Hellfrost

Isle of Outcasts - Session 12

While the heroes are in port, they discover that Naji really does know what he is doing when it comes to ships and seamanships. He quickly established himself as captain and the crew overall loves him, but there is an exception or two. The heroes also discover that the Spirit of Suleiman was recently purchased by members of the Brotherhood of Sinbad after the prior captain/owner was killed in an accident.

On the morning the Spirit is set to sail, Naji’s past once again catches up to him. As the port authority closed in on the ship, Naji yells out “all aboard that’s coming aboard” and orders the crew to cast off.

Menivis was a few piers over finalizing the last few supplies for the ship. Upon hearing Naji’s call, he dropped to all fours and sprinted along the docks, up the crates, and made a huge leap to cover the rapidly widening gap as the Spirit pulled away.

Salim, unfurled Sirocco the Flying Carpet and ordered him to fly to the ship. Sirocco grumbled at first, but surprisingly did what he was told. But lulled into a false sense of security, Salim was not ready when Sirocco suddenly accelerated at the last second. Salim bashed his head on a spar, and that left him sprawled on the deck (and a wound).

Tabari had spent the last couple of days writing up the hero’s tales under the sea to send off to the universities of Qarah. Fortunately, Tabari heard of the pending raid on the Spirit and slowly strolled onto the ship just as the gangplank was withdrawn from the pier.

Araceli, as usual, was a bit of a curiosity draw from the locals. The crowd was proving problematic as they were between Araceli and the Spirit. Thinking quickly, Araceli gracefully swung through some rigging on another docked ship to land gracefully on deck.

Naji gracefully and skillfully maneuvered the ship our of port, but not before several near misses with other ships in his haste to get out to sea. Travelling south, the Spirit came to the Isle of Outcasts. It was quickly obvious as to the naming of the island, – most people have a physical hindrance of some sort. They were discarded by their original society, but formed their own here on this pleasant island. Approximately 500 souls live in the town.

Not long after docking, a one-armed man of obvious authority (Captain Rafiq) invited the heroes (and Naji, as captain) to dine with Pasha Kutaiba. At the pasha’s house they are greeted politely by a servant, a cakali with a withered right arm and only two fingers on his left hand. He indicates where weapons and armor may be securely stored, and then leads the guests to meet his master. The house is richly appointed, but without being ostentatious or garish. Kutaiba Pasha is the wrong side of middle age, and his face, bald pate, and hands are vividly disfigured by deep burn scars. A banquet more befitting the table of an emir has already been laid out. During the meal, Kutaiba Pasha makes small talk, inquiring about the heroes reasons for visiting, their previous exploits, and news from the mainland. Once the characters’ bellies are full, he gets down to business. He invites the heroes to follow him to an adjacent room.

Laid out on a bier is a young woman of perhaps 20 years. Her face is relaxed, and she appears to be sleeping. What catches the hero’s eye is the girl wears a large, colored crystal lens as part of a necklace, identical to their amber lens other than the color.

“This is my daughter, Shana. A stranger came to our town and, on seeing her, desired that she become his wife. I refused such a marriage, for the stranger was of sinister disposition and my heart told me that he was full of wickedness. Oh, by the fates, how right I was! Angered, the stranger revealed himself to be Jabal, a wizard of the dark arts, and calling upon fell charms, he placed her in the magical sleep in which you see her now.

“The wizard said that unless I changed my mind within a year and a day, my daughter would never wake yet never truly die, condemning her soul to limbo for all time. That deadline is midnight a mere two days from now, and I fear I must make a decision no father should be called upon to make.

“I am a man of peace, but I now ask that you aid us. Kill the wizard and break his charm. There is no other way.”

After promises are made, the Pasha gets a bit conspiratorial. With the group’s permission, he wishes to “scare straight” Naji. Naji has been to The Island of Outcasts (or Home as they know it) in the past. And like most places he left quite an impression. He does not think about it until Captain Rafiq grabs Naji and the following proclamation is read:

“Whereas one Naji ibn Shakir did attain entrance to the quarters of the court vizer and made off with a prized Hooka and associated paraphernalia. Whereas one Naji ibn Shakir did use said stolen items to corrupt the virtue of a young maid or three of the realm. Whereas the fathers of said former maidens did capture one Naji ibn Shakir and threaten bodily harm, at which time Naji instigated a great commotion and inflicted monumental damage upon the local market. Therefore be it decreed that one Naji ibn Shakir shall be imprisoned in the dungeons of Pasha until such time that the Pasha decides to grant mercy upon his retched soul.”

After stern looks and Naji dragged off in chains, the Pasha and Rafiq laugh and assure the heroes that Naji will only spend a night or two in the dungeons for his past crimes.

The next day with a humbled Naji in tow, the Spirit departs for the nearby island of Jabal the Black. Despite ill winds, Naji and the crew do a masterful job. The Spirit arrives that the dark, gloomy spit of a rock capped with an ominous tower with 24 hours to spare.

View
Of the Brothers of Sinbad - Session 11
Friend Naji

Of the Brothers of Sinbad
From Ahmed ibn Zafir point of view.

Clasping hands with each in turn Ahmed bade farewell to the friends and allies he and the Five had made among the merfolk deep under the sea. The Five had been greatly honored by the undersea people for their valiant defense of the kingdom and willingness to risk everything to help. Heavy pouches of rare pearls were tied to their gear, a tangible reward.

Glancing across the court, Ahmed saw Araceli embrace the Princess. Theirs was a a deeper bond and no doubt the Ilf would find herself here again someday. Whether the rest of the Five would still be tagging along with her was another question. Ahmed frowned. Araceli had been having the nightmares again. Her venture into the tombs had marked her deeply and he knew they needed to vanquish the evil spirit that was torturing her sleep.

But first they needed to return to the “lands above”. Keeping the merfolk kingdom a secret was paramount so a grand ruse was devised. At the next storm above, illusions of a foundering ship would be created by the merfolk mages, flotsam from past shipwrecks littered across the surface, and the Five let go close enough to swim to shore on an island passed by ships now and again.

“The surface? The real world? Sun on my toes? Brilliant!” exclaimed Pesci, the annoying engro. Ahmed frowned at the half-folk schemer and made sure to keep a fair distance. Tabari was more comfortable with deals and haggling and soon he and Pesci were in discussions about setting up trade with the merfolk in wine and pipeweed.

A few days passed waiting for the surface storm and then it was time. Final farewells, a truly rough time on the surface, and a very exhausted arrival on the beach of the small island. For a time Ahmed enjoyed the feel of the sand under him and then the sunlight on his skin as the storm passed.

“Survived that ‘wreck’, did you?” asked an old man who was quietly harvesting star fruit from some trees. He made it clear that he did not believe the story of the wreck though the Five would maintain it. “Come, let me give you sustenance.”

Over a generous meal of hard tack, bread, and fruit, the old man explained that he was a member of the Brothers of Sinbad, followers of the epic hero who had died hundreds of years before. Brought to the island by his ship which still stood anchored off shore, he believed that Sinbad was not actually dead but trapped by tricksey Jinn. On that very island, there was a cave in which the old man had found a book of equations, but one missing the last page. He believed if the equations were solved, the clue would allow a portal to open again in the cave and perhaps Sinbad could be rescued!

“I sent a Brother back to the mainland to track down the missing page but I fear he has been waylaid. If you were to bring the final page back to me, the Brotherhood would be eternally grateful!”

“Have you not thought to seek it yourself?” asked Ahmed bluntly.

“I have much to do here still to prepare. The equations are complex and I must divine the perfect order of solution…” mumbled the old man, his finger tracing in the air and leaving glowing numbers and letters that faded in a few moments.

“I think we should help him,” explained Tabari when the Five were alone. “It is the honorable thing to do for the generosity of his table.”

“It would also get us back home,” added Salim.

Quickly agreed, the old man offered use of his ship, The Spirit of Suleiman, to return to Akhmim to find Naji ibn Shakir, the wayward Brother. Traveling again in the ship they had come to know was of some comfort as it cut through the waves on a strong breeze. In only two days, they sighted the cliffside city of Akhmim and the ship’s crew deftly brought her into the docks. Ahmed truly breathed deep, savoring the smells of the land and the peace he found being once again in Suleiman’s first city.

After riding the platforms up the cliffside, they stepped off and around the massive stone golems who hauled the platforms up and down tirelessly.

“You ask around,” suggested Ahmed, knowing Tabari was much better than he at such things, “I want to have a word with Hiram the swordsmith.”

The afternoon passed with Ahmed crouched watchfully in Hiram’s workshop as the aged but excellent smith secured the Walkstone as the pommel of Ahmed’s favored scimitar (“Flash”) and rebalanced the weapon. The smith tutted here and there where the original smith’s workmanship had been less than perfect and by the end of the afternoon, Ahmed had a weapon worthy of a master. He practiced with it, feeling the balance and how quickly it moved in his hand, as if it were alive and aching to leap into battle. He gratefully left most of his pearls with Hiram.

By the time he tracked down the rest of the Five at an out of the way tavern called the “Last Port of Call”, almost all of his pearls were gone, given here and there as he saw mothers in need or left donation at a Kada. Entering the tavern, he saw that Tabari was engaged in a boisterous… negotiation with the tavernowner who could not stop crying about the dinar Naji owed him, the damage done to his tavern when Naji fought some people there. Eventually, Tabari paid for Naji’s overdue rent for a room which quieted the tavernkeep somewhat. Examining the wayward Brother’s room showed that it had been ransacked but the tavernkeep was able to point them to the home of a girl (Hawazin Bint Rizq) who was always at Naji’s side when he was drinking.

Outside the tavern, Araceli had met a street urchin she’d known from her first days in the south named Anis ibn Anis. For a small coin, the smartly dressed boy was willing to take them to Hawazin’s home. At first the girl’s mother was having none of these strangers asking after the ne’er-do-well Naji whom her daughter lay pining for in her room. Once again, Tabari’s wise words and Araceli’s pure heart softened the woman and they were allowed to speak to the girl.

“The men grabbed us both, roughly, and dragged us to the docks. I bit one and he let me go.”

“Where did they take Naji?”

“I can’t recall exactly, I was so terrified I just ran and ran until friends led me home. But it was a big building and there was a sign out front… something red with a blue stripe.”

“We’ll find Naji, Hawazin, though he needs to leave the city for a time.”

“Permanently?” whispered the mother hopefully, pressing five dinar into Tabari’s hand. Graciously, the wise one did not commit on that score but also did not commit to bring Naji back.

It was late in the evening before they found a warehouse with the incriminating sign. Eager to test his blades, Ahmed lobbied to move in quickly. “You never know when they might harm him!” With little opposition, Ahmed and Araceli crept into the building, the Ilf taking to the loft to get angle with her bow. Ahmed skipped neatly up one of the piles of crates, planning to swing down to two thugs in a manner that would be quite entertaining when Tabari told of it later. unfortunately the criminal gang had done haphazard work piling the crates. One tipped sharply sending Ahmed sliding and dropping to his feet next to the thugs.

Once the fight was on, Ahmed felt his blood race and his blades flashed and sang, slaying three of the heinous criminal gang. Salim and Tabari entered as well and soon a whirling cone of sand pummeled and tore at two more thugs. When they reached the far end of the warehouse, they found Naji hanging from his bound hands and threatened by one of the thugs, sword to his throat.

“One more step and I’ll kill him!” threatened the thug.

“I don’t care,” snarled Ahmed which gave the thug pause and Araceli a moment to take position. Without pause, she sent two arrows into the thug, his sword dropping to the ground un-blooded.

“Oh praise the gods!” squeaked Naji. The Five unbound him and quickly questioned him. Apparently Naji had gotten into debt with these men over a shipment of hashish he’d misplaced. Why Naji was doing work for dealers of the narcotic instead of securing the final page was unclear.

“I didn’t exactly find the page, but its the same thing.” Plucking a slightly bloody paper from the vest of the slain thug leader, he handed it to Tabari. “It’s a page that tells you where to find the page, I’m guessing.” He handed Tabari a small amber crystal. Holding the page to a nearby lantern and the crystal to his eye, Tabari saw it was a fine map of the land and islands of their region. A small X appeared on a tiny island not far from the Isle of Korsar.

“My obligation is completed!” declared Naji. The Five proceeded to explain to him the meaning of oaths and obligations. As they walked away from the bodies in the warehouse, they confirmed that Naji would be going with them until the true “Final Page” was returned to the elder Brother on the Island.

View
Undersea - Session 10
Death of Two Kings

The final battle looms. Losses have been atrocious. King Mathias of House Taj is confident they will win, but the bleeding has to stop. Vizir Ja’far informs the group the Shamans protecting the Kreana King are at the Ironclad. The group volunteers for a surgical strike!

The King Mathias gives a heartfelt speech to the group and Princess Silana shows her appreciation. The group is given two Pearls – one will get them to the Ironclad, one will get them back. The group plots, as they know the layout of the accessible areas of the ship.

Girding themselves, the heroes flash in over the deck of the Ironclad…right in front of a Great White shark! Then crossbow bolts come out from the battlements on the deck! The group battles hard and clears the deck, but there is blood in the water from their own wounds.

They then go down through a massive hole in the deck to the aft-mid-deck area . An after-effect of the old water elemental engineering room is that this level has a counter-clockwise current. As the group hunts for Shamans, they catch sighted of a serpentine form off in the gloom of the water. They then engage a Shaman and his protector. As they attack, another set attack from behind the group. Then a young Sea Dragon comes around the corner and breathes is caustic water mixture! The battle is fierce, with Ahmed finishing off the dragon in a dizzying whirl of blades!

Healing up what they can, then enter the lower deck. In the central area is a circular dais. Tabari had tried to divine its use when the group was here previously but never really got anywhere. Now, there is a glowing purplish gem floating above the dais. Unbeknownst to the PCs, the dais nullifies up to -2 in maintenance penalties for spells that are cast from it (they are still Maintained, just reduces the penalties).

There are a number of Kreana around, and a battle ensues. Eventually, the other other four Shamans and their protectors engage the PCs. As each Shaman is killed, a protection on the Kreana King drops. Eventually, he notices and returns to the ship via Sanctuary! With him comes 4 Bloodragers. All are crazed with blood frenzy.

The battle is tough. Menivis is nearly killed. Salim is bleeding badly. Other have Fatigue effects of spells from the Shamans. All of the group pounds on the Kreana King. Ahmed, dancing through the water as if he was born there, cut the widest swath of destruction among the Kreana and finished off the King!

In the area there is a merman chained to a wall. It turns out to be Prince Albion! The group sweeps the area and returns to the Palace with the dead King in tow, spirits high…

…only to arrive to carnage! Members of the Coral Guard and King Mathias are dead! There are many Kreana bodies as well. It is hard to see with all the blood in the water. Tabari rushes over to the King and casts Insight. The scene replays itself in his mind. A secret panal near the throne opened and Kreana rushed out. The Vizir rushed out of the room to summon more of the Guard. The battle was fierce, but short. It was a suicide mission…there was not much that could be done.

At least the Princess was safe and the Crowned Prince had returned.

Of the Death of Kings (Ahmed POV)

Ahmed sat quietly on the floor next to the bed where his friend Menivis lay. The warrior had borne the brunt of the vicious battle with the Shark King, his body torn in countless places. That foul monarch had been slain but it was little comfort.

“Was he the Prince?” muttered Menivis. Ahmed took a cup of water and gave his friend a drink. Menivis’ body was covered in bandages and healing salves but he could still lean up a bit. Ahmed was sure if a kreana burst into this healer’s room, Menivis would pick up the sword and fight but there were times when you gave your body its due.

“Yes, though that muddies the waters. The sharks attacked the palace while we were gone and slew the king. The princess survived and is the most capable but they might elevate the son to be king. I don’t know how it works in this place. It is such a blend of traditions it is hard to know what they believe.”

Menivis took another drink and then lay still for awhile. Ahmed began to think he’d finally fallen asleep when the Cakali shifted.

“Our time here is done, isn’t it, brother.” Menivis’s dark eyes searched Ahmed’s face. The dervish warrior nodded.

“Good. It has been too long since I felt the sand underfoot and used the strength of the rock in my battle stance. All this swimming is a different world, one I’ve not trained to be a part of.”

“I agree. I long to feel the heat of the sun on my face and from the sand. I’m sure Salim feels the same way though Aracelindoliel and Tabari may still be enchanted by the strangeness of this place and its people.”

Ahmed rose. “I’ll talk to them. It is time to go.”

View
Undersea - Session 9
Of course you know, this means War!

A few scenes around Madinat Almuhit as it readies itself for war.

  • In the Sward, Peschi Tenderfoot is haggling with a member of the Finfolk (who happens to have a necklace, but that allows him to breathe the air). Ulric informs the PCs that Finfolk are both oddly reclusive and also traders. They will trade with anyone and have been known to make contact with surface folk to act as their representatives. However, they do have a bad reputation on the surface. It is said that should a finman marry a finwife (the name for females of the species), the finwife gradually becomes uglier and uglier. For this reason, Finfolk prey on coastal communities, kidnapping lone fishermen or folk walking the beaches at night. Through their magic, they disguise themselves until they are close enough to their victims to grapple them and drag them underwater, whereupon they cast environmental protection on their captives to stop them drowning. The poor victim is dragged back to the finfolks’ undersea kingdom and forced to marry.
  • The Coral Grotto – families of the Merfolk quietly take in the beauty of the formations. People are solemn, but upbeat about the coming fight.
  • The Palace – the place is bustling with activity. Couriers rush about, key leaders provide advice to King Mathias Taj, and Princess Salana helps organize the citizens to prepare the city.
  • The Pearl Beds and Emerald Fields are quiet as the Merfolk have retreated to the city for protection.

Preparation

The city readies itself. Our heroes pitch in to help the city ready itself for the savage onslaught of the Kreana. Mechanically, the PCs partake in a Dramatic Task (with the Merfolk general doing the adjusted Knowledge (Battle Roll) to build up the Battle Tokens. The maximum is 9 due to their failure to prevent the summoning of the Avatar of Carcharas.

  • [Spade] – Probing skirmish in the Grotto. A Quick Combat (-2) for the crew. A Solid victory that results in a way into the city cut off, the Kreana repelled, and spirits raised.
  • [Diamonds] Mustering resources (Notice/Streetwise -2) – there is a feeling of security in the city, perhaps too much so. The PCs have difficulty mustering key resources to reinforce the defenses. Defensive points may not be as strong as needed.
  • [Club] Extraction at the Ironclad! (Quick Combat -4) The Kreana are on the move, and strike quicker than anticipated. The PCs lead a strike force to extract the Coral Guard stationed there. The fight is fierce and the losses are high for the Merfolk
  • [Heart] The gravity of the situation has sunk in as the military forces do not appear ready (Persuasion/Intimidation -2(. People need inspiration. The PCs do help rally the populace to keep preparations moving.
  • [Spade] A final skirmish before the main battle.

Things look grim (5 Battle Tokens vs. the Kreana’s 10). Will the city survive?

War!

Although badly outnumbered, the Merfolk fight more strategically. The Kreana use blunt assaults with a Kraken, a magically enhanced King, and the Avatar. Losses are high, but the Merfolk even the odds. (multiple rounds, the previously poor Knowledge Battle rolls heat up for the home town folks).

A key moment is the Battle of the Sward. The Merfolk in their planning had not fully grasped that the Kreana could spend extended periods of time out of the water and survive just breathing air. Fortunately, the Heroes were recuperating in the Sward when the assault occurred. The magical properties of the Sward both provide air but also a “feather fall” effect for those that happened cross over from the water side of the barrier. So suddenly, its raining Kreana! This also so that return of the water version of the fabled Vacuum Lung Death!

The Heroes work quickly to save the residents of the Sward. Some help in the fight as many are experienced mariners and no stranger to a weapon. The battle is fierce with Ahmed continuing to display his dervish style of combat! The heroes repel the force in a definitive victory!

[note: this replaced one of the Mass Combat rounds, with the winner criteria set by the number of people saved]

The Wizar then comes to the PCs during a lull in the battle. They have discovered the King of the Kreana uses spellcasters to enhance his abilities. They safely secured back at the Ironclad during the battle. Silara floats forward and gives the group a Pearl of Recall keyed to the Ironclad. She had one more keyed to the ship that she sent with her patrols – she figured they could get away as a group, but was worried a small patrol could be overwhelmed.

While they feel the battle is going their way, the toll the King is taking on them in the battle is horrific. If they can bring down his protections, they might be able to kill him and end the battle once and for all. The mission is simple – use the Pearl to get to the Ironclad when the Kreana next engage. Then kill every spellcaster. Word will be sent to Little Jon to have sea horses secured nearby in case haste is needed to escape (even the Kreana are wary of a Reef Giant).

View
Undersea - Session 8
Of the Herald of Destruction

Of the Herald of Destruction

Ahmed gathered himself and breathed deeply. He looked around at the gathered nobles and great figures of the city, all waiting on his words.

“Landwalker, we have heard the warning call. We know the ”/wikis/kreana" class=“wiki-page-link”> Kreana are coming. But tell us what you saw. Tell us what happened."

Ahmed glanced over at Tabari. The old man usually told the tales of the Five but he only shrugged. He had not been asked this time.

’We are not of your world but we are learning. We have seen evil above the water, in the sands of the dry lands many times. We have seen darkness but we have never seen evil on this scale. An evil…" and he let his voice trail off to collect himself. He drew himself up and began again.

“While our allies the soldiers focused on securing the iron wreck as an outpost, my comrades and I chose to take a look in the Kelp Forest.” There were looks and whispers and he hoped he’d given Silara enough deniability for whatever political issues they feared. "It did not take long to spot the Kreana and many of them. We spoke to a hermit who said that they were massing by the ruins of an old temple. This was important but we had to know more. We had to understand the threat.

“Journeying directly to the temple would have been foolhardy. We never would have survived. Still we had to learn more. The hermit told us about a maze of caverns under the land that could get us close to the temple. She warned us that the caves weren’t empty and we would be tested. And she was right. The ”/wikis/morkoth" class=“wiki-page-link”>Morkoth ruled the caves and we were tried to defend ourselves from its heinous and mind-twisting attacks. In the end, we were forced to slay it, removing the threat from those caves.

“Reaching the cave mouth we sought, we looked across a small valley of kelp and ruins. And hundreds of kreana. They were everywhere, busy with their plans to assemble an army to destroy this city and many others. What truly chilled our blood was seeing the hermit who had helped us along with four other peaceful prisoners being dragged into the temple itself.

“Carefully, we approached the temple, clinging to shadows. I think the kreana did not suspect that any of their enemies could possibly be so close to their holy place so they were not watchful enough. The great sand wizard Salim conjured a storm of sand beyond the temple, distracting the host of kreana. We slew the temple guards and hurried inside. We still had hope to save the hermit and the other prisoners from whatever vile purpose the kreana had.

Ahmed stopped for a drink of water.

“The passage into the temple went down and turned back on itself before revealing a grand sanctuary of statues, wetglow fires, and temple guards. A priest of some type was carrying out a foul ritual with the hermit at his mercy as a sacrifice. We rushed forward, desperate to stop the evil incantation. We realized that the purpose of the ritual was a huge statue of a powerful shark and the longer the shaman performed the ritual, the more real that great shark appeared. Stone slowly gave way to the cold flesh of the beast. Patterns emerged all over its body.

“We did our best, slaying many kreana to reach the shaman and prevent the ritual from completing… but we were too late. He sacrificed the hermit to complete the ritual and the tremendous statue came to life, thrashing in the water and eating anything it could get to.”

“Our foray had failed. We had witnessed the birth of a terrible threat, perhaps even the Herald of the kreana’s foul god. We had to warn you, our friends, our second home. The kreana are coming and bringing a power greater than you’ve ever faced. We need a plan to destroy this Herald or this city will be a ruin and all of us merely food for their god…”

View
Tabari on the Ironclad

This is set right after Undersea – Session 6

Tabari swam around the Ironclad in awe. While there was no doubt the northern emperor was a fool to put iron on his ship, the elemental technology was worth studying. Perhaps it could reveal long forgotten secrets on the creation of magic items. Or perhaps it could completely change the way people travelled the seas. More likely it would just lead to some interesting conversations with his friends in Qarah, but those were important as well.

He swam to the ring around the ship on the port side first, since that one seemed to have suffered less damage in the storm and sinking. He closed his eyes and remembered what the ring originally looked like during his strange vision on the ship. When he was satisfied he had called up all the details he opened his eyes and took a hold of the ring. “Qedeshet show me,” he prayed.

He hadn’t known what to expect exactly. He thought maybe an indignant Jinn would be revealed, or maybe one of their northern cousins. Or maybe nothing at all, if the creature had managed to escape since the ship had sunk. But he had not been prepared for an assault on his mind. The hate and rage were instantaneous, and it was all he could do to control his hand and release the ring.

No Jinn artifact had ever reacted like that to his prayers. He realized he was breathing heavily and began one of the breathing exercises that Salim had taught him. When he was feeling normal, he reached out and touched the ring again. Without Qedeshet’s magic it just felt normal, a hunk of metal that had been under water for several centuries.

He swam up the ring, stopping at any spot he remembered where the magic had seemed more focused. At each place he called upon Qedeshet and touched the ring. The hate and rage was always there, though he was prepared for it now. It grew stronger as he swam over the ship, and then gradually weakened as he reached the far point on the starboard side.

He swam around the rest of the ship, occasionally casting his spell. Most of the time the ship felt normal, although there were a few times when the rage was there. He suspected those places were caused by how the ring was connected to the ship, but would have to confirm that at a different time.

He stood in front of the door to the elemental room. He prayed and touched the door. The rage was there, and strong enough that he thought he should get the others before proceeding. Instead, he repeated Salim’s breathing exercises and opened the door. He swam to where Salim had released the elemental creature in their vision. “Qedeshet show me,” he prayed and touched the metal.

View
Undersea - Session 7
The Lair of the Morkoth

Our Heroes receive a Pearl of Recall from Silara. It is an alchemecal item that is keyed back to the Ironclad in case the Kreana are about to overrun the area. The group heads into the Kelp Forest.

The group notices Kreana right away, but not so thick that they cannot avoid them. The group cautiously advances, hiding away where they can. Ahmed notices up ahead there is a clearing and it looks like a mermaid is tending a garden there. But he failed to notice the giant crab lurking in the overgrowth (Raise on a Notice, Crit/Fail on a Stealth). Keenly shot arrows and Quills of Qedeshet save both Ahmed and Menivis from being slain by the large creature.

The group approaches the mermaid. Her name is Voline and she invites them into her hidden home. She is quite surprised to see Surfacers. They explain why they are here. She has noticed that the Kreana are swarming the area and is concerned that she may not be able to stay hidden much longer. There is ruining glade nearby (an old settlement) that is particularly thick with them. The Kreana have rebuilt (crudely) an old temple and dedicated it to Cacharus. She advises the group to stay away – they will not be able to get there without being noticed.

The group debates and she offers to do an Augury, as she has a bit of the Sight (note she is from the northern realms and is keen on following the Norns). She does say one option that might work is to risk the Lair of the Morkoth. She warns the creature is most dangerous to those of a weak mind and few have ever escaped its clutches. She knows that there is both opening to it’s labyrinthine lair nearby and at the Kreana site. She also does an Augury for each willing PC. She loses bits of coral, sand, and shells. They suspend in the water and start to glow, revealing:

  • Ahmed – "Carcharus has marked you” (lose a point of Toughness for the rest of the adventure)
  • Menivis – “You will be held back by the will of Cacharus” – Major Hindrance, picked Luck
  • Araceli – “The Gods will push yourself beyond your current capabilities” – Edge – Picked Acrobat
  • Salim – "You will find your way harder” (drop one die from highest skill)
  • Tabari – ““Your gods protects you” – one better Wild Die

After leading the group to the entrance, the group hesitates. Menivis, however, is drawn to enter, thinking is back in the desert exploring. Araceli holds him bad until he comes to his senses. They enter the maze.

The twisting caverns are confusing. After a number of turns, then encounter Ghuls of various aquatic races. The fight is quick but painful, with Salim getting them out of pinch. However, they are no closer to their goal. They then come an area where there are previous victims of the Ghuls. They find a few items to help them along their way, including a True Relic (a Sword, claimed by Menivis)! They continue through an area with many skeletal shark jaws. They carefully navigate it, although Salim would have been badly wounded if not for his protective magic as one jaw clamped down hard on his leg. They then battle the water itself! Madding! It was a water jinn, which was nearly invisible in water. Salim was badly hurt. The group also found another cache of items from prior victims, with Tabari getting a Ring bound with a Fire Jinn that absorbs fire.

All this time, and they were really working their way to the central lair of the Morkoth. Entering in, they found a number of Kreana there that attacked. For a moment it looked really dire as most of the group fell under the hypnothic sway of the Morkoth. But the group regained their senses and slew the Kreana as Morkoth descended from the darken ceiling to feed on what it though was controlled prey. It did put Ahmed back under its control, but Tabari and Areceli finally killed it with arrows and quills (nasty rolls by Areceli).

As their minds cleared, they found a few alchemecal items and Areceli found a bow that is bound with a Jinn. The bow is vampiric in some way – if activated, inflicted wounds on a target will heal her. But if that Jinn ever gets out….

The group heals up as best they can and finds their way to the Kreana site. Overlooking the area, they notice a group of prisoners being led to the Temple. One of them is Voline…

Of Evil in the Deep

From Ahmed’s Point of View

Venturing forth from the iron clad fortress, Ahmed felt good to be moving, to be facing danger for a greater cause. Sure, the King’s people were hiding within the hulk of the iron clad ship, but they’d claimed it would cause problems for the King if it were known that they ventured into the Kelp Forest. At least they had The Five to lean on.

Araceli had often described the forests of her youth. Ahmed had never seen a proper forest but the grand masses of kelp and other plants seemed pretty close. Araceli dismissed the comparison when he asked her opinion so he was left to wonder if he’d ever see a proper “Forest”.

He was pondering such life goals when he noticed movement through the murky water ahead. It looked like a mermaid tending a sort of garden in a glade up ahead. Ahmed pushed through some thick kelp to get a better look and was about to call to his comrades when he felt the crushing grip of a giant claw around his waist. The air from his lungs burst out into the water into a confusing cloud and for a moment he thought he was back in the dream of drowning. Then the claw began to thrash him about painfully. The arrow that struck his arm was insult to injury and he began a string of curses that would have shamed his mother.

Through the thrashing and bubbles being emitted by the giant crab who had grabbed him, Ahmed saw Menevis bravely step in to attack but get snatched by the other claw. Arrows slices through the waters with much improved accuracy, knifing deep into the creature’s soft flesh and avoiding its thick shell. Within mere moments, the crab’s claws loosened in death, releasing Ahmed and Menevis.

Ahmed engulfed Araceli in a bear hug of gratitude before pointing to the arrow in his arm. “I believe this is yours?”

Further on, they caught the attention of the mermaid gardening. She was not from the city but from northern waters and preferring to keep to herself. She invited the Five into her home and gave them refreshments. Surviving the growing number of shark people was difficult though she was a natural seer and could avoid dangerous futures. She explained that the shark people had built a temple not far from the edge of the kelp forest and they were truly massing. A look into the future determined that any obvious approach would get the Five summarily eaten.

“But there is a way…” she said in a whisper. “It is frought with terrors and dangers, no way a sure path, but if you are determined to discover the true nature of the temple, caves through the lair of the Morkoth it is your only hope…”

Getting the caves was easy with the mermaid’s guidance, but even standing outside the entrance, the disturbing… emotions of the place were clear. Ahmed had to calm himself, not wanting to show fear to his friends. They had been warned that the Morkoth would seduce them with dreams and it was hard to cut through a dream with your scimitar.

The seer had also performed auguries on them which also worried Ahmed. Apparently he’d been “marked” by Cacharis and he certainly did not feel up to his best. Most of the others also received dour warnings from the gods though Araceli and Tabari received boons. Obviously he’d been mistaken to allow the old gods to look upon him, a misstep on his path of the Devoted.

They headed into the caves, the murk barely pushed back by a magical glow from Salim. All sorts of deformed creatures lurked in fissures and outcroppings of coral. There were few areas with a ‘floor’ so they spent most of their way swimming. He’d been building up some strength over their time underwater but it was still awkward with all their gear.

Their first true challenge was a pack of ghouls, the dead animated by some fell force and ravenous to consume humans. They swarmed Ahmed and the others, biting and clawing at them. Their touch was numbing and Ahmed lost grip on his swords at one point though he was able to regain them. Just as Araceli had saved the day with the giant crab, it was Salim’s sand magic which turned the tide. Cutting blasts of sand drawn from the cave floor sliced into the ghouls until the pack fled to find easier prey. All but Salim had been bloodied by this point.

Further on, deeper in the caves, they came across the sickening remains of a ghoul attack. Some mermen had ventured into the caves and been mostly eaten. Luckily their gear had been of no interest to the ghouls. Moving quickly the Five were able to find several potions in carved coral containers. Taking this bounty forward, the group began to lose track of the number of chambers they’d swam through though they seemed to be able to stick to the guidance the seer had given to reach the exit by the temple. A chamber filled with the white jawbones of giant sharks was nerve-wracking to swim through. One fell shut, almost catching Salim.

Deeper in the caves, the light of the glow stick seemed to penetrate the gloom less and less so the Five found themselves moving in a closer pack, edging away from the darkness. Even this order was thrown to chaos as Salim was attacked from an unseen force, causing the light to spin in the water and throw strange shadows. What was attacking him appeared to be the water itself! Was there no end to the horrors of these caves?!?

Menevis found good footing and smashed through the hostile force with his shield again and again until it was clear that the foe was a water jinn and it too found us too troublesome. We gathered ourselves and pressed forward, shaken but resolute.

The dreams came even to Ahmed, dreams of his happiest times. For Ahmed the dream was for Azmara. He’d known her forever, as children and then as members of the tribe. They had always been friends or at least friendly. Then came the night Ahmed was to dance the dervish for the first time. He chose to dance it for her. The dance had not been perfect for the spins of the dervish are tricky even for masters, but it had been perfect enough. That night they broke several laws of the tribe when they…

Fighting sharkmen and an undersea monster was quite a shock when he finally broke himself from the beautiful reverie. With magic, swords, and arrows, they slew the foul creature at the heart of the evil though Araceli was grievously wounded. The power of the merfolk potions brought her back from the brink of death. With some still wounded, it was agreed to forge onward.

The sight was breaktaking when they emeged from the cave opening. They peered over a broad valley full of clumps of giant kelp and one crudely constructed temple. The shark people were everywhere. Some had formed a procession to the temple with several non-shark sea beings in chains. Ahmed’s heart sank when he saw the mermaid seer among the number.

“We can’t go back now. They’ll know what we’ve found after we’ve stopped this heinous worship.”

View
The Woes of Wudusmoca - The Fates - The Future
A Dragon and a Giant Skeleton!

PCs ( 25xp)

  • Ari Runemasters (Dave Russo)
  • Cynric Odwinsunu (Chris Esposito)
  • Nighteyes (Younger George Sprague) and Thrym, the Polar Bear
  • O’hAadha of Clan Tolarggan (Norm Hensley)
  • Coldheart (Cory Atwill)
  • Tara Saari (Mike Sprague)
  • Foxglove (Steve, Bri’s boyfriend)
  • Lady Aranwen ap-Tours (Bri Bloxsom)

Scene 1 – Festivities.

Yes, everyone knows more is to come, but they survived a horrific ordeal (even Georgesunu, the opportunistic merchant survived, much to the dismay of the PCs). There are now two skulls in the center of town (a Giant and the Dragon). The Giant has the inscriptions placed their by the group. Then, during the festivities, the PCs declared that due to the defeat of the Giant that O’hAadha of Clan Tolarggan would now rule the town with the existing structure in place to support him! They were also changing the name of the town to Dragonfall. Although this upset Halfdan, the town favored the heroes for their actions!

Scene 2 – Nightfall

A Black Knight comes through the town from the direction of the Withered Lands. He calls for the submission of the town, for the Liche Priest has broken his bonds. Tara is convinced at first that it was her sworn enemy, but then realizes to her horror that this is a foul abomination of the Liche Priest. He then says “Arise Ragnarok, the Liche Priest calls upon you!” A skeletal Horror forms made from the bones of the dragon, a few bones of the giant, and both their skulls. The townsfolk flee, as to some of the PCs (Ari and O’hAadha). Then man-sided skeletons crawl out of the hole and attack! The Knight and Ragnarok continues on to the nearby Barrow while the rest of the undead attack the town. Ragnorak summons Undead Storm Elementals as well.

Scene 3 – Village fortifies

Its not hard to deduce that a large number of undead could quickly be raised in the Barrow. They group debates their course of action. Eventually, they decide to fortify the town. This was done as a Dramatic Task. They opened up with a vicious battle in the Stone Woods as the forming undead horde and the townsfolk battle over wood (defenses vs. siege engines). As the defenses formed, the undead probed for weaknesses. The townsfolk morale nearly wavered, but the PCs inspired (or intimidated, as best suited) to keep the townsfolk working. Finally, the fortifications were complete and the townfolk as ready as they could be (10 Battle Tokens vs. the enemies 10).

Scene 4 – Mass Combat

First round: The Black Knight flew over the battle on Ragnarok, sapping the will of the townfolk to fight. But the heros lead by Cynric’s tactical brilliance thwarted the assault. But it was not without cost as the undead horde would drag the dead of the townsfolk back to their lines. Then Ragnarok calls in a necromantic Fog in an attempt to saps the will of the defenders to fight. But again the town holds and throws back the horde. Finally, The Black Knight lines up some captured Villagers, kills them, and Raises them to join in the fight in full view of the town. In a desperate charge, the undead break through. But they are at high risk – a determined counterattack by the town will break them and both the Black Knight and Ragnarok are within reach of the PCs.

Scene 5 – Final Battle!

The undead swarm through the breech, killing townsfolk as the PCs run to fill the gap. As the battle is at the tipping point, the Black Knight and Ragnarok land, bringing undead lightning elementals. Ari raises a barrier to keep the undead lightning elementals from easily attacking. Thrym, Nighteye’s bear, tears into the undead and elementals. O’hAadha leads the charge to the undead bone dragon/giant as it engulfs many with a necromantic breathe.

The battle is dire, then group gets the upper hand. All focus on the skeletal abomination and the Knight. With many wounds (and all bennies spent), the enemies are destroyed, along with a good chunk of the town. The heroes and many of the townsfolk have survived the Curse of the Fate!

Scene 6 – Denouement

The town picks itself up and works to get back to normal. A few days later, things all feel both odd yet normal, as if all had been a dream somehow. Ari finds himself in the Cold Axe Inn (did it really survive the fight?) when he sees, of all people, Griffin at the bar! He is talking to a shadowing individual. Then Griffin walks out of the tavern. Ari then notices the shadowy figure look around cautiously and slip to the door. Its Talos/Beni and he looks to be pulling out a wicked blade!

All goes dark as Ari follows Beni out the door…

View
The Woes of Wudusmoca - The Fates - The Past
Damn its cold!

PCs ( 25xp)

  • Ari Runemasters (Dave Russo)
  • Cynric Odwinsunu (Chris Esposito)
  • Nighteyes (Younger George Sprague) and Thrym, the Polar Bear
  • O’hAadha of Clan Tolarggan (Norm Hensley)
  • Coldheart (Cory Atwill)
  • Tara Saari (Rich Brown, later Mike Sprague)

Scene 1- Immediate blizzard (its not the season for snow).

The players fuss over implications. Note that Ragnar’s skull is gone (back in his head :)). Also, there is no town! The town was founded after this battle. People take on the “looks” of the refugees of old. They must get the townsfolk to safety. In the original tellings, they were refugees caught in a blizzard. They found the caverns that would become the Barrow (since a good number would die and they just interred them there). Aelfrith the woodsman figures out they are near in their own time is known as Hunter’s Rest (NE of Wudusmoca and the Cavern/Barrow) – about 100 miles. Roughly in this weather easily a 5 day trip for the mob

Ran as a dramatic task – they rolled awesome. Despite raids of orcs and wolves, the group refugees made it to the caves in about 3 days of hard march and only lost about 75 people!

Scene 2 – Clearing the Cave

A lessor Orc tribe (the Toepickers) occupied the caves. The group moved in and did battle with the orcs, making it to a central chamber where a Shaman had taken up residence. The group was victorious and the caves became a safe haven for the townsfolk. (note – completely improvised since the group blew through Scene 1 so fast).

Scene 3 -Ragnar (Frost Giant).

From the tales, a bold group defeated Ragnar at his stronghold to recover supplies to save the people. There are divergent tales on who did this. The priests of Kanez claim they killed Ragnar and that resulted in them leading the newly formed town. But some, lead by Aelfrith, always disputed it. They calm other heroes did the deed and brought Ragnar’s head back as proof and moved on. The priests gave them praise and the skull was forgotten in someone’s barn for a number of years. Only after the town was well established did the skull get put in the town square. Otherwise, why not name the town Giantsfell or Ragnar’s Folly?

(note by this time the players were really working on getting the name of the town changed – one of those running inside jokes of the game).

Castle Graystone. Perched precariously on a narrow outcropping, Castle Graystone dates from after the Blizzard War. No one knows if it had a proper name, and the current label comes from its drab, gray walls. Adventurers explored the castle in the past, but found nothing of any value or interest. However, those who stayed overnight reported hearing a ghostly voice and seeing strange lights. These days, people avoid the castle, fearful it is haunted. But back during the Blizzard War, the foundations of it served as the stronghold for Ragnar.

The group tried to bluff their way into the stronghold by impersonating the Toe Picker tribe. But eventually, the Ice Picker tribe (the favored Orcs) figured it out. During the midst of the battle with the orcs, Ragnar joined the fray. It was a fierce fight. Thrym, Nighteye’s bear, came into his own (Pushed a number of orcs into a deep ravine with a river, mauled others). Eventually, O’hAadha of Clan Tolarggan dealt Ragnar the killing blow.

The group decided they must act and took the opportunity to carve a few things into the inside of the skull (O’hAadha to be king, other fun stuff).

The group returns to the Caves. After a day or so, the caves are full of bones! They return to the site of the town of Wudusmoca. It is there, but no one is around. People return to their homes and away what comes next.

View
The Woes of Wudusmoca - The Fates - The Present
Again, a pissed off Dragon

PCs ( 25xp)

  • Ari Runemasters (Dave Russon)
  • Cynric Odwinsunu (Chris Esposito)
  • Nighteyes (Jerry L Meyer – new FB, then Younger George Sprague) and Thrym, the Polar Bear
  • O’hAadha of Clan Tolarggan (Norm Hensley)
  • Coldheart (Cory Atwill)
  • Tara Saari (Rich Brown, later Mike Sprague)

Scene 1 – On the Road

Orcs attack a wagon of a wood merchant. The workers are injured, but none die. The Merchant, Georgesunu, is not as grateful as the PCs would like. Ari in particular takes umbrage at the merchant trying to charge for every little thing.

Scene 2 – The Celebration of the defeat of Ragnar

Our heroes arrive in Wudusmoca amidst a celebration. Those that had been there before know the festival has been moved to summer as Halfdan moved it from the winter in increase attendence. The group gets reacquainted with the townsfolk, including Griffin (priest of the Norns). After a bit of celebration, that evening Griffin is murdered! He was ritually murdered on the skull of Ragnar in the town center. All know that everyone in the town is cursed unless overcome three Trails of Fate (past, present, future). After investigation (and some shenanigans along the way) they deduce it must be an Elemental Mage (air & water – a Storm Mage) named Talos the Destroyer. He claims the title of Stormlord (borderline heretical, he is a devout non-cleric follower of Thunor things he is a Herald of Thunor). He interpreted a prophecy that his patron (a Storm Dragon) can only be freed by slaying a priest of the Norns in this town. Those that partook in the first adventure realize its Beni – but changed … and likely insane.

Scene 3 – Attack!

After finding and grabbing Talos/Beni, the town is assaulted by the Dragon! The Dragon was trapped in one of the stone circles in the Stone Forest and the ritual slaying broke him out. In general, the dragon does a few passes, does some damage, then drops down Storm Elementals. Talos/Beni is beaten on afterward and magical bird wings were found on him (alchemical items of Fly). They figure the Dragon is back at the Standing Stones trying to destroy them now that he is truly free. O’hAadha is not too pleased to return to that site.

Scene 4 – Dragon

After breaking Beni’s leg and jaw, they drag him to the standing stones in the Stone Forest. An initial battle breaks out, then the Dragon launches into the air. A few rounds of Chase when Cynric Taunts the dragon “you are mighty in the air, but can you battle on the ground?”

It works, the dragon lands in the town. “I agree, you and I shall battle. I kill you, I ravage the town. You kill or chase me off, the town is saved.” Cynric draws the Joker (and I give him No Mercy for his brazenness to go one-on-one). with a well spent last Bennie he feints in and strikes the Dragon in the eye for 40 damage, killing him!

The heroes are once again celebrated in the town of Wudusmoca!

Then it begins to snow…

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.