Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Session 10: Vampires at Dusk

After two weeks of not playing, we return with Laughing Fox, his two Chickasaw warriors, Laurentius the Cleric, Mark Tarvar, Longshakes, and Oldvay the Mage. They decided to set out to one of the abandoned mines in the western section of the map, The Lowland Hills. But let's back up and go over a few things first. First up, back in early Feburary I believe, I put up a hook about how no one in Pottsfort had heard of John Molan and his mining crew in some months. John had one main mine in the south of the Lowland Hills and had decided to reopen an abandon mine in the northern part of same region. Then months go by and...nothing. Mayor Tallwood becoming concerned let word go out that he was looking for anyone who could go to the mines and find out what's become of John Molan. One man answered the call. The mighty warrior Kothar and his twelve Krulls (think knockoff Beowulf and his twelve Danes but with a knockoff Conan name.) Kothar hails from Krullsway, and was once served as captain of the King of Ieston's Guard. Kothar is also a patron. Of sorts. Like Ruthless Bill, Kothar really isn't a high level domain ruler settled to one place like that of Duran Durin, Wirror Warrens, and a couple of unknown patrons that currently reside on the Red Frontier map. Instead he's more of a rival party of sorts. But instead of being controlled by me, he's played by another player. When coming up with patrons for my game, I didn't just want some domain level patrons that could give PCs quests. I also wanted some mid level patrons that were more like adventures that could possibly rival and even effect the game the same way players could. Not all movers and shakers need to be high level lords and what not. 

So during the last little awhile, Kothar took his men to the north mine. The first time was a bit of wash due to him never making it there. Instead, he fell upon a group of ogres. Though prevailing against such giant brutes, one of his men became permanently crippled. He returned to Pottfort and told his tale of ogre bashing. A few days later, Kothar left out once more and this time made it to the mine. Almost there he found a pack of wolves gnawing on a dwarven corpse. He quickly put down the canines and followed the dwarf's blood trail. It lead directly to the mine. One thing was unusual about the dwarf. He had a rope tied to his leg. 

Arriving at the mine, Kothar went through the adjoining buildings one by one, not finding anyone home. Or alive. Instead he found a journal from the Bodlum the Dwarf, Molan's second in command. Seems Molan requested Boldum's aid for the southern mine. They had found something big and needed all the help he could spare. Bodlum set out south with most of his crew, but left two of his sons to guard the mine while he was away. Kothar delved into the mine with his men. Eventually making to the large northernmost chamber they saw on a map, they encountered a nest of sleeping trolls. Kothar lead his men back out and decided to set a trap. He began to set the outside buildings that connected to the hill where the mine was located aflame. Then, he and a few of his men quickly ran back into the mine to purposefully awake the slumbering trolls. Once aroused, the trolls soon followed the humans back to the entrance. Kothar and his men dashed out of the burning buildings, and the trolls were soon consumed in the raging inferno. None survived. 

Once the flames died down, Kothar went back in once more. This time he found the trolls nest empty, except for their treasure and the remains of a dwarf. Along a wall, there was a cut and bloody rope bound to a steak placed into the wall...After this, Kothar returned to Pottsfort with his loot and his tale of the trolls demise.

Not long after, Wirrow Warrens, with things around the Bloated Badger being fairly quiet, and catching the bug of adventure like most hobbits of his stripe, decided to head out to the southern mine. He took ten of his best hobbits with him, including his uncle Wirriam the Cleric. This was on Wednesday, the 13th. Going on foot due to a distrust of horses, Wirror and his compatriots arrived at the southern mine on midday Friday, not long till dusk. Hot on his trails were brave and hardy players. They themselves left the Bloated Badger Friday morning and arrived there at dusk. Finally there, the met up with Wirrow and looking about the buildings connected to the mine, they find no one. But they do find signs of struggle. And old blood. A lot of old blood. A map of the mine and it's floors were also found. They also took a look at the journal of John Molan that Wirrow found earlier.

Of note, they found some of the entries to be helpful: "While mining, we broke into an entrance, one that had steps going down. We began exploring and mining, finding large quantities of gold." Another:  "I've begun to hear whispering. I've sent word to Bodlum in the north mine for help. Every hand that can be spared."

"The whispering is compelling me to go further. Five of my men have gone missing. Maybe it's the sasquatches lurking. Doesn't matter, we have to keep digging. He's calling me. And his daughters."

"More men go missing, but Bodlum has arrived and seeing the piles of gold, is eager to get started."

"SUCCESS!!! They found the Black Door! It's cold now. We've found him! And his beautiful daughters!"

"All will be his."

Our party, with Wirror and five of his men, set out to plunder the black depths of the mine. Before heading to the second floor, the party headed to northeastern chamber on the first level. The map indicated that there was some sort of fountain at the back of the room. After a few turns, the party found themselves in the middle of the chamber. Instead of the dry and dusty hallways of the mine, this chamber was wet. Walls slick with water. Puddles on the floor. And dripping from the ceiling. They saw the fountain at the back wall. It was ancient. It appeared to have ornate designs of bronze frogs imbedded along its pedestal. Stepping closer, the party saw a large grey bubble emerge from the closest puddle. It became elongated and tried to attack the party. The hobbits and others slung bullets from slings, arrows from bows, and even a dagger. While most of the missile fire had some effect on the oozy creature, the flask of burning oil had no effect; it merely shuddered it off. Not long after, the party retreated back past the door while the oozed lunged forward towards them. It quickly recoiled after emerging into the drier air. Seeing this, the party once again continued their attacks and finally slayed the grey blob. 

Returning into the chamber, they soon approached the fountain. It's water was a clear blue, and a small spout of water in the center kept it from being totally placid. Laughing contacted the spirits of his ancestors for guidance on what to do. They didn't prove helpful. None of heroes were brave enough to drink from the fountain, but Laughing Fox did collect some in a vial. The party finally left and headed down to the level beneath. And immediately had to make saving throws against spells. Some passed. Others failed. Those that failed began to hear a man whispering in their head. A man wanting them to come closer. That he needed their help. And they heard the voices of young women as well. Wirrow began to urge the party forward, that they needed to help these poor souls. Confused, the ones who didn't hear anything shrugged and soldiered on. The shafts and chambers became colder and colder as the went along. And the whisperings become closer and louder. 

Finally, the group reached an opened large black stone door. An orange unholy light greeted them. Inside they say a large chamber with several black marble columns thirty feet high. And braziers with orange, hellish flames. They tread on a floor of black stone tiles. The whispering had stopped. Not far off, they saw a ledge that dropped off into the back part of the abyssal chamber. They found a set of ebony steps leading down. More columns greeted them. On the other side of those columns were six shallow pits. And at the end of the chamber sat an ancient altar decorated with demonic bats and other creatures from Hell. And upon that altar laid a large stone coffin. 

Before approaching the coffin, the party explored the chamber and found inside the pits were corpses of men and dwarf. And those corpses began to stir. Flasks of oil were thrown, and both Laurentius and Wirriam used turn undead on the waking cadavers. Success! Many began to flee around the chamber, only to hit the walls that enclosed them. The adventures, with the help of the hobbits, made short work on the zombies. And then the lid of the coffin began to slid open with pale, white, elongated fingers reaching out. The source of the whispering had awoken. As quickly as those ancient appendages poked through that hellmade room, Laughing Fox threw a vial of holy water and hit the hand with full force. It began to burn and the players that they could hear a man scream out in agony. But he taunted them, and said it wouldn't be enough! Soon both Laurentius and Wirriam once more used turn undead, but both failed. Their power was not enough to ward off that undead demon. Out of nowhere, three swarms of rats emerged from black mists and set upon the party. And our vampire came fully forth out his coffin, ancient, pale, adorned in a black cloak and ancient plate armor and eyes that glowed blue hate.

The party realizing they were in over their heads, began to run away. Unfortunately, Wirriam was dragged down and eaten by one of the swarms of rats. Laughing Fox picked up Wirrow and carried him on his back. Another hobbit was placed on Oldvay's wardog Conan. After being bitten by a swarm, Longshanks managed to get up and flee. And so did the others. Before he could get out, Laughing Fox was attacked by the vampire, who had let them know he was called Caln and had intentions on feasting on their blood along with his daughters. Vampires, like most undead, drain their levels once physical contact is made. And being a vampire, according to ACKS rules, he will take twice as much. And so before escaping his attack, Laughing Fox was drained two levels. Scary stuff here folks. Scary stuff indeed. After escaping Caln's grasp, Laughing Fox and the others ran out of the chamber, and emerging behind them, not in his human form, but in the form of a giant bat, Caln gave pursuit. 

It was a good ways back to the entrance of the mine and the party had to take many sharp turns getting there and with a viscous vampire on their heels, it wasn't going to be easy. Now, ACKS has some rules for evasion. One in particular is about making hard turns:

There were about six or seven hard turns they had to make to get back at the beginning of the first level of the mine. I'm not going to go in detail for each player, but will give you the highlights. Longshake failed his first save. He soon heard the calling of Caln's three daughters. On the opposite end of the hallway, past the Black Door, Longshanks could see out of the corner of his eye three pale women making their way to him with two, withered looking men by their sides. Caln flew past him and continued to zero in on Laughing Fox and the other characters. Longshanks soon fell to the daughter's charms, and made his way into their ancient embrace. Laurentius failed his second saving throw and while getting up, decided to go back and try to help his companion. Taking a scroll of Warding from his pack that the group had found some sessions before, Laurentius spoke the spell aloud and made his way to Longshanks. Unfortunately, he was too late. The hapless fighter had succumb to the demonic creatures' wiles and bloodlust. He was drained of all levels and soon perished. Laurentius ran as fast as he could before his spell wore off.

Laughing Fox managed to pass his saving throws, but Oldvay, Joe Bridger, and the henchman Big Nose did not. They each in turn became victims of Caln's hunger. Halfway through, Laughing Fox decided to drink the vial of fountain water he collected earlier. Since his ancestor spirits were indecisive in their help on the usefulness of that eerie water, I made Laughing Fox's player roll a Save vs Poison. Failure would be immediate death. He barely passed. Our shaman managed to spit out the water just in time before it killed him. He kept running. Eventually both Laughing Fox, his surviving warrior Dogface, Laurentius, Mark Tarvar, and the remaining hobbits reached the first floor and the outside was in sight. And Caln was nearly on them. Laughing Fox decided to use his prestidigitation ability to make it appear that sunrise was coming and light was pouring through the door, all in the hopes of warding off their deadly pursuer. Laurentius, who while behind the shaman, saw what he was trying to do and cast light to aid him in the illusion. I agreed, but Caln would be able to make a saving throw against this act. He failed. Fearing that he would soon be engulfed in flames due to the rising sun, Caln retreated back to the second level, cursing the party and letting them know he wasn't through with them. But they weren't out of the woods yet, so to speak. They still had Caln's ravenous daughters tailing them now that they were through draining their fallen companion. I too had made a saving throw, and like their father, failed. The surviving party hightailed it out of the mine, gathered the hobbits on guard, and left the mine behind them as they made their way back to the Bloated Badger.

Total XP

Laughing Fox, Shaman (0%) = 132 XP

Mark Tarvar, Thief (10%) = 145 XP

Laurentius, Cleric (5%) = 139 XP

Dogface, Henchman Fighter (0%) = 132 XP

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Session 9 Skinwalker Extravaganza!

This is one is gonna be fun. This week Oldvay, Mark, Laurentius by Laurentius' Little Brother (another cleric) and after a long absence, Hazzik the dwarven delver. So the players this week decided to head out the Old Bastard. Two of our players this week have never been, but were up for some dungeon crawling. Taking a wagon with them, our happy adventurers set off. With only a small trail leading to the Old Bastard, one that's over hills, hollows, and through forests, I decided it would take the same amount to get there as it would on foot. 

On the first night, the group managed to avoid being dinner to a group of giant bats. The four giant, flying rodents were descending to the party only to soon fall down to the ground from Oldvay's sleep spell. They were soon dispatched. 

During the next day, around late morning, the party began to hear singing and talking of a man and children throughout the woods. They decided to flee. Going at full speed, they finally stopped around dusk, only to hear the same singing and laughing throughout the trees. It seems their pursuers didn't give up. Soon after, the party took cover behind their wagon and witnessed four figures emerge from the barren woods. The first was that of a man, the other three of children of various heights. 

As they approached, they continued to laugh, sing, and even ask the players to join them. And that they are hungry. The party wasn't having none of it. Getting closer, the skinwalker family began to transform: limbs becoming longer, faces more skull like and with elongated teeth, and black, short fur emerging through their skin. Combat ensued. Hazzik and another player throws some military oil over the wagon, but misses and only causes some splash damage on the father and one of his children. A flask of holy water was thrown but missed. Mark the thief shot a silver arrow into the left of the father, who, while hurt by such metal, jerked the arrow, and his eye, out and threw it down to the ground. 

Hazzik managed to throw a flask of oil onto the father skinwalker, burning him badly. But the poor dwarf soon became the target of one of the diabolical children. Laurentius managed to throw a flask of holy water, this time hitting and damaging the larger skinwalker. His little brother even managed to use turn undead, but to no effect and the father laughing at his failed attempt. Eventually, Oldvay, after his wardog was attacked, managed to cast sleep, and put all three of the children into a deep slumber. Unfortunately, the father managed to kill Laurentius's little brother. While the little brother was giving up his last breath, Mark had snuck off and came around the behind the father, and drove his dagger into his back, severely wounding him further. Unable to wake his children, and horribly wounded, the father skinwalker began to retreat, but not before being killed with an arrow shot from Mark. His body soon to turned to dust and the fur burned away, leaving only his heart and eyes. The smaller creatures were soon put down as well.

The next morning, the remaining party collected themselves, and set out to find the skinwalkers' lair. Oldvay sent out his raven familiar, and with a nat 20, managed to locate their wicked abode and soon relayed the information to party. Making their way through the winter-dead woods, our survivors managed to find a dugout in a hill covered in black vines. After searching for traps on the wooden door, the party enter in. Inside they found a small chamber with a blood covered, wooden table with runes carved into it around a skull and candles, and dead, butchered bodies in various states of decomposition. On the back wall, lay various clothes, items, and other debris collected from their victims. The party finds, after looking through the heap, a pouch of 1,400 copper pieces and six gems, magical chainmail of dwarven make, a potion, and most surprising of all, a purple leather bag, with gold stitching around it and forming the words: BAG of HOLDING. Groovy! The cleric does the necessary rites on the dead bodies before they are buried and the group heads back to Pottsfort, to bring the inhabitants the news of their accomplishments. 

So the party managed to find the rest of the family of skinwalkers. They also found out that silver is effective. And that though they're not undead, due to whatever unholy rituals that made them into what they are, holy water is very effective against the vile creatures. Unfortunately, due to them being very much alive, turn undead has no effect. And unlock werewolves, skinwalkers can transform anytime, regardless what phase the moon is in. And it also seems they possibly possess magical capabilities. Despite the one death, or not managing to get to the Old Bastard, I would say it was a good night!

Total XP and GP:

Skinwalker Father: 175 XP

Skinwalker Children: 3 x 100 XP  

Treasure (not including potion or Bag of Holding) = 1889 XP

Session 8 Goblin Bash!

This is gonna be a fairly short session. This session we had Laughing Fox, his henchmen, Longshanks the fighter, Oldvay the mage, Mark the thief, and Laurentius the cleric. The first hour or so of the night, the gang spent time identifying magical items and special treasures from previous sessions before. Not everything got identified, but most did. Of note were the three books and telescope found in the Werewolf session, various potions, multiple scrolls, and other odds and ends.

Duran Durin

With that out of the way, the players decided to go help Duran Durin with his goblin problem. The week before, some of Duran's scouts came across a large group of goblins. Battle ensued, and while the goblins took many casualties, the dwarves did as well, and were forced to retreat, leaving the bodies of the fallen comrades behind. Early the next week, Duran sent a group of dwarves to Pottsfort to get some elven crowns identified, he also sent word about his goblin problem. With many hooks to follow, including a possible Demon boar rummaging around in the Lowland Hills, the party decided to go kill themselves some goblins. 

A couple of days later, they made it to Duran's camp, The Powerstation. Seeing many dwarves mining in and around the hills and mountains, and even working on a stronghold, the players met with Duran Durin. He told them of their problem and sent with them 5 of the surviving dwarves who wanted revenge. The party left and began their search. 

First they searched the bloody battleground from the week before. Other than some dried blood, nothing. No dwarven bodies or goblin bodies. Oldvay sent out his raven familiar to look for the goblin hideout. Eventually, after two failed attempts on the die rolls for searching for lairs in the wilderness, the familiar returned with good news. The party made their way northeast, and found a small valley nestled between mountains. In the valley, the saw some bushes, a stream, and two goblins walking about on guard duty. Looking about, they also saw a large opening in mountainside where the stream was flowing from. The players quietly approached the hideous creatures, and took them out. Soon after, they devised a plan to lure as many of the goblins out and kill them. They succeeded. After dispatching the green backs, they set upon the remaining creatures inside. 

Once inside, they found three wolves tied to a large stalagmite to their east. The canines began growling and howling, alerting the rest of the goblin forces. Our players soon made their way throughout the small cavern lair, and met little resistance until crossing a bridge that led to the leader's chamber. While the goblins put up an admirable effort of barricading themselves inside the large chamber, with the aid of military oil, the players made short work of the creatures on the other side. Prevailing against the goblins, our party unfortunately found just a pitiful amount of loot once inside. Still, it's better then being killed. The players left the hideout and returned to Duran's stronghold for the night. 

Total XP and GP:

Goblins = 120 XP

Wolfs = 105 XP

Treasure = 625 XP, GP

Happenings and Going Ons in the Red Frontier Part 2

These events took place during August thru October of 2022 While the Urgak and Wier were preparing to fight against the forces of Law, the p...