Kingmaker. Cold, or what?

29 April, 2012

2012-0427 Cloudarc expedition

We follow the pilgrim’s trail up the spine of the ranges. The trail is old but usable. Rainor appears to be skilled with the terrain – I belive our maps are accurate. We rely on a Wand of Endure Elements.

TODO – what pilgrims? What gods/practises? What time/era? Connected to Lake Silverstep itself? Legendary origin of the lake – a literal footprint from one of the dragons that made the world. Connected to the frozen dragon above Giacomo’s Rest? Must see that for myself, take notes.

Major interruption of the trail. A chasm crosses it – appears to have been deliberately done by godlike power. Est 3 miles wide, steep cliffs on the far side. Nearly impassible without flight.

The ranger’s companion (Intelligent 1/2 celestial wolf – “Rainen”) and I strapped to his back investigate. attempt to find passage, climbing route, also attempt to confirm that the path continues. Above a given altitude, winds become hurricane force. Detect Magic confirms the effect is magical – conjuration, abjuration. Flying is impossible.

We follow the floor of the chasm – it cuts the entire mountain range in two. (Possible route for road from nomen pains to the south). We then follow the ridges. We sight a pair of taller peaks in the target area, but every path leading towards the site veers away from it. The winds encircle the entire set of peaks. His Grace believes this place is built deliberately as a fortress – the main compound will be between the peaks. Rainor, from my description of the magics, suspects a Mythal. None of us is skilled at the more academic aspects of spellcasting, and so confirmation is impossible.

I might dispute Dave on this one. Knowledge (Arcana) is knowing about it, Spellcraft is being able to do it. Bard has no worries knowing about it.

Possible ascension path located. A chimney which appears to extend through the altitude at which the (presumed) Mythal conjures the worst of the winds. We climb across the face of the cliff to the chimney.

I didn’t take any climb for ZJ, relying on a ninja trick that gives him a climb speed. But having a climb speed doesn’t automatically mean you succeed in difficult checks, it just gives you a flat +8. Oops. It took a bit of fiddling, but ZJ was able to free climb without risk of failure to put the pitons and ropes in. Everyone else managed the check at the last part of the ascent, which was in the high-wind zone.

The ascension of the chimney was successful. The magical winds do not extend inland. We proceed. We are attacked by odd beasts – snow leopards with tentacles growing out of their shoulders and a Displacement effect. Lacking copyright lawyers, we fight them the old fashioned way.

There appears to be a watchtower visible in the distance.

GG4 Week 11 – The horror, the horror!

26 April, 2012

“Uncle! I got a job – shifting sum items. Dockwork.”
“Smugglin’? Yer a bit young fer that Jace. Maybe leave it a bit, eh?”
“Naw, it’ll be fun!”
“Fun? Wot ‘d yer mean fun?”
“You know – like in your stories.”
“… right. Jace, I told yer sum stories when yer wos younger, yer gotta understand – I cut a lot ‘o stuff out. Sum stuff isn’t really suitable for bedtime stories fer kids. If yer likes stories, I’ll tell yer about the necromancer under the university. Yer a bit old fer stories, but maybe not fer this one.”

There wos an unusual number of bodies in the river than month. Some of the bodies floating, a few of ’em sunk ter the bottom. It wos the start of the stone war, although we didn’t know that at the time. It was just a few weeks before all them new and surprisingly lifelike stachoos began appearing on the street an no-one knew where they was coming from. Or at least – no one was sayin’. They dredged the river after the war – cleared up a few mysteries abaht were people ‘ad been disappearing to.

I ‘ad done a bit of dockwork meself just previous – met my dad fer the first time eva, ‘e wos a ship captain. I’ve told yer abaht ‘im, but this story isn’t abaht that.

At the time, ‘arf of us wos in the lock-up due to a certain misunderstanding wiv the orforities, Kruz ‘ad dissapeared and no-one knew where, and we gets a call from “the copper cauldron” wiv a job.

We ‘eads down ter smalltown. We stuck out a bit, yer know. Gnomes an ‘arflings all over. There wos a bit of bovver outside the place we wos going to – sum golblins wos trying ter disrupt a stall outside. I remember because I met a certain attractive and accomodating young lady ‘o wos doing security. I’ll tell yer, Jace – sum of us wiv a bit of orc is a bit ashamed of it and wants ter do ‘umans or elfs, but if yer want sum advice, yer wants a woman wot isn’t going ter break when yer do ‘er. ‘Er name wos Mishka, an she gave as good as she got. ‘Appy times.

Korgul has a diplomacy bonus of 1. Total. I rolled a 17, and used my “Lucky Charm” for a total of 23. Oh sure, I should have kept it for combat. But it was correct in character. I should have argued that among half-orcs, making a display using Intimidate would be correct. They don’t sweet-talk to hook up. The pimp hat gives him a bonus to that – it would have been a 39.

But he got lucky anyway. 2nd base, but half-orc 2nd base.

She runs off the Goblins – didn’t need nah ‘elp from me – and after a bit of a chat wiv ‘er I ‘eads inside. Everyone else is already ‘eading off danh one ov the passeges, and I catches up. Funny – it looked like a real plain passege ter me, but our dwarf ‘ad is eyes bugging out ov ‘is head, makin remarks abaht the stonework in dwarvish. I suppose it wos quality – but I couldn’t tell the difference.

Anyways, we gets ter a door and inside meets the “stout dwarf”. ‘E ad abaht four archers ‘idden n the room, bows drawn – important geezer, although we didn’t know just how important at the time. ‘E wos expecting ter see Rob, but Mandor told ‘im she wos Rob’s daughter, and ‘e seemed ter swallow it. They negotiated the job. I stuck me oar in at the end, an’ I shouldn’t ‘ave. I fink I offended ‘im.

Anyway. Someone stole some stuff – actually no, someone ad temporarily relocated some stuff, but the copper cauldron – no, ‘ang on. It wasn’t cauldron, it wos accordion. No: it wos Concordion. That’s right: I fort it wos accordion – I fort it wos some pub we wos going to. I should tel yer Jace, if ever yer meets someone wiv gold chains and shit wot ‘ave got one copper link, be on yer best behavior. This dwarf had a single copper earring, and that wos ‘is little sign.

So – someone ‘ad temporarily some inter the posession of some stuff, an the accordion wos very concerned that they might accidentally damage or permanently mislay the stuff, an could we please go get it so they could ‘ave it fer safekeeping. The person in question wos in the catecombs under the University.

Now Jace, I fink I ‘ave mentioned before that I fucking ‘ate catecombs, cos they is usually full of dead fings and I fucking ‘ate dead fings wot move abaht. But, that wos the job. Ter cut a long story short, we avoided a riot in the old city and got her the catacombs under the university, and we found the bloke wiv the items.

Well, ‘e ad a cage full of goals or zombies, or summit, but instead of normal undead they was pink like freshly ‘ealed flesh. An’ there wos anuvver cage wot ‘ad some ‘umans innit, an they was all emaciated an starving an cuvvered in filf, an the started calling to us few ‘elp, an there was this big ‘arf zombie ‘arf worforged fing, and it ‘ad for of a human face stitch into it, an it looks at us an says – real weak-like – “‘elp me!”. ‘An the geezer orders it to attack us, an it does.

So I goes for the geezer, first ‘cos I figure I can take ‘im down and maybe this big fing will stop, and also because I fink it’s best for the blokes wearing armour to take the ‘its from the big fing. And a couple of us flank the geezer and I start stabbin’ ‘im, and he has this shape on ‘is ‘ead, like a lump under the skin of ‘is forehead, and I cuts it open ‘an there is sumthing metal underit.

And the ‘humans in the cage are calling few ‘elp, ‘an the zombies are calling “brains!” and the big thing is fighting and breathing fire, or summit, and the geezer is ‘urt real bad and ‘e starts clawing at the metal onnis ‘ead an’ pulling it off, an it’s like a circlet or a crown under ‘is scalp and bits of skin are coming offofim and I figure that this crown controls the big fing so I gets ‘I’m on the ground and braces myself and just rips it all the way off an ‘es screaming like fuck an the crown starts talking to me, telling me to put in on. But I stuffs it inter a bag. But the big fing is still going so I elps wiv that, an eventually it drops to one knee an asked to be killed, all quiet-like, so one of us does.

Then we stab the dead fings in the cage and lets out the umans, ‘oo ‘ad to be pretty much carried out of there. And the geezer turns out to be arf war forged and arf flesh imself. Fucked if I know wot ‘e wos up to.

We swung by Biggles before we took the gear back ter small town. I showed Biggles the crown and it wos sorta a warforged fing, but ‘e didn’t want naffing ter do wiv it. Told me her get it out of ‘is shop – real upset like. Maybe it tried talking to ‘I’m like it talked ter me. I fink maybe it turns yer kind of warforged if yer wear it, because I gave it ter our warforged bloke and it didn’t ‘urt ‘I’m as I could see.

The stout dwarf only wants these dragonshards, which must ave been pretty special because we got a fair bit of uvver loot wot ‘e wont interested in.

And that wos it. The nightmares wot settled down after a couple of weeks. It was real ‘horrifying, Jace. You go do yer work, an maybe yer are old enough few the dodgy stuff and the adventurin’. But yer gotta realise: I ‘ardly ever told you kids the ‘arf of it.

Kingmaker. Frogs. And Cloudarc Monastery.

23 April, 2012

Field Notes – 2012-1904

Travelling north, the woodsman’s companion wolf flew overhead to find the location of the boggard village. (I should mention that his companion seems to be a half-celestial). Having located it, he and I went to investigate.

The village was at the shores of the hooktongue, surrounded by copses in which sentries were stationed. We approached and infiltrated one of the copses and proceeded to knock out the two guards that were present. I had a Dimension Door spell ready, but the recipient must be willing. Or at least – not un-willing. Rainor seems to know one or two martial art tricks and kept the two guards in the copse silent by way of knocking them a blow that kept them busy for a few seconds. Eventually one of them fell, but not before the other managed to sound an alarm call. But no matter, for I teleported the three of us out.

Prior to waking up our captive, I performed a Share Language spell on it. That done, we woke him and began to interrogate.

The tribe is named M’Butu, which translates as “They who swim in blood”. Their leader – one “Sepputu” – appeared to be a shaman of Gogunta, a frog demon of sloth and (I belive) poison. I rather felt that interrogating this captive was pointless – what would he tell us that we basically didn’t know? But I had figured without His Grace’s notions of warrior-like honour. Duke Jope told the captive that he would fight Sepputu, which our captive seemed to accept, actually using the words “trial by combat”. We announced that we would be there dawn the next day, and released him.

Next morning the entire tribe had turned out. A mass of a score or so ordinary tribesmen who I judged were there to observe, four warriors which were distinctly larger, and the shaman himself. I stepped forward to herald our challenge. It seemed that I had judged quite wrongly. As I stepped forward, the entire tribe simply rushed our position.

From which we can observe a number of salient facts.

The warriors and their chief led from the rear. That is, they control their society by fear – by punishment rather than by reward or by example. Their tactics were calculated to save the lives of their elites: they were prepared to use their commons to wear us down, at whatever price. And they acted without honor toward us – unconcerned by any possibility that by defeating us in such a fashion their commons might think less of them.

In short: although the notion of “alignment” is subject to cultural misinterpretation, without a doubt the culture of the boggards is what we would generally call “evil”. Not that this is in any way inconsistent with their veneration of a frog demon.

It’s is also worth noting that Share Language is all very well, but it doesn’t bypass the need for cultural understanding. The words “trial by combat” might have been the closest approximation to what the boggard meant, but it was a mistake to suppose that it implied chivalry or honour or varuous such things. I suspect he said “trial by combat” rather than “find out who is strongest by fighting” because our language offers a short phrase that was close enough.

To return to the narrative: at the charge of the entire tribe towards us, I managed to get off a Haste spell before nipping back into position.

His “position” was well behind everyone else. This guy is definitely turning into Professor Lockhart.

At this juncture I should mention a certain item owned by His Grace. It seems that during his liberation of the kobolds under the mountains (an amazing story), they gave to him the skull of a certain red dragon whom they venerated as their protector. This skull is mounted on a pole, and His Lordship bears it as his standard. It is quite magical, and I had a chance to see it in action.

A wave of dragon-fear came out of the standard, and almost all of the common tribesmen turned to flee. In response to his Grace’s war-cry “Faciat me ad magnus”, I cast Enlarge Person on him, and he proceeded to carve a path through them to get to the shaman. Bloody, but better to kill three of them than twenty.

In the next moment, the four warriors rushed forward to engage us. But again, the standard of Fredonia spoke, this time bellowing a gout of fire, neatly incinerating (or nearly so) three of them. His Grace ignored the warriors and the tribesmen, and accompanied by the knight ran for the shaman at the rear.

It was rather more bloody than that. As the regular boggards fled, Andrew took all of his attacks of opportunity. Jope was enlarged, with 10′ reach and wielding a great flail. Rainen and Klael also took their attacks.

On another note, it was nice to see Andrew’s quest item get some use, and in the precise situation that the item was conceived as being for: a mass attack by mooks. It worked perfectly and in-game mercifully saved the lives of 20 or so dudes who would have been killed if they hadn’t been frightened off.

In a moment, it was over. The shaman dead, three of the four warriors dead, and a mass of commons hiding below the surface of the hooktongue. I cast Share Language on the (now) biggest boggard about four times, he shaking the effect off each time, before asking Rainor to kindly knock him out for me. Rainor did so, I cast my spell, and our Knight revived him.

His Grace said simply “You are chief now. Stay and live here. If you attack pink skins on the road again, we will come back and kill you all.” Harsh, but a correct reading of the culture, I fear. Our Knight was concerned about their veneration of Gogunta. He insisted that they no longer worship her, which I think might be a trifle tricky to enforce. Nevertheless, we took down their idol. A pity we could not transport it to the museum, but circumstances were not favourable.

But, speaking of which, I took a moment to examine one of the dead ones, to settle a question that has caused some controversy – amphibian or humanoid? I required a little help to actually locate the heart of one of them (medicine is not my strong point, I am afraid), but I can verify that it was indeed three-chambered. Expect a paper soon.

Having trouble finding Zack’s “voice” here – is he making personal notes? Writing a letter?

The people of Fort Drellev were pleased to hear that the boggards of the south hooktongue had been pacified, although how long they stay passive for remains to be seen. While His Lordship and the knight engaged in politics, the woodsman and I fell to discussing Cloudarc Monastery.

Cloudarc Monastery! Lost for – ooh, who knows how long. A myth? A ruin? If there were such a place, it’s entirely possible that is is still going, although only if there were a few females. Rainor possesses a map indicating direction from the island in the middle of the mere. Somewhat helpful. But more interestingly, it seems there is a ruin above Giacomo’s Rest with a panorama also indicating the monastery. More than enough to triangulate, and only a few day’s travel away as the crow flies. Rather more than that as the mountaineers mountaineer.

Still. I’m keen to go, as swamp really doesn’t suit me. Winter is coming on. If we go, we should go now. His Grace is agreeable. It seems Rainor is a mystic as well as being a very fine archer, and an old comrade. We are preparing a small expedition – one or two items will be necessary. A wand of Endure Elements most notably, but easy to procure in Freedonia. There was discussion of the problems of dealing with mountains. I have not yet had occasion to demonstrate an old Ninjitsu trick I learned a few years ago, and it slipped my mind.

Bard with “Archaeologist” template. Means you get rogue tricks. One rogue trick is to get a Ninja trick. Most Ninja tricks require a Ki point. One of the ones that does not is “Wall Climber”. Not quite as good as having Spider Climb – doesn’t work on overhangs or on perfectly smooth surfaces. But mountains? Piece of cake. A halfling’s climb skill sucks, on account of their low strength. With this hack, I deal with it.

In any case, we set out as soon as we may.

Yay! Finally doing Cloudarc, which Brett has been waiting patiently to do for yonks. Sorry we made you wait so long dude – hope it’s mega cool.