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2/06/2017 1:20 pm  #21


Re: Northern Virginia AS&SH in da house!

Handy Haversack wrote:

I love how the witch encounter was left completely mysterious and yet also was not life-and-death. They lost, the witch accomplished her purpose and moved on with whatever plans she has. She didn't need to kill them and so didn't. Completely perfect.

Though, of course, in my game she'd totally have left some kind of psychically corrupting possession or poison in their minds. But I'm a bad person.

Haha! Yeah, I wanted the witch encounter to freak them out and be creepy, but not life threatening. They were left with just enough blood to live and woke up on comfortable piles of furs. She wasn't necessarily evil, and may yet make a return visit in the future. The encounter, house and all, was of course inspired by the scene in Conan the Barbarian in which he meets the sorceress of hotness and has a go at with her. Of course, my witch was a crusty old lady, but just made them feel more comfortable. Even when it was clear she was up to no good, the barbarian in the party still sought to escape with his friends rather than strike her down, lol...

And my players caught on to the Friday the 13th thing pretty early on, which sort of spoiled the encounter, but whatevs... They will hopefully take the bait and head to B4 in the not too distant future. Next session isn't until March 3rd on account of me doing some travel with the family.

 

3/05/2017 6:08 pm  #22


Re: Northern Virginia AS&SH in da house!

Theron pulled Lykos into the cabin in which they had been making camp whilst Birgir calmed himself after the battle. Grim work it was, indeed, to slaughter the 5 children. Birgir soon came inside and sat down, a bit shell shocked from the fight. They waited until dawn to step back outside and inspect the depressing work. The "Ghost of Krystal lake" was but a man though his flesh was like that of the long drowned and dead. The 5 children were likewise grey in appearance but it wasn't as clear that they were somehow afflicted in the same way as the "Ghost".

Lykos was unconscious and in need of medical attention so the other two made him as comfortable as possible and occasionally dripped water into his parched mouth. Meanwhile, they gathered stones and built a cairn for the dead children and another for the "Ghost". The next morning, Lykos came to, and rummaging through his pack, he decided to chance the potion gained from the witch's house. As luck would have it, the elixir healed him miraculously! About the same time, many riders were heard approaching the camp. It was militia from Vorhees, sent to investigate when word reached the Bey that foreigners had agreed to aid the families of the children. 10 riders banged on the gates and were given entrance by the party. Suspicion fell upon them immediately and the Vorheem soldiers forced the party to unstack the cairn stones, much to the irritation of Lykos who argued with the militia captain.

The militia captain, even more suspicious now, first saw the body of the "Ghost of Krystal Lake" and agreed that it was most unnatural. When he saw the bodies of the children, however, he grew angry. He ordered the party to dig south-facing graves and bury them according to Turkmen customs. Again, Lykos argued that he and his men should be the ones reburying the dead, and the captain, having had enough of the barbarian's mouth and placed him in chains.

The party was brought back to Vorhees and thrown in the dungeon beneath the great stone tower and sat for a day and a night before they were brought before Bey Osmann. The town was abuzz with the news of the deaths of the children and the Bey had no choice but to find them guilty of murder...
 

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3/10/2017 6:59 am  #23


Re: Northern Virginia AS&SH in da house!

I had what I thought was a great write up of the rest of our last session but when I hit submit, I got a page 404 error and lost it all, lol. MFer!!!  So now, it's just going to be a recap because I'm too disheartened to type it all out again.

Awaiting their probable executions for the "murder" of the 5 children, they were brought before Bey Osmann to stand trial. As expected they were found guilty and sentenced to drawing and quartering. The sentence would be commuted if they agreed to carry out a task for him. Some political rivals stole the Bey's favorite slave-wife and he wants her back. The party is sent out to retrieve her. They are told to expect between 5 and 10 men are involved. Before leaving they take one last look at the inn for Tulukaruk, but instead find a 7' tall Hyperborean in bright red robes and obnoxiously blonde hair having a pint. After a brief introduction between Korumora Zur and the rest of hte party, he agrees to accompany them for 40% of the take (after all, HIS life is not on the chopping block, figuratively speaking). The party is not sure what his skill set is, but the barbarian is definitely wary of him as he believes him to be a sorcerer of some sort.

They set off on camel-back from Vorhees, following pretty clear tracks all the way to the Red Desert. A half day ride into the desert leads them to a grisly scene at the base of a large rocky hill. 3 hyaenas are feasting on the corpses of a man and 2 camels. The party approaches too close and hyaenas, after warning growls, attack. Birgir is severely wounded in the fight but the party is victorious. It is here that the party learns that Korumora commands the elements of fire. The party notices the tracks of many more camels that appear to have departed in haste in all directions.

Not having time to wait for wounds to heal naturally, the party searches around a large stone platform with built in to the rocky hillside. It has 4 columns, one of which is fallen over, and a pair of statues - perhaps old gods? They appear as men but with odd cat-like heads. The party locates an open entrance several feet to the north of the platform, leading directly into the hillside. The first room is a large chamber containing a pair of smashed stone sarcophagi and featuring an open secret door to the rear. The body of a dead Turkman is here, deeply gashed.

A few more chambers are explored, with more dead Turkmen found. One of the chambers appears to be a shrine to some cat-deity. Incense is lit and an offering of fish and a cat-toy are left and the party feels rejuvenated and stronger for the effort. A large chamber is discovered with a rug that has been pulled aside and a trap door in the floor stands open. Also, a large bronze-bound door is seen but all attempts to breach it end in failure. A torch is dropped down the hole and at the bottom of the ladder, a twisted body of a Turkman is caught in the final rungs; he is disemboweled.

The party descends and follows a the sounds of a shrieking girl. They follow a trail of dead Turkmen to another room with a breach in the ceiling to a cavern beyond. Slung limply across the ledge of the breach is another dead Turman with severed limbs. The party climbs up into the cavern and follows a natural corridor through a few twists and rooms. The trail ends with a horrid creature out of a nightmare preparing to consume the Bey's favorite slave-wife. The party engages the dark creature, a Night Gaunt, and after a tough fight, slays it.

After the fight, they try to finish exploring the complex, opening several tombs. A few jewels and coins are taken as well as a few items of power: A blackened suit of chain mail (+1), a potion (of healing) and a broadsword forged of a dark black steel ("Sword of the Black Gulf", +1 sword, +2 vs creatures of, and from without, the Black Gulf).

They were unable to breach the bronzed door so the party headed back to Vorhees to deliver the girl to the Bey. This time, the Barbarian tried to argue with the Bey in front of his retainers about receiving more than just a commuting of their sentence. The Bey was not amused and had the insolent Barbarian thrown in his dungeon again. Pleased that his favorite slave-wife was back, the next morning a most merciful Bey merely had Lykos taken out to the center of town, tied to a post and whipped until he apologized for his mouth, which he quickly did.

After a couple of days of recovery, the party decided that there might be more to explore back in the Desert Tomb and prepared to head back.

Our session ended there for the night, but we reconvene on St. Patty's day for another exciting adventure.  The party is suffering without their Shaman or a Cleric in general. At least they have a Pyromancer now... One of my neighbors was gone on a job assignment for 3 years (he was part of our gaming group prior) and has moved back so we are now up to 5 players! w00t!

Last edited by Druvas (3/20/2017 5:42 am)

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3/20/2017 6:34 pm  #24


Re: Northern Virginia AS&SH in da house!

The Party:

Birgir Biarnarson - 2nd level Viking Berserker
Lykos Heron - 2nd level Kimmerian Barbarian
Theron Alexios - 2nd level Atlantian Cataphract
Tulukaruk - 1st level Esquimaux Shaman
Korumora Zur - 1st level Hyperborean Pyromancer

As the 4 companions packed up their belongings and prepared to strike it out for the desert tomb again, the proprietor caught the attention of Lykos. "Pardon me, mighty barbarian, but I recall you all had come here originally seeking your missing companion... an Esquimeaux, if I am not mistaken?

"Indeed", said Lykos.

"I believe that a fellow meeting your previous description just passed through town, not 2 nights ago. He stayed in this very in, though I did not recall your inquiry at the time. He headed met some local men of the Dagon Bay region, traveling fish-mongers. They said they had seen a Kimmerian hanging around Kogoth-on-Yys, which is a fishing village nestled at the mouth of the Yys River which debouches into Dagon Bay via Yys Inlet. As I said, they are but 2 days ahead of you and probably just about to Kogoth-on-Yys as we speak."

With that, Lykos thanked the proprietor and informed his companions. Everyone agreed that the recovery of their companion was a more urgent matter than returning to the desert tomb for plunder that may or may not be there. Before leaving, the group sorted through their treasures and divided them equally. Lykos claimed the mask of the Ghost of Vorhees and decided to don it. It immediately sealed to his face though no ill effects affected him. Attempts were made to remove it but failing in that, they decided to set off and perhaps an opportunity to do so would come to them along the journey.

So they headed East towards the village, and after 2 uneventful days and nights, they came within sight of the village on the banks of the confluence of the river and inlet of Yys. The village had a rough palisade around most of the grounds. There was no gate, but a 20' opening in the palisade - clearly, they did not fear intruders very much. The lands around the village were marshy and damp, though passable. A large platform just inside the compound was reachable by a short ramp and atop it were several stalls for horses. Of more keen interest were the buildings of the village; they were all on stilts roughly 20' above the ground and interconnected via rope and plank bridges.

A stable boy took their horses in for a small fee and the party inquired about any Esquimeaux in the village. He told them of one that had just arrived a couple of days ago and had settled into the Drunken Clam, the only tavern/inn in town. The party proceeded there where they were reunited with their old companion. Tulukaruk told them of how he had become disoriented in the fog during their escape from the men of Larchmere Yys in the forest and had wandered, not quite able to recall all the details. He remembered wandering into Vorhees but no one mentioned the passing of his companions. Finally, he fell in with some traveling fish-mongers and ended up here, out of clues as to the whereabouts of his companions.

They all noticed, peculiarly, that the men of Kogoth-on-Yys were... unusual... as if afflicted by some strange defect of birth. The heads of the locals were slightly elongated. Not to an alarming degree, but just enough to notice a light difference. And the flat, broad noses of the people were more like the nose of some creature of the rivers. It was all strange, but everyone seemed otherwise normal...

Not long after this tale, a drunken fisherman wandered over to the table occupied by the party. He failed to introduce himself and just blurted out:

"Have you come to loot the famous Tower of the Black Pearl? We always get a band or two of sell-swords such as you every 10 years that hopes to find the Black Pearl. Never heard of it you say? Well, let me spin you a tale…
Long ago a wicked necromancer, Sezrekan the Elder, had his demesne 10 miles east of here. It was a large black tower, 100 feet tall built upon a rocky promontory just off the coast. It was built to house the necromancer and his famed Black Pearl, an artifact of malignant evil that brings doom on all who possess it. It was likely from thus that Sezrekan died. Eventually, the tower sank into the sea, not as from disrepair and collapse, but just sank, like a ship when has capsized.

Strangely, though, 10 years later it rose from the depths and stayed above for but 8 hours and then sank again. And thus it has done every 10 years for over 300 years. Every time it rises a group such as you comes along thinking to sack the tower and claim the pearl for themselves. Every time, they fail, never to return…"

The party was intrigued by the story and asked about how they might reach such a tower. The fisherman offered to rent the party his skiff for 10gp  plus 1/10th of a share of any treasure taken, excluding the Black Pearl itself, of course. An agreement struck, the party bedded down for the night to prepare for an early departure. They had to arrive at the tower by 6am and depart it by 2pm or risk being imprisoned within for 10 years! During the night, however, the party was awakened by the sounds of noises in the distance, outside. Inspecting, Tulukaruk used his spyglass to focus in on a light in the distance along the shore of the inlet a hundred yards outside of town. There he saw a large number of people gathered on the shore chanting. They couldn't be sure but the chanting, sounding like the beying of wild animals, resembled this:

Cthulu, dread Cthulu!
It Darkens the sun!
The ancient, anti-God!
Lord of the unholy ones!
Sacrifice! Sacrifice!
Give it flesh!

Chills ran up Tulukaruk's spine...
 

Last edited by Druvas (3/21/2017 6:18 am)

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3/21/2017 7:01 am  #25


Re: Northern Virginia AS&SH in da house!

Tulukaruk decide not to awaken his companion and returned to sleep for what remained of the night. He felt reasonably certain that the Cthulu-ites were not out to sacrifice he or his friends. The next morning, the party met up with the fisherman, paid him his 10gp and reiterated the other terms, 10% of the haul. The skiff was turned over to the party and they headed out across the inlet, East, towards the Tower of the Black Pearl.

Several hours later, they spied the Tower, barely poking up above the surface of the water. It was a large, square structure with con-caved walls and reportedly, 100' tall, though nearly all of that must be below water. A menacing gargoyle was mounted outward at each corner. What appeared to be a Viking long-ship was moored to the Eastern wall and a large plank connected to the top of the tower from the boat. The party guided their rental-skiff <snicker> along-side the long-ship and stealthily climbed aboard. The boat was deserted and nothing of value was found. They quickly and quietly crossed the plank to discover 3 pirates drunkenly snoozing on the top of tower. They were wakened by the noise of the party but were soon dispatched.

A trap door in the roof of the tower was discovered with little effort and the party soon descended into the top-most floor. This strange room held a large black onyx pedestal and hundreds of candles, mostly lit but at varying intervals of burning, as well as a staircase that descended. Upon the stand was a very large tome, which when opened, revealed the names of some 500 persons. Thinking it a guest registry, Korumora entered his name at number 501. The party investigated the candles. Tulukaruk attempted to extinguish one of them but was violently slapped by a strange force resembling flaming hands.

Fearing the unguessed true purpose of these candles, the party descended the wooden stairs, which were clearly worn and weakened with age and moisture. While carefully heading down, they noticed some strange statuettes in little alcoves of the wall along the steps. They came to a breach in the stairs and had to take a leap to cross the gap. Unfortunately for Lykos, he did not clear the gap as well as the others and fell 10' below on to the bottom of the stairs and into another chamber. Slightly injured from his fall, Lykos recovered and the rest of the group caught up to him. The room they found themselves in was another strange one full of obvious sorceries which made the barbarian quite uncomfortable. (In an amusing effort to help the barbarian become more comfortable around magic, particularly that of the Pyromancer, Korumora developed a "safe word" for Lykos. When spoken, "brussel sprouts" was intended to warn the barbarian that magic was about to be in use or was already in effect. It's kind of funny to hear my players yell out "brussel sprouts" in the heat of battle...)

This room contained 3 great arches, one in the NE, NW and SW. Each had the carven image of a dragon in dark mahogany and bound in bronze. A large symbol was carved into the floor and near the NE arch, fresh blood was pooled there. The NE dragon carving had a set of pearls for eyes, the NW one's eyes were missing and the SW dragon had a matching set of small emeralds for eyes. The party spent a solid hour trying to figure out the room before realizing that the blood was a sacrifice required to activate a gateway beneath the arches. Theron sliced his hand and dripped a fair amount of blood onto the floor before the NW arch which quickly shimmered. Bounding through one after the other, Theron, Birigir and Lykos stepped into another chamber and were immediately beset by a band of pirates. Tulukaruk and Korumora quickly followed suit and immediately found themselves engaged in a melee.

5 opponents faced the 5 adventurers and blows were traded. The pirates were soon dispatched, being meager opponents to these rapidly seasoning fighters. The bodies were scavenged for valuables and this new chamber was surveyed. A set of stone-carved stairs descended to the North and a stout-looking door was set in the East wall. A symbol, similar to the one on the floor of the previous room was likewise etched into the floor here. The East door was opened and the room beyond was investigated. This cahmber contained some rickety, badly-aging shelves upon which sat 5 golden bowls. A 6th golden bowl containing a ceremonial knife was sitting on the floor. The contents of the bowl turned out to be desiccated human organs... Finding this to be foul and wrought with sorcerous peril, the party elected to leave the contents of the room undisturbed.

Descending the stone staircase in the previous room, they got the sense that the interior of the tower was larger than the exterior showed it to be. The stairs went down for 60-80 feet before turning East and debouching upon a dock before a misty lake. It was only a few moments before a ferry materialized from the mists and floated to the dock, a solitary pilot aboard. The boatman reached out with a bony hand and it was then that the party realized that the boatman was entirely a thing of bones. It did not seem hostile and the party quickly deduced that it was seeking payment for the journey ahead.

Depositing 5sp into the boatman's hand, Theron bravely stepped forward on the boat. Each party member did the same and when they were all aboard, the boatman dumped the coins into the lake and then proceeded to pilot them onward. The trip lasted 30 minutes and towards the end of it, the party passed beneath a rope and plank bridge. The lake had narrowed at this point and 20' cliffs to either side anchored the bridge above. The cliff walls were slick with a nasty-looking much and the party elected to not try to climb. They soon reached their destination as another dock emerged from the mists. As the boatman steered them to it, the mists cleared a bit and a group of people could be seen standing in front of 2 great iron doors 20' from the dock.

The group turned to meet the arriving boat and party members. The party debarked onto the dock and the ferry slipped silently away into the misty lake. The group ashore consisted of half a dozen pirated as those that were bested earlier, as well as another that was clearly their leader. The lead pirate introduced himself as Black Quenn.

"Perhaps you've heard of me? I am a scourge upon the coasts of Dagon Bay; the locals all fear me! Clearly, to this point, you've bested my men. Perhaps we should form an alliance rather than continue this conflict? What say you? Shall we work together to figure out these great doors which surely hide the treasure of the once great Sezrekan? I shall grant you first pick of the treasure and you shall take all magic discovered save for the Pearl itself. That is mine."

Unimpressed with the offer and the opponents, the party debated the deal. The decision was made for them as, suddenly, Lykos was filled with a murderous rage and charged into the group of pirates with a blood-lust greater than that of a normal barbarian warrior. With nothing left to do but fight, the party followed their barbarian into battle. The fight was a difficult one, though Lykos landed a terrific blow upon Black Quenn that split him left shoulder to right hip, causing his body to fall asunder. There were but 2 remaining pirates when this happened and the fight quickly left them. Lykos dispatched them but not before receiving a few wounds as well.

After the battle, the insane rage in Lykos retreated and he seemed to return to normal. A guess at the source of the insanity was made of the strange mask that remained attached to his face, but none could be certain of it. They all silently hoped that this rage would not be turned upon them...  With the battle over and the spoils split, attention was turned to the great iron doors before them. The doors stood 20' tall and there was a graven image of a dragon head at door-handle level. The one on the right door showed a small key hole. Lykos attempted to fiddle with the lock but failed to open it. He was successful, however, at enabling a trap! A scything blade swung out from the ceiling and caught him upon the breast. The cut was deep and the blood flowed. Thankfully the flow was staunched but not before most of his life had flowed from him. Knowing that he would only slow his companions down and fearful of a resurgent rage, he gathered the acquired belongings of the party and called for the boatman to return. It was not long before the ferry returned and Lykos made his way back to the pirate's longship, preferring it to the skiff, where he proceeded to rest.

The rest of the party continued to seek a way to open the iron doors and after much time wasted, managed to do so. Korumora investigated the room beyond which was decorated with the bones of many victims. Small holes in the floor and ceiling dotted the room as well. A set of stairs rising up were across the room. They ended at a landing before a door that the Pyromancer could not open. Not long after he began investigating the door, water began to fill the room below. Korumora quickly retreated when he noticed the iron doors begin to swing closed on their own. No amount of force from his companions could stop them from so doing.

30 minutes later, the sounds of water draining were heard and they were once again able to open the iron doors. This time they sprinted across the room and battered down the door at the top of the stairs. The door gave way to a small, bare chamber with an exit to the East. They took it and the opening gave way to the rope and plank bridge which they had spied form below while on the ferry. They quickly crossed the rickety bridge. Theron stepped on a weak plank and plunged into the lake below and, weighed down by his armor, quickly sank towards the bottom. An Atlantean by birth, the doughty Cataphract slipped out of his chain armor and skillfully swam to the surface. A rope was thrown to him and he quickly climbed the slippery cliff with the aid of his companions.

Now across the lake, the inspected the chamber they were in and found a large sarcophagus in it. They searched it and decided to open the great stone box. It took all 4 of them to push the great stone lid off and when the task was completed, they found the skeleton of Sezrekan inside. His wizardly robes were moldy and tattered but a thin gold crown was atop its head. The party snatched the crown and careful not to disturb the body, searched the rest of the sarcophagus, finding a pair of small rubies. Disappointed at not finding the Black Pearl with Sezrekan's body, they searched the chamber and discovered a hidden door that opened into the room containing the golden urns full of desiccated human organs.

The party put two and two together and realized that the rubies belonged to the NE dragon carved alcove back in the portal room and quickly returned there, as time was running out to find the Pearl and escape before the tower once again returned to its watery depths for another decade. Korumora placed the rubies in the empty sockets of the carved dragon above the alcove and Theron made the blood sacrifice again. The alcove shimmered to life and the party stepped through into a large chamber some 100' across and 40' wide. A large pool of water occupied the majority of the room with but 20' of platform on either side. Across the pool was the statue of a large dragon, and resting in the dragon's mouth was the Black Pearl.

Not believing this room to be without trap or hindrance otherwise, Birgir tossed some food scraps into the water. It was immediately beset upon by a very large number of swarming aquatic snakes that tore the food to bits. The party conceived of a plan. They retreated through the portal to break apart the fisherman's skiff in order to construct a hasty smaller raft from the wood planks. They also snatched the dead bodies of two of the pirates. Butchering the bodies, they tossed them to a far corner of the pool to draw the snakes away, successfully. Theron set out on the hastily built raft and managed to cross unmolested as Birgir chummed the waters away from the skiff. Theron stepped off the raft and reached out for the Black Pearl, snatching it from the jaws of the draconic statue.

Shortly after its removal, the tower began to shake. Sea water began to pour in through tiny cracks in the stone and the party had to make haste to escape the tower. Theron discovered yet another symbol carved into the stone floor before the dragon statue and bled himself yet again. He was transported back to the room of arches where he met up with his companions and they raced up the stairs and ladder and back to the long ship where Lykos was patiently waiting for them. They cast off from the tower and watched it sink back into the waters of Yys Inlet once again.

 

Last edited by Druvas (3/21/2017 7:04 am)

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