Jon's Campaign

Squeak Squawk: Traps, Damn Traps, and Demons

Well, it turns out that our lumbering friends have managed to get us in the middle of a Demon war… or a weird Demon three-way, but I am hoping it is a war because that seems easier to deal with. But let’s start at the beginning.

After regrouping at Kestor’s place, we decided to split up to make best use of our skills and talents. Naturally, I went to talk to the Samirians, because they are definitely my kind of people. The others went to gather supplies from the marketplace, and we later met up on the beach.

At first, the Samirians were stand-off-ish. But after I brought some wine and food, they seemed to loosen up and trust me more. Knowing that I had to keep my wits about me, I only drank a minimal amount. Eventually, they let me know I should meet with Jacob, their leader. So off I went.

When meeting with Jacob, we discussed the mine and their plight. Jacob was pleasant, and quickly warmed to my charm and natural quick wit. It’s a good thing I was sent here. Turns out that the mine is guarded by Samirians, and I was able to get a letter allowing us entrance. Yep, its a good thing these Bigs crash landed with me, otherwise who knows what kind of messes they would get themselves into. Before I left, I gave Jacob 5 Kingstone and asked that he use it to take care of the kids I had seen in the Samirian part of town. Knowing what it is like to be smaller than everyone and in need of food and such, I figured it was the least I could do. Besides, this is why the group trusts me with a good part of the fake money, right?

Anyway, the only request Jacob had was to talk to him before talking to Lord Thomas. Given the way the Samirians are treated, it seemed no problem to agree to talk to him before going to the Lord.

So then I went to the beach to meet the others, and there was some naked chick who was getting a nasty sunburn. Seriously, sometimes Bigs have no sense at all. Eventually She was introduced as Adisla, a Bard who had come to rescue us. Perhaps she aslo moonlighted as a dancer in a tavern, because she had a pretty hot body, although with a pink shade from too much sun. Seriously, does the king think that he can just send a 14-piece band to help sing all these people back home? I don’t understand his choices, but then again, the nobility can be a strange bunch.

Luckily, Brieza had been to the market and gotten mostly all that we needed to venture into the mine. Thorfinn stayed huddled in the room most of the morning, because he is weirdly afraid of people and interactions and other things that normal humans do. A weird bird, that one, but if he ever lets me saddle up that puppy of his, I will gladly look past his oddities.

So off we went to the mine. The others seemed surprised when I pulled out a letter from Jacob allowing us entrance to the mine, seeming to think that I just spent all morning boozing it up with Samirians! Seriously, a little respect would be nice!

Despite having torches, the breeze of the mine quickly blew them out, which we were warned would happen. Luckily, Thorfinn was able to magic-up some light so we could see, which was handy.

We had to scramble down some parts of the mine, which was a little difficult for others, but a breeze for me. We even lowered down the Druid’s puppy on a rope, and he was such a good doggy, so points for him being well-trained.

As we were walking, a boulder fell on Thorfinn and trapped him against the wall. Normally I would call him a clumsy Big, but I had my own troubles later on, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Luckily Brieza could pry it off him, because that chick is some kinda strong!

Eventually we made it to a big room with a door at the far end and a couple of hallways off to each side. Given that I had first watch, I checked the room for traps and didn’t find any, and checked the door at the far end, and again didn’t find any. When my time was up, I woke up Thorfinn & the puppy for their watch, and settled in to sleep. I was soon jolted awake by Thorfinn screaming. He decided to wander to areas that I had NOT checked for traps, which was just plain unwise. He got pelted with an arrow, and then we heard some creatures coming for us.

Now I can usually hold my own in battle, but this was not my finest moment. First off, these creatures looked kinda like goblins, but uglier. And they managed to spray some kind of gods-awful odor throughout the room that caused some folks to gag, unable to fight. Luckily I was ok, but maybe gagging would have been better. Apparently the gas affected me in someway, because when I went to sling a stone at one of them, it bounced off the wall and nailed me straight in the head! Like I said, not my finest moment.

Luckily, Breiza and Thorfinn, along with Luther, were able to kill them all. I think the puppy might have helped, but I had double vision for a little bit, so who knows. Just glad we survived so I can prove my fightin chops another day.

Afterwards, Thorfinn was angry about the arrow, so I reminded everyone to explore at your own peril, and I would be happy to check for traps in the morning. Which was not a fun experience.

Since Thorfinn had already sprung the trap on that side of the room, we explored that way in the morning. There was a room, which I easily picked the lock so we could enter. In there were beds and several chests. The chests had not only locks, but traps. But come now – like that would stop me! I got through the traps and locks, and discovered weapons – swords and maces!

In our excitement, I neglected to check the other hallway as carefully and got drilled with an arrow. Folks back home always said I could get over-excited and make mistakes, and I thought they had beaten that fault out of me, but I guess I am getting soft. I need to be more on top of it, and not let these lumbering Bigs bring me down. Luckily, Brieza was able to get the arrow out and help heal me a little, which was nice. In the other room, there were more locks and traps that I easily disposed of. And more weapons.

Looks like these Samirians were planning a revolt! More power to them! In fact, in the next room (which we got to when Brieza and Thorfinn pried the door open) contained a forge! These guys are organized. However, there were also more bad guys there, and we had another battle. This time, no self-inflected wounds, but I did gag at the gas cloud. I managed to get a few licks in, but the hero of this battle was Luther.

You see, there was a giant demon-thing crawling down from the ceiling, and Luther managed to Charm the thing with some sort of bard-magic-singing or something. After we disposed of the gas-laden creatures, we were able to pry information from this charmed demon. Turns out that there is an even BIGGER demon behind the door at the far end of the forge. And there is some sort of battle going on between this demon and the witch in the woods, and maybe another demon? It was confusing, and there aren’t many demons in the cities where I am used to, and I like it that way. Avoiding city guards is hard enough work without otherworldly demons trying to muck things up.

After we extracted all the info we could, we decided to high-tail it out of there before the charm spell wore off. We exited the mine and me and Luther went to chat with Jacob while the others regrouped at kestor’s place to plan out how to take out the demons. Jacob mentioned that there is some sort of holy knight/paladin in the service of Lord Thomas, and we might be able to get his help. For some reason, he trusts this guy to keep knowledge of whatever rebellion is happening under wraps. If Jacob is cool with him, then I guess we should be too.

We made our way back to kestor’s, which has become out home base, and decided to get a good night’s sleep before inserting ourselves even further in this demon war. Fun times ahead, for sure.

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What have we gotten ourselves into?
another day, another demon?

I suppose it’s off to the mines. It all seems rather ominous, but curiosity has the best of me, for one. I am though, no idiot, so I decided to take a trip to the market for some basic provisions; rope, bedroll, food, flint and steel, and chalk for 6 kingstone, leaving our party with 46. Not bad if I say so myself.

All the while we had sent Squeak to treat with the Samirians and were to meet up on the beach by noon. Oddly, there we met a strange naked lady – Adisla who also came from Cameron, and apparently came after us to try to find us? Unclear what she was doing on the water or why that sounded like a good idea, or why she was sunbathing in the nude. But, being strangers in a strange land, what is one more stranger?

When we reached the quarry, we were greeted by some Samirian guards who did not want us to enter the mine, Fortunately, Squeak got a letter from the Samirian leader, Jared. Though, frankly, he could have shared that information with us sooner. I’m not so sure how much I trust this Squeak to treat on our behalf on his own.

We could see that it was very dark inside, so I grabbed some torches on the way in. I like to be prepared. Luther can see in the dark and Thorfinn has a glowing staff so we were in good shape until some rocks fell trapping Thorfinn’s leg, though I was able to get the rock off of him.

We proceeded down the long dark path for some time before coming to a 30 ft. drop into a clearing. Unable to camp in the narrow path, it seemed the only way was down. Thankful for my resourcefulness in the market, we were able to use the rope I purchased to get everyone safely down, even MacTir. We set camp and I took the third watch shift, thrilled to roll out my brand new bedroll and give it some use.

At some point during the second watch Thorfinn set off a trap and was shot with arrow. He cryed out loudly which awoke the rest of us and we were soon ambushed by 5 weird goblin-like creatures. With some amazing and surprising speed and strength I was able to destroy the first of them in a single blow. The others did not go so easy. They released a terrible gas cloud – gross, and made Adisla and Luther mostly worthless though she did some weird Rage chat that made us all barbarically stronger, but we kept forgetting about that. I killed another and Thorfinn’s wolf MacTir took care of 2 of them. I’m not sure who killed that last one. I’m sure Thorfinn would take the credit for his wolf, but I can’t be sure, though Thorfinn did prove himself very useful during the battle helping me switch quickly between my weapons. I can tell you who it wasn’t— Squeak. That Halfling somehow managed to hit himself on the head with his own slinged rock.

With the monsters cleared, we decided it best to finish our camp and allow our friends to heal. Adisla and I took watch and I took the opportunity to bake some bull mastiff and cheese hot pockets over the fire to distribute to the team. It’s an old family recipe and rather handy on a quest as you can eat on the run.

When the rest of team awoke, we decided to investigate the two corridors each ending with locked doors, Squeak masterfully picked the doors locks and chests, (I guess he’s good for something after all) He was caught by one of the lock traps, but I was able to assist by pulling the arrow free and wrapping the wound. The rooms were similar but very interesting. They were each full to the brim with barracks materials; swords, maces, spears, arrows, etc. I picked up some more arrows and another longsword. It seems the Samirians are planning a well-deserved rebellion.

The iron door on the other end of the clearing seemed more impenetrable. We tried brute strength and lockpicking to no avail, but were finally successful prying it open with a tool Thorfinn and Luther created using a pickaxe from the ground. The room on the other side of that door appeared to be a forge of some kind. The Samirians are looking more and more serious the deeper we go.

It was then that we were viciously attacked from behind by a larger demon and 3 more goblin creatures, but thanks to Luther’s deep knowledge of arcane magic we learned that they are Dretch, a type of demon minion. I was able to kill another small demon but took a lot of damage and Adisla, Squeak and Thorfinn were all vomiting from another demon stink cloud. Luther somehow managed to enchant the lesser demon and get him to talk to us. We learned that there is another demon and some shadow mastiffs beyond the door (yikes) and that beyond them there is a Balor Demon who is controlling them all. The Balor is causing the storms and is trying to stop the Samirian rebellion so that Lord Thomas will kill the witch queen, whom they also want to rid of. Very interesting stuff, but I’m left wondering how we got ourselves mixed up in this mess.

We agreed to something I didn’t catch and booked it out of there, taking our rope with us. After getting out of the quarry we waited until dark and snuck back to Kester’s house to camp while Squeak and Luther returned to Jared to tell him what we learned. I baked some more hot pockets for distribution, ate mine and slept through the night.

When Squeak and Luther returned we learned that Jared will aid us in our battle against the demons, but he needs us to get the Paladin Gregor and some interesting folks out of the jail cells to fight with us.

Though we don’t necessarily have the solution she wanted, at least we have more information, so we headed off to the woods to talk to the witch queen, who we learn is also a demon, but just wants to be able to stay in this world with her dogmen. She told us we are not on an island, but on the other side of the continent Cameron is on. Unfortunately between us and Cameron is a mountain range ruled by another Balor Demon and the city of Saracel which Cameron is currently at war with. So yeah, there’s that…

In order for the witch demon to stay here in peace, she must prevent one of these Balor Demons from raising a still more powerful demon. All these demons need names; it’s becoming hard to tell them apart. Also, what am I doing messing with Demons!

So, it seems the plan is to get Sir Gregor to help us kill the demons in the mines, then convince Lord Thomas t of the need for an alliance, get him to release the Samarian prisoners and the witch queens demon captain person thing, and then get everyone together to fight the Balor? Oh sure, all in a day’s work. Again, what have we gotten ourselves into?

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Thorfinn's Journal: Part the Third
Nude beaches, Demons, More Demons, EVEN MORE DEMONS

Hello again. We actually prepared to do something today…well, Luther and Brieza did. I stayed in the inn with MacTir. I’m not much help with talking to people. After they came back we headed to the beach to meet Squeak, who had gone to talk to Jacob, the leader of the ex-slaves. We were all surprised to see a naked woman, who seemed a bit pale to be going unclothed, but her sunburn is none of my business. MacTir was inappropriate, but I told him to stop being a bad wolf, and he listened. Which is good. I need to teach him a command for “Don’t embarrass me!” that isn’t “Down boy!” The naked woman’s name is Adisla Gunna, and she’s some kind of musician. She agreed to accompany us, largely, I suspect, out of boredom.

Squeak had managed to wrangle a letter out of Jacob, which served us better than the equivalent from Lord Thomas. The guards at the quarry spoke of mysterious gusts of wind and equally strange noises. Then the spoke of disappearances and trails of blood. I’m putting in for a bonus when we get back home. Maybe a land grant. That would solve most of our problems.

But I digress…
I cast a light spell on the end of my spear. Good thing too, as one of those breezes blew out everyone else’s torches. (I have just been pointedly reminded that Brieza had a lamp.) Most everyone else’s torches. After a brief pause to produce more light, we proceeded on down a rubble-filled staircase. Brieza and I stood at the top and lowered everyone down (even MacTir) on a rope. After we were all at the bottom, we found ourselves in a room with two exits, and we chose to camp.

MacTir and I took second watch. First watch had been quiet, but I heard a noise and went to investigate, triggering an arrow trap in the process. I’d have been angrier with Squeak for not doing his job, but some ugly, goblinoids were at work surrounding the party, so I settled for waking everyone up and attacking. I was no great shakes during the battle, but both MacTir and I managed to avoid falling prey to the clouds of stench emitted by our enemies. Brieza was largely unaffected too, but Adisla (clothed now, I should mention), Luther, and Squeak were heavering for most of the battle. At one point Adisla sang, and I felt a strange bloodlust rise up within me. It didn’t last long, but it was unpleasant, I felt physically stronger, but I was unable to cast spells. Or think clearly.

MacTir outdid himself, killing three of the creatures, I think I wounded one, and spent most of the rest of the battle playing weapons-caddy to Brieza. First I picked up her longsword and passed it too her, then I did the same for her dagger when she dropped that too! I would appreciate her not dropping her weapons as much. It just seems a bad idea in melee combat.

The goblin-things didn’t have much in the way of treasure, so we went back to sleep. In the morning we did a bit of investigating. We learned several things, first among which is that Squeak can’t find traps. He can dodge them, but finding them seems a bit tough for him.
A couple of iron doors impeded our progress, but when Squeak was unable to open them, we fell back on strength and cunning: a couple of pickaxes set between the door and the floor allowed us enough leverage to force the doors open. We also found a large stash of weapons, perhaps forged in preparation for an ex-slave uprising.

I am going to ask for a BIG bonus. I did not sign up for this.

Actually, a quite large bonus, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We found a large door that we couldn’t open at all, and left. On our way back we were ambushed by more goblin-things and something far, far fouler. Some kind of demon. We were incredibly lucky; Luther was able to charm the demon, which left only the goblinish (as it turns out) lesser demons for us to kill. I did pretty well in this fight, though I was sickened for a bit, as was MacTir. We managed to rally though, and not having to fight that stronger demon was certainly the chance that got us through the fight.

Luther’s spell must have been really thorough, because our new friend from the Abyss was only too happy to tell us that he’s working for another demon. A VERY powerful demon, who, not content with his own ability to wreak havoc, has summoned some shadow mastiffs, which sound dreadful! He’s here to ensure that Thomas kills the Witch Queen. Or the Forest Witch, whatever. More about her later. So he’s stirring up trouble and agitation to get Thomas to start an all-out attack on the woman in the forest. Trouble and agitation, btw, includes the condition of the seas, which explains why she was so eager to help us go. Our presence is a huge distraction for her.

Adisla, Brieza, MacTir, and I headed back to Kester’s house, while Squeak and Luther went to talk to Jacob. We seem to be in agreement about keeping Lord Thomas uninformed as much as possible, and tomorrow, we’ll head out to the witch again. I think we have a much better chance of, well, staying alive if we can get everyone else to ally against the demons.

The guards let us pass without incident. FOR ONCE.

That was not quite enough to make up for the surprise we got when we talked to the Witch Queen, who, it turns out is a demon herself. I wish the decisions to be made in the next few days had a bit less moral ambiguity, but, she says that she’s just trying to stay on the Prime Material, and is not interested in conquering a wide dominion, etc, etc. That she chose an uninhabited island for her home does offer some circumstantial evidence for her claims. In order for her to stay, she must prevent a Balor (a very, very, VERY powerful demon) from raising a still more (some how) powerful demon. So, we need to get Sir Gregor, who is a paladin, kill the demons in the mines, take some physical evidence of those demons to Lord Thomas to convince him of the need for an alliance, then get him to release the special prisoners, including the Witch/DemonQueen’s Captain, which will prove his willingness to make peace, and then get everyone to meet on the beach and go after a Balor who is hiding himself in the town.

Should be a piece of cake.

I am asking for a Duchy after this.

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The Lost Army, Part II

Part II

Upon returning to the aforementioned
Village; the last sad remains of the
Army that set forth with such
Grand promise and well-wishes
Now rooted – by what mysterious
Force your narrator knew yet not – to
The cursed spot. Hemmed by
Violent oceans that turned back
all attempts to sail from its austere
Beaches and forbidding forest;
The very same that, with
Great ferocity guided by
an implacable and malevolent will
Directed to all mortal creatures that
Rode its waves, had vomited
Forth the Band of adventurers
Fortuitously in the very same
Place now the involuntary residence
Of Cameron’s lost army,
Which in one sense meant
That your narrator had accomplished
The very mission set upon his
Narrow, but responsible, shoulders
By his good friend the King
Of Cameron – to find the
Army that had be been lost.
But what irony:
Though the finding
Required no effort whatsover
(Indeed it was accomplished
Wholly involuntarily and
Unconsciously by the
Heroes who in fact
Had the discovery thrust
Upon them by an
Angry sea stirred
By as yet unknown sorcery)
The return of the Army and
Attendant lavish accolades of
Grateful Cameron who would
Doubtless spare no reward to
He or she who was the instrument
Of restoring safety and security
To a realm presently in grievous
Lack of either quality – seemed
A present impossibility; your narrator
And his companions being,
At that moment without ideas
Or means of effecting their
Own return to claim said rewards
Much less the return of what
Remained of the Army of Cameran.

Oh Degression,
Second most seductive of the
Muses, surpassed only by
Your sister-siren Procrastination
Whose languid boudoir
This narrator has been
Is all too well
Acquainted particularly
In the last month (though
In truth perhaps “muse”
Is an in apt appellation as
She inspires no
creative effort but rather
its absence),
You have tempted me
Away from the telling of the main
Narrative along a sidepath
That while failing to
Advance the story does provide
A most useful illustration – by way of
Painful example – of the
Value of interim success fees
Payable upon achievement
Of interim benchmarks
In any venture where
Accomplishment of the
Ultimate goal is uncertain.
I now leave your ample
Comforts to return to the
Telling of the tale

…. whereupon having
Listlessly debating the merits
Of returning to the forest with
Its promised
Dangers, deprivations and diet of
Dog meat or making
Straight for the local
Tavern with its promised
Good company, strong
Wines, lusty serving
Wenches and lads,
And prodigious repasts of
… Dog meat, the band
Did again set forth
Into the forest
Uncertain of purpose
Indifferent of direction
But trusting in the
Whims of providence
And linear narrative to
Steer them on a
Course that would
Move them ultimately forward,
Wherever that
May turn out to be.

On their way toward
Unknown progress; a
A place to which
They may or may
Not have been headed
Or would have recognized
Had they got there, but
Being at that point
so grievous tired
Of trees (except for
Thorfinn whose affection
For Oak, Maple and Spruce
defies adjective except perhaps
“Unhealthy”) that
Any location of
Even the slightest
Variation would have suited,
The four heroes: Tiny-voice, Brieza,
Thorfinn, and your humble
Story-teller were
Again beset by demonic
Canines of aspect
So similar to the last set
That the listener
Is simply reminded of
Part I of this tale
Rather than being belabored
With repetitious
Dog-fighting description, except
For this brief side note: that
Magic sleep is most effectively
Employed when the victim is left to
Slumber while the battle rages
Against his brothers,
who, the theory goes, now
Diminished in number can
Be more easily dispatched
Through concentrated efforts,
Rather than immediately
Awakened by further
Attack and thus
Returned to the battle.

In any event, the
Band came upon a clearing
And within the clearing a cabin,
and within the cabin a
mass of dog-headed fiends and
Within the minds of these creatures
Very little apparently except
For a startling appreciation of
well-played mandolin, which affection
Was here employed to useful effect
Such that they departed and the
Heroes remained to rest …

Then now came from the
Dark forest, a cacophony of
crashing branches, shaking leaves
And the thunder of countless
Paws pounding over rock,
And limb and brush:
A murderous host of hounds!
Red eyes piercing the gloom
Lanterns of ill-fortune
Nostrils flared; steam roils forth
Black muzzles drawn back
Over yellow teeth bared
White foam dripping
To the forest floor
Shoulders of unnatural
Height that brush low branches.
On and on they boiled into
The clearing – snarling, snapping
Barking, growling – until they surround the
Lodge in which our four
Adventurers sheltered; a heaving
Sea of canine animosity that
Left no mystery of their intention:
To rend the flesh from
Man, woman, half-man
And dark elf in their massive
Mastiffs’ Jaws

Then, behind the hounds:
Strode a hooded figure,
Cloaked in black mystery
It halted at the clearing,
Thrusting suddenly a hand
Toward the heavens, and as it
Did so crying out in the eldritch
Tongue words that demanded
Obedience from the very
Elements themselves-
A woman’s voice!
But while you listeners now
Have the luxury to wonder
Over this twist, sitting as
You are comfortably in
This most convivial of inns,
There was little time for
The heroes to remark
Upon it at the time
Because at that moment
Bidded by her arcane
Magics, wind rushed through
The clearing, with such
Force and energy that the lodge,
groaned and shuddered under
The force of it as though
It were crafted of river reeds
Not the stoutest timber of
The forest (which in truth
Was the means of its
Construction), and short
Upon the typhoon gust
From the heavens
Down to the clearing and
The increasingly beleaguered
Shelter of the brave band
Leapt a bolt of searing,
Bowel-loosening lighting
That, as it made its way downwards
Towards its target
Shattered the dark of the forest
And the clearing
With dreadful light that
In bringing the aforementioned
Hounds and sorceress into
Sharp display, was all the more
Terrible than the danger of
The bolt itself which, being filled
Of a considerable force and energy
Was not not inconsiderable, and so
Proved in striking a nearby tree
and sending it crashing – yes,
also upon the less and less
secure seeming cabin in the woods.

Beset now by hellish hounds,
ferocious storm, and
Apparently hostile (or
Perhaps merely showy
And careless) Sorceress,
Brieza drew her sword,
Thorfinn readied his spear,
And the half-man placed the largest
Stone into the sling he carried (the latter
in truth seeming even less
Impressive at the time
In the thick of the peril
Than it does now in the retelling).
Each preparing in his or her own way
To sell dearly the lives that,
It was now sadly apparent
Were now surely forfeit.

Even as they did so,
Your narrator, was climbing up
To the very top of the lodge -
Heedless of storm or
thunderbolt or leaping mastiff – until
I stood athwart the pitch
Of the roof itself. The wind
whipped around, pressing me from all
sides, clutching and tearing
At cloak and tunic like
An audience transformed
Into an rapturous mob at the
Ending of a performance
(which your narrator is humbled
To have experienced
On more than one occasion)
Though the elements
Sought no autographs and
Conspired not to raise
Up onto joyous
Shoulders but to cast
Into certain maceration.

From the rooftop now:
Dark sorceress of the forest!
Pause now in your
Assault upon this
Clearing and the
Travellers who have
Here until moments
Ago rested quietly, peacefully
And with harmonious intent.
You have proved yourself mighty by the
Terrible forces – wind and storm and
The beasts that dwell
Within these woods -
That are yours to command.
Know that I and my
Companions respect your
Obvious power and dominion
Over these woods and would
Not test either without cause or
Provocation, and while some
Of more obstreperous
Temperament might have found
Just cause in the events that have
Lately transpired, a recital of which
I will leave to the side lest I be derailed
From my point, which, is to put it
Plainly and succinctly: we are willing
To let bygones be bygones.
But know also that we
Ourselves have eldritch power, skill at
Arms, and …. rocks … that …
er… can be thrown really hard …
Well, in any event skill at arms and
Eldritch power to bring to
Bear and while I will not
Purport to predict who would
Savor victory should we come
To blows in earnest, it is
Apparent that blood flow
On both sides and any
Victory made pyrrhic by the
Heavy price to be paid in
The winning. I am
Lutherellenhillbrand, formerly of the
Perpetual House of NionuSeitrebil-Nacirema;
Believe my words are true or
Test them at your peril.

Stranger in my woods!
Whether there is inherent
Truth within your words,
Or recent history in these woods
Bears them confidence, or whether it
Is merely the eloquence with which they
Are conveyed or the beauty and
Power of the voice who speaks them,
I know not, but do know that
I hear your words and they
Do give me pause and I
Stay my hand so that we
May parley further.
But hear me also:
I am weary of yon
village and its wouldbe woodsmen
Who despoil my forest
And hunt its delicate children- i.e. the
four-legged ones with whom you
Yourselves are acquainted -
That ignoble history colors
My perception of your
Own presence in my
Domain.

Wise queen! Your explication
Falls upon sympathetic and
Understanding ears. We
Ourselves are acquainted both
With the children of these forests -
on which if I may briefly commend you
for such handsome, and well-mannered
Pups about whom when I earlier used
the word “beast” know that
I meant it purely with a winking
Ironic affection -
As well as the particular children of
Men who dwell in the village – sadly
an especially brutish and dull variety.
Perhaps there is a deal to be struck:
Though it is sore difficult to believe
If one has met them,
These sorry children of
Men who huddle behind their
Village walls are sought by their
Homeland who would have them
Returned, and we mean to
Return them. Lend your support
To our efforts and safe passage
Through these woods and
There is every hope that a
Mutually advantageous end
To what seems to be an
Unhappy predicament for all involved.

Whether, dear listeners, it was
The plain-spoken logic of the
Situation that persuaded the witch, or
As she herself noted, it was the clarity,
and wisdom of the speaker, a bargain
Was struck that day and further
Bloodshed was averted.
The companions indeed travelled back to
The village and were
For the first time in venturing
Through the woods unmolested
By the dire creatures within.

Further adventures awaited
Within its walls, driven it seemed
by a misunderstanding: for
Once the lord of the village
himself gazed upon our heroes
(and in fairness it should be noted spoke
directly with myself who has some
small skill in persuasion even in
in tight places as you have already
seen deployed to important effect
during the course of the tale; a
Skill that in truth should be no mystery,
Though it is gravely absent in the
Vast majority, because, at its essence
It is simply a matter of speaking to
the point directly and plainly, and
With the utmost absence of
unnecessary embellishment or
Diversion, but while it is
apparently simple in the
Abstract it is apparently difficult
To achieve for many in the execution)
He also desired to employ their
Considerable skills.
However, that happy meeting
Came only after a further series of
Adventures for the band of
Four in which Tiny-voice it
Must be admitted played an
Important role as did the
Pugilistic prowess of Thorfinn
And Brieza. A worthy tale and
One that is available in the
Deluxe Story-teller’s edition of
This epic for so modest an
Additional surcharge that it
Practically visits embarrassment
On those very same exploits
(but pray do raise a hand if
there is interest in the telling).

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Unwelcome

We woke to find that unsurprisingly the stranger Kester had strangely disappeared sometime in the night. How he managed to sneak away unseen is beyond me. Thorfinn’s wolf for starters should have alerted us.

This town is not a welcoming place. The villagers eye us suspiciously, the guards want to take our gear and arrest us and the one person who we have engaged us has likely betrayed us. I should have let the halfling take his money…

Off to the forest where I will feel safety in the trees and animals. At least that is what I thought… the journey started with more dogs and ended with dogmen and a witch. These are not the woods of my childhood.

The dogmen. I have never seen anything like them before. Clearly they are not very intelligent as they were easily lured out of the cabin by Luther and eventually left us for the evening. Unfortunately, they appear to be ruled by a witch of some sorts. Frightful one she is with terrible powers.

We were granted safe passage back to the city where three of us were promptly arrested by a nearby guard. Officially unwelcome on the island, we sat in the prison to think. At least that was my plan, until some mouthy vagrants started a fight and I’ve never been known to turn down a fight.

The vagrants were easily bested, though to ensure our safety throughout the night we tied the leader to the prison bars with his trousers. The humiliation he must feel is worth the extra effort. It was then that we met the pirate. Didn’t catch his name, but an interesting and mysterious fellow that I am anxious to learn more about.

Prison is boring. Thank god for Squeak. Sneaky little bastard that he is, he managed to slip in through a window and pick the gate locks. We released the mysterious pirate. It was then that we discovered Kester in the neighboring cell. Squeak tried to let him out but failed. I say let him rot.

After ramming open the doors with a bench and causing quite the ruckus, we marched to Lord Thomas’s tower. Sure, we could have waited to be brought to him in the morning, but we would rather not be brought in shackles like criminals.

Lord Thomas was surprisingly friendly for being roused from his bed in the middle of the night and has set us on some quest in the mines. Finally. I like a good quest. He set us up at the town in and we were reunited with our armor and weapons. Tomorrow we quest!

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Squeak Squawk: Breaking INTO Jail for a Change
Good thing I'm here...

Seriously, I can’t believe that I am stuck here with a bunch of clumsy, lumbering Bigs who couldn’t avoid being seen by a blind ogre on a moonless night! Once again, I have started in the middle – let’s back up a bit.

Last we left off, we were shipwrecked in a strange land full of flesh-hungry dogs and people who use freaking stone as money. Well, we awoke in Kester’s house and he was gone – vanished in the night without even bothering to leave a note. Since we were his guests, I decided to let his stash of 30 kingstone stay in its terrible hiding place (under the bed! Kids these days, with no imagination or creativity!). Once again, the Bigs wanted to take off to the forest to go exploring, so being the magnanimous leader that I am, I relented and off we went, the fightin’ foursome that we are.

On the way out, the guard stopped us. We were prepared to offer another dogskin or two to slide by, but this time, the guard said that the Lord wanted to see us, and he was under strict orders to haul us in. Not that he could have single-handedly overpowered us, but I have learned in my time to avoid killing guards, cause that just brings more guards and more guards equals more trouble. Luther managed to sweet-talk the dull sap into letting us leave, promising that we wouldn’t return. I knew he was lying, because I, for one, am not planning on spending the rest of my life away from the joys of civilization, limited though they may be in that town.

Shocker of all shocks, we ran into dogs, this time larger than before. Thorfinn once again made the forest plants entangle some of them, so we didn’t have to fight them all at once. For a Big, he sure can come in handy when in the forest, but would he be that useful in another environment? That remains to be seen. Brieza was impressive with her bow, once again. And Yours Truly was naturally awesome with my sling, but no one expects anything less.

After disposing of the dogs, we continued to walk deeper into the woods, and my mind once again wondered to crafting a saddle for Thorfinn’s puppy. I really don’t think it would be that hard, and the pooch seems to be very well-trained, even in battle. I could certainly learn to fight from the saddle – I have heard stories of elves and others fighting from horseback, so how much harder could it be… Thorfinn still seems opposed to it, but maybe, just maybe, his resistance could be worn down. We shall see.

As we made our way deeper into the woods, we came upon a clearing and a ramshackle building. We found a few dead bodies, which was unpleasant. I picked up a hatchet that seemed to be in pretty good shape, because I learned at a young age that you can never have too many weapons. As soon as I take my whet stone to it, it will be sharp and good as new – either to use or sell.

We entered the building, and it appeared empty. I shouted, "HELLO!!’ to no response, so we figured it was abandoned. We poked around a little, then I decided to sneak upstairs and have a peek at the loft. HOLY GOBLIN BALLS, there were three creatures up there. Dog heads, but Big-sized bodies, just staring at the opening, holding weapons. Of course, I managed to avoid detection because… well, because unlike these other lumbering fools I know how to remain unseen if necessary.

Then, the most amazing thing happened. Luther decided to amble up the stairs and put on a concert for them. I was thinking that the guy had a suicide wish, because now sounded like a bad time to play a ballad, but that’s exactly what he did. Maybe he is magic or something, but lo and behold, those creatures were completely enraptured with him! In fact, he led them down from the loft and out into the yard, then we all got into the house and they stood confused for a little bit, then just wandered off. That Luther has some major tricks up his sleeves, and I need to remember to NEVER play dice with that cat.

We figured out that the building was some sort of lumber camp, but we had no idea what happened to the dead folks. We decided to bar the door and stay the night in the building, since there was only one window. After we began to settle down, we heard Her. Now I am still not certain who she is, but she approached from the woods. I got on the roof with Luther and readied my trusty sling, because she brought those dogs with her. She was not happy that we were here, and has some powerful magiks that make Thorfinn’s dancing weeds look like child’s play. She made a blast of lightning and a tree fell RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE DOOR of the building. Could have squished us all! But she didn’t kill us, because Luther and his slick, silver tongue managed to get her into a conversation, where we found out that this was her piece of real estate before the town was there, and she was unappreciative of folks killing all her dogs (although to be honest, the dogs did attack us first). She seemed willing to help calm the weird weather at sea so we could escape, if we could convince the townsfolk to stay out of the woods and allow her to come close enough to work her magiks. All in all, she seemed kinda pleasant, for a witch.

We agreed to try to help, and she promised us safe passage out of the forest, and back in once we had a deal in place. Well, at least we are one step closer to leaving this gods-forsaken place.

The next morning, we made our way back, once again confronted by the guard. Knowing that there would likely be trouble, I thought it best to hide myself, so that we could ensure that at least one of us would be able to surprise the guard should there be need for surprise. Well, Luther was unable to sweet-talk his way past the guard, who promptly called a few of his portly buddies over to arrest them. Yep, they got arrested, weapons confiscated, the whole bit. The doggy stayed outside the walls with me until the guards started hauling them in, which is when I took the opportunity to sneak undetected into town. What a mess these Bigs have gotten themselves into now!

After unsuccessfully trying to bring the puppy with me (would have been easier if I were in a saddle), I made my way to Kestor’s place, being that it was the only place I knew in the city. I waited until dark, trying to figure out how I was going to save the hides of those other clumsy oafs. Since I might need some extra money, I figured that Kestor would gladly help us out, so I got a few of the kingstone from his hiding place to add to my stash. Never know when you might need to grease a few palms, or be in need of some supplies.

At dark, I made my way to the prison, which didn’t take long to find. Every city is basically the same, and I have seen my fair share of prisons — from both the inside and the outside. It wasn’t difficult to hide from the few patrols that were out, and I noticed that there was only one guard at the front door. I dragged a box around back, and looked into each cell until I found my companions. While I was busily figuring out how to spring them, it looks like they decided to bet into a brawl with their cellmates, like some kind of drunken brutes in a local tavern. I said it before and i’ll say it again – I’m stuck with a bunch of Neanderthals.

Lucky for them, I was able to break into — yes, INTO — the prison, and then I set to examine the lock that held them in. It was a quality lock on the door, but nothing exceptional – a very common make, if slightly above average material and fairly decent craftsmanship. Of course, you could need more than slightly above average to stop me from unlocking it. I got out my gear, asked the others to back off and give me room to work, and in the blink of an eye, I got the door open. The Bigs decided to also let one of the fellows in their cell escape, some guy they talked to while in there, but I didn’t have time to be caught up on everything right then. Kestor was in a nearby cell, but that door had must have been crafted by a Master Dwarven Smith of some bygone era, because I could not even come close to letting him out. Well, at least that means he won’t miss that kingstone he donated to our cause.

Well, getting the Bigs out of the cell was only one half of getting them free. There was still the case of the guard at the front door. And of course, it was up to me to figure out how to make this happen. I snuck back OUT of prison, through the same cell window that I came in, and then thought about how to get the guard away from the door. I thought about lighting a fire, but there were no nearby buildings, and that would cause too much of a scene. I needed to get just that guard away from his post.

While I hate — HATE — being confused for a child of a Big, I figured that this was the best way to help my crew. So I ran up to the guard and breathlessly told him that my papa was being robbed and he was hurt and he needed help RIGHT AWAY! unfortunately, the big lug locked the prison door before he came to help me. I ran through the town, slowly creating more distance between us, constantly yelling for him to hurry and help. Once I got him far enough away from the prison, I skirted through the alleys and backtracked to the prison. By the time I got back, the Bigs had rammed through the door, creating more noise than a band of drunken minotaurs at a brothel.

Thorfinn immediately ran to the edge of town to retrieve his puppy. Luther and Brieza decided to go see Lord Thomas, while I decided to head back to Kestor’s, being the only safe place we knew of. After a little while, Thorfinn showed up, and convinced me that we should probably try to join the others with Lord Thomas, despite it being the middle of the night. I reluctantly agreed.

We made our way to the base of the hill, and a guard confronted us. I tried to talk to him like Luther does, but to no avail. I even tried to intimidate him! No luck. But when his companion came back down, he agreed to take us to rejoin Luther and Brieza. I gave the other guard a gaze that would make the Dark One shiver in his skivvies.

We ended up meeting with Lord Thomas, who seemed happy to see us, but unhappy at the hour. Well, leadership can be tough – don’t I know! He told us of some problems he is having in his mine, and we agreed to help, wanting to get on his good side before broaching the topic of the forest witch, who Lord Thomas HATES with a passion. While there, we learned that Kestor sucks as a person. He not only paid us with counterfeit money, but he is also the one who ratted us out to the guards. I would be ok with just the fake money, because someone like me would use that for noble purposes. But to try to scam us, and then to turn us in! The nerve on that guy. So I told the Lord where Kestor keeps his stash of fake money, because screw that guy. The Lord was kind enough to give us a one-to-one trade for real kingstone, since we were gonna help him out with the mine issues.

We eventually made our way back to the Inn, where everyone else’s weapons and armor were waiting for them (mine, of course, were with me the whole time because I am not clumsy enough to get caught).

So that’s where things stand. If not for me, who knows how long they would have rotted in jail. They sure are lucky I’m here, and I am sure I’ll help them out of a few more jams before we leave this gods-forsaken place.

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The Lost Army
(Translated from the Drow into the Common Speech)

The Lost Army, Part I

A king of Man lost an army
Ten thousand left for conquest
Years passed, none returned
The ten thousand are gone.
Of their discovery and return
Triumphant through charmed luck and
And perilous adventure is the legend
It is your fortune now to hear
Plainly spoken, and directly
From one who bore himself
Direct witness to the lurid events
Tragic, and heroic, and comedic also:
I, Lutherellenhillbrand, formerly of the
Perpetual House of NionuSeitrebil-Nacirema
Cast from the Cave of Shadow.
Who, with utmost modesty may
Claim history-keeper, spell-binder,
and truth-weaver as rightful title.
Who is surface-walker, ocean-rider
Man-speaker, and light-barer
and fears neither Sun nor Moon
Out of necessity borne of
Cruel circumstance, foul distemper and
mistimed absence of self-censorship
(But that is another story).

So! Abide these words
Children of all races above and below
And the Ethereal and Astral planes beyond
They have not been spoken before
And may not be again
As the teller of this tale
(To whom you have been
Most recently been introduced
With such brevity as the
Occasion demands, yet with
Due respect and regard
Both speaker and audience require)
Treads – out of afore-alluded to necessity -
A perilous path that does not
Permit him truthfully to commit
To a repeat engagement
No matter how intelligent
Hospitable and generous the
Audience, of which this one
Is as fine an example
As any to be found in this
Corporeal realm (with the apparent caveat
Of the 666 terrible realms of incorporeal
Gehenna, the horrific pleasures of which
This teller is also well-acquainted
(But that is another story)).

Now I will set the stage:
There was a King of Cameran who
Was the despondent Lord
Of the aforementioned army that
Had lately gone missing
Having failed to return
From the sacred mission of
Conquest and exploration
That the now regretful King
Had, now more than four years
Hence, ordered it to undertake.
This discomfortable fact it was my
Misfortune to to learn directly,
as I was set upon by highwaymen
- On the King’s very highway -
As it was lately unguarded resulting
From the sore lack of soldiery
The dispatching of said brigands
is another – albiet short – story,
which I reference only to give proper
Context to the dire circumstance of
Poor Cameran and its maudlin King
And not out of any
Desire to glorify the teller
Of this tale as the further facts of
The tale itself – and my modest
Though central role in them -
Are of such heroism and excitement
That they require no embellishment
Through recourse to tedious tangent.

The King speaks: Luther, oh teller of stories who is
Yourself so renownedly storied,
My army of ten thousand brave
Soldiers and cavaliers are missing.
A king without an army is
With absolute historical certainty
Soon a king without a kingdom
Which makes him not a King at all
But merely a man, if he remains
A living man at all, an uncertain prospect
For former kings who, as all kings do,
Must take hard choices and thereby
Make strident enemies.
I thus beg for your
Assistance in this matter.

Hale King! I have journeyed through
A hundred kingdoms in my travels.
Some of this earth
And many parallel or beyond
All the lands above, below and in between
know of the sorry state of Cameron:
terrible lawlessness, piteous defenselessness
And the lamentation of the spouses of
the men-and-women-at-arms (for
Cameron is known for nothing if not its progressive
politics, if not its military strategy or foresight
The absence of which among its leaders
Brings it to this predicament).
But what is it to me?
I am but a humble story-teller
And telling the tale of
Chaotic Cameran, while one of
No doubt weighty interest in
Neighboring kingdoms, hardly
Seems to be in the interest of
That sad place or her King.

Luther, you are first among the wise
You walk the roads of Men
Though you are not of the race of Men
you alone among your People
Fear not Sun out of a cruel necessity,
the story of which I am strongly
Curious to hear at another time
When I am less focused on
The current emergency that is
Cameran and my control of
Her, yet you also walk roads below
That Men dare not …

(Here, rapt and patient audience, I am abridging
The narrative underway by omitting
Further accolades heaped upon
Your narrator by
The Lord of Cameran, a
keen reader of people if
Not of geopolitics, as a true and
complete recital would be like an
extra cheese course during the banquet -
pleasurable to be sure at the time but
so filling that it threatens to
Crowd out the enjoyment of
Later courses by the diner,
who is in fact you, the audience,
in this analogy)

…. Luther, if you love
Cameran, her people, or her King -
Or your own liberty if none of
The others persuade -
I beseech you to lead a band
to find my army
And restore the military
Balance between Cameron and
Her envious neighbors.
Four individuals of courage
And good fortune may succeed
Where ten thousand did not
if you are among the Four.

Oh King, your argument, though
Heartfelt as it is coming from
a place of desperation and
cruel necessity (a subject about which I
have some not inconsiderable
insight as you have
noted, and bookmarked for
Future explication in less urgent
Circumstances), makes no
Sense whatsoever to even an ordinary
Adult person who is possessed of modest
But full faculties.
Only a half-wit, a particularly credulous child,
Or one well and immediately acquainted with
The pleasures of Cameran’s renowned
Distilleries – why yes, I will have another
Thank you, the first five are lonely – would
Accept your scheme as a reasonable venture.
And yet, something compels
Me to overlook the logical
imperfections of your presentation, or
At least to defer
My now considerably impaired
Judgment, at least until such
time as I have met the other three members of
This proposed party
Thereby having a full set of information
With which to judge the
Propriety of your proposed quest.

At this moment strides into the
Counsel chambers of the King
Of Cameran not a
man, but what can be described only
Out of the greatest sense of charity
As a half-man, and if “strides” even be an appropriate
Verb to use with a person who
Stands, when fully erect and
Upon what appear to be boots
with uncommonly thick soles, no more
Than ten and one half hands high.

Hale Tiny-voice! speaks the King
Your arrival at this most appropriate
Instance of the narrative underway
Must surely be an
Apparent demonstration of
Unparalleled skills in remaining
Undetected through embrace of
Silence and shadow and Cameron’s
Remarkably thick and substantial
tapestry (indeed they cannot be equalled
for the price and your narrator is
more than happy to make the
Proper introduction to one
Of Cameran’s master weavers
For a modest fee).
The King spoke the truth, and
What went unspoken, but remarked
Upon by your narrator at the time silently
and to himself but now at this moment to
you the audience quite audibly: that
Tiny-voice though small of statute and relatively
Young, even by the standards of the
More ephemeral races, had
Established a not inconsiderable
Reputation as a thief, and
Back-stabber for hire. And while
such qualities would in the present
Circumstances, i.e. here in this
Moment in this most comfortable tavern
in this most civilized of cities
Where we here sit, would hardly
Be ones that bear advertisement,
But in the then-extent circumstances,
on the eve of an apparently dangerous
Undertaking, they seemed, and
As the story unfolded were proved
To be, most auspicious and essential.

Well, that is two, or perhaps more
accurately one and a half.
Who else is intended to
Round out this party
Set upon a course of
Most probably disaster
But obvious last resort?

Then spoke a man who
Sat also at the table
In a voice marked by an
Accent belonging to a race of
Men known almost as much
For their considerable
prowess in battle as with the
Bottle: I will, said he.
Through failure of etiquette, though one of
now considerable narrative convenience, the man
Had yet to be introduced,
and so the King did
then introduce him as one, Thorin,
A priest of nature herself
Worshipper of wood
moonlight and the wind,
Not idols of gold,
Jewels and stone;
Herdsman not of sheep, or cow but of
Virgin wilderness: vine, stalk and branch
and of the untamed beasts
of the forests that
Cover the above world
With green canopies of
Sometimes verdant darkness
(Particularly in less civilized places
Than this one) they evoke
Caverns left long ago Underneath.
Proof of Thorin’s kinship with
The natural realm lay stretched under
The table at his feet: a grey wolf
Whose great Haunches stood
Taller than the Half-man,
To whom we have already been acquainted.

That is three, then, but you
Spoke of Four, oh King, four
Adventurers to bring back
Your army of ten thousand.
Three alone for such a task is
Insufficiency manifest – even for such
a qualified group as the one here assembled -
But Four surpasses some threshold of
reason; shifting the odds of the noble quest
From certain suicide to the mere
Wild improbability common
To undertakings such as these and
The dangers of which
Each of the adventurers-apparent
Were already well-accustomed.

Then a quiet women spoke
From the end of the table,
Where she sat distant from
The conversations of the more
gregarious of her table companions
(which is to include the flagons of wine,
The mutton on its skewer,
And those asleep among the
More gregarious of her table companions
So seldom-speaking was she),
And who only now broke her silence.
And so doing loosed an unexpected
Torrent of speech (perhaps even to her)
Unto the table, first slowly as though
Unaccustomed to the words her mind
Shaped but mouth rarely voiced aloud,
As one often alone, but then with
Greater speed and force, like a rapids
Sudden burst from a sundered dam:
I am Brieza Fletcher.
My sword is swift and the arm that
Wields it strong.
My father gave it to me (the arm
And the sword). I have no reason
To love this realm of Cameran,
Or her King, but I too know
What it is to lose those loved
Through mysterious happenstance,
Without certainty or closure
But with cruel hope still nagging at
The heart long after reason counsels
Hope is for fools; the one you loved is
Gone. So, King, I say to you now, in
the tongue the Elvish people into which
I sometimes lapse: Elrond galadriel
Rivendell simarillion – I will be the
Fourth member of this fellowship.
And the King was glad at this because he had
His Four, for the first time in many days
Hope nagged at his heart.

….

Now, sail the Four
After the ten thousand.
Oh hateful Sun; pitiless rays of flame
You have no love for my people or
We for you! Yet your power
Is great upon the waves and
There is nowhere safe to hide
Except in the rocking hull
That wreaks of tar, and sickness
And the Sea.
After many days storm clouds
Bring your welcome darkness
Complete as in the halls of Azoth
The terrible! But the wind upon which
The dark clouds ride wreaks
Chaos and destruction
The ship founders.
We are lost

There were then the four: on a cursed island
before them: a guarded ship
behind them: a squalid village
around them: a wood of dark promise

Guards – draw your attention here
(While the half-man skulks aboard your vessel)
Now metal-shod, stumble-foot
Men of this treacherous island
Try to catch me, who once
Raced awesome T’Jkquar on the
phosphorescent tracts of Guldur
For five hands of the six hands
Of Kali (another story),
Sand that kisses my feet, embraces yours

Village – what do you conceal
within your pitiful walls
and your pitiable inhabitants?
The ten thousand!
once an army
now a herd of sheep

Forest – your canopy oppresses
The sons of Men
But I welcome its darkness
If not the foul hell-hounds
We find inside.

Four heroes confront the fell beasts!
Vine and branch answer Thorin’s command
Muscle and bone yield to Brieza’s blade
Sling and arrow find their marks
The hounds are undone
Hideous baying yields
To the sound of fat crackling on the fire

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I'm not even supposed to be here...
shipwrecked with strangers, what fun

I’m not even sure how I ended up on this bizarre quest. I was minding my own business in the forest outside the Cameran city walls, tending to the wild animals and generally keeping to myself, when some guards demanded I join this wild quest of King Luther Gendall to find out what happened to the 10,000 some odd people that have gone astray… seriously? How do you lose 10,000 people?

None-the-less I found myself on a boat with a bunch of foul smelling misfits from across the kingdom. I greatly prefer the solidity of dry land and found myself rather sea sick when we came upon an immense storm. Much of what transpired is a blur, but I awoke in the sand of an unfamiliar beach with three strangers and a very large dog, perhaps a wolf. Skeptical as I was of my new company, we seemed to be all that survived the shipwreck and decided to explore together

After shaking ourselves of the sand, I learned of my new companions. Thorfinn is a tall and brooding figure who appears to be some sort of mage, but has the most delightful wolf of whom I immediately became enamored. Luther claims to be a bard, but I have yet to hear him play anything. Squeak is an annoying little fellow, and I mean little, I believe he may be some sort of Gnome or Halfling? He is loud and doesn’t care much for strategizing.

We noticed another wrecked ship on the beach and, hoping that it might reveal some of the secrets of the storm, decided to investigate. There were four large and angry looking guards patrolling the ship which seemed odd to all of us. Why guard a shipwreck? We sent Luther the Bard to distract them while the gnome did some snooping. Thorfinn and I held our ground and watched from afar. I could not hear what was said, but at some point, Luther fled on foot with the guards quick on his heels. Squeak came out of the ship empty handed and without any information. I can already tell he is going to prove himself very useful.

We followed quickly, but quietly behind the guards and into some small town. Thorfinn’s wolf seemed to make the villagers nervous so we slipped into an alley and found Luther cozying up with some strange man. The man, Castor was quick to tell us that we were conspicuous since all metal in the town was to be turned immediately over to the guards and sent to the King, some Lord Thomas. I looked down at my beautiful scale mail armor. I had never imagined a time when I would be sorry to have such beautiful armor. It was crafted for me by my father before his untimely death and I have treasured it, still I removed it and folded it, as neatly as one may fold metal armor, and placed it in my backpack. Castor was generally unhelpful and proved to continue to be as such unless we retrieved him two dog skins from the forest surrounding the city. As much as I find myself more at home in the woods, I don’t trust this Castor fellow and would prefer to seek out information on our own. My companions disagree and off to the woods we go to hunt dogs… with a dog.

After bribing a guard with the promise of another skin, we made it into the beautiful forest. Unfortunatley it was too dark to explore further so we made camp. Luther and Squeak strangely decided to sleep in the trees, Thorfinn and I more reasonably kept camp on the ground.

At some point in the night we heard some shuffling in the grass, and then out of nowhere they came, three huge dogs, mangy and foaming. They were terrifying. We fought from afar, Squeak from his tree with some rocks (some use that would be), Luther with a very slow crossbow, myself with my shortbow and thankfully Thorfinn with some magic. He is a mage! He was able to bind the beasts and allow us to fight them one at a time. We were victorious, and thanks to my expert ranging skills we were able to skin the beasts and take their meat as well.

The next morning in town after paying off the guard, we sent Squeak to sell the meat for stone. Yes, stone, apparently coin is sent to the King along with all the other metal. This place gets stranger by the minute. Squeak came back with twelve kingstone and we sold the remaining skins to Castor for an additional five and hopefully some more information and a little hospitality.

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Strangers in a Strange Land: Shipwrecked
An Adventure Begins

Apparently I have been shipwrecked with a bunch of uncivilized neanderthals who prefer sleeping in trees surrounded by vicious wild dogs to the comfort of a city. But I get ahead of myself.

We set off by order of the king to find his lost army. The four of us all seem a little green for this type of mission, but I guess you take what you can get once you have lost your entire army and your security is based on a façade of strength. Unfortunately, our sea voyage hit a massive storm and we were vomited out on some gods-forsaken beach with a few of our possessions and no other surviving crew (that we know of).

I crashed with a ranger lady, (Brieza); a druid (Thorfinn); and a crazy bard (Luther). Thorfinn has a massive wolf that nearly made me shit my breeches when we all first got on the ship. Since then, I have been eying the doggy, wondering if I could craft a saddle and ride that bitch into battle, screaming like a banshee and putting the fear of gods into our enemy. Unfortunately, Thorfinn seems to lack vision in this area, so we’ll have to put these plans on hold.

When we crawled from our ship, we noticed another ship down the beach, with four guards standing around. Guards – hate those guys. Always trying to interfere when I am trying to generously lighten the load of various citizens. I know better than to approach them for any help, for fear of getting pummeled. So we decided to have Luther distract them while I snuck on to the boat. Now Luther is a badass funny bastard, and walked up to the guards like he owned the whole damn beach! Started giving some bullshit story about how he was here to repair the boat, and was actually making a little headway. His antics gave me the opportunity to sneak onto the ship. Not that I needed much help – I could have ridden an elephant, trumpets blaring, and I doubt those guys would have noticed. Not that it helped — the ship was barren.

But when I left, that crazy Luther was making a run for it to town, with two of the guards lumbering after him. Knowing he would make it to safety, our crew followed at a more leisurely pace.

In town, we got lots of stares, so I guess they aren’t used to strangers. We eventually found out way to Luther, no thanks to that useless mutt of a wolf. Luther was conversing with a sketchy fellow, plying him for information. We did learn a few things:

  • Metal is confiscated by the Lord, because it is rare. It is redistributed to hunters and guards. Luckily, I have only small weapons that are easily hidden, so nothing to worry about. The Bigs, on the other hand, have some trouble, especially Brieza with her armor.
  • The woods around the town are infested with vicious dogs. DOGS ARE THE WORST. I’m used to mangy mutts in the city, but these are wild dogs who eat flesh, and probably consider me a snack and not even a whole meal. But that doesn’t stop Thorfin and the Ranger from wanting to traipse around in the woods like some sort of primitive people who don’t know the comforts of a nice bed and a full glass of mead.
  • AND WORST OF ALL THEY USE DAMN STONE FOR MONEY. So now the coins I have are completely useless. And to think of all those people who unknowingly donated to my noble cause, who would be disappointed to know that their lost coins are useless.

After we got all the information we could, he said that he would only give more information in return for dog skins. Ugh. Its like he planned this with the Neanderthals in my party. So off we went, into the gods-forsaken forest.

However, the entrance to the forest was guarded, and we had to bribe him with a dog skin as well, so we were hemorrhaging goods we didn’t even have yet.

After walking interminably in the woods, we finally decided to stop for the night. I quickly high-tailed it up a tree, because who in their right minds wants to sleep on the ground with WILD DOGS roaming about. More evidence that Brieza and Thorfinn are out of their minds.

Soon after I got nice and comfy, nibbling on some rations, we hear dogs off in the distance. Can’t a guy get a good night’s sleep? Apparently not, and its not like the tree was all that comfortable anyway.

Three dogs attacked, and I decided that I would be most helpful to the group were I to stay in the tree and attack from here. From my vantage point, I could easily hurl stones at them, without them even knowing! Boy, those guys are lucky I am here to help them out in situations like this.

Thorfinn cast an entanglement spell, which was the first helpful thing he did since we crash-landed. It managed to ensnarl two of the creatures, allowing us to focus on them one at a time. With my top-notch help, we quickly defeated the mangy creatures.

Once the task was done, we skinned them (not me, because that’s a job for a Neanderthal, and luckily I have two in my party), and then cooked the meat. Others turned their noses up at dog meat, but not me. They might not know what real hunger is, but I have been there and know better than to pass up fresh meat. It was a little gamey, but not too bad. We smoked all the meat, and then I retreated to the trees to get what sleep I could.

The next morning we made our way back to town. Being the only member of the party with no visible metal, I volunteered to take the meat into the market and try to sell it. After bargaining, I managed to get 15 ‘kingstone’ for the meat. But knowing that I am clearly the most responsible member of the party, I knew that the others would want me to hold back a little bit in reserve, in case of emergency. Its that type of thinking that the others should really appreciate!

So I handed over 12 kingstone to the rest of the party, for us to use as a group. We then went back to our sketchy friend’s house and sold him the remaining 2 dogskins for another 5 kingstone.

That was all the excitement in our first day. Hopefully we will be able to stay in town for a few days and we can learn a little and have the townfolk unknowingly donate to our good cause.

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Welcome to your campaign!
A blog for your campaign

Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips:

1. Invite your players

Invite them with either their email address or their Obsidian Portal username.

2. Edit your home page

Make a few changes to the home page and give people an idea of what your campaign is about. That will let people know you’re serious and not just playing with the system.

3. Choose a theme

If you want to set a specific mood for your campaign, we have several backgrounds to choose from. Accentuate it by creating a top banner image.

4. Create some NPCs

Characters form the core of every campaign, so take a few minutes to list out the major NPCs in your campaign.

A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

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