Episode Three: We are here to help……the Gnolls

Posted in Uncategorized on October 9, 2010 by zhaumist

Night falls and we rest and post a lookout. It’s too dangerous to move now, but we pass an uneventful evening and a soft rain greets us as we wake in the early morning. We debate entering the city through the water gate to the south or through the mountains and the shelf to the north. Since we still need to cross the river Zwall, and not many of our group can actually swim, we decide that we might find an easier path through the shelf, hopefully where the river runs underground, and then descend upon the city walls from the north. We make our way through the hills at the base of the mountains and inch our way towards Quent.

Now we realize that the food we stole from our last encounter should last us through today and halfway into tomorrow, but we will need to secure more food very soon. We really need to enter the city so we can get back to the low quarter. Fortunately, from the last raid on Senarus Ranch, we have procured the following: One spiked belt, three flasks of oil, flint and steel, mortar and pestle, a copper signet ring, and a dagger hilt. There are also a few items of immense curiosity. There is an intricately carved ivory horn, and a ceramic jug with a special cork and a perfume like liquid on the inside. The haul is not bad and more than we’ve had for a while.

It’s slow going through the shelf and we have to backtrack several times and make circuitous routes around many impassables. Suddenly, after turning one corner, we come upon a heavy  man with a big beard and long hair who is shocked at the sight of other humans. “Who are you? How did you get here?” asks the captain. He is Rexnar, another soldier from the front whose entire company was destroyed by the hoard. He alone survived a major battle in the quillwood and has since spent his days roaming and scavenging while looking for safe passage back into the city. Rexnar is originally from the drop, which is the neighborhood close to the low quarter and we instantly bond in these dangerous times. He has been here for at least a day, but it’s hard to get much more information out of him. Just like most of our group, he is also starving and slowly losing his wits. He shows us three blind mice that he keeps in a cage and insists that they can help us find food and then proceeds to ramble on about some mysterious rolling juggernaut temple out in the wilderness, but none of our party has ever heard of such a thing and we quietly question his sanity. Still, he seems strong, well trained, and with our goals aligned, he is a welcome addition to our group.

The rain falls harder now and we search for hours looking to make progress towards the city. We run into more frustrating dead ends and roundabouts until we finally come upon a sheer cliff with a drop of at least two hundred feet. Below flows the windy water of the river Zwall. We think our plan to find an easy way to cross the river has failed until we see at the edge of the cliff, there is a crudely constructed rope and wooden plank bridge that might be traversed. It looks quite precarious, but we have no other choice since the river rushes on far below.

But before we get to the bridge, a small creature pops out from the trees and begins slashing at one of the ropes. It’s a Halfling and she’s trying to cut the bridge down. “Stop what you are doing!” bellows the captain. Surprised, the Halfling bounds off and hides in some brush. We crawl up to the bridge now to get a better look as our eyes dart nervously about, looking for an ambush. When we get closer,  it looks like the bridge is about fifty feet across and might still be usable despite the Halfling sabotage. Sensing we have more pressing problems, the Halfling is coaxed out of hiding by the captain and she agrees to put down the crossbow that she had trained on us.

Now we see her for the first time, a young Halfling woman, not much taller than Weebolo, but fleet of foot. She wears a headband with her hair pulled back and has a prominent birthmark on her right cheek. We also notice a simple wooden oak leaf necklace, the potent symbol of Ovian, the goddess of Nature. She is Brarglow Bearbite and she tells us an all too familiar story. Her party was murdered by humanoids and she managed to escape. She is originally from Forsoak, but has lived in the neighborhood of first port in Quent for several years. After the invasion, her group tried to leave the city through the Nob gate in the east, but got pushed all the way back north, through the high quarter and into the shelf. She laments, “the city is lost, there is no hope now. The high quarter is completely collapsed and has been reconfigured by evil humanoids.”

Still there is some hopeful news. Brarglow says there are remaining bands of humans scattered about the shelf and they are mostly trying to fortify and hold out against all manner of beasts. Gnolls are common in this area. It also looks like the front gate hasn’t been completely breached and the dwarves still monitor it in some capacity. They also hold out in certain areas in the city and the dwarven front door, built to last to the end of time, still stands firm. Most hopeful is that we also hear more human troops are on their way from Worsk and Absalon and resistance to the humanoids is not completely abandoned.

We can tell Brarglow’s harrowing adventure has begun to eat at her resolve. Dropping her gaze, she turns negative again, “ but there are no human factions left inside the city. They have all been pushed out into the shelf.”

“No human factions?”  Oliver is incredulous. The news only makes him angry and more focused on getting back to the low quarter. Yes,  the captain agrees, we still need to get back to our neighborhood. Once we are there, we can regroup with anyone still alive and figure out our next move. We know the terrain and we have contacts there who might have survived despite Brarglow’s dire warnings. It’s our only chance and we agree unanimously to head back home.

As a symbol of goodwill, Ismail tries to share some food with Brarglow, but she refuses. “You keep it” she mumbles. “Food is hard to come by in the city, you’ll see.” Ismail can only hope she is wrong. Suddenly, Brarglow spies from behind us a strange animal poking about at the base of the bridge across the river. It looks like a four foot tall loping hunchbacked creature and it’s black face is sniffing and searching the area. Now we see another, and the pair have collars on and are obviously pursuing something. Brarglow chirps, “they are hyenas, the Gnolls use them for tracking, we are in great danger here!” Thinking quickly, the captain unleashes a set of magic needles and they scream through the air towards the hyenas. One is struck and reels falling into darkness. From behind the captain, Ismail lets a crossbow bolt loose and it sails over the bridge connecting with the throat of the second hyena. The threat is gone for now, but we must hurry. Fearing that we will get stuck before crossing the river, we run towards the rope bridge. Rexnar quickly repairs the damage to the bridge and we scamper across. Weebolo, who is scared of heights, nearly passes out while crossing, but is gently guided by Oliver’s steady hand. When we get to the other side we heave the two hyena carcasses into the river below and they land with a muted thud far below. We rush to cover up the blood spilled and kick dirt over our tracks. We cannot afford to be detected until we get a more secure position. Brarglow is hesitant but trails us suspiciously while keeping a safe distance. “Brarglow, you came from this way, tell us what’s ahead?” we implore. But before we can get an answer we spot a Gnoll coming around a corner in a bend up the way. A stray arrow falls near us and we jump to take cover behind some apple shaped boulders. There is a minute of silence as both our party and the Gnoll jockey for positions behind trees and rocks. We are well aware that one Gnoll will bring many Gnolls, so we proceed with caution. Ismail is the only one who acts rashly as he climbs up on the nearest boulder to get a better look. He is immediately struck with a pair of arrows that dig deep into his flesh and teach him a stinging lesson.  He falls back off the boulder cursing. Oliver summons up the protective windwall to dissuade any further missile attacks. Now Rexnar and Oliver poke their heads out from behind cover and let arrows fly and we hear screams and groans from what appears to be four or more Gnolls. The captain disappears and the missile fight continues. Rexnar nails a Gnoll right in the face with a sharpened arrow and Ismail hits another with a crossbow bolt.

Finally, the foreplay grows tiresome and Rexnar charges into the Gnoll group and brings his halberd down slicing into the head of one of the creatures, cutting it in two. The two hemispheres of his cranium fall away in different directions. Oliver continues to provide cover by firing arrows into the fray and Ismail runs out from hiding behind a boulder to introduce his mace to the side of a Gnoll. Rexnar, now surrounded by biting beasts, beats back an attack and then pivots to disembowel another as it falls out of existence. Now a Gnoll finally gets to Oliver and he drops his bow and sinks a heavy pick into his side. But the shoddy pick breaks off at the base and crunches, useless for future combat. The group fights well, and Oliver finishes his enemy just as Ismail hacks down the last Gnoll from behind. Heaving and panting we all look around somewhat stunned. What just happened? We won a fight and we killed them all. This has never happened before.

We quickly gather up the Gnoll bodies and strip anything of use. The captain, wisely avoiding the combat, is still invisible, and he marches off further up the road to scout. After a few minutes, he returns with reports of another group of buildings ahead, large structures, and more movement. We rest for a short time, and we know our victory will be short lived if we are not constantly alert. Oliver calls on the power of Gendora and our wounds are healed. We hide in the trees and recover as best we can.

While we rest, we break into argument. Ismail seems very annoyed that Weebolo is still with the party. “We simply cannot afford to have another hungry mouth to feed if he contributes nothing to our survival” he protests. “No, he is my responsibility now, you needn’t concern yourself with Weebolo” Oliver replies. “At least send him out to scout, let the boy prove himself in some way. He either learns or he dies, just like we did when we were young,” Ismail utters. “All in due time” Oliver says, as he shields Weebolo from further scrutiny. Brarglow softly wonders how Oliver can show such devotion to Gendora, the goddess of perversity. The captain turns our conversation back to our victory. He instructs us that if we ever encounter more than six humanoids we cannot win in a straight battle. We need to focus on the goal, making progress towards the low quarter. Remember, running is just as good as fighting, if fighting attracts more problems. We all agree on this sage advice and the issue of Weebolo is buried again.

After our brief respite, we journey on and come to a flat clearing containing an old burned out estate with several dilapidated buildings still standing. The area is bisected by a road that runs straight through the clearing and on towards the city walls. Brarglow tells us that a small number of attached buildings in the upper half of the clearing are held by humans, and the two structures in the lower half and held by Gnolls. Some loose boulders and rocks separate upper and lower halves. There is also twenty foot high rock outcrop behind the upper half and we can see an access rope hanging from the top that might be useful or dangerous depending on the circumstances.

Brarglow also tells us that this is where some of her group went to talk with the humans but they never came back out of the building. She thinks maybe one of her Halfling companions joined their group. Suspicious and skeptical, we cautiously proceed. The captain, who is still invisible from the last encounter, does some stealthy reconnaissance and we learn that the Gnoll house contains seven of the vile creatures and what appears to be a gnollish witch priest. As we hide, a rat races across the dividing area and disappears into a small hole in the Gnoll house.  The commotion inside tells us that the witch priest is somehow familiar with and quite disturbed at the site of the rat. It seems like the gnoll’s attention is focused elsewhere and so we take advantage of the situation and advance to the back of a well placed pigeon coop on the side of the two buildings.

Suddenly, a green bolt of magic comes rushing out from the rock outcropping. Simultaneously, an archer appears on the roof of the human building and Ismail takes an arrow in the foot as he ducks further behind the pigeon coop. The green bolt explodes with a concussive blast. It doesn’t seem to have much effect, but there is clearly a threat now from the higher area. The archer might be human, but we are not sure, only that we are taking fire from some hostile source. Oliver grabs Weebolo and the two burrow down behind a boulder in between the two rival houses. Now three rats run out of the human building and under some large rocks in their vicinity. A loud voice calls out, “humans behind the boulder, there are Gnolls in the building across the way. Go around to the back and you’ll be safe”. Skeptical, Rexnar and Ismail decide to go towards the source of the magic bolt instead, hoping to neutralize that threat. Brarglow hides a safe distance away.

The captain, still sneaking about, is now able to get a glimpse inside the human building and sees a horrific site. A large human man and a giant rat huddle inside. The rat begins to transform and becomes a hunched over woman and then magically returns to form and stands erect. Wererats! In human form now,  they are armed with swords and light armor. The woman goes to the back door ready to greet us in her disguised form.

Meanwhile, Ismail begins climbing the rope to get onto the high area but he is stopped by the captain who fills us in on his discovery. The captain calls for everyone to regroup behind the pigeon coop. “So, I guess you are not with them” says Brarglow. “You knew about this!” “Yes, this is where many of my friends fell” she says. “Sorry for not trusting, but Ovian warned that the next encounter I had would not be with friends”. Now we understand that some of Brarglow’s original party joined the wererats and that’s what she was running away from when we first saw her at the rope bridge.

We hear a massive crack of wood from inside one of the houses. Then there are battle cries and it has started. In the confusion, we are once again struck with some magic from the high rock that leaves half our party stunned and incapacitated. Rexnar, Ismail, and Oliver all stand blinking and swaying unable to make use of any of their limbs. Only the captain and Weebolo are able to resist the paralysis and they quickly lead the stunned into the pigeon coop to avoid further damage. Weebolo, following the captain’s orders, snatches a glyphed cube from Oliver and becomes the youngest grenadier. But before he can throw the glyphed cube at the building, Ismail recovers and snatches the weapon away from him. Now the captain is rushing to climb up the rope to the high area and find the source of all this magic. Thwarted, a swarm of rats is soon upon him gnawing at his flesh. He reels and falls backwards off the rope straight onto his back nearly knocking himself unconscious. Another blast of magic, and Weebolo is stuck fast to the ground where he stands, enmeshed in a tangle of strings and vulnerable to attack in the open near the wererat house.

 

Meanwhile, the wererat woman beckons Ismail to the back of the house and he gallops up grabbing her by the wrists and holding her. “Quickly, the Gnolls are sieging” she protests, but Ismail turns and holds her out as a human shield. Oliver, no longer stunned, finally spots a mage in the high area who has been troubling us from the beginning. He fires off a crossbow bolt and strikes the mage with a solid hit and a poisoned bolt. Now the captain, freed of his rat envelope, joins up with Ismail at the back door and runs his falchion right up through the woman’s guts as she frantically bites at Ismail. Luckily, she is held too tight and falls in a heap at their feet. Ismail finishes the job by decapitating her still breathing body. The mage on the hill transforms and we see a giant rat leap from the hill onto the roof of the wererat’s building. He’s coming down fast on Ismail and jumps over the side near the backdoor but fails to land a bite on his chain mail. Ismail shakes him off but cannot land a blow as the rat twists and jerks at his feet. Finally, the captain comes from behind and exterminates the rat mage with another falchion blow. As he dies, he returns to human form and we quickly dispose of his head, flinging it into the trees and separating it from his body. He’s got a pair of nunchucks and some good boots and we grab what we can before it’s too late.

“Let’s move!” orders the captain and Ismail smashes in the back door to the house and yells out. “We are to help….. the Gnolls!” The wererats, locked in a fierce battle with the Gnolls turn, but it’s too late. Ismail throws the glyph grenade straight into a mass of monsters huddled at the window and it explodes. Everywhere there are shrieks and screams, bones and blood. In the chaos, our group moves past the two houses and we succeed in avoiding a protracted fight. As we run on towards the city wall, we are content with just living another day and surviving.

But many questions remain. How will we eat tomorrow when we only have food for four people at best? Can our small band continue to get lucky and stay alive? What will we do when we reach the city gates? We trudge on, uncertain about the future but happy to be alive.

 

 

 

 

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Episode Two: Black Goblin Down

Posted in Uncategorized on October 2, 2010 by pha9

 

Black Goblin Down

Cugel dies. We did everything we could, but the troll was too vicious and his wounds were too grievous. He finally passes away in the moonlight of the quillwood and we mourn his loss. After a brief rest and a period of recuperation, we march on. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, we come through the quillwood and onto the laborway, the large paved road that runs from Yargolad to Quent. It’s nice to walk on a road again, and the cobblestone under our feet and the markings in the road make us think of the times before the humanoid invasion when there was civility in the world. For a brief minute, things seem normal again. The only thing missing is the signal posts that were set up to communicate between the two cities. As we walk along we start to see things more clearly. Armies have been through here and have left a wreaking stench in their path. There are half burnt bodies, ruins of old structures, and huge areas of trodden earth. Sometimes we can’t even identify the humanoid corpses we come across because they are so badly burnt and disfigured. There are also massive human casualties. We witness horrific sites, like humans with their eyes gouged out, corpses hanging in trees, and bodies with their genetalia cut off and stuffed into various orifices.  Both humans and halflings are among the fallen. There are piles of decapitated heads everywhere littering the roadway and more unspeakable scenes that are beyond description.

Both Ismail and the Captain fall into a state of despair. It’s extremely difficult to continue on with all that has happened. Ismail falls down on one knee and curses the gods as the captain stares off listlessly into space. Luckily, stalwart Oliver encourages the group to pick up the reigns and continue on towards the city. Weebolo, the boy we rescued from the farmhouse, is also with us, and our diminished group finds the resolve to push on. We are still starving and we haven’t eaten in days. As we walk we learn that Weebolo is from hightown and was visiting an aunt in the country when the war started. We argue about whether to keep the boy around, and Oliver seems insistent that he join our group despite the protests of both Ismail and the captain.

After a brief hike down the laborway, we come upon several orc voices from up on the road. We quickly drop down into the woods and find a short wall to take cover. On the road we spy a band of orcs, maybe eight or twelve, and it looks like they are fighting amongst themselves. We proceed with caution based on our last dismal experience. We think about going around the orcs off the road, but the path is too long and we are too hungry and tired for that course. We figure that because we are still upwind of the orcs and they seem to be drunk now, we have a good chance to avoid an encounter. We cross back over the road and inch along the short wall. There is a burned out building that might be useful, but as we approach we see an arrow trained directly on us from inside. Sensing we are about to take fire, the captain scrambles around the side of the building as Ismail takes initiative and charges through the window and bursts into a room filled with black goblins all with arrows nocked and ready to fire. One hisses, “stay quiet”. We quickly assess the situation. The goblins are strange, like we’ve never seen before, with black skin and writhing sinuous bodies. There is one larger goblin captain in the corner issuing orders and one translator goblin who speaks rudimentary common. Our captain calls their bluff and says, “put down your weapons and we won’t attack.” He menacingly eyes the goblin captain. They aren’t buying it, so he tries again in simple goblin language. “We go, you stay, no fight!” as Ismail tries to slink away and out of the room. It’s not working, feeling the pressure of multiple missile weapons, our captain finally acts and sends a barrage of electric needles through the air at the goblin captain. He falls in a fizzle and crack of magic. Now the fight is on!

Ismail turns and hacks down two of the goblins standing next to him, he cuts a large swath down the ribs of one and smashes another over the head with his mace. Both fall, clinging to life, but still moving. Another goblin jumps out and slashes connecting at Ismail’s pelvis and he roars in pain as he takes a hit. Oliver summons up a wall of wind to protect the group from the many arrows that now reign down upon them. The wall repels most of the missile attacks, but a lucky shot, sneaks through and nails Oliver right in the groin. He keels over but manages to maintain the windwall. A few more arrows bounce off his chain shirt and are forgotten. With the protective windwall in place, we decide to retreat and we cautiously back out of the room and into the woods behind. Maybe the goblins cover has been blown and the orcs will quickly be upon them. Hopefully the two miserable monstrous groups will negate each other.

Just when we thought we were clear, we see a strange object hurled out from the burned out goblin house. Before we can examine, it lands near a pile of debris and explodes. We are all shaken and take damage from flying debris and the force of the shock. Now behind us, we see a large figure, maybe ten to twelve feet tall jogging across the field towards the road. It looks like an ogre, most likely in support of the orcs on the road. In front of us, a black goblin has snuck out of the house and is moving quickly towards us scampering through the dilapidated cornrows that make up the field. He’s hard to spot and quick of foot as he moves stealthily along. We hide as best we can on a ridge between some rocks with the field in back of us and the road in front. With the two groups closing in on us, there is little chance that we can escape to live again.

Now, the captain utters forth an incantation that renders Oliver invisible and he quickly pursues the black goblin scout. We figure that we cannot afford to have this goblin give up our position with so many enemies around. The black goblin slithers along the ground like some kind of snake-dog, sniffing and hissing, as he tracks our group. Meanwhile, from the field we spot two orcs and one has no armor and paint smeared over his face and arms. He wears feathers on his head, and moves along in search of something. He’s a tracker orc and we are caught in the middle of two very hostile groups, both aware of our presence and actively searching for us.

Finally, Oliver catches up to the black goblin scout as he runs through cornstalks, jumps over the divets, under and through the maze of the field. From behind he jumps and tackles the creature, rendering him immobile. As he falls on the goblin he is hit with it’s horrible stench and realizes that these inhuman beasts have no concept of basic sanitation. Oliver smashes the goblin and success!

Black Goblin Down

With that threat neutralized, Oliver gathers up the goblin’s weapons. He’s got a cube with various glyphs carved into it, some other simple weapons, and some moldy half eaten food. Ravenous, he sinks his teeth into the rot and nearly throws it back up. Better than nothing, he thinks and he picks up the  black goblin’s body and returns to the hiding spot. The rest of the group is sure they have been spotted by the bloodhound orc with the painted skin. Oliver shares his treasure of rotten rations with the group but Ismail and the Captain cannot keep it down. Miraculously, we are able to follow the woodline and escape the orcs. We tread on, three quarters dead from exhaustion and starvation. Another fight, another near death experience.

On the way back to Quent we see many unusual happenings. Here a troll kneels over a horse carcass and uses a shovel to eat its guts. There we see more burned homes and hundreds of skeletons. Next, there are a pack of dogs that we think about hunting and eating, but we move on. Finally, we reach the gate to the majestic city of Quent! We are finally home as a solemn reverence for our city sweeps through our minds. But all is not well and the gate is badly burned and damaged. We are astounded that such a marvel of dwarven construction can be so smashed and contorted. There is a major humanoid encampment here and it looks like the two huge towers that once protected the city have fallen. Ladders are stacked against the city walls and various holes have been punched through for easy invasion. Even as we watch, a parade of orcs are entering the city carrying a banner with the symbol of teeth biting an eye that we have seen before. A troll appears and we watch as the orc parade sacrifices one of their own by offering him up to the bloodthirsty troll. The whole scene is chaos and somewhere a firefight breaks out and we hear the crack of firearms.

We slap the black goblin back to life and try to interrogate him, but he is useless so we snuff out his existence. Oliver finds time to sneak off and instruct Weebolo on some prayers. Suspiciously he seems to have taken a great liking to the boy and he demands privacy with Weebolo muttering something about proper instruction. Nevertheless, the group is partially healed and we are all grateful.

Obviously, the gate cannot be breached right now, so we locate a path down and around the front entrance. We come to “Senarus Ranch” an encampment on the outside of the city gates that we remember from a previous time. There is a large set of steps and fires below. In the distance we can see a compound of buildings. Preferring caution once again,  the Captain turns Ismail invisible as he goes down to scout. As he descends, he quickly comes upon two olive skinned orcs. They are taller and leaner than the ones we have seen before and have prominent tusks protruding from their faces. These might be hobgoblins, Ismail thinks. After lots of bungling, Ismail tries to get behind one of the creatures just as he is drinking a flask of some sort. This one wears carved bone beads and looks like he worships some awful god. Unfortunately, clumsy Ismail runs smack into his face as he fails to move silently around him. He’s visible and the spell is spent! He quickly brings his sword up between the ribs of the monster priest and ends his hideous life. Then he scampers back up the stairs and makes the bird call to the rest of the group informing them of the situation.

Now more creatures gather on the steps and in the surrounding woods. We cannot let them escape to warn their vile conglomerate. Arrows fly as we cut another down, Ismail backstabs one and it falls screaming. There is one left and Ismail plunges into the woods following him. He easily catches up and just when we thought it was over he strikes but trips, and falls into a wooded hole below the steps. The hobgoblin snorts as he sees Ismail helpless below and starts firing arrows into the hole. Meanwhile a mixed group of alerted humanoids runs up the steps and Oliver and the Captain flee.

Alone, Ismail feels the panic. He decides to run down into a now visible compound that might have once been the living quarters of the Senarus Ranch. He figures that the creatures are out stalking the rest of the party and he has no choice but to go further into the danger to escape his helpless position. As he nears the doors of one of the buildings, he sees a lone bow legged female orc standing as lookout. He charges out heroically but falls flat on his face again at the knees of the orcish dog. Her whip smacks him across the face, but he shrugs it off and clubs her head straight off with his next blow. Frantically, he enters the building and finds a woman, two children, and an elderly grandmother all manacled together. He is able to smash open the chains of the woman as she bolts off, but the children and older woman are left to their own devices as they try to run away still shackled. Ismail grabs some food, a large sack from the mixed orc group, a small sack from the orcish woman, a bag of gunpowder, a couple flasks of water and beer, and the beaded bones of a humanoid rosary. He slings a crossbow over his back and gets out before anyone returns.

Now there is only running and hiding. There is no point in trying to fight such a multitude of beasts and the city seems impenetrable. We regroup and take up positions in the shadows once again outside the city to plan our next move.

Good Evening Chaos: Maps

Posted in Uncategorized on September 12, 2010 by zhaumist

I’m going to preface all of my posts with Good Evening Chaos. That way you will know what is coming directly from the DM.

This is the map of Quent as you knew it before the war entered the city. It may be far different from what you remember before going to the front. The city is also large so many parts of it were unfamiliar to you even before you left.

Map of the War

Posted in Uncategorized on September 5, 2010 by pha9

Episode One: Sclemeel, schlemazel!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 5, 2010 by pha9

Our gang was made up of many members, but the most important ones were the guys who remained together after the draft and after the humanoids swept the city. We were formerly known as the BlancheWater Boys who controlled parts of the low quarter of the city of Quent. Our leader was Springstein, our 24 year old captain, with a lean and chiseled face and jet black hair. Although he only stood at 5 feet and 8 inches on a good day, he helped us run day to day operations in the low quarter until the war started. After that, he kept us together as a unit, even when we thought everything was lost.

Ismail had been hanging around the gang since he was 14 years old. A lot of the guys used to pick on him because he was overweight and unathletic. He suffered a traumatic childhood with a defining moment when his step father, Chucker, broke a glass bottle in his face causing a circular scar that looks like a monocle encompassing his left eye. Ismail still carries a lot of resentment and anger towards his step father. When Ismail was 16 he started growing by leaps and bounds and he is now a hulking mass of a man. Although he is still the youngest member of our gang, he can best anyone in a contest of strength. We usually send him into any fight first to act as our tank.

Oliver Downing was Ismail’s best friend. Insert story here.

Cugel the clever earned the nickname by. Insert story here.

Our whole group was bound by a single humiliating and despicable fact. Our mother was a cheap low quarter whore who slept with half the city a few decades ago. It is even rumored that we have several other half brothers roaming around Quent, possibly in different gangs and in different areas of the city, but it’s something that none of us want to talk about.

We were on our way back to the city when we reached the ruined farmhouse. The soldiers from Quent had been overrun and we had no choice but to retreat back into the city. The army was ok, they showed us a few tricks and gave us a few shoddy weapons, but were still bound and still acted as if we were back home in the low quarter pulling jobs like we used to. When the front lines collapsed we naturally reverted to our old lives and rallied around our captain and quickly decided that we should get back home where we had a better chance of survival.

It was fall and all the leaves had fallen off the trees already. A cold wind whipped through the area as we descended into a bowl like area and saw the ruins from afar. We were starving because we hadn’t eaten for at least 24 hours. We got three square meals as soldiers, but somehow despite the hunger, we still seemed happier to be back with the gang, relying only our tight knit group, just like the old days. We knew that we had to get back into the city soon because winter was coming and we weren’t dressed properly. Our boots were deteriorating rapidly as we marched on. From our vantage point we could see a farmhouse, a couple of silos and a half opened door. Suddenly we saw a small figure run out the door and then duck back inside.

Then Senior decided to play his horn.

We sat still and watched as another creature inched out. Goblins! This particular fellow brandished a spear and walked out behind what we now saw was a small human boy with leaves in his hair. Oliver and Cugel snuck around the edge of the farmhouse to get a better look. Our captain tried to frighten the goblin by cocking his crossbow but Cugel was trigger happy and an axe sailed across the field towards the goblin. The battle was on, Ismail charged into the fray, but stumbled over the boy and nearly fell down. Regaining himself, we swung his mace and cleaved the goblin’s head straight off. Thump! The boy yelled out in delighted surprise, “yall is humans!” Oliver quickly and suspiciously comforted the boy but he was too scared and he quickly soiled himself. The captain had enough and knocked him out with a sap. “More trouble than it’s worth”, he muttered. Oliver dragged the boy into the woods as we expected more trouble. There was still commotion in the farmhouse.

Cugel snuck around and peaked in the window on the side of the building. He saw a goblin poking his head out a la “kilroy was here”. There was a lot of trash inside the building and a number of figures sleeping. Cugel crept back and the captain organized us for battle. Ismail was posted back to the wall just outside the main door of the farmhouse as Oliver and Cugel crept around again up to the window for a sneak attack. Suddenly, the captain’s voice rang out. “You are finished vile creatures, come out and meet your makers!”

That is met with a volley of arrows as the captain takes cover behind a silo. At this point, Oliver and Cugel kick in the side door and the fight is on. Magic needles come scorching through the air from the captains fingers as Ismail busts into the main door. Now we see the extent of the infestation. There are a half dozen goblins and a larger goblin captain. In the back of the room we see a huge trollish creature turn the corner and flee. Swords ring out, and Ismail thrusts his into the eye of a goblin as he falls to the ground. Oliver smashes another goblin’s head in the door and he is finished too. Cugel flings an axe and connects with a goblin’s mouth ending his day.

Meanwhile, the captain suddenly disappears into thin air and creeps up around the corner of the house. He finally gets a glimpse of the troll, a huge beast, but surprisingly swift. He has all kinds of shields and barrels full of water strapped to him as makeshift armor and he wields an enormous war club. The captain is right on top of him now, but invisible, as the troll frantically sniffs at the air. He is only saved from being detected by the strong wind as the troll can’t pick up the scent. A few goblins cower in the troll’s shadow waiting for inspiration.

Back in the house, our command of the combat has caused many of the goblins to start fleeing out any available door or window. We now see that a dead human woman hangs, strung up in the corner of the room, her mouth a buzz with flies.  Disgusting! Murderous goblins!

There remaining goblins have retreated or fled, but the captain and a few others stay and fight. Ismail, glancing back to see the troll outside in the doorway decides to run up to the second floor of the house to make an aerial attack. Cugel follows him up the stairs as Oliver looks out the window and sees a great horde of goblins gathering now. He holds his ground as goblins swarm at the door.

The goblin captain, from inside, grunts out to alert the troll, but our captain has reappeared and made a stunning back attack and connects right between the troll’s armor. His falchion digs deep into the troll’s shoulder blade and fattened muscle spurts out as he roars out. From inside, Oliver breaks a bowstring. Damn, shoddy weapons!

Now the troll is incensed, he roars and pounds the door with his club. As he turns, Ismail comes leaping out of the second story window and crashes down on the troll. But he miscalculates and ends up smacking his face right off one of the barrels that make up the troll’s armor. He tumbles off to the side disoriented. Luckily, Cugel follows by throwing a net out the window and ensnaring the troll allowing us to re-group. Oliver quickly realizes that is now flanked by several goblins in the house. He decides to go for broke and attack the goblin leader unaware of the troll fight outside.

Sclemeel, schlemazel! It’s the captain’s call to run. We are overwhelmed, overrun by goblins and unable to take down the enormous troll beast. Let’s get out of here and live to fight another day. As we turn and run the beast bears down on us attacking with a fury matched only by it’s monstrosity. He hacks down Ismail and wallops the captain who slinks off. Cugel thinks to himself, “well I’m glad I brought this shovel, expecting to bury his friends.”

Meanwhile, Oliver dismisses the retreat call and unleashes one final blow. He swings a heavy pick around and delivers it straight into the temple of the goblin captain as he falls into darkness. All the goblins cower in disbelief as Oliver snarls his teeth at them over the body of their fallen leader. Annoyed by the call, Oliver wonders why we are running when the combat is going so well. Nevertheless he turns and runs out of the house as a torrent of arrows chases him. Cugel allows the captain and Ismail to escape by engaging the troll but gets cut down himself with a thud of the giant club. Finally, after our remarkable failure, we all regroup back in the forest and try to recover from our mind numbingly painful wounds. We still have not eaten, we still have shitty boots, and we are all half dead.

The girls

Posted in Artwork, Game Day on February 15, 2010 by pha9

Episode Three

Posted in Game Day on February 13, 2010 by pha9

Episode three: Slutbutter, Butbutter, and Slartibartfarst

We are on our way to Bezadel. We are going to take the Ubango river where there are lots of hyenas and lions about. Well, the blue woods was not a total loss because Vart has taken two girls with him and they join our group. They are Roberta and Chyl, two black girls that had fallen under the sway of the Satyr. Artphrenes makes friends with the abandoned cheetah by rubbing some of the late Dolph’s scent on his body and the cheetah takes to it and has a new friend. Artaphrenes has also found an unusual weapon, a Morningstar of Zmorathra Zahaum which works exceptionally well in the morning. After Chinello gets patched up, again, we set off.

As we start walking up the river trail, we argue about fate, destiny, and crystal. Suddenly a pride of lions appears across the river poking at some shrubbery. In an instant, we hear the lions scatter and a huge creature swoops down to the river bank. We just catch a glimpse of a giant black cat about twice the size of the lions. It jumps on a lion and we hear a loud squeal as the lion’s life is snatched away. Calvert mumbles something about “stranger beasts” that he’s heard about. We are all on edge, especially the cheetah, but since the creature was on the other side of the river and presumably was busy having dinner, we decide to continue on. After a mile or so, we stop to have a rest which is luckily uneventful.

After resting, we are in good spirits for the first time in a long time, and carry on down the river laughing and joke telling. Chinello tells some funny stories about coming up as a young man and using psionics to steal apples in a street gang racket. He then went on to become a moracation soldier where he was assigned scouting detail.

Two canoes filled with lumber approach from upriver and they are captained by two white tribesman. A bit of white tribal history is in order at this point. Everyone in this area knows that the whites around here are a lot less civilized than the ones in the south. The most uncivilized, by far, are the snake tribe and the cat tribe and that makes them very dangerous for any unsuspecting Morcation who happens to wander into their parts.

Praise Mordecai! A voice rings out. We notice right away that the tribesmen are not snake or cat but they are from the boar tribe. What news from the south? We chat a little bit and find out that the Neanderthals are on the move again. The Neanderthals, we wonder, why they should be ancient history by now. We tell the tribesmen about the giant cat and they seem to know that it’s a caterwall which is an ancient huge panther like creature and that makes us feel safer.

To understand the significance of what the tribesmen had said, you need to know that the white tribes fought the Neanderthals in ancient times and after a fierce and protracted war, the whites were triumphant and pushed the Neanderthals far into the northern areas and they have rarely been seen since. Some years after that, the Kingdom of Salt grew into a vast empire that stretched from the Peselari Jungle to the Cradle lands, but a civil war broke out among the whites which ironically made them less civil. The white tribes fought amongst themselves and were reduced drastically. Most of this happened, of course, before the blacks even arrived from the Old World, and certainly before the blacks lost contact with that old world and came to dominate New Almuric. So you can see why it was strange that the tribesmen had said the Neanderthals were on the move again.

There is also a lot of confusion about what happened in the white villages near Brewfengel. The tribesmen help us clear up the story. The village of gray tusk was getting help from the church and both graytusk and bluehoard fought the leopard tribe to the north. But the church was suddenly unable to help graytusk because of some internal politics and intrigue that involved aristocratic family quarrels between the two towns. So that’s what happened.

The tribesmen are on their way to trade in Brewfengel and Artaphrenes starts to get really annoyed with Calvert’s racial insensitivity. “This is exactly the kind of thing, you can’t talk to whites about.”, mutters Calvert as Chinello nods in agreement. Chyl tries to smooth things over and everyone seems to have a story about the interaction of the races. Chyl knows of a child’s folktale where blacks were kidnapped by whites and turned into slaves! (Which everyone knows is completely ridiculous, could never happen, and is just a good way to scare kids into brushing their teeth.) Someone else tells the story of how 50 snake and cat tribesmen once took down a bio-monk and while everyone knows that the battle rages on between the snake and cat against the church, it is pretty unbelievable. But there is the deep jungle monastery there just filled with loads of biomonks and the snake and the cat are the most  crazy and savage of all the tribes. Artaphrenes smiles slightly when he considers the possibility. Once we’ve had our fill of stories, we press on.

We come to a natural rock formation that looks like a good place to set up an ambush. Vultures scream out and we know something is amiss here. They must be munching on some fresh victim so this doesn’t look good. Chinello sneaks up through some scrub and rocks and spies a few stooped figures with no necks. Neanderthals! He sneaks back to inform the group and on the way he tries to remember those Violet Phallus contacts he had back in Bezadel. What were their names? Slutbutter, Butbutter, and Slartibartfarst. No, that wasn’t it, but it was something like that.

Disclaimer: The historical record for the encounter with the Neanderthals is very spotty. Some people say that the record was written somewhere but the pages had plague damage and the account here has major discrepancies with the actual events. It was also around this time that something was written about Calvert that was not to his liking, but nobody can actually remember what that nasty rumor was or why and how it was stricken from the record. As always, history is full of holes and a patchwork of truths, half truths, and blatant deceptions. Nevertheless, this record is all we have to examine the past, so we’ll take it from here.

The whole party decides to sneak back and take a look at the Neanderthals so Chinello gives a quick lesson on sneaking. Artaphrenes is an extremely slow learner who bumbles about and ends up angry and jealous of Chinello’s grace. Vart helps Artaphrenes negotiate some brush and they sneak around a rock when a large farty sound rings out. One of the Neanderthals squats on the other side of the rock and relieves himself. Artaphrenes delivers some protection magic in anticipation of a fight. Chinello sneaks up even further right behind the squatter when BAM! He gets hit right in the head with a massive blow. It’s a trap! Vart runs to the aid of Chinello but it’s too late. Now there is a group upon us. One of the Neanderthals who we thought was sleeping actually has a ghost image to his side which jumps back into his body after disappearing.

Artaphrenes runs over to heal Chinello. This is where things start to get really strange. Calvert yells out in a strange language that no one has ever heard him speak before. What is this magic? No time to think now, Chinello lets a sleep bolt fly and one of the Neanderthals spins, falls, and dozes off. Vart pushes another off a ledge and he falls thunderously below. The rest of the creatures engage in standard Neanderthal behavior by picking up boulders and launching them down at us from above.

Vince wonders if we are still playing D and D because Doug seems like he’s moved on to crossbows and catapults. There is massive confusion now. Calvert unleashes a crystal storm and Vart does a glory jump up to the top of the ridge. The Neanderthals smash away and Artaphrenes gets hit in the shin with a boulder.

“Hello, my friends!”. Oh no! It’s the Satyr and he’s back appearing on the top of the ridge with one of his girls. One of the Neanderthals reels and mind punches him. Vart lashes out at a Neanderthal and hits with a little help from Artaphrenes spiritual advice. Chinello shoots again and one of the Neanderthals falls into a mountain hole. Simultaneously, one of the others mind slaps the Doritos out of Chinello’s hand. Calvert’s hands turn into Wolverine claws as he slashes and takes down another. Chinello turns into iron thighs and jumps kicking one in the head all while holding his crossbow. Finally, the last creature standing suddenly feels his mouth fill with ants as Artaphrenes launches a deadly ant soldier swarm. Man, we really slaughtered their asses!

The relatively quiet Satyr breaks a bow string and his girl opens a gate nearby. They pop off as mysteriously as they came. Strangely, Vart grabs his two girls and they open a gate and pop off too. Now things get really unusual. Calvert, starts yelling in some nonsensical language at the top of his lungs. Artaphrenes is shocked and fearing possession, grabs him and slaps him across the face. Calvert easily shakes him off, but then continues speaking in tongues. Artaphrenes hesitates, looks confused, and finally decides that this is not Calvert. He readies with another attack. Crunch! He hits Calvert right in the face with a right hook. Unbelievable! This gets Calvert to stop speaking and Artaphrenes shrinks away confused….