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6/24/2018 12:56 am  #1


A Crow's Nest Upon Bleak Shores

Hello all, I have finally begun my home campaign and the ensuing beginning was titled "A Crow's Nest Upon Bleak Shores".  This will also be the title of the adventure I'm running at Gamehole this year.  Already on the books for this.  The convention game will have campaign elements removed but will follow the general thrust of this adventure.  It will have a condensed version of what the home group was involved in but should be a thrilling start for those playing this game.  It's live when Gamehole goes to event registration.  I may add a second session of this based on schedule.  I realize details are vague but that's integral to how this adventure starts. IF you register for my Gamehole Game, stop reading now!

For any players of mine who frequent these boards and are attending Gamehole, no spoilers please!  Otherwise I'll keep you up to date here as they progress.  As to the first session...

SPOILERS BELOW...

The PC's awake on a shoreline wherein they don't know where they are.  Giant crabs are furtively trying to see if the PC's are good "food". then they awaken...  A melee ensues and they see that they are on a shoreline with large giant crabs furtively nipping away at them, and well I'll continue if you want more...

Again, I'll post session write ups here if you like reading.  If you plan to play a convention game see above.  Further details to follow...


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6/24/2018 8:09 pm  #2


Re: A Crow's Nest Upon Bleak Shores

Here is the full write up of session one...(in parts)

The briny seawater was spat out as one by one the PC's woke up on a hot sun drenched shore where violently curious giant crabs were investigating them as a possible source for dinner.  Taking stock of their surroundings along with being pinched and struck by the serrated edges of nasty claws, the PC's discern that there is a life boat craft floating listlessly along the shore and what appears to be a larger slowly sinking ship into the sea (or is it a wide river)?

A call to arms is summoned as the PC's manage to defeat the crabs with no one suffering a fatal injury.  One PC repeatedly bashed and split open one said crustacean creature splitting its exoskeleton with the lifeboat as he didn't know where his weapons were upon waking.  At last victorious the PC's begin to take stock of where they are.  It appears they are on a land mass split by a sea or inlet or perhaps a large river.  They can see a land mass further on past the watery impasse, but can't discern where they are yet.  Looking around they see the land they are on as having a mountainous region splitting and gathering their attention whilst on either side of the craggy peaks prehensile forests exist fighting for whatever scraps of land they can claim from the rock.  Foreboding woods exist both sides split by peaks, with salty seawater behind them they converse as to what to do...

The paladin of the crew decides to quickly dispose of the dead crabs and hide the signs of fatal violence and the secretive necromancer stays with him to keep watch over the woods in case of threat.  The cryomancer, runegraver, bard and ranger brave the waters to investigate the ships.  In the smaller boat they discover the gruesome remains of a fellow traveler whose flesh is currently being consumed by a strange fish man creature.  After giving a malevolent hiss, the creature dives overboard leaving its human smorgasboard not entirely consumed.  The larger ship contains many thing yet.  It definitely shows signs of a large battle, but no bodies or remains of one side of the conflict can be seen...  Further investigation is required...  Continued in the next post!

Last edited by MrManowar (6/24/2018 8:10 pm)


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6/24/2018 10:44 pm  #3


Re: A Crow's Nest Upon Bleak Shores

Part two...

The party decided to reel in the sinking ship best as they knew how.  Grabbing ropes, chains, whatever they could along with those who had formidable swimming skills set up a system wherein they they swam to the sinking vessel and lodged one of it's harpoons to the deck and pulled it toward the shore from its larboard side to venture into its confines to see what was contained.

As they boarded the doomed ship they discovered mass carnage with no remains of the opposing force until they ventured to its lower waterlogged confines to salvage what they could.  The runegraver began searching the cabins and at the captain's abode discovered one lone survivor.  This woman, named Theresa had been the captain's paramour but a decent combatant in her own right, held the runegraver at bay via a weapon with a wooden handle and a cylindrical metallic instrument which was directed at the runegraver.  After terse conversation, the runegraver cut his palm and commanded her to "trust".  She did.

Whilst this was going on, the bard, ranger and cryomancer ventured below deck.  There amidst watery chaos they found four barrels and chests that seemingly weren't wrecked.  The contents contained fine wine, ale, water and the chest was well padded with bottles of curious liquids labeled as "dyes".  They identified these as clothing colorants needed to supply noblefolk with their decidedly fashionable and opulent clothing choices.  At the same time, the paladin was finishing the burial grounds for their enemies and the necromancer spotted hateful simian eyes staring at them.  At once, the ferns and other foliage parted as the creature vanished into the wilderness.  As the fallen ship lurched toward the shore the ranger noticed a bobbing head of a fish man creature whom was his hated enemy.  Now they knew the source of the attack on the ships.  Then in the forested direction of the simian creature, far off in the distance, they heard the ominous sounds of drums.

They stayed the night in the ships wreckage but resolved to go in a different direction than the drums.  The following morning revealed to them that high above on the mountainous region that there clearly was a large avian skull showing bone white in the bleak sunrise.  Then they made progress on the other forested region in the hopes of staying close to the mountains to attain the heights of the large skull.  The temperatures rose and due to the mysterious sun's travel along with water flow, they determined that seasonably they were most likely in the autumnal era; closing in at the throes of the Hyperborian thirteen year cycle when the dreaded winter comes.

In the miasmic humidity and various bog-like terrain while steadily hiking upwards a steady buzzing droning sound was heard.  The PC's readily braced themselves not knowing what fell things may be coming.  Before long from every direction as they advanced higher ground hideous stirges began to assail them from every angle!  The creatures of various sizes were drunk on blood as pointed proboscises eagerly closed in on them for new blood to consume!  A battle began in the thicket as they dealt with these flying creatures.  Theresa even assisted as a loud reverberating sound echoed about as she fired the strange handheld instrument which obliterated a stirge.  The PC's were victorious again albeit a bit drained and lightheaded from the malicious bites.  She was then more forthcoming to the PC's as she explained and showed writs of passage and dock and trade from places like "Khromarium" and "Port Greely" which as of this time had no signficance to the PC's.

This led to a new discovery as they traversed upwards.  Soon the massive skull began to come into focus.  It appeared to be an entrance to some kind of habitable area.  They soon saw that some kind of thing whether earthquake or capricious animosity had separated the massive skull from the bony remains of this avian thing.  Part of the body was underground covered over by the undergrowth and soil as it sank to the dirt of the land.  There also was a plateau of sorts clearly made by intelligent creatures as a stationing area next to the gaping maw of the skull which was clearly open inviting anyone to its dark depths.  In that plateau, stood imposing totems of clearly human skulls, freshly cleaned of all flesh and yet crudely smashed down in a stacking fashion on long cut totem poles and a firepit along with rough hewn logs meant to resemble seating chairs.  Then wild cries of various ape like cacophony filled the air from various directions.  Time to decide what to do next....

Thus concludes part two of session one.  Part three and the final part to come.  Session two will take place in July!  Hope you enjoy.  Part three soon! 
 

Last edited by MrManowar (6/24/2018 11:06 pm)


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6/25/2018 7:17 am  #4


Re: A Crow's Nest Upon Bleak Shores

A great start to a campaign! It's dripping with mood and flavor. Fantastic job, Mr Manowar! Tell us a little about the player character choices your crew went with!


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

6/26/2018 10:21 pm  #5


Re: A Crow's Nest Upon Bleak Shores

Ghul wrote:

A great start to a campaign! It's dripping with mood and flavor. Fantastic job, Mr Manowar! Tell us a little about the player character choices your crew went with!

Hello brother of metal!  The party consists of as follows:  I have a cyromancer, a ranger, a barbarian, a bard, a paladin (he rolled amazing ability scores), a necromancer and a runegraver.  This eclectic mix fits perfectly with what I had in mind to start the campaign.  I told them NOT to give me any back story or anything yet due to the waking from a shipwreck start.  They don't even know if they were all on the "same team" to begin the voyage.  Should be fun to see how all the alignments and actions play out.  Right now they are working together out of necessity because they don't know where they are and feel they should be united to get a chance of surviving alive.

Within session two or three they should have enough sense of direction and clues to figure out where they are in Hyperboria at which point I'd welcome the back stories to incorporate into the campaign.  We are currently looking at possible July dates for session two.  We play once a month for 5-7 hours a session.  Tough to fit more sessions in even with shorter times due to family commitments, travel, etc.  I'll post the final write up of session one soon.


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6/26/2018 10:33 pm  #6


Re: A Crow's Nest Upon Bleak Shores

Final segment of part one...  The barbarian was uneasy hearing the wild simian cries and the group began to assume strategic posts around the grisly totems and firepit.  At that time a swarm of monkeys gnashing teeth and howling wildly came into view running rampant around the camp.  Shortly thereafter an ape-man in a crude fashion of a human warrior with clumsily donned armour came out to present himself in dominance.  Following that a larger ape creature came out silently sniffing the air for intruders.  The bard spoke with a falcon to learn about them and found out about a "crow-man" and his "raven" observing the group.  Soon after the gig was up as the apes discovered who was present in their hunting grounds!

A melee ensued with savage blows being exchanged on all sides!  The runegraver fell unconscious after being struck hard as the barbarian, paladin, bard and others whittled down the swarm and with a mighty strike killed the smaller ape-man.  The ranger took a wild shot into the combatants dance of weaponry (rolled a natural 1) and shot the paramour in the back on accident as she unloaded one of the sulphur and brimstone (to their eyes) fired rounds into the large ape creature.  Apologies abound! Then the necromancer summoned the recently slain to unlife to destroy the totems resulting in a frenzy from the remaining ape creatures.  With more than half of the crew almost slain, they managed to defeat the larger ape creature and dispersed the smaller monkeys to the depths of the forbidding forested area.  The crow man then appeared and "healed" the runegraver giving him a task to find a book hidden in the caves below.  The runegraver arose "seemingly" well and told the group about caves underground. 

With more cries, distant drums and a very large bird flying high overhead, the party quickly entered the massive skull for some shelter from prying eyes.  They soon discovered some "stairs" and ground that had given way to a level below once inside the gigantic beak.  The stairs had a large trap door partially opened as the way descended into darkness.  The party descended as then one went to ignite a torch to aid their hampered sight.  The last thing they saw was a grayish mottled and scabbed grinning human like creature holding a chain that would pull the trap door closed.  Once they were all inside bloodied and weakened, the creature cackled gleefully and pulled the chain slamming the door closed on the group inside the ominous cavern!  That's where we left off and where we'll begin session two!  Hope you enjoyed.

Last edited by MrManowar (6/26/2018 11:29 pm)


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7/29/2018 12:04 am  #7


Re: A Crow's Nest Upon Bleak Shores

Session 2 part one!  So the party began in ominous darkness as cackling laughter reverberated throughout the chambers followed by a sound of splintering wood.  The runegraver lit a torch and the flickering light revealed a chamber with three passageways and no sign of the grayish mottled human-like creature but plenty of footprints disturbing the dirt floor and broken cobwebs marking signs of passage.  The PC's took stock and realized to their shock the necromancer and Teresa the paramour were missing!  (Out of game, this worked out well story wise for me to re-introduce the player who couldn't make the session as it was a natural fit to explain the absence.)  At first the paladin flexed his mighty thews to try to force open the hatch door they came from only to reveal a large simian creature with tusks and fangs grinning hideously at them and other gibbering ape like beings ready to thrust spears and other polearms at them!  He quickly closed the hatch as the drums began to pound and they could feel and hear pounding at the hatch which seemed to be heavy stone.  Once the PC's were reasonably sure the hatch was closed tight they weighed options.  Then the PC's decided on the least traveled path.  That cave aperture narrowed to a crawl space they had to fiddle through to get to the other side.  They discovered a long deserted room that had a small slant to it.  A crate with various "spices" was inside that quickly dissolved when a hefty blade smote it open.  The bard identified a glass jar with some kind of dried lotus powder inside and quickly concealed it so the potentially dangerous leavings in the jar didn't affect the others.  A chest whose ferrous bands were consumed with rust was pried open with a blade from the paladin revealing a long corroded spring trap that they could avoid.  Inside was 500 GP and further investigation revealed some rain runoff probably affected the room as small cracks and holes and tracks in the flooring revealed where the runoff would have exited.  Looking above they saw a long dead upper half of a humanoid impaled on a spear.  Pulling the humanoid's woeful remains down showed the spear trying to reset itself but the corrosion was too much.  Then they decided that due to the narrow space it was a defensible position and took turns keeping watch in the silent dark (day/night?) to relax.  On one watch a pair of closely set bulbous eyes peered in at them and quickly vanished.  Otherwise, scurrying sounds of quadrupedal creatures could be heard.  After sufficient rest and consumption of dwindling food stores and water, they marched on to the other locations. 

Going first toward the right side (relatively speaking) the passageway narrowed considerably and they soon encountered a set of rails with dirt, dust and decay along with a rail car curiously stopped halfway along the track.  After some deft rope work, they managed to get the rail car completely to their end of the rails.  They found they could only move two by two, so gradually our ranger, paladin, cryomancer, bard, runegraver and barbarian made their way across amidst grating metallic sounds and sparks as metal abrasively moved against metal to arrive at a point where they could see eroded ground leading further below.  Smells of guano and decay and fecal matter began to assail them as dust motes and air moved to reveal flying creatures coming from a dark orifice in the corner of the cavern.  Soon bats began to emerge starved and hostile!  Combat ensued with some PC's taking wounds but nothing lethal.  Then the remains of a large furry carcass began to shake and thrust aside as a swarm began to fly out of the now revealed pit!  The runegraver dropped a torch down the narrow pit burning and killing many as they tried to flee the burning implement.  The others kept striking down the bats until the few left flew off in search of easier repositories of blood.  Whilst combat was engaged, the bard discovered the "cutlass" he had found upon the sinking ship earlier was no mere cutlass as flames arose from hilt to blade dispensing a fiery lick of burning plumage upon successful hits!  After dispersing the bats the paladin asked the barbarian to lower him into the pit.  The descent went well at first until the paladin lost his hold on the rope and landed roughly into a wall waist deep in guano as the passage veered sharply at an angle no human could fit but bats could easily traverse.  A longish metallic object was in the guano and when the paladin emerged from the filth and stink he was holding a morning star of curious origin but unaware of what it actually could do.  From that point, they could only descend further down once they got back to the main chamber... 

End part one of session two, more to follow!


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7/29/2018 9:26 pm  #8


Re: A Crow's Nest Upon Bleak Shores

Session 2 part two!  The drums and noises from above had abated as the PC's re-entered the main chamber with the ranger and barbarian noting that fresh bipedal tracks had traversed where they were yesterday (according to their reckoning).  Then the procession downward began as they noticed the decline ever leading lower.  It was hard to tell if there were stairs that were damaged from water erosion or natural sloped declines.  The path then twisted around to a low platform along with another three ways they could pursue.  They elected to go to the left (again relatively speaking as they weren't sure of direction).  They came to a small room that had a sculpture of a beautiful lady with hands extended and the palms in a cupping shape.  They noticed various coinage about and other organic material long since wasted away barely leaving traces of existence.  The barbarian placed a gold coin into the hands of the statue, at once the coin relocated gleaming into the pool with the others and the statue's unreadable expression upended to a smile.  Beyond that, no sign was forthcoming.  Weighing options between the other two paths, they opted to go straight forward as the tracks revealed equal traffic in either direction.

This time the slope was steeper and cautious maneuvering was required.  They began to hear scurrying sounds and the patter of many small feet but also saw some more tracks of heavier pointed marks along the floor of the cavern.  After descending even more they noticed various larger cracks in the wall and narrowing passageways.  Soon thereafter, the path abruptly ended as the floor below appeared to be at least 15 feet down, the apparent after effects of seismic activity.  The cryomancer, paladin and barbarian climbed down on rope to discern further passageways when furtive squeaking gave way to hundreds of small feet as rats both giant and swarm filled the lower region!  The bard brought instrument to hand to counter and cause confusion as the rats filled in, now with some of them seemingly bewildered and bereft of initial purpose.  Then, from the passageway they came from, hundreds of rats poured forth to a massive swarm hemming the runegraver, ranger and bard in at the top of the ledge whilst their comrades fought below.  A hacking affair soon followed with the PC's taking some bites and getting weaker.  The barbarian felt himself succumbing to disease immediately before sucking and spitting out the almost surely fatal substance of sickness the rats bestowed on his body!  After more burning from the runegraver who had taken on an almost eager expression at seeing foes burn, the PC's were able to defeat them all, but by then all had gone to the lower chamber.   Then the PC's went off to the smaller region of passageway thinking to have luck like an earlier upper level.  As they traversed on, they noticed large holes that appeared to be burrowed out like larger creatures had created a network of travel.  Dread and uneasiness gave way to uncertainty as giant ants curiously emerged antennae moving as this sudden disturbance of humanity intruded into their home.  At the fading field of vision torch light provided a giant centipede began to wind its way out of a depression as more ants began to seemingly deliberate if they PC's were threat or prey.  The PC's elected to run and then fast!  After catching their breath they weighed options. At first some thought was given to try to climb back up to go the unexplored section of cavern they had omitted, sounds of water moving from lower chambers and the slight smell of brine and the feel of an ever cool breeze led them to think that perhaps a way out might be lower still.  And that is where they departed to, deeper into the stifling cavern, eschewing further side paths in favor of a possible escape!

End part two, part three coming.


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7/29/2018 10:17 pm  #9


Re: A Crow's Nest Upon Bleak Shores

This is some great atmospheric adventuring, brilliantly showcasing the perils of the underground. It's a dark, dangerous place down there, not for the weak of heart! ;)


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

7/30/2018 12:38 am  #10


Re: A Crow's Nest Upon Bleak Shores

Session 2 part three!  So the PC's descended as cautiously and silently as they could.  Soon the grimy ground gave way to sturdy platforms they could regain confidence in without the threat of shaking foot giving way to slippery slope.  At once they saw various sources of light at what appeared to be islands.  These islands were set up in the macabre facsimile of monuments meant to replicate a human environment!  There were various tables and chairs, stools, a liquor cask, bookcases, weighted die for gambling and more.  However they were still "islands" as the high water mark clearly left its imprints on the shorelines they could see.  Baffling to them were the candles flickering weakly at table spots as if they were entertaining non present guests.  The PC's began spreading out, simultaneously sharing light and communicating what they saw.  One thing that stuck out was a large artwork pattern depicting a monstrously huge eight legged creature.

At the same moment torch light illuminated said crest, the surface of the waters broke in multiple locations as many gray mottled humanoids wielding crude weaponry burst out with hateful glances at the PC's and then in unison began chanting in various languages, some of them not permitted for sane folk to hear.  The only things the PC's could decipher was this,
"The God of Eight, the God of Eight!".  The PC's quickly grabbed a few bits of ephemera from various tables and things and then switched to weapons to combat a potential threat!  A long haired muscled opponent of garbled speech began to shout a cry to this mysterious god.  Melee ensued from various points of environs as the PC's dispersed to try to cover the vast cavernous region that clearly held seawater.  The runegraver, bard and ranger spotted clumsily constructed stairs that led to structure that held something vaguely resembling a podium with a book on it.  The runegraver emitted communication that the crow man "Costigan Bran" wanted it.  (You clever readers might figure out where that combo of names comes from ).  As melee ensued, the large image carved into the floor began to split.  At the same time, the PC's found a well with various glowing gems in it.  Soon the gleam of the gems diminished as a giant praying mantis commenced its climb from the depths.  The bard poured half of the contents of the lotus powder onto the mantis as the others fought the gray mottled degenerate men.  Soon, one large hairy leg protruded from the malevolent symbol and dragged one of the degenerates who had strayed too close and was then consumed.  "God of Eight!" the remainder cried as this vast gargantuan spider hoisted itself to the ground mandibles and jaws crunching down the humanoid, eight eyes surveying its next meal!  At the same point in time the giant praying mantis emerged thrashing wildly and soon giving way to death throes as an insect being would when exposed to a deadly poison limbs flailing around in frantic jerking thrusts.  The runegraver hauled up a small bucket of gems from its lair and hunched low looking for an avenue of retreat.  With no time to carry on combat, the ranger and bard shouted loud the intent to flee to get to a small boat moored comfortably at a dock beyond, precious daylight tantalizing them all with the taste of escape.  After a few more downed gray mottled man, book in hand, they sloshed to ship side, boarded and began to celebrate their escape.

Soon thereafter as their ship emerged from watery cavern, they saw the other side of the island they were on.  Various simian creatures were at the ready and launched all manner of missiles at them.  Within seconds, half of the PC's were falling to unconsciousness wallowing in their own life blood.  The weakened barbarian attended to the paladin first who even in his own revived state was incredibly feeble laid hands on the others to restore them to a shuddering limp wreck of conscious reality.  The ship soon faltered away from the island.  After lowering all four anchors at a considerable distance from shore the various rooms of the boat were examined.  Weaponry, armor and riches were found, some useful, some gaudy and some outright worthless.  The mess hall and privy (literal poop deck as the players called it) were discovered as well as valuable maps and journals.  Based on that literature, they discovered that to the best of their reasoning skills they were off shore of the Isles of the Ape Men.  Next, they perused the "book" the crow man wanted them (especially the runegraver to acquire).  They couldn't make it out, but the pictographs showed a large amount of crows almost doing obeisance to an even larger raven.  The little bit they gleaned almost made them think this old tome was merely fairy tales, not some kind of magical document the crow shaman or devotee of esoteric arts would have wanted.  Shortly thereafter a thunderstorm brewed and as rain lashed the assaulted ship they pondered what to do next.  Try to return the book?  Try for landfall when apes would fall upon them?  Or hide out here and plot?  They now had almost two weeks of consumable provision along with other potions and armaments they discovered as they began to recuperate.  What to do indeed!

End of Session 2, hope you enjoyed!

Last edited by MrManowar (7/30/2018 12:44 am)


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8/01/2018 6:41 am  #11


Re: A Crow's Nest Upon Bleak Shores

What a fantastic summary, Mr Manowar! This has been a lot of fun to read.


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

8/04/2018 11:48 am  #12


Re: A Crow's Nest Upon Bleak Shores

What up JT!

I agree with your assessment, and am happy to report.....that this game is even more fun to play in!

This is also a great resource to go back and re-read what happened in between sessions! (since none of us are getting any younger) 

Thanks for putting all this on here, Cory! I can’t wait till our next game night!

 

8/04/2018 2:53 pm  #13


Re: A Crow's Nest Upon Bleak Shores

MrManowar wrote:

The PC's awake on a shoreline wherein they don't know where they are.  Giant crabs are furtively trying to see if the PC's are good "food". then they awaken...  A melee ensues and they see that they are on a shoreline with large giant crabs furtively nipping away at them, and well I'll continue if you want more..

I like adventures that start in media res. I don't see it often enough in published adventures. 


 

Last edited by Brock Savage (8/04/2018 2:55 pm)

 

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