Hellfrost

The Woes of Wudusmoca - The Storm
One Pissed Off Dragon

One Shot run at Rob Davenports Place (Rob, Jim, Mark, and a Dave, a friend of Rob).

PCs ( 0xp)

  • Ari Runemasters (Mark D)
  • Cynric Odwinsunu (Dave)
  • Nighteyes (Rob)
  • O’hAadha of Clan Tolarggan (Jim)

The Adventure Overview

Stuerm is a Storm dragon from the nearby Icebarrier Mountains. A group of adventurers had the audacity to attack the beast in its lair. Caught by surprise, he was flushed and forced to flee, leaving is horde to the adventurers, and eventually another more powerful dragon. Stuerm has sworn vengeance on these adventurers.

Beni Kabor is a lying, cheating, cowardly crook and is a roguish elemental wizard. He has a habit of running from danger, betraying his “friends”, or what he considers his friends, and even joining, what he considers to be, the winning side just to stay alive. Beni is also extremely greedy. Using his dwindling reserves, Stuerm first tracked down Beni. Realizing he is doomed, Beni quickly offered up help to find the other members of the group (which has mostly disbanded to enjoy their riches) in exchange for his measly life. The big secret is that Beni was the mastermind behind the heist. For now, Stuerm has accepted the deal but constantly reconsiders his decision.

Thus far, true to his word Beni has led Stuerm to Wudusmoca to collect Griffin, the Cleric of the Norms that was part of the group

Scene 1 – The Storm

The PCs (0XP) are on the road and a nasty storm is brewing. A Common Knowledge reveals that Wudusmoca is only about 10 minutes away. As they press to make the town, the group hears (Notice) the not so distant roar of a large beast, and those with a Raise see the beast among the darken clouds. As you crest the hill, you see a small caravan being attacked by what looks like living lightning.

As Ari and Cynric cautiously plan there attack, the Storm Elementals slaughters the wagon handlers. The group then attacks, with Cynric getting shocked by the elementals as he kills them. The group loads the bodies into the wagon and heads to nearby Wudusmoca.

Scene 2 – The Demand

Once in town, things settle down a bit. Introduce a few of the Dramatis personæ to get the group oriented. The group settles in at the Cold Axe Inn (named so for the Frosts Giant Axe built into the structure of the Inn which seems to keep the place cooler – a boon in the summer but a bane in the winter). Eventually, the PCs learn the attacks are a recent thing and no one is sure what is going one. Some believe they have angered Thunor (the Storm Lord), others just think its a rogue dragon.

Eventually, Beni comes into the inn the PCs are staying at. Declares that his Master, the dragon Stuerm, will destroy the town if both its riches and Griffin, a priest of the Norns, is not turned over to him. The town has 24 hours to decide. He then dramatically turns into a whirlwind of air and blusters away (Elemental Form – Eir). They bring the cleric to the inn and all discuss what to do. Some call for them to turn over the priest and the money (lead by those that do not have coin, of course), others say fight, others say flee.

Hearthkeeper Halfdan Haraldsunu askes Griffin to go to quiet area and mediate on this to see what the best options might be. After an hour, he comes back. When asked what course to take, he says “it would be simpler to show you.” He gathers those that want to see in a circle. When he completes the circle, the group sees the many strands and possibilities (think Griffin in MiB3 at the ballpark)

  • Give over the cleric & money (or just the cleric) – the dragon, having tasted victory, destroys the town anyway. He goes on to destroy several more towns to complete his revenge, then the strands fade off into the distance
  • Fight the dragon – most scenarios the dragon wins. There are a few the dragon is killed, but most of the town is destroyed and most are killed
  • Flee – town is destroyed and the dragon moves on to destroy other towns

There is one option that Griffin has uncovered – capture!

  • Lure the dragon to the Stone Forest. One of the Standing Stone circles is a dimensional trap (who knows what else is in there). Using the cleric as bait, lure the dragon there. Melasion, a local Hearth Elf is key to get Hearth Elves to help activate the circle and trap the dragon.
  • Most cases it works, but there are scenarios that it does not or scenarios in which some (or all) of the PCs die.
  • This appears to be the most likely outcome to “win” with the fewest people dying.

Early in the morn, the group is ready to set out. Griffin asks is the group wants a reading. In general, the fates appear to be holding their breath except for Cynric. If he accompanies the group, it will be doomed! (in real life, the player had to leave).

Scene 3 – The Stone Forest

Dramatic Task for the Hearth Elf Druids. PC Druids can Lead or Assist. The elven druids cannot defend themselves and the PC must fight off the minions of the Dragon – Storm Elementals and Beni The dragon realizes what is going on and fights to break away.

Dragon’s actions – Draw a card each round:

* Spade – Breathe Weapon in the area (cone)
* Diamonds – Storm Elemental Appears (roll d6 for what stone it is near)
* Club – Storm Crows first, then Wing Buffet thereafter
* Casts a spell (other than summon elemental)

Note that the druids are Extras. All roll Cooperatively. A PC druid can jump in to lead (WC).

The battle is fierce once the Dragon realizes what is going on. Much of the group is buffeted by the powerful wings of the dragon. Nighteyes steps in for a fallen Druid and completes the ritual. Powerful green lines of eldritch energy from the standing stones pulls the dragon into a rift. Unseen by the others, O’hAadha is nearly pulled into the rift as well by a dark tentacle from Something in the rift (a Bennie to save himself).

Beni escapes. There is much rejoicing and the town declares them heroes!

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Undersea - Session 6
The Quill is Mighter than the Sword

Our scene opens with the heroes milling about the Sward. Peschi Tenderfoot is the young boy that the group saved from the sinking ship. Well, it turns out he is an Engro, not a boy. The group exchanges pleasantries and checks their pockets. As the discussion breaks up, the Vizer in “land” form enters the Sward and comes over to the group.

He fills the group in on the political comings and goings. The King has agreed to establish an outpost at the Ironclad, and old wreck the marks the northeastern most boarder of the kingdom and closest to the Great Kelp Forest. Ahmed and Tabari especially were interested in how the group could help. The Vizer admitted they were blind to the threat. The outpost is nice, but they only way they really could get information is to get someone in the forest. As Honored Guests, the group could go as they pleased. An accord was struck.

The group met up with Silara, a sergeant of the Coral Guard. Menivis and Silara hit it right off, exchanging knowledge and tactics. They traveled two days to Little Jon’s Reef. This area has an anomaly where everything grows many times larger than normal. It is the source of the Coral Guard’s giant sea horses. Little Jon is a Reef Giant who tends the reef and the island (called Little Jon Island). Much merriment was had as the group got to go ashore and enjoy a day in the sun. After a feast, the group traveled two more sun cycles to Ironclad.

The Ironclad – the Backstory that was discovered during the adventure:

Built at the height of the Anari empire to open up the ports of the Orient. Original name was The Destiny – renamed (itself bad luck) just before launch. The Emperor had a dream the flagship would go down with all hands. In a panic, he ordered his eastern seas flagship clad in iron to protect it from any and all Heavy Weapons. The ship proved dangerous in sea trials, but the Emperor ordered the expedition anyway. Neorthe, offended at the unnatural ship (iron should never float) sank the ship in a typhoon with all hands lost, just as predicted by the Emperor’s dream.

As the group settled down on the deck of this huge wreck, the scene changes. The group relived much of the horror of the storm, the sinking, and other tragic events on the ship. They eventually made it to the captain’s cabin. A body lashed to his chair – the crew had mutinied. Menivis pokes the body – it awakes! “Welcome to my Doom”.

The crew is now cursed. He explains the backstory of the ship. There is Something below the ship that keeps the bodies animated – a vile cloak of darkness. It must be destroyed so that the crew can finally have rest. That and he requests the documents in the safe be taken so the story will not be lost.

The group exits the quarters and goes down the split hull of the ship where they find a cave. There are bodies in the water. As they explore using sunrods for light, Ahmed has a powerful compulsion to enter a deep trench in the cave floor (see Dragon’s Lair Paizo map). Then all the fun begins as he enters the trench with Araceli attempting to stop him. Tentacles rise up to meet him. Then the bodies animate. The group quickly finds itself battling all this an some dark figure deeper in the trench. As the battle progresses, some in the group grow weaker – attacks from the octopus and the dark figure seem to drain them.

Finally, a key moment. Ahmed slays the octopus but still has a compulsion to go deeper. Tabari enters the trench and nears the clock of darkness. Calling upon his god, he sends the powerful Quills of Qedeshet piecing into the figure (note: player aced all three Bolt attack dice!). Badly wounded, the figure dove deeper into the trench to no avail. The Quills revealed the darkness for what it was (nearly identical result).

Thus the moral of the story – the Quill is mightier than the sword.

==-=-
Notes: The party was fighting the classic D&D creature Ixitxachitl. Minions were an undead octopus (a wight) and undead Bloats.

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Undersea - Session 5
Something fishy is going on

“You folks seem lost” quipped an old Saxa named Ulric. The group awoke finding themselves under the ocean in the city of Madinat Almuhit. Ulric was rescued decades ago and decided he like the City Under the Sea much better than the surface world.

Ulric took time to get our heroes oriented. The area they were in is the Sward – a dome of air that some say predates the arrival of the Mermen. The necklaces of gold and coral allows people to survive in the water, get around, and understand and “talk” to the Mermen. Refreshments were had and the group was then given a quick tour of the city before heading to the Coral Palace.

A feast in the group’s honor was held, a chance to properly thank the group for saving Princess Salana. The group regaled King Mathias Taj about their adventures and Araceli caught up with Princess Salana. But the group soon discovered not all was well in this wondrous place. While the Princess would not talk of it, Theron, second in command of the Coral Guard, would. He noted that the Prince had grave concerns about the encroachment of the Kreana. He recently set off to gather more about them as the Court debated endlessly their next steps. There is worry that he gone forever. Divination reveal he is alive, but all is clouded. The merfolk then moved on, unwilling to burden their guests with their own problems.

The next day Princess Salana escorted the group through the city and through the Coral Grotto. These magnificent caves and formations ran for miles through the city. Nearing the edge of the city, the mood suddenly changes. The city of “Kreana!” flows through the waters! Quickly, Kreana are on top of the heroes! A swirling, fast paced battle erupted in the Grotto. While Theron protected the Princess, the heroes quickly adapted to their underwater environment. The Kreana were no match of the group. But Theron said something very disturbing – “the Kreana have never come here before…”

This incident created much consternation in the court. Some called for culling the Kreana. Others caution so as not to provoke the aggressive race. Others called for strengthening the defenses. As tension peaked a new issue arrived – a surface ship was foundering in the ocean above in a storm!

The group was offered the chance to help. The ship would have to be destroyed so as not to damage the city. There was little time to get survivors off the ship before the city’s spellcasters would focus on the sinking hazard. The group helped the mermen, splitting their efforts. Araceli, Menivis, and Tabari all helped gather up survivors while Ahmed and Salim fought off Kreana. Ahmed was fearsome in his slaying of the Kreana. Many where saved, but some where lost.

The heroes recounted their recent encounters with the Kreana at the court that evening, sending more ripples into the politics of the City Under the Sea.

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Curse of the Sandlord - Session 4
Under the Sea!

Our heroes travel north with Salima as a guide to find the Old Man of the Dunes. While Salina is slowly coming around to her new role in the tribe, she still has vengeance in her heart. They arrive to find the Old Man studying a titanic clash between ants and a scarab.

“This is not your fate,” the Old Man says, looking directly at Salima. “Vengeance is the foot step onto a dark path. A price will be paid for your father’s death, but not by you. Go now, and leave those whose destinies are written in the patterns of the dunes to quell the fire in your heart. Their fate is as yet unclear. Should they fail, we will meet again Beyah Arij dar-Hassim, known as Salima.”

With a wave of his hand, she is gone! Looking at Salim, as he first address the Old Man:

“You seek the one who has arisen beneath the sands,” he continues. “A collision of destinies awaits, and the outcome is veiled. Darkness and light. Who shall prevail, the dunes whisper? My question is, are you worthy of your destiny?” With that he gestures to a narrow cave entrance.

“The greater powers will decide if you are worthy. Four tests await—resilience, speed, strength,
weapons. Pick one and nominate a champion. When your chosen one is ready, they may step into my cave. Be warned, mortals—time is not your friend.”

Pleasantries and honey are exchanged and the group ponders. After entering the cave, Salim overcomes the Challenge of Speed with the though of his mind (after being badly beaten by the girl in a race). Menivis calls upon his Mameluk training and uses his Spirit to overcome the mountain of Strength. Tabari, an aged one himself, quickly understood that time can only be endured. Finally, Araceli used her cutting words and bully tactics to cut down a huge orc down to size.

Satisfied at the wisdom imparted, the Old Man reveals: “Long ago there lived a cruel king. Like many tyrants his death was not of his choosing. His spirit has grown strong and vengeful. He has arisen as the Sand Lord, and he seeks to make the whole of the desert his realm. You will find him beneath the necropolis that stands 20 miles south of Suleiman’s Road. The fates will guide you. Look for the sign of the sun, for therein lies the path to your fate.”

As we shall soon see, the path is not straight one.

The group returned to the camp to find Salima safe. They provisioned up and rested overnight, then set off for the fabled Necropolis. The group gets a very good view of the sprawling complex and note the small, black pyramid in the center. They press onward.

Entering that ancient Necropolis awoke…things. Very quickly, the heroes found themselves nearly overwhelmed with the vengeful bones of the Necropolis. They pressed to the center, noting that the crypts showed more wear from the elements as they neared the pyramid. But the pyramid itself had no carvings! No sign of the Sun!

Desperately they searched as the undead closed in. Finally, Menivis spotted a nearby crypt with the symbol and shouted to Tabari. Tabari rushed his old bones as fast as he could and tried to topple the stone slab that served as its door to no avail – he would need Menivis’ strength. Then Salim cried out in pain, and Araceli collapsed in a bloody heap as the bony claws of the undead rent her.

The situation was dire. As Menivis turned to help open the stone, Tabari yelled to go to Salim and Araceli and he would get them all out of here. The vengeful bones of the Necropolis closed in on the battered and beaten heroes. Tabari reached the group just before the undead and snatched a small pouch from the unconscious Araceli, pulling out a pearl.

“Save us as we saved you!” whispered Tabari, as bony claws grabbed them all. <fade>

The last thing Araceli remembers was the pain of once again receiving a near-mortal wound. Opening her eyes, the azure blue of the sky was replace by a darker blue of the sea. Looking around, it was all so familiar as from a dream — the dream after the battle with the Kreana. Somehow, she was back in the city under the sea. The others awoke, wondering what had happened. Only Tabari seemed to have his senses, although he too had a wondrous look on his face as he gazed about the coral city.

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Curse of the Sandlord - Session 3
Murder Most Foul

After the battle with the Ghibli, our heroes rejoin Aziz and head towards the meeting place.

_The camp is not yet in sight, but your presence has been detected. Up ahead, four riders, their faces concealed beneath sand hoods, sit upon camels. They carry weapons, but all are safely in their scabbards. One of them waves and urges the mount forward at a trot. The rest follow.

As the figure approaches, it pulls back its scarf to reveal a beautiful female face, with large brown eyes and soft, delicate features. Only the steely look in her eyes reveals this is a woman accustomed to the harshness of desert life.

She touches her hand to her heart, mouth, and forehead, a traditional greeting across Al-Shirkuh, and smiles broadly. “Greetings and the blessings of Suleiman upon you, illustrious travellers! I am Beyah Salima dar-Hassim dar-Alaghari,” she beams, “the daughter of Sheikh Hassim. I trust you are the merchant Aziz and his escort?”_

After a positive response, the group heads towards the camp Salima peppers Araceli with many questions about her homeland. She also warmly welcomed Salim as his tribe was favored by the Alaghari, while Ahmed was ignored by as his tribe was not. At the camp, the group was welcomed and refreshments were provided. Salim prevented Aziz from committing a few faux pas and informed him of the specific traditions of the tribe. All went well for the evening. The group picked up a rumor – wise men say this region is haunted. There is a necropolis somewhere nearby where the dead do not stay in their graves, and sometimes they wander onto the trade road.

Araceli and Menivis have a shared dream about the pyramid that they obtained their curse, reliving much of the horror of the place. They awake and discover a scarab in the common room of the guest’s tend just sitting there, “looking” at them. Menivis carefully puts a clothe over the scarab and backs out of the tent. They wonder if the rumor they heard is tide to the event.

The group spent the next day meandering around the camp as Aziz negotiated with the Sheik. Then all Abyss broke loose as Aziz come running out of the tent and screams “murder!” As people run and scream, men made of sand rise up from the ground! A fierce battle breaks out in the oasis. Araceli is gravely wounded, but the heroics of Salim and Ahmed save her life. Tabari is also injured during the battle. But Ahmed and Menivis turn the tide of the battle, eventually destroying the living sand creatures.

As people try to figure out what happened Aziji the Ugly claims that the newcomers did this. As tempers flair, a partially recovered Araceli seeks out Salima, who is in shock at her father’s death. She rallies the girl, and she backs the tribe down. They seek out Bushra the healer, who is said to hear the words of the Jinn on the wind.

_“Your father was a good man, Beyah Salima dar-Hassim,” she says. “He will be sorely missed in this world, but it was his time to pass over and join Asha, and nothing could prevent that.

“A terrible evil is awakening beneath the desert, an evil that has slumbered for long centuries. The jinn do not speak its name, for even they are fearful, but there is perhaps one who knows it and who will whisper it into your ears. You must visit the Old Man of the Dunes and seek his wisdom. Be warned, though, his services do not come easily.”

Salima quickly makes up her mind.

“I shall ride out with the warriors and make a bargain with the Old Man. Then my father shall be avenged and his spirit able to rest peacefully.”_

The group quickly steps in and volunteers to go, as Salima’s people need her in the aftermath of the attack. Tabari has head of the Old Man of the Dunes and knows he is a greater Jinn that was spared when we agreed to follow the ways of Suleiman. Salim added that he heard that the Old Man was very fond of honey.

The tribe’s honey was all used up in the feast. Salima tells them where they get their honey. Arriving at the spire, the group sees football sized bees flying about. After a bit of plotting, they are able to get a total of seven pounds of honey, including one pound that was from the Cloak of the Feast. Salim was the top honey collector.

{eos}

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Curse of the Sandlord - Session 2
Bizarre of the Bazaar

Ahmed’s Version – Of the Curse of Treasures

“Coffee is the seducer of tongues,” quipped Ahmed as he drained his cup and waved for more. The group was enjoying a break from their duties to the Great and Wonderful Aziz in the coffee house of Ishmael the Lame. Ishmael’s is reknown in Qarah as a place all sorts of people patronize creating a lively and talkative crowd.

For Ahmed, the atmosphere brought out the need to tell tales, perhaps to confess.

“Tabari, you remember my cousin, Kalem, don’t you?”

The elderly Cakali nodded solemnly. “The lame one.”

The term seemed to pain Ahmed’s face but he nodded. "When I was young, Kalem and I were like brothers. We did all things together and thirsted for adventure and treasure to impress girls. Being truthful it was my eye that sought out treasure the more but Kalem would always go along on my adventures. After a three day sandstorm, we journeyed away from the oasis to see what the sands might have revealed. We were rewarded with the sight a stone building, quite ancient and just peeking out of a dune where the counter wind of the gale had eaten away the sand.

“We approached with less caution than was prudent. I was talking about how there would surely be something valuable hidden away from time and bandits in such a place. Kalem followed along. We searched and found a way into the stone structure, passing from chambers with sand to those untouched by sand. We could not go far because we did not have enough light with us but as we burned a strip of cloth from my robe, I saw the glint ahead, the glint of gold.”

“My mind forgot all other things as I rushed to find it, to pry it out of the clutched of time. It was only when I heard Kalem scream that I turned and saw that a nest of scorpions had been disturbed by our passage and Kalem had been stung. Of course, proper Bedu would not be surprised by the proud scorpion nor let it get close enough to sting. But I was not by his side being watchful. I had rushed forward in greed.

“The poison spared Kalem but not the leg he was stung in. Healers have never been able to undo the poison and so he walks with the limp of age he is far from achieving.”

Ahmed paused, the boisterous sounds of the tent a silence in his ears. “That was the day Asha showed me truths. First I must temper my desires for wealth by being selfless. I took an oath that half of everything Asha saw fit to deliver to me would not be mine but would be given to my tribe or other worthies. Second, my impetuous ways showed a lack of understanding of Hamad. I became much more attentive to my studies, understanding that Suleiman’s wisdom could guide me to a truthful and good life.”

More coffee and sweet cakes were served as Ahmed’s friends nodded and pondered what he had revealed. In time, each of the others spoke. Salim spoke of falling in love with the deep desert, no doubt the source of his sand magery. Araceli also was seeking to atone for things but was less forthcoming. Tabari told of the death of his wife, of taking her ashes to the Plains of Ash, losing his way on his return in his grief until Ahmed found him. Only Menivis seemed unwilling to speak of his past though he could be seen exchanging knowing glances with Araceli.

Hearing stories told had brought a bit of crowd to their table. Tabari acquiesced to requests for more stories and told of their journey mere days in the past. He spoke of their powerful patron, the Great and Fortunate Aziz, merchant of wonders and balm to the suffering of all men. The sea voyage was described in humble terms even though the battle with mermen and sharks in water spouts brought gasps from many and snorts of disbelief from a few. He even attempted to describe Araceli’s journey to the kingdom under the sea, a place known only in nursery tales. The group can feel that strangers look at them differently after the tale-telling, the first wisps of glory gathering despite their studious attempt to appear uninterested in it.

A visit to the Bazaar with their pay from Aziz gave them the chance to purchase wonderful elixirs of healing, a true necessity for adventure. A young boy ran through the market place being chased by a fisherman. When the boy stumbled by a well, a brilliant red fish flew from his hands to disappear into the well. The fisherman was distraught having lost his prize, swearing that the fish could speak. Ahmed aided Menivis in lowering Araceli into the well where she disappeared for a time, proving again that Ilfs love the water. When she finally returned, she had the red fish who seemed to be ailing and croaked “to the sea!” Running through the crowds, they were able to hurl the fish into the sea at the last moment. Once in the water it was restored in health and to its true form, a mermaid with long wavy hair named Salana. Araceli had won the favor of the mer-people with her brave action.

The next day, Aziz’s caravan formed up and headed out of the city and on to Suleiman’s Road. The Road had travelers, other merchants, and tradesmen seeking their fortune in Qarah or the next settlement on the Road. It curved through bad lands near the Caliphate though there were farms fed by underground aquaducts. After a time there were no more farms and the Road became a series of landmarks.

On the third day, Menivis called a halt to the caravan, pointing out the circling of vultures in the desert some few miles off the Road. Investigating, they found the remains of a caravan whose dead appeared to be skeletons of long exposure but also with bits of bright flesh upon the bones. One had survived but spoke only “Ghibli!” before dying himself. It was Salim who gasped and explained quickly. The Ghibli was a terrifying little sand storm of such intensity that it flayed the flesh from bones. As he spoke, two of the dead rose, their spirits as flayed as their bodies. They destroyed the atrocities quickly.

Sure that the Ghibli and its tortured victims were not going to attack them, our heroes buried them all in the desert with trinkets of some value with them as was custom. They loaded their wares on Aziz’s camels and continued on their way to the oasis of the Bedu.

GM’s Version

Aziz, being in his element in the city of Qarah, gave the heroes a few days off. While breaking their fast at Ishmel’s Coffehouse, each shared a bit of their past. Araceli talked of her drive to raise her family’s standing back in the North. Ahmed talked of how his past greed resulting in great pain to him and his vow to give half his gains back to the tribe. Salim talked of an incident of his youth where he turned a poor prank against him into his love of the desert. Finally, Tabari talked of his pilgrimage back to the Plain of Ash to bury his wife at the Black Oasis. Ishmel,overhearing of the travels of the group offered free breakfast if they would tell more tales to his assembled patrons.

The heroes, having received their pay for the last month of service, headed to the local souk. Bustling with sounds, smells, and colors, the wanderers all partook in the frenzy of the marketplace. Salim found himself in Jabbar’s Curiosities and, haggling poorly, obtained sand from the Heart of Fire. It is purported to potentially catch an enemy on fire when used as part of a spell. Tabari haggled like the veteran trader he is and earn a big discount on vials of Sand Troll Blood (healing potions).

As things were winding down, Araceli spotted her old “friend” Beni the sand goblin trying to pick the pocket of Ahmed. Ahmed was amused that the fumbling attempt and Araceli walked up and smacked Beni upside his lumpy head. A few coins flew as Beni snatched his hand back. Araceli grilled Beni about the curse that has been plaguing her since the pyramid. Beni claimed no knowledge and asked the fate of the others, which was not good. Beni slunk off as Araceli explained the nature of the curse on her and Menivis to Tabari. He worked on a bit of research while they still had time in the City of Knowledge.

Then a commotion broke out as an old fishman was yelling about a stolen fish while chasing a young porter. The boy ran to the well in the courtyard of the Souk. Trapped there, he threw the fish into the well. Ahmed had the best look of the scene – the fish was a wondrous ruby color – and it spoke to him in his mind! In a female voice, it said “save me, as I saved your friend!”.

The group quickly pieced together that this might have something to do with the mysterious sea creatures that saved Araceli on their ocean voyage to Qarah. After some back and forth with the fisherman, they lowered Araceli down the well. She found a side tunnel that eventually led to cistern and then an abandoned bath house. She was able to communicate with the creature, but it was clear she was weakening quickly. She came to the old hot room of the bath house and found an old crone with the fish amongst many useless things. Araceli quickly figured out that the old crone always said the opposite of what she meant. After some interesting discussion, she cleaned up a bit and combed the old crone’s hair in exchange for the fish. Araceli quickly got the dying fish to the harbor and jumped in. The fish turned into the read-hair mermaid that had previously saved her. After a quick recovery, she came back the next day and presented Araceli with a pearl that in their time of need would provide her and her friends sanctuary in their undersea city.

Final, the group sets out into the desert. Nearing their destination, they spot vultures circling nearby. Convincing Aziz its the right thing to do, the heroes head to the scene. They find bones of a small caravan, but there is one person badly wounded crawling. They rush down and he says “Ghibli – unnatural”. It is then the Salim recalls the tales of the desert and the ripping wind and what it can do to one’s soul. As the man expires, two of the skeletons rise up in a storm of sand. Sand blasts the group, but they quick to avoid. Ahmed rushes to attack one but is blinded by all the sand (crit fail on the vigor check to soak damage). Salim, knowing the ways of all things sand, counter strikes one of the Flayed Ones (bolt), destroying it. Araceli, with an powerful shot the penetrated the protecting sand, strikes the skull of the other and putting it to rest.

After dealing with the bodies in an appropriate manner (a good table discussion, BTW), the group rejoins Aziz and meet up with 4 Bedu that represent the Sheik with whom they are to trade.

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Curse of the Sandlord - Session 1
Its aweful wet out here for a desert

Most of the session was character creation. Opening scene is on the Spirit of Suleiman, a ship on its way from Akhmim, City of the Devoted to Qarah, City of Knowledge. At the insistence of Aziz ibn-Jamal, the PCs patron/employer, the ship was sailing during the new moon, which is the time of Iblis/Druj (bad luck, so -1 bennie).

An unnatural storm formed and “Shark Devils” attacked. The priest led with Whirlwind in the form of Sharnado :). Unfortunately, the elf pegged the priest, which brought down the whirling spout of water and sharks. While the remainder of the gang dispatched the Kreana, one of the priest’s bodyguards plunged his spear deep into the elf’s belly. They then threw her into the ocean and the priest fled. Near mutiny as the group wanted to search for the elf but Aziz wanted to press on, but to no avail.

Between the storm and looking for the elf, the trip took nearly three days instead of one. But on the morning of them about to pull into port at Qarah, they found the elf asleep on the fore deck of the ship, healed of her wounds. She made claims of visions of mermaids and an undersea coral city, with her savior having rich red hair.

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Borderwatch Keep - The Wilbury Massacre
Fumble a poolza!

First, a couple of pictures from last night’s session . You will notice 2 of the 3 pictures are critical failures. It was the theme of the evening.

Our Heroes:

  • Ari Runemasters, Dwarf, Cautious, Enemy, Loyal
  • Coldheart, Frostborn, Habit (keeps secrets), Loyal, Outsider, Vow (is Cold the 5th element)
  • Cynric Odwinsunu, Saxa, Curious, Loyal, Vengeful
  • Foxglove, Engro, Curious, Greedy, Orders, Outsider, Quick (smokes after a fight)
  • O’hAadha “the Wild” of Clan Tolarggan, Tuomi, Hearth Knight, Heroic, Orders, Stubborn, Vengeful
  • Tara Saari, Finnar, Code of Honor, Mark of the Fey, Vow (defeat Black Knight)
  • A link to the PreGens

We had 3 players. G$ ran O’hAahda and Coldheart. Jo ran Foxglove and Tara. Mark D ran Ari and Cynric. Only Mark D had any familiarity with the setting. All are Savage Worlds veterans.

“So why are we out here again?” queried Foxglove.
“To to help the Hearth Knights protect the builder of their new outpost – Boarderwatch” sighed O’hAadha. He was questioning this himself. All he wanted to was kill Frostweavers to avenge the death of his wife. The Hearth Knights sold him on this idea, but they really were not clear on you had to be Shield first. So when a captain at Keep offered him the opportunity to round up a some folks to help defend the new outpost he jumped at it. But so far there has only been a stray goblin or two to slate his anger upon.

“My troop, The Travelling Wilburys, roams Heligoland these days. I hope to run into them while we are here” piped in Foxglove. (1)

O’hAahda was about to grunt when the group heard fighting up ahead. They arrayed themselves and Foxglove creeped up to the flank and saw a colorful wagon overturned and a swarm of bluish Ice Goblins cutting up on the horses, people and looting the wagon. It took a moment, but Foxglove realized it was a small group of Wilburys that travel around to entertain towns and settlements!

Coldheart called upon her inner Hrimwisardry to encase herself in flexible ice (Armor). The group arrayed itself a the crest of the hill and counterattacked (the picture of the battle scene in the above link). Foxglove raced forward throwing her trusty knife…but the Norns are fickle! (see the first picture with a crit fail)(2). She tripped while throwing, hit the Wilbury the Goblin was chewing upon, and tumbled down the hit to land sprawled at the goblin’s feet.

Tara then charged down the hill but came up oh so short (same play rolls a one on the running die and only needed a 2 – so she has now rolled three 1s in a row).

Coldtheart calls again upon her inner powers to turn her axe into a horrific weapon (Smite) – but the sun strikes her eyes and the pierce of that bit of heat melts her cold soul (the second crit fail pic – so Shaken and Fatigue).

The remainder of the group gets down the hill. A Goblin or two go down. Only two where paying enough attention to even respond to the initial charge. The fight quickly turns bloody for the Ice Goblins.

Foxglove mourns a bit by making sure the property of these poor Engro will be returned to the family and he lights of a post fight cigar. Tara calms the one living horse while Ari uses it blood to mark the Rune of Healing. They are able to get the wagon moving.

The goblins have the markings of the One-Tusk tribe. Knowing the history of the lands, they burn the goblins bodies and put the slain engro into the wagon to continue onto the keep. They also had noticed 3 recent graves at the top of the hill. While a few crude markings of Scaetha were present, clearly it was not consecrated ground. (3)

The made it to a wooden fort after nightfall (4) and have not problems with entry since there is a Hearth Knight amongst the group. They are directed to the Common Room to talk to Sgt “Brick” Housesunu (5). He had heard of O’hAahda’s temper and disrespect of authority and has some fun with that (Brick has a strong streak of that himself). The group tells of their tale and find out that the outpost does have a goblin captive if they want to squeeze more information out of him. Brick quietly comments on the Frostborn in the group given the nickname of the outpost is “Baronwatch”. O’hAahda hints that one should “keep friends close and enemies closer.”

The common room keeps an eye on Foxglove and avoids Coldheart. Tara sit back and thinks upon her travel when she squired for a Fey Knight. The others in the common room both stare at her and avoid her due to her Fey Mark(6). The group also learns that this place is called Fort Toothpick because as one soldier put it – “If a giant wonders down he will smash this place into toothpicks.” This wood fort is merely a temporary outpost to protect the stone fortification going up.

After some back and forth, Brick goads O’hAadha into Boasting how many Goblins he will kill (from the Expansion book). The group sets out the next morning after getting information from the captive goblin. After a few hours, they find the smell hole from which the One Tusk tribe seems to emanate. Foxglove was able to sneak into the hole and easily notices the crude pit trap that his large companions likely would have missed. His keen hearing detects 4 or 5 distinctive goblin voices ahead squabbling over something.

The group decides to draw them out since the only light is a the sunlight streaming into the small goblin hole. They set up a ruse of a couple of travelers that have stopped to have a lunch. They argue and do such a good job (both the player roleplaying against themselves and dice rolls) that the goblins are completely fooled. They attempt to sneak out but are instead ambushed buy the group.

The only notable item is another crit fail. Tara rushes one of the goblins that is also struck from behind by Cynric. Cynric’s sword easily slices through the base of the goblins skull and thrusts out of its mouth. That throws Tara off and she nearly runs into the sword (Cynric hits with multiple raises and Tara crit/failed – but the damage results in only Shaken to Tara).

The groups begins to work their way through the goblin warren (after Foxglove swipes the pathetic stakes of the Goblin’s game of bones). The caves feel colder than a normal cave. Eventually they come upon a Common Room (7). The room is really cold and there are goblin-sized holes everywhere (8). In the middle of the room the Goblins have a weird pot that has a glowing blue fire in it. Foxglove sneaks into the room (a killer Stealth roll – so I said put your PC where ever you want and presume a crate or something for cover). He initiates the attack by trying to kill one near the Hellfrost fire and get back into hiding (I ruled opposed Notice vs. Stealth -4). No problem killing the Goblin, but yet another crit fail on the Stealth! Trip and fall forward into the pot of Hellfrost fire! (Shakes).

The battle quickly ensues and the gang rips them up pretty quick! Unfortunately, I made the big deal about the room being cold and icy but forgot to impose movement penalties. Well, at least the flavor got out there.

The final location they find before exiting the caves was a nasty little alcove dedicated to Dargar. O’hAahda had encountered these before and relayed that all the heads and chopped off ears and such were tributes Dargar. Also, it was lucky no one was at the shrine because his followers would likely fight in a frenzy near such a foul place.

==-=-
Afterthoughts
The amount of detail on the world that has slipped into my thoughts and this adventure pleases me. I want to have one fantasy setting that is what I call a “setting of detail” – things where stuff like why people pay attention to burial rites has meaning, or what a colder than normal cave might mean the next time they stumble across one. Hellfrost has become that. It does not mean I will not run other fantasy or other genres, but Hellfrost is the one where the little details are woven into the adventure even if they are not a key clue to the current mystery.

We ran short on time so I did have them roll a few more of “what rooms you might have found if we had more time”. The players seemed to really take to the different approach. It also helped that the Mark1 and Jo’s son played Skyrim, so I could at least say “the area you have been travelling in looks like that” :) .

The framework for the adventure is just good old B2 – Keep on the Borderlands. I just took the little nugget that the Hearth Knights were looking to build another tower near the border with the Barony of Cul.

Endnotes
(1) Some might whine that such a name kills versimitDMitude and all, but the name seems to have an Engro ring to it. It conveys the right tone of the group, and it gives the players something familiar to grab onto given the amount of new Hellfrost detail I threw at them. Later in the session one would still here reference to Travelling Wilburys and not “that group of short gypsis, what were they called again?”

(2) Our house rule is you have to suffer through the crit fail, but you get a bennie for your pain. The only exception to this is stuff like Incapacitation rolls and you can spend a Bennie to roll only to avoid Siphoning.

(3) Ah, the Kings Road map from Keep on the Shadowfell. Those graves helped reinforce some of the world detail about how burial rites had changed due to the Liche-Priest

(4) If you are a Flip Mat fan – Bandit Outpost

(5) Sadly, the players missed the Brick House reference :)

(6) I added this one to the pregens. Here is the backstory:
Tara had the unusual situation of being forced to Squire for a
Fey Knight (see Hellfrost Beastiary). During that time, she
learned the in and outs of the being a Knight and much about
the Fey World.
She served the White Knight for what turned out to be two
years (although she did not age, the world did) whose sole
purposed seemed to be to seek out and battle the Black
Knight across the lands of Rassilon.
There were numerous confrontations and formal duals. During
that time, Tara met the Black Knight’s squire – a similarly
endentured human named Tomas. The pair became quite fond
of each other and they secretly met when time allowed when
the envitable match between the Masters came due.
But that all came crashing to an end. In the past, the Black
and White Knights battled in more formal styles that rarely
ever leads to death. But their last encounter occured as
opponents in a real battle. The two Knights paired up to defeat
a Hellfrost Dragon. But the Black Knight, at least in Tara’s
eyes, manuevered to avoid much of the combat and to get the
killing blow on the dragon. This left the Dragon dead, the Black
Knight victorious, and the White Knight slain.
The death of the White Knight did free Tara from her enforce
servitude. Oddly, the White Knight’s equipment and mount did
not fade back to the Fey Realm but instead became more
substantial, more of this world. Both have a slight Fey look, but
pass as normal in Rassilon if not inspected closely.
Tara too has a mark from the experience – she has a small
mark upon her cheek of Fey origin and design. For some, this
makes her more exotic. For others, it makes them more fearful
of her. She also seems to have a deep bond with the steed -
they fight as one like no other based on her actual fighting
experience.
Tara has vowed to find the Black Knight and slain him both to
avenge her Master and free Tomas.

(7) I used this session to try out an alternate approach to exploration. Instead of following a fixed map, I had someone roll Notice or Stealth. Others could assist. Then I used the Chase Rules where each Success and Raise got you a Card (minimum 1 card no matter what). The higher the card, the more interesting area the PCs would find. If you draw a Club, there would be a complication (a patrol stumbles in, a trap, etc). If you had people assist in the role, then more suite would factor into if there was a complication. The goal is to reward the hit skilled PCs during the exploration, but avoid the drudgery of “I search each 5′ square for traps”).

(8) I find it odd that Dwarves have temperature adjustments and goblins have the snow walking but they live in caves – deep caves are cool but not freezing. So I decided that if there is a Shaman around, that the caves grow colder over time and ice/snow patches form. So goblin shamans of Thrym are natural channels for the Hellfrost to seep through.

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