Monthly Archives: December 2008

SOW Chapter2: Monastery of the Sunderd Chain, part 1

Monastery of the Sunderd Chain, part 1

Stones with blood cry out
Silently they stand witness
Heroes avenged restored

Wherein the party sets forth from Overlook accompanied by a gnoll tracker who leads them through the moutains. Said gnoll turns traitor and attacks the party with a group of krusithk and links his fate to the slaughtered lizard-insects.

Upon arriving at the Monastery of the Sundered Chain, the party finds it overrun with nameless orcs who have slaughtered the resident dwarves. The battle is fast and furious and ends with all but one orc slain and that one battered and subdued.

"Speak Orc or your death will not go well, you have parts that I still could slowly remove," spoke Jeroen spoke in a menacing voice.

"Ahhrg, your freat mean nofing, the Hand of Deaf hides below . . ."

The Orc abruptly stopped speaking as a wet sucking sound emanating from it’s eye socket cuts off it’s speech.

Bene continued to slowly twist a discarded arrow further into the Orc’s eye extinguishing what was left of the it’s life as he turned to Jeroen and spoke flatly, " I know that you don’t understand. You break dirt to live, you don’t break stone. You rely upon the sun for warmth and never welcomed the darkness of the earth. We stand on hallowed ground. I know that they burned your home, but even if they had slain your kin you still could not know the depth of pain that I feel now. My very bones cry out for vengeance."

Bene pushed on the now lifeless body; he watched as the corpse parted slowly from the arrow, its only connection now a stretching band of ichor that lengthens from the bloody socket. Looking at the lifeless body Bene whispers, "None of these will survive. There is no parley, no questions, only death. We will never speak of what has happened here; I will not grant these things any continued life; their shades will not find sustenance in stories by the fire; empty will be the memory of their deeds."

Releasing the arrow to clatter at the floor, Bene turns and clasps Jeroen by the forearm, "My friend, below is the Hall of Heroes. We will kill them all."

 


SOW Chapter2: At the Council of Elders, High Hall

At the Council of Elders, High Hall

Stone, like water,
Flows through the earth
Diverted, beautiful

At the Council of Elders, High Hall

Hall of Elders

The Elder Cadrick asks the crowd, “Do we have any volunteers?”

Bairdyn whispers to Bhenedict, “Hey Bennie, it’s like my grandpa Beaumont always says, ‘If you’re hanging around a bunch of Dwarves in a secret Dwarven council, just shut up and let your Dwarven buddy do the volunteering!’”

Without hesitation Jimmy steps forward and before Bhenedict can say a wordand says, “We will do it.”

“And for whom are you volunteering?”

Bairdyn pipes up, “For Bhenedict, Jeroen, Councilor Troyas and I, Bairdyn Barleycorn, Sir–The Brindol Brigade!”

Edgar Sommerfield, the leader of the Farstriders, angrily steps forward and says, “Should I remind the Council of our previous arrangement?”

Cadrick responds with a nod, and after thanking the crowd for their attendance defers to lesser officials for the appointment of tasks and duties to the majority and dismisses the gathered crowd from the hall while at the same time asking the Brigade to hold a moment while he speaks with the Farstriders leader. Stepping to the side of the hall Cadrick and Sommerfield have a whispered, but obviously heated debate ending when Sommerfield storms out of the hall.

Wasting no further time on Sommerfield, Cadrick approaches the Brindol Brigade warmly, “It is with pleasure that I meet you, even here in Overlook we have heard something of the troubles in Brindol and the part you played in her protection. It would seem that the your timing of your arrival here could hardly be any better. I will apologize ahead of time for my rudeness but there is much I must yet accomplish today. Let me say this to you while your reputation suggests you might aid us out of the largeness of your generosity and virtuous nature we will insist on paying your party 1000 pieces of gold upon your successful return.”

“Do any of you have any other questions?”

Jeroen replies, “I recall that the Monastery is dedicated to Moradin, but I don’t recall much else about it. Can you tell us more of where we are going?”

The dwarf nods and replies, “Yes, the Monastery is dedicated to Moradin, and the training and preparation of Moradin’s priesthood; it includes the Hall of Moradin, the Hall of Heroes and the Chamber of Works. The Monastery is located approximately 20 miles southwest of Overlook across difficult, mostly unmarked terrain made up of mountains and foothills. The reason there is no trail is because travel to the Monastery would normally take place in through the tunnels which are compromised. There is a pass to the Monastery from the Monastery’s southwest but taking the pass would require you to retrace your steps and head further north before turning northeast to the Monastery, over tripling the length of the journey and taking time that you don’t have … so instead you will be straight through the mountains in autumn while it is still passable, a trip that should take two days.”

Piping in again Bairdyn exclaims, “Excuse me for a moment, Mr. Cadrick, sir, but I can’t help but be just a LITTLE curious as to why some uppity leader of the Farstriders feels the need to get his codpiece cinched up so tight over fine fellows such as ourselves volunteering to do a good turn for your fair city here!  We’ve got MORE than enough to worry about with orcs and the like invading from the wastelands, so if you have even the FAINTEST inkling or suspicions that those Farstriders have it in for us in some way, I’d be VERY appreciative if you kindly told us everything you know about them and the details of your dealings with them RIGHT NOW!”

Bairdyn pausing a moment for dramatic effect and continues, “You see, sir, I don’t mean in ANY way to be disrespectful, but my grandpa Beaumont didn’t raise a fool for a son OR a grandson, if you know what I mean.  I see that fellow walk off, and I see trouble coming my way, AND the way of my friends.  Money’s easy enough to come by, but the truth is something to be treasured, I say!  Shoot straight with us on this, and I promise you it will mean more to me than that 1000 gold you’re offering … NOT that I’ll be turning down the gold, for the record …”

Cadrick regards Bairdyn thoughtfully before replying, “The Farstriders arrived before you and they had met with the Council earlier and negotiated for the job with the most danger and glory; so we have asked them to decent into the mountains to secure them. It seems that Sommerfield is of the opinion that evacuating the priests may be more ‘glorious’ then securing the tunnels. Still we believe their skills and experience will be a valuable asset in the tunnels. We will entrust the evacuation of the monastery to your party for we have heard you have some experience in such matters.”

Jeroen asks, “We may have need to getting some supplies. We saw some provisioners on the way in for getting mundane needs, but we are also looking for a reputable dealer in magical arms and armor. Might you be able to point out one of your fine business contacts that might be able to meet our needs?”

Cadrick thinks for a moment and replies, “I can probably give you a name…let me think on that a moment…is there anything else you want to know?”

Bhenedict asks, “Can we get a map of the tunnels and the location where we will be going?  I would also like to talk to someone that has been there.”

The Elder furrows his brow then speaking to the party as a whole explains, “There are no maps of the tunnels for fear that they might fall into the wrong hands. In fact, to produce such a map would be unlawful. Further, Dwarves don’t need maps since they generally know where the tunnels go. Suffice it to say the tunnels cover well over a hundred miles beneath the mountains and connect Bordrin’s Watch, the Monastery of the Sundered Chain, and the Vents all,  to the city of Overlook. Regardless the tunnels are not secure now … that’s why the Farstriders are being sent to secure them. As for speaking to someone who has been there, that won’t be difficult within the city. The Monastery purpose was to house an elite fighting force of Moradin dedicates, and it preserves the memories of the hardship we endured at the hands of the Giants. Initiates train there in the arts useful at fighting Giants.”

Turning the one of the guards stationed in the hall Cadrick calls out to the most decorated guard, “Belfin, didn’t you train at the Monastery of the Sundered Chain?”

“Yes, Sir!” responds the guard.

“These good fellows, The Brindol Brigands, have a few questions about the Monastery, see them back to their sleepover and see if you can answer their queries.”

map2map4

Belfin tells you that the Monastery is surrounded by a wall that is 50 feet tall, access to the courtyard is provided by way of a pair of 30-foot tall doors which are never locked.

Inside the walls beyond the courtyard is the Hall of Moradin. The courtyard features endless rows of statues, each carved to commemorate the deeds of an ancient Dwarf hero. The doors of the Hall are also never locked and they can be open by depressing levers that are built into the handles.

Within the Hall of Moradin there is a hidden switch built into the base of the altar; triggering the switch allows you to slide the altar revealing a spiral stair that leads to the ‘Hall of Heroes’ and beyond the Hall of Heroes to the Chamber of Works and the greater tunnels.

Braziers supply light throughout the Halls, and the Chamber of Works contains an open forge. There are weapons, supplies and bed chambers available within the Hall of Heroes.

The Headmaster of the Hall of Heroes is name Mael, his name means ‘golden warrior’, the Minister of the Hall of Moradin is Jardin Thoral, and the Holy Forge Keeper is named, Kalad.

A Dwarven Champion, Durkik Forgeheart is leading the militias and most of the volunteers, including the Fastriders to bolster Bordrin’s Watch. Orc trailblazers infest the tunnels below, so the Farstriders have been tasked with securing the tunnels. The mission of your party is to head to the Monastery where you will warn the staff, if they haven’t already perceived the danger and see to the evacuation of the grounds. Its dangerous work with the orcs about but it has to be done. The priests can be moved to Bordrin’s Watch.

map6

 


Visiting Overlook

“Looking for work? You ought to prick the blister an’ see what bubbles up …”     

Of your party only Bhenedict has spent any significant time in Overlook, Bairdyn says he was in Overlook but he obviously was too young to remember much more than the stories his grandfather told. The Troyas family had an association with the city through a group called the ‘Elsir Consortium’ that was organized 40 years ago. Their goal was to expand their member’s individual markets to every community in the Elsir Vale and they have become ever more powerful … unfortunately in the aftermath of the ‘Red Hand’ invasion the Troyas family connections to guild have been severed. Someone from Jeroen’s family must have spent sime time in Overlook years ago as an ancient dwarf stopped him at one point and said he was the spitting image of a human he met when he was a young dwarf fresh out of basic training. Jeroen claimed to know nothing of any relatives at all, let alone any that may have stopped over in Overlook.

Overlook is made up of nine districts: Blister, Boneyard, Elftown, Forgeworks, High Hall, Nine Bells, Shantytown, Stonehammer and Tradetown. Since your arrival you have been spending your time within Blister. The Blister is a rough-and-tumble section of the city, populated by mercenaries, adventuring sorts, and the usual sort of traveling folk with few if any roots. Characterized by a great number of winesinks, taverns, pleasure dens, gambling halls, and bordellos, Blister isn’t somewhere you would want to get lost. You see a surprising mix of people, Humans, Halflings and even Minotaurs all appear in large numbers in the streets with tread their way through a chaotic mix of buildings built too close to one another.

Wandering you see a variety of sights … human thugs beating a hobgoblin, a scantily clad man calling out to you, a magician performing on one corner opposite and elderly alchemist selling cure-alls while still other prophesize the coming end of the world. All this beneath a canopy of sound … merchants hawking questionable wares amid laughter, screams and the murmur of the crowds, cries of “Thief!” the whistle of a constable, dogs barking, the hiss of cat and the sudden growls of spiretop drakes.

Lucky for you, Daldala, the innkeeper at the Crossroads inn, suggested that you might find clean, neat accommodations at the Mountain’s Hearth inn, the matron of which just happens to be her sister Reggen. And sure enough, after mentioning Daldala, Reggen was quick to find rooms for you. Sorry to hear about the loss of Fargur, Daldala’s husband, Reggen is still happy to welcome you as friends to the inn … even offering to let you stay on as guests of the house. The Mountain’s Hearth is a three-story inn that lies just inside the east gate of the city.

Noting the quality of the accommodations and the location of the inn relative to the gate Jimmy is surprised that rooms are even available given the number of visitors wandering about.

You have also visited the ‘Pig and Bucket’ one of Blister’s most famous dives, the Pig and Bucket is a one-story tavern squashed between two boarding houses of ill-repute. Mostly a beer hall, at the Pig and Bucket you can grab one of the booths that line the walls or choose join the crowd in the row tables and benches which fill the open area of the tavern. A wooden bar, replete with names and curses carved onto its surface, runs along the back wall. Adventurers and mercenaries loiter here, merchants, wizards and shady types also appear to be regular patrons … all drifting in and out the bat-wing doors all hours of the day and night. Running the establish is an human man past his prime, red hair running gray, his freckled face creased and wrinkled with age … a friendly man, by the name of Kyle Rester.

And you have heard that near the Pig and Bucket is an establishment called the ‘Dungeoneer’s Survival Emporium’ operated by a chubby, jovial Half-elf, Myra Edgerton … she of prodigious girth, who with the proper encouragement might cut you a fair deal on common necessary goods.

 

 

SOW Chapter1: Baptism By Fire

Baptism By Fire

Baptism By Fire


 


Eoffram groaned as he pushed the broken wagon pieces off his battered body. A throbbing pain in his head made him feel dizzy and like he was going to vomit. He slowly rose into a sitting position and held his aching body for a few moments to allow the vertigo to pass. Standing up yelped in pain as he placed his weight on his left leg, from the back of his calf was protruding a sizable fragment of one of the broken wagon wheels. He pulled the metal from his leg and staunched the bleeding wound with a piece of his ripped cloak.


Small fires littered the scene of destruction. The merchant caravan he had traveled with was devestated. The bodies of the dead lay just a broken as the vehicles they had traveled in. Eoffram stumbled through the wreckage looking for any survivors. Hearing a slight groan he rushed over to find his friend and batman, Alan the Rapier.


"Alan, Alan. Try not to move. We’ll get help. You just lie still and I’ll see if I can find anything to patch up though wounds you’ve got." Eoffram looked at the ruined body of his long-time companion and tried to think of anything that might at least ease his friend’s pain. Not being a cleric, nor even trained in anything more than basic first aid, Eoffram was at a loss as to how to help his friend who’s body was burned and battered almost beyond recognition. It was a miracle that he wasn’t dead already.


Alan opened his eyes and Eoffram could see that the Raven Queen was already here. Alan reached out his hand and winced in pain, coughing up bloody foam. He murmured, "Eoffram, do not seek vengence, seek justice." Eoffram couldn’t help smiling at his friend’s attempt to continue to imbue him with the teachings of Erathis.


Eoffram’s mind wandered back to the day of his parents’ funeral.


The rage and powerlessness he felt were like a thing alive. "I will avenge you mother; I will seek revenge for you father," he mumbled. A hand fell on his childish shoulder. Master Alan squeezed the boy’s shoulder and leaning down whispered into the boy’s ear, "No, Eoffram. That is not the way of those who live in civilization. Your parents respected Erathis and expected you to do the same. Seek not vengence, but seek justice. If you fall to revenge, you fall into the trap of those who killed your parents. They too sought vengence and your parents were killed in the dragonfiends’ blind pursuit of revenge. Do not let your rage control you, but live through it. Use it to impel you to acts of honor and community. Build your world, do not destroy it. The laws of civilization will mete out punishment to those who killed your parents as is fit and just. Seek revenge and you only strengthen their evil acts."


The tears of that day mingled with the tears of Eoffram’s current time. As he sat smiling at his friend and the bittersweet memories of that day ten years ago, he heard a noise behind him.


Turning he saw four of the bandits had returned, "Well, well, well. What have we here? There’s one of them still alive. Not for long though." The bandits drew their weapons and prepared to advance on Eoffram. Eoffram stood up quickly and with hatred in his eyes glared at the hobgoblins and spoke through clenched teeth, "By all that is holy and unholy I swear that you will pay for this injustice. You and those you serve will feel the hand of justice fall upon you and you will receive your just reward for your evil acts."


The hobgoblins stood still, silent and taken aback then burst out in laughter, "You and what army? Boys let’s put this half-elf out of its misery. It thinks it is still alive." Smiling they began to approach with relative confidence not thinking the unarmed merchant any threat.


Eoffram felt Alan’s hand touch his leg. He heard Alan’s voice at first a whisper then growing into a loud roar that only Eoffram could hear, "I will be your army. I will give you strength. Take what little is left of my life. In my last moments of service I pledge my service to you with my death. Mete out justice, not vengence." As Alan’s hand fell from his leg, Eoffram felt a surge of strength and power flow into him, a fire that burned in the core of his being. The fire traveled through his body and with a shout of pain and rage blasted out of him to strike one of the hobgoblins turning it into a charred cinder.


The other hobgoblins paused to consider the threat they now faced. This was not just a simple, injured merchant anymore, they now realized that they faced a creature of power. Still confident that they could take even an injured arcanist, they rushed Eoffram. Two of the fell creatures missed him with their strikes, but one got a glancing blow in knocking Eoffram back a few steps. Eoffram again felt the fire in him grow and call to the heat around him bolstering him with renewed energy. The creatures near him screamed in fear and pain as they felt the heat leaving their bodies as they fell to the ground dead.


From the shadows stepped another hobgoblin, who clapped as he approached. "Very nicely done. I didn’t realize that you had warlock blood in you. You’re going to be a tougher challenge than he said you would be. I will enjoy this challenge." So saying, the creature threw a hand axe at Eoffram as it charged him. Eoffram dodged the axe, but in doing so twisted the ankle on his injured leg and grimmaced as pain shot up his leg and caused him to stumble.


The creature had pulled out a large sword and though it could feel the heat of its body flowing into Eoffram, it ignored the cold and continued its attack. As it swung, Eoffram reached out his hand and a ribbon of twisting darkness clutched at the hobgoblin. Now it was the creature’s turn to grimmace and it croaked, "It will take more than your feeble attempts to fell me." He started to swing and Eoffram ducked under the blade, only too late to realize that was what the hobgoblin was counting on. He felt the blade smash into his hale leg as the hobgoblin slid the blade in from under the high feint. Eoffram fell on his backside and tried to scramble away. He hurled a gout of fire at the creature as he did so. The hobgoblin pushed past the flames that clung to his chest and swung his sword a second time into Eoffram’s leg. The blade caught the flesh and sliced it open nearly cracking the bone as well. The fire on the hobgoblin’s chest flared up as if in reaction to Eoffram’s scream of pain. Sensing that the hobgoblin too was on the brink of falling, Eoffram scoured him again in the flames of his pain and anger and the creature fell at his feet.


Almost passing out from the pain, Eoffram steeled himself to remain awake long enough to stop the gush of blood from his nearly severed foot. That done, he accepted the embrace of darkness and passed out. He awoke days later to discover that he had been found, the only survivor, and brought back to Brindol and nursed back to health.


 


 


SOW Chapter1: Bingus: Sinruth and the Gnomes

Bingus: Sinruth and the Gnomes

Sinruth and the Gnomes

Sinruth was a hobgoblin with great aspirations wanting much more than to live on the edges of civilization preying on those unlucky enough to cross his path. He listened intently at the campfire when the elders told tales of the Red Hand of Doom, a mighty army that ran across the land like a scythe. And when he was old enough and strong enough to assert his own law upon his band of hobgoblins he too wanted to achieve greatness. And so when in the course of his travels when he found a forgotten cache of tunics and weapons left behind by the failed army of the Red Hand Sinruth knew it was a sign of his destiny calling. He declared himself the new Warlord of Sinruth’s Hand and took Sinruth’s Hand as the name of his band. He emblazoned every possible surface with a crudely painted, downward thrusting red hand insignia, and set about recruiting the massive army, his perceived birthright.

But starting out an army wasn’t as easy as Sinruth had been led to believe; years passed and Sinruth’s band eked out a meager existence in the wilderness but Sinruth never gave up on his dream and slowly he gained allies. One such group, a nest of sinister, mischievous gnomes blossomed into a lasting alliance. This group of gnomes, led by Asmund ‘Mole-head’ Argitakos and strong man, Snorre ‘Mole-arms’ Jamussa had been living within and about the ruins of Rivenroar when they met Sinruth. Being more devious than industrious Asmund saw the hobgoblins as an opportunity for free labor and convinced Sinruth that they should excavate the ruins together. It wasn’t long before they realized that the ruins were a sprawling underground complex, catacombs that housed the dead of the Rivenroar and other local families abandoned long ago to time and depredations. Tragically their families shared not only a common place of internment but also reverence for Grithstane, Lord of Corruption. When they found the dead of Rivenroar still wandering the catacombs the wily, quick-thinking Asmund found a new calling transforming his small troop of Andaviri gnomes into the New Dead of Gristhstane, a cult acceptable to the undead host of the ruins; giving credence to the saying, “Never trust an Andaviri.”

Bingus Petrakos was not impressed by Asmund’s conversion, always more found of his own arcanist studies than practical, Bingus hardly took note; rather he was fascinated by the magicks and wonders left behind in the ruins; dark obelisks, magic prisons and enchanted statues, and made himself very useful while pursuing his own interests within the ruins while being careful not to cross the true believers like Snorre who at that time prevented his escape from the cult.

But this was not to last … the alliance of undead, hobgoblins and gnomes was eventually defeated by a group of adventurers known as Brindol’s Brigade. Angered by Sinruth’s bold attack of Brindol and eager to recover prisoners captured by Sinruth during the raid, the Brigade followed the hobgoblins back to their hideout and ultimately tracked down and killed Sinruth bringing them into conflict with Bingus and the other gnomes but sensing that these heroes were not cold-blooded killers Bingus realized they might help him escape from the cult that had corrupted his small troop of gnomes. So when the heroes beaten and blooded from their fight with Sinruth came his way Bingus offered to assist them at a critical juncture of their campaign leading them through the final traps and helping them to escape the ruins with their lives and the freed prisoners.

When it was over, true to their word the heroes did not slay Bingus, but not fully trusting the gnome they agreed to part-company when together Bingus and the Brigade escaped Rivenroar Castle.

And Bingus Petrakos moved on to Overlook but that is another story.