Thursday, 26 July 2018

4 Against Darkness

I am back from almost 3 weeks travelling through Southern Italy.

I took one gaming item with me on the trip. Well, actually it was on the cloud. A copy of the solo game Four Against Darkness. I was pointed in the direction of this game several months ago and bought a PDF copy.

I have always had an interest in solo games. It made more sense before the proliferation of online platforms for gaming but there is still a place for it. While it is easy to join an online group sometimes you just do not want to be held to a time slot. Solo games work for that. Computer games do as well to some extent.

Four Against Darkness is a simple rule set that allows you to direct a team of four adventurers against a randomly created dungeon. I have played through 12 rooms of my first random dungeon with moderate success. It is interesting but does not come close to matching actually cooperative gaming. The rules do not allow for much of a story to develop.

The first step is to choose your four heroes. I decided to go with a classic fighter, cleric, thief, and wizard. The heroes are differentiated only by a few powers by class and their equipment. The next step is to place a starting entrance on a sheet of graph paper. Then you move the heroes into the next room which is randomly generated. You can encounter an empty room (and can search if you want to see if it is not empty), foes to fight of varying difficulty or special rooms.

Combat is simple, all of the rolls made by the hero. To attack roll d6 and score higher than or equal to the monster level. To defend roll d6 and score higher than the level of the foe. Foes that hit the hero do 1 wound. But the hero does d6 wounds. So it is possible to kill more than one foe with an attack. Magic and healing are all limited to a set number each adventure so it is important that the heroes do more damage.

There are some additional rules, morale, traps, puzzles but that is the essence of it.

My second encounter in my first dungeon my starting heroes rolled up seven level 4 orcs and I thought we were going to have a total party kill. The fighter, cleric, and thief repeatedly missed while the orcs kept hitting the heroes. Luckily the wizard cast sleep and then fireball successfully and the Orcs fled as they are afraid of magic and must roll morale if magic slays one of them.

The heroes are waylaid by Orcs in the Fearsome Vault.

Monday, 2 July 2018

A Night at the Cemetery

A Night at the Cemetery

Once more into the Void Session 5 - A Night in the Cemetery

This is the last of the retroactive write-ups of my D&D 5th edition campaign. Session 6 was the first session I posted on my site just more than a year ago.

Intruder in the Night

“I was robbed!”, Oto yelled as he came down the stairs to the common room of the Inn. The Innkeeper looked up with concern.

“I.. I am sorry?” Artain Whitlow the Innkeeper said.

“I said I was robbed, in the middle of the night some foul miscreant snook into my room and stole my oar,” Oto said.  “And the replaced it with this… this thing.” Oto flourished the brand new quarterstaff in the face of the innkeeper.

“Your oar was stolen?” Artain asked with a puzzled look on his face.

“Yes, and I know which group of unreliable miscreants is responsible!” Oto spun about taking in his fellow travellers heads bent over bowls of porridge at a nearby table. After a pause, everyone at the table burst into laughter.

Oto gets robbed.
Session 5

The heroes are walking toward the village of Winterton in the company of the cleric Hans who they have just rescued from skeletons.

Hans explains to the adventurers that Winterton has been having problems with undead activity and could use some help. Hans asks that the adventurers meet with the leader of Winterton. The heroes agree and Hans leads them to Omir Estates to meet the leader. Lord Kilian is the head of the Omir family and the Lord of the village. Hans gets the heroes in to meet with Lord Kilian.

Lord Kilian explains that the undead problem has been going on for several days. Thinking back the heroes recall they encountered the undead pirates at sea one week ago. The Lord explains that they do not know where this land is in relation to Neverwinter. The village is founded by people who were lost at sea. They also all passed through a mysterious fogbank. Apparently, there are other settlements in this land including a larger town to the north. Now that it is winter the passage to nearby settlements is nearly impossible. Lord Kilian commissions the group to patrol the area around the village and destroy undead. In return, the group gets free room and board and a guide to take them to a larger village to the north.
The heroes are put up at the Blue Goose Inn and Tavern. Artain Whitlow is the innkeeper. The group enjoys eating and drinking their fill. The innkeeper is full of information telling the heroes that the dead have been rising every night. Sometimes undead animals and goblins are also seen.

The group goes to the nearby Trader’s Emporium to buy equipment. Oto attempts to negotiate a free quarter staff since he is working for Lord Kilian but the owner of the Emporium refuses. Oto declares that he prefers his trusty oar instead.

The heroes return to the Inn and each settles into a peaceful night of sleep. At some point in the middle of the night, Oto’s oar is stolen and replaced with a quarterstaff (snuck into the room by Talrek). They sleep during the day and head to the cemetery at dusk.

The Companions come up with a plan.

Once at the cemetery the heroes meet in front of the tiny chapel and set up a plan. Thyrell will stand watch from atop a mausoleum and the rest will patrol. Mukah and Oto in one group and Alcor and Talrek in the other pair. Oto tries to strike up a conversation with Mukah but the half-orc is not in a talkative mood. Oto suggests they not look very hard for the undead.

Suddenly, skeletons begin to erupt from the graves. Thyrell spots them and calls out a warning to the rest of the group so no one is surprised. Thyrell shoot and hits one skeleton with an arrow. Everyone else begins to move to one area to form a defensive position. One skeleton armed with a bow hits Thyrell with an arrow. Mukah holds his ground while Oto vaporizes a skeleton with magic missile. Mukah misses a skeleton with his longsword but Oto backs him up and turns the skeleton to ash with Burning Hands.

Thyrell gets surrounded and is hit twice more by arrows. Talrek destroys a skeleton with Guiding Bolt. Thyrell goes prone on top of the mausoleum and tries to cure himself but is unable. Talrek is also hit by an arrow. Oto blasts another skeleton with Magic missile destroying it. Mukah ducks behind a gravestone and taunts the skeletons surrounding Thyrell. Thyrell stands and hits a skeleton in the skull with an arrow destroying it. Alcor Fenn destroys a skeleton with unarmed strike and the last skeleton runs off into the woods.

Thyrell takes off after the skeleton and tracks it through the woods to the beach where he loses the track. Talrek catches up to Thyrell and picks up the tracks. Thyrell and Talrek catch up to the skeleton and destroy it. On the way back to the cemetery Talrek spots another set of tracks. This time the tracks are clearly made by boots and the lead up close to the cemetery and then back into the woods. The heroes search amongst the skeletons and find a handful of silver and copper coins.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Mysterious Shores

Mysterious Shores

Once more into the Void Session 4 - Mysterious Shores

I have only two more early adventures of the Once more into the Void Heroes to post. The fourth session was one that first gave me the idea of creating renders of the adventures. Our misadventures in the lifeboat had all of the players busting a gut laughing. And no one got hurt too much.

Misadventures in a Lifeboat


“Huh,” Oto muttered sleepily. He had been trying to sleep in the rocking boat for hours but it was just too cold and it was moving from side to side too much.

“Wake-up Oto!”

Oto snapped his eyes open to see the drow Thyrell shaking him awake.

“I’m awake.” Thyrell had already moved away to take a position in the center of the lifeboat. Oto, looked about and saw everyone was awake. So it was not his turn to watch.

“Something bumped the boat twice,” whispered Thyrell. “Really? Maybe it was a piece of debris or something?” said Talrek.

Just then something did hit the boat and hard. Oto had just been rising to his feet to crouch. The lifeboat tipped to the right and he realized he was not going to be able to keep his balance! Oto windmilled his arms in desperation, tried to take a step to the left and felt his foot descend into the ice-cold water. In an instant, he had been tossed entirely in the sea.

The water washed up over his head and Oto struggled desperately to pull his head clear of the water. He could feel one hand in the air above. His robes felt like they were weighted down with stones. He kicked desperately. The cold clasped his head like a vice. His head passed clear of the water out into the cold air and then dunked again. Re-doubling his efforts he kicked for the surface. His hand whacked against something hard and cold.

“Ahhhh!,” Oto screamed recoiling from the object as his head breached the surface again.

“Quit yelling and thrashing about and grab it!” Oto heard a voice say. Opening his eyes he saw the end of one of the wooden oars was the object he had struck. Thyrell was perched dangerously nearby in the lifeboat and was holding out an oar for Oto. Oto’s hand grasped at the oar.

“Don’t pull or I’ll fall in with you,” Thyrell said with a chuckle. Oto looked up and could see the drow had been trying not to laugh. Sitting nearby in the boat, Talrek had given up trying to hold in the laughter and was bent over clutching his stomach laughing out loud for all his worth.

Oto let Thyrell pull him to the edge of the lifeboat. To his left, he saw Mukah swim up to the lifeboat and drag himself onboard. Oto reached the lifeboat and clung onto the side. He tried to lift himself but all his strength was gone. He clung on weekly.

“C’mon Oto,” Thyrell said and he and Talrek each grabbed an arm and dragged the sodden wizard into the lifeboat. Oto sat shaking in the lifeboat staring up at the dark sky.

Alcor leaped lightly over him brandishing his spear.

“Here it comes again, hold on everyone!”

Misadventures in a Lifeboat

Session 4

The action opens with Alcor Fenn, Mukah, Otrivush Oto, Talrek, and Thyrell adrift in a small ship's lifeboat. They have managed to board with all of their equipment. The group has set up watches with two awake at all times.

After about four hours drifting in the lifeboat in the fog Mukah and Thyrell notice that the temperature is dropping. Then something big brushes against the bottom of the boat. Mukah stops rowing. The lifeboat is struck again and this time heels over to one side before righting itself. Thyrell wakes Talrek, Oto, and Alcor. Shortly after everyone is awake the boat is a third time. This time the boat pitches over and everyone has to hold on tight. Mukah and Oto are pitched into the sea. Mukah was just standing up and is pitched the furthest from the boat. Oto starts to be dragged under by his heavy robe but Thyrell pulls him into the boat with an oar. Mukah swims back to the boat and is hauled in by Alcor.

Everyone is quiet and watching the water. Mukah and Alcor are standing ready to fight. A sea serpent or serpent-like fish surfaces near the boat and glides toward them. Oto casts Sleep and it has no effect. Talrek casts Sacred Flame. As the creature dives under the boat, Alcor and Mukah both stab it. The creature cries out and then vanishes into the fog.

The rest of the evening passes without incident. The next day the fog is still present limiting visibility to a few hundred feet. The boat continues on moving with the current for four days. In the evening of the fourth-day ice is encountered in the water. The sea also begins to shallow. In the distance, the group can hear water washing up onto a shore. The fog clears slightly and they see land in the distance. The land is covered with snow. The lifeboat is pulled aground on a snow-covered beach. The snow is more than a foot deep.

Oto takes one of the oars to replace his broken quarterstaff. After fully equipping themselves the group begins to move inland up a slight rise. In the distance, they hear a man calling out in desperation. The heroes advance up the hill rapidly and come to a 10-foot wall. Cries for help come from the other side of the wall. Mukah boosts Alcor up to see over the wall and he reports that the wall surrounds a cemetery.

Finding a break in the wall, the heroes rush in and see a man being menaced by three skeletons. He is desperately avoiding the attacks of the skeletons. Mukah charges forward and attacks a skeleton. Thyrell moves up and swings and misses. Oto casts Magic Missile at one skeleton injuring it. Thyrell is struck soundly by a skeleton wielding a sword.

Oto casts Magic Missile again and still, the skeleton continues to try to hit the stranger. Thyrell hits one with little effect. Talrek casts Guiding Bolt and destroys a skeleton. A skeleton moves toward Oto and the mage backs up rapidly right into Thyrell. He casts Blade Ward on himself. Mukah knocks an arm off a skeleton and then smashes it to pieces. Oto strikes the last standing skeleton with his oar destroying it.

The stranger expressed thanks to the heroes who have rescued him. He introduces himself as Hans. He is a cleric tasked with looking after this cemetery. He casts Cure Light Wounds on Thyrell. Impressed by the heroes, Hans asks if they would come to meet the Mayor of the nearby village of Winterton. The undead have been rising from the grave for the last few days and they need help with the problem.

The heroes decide to follow Hans to Winterton which is a short distance away (just down the hillside in a valley).

Thursday, 28 June 2018

The Voyage

Once more into the Void Session 3 - The Voyage

I am going back and posting session reports of the early adventures of my D&D 5th edition group. I started writing session reports after the fifth session. But I have the notes to write up the older sessions.  In this session Otrivush Oto joins the team and the heroes go on a voyage.

A Meeting

“Another ale, barkeep,” Oto slammed down his nearly empty tankard and waved at the approaching barman. The barman held out his hand in askance.

“Fine, fine,” Oto said in exasperation. Reaching into his pockets he searched about and found two coins. His last two gold coins. He handed out one of the gold coins.

“That should pay for the several ales and a spot on your floor tonight!” The barman snatched up the coin, sniffing at it suspiciously then shrugged and placed another full ale in front of Oto.

Otrivush Oto, a scholar of Candlekeep, brought to this he mused. My last two gold coins. Well, better to go out smiling. He drained the last of the ale and picked up a new one, looking about blearily. Across from him was a new face. A great big half-orc sat at the common table of the bar.

“Cheers, big one,” said Oto said raising his ale to the half-orc. Digging out his last coin Oto looked at the half-orc. “Can I buy you a drink?”

The half-orc looked Oto over for a moment then made a grunting noise. Oto realized it was a laugh.

“Big One,” he chortled, “You are twice my weight human!”

Oto took another swig of ale. “Now hear me, do you know who you are talking to?”

“Clearly not”, laughed the half-orc.

“Otrivush Oto, lately of Candlekeep, wizard second class of the School of Evoca.. Evo.. Evocation,” Oto mumbled.

“A wizard?” The half-orc rubbed his chin. “We might have some work for you wizard, Maybe  I’ll take that drink”. Oto looked at the half-orc unsteadily. Did he say work? Why I never. And then things started to go a little dark.

“Yes - I think I have some friends who would like to meet you”.

A pirate ship appears.

Session 3

As the new adventure opens the heroes are in Neverwinter. Thyrell the drow ranger, Mukah the half-orc barbarian, Alcor the tiefling monk and Talrek the dwarven cleric are joined by Otrivush Oto the human wizard. The group takes a job loading cargo onto a galleon and protecting the cargo on a long voyage at sea.

As the heroes are loading the cargo they are interrupted by explosions in the harbour area. Zombies appear and start moving along the docks attacking dockworkers and travellers and turning them in turn into zombies. A wayward traveler emerges from the mob of zombies and runs toward the ship yelling for help. Oto fires a magic missile at a zombie chasing the wayward traveller but it shrugs it off with little damage. Thyrell retreats up the ship’s gangplank as the captain begins yelling orders to shove off and make sail. Alcor runs onto the ship.

Talrek moves forward and smashes a zombie with his war hammer destroying it. Oto runs for the gangplank but trips and falls in the harbour. Thyrell throws Oto a rope and the wizard grabs hold and is dragged up onto the deck of the ship. Mukah runs for the ship but it is already pulling into the harbour so he leaps and misses the ship landing in the harbour. The rope that was used to pull up Oto is thrown to Mukah.

A large, grotesque creature appears in the zombie horde holding a longbow. He shoots the wayward traveller who stumbles into the harbour. Mukah scoops up the wayward traveller and both are dragged onto the ship.

The arrow that struck the wayward traveller in the back turns to black powder. Turning the man over the heroes see that the man is convulsing and black veins are spreading over his body.

“Don’t give it up,” he gasps and then hands a package to Talrek. Inside the package is a shiny, black rock. The man dies. Moments later his eyes open and he attacks, his hands transforming into huge, malformed claws. It claws Mukah and the half-orc crushes him with his longsword. The body is tossed overboard.

The heroes look back as the ship clears the harbour. The zombies are pushing out onto the docks. The ship heads out to sea.

The ship sails on for several days. One night a thick fog bank rolls in around the ship. In the distance, the sound of water splashing over rocks can be heard. The captain calls everyone to the deck to look out for rocks.

A ship comes unerringly out of the fog and crashes right into the bow of the ship. Pirates come pouring over the gunwales and attack. Oto casts magic missile at three pirates and kills one. Alcor strikes and kills one with his forearm. Thyrell runs one through with his short sword. Oto casts Acid splash with little effect but Mukah strikes down the pirate marked with acid. The pirates start to be pushed back but then another wave of pirates jumps onto the bow and push forward. Oto casts Magic missile again and is out of spells. It becomes a desperate melee and Oto readies his prized quarterstaff.

A fireball flies off the pirate ship and crashes into the galleon blowing a hole in the deck clear through to the waterline. Water begins to rush in. The captain calls to his crew to abandon ship. While engaged in melee Talrek realizes that the pirate is one of the weird black-veined zombies. A commanding voice calls out from the pirate ship.

“Grab the dwarf, forget the rest!”

Talrek is grappled by several of the undead pirates. One of them grabs the package holding the black rock. There is a horn blast from the pirate ship driving the zombies into a rage. The zombie who now has the black rock breaks free and jumps back onto the attacking ship.

Oto moves up to help Talrek swinging his quarterstaff but he strikes Talrek’s shield instead of a zombie and the quarterstaff splinters into several pieces. The heroes redouble their efforts and clear the foredeck of zombies. But the black rock is gone and the attacking pirate ship pulls away and disappears into the fog.

Looking about the heroes see that the ship is awash and sinking. The masts are engulfed in flames. The crew has abandoned ship and is nowhere to be seen. They launch the remaining lifeboat and drift away into the fog. They see the glow of their ship burning and then sinking out of sight.

Otrivush Oto ends up swimming in the harbour

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Retro Session 2 Waking the Sleeper

Once More into the Void

Another retro session from last year. When last we left the heroes in episode one, had taken on a mission to rescue a missing young man from the Village of Hruelin’s Post. The young man, Cynric, had entered the nearby Tomb of the Sleepers. They found the young man just inside the entrance but then continued on into the tomb with the sleeping boy slung over the shoulder of Mukah the half-orc.

Retro Session 2 Waking the Sleeper

The heroes decide not to continue south through the rough-hewn tunnel. Instead, they return to the Preparation chamber. As they walk down the hallway Talrek spots a secret door in the south wall. Peering into a chamber at the end of the hall they see several corpses lying on stone biers. The heroes assume these are undead. Since they are low on health they decide to ignore the chamber and the secret door and instead decide to head back to the broken tomb and follow the rough-hewn tunnel.

However, as soon as they enter the broken tomb three troglodytes attack with surprise from the shadows. There is a long struggle (4 rounds) and the heroes prevail. Alcor is badly wounded by one troglodyte after being hit twice (down to 2 hit points). They pause to rest.

The heroes continue south entering the rough-hewn tunnel. Talrek notes that the tunnel is a rougher construction than the rest of the tomb but not natural. In the distance, Thyrell hears the sound of running water. Entering a cave they see that a swift-moving underground river is passing through its center. The river is 20 feet wide and too wide to cross. They discuss the possible method of crossing the river. Alcor notes fist bones lying on the cave floor. The bones are gnawed on but the fish heads have large jaws and sharp teeth. Suspicious of what is in the river, Talrek, and Mukah pick up a troglodyte corpse and toss it part way into the river. The carcass is hungrily attacked by a pool of quippers.

They decide to not cross the river and head back up the tunnel to explore the rest of the tomb. Talrek operates the secret door and a 5-foot wide section of the wall slides back into the wall revealing a tomb. Inside is a stone sarcophagus and very little else. Thyrell and Talrek work together to lever the stone lid off of the sarcophagus. As they slide it back it reveals a withered corpse of a man in a long robe.

While Thyrell and Talrek still have their hands on the stone lid the corpse's eyes open and it springs up attack Mukah. The heroes fight a quick battle with a wight. The wight strikes Thyrell but the dark elf manages to save against the attack. The wight is eventually destroyed by Talrek using multiple castings of Sacred Flame. The rest of the heroes were unable to hurt the wight.

The Sleeper is revealed

With only one chamber remaining the heroes decide to draw out the corpses in the chamber they passed over. Thyrell fires several arrows at the corpses but they just do not move. As soon as Thyrell enters the chamber, two corpses rise up and attack. The fight is fairly short with Mukah easily overwhelming one zombie and aiding in the destruction of a second zombie.

The heroes head back to the Preparation Chamber (the first chamber entered with the 4 stone pillars and the statue of Selune) and examine the statue closely. They realize that it can be shoved backward on tracks. Working together they shove back the statue and reveal an opening below holding a leather sack. But when the statue moves back all of the stones in the entrance hall slide into a position blocking the way out.

The sack is opened and it contains 200 ancient silver coins, 1 potion of healing and 1 unknown potion. Unable to figure out how to move the stone blocking the hall they try to move the statue back into position. Once the statue is moved back into position the stones move to allow the heroes to leave the tomb and head outside.

The heroes head back to Hruelin’s Post, Mukah carrying the still sleeping boy Cynric. Reaching the Inn, which is still open, they enter and are greeted as heroes by the villagers. Still, no one is able to wake Cynric. Eventually, the village herbalist is summoned and she realizes that the unknown potion the heroes found is a sleep antidote. Once Cynric is given a draught of the potion he wakes up.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Once more into the Void Retro Sessions

The online D&D 5th edition campaign I am in is on hiatus, so I thought I would post the first few adventure session reports. I started posting reports at session 6 so this gives me 5 extra session reports I can post. I was the Dungeon Master for the first two sessions. Our chosen DM needed a few weeks to prepare so I stepped in and ran a short, starter adventure.

I had written a short adventure that was designed to be an introduction to a Phandelver Campaign. So it takes place on the Sword Coast just north of Neverwinter along the High Road.

The Sleeper Wakes Session 1

The players are caravan guards who are between jobs returning south to Neverwinter. They have worked the High road for more than a year becoming good friends and becoming known to the people of the small villages along the road. This is a good thing because first impressions of this group are important.  You almost all of them are a little unusual.

Alcor Renn is a tiefling monk with red skin and red eyes, Mukah is a half-orc barbarian prone to rages, Tyrell Beam Catcher is a dark elf with dark skin and white hair and rounding out the group is Talrek Ironblood a dwarven cleric. They are used to fearful glances as they enter new villages, but the small village of Hruelin’s Post has grown used to them and accepts that they are not a danger.

Traveling from Icewind Dale they reach a favorite Inn, The Llast Post in the late afternoon. Knowing that they can reach Neverwinter with one more day of travel they decide to stop for the night. Just as the four companions are sitting down to a good meal an old woman races in the door. The woman is hysterical and crying out for help. She spots the heroes and immediately rushes to their table asking for help. Widow Demelza’s son Cynric has entered the Sleeper’s Tomb and has not returned!

The heroes calm her down and ask a few questions, it seems her son, who is a clever boy, told her that he had figured out how to enter the Sleeper’s tomb. She forbade him from entering of course but he slipped out after yesterday’s chores, took a lantern, a mirror and grandpa’s sword and set off. When Demelza got up in the morning and found him missing she ran to the Vale of Selune where the tomb entrance is located. There she spotted the missing mirror lying on the ground but no sign of her son.

A few questions to the locals reveal that the Sleeper’s Tomb is in a low valley in Neverwinter forest. It is a doorway flanked by two statues of Selune. The heroes volunteer to find Cynric and return him to Demelza. One of the local farmer, Egerton, volunteers to show them the way to the Vale of Selune.

The heroes are taken to the Vale of Selune by Egerton who points out the valley and then takes his leave. From this vantage point, they can just make out a stone wall at the end of the valley. The sun has set and the moon rises.

The Vale of Selune

The heroes approach the entrance with stealth and see two worn statues of Selune. One statue is missing its head. Searching the area Thyrell spots recent tracks going back and forth, an “X” scrawled in the dirt and a mirror lying on the ground. Mukah tries bashing in the stone block that blocks the entrance without success. Talrek notes that Selune is a goddess associated with the moon. After thinking it over for awhile they decide to reflect moonlight onto the entrance. Nothing happens. Finally, Mukah reflects moonlight onto the face of the Statue of Selune and the massive stone block slides slowly to one side. A stair leads down. They see a broken lintel over the door with an inscription. The only part of it can be made out, “disturb the rest of he who sleeps”.

Talrek leads the way down and triggers a switch on the second last step before another stone block. The block slides to one side revealing a small chamber. In that chamber, Cynric lies on the floor apparently sleeping. Another stone blocks further passage into the tomb. This one has the symbol of Selune on it with seven raised starts and two sapphire eyes.

Mukah is unable to wake up Cynric despite giving him a good shake. The stone block behind the heroes starts to slide shut but Thyrell is still on the other side and he steps on the trigger causing it to open again. Working out the trick to the door Thyrell walks back outside and comes back with a heavy rock. Putting it on the step it seems to hold the door open (thus bypassing my cleverly designed gas trap).

Talrek and Alcor realize that the stars on the next door can be pressed in. Nothing happens when they press the various starts. Eventually, Alcor, Talrek, and Thyrell work together to press in all of the starts at once and the stone door opens. There is a brief discussion of what to do with the sleeping boy. Mukah ends the discussion by slinging the boy over his shoulder.

Finding Cynric

More steps lead down into a deep, underground chamber. The chamber roof is held up by four stone pillars carved to resemble an open-mouthed worshipper of Selune. On the north wall is a six-foot-tall statue of Selune wearing a stone necklace with 7 sapphires in it.

Thyrell and Talrek decide that clearly, the open mouths are traps. Mukah is instructed to climb up and investigate and he sees copper tubes in the mouths of the statues. Climbing pitons are used to block the copper tubes. The group decides to head west down a passage. They pass a hole in the south wall of the passage and enter a chamber that is clearly a tomb. Six skeletons lie on stone platforms. As they enter the room three of the skeletons rise and attack. It is a quick pitched battle and the skeletons are killed but Thyrell is badly injured. Talrek uses his Cure wounds spell on the dark elf using up all his healing spells.

Finding this chamber is a dead end they come back up the passage and step through the hole in the wall into another chamber. It is a badly damaged tomb. While poking through the rubble two giant centipedes attack. Talrek moves forward and kills one, Thyrell fires wildly and hits Talrek in the back with an arrow nearly killing the dwarven cleric. Mukah kills the second giant centipede.
There is another, more rough-hewn, tunnel entering the chamber from the south. The heroes paused to catch their breath. Mukah again picks up the boy and tosses him over his shoulder. The boy, Cynric, continues to sleep soundly.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Blackwind's Tower Chapter 2

Badger set down the heavy wheelbarrow with a grunt. He had asked for a cart and the wizard had produced a rickety wheelbarrow from inside his shop without a word. Then he had nodded at Badger locked the shop door and walked off at a brisk pace. Clearly, the wizard felt he had done his part. It had been up to Badger to drag and stuff the man’s body into the cart. He had furtively moved the body down a back alley before finding bags of garbage behind a butcher’s shop to pile on top of it.

At first, Badger had looked about for somewhere to quickly dispose of the corpse - garbage heaps, sewers or dark holes. But, it turned out, Pirn was pretty clean for a town of its size and clearly had no sewers. So Badger realized he was going to have to get the body out the gates to the garbage dump. Getting past the guards at the gates were not going to be easy.

As a stranger to Pirn, he was bound to attract some attention from the guards at the gate. Looking down at the load in the wheelbarrow Badger could see a loose arm dangling out from under a bag of garbage. Bending down he moved to push the arm back under the garbage.

“How do I get into these situations,” Badger thought as he carefully covered the body with garbage. Pirn was the end of the line for Badger. Located at the final stop on the edge of the Realms before the Wilderlands. Badger was a child of the cities. An orphan raised by a street gang in Shallowport. Chased out of Shallowport he had wandered further and further to the edges of the Realms. From here there was nowhere else to go.

“And now in my third day in the town, I am already disposing of bodies,” Badger mused with disgust. “At least this one was not my doing.” Still, depending on how he played it, the wizard should now owe Badger a favour. Of course, the wizard might not react well to being asked for a favour. “If I can just get this body out of here - and get back in.”

Ahead lay the Quarter Market gate. Two square towers with the gate between them. The gate was open and clear but three guards were on duty. Likely the gate would close at dusk. Looking about, Badger could see the shadows lengthening. Dusk would come soon.

Two guards had stacked their polearms against the wall and had their attention focused on a set of dice they were rolling onto the dirt just outside the gate. But a third guard was checking people walking in and out of the gate.

He needed a distraction of some sort Badger watched the gate for several minutes before he spotted his opportunity.  Approaching the gate leading a horse, was a man clad in worn armor, a sword swinging at his hip. The horse was laden with a half dozen full sacks. Just behind the horse came another, smaller man with a heavy sack slung over one shoulder. This pair was going to get the guards attention.

Badger quickly lifted the wheelbarrow and pushed it into the fading sunlight of the gate square. He had to time it just right. He approached the gate as far away from the alert guard as he could, timed for just as the two travellers approached. Badger ducked his head down and put his best “bored peasant” expression on his face. It was one of his best skills at avoiding notice. Look away but do not appear to be looking away.

“Hold and state your business!”

The guard spoke out, Badger kept moving assuming the guard was speaking to the incoming travellers. “Travellers looking to enjoy a clean bed in your fair town”, came the reply. Good, they have his attention thought Badger.

Surreptitiously, he peered toward the two guards to the right. Their attention was held by the dice and they did not even spare Badger a glance.

“Damn dice are against me today,” Badger heard one of the guards curse. Then as he moved off he heard one of the guards straighten up.

“Who is that with the wheelbarrow?” came a distinct voice. “Never mind him, throw the dice I mean to win back my coppers, Jadon”.

Badger relaxed his breath, his heart was beating a little faster than normal but he had things under control. He continued on down the road with a calm gait.

The Quarter Gate

Pirn was built on top of a hill. The path from the gate moved down the side of the hill at a gradual angle. To either side of the road, Badger could see small piles of garbage carelessly dumped. Mice and rats darted amongst the refuse.  It would be best to move further to one of the pits where the garbage was supposed to be dumped, Badger thought. He straightened and looked in the direction of the setting sun. He figured he only had a short time before the sun dropped beneath the distant hills. Unless he wanted to be sleeping outside he needed to move on quickly.

Up ahead, off to one side of the road was a large pit, a natural formation formed in the side of a hill. Piles of refuse filled the pit. A few wild dogs ranged amongst the garbage. Badger levered the wheelbarrow to the edge of the pit. He looked about to make sure no one was in sight. The towers of Pirn still had a clear view of him but he reasoned he was too far away for anyone to see what he was doing. He removed the bags of garbage and set them down then dragged the body from the wheelbarrow. The corpse was heavy but not something Badger could not manage. Too big to run in the street gang back home anymore, Badger was quite strong. That strength that had scared the gang leader and led to him being chased out of Shallowport. Badger grabbed the feet of the dead man and dragged him well into the garbage. Then he made two trips to drop the bags of garbage on the corpse to hide it completely.

As he checked that the corpse was covered, Badger heard a low growling. Looking up he saw a mangy black dog glaring at him from 15 feet away. Four other dogs edged forward behind the black dog.

“It's all yours, I was just leaving,” Badger said and waved toward the corpse with his hand. Time to get out of here. Badger carefully walked back up out of the pit to the cart.

The sun was setting. Grabbing the cart he lifted and pushed at a brisk pace back toward the gate into Pirn.