Let's Say Our ABC's And Meet Some Friends!

Hello neighbor!

In the coming days, I have a series of posts that I will be sprinkling in with my usual Actual Play spots and whatever else strikes my fancy in the meantime. The first of these will be in the Dungeon Alphabet style, with three separate posts (or three items per post, whichever), one for each of my "current" projects; Wilderlands, Khardtha, and the Pathfinder APs.

Each snippet will, at varying lengths, give a snapshot of the subject matter and how it fits into the campaign, as well as suggestions on incorporating them into other campaign settings or game systems, as I see fit.

The second type of post I'll be scattering throughout is a collection of NPCs from various games of differing systems, all using the core books of any given system to create them at the power of a starting character, so that lazy players may use them as their characters, and lazy GMs have an instant NPC, complete with motivations, etc.

Hang with me, I do have a lot to talk about other than just that and my current games, and I hope that you chime in for discussion in the comments!


Musical Inspiration, vol. 11 - AFI

Often, in the games we play, our characters pay grave prices for the arcane or spiritual knowledge they gain, regularly with loss of something within themselves, high tariffs of physical objects, or (if others would have it their way) with their lives/health. On the flip side of that, our characters could be the ones persecuting those they feel are dangerous for their knowledge and abilities.

This week's song was chosen because of that flip side. I've been an AFI fan for quite some time, but never felt like they had songs that could tie in well with gaming, but lately I've been reading the Hunter: The Vigil core rulebook, and this song popped into mind. Pretty gruesome imagery, if you're familiar with history (or Warhammer 40k).

As a final note, I'm sorry that I wasn't able to get a video. AFI doesn't do many official vids, and the live ones had terrible sound quality. At any rate, I hope you enjoy NoCal's A Fire Inside.

AFI - "Malleus Maleficarum"

Open my eyes as I submerge
and I won't deny what I've been since birth.
I'll die drowned by your standards.
Breathe in the life of the summer's death as the orange
and red breathe their first breath,
so welcome as they're burning through.

We all begin to burn.
Autumn's flame dances in my eyes
Set alight for all we've learned.
My ashes falling.

My skin is singed but it heals my heart
and with glowing pride I'll wear my scars.
I'm honoured by your hatred.
Leaves fall we arise again,
and the end impending,
it will begin.

We all begin to burn.
Autumn's flame dances in my eyes
Set alight for all we've learned.
My ashes falling.

can you feel me?

Ashes fall and I'm rising up again. Ashes fall.
Ashes fall. Ashes fall as we all arise.

*As always, I don't own this, blah blah blah.


A Game-Related Writing Experiment

Recently, I was kind of given a slight push to actually try to begin writing again. I've freelanced before, making a whopping $28 dollars from my submissions to date, and have pretty much resigned myself to not doing much since.

This is slightly different, as I've been wanting to try my hand at screenwriting, and decided to go with writing a trailer for a movie I would like to see.

When it comes down to it, this is for my own benefit. If others like it, awesome. If not, you can blame the person that inspired me to write it! As always, feedback is welcome.

IN PROGRESS NEWS SHOW (a la Larry King, et al.)
We’re treated to lined or grainy news footage showing a slight sliver of light in the daytime sky. Over this footage, discussion takes place over a recent satellite explosion. Overplaying the footage is what seems to be a broadcast transmission.
…Please, tell our kids…

That, of course, being the last words received from
the station. Really moving stuff.


And you, doctor, feel this will have no impact on the
future of our space program as it exists now?

Quite the opposite, in fact! What more revitalization
could NASA’s program need than the Galatea incident?
I posit tha…
(cut off)


A camera quickly pans around, showing the scene of a grisly traffic accident. In the background, a school bus is overturned and bursts into flames as the camera squares onto a female reporter.

Frame me in this.
(adjusting position)
(composing breath)
We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast
to bring you breaking news from the heart of the
city. Here, moments ago, this bus that you see behind
me overturned when struck by another vehicle.
(turns as more sirens get closer)
A fire team has arrived to…
(screams and ducks)

At this time, the bus completely erupts in flames. Children can be heard screaming from within. The cameraman focuses on the bus, then beyond to the rescue teams. One firefighter stands dumbstruck after hopping down from his engine, then falls to his knees, as if losing all hope.

(offscreen, framing firefighter)
What’s that? What’s he doing?!

(now offscreen)
What? What do you mean?
(looks into camera as comes into frame, then away)
The horror of these incidents can affect even the
bravest among us.

At this, the camera zooms, as the reporter was talking, the fireman’s eyes have become points of light, but now we see that they almost seem to blaze like the bus’ fire.


A scream of displaced air takes place as the fire is sucked out of the bus and toward the fireman. He opens his eyes and mouth wide, as if to scream, but no sound other than the torrent of flame can be heard.

With the last of the flame, the shot draws in as the fireman seems to literally eat the fire. His open mouth shape held by flame as the camera seems to pan back out into blackness to reveal the spot as the open part of a capital “A”, which then turns black as the letter itself shifts to bright yellow.


Music picks up here, dramatic, classically cinematic. Snippets of action, preferably NOT included in film shown here, to highlight the sheer number of Novas in the world. One of the first clips shown is of the Fireman’s eruption.

Caestus Pax holding a building erect while inhabitants escape. A woman sneaking about and teleporting to evade baseline or Nova security. A boardroom; a woman at the table’s eyes flash and everyone else at the table nods and signs a form as she smiles.

Camera seems to pan out some with every snippet, becoming walleye as it does, then resolving to the world. A man “stands” above it all, seen to be in orbit as he rotates past a satellite. Divis Mal is revealed in half-light of the distant sun and smiles.

Screen blacks.

Date of release.

Property ownership and production companies.

End trailer.


Reconciling the Keeps, Part 4

This is the final installment of this series, and perhaps the most difficult part of the keep to get to gel among the various iterations I'm smashing together. Largely, this is because of the story my game has developed, and how I've deviated greatly from where TSR went with the Return to the Keep. These last sections take us into the fortress, itself, and fleshes out a little more of the current political scene in my Wilderlands campaign as it stands.

As always, I welcome anyone to use my own additions to the setting if so inclined, and ask questions or comment on anything that you think I'm doing right (or wrong, for that matter).

17. The Stable of the Rider, the chapel housing the "state" religion of Bugbear Falls, is ministered by Macxis Sollas, Great Stabler of the Black Rider (The Horseman of Famine).

18. The Inner Gatehouse is now guarded by both Watchmen (outer bailey) and Guardsmen (inner bailey), since it was easily bypassed during the siege of the Unbreakable guild and their fae allies. Here, the Lum family, easily the largest (so much so that I'm not going to type out all the relations of them - suffice to say there are 47 of them) extended family in the keep, and descendents of one of the first families to settle. Roughly half of the family serve as the backbone of the Watch - with a few Guardsmen scattered - while the other half have been successful farmers for generations. It is this family that tends to the gardens and stock within the inner bailey, and as a token of the Vuzughar's appreciation, see a fair bit more of the crop than others. Though the Lums have displaced the Guard barracks and armory that were housed here, the Sergeant and Captain of the Guard, Lums themselves, have small offices within the Gatehouse.

19. This Small Tower has recently been turned into a cistern in order to grant relief in at least one fashion, while famine and blight continues to wrack the area. Though the soldiers that used to be stationed here have been moved, atop the tower sits a powerful heavy catapult that is always manned.

20. This Guard Tower has been converted into food stores, as well, serving as a granary and mill for the keep. Only one family, the Lums, are allowed to tend the grain, and are watched day and night by a member of the Guard, to ensure that no theft occurs.

21. The Parade Grounds have lost their former glory of being a staging for military drills and great contests of joust and other sport. Instead, the field here is dotted with plots growing this vegetable or that, tightly controlled and monitored for blight. These plots are almost all that stands between the residents of the keep and utter starvation, and through this, Dal Lago is able to control his populace more handily, offering hand outs at certain hours, and selling some of the other crop to the citizens at drastically marked up prices, due to shortage.

22. The Cavalry Stables have become cramped, with space usually reserved for the horses being given to the construction of a chicken coop, as well as the tools used to work the gardens that now litter the parade grounds. These conditions have been detrimental to the horses, and many are starting to look weak and bony, though Stabler Sollas would have all believe this is a true sign that the Rider will enact his mercy on the Keep soon.

23. The Great Tower has seen quickly-spurred construction of late, both to repair damage done to the structure here during the recent siege, and to expand and heighten the tower, adding another floor to house the misplaced troops from what has now become the cistern and granary. The troops tightly barracked here are part of the Guard, and though miserable, are well to keep their words to themselves, as those the Vuzughar's wife have brought in have the ear of their matron, and she and her husband brook no insolence.

24. This Former Parapet is now being built into an impregnable prison tower, and supposedly already has occupants, though as to who might dwell behind it's five feet thick curtain walls is anyone's guess, as is the identity of the Vuzughar's hand-picked gaoler.

25. The Keep Fortress, a many-tiered, solidly built bastion of the World-Emperor's might, houses Dal Lago and his wife, Dilana, as well as their personal retinue, the scribe Nashe, and a large contingent of Guardsmen (who maintain a lower level not included in any description or map). Here, the last stand of the siege took place, with the Vuzughar victorious over his foes.
The Fortress also plays home to the keep's (ever-growing) coffers as well as a once-public hall of records that has been sealed since the attack on the keep.

26. Guard-General Jadale's Quarters are housed within the keep, nominally for the personal protection of the Vuzughar, yet Jadale's diminishing role in the Guard has her suspicious of Dal Lago's motives, hoping he is simply trying to present a weakened front to draw out enemies, but fearing that she will suffer the same fate as River Wilds (former leader of the Watch - given an "errant" position which most acknowledge as being exiled), if she were to press the matter.

27. The Vuzughar's Chambers consist of sprawling apartments more luxurious than would be expected for a frontier ruler. Here, Dal Lago spends most of his time, having retreated due to "ill consitution at seeing his people fare so" and "sharing in their suffering, taking fast away from the court". Once a decisive and powerfully-spirited man, the famine, blight, and siege of the last couple of years has seemed to take their toll on Bugbear Falls' ruler. In his stead, his stunningly beautiful wife has stepped up, though her approach to rulership seems rather reserved and reclusive compared to her outgoing husband's.

28. The Hall of Justice, dedicated to Iomedae, was once a grand chapel within the fortress that mirrored to the last pew the look of the former chapel that the Stable of the Rider has become. Since being deconsecrated, this hall serves only as a sterile sentencing chamber for the martial law regime that is slowly taking over.

As I said, there were quite a few changes that had to be made to the final sections of the keep, like juxtaposing areas 23 and 24 and bumping down the rest, but I gained quite a few NPCs, as my group has rarely encountered the Guard. Some of the Guard and Watch that should be there, but are unaccounted for, are defectors and casualties from the siege.


Reconciling the Keeps, Part 3

And we're back to work. This is the third installment of this series, and the second with actual conversion/adaptation work. Anyone stumbling upon this is free to use it, of course. Most of the characters are not mine, but have ties and such that I have framed to fit into my own campaign, but others might find fun, as well (at least those that make sense out of context). My personal notes from the two campaigns I have ran using the keep are actually quite bare, and feature the names of less than a dozen characters, showing how little my group paid attention to the inhabitants.

Having said that, one might ask why I chose to detail the keep. The answer, simply, is that this front-loaded prep will serve to cut down on ambiguity and will help me seed adventures, both urban and wild, for times when my players become non-active.

And so, I continue on from where I left off...

8. The Smithy is run by a man called Rafe and his two sons. Rafe is a very skilled black, silver, and goldsmith, but has only moderate talent with arms and armor, which his sons - each to his specialty - excel in. Recently, Rafe had taken on an apprentice, but that apprentice, an orc tribeswoman named Skayza, has been given to a new arrival by order of the Vuzughar. This newcomer's precedence comes from the gnome's (a rather civilized one named Scotch Radister) skill at the fairly new art of gunsmithing.
The upper two floors of the building serve as storage for made wares and precious materials, as well as housing for Rafe, Dara, his pregnant wife, his mother, two sons, daughter, and Skayza. Scotch takes quarter in The White Cliff.

9. The Quartermaster's has served Bugbear Falls since its founding. Originally acting as the quartermasters of the keep's military forces, it later opened to the public as a general store and began stocking a larger variety of wares. With the World Emperor's declaration of land claims available to those who serve against their neighboring city-state as well as helping to keep monster numbers low, 'Quartermaster' Mosely has begun to keep a full stock of adventuring gear available, in addition to his usual wares.
Until recently, the shop was in fierce competition with the Bazaar for trade goods brought in from traveling merchants, but with the disappearance of that shop's owner, Mosely has been able to profit nicely from the increased trade that comes from not having a rival. If you ask most residents, though, they would go back to trading more amongst themselves if certain necessities were more readily available again (such as food or lumber).

10. The Unbreakable Warriors, now represented only by a man named Kuralen (a former hireling of one of the original guild), hold their guildhouse here. Said, depending on who you ask, to be either the greatest or most reviled adventurers to take up residence and ply their trade in the Falls, the official word from the Vuzughar's office is that these "unfortunate souls" dabbled too much into the arcane arts and had their wills enslaved by the fae, who rule over arcane magic.
The holdings were originally going to be seized by Dal Lago, but for the interference of the Black Adders, the World Emperor's secret police. This group, who act as the voice of the Green Emperor in all matters they handle, found Kuralen to be completely innocent and separate from the failed siege that the majority of the guild took place in, and thus handed over control of the guild to him and the few remaining, but still unaccounted for, members that are left.

11. The Locksmith & Loan, a bank/locksmith/pawn shop ran by Cranston Veg and his two new partners , a halfling by the name of "Mouse" and a wild-eyed man named Hubertus, has seen a recent decline in the quality of trade and clientele that once passed through these doors. Cranston seems almost bullied by these two, but he claims to be happy to be in business with his former adventuring companions.
Though this has seemingly ruined the bank (by manner of repute in clients, more than anything else), the three men all see brisk trade as the desperate and needy come in to pawn items, or pay for this service or that that Mouse has on offer, such as clockwork or other machine repair, mending, making, or opening locks. Though Cranston's business has suffered, there will always be adventurers who wish to keep their stuff safe, and so he doesn't worry...too much.

12. The Lookout Tower was once less cramped, but since the blight, the lower chamber has been occupied by cattle belonging to Neanne (see 7, here), where they are stabled and milked. This chamber also holds the manure until it is used for fertilizer in the Parade Ground gardens (see 21, next post). In the chamber above, inundated with the smells of milk, beasts, manure, and hay, are stationed 6 guardsmen and Praetor Donnlo, the recently-promoted Captain of the Watch.
Children used to be allowed to take watch on this tower's crenelated battlements to earn training for Guard or Watch duty, but that practice had been discontinued a little before the siege.

13. Fountain Square, named for the beautifully carved nymph adorning the large fountain in the center, traditionally holds market days on the last day of every week, on every holiday, and at harvest and on the first day a caravan arrives. This practice has come to a trickle in light of shortages of food, wood, potions and unguents, as well as livestock since the region has been wracked with various disasters.

14. The White Cliff Inn, owned by Anton Waters, is the only for-hire place to lay one's head in the keep, and does quite a bit of business with the influx of traders, adventurers and other vagabonds that pass through (or are exiled to) the area. Recently, Anton has ponied up a considerable sum and halved the size of his common room, building a bar and moving in tables so that he may serve simple meals and drinks to his patrons. He has also hired on three employees that run the dining operation (Wilf the bartender, his wife Calista the cook, and the serving girl Jess), himself taking more of a host/concierge role.

15. The Desecrated House, until recently known as the Deviant Church (but that name was frowned upon by the Vuzughar's office, suddenly, and so had to be changed), is owned and operated by Eka Colm, who cringes at the thought of what continued high food and drink prices will do to his business. Eka's son and the pot boy are the only employees dealing with the hostelry of the place, though a handful of performers of all stripes also call the House their home, and their discretion is much appreciated amongst the patrons here.
All three men live above the tavern in rooms across from the upstairs balcony area.

16. The Guildhouse is nominally ran by nobody, being an open guildhouse, available to all craftsmen, laborers, or caravan workers who are represented by guild standing somewhere. In addition to temporary boarding of traveling traders and workers (for the low fee of 5% of value of merchandise or take within the keep, if a laborer), the hall also serves as a meeting hall for various guilds represented and the keep, in general.
Though no great guild master is not around to run the hall, it is ostensibly ran by an elderly couple who keep the place clean and ready for any visitors or events the place will host. Even the Black Adders, who have made a temporary base within the Guildhouse, show great respect to Greeves and his wife, Peta.

And there's the next 9 sections of the Keep/Dunkiel/Bugbear Falls! In the next post, I'll be detailing the last 12 sections of the map, and will hopefully wrap up the write-up. As the sections go on, I find that many of them are quite a lot easier to write up, but many of the characters are requiring more shoe-horning to fit into my campaign as it stands.


Rise of the Runelords, Session 14: The Skinsaw Murders

The figure seen before casually turns and walks around a corner, out of sight, but Vic notices footprints pressed on the runner coming down the stairs and promptly moves out of the way, as does Hyrum. The steps are accompanied with no sounds or corporeal embodiment and end at the bottom of the staircase, apparently going no further.

After a few moment's hesitation, the deputies press on up the stairs, first entering a room filled with construction equipment and supplies, and then a series of rooms where the least damaged furniture and new fixtures and linens, etc., are being kept while the renovation was taking place. Seeing no need to disturb anything they have no right to, these doors are then shut and the party moved along to what appeared to have once been a small living quarter, abandoned for quite some time, with moisture and age-damaged linens left in a dresser next to a worn, sweat-stained cot. Further investigation of this chamber was interrupted by a woman's scream further down the hall, so the group exited this chamber and moved on cautiously.

The next room down the line seemed to be an observatory. The telescope ruined and smashed on the floor and the trapdoor that opens to the sky tied shut hints at the long disuse of the chamber. Seemingly bored, Elspeth took a runner and flung herself out of one of the stained glass windows in the room, narrowly avoiding falling to the rocky surf below by virtue of being pierced in the side and stuck fast by a weather vane on the canted roof below. Grimacing and casting Spider Climb, she limped back into the room and lay down in the floor, regaining her sense and moaning through the pain. Help was a friendly casting from Walt away, and after a few choice words for the house from the elf, the party continued on.

The next chamber, they assumed, held the reason for the hauntings, as a body of a woman was found, identified as the woman Walt danced with in the piano room and confirmed with the bruising at the neck. The body was left where she lie, without touching or prodding of any sort so as not to disrupt any more spirits than necessary, and the room left quietly, the door shut behind them as the band crossed the hall into what appeared to be a study, filled to the brim with all manner of pseudo-occult relics and esoterica, as well as plenty of maps and books of all types. Rissi and Elspeth discussed the ratfolk's wishes to travel some day as Walt flipped through some Pathfinder Chronicles and Vic gathered some of the maps before exiting this room, as well, backtracking through the house to check out one more room in the second floor.

There, passing beyond the gallery to the chamber beyond, was a bedchamber seemingly untouched save for a light covering of dust in the years that have ravaged the other parts of the home. The only odd feature, a dark stain on a desk to the side of the bed. Walt moved forward with Rissi, inspecting the stain as his ratfolk companion picked up an almost-imperceptable sliver of sharp wood that she claimed to have thought was a dagger before she picked it up. Seeing her error, and finding nothing else of note, the PCs moved on to the basement level.

There, after a short-lived tussle with a huge throng of rats, our heroes moved on to find a strong iron door, taking Natasha several tries before making it in, revealing what was obviously a workspace used by someone very interested in the occult or real magic, based on the various cues to necromancy found therein. While Walt was going about careful perusal and attempted mending of the tomes, Natasha pushed her way to the shelves and groped roughly at the spines, then just as suddenly lost interest. The rest of the group ran cautious eyes over the room, and knowing what they must do, ventured further, descending a great set of stairs leading from the workshop, despite Vic having a sudden vision of ghouls pulling him down into the darkness below.

Below, the group found a series of semi-natural caverns and began exploration, first encountering what used to be a dire bat, but with more ghoul on it. The thing had surprised the group when it dropped onto Vic, but posed only a minor threat to the party. The commotion, however, had attracted two small packs of ghouls to the group, and though they posed the threat of paralysis and disease, held no real threat, themselves.

Fortunately, the path they took through the tunnels led them only a short distance from their ultimate (but then-unknown) destination, upon which they entered the chamber, seeing at first a table strewn with various bits and odds and ends of Vic's possessions and trash, as well as a blood-stained chair that faced away with a table beside it on which was placed a silver tray of gobleted blood and raw hunks of meat. The ghoul serving it paused for his master to speak, telling the party that he had been waiting for them, and that it had taken far too long for them to arrive.

These things were actually said to Vic, but were addressed, generally, to the party, as the speaker was still seated, but then he rose, revealing him to be Aldern Foxglove...though a less alive version than Rissi, Vic, and Walt remembered from before. This parody of their friend slipped a mask on and no sooner was attacked, the group realizing that this was the foe they needed to stop, the murderer of (mostly) good people in Sandpoint!

Though the fight was joined by a small pack of goblins that had suffered the same fate as all in these chambers, and that Aldern had taken the facial features of Vic once he donned the mask, the battle was over almost as soon as it began, as Walt and Natasha had occupied the goblin ghouls while Elspeth, Rissi, Hyrum, and Vic neutralized Aldern and his butler.

As we left off, the group was pondering Aldern's downfall and obsession with Vic in his undead state, as well as questioning the usefulness and abilities of the mask and other items found on the dread ghast that once was their friend.

Cast of Characters
Walt Thrune, Chelaxian Human Cleric 7 (Merciful Healer) of Sarenrae - Paul
Rissi Scuttle, Ratfolk Alchemist 7 - Angela
Vic Alvaraz, Varisian Human Fighter (Mobile Fighter) 7 - David
Elspeth, Elf Wizard (Evoker) 7 - Tami
Hyrum Vassal, Chelaxian Human Tyrant (LE Antipaladin variant) 4 of Urgathoa/Monk 1 - David (secondary)
Natasha Caine, Chelaxian Human Rogue 5 - Angela (secondary)


Reconciling the Keeps, Part 2

A while back, I made a post about reconciling the original keep from Keep on the Borderlands (1979) with the keep as presented in Return to the Keep on the Borderlands (1999) and my own notes for my Pathfinder-driven Wilderlands of High Fantasy game set in the eastern reaches of the lands controlled by the City-State of the World Emperor. That original post can be found here, but contains no real pertinent information other than saying I was beginning to do this. This post is the fruit of that work.

The Keep, known to most as Bugbear Falls due to the culmination of a battle many years ago that took place on the cliffs where the place now sits. The name originally given by its founder is Dunkiel (dUHn-keel). The path to the place is unguarded but narrow and winding, stretching just a little across the chasm, leaving the keep's (normally drawn, of late) drawbridge to make the difference.

2. The Gatehouse Towers are manned by two sets of brothers, depending on shift (see Bailiff's Tower, below). After brief questioning by the pair, one goes down into his tower to lower the drawbridge, then when he reappears, keeps watch while the other disappears into his tower to raise the portcullis.
Both men are 3rd level Warriors, armored in chainmail with shield, and possessing shortbows and shortswords.

3. The Courtyard is protected by a new set of heavy double doors enforced with steel banding. Sabine Tikaf (Ftr 3; as statted in RttKotB) has ascended to the post of Corporal of the Watch after a string of promotions. She stands on the inside of the door, addressing any who enter through a barred window, letting only those who sheath and peacebond their weapons (or otherwise make a show of not wanting to cause trouble) enter. This dusky-skinned beauty in her early 30s became a widow during the siege of the keep by The Unbreakable adventuring guild (did I seriously not post about the siege?!), and has become bitterly distrusting of most adventurers who wish to enter her city now. She is always attended by a scribe (Com 1), who records all names, stated professions, taxes and tariffs, animals, etc.

4. The Common Stables will house the horses of any within the keep's walls at the cost of 5sp, or 1gp if a rubdown and grain are requested instead of hay. Reesen Ancel runs the stables for Rafe, who is also the smith for the keep. Reesen has been using Rafe's daughter, Tella (Rog 1; as in RttKotB), and the other half-dozen stablehands to build himself a nice little information network and budding thieve's guild.
During the famine that is taking place, the expenses for stabling have risen to 5gp and 10gp, and the stable master will offer 75gp and a quarter of the meat to any who wish to sell their horses to aid during the food shortages. Rafe set the price at 50gp, but Reesen has become grasping with this opportunity to make himself rich.

5. The Common Warehouse is normally used to hold all the kit and trade goods that visitors cannot usually take to their lodgings. Since the siege a year and a half ago, the Vuzughar has ordered it mandatory that all bags (including saddlebags and backpacks, but not belt pouches), boxes, crates, wagons, etc. be stored here until such time as the visitor leaves or makes arrangements for extended stay or residency. Sabine, the Corporal of the Watch, has the only key to this building.

6. The Bailiff's Tower used to be the traditional home of the Corporal of the Watch, but once Vic Tappas (Ftr 3; as KotB) took the office of Bailiff, he decided to keep the tower as his residence. The sleazy, gruff boor has made overtures to Sabine to share the residence, as they now share an office, with him on the upper floor, allowing for her to bring her twin sons, Sabir and Tahir along, if she would like.
The second floor of the tower is inhabited by Charl and Laurl, the day guards of the Gatehouse Towers, and Wort and Joop, the men assigned to nightwatch, while the third floor is occupied by 12 more members of the Watch and the fourth serves as a storage room and the Watch's armory. The ground floor serves as offices for the scribe that attends Sabine, Vic Tappas, and Sabine herself, as well as being the "base" for the Watch.

7. The Private Apartments are occupied by various members of society, detailed in the individual listings, below.
7a. The Jeweler, Samus Eip, and his wife reside here above the storefront he keeps on the ground floor. Samus' wife, Elsidor, and the two guards (War 3) they've had on retainer for years and years hide the fact that the aged merchant is showing signs of "mental wasting (Alzheimer's)", and are afraid what might happen should they have to close the doors.
7b. The Tailor, Cleg Weaver, and his wife Jocelyn, a tanner and furrier of no small skill, only celebrated their wedding a few short years ago, not even a year after the couple met, but the marriage and their mutual businesses, are going quite well as a result of their pairing. Jocelyn, in addition, used to be a hunter, and can give advice on several of the habitats of various wild creatures in the area.
7c. This Empty Apartment is legally owned by the last chartered members of The Unbreakable adventuring company that besieged the keep over a year ago. Formerly the property of one Elomir Nailo, a reputed elven sage, she came up missing shortly after her son was reportedly killed upon taking up the life of adventuring. In the months after, a member of The Unbreakable purchased the apartment and all things in it.
7d. The Cobbler, Reece, and his wife Asgrim make this apartment their home. Reece is said to have served the World Emperor in engagements in another part of the City-State's holdings, but the cobbler is quiet about his past, seemingly content in his simple life as a laborer. The couple have a son, Decius, and have just welcomed their second child, Nadya.
7e. The Schoolmaster & Scribe, Dubricus D'Ambreville (Wiz 1; as RttKotB), is an adventurer by trade, but since coming to the keep a few short months ago, has not been able to find an adventuring party due to the fact that he impresses that he should be leading such expeditions. To support himself, he has taken a job as a scribe and teacher, holding informal classes in his apartment for the children of parents that can pay his fee (1sp/day). He keeps his scrivening work to trade contracts, etc., in order to not interfere with government operation, and thus keep his head low (as he has learned that the rulers of the city do not like arcane casters).
7f. The Milkmaids, Neanne and Opal, as well as Neanne's daughter, Chandry, live here. Since the famine and blight that has affected everything, the sisters have pulled what non-tainted cows they had from their herd and, by virtue of Lady Dilana's good will, have housed the cattle in the lower floor of the Lookout Tower (see 12, below). In this arrangement, the ladies are able to continue their dairy operation at vastly inflated prices, due to shortage, and to cover the rent the Vuzughar charges. It is said that before the Stable of the Rider became the "state" religion of the keep, Opal led a small prayer group on some evenings, but no longer hosts such meetings.
7g. The Baker, "Brother" Martin, has not been a priest in many years. Recently come to the Falls, this middle-aged man spends almost all his time making beers and breads, neither of which are very good (he blames the quality of grain), but mostly whiles away his days drinking and eating his profits. If his religious calling is ever brought up, he becomes violent and chases any away who brought up the subject.
7h. The Woodworkers, Hobbin (a carpenter) and his brother, Asham (a cooper), live here along with both men's wives and their combined twelve children. The household is tense, with so many bodies cramped into one home, but with times as hard as they are, and with workable lumber in short demand after various fires in the area - including the one in Trenth which took Asham's home - the brothers have pooled resources to make due and support their families.
7i. The Bazaar stands empty after its owner, a southerner by the name of Rayyid, turned up missing after his visiting nephew made a supposed attempt on the life of Vuzughar Lago. The government, presumably, holds the rights to the building, but may legally have to wait for lease or some such to end.

There's the first seven entries of the keep proper. I anticipate two more posts before I get through the local map. This went a lot more smoothly than I anticipated when I was putting it together because anyone I hadn't introduced yet could be easily put in, and those that had been before could be altered slightly to fit my needs.

I'm not sure if this is useful to anyone but me, but hopefully someone out there will appreciate not having to look at Return, at the very least! I'll post the next installment as soon as I can. Hopefully right after my next AP post.

Age of Worms, Session 22

Entrance to the Free City for our band went swimmingly well, with us gathering as many injured and sick as we could upon our wagon as a means of easing the ire of those we cut ahead of in the hours-long line to get into the city, then greasing the palms of a few gate guards to get expedited in without the hassle of searches and what have you.

The band first procured rooms, upon recommendation, from a place called The Crooked House, Cameron throwing 30 gold at the man to house them and their horses and sundry for a "few nights". Information gathering as they took a round of drinks and meal helped them to determine that their contact, Eligos - known to be a warrior mage(!) and great sage - lives in a nearby district, and so they set out for the man's house.

Eligos' manor was lined with well manicured gardens and hedges, and upon arriving, the party were met with an elven manservant named Pollard, who showed us in to a parlor and bade us wait for his master, who appeared quickly thereafter. The sage politely took in the information and materials presented to him and showed slight surprise at the contact being initiated by Allustan, claiming to not have been in contact with his old colleague for quite some time, but promising to look into things more deeply and get in touch with us within the week, suggesting perhaps we spend our time enjoying the Free City and mentioning a parade taking place that we might enjoy on this very day!

And so, there we went, as the streets were hard to navigate with all the hubbub, anyway, and the party were able to avert a disaster when we engaged an escaped chimera after Katain's attempts to negotiate with the thing to calm down failed. The battle was hectic but quick, and we came out smelling like roses (figuratively, of course...we have been on the road for days) when we not only subdued the beast for the arena company, but also had Able heal the wounds of the bystanders that had gotten injured in the fracas. Dairon quickly sprung to action, extolling the virtues of his master knight, and was able to recruit two men to Cameron's banner, promising glories untold in the days to come as Mullins heatedly debated the reward of our deeds and the cost of the chimera, which was rather prohibitive at roughly 21k gp.

At this point, the group split company. Mullins decided to return to Eligos to question him more on the quest, Katain returned to The Crooked House (since Tami wasn't there to play her character), Dairon went about his search for a church adept for holy aid and guidance for what he hoped was the start of rebuilding of an army for Cameron, and Cameron originally going to the inn, as well, but going to find bottles of drink when he realized Dairon had his booze. (As an aside here, I can't recall what David's characters were doing at this point, which makes me wonder if he had already left for the night - sorry if they hadn't!) After procuring a couple of bottles of fine vintage from a local wine shop, he began to make his way back when he heard the rantings and ravings of a seemingly mad prophet who turned out to be spouting what Cameron perceived to be glaring truths about the "Age of Worms"...

So he knocked him out cold with his maul.

Making the way back to the inn and tossing a few more coins the owner's way, he drug his "drunk" friend to his room, where he promptly gagged and tied him up to wait on his companions to get back. Katain, witnessing the ordeal, flew to Eligos' to warn Mullins of what had happened, and the rest of the characters came in from their various errands and explorations and gathered in the room over the proselyter to confer, with most of it being Cameron justifying to the others that the street preacher just knew too much.

When he awoke, the prosyleter was put to questioning and claimed to be the prophet of something called the Golden Eye, and that he was not part of any particular church or sect, but was granted visions and instinctively knew all that he did about the situation and circumstances, explaining that he cannot even grasp the full idea of what he says unless he speaks his rant in its entirety. At this, feeling that his prophecies could come in handy in the coming days, Dairon stepped in and gave him the "sales pitch" to join Cameron's growing band on their quest, to which he said he would think about it.

And there we left off. Things are about to heat up in the Free City, methinks.

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 13: The Skinsaw Murders

Our group changed schedule this week, moving the game to Monday nights instead of Wednesday, putting me almost two weeks behind on posting APs, let alone anything else I might want to push out (and there is plenty, believe me). I plan to be caught back up this week, but who knows. Regardless, with this post, I'll only be one week behind. Progress!

Anyway...when we picked up last week, our heroes made the choice to push out of the farmlands and journey immediately to the Misgivings, where most of the notes to Vic, and even the testimony of the crazed near-ghoul, Grayst Sevilla, has led.

The travel went uncontested and easily through the farmlands east, and riding across the near stretches of the Bleaklow Moor with no harassment, the party finally made it to the spot where the Lost Coast Road meets the path to Foxglove Manor, near the covered bridge across the Foxglove River. No sooner had they passed the formal road than up from the overgrown banks of the river rose a huge mass of animate vegetation, extending clasping maws like those of a venus flytrap several yards out, immediately snatching Vic from the back of his horse and enclosing him in one "mouth" while pressing the attack with three others.

The thing's sheer size and ability to fight on multiple fronts came to bear quickly, with the carnivorous plant scooping up Natasha and clasping down on a horse next. The fight was over almost as soon as it began, however, when after a barrage of spells and attacks, the thing slunk into the river, releasing its prey as it did, leaving Vic and Natasha near collapse and death, and leaving the horse and Elspeth with severe wounds.

Walt administered aid to the wounded and the group set off again, more wary of their surroundings as they approached the sea cleft, and the precariously perched manor that came into view after another hour of travel.

The squawk of crows perched upon a boarded up well next to the husk of a building burned out long ago greeted our party, and lent a little eeriness to the approach to the main building. As they drew near, however, they noticed new doors had been set in the front and side entrances of the building, no doubt the product of the renovations Aldern had mentioned to the original three party members.

After a courteous knock, the group heard a pair of small children laughing and running toward the door, one announcing "I'll get it", but no answer came to the door. Finding it locked, and then swiftly picked, the band entered the home in the dual interest of their investigation and a tiny measure of worry for their mutual friend (not really, as Walt dislikes the man, but Vic, I think, gets on with him well).

The entrance hall to the manor is, or would be if not for all the cobwebs and dust, a grand thing, with the hunting trophies of days long past displayed for visitors; the greatest of these, a fierce-looking (despite its present condition) manticore, stuffed full-bodied and mounted on a platform in the middle of the room. Once secure in the fact that the thing was not alive, the group decided to check out the rest of the house, moving into a door on the left, despite some of them hearing sobbing apparently from an upper floor.

In the next chamber they visited, the room was barren except for a once beautiful grand piano laying in a sad, mildewed and molded state in the corner, which Rissi could not resist and tinkled a few of the keys, which sounded in perfect pitch despite the condition of the instrument. At this same moment, Walt heard Rissi's masterful Varisian song and flung himself forward, into the arms of a beautiful woman he swore was not there a moment earlier, then just as quickly snapped out of his revelry, seeing the woman scream and then watch as her face darkened and bloated as if being choked. Everyone else stood staring at the priest for a moment as he began to dance by himself and then seemingly come to his senses, noticing that Rissi's talent wasn't even Chopsticks worthy.

Further investigation led Elspeth to enter what apparently was a washroom, holding a now-empty basin from which dissonant scraping sounds issued. Approach revealed a blind rat, its eyes and the rest of its body covered from nose to tail in tumors and lesions. Deciding to leave well alone, the group pressed on, hearing more sobbing, children giggling, and footsteps in the floor above as they then explored a lounge with an odd breeze though no windows were open, and on into a dining room with interesting stained glass and then back into the entrance hall, whereupon Elspeth suddenly caught on fire, claiming the manticore had singed her with its tail alight with flame, though none of the others witnessed it despite being in the room.

A cursory check of a musty drawing room was done before moving to upward-going stairs to the next floor, their footsteps sounding an instant later than they were taken. Exiting the stairwell, Walt led the way into what appeared to be a fairly well-kept child's room, wherein Vic saw his parents fighting amongst themselves, his mother weilding a torch and his father, tumor-riddled like the rat from before, clutching a long knife, the altercation getting progressively worse, but ending before concluding in the inevitable. The rest of the group, having seen nothing, continue on down the hall. Vic feels a little lost and hurt at this point, never wishing to have seen such a sight (Wisdom damage, ouch.)

A quick glance in at the next room on the right reveals it to have been a music room of some sort, with multiple stringed instruments resting in the corner, but Walt's description to the others of his previous peril in the piano room cause the PCs to move on (I think! I don't remember anything happening in this room, though I do remember giving a description to the group. One of my players should be able to clarify if I am wrong). The next room visited, in contrast to the last two being in fairly good repair, is caked with thick, black mold all over. Vic catches himself reaching for his face to pick at the mold he feels there, but dismisses the sensation as a reaction to the filth, and the party venture further down the hall to a washroom with a sagging floor, which they decide to avoid, for safety's sake.

Safety, however, becomes a concern when a new member of the party, the Chelaxian woman, Natasha, suddenly attacks Rissi as everyone is going through what appears to be the master bedchamber, though the furniture, including bed, is smashed to pieces and all the artwork is smashed or slashed apart, save for a single painting turned to face the wall. The attack takes places as other members of the group are inspecting the turned painting, Walt realizing that it's a portrait of his dance partner in the piano room as everyone is trying to subdue Natasha, who claims not to have known what came over her and that she felt compelled. The group accept this, seeing how they've all experienced at least something weird about this place, then enter the last chamber on the floor that isn't a staircase

The next chamber, a large one opposite the hall from the music room on the floor, turns out to be a gallery, depicting various members of the Foxglove family, stretching back a few generations, and including portraits of a young Aldern and his sisters, as well as their parents and other family of indeterminate connection. As the paintings have their dust and cobwebs brushed away, however, the room erupts in activity. Sheets of mold spread from the painting of Vorel Foxglove as the others seem to all have grisly fates take over their likenesses in the frames, and then just as suddenly, the room is back to normal. The paintings displaying the gorgeous portraits of the family, and relatively untouched compared to other rooms in the house.

The party, having satisfied their curiosity of this part of the house, venture up again...seeing a figure standing at the end of a short hall as they crest the stairs, upon which I ended the session.

The noises of children laughing, sobbing, voices, footsteps, etc. are heard by the party every little bit as they explore the manor. It's no wonder, a few PCs have voiced, that Aldern has not been able to keep laborers employed to restore the mansion under these conditions. At any rate, this has been a pretty fun departure from the usual linear dungeon, and I think we're all enjoying it.

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)