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Savaged Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path

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  • #31
    Casting Quick on himself, Solaris began shooting arrows at the giants, nocking and loosing arrows faster than the human eye could follow, his bowstring glowing red with friction. Asha joined him on the walls, calling upon the sun goddess for aid in the battle and casting bolts of radiance into the giantish horde. Forgoing the safety of the walls, Grogg dropped down into no man’s land and led a one-man/orc (morc?) charge against the giants, his enchanted battleaxe wailing a song of ruin as he carved a path through their ranks. Andor Drake witnessed this display of true strength /reckless idiocy from the walls and – despite himself – felt the old flicker of battle lust rekindled within his old bones.

    “You men, with me!” Andor commanded, drawing his longsword from its sheath. Despite the rust on his armour and the grey whiskers in his beard, the former mercenary’s sword positively gleamed. In fact, it glowed with a bright green luminescence that surely indicated there had been sorcery involved in the crafting of the blade. Clambering over the barricades with the vigour of a man half his age, Andor led his troops into the breach Grogg’s onslaught had torn through the giants front rank.

    And then the dragon came.

    With a roar that rattled windows and shook the cobblestones, the dragon dropped out of the clouds and spewed a sheet of flame across the walls, cremating the men of Sandpoint where they stood and stranding Grogg and Andor on the giant’s side of the inferno. Surrounded by enemies and with no line of retreat or hope of clemency, the two warriors stood back to back atop the mound of giant corpses they had made and readied themselves for their final battle.

    Atop the highest point of the Sandpoint cathedral, Rast watched the red dragon swoop around for another strafing run over the town. His wife was down there, sheltering her neighbours in the cellar of the Rusty Dragon whilst the battle raged through their streets and rocks fell upon their homes.

    “You picked the wrong town.” Rast said, yanking the lever that extended the wings on his home-made wingsuit. Leaping off the tower, Rast fell towards the ground before pulling up sharply and soaring after the dragon.

    Grogg and Andor watched the dwarven aeronaut pass overhead in the wake of his scaly quarry.

    “Well,” Grogg said, pausing to lop off a stone giant’s arm at the elbow, “At least we’re not the only ones about to have a really bad day.”

    “You mean Rast?” Andor asked.

    “I mean the dragon.”

    “Looks like they’re getting ready for another crack at us.”Andor said, gesturing with the point of his sword to where another group of stone giants were mustering, “Hey, if we get out of this alive, can I have your autograph?”

    The battle was brutal and although both warriors fought valiantly, they were eventually overcome by the giants’ strength and numbers. Andor struggled to rise, the blade of his magic sword sinking into the stony ground as he used it to lever himself to his feet. Grogg lay sprawled nearby, his thick skull ringing from one too many blows to the head. A shadow fell upon them both, as the nearest giant raised his massive foot and prepared to grind them both into a meaty paste beneath his sole.

    Suddenly, the giant howled in pain! Andor looked up to see a spear buried between the monster’s toes! Attached to the spear was a goblin, riding on the shoulders of another goblin, who in turn was riding on the shoulders of another goblin (and so on). A scaly claw grasped Andor by the wrist and hauled him to his feet, as the giant hopped away on his good foot.

    “You can’t die yet, General Drake,” Karrack said, passing the mercenary his sword, "You only just got here."

    ---

    Meanwhile, above the battlefield, Rast pursued his winged adversary amidst the smoke rising from the burning town. He had taken care to stay out of the dragon’s peripheral vision and was pretty sure the beast was unaware of his proximity. Adjusting his thick flying goggles, Rast studied the dragon’s broad back, densely ridged with razor-sharp, armoured spines. Without pausing to reflect on the wisdom of his course, Rast dived! At the last moment, he levelled out, cut through the straps holding him into his glider and landed clumsily astride the dragon’s back. Sensing he had been boarded, the dragon rolled to dislodge the fearless dwarf, but Rast had already stabbed his dagger between the beast’s scales and now held on for dear life until the great lizard straightened out.

    “WHO DARES RIDE THE MIGHTY LONGTOOTH AS THOUGH HE WERE A COMMON MULE?!” the dragon roared, “YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS INDIGNITY WITH YOUR LIFE! YOU WILL DIE IN FLAMES!”

    Rast grimaced and continued climbing. Dragons were notoriously difficult to poison due to their massive size, but if he could empty an entire vial of his patent-pending paralysing potion directly into its eyes, he could maybe blind the bastard. Reaching the dragon’s head, Rast bit the cork out of the flask and cursed as his lips and tongue immediately went numb. Leaning out over the scaly eyelid, he splashed the contents of the bottle into the huge black iris staring back at him.

    “RAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGHHH!!” Longtooth roared, “MY EYE!! I AM PARTIALLY BLINDED!! MY ABILITY TO PERCEIVE DEPTH AND MAKE RANGED ATTACKS IS SIGNIFICANTLY PENALISED!”

    Whipping his head from side to side and blinking furiously, Longtooth managed to dislodge Rast before the dwarven rogue could bugger up his other eye too. Fortunately for Rast, the dragon’s struggles had carried it out over the shallows where the ‘Everstill’ bobbed merrily in the grey surf. Goblin sailors hauled him from the water and lay him - sodden and half-drowned - on the deck.

    “Abandon ship!” Captain Snot cried, casting a green finger at the sky, “The dragon comes!”

    Longtooth had watched Rast’s fall and subsequent rescue with his one good eye. Half mad with rage, the dragon abandoned his assault on the town and dived towards the little boat upon which his prey had taken refuge. Scorching heat rose in his gullet as he called forth the fire with which to turn Rast and the ‘Everstill’ into fossil fuel!

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    • #32
      Terrified goblins threw themselves overboard as the enraged dragon descended upon the ‘Everstill’.

      “THE WATER WON’T SAVE YOU!” Longtooth crowed, “I WILL BOIL THE FLESH FROM YOUR BONES!”

      Barging his way through the fear-addled mob, Rast forced a path to the deck mounted ballista that Grogg had installed when he upgraded the vessel from pleasure ship to floating tank. Ropey muscles straining beneath his sodden armour, Rast loaded a bolt as long as he was tall into the device. Waiting until he could see the flames rising in the dragon’s throat, Rast fired the black arrow! He had been hoping to send the bolt flying down the beast’s gullet, but his aim was slightly off and instead it punched through the side of Longtooth’s scaly maw.

      “RAAAAAAAAGGHH!!” Longtooth roared, “MY CHARISMA MODIFIER!!”

      Veering off course, the dragon crashed through a row of waterfront property and flapped away.

      Demoralised by their dragon’s retreat, the stone giants were further disheartened when the reinsforcements from Magnimar and Fort Rannick swept into their wavering flank. From his vantage point overseeing the battle, the stone giant general Galenmir saw that the battle was lost and cursed the heroes who had inspired a mob of commoners to defy his army. To return to Jorgenfist with this disgrace hanging over him would be intolerable! The dragon Longtooth landed nearby, a spike of black metal protruding from his scaly jaw. Closing his stony hands around the shaft, Galenmir wrenched the arrow from the wound.

      “This battle is not over yet.” he said gravely, clambering astride the dragon’s broad back.

      ---

      Injured and exhausted, the heroes of Sandpoint gathered in the town square to report their victory to the leaders of the town. Their celebration was short-lived as the dragon Longtooth landed on the roof of the town hall, showering the party with fragments of brick and loose slate, General Galenmir, leapt from the dragon’s back, landing with such force as to knock the closest heroes off their feet! Wielding an enormous sword in one hand and an equally massive shield in the other, the stone giant commander was an intimidating sight!

      “You may have defeated my army,” Galenmir growled, “But you have yet to face me!”

      Karrack and Grogg charged the giant. Galenmir swung his massive sword, putting enough force behind that single blow to cut a mammoth in twain! Karrack cartwheeled over the blade and kept moving, but Grogg stood his ground and raised his twin axes to block the giant’s sword. With a screech of metal and a shower of sparks, Grogg somehow stopped the attack!

      “Wait for it….” Rast muttered.

      “THIS - IS - STRENGTH!!!” Grogg bellowed.

      "There it is."

      Still perched upon the roof of the town hall, Longtooth extended his serpentine neck and belched forth a cone of dragonfire upon the party. Asha and Solaris ducked out of harm’s way with only superficial burns, but Andor Drake was not so lucky and went up like a firework on the eve of the Swallowtail festival!

      Meanwhile, having got inside the stone giant’s defences, Karrack drove his magic speak up through Galenmir’s chin and into his skull. The giant sank to his knees and died. Using the giant’s slumped body as a ramp, Grogg hurled himself at the dragon. Putting all his forward momentum into his attack, he carved a nasty wound in the beast’s scaly underside. With a cry that was equal parts fury and pain, Longtooth took wing and fled north in the wake of the defeated army.

      Before their victory could even sink in, Shalelu approached Karrack with dire news! While the heroes had been fighting Longtooth and Galenmir, the defeated giants had abducted a number of prominent Sandpoint citizens, including Rast’s beloved Ameiko! Resolving to catch up the giants and rescue the hostages, the party lingered only long enough for Asha to treat Andor’s disfiguring burns before heading north. The tracks led to the very edge of Varisia, where a sheer cliff face marked the boundary of the giant’s ancient stomping ground; the Storval Plateau. Ignoring the Storval Stair on the grounds that if the giants were planning an ambush (which they were), that would be the place to spring it (which it was), the heroes elected to scale the cliff itself with the aid of the trained roc chick that Grogg had adopted several months previously.

      The Storval Plateua spread out ahead of them like an lifeless, grey desert. Somewhere beyond that ashen horizon lay the stone giant fortress of Jorgenfist - and the heroes only hope of bringing their friends back alive!

      To be continued….

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      • #33
        [Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Fortress of the Stone Giants / Session 24 / 19-10-2017

        Steeling their resolve, the heroes of Sandpoint head into the grey wasteland in pursuit of the surviving stone giants. The Storval Plateau is an arid, ashen wasteland created by the volcanic smoke belching forth from the fiery mountains to the north, grey dust settling over the land like a mourning shroud. The party spot a swarm of carrion birds circling a nearby dune and leave the giant’s trail to investigate. They interrupt several giant buzzards hunched over the body of a dead explorer, pecking hungrily at the dry, desiccated flesh. Rast finds an amulet strung around the corpse’s neck, identifying the unfortunate soul as a member of the Pathfinder society, a well-established fellowship of adventurers with lodges and outposts across the continent. Rast notices that the amulet gently pulls northward when allowed to dangle from its chain, granting whoever carries it a +2 Survival bonus when attempting to find their way. The party also find a rare Potion of Intangibility and a Ring of Flying (after Gary used an Adventure Card to get a roll on the random treasure table).

        Andor wants to sever the corpse’s arm to use as ‘bait’. It’s unclear exactly what manner of prey he is hoping to ensnare with this grim ploy. Solaris knocks that idea on the head by setting the corpse aflame with a sorcerous spark. Unfortunately, the smoke from this human barbeque attracts the attention of a stone giant patrol (who had been tracking the dead explorer). Rast spots a cave opening nearby and the party conceal themselves within while the giants poke around the area. Rast and Grogg (the only characters with some form of darkvision) venture deeper into the cave and discover that they have stumbled upon an abandoned shrine to the giant god Minderhal. The forgotten altar is attended by a lonely stone giant elder called Conna, who offers the group sanctuary and respite from their quest. Conna asks what purpose drives the party into giant territory and Andor (the only member of the party to speak the giant tongue) describes the raid on Sandpoint and the abduction of their friends. Conna sighs deeply and explains that their friends are likely being held in the fortress of Jorgenfist, an ancient black edifice that loomed over the plateau even before the stone giants colonized the area.

        “The lord of Jorgenfist is a stone giant wizard named Mokmorian,” Conna rumbled in a voice like distant thunder, “Stone giants with innate spellcasting potential are often born small and weak. Mokmorian was such a runt, yet as he grew older, he never developed the magical potential he had been expecting. He grew bitter and twisted and left the tribe. I know not what befell Mokmorian during his absence, but when he returned to the plateau, he was transformed. Not physically, he was still a runt, but something inside him had changed. He turned the young warriors against the elders and led them to the ruins of Jorgenfist where he now raises an army strong enough to threaten the lowlands. Mokmorian has abandoned the old ways and leads our people astray. If it is your goal to slay Mokmorian, then we share that desire and maybe there is something I can do to aid you in this.”

        Conna reached into the altar, the hard stone yielding to her touch like soft clay. When she withdrew her arm, she grasped a slender, stone spear of antiquated giantish design.

        “This is Teraktinus, the Giantslayer,” Conna explained, planting the point into the floor of the cave, “The edge will cut through stone as though it were papyrus and grievously wound any giant whose flesh it pierces. I do not give this boon lightly, for this weapon represents a dire threat to all giants. Yet, if you hope free my people from Mokmorian’s control, you will surely need it.”

        Solaris darts forward and licks the spear, in the hope that now nobody else will want it.

        “You are welcome to rest here tonight,” Conna said, “The giants of Jorgenfist have forgotten their gods and will not trouble you.”

        ---

        Andor kindles a friendly campfire in the centre of the cave and the party gather around it, soaking in the warmth from the dancing flames. Rast is feeling uncharacteristically mellow and passes around a flask of moonshine liquor distilled with his alchemy kit. For a while, the only sound is the crackling of dry tinder in the heart of the fire. Then Rast begins to speak. He speaks of his love for Ameiko and how he treasures her for her shrewd management of his many businesses. He explains how he must rescue her from the giants before the end of the current fiscal year, so that she can complete and submit his tax return on time. A single tear rolls down his whiskery cheek. When Rast falls silent, Solaris clears his throat. He expresses his grief over the death of his super magical uncle Aeron, who sacrificed himself so that the party could vanquish Solaris’ wicked shadow twin at the Moonspike Monastery. Karrack agrees that it was very sad. As the mood around the campfire turns melancholy, Grogg decides to unburden himself and speaks for the first time about the guilt he feels after accidentally slaying a friend and fellow gladiator in a moment of battle madness. Having exhausted themselves both physically and emotionally, the party slip into a restful slumber under Conna the Elder’s watchful gaze.

        ---

        The heroes wake the next morning to find grainy sunlight illuminating the cave. Conna the Elder is knelt beside the altar, but when Andor attempts to converse, he realizes that she has been dead for weeks! The party spend a moment of silence to honor the departed giant and the gift she bestowed upon them from beyond the pale. With renewed determination, the party leave the cave and continue north toward the walls of Jorgenfist!

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        • #34
          Later that same day, the party get their first glimpse of the stone giant fortress. A 50ft wall encircles a courtyard, from which rises a towering spire of black stone. Outside the walls, the ground teems with giants and their monstrous allies.

          “I don’t much fancy the look of that,” Rast grumbled.

          “Why don’t we use the secret tunnel Conna told us about?”Andor asked.

          “What?” Asha said, startled, “That wasn’t mentioned in the last write-up.”

          “Maybe the GM had forgotten about it until now.” Andor replied, “He’s a busy guy and he’s putting these write-ups together at work when nobody is looking. Cut the guy some slack!”

          “Fine! Let’s try the secret entrance.” Karrack said, “I just hope it's not’s not full of monstrous guardians and dangerous traps this time!”

          ---

          Waiting until inky darkness had flooded the valley and the giants had gathered around their roaring bonfires, the heroes crept stealthily around the outskirts of the sprawling encampment. Three hours and a few close calls later, the party gathered on the edge of the ravine upon which the fortress had been built. Rast used his new ring of flying to search the cliff face for the tunnel Conna had indicated would deliver them into the dungeons of the citadel. The rest of the heroes made the descent more carefully and soon they stood upon a narrow ledge, staring with some trepidation at the hidden entrance. An unpleasant smell of decay wafted from the dark fissure in the rock. Grogg took the lead, hacking through the sticky strands of spider silk obstructing the passage with his twin axes. The floor of the tunnel seethed with small spiders and Grogg took enormous pleasure stomping on them as he walked. Rast paused to examine the critters more carefully and realized that they were undead, the desiccated husks of dead spiders animated by foul necromancy. Up ahead, the tunnel narrowed and became completely blocked by a wall of webbing. Nobody in the party is particularly surprised when they are ambushed by a swarm of large zombie spiders (yawn). They are surprised when they discover that the spider’s venom carries a powerful paralyzing agent that turns their bones to jelly! They are even more surprised when a massive zombie spider the size of a retirement bungalow comes skittering out of the darkness, gnashing its axe-like mandibles and generally scaring the **** out of everyone present! Then Grogg hits it with his axe, inflicts 40+ damage and pretty much kills it in a single blow.

          “THIS – IS – "

          “Yes, we know, give it a rest already!” Solaris snapped.

          Rast is already reaching into the dead spider’s mouth, groping for its venom gland. He finds a horrible white sac of goo and gives it an experimental poke, causing it to explode like a pus-filled appendix.

          With the demise of Deathweb, the rest of the undead spiders flee into the dark recesses of the cave and the party continue on into the dungeons of Jorgenfist.

          To be continued....

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          • #35
            [Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Fortress of the Stone Giants / Session 25 (26/10/2017)

            We re-join our heroes in the fetid lair of Deathweb, the flaking husk of the megarachnid lying inert where it was slain. Tiny white spiders swarm over the massive corpse like a pallid veil blown by the rank breath of some dread deity. Karrack’s torch flickers as he edges along the wall of the cavern, poking the flaming brand into each crack and fissure wide enough to conceal either a lurking spider or the way ahead.

            “Here!” Karrack rasps, crooking a claw to beckon the others, “There’s a tunnel leading on and – urggh. What is that smell?”

            Never one to pass up on investigating a horrible smell, Rast waves the others back and stealths on alone. The tunnel terminates on a narrow, crumbling ledge overlooking a small cave. Three ogres stand around a stone basin, stirring the noxious contents with long wooden poles. The vile brew smells of vinegar and cat’s **** and brings tears to Rast’s eyes (although it’s unclear if this reaction is motivated by disgust or admiration). Scraps of leather and dripping fur marinade in the stinking broth and Rast deduces that he is in a tannery. He reports back to the others, who decide that they can probably take three stinking ogres.

            Grogg leads the attack, positioning himself in a heroic (albeit precarious) pose on the ledge above the tanning pool.

            “THIS – IS –FRED?!?”

            “What?!” Rast spluttered.

            “FRED!!” Grogg cried, dropping down from the ledge and grabbing hold of one of the ogres in a masculine hug, “It is you! I thought you were dead! You’re not dead… are you? Because we just fought this spider….”

            “Grogg kill Deathweb?!” Fred asked, jaw dropping.

            “Yes! I totally killed Deathweb! Pretty much by myself. It was awesome!”

            “Do you guys know that thing?” Andor asked, slowly returning his longsword to its scabbard.

            “Grogg and that ogre had some sort of weird bromance going on while we were liberating Fort Rannick from the Kreeg clan,” Rast explained, “We all thought he’d been killed. I don’t recall that any of us cared, except for Grogg. He built a little shrine back on the Everstill. It’s actually kinda’ sweet.”

            “Sweet is not the word I’d choose.” Andor grunted.

            “Grogg come to kill giant leader?” Fred asked eagerly, “Come to seize control of giant army and conquer puny human lands?”

            “Yes, maybe and probably not.”

            “Fred will fight with Grogg again!” Fred decided, “Just like old times! Others will join us! I have told them tales of the mighty Grogg the Smasher! I even copy your catchphrase, listen… THIS – IS –STENCH!!”

            The other two ogres grinned big, stupid grins and did a little ogre dance to express their merriment.

            “So the ogres are on our side now?” Asha asked, licking her lips and gazing longingly at the bulges of their massive ogre junk beneath their filthy loincloths. (I’m not even kidding, this actually happened in game)

            “Fred, can you show us where the giants keep their prisoners?” Karrack asked.

            “Prisoners?” Fred looked confused, “What is prisoners?

            “Little people locked in cages?”

            “Oh, you mean food!! Yes, Fred will take you to get food! Fred hungry too!”

            “What?! No eating the prisoners!!”

            (This unplanned scene occurred after Vic played an Adventure Card that resulted in him recognising a familiar face or ally).

            ---

            The party dash to keep up with Fred, who leads them to the giants gaol. A hulking, two headed humanoid sits beside a grindstone, sparks flying from the edge of his executioner’s axe as he hones the blade. One head drools and chunters a childish rhyme in giantish whilst the second is hidden beneath a greasy, black leather hood. The giant rises to defend the room but is quickly overwhelmed. Grogg buries his axe in the hooded head and Andor reduces the idiot head to tears with harsh words. Rast and Karrack work together to lift the giant-sized keys from the ettin’s belt and release the prisoners from their cells. There is no sign of Ameiko. The other captives report that she fell ill during the journey north and is being held elsewhere in the fortress. Solaris agrees to lead the prisoners out through the secret tunnel and re-join the party later, whilst Rast and the others continue to search Jorgenfist for his wayward wife.

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            • #36
              Leaving the cell block, the heroes find themselves looking down into a natural pit. Sunlight floods in from a hole in the roof and a wide ledge cut into the rock face spirals from the top to the bottom of the shaft. A wooden platform laden with crates waits to be raised to the surface via a series of thick metal chains. Opposite the lifting mechanism, two juvenile red dragons have been chained to a boulder, their wings clipped and their jaws muzzled.

              “We should kill them and harvest their organs for alchemy!”Rast said.

              “Wait!” Andor hissed, “What if they are related to the red dragon we fought in Sandpoint? They’re not exactly honoured guests here, right? They look more like hostages.”

              “You think the giants have compelled Longtooth to join them by threatening his offspring?” Karrack asked. Andor nodded.

              “That changes everything.” Rast agreed, “We should kill them and harvest their organs for alchemy!”

              “No!” Karrack snapped, “Let’s get down there and try talking to them.”

              The party approach warily. The dragons watch them through slitted eyelids.

              “No sudden movements….” Andor warned.

              “Nice dragon.” Rast said soothingly, “I’m just going to unhook your muzzle so we can have a little chat. Nobody wants to harvest your organs. No need to try and bite me the moment this thing is off….”

              Conversing in draconic, Karrack and Andor establish that the two brothers were indeed sired by Longtooth and are indeed being held as hostages by Mokmorian to ensure the red dragon’s compliance. The party decide that by releasing the wyrmlings, they remove Mokmorian’s leverage over the dragon and the giants lose their most powerful ally. Asha grows short of breath as the ogres strain their slab-like muscles to break the chains binding the two young dragons to the rock. Unable to snare the wind in their torn and tattered wings, the two brothers charge up the ramp to reach the surface and call for their father. Karrack follows them up to watch the fireworks.

              The appearance of two furious dragons into the inner courtyard throws the fortress into disarray! The mammoth stables are ablaze before the giants are even aware that the dragons are amongst them. Panicked mammoths, their shaggy coats aflame, trample their riders underfoot. The sky darkens as Longtooth descends upon the walls, his massive wingspan momentarily eclipsing the sun. The red dragon strafes the citadel, blasting the defenders with his fiery breath. Landing in the courtyard, Longtooth picks up his two flightless offspring and carries them off. Blinking the ash out of his eyes, Karrack took in the chaos in the dragon’s wake. Smoke billowed from the burning stable and a second building had collapsed entirely. The black tower itself seemed unmarred by dragonfire, it’s surface as smooth and glassy as the surface of a dark lake. There did not appear to be a way inside at ground level.

              “Longtooth is out of the picture.” Karrack confirmed, “We should keep going before the giant regroup and think to check who released their dragons.”

              ---

              The party continue searching for Ameiko. They don’t find her in the next area of the dungeon, but they do find a golden teleportation circle inlaid into the stone floor. A control console nearby is indented with a seven-pointed hollow that likely fits the activation sigil. Next, they reach a pair of intimidating doors decorated by monstrous imagery.

              “Woah, guys, strong sense of deja-vu,” Rast said, “Aren’t these creepy doors real similar to the creepy doors we saw under Thistletop?”

              “The entrance to the shrine of Lamashtu, where we batted Nualia and her yeth hounds?” Karrack clarified.

              “Fun times.” Grogg reminisced happily.

              "You weren't even there," Rast said.

              “Get ready,” Karrack warned, “Whatever is on the other side of these doors is unlikely to be good.”

              ---

              Rast pushed open the door and stepped into the cosy taproom of the Rusty Dragon. The wooden stools had been stacked upside down on the tables and the bar was clear of flagons and drunken fishermen. Rast stood and breathed in the familiar scents of ale and wood polish. Ah, that was the smell of home! Something seemed strange though. Rast could not place his finger on it. How had he come to be home? Hadn’t he been talking to Karrack and Grogg just moments ago? He glanced around the empty taproom, no sign of either of them. Odd. A noise from upstairs caused Rast to lose his train of thought and he meandered over to the stairs that led up to his and Ameiko’s private rooms above the tavern. He could hear voices from the room where he and his wife were sleeping while the Kaijitsu mansion was refurbished. Heading in, Rast found his wife lying in bed, attended by two other women.

              “Your wife is very fortunate,” said the first woman, “She is going to have a child.”

              “A special child,” the second woman agreed, “We are here to assist with the birth.”

              Both of the women smiled encouraging. Rast noticed that their smiles were much too wide to fit their faces, but that hardly seemed to matter right now. He was going to be a daddy! He hustled up to his wife’s bedside and took her clammy hand in his own. Suddenly, Rast heard the sound of breaking glass from the room below, followed by the sound of the taproom getting trashed.

              “They are coming to take your wife and kill your child.” the first midwife hissed.

              “Please Rast, don’t let them hurt our baby!” Ameiko moaned.

              Rast scowled and readied his daggers. If anyone planned on hurting his family, they would need to go through him first!

              ---

              Grogg and Fred the Ogre forced open the grim portal and led the way into a large, star-shaped ritual chamber. Human sacrifices were chained to stone pillars at each point of the star and in the centre of the room stood a squat, stone altar. Ameiko lay upon this altar, moaning and writhing in silent agony. Flanking the altar stood two lamia, monsters with the lower body of a giant snake and the upper body of a beautiful woman. The party had fought these dangerous creatures before and both times it had been a slog.

              “Ah, so these are the fools who killed our sisters?” the first hissed, “So strong and so handsome – and soon to be so dead.”

              “Let these people go!” Karrack commanded, brandishing his spear.

              Rast stood beside him, slack jawed and glassy eyed. Karrack nudged him with the butt of his spear.

              “You want to step in here, maybe? That’s your wife on the altar.”

              “Huh? Nobody hurts my family!” Rast growled.

              Suddenly, Rast turned and threw his returning dagger at Grogg! The knife only nicked his shoulder, but immediately Grogg’s muscles locked up as the paralyzing poison on the blade spread through his body.

              “Kill the lamia!” Karrack said, “They have Rast under their control!”

              The first lamia cast Fear at the lizardman, catching Andor in the spell’s AOE. Both heroes are suddenly required to confront their greatest fears! Karrack finds himself standing in a swirling blizzard, the wind howling all around him. A nightmarish snowman with blazing eyes looms over the lizardman, reaching out with skeletal arms. Meanwhile, Andor saw himself standing in the Sandpoint cathedral with all his old mercenary buddies watching from the pews. An elderly organist plays the wedding anthem and a veiled woman wearing a bridal dress appears beside him.

              “I now pronounce you man and wife,” said the priest, “You may kiss the bride.”

              “Noooooooooo!!” Andor wailed, falling to his knees.

              Asha – the only member of the party able to function normally – started hurling bolts of celestial energy around the room, hoping to disrupt the sorcery disabling her allies. The lamia maintaining the Fear power loses her focus, releasing Karrack and Andor from their waking nightmares. Karrack darted forward and jabbed at her with his spear. Andor charged the other but ended up trapped in her scaly coils. Inexorably, the lamia started to crush the old warriors bones. Asha took out the first lamia with an empowered bolt, freeing Karrack up to go to Andor’s aid. Together, the two fighters fillet the second lamia and Andor rips out her spine to use as a belt. With the lamia sisters vanquished, Rast returns to his senses and offers Grogg a healing potion to apologize for stabbing him. Grogg chugs the whole flask down in one go and burps cavernously, that’s the good stuff right there!

              Rast lifts Ameiko off the altar and carries her away from that dreadful chamber. She is alive, but her pulse is weak and her pallor deathly pale.

              “Is it true, lass? Are you with child?” Rast asked.

              “Yes Rast, we are going to have a baby,” Ameiko said, “I only found out myself the night before the giants came. I wanted to surprise you.”

              “I am surprised!” Rast agreed.

              The party carry Ameiko back to the secret tunnel and leave her in Solaris’ care.

              “I should stay with you,” Rast said uncertainly, “The baby….”

              “You must go with the others,” Ameiko said weakly, releasing Rast’s hand from her own, “We’ll talk about this when you get back.”

              Rast nodded somberly, planted a whiskery kiss on his wife’s brow and went with the others to confront Mokmorian.

              Comment


              • #37
                Back in the teleportation circle, Asha inserts a glowing, star-shaped relic into the control console. She had found the strange, golden device on the corpse of one of the dead lamia sisters and known immediately what purpose it served.

                “Seven points, seven possible destinations,” she explained, “Twist the dial and off we go.”

                She twisted the dial and off they went.

                The room around the party blurred and their stomachs lurched as they were hurled into the space between dimensions. A moment later, they reached their destination and appeared atop a mountain overlooking a ruined city of truly epic proportions. Even giants would have been dwarfed by this ancient, urban sprawl! A golden road winds through the crumbling buildings and climbs another mountain on the opposite end of the valley. The side of the mountain has been carved into the likeness of a stern and imperious face. Dragons wheel through the clouds above the city and the streets below teem with giants!

                “I think we’re a little under-levelled to be here.” Karrack said, “Where else does this thing go?”

                ---

                The circle moved and the heroes appeared in a tall, circular chamber. The walls are lined with shelves, upon which are stacked ancient, dusty tomes taller than Rast. Karrack notices that the walls and shelves are crafted from the same smooth, black stone as the tower. A cowled figure appears on a balcony overlooking the room. It is clearly a giant, but hunchbacked and twisted like a gnarled and dying tree. One grey hand grips the railing and the other clings to a black staff topped with the severed and rotting head of a black dragon. A string of severed and leering heads have been draped around the giant’s neck.

                “Welcome to the black tower, heroes of Sandpoint,” the giant sneers, “I am Mokmorian, lord of Jorgenfist and the architect of your doom! Do you like my library? I hope so, for your bones will lie here for the rest of eternity!”

                “Why did you send your giants to attack Sandpoint?” Karrack demands.

                “It is the will of my master that this ‘Sandpoint’ fall to ruin,”Mokmorian answered, “There are secrets buried in that place that will accelerate his inevitable return to this world. Not that any of you will live to witness it! Prepare to face my headless lords! Mwuhuhuhuhu!!”

                Six undead ogres stomped forward to stand between the heroes and the giant. Each was clad in black armour and wielded a pair of fearsome battle-axes. None of them had a head, just a bloody, rotten stump where the neck ended. Grogg and Fred charged!

                “THIS – IS – STRNEGTH!!”

                “THIS – IS STENCH!!”

                “This is - not working!!” Andor added, his sword bouncing off the headless lords black armour. No matter how well they fought, the party could not seem to wound the undead ogres!

                “Wait!” Karrack cried, his lizard mind racing in overtime, “Asha! Destroy the heads around Mokmorian’s neck!”

                Asha released a wave of holy bolts at the giant, destroying two of the severed heads on his gristly necklace. Immediately, two of the headless lords collapsed.

                “You are too clever for your own good! Mwuhuhuhuhu!!”Mokmorian laughed, pointing at Karrack with his staff. The severed dragon head on the end opened its maw and fired a blast of necromantic energy at the lizardman. Karrack somersaulted out of harms way and threw his spear back at the giant. The point sank deep into the giant's stony flesh!

                “GRAAAAGHH!!” Mokmorian shrieked, “Teraktinus, the Giant-Slayer!! Where did you get that weapon?!? And why is there a rope tied to the end of it?!?”

                “Well, Solaris loaned it to me,” Karrack explained, “But he got it off a benevolent spirit in an old shrine out on the plateau. And the rope is tied on so that I can do this!”

                Karrack dropped off the bridge, swung across the room and started to abseil up the massive bookcase below Mokmorian. Grogg and Andor leapt across to add their weight to Karracks. The giant dropped his staff in order to brace himself against the railing, the rope drawing him closer to the edge. The balcony groaned ominously under his massive weight. At this pivotal moment, Rast jabbed his little knife - coated with his last dose of paralysing tentamort venom - into the giant’s foot. Mokmorian flubbed his vigor roll to resist the effects and found his body suddenly unresponsive to his brain. He lost his grip on the railing and was pulled over the edge! Karrack swung himself and the others out of the way as the giant fell past, hitting the ground below and impaling himself on the stone spear stuck in his chest!

                To be continued….

                Comment


                • #38
                  [Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Session 26 [03/11/2017]

                  The heroes were feeling pretty pleased with themselves after defeating Mokmorian and ending the threat to Varisia - when the giant warlord sat back up, eyes blazing with arcane fire.

                  “So these are the heroes of the age?” Mokmorian intoned, “You look more like gasping worms to me.”

                  The giant’s body moved jerkily as though being manipulated by an autistic puppeteer. His voice sounded different too, now it dripped with cultured malice.

                  “Come then, heroes. I – Karzoug, the Runelord of Greed - will await you atop the golden spire of Xin Shalast. Know that every minion of mine that you slay only serves to make me stronger and your own doom more certain. After ten thousand years, is this pitiful band really the best the world can do?”

                  The malevolent flame behind Mokmorian’s dead eyes flickered and faded and the giant slumped to the ground. Grogg stepped up and chopped off his head. He rolled his gory prize onto the balcony overlooking the giant encampment and threw it off to get the armies attention.

                  “Giants of the Storval Plateau!” Grogg roared, “Mokmorian is dead! Galenmir is dead! Your dragon has turned against you! Your conquest of the lowlands is over! Disband and return to your homes! Return to the old ways and pray for the forgiveness of the gods you abandoned! Don’t make me come down there and bang your heads together!”

                  With the head of the snake severed (and subsequently splattered across the inner courtyard), the stone giant army wandered off.

                  “What should we do now?” Asha asked.

                  “I will escort Ameiko and the other civilians back to Sandpoint.” Rast said, “I will ask Solaris to accompany me, for the road south will be long and fraught with peril. I will wait for you there.”

                  “The rest of us could experiment with the teleportation circle and see where else it goes.” Asha suggested.

                  Twisting the star-shaped control rune to the third position, the party found themselves standing in a dark cave that smelled like goblin. Another turn teleported the heroes into the midst of swirling blizzard. Karrack immediately turned blue and began to freeze. Asha twisted the sigil to the sixth point and the party found themselves underwater!

                  “Glubglubglub?!” Asha cursed, turning the rune to the seventh/final point on the star shaped console.

                  The party land in a stone chamber, soaked through and draped in foul smelling weeds. The walls glitter with a strange, sparkly purple stone and blue torches burn in iron braziers. A mysterious merchant offers to trade Karrack a jar of 100 eyeballs in exchange for one of his own. The party get a real ‘Needful Things’ vibe of the vendor and decline his attempts to barter. He is able to advise the party that they have stumbled into a chalice dungeon, a random assortment of traps, treasure and monstrous encounters that will be different every time they visit.

                  “Well that’s neat and all,” Asha mused, “But it doesn’t help solve our runelord problem.”

                  For lack of better options or signposting from the GM, the party return to the goblin cave and have another poke around. Grogg noticed a hole in the ceiling blocked by a heavy block of stone. Karrack climbed up on the half-orc’s broad shoulders and Asha clambered atop Andor. Working together, they shifted the obstruction and climbed into the room above. Karrack realised that they were back in the ritual chamber under Thistletop where they had fought Nualia Tobyn at the very beginning of their adventure and the stone block they just knocked over was the accursed altar to Lamashtu. Asha picked up a statuette of the Mother of Monsters herself and sets to bashing it in with a rock. Thistletop is a day’s travel from Sandpoint, so the party headed back there, wondering how they would explain their hastened arrival to Rast and Solaris.

                  Calculating that they have two weeks to kill before the rest of the party make it back, Asha visited the Pathfinder Lodge in Magnimar, returning the amulets that the party recovered from the dead Pathfinders on the Storval Plateau. She asked to make use of the Pathfinder’s library to research the fall of ancient Thassillon and how to combat the Runelords, should one actually be waking up. She finds information pertaining to a site called Runeforge, where a magical metal called Ithilliom could be used to craft weapons capable of killing the Runelords. No one runelord could be entrusted with control of this resource, so all seven maintained a presence here. The only thing the ancient scrolls do not reveal is the actual location of this mythical runeforge.

                  Meanwhile, Karrack, Andor and Grogg returned to the Storval Plateau to make sure the stone giants had abandoned their warlike practises. They find a group of elders restoring the abandoned shrine to Minderhal and Karrack promised to return the giant-killing spear Teraktinus once the Runelord Karzoug had been defeated. Grogg attracted the romantic attention of a young stone giant huntress called Sapphire. Andor persuaded the other hunters to take him mammoth hunting and they returned several days later dragging the corpse of majestic beast. The elders agreed to help the party decode Mokmorian’s journals and return to the Black Tower to do so. The party learned that Karzoug had compelled Mokmorian to seize several sites of interest (tenuously explaining the attack on Sandpoint), but seemed particularly interested in one specific ruin situated beside a frozen lake in the shadow of Mount Rimeskull, far to the north in the land of snow and swirling blizzards. Karrack curses his -4 racial hindrance in cold climates.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    [Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Session 27 / 10-11-2017

                    Two weeks after leaving the fortress of Jorgenfist, Rast and Solaris lead the convoy of weary civilians into Sandpoint. Ameiko floats a few inches off the ground, Rast having decided that his pregnant wife is too good to walk with the rest of the herd and gifted her with his ring of flying. The heroes are re-united at the bar of the Rusty Dragon and enjoy a rare drink together before going to report to Mayor Deverin and Sheriff Hemlock at the town hall. Andor opted to remain in the pub and drink himself into oblivion, having received the coin promised to him by the town council for his professional aid during the siege of Sandpoint.

                    “Thank-you for rescuing the men and women taken by the giants,” Mayor Deverin said, “As well as being my responsibility, many of them are my personal friends. The township of Sandpoint owes you all a great debt, even that drunken sot Drake. You are all welcome to stay in town and relax for as long as you like, I’m sure you could all do with a rest after your last adventure.”

                    “We can only afford to stay a few days,” Karrack sighed, “Much as we would all like to remain longer. For many months now, ever since our initial investigations into Thistletop and the Skinsaw Man, I have suspected a hidden hand behind the movements of our enemies. A nameless force that scars its wicked servants with the seven pointed mark of the Sideheron. That nameless force is nameless no longer, he revealed himself upon the death of his servant Mokmorian. The enemy we face is no less than Karzoug, the Runelord of Greed.”

                    “Karzoug… that name sounds real familiar,” Sheriff Hemlock said, thoughtfully rubbing his sandpapery chin, “Where have I heard that before?”

                    “The Runelords were the seven rulers of ancient Thassillon,”Asha explained, “Sorcerer kings – and queens – wielding godlike power. It was believed that they were destroyed during the cataclysm that ended their empire, but it now appears that at least one of them managed to survive.”

                    “That’s it!” the sheriff said, snapping his fingers, “Broderick Quirk, the mad old scholar living down by the waterfront. Every night, he’s in the Rusty Dragon, banging on about how the Runelords aren’t dead and it’s only a matter of time before they return to the world. The lads round him up every few weeks for being drunk and disorderly. He sleeps it off in the cells and then totters off home in the morning.”

                    “I think we need to have a word with this mad scholar,”Karrack said.

                    ---

                    Bleary eyed and blinking owlishly, Broderick Quirk answered his front door maybe five minutes after Karrack started banging on it. Grogg had wanted to kick open the door and loot the room beyond until Solaris and Asha managed to convince him that that sort of thing was not acceptable outside of a dungeon.

                    “What delinquent devilry is this?” Quirk demanded, belligerently brandishing an empty wine bottle, “Think it’s clever to wake an old man up at… at ….”

                    “Four bells past noon.” Rast supplied, unhelpfully.

                    “ … at this ungodly hour? Well, do you? I’ll tan your hides, you rowdy brutes!”

                    “We’re here to talk about ancient Thassillon!” Karrack said hastily, as the old man began fumbling with his belt strap.

                    “Why didn’t you say so?!” Quirk beamed, thrusting the bottle into Karrack’s scaly hand, “Come in and have a drink!”

                    The scholar’s home was a mess, piles of books and dirty crockery rose in precarious towers from any flat surface upon which they could be stacked. Karrack whistled and an elite group of goblin cleaners descended on the cluttered abode.

                    “Those hideous children are stealing my precious filth!”Quirk cried in alarm.

                    “Calm yourself, scholar!” Karrack commanded, “Tell us about the Runelords.”

                    Referencing a selection of ancient scrolls and dusty manuscripts, Broderick Quirk explains how the realm of men was once governed by a race of powerful humanoids called the Azlant. The seven most formidable men and women of this legendary race became the Runelords and divided the continent into seven territories that each would govern with absolute power;
                    • Karzoug, Runelord of Greed.
                    • Zutha, Runelord of Gluttony.
                    • Bellimarus, Runelord of Envy.
                    • Xanderghul, Runelord of Pride.
                    • Kruul, Runelord of Sloth.
                    • Alaznist, Runelord of Wrath.
                    • and finally Sorshen, Runelord of Lust.
                    “Why are these last two pages stuck together” Rast asked, “Eww. Nevermind.”

                    “Tell us about Runeforge and Ithillion.” Karrack said.

                    “Ithiliiom is a mythical metal that was scarce even in the days of old Thassillon,” Quirk explained, “It was mined from veins of crystallized mana in remote areas where wild, sorcerous energies saturated the ground. It was as much the stuff of magic as it was of the earth and could be fashioned into magnificent weapons and armour. Of course, no normal forge could handle so rare and wondrous an ore, so the Runelords built the Runeforge, the only site in all of Thassillon where Ithilliom could be refined. No one Runelord could be entrusted with control over such a valuable resource, so all seven maintained a presence at the forge, assigning favoured servants or monstrous guardians to safeguard their interests there.”

                    “So we’ll need people with smithing and sorcery skills to hand?” Solaris said, “With the spiritual guidance of my super magical Uncle Aereon - whose soul now resides within my sword and whispers to me in my sleep – and the technical guidance of that drunken death merchant Andor Drake, I’m certain I could use the runeforge to enhance our existing weaponry with the runelord-killing properties of Ithillion.”

                    “And then we’ll give Runelord Karzoug a spanking that will make him wish he had died in the cataclysm!” Rast added.

                    Having thanked the scholar for his time and promised to return with some genuine Thassillonian relics, the heroes of Sandpoint prepare to face the freezing foothills of Mount Rimeskull. Thick, warm coats are crafted from the mammoth fur Andor bagged on the Storval Plateau and Rast stocks up on potions that will protect his comrades from the cold. Once the party are as ready as they are going to get, they head for Thistletop and use the teleportation circle there to transport themselves to the shores of Lake Stormunder.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      The party materialize in the eye of a raging blizzard! The icy wind howls like a banshee and the heroes huddle into their mammoth fur coats for warmth and the +2 vigor bonus against the cold. Despite these extra layers of protection against the hostile elements, it quickly becomes clear that Karrack will not survive in these harsh conditions for long (racial hindrance: cold blooded). Asha drives a spare spear into the icy ground and ties the end of her rope around the shaft with numb, trembling fingers. The party range away from the teleportation circle, using the rope as a lifeline to lead them back should they need to beat a hasty retreat. One hour and several coils of rope later, they stumble upon the edge of the frozen lake. The heroes set out across the black ice. The trek across the lake is a tortuously slow and singularly miserable affair, with each cautious step onward carrying the risk of the ice underfoot cracking open and spilling the heroes into the dark water below.

                      With their elite warrior training, Grogg and Andor are the only two party members alert enough to notice the wolf pack before the stealthy beasts’ spring their ambush. Claws scrabbling for purchase against the ice, three lean, hungry wolves burst from the blizzard in a tangle of grey fur and glistening fangs. They leap at Solaris and drag the half-elf to the ground, sinking their jaws into his legs and attempting to drag him into the night. Grogg leaps forward, cleaving all three beasts with one swing of his trusty axe and hauling Solaris back to his feet. More wolves harass the party, snapping and snarling and generally proving pretty ineffectual against veteran-level PCs, until the dire wolves turn up and shift the balance back towards Team Jacob. Asha screams as a dire wolf locks its jaws around her arm and violently shakes its furry head, trying to wrench the limb from her body.

                      Suddenly, a deep, ominous roar rolls across the frozen lake and the wolf pack whimper and flee the battle. The heroes have but a moment to ready themselves, before a monstrously overgrown polar bear lumbers out of the swirling snow! The bear rears up on its back paws and Andor darts in with his spear, sinking the shaft deep into the beast’s hairy breast. The bear roars and bats the old mercenary aside. Leaving his spear buried in the bear’s body, Andor switches to his glowing longsword and bounces back into the fray, swinging his blade at the beast’s head and hacking off its jaw! Karrack darts in and drives his spear up through the exposed roof of the bear’s mouth and into its tiny bear brain! The beast shudders and dies, spilling its hot bear blood across the ice. Everyone crowds around the furry corpse and spoons it for warmth. Karrack takes things a step too far, slicing open the beast’s tummy and crawling in amongst the warm, gooey entrails. He refuses to come out when the others tell him it is time to move on, so Grogg and Andor are forced to drag the dead bear across the ice with Karrack huddled inside.

                      The party reach the island in the centre of the frozen lake, upon which stand seven monolithic stone heads, each one marked with the runic symbol of a different Runelord. Rising from the centre of the island is a stone circle that remains curiously clear of the snow piling up on all sides. Unsure how to activate the ancient runes and reveal the entrance to Runeforge, Solaris communes with his haunted sword and the ghost of his super magical uncle.

                      “Each Runelord drew his power from a specific sin,” the sword reveals, “Charge their runes with strong memories of sinful behaviour and the way ahead will open to you.”

                      Solaris shares this information with the rest of the party. Rast steps up to the rune of greed and presses his grubby little palm against the dark sigil. The stone head feeds on Rast’s greed and lights up like a beacon. Grogg activates the rune for Pride by remembering how he left a ‘Grogg the Smasher’action figure on the altar Minderhal. Asha activates the rune for Lust by recalling how she once surprised a virtuous and well hung paladin at the temple baths. Solaris activates the runes for both Wrath (killing his twin brother atop the Moonspike Monastery) and Gluttony (eating a load of cake and getting fat, before the monks whipped him back into shape). Andor activates the rune for Sloth due to the years wasted propping up various bars across Varisia, rather than doing something productive with his life. Finally, Karrack activates the rune for Envy, due to how he feels about the strength and togetherness of the humans he was raised amongst and how he has always yearned for that closeness, yet been pushed away due to his monstrous appearance (aww). Once all seven stone heads are illuminated, the stone circle in the centre of the island rumbles and shifts, creating a flight of wide, spiral steps descending beneath the lake. Steeling themselves for the trials ahead, the party enter the Runeforge.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        The heroes descend into a vast, domed chamber, easily two hundred feet in circumference. The space is dominated by seven 25ft tall statues of the seven Runelords. Behind each statue, arched tunnels lead off into the various wings of the dungeon, each area controlled by a rival faction. The centre of the dome is filled by an array of smithing apparatus, cold pipes and dark flues tangled together like a nest of iron serpents.

                        “The fires of Runeforge have slumbered for thousands of years,” Rast said with a dwarf’s surety, after resting his hands against the cool metal, “But I can rouse them again, given time.”

                        The party debate which of the seven wings to explore first. The consensus is: any one except Greed. For [reasons] they decide to do Lust first and head through the arch behind the statue of Runelord Sorshen. It is difficult to ignore (since she elected to model in the nude) that for all her megalomaniacal ambitions, Sorshen had a pretty fine ***.

                        “I would tap that.” Andor confided to Rast, with a suggestive wiggle of his creaky hips.

                        Rast grunts. He is not impressed by Sorshen’s smooth, perfect skin. He much prefers his women coarse and hairy.

                        The tunnel terminates on a stone ledge overlooking a seemingly bottomless abyss. Iron cages dangle over the pit from lengths of rusty chain. Pitiful figures wrapped in strips of greasy leather languish within their hanging cells. A larger cage looms near the centre of the cavernous space, hanging in space like a fat, iron spider in its web. Brightly dyed fabric has been draped over the sides and cavorting shadows writhe alluringly against the colourful cloth. The only sounds in the cave are the moaning of the prisoners and a suspicious, leathery flapping noise from the darkness above.

                        “It looks like we need to jump from cage to cage to reach the pavilion,” Karrack said, securing Teraktinus to his back, “And we used up all our rope marking the route back to the teleporter. If you’re coming across, try not to roll snake-eyes on your agility die.”

                        “Huh? Whussat?!” Grogg said. His mind had been elsewhere. What was it Karrack had just said? Oh well, it was probably not important.

                        Karrack and Solaris deftly hop from cage to cage without plunging to their almost certain doom. Halfway across the abyss, they are challenged by a skanky looking harpy waving a spear.

                        “Who seeks the pleasurable embrace of the Lady Delphine?”she squawks.

                        “We are mighty heroes, seeking tools to destroy Runelord Karzoug!” Solaris declares grandiosely, “Lead us to your mistress so that we may trigger the next combat encounter!”

                        “Follow me!” hisses the harpy, wondering when mighty heroes became so mighty predictable.

                        The cage into which they are led is a riot of garish colour and intoxicating smells. A smoking censer in one corner fills the room with a sweet, narcotic haze and both Karrack and Solaris begin to feel a little woozy. Several naked human prisoners are strapped to metal bed frames around the pavilion, moaning with some potent cocktail of pleasure and despair. Several more harpies are busy tormenting the prisoners with a variety of ghoulish looking instruments. A violet-skinned succubus with come-to-bed eyes and stab-you-in-the-face claws presides over the orgy from an uncomfortable-looking metal throne.

                        “Whatever have you found, sister? Fresh meat for us to grind?” purrs the succubus, rising from her seat and slowly circling the heroes like a hungry shark, “I am the Lady Delphine, mistress of the Iron Cages of Lust and devoted servant to the Runelord Sorshen. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

                        She offers her hand to Karrack, who makes a valiant attempt to kiss it despite his lack of lips. She turns to Solaris, who offers her a brisk, business-like handshake instead. She is less than impressed.

                        “So how can I help you two handsome studs?”

                        “We have reason to believe that Runelord Karzoug conspired to survive the cataclysm and now he’s gathering strength to conquer the world.” Karrack explained, “We’re gathering Ithilliom ore so that we can forge weapons capable of killing him before he regains his full power.”

                        “Let me get this straight,” Delphine said, “Runeforge is unsealed for the first time in a millennia and Runelord Karzoug is gathering allies to his side?”

                        “Err…” said Karrack.

                        “Yes.” said Solaris.

                        “And you idiots have already wound him up to the point that anyone delivering your bodies to his feet would likely gain immense favour in the new world?”

                        “Err…” said Karrack.

                        “Yes.” said Solaris.

                        “I guess I’ll be doing that then.” decided Delphine.

                        “You said you were devoted to Sorshen!” Karrack protested.

                        “Darling,” Delphine answered with a pitying smile, “To please powerful men, you sometimes have to be flexible.”

                        Karrack readies Teraktinus and moves to engage the succubus, while Solaris fends of the spear-wielding harpies.

                        “Sounds like fighting!” Grogg cries, reacting to the familiar clash of steel from within the pavilion, “Follow meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

                        Rolling snake eyes on his agility die, Grogg trips over his own feet and falls into the pit.

                        Fortunately, the GM is too much of a nice guy to kill a PC for one crappy roll and Grogg manages to grab onto the underside of the closest cage. Unfortunately, he can only use one hand to hold on, as he needs the other to fend off the swarm of harpies flapping over to kill him.

                        Rast, Asha and Andor thin their numbers from the ledge and Grogg makes short work of anything that he can reach, as the cage swings wildly on the end of its rusty chain. Once all enemies are defeated, Asha casts Boost Trait to improve Grogg’s agility and the half-orc makes it back onto solid ground.

                        Seeing that she is outmatched, Delphine surrenders her treasures in exchange for her life. Solaris accepts her terms and rummages through her stuff. He finds one Ithillion Shard, a demonic Kama Sutra and a +3 sentient sex toy.

                        “Please take me with you!” it pleads, “The things I’ve seen!”

                        To be continued….

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          [Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Savours / Session 28 (16/11/2017)

                          Having cleared the Iron Cages of Lust, the heroes return to the Runeforge hub and deliberate over which of the remaining six wings to assault next. Grogg suggests that his sideheron tattoo might allow him to infiltrate the fanatics loyal to Karzoug and the party head down the tunnel behind the big man’s statue – all except Rast (whose player was absent this week), who opts to stay behind and begin reigniting the runeforge. The passage ends at towering golden door studded with large, glittering gemstones of various hues. Andor examines the portal but can discern no handle nor keyhole with which to open the way ahead.

                          “It’s a good job that Rast isn’t here to see this,” Andor said, backing away from the golden door, “He’d probably try to do something stupid like prise one of the gemstones out … of… the….”

                          He trails off as Grogg steps forward and starts trying to prise one of the gemstones out of the door. There is a flash of light and a smell of burning Grogg as the half-orc gladiator pops a large ruby out its socket and is catapulted 10ft through the air by the resultant burst of arcane energy. Picking himself up off the floor, Grogg limps away to ask Rast to appraise his prize. Rast peers at the blood coloured rock and bites it experimentally, before declaring it to be a worthless piece of costume glass and tossing it over his shoulder. Grogg deflates like a little, sad balloon and slopes back to join the others at the golden portal.

                          “You boys look like you’re getting all hot and bothered,” said a silky voice, “Maybe I can help.”

                          Lady Delphine approaches brazenly, now dressed in figure hugging travelling garb and knee high boots that may or may not have been crafted from human skin.

                          “What do you want?” Karrack demanded, “I had hoped our paths would not cross again, demon.”

                          “Well, I was hoping to persuade you to return the special toy you took from my parlour,” Delphine purred, “You’re collecting Ithillion, right? You have no need of it and it has… ahem… sentimental value to me. It was a gift from my mother.”

                          “Don’t let her take me back!” cried the magical dildo from the depths of Solaris’ haversack.

                          “No!” the half-elf snapped, “I need it for… strictly academic purposes!”

                          “No harm asking,” Delphine sighed, “Anyway, I see you’re having some trouble with Odrikon’s front door.”

                          “Who is Odrikon?” Karrack asked.

                          “Karoug’s mortal representative here in Runeforge,” Delphine explained, “A tedious fellow, by all accounts, but he shares your interest in Ithilliom. I wouldn’t tell him why you’re gathering it though. He might not be too enamoured with the idea that you’re planning to kill his master.
                          “Since we’re bonding here, maybe you’d be kind enough to tell me where Runelord Karzoug has set up shop in your world? I’d simply love to catch up with the old rascal.”

                          The party form a huddle and try to establish which of them has the greatest chance of bluffing successfully.

                          “I can hear you.” Delphine sighs.

                          “We … don’t know where he is.” Karrack lied. Unconvincingly.

                          “Riiiight…” Delphine said, stepping up to Grogg and gently caressing his scarred cheek, “You want to give me what I need, don’t you stud?”

                          “Xin Shalast!” Grogg blurted out, succumbing to the succubus’ demonic allure.

                          “Aww,” she pouted, “I had hoped you’d last longer than that. Well, I’d love to stay and cuddle darling, but I have places to be! If you are determined to get through that garish entrance, you’ll need to touch the stones in a certain order. What was it now? Ruby, Emerald, Emerald, Amethyst, Diamond… I think. I’m sure you’ll work it out! How many combinations can there be? Cheerio darlings, until we meet again!”

                          Andor steps up to the door and presses the gems in the order than the succubus suggested. There is a crackle of energy and he is blasted across the room to crumple bonelessly in the far corner.

                          “Curse that deceitful succubus!” Karrack cried, shaking his scaly fist to the heavens, “If you can’t trust a demon, who can you trust?”

                          The heroes almost TPK themselves trying out different combinations, before wisely deciding to attempt a different part of the dungeon and return to this maddening puzzle later. They tap Rast for healing and soon the only thing still injured is their pride. Appropriately, they decide to visit the Shimmering Veils secreted behind the statue of Runelord Xanderghul.

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                          • #43
                            The heroes approach a room lined with floor to ceiling mirrors on opposing walls. Karrack motions for the others to remain in the passage while he investigates the room. Immediately, two identical copies of the lizardman monk emerge from the reflective glass and twirl their stone spears aggressively.

                            “Don’t worry Karrack! I will fight with you!" Andor cries, charging into the fray.

                            Immediately, two identical copies of the human mercenary emerge from the reflective glass and brandish their glowing longswords aggressively.

                            “Don’t worry Karrack and Andor! I will fight with you!” Grogg cries - before being rugby tackled to the floor by Solaris.

                            Andor throws his spear at one of Karrack’s doppelgangers, misses and strikes the mirror from which it emerged. A crack appears in the cursed glass and the clone is shaken!

                            “Break the mirrors!” Karrack cries.

                            Without entering the room, Asha casts Bolt to begin smashing the mirrors, first on one side of the room and then the other. As the mirrors that spawned them are destroyed, the clones of Karrack and Andor explode into tiny slivers of glass, that crunch underfoot as the party press on into the Shimmering Veils. They enter a cathedral-sized chamber illuminated by four huge, golden chandeliers. The centre of the room is dominated by a large stone peacock statue, standing proudly upon a raised, wooden dais. Twelve identical human wizards are lounging around the room when the party enter. Each copy is of the same handsome, blonde haired man in a flowing robe of peacock feathers. The clones rise and speak in unison.

                            “Master Vraxeris is meditating and is not to be disturbed. Please keep your screaming to a minimum. Thank you for your co-operation.”

                            “Master Vraxeris is meditating and is not to be disturbed. Please keep your screaming to a minimum. Thank you for your co-operation.”

                            “Master Vraxeris is meditating and is not to be disturbed. Please keep your screaming to a minimum. Thank you for your co-operation.”

                            “Master Vraxeris is meditating and is not to be disturbed. Please keep your screaming to a minimum. Thank you for your co-operation.”

                            “Master Vraxeris is meditating and is not to be disturbed. Please keep your screaming to a minimum. Thank you for your co-operation.”

                            “Master Vraxeris is meditating and is not to be disturbed. Please keep your screaming to a minimum. Thank you for your co-operation.”

                            “Master Vraxeris is meditating and is not to be disturbed. Please keep your screaming to a minimum. Thank you for your co-operation.”

                            “Master Vraxeris is meditating and is not to be disturbed. Please keep your screaming to a minimum. Thank you for your co-operation.”

                            “Master Vraxeris is meditating and is not to be disturbed. Please keep your screaming to a minimum. Thank you for your co-operation.”

                            “Master Vraxeris is meditating and is not to be disturbed. Please keep your screaming to a minimum. Thank you for your co-operation.”

                            “Master Vraxeris is meditating and is not to be disturbed. Please keep your screaming to a minimum. Thank you for your co-operation.”

                            “Master Vraxeris is meditating and is not to be disturbed. Please keep your screaming to a minimum. Thank you for your co-operation.”

                            Three of the clones summon a wall of fire surrounding the party. Another four sprout magical wings and fly up to the golden chandeliers, from where they can bombard the heroes with combat spells. Karrack is not standing for that nonsense and returns fire with the throwing stars he had forgotten he had on his character sheet until this session. When a clone is killed, it pops out of existence leaving no evidence that it had ever been there in the first place. The fight with the Vraxeris clones is short but brutal, the clones cannot take much damage but they can sure dish it out in adult portions. Karrack suffers three wounds and only avoids a fourth because Grogg stands over him and absorbs the incoming attacks. When the last clone is slain, the chamber falls silent and the heroes are finally able to catch their breath.

                            The door that the clones were guarding leads into a small study lined with bookcases. A pungent smell wafts from an incense dispenser crafted in the likeness of a golden swan. Seated at a desk is a skeleton dressed in a resplendent peacock feather robe. In one bony hand, it holds a golden mirror and appears to be admiring its own skull in the reflection. Karrack carefully steps around the rug (“nothing good ever came of stepping on a rug”), grabs the mirror and breaks it on the corner of the desk. Then he tips the skeleton off his chair and scatters the bones across the floor. The skull comes to rest against the far wall and stares back at the lizardman reproachfully. Karrack ignores it.

                            “I think this was the wizard who created all those clones,”Asha said, “Let’s look around and see if we can find any more Ithilliom.”

                            Andor finds a small silver key amongst the scattered bones and Asha discovers a secret panel concealing a slender lockbox. They open it up and find a second Ithillion shard and a spell scroll allowing a single use of the Summon Ally: Clone power.

                            ---

                            The party return to the central chamber and find Rast working industriously to rekindle the long dormant runeforge. They decide to tackle the Festering Maze of Sloth next and set off along the tunnel behind the statue of Runelord Krune. The party find themselves on a slime-slick stone walkway running adjacent to a turgid channel of noxious slurry. The smell is indescribably foul and everyone in the party suffers a level of fatigue as they breathe the loathsome, poisonous air. Nevertheless, they soldier on, following the flow of rank sewage to its source. Three metal pipes disgorge fresh foulness into the tunnels in a slow but relentless torrent. Karrack spots three slime-encrusted levers on the far wall, but reaching them would entail crossing several treacherous walkways over the river of filth. The whole set-up screams ‘set piece combat encounter’ so the party decide to leave the levers be for now and instead investigate where the sewage ends up. After following the river of filth through a maze of twisting sewers, the path ends abruptly on the lip of a large stone basin overflowing with muck. The tunnel continues on the far side of the pool, but there is no clear way to cross without paddling through the vile slop. Nobody much fancies that prospect either, so the party return to the runeforge hub to see how Rast is getting on.

                            He’s getting on just fine and tells the rest of the party to stop pissing about and find some more Ithilliom!

                            The heroes decide to see what’s going down in the Ravenous Crypts of Gluttony. They emerge in a domed chamber decorated with a gristly skull motif. The way forward is obstructed by a heavy, metal portcullis. Andor sheathes his longsword and begins hauling on the rusty chain to raise the gate. Immediately, the stone skulls decorating the wall open their mouths and vomit a dozen mummies into the room. Andor raises the portcullis while the rest of the party deal with the undead. Beyond the gate lies a stone bridge crossing a dark chasm buzzing with flies. The party steel themselves to undertake this sinister crossing.

                            To be continued….

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                            • #44
                              [Savaged] Rise of the Runelords / Sins of the Saviours / Session 29 (24/11/2017)

                              Beyond the portcullis, a narrow stone bridge spans a dark chasm. The air is thick with bloated, buzzing flies and the rank stench of rotting meat rises from the pit. Karrack crossed the bridge (using his spear and superior agility to maintain his balance in adverse conditions) and prised open the heavy stone door at the other end. The room beyond had once been a crypt, now repurposed as a makeshift laboratory. Upturned sarcophagi were being utilized as worktops, where alchemical apparatus now bubbled and brewed. Several hooded figures laboured industriously at their workstations, while others struggled to attach a flaccid tentacle arm to the torso of a hulking corpse golem. Karrack’s patience snapped like a cheap, plastic ruler. Why couldn’t any of these dungeons be nice?!

                              Rast and Grogg stepped onto the bridge together. Neither of them possessed Karrack’s natural grace, but they were doing well until a fly the size of a pig’s bladder collided with the side of Rast’s head and sent him stumbling over the edge. Grogg lunged to grab the falling dwarf, pulling out a handful of his magnificent beard but failing to arrest his descent. Rast plunged 30ft and landed atop a great pile of mutilated, partially dismembered bodies. As though his predicament was not already grim enough, Rast did not think he was alone in the darkness. The pile of corpses shifted beneath him and several rotting arms extended from the main mass to grasp at his legs! Slapping away the groping claws, Rast withdrew a stoppered vial from his pack, where it had been hidden since he concocted it in secret. His discretion had been necessary, if Asha discovered he was dabbling in necromancy, she would surely have some stern words to share. Breaking the wax seal around the neck of the bottle, Rast poured the potion of zombie control over the gelatinous mass of decomposing limbs. The mass writhed as the macabre elixir took effect, then succumbed to the dwarf’s will.

                              Meanwhile, the rest of the party burst into the crypt/laboratory of the lich Azaven. Cursing the interruption, Azaven commanded his corpse golem to attack! Spilling glassware across the ground, the golem lifted one of the heavy stone sarcophagi and hurled it across the room! Asha rolled to one side, but Grogg was trapped beneath the weighty stone. Not to be upstaged by a slab of decomposing muscle, Grogg lifted the sarcophagus and flipped it over to crush two of Azaven’s ghoulish assistants. Displeased by this cavalier treatment of his beloved underlings, Azaven raised his crystal-tipped staff and sucked up all of the shadows in the room. With an artisan’s care, the lich moulded the raw shadowstuff into a disc of perfect darkness. He cast the disc onto the floor at the party’s feet and they immediately begin to sink as though stranded in quick sand. Grogg pulled himself free and Karrack hopped up onto another sarcophagus, out of reach of the sucking shadow surface. Only Asha remained trapped in the black mire, her shapely legs and lower torso already absorbed into the floor!

                              Suddenly, a human centipede of dismembered corpses snaked into the room, grabbed Asha and pulled her free of the shadow sink! Having commanded his new zombie thrall to deposit him back on the bridge, Rast observed the paladin’s plight and dispatched his undead minion to enact a last minute rescue. Asha is conflicted! She has devoted her life to destroying the undead and now she owes her life to one! She detects a crisis of faith (and possibly a side-quest) in her immediate future!

                              Karrack kills the corpse golem (which falls into the shadowstuff and slowly sinks) and advances on Azaven. The lich cackles and extends a withered fist that crackles with life-draining, necrotic energy. Karrack sidesteps the attack, swings his spear up to sever the arm at the elbow then pirouettes and drives the point through the lich’s eye! Azaven shrieks, smokes and crumbles into a sad little pile of grey dust! His Staff of Hungry Shadows clatters to the ground and rolls to a stop at Andor’s feet. The human mercenary raises his boot and stomps down on the dark crystal, shattering it and returning the stolen shadows to their proper place. Karrack digs through Azaven’s remains but does not find any Ithilliom. Searching the crypt, the party discover a hidden vault opened by the lich’s (broken) staff. It contains a third Ithillion shard and a pair of pale, lacy gloves that make the wearer’s hands intangible.

                              “Now I can punch ghosts!” Grogg declares.

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                              • #45
                                Having cleared the Ravenous Crypt of Gluttony, the party return to the Festering Maze of Sloth. This time, they are prepared for the diabolical stench and wrap their faces in mummy bandages that Rast has soaked in a pungent alchemical solution. The heroes retrace their steps to the three levers controlling the flow of effluence into the sewer. This time, the levers are defended by a host of mucky sewage elementals! (At this point, we trialled the Savage Worlds Quick Combat rules and they worked pretty well!) The heroes fight their way through to the control panel and shut off the flood of sewage. The ‘water’ level immediately begins to drop.

                                With the source of fresh slime blocked, the large basin at the other side of the dungeon begins to drain, until the heroes can just walk across the bottom. The demonic squid that had lurked in the noxious pool now splashes helplessly in a few inches of filthy water. The party bombard the beast with ranged attacks until it bursts like a wet sack full of grey custard.

                                Beyond the basin lies the lair of Joromundus the Slimancer. The obese, bald wizard lounges on his floating black throne, his filthy robe open to the waist, revealing quivering man-boobs and a writhing, tentacled mass imbedded in his chest.

                                “What would you ask of the great wizard Joromundus?” the rotund Slimancer demanded.

                                “We seek Ithililliom!” Grogg answered.

                                “Zzzzzzzz.” snored Jorumundus.

                                “Wake up!” Grogg roared, throwing his axe at the wizard’s head.

                                The axe sinks into Joromundus’ flabby shoulder. The Slimancer rolls his beady eyes in exasperation.

                                “Hohoho!” Joromundus guffawed, “You cannot harm me with your puny weapons! The slime heart of Jubilex protects me!”

                                The party test this claim by bombarding the Slimancer with ranged attacks and magic. He does seem impervious to their puny weapons!

                                “If only he had some obscure weakness that we could exploit!” Andor cried.

                                “The slime heart of Jubilex protects me!” Joromundus said.

                                “There must be some flaw or gap in his impenetrable defences!” Asha wailed.

                                “The slime heart of Jubilex protects me!” Joromundus said.

                                “We must be missing something!” Karrack mused.

                                “THE SLIME HEART OF JUBILEX PROTECTS ME!”

                                “Hey!” said Grogg, “Let’s try hitting the slime heart of Jigglypuff!”

                                “Jubilex!”

                                “Jubblyjuice?”

                                “Jubilex!!”

                                “Jobblejam?”

                                “JUBILEX!!!”

                                The party target the slime heart of Jubilex. By exploiting this obscure weakness, they manage to defeat the Slimancer! Tipping him out of his floating throne, Andor finds a secret compartment in the arm, containing a fourth shard of Ithilliom and a band of slimy metal. Asha identifies it as a Ring of Slimy Secretions. Andor slips it onto his finger and immediately oozes pale mucus from every pore on his body, granting him +2 on agility rolls to escape being grappled or slip through tight spaces.

                                The party decide that four Ithilliom weapons will be sufficient to deal with Runelord Karzoug and pass on exploring the dungeons of Greed and Wrath. They return to the Runeforge hub to smelt the enchanted ore. Suddenly, the 25ft tall statue of Karzoug animates and attacks!

                                “You again!” the stone golem boomed in the Runelord’s voice, “Neither you nor your weapons will reach Xin Shalast! Your fate is to die in Runeforge!”

                                The heroes defy fate by defeating the golem!

                                “Fine!” the Runelord grumbled as his stone avatar crumbled, “Come to Xin Shalast if you want, see if I care! You will never reach the Eye of Avarice!”

                                The party use the small amount of Ithilliom that they managed to collect to enhance four weapons (Andor, Grogg, Karrck & Asha).

                                “This is it,”Karrack said solemnly, “The final push. We’ll head back to Sandpoint to prepare, then we’re taking the fight to Karzoug!”

                                To be continued….

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