High Fantasy 101

Session Four
You mean undead are weak against holy things? OH.

First of all, this week’s roleplaying award goes to Alatariel; that low Charisma score means that she doesn’t spend much time talking, but when she does, Lauren’s always in character and on her toes. Enjoy 60 XP. Oh, and remind me at our next session to check and see where everyone’s XP stands. Walt, by the way, gets 45 XP for helping against the zombies, even though Charlie wasn’t there and nobody got past the third undead. I felt generous. If you ever get past the corridor, you’ll get the other 45 XP each.

After taking a few days of rest, the party assembles, arms themselves and heads back to the tomb. On their way down from the keep, a woman accosts them, the Count’s daughter. She seems curious about the women traveling with the party; is it usual, she asks, for elves to venture thus so far from home? And how is it, for a woman, living a life of violence? (“Do many women approach you like this?” asks Kaeleria. “Some,” says Alatariel, “but they don’t usually ask so nicely.”) Her curiosity apparently satisfied, she wishes them luck and returns to the top of the keep.

Back in the tomb, little seems to have changed. Walt, warded by Thorar’s “Hide from Undead” spell, travels down the narrow corridor with a torch and emerges pursued by the zombies. He has time to report seeing a large door, bearing the old version of the crest of Gothtan, just as the Count described it. Preparing for the zombies, the party piles a wall of coffin lids in front of the door, then fans out behind it.

As before, ranged weapons have little effect on the corpses. Melee does little better: Thorar’s warhammer hits home a few times, but with little effect. The walking dead still stand, a dull red glow in their eyes and melting flesh dripping through their now ragged clothing. One falls over the barrier, pushed by the two behind it; Keary pins it against the wall and plucks one of the glowing stones from its eye sockets! The creature immediately slumps, as if its death had nearly caught up with it, but it still struggles.

Meanwhile, Thorar and Alatariel block the other zombies from crossing the coffin barrier, until they push it other, narrowly missing Thorar. Sadly, another narrow miss does not come down in his favor: swinging over his head in close quarters, Alatariel nearly kills him with a mistaken blow of her greatsword. Moments later, the closest zombie grabs him and savages his neck with its teeth. He blacks out.

Alatariel immediately grabs him and heads out of the dungeon. Kaeleria, realizing that the situation is more dire than she’d thought, lets fly a few Magic Missiles, killing two of the zombies; all who can walk flee before the third zombie can more than make it down the staircase.

Back at the keep, the party begs some horses from the Count to ride to the nearest town, where they think they can find a cleric. He lends them two; Kaeleria and Kaery ride in search of the church of St. Cuthbert that reports place less than a day’s ride away.

In the next town, they find the church. Hearing their story, and being familiar already with the unholiness working within the Count’s tomb, the priest within gladly gives them a flask full of blessed water. He also tells them that its holy power will melt the flesh of the undead, driving out the energies that keep their desecrated corpse-bodies intact. Keary asks after healing potions; the priest replies that although he has brewed a few, they are costly to produce and he cannot sell them – even to a fellow devotee of the great Saint – for fewer than fifty gold coins. Someday, the rivers will run for you with healing potions. Someday.

A splash of holy water on Thorar’s wound doesn’t seem to make a change, so they keep the rest as a weapon against the undead. After a day of rest, and having encouraged Thorar to spend his time healing and casting Bless Water, they plan to go into the tomb once more and clear it out.

By the way, Rob: casting Bless Water requires 25 gold coins’ worth of powdered silver (five pounds!), which is consumed in the casting. That priest let you kids have quite a deal. Decide for yourself whether it’s worth preparing more than the one flask.

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Third Session: The Better Part of Valor
"For no mere mortal can resist the evil of the thriller."

First of all, note that I’ve updated the background information, adding articles on goblins, kobolds, orks, and Gothtan, and adding a section in Starálfur on elf society. Most of the details are trivial, but I hope that you’ll use the articles as a place to keep notes when more important details crop up. (Yes, there WILL eventually be a longterm plot!) Second, having heard at least one player commend her, the roleplaying award this week goes to Casey. Take 50 XP. As we get more practiced (and XP is worth less), the awards will grow; over time we’ll establish connections with NPC’s and get a richer sense of the characters (if you’re interested in that sort of game), and there will be more role-play opportunities. By the way, feel free to email me about what you like or dislike about the game so that I can kick it into shape over break.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled broadcast.

Descending to the second basement of the Gothtan family tomb, the party finds themselves in a great, stone hall filled with rows of coffins. Around the edge of the room lie ten coffins containing the first ten counts of Gothtan, each bearing its owner’s likeness in stone on the lid. A pair of skeletons surprises the adventurers, but they quickly scatter their bones. Kaeleria, running with a natural 20 on a spellcraft check, mentions her fear that a powerful spellcaster might be behind these undead; to metagame for a moment, the spell Animate Dead is third level for a cleric, fourth for a wizard, and one can only control undead whose total hit die are no more than four times the caster’s. Nevertheless, all carry on. The next door seems to have no handle, but only a handprint. By placing one of the skeletons’ hands on the print, Keary opens the door.

Behind it is a narrow corridor, covered on both sides by illustrations depicting the manor above and the building of the town around it. In these pictures, it appears as though the buildings are being erected after some great disaster; as the party continues down the hall, the carvings show uncountable burials. Before they can get much farther, though, they see someone stepping toward them from the dark end of the corridor. It is a man in the livery of the Count Gothtan … and he is dead.

The zombies march down the hallway as the party dashes back to the door, fans out and readies their ranged weapons. When the first zombie steps out of the doorway, they pepper it with arrows and stones, but to no effect. The dead shamble forward and savagely lay into the party, laying out Keary on the stones, unconscious. Realizing that they’re beaten, Alatariel grabs Keary’s body and dashes out of the dungeon, the rest of the party at her heels. They slam and lock the door.

Back at the Count’s manor, the court physician attends to the party’s wounds while Kaeleria, uninjured, speaks with the Count. He tells her exactly what those zombies might be guarding: the tomb of an ancestor that he’d like to have forgotten, one who ruled long before the seven duchies or Retz itself existed. Centuries ago, he tells you, an empire of the undead covered the land from here, across the dwarves’ mountains and the elves’ forests, off across Totenwald itself, whence they came. Gothtan calls it the Lesarch Empire. He says that the empire rose during a time of plague and ruled for ages, until some force broke their hold … he believes that someone sworn to Pelor lead the way, a paladin or priest, or perhaps a number of them. It’s not an era in which he’s taken a keen interest.

After thirty-some generations with not so much as a peep from the depths of the tomb, the Count thinks it far less likely that the old lich-kings dust has somehow reconstituted itself than that someone or something else is stirring up trouble. Whether it’s his fault or an outside agitator, he doesn’t know, but he had hoped that the problem would make itself apparent before the party reached the bottom chamber. Seeing that this won’t be the case, he unwraps his arm and hands Kaeleria the bloody bandage. “When you reach the final door,” he says, “press this bandage to it.” You suppose that this is what the scroll meant by “blood of Gothtan”.

Meanwhile, down below, Thorar and the physician bring Keary around and the others heal up as well. They make ready for a second assault, now more prepared and more informed.

PS: On the subject of third and fourth level spells, here are some of the things you can look forward to casting. Every spell used in this comic is taken from the players’ handbook … although the author’s taken some license with the name of the third for the purposes of clarity. And for those of you who stick to the physical, you might find that this describes something you’ve experienced.

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Second Session: Filler? In MY Campaign?
It's more likely than you think.

Congrats, everybody: we’ve made it through two whole sessions (and I’m already late posting a recap!). Since last week was an odd session, disrupted and disjointed, there wasn’t a great deal of roleplaying; look for the RP award next time.

As the second session begins, it’s a bright, sunny day, and two of our adventurers are abed with food poisoning. Shucks, it looks like we won’t be hitting the road today. I guess we’ll just have to have a FILLER ADVENTURE!

Happily, while Keary and Alatariel are in the middle of chasing some kobolds through a roof, Thorar makes a miraculous recovery and the party elects to just haul the halfling behind them. A day’s walk down the road, they reach their goal: the manor of Count Gothtan, who (rumor has it) has offered a reward to any valiant crew who can clear his land of the undead monsters that plague it.

The Count’s home is guarded by wounded men, and inside, the halls are empty. The Count meets you in his bedroom, where he lies wounded, and tells you the story of his only son’s death and the attack that engulfed the burial party from within the family tomb. The dead struck down an unarmed, unsuspecting funeral party, killing and wounding many of the Count’s servants and armsmen. Those few who escaped unhurt are now watching at the battlements constantly, knowing that this is the perfect time for a rival house to strike. After a night of rest, he send the party into the family tomb with a scroll written to let its bearer avoid the traps built to dissuade grave robbers.

Inside the tomb lie seven sarcophagoi, six of them cracked open. The first chamber has a door leading off to each side, but only the righthand door is open; the other appears locked. Moving to the right, the party is attacked by four rattling bones, skeletons animated by some foul influence. Alatariel smashes two, and Thorar chases off the others with a blazing display of Pelor’s power.

Further inside, the tomb complex contains a sarcophagous with the remains of a woman who, judging by the wall paintings, was probably rescued by a dragonslayer; Thorar and Alatariel break into her coffin and steal her earrings. Way to restore the Count’s honor, everybody. The next room seems to have a moving floor, but as the torchlight illuminates the details, it makes clear the cause: a horde of spiders coating the walls and floor. They pour from the room through a hole in the wall, one the size of a small dog scampering off in the crowd. In the fourth room waits a worse surprise: a single spider the size of an ork. It bites Thorar, sapping his strength with its venom, but – after a slightly embarrassing encounter with a cobweb – the four companions fight it into a corner and beat it into a pulpy mess.

Acting on a suspicion about the scroll’s first clue, “Turn the Key within the Fourth to ope the door within the Fifth”, Kaeleria snoops through the fourth chamber. Behind the spider’s web, she spots something odd: it looks like a mechanical housing for a lever of some sort, but the lever seems to be twisted off. Keary recalls that one of the skeletons carried a metal lever as a club; he and Alatariel run back to fetch it.

While they’re occupied, the turned skeletons – now turned brave – return for a second helping of Pelor’s fury. Thorar chases them back into the fifth room, where Keary and Alatariel pursue them upon their return, kicking the shit out of their bony asses. As Alatariel leaves the room, something leaps at her from the shadows: a new member of the undead’s ghastly ranks, which chases her back to where the party stands and is shortly hacked headless. It is in the moment after this smiting that we leave our heroes: surrounded by the corpses of the twice-dead, slightly the worse for wear, and poised to rebuild the odd lever (to what end, they haven’t asked).

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First Session
Dawn of a New Error

First of all, thanks for a fun opening session. As Lauren demonstrated with her first roll, it can only get better from here … although, on second thought, it could potentially remain exactly the same. As an incentive for you to keep up with the adventure log and the rest of this site, this is where I’ll be handing out an XP award for roleplaying after every session. Each one of you gave me some reason to consider you for the award this week, but with the desired mood of the campaign in mind, I think I ought to recognize Casey and Rob for peppering Kaeleria’s and Thorar’s speech with antiquarian niceties. Elevated prose goes a long way toward setting the scene. So, thank you both, and please add 50XP to your character sheets.

Day 1

Five adventurers, each on the road for their own reasons, meet in a tavern along a trade road in Hawksete, Alan Wrybeard’s duchy. The barkeep tells you that, a few days’ journey up the road, a Count is offering a reward to anyone who can purge his family’s tomb of the undead that have taken up residence. Alatáriël, Kaeleria, Walt and Keary collect and head west; Thorar, suspicious of their pointy ears, follows curiously.

Along the road, the party is ambushed by three spear-wielding goblins, but kills one and scares off the others. When the mistrusting cleric catches up with them, he reluctantly heals the wounded Alatáriël and admits that he also hopes to burn the undead out of the Count’s tomb. The five continue together. They stay that night in an inn, where they meet four experienced adventurers when one, a bard, sings of their adventures slaying what he calls “winter wolves” and mentions that he knew the bard who raised and trained Walt. Their party set off that night.

Day 2

In the morning, the party walks downstairs to find a merchant in an altercation with the innkeep. He accuses the innkeep of negligence: apparently, his horses have been stolen during the night. The merchant leaves, and the inkeep enlists the party to bring back the horses and save his metaphorical bacon. After a few hours of tracking the obvious trail, during which time it comes out that Thorar’s hatred of elves stems from his brother’s being nonconsentually sodomized by one some years ago, they hear a shrill whistle from the trees ahead: it’s those thrice-cursed goblins again! At least, it looks like the same goblins; with the greenskins, it’s always hard to tell. While Alatariel tries to hack down the tree, the others try (abysmally) to knock the goblin from his branch. Three other goblins join the fray but are quickly, gruesomely, dispatched. Just a short way beyond them, the party finds the horses tethered near a circle of bedrolls.

The five lead all four horses back to town, their gear apparently intact. The journey passes with little incident until, near the town, the group takes a detour through a grove of oaks. Parting the brush, they see the mauled corpses of the four adventurers met last night at the inn. Kaeleria, struck by the corpses’ pale, shocked expressions, can’t help but notice that they look almost as though the life had left them before they died.

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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