks the gods you have come!" exclaimed Gwendar, clearly exhausted. "Now that all the orcs are dead we can finally seal in Stonefang forever" He explains that the body parts of the earth titan Stonefang must be placed in the magic circles around the Pit of Doom to confine the angry beast under the mountain. Without it he would surely rampage the region bringing all manner of giants and ogres to his call.

He goes on to tell the story of how the Shadowed Chain cult was brought into existence purely to bind Stonefang and that they had to call upon Torog, the terrible evil god of jailers and torturers to be able to accomplish the awesome task. With it the freedom that dwarves love so dearly was lost and so only the secret cult was created. In truth the Shadowed Chain was as tightly bound to the Underdark as Stonefang was to the bowels of the mountain.
But, everything went wrong when a stupid jealous member of the Glintshield clan found the Pit of Doom and stole the rib, igniting a civil war among the dwarves. Dwarf fighting dwarf over accusations of theft and sacrilege of Moradin. Worse still, the civil war allowed the orcs to gain the upper hand in their eternal struggle, resulting in the sorry mess that is found today.

The party, hearing the full story, is eager to help and explain that of the four parts they only have the Stone Hand. With Gwendar only having the Stout Rib it quickly becomes clear to the dwarf that the battles are far from over. He urges the party to search out the other two items and bring them to the cavern so that the mighty titan can be bound. he even offers that Duggin could accompany them to lend his axe to the cause.

Never shying from adventure the party agrees to regain the Heart and Eye of Stonefang and even decide that Duggin might be useful, stout dwarf that he is.

They march to the Citadel!