Old School Hack--the Fictive Way

The Tireless Archer
Tomb in the Frozen Mountains

Adventurers:

Makimo: Delicate Oriental scholar with a pistol.
Eduardo: Jaunty gambler.
Pepper: Primordial Ape with aviator goggles and a very heavy wrench.
Kumiko: Low profile ninja.
Battlin’ Bill of Baffram: Incognito swashbuckler.

Makimo came into possession of some secret information on a tomb hidden in the mountains, and she hired a raiding party and Effson with his Skyglider to help get to it and check it out; that’s all they knew.

During the 12 hour dirigible ride to the mountains, they discovered Bill’s fellow pirate crew had been hung, so he escaped on this mission (avoiding detection by trading his magnificent hat for an open-faced helm). Eduardo was lucky, then unlucky (in that order) in love and had to flee—still wearing his stylish brown fur-lined hood. Pepper wanted to build his own dirigible fleet somedway. Kumiko didn’t have much to share, but she did put on her hunter-safety orange ninja hood.

Because they were a bunch of lightweights, Pepper agreed to carry bundled fur robes so they could huddle in them and warm up to rest and heal as needed.

They found a roiling wall of storm in the mountains, high above the snow line. And, on a promontory, a shrine with a rope bridge leading into the storm.

Before they all rappelled down, the sharp-eyed Makimo spotted carnivorous snow apes blending against the snow, patiently waiting for their prey to come within reach. She blasted away with her pistol, the soft lead ball pulping the corded muscle of the apes. Hot lead and Kumiko’s terrifyingly dangerous shuriken, as well as Eduardo’s well-flung daggers, raked the furious mass of carnivorous apes below.

Pepper slid down and engaged the carnivorous snow apes in vicious ape-on-ape battle. It didn’t go too well, as the charging apes caught him off guard and tossed him around. Only his profound inhuman vitality kept him alive. In sliding down the rope upside-down, Bill got a bit tangled, and as the carnivorous snow apes tried to play piñata he fired upon them with gristly results. Eduardo slid down to help Pepper, only to discover much to his dismay that the snow apes were a lot bigger from close up. By the time everyone was down, a bloody Pepper roared a challenge to the snow apes that successfully encouraged them to re-think frontal assault as a successful tactic.

They took some time to bind up wounds Bill and Pepper took in the fight, and Eduardo found some mosaics in the shrine, indicating it was for people who climbed the mountain and needed somewhere to rest. Also, pictures of a magnificent barbarian archer king, and wizards.

They headed for the rope bridge, sending Pepper across first. He hooted the all-clear, and everyone traversed the bridge with no significant problems. Once on the other side, they were confronted by strange mutters and wailing from the vents where concentrated storm would sometimes gush out, and a falling boulder inspired adrenaline-spiked reflex scrambles to keep from pulping the whole group.

As they crossed the hazards of the pass, Pepper headed up to a doorway in the rock, noting it said “Restful Dead.” On a whim, he broke it open and sniffed inside. Skeletal remains attacked him, trying to pull him into the tomb as he flailed at them, their bony fingers colder than ice.

By now, the rest of the group was at the base of an icy stone bridge leading into the fog. Pepper retreated with Makimo, and they all headed across the bridge, leaving the disturbed dead behind.

They reached the grand entrance to the tomb itself, and as they peered up into the vast dim of the open antechamber, chill balefire lights ignited some ten meters up or so, then a frost giant stepped into view! As they quickly consulted on what to do, the giant lifted his axe and glowing orbs spilled from it, dropping into snow and creating snow warriors animated with the gristly spirits of the dead.

There were ten of the warriors blocking the way up the stairs to the giant, who told them to go away in the ancient elemental language Vetchiu. Then battle was joined!

As Eduardo and Pepper smashed into the skirmishing mass of dead ice warriors, Bill and Makimo opened fire repeatedly with their pistols, from the cover of the statues ending the bridge. Kumiko used her remarkable throwing expertise to inflict horrific carnage with shuriken.

As the giant prepared to enter the fray, Makimo snapped off a shot that hit him right between the eyes, and Bill followed with a shot that vanished into the beard in front of his throat. The massive giant tottered, then crashed down dead, and all the snow warriors dissolved.

The raiders cautiously examined his chambers, finding big tables with samples of cold influenced by magic (Makimo told them the labels included such odd elemental titles as Secrecy Storm Wind, Snowsoul Extract, Vault Ice, Enchantment Dandruff, Guardian Breath.) The fire pit was next to a pile of snow ape bones, and the bed was snow ape hides.

Exploring further, they found an ice throne against the wall. Pepper climbed up and proudly prepared to hold court. Eduardo saw through the throne to the passage it blocked; ever accommodating, Pepper climbed down and shoved/broke the throne until they could get through.

On the other side, they found a 6 meter across glassy tunnel going up at a 45 degree angle, with a heap of bones at the bottom. To the side, a hole to outside had been hacked by a giant axe. The first 2/3 of the tube were marked up by the giant using the axe and greaves to try to climb to the top—and bloodstains on the ice.

Pepper looked up the long tube, and an animated statue with a longbow thudded an arrow into him for his trouble. He stepped back and plucked it out with a shrug.

The group wrangled best tactics, some thinking a run up the tube covered by fire support would help, others all for going around outside. Eventually, Makimo and Bill traded fire with the statue, Kumiko crawled over the harsh broken mountainside clawed by icy winds, and Pepper carried Eduardo over the outside path too.

Seems the giant had gotten fed up with the challenge and made a way around, and some of them took it. As musket balls and feathered shafts whipped back and forth down the glassy approach, the intrepid climbers managed to get to the top and climb down through a hole hacked in a stone dome by a giant axe.

Kumiko darted across the round room, flinging shuriken at the stone statue, knocking chips off. The statue moved out of line of fire of the glassy approach, intending to finish Kumiko off, when Pepper and Eduardo joined the fray.

The statue had suffered from repeated gunshot wounds, and been cracked by cunningly-placed shuriken. Pepper leaped at it and shattered its head.

Panting and victorious, the group looted the tomb, carrying away a set of evil books, some giant chests of money, and the longbow and quiver set. They won!

(Happy Birthday, Mom!)

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The Darkology Experiment
Lopelia--Alchemal Fortress Ruin

9.30.11 In game, Tuesday, Foover month, 78921.

Adventurers:
Skritt, goblin
Timothy the Tulip, gladiator
Erasmus, questing knight

Skritt and Tulip were on their way north towards adventure with a dragon’s horde, and they were sharing a campfire with Erasmus, questing knight, while on the road. A bony scholar came to their campfire, and told them of potential treasure beneath the ruin atop the brooding hill. He said he’d give them 100 gold just for going down into it, and he’d buy from them any plant samples or books they found. (He was sure to point out he didn’t have the money WITH him! But it was buried nearby, and while they were adventuring he’d dig it up.)

Always up for adventure, the intrepid trio agreed. The next morning they hiked up the hill and began poking around the charred centuries-old ruin. They found two entrances near each other, and chose the one that seemed more “dramatic.”

With the dark-seeing Skritt in the lead, followed by the armored shielded Erasmus, and Tulip hefting a torch in the rear, they headed in. On their way down a long corridor, they heard an unearthly squeal; Skritt recognized the call of a guard rat, and cycled to the rear.

Erasmus readied his sword as they followed the retreating eyes of the attack rat, hearing a strange metallic dragging sound. Then they saw where the rat’s chain was fixed to the floor, and realized they were all in range! It rushed at them, savagely biting Erasmus before he cleanly struck its head from its shoulders. The massive rat was almost waist high to the bold warrior.

They continued down the corridor, finding where it split. Skritt was startled by the statue of a scholar, but statues are harmless, so he was relieved. They encountered a locked door; untrained, Skritt spent some time with his lock picks and managed to jimmy the door lock. So he jumped to the back, and the warriors led the way—

—discovering a mass of over a dozen goblins and four enormous rat guards! In the background, a vast pillar rose, with stairs around it and a statue of a scholar at the top. Under the dispassionate gaze and the faint luminescence of the room, they joined in mighty battle.

Erasmus wavered beneath the tide of foes, and even Skritt leaped in, a deeps goblin fighting the more weedy surface types that serve his kind as food and slaves. Tulip’s vast hammer whirled and crushed, and Erasmus’s deft chopping with his bastard sword took its toll. A leaping attack rat bit at the goblin weak point, the bridge of the nose, but Skritt ducked and lost a strip of scalp instead; Tulip followed up by batting the rat into the wall, taking a goblin with it.

Demoralized by their ferocious foes, the goblins turned to flee, but their attackers maneuvered between them and the exit, looming over them. Then Tulip got tagged in the cup, and as he staggered back, most of them fled and the rest were mowed down as they ran.

The characters rested and bound their wounds, then climbed the long winding stair to examine the statue at the top. It turned out to be a statue of Hegretch Lopelia, ruler of the Alchemal Fortress. A band at the top of the tall room emulated sunrise and sunset with alchemal chemicals, and his stone image was smug in that dim light of universal success.

From their high point, they noted goblins cautiously checking out the room, looking to see where the invaders went. Tulip bellowed to them in ogrish that they had better fall down and worship the newcomers, or get mashed. The characters headed down the stairs, then checked out all the doorways out of the room, following their ears and the vaguest luminescence. Rather than following the goblins directly, they took a passage they hoped would let them flank the area’s defenders.

They came out in a fungus “garden” that was the breadbasket of the goblins. There, they were confronted by a number of guard rats, and a few “farmers.” Demanding to speak to the leader, they waited until the leader showed up, eyeing the massive rats in an uneasy cease-fire.

To the pathetic bleat of a trumpet, King Gurglehug strode in, his crown a boot with fungus growing out of it, and a shield strapped to his back. His shaman advisor had a hat of slith teeth, and a staff with slith skulls nailed all over its top. Big rats accompanied them.

They had perfunctory diplomacy, the invaders asking questions about the area and the goblins stubbornly insisting on their sovereignty. Eventually, the king agreed to send a guide with them, after telling them that to the north was a big library, and to the east of that, fantastical magical gardens. And, the king chuckled evilly while telling them this.

The characters agreed to give the goblins one of the books they found, in exchange for a guide, and they decided on the “long way” that was maybe less dangerous, instead of the direct and more dangerous route.

They followed a corridor with signs of intense slith fighting, and cut thornbushes and fire. Then their guide, Snig, warned them to be utterly silent and to douse the lights. The thorns glowed ever so faintly, and they navigated by that light, with goblins holding the hands of those unable to see well in the dark.

Astonishingly, the characters moved very quietly, coming undetected to the edge of a 4 meter cliff down broken stone intertwined with the luminous poison thorns. They were breathless, looking out on a vast chamber heaving and tossing with mounds of thornbushes, intertwined and magnificent. Within, untold numbers of slith went about their business, the cat-sized leathery “land piranhas” not yet aware of the characters’ presence. Also, on the walls, basketball-sized beetles clung to the roughened stone, seemingly unaware of the characters.

As they carefully climbed down, heading for a staircase, Tulip fumbled, and—leaped from the cliff, pushing with his toes. He managed to land on his feet with only a rattle. The others were relieved that he did not slip, tear himself on the thorns, and clatter all the way down the cliff.

Still, the slith were alerted to their presence. The characters raced along the corridor and up the stairs, hearing a growing tide of vermin sprinting after them. Hoping against hope, they were relieved as the grueling chase resolved in a pair of doors. Snig freaked out, not knowing which was best, so they snatched the one on the left, leaped in, and slammed (and barred) it behind them.

They caught their breath as slith leaped and snapped outside, finding themselves in a dusty, empty chamber. After a bit of rest, they cautiously continued their exploration, going through some empty chambers (always listening at the door first) and finding a long corridor.

Not trusting long corridors, they took the first intersection they found, and it turned into unfinished stone. As they followed it, they detected a secret door! Opening it, they found a privy for scholars. They were disappointed, but Snig asked if he could wait here for them to return with a book; they were beyond his knowledge, and he was terrified of being eaten. They agreed, and Skritt left him with a rat, to tide him over.

They cautiously proceeded, through a chamber to find a room where a gimlitch beetle almost spat at them, interrupted by Skritt’s well placed knife flung across the room and killing the beetle. They saw signs of a vicious beetle on slith throw-down in this room, and they cautiously peered into the next, then withdrew, shaken.

They found the rotating library! And centuries of beetles had used it as a breeding ground, turning the books into a paper mache volcano in the middle of the room; there was disquieting evidence they put dead slith up in the cone, but the characters didn’t feel it best to investigate.

Three doors to the south were open, the rest closed. They headed for a closed door, muscling it open. They found a dusty room, which relieved them. Heading north, (after closing the door behind them) they found a long corridor that led to a lounge and guest quarters for visiting scholars; no loot, though. And there was an ugly gray stone statue hunched in the corner of the lounge that unsettled them.

In the lounge, they were MOST pleased to find a cask that was centuries old; it had turned to port, and they congratulated each other on their success getting this far with a round of drinks, taking the cask with them as they left.

Retracing their steps then exploring to the south and west, they found a suspiciously lengthy corridor that just went on and on. At the end, they found a pair of statues blocking an intersection, to the north and south. Skritt examined one closely, and it attacked!

In a moment, the characters were fighting for their lives in the narrow corridor. Skritt retreated from the battle scene, only to find another gargoyle closing from the rear! Beleaguered and tattered, the characters pulled out every trick they knew just to stay alive. Tulip’s mighty hammer knocked off horns and limbs, shattering one, and Erasmus flailed and hacked with his heavy sword, but their foes were implacable as stone.

With one destroyed and one badly damaged, the group faced an intact gargoyle cutting off their retreat. They managed to slip around it and flee, and if it pursued, it didn’t chase them fast enough. They slammed the door behind themselves, freely bleeding and badly bruised.

Taking time to have some more port, and bandaging their wounds, resting, having something to eat and drink… they struggled to regain their nerve in the face of the horrible stone monsters that waited to slay them. Lucky for Erasmus, there as a decorative shield on the wall to replace the one torn from his arm by a vicious rat. It seemed as good a time as any to explore in other directions.

They snuck back through the central library; the scent of torch hung on Tulip, and he allayed beetle suspicion by squirting some oil on himself, left over from when his weapon caddy attended his every need. They slipped through another closed door, finding a series of corridors and rooms that used to be servant quarters and a kitchen.

Slipping past the beetles again, they found a corridor to an open “reading room” area with many cells. Unfortunately, the room was also full of yellow fungus that smelled of sunlight and heat and—strangeness. Tulip, being the toughest, agreed to scout out the room, hopefully returning before he passed out.

He checked all the cells, finding four massive tomes of lore. Gasping for air and coated in yellow spores, he managed to rejoin the others. They got some distance from him as he brushed the spores from himself, and he got a sample of the orange fungus to sell to the scholar who sent them in.

Hefting the books, the characters returned to the circular library again, this time choosing another door. They found a corridor with some resting seats/privies, and a meeting room overgrown with peaceful, luminescent fungus.

Returning to the library again, they explored the last closed door, finding a head librarian’s office, where young beetles forced their way in over the centuries and died of starvation after eating all the scholar’s books…

They decided not to explore the remaining doorway leading out of the library, as it was sure to lead to a clash with slith.

Their nerve restored by frequent and daring forays through the library and extensive non-lethal exploration, they faced a choice. They could return to goblin territory, or look for a way out in the gargoyle territory.

Bold, they headed back into gargoyle territory. They smashed the remaining guardian of the hallway, then detoured through what appeared to be a ritual preparation room for wizards. Finding some oddly-shaped rooms, they knew they were in wizardly territory, so they tread cautiously.

They opened a door into a crooked room, noting a sleeping gargoyle and a well-tended planter of mushrooms that looked like stained glass, light streaming through them from another place. They closed the door, then Erasmus and Tulip viciously assaulted the statue while Skritt stuffed mushrooms in a sack.

The battle was not going well—Erasmus owed his survival to his new (and trashed) shield, and they just barely managed to put the gargoyle down. Panting, they bound their wounds yet again, then cautiously continued their explorations. In the room next door, a stroke of luck! Erasmus found a shield on the wall with the coat of arms of a wizard order extinct for centuries. He hefted it, and on they went.

Following a strange and narrow corridor thorugh its angles, they came to another room, and inside, a planter with yellow mystic flowers and a gargoyle guard! Having honed their technique, Tulip and Erasmus crushed the guard before Skritt had even finished harvesting the flowers.

They followed a stone tunnel that led down to knee-deep murk, and Skritt rode Tulip as they waded through, rising up to a strange huge chamber with a pit and a statue of Dufell, the goddess of deep places (as explained by Erasmus, who also knew that gargoyles are not indigenous to this dimension, that they live until killed, and some can grow wings at will.)

The chamber was strewn with vines that were responsive to stimulus; the characters decided not to go into that highly risky area, they retraced their steps instead. Exploring down another corridor, they found a room of resting gargoyles—and quietly, slowly, backed out and closed the door…

Heading northward again, they found a secret door they had missed before. Passing through it, they found the summoning chamber, with a genuflecting gargoyle sleeping there. They stealthily withdrew, seeing no profit in killing a guard so they could inspect a mystic summoning circle.

Grimly determined to find an alternate way out, they followed a twisting corridor of natural rock, their last hope for an escape without going back through slith territory. Down, then up, and they found an artificial stone wall.

Skritt and Erasmus retreated to give Tulip some alone time with his hammer and the wall, and he knocked it down, breathing sort-of-fresh air, and finding the back of an animal den! They clambered through, and out to late afternoon sunlight.

Joyful at their escape, they met with the scholar, who had paid peasants to dig up his chests and drag them to the meeting place. They negotiated hard for the value of their knowledge of the layout and its defenses, and they sold the books and mushroom and plant samples. In the end, they had over 3,500 gold! The old scholar had to give them a voucher, not having expected such wild success.

Pleased with themselves and the outcome of their exciting adventure, the companions decided to rest, then continue on towards the next challenge.

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An Oscelot of Trouble
Sordeg's Retreat

9.23.11 In game, Thursday, Foover month, 78921.

  • Tibbers goblin with a beanie skullcap.
  • Skritt goblin with a shaved head.
  • Wayland hunter with an open-face samurai helmet.
  • Timothy the Tulip with an open face helm with a yellow plume and a tulip painted on the side.
  • Brenna sneaksy thief with a flambouyant hat and a white plume.
  • Kitten gambler with a tall, conical hat.

A seedy wizard named Hector hired agents to go to various taverns and offer work to adventurers. Those who responded met in the snug of the Keystone, an inn built over an arch to a gate into the inner city.

Hector paid all who showed up 5 gold, as promised. Then he turned to Albion, an albino elf, to explain the expedition.

Albion reviewed the history of Oscelot. The town was built to logistically support pilgrims and fellow adventurers who came to visit Sordeg’s Retreat. In the old books, Sordeg’s Retreat is described as being in the cliffs above Oscelot (which is surrounded on 2 sides by cliffs.) But Albion realized that Oscelot used to be in the valley below, and was moved up onto this cliff after repeated flooding and rock slides. So, the cliff over Oscelot used to be the cliff Oscelot is now built upon!

Underwhelmed by the party’s blank stares in response to his brilliant research, Albion hurried on. The entrance to the Retreat used to have stairs down to the valley, but a rock slide wiped them out. He hired Effson, an elf with a dirigible, to help them find the site so they can go in and see what treasure they might acquire.

As the briefing was winding up, the sharp-eared Skritt heard a ruckus down the street. Upon poking his head out to investigate, Hector drew it back quickly as an arrow thudded into the window frame. Right! And the briefing was over.

As they hurried downstairs, they passed through the main room, where a wedding was occurring. (Wedding music had played all through the briefing; apparently the bride took her time in deciding whether or not to show up.) Passing the back row, Brenna just couldn’t help herself, and she dipped into some pockets.

The father of the bride saw this, yelled “Thief!” (which did not improve the solemnity or celebration of the event), and charged at Brenna. She whipped a knife up at the chandelier overhead, snapping it (it was a near thing; she had to lean like a bowler, and the knife path curved to hit the cable just right.) The chandelier crashed down, pinning the father of the bride to the floor; the mother of the bride golf clapped.

A grand melee threatened, as wedding guests reacted to the disruption. Half the characters (including Hector, of course) scampered outside. Tulip, Brenna, and Wayland matched themselves against the assembled wedding guests. As a wave of them pummeled Tulip trying to get to Brenna, Wayland tried to fling one guest at a pile of other guests, thwarted when the fop dug his nails into the back of the chair, squealing as his kicking legs flipped his tunic up and revealed he had displaced his stuffed codpiece with all the thrashing.

The characters outside saw a mass of what Hector identified as Stenchites coming; lots of warriors, and several toads, and a big riding beast that looked unpleasant. They split up, Hector and Kitten going one way and the goblins going with the rest of the group. Hector mentioned they were to meet at the Ariel Plaza, and they went their separate ways.

Brenna and Wayland slipped around the guests trying to block their way, but Tulip was blocked; only one guest successfully stood in his way, as long as it took Tulip to bash him in the chest and knock him down, breathless, strolling over his prone form.

One of the goblins successfully harvested some rats from the garbage while hiding, and Hector did his best to flirt with Kitten; only one of those efforts had remotely appetizing aftereffects. Soon they found themselves at the Ariel Plaza, a lovely vista with tall pylons and a railing, overlooking a 200 meter drop down the cliff side upon which Oscelot was built.

A 10 meter long dirigible was docked to a pylon on the plaza, with several boonwings menacingly perched atop the bag, eyeing the goblins hungrily. Here began the tradition of goblins riding on Tulip and Wayland for ease and safety. It was not easy for everyone to work up the nerve to climb up the pylon with the dizzying gulf on one side; only Tulip seemed to enjoy it enough to go more than once, trying to lend his depthless confidence to the more timid in the party.

They cast off, with a boonwing unmooring them. As they drifted into the gathering dusk, they made arrangements to sleep aboard the dirigible, with the goblins snuggling up to those they hoped would protect them in case hungry boonwings snuck in. Hector noted as party leader he’d get two shares of the treasure; the rest of the group didn’t say much in response, eyeing the skinny wizard and thinking their own thoughts.

In the morning, Effson mounted a cannon in the cabin of the dirigible. After a few morning shenanigans, the group was ready to go; Effson fired a grapple and line at the mountainside after the sharp-eyed characters identified the half-buried entry to what could only be Sordeg’s Retreat.

The characters had an adventurous time zip-lining down from the dirigible to the broken mountain side. Brenna got stuck, hanging over the dizzying drop, and Skritt took her another cable to help slide down. Eventually they all made it, and Effson released the cable and drifted off. Tulip coiled the cable and carried it with them. They didn’t notice until later that somehow Hector didn’t make it down with them, remaining on the dirigible.

Wayland noticed tracks of spiny rock crawlers, carnivorous predators about the size of an anteater. Going into the retreat, they found a room full of tribute and gifts of regard, all of them centuries old. And they found five spiny rock crawlers, four skulking through the tributes, and one clinging to the roof. They dispatched the crawlers, mostly with ranged weapons, flinging knives and firing arrows through the heroic kitsch. Tulip crushed two in single combat, and one charged the archers to be mowed down before reaching them.

Tibbers became Tulip’s weapon caddy at this point, clinging to his back and offering him the right weapon at the right time. Also, this began an escalating hero-worship, with Tibbers coming up with oil to rub on Tulip’s muscles.

Pleased with their victory, they proceeded on to a large room with a dais on the far end, and a green orb on a stand. The walls had murals that had been stripped of gold and looted, but there were runes across the floor and walls that blocked the way in. “Do not disturb lightly,” the runes said in the language of magic.

Wayland was first across, then the rest, and only Brenna couldn’t do it. Tulip fired her up with an inspirational speech, and she eventually managed. Then they looked into the green orb, seeing a scene of trees, a trail, a lake at the end. They touched it, and were all transported through the crystal.

They noticed the place was manicured, very well tended. In no time, they were intercepted by deer-headed warriors armed with bows, with packs of hunting rabbits. Wayland climbed a tree, the others clustered around the base, and they parlayed. The deer-heads told them to go back, they insisted they wanted to explore.

It was on the edge of violence when Tulip asked them how they resolved challenges (since they couldn’t have a cook-off, not cooking their food, or so any of the other challenges the characters suggested.) They had head butting contests to settle things. He accepted the challenge! A pudgy dumb deer-headed warrior trotted up, and Tulip butted heads with the deer-headed warrior.

Impossibly, the human was still standing and only slightly cross-eyed, knocking the bone-pated deer out cold with a single mighty forehead whack! Overcome with grudging respect, the deer –heads escorted the characters to the shore of the lake, insisting that they not go anywhere else, especially not to the domed building of Sordeg’s Retreat.

Tibber’s increasingly disturbing hero-worship escalated, as he skipped along before Tulip spreading rose petals in his path.

Once at the shore of the lake, they encountered a moose-headed warrior, at least twice as big as the deer-headed warriors. (They also saw the hunting rabbits drag a subdued raccoon out of the brush for the deer-headed warriors. Disturbing.)

The moose-headed warrior demanded to know what they were doing here. Being a gambler, Kitten gambled; she explained she was a great-great-granddaughter of Sordeg, here to visit the places he had been on a kind of pilgrimage. The moose-headed warrior softened, believing her lie, and allowed them to visit the retreat itself. But stay out of the north closet.

The rotunda had a built in recliner throne, open vista on the twilight lake (always a balmy twilight here), three watery women strumming harps and hanging out, a coat on one wall and a sword on another. (And two closets to the north—forbidden, with keep out signs.)

Tulip talked to the water women, who did not have any sense of time passing (how long it was since Sordeg was here last.) They knew that the men had itchy glue in them, and offered to harvest it, so the men could relax and be sleepy. Tempted, they declined.

Skritt checked out the tail coat, The Coat of Starlight. (They had plaques.) It was a gift from Forgess Maesha, for saving the Senchilian Elvenforge from disaster, by slaying a dragon they named Gris. He took the coat and stuffed it in his sack; it wasn’t locked in glass or secured in any way.

Wayland took the sword, Lash of Peristrina. Sordeg’s wife Chuliet was the last one who could bear the blade (of the bloodline of Ardlian) and she was eaten by a dragon twenty years before Sordeg died.

Tulip relaxed on the recliner throne, and in joining him there, Skritt noticed the ceiling was a mural mosaic, with gems and text for all the places Sordeg kicked butt and did heroic acts; he could chill out with his gorgeous water nymphs playing music, surrounded by his trophies, reminiscing at his mosaic map. Not too bad.

So of course Tulip got out his polearm, a goblin clutched the top, and Tulip raised the goblin high enough to pry some of the gems loose. The moose-head, deer-heads, and nymphs looked on with vague interest. Inquiring about what was behind the stone doors, the characters found out from the nymphs that both closets led to things that could disrupt life here, and one could destroy it. They did not care to discuss it further.

With some loot in hand, they decided not to press their luck. Kitten assured the moose-head that they’d look forward to returning (a glib lie), and they headed back to the emerald wall, returning to the inner stone chamber.

After once again cajoling the frustrated Brenna over the runes, they returned to the spiny rock crawler lair and gleefully looted the centuries-old gifts to the mighty hero Sordeg, finding all sorts of valuables among the kitsch.

It was dusk in the real world; time must move a little differently in the retreat beyond the emerald wall. A boonwing hunched waiting for them, and flew off to alert the dirigible as they emerged. Skritt got a fire going, and the dirigible returned, firing a new zip line into the mountain face, then lowering so they could slide down to the dirigible.

Again, the wind picked up, making it a difficult trip, but all of them made it down to the dirigible. Brenna and Tulip told Hector they found the location of the Senchilian Elvenforge—but they didn’t share what it was. He agreed to make both of them partners in the expedition there (somewhat reluctantly.) They decided to cut him out altogether, but didn’t say that to his face. After all, they know where it is…

Upon returning to Oscelot, both Tulip and Kitten did genealogical research, tracing their bloodlines as best they could. As it turns out, the elven family of Ardlian had some exiles to the island Kitten is from—she may have a trace of their blood! So she kept the sword.

The Coat of Starlight was made for a big guy, and fit Wayland, so he traded all his loot to Tibbers for the coat; both were pleased.

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Awesomeness in Oscelot
Adventure 1

Two characters, Brenna the sneaksy thief and Timothy the Tulip, enormous gladiator. They were in the town of Oscelot, in a tavern, the Boot Tongue. Tulip accepted a big guy’s challenge to arm wrestle, for the prize of a music box. Beat him; the guy wanted his music box back, so Tulip beat him arm wrestling again; then the guy wanted to fight, so Tulip beat him some more. When the guy swung a chair at him, he tugged the chair out of the guy’s hands and knocked him cold. Left a note in his belt that if he wanted the music box back, he’d have to tell Tulip why.

So the belligerent arm wrestler was rolled and tossed in the street shoeless, and Tulip was toasted by admirers, and showered with job offers. Not only was Tulip huge and strong, but he had a bastard sword, chain mace, enormous sledge hammer, and big spiked gauntlet strapped to him.

After about an hour, Brenna made her move. She had been gleefully picking pockets during the arm wrestling match, but she was on a mission to check on her friend, a seedy wizard named Hector. She didn’t want to go alone, as he kept rough company, but she was worried about him. The fighter she was going to meet didn’t show, so she offered Tulip 10 gold to escort her to the Tower Annex where Hector lived. He agreed, and they headed out into the rain swept night of Oscelot.

Upon arriving at the Tower Annex, leaning over the fast-moving river, they knew something was wrong. The doors hung open, and the place smelled terrible. Checking it out, they found four guys hanging around the foyer, dressed in leather and canvas with masks. A melee started, and didn’t go well for the intruders in masks. Now seriously worried about her friend, Brenna led the charge upstairs, where they bested a number of the intruders; but some of the intruders belched a hideously noxious gas (described as industrial park mixed with skunk roadkill) that choked the room and made fighting difficult.

Several more had Hector at knife-point tied to a chair. Brenna flung a knife to cut the cord and drop the chandelier on Hector and his hostage-takers, and from there it was a swift matter to dispatch the stinky foes.

Hector explained they were Stenchites, they wanted in on his upcoming plan. He was collaborating with Albion, an albino elf with a lead on getting to Sordeg’s Retreat. Sordeg, a famous fighter centuries ago, had a retreat with a trophy room. There, he had a mural map with sites he famously dealt with, and one was the elven forge that was conquered by a dragon–Grizelle’s Horde. Surely Sordeg’s Retreat would have other pawn-able treasures! And Hector owes Mongrok the Orc Lord of Oscelot (an underworld figure) 700 gold by Monday.

If the Stenchites found Hector, Albion might be in trouble too. They headed into a bad part of town, to a basement entry to what looked like an abandoned block of buildings left to squatters and degenerates. Hector suggested he’d look after the rear exit, and left Tulip and Brenna to go in the “front.”

There, in the cellar, they battled a number of Stenchites as well as a toad-thing that spat restrictive rotten-toffee-like gluey expectoration on them. Tulip lined up a barrel from the cellar stores, and as reinforcements raced in he kicked it at them, bowling for Stenchites. Those still up quickly crashed to the ground beneath mighty swings of his chain mace or spiked gauntlet. Brenna slew the toad-thing with a flung dagger to the back of its throat–it croaked.

Bloodied and panting, they wasted no time in retracing the path of the reinforcements, coming to a hidden library where an albino elf was being tormented by a huge mass of Stenchites and their leader, a lanky fellow with a chain flail complete with thorns welded on the links.

Tulip gallantly defended Brenna as she flung knives into the surging mass of foes. The leader ordered some lackeys to take Albion off, then he joined in, firing a stench-ball of energy into Tulip and gagging him for a few seconds while the henchmen gleefully hacked away. Then the leader withdrew after his forces, leaving Brenna and Tulip to the tender mercies of his Stenchites.

Finally victorious atop a steaming mass of stinky foes, Brenna and Tulip had a decision. Rest here, or push on before the Stenchites escape? They clutched at their wounds and pursued through the dark tunnels. They found the rearguard and dispatched them with ease, and just when they thought the leader had escaped with Albion, he headed back towards them!

Hector had put the rest of the minions to sleep, and the leader retreated back this way with his prize, Albion. But he met his match as Tulip and Brenna slashed away, puncturing him with daggers and the hideously deadly gauntlet. He toppled beneath their repeated blows, then Hector joined them, and they took Albion back to his library.

Stay tuned for next time, when we find out if Albion and Hector can find Sordeg’s Retreat and make enough money to keep Hector out of the claws of Mongrok the Orc Lord of Oscelot!

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