Cerulean Era

Session VI: Facing the Stag Lord

Player Note

The group now decided to explore the Old King’s Highway and find what they could further from Tarnak’s fort in that direction, hoping that the change in search would yield better results. The twenty-third to twenty-seventh of Lumendi was unfruitful and led only to a skirmish with another thylacine that almost killed Eumelia‘s riding dog and six wolves that disabled Kalevi’s horse and knocked her down. Their arrival back at Tarnak’s alerted them to a potentially missing wizard that was expected to be dead by this point, so they knew to keep an eye out for him.

They headed out on 28 Lumendi to search the rest of the highway. On the night of the 30th, they encountered a group of bandits camping by the road. For a few minutes, both sides hid their alliances until the group decided to be truthful. They told the bandits that they were looking for the Stag Lord and had already downed two of his lieutenants. The bandits, noticing the quality of their weapons and Bryn’s half plate, knew they would die in a direct battle. Instead, they struck a compromise. The bandits agreed to move to Kusnaya’s old camp to the west and hunt game until either the Stag Lord visited them or the adventurers appeared with the Stag Lord’s mask. If they prove that the Stag Lord is no more, they promise to lay down their weapons and leave banditry for good. They gave the location of the Stag Lord’s fort and left in the morning. Surprisingly, it was just east of the old statue of Eidos they found close to the hot springs to the north.

The group chose to finish exploring for the week before returning to Tarnak’s for preparations. The next day, on the first of Balchadi, they found what looked to be an old grave. The weathered markings suggested that a barbarian was laid to rest there. Galienne‘s magical observations revealed a slight aura underneath the makeshift tombstone. Only Bryn was willing to dig for the item, but on the condition that he got to keep it. The rest agreed. After about a half hour of digging, Bryn successfully exhumed the grave, finding the old battered bones of the warrior. Galienne found that the ring on his finger was the magical item. It was a simple enough looking wooden ring that avoided decay. On the side was the image of a snake and frog locked in combat. Galienne’s knowledge of magic identified it as a ring that improved one’s swimming ability. After covering the grave back up and resting the night, the group returned to Tarnak’s.

On 3 Balchadi, they talked with the prisoners to convince them to leave their evil ways. With the Stag Lord in mind, the group decided to bring the elven warriors and dwarf cleric with them as backup. Galienne went to talk to Tarnak about horses while the rest spoke with the elves sent by Erramir. While the elven lieutenant did not agree to go, he did pledge the three archers under his command. Galienne returned, letting the rest know that it would take a week’s time to receive the horses. They agreed to explore one more week before the siege. Their exploration was thorough but uneventful.

8 Balchadi brought the arrival of four black horses with riding saddles. Galienne paid the bulk of the cost, with Kalevi only able to pay for two of the saddles. Galienne felt that it was an investment to have four more horses for the sudden need to pull carts or move people in the future. Tarnak was suddenly struck with the idea to build a second story on his stables, but Ilsa told him to wait and think about it before committing to it. He also remembered that some money came in from Thrasind as a reward for removing the bandit threat. The group took it, though a bit confused since they didn’t fully eradicate them. They left for their goal, the three archers in tow, and headed towards the old Eidos temple. They found Orrik the next day and convinced him to come along, providing him the fourth horse, on the stipulation that he and the elves would stay in the back. The group had no other thoughts, only wanting them for backup and cover fire.

On the tenth day of Balchadi, they reached the Stag Lord’s fort. They dismounted about four hundred feet back and hid the horses in a partially covered old building. They saw sentries on the walls, but they were looking at the rocks to their left, not at the hillside that lay in front of them. The door to the fort was closed and appeared hard to open from the outside, so they knew they had to weasel their way in. The four decided to dress up as bandits, relying on Eumelia’s skill of disguise, and approach as though they wished to join. When they were inside and ready to cause a commotion, Kalevi chose to signal to the backup party to approach and fire on the fort in order to create enough confusion to reach the Stag Lord. They were not willing to approach further than 200 feet so as to avoid fire from the sentries up above with their shortbows. Everyone agreed, and the four made their approach, Kalevi at the lead in case there were any traps that the bandits were relying upon.

About 150 feet from the entrance, the group was surprised by four undead humanoids popping out of the ground. Galienne recognized that they were zombies and relayed to the group that they were rather slow and susceptible to cuts. Kalevi and Bryn worked on downing the zombies with their weaponry while Eumelia borrowed a dagger from Kalevi and fought them that way. Galienne, trying to hide her ability as a cleric, resorting to her wand of healing energy to damage the zombies, but dropped it twice. When there was only one zombie left standing, four more popped up. Kalevi started giving over to her orc blood with her anger. They downed the new group and looked up at the fort. The bandits were watching them, small purses and glittering coins exchanging filthy hands. The eighth-orc called up at them, “By the bones of bloody Gilmorg, we beat your test! Now let us in!”

One replied, “You’re not done yet!”

True to his word, in a few more seconds, another group of zombies appeared, only to beaten quickly by the group. They were tired, but time told that that was the last wave of them. Groans were heard by the majority of bandits who had clearly bet on the zombies. The bandit from before asked them their business. They said that they wanted to join, but the bandit countered by asking why they approached this way when others should have warned them about the undead. Kalevi quickly bluffed, stating that they must have wanted to play a joke on them. When the bandit inquired into tribute, Eumelia offered up her jade statue, an art piece she kept from a previous encounter. The bandits were impressed, although it was unclear if it was because it was made of solid jade or because it was a nude female.

Once they were inside, they were told to wait until the Stag Lord woke up. The group made mental note of the bandits inside. There were three on lookout, one matching the description of Palthis, the elf lieutenant who wanted him alive for humiliating him on the way to Tarnak’s. A man with shining chain mail sat as a guard to the Stag Lord’s room. He would not permit entry. There was another man armed with a rapier and a poisonous stare that bothered the group. On the top, there was a large man playing with a lot of dragon and knight toys. They judged by their appearance and their silver stag amulets that they were also leaders and potential threats to deal with. There were four bandits in the mess hall, the wall covered in old graffiti that suggested that a dark cult had settled here long ago. That explained the zombie presence. After analyzing their position, Kalevi went up and flashed her greataxe in the sun, making small conversation about her love of the weapon so as to keep the watching bandit unaware. After about a minute, the bandits reported a dwarf and three elves approaching. The elves loosed their arrows, catching the bandits unaware and hitting true, one unlucky fellow skewered to the palisade with a well-placed arrow. The old man by Kalevi went down, and another bandit pulled out his bow, asking her to do the same. Kalevi pretended to fire back, deliberating missing them by several feet, as the rest of the group ran up. Galienne stabilized the old man with her magic while Eumelia pulled out her enchantment wand. Before the standing bandit could question Galienne‘s ability, he was caught in Eumelia’s magic and immediately became friendly, enamored with the gnome. She asked him to take them to the Stag Lord under the pretense that they would protect him. The bandit agreed and told the big lummox with his toys to accompany them. The lumbering man agreed, and the six of them headed downstairs.

Standing in the hallway towards the Stag Lord’s room, the dark duelist stood by the side next to the pen of an angry owlbeak while the man in shiny armor stood at the end. He asked about the situation, and the charmed bandit explains that there is a small force outside the fort firing on the bandits. The shining bandit smiled darkly and turned on the fencer, cleaving him and leaving deep gashes in his body. As his aggressor threw him aside, he meekly replied, “Damn, I was going to betray you,” before passing out.

Kalevi took the opportunity to hit the large idiot while he was unaware but missed. Eumelia made use of the distraction to convince the charmed bandit to help them take down the Stag Lord. The big guy took a strong hit from Bryn, and when he tried to drink a potion to heal his wounds, the martially inclined opponents saw the opening in his defense and downed him quickly. The turncoat asked the group what their purpose was, to which Kalevi replied, “Who do you think brought those archers?”

The group unfortunately missed their chance to catch the Stag Lord unaware. Two arrows flew out from the Stag Lord’s room, catching the charmed bandit in the eye and heart, killing him instantly. The owlbear went into a frenzy at the arrival. Eumelia used her ability to speak with animals to understand its dismay. It told her that he wanted to kill the Stag Lord. Eumelia relayed this to Kalevi who then released the owlbear. Bryn moved to the door and let the backup group in, their arrows peppering the lesser bandits. Orrik called upon three celestial hounds to attack the Stag Lord. The traitor, owlbear, and summoned beasts formed a physical barrier in front of the bandit lord. The group pulled out their ranged weapons and shot at him. Eventually, the Stag Lord fell to a final blow from the owlbear. Raging, the owlbear ripped out his heart through the wounds in his back and ran out the door.

The deserter, panting as he emerged out of a barbarian’s frenzy, spoke to the group. He gave his name, Aganor Swift, and let them know that there was an old man in the basement that aided the Stag Lord and needed to be eliminated. The elves and dwarf chose to stay outside because arrows would not be useful in such a small area. They descended the stairs into the basement, Aganor leading. The light off of Galienne‘s heatless torch showed a badger hanging over the ceiling. The animal began to attack, but Galienne’s spear proved most useful against it. Its death revealed the body of a withered old man, stripped of clothing and nourishment. Galienne’s magical sight revealed an aura of abjuration in the darkness beyond her torch. Kalevi’s sight, unhindered by darkness, revealed the aura belonging to a stone door with the impressions of two daggers in the panels. Withdrawing the relics given by Erramir and Tharrid, she put them in the door. It slid open to reveal well-crafted tools and fine building materials, not insidious artifacts as the captains expected. They chose to close the door for now and report their findings later.

Kalevi grabbed the Stag Lord’s helmet as collection of money and loot commenced, remembering that it was needed to persuade the last group of bandits. They loaded up everything on a cart found in the fort and headed out. Aganor wished to join them, asking that his association with the bandits was left unmentioned. They agreed and headed back to Tarnak’s fort after burying the bandits’ bodies and offering a quick prayer to Shekastra.

Their return was not what they expected. The lone fort was surrounded by two large groupings of tents. The flags standing within the masses indicated that House Borrin and Erramir had organized them. Riding into camp showed refugees tired and dirty, lounging in and between buildings. They dismounted and walked into Tarnak’s inn, greeted by the owner and captains. Ilsa was worried that she was not feeding the gentlemen correctly, but they assured her that her hospitality was more than enough. As they sat to spoke with the captains, onlookers crowded outside the windows with the occasional recognition of the Rat Slayers escaping. THey first explained what they had found, showing that nothing dangerous had been discovered, but nothing wonderful like the coveted mithral metal was present either. Erramir and Tharrid, through his great-granddaughter Florris, then explained the presence of all the people. Dullunar was suddenly overtaken by a coup shortly after they had left on their assignment. The racist druid was but the tip of the iceberg, as the party he worked for suddenly disrupted the merchants’ guilds and took power, quickly eradicating all non-humans and humans who socialized with them. Many lost their lives, and those who escaped did so without any possessions or plans. They ended up following Erramir and those of House Borrin after they quickly sank their ships and fled. They saw the gnome captain Gambion leave on his ship but knew nothing else of him. There were about forty to fifty humanoids in each camp with more expected to come. The captains estimated around three hundred to four hundred refugees.

The captains knew that neither one was strong enough to completely lead all the refugees from Dullanar, especially when Erramir still had loyalty to his kin to the east. Aganor proposed that the adventuring group should lead the refugees and protect them. He knelt down and swore fealty to them at that moment to show his conviction. They agreed to this situation. House Borrin and Tarnak also swore fealty, the former because they had no strong tie to the dwarven lands to the north and the latter because the group protected him much more than Tharsind ever did.

With this development, the group decided that the best place to build a city was at the old bandit fort. Both the undead and bandit threats were gone, and the ruins would provide a good foundation for new buildings. They lent the extra armor and weapons to the more able-bodied refugees for protection and made their way up north. The prisoners had now been convinced to turn from their evil ways and set free to colonize the new area with the rest. On 14 Balchadi, the weary people arrived at what was to be their new home.

They knew that strong leadership would be required to make the city a success. The four adventurers chose various leadership positions to represent their strengths in organization and listening to the people. Aganor, Orrik, and Florris were chosen to provide defensive power to the city and the wilderness around it. Tarnak and Ilsa took more mundane posts of guiding the city’s treasury and learning. Palthis chose to keep the peace within the fledgling village. Kusnaya, now reformed, took the post of keeping an eye out for any potential threats from Dullunar or other humanoids and dismissing them quickly. The tools and materials within the ruins behind the locked doors were used to construct the first houses. The dawn of a new kingdom had arrived.

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Session V: Further Forays Into The Wild

Player Note

The group found themselves busy with exploration and aid. Half a month was spent locating landmarks and eliminating threats. The group found a gnome alchemist named Snip northeast of Tarnak’s. They gave gifts to two fey creatures who put bees in Galienne‘s bedroll and a clearly non-local pine cone under Bryn’s pillow. They also found a lone boggard exile living away from the boggard civilization to the west. The group was able to befriend these people and gain information about their surroundings.

The group also battled some aggressive kobolds in a radish patch, a worg by a rickety bridge, a thylacine trapped in a hole, two tatzlwyrms by a river, and some large frogs in a hot springs to the north. Only two kobolds escaped death, being stabilized and taken to the stables to be held captive. The group had decided to convert their prisoners so that they may be let free and lead constructive lives. Eumelia and Kalevi were required to deal with the kobolds as they only knew Draconic.

Tarnak’s wife Ilsa rewarded the adventurers for bringing back a big supply of radishes. The dwarf cleric, Orrik Stonehammer, was pleased with the group for locating an old temple of Eidos and defeating the cursed druid within. Orrik had decided to stay at the temple and restore it. They also received a reward for bringing back an intact tatzlwyrm head suitable for taxidermy and mounting in Tarnak’s inn.

By the evening of 22 Lumendi, the four had accomplished a lot, but still had questions and more to do. They were only about one-third done with exploring the terrain and had no clue thus far about the location of the Stag Lord or the dwarven city ruins. When they had explored north by the hot springs and the river that bordered it, they spied tracks suggesting troll warbands. This knowledge alerted them to stay south of the river and avoid trouble, as they were not confident enough to fight trolls. All they had as a lead was the location of a boar that a visitor at Tarnak’s wanted for making headcheese. It had now been about four weeks since they eliminated Kusnaya’s bandit camp, and they knew they only had a little more time before the Stag Lord would be aware and start searching. If they wanted to strike with the element of surprise, they would have to do it soon.

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Session IV: Onward and Out of the City

Player Note

Bryn’s search for Lady Huffington’s cat led him to a random tree in the city where a small cat lay mewling high up in the branches. Before Bryn could ascend the tree, a giant panther leapt onto the tree and caught the cat in its mouth, breaking its neck with little effort. On the panther’s neck was a gaudy collar with the name “Mister Scruffles” engraved on the silver tag. This was the pet Bryn had been searching.

He climbed up the tree in hopes of cooing the large predator to the ground, but held the sap Kalevi bought for him just in case that did not pan out. The first option, unfortunately, was not feasible as the panther bit Bryn and held him down. All Bryn could do was beat it in the head with the sap until it finally slumped into unconsciousness. Several blows were exchanged, but Bryn was the bloodied winner. He kicked the cat out of the tree before descending and tying it up for proper return to town hall.

While Galienne healed Bryn upon his return, the group discussed the nature of the three expedition forces. They decided to invite all the captains to the Dancing Pickle and talk about an alliance. While Gambion was playing with his dancing pickle dish, Kalevi explained that the earlier given dagger relics suggested a joint ownership of the ruins to the west. Tharrid had given a dagger of elven make while Erramir’s dagger was dwarven in origin. She made the argument that it would be best for all groups to pool their resources together. With the area abandoned and home to bandits, it would be best not to skimp on manpower. All captains agreed and promised to send who they could in the coming weeks. The group was given 200 gold to purchase necessities for the trip.The gnome captain was especially delighted after formulating the concept of an extendable claw, but that was a side project for him.

After buying good mounts and the extras required, the group went west on the Old King’s Highway, a long road that was owned by no country but nonetheless well traveled. Bryn’s knowledge of survival out in the wilderness allowed the group to remain healthy.

Early in the morning on the first day of the second month, they came across a fort. A man called out, “Are you from Thrasind?”

The group, confused, was not certain how to call out. Bryn eventually let out a shaky, “Yes?”

A small silence, and then the reply, “Your clothes don’t look like you’re from the west, but I don’t care! I need any help I can get!”

The doors opened, and the four trotted in.

The group was greeted by a rough-looking man in his forties. “I’m Tarnak, and I live here with my wife Ilsa. We’re robbed by bandits for about three months now. I keep sending requests to Thrasind for help, but never get a reply. They’re coming soon to pick up this cart. I just let them in and they take it. I’m willing to act as a decoy, but if you could take care of them, you can stay here for free.”

They agreed and set up. Eumelia hid by the cart in a pile of hay while the rest stayed in the shadows of a nearby building. Within an hour, they heard hollering at the gate. Tarnak opened the doors, and four bandits entered. One of the bandits was clearly the leader, appearing more surly and wearing more armor. Once the last bandit crossed into sight, Kalevi let loose a bolt from her crossbow, striking him in the gut. Tarnak quickly ran away while the rest of the group swarmed over the bandits. Eumelia did her best to distract the bandits while the rest picked them off with their weaponry and Galienne’s explosive rune. After laying them low, they stabilized their wounds and shackled them. On the leader’s neck was an amulet in the shape of a stag deer.

Tarnak and Ilsa came out to thank the group and offered the use of their inn as well as free meals during their stay. Tarnak explained that this group came from a bigger group of bandits to the north. They would start looking into their absence in a couple of days, so it might be best to beat them quickly before they can gain reinforcements. They rode out immediately to the camp up north.

The trip took all day and into the night. They arrived at the edge of the camp on the morning of the second day. There were a few more people here, but they were spread out over the terrain, some standing in rickety towers as lookouts. The group chose to attempt to sneak in, Kalevi leading the front. Before the attempt, Galienne did her best to protect the party with her deity’s energy. The group ended up not being very stealthy, unfortunately, as a shot whistled through the air and hit Kalevi squarely. As the bandits rushed forward, the group readied for the attack. While more archers shot at Kalevi since she was already wounded, she threw her vial of alchemist’s fire at the nearby tower, hitting the archer and setting the structure on fire, the sudden lack of structural integrity causing him to plummet. Bryn pulled out his longbow and started firing at the coming bandits. Eumelia bolstered the group’s combat prowess with her music while pulling out her crossbow.

As Galienne and Bryn toppled the bandits with their spear and falchion, Kalevi took the time to drink a healing potion, closing the wounds made by the arrows. Eventually, only the leader, a vicious female with two axes and another stag pendant, and a lone archer out in the distance remained. The leader went down and Kalevi, noticing the last archer running, dropped her greataxe and drew her crossbow, she and Bryn taking down the archer at a distance. With the battle seemingly over, Galienne stabilized the leader and let loose her energy, healing her party. As the divine power washed over the bandit leader, her eyes open with renewed conviction for battle. She grabbed Kalevi’s greataxe and resumed the fight, but they were able to take her down again. Properly stabilized and tied up along with the last survivor of the bandit camp, they strapped a cart to their horses and loaded it up with the captives along with crates of liquor, furs, and other valuables. They headed back to Tarnak’s fort, pushing themselves and their mounts.

They made it back on the third day without problem, dropping off their newest prisoners with the rest sitting in the stables. Tarnak again expressed his gratitude. The bandit leaders, Cair Falsward and Kusnaya, revealed that there was a bandit lord who went only by the Stag Lord, and he was the one who organized the bandits in the area. It would be a few months before the major group would be concerned about the disappearance of the northern bandit camp. While they were willing to divulge that information, they would not state where the main bandit fort was located. New arrivals at Tarnak’s fort included four elven warriors from Erramir and a dwarven cleric of Eidos from Tharrid. They were to take orders from the adventuring group in the days to come. For now, though, the group chose to rest and train this week as well as trade with Tarnak and the visiting merchants at the time.

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Session III: On the Death of Stunties: or How I Stopped Hating and Learned to Love Skeletal Sheep

DM Note

The Rat Slayers followed up on a lead concerning the serial killings of newly wed dwarven couples. Using Eumelia and Kalevi as bait, the party found the culprits to be a trio of human supremacist druids that were enticed to kill the couples to prevent the spreading of “inferior” races. The party dispatched the druids after a brief struggle, and turned the only living captive over to the authorities.

The next day, the party investigated a bill concerning wolves harassing a farm just outside of Dullunar. Upon arrival, the party found a rather normal and peaceful looking farmstead, but sinister things were soon to be found. After a few misleads, Galienne used the great powers bestowed upon her by her deity Shekastra to uncover that no one but herself and her fellow party members were living in the area of the farmstead.

What followed was a massive battle involving the six farmhand, now revealed to be skeleton adventurers, and about twelve sheep, also revealed to be skeletons. The fight was made swift by the timely use of divine energy by Galienne, and the party proceeded into the barn.

Inside, they found the “owner” of the farm feeding bodies into a grotesque mound of flesh in the center of the barn. One of the fetid sacs attached to the mound burst revealing a monster composed of several dwarven, halfling, and sheep carcasses. The “owner” revealed himself to be a cleric of some lesser god, and ordered his minion to attack.

The party soon realized that the great beast was being fed unholy energy by the mound of flesh in the center of the barn. As Kalevi and Bryn bravely fought the creature toe to toe, Eumelia and Galienne destroyed the mound with fierce skewerings of their mighty spears. The mound exploded in a gruesome spray of entrails and dark energy. As the beast slowly began to falter without the healing of the mound, the cleric made a run for the door under the cover of a darkness spell. Unfortunately for the cleric, Kalevi’s orcish heritage allowed her to see him perfectly as she cleft him in twain with her great axe. The battle over, the party searched the farmhouse to find the cleric’s journal and the original bill that would be needed to claim reward for completing the mission back at Dullunar.

Upon returning, the party collected their reward for the mission, and found themselves awarded with membership in the city’s experienced mercenaries. This allowed them to receive special bills posted by clients wishing only for more experienced help.

Two such bills were available at the time the party turned in the “wolf” bill. One of the bills originated from the captain of a recently arrived elven ship while the other was submitted by the captain of a recently arrived dwarven ship. This taken into account along with a bill seen in the town square posted by a gnomish captain, the party deduced that something was afoot that had the older races looking for help in town. While Galienne proceeded to the dwarven ship, Kalevi went to the gnomish ship, and Eumelia went to the elvish ship. Bryn took this time to begin hunting for the lost kitten of a lady that he had startled with the dead body of the slain cleric.

All three captains weaved a similar tale. A forgotten and abandoned city lay out in the wilderness, and many lost treasures await the ones who can find it. Upon reconvening, the girls decided to wait for Bryn to return before bringing the three captains together so that all the truths may be told.

Player Notes

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Session II: Dullunar the Trade City

DM Note

The party arrives at Dullunar during the Festival of the Twelve Gods, and they decide to participate in the ceremonies. After the festivities, the group splits up to find methods of survival in the city. Some take part time jobs to pay for their first month expenses, and all of the party looks for more heroic work in various areas.

The major source of adventuring work is found at the town hall where citizens are encouraged to post bills for dangerous jobs. In one day the party manage to clear out the southern district’s two taverns of rat problems, earning them the admiration of the lower class in the area and the nickname Rat Slayers around that part of town.

Eumelia Varsovienne contracted lycanthropy which the clerics of Hanes offered to cure if they were allowed to study the effects of the disease.

Player Notes

Write-up by Jikuu

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Session I: First Session

Dungeon Master Notes: Decided on a nation building style game with strong emphasis on role playing and a decent bit of action of all kinds. Characters were rolled, and stories began to form.

Characters

Kalevi Talunen, a half-orc rogue played by Jikuu.

Galienne Del’Omagia, a human cleric of Shekastra played by Lydia.

Bryn, a human fighter played by Ryou.

Eumelia Varsovienne, a gnome bard played by Crystal.

Player Notes:

Two house rules went into effect. Any classes that possessed 2 + Int modifier skill points were improved to 4 + Int modifier. This was done to give these classes more skill points for role playing purposes.

The second house rule was that characters would level up based on their value rather than experience gained. For example, when every character in the group is using 1,000 gold pieces worth of non-expendable equipment and items, everyone would level up to level 2. This was done in order to insure a better balance of character power and enemy power, since an under equipped group can be destroyed in a proper fight of equivalent CR.

It was agreed that characters would be generated using the standard dice rolling method (4d6, drop the lowest die) rather than point buy.

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