Archive for the ‘Wardlands’ Category


Campaign Notes: Grey Roads Lead to Ghosts 8.12.10

   Posted by: Blackbird

When we left the party in the last encounter they had captured a dangerous cleric of Norgorber put him into the back of a newly acrquired wagon and begun to make their way back to the road.

The route back proved perilous. First the group heard chopping ahead and brought the wagon up to a dangerous speed.  They flew past a small group of men chopping at trees by the road who could have been preparing an ambush.  After leaving those men in the dust they brought the wagons back down to a slower pace.  Night had fallen over the group and everyone was exhausted.  Nibil and Abdul remained in the back of the wagon keeping close watch over the bound and gagged cleric while Jamalamin and Bale kept watch up front.

The group rode on through the night and when they were but a few miles from town encountered men on horseback on the road with no light.  Sensing an ambush Jamalamin whipped the reins and tried to ride down the men on horseback but the horses spooked and jack-knifed the wagon by the side of the road.  One of the riders through a bag into the back of the wagon while two others raced up from hiding places in the trees.  The bag held a couple of angry captive snakes who used their new found freedom to try and strike at those in the wagon.  Bale ruined one of the men on horseback with his longsword but when he faced the second mounted attacker his courage waned in the sight of the man’s armored warhorse.

In the wagon Nibil managed to kill one of the snakes before one of the men tried to yank him out of the wagon.  Rystime had exhausted his magical power and was forced to defend himself with his dagger.  This worked out badly for Rystime who was stabbed through the gut with a short sword and collapsed into unconsciousness.  Abdul killed the second snake but not before it had a chance to strike the bound cleric twice.  Abdul finished off the thief that Rystime was fighting while Jamalamin fired arrows at the rider mounted on the warhorse striking him once in the side.   Nibil managed to keep the thief that was attacking him at bay and put him down.

Bale wrestled down his fear and then struck home against the mounted rider and managed to secure his horse.  With the enemies down Abdul attended to Rystime’s wounds but unfortunately was unable to save the cleric who had died from the venom.  They salvaged the weapons and armor from their foes and brought themselves the rest of the way back to town.

Their arrival back into town was met with enthusiasm by Barah who did not expect them back so soon.  Nibil dropped off a bunch of armor at the local blacksmith who complained about getting such a surplus from them and offered him a much lower rate which he accepted.  Bale took his new warhorse to the livery where it attempted to relive a few stablehands of their limbs.  It quickly earned itself a name “Smiley” Jamalamin and Bale spent some time trying to break the horse and saddle and mount it.

Barah rewarded each of those who came back with a gift salvaged from his personal stores.  Bale received three doses of red potion each marked with a bull’s head on the cork, Jamalamin received a fine bowstring for his bow, Nibil received the wizards old cauldron bottom which had been remade into a stout shield, with a place in the center for the symbol of Sarenre.  Bicklebrick was given an alchemist’s instrument which could be used to mark upon rocks and determine if they were Ortan-Rul the mineral that he seeks, Abdul was given a cloudy sphere with 8 compartments on it.  Each compartment can release a Gust of Wind but when all 8 compartments have been opened the item is exhausted.  Rystime receives a wand with 20 charges of obscuring mist, but his latest brush with death is too much for him so he decides to make his way East again and retire from this lethal life of adventuring (he takes his wand with him).  Efforts have been made to secure additional cures for those afflicted by the warerat curse.

Together with Barah the group poured over the parchment that they found in the thieves wagon and solved the code that it was written in.  The full text of the paper reads:

Gray Roads lead to ghosts
Trust no spirit but follow their heart to the grunting field
Track the sun until water runs black then grey
Cross the invisible bridge.
Black foots will guide you to greenwater keep.

Convinced that the dead cleric was not the sole person behind the attack on his shop Barah asks the party if they would follow the directions listed on the parchment and discover who is behind the attacks.  He has his own suspicions but needs to travel to Eddyton to confirm them.  He asks that the party track down who is behind the attacks and meet back up with him in Eddyton with what they uncover.

Concerned that the map could lead the group into the Reaching Marshes he offers to find a guide who knows the area.  Galen is a gruff and plain spoken resident of West Ward who hunts by trade.  He seems to have a fair bit of experience hunting and has survived a few excursions into the marshes.  Barah also suggests that they may seek out a group of rangers that live outside the marsh.  He marks a place on their map where they can begin to look for signs as to how to get there.  The group agrees to hire Galen and given the warnings of Ghosts and spirits they seek advice at the local temple.  Abdul and Nibil spend a couple of days researching through the temple’s modest archives and conclude that spirits can only be driven out through positive energy, consecrating the land that they inhabit and striking them with weapons embodied with magical or spiritual power.

The senior acolyte serving as the cleric is willing to bless a few kegs of water for them and makes a secret offer to Nibil.  The church has in it’s possession an artifact which was brought here by the senior cleric.  The item is a fragment of a sword not much bigger than a dagger which is said to have been sundered by Sarenre herself, he knows that it is blessed with magical powers and offers it’s use to Nibil provided that he ensures that it does not fall into the hands of an enemy.  Given the trials of the past week Nibil is unsure if he can make that commitment and chooses to leave it with the temple.

The group provisions themselves with a weeks worth of food and heads out.  The first day they encounter few people on the road but most seem to be traders with heavy slow wagons which they easily outpace.  They make camp at Bale’s family house and enjoy a meal cooked by his parents.

The second day they encounter a burned pair of wagons and with a little investigation find the bodies of 12 people just off the road.  Nibil and Abdul take time to bury the dead and as a result end up camping not far from the site.  A group of loggers meetup with them on the road transporting a load of heartwood to Jacob’s Bench.  They agree to travel together for a bit and split watches.  The loggers are mostly young boys half drunk on sap but they do appear fearless.  The wagon master of the group is a tough old lumberjack who’s missing his right hand from a logging accident.

The group travel together on the third day and make little progress rains fall through most of the day and the party ends up pushing wagons loaded with logs through the cold muddy bogged down road.  The forth day brings thick fog, but the group travels along the eastern edge of the Reaching marshes and passes the section that Galen calls “the haunted wood” without any drama.  Nibil spends time walking the edge of the wood and finds an unmolested corpse of a bear, a small piece of shiny hammered tin on a string and the utter absence of anything living in the area.

Keen to meet up with others of his trade Jamalamin suggests that they meet with the local rangers and see what they know about spirits in the woods.  He finds the ranger signs easily enough although the rest of the party is certain he’s leading them on a wild goose chase until they crest the top of a hill and see a small serene stone and log cabin located in a clearing near a pine grove.

They ride down the the clearing and find no rangers although a fully saddled horse is grazing in the field.  Concerened Jamalamin begins to search the property and find the bodies of 2 dead rangers each killed by a heavy military crossbow.  One appears to have been killed instantly while the other died with 2 bolts in him.

The cabin appears untouched with half chopped vegtables on the counter.  A writing desk is absent of any paper but otherwise appears undisturbed.  There are three beds made up and a total of 4 bunks available.  Nibil and Abdul head back to the loggers and tell them that it’s unsafe here and that they would be wise to relocate to the ranger’s cabin.  The news of the ranger’s death distrubs them greatly and the whole large group sleep like sardines in the cabin at night with 3 people on watch at all times.

Dawn arrives and the party begins to discuss what they need to do next.


Campaign Notes: Traps in the Trees 7.22.10

   Posted by: Blackbird

After wrapping up a couple of details in town the freshly outfitted party tracks the thieves to their meeting place.  What they find there nearly ruins them all.

Here’s an audio log of the night:


Campaign Notes: Wreckless Behavior – 7.8.10

   Posted by: Blackbird

When we last left off Bale was about to be crushed by a cart which smashed into the front window of the wizard Barah’s shop.

The windowed wall of the shop seems to explode inward as the floor bucks wildly beneath your feet. Your ears are filled with the sound of breaking glass, cracking wood and collapsing furniture. The shop is filled with choking dust and it takes a second or two to begin to clear. You can hear the ceiling above you groan in protest at the sudden lack of support. From the back of the shop you hear a second crash, but not as loud as the first, then the curtain is thrown back and a young man dressed in black with a bandana pulled over his face reaches back and throws a flaming jar at a ruined bookcase.

Bale gets knocked prone as thieves begin to pour in from the back entrance into the shop, they hurl pots of alchemist’s fire at a nearby bookcase that Abdul is standing behind.  Although surprised, Barah is able to dispatch one with a powerful magic missile spell but quickly the thieves rush in and lay hands on his spell book.

Jamalamin and Rystime both see the crash from up the street, Jamalamin runs down to help while shouting at Rystime, “Go get the town guard!”  Rystime head off to collect the local soliders while Jamalamin charges down the steeply sloped cobblestone street toward the crumpled house which now has smoke billowing out of it.

Abdul calls upon the power of his deity who quenches the flames which are seeping through the bookcase and onto his robes while Bicklebrick manages to move one of the bookcases a bit providing a clear exit while shouting “get out of there man this whole place could go up in an instant.”  Nibil moves up and manages a solid slash against one of the thieves with his scimitar and the thief responds with smashing a jar of alchemist’s fire against his face.  Nibil is covered in flame which burns atop his armor and not helping his appearance any.  The thief is also hit by the spray of flame and starts putting out the flames while handing off the book to an adjacent thief.

Bale gets up and starts shouldering his way towards the front lines as Barah focuses his attention on another thief and shouts something arcane that seems like it carries an almost humorous tone.  The thief he was focused on laughs out loud like he got the joke, but then his eyes take on a look of horror as he keeps laughing while falling to the floor. He rolls around amongst the small pools of fire, still laughing uncontrollably.

Nibil tries to put himself out but has no success and begins to smell the sickly sweet smell of cooking dwarf as his armor continues to heat up. Abdul steps out around the burning bookcases and shouts through the smoke and flame “Zeypherion commands you to Give the dwarf the book!” The thief blinks heavily once and then passes it to Nibil who drops his sword so he can grab the book.  One of the thieves lunges for the book and misses as it passes to the dwarf’s smoking gloves.

Nibil sees this opportunity and quickly turns and ducks through the rising flames (still on fire himself) and runs towards the front door he deftly beats the flames out with the heavy tome.  Once the flames are out the holy symbols etched into his armor still glow red with the heat from the flames meanwhile his face is blackened from smoke.

Jamalamin arrives at the scene and crawls through the wreckage in the window to figure out what’s going on he looks around and asks “What all is going on in here?!?”  The rest of the party shouts out “Theives! Fire!”  Jamalamin hesitates for a second before continuing inward as he hears creaking from above and tiles on the roof coming off.

Bicklebrick heads outside and the others hear him shout “Hey the fire birgade is here!  Oh wait…they brought bows though….Something’s going bad out here!”  A couple of arrows sprout at his feet.  Abdul tries to delay the theives by creating a storm burst in their direction but misses.

The thieves redouble their efforts and lob a few more pots of fire, one at Bale whose simple cotton clothes catch immediately, another thief tosses another pot at Barah and misses creating an explosion of flame behind him which catches Abdul’s robes on fire.  Cinders and ashes are swirling about the ruins of the shop while the support beams continue to hiss and groan.  The last remaining thief throws another jar of alchemist’s fire at Bale and hits him dead on in the chest bathing him completely in fire.  In a blind panic Bale runs screaming out of the shop, he gets a quick look at Bicklebrick aiming at some unknown assailants on the roof before blacking out in the street.

Barah shouts again at one of the thieves who collapses in uncontrollable laughter.  He falls to his knees and comes up with his gloves covered in alchemist’s fire and laughs at them with a look of revulsion and terror on his face.

Nibil turtles up behind his shield and armor to defend the book.  Jamalamin decides that the shop is done for and head back out through the wreckage.  He spies 3 thieves on the smoking roof shooting down at Bicklebrick and pulls of a snap shot at one which narrowly misses. With the thief distracted Bicklebrick manages to put an arrow in one of the thief’s thigh.

Inside, Abdul takes note of his friend running out the door and summons the power of Zepherion which sends a cleansing blast of cool air through the shop healing the party a bit.  Seeing the party get restored makes the theives act rashly, they gang up on Nibil and attempt to disarm him while standing in the flames. Barah, focused on retrieving his tome demands it from Nibil and runs through the flames to the back entrace after Nibil hands it over. Nibil follows, planting himself in the doorway as a final thief tries to get around him to escape but he holds his ground and the shop crashes around him as the rest of the PCs run out the front.

The theives on the roof flee as the roof begins to cave in and Jamalamin runs around the side alley to try and head them off.  Out back, Nibil emerges from the wreckage covered in soot, and spies a glimmer of steel in the wreckage, reaching down he finds his scimitar surprisingly cool to the touch.  He joins Barah in the back of the shop clutching his book.  Barah offers his express thanks but still looks mournfully at the wreckage that was his home.  Jamalamin rounds a corner out back and sees a large trash pile but no signs of the thieves.  There is a narrow tight pathway through the trash pile and through that he can make out the shapes of Barah and Nibil walking away but sees no signs of the thieves.  Carefully and quietly he climbs up the side of the trash pile being exceptionally silent.

He reaches the top of the trash pile and spies two thieves below looking to ambush whoever comes through the path while Barah and Nibil walk in the opposite direction.  One of the thieves makes a bit of noise and alerts them, and Nibil and Barah square off to face down these final two opponents.  As Nibil charges at one Jamalamin jumps down from his vantage point and sheathes his blade between the collarbones of the arsonist.

The final thief tries to escape but gets bashed in the face by Nibil and falls to the ground disabled but conscious.  The town guard and fire brigade has arrived and a scarred, salty captain who seems very cross with Barah thinking he’s blown up his own shop but with a captured thief he changes his attitude quickly.  He talks of putting the thief up in a crow’s cage to die a miserable death unless the thief cooperates in which case he’ll get a merciful end.  The thief spits up a bit of blood and sneers at him then looks at Nibil and Jamalamin and says “You know what yeah I’ll tell you where we was headed with that book.  Down the grey road ’bout 12 miles, there’s an old burned oak that ain’t got no business being in a pine grove, turn off there to the Southeast.  That where we were taking it, you go there, tell those that were waiting for us why we’re late.”  As to any questions about who is waiting there they get no answers and the captain motions to a guard who kills the thief quickly.

Barah expresses his thanks to the rest of the group and tells them “you are a fine investment, I must say.”  He instructs them to follow him to the Dancing Dove Inn located somewhat close to the temple in a nicer part of town.  There he goes inside and orders rooms for each of them, plus a hot bath and full meal.  Bale for one has never known such decadence and eagerly soaks it up while Nibil returns the potion that was given to him earlier that day to the temple since he has been cured of his infection.  Abdul does what he can for the rest of the party’s wounds and while everyone looks pretty beaten up or covered in raw reddened marks no one looks too worse for wear.

After a near comatose sleep the party wakes and meets with Barah in a corner suite room.  In the room is a large chest that looks exactly like the miniaturized example used on his spellbook as a bookmark token.  He hands them a pillowcase sized sack and tells them “I’ve known you less than a day but you’ve already helped me far beyond that of many others I’ve known for years.  I’m eliminating your debt and to show my thanks I want to give you this.”  He lifts a pillowcase sized sack half full of something heavy and puts it on the table.  Inside there are gold coins.  Nibil looks at the sack forlornly and tells Barah that he’d much rather the wizard use his share of the money to heal the sick infected people who were outside the gate.  Abdul speaks up and says that his share should go to the same thing.  Barah agrees to hire porters and hunters to gather materials for additional cures and will perform the cures at the cost of the ingredients alone.  Confronted with riches beyond his dreams Bale is heartboken to see Barah reach into the sack and remove a dozen handfuls of coins before handing it back.  There’s enough remaining so that each person has 400gp added to their purse.

Barah sits them all down and asks another task of them, he needs them to discover who orchestrated this robbery.  He wants them to follow the lead offered by the thief even through it may well lead to a trap.  He plans to stay here in town and figure out how the town guard did not spot the thieves entering town or scaling the walls.  The party spends a bit of that morning resupplying themselves.

DM’s Note: This encounter was meant for the thieves to end up with the book in their hands, but that well placed command spell changed the whole encounter around.  I had a lot of fun with this encounter and thought the PCs played the senario out really well.  Rather than tracking the thieves down in the night now they will have to face a waiting trap as the thieves are overdue and their contact will suspect that something has gone wrong.  All in all a great game and I’m looking forward to the next one.


Nibil the Beardless’ Background

   Posted by: John

Caution may contain some character spoilers, feel free to read it but try to avoid metagaming. Read the rest of this entry »

Jamalamin’s Background

   Posted by: Blackbird

Caution may contain some character spoilers, feel free to read it but try to avoid metagaming. Read the rest of this entry »


Bicklebrick’s Background

   Posted by: Blackbird

Caution may contain some character spoilers, feel free to read it but try to avoid metagaming. Read the rest of this entry »


Campaign Notes: Coin for a Cure – 6.21.2010

   Posted by: Blackbird

5 riders are bearing down on the PCs when we started this session. Three of the rat creatues lay dead on the field while the Merris clan see to the children and try and calm them down a bit. Jamalamin spots a bit of gold on one of the beasts and looks closer to investigate while Abdul is more interested in the maggots and infection that the creatures seem to have.

As the riders pull up it’s clear that these are not men but rather boys the oldest can’t be more than 16, their armor fits loosely and while the youngest looks to be about 14 they have at least some sense of authority. The boys talk in a slow and deep slavic accent and explain that they do not know for sure what creatures these are they do know that those bitten quickly begin to become mad. They attack people at random and they too can spread the disease. Most of the attacks that they have heard of have been deeper in the wilds. This is the largest attack that they know of to date. Nibil asks if there is a cleric or healer in the city. The boys reply that there is a junior priest but he has been unable to provide a lasting cure for the disease. There is also another man named Barah in the city but they seem to have some fear of him and claim that his services are wildly expensive. They also warn that those at the gate will not allow any that are bitten into the city for fear of spreading the infection. After ensuring that the PCs do not need any assistance they ride off to secure other camps.

After the boys leave Jamalamin brings over a stretched out ring and shows it to the group. It is a simple wedding band but bent and stretched well beyond it’s ordinal size. A warped inscription on the inside reads “Forever: Rose.” Looking at the other two creatures there are scraps of clothing remaining on the bodies; a ripped and stretched out shirt collar rings one of the beast’s neck and the other has the remains of the upper part of a leather boot around it’s ankle.

None of the PCs have experience with this disease but they feel fairly certain that the disease somehow transforms men into beasts. In hopes of getting into the gate and trying to find some cure Abdul calls upon the power of his god to heal his comrades but while the wounds heal over a large red soreness remains ring in a black bruise.

The rest of the night passes without incident. On the following day Dun pays the PCs the promised 15 gp and thanks them for their work. You sense that he is a little nervous around the PCs now especially Abdul and Nibil. The group heads towards the gate as one. Near the gate there is a group of at least 10 people injured from the attacks last night. Abdul channels power from his god and does his best to heal those in the immediate area, preaching and praying and drawing a fair bit of attention to himself. As the wounds of those around him begin to close up and scab over, several of the commoners press coins into his hands and pockets as a means of giving thanks.

One of the commoners is a young farm hand, named Bale, he’s muscled like an ox. He too was injured in the fighting the previous night and is also infected. He’s come to the town in search of work to bring money back to his parent’s farm. Bale has a longsword and seems like he knows how to use it. Worried that the guards will spot his infection he has smeared mud over the wound to try disguise it.

Three guards all fairly young watch the gate collecting taxes from those that try and pass. Dun pays some heavy taxes to enter into the city and Jamalamin and Rystime also don’t have any trouble. Bicklebrick seems to get charged a bit extra for being a dwarf. Frustrated by this he manages an attack on the lead guard but disguises it as a bit of a drunken stumble. His attack is overly effective and he deals significant damage to the guard’s ear. Other guards are quick to draw their steel but the lead guard is convinced it was an accident. Bicklebrick and another guard exchange words and vow to settle the issue at the Cross Cut Inn.

Abdul is up next and manages to convince the guard that he can help him with his new injury in exchange for not having to pay a tax to enter the city. While he works on healing the guard Nibil comes up next. He announces that he’s been bitten and gets denied entry. He talks with the guard for a bit trying to use diplomacy to convince the young guardsman that it is the humanitarian thing to do to let him and the other sick people into the city. After a bit of discussion he still gets denied, and moves over to provide what comfort he can to the other sick people.

Bicklebrick heads to the Cross Cut Inn and buys half a gallon of the local brew called “The Sap” he tells Rystime and Jamalamin to wait for him there, and that he’ll be back when the others are in the city.

Bale is the last to try, Abdul is trying to convince the guards that him and his companions should be allowed into the city. As Abdul argues, Nibil attends the sick and then Bicklebrick returns with a jug of the local brew called sap. With all of this going on at the gate the lead guard takes Abdul aside and tells him that they should go to the bottom of Soapstone Way and that they need to wait for the guards who will check in to make sure that they are still there at the end of the day.

Allowed into the city Abdul, Nibil, Bicklebrick and Bale think of heading to soapstone way but Nibil and Abdul convince the rest of the group to head to the temple.

The city is a muddy maze of wooden buildings but the steeple of the temple is pretty visible and it does not take long to get to the temple. There they find a flustered junior priest who recognizes them as members of the church. He bids them inside and is surprised to find out that they have been allowed entry into the city with their infection. He has a fair bit of knowledge about the infections. He tells the group that the infection is in fact magical he fears that it is some form of corrupted lycanthropy. Most cases of lycanthropy leave the host with most of the their faculties intact, this form does not and the host quickly begins to go mad. He has never seen a man transform but given the corpses that some of the foresters and milita have brought back that seems to be the only explanation. Unfortunately, he does not have a way of curing the disease, the priest who built the temple knew how to cure nearly any disease but he left with most of the town milita and the mayor when they joined the army to hold off the orc tribes in the west.

He’s found that simple mixtures of feverfew and queen’s lace seem to strengthen the mind for a short period which can buy a bit more time for the infected but nothing seems to provide more than a week or two of clarity before the mind surrenders to madness. He suggests that Barah a wizard who lives at the bottom of soapstone way may be able to provide help but his services are very costly and claims that the man is dangerous. He slew several men who accused him of dark magic. Before leaving the priest gives them 2 doses of the resistance potion and prays for them.

The four of them then head to Soapstone Way. The road starts near the top of a hill and descends steeply towards the city wall at the bottom of the hill. At the top of the hill the Cross Cut Inn sits as well as a few other merchants. Laundries seem to line the road on the downhill slope which provides a natural avenue for drainage. At the bottom of the hill in the shadow of the town wall is a 2 story house with a dirty bay window. The entire building seems to not have a single right angle anywhere in it’s construction. It appears to be cobbled together from scrap wood. The man who answers the door tells him his name is Barah Cloudcaller.

Barah stands about 5’8″ and could be between the ages of 35 and 50, with a slender build and a somewhat weathered appearance.  He is wearing a cream woolen sweater with multiple holes and singe marks on it and wollen trousers reinforced with leather patches.  His clothes and skin are dirty, he looks far more like a blacksmith than a wizard.  A long leather coat with multiple pockets hangs from a coat rack behind the counter and a wide brimmed oiled leather hat lays on the counter top as if to try and make some claim that this man does in fact know something about magic.

The shop has a look of a horder’s warren, bookshelves are arranged in no sensible manner and bits of paper, seem crammed into nearly every available space. An arcane collection of beakers, glass, and alchemy ingredients are arranged on the countertop next to a large and heavy tome.

Barah appears direct and more than a little shrewd. He asks the PCs what their skills are he seems mostly satisfied by their skill sets and tells them that he expects 600 gold per cure but he does have enough supplies available for the three cures if they will agree to serve him until the debt is paid.  Bale seems most wrought by this but agrees along with the others. Bicklebrick is not injured but asks Barah about a mineral and Barah tells him that if he too will serve him he will provide him with information about that specific mineral. It takes a few hours for Barah to brew up the concotions meanwhile the group is milling around the shop trying to make sense of Barah’s insane filing scheme and identify various potions around the shop. When the cures are finally ready Nibil, Abdul and Bale all down them.

The cure tastes both bitter and hot and seems to almost crawl down your throat of it’s own accord burning out corruption as it goes.  After feeling subsides you feel rejuvenated and more alert than you were a few moments before.

Meanwhile: Jamalamin and Rystime have been in the Cross Cut inn and managed to find a nice roasted leg of goat, and a bit of ale while waiting for their companions. While seated near a window they notice a pair of young men loading a cart with rocks and rubble. Something about it seems a bit odd and Rystime goes outside to investigate. Jamalamin watches from inside the inn as the two of them talk before seeing a third man sneak up behind Rystime. Jamalamin gets up to intervene and starts to head to the door before being headed off by a serving wench demanding payment. Rystime gets cold cocked from behind and stunned while the other men shove the cart hard launching it down the hill. They then take off into the maze of alleyways, quickly disappearing. Jamalamin helps up Rystime as the cart crashes into a 2 story house with a dirty bay window and the two of them take off down the hill to see if they can help.

In Barah’s shop the cart explodes through the bay window just about where Bale was standing.

The windowed wall of the shop seems to explode inward as the floor bucks wildly beneath your feet. Your ears are filled with the sound of break glass, cracking wood and collapsing furniture. The shop is filled with choking dust and it takes a second or two to begin to clear. You can hear ceiling above you groan in protest at the sudden lack of support. From the back of the shop you hear a second crash, but not as loud as the first, then the curtain is thrown back and a young man dressed in black with a bandana pulled over his face reaches back and throws a flaming jar at a ruined bookcase.

The PCs have been traveling for more than 3 weeks with the Merris clan, a pair of familes bringing textile materials to the frontier for sale and returning with goods for the cities to the east.  The Merris clan is made up of the following people:

Dun Merris – He’s the wagonmaster, father and head of the outfit, he has 5 children with him.  Dun is a suprisingly descent man, fair, honest and makes for a solid travel companion.  Dun lost most of his hair after he lost his wife 3 years past.  He is garbed in simple but well cut clothes that seem like they’ve seen many miles on the road.
Nel Colt – Nel is Dun’s oldest daughter, she has stringy brown hair and seems to constantly teeter on exhaustion.  She has two children, Derra and Maraih, and is married to Mal Colt.  She is a quiet woman and keeps to herself and her children for the most part, the constant toil of traveling, and herding her children seem to wear on her.
Mal Colt – Mal is Nel’s husband he’s older than her and in his late 30s, Mal has a strong jaw and the lean look of a man who’s known hunger before.  His brownish red hair is kept fairly short and is rarely styled.  He has an easy smile but tired green eyes.  A scar starts just below his left ear and gets larger before disspearing under his collar.  He walks with a bit of a limp but has strong arms and shoulders. Mal often has a distant, far-away look in his eyes and you’ve heard that he spent time as an archer in the army.  He has a long bow and quiver over his shoulder most often and seems a capable hunter.  He’s apprenticing to learn the textile business from Dun but seems to enjoy life on the frontier more than in the city.
Derra Colt – Derra is one of Nel and Mal’s daughters.  She’s 8 years old and has a strangely blank expression for a child her age.  She rarely laughs or cires.  She often wanders off and twice she’s been saved by Mal from a wild animal.  Her parents worry that she may be simple but she knows her name and will reluctantly give answers when asked.
Mariah Colt – Mariah is Mal and Nel’s younger daughter and an opposite in every way from her older sister Derra.  She laughs, runs, cries and is in every way a typical 5 year old.  She is often seen playing with a few simple toys in the dirt or climbing around on wagons when the adults aren’t looking.
Mennius Merris – Mennius is Dun’s oldest son at 22.  Mennius is often sick with a rough cough but his sharp mind and solid head for numbers has paired well with Dun’s salesmanship.  Mennius rides in Dun’s cart most of the day and emerges only to inspect materials or for meals around the evening campfire.  He does not seem very personable but among others of high intellect he can be quite engaging.
Hal Merris – Middle Son Hal is Dun’s middle child at 15,  Hal Merris has a wide lantern head with reddish hair and freckles that form on the back of his neck.  His eyes and mouth appear a bit too small for his heavy build, dispite his tall and thick frame he’s a nice quiet kid who likes splitting wood, tending horses and fixing broken goods.
Emon Merris – Emon is Dun’s youngest child, and twin his sister Ester.  He’s a young excitable child and loves playing with his cousin Mariah.
Ester Merris – Ester is Dun’s youngest daughter and twin to her brother Emon.  She’s quiet and spends much time with her oldest brother Mennius in the wagon.  The two of them have a very close bond.
The PCs have joined the group for a variety of reasons, Abdul the cleric (Drake) has joined up with them and often discusses the price and quality of materials from his far away homeland.  Mennius and him have spent many hours together debating the prices of goods and what trade routes would have the greatest return.  Others like the salty ranger Jamalamin Bushbeater (John M) and the shaved dwarf paladin Nibil the Beardless (John K) have joined up as guards protecting the caravan while trying to get to a part of the Wardlands that they both have an interest in.  Despite some misgivings by Mal and Nel Dun agreed to allow Rystime Alehame a Wizard (Nick) to ride with them with hopes that his intellect could she some light on which roads in the Wardlands might yield up the most profit. Bicklebrick the dwarf rogue (Lars) joined the group with his mule Snot.  Dun seems to have more than a little interest in Dwarven culture and is eager to try and create some sort of trading arragement with the barberic dwarf clans that live in the Grey Mountains.

After 3 weeks of slow plodding travel the group has come to the outskirts of the town of West Ward.  It is 3 weeks after the fall harvest, the mornings make dragons out of men with their smoky breath creating clouds about their faces and the nights are growing ever more cold.  The PCs are in the Wardlands a series of rough hills, low marshes and thick woods that jut up against the Grey Mountains in the West and fade into the expanse of plains to the east which stretch to the sea.  The Wardlands are the frontier, shallow wagon tracks connect pinpricks of light and civilization to one another and the nights are dark and full of terrors.  Ever since the border wars to the south ended 2 summers ago more armed men have walked the roads looking for coin and weakness in their fellow travelers.  The residents of the few established towns view those outside their walls with skepticism and distrust.

One of those towns has just come into view.  The town of West Ward looks shows it’s roots easily.  The town started as a logging camp and now has a wall of roughly hewn logs surrounding it giving it a prickly appearance.  Cookfire smoke and noise rise above them after many days on the road this view of civilization is a welcome one.  The gate directly ahead of you is barely open and a long line leads towards it. On the field outside the walls other groups of wagons, carts and travelers gather together.
The residents of West Ward have come up with a taxation system where each good brought into the city has a tax levied against it.  Some people try to do business outside the town on occasion but the security of West Ward’s tall walls are hard to ignore.  Unfortunately the PCs have arrived late in the day and they are unable to get through the line and the tax collectors before sundown.  Jamalamin thinks that they should camp a bit away from the road leading to town and away from the stink of the village.  They make camp in the field outside the town among numerous stumps and 24″ grass where the forest used to be.
Dun sees another trader he knows and heads off exchange greetings and catch up on old times.  Hal and Mal setup camp and Nel tends to the children.  When camp is settled and the evening meal is just about ready Dun returns with a small keg of ale the result of an old favor that he cashed in.  He thanks the PCs for their hard work in getting them to West Ward and tells them that they’ll be paid the 15gp promised in full on the morrow.
Abdul takes the first watch.  After huddling close to the fire for warmth in the cool night for several hours he hears some faint sounds over the wind at the other camps across the road closer to town.  He listens for a bit and then returns back to the fire.  Not long afterward he hears more sounds and wakes Jamalamin whose ranger ears clearly make out the sound of battle across the road.
Jamalamin shouts to the others to wake up and arm themselves, with both Nibil and Bicklebrick up their keen Dwarven dark vision allows them to see several beasts beyond the light of the campfire.

These beasts stand about shoulder height with a heavy stooped frame.  Corse long fur covers their enlongated sounts, heads, and body.  Dull yellow teeth hang out of it’s long mouth and it’s eyes catch the firelight like a cat’s.  The beast smells of strong body oder and fetid water.  Its monkey like hands end in small chipped yellow claws.  A long, bald wormlike tail trashes about behind it.  It lopes towards you using a combination of hands and feet while emitting a horrible shrieking sound.

Jamalamin is charged while Bicklebrick begins to suit up in his armor with the help of Rystime the wizard.  Nibil reached out with his senses to determine if the beasts had the touch of evil upon them but his heart was unsure if they were truly horrific creatures or just wild animals.  Abdul drew his scimitar and shouted at the beast that charged Jamalamin.  Jamalamin tried to gut the beast that charged him but the creature proved too nimble and slipped through his defenses.
The beast sunk its teeth into Jamalamin and the stink of it’s twisted mouth was nauseating, the salty ranger managed to shrug the beast off before the infection could take root, still the beast nearly crippled the ranger’s shoulder.  Seeing his travel companion and friend suffer a wound Nibil forgoes donning his armor and engages another of the monsters.  He fights with it for a short bit but again the creature proves evasive and soon the shaved paladin is bleeding as well.  The wound delt to him feels hot and aching in the cold night.  He worries that he may have suffered some infection from the creature.
Abdul sees the blood seeping through Jamalamin’s armor and calls upon the power of the goddess of winds to heal him so that he can drive back this evil.  Jamalamin feels a strong breeze at his back as if the wind itself wants him to fight on and retightens the grip on his scimitar.  Rystime sees his companions in trouble and lets loose with an arcane missile which strikes one of the creatures with enough force to draw blood.  A thrid creature charges out of the grass and crashes into the side of one of the wagons and begins to savage the wooden exterior.  Screams from Nel and her children can be heard from the inside.
With his armor fully suited up Bicklebrick moves to engage the first beast while Abdul sees if he can draw the attention of the one attacking the wagon.  Abdul calls upon the power of his god to try jolt the beast with divine lightning but in the flickering firelight the bolt goes wild but the bright flash shows that there’s at least 2 more beasts out in the field nearby, they seems confused or lost and don’t seem keen to attack though.  Unwilling to sit by while his family is attacked Mal jumps out of the wagon shouting “bar the door behind me Nel!”  He lines up a shot with his bow but the poor light and the frenzy of the melee cause his shot to go astray.
With a combined effort Bicklebrick and Jamalamin put down the first beast and the two move over to support Abdul who is engaged in melee combat with the beast attacking the wagon.  Rystime is trying to help Nibil with the beast that injured him.  Abdul manages to score a solid hit with his scimitar and by the light cast from his light spell he can see that upon opening a wound on the beast that it has maggots crawling on it’s skin and fur and now into the open wound.  The creature lashes back and bites Abdul on his side.  The dull teeth puncture his armor and he is soon bleeding and his wound also feels hot and foul.
Jamalamin tries to draw the beast’s attention while Bicklebrick moves around the wagon behind it and finds an opening in the creature’s defenses and puts a shortsword between it’s ribs.  The creature spasms for a second then lies still.  Jamalamin then moves over to help Nibil and by flanking the beast they manage to silence it as well.
5 men on horseback are closing in quickly on the group and shouts of “WEST WARD!” and “For the Ward!” can be heard heralding their arrival.  While help may be on the way, 2 of the PCs are injured and the greater question remains, what are these things and where did they come from?

New Campaign Started – The Wardlands

   Posted by: Blackbird

We’ve started up a new campaign for this summer.  This campaign will again feature a somewhat low magic/low level campaign and John K and I have been working on to release as a module.  Here’s the background for the setting:

The Wardlands are a wild terrain full of forested hills, swampy valleys, and big tracks of windswept rolling grasslands.  Steep hills, eroded valleys, thick vegetation and boggy swamps make travel outside the wagon trails very difficult.  There are a few rivers flowing east that are used as transportation.  Skiffs and barges make regular trips (once every couple of moons) down from the mining outposts in the mountains delivering silver and trading for supplies.  In the ward lands there are four main outposts, West Ward, Eddyton, Jacob’s Bench, and Sootrock camp, other notable locations include the former outpost of Delain, and the mining town of Delvin located on the eastern edge of the Grey Mountains.   West Ward is the largest of all of the settlements.  Eddyton is based off the Ein river which flows about 2 weeks ride to the south on the southwestern side of the Reaching Bog.  Jacob’s bench is about 20 days ride to the East and is little more than a collection or roadhouses, Inns, taverns, and shops.  It is the smallest settlement but a major vein of trade. Sootrock camp is north west of West ward only 10 days travel.  It is a military outpost housing a couple hindered soldiers as a means of protecting against the Orcs and Gnoll tribes in the mountains and serving as a strong arm for trade and territory negotiations with the drwarves who also have settlements in the Grey Mountains.

There are a few families here and there living out in the wilds making a living droving, hunting, or trying to farm the tough land.  Where the rivers and roads meet with each other a roadhouse can be found, but those that live outside the walls of a settlement must contend with bandits, thieves, isolation, and all the other trouble that comes with being alone in the wilds.   Even farmers and trappers who make their living trying to ply the land of goods don’t stray far from areas that they know.  The people speak of ghosts and wild spirits, others claim that the hills run wild with orcs, gnolls, trolls, and giants come down from the mountains in search of human blood.  Others say that the wind and weather themselves conspire to douse fires and bring chill deep to the bones of those foolish enough to try to survive without shelter.  This sort of attitude was common during America’s frontier and while many risked lengthy wagon crossings the safety and comfort of a town was nearly always preferable.

All of the settlements in the area would be considered filthy to modern standards, none of the areas has a sewer, and water is provided from wells or a river.  All of the towns have suffered from some form of sickness before and medicine is not commonly available.  A few clerics and enterprising wizards have scattered themselves across the frontier providing services.  Most are met with suspicion, and distrust as such services are not often cheap and wizards never fail to collect.

Humans are the newest residents to the Wardlands and easily the most populous.  With most of the humans coming from a sizable civilization in the East others have come from other lands and cultures but 90+% of the human residents in the Wardlands are “locals” settlers, pioneers, traders, miners etc.  Humans are attempting to settle this land to provide a reliable pathway for goods to flow out of the Grey Mountains.
History: The first human explorers first arrived in the Wardlands 100 years ago and began to settle about 40 years ago, and have had a hard fought time on the frontier.  First there was trouble with the nomadic elven tribes which razed early settlements until gold was discovered in the broken crown mountains and the army moved out to secure those holdings.  Now the elven tribes have been displaced to the cold southern Ghost Grass Plains well to the south of the Broken Hills.  For nearly 10 years there was unchecked expansion in the Wardlands until 20 years ago when the Orc tribes came down out of the mountains killing and burning anything they saw fit.  Some of the attacks were thwarted by winter, while others were turned back by local militias or elements of the army.  The orcs still remain a constant threat to human settlements and now in the Grey Mountains the relations with the Dwarfs are extremely strained.  The a mounted force under Captain Allanstar is in position at the Sootrock Camp to try and ensure security of the mining settlements.

Dwarves: Dwarves live hard and short lives while Dwarf civilization was at one point much more civilized and structured since the cataclysm the Dwarves have begun to become a barbaric and savage people.  Dwarves are beset by those at all sides of their territory, goblins and orcs have been raiding their mines and passages in ever increasing numbers and humans are now mining their lands as well without any regard for the structures that the Dwarves have underneath.  Many human interventions such as damming creeks, the use of blasting powder and magics to convert large quantities of rock to mud or dust have been costly to the Dwarves, flooding tunnels or collapsing them.  Most Dwarfs distrust humans as being shifty and impulsive and they hate the goblins and orcs with a righteous fury.  Most Dwarves are part of one working caste or another most being builders trying to find the lost tunnels which will reconnect their people with the rest of Dwarf society.  Most Dwarves live in abysmal conditions crowded into passageways and caves with little sanitation and work in grueling, dusty, noise filled dark places.  Few Dwarves outside the ranging caste ever see the surface and the Dwarves are wholly unequipped to live on the surface.  Most Dwarves are vegetarian and eat fungi, lichen and other plants that grow in the deep and dark places in the earth.

Elves: Elves have lived a nomadic life in the Wardlands for an unknown amount of time, elves have little written history, but their stories suggest that they have lived on the Wardlands for several hundred years.  Various clans and factions exist in elven society but all retain a nomadic nature.  Elves are openly hostile or standoffish among humans who they see as being usurpers of their land.  Elves are greatly skilled arches but possess little to no metallurgy skills making the armored knights and footmen of the human armies challenging foes.  Elves are fantastic horsemen or skilled trackers depending on what tribes they come from.  Few speak common but some have learned to read and write.  Some enterprising human traders will strike south into the cold Ghost Grass Plains to the south of the ward lands to trade with the various tribes.


West Ward –
History: West Ward is the most populous settlement but not the largest in terms of area.  Set between 3 rises the town started as a logging camp, harvesting trees from the Hardwood Forest and sending them down the Ein river towards Eddyton.  The town was originally based around a bridge over the Ein river, which was destroyed in an attempt to keep Zal Urgroth and his tribe of Black Back orcs from wiping out the settlement 11 years ago.  A former adventurer Westen (Wes) Culling, organized the community into a passable milita and managed to hold back the orcs.  Afterwards, he was appointed Mayor and set about creating a defensible township.  The town now has a full wall around it with a reinforced watchtower on each of the three rises around town.
People: The residents of West Ward or Warders as they call themselves view themselves as hard working folk who are frequently taken advantage of by outsiders.  They feel that Eddyton does not pay enough for their timber and merchants bringing goods to West Ward inflate their prices.  They frequently fail to see themselves doing the same thing to the residents of Delvin, the mining camp in the Grey Mountains.  Warders honor self-sufficiency and most know at least 3 trades.  All visitors who want to enter the city walls must pay a tax.  While physical violence is looked down upon thievery is punished more severely, a bar fight which results in a death is likely to earn the guilty party 1-2 years of hard labor, while burglary can see a man sentenced to death in a cage or hung in the Looter’s Square.  Most male residents are lumberjacks, carpenters, hunters, or drovers.  The poorer residents hunt for bog iron in the marshes near the Ein river, or make charcoal.  The men work hard, drink dangerously strong alcohol called “The Sap”, and have a strong sense of pride.

Eddyton – Eddyton sits on the southern edge of the Flatwater lake.  Eddyton looks very disorganized and typically 1/3 to half of the simple stone buildings are vacant.  Since the lake floods regularly every year with spring/summer melt from the Grey Moutains the buildings closest to the shore flood, half a mile to the south there is a small rise that another collection of buildings are on that serve as the summer housing for most of the residents.  Eddyton is a muddy, cold place with most of the residents making a living off the lake or by farming.  The Mud Road runs between the two settlements of Eddyton, and provides the main avenue for trade for the region.  Most goods are exported directly from Eddyton, fewer traders make the extra journey up to West Ward on the less traveled Grey Road.
History: With no central government there’s no way to fully tell who orginally founded the town.  Some claim that it was settled by escaped prisoners, others claim that the original settlers were members of West Ward who got tired of the uptight attitude up there.  No matter what the story is, most residents agree that Eddyton has always been a town for rebels.  The area is fairly rich in natural resources with ample fish in the Flatwater lake, game in the Reaching Marsh, and plains that flood seasonally nearby.  Despite all of this it is a cold region seeing more snow than West Ward does to the north.  Fierce winds howl across the plains, the water is shockingly cold and ices over in the winter.
People: Eddyton has no central government and has far more petty crime than West Ward.  Thieving is commonplace, and multiple gangs run various factions within the town, but most physical violence is contained, crimes against property such as vandalism, , and pointless destruction are the most serious.  Trials for such a crime are simple, the accused is taken out to the middle of the lake and thrown in.  If they can swim back to shore in the freezing water they are innocent.  If not, the situation resolves itself.  To date most residents can think of only 2 or 3 people proved innocent in a trial in Eddyton.   The purpose of the multiple gangs that run the town typically isn’t to create crime but rather to control resources.  For example, the Wet Boots control the docks charging fees to use them, while the Muck Rakers claim the edges of the Reaching Marsh and forbid anyone from hunting there who does not belong to them.  All aggressively barter and haggle over goods and services.  With no militia there’s no walls or defense measures in the town, instead if the town is threatened the residents pack up and put their long boats out into the lake.  Having to move seasonally ensures that there’s little that can’t be grabbed quickly.  Most male residents are territorial, social, and aggressive salesmen.  There are more people in Eddyton than there is work to do typically so most of the men spend their time selling the services of their gang, ensuring that others have paid for services, or buying and trading goods from merchants.  The women of Eddyton clean fish, cook, manage households, and farm.  Most farming is done for beans, lentils, and other high starch crops. The women of Eddyton are seen as possessions by most of the men even being used as a form of high value currency in some transactions.

Sootrock Camp – This camp is situated up next to Queen’s Eye Lake in the Broken Crown Mountains.  This high camp is located on a stark stretch of dark earth dotted by obsidian boulders.  The camp is commanded by Captain Allanstar who has a full compliment of 300 soliders and 40 heavy horse Calvary.  They have been deployed at Sootrock for 8 months now and are expected to winter back at one of the other settlements.

Delain Ruins –
These ruins located upstream of the Flatwater lake and in the Broken Hills are the remains of a settlement destroyed a year ago by Orc raiders.  Delain was supposedly well defended and situated in Tragedy Canyon just downstream of Dancer Falls.  Delain was once the jewel of the Wardlands, a fortified town in an beautiful setting, it’s fall has only hardened the resolve of the men of the Wardlands against the orc tribes.  It is unknown how the settlement fell.  Few have been to the ruins save for the soliders.  Most stay well away from them for fear that they are haunted or still inhabited by orc raiders.
Jacob’s Bench – This settlement is little more than a collection of road houses, taverns and inns loacted well to the east of the Wardlands.  It is at a major crossroads and a principle point of traffic to the region.  Most merchants come through Jacob’s Bench.  This far east of the Wardlands most travelers have little to fear from Orcs but bandits work the roads before vanishing into the plains.  A group of rangers have setup outposts along or off the road tying to enforce the peace.

Delvin – This hugely successful mining colony sits at the base of a bowl in the Grey mountains beneath Sunlight Peak.   Multiple claims have yielded huge fortunes in the area.  However the Karrak Clan of Dwarves also has claim to the area.  The Dwarves are natives to the mountains and view all the riches within them to be theirs, they also view the human mining efforts to be dangerous to them and have launched attacks against mines that have collapsed or flooded Dwarven tunnels.  The Dwarven clan attacked the settlement of Delvin and were only turned away when the residents of Delvin turned over much of their material wealth in exchange for a few year’s rights to mine the nearby area.  Since then heated disputes between the two as to the actual length of the treaty and what rights were conveyed have become commonplace.

People: Delvin has since grown into a stone and mortar fortress with miner’s leaving the settlement to go out and work their claims at great risk to themselves.  More than a few fortunes have been made in Delvin and as a result most of the residents are keen on making their own.  Some are simply looking to get as much money out of the miners as possible before the entire operation collapses, others are trying to extract their fortune directly from the mountains themselves.  The town is effectively lawless with a loose collection of miners and business owners performing any negotiations with the Dwarves.  One common trait among all of the residents is that everything is done in a rush.  There is a great sense of urgency among everyone here, people talk fast, make deals quickly, fall in love, get rich, go bust, and start anew all in the span of a fortnight.

Terrain types:

The Reaching Marshes: This deep moor stretches from the eastern end of the Flatwater Lake almost all the way to the Grey Road leading to West Ward on the far south eastern edge of the marshes the Fie river begins and flows east into the plains.  The marshes have been continuously growing and over the years have claimed several settlements that were based on the edges of them.  Strange creatures have been sighted in the marshes and the sound of those that used to live in the area still haunts the bogs.  Only brave hunters will seek out their quarry here and no travelers pass through the area.  Some of those outcast from West Ward and Eddyton have been seen at the edges of the bog trying to eek out a life in exile.

The Broken Hills: These western hills have the Sine river running through them towards the basin that holds Flatwater lake.  This is a rough land dotted with rocky outcroppings and covered in tall pinewood forests.  Many wild animals make their homes here, including many packs of wolves, and savage great bears.  There used to be a few settlements such as Delain in the area but they were all razed when Zal Urgroth came down out of the Grey Mountains with his Black Back Orcs 12 years ago.  It’s said that the orcs failed to loot the ruins effectively and that great riches can be found in the ruins for those brave enough to look.

Hardwood Forest: This great forest stretches from West Ward down to the northern edge of The Reaching Marshes.  The Hardwood forest used to be a home to the nomadic elven tribes before they were driven out by the human settlers.  Some of their blazes and charms can be seen on trees deep in the woods.  The Hardwood forest is the principal resource for West Ward, and many loggers have camps on the edge of the wood or cabins deeper in it.

Flatwater Lake: This large lake towards the south is deep and still with the Sine river flowing in from the west and the Ein from the north.  The lake spills out towards the Reaching Marshes in a number of tributaries, a number of which eventually combine to form the Fie river to the east.  Flatwater Lake is home to the settlement of Eddyton.  The lake floods annually during the spring melt which consumes the buildings closest to the water’s edge, forcing the residents to move to buildings further away during the spring.