Monday, February 28, 2011

Of Time and Distance

His ‘friends’ having gone off without him, Vogir takes the time to study the items he’d bought the previous morning.
A pair of magical boots.
A pair of magical gloves.
A magical fireplace in a box.
A magical Longbow…
Vogir pulls the linen string taught and strokes the smooth wood.
‘A Longbow of enhanced range’ was how the trader described it.
It’s a fine bow.
Finer than his Grandfather’s.
Vogir remembered coveting that bow but, despite his Grandfather loving it, it had gone the way of everything else.
Sold to pay off the Dragon’s tax collectors of Redford.
It’s funny how things have changed.
This bow…
Greater than his Grandfather’s, had been ridiculously cheap.
Commonplace almost.
His Grandfather had found just one magical bow in all his years adventuring and here, Vogir had found a superior one, in the market place of a Dwarven town no less.
A Dwarven town!
A place where every inhabitant was too short to even use it!
The ‘change’ had happened before he was born though. The rift that the Dragon had opened to allow her armies into Fissa, also let in the magical energies from the other realms. Demonic, Fairy and untold others.
Magic was more apparent, yet now somehow less… magical.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Not Afraid of the Shadows

Harvak closed the door behind him and stopped for a second, holding the candle into the room. He looked around the room which was illuminated only by the slowly flickering flame in his hand. 'You are getting paranoid, old dwarf' he thought to himself. Nobody could get into his private chambers without digging though tons of rock or half his guards! He went towards the rack where his ceremonial armour was hanging. What could the prince want? It had surely chosen a peculiar moment for his visit to Gilderock. Maybe the old fool just wanted to steal some of the laurels for opening the pass!
Harvak took off his battle armour and stopped again mid-movement to look towards the far corner. The shadow seemed darker than usual. Laughing at his fears, he announced "Hey shadow, I'm not afraid of you!"

"Sometimes you should be"

There was a perfect silence in the room for a while. Harvak stared hard into the corner but still could not make out anything unusual.
"Shadows can't speak. Identify yourself!"
"Shadows also don't have names!"
Clearly a female voice, he was sure. But not dwarfen as far as he could tell.
"Stop the games or I'll call the guards!"
He looked at the door which was only a few feet away
"For what? To attack a shadow?"
He now could make out a darker tall humanoid shape which had moved forward within the shadow. He looked at the axe lying on the table just out of his reach. If he stepped quickly...
"Now, now! Reaching for your axe would only bring this conversation to a quick end!"
"What do you want? Are you a messenger? Is it about a contract I paid for?"
"No" Harvak had the impression the voice almost sounded amused
"You did not pay for this visit. But I can assure you that the contract you have paid for will be fulfilled shortly after I've left!"
Harvak was stunned but finally understood.
"Would you at least be so kind and tell me who has paid for this visit then?"
"Unfortunately for you the other party wants to stay unmentioned as do you in our agreement."
"You can't make an exception and fulfill a dead dwarf's last wish?"
He thought he could see a smile where the face in the featureless shadow should be.
"In my line of work, granting last wishes would be a real hassle, don't you think?"
"Yes, I guess it could make your job more difficult."
He knew there would be no chance to fight it. The reputation of the guild he had paid was immaculate. You had to pay a high price for the guarantee that the job will be done perfectly. He had no misconceptions about his chance to walk out of this room alive.
"Will it be at least quick?"
"It always is"
He straightened up
"Would you allow me to put my armour on? It would be a disgrace for a dwarf to be found without metal on his body!"
"As you wish. I respect people who accept their death without begging. But be quick. You know I have another appointment and you wouldn't like me to miss it, would you?"
He smiled sourly and reached for his ceremonial armour. He didn't turn to face the assassin while he fastened the straps on the sides of his shimmering breastplate. He took the helmet and looked at it for a second while a few memories surfaced. He turned while he pulled the helmet down. And the world went black.

Niema caught the body and silently placed it on the ground. She looked at the bearded face of the dwarf. "My Queen, please take this soul and grant it entry!" It was not often that she met creatures that accepted their end with such dignity. She stood up and brushed down her black cloak. It also wasn't often that she got two contracts which have each other as target. Both wanted a reason to start a civil war to take full power. From what she heard in the markets that day, their wish for war will be fulfilled after tonight. But that was not her concern.
She left through the wall and made her way towards the prince's chambers. There was a chance that he would be as reasonable as Harvak. She respected Dwarfs. Dwarfs always accepted their fate when their time came. Humans never did. As respectful as some might have seemed, they all started begging in the end.

Passing two guards unseen she saw the outline of the prince in the next room. Two contracts fulfilled within minutes. Today was a good day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

RIP the Knighty Knights or Death to Team Apocalypse

On the eve of the third and possibly last round of Assif’s and Sven’s Epic battle, the situation is grim…
Both ways…
This has been an amazingly equal battle with the victory easily going either way.
Currently Team Apocalypse are on top, but a quick and hard counter attack from the Knighty Knights could instantly change everything back again.
So far this has been a battle of brute strength rather than subtlety. Perhaps the time for tactics has arrived?

Friday, February 11, 2011

When monsters attack

His body still protesting, Vogir heaves himself out of bed and gingerly gets dressed.
Over breakfast he overhears whispered talk of a monster attack in one of the local taverns last night.
Hand automatically reaching for his sword, Vogir feels himself tense for battle.
Monsters attacking Humans!
Listening harder, he gets a rough description of the fiends involved.
Three of them…
Taking on all comers bare handed…
An Orc…
A Tiefling…
And a Dragonborn…
Vogir sighs deeply and returns to his fried bacon.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Paladin's Progress

Dokan's nature becomes clear after just one session:

He is a serious fighter that is driven by his desire to protect others and to serve a higher power. This was revealed by the way he saw the distress of the person in the cart and rushed in to take the bandits. In this he has the making of a Paladin, but of whom?

The next incident helps us to decide: seeing the guards dying, he used his healing to save them from death. This is not the work of a servant of the Raven Queen.

However, the last "battle" showed another side of his nature - a love of glorious battle no matter where he may find it. Even in a lowly bar without weapons! In this he shows that his true deity should, and I suspect always was, Kord.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

When you prefer to face the wrath of the dragon...

Waking up with a massive headache he opened his eyes and slowly looked around. He identified the structure ahead as the ceiling of the Castle Inn. Every inch of his body was aching. His hand went up to his left eye which seemed to be swollen and must have taken a massive hit. Darah, the innkeepers daughter, just went past his head and a whistle made it past his lips when he realized the advantages of lying on your back while girls wear wide, long skirts. He immediately regretted it when the boot made it into his already cracked rips.
"Get up you bastard and better run before I report you to the guards!"
"Hey, hey, why so harsh? We just beat the shit out of these monsters and kicked them out of the bar before they could come onto you and I think I deserve a bit of pleasurable repayment for that!"
"Do you? DO YOU?? For kicking out customers who just sat down and wanted to continue having a good night?"
He gave her a confused look and lifted his head. Bodies were lying everywhere on the floor and over the tables. He could spot the unconscious faces of his buddies next to him.
"What in Belial's name happened??"
"Well, maybe it was the beer fumes from the tab behind the bar, but from there it looked pretty much like three guys walked in, a fight broke when one of the guys threw a table at you, and then the three beat the shit out of all you thugs in the bar without breaking much sweat. They then sat down and wanted some beer and ... let me think ... ah, yes: I kicked them out to clean up the mess you've made!"
The big guy tried to think hard if he could remember any of this. There must have been nearly 30 of them when the fight started and the newcomers were unarmed.
"They must have used magic! They truly are monsters!!"
"Ahhh, yes! Of course! How could I forget the magic bottles and chair legs they had! You are right! Evil bastards! You had no chance with the daggers you'd smuggled in! Now get the hell out of my pub and take your idiot friends with you, or the Dragon will seem like a nice guy in comparison to me!"

Didn’t go Inn

Groaning, as he lowers himself gently into the bed, Vogir recounts the last battle in his head.
He had been so overconfident as he blundered into the clearing behind the thorny barrier.
The other’s had behaved as he imagined they would…
Orestes and Ghanash charged headlong into the killing zone. And Dokas, the new Tiefling Paladin had done exactly the same…
‘Tiefling Paladin’?
That sounds so wrong to Vogir’s ears.
Paladins used to stand for something once.
The once free city of Febril used to be a beacon of hope, but now it’s run by bureaucrats, completely under Thereanthor’s scaly claw.
Vogir fades from consciousness, but his dreams are full of monstrous interlopers.
Tieflings, Eladrin and Dragonborns.
Even in his sleep though, he accepts that the Dragonborns were, at least once, natives of Fissa.
He absently wonders where they disappeared to and why they returned…

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Anything you can do Dokan do better

The Party gets another shade darker...

Monday, February 7, 2011

At Camp

He arrived with the group at the palisade and the wooden gate swung open. Greeting the two guards at the gate and waved to the other 3 on old stone tower.
"Fresh meat?"
He looked up to the guard that had asked the question "Yes, I thought we need more men to carry your lazy ass around these days!"
The only answer was laughter from the tower and they entered the camp. The other members of the group looked around nervously while he lead them towards the main building.
He spotted the man he was looking for: "Rob!". The addressed person stopped and turned around, revealing a face full of scars. "You are back! And I see you found new recruits?" looking at the three younger men who tried to stand at, what he could only guess to be their idea of attention. He smiled at Rob who continued
"Good, good! We lost some of the youngsters because of their foolishness on the last raid. I hope you three do better!" and towards himself "Send them to Hrond, his group just came back and he has some days to train them before his next mission".
"Was he successful?"
"Yes, the Dragon will soon find that one of his outposts is missing some weapons and rations. And is miraculously devoid of his black-cloaked bastards!"
They both started laughing and he urged the three youngsters to follow him when Rob stopped him again.
"Oh, and don't get too cosy here! I need you in RottingHam. Rumour has it that Prince Thronestealer is offering money on our heads. Just want to know whether he finds some bored swashbucklers that are eager enough to die for a pittance. Keep your ears to the ground there!"

Friday, February 4, 2011

Decisions to be made

Bayern was walking through the tunnels and streets of Gilderock. He had seen many Dwarfen settlements but Gilderock was amongst the richer and grander ones. He had spoken to some of the Dwarfs that came to shake the hands of him and his companions and picked up some of the city's history. Over centuries Gilderock was the main trading post on this side of the pass, linking the valley on this side of the mountains with the coastal regions around Febril. Rich merchants and skilled craftsmen were the majority of its inhabitants, steadily increasing its power and wealth.

When the pass had to be closed because of the dangers lurking underneath the mountains, Gilderock could contain much of its wealth due to its influence on politics and trade within the valley of Fengdarn. Then came the civil war. Dwarfs fighting dwarfs over reasons that most weren't even aware of. Gilderock, as a hub of power, was hit hard and lost many good dwarfs, but trade never ceased to bring gold into the city's coffers. Soon after the dwarfs agreed on an armistice, the big war swept through the lands, again keeping trade revenue down. But Gilderock, being in the heart of the Dragon's realm, was spared the fate of many major cities like Febril in the east or Seawell in the south.

Nowadays, with the Dragon keeping the peace, Gilderock was on the way up again and the tax payments to the sovereign were high but ensured the dwarfs plenty of rope to run things the way they want. All in all, Bayern was proud of the achievements of his race here. A perfect example of dwarfen resilience!

He looked up when a grey-haired dwarf in the vestments of Bahamut approached him.
"It is an honour to meet such a fine example of a cleric of Bahamut. Your reputation and knowledge about all your heroic deeds preceded you and I was looking forward to meeting you!"
Bayern looked a bit taken aback by so much praise but shook the hands of the old priest.
"The pleasure is mine! I haven't had the chance to meet a brother in faith for a long time. Tell me brother, is the faith in Bahamut strong on this side of the mountains?"
The old dwarf pointed towards a tunnel which led to a bigger cavern.
"Let me show you our church here. My acolytes will be pleased to make your acquaintance. You are a hero to them!"
While they walked the priest started to answer Bayern's question:
"Gilderock was never a stronghold of Bahamut. Most dwarfs here, being craftsmen and miners, follow the teachings of Moradin. But even if small, our community was always strong and we have establishments in most towns and villages around here."
Bayern could see a concerned look on the face of the old man.
"But I'm getting old and most of my students are too young and inexperienced to be sent out to the villages. There are still many dangers lurking and I lost many good clerics in the fights. I was hoping that you might be able to help us for a while..."
The dwarf looked at Bayern, his face full of hope
"With your reputation and experience you would be a shining beacon of hope for many young dwarfs and we would be able to strengthen the influence of Bahamut!"

They finally approached a building showing the shield of Bahamut. Some young dwarfs gathered at the entrance, whispering to each other.
"I know it is just a desperate plea from an old man, but somebody has to lead those students. My days are numbered and I will soon join Bahamut in his great halls"
The dwarf stopped for a second and put a hand on Bayern's shoulder.
"I don't want to push you. I know you have important tasks of your own and your group depends on you. Bahamut teaches that evil has to be opposed and you were and are a powerful implement of our god. All I ask is that you have a look at my students and what we have created here. Even if you only help me for a limited amount of time, we could form those young students so that they are able represent Bahamut when we are both gone!"

After a mass together with the students and some stories from the eastern side of the mountains, Bayern was sitting in a more quiet alcove of the small church looking at the students that were still gathered around the old priest. Bahamut teaches to oppose evil wherever possible but also to protect the weak. Is that the task Bahamut wants him to take on? To strengthen those acolytes so that they can carry on the fight in the future? He took a deep breath and looked up to the shield of Bahamut over the altar. He would have to make a decision soon!

On The Other Side

They reached the end of the pass which was just a short while behind the citadel. A citadel that was built a long time ago to act as stronghold at this side of the mountain range. The group, which had been joined by the Thane and two of his men, stepped out into bright sunlight and were greeted with a view over a wide plane full of lush forests and lakes. Mountains in the distance indicated that the adventurers looked over a wide valley with an opening to the south. The dwarf smiled at the adventurers who had stopped to take in the view after all the time underground.
"I never understood why you people enjoy wide open ground so much. Dwarfs would always prefer a good tunnel over so much open ground!"
He smiled with satisfaction at the disbelieving glances he got.
"I don't expect you tall people to understand the security and riches a good mine can give!"
He continued on the path that came out of the pass and now followed the mountain side to the left. Just a few moments later they could spot the outskirts of Gilderock which was built into the mountain and covered a large area from the path upwards. The city was enclosed by a strong wall and what was visible from the city were many small terraces coming out of the mountain face. Gilderock being a Dwarfen city, there was no doubt that most of its structure was inside the mountain.

When they approached the main gate the signs of battle were clearly visible. Some dwarfs removed bodies of dead orcs, others made repairs to the walls and gate. As soon as their identity could be made out from the walls, a cheer started to build behind the walls and the first dwarfs came running towards them.
"Thane! You are back! Our prayers to Moradin were not in vein!" The dwarf turned to the adventurers: "Word of your heroic achievements have already reached us, noble fighters. We are much indebted to you!" Speaking those words, he bowed to every single one before turning back to Harvak who had already started walking towards the city looking at some dead bodies.
"The orcs came out of the pass yesterday night. Most of them tried to get past the city and towards the valley. Seems that you drove them out of their fortifications! We managed to kill most of them and only a few managed to get down the mountain."
"Well done, Darim! I knew I could leave my city in your capable hands! Give word to the others: Celebrations will start tomorrow for 3 days in honour of our guests without whom the pass would still be closed!"
"I will! This might also please our guest!" Harvak turned around slowly with a careful look! "Guest?"
"Yesterday morning, Prince Thorvil surprisingly arrived with his entourage! He said it was just a routine visit. He resides in your guest quarters."
"What a coincidence..." The Thane had a confused look, but quickly started to smile again when he noticed the inquiring looks of the adventurers.
"Well my friends, it seems we have another special guests for the celebrations. Please follow Darim, he will show you your quarters in my residence at the top of Gilderock. Feel free to look around my city! You are save within its walls and as my guests you will get all help you need. We are renown for the works of art of our blacksmiths and gem cutters and I'm sure you can find something of interest! I have to meet with our Prince and will seek you out once you have settled in."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Titan Bound

This time fate was averted. The terrible demi-god of the mountain, earth titan Stonefang is bound to the very depths of the mountain by the most powerful of magics wielded by the priests of two gods. His rumbling would subside and his binding would be forever watched over by the Shadowed Chain clan.

Thane Harvak is extremely grateful for all the adventurers have done and offers to take them back to his city Gilderock in the hills beyond the citadel. The adventurers remind him that payment is also due from Rangrim son of Prince Thorvil and possibly even the Lord and Lady Sevryn, whose town of Timbervale would soon return to prosperity following the re-opening of the pass.

Harvak graciously offers to honor Rangrim's promise in his stead and suggests that if they come with him to Gilderock, he would double it to make up for the adventurers not being able to return to Timbervale.

While this sounds excellent to the party, partly due to the extra money, but also due to the prospect of more adventure at the other side of the pass, there is more than a tinge of oddness to the request. Why not just let them go back to Timbervale to see Rangrim and then come back to see the Thane at Gilderock? Why offer more than needed - surely dwarves are known for their thrifty-ness?

However, the prospect of money and adventure lures the adventuring party much as an orc is drawn to filth, and they can't help themselves but to say yes. But the Thane is not finished. He begins to talk of their brave deeds and how they will always be grateful to them. He recalls how so many died, and that it would all be in vain if Stonefang were ever to be released again.

He then presses the party never to talk of what happened here and to keep the Shadowed Chain's existence secret so that they may continue their most important duty. To convince them further and to seal the bond he gives them an amulet which he says would protect the wearer from harm (Amulet of Health +2, Fort, Ref, Will, resist 5 poison) along with a potion which he says is a most powerful curative (Potion of Healing).

When they reach Gilderock, they receive their reward (800gp) but they are suspicious of the Thane and his motives against Rangrim and his father the Prince.

On to you Sven!

No-vice is a good thing

Watching the demoness: Niema, Vogir chews his bottom lip.
A whispered voice behind suddenly speaks; ‘There’s no need to be afraid you know.’
Vogir spins around but sees nothing.
‘Daelagor? Is that you?’
‘The Tiefling whore is nothing, but you… You are destined for greatness.’
Vogir’s face settles back into its usual grimace.
‘I hadn’t realised that my change of pact would involve your constant nagging.’
‘Don’t be like that Human. I come baring gifts. My superiors think you’re ready for another boon.’
Vogir doesn’t get a chance to respond before he feels a rush of power flowing into him.
‘Use it well Human. but don’t lose track of your purpose.’