Saturday, August 21, 2010

Scarred Lands - Island of the Dead

Game Date: 8/21/2010

The Party:
Aria Thatcher (Matt) - Half-Elf Bard
Blast Flashing, Jr. (Nick) - Gnome Warlock
Shade (Jesse) - Drow Rogue
Thorfin (Ted) - Goliath Fighter

This session introduced two new characters. Ted is playing Thorfin, the Goliath Fighter, while Jesse has started a Drow Rogue known as Shade.

Last session we saw the death of Alek Corman. The party was very broken up about it.

According to Ted, Alek's last words were, "I must be going. No guest shall stay in one place for ever. Love will be lost if you sit too long at a friend's fire. Farwell my friends." (Which he ripped from a Norse poem called Hávamál.) Just for the heck of it, Jesse has decided to roll up a new character as well.

The Session:
When we first met Alek Corman, he had been on a pilgrimage to Hedrad. His last wish was to be buried there. Since we were on our way there anyway, we were more than happy to oblige.

Our boat trip ended at a small town called Barel, where we bought some mules and continued our journey. After a while, we encountered a Taurosphinx, like the one in Aria's dream (last session). This one seemed friendly, but it could be a bad omen that it ate the entire party in the dream.

The Sphinx claimed to be the Herald of Hedrad. He told us that the answers we seek would not be found in Hadrad, and that we should instead seek the ruins at Skykeep. He mentioned that he'd been trying to find us, but for something had been blocking his ability to locate us.

That something turned out to be the brooch Alek had "stolen" from that merchant in Lave. It was a magical device that prevented the Sphinx's scrying... but most likely enabled scrying for certain parties. So, we attached the brooch to one of the mules, and sent it running away.

Skykeep was not close, but the Sphinx offered to fly us part of the way there. This is where we parted company with Gorn, who elected to continue the journey to Hedrad in order to give Alek an honorable burial. Aria and Blast climbed onto the Sphinx's back, and they were off.

The Sphinx dropped them off at a small fishing village called Mansk. There was some sort ruckus in town, so we decided to investigate. We found that a lynch mob was preparing to hang a couple of prisoners. Thorfin was being executed for being a Titan-spawn. Meanwhile Shade was accused of committing some murders in town, but it was their distrust of Drow rather than actual evidence that convicted her.

Though they were scary-looking and possibly evil, Aria felt bad about these two getting executed simply for their race. So she sweet-talked the leader of the mob, and ended up paying 100 gold to have the two released. The four of us continued on together.

Beyond the town, we found we had a lake to cross. We managed to get free passage on a ship, due to a letter of credit we had from the Vigil of Vesh. Even that turned out to be overpriced, as the trip proved to be a disaster. Partway through the voyage, we encountered a bad storm. The weather turned out to be the product of a Storm Hag, who delighted in throwing lightning bolts at the ship.

The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of fearless crew... well, the ship was pretty much lost anyway. Our party managed to escape in a rowboat. Thorfin even made a hero of himself by jumping back onto the sinking ship and helping some of the NPC crew to escape. We rowed on until morning.

Eventually we saw a small island in the distance. The first thing we noticed was a church steeple. Obviously a sign of civilization, but this island wasn't marked on our map. Thorfin rowed the boat ashore (hallelujah). We hid the boat and investigated the island.

The island was home to a small town. The people on the island acted oddly. They didn't seem surprised by our unusual mix of races, and they wouldn't give us any helpful answers, sometimes completely ignoring us. However, one guy - who seemed a bit drunk - called out to us. He said, "You shouldn't be here. I've seen things you can't unsee." He then offered to let us stay at his house for the night.

...And then, he was shot twice in the face by a crossbow. (We still haven't ruled out Shade as the killer.) We decided to stay in his house anyway. We hadn't been there too long when the church bell started ringing. Then the temperature dropped, the sky grew dark, and the whole world seemed to change. In a transformation reminiscent of Silent Hill, everything - walls, floors, etc - started to look old and weathered. We looked around the town, and all the townspeople were lying on the ground. Then they started getting back up, but now they were undead.

The next battle was incredibly long, but to be honest that's probably our own fault. We were mobbed by hordes of infinitely-spawning zombie minions (and a few non-minions), and we should have taken the hint earlier that this battle could not be won through fighting. Instead we just fought and fought, killing zombie after zombie.

We went through all our healing powers, and some of us were picking off zombies from the roof, when it occurred to us to use that vantage point to look around town. We saw that the zombie crowd was all over the city, except around the church. So we fled the encounter and made for the church.

Unfortunately the church door was locked, and was protected by some sort of Rune of Warding. It had a very specific-shaped keyhole, and so Shade started sneaking around town hoping to find the key. Meanwhile, the rest of us tried to find other ways into the church. Thorfin thought about climbing to the bell tower, but the walls shocked him at the touch.

Blast managed to dispel the Warding with an Arcana check. With the ward gone, the door was now pickable, but of course our lockpicker was exploring the town. And worse - it turns out the Rune of Warding was the only thing keeping the zombies away.

The bell tolled again, and all the town's zombies started walking our way. Shade took the hint and sneaked past them, while Thorfin kicked the door open and shoved Blast and Aria through. Once Shade arrived and we were all inside, we slammed the door shut.

The door then vanished, turning into a blank wall. And that's all we know for now; we haven't even looked around our current room yet.

Aria paid for Blast's mule, and the 100 gold to free Thorfin and Shade. She does not actually expect to get paid back, but she wouldn't object to it.

We haven't had a chance to take an extended rest, so we might be going into the next encounter with fewer healing surges and Daily powers.

All characters are now Level 5.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scarred Lands - Rolling on the River

Game Date: 8/14/2010

The Party:
Alek Corman (Ted) - Human Paladin
Aria Thatcher (Matt) - Half-Elf Bard
Blast Flashing, Jr. (Nick) - Gnome Warlock
Gorn (Jesse) - Half-Orc Ranger

Ted will be playing a new character next week.

Last session we were sent to find a magic bell. We explored some ancient dungeon tunnels, and saw a historic vision involving a Titan.

Um, yes. That's... that's exactly how it went down. The story climaxed with an epic battle against a colossal demon. We were granted the title of "Kelder" (clanless Dwarf), and each of us was given a runic tattoo.

The Session:
As the new heroes of Burok-Torn, we took a much-needed rest. As we prepared to leave town and resume our travel to Vesh, we had a big decision to make. Leave from Burok-Torn, and take a path through the swamps? Or go back through the mirror to the other town, and leave from there? We finally settled on the latter, which was a much easier route. Other than a long rope bridge and a 10 gp toll (plus tip, for the nicer party members), it was an uneventful trip.

We arrived at Vesh, where a Vigil escorted us to the capital city of Lave. Lave turned out to be a cosmopolitan town, bustling with activity. As we prepared to meet the commander, we found that a few other adventuring parties were sitting in the waiting room as well. Gorn tried desperately to flirt with a female Half-Orc in another party, but he kept getting interrupted.

We met with the commander. We read "The Tale of the Serpent Amphora" which tells of the defeat of Mormo by Madriel. This helped us understand the origins of our Amphora, but the commander still wanted to know more. He asked us to travel to Hedrad, which is apparently has second greatest Library in the world. He is paying us 300 gold each (half now, half when we get back).

He also planned to send out those other adventuring parties with fake Amphoras, in order to throw off our enemies. He even gave us the option to give them our Amphora and carry a fake one ourselves, but for some reason we decided to hang onto the real one (it seemed like a good idea at the time).

While in town, we also finally dropped off the dead Ranger we'd been dragging around since our first session. I don't know if they plan to raise him or just give him a proper burial, but at least it's out of our hands.

Hedrad was best reached by river, so we started for the docks. We were passing through the merchant district, when we caught a pickpocket trying to steal Alek's coin pouch. We thoroughly searched him and let him go. As we were heading out the town gates, a merchant started running after us. He was calling for the guards, and accused us of stealing a brooch from his stand.

We told them about the pickpocket, and told them we weren't thieves. Aria managed to roll a whopping 38 on her Diplomacy check (using Words of Friendship and with Blast assisting). They let us go and said they'd do further investigating on their own.

We hired a boat. We spent each day traveling down the river, our speed slightly increased by Aria's "Traveler's Chant" ritual. Each night we camped on the riverbank.

On the first night, Blast was keeping watch when we were attacked by some Acid Shamblers, led by an Ice Ghoul. You know, Aria should write a ballad about this someday...

...or maybe not. The boat captain helped us fight, mostly protecting Aria throughout the battle. His crew high-tailed it back to the ship. Blast kept getting grabbed by the Acid Shamblers, who delighted in chewing on him (Nom nom nom Gnome gnome gnome...). As usual, our heroic Alek kept most of the enemies busy while the rest of us offered support.

Aria rolled a rather entertaining fumble this encounter (using our Fumble Deck). She used Scorching Burst on a group of enemies. Not only did she miss every single one, but one of her attacks was a 1, which summoned a hostile Fire Beetle. Not really helping!

After the battle, we searched some nearby ruins, and found a little treasure.

That night, Gorn had a dream about a maze of doors. Aria had a dream where a bull-headed Sphinx ate all of her friends and chased her.

At our next campsite, we heard some music in the distance. The captain said he knew of no towns in that direction. We decided to check it out. The source of the melody was a beautiful Dryad, who requested that we keep her company. Gorn and Blast were very eager to make her acquaintance. Aria tried to play some music with her, but the Dryad didn't seem as interested in Aria as she was in the men. Alek decided to stay back and watch.

The Dryad entranced Blast and Gorn, and the rest of us were attacked. Alek and Aria were stuck fighting the Dryad, two dogs, two birds, and our teammates. Luckily Blast and Gorn were able to shake off their enchantments in a few rounds, but it still wasn't easy. Early in the battle Aria was dive-bombed by a bird and lost a huge amount of hit points. We eventually defeated the animals, but the Dryad escaped.

After the battle, we found that merchant's brooch was pinned to Alek's cloak. We debated a little, but we've decided to sell it. (Though we probably do have time to change our minds. Personally I think we should wait until our next trip to Lave, and pin it to the outfit of someone we don't like.)

Another day of river travel, another night of camping. This time we were attacked by 3 swarms of Needlefang Drakes and one large Mockdragon. The swarms were able to knock us prone, then did extra damage to prone targets. The Mockdragon was no picnic either.

Alek bravely took enough damage for three Paladins, using every power in his disposal to keep all attacks on him. Aria buffed his defenses, and we all did everything we could to keep him on his feet. But it wasn't enough. With just two bloodied enemies left on the board, Alek failed his final death save and went to the Great Beyond.

The rest of us managed to finish off the enemies. Ted has asked us not to raise him, as he wants to try a new character. Aria is using the Gentle Repose ritual on the corpse, but only to preserve it for our journey so we can give him a proper burial later. We have decided not to loot his magic items.

-10 each (toll/guide on way to Vesh)
+150 each (half of reward for trip to Hedrad)
-5 each (boat ride)
+45 each (180 gp found in ruins)
Total +180 each for the session

+220 (Ice Ghoul encounter)
+175 (Dryad encounter)
+194 (Drake encounter)
Total 589 each for the session.
Aria, Gorn, and Blast are at 5083 (Level 4)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Scarred Lands - For Whom the Bell Tolls

Game Date: 8/7/2010

The Party:
Alek Corman (Ted) - Human Paladin
Aria Thatcher (Matt) - Half-Elf Bard
Blast Flashing, Jr. (Bryan) - Gnome Warlock
Gorn (Jesse) - Half-Orc Ranger

Nick could not make it, so Bryan played his character. Despite previous posts to the contrary, Alek is a Human, not a Half-Elf (apparently his parentage was questionable until recently). We're not quite sure what happened to the Changeling that joined our party last session, but then, Changelings are unpredictable.

Also, we tried something new this time: a Critical Hit Deck and a Critical Fumble Deck. Although we rolled a lot more fumbles than crits during the session, it still made the game very entertaining. And the monsters used it too, to make things fair. The cards weren't designed for 4e, so we had to reinterpret some of the outcomes.

Last session we left off just after a battle with some undead, in the failed Dwarven Kingdom of Bareth-Marn.

The Session:
We fought one more battle in the Bareth-Marn dungeon, during which we discovered the stand for a missing bell. (In the previous session, we heard a ringing bell just before the appearance of some undead.) After the battle, our Dwarven allies arrived and requested we return with them. King Thane the Redundant wanted to talk to us about the bell. (Thane's name has become a running joke with us, since "Thane" means "king".)

The bell is known as Goran's Rebirth, and it has the ability to raise the dead. When the bell tolled in our previous session, they had heard it in the Burok-Torn as well. He wanted us to stay nearby in case it went off again, so we stayed the night.

In the middle of the night, Gorn was awakened by the sound of the bell. He woke us up and we went down to the courtyard, where spirits were rising. The King soon joined us, and sent us on another mission. We were to travel to Gamble's Bridge, the site of a decisive battle, where history claims the Dark Elves betrayed the Dwarves.

They gave us climbing gear and a Dwarven escort, and sent us through an underground pass. In one tunnel we came across some Dwarf warriors fighting a metal skeleton and some carnage demons, and their fight soon became ours. After the battle we continued our explorations.

We eventually came across some massive gates, which had been bashed open by giant fists. We then found the remains of the Gamble's Bridge. The bridge was no longer there, but a ghostly flashback played for us, showing us the true events of that fateful day. In the ethereal rerun, it was the Titan Chern who betrayed both the Elves and the Dwarves.

After the history lesson, a giant demon appeared with the bell, which he rang. Wraiths and ghouls soon swarmed us, causing us a lot of grief. The demon kept pelting us with his own powerful blasts, and he would occasionally ring the bell again to call more minions.

It was a difficult battle, and nearly wiped us out. The bell was across the chasm the bridge once spanned, and jumping across would have been very risky. Blast heroically teleported across the gap and braved several undead to reach the bell. Unfortunately the demon picked him up and threw him back across the chasm, hitting Aria. Ouch.

We finally started firing at the bell from our side, and its peal had immediate positive effects. It wiped out nearby minions, then summoned Goran (the Dwarven god), as well as avatars of our patron gods to our sides. Soon the demon fell, and the remaining undead re-died.

After the battle, we argued a little with Goran, since the Dwarven version of history didn't seem to line up with the vision we'd witnessed. But we decided it wasn't an issue worth pressing, and we returned to Burok-Torm as heroes.

We have been given "Clanless Dwarf Status", which gives us permission to enter the city at will, and the right to use "Kelder" as a last name.

Reminders & Rewards:
We are currently back at the Dwarven kingdom, taking an extended rest. We should have plenty of time to do more buying/selling/trading before we're given the next plot hook.

GP: 452 gp, 8 sp each
XP: 200+385+425= 1010 each
5 Potions of Healing (1 each, 2 Alek)
4 Fire Beetle Potions (1 each)
3 Belts of Resilience (1 each except Alek)
1 Floating Shield (Alek)
4 weeks worth of Stonemeal Biscuits (1 week each)
1 Lifeshroud
1 Nail of Sealing
1 +1 Skybound Leather Armor
1 Lens of Reading
1 Magic Whetstone