Age of Worms, Session 21

Well, I was put in my place about Allustan being with us. He just sent us on his fool's errand, because he's a wizard and far too busy (even though we're probably higher level than he is now!), but yes...he had just sent us, and thus should not have been with us when we almost died, so no fault of his there! Further, everyone except Mullins gained a level this session, and all characters have been updated, including his, since I had forgotten what class he had taken a level in.

This week found us still on the road to the Free City of Greyhawk to visit Elistor, a colleague of Allustan (Hmm.. I've seen this episode of Avatar, there better not be any tricks.) and give him some samples and evidence of the worm infestation so that perhaps he can help us come up with a solution to the crisis.

The road, no matter if less or more traveled, however, certainly has its share of dangers, as before long, we were beset by a pack of worgs who did their best to kill some of our horses, then take down Cameron and Able in the process, but we ended up more than a match for them in the end, and only one of their number was able to escape once we started dogging them before they wolfed us down, as Paul put it.

And though we hoped that our canine friends were the last of our troubles before hitting the city, the felines got in on the action when four displacer beasts surrounded our camp and pressed the attack in hopes of tasty noms. In this, we did lose one horse, which was killed and dragged into the woods to the creatures before finally taking one down and having the other two bolt before their numbers came up, as well.

The displacement effect of the magical beasts made the fight a much tougher one than anticipated, much like the worgs' high hit points helped them immensely to give us a challenge, but in the end we prevailed...though barely in some cases. Angela's dice hate my primary characters, and Cameron was taken down to single-digit hit points throughout the two fights, and actually into the minuses against the worgs. David didn't have much better luck with Able in the night, either, though his ability to heal himself kept him (and us) relevant throughout.

With the Free City less than a day's ride away, we rested out the night in hopes of better luck once within the walls of Greyhawk.

Cast of Characters
Cameron val Dane, Human Knight 7 - Me
Dairon val Eite, Human Bard 5 - Me (cohort)
Mullins, Gnome Rogue 3/Wizard 3/Mirror Master 1 - Paul
Able Nightengale, Human Healer 7 - David
Caine Smithe, Human Marshal 5 - David (cohort)
Katain, Pseudodragon Warlock 2 - Tami


Rise of the Runelords, Session 12: The Skinsaw Murders

This session saw the introduction of two new characters, one each played by Angela and David, since Paul had taken a job whose hours didn't guarantee his ability to play on a regular basis. News of two more players possibly joining the group, however, might put these characters on short careers for the time being, if the players so choose.

Upon the road to the outlying farms, a horseman in billowing black robes and cloak rushed to them, setting the group on guard, but revealed himself to be an associate of Erin Habe, the good doctor at The Saintly Haven of Respite (the sanitorium). He claimed to have some working knowledge of the undead and how their maladies are communicated, and wished to find the source of the outbreak - positing that it may be a necromancer - and put a stop the spread of it. The players accepted his story (by virtue of his having a shiny PC nametag) and then continued on.

With haste, the deputized (other than Vic, who is a guardsman, and Hyrum, who is deputized by association, Vic decided) PCs ride to the outlying farmlands, at first coming across still-habited plots; the farmers there knowing some about the scarecrows that had come to life and killed others via refugees that had passed the story along, but had no further knowledge, nor had they seen the things, since they had sequestered themselves inside their homes.

The homes further into the farm country were less fortunate. Evidence of slaughter and evisceration were all around. Bloody puddles and smeared offal on homes...the farmers and their livestock, too. At one of these houses, the party met with Natasha, who had holed up in a home overnight and stayed there for a little longer after seeing her horse torn to shreds by the living scarecrows. The party offered her the safety of numbers if she didn't mind going with them while they finished an investigation, and agreeing, the group pressed on, finally coming to the center of the carnage: the Hambley farm.

As soon as the group approached the first fields of the Hambley property, they came in sight of a scarecrow upon a post at a juncture in the narrow lanes. Walt fired a bolt into the thing from his crossbow, and when a muffled groan issued from the thing, Elspeth followed up with a fireball, thankfully not setting the farm on fire, due to the heavy rains. Upon inspection of the body, including cutting the thing open to see what the vital organs of these things look like, they discovered that this had been a normal, living person. Perhaps a decoy or bait used to attract the real thing.

Upon seeing this, and expecting some of the monstrous scarecrows to be close, Walt took to the air with his magical wings and went a couple of hundred feet further to another scarecrow that he found lashed to a post. When trying to remove the hood of this one, however, it bit at him, revealing itself to be one of the true undead versions. It had yet to free itself fully when the rest of the group approached, but Walt made short work of the thing. Another scarecrow down the lane proved to be the cloth and straw variety, but did little to lessen the tensity of the situation as the blood-soaked Hambley farmhouse and barn came into view.

The troupe decided to inspect the farmhouse first, Walt leading the way in with the others following slowly behind, covering every possible angle in case of an ambush. In the kitchen/dining area, a male body was splayed across the table with the Sihedron rune carved into his chest and a note laid over it, addressed to Vic and taunting his inability to stop the murders. Walt called Vic in to see it, then went down the hall to clear the rest of the house. As he entered the first bedroom, he spotted a body in the bed which tried to attack when he approached, but his was not the only threat, as a mountainous man of dead flesh, almost seven feet tall and wearing the clothes of a day laborer began to enter the house and went for Natasha.

The fight in the bedroom was well managed by Walt, but in the front room of the house, the undead behemoth proved to be slightly harder to take down, especially when he bellowed for his fellows to join the fray, the pack of ghouls rushing from the barn to claim their meals.

Experienced in close-quarters fighting from their foray into the dungeon below Thistletop, and bolstered by new allies, however, the party made short work of the former farmers, and set to further inspect the farm when the session was called for the night.

Cast of Characters
Walt Thrune, Chelaxian Human Cleric 6 (Merciful Healer) of Sarenrae - Paul
Rissi Scuttle, Ratfolk Alchemist 6 - Angela
Vic Alvaraz, Varisian Human Fighter (Mobile Fighter) 6 - David
Elspeth, Elf Wizard (Evoker) 5 - Tami
Hyrum Vassal, Chelaxian Human Tyrant (LE Antipaladin variant) 4 of Urgathoa/Monk 1 - David (secondary)
Natasha Caine, Chelaxian Human Rogue 5 - Angela (secondary)


Age of Worms, Session 20

This session started later than usual, but we got about as much accomplished as we would have otherwise, as the first quarter of our playtime was spent provisioning and preparing for our mission accompanying Alustan to the Free City of Greyhawk.

After some exposition from our patron and Dairon pledging to Mullins the aid of he and his master on the quest to give the knight purpose again. During this time, Messrs Smithe and Nightengale made a pact of service in the name of St. Cuthbert to rid the world of the taint that the worms hinted at, while Mullins repaid a debt to his uncle and he and his girlfriend, Rosebud, decided that she would stay behind to tend a property that had been bequeathed to the group. The faerie dragon, we couldn't get rid of if we tried, so no one did, proving the point by default.

There was little progress made, and on the first night, the group was set upon by a group (parliament? sleuth?) of owlbears searching for an easy meal. This proved to be fruitful for the two closest to our horses and they snatched their tasty treats and retreated back into the surrounding woods, but the other four (yes, Angela rolled 6 - the maximum possible encountered - on the charts) also wanted appetizers with their meals, so decided the smaller humanoids were a much better choice of first course.

The ensuing combat had many a scary moment, as the beasts are insanely good grapplers, but in the end the group narrowly prevailed, almost suffering the fate of our mounts, but defeating all four remaining owlbears and writing our horses off as a loss. Able, Mullins, Caine, and Cameron took copious amounts of damage, but timely healing and pluses granted by Dairon helped win the day (night).

The fight was a grueling one, but the suspense never dropped, and though it was long, was well played and kept momentum throughout. Since the fight took us past our usual quitting time, we stopped there for the night.

Also, it just now occurred to me that our patron, the mage Alustan, should have been with us when the owlbears attacked, but apparently nobody, even the DM, remembered that part. I'm not saying that he would have swung things too far in our favor since we are 4th-6th level, but an extra magic missle or something of the like would have helped quite a bit.
AND, I'm doubly at fault, as I overlooked a bonus that my bard should have been granting to the party. I blame that on not playing a 3.5 bard since 2007ish, though.

Cast of Characters
Cameron val Dane, Human Knight 6 - Me
Dairon val Eite, Human Bard 4 - Me (cohort)
Mullins, Gnome Rogue 3/Wizard 3 - Paul
Rosebud, Gnome Warmage 6 - Paul (secondary)
Able Nightengale, Human Healer 6 - David
Caine Smithe, Human Marshal 4 - David (cohort)
Katain, Pseudodragon Warlock 1 - Tami

 I think Mullins may have leveled up after this session, putting him at 7th, but I can't recall which class he took this time.


Rise of the Runelords, Session 11: The Skinsaw Murders

With the opening string of investigations by Rissi and Vic at a close, the pair decided to retire for the night and regroup with the others in the morning. During this time, Naffer filled in Walt on Katrine's death and they got to the work of building the caskets for her and  Banny, as well as the three men discovered as the earlier victims of this new killer.

Once gathered, the four did a bit more investigation. The girls took local tracker and stable owner, Daverin, back across the river to see if he could follow the tracks of the killer there on the far bank, but to no avail. The assailant had used the waterway to good effect in hiding his trail, apparently. The guys went to the basement levels of the garrison, where the three bodies of the first victims still lay in state until the church of Sarenrae could get the coffins and graves prepared. There, Walt cast an incantation allowing them to speak with one of the slain men.

The three questions granted and their answers follow:

1. What did the person look like that did this to you?
A lord of the dead.

2. If he spoke in a language you understood, did he talk about anything in particular?
A man of greatness in the village.

3. What was the outcome of the torture he put you through?
We died.

(That third answer was just too good to pass up. I knew what Paul was trying to get at, but it was phrased without thinking.)

This didn't give the group much to go on, but they then spent a little time thinking through who the "great man" might be, though no one in particular stood out enough that they had a solid lead. Needing more answers fast, the then travelled to Habe's Sanitorium to speak with Grayst Sevilla, a man who had been found near the barn where the three original bodies had been discovered. There, the good Dr. Habe rebuked them twice, citing the mental frailty of his patients for reasons to not let the PCs in, even when the group showed a letter of introduction to the doctor from the sheriff.

Defeated for the day in that respect, the group then turned to some other information that they knew held bearing in the case, which led them to want to check out Chopper's Isle, both because it was the former home of a serial killer and might be the current base of operations of this new killer and because it had ease of access to the sea, and the killer had obviously been sticking close to waterways. Once they began to try and make their way onto the isle, however, the Sandpoint Devil touched down on the spur of rock and let loose a terrifying bay. This gave the heroes more than enough reason to give pause, but after their nerves had settled, they steeled their resolve and again made to gain progress onto the island.

The second attempt went unharried, with the Devil nowhere in sight, but the top of Chopper's Isle was unsettling, with almost every barren inch covered in birds of all types. A few loud noises and sudden movements proved that the birds were not going to attack, so the four compatriots began to excavate the mounds of rubble that used to be the Chopper's house, discovering the top of a stairwell that is filled with debris and rubble right before dusk, at which point they quit their digging to save for the next day. A minor crisis was averted when they began to leave as a group of citizens had gathered and began to ask questions. Elspeth let slip that there were multiple dead bodies about which began to cause hushed rumors to flit about, but Vic set the rumor mill right with a shaky story that the assembled townsfolk thankfully bought.

Those plans were dashed when Sheriff Hemlock wrote yet another letter for them to gain access to the sanitorium and pleaded with them to play nice. This (and a little bit of good rp) gained the characters access to talk to Grayst on the condition that Dr. Habe could call the conference short if he thought it was causing stress. All in agreement, the ladies took refuge in the foyer next to the fire, since they had been out in the rain all day, and the men went up to see the patient. He was obviously in bad shape and Walt asked the doctor if he could use magics to help heal the man. Once assured that no further harm would come of Grayst, Habe relented and Walt cast his magics, but the man's condition didn't seem to change much, and when he began to speak he became manic, directing his speech toward Vic, telling him that "His Lordship" had a surprise waiting for him at the Misgivings. He then snapped apart a buckle holding him in his straight jacket and began to attack Vic, screeching that he would not let the Master love Vic more than him! His assault was in vain, however, as the madman was quickly subdued and then the PCs rode back to Sandpoint, confident that they had learned all they could with Grayst and the doctor.

When they got back, the group went their separate ways for afternoon work and evening meals, but Vic and Elspeth had their meals interrupted when an old farmer burst in to the mess hall and began telling that the scarecrows had begun to eradicate all the farmers. Though his breath was heavy with the smell of alcohol, the two adventurers gave his story actual attention and decided to round up the group again.

We left off sometime around this, with the PCs facing a few avenues of investigation and a case out in the farmlands that appears to be unrelated to the rest.

Cast of Characters
Walt Thrune, Chelaxian Human Cleric 6 (Merciful Healer) of Sarenrae - Paul
Rissi Scuttle, Ratfolk Alchemist 6 - Angela
Vic Alvaraz, Varisian Human Fighter (Mobile Fighter) 6 - David
Elspeth, Elf Wizard (Evoker) 5 - Tami

Notes: This session was clunky. I had a long day before playing and my head just wasn't where it should have been. I felt that quite a bit of it fell flat, but in doing the writeup, it seems that quite a bit was accomplished. One player has already said they had fun, so I guess that's what matters if it was still enjoyable for some.