Sunday, June 18, 2023

Frontier Bulletin 41: We're Back!

So last Friday was the first Red Frontier game in months that I ran after taking a brief hiatus. There's a lot that happened after my last post (which occurred last fall). Heck, even the player of Boldvay took over a bit to run the Red Frontier to try to connect my world with his own. But those are all for other posts. Let's dig in on what happened last Friday instead!

The Players:

Mark the Gnome level 8 Thief

Laurentius, level 7 Cleric

Mnemonic, level 1 Magic-User

Plus Mnemonic's faithful war hound

The session begins in the so far unnamed underground town that many of the survivors of Pottsfort have made. This town is located in the same area where the battle between the albino orcs and the Duran Durin took place. The surviving albino orcs were driven out by the gloom crawler and that fowl beast was destroyed by the players. Gnarly stuff! Since I didn't have much planned for this session as I was more concerned about getting back into the saddle, I had to improvise! During the months off, many more of Durin's clansmen arrived at the Power Station and two weeks before the session, a small group of dwarven scouts decided to explore the underground river that the orcs had escaped on. A day before the session started, they reemerged and told the party what they found: the orcs!

They followed the river for a few days and eventually emerged into another gargantuan chamber, even larger than the one they left in. Following the first hook of the river they found an ancient dwarven keep on it's other side. This surprised them as they and the other dwarves of the Shaggy Mountains believed that they had never travelled this far down under the Devil's Spine. They noticed two cone towers flanking the five story cubical keep, along with two smaller cone towers on it's top. And spanning over the width of the river was an ancient stone bridge. On the opposite bank, the glowing forest of giant mushrooms and ferns grew and spanned the length of the river as far as the eye could see. But the dwarves noticed an orc patrol among the bridge and being a small group decided to head back.

Back to our players. Having this information, the party decided to investigate said keep. Instead of take a boat like the dwarves did, they instead took their hovercar. They made good time and arrived at the keep the next morning without any encounters. Nearing the bank of of the river where the keep resided, the players heard a disturbing sound of tribal chanting and drumming. Along the top of the ancient keep, they saw the eldritch glow of great, green flames. The party came up with a plan. First, Laurentius cast Silence on Mark. Mark then downed a potion of Giant Strength. After that, Mark went ahead of the group to scout. Nearing what was left of a stone wall that circled the keep, Mark discovered a small patrol of orcs. He decided to surprise the orcs while charging but failed. Doesn't matter though with his giant strength, he managed to punch a large whole into a orc with his mace. The rest of party made quick work of the remaining orcs.

With Silence still in effect, Mark climbed the nearest tower. Once on top, he spied a horrid sight: across the fifteen foot gap between the tower and keep, he sees what appears a giant, black statue of a frog with bat like features behind the green flames, and an orc priest holding a hairy dwarven baby over an alter before the green fire with one hand and in another a cruel dagger while many orcs and some squirming dwarven captives. Before the vile priest could sacrifice the babe, Mark unleashed a crossbow bolt into the priest. The surprised priest was instantly killed and dropped the still alive baby amongst it's kin. The orcs stopped their evil chanting and drumming and looked around stunned, not knowing what to do. Mark then descended down the tower and met with the remaining party.

The players soon entered in the opened doors of the keep and were soon met by a few albino orc wars descending down stairs on their right. Combat was soon met and even with a few more reinforcements, the orcs proved to be no match and were put down by the party. The players soon made quick work of the remaining orc women and children and rescued the dwarf captives. The dwarves proved to have a strange appearance: more of neaderthal look along with even more hairy bodies then their above ground counterparts. While their dwarvish was a little different than what the players were used too, they soon made out that the dwarves were from a village in the southeast that was raided by the orcs. They invited the players to their village but the players politely declined. They soon explored the keep.

There wasn't much left in the keep. The entrance to the lower levels, including the vault, were blocked by giant stone blocks. That said, on the last floor leading up to the roof, they did precure a great haul. Ten 2' tall dwarven statues made of gold and having ruby eyes and each weighing fifty pounds and worth 20,000 gp, four magic scrolls, a spell book, on bag containing 3,000 gp, another with jewels worth 10,000 gp, and among the body of the orc priest, a book of black leather with the face of Tsathoggua. After this, party made their way back to the underground town. Mnemonic gained enough xp to get to level 7, but must find out a higher level M-U and take seven weeks to train. Both Mark and Laurentius gained a level but must train for a week each.

A couple of last things. By now we've switched from ACKS to AD&D 1E, which I might explain why later in another post and that I took Jeffro Johnson's advice about stealing adventure hooks from the pulps. With this adventure I took "inspiration" from both H.P. Lovecraft's "Call of Cthulhu" and especially from Robert E. Howard's chilling short story "The Black Stone." Both are highly recommended! Remember folks, Appendix N and the pulps in general are you friend!

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