Friday, December 19, 2008

Slimes and Cubes and Goblins oh my!

So three days into the keep and our adventurer's have been sorely challenged by some of the Keep's traps and sinister denizens.

Silver made a rather embarrassing debut by falling into a pit of rats in the first room of the dungeons. And though swarmed and bit he managed to haul himself out with the help a few of his comrades.

And for a while it seemed only goblins manned the various dungeons rooms until the fearless explorer's made it into a region seemingly deeper and of more fresh excavation. In the abandoned cistern of the old Keep they met with a foul blue slime. Narumata was surprised by the beast as he searched the room for traps. Quickly drained by its dissolving acid blows Narumata fell and his fellows charged in to wage a fierce battle with the evil beast. To the end it fought, but our heroes prevailed and Narumata was revived.

Resting to begin again fresh our heroes were beset upon immediately by a gelatinous cube that promptly swallowed Barkel and Qwasar. But again our heroes fought like lions to free their friends and defeat this new menace. This they did and recovered several very fine items in the bargain.

With over one third of the upper levels explored and after being trapped by an illusion cast by Kalarel himself,s till our heroes march onward. Nothing will deter them from freeing this region from Kalarel's evils and Iuz's wicked plans.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Finally, Into the Shadowfell

After a lengthy detour in Winterhaven, now somehow restored, our hardy band of adventurer's have descended into the depths of the Shadowfell dungeons. A brief encouter with some goblins and a nasty pit full of rats, the group headed to the old underground cistern. Now long abandoned and filed with brackish water, a giant Blue Slime rose from the depths and almost did Narumata in. But quick thinking on the part of his compatriots restored him to life, and still the battle with the slime rages on.

The curiosity of Winterhaven restored to life was unsolved by a long talk with Valthrun the Keep's resident Wizard. Although he did mention having a dream of Winterhaven attacked and destroyed by winged black creatures. A dream that was echoed by another visionary farmer in the town's tavern. The stay in Winterhaven had been complicated by the brash actions of Kheldar and Dracon who attacked the stablemaster in the confused bargaining for a horse. Fortunately he was just knocked unconscious and not killed. The Lord of the keep was kind and let them off with a fine and a promise to help in investigating the Shadowfell ruins.

The journey to the forests of mist surrounding the keep, rumored to be haunted by a wailing banshee, was simple enough. But once in the forests the legendary fogs and mists of the forests of Shadowfell descended upon our party. Disoriented and unable to see clearly they decided to press on until the ran into Haella herself. Haella is said to the be the spirit of a long ago dead young mother. She had been walking in Forests of Shadowfell long before its master went insane. Unfortunately a band of thieves attacked her, robbed her of her meager possessions and then began to take her back to their lair for more devious plans. But her cries had been heard by Sir Velhaad a knight of the Shadowfell, who was returning from his evening patrols. He followed the cries and soon sighted the thieves carrying their hostage. Instead of risking being caught for kidnapping on top of robbery the thieves chose to slit Haella's throat and dump her in a ravine to hide their treachery and speed their retreat.

Their ploy didn't work however, as Sir Velhaad's mount was renowned for his speed and his uncanny ability to maneuver in the woods. In no time two of the thieves were struck down and then killed in their futile resistance. The other three fled the region, however and were never caught. In the fight they refused all demands by Velhaad to divulge the whereabouts of their hostage. Haella's body was never found, even though Velhaad mounted an extensive search over the next several days. It was on that very night a year later that a banshee was first spotted in the woods near where the thieves were found. Haella is said to not intentionally kill those of good intent, but no one wants to run into her, for all leave damaged from her haunts.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What?! *@?%!!! Curse you Mr. Jones!!!!!!!

So, we're back in first edition and some of us are none too happy. But have they even stopped to ask themselves why? Obviously the campaign trail has led them here. Moreover why would such a powerful spell gate them back in time to somewhere far from their destination? The answer to that is that it wouldn't.

So they end up at a castle called Neverfall Keep while they are looking for Shadowfell Keep. But are they really supposed to be looking for the Shadowfell? given that they have travelled so far back in time, would Shadowfell even exist?

What do we know of Shadowfell anyway? That a high paladin Sir Keegan ruled there. That he discovered some fell magic in the caverns below the keep. Caverns much older than the keep itself. That this magic corrupted him with its evil to the point that he murdered his own family and locked himself in the caverns below.

What was this diabolical magic? Certainly it has to have some role central to the unfolding plot?

Unfolding plot? Yes, The plot that a group of Cultists following the evil high priest Kalarel are resurrecting an ancient faction of the cult of Orcus, Demon Prince of the Abyss. Now--why would Kalarel end up in the Shadowfell? One might guess and probably correctly so that it has to do with this artifact found by Sir Keegan centuries ago. The lingering question is what magic does it work?

Some have speculated that it will bring in an army of Orcus--and this certainly seems born out by the encroaching bands that already are spilling forth to the south. The same army that already has left Winterhaven in ruins. But not only Orcus seems to be a player in this unfolding doom, but a long lost god by the name of Iuz. Who is this one and what part does he play? Well Douven gave some clues when he stated that Orcus was allied with Iuz in times past.

But it would seem our adventurer's are too late. But the Gods seem to be directing them. Visions have unfolded which seem to show an awful future ahead, and which have directed our players to a circle of ancient runes and the bones of a massive, ancient, red dragon. Why? To fight some long dead dragon? No, but to travel back in time.

Why travel in time you ask? Valthrun has already answered this question as he lay dying in the PC's arms. To destroy an ancient artifact that someone named T'Coth has been sent back in time to preserve. Why would Iuz, as Valthrun intimated, send back someone to preserve an artifact? Two artifacts in the same situation--they musty be allied. Obviously it has something to do with the artifact that lies below Shadowfell keep. Perhaps they need to be together to work the magic Iuz, Orcus and Kalarel are planning.

So we find out heroes in a seemingly distant land--but who really knows if it is distant? Perhaps thousands of years have passed and the face of the land has changed. Our heroes have been enlisted to rid a nearby keep of some marauding monsters by the high priest of Neverfall. Does thsi make sense? Are they still guided by divine aid? Perhaps the secrets they seek lie deep within these very caverns which they are about to enter.

What of the keep? It certainly doesn't seem to be Shadowfell Keep--but then again? Why the coincidence in names? Do caverns lie under this keep as well. Is the artifact truly here after all? And if they find and destroy it--what then? Are they to remain in a land far from their homes? What will happen to Kalarel and the Shadowfell? Will destroying the artifact change things in their time? Will Kalarel still need stopped? What of T'Coth and the Red Dragon? They were warned to beware of him. But thus far noone has seen him at all. What awaits our intrepid adventurers next?

Only time will tell. . .

Monday, November 3, 2008

Orcus, Iuz and Dragons oh my!

Three major evil players have made themselves known thus far:

Orcus: a demon prince of the Abyss well known among the more schooled of Oerth in today's time and a feared curse spoken by some who dare. Legends tell of a battle in the Abyss against Demogorgon and Orcus in which the victor is unclear. Kalarel is a seeming minor player; a powerful priest of Orcus.

Iuz: an unknown, forgotten, demigod from ancient times. Evidently Iuz was either cast out of or dissappeared from the realms of the Gods for he is now unknown among the general populace of Oerth.

The Dragon: A giant, ancient, red-dragon evidently long dead and either sacrificed, killed, or died amidst a circle of ritual runes near the Shadowfell keep.

Two scrolls of ancient power clearly designed to be recited together within the runes to work some unknown magic. But how and why, not to mention by whom, were these scrolls created? When were they to be used? If the dragon, why were they not used yet? And what purpose would Orcus or Iuz have for an ancient red dragon if any?

The mysteries compound, but still the words of Douven Stahl echo in our heroes' ears. This magic, these ancient bones and those scrolls somehow work together as a key or solution to this impending threat of Orcus and Iuz.

And what of the prayer time visions of a long journey? And the accompanying words: "It matters not who you are, but who you become?"

As our adventurer's travel to the Shadowfell, the clouds have darkened to near black, and they must light torches to continue their journey. Trudging on through the increasing gloom amidst occasional lightning flashes a sense of doom befalls our party a sense of sadness. Slowly a voice is heard by Barkel long and low as if borne on the wind "~turn back~". Sedecei turns to Barkel. "Did you say something?" Barkel is already searching the horizons in the distance as if searching.

"What? No. Did you hear something?"

Sedecei strained his ears again. Was that a shape on the horizon he saw? Then he heard it again "~turn back~". His ears distinctly heard the message this time. He turned to Barkel and they eyed each other warily. A quick turn to Shadow and Dracon all assured them they were hearing the same thing. The clear message now, heard as if a wail on the whipping wind "Turn back".

The party had stopped and were gathered around the divine heroes in the group. Noone else heard the message, except for them. Was this a warning from Orcus, from Kalarel? Or something else entirely?

The question now, heed the voice or head onwards?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Something Strange on the Way to the Keep

After refreshing themselves and breaking camp, our heroes set off for the Shadowfell again. But after about a five mile trek in the increasingly rugged landscape of the foothills they came across a curious site. Off in the distance about a half mile a large crater was visible. A quick debate decided it was worthy to investigate and the entry trail of the impact of whatever had caused the crater allowed for easy entry.

The dark violet clouds overhead still boiled as they picked their way through the cedar, juniper and occasional pine. But once near the crater all trees and larger vegetation was absent. Long ago blasted away by the impact of something decidedly large. The crater walls piled up a god ten to 15 feet high and the crater itself covered a good 100 yards in diameter.

Our heroes, approaching warily, in battle formation, were initially startled by two dragon-like drakes that perched atop the crater walls on the right side, eyeing them hungrily. But no attack was forthcoming and they were hailed by someone from inside the crater itself! A weaselly looking little gnome dressed in bright colors, other than for a drab and dirty apron, a trowel in hand beckoned tot he party. "Come down inside! You really have to be much closer to appreciate what we've found!" And then peering intently back toward a pile of what appeared to be charred bones in the crater's center. A cursory glance around showed four human workers holding shovels, picks and rakes. They looked tired and uncertain of the newcomers. Atop the cliff leaning against a pile of large boulders stood a green cloaked halfling, casually picking at his nails and seeming somewhat bored.

Initial caution and distrust were set aside as the gnome seemed genuine and friendly; and our curious band truly wanted to know what it was in the center of the massive hole. Entering a little less cautiously now, the party approached the bones. And bones they were indeed. Dragon bones. Even a casual glance by the well schooled wizard of the party Draconis showed them to be Red Dragon bones and ancient ones at that. But long since dead. Piles of dirt had been dug out and raked away from the center to expose the prone skeletal form of the ancient one. Curiously dark runes had been uncovered as well, either etched or marked upon the solid granite of the crater floor.

However, too quick the Drakes surprised the unaware party as they peered at the curiosity and in a flash one had rent Draconis into unconsciousness. And the other snarled and snapped at Sedecei. The gnome quickly aimed a concealed crossbow and took fire at the party. While the halfing rained down slings from above. Before the party could close the distance the gnome had taken cover behind the human rabble and then disappeared. The halfing had concealed himself as well. The party took several blows as the two thieves took pot-shots at the hapless party trying to quickly scurry up the sides of the cliff walls.

Before Anyone could get to them either the human diggers ran away to the back and by the time our party reached the top only the gnome and the halfling were left, slowly weakening the party as they took aim from above. But Draconis thought quickly and set afire to the brush pile the gnome was shooting from. Within seconds Narumata, Silver and Sedecei were there as well and spying the hidden nose of the crossbow they rooted him out. Running as quickly as his little scurrying feet would allow the gnome took for the hills. Narumata would have caught him too if he had not faded away into invisibility.

Barkel and Dean fared no better as they first sought to coax the halfling out his his hidey-hole with a few well placed sword thrusts. But as he exited, giving up his dagger in the process the wily little fella slipped beneath Barkel's grasp, defied a divine challenge, taking damage in teh process and scurried out past the lake and away into the hills.

Once regathered in the pit the party considered the situation. Several players searched under the waxed tarp to find two bound and gagged persons. One, the dragonborn warlord Rhogar. The other an aged man by the name of Douven Stahl. Wasn't this the same Douven Stahl that Darkiss and Matthew had been searching for?

The elderly gentleman allowed the party to keep his amulet of health and gave them some critical information. One, the dragon bones and runes in the center of the put had some part to play in the unfolding drama of Shadowfell. The other was that he had a feeling perhaps Iuz the ancient demigod, long disappeared from the realms of the Gods, demons and men, was behind this growing sinister plot. He dared call Orcus a "minor" demon lord in comparison to Iuz to boot. However the parts fit together the plot was thickening indeed.

The curious thing was that some of Douven's story did not seem to match up. These details were caught quickly by Draconis and Narumata, who called him on his inconsistency. He seemed to shrug the matter off, but still his story did not match up. Narumata recalled the strange mage Valthrun at Winterhaven, the only inhabitant left alive and whose tower-home was the only building left unburned in its siege. This he asked of Douven, who seemed shocked that Winterhaven had been destroyed and befuddled that Valthrun was somehow implicated. He sought to reassure the party, but still they held lingering doubts. With nothing solid to convict their judgements to Douven's or Valthrun's guilt still they allowed him to leave and consider the ancient ritual center uncovered in the center of the pit.

Here a long and complex debate ensued with bitter opinions on both sides. Evidently according to Akmeinos and Draconis the runes were from a ritual designed to blend the effects of teleportation magic and a reincarnation magic. Power runes of reincarnation, new worlds, teleportation, journeys blended in this great magic square the eldritch that was definitely tied to the two scrolls the heroes had recently discovered. Had the kobolds stole the scrolls from this site, even perhaps from the thieving excavators? Perhaps Douven had known. Perhaps even now that was why he was so eager to leave. To find the scrolls and the kobolds. For he new nothing of the party's possession of them.

The party argued on: was the spell to bring this ancient red dragon to life? Why was the dragon even there? Perhaps the scrolls would teleport them to the very keep they now searched for. If, as the runes made clear, the scrolls were read simultaneously would anything happen at all? In then end 9 of the party entered and removed a great deal of the dragon's bones to ensure he did not raise. They read the scrolls, but nothing occurred. Had they ruined the magic by removing the bones? Had they lacked the full ten people required by the teleport scroll?

They would waste time no longer. They packed the scrolls away and reformed their march back towards The keep and the future.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Iron Tooth falls--Orcus Awaits

The battle at the waterfall was quick and easy compared to what awaited our brave adventurers behind the falls themselves. As a small band waited outside and the rest disappeared behind the cascading water the draconian forces within attacked.

First it was Silver among a handful who noticed a small kobold peeking around a wall in the dripping caverns. The roar of the falls precluded any strategic directions so Silver sallied forth into the center of the cave, swords at the ready. It was then the band of kobold minions, lurking very near several dragonshield warriors and skirmishers the adventurers charged out party. The battle was engaged at close quarters. The kobold forces pressing the attack until our friends had their backs soaked by the spray from the falls.

Within a matter of seconds a second wave hit and already one of the party's number had fallen. Violet lay on the cavern floor amidst the puddles of dank cave water rapidly stained red from her wounds. Draconas was the next to fall, swarmed by thrashing kobolds when he got to close to the fray. Though Qwasar had run to call in reinforcements standing guard outside the Battle was not looking good.

Then Gold the Warlock fell, and still Wyrmpriests hurled their fireballs and Dragonshields swung their wicked curved shorts swords.

But the true foe was Irontooth, the vicious goblin that had appeared with the second wave. Though small muscles rippled across his sinewy arms and torso. A vicious red gleam stung forth from his one good eye, a patch covered the other. And one ugly yellowed snaggletooth sharpened to a fierce point stuck out of his mouth on the right side. He would be a fearsome foe indeed. Swinging a double bladed battleaxe he closed on the flank of the party accompanied by a dragonshield and three snarling yapping minions.

Barkel lost no time in challenging this fell foe and closing to do battle with him. Luckily the dark blade Everbleed was in his hands. And tho Barkel was unaware of its fell power the first critical strike he dealt showed its power. As others closed to assist iron tooth vainly tried to take at least one of his opponents down, but to no avail. As Irontooth fell to the many blows of his foes he uttered a guttural deathcry "Kalarel and Lord Orcus prepare my way!"

Shortly thereafter the battle was ended. But Akmeinos the infernal chasing down two remaining kobolds inadvertently set the forest outside the cave ablaze. Gasping for air and lugging the gains of the battle our adventurer's managed to run to safety and set camp for the evening. Gold had been healed as he still was within life's grasp. But Draconas and Violet were gone. And the Shadowfell Keep still lay ahead.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Okay, no split.

Sorry about all the confusion. But due to my very heavy meeting schedule I cannot do Wednesdays. And Fridays are hard for a lot of people to make. So we are back to everyone on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

We will handle the numbers as best we can. Also, we are still heavily involved in combat with Irontooth's band. He fell last time uttering a guttural cry as he died: "Kalarel and Lord Orcus prepare my way!" After which he collapsed to the floor in a bloody heap. But the battle rages on as a Drgonshield, 2 Wyrmpriests and 1 minion remain.

Three heroes have fallen. Will our band of adventurer's survive the day?

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New Schedule

Given our recent split we are planning to game on the following schedule:

Mondays: No gaming session

Tuesdays and Thursdays: John, Lenny, Shawn Kuchler, Dalton, William, Cory, Shawn Collier, Cody, CJ

Wednesday and Fridays: Hunter, Dylan, Ally, Kody Keser, Kelson, Zach, John Dieckman, Jordan Johnson

Look forward to seeing you there! If you have any questions about your group's night, just let me know.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What D&D character are you?

Check out all the new stuff on the blog! Vote for your ideal party size on our poll at the bottom. And check out all of the cool gaming links we've added. Especially take the "What D&D Character Are You" quiz. It takes a little while, but it's the best one I've yet seen. It gives you your class, level, race and stats. Respond to this entry by posting your results. Check out mine below.

Have fun and check the blog often to stay up to date on all club & campaign stuff! Oh and don't forget to sign up as a follower at the bottom of the blog!

The Party Splits

Since half the party was captured by orcs and taken to Gods knows where in the west, and the remaining half of the party is behind the falls awaiting ambush--it is time to divide our group.

The club will be meeting four days a week from this point on.

Wednesdays and Fridays will be sessions for the captured group:
  • Dracon
  • Matthew
  • Darkiss
  • Korlogh
  • Hwarang
  • Sedecei
  • Ebrithil
  • Anorran
Tuesdays and Thursdays will be sessions for the remaining group:
  • Qwasar
  • Violet
  • Dean
  • Suhew
  • Silver
  • Barkel
  • Narumata
  • Draconas
  • Seechay
Gaming this way, with much smaller groups, will be better for everyone. Sessions will go faster and we will get more accomplished. You as players also will not be as bored waiting for your turn to come around again. However, both groups will need to fight as a team and smarter than they have before. Less adventurers means more danger. Take heed brave explorers and you may live to see the end of your quest.

Captured!!

Heading towards the Caingorn Peaks our heroes come to a small but fast slowing stream. An ancient bridge once passed here, but has long ago washed away. Filling their waterskins, several of our the band notice kobolds moving upstream near a waterfall. Narumata leads the band uphill towards the kobold encampment, but they are discovered in their attempts to ambush the small lizardmen. A battle ensues in which our heroes quickly manage victory. Behind the waterfall stairs are visible, and the heroes in front of the battle regroup to head in. A band of the adventurer's stay outside to stand guard. As the last of the exploratory band disappears behind the falls an ambush befalls the remaining band outside. They are immobilized as if by magic and large, heavily muscled, pig headed, snaggletoothed creatures rush out to bind them fast. Their tongues are bound and they are unable to raise the alarm. Violet, Dean, Suhew, Korlogh, Silver, Seechay, Sedecei, Ebrithil & Anorran are all quickly carried downhill into awaiting caged wagons and driven to the west.

Unbeknownst to our heroes who have entered into the falls, a much more dire fate awaits them hiding in the cavern's shadows. Qwasar, Dracon, Matthew, Darkiss, Hwarang, Barkel, Narumata and Draconas head inward, weapons drawn guard at the ready. The Caverns are well lit by torches placed at various locations on the walls. Puddles of water shimmer on the caverns floor. The roar of the falls drown out all but the loudest shout. And are those shadows moving?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Violet Remembers

"It was seven years ago. The destruction here at Winterhaven has dug up a piece of my past that I had longed to forget."

*** 7 years ago ***
"I was a part of a team of Dragonborn rangers. I was the youngest in the team. The others ranged in age from fourteen to over twenty years. We were sent to investigate sightings of a group of Dragonborn rogues that had betrayed our people. They were the first and last to betray our band. We stopped them, but at a cost. The others in the team were killed and only I remained standing. The Rogues got away. When I went back to the village it was destroyed. The smell of death filled the air. I vowed that I would avenge my comrades and the village."

And now for a flashback!

Our party's beginnings and their initial journey to Winterhaven have as yet gone unexplained. I take the opportunity to now elucidate their individual motives, and their quest's genesis. But first our Dramatis Personae:
  • Violet the Dragonborn Ranger
  • Dean the Human Fighter
  • Quasar the Dragonborn Fighter
  • Dracon the Dragonborn Paladin of Kord
  • Suhew the Dragonborn Fighter
  • Matthew Tawer the Elven Warlock
  • Darkiss Gent the Eladrin Warlock
  • Hwarang the Elven Ranger
  • Korlogh the Elven Fighter
  • Silver the Human Ranger
  • Sedecei The Eladrin Cleric of The Raven Queen
  • Barkel the Tiefling Paladin of Avandra
  • Ebrithil the Elven Warlock
  • SeeChay the Elven Warlock
  • Narumata the Tiefling Rogue
  • Draconas the Dragonborn Rogue
  • Anorran the Eladrin Rogue
Three separate tales have found their way into our adventurer's awareness:
Matthew and Darkiss both shared the same mentor in their apprenticeship to mastering the powers of the Warlock: Douven Stahl. Douven was an elderly fey pact Warlock when they first met him. Age and closeness to the fey had left him a whisper of a mortal when they completed their apprenticeships. He had introduced him to magic and the power of the fey. He was more than a second father to them both and they would gladly lay their lives down in his defense. And he was missing. Douven was also known for his sage-like studies in ancient history, and Matthew and Darkiss both are aware of his most recent researches. In the mountains on the Shadowfell lay the grave of an ancient Elder dragon close to the powers of fey. History rumored that this elder dracon was indeed a fey warlock of great power. To find his grave, and to see if his essence had passed into the fey would be a source of great magical power Douven could not resist. His studies had obsessed him as of late and then he had simply gone missing. Matthew and Darkiss are both searching for him. They ran upon Silver & Cody in their searches and accepted their aid.
Sedecei, Narumata & Dracon were all aware of the sage Parle Cranewing who had called them to a glass of thistledown tea and a very interesting story. The story he told started at the town of Winterhaven and quickly moved to the ancient keep that once stood above it in the mountains to the north. This keep was said to be cursed by many. For Parle it held the secrets to an ancient empire that may have once ruled in this region. If these sturdy young adventurer's were up to the challenge, Parle was willing to pay them handsomely just for the opportunity to investigate any artifacts they located--especially any written materials. The three quickly accepted and called for assistance from the local fighter's guild. Thus were Seechay, Suhew and Korlogh added to their number. Ebrithil the Warlock a compatriot of Sedecei joined their group and they set off for the northlands.
Barkel had been summoned by the High Priestess Marla of the Great Church. The Great Church acknowledges all the Gods and pays due homage to each except for those of evil. Marla herself had been dedicated to Pelor when she was but a wee lass, and had known Barkel since his induction into Paladinhood. She ahd been impressed by his valor and his sense of purpose. So when she had heard of ominous signs in the north she thought of him first. The Church was loathe to admit to her fears--that cultists had arisen again in the land. She was aware of a twisted priest by the name of Kalarel that was fascinated by ancient lost gods, particularly those with an evil bent. Rumor has it that Kalarel left the Great Church and began gathering around him followers of a like mind. This group of cultists moved several times from city to city as Kalarel proselyted and they were steadily banished for their questionable rites. Eventually they disappeared. Through careful and prolonged investigation Marla had discovered that witnesses had spied the cultists travelling north on the road to Winterhaven over a year ago. From the rites they were witnessed practising in various cities Marla fears that they are unholy ceremonies designed to awaken an ancient evil. Marla enlisted Barkel in an exploration of what the cultists were doing and their elimination if need be. Barkel called upon several of his associates, Violet, Qwasar, Anorran and Hwarang to assist him in his quest.
These questors met upon the road to Winterhaven and their troupe then first ran into the kobolds on the road.

Winterhaven

Our adventurer's head to Winterhaven, only to find the town in burning ruins. A sole survivor--The maddened wizard Valthrun. The character's find the bodies of few deformed dragonspawn obviously killed by the defending townspeoples. They each wear dark purple tunics with grinning white skulls on the front. Attempts to interpret the skulls symbols are fruitless.

Two characters who handled the tunics succumbed to temporary madness themselves. Both were eventually healed by the party's Paladins. And then the group spied the mysterious raven with the shining purple eyes watching them from the walls of the keep. Heading to the one building left unscathed, Valthrun's tower, they cornered the wizard, held him down and healed him of his insanity. Valthrun relates the tale of being gripped in his madness by visions of being chased by a giant, grinning, white skull with glowing purple eyes. In his madness he ran and ran across a blackened and blasted landscape as the skull bore incessantly down upon him. The character's who fallen to the same madness remembered the nightmare exactly as Valthrun explained it.

After a brief discussion the characters learn from Valthrun of Shadowfell Keep. This ruined keep lies to the north. Valthrun wonders if the kobolds have set up their encampment there. Legends have spoke of the keep as at worst as a place of cursed evil and at best as the abode of vicious Goblin raiders.

Valthrun cast a divining spell for the adventurer's near future as they headed towards the keep. What he saw deeply disturbed him. Kobolds arrayed as an army in those same tabards of purple, row upon row of grinning white skulls bearing down to the south and the cities of good. He also saw behind this vast and foul army a huge grinning white skull in the sky--some god, some very evil god, unknown by his symbol or his power. But without question one of the most maligned and twisted evil.

But questions remain. Why the retreat if an army is invading? Why did the invaders not take the keep, but only leave it wasted. Why was Valthrun's tower untouched? This small fact was left unquestioned by our intrepid band. And what of the strange Raven?

Perhaps these answers and more lay waiting in the mountains or the keep ahead. Only time will tell.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Something wicked this way comes.

Well, not exactly wicked. But it will fundamentally change the game for all our players. On the road to Winterhaven an eerie light appears on the distant horizon. Our heroes have seen nothing like this darkening violet light which traces the clouds in purple fingers of lightning scratched along its edges.

As the eldritch lightning flashes in the distance a deep violet glow illuminates the features of the adventurers. This light plays across their features and images flash through their minds. Images somehow familiar yet strange and distant. Dracon the paladin is driven to his knees as he beholds in a flash of lightning his God Kord riding on the rolling thunderheads. The might War God rises his Storm Spear high and unleashes the mighty weapon. In flight it turns into a flash of brilliant lightning that strikes Dracon dead center in the chest.

The other heroes are enthralled as well. Whether in divine vision or in hallucinatory trance is uncertain. Ciedris Cleric of The Raven Queen is the only soul whose are not cast upwards. His head is hung low, his shoulders slumped. Unbeknownst to his companions he stares into a yawning abyss. Its nether reaches wreathed in darkened mist. From the swirling darkness below a rider appears on a jet black pegasus with wings trailing tendrils of mist in the night. Riding atop the darkened mount sits a lady of haunting beauty, cloaked in the mist herself. As she mounts the depths she raises a curved sickle shining with a deep violet light. Bearing down with increasing speed on her priest her pegasus screams a war cry. The Raven Queen raises her arm and rushes past in a blast of misty wind, cold as death's touch. As she passes she swings her sickle in a slow and graceful arch. With a flash of light it passed through the neck of her priest and leaves his head spinning in the air.

Barkel, paladin of Avandra finds himself standing on a dusty road in a flat desert expanse, alone. Dust swirls in shimmering eddies across the surface of the road. His eyes fail to adjust adequately to the distance ahead. Was something moving in the distance haze? Rust red hills line the horizon. Heat and perspiration blurs his clarity of vision. Sage and cedar blend into dark amorphous shadows like spots of scorched earth on the hillsides. He tries to clear what seems a dazed haze which has descended upon his mind. The sun catches and plays with the swirling dust ahead. Barkel clenches his mailed fists to ground himself-- his hands tight with blood coursing as if from a long journey. What was happening?

The figure at first seemed but a shimmer of heat, dancing in slowly wavering patterns above the sun baked clay of the desert floor. Then the form slowly resolves into that of a man. A tall gaunt man who seems to step into the world through a window framed in sun-speckled dust. The wind blown sand slowly forms into pinpoints of what could only be light gathering about the figure's upper torso and head. Lights that dance around his head as if crystals circled his brow playing about with sunlight in iridescent, mind confusing patterns. Barkel's heart began to beat even faster. The figure walked towards him, or so it seemed. Was just another hiker? Perhaps he had simply not seen him due to the hazy heat and the dust. A wave of hot wind blew up and a swirl of dust caused Barkel to avert his eyes and shield them with his hands. Blast this wind, he thought.

When it had abated Barkel looked up again and could see that no dance of lights played about the advancing figure's head, but a cascade of glimmering orbs. He walked with that long legged measured step common to all jugglers. A mesmerizing pattern of at least five clear crystal balls wove in a complex rhythm in the air before him. Barkel couldn't help but smile. His eyes, a shining light blue, stared straight ahead. In fact he stared straight at the confused Paladin, unblinking and seeming to glide down the road towards him. The figure's eyes held the knight spellbound for seconds that seemed to stretch into eternity. In those eyes the blue of the sky he could see those crystal orbs flashing and swirling and floating like planets hung in space on sunlit summer day. Each orb swirling with rainbow colors which formed images, forms, pictures, until they filled his vision, a window onto other worlds.

Barkel shook his gaze away, with a feeling of falling. The paladin reached out to steady himself, stepping forward, feeling awkward. This man, this figure, this whoever he was, surely saw him about to faint from the delirium. Barkel opened his mouth to utter some remark of greeting and could not speak. He noticed the jet black clothes the man wore. They seemed to scintillate with sparks of light flecked dust. Each dust a star, swirling. Galaxies spinning, and rainbow hued nebulae hanging in space. A universe, that he seemed to . . . and he was falling, falling, falling. The man was upon the shaking paladin now, or becoming a part of him, taking him in. And Barkel fell into the universe of his being. Orbs of crystal light swirling around his soul and in his mind and in his eye. My mind. My eyes. My mind. My falling mind. were his last thoughts. And Only at the last did he see the symbol of triple waves hanging in the ether. The symbol of Avandra--his God

The other dragon born warriors are besieged with images of fire, and flaming haired elves. Of humans dancing amid pits of burning lava and infernal fumes. Of huge scaled dragons dwelling in steaming caverns and of war. War with demons of unseen horror and oblivion. Darkened blades of evil rip open the forms of Dragonborn children. Fields of red, burning as much with blood as with fire. Demons working magic that twists the souls of these fire worshipping mad men. Filled with the primal fire of dragon's blood, human and elf twist in a dark embrace to become something other than what they were--something that should not be.

The Tieflings, so used to the darkness and the realms of the sinister, the left handed path, are faced with fear as they have never known it before. Darkness envelops them. Hands from the pits of hades pull at their very souls, drawing them downward towards damnation. Visages of dark demon lords flash before their mind, holding the chains of bondage. The chains that bind their race. Humanoid dragon forms dance around the crippled and mangled bodies of their loved ones. Then they too are bound in hellish chains and cast into an endless pit. Bound until they can no longer do aught but fall; plummeting downward into ruin and further into oblivion of the waiting maw of a massive ancient red dragon.

The elves and Eladrin are besieged with horrid images of war as well. A terrible war in which elves fall like red rain in a forest devoid of life. A separation of a bloody river into two raging forks and a splintering tree burst asunder by lightning. And the bodies of elves. Each twisted and broken one representing the hopes and dreams of all the elven nations.

Visions, images, intuitions, flashes of another time. Of another place. Of the past, of the future. Of death, of rebirth. Of opportunities lost and a need for change before the world devolves back into madness, chaos and loss--eternal loss.

What do these vision mean? Could this fell omen simply be falling upon Winterhaven? Their import seems so much more than what our adventurers ever could have guessed. What could it mean for our fledgling heroes? As they recover from their waking dreams still the vivid dark lightning flashes. The cold icy grip of fear runs through their veins. But they quickly regain their composure. Confident in their powers and their might they regroup and continue the quest forward to something much more than just Winterhaven and forward to their destiny.

The battle ends

The dragonshield warriors were engaged in fierce blow for blow trade with Silver the Ranger & CJ the Fighter, when our warlock summoned his eldritch energy from the other realm and shot bolts of cold magical fire to the center of a dragonshield fighter almost frying him out of existence. As Silver dealt a following death blow to this now beleaguered kobold the his kobold companion shifted and retreated to a more strategic location. Dracon rushing past the flames into the battle at road's center felled another kobold with a mighty sweep. Cut in two the kobolds two halves fell with a bloody thud to the road. Quasar moved to engage the Slinger only to be hit by a pot of binding glue with held him fast. Fortunately Dracon was right behind and dealt a swift blow to the kobold now hemmed in on every side, his back to the woods.

Nuranata the tiefling thief rushed in to sideswipe the retreating Dragonshield. He delivered a wicked stab to the dragonshield's side and then painfully twisted his blade with a turn of his wrist and the Dragonshield howled in pain. The dragonborn rogue darted in an out of the battle hurling shuriken and wielding his dagger raining painful strikes upon his erstwhile foes. The Elven archer took careful aim and from the rear and released a shot which pierced the last minion in directly in the eye. The force of the blow whirling him off his feet. The eye-pierced kobold spun head over heels to land with in a heap on the earth.

The Last dragonshield warrior still yelling in pain from the blow from the thief took a thrusting strike from the ranger into his other side. The silver blade buried itself up to the hilt with the thrust of the blow. The ranger quickly withdrew his blade as did the thief. No sound uttered from the dragonshield foe now. Bloods gurgled forth from his mouth. his entrails fell from each side of his now dying form. And he crumpled to the blood strewn road.

Dracon dealt repeated crushing blows to the remaining kobold--the slinger--as he pursued him through the forest until he fell amidst the decaying leaves of the dark woods.

Narumata quickly called the party in to regroup and directed a search of the bodies. Little was turned up except for an undamaged shield of the dragonwarrior. Narumata allowed Barkel the paladin to heft the shield and keep it if he liked. He did. Draconis carefully searching the still warm body of the kobold slinger uncovered several very nice items. A sling and cache of bullets, two firepots to be used with the sling and fey dagger of wicked draconic design.

Rejoining the party Dracon showed the groups leaders his find. Narumata eyed the dagger eagerly. He approached Dracon reasoning with him that he could put the dagger to fine use with his sinister roguish attacks. Yet Dracon was loathe to release the find. His only weapon being the greatsword, he longed to keep the blade. This was his first Battle and his first significant find of treasure. The Teifling eyed him through narrowed slits. "You must think of the greater good of the party and yield the blade to the one who could do the most good." Still the Dragonborn was resistant. He snarled, uttering an oath in Draconic. Then in guttural common he declared with finality "It's mine."

Narumata turned away, a scheme already running through his crafty tiefling mind.

4e?

I post here a copy of my thoughts on 4e which I posted to a DnD yahoo group.

Okay, so I’ve been DMing 4e for a while now. Large group (8 players, 9 w/dm). Lots of Dragonborn, couple Eldarin and an Elf, 1 Tiefling. 2 warlocks, 2 Rogues, 2 fighters, 1 ranger, 1 paladin. I’m DMing Keep on the Shadowfell.

Without kindling flames I thought I’d give my take on 4e “feel”, since I’ve been so vocal about D&D being D&D regardless of version.

4e seems like a different game. Fantasy, after a fashion, but not D&D, not to me. Now, granted 4e will obviously be considered D&D to the majority of the kids I’m DMing, because they’ve never played anything else. But to me it seems fundamentally different. I will also admit that what “feels” like D&D to me is based on 1st, 2nd and to a lesser extent 3.5 edition. What I mean by fundamentally different is elucidated below.

_It is high powered from the start_. I simply couldn’t believe the effect of powers on combat. Wow! I mean we are talking major magic walking around with any group of heroes. Now granted I suppose Heroes are taken to be rare—but to be able to do all that at 1st level?! I’m not saying it’s bad, just very different from what I’m used to. I will admit that the monsters have been powered up hp wise so they don’t exactly drop like flies.

_All the players seem like high level wizards_. From what I understand 4e creators wanted to “balance” all character classes by the addition of powers. To me it achieved this albeit offering a high level of power. However, all the characters seem like super powered wizards after a fashion. All characters have huge magical options at first level with a slight variance in skills, feats, hp, weapons etc. They all seemed a bit generic. A wizard with a mace, wizard with a sword, wizard with a bow—you get the drift.

_Powers_ Okay, so far it’s all about powers. That’s true this is THE big element of 4e in my opinion. And powers are where character customization comes in to a large degree. (Though high level characters likely end up with a lot of the same low level powers.) This just seems more like a supers game or a high powered magic game than a true fantasy game with all these powers thrown in.

_Unrealistic_ I’m sure this is a sort of hokey criteria for a fantasy game. What level of realism are we talking about anyway? But for me AD&D always seemed to me like you could walk through a portal into that fantasy world and it would differ very little from this world. I mean the setting is basically medieval and the fantasy is basically Tolkienian—classical fantasy. The laws we know and understand apply in this world with the exception of magic. If I were transported to an AD&D world I could at least compete with low level characters. Again I know this is hokey but I hope my point is getting across. 4e is massively different—bordering on alien even. It simply doesn’t seem familiar fantasy wise. Now that’s all good if it’s what you are looking for—something so “other” that it bears little resemblance to medieval fantasy. I mean how do these characters DO what these powers allow them to do? Is it magic even in the case of fighter and rogue types? Is this just to be taken to be a very high magic world where everyone is imbued with magical prowess? If I stepped into this world I’d be hard pressed to tend pigs.
More to the point is it realistic for characters to be so powerful at first level? Now this is probably just purely personal but it seems like characters should start relatively normal. Maybe stronger or quicker than average. Maybe know a spell or two. Know how to hold their own in sword fight—and then grow from there. The powers come later. Of course I haven’t played high level 4e games. If I do I might be in for a sanity check.

_mini based_ Now don’t get me wrong, I love little minis, but I’ve never been much of a mini gamer. I use them basically for complex combat. 4e is very minis based and the modules seem to be heavily geared towards that type of play especially where combat is involved. This hasn’t appealed to me.

_Is it an RPG Video Game_ Okay this is bound to stir some feathers, but allow me to explain. I have watched the WoW crowd for awhile. Never been into it, but then I’m not a real video game hound. I watch these characters in WoW and it seems a lot like what I see as 4e in my head. Maybe I’ve just been biased by the slanders that claim WoTC is just trying to appeal to the WoW crowd with 4e. Well, I think they’ve done it. But I’m just not into that. Now is it a video game—obviously not—it’s definitely an RPG. But to me in terms of an RPG it has the whiff of Rifts about it. So far out there as to have reached the border of D&D genre and moved into something else. I even have students saying it is like WoW in many ways. I haven’t asked them for specifics or anything—mainly because they like this aspect of it.

Others may feel differently. In fact I know they do—and maybe my age is showing through. But I’m seriously considering gating my party through to a 1e world to bring me back to sanity. Funny thing is the kids love it. I’m the only one chugging pepto-bismol at night from our over the top gaming sessions. But I can't help but wonder if it wouldn't do them some good to actually have to work for their power and to have to use less raw power and more intelligence and roleplaying.

You have to understand that I have always been an anti-montyhaul gamer. Over the top has never appealed to me. And we did some high level demigod playing when I was playing 1e. Somehow it all seemed hemmed in. This is causing me to have that after-Halloween-too-much-sweets hangover.

Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. I’m still designing that gate though.

Okay, go ahead and thrash me I can take it : - )

Keep on the Shadowfell resumes

So first Gaming meeting was the Thursday following our community meeting. We don't waste any time!

We first voted as a club on which game we wanted to start with. Dungeons and Dragons won hands down. Star Wars and GURPS came in a distant second tie. So maybe after our first adventure in D&D we can switch to one of those games, but we'll vote when we get there.

And with that decided we jumped back into Keep on the Shadowfell!

We left our heroes engaged in a fierce battle with 8 shifty kobolds on the road to Winterhaven. The kobolds jumped from their hiding places behind the mounds of boulders that littered the ancient roadside. 5 minion kobolds rushed our adventurers brandishing spears and uttering shrill kobold battle cries. Our heroes were not surprised however and lost no time reacting quickly. They quickly fanned out to meet the initial onslaught. Dragonborn being some of the first in the fray spewing acidic breath weapons left and right. A few kobolds were caught in their dissolving blasts, but many dodged and escaped harm. The kobolds struck back wounding some severely. When the heroes responded our dragon born paladin Draconis summoned his mighty divine power branding his enemy in the process. With a single fell swoop of his greatsword he brought down his scaly opponent. Others also dealt their damage in strategic strikes and arrow shots. When the kobolds regrouped two massive dragonshield kobolds arose from their hiding places to engage the closest heroes they could find stabbing Quasar with a thrust of a wicked short sword. A Kobold slinger also arose whirling a flaming sling which he hurled into the fray. A spewing wall of flame arose in the road blocking most of the adventurers behind the bright red tongues of fire.

And that's where the session ended for the day. It had been an exciting session for the adventurers--but I was left with some lingering questions about 4e in general.

Committe meeting a resounding success!!

So it's been awhile since my last post--but the lcub has been very busy. We had our community committee meeting to see if the club was a go. We had 6 parents show up with their children. All were staunch supporters of the club and their children. They were very positive about the club and about the fact that we should be able to play any game we wanted that was good for kids. I was humbled by their support and their devotion to something their kids were involved in. It shows good parenting skills to take the time out of their busy lives to fight for their kids.

So the decision was that the club was not only a go, but strongly supported as it does move forward! And D&D is back on track! Though we may play some other games as well.

I was surprised that no antigaming individuals came. Either their concerns were answered or they didn't really feel strongly enough about the club's existence or their opinion of D&D and gaming in general to make their voice heard. So we now go forward with District, Administration and Committee support and strength. We are stronger than ever.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Another Day of Waiting

We are still waiting for the committee meeting to come. A lot of club members are anxious for it to get here so we can begin gaming in earnest. To give an idea of our club membership thus far we have about twenty enrollments and we had about 15 regular attendees. Pretty good and a 50 percent increase from last year. Hopefully our numbers stay high when we shift gears after the committee meeting.

Next post will be a summary of a new campaign idea for Supers.

See ya soon.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It looks like Champions is Gaining Support

Okay, so we have several options for new games if we move away from D&D for awhile:

  1. Champions: THE superhero game, though some have different opnions. Heavy on rules and on character depth. Takes longer to create characters but gives you a lot more leeway in designing the type of character you want. Combat can also get very detailed, but only if you want. I am familiar with the old edition of this game. Champions excels at all supers genres, golden age, silver age, character depth x-men style, modern, dark hero you name it.
  2. GURPS Supers: I have the GURPS rule book, Gurps is a realistic rule system and accordingly can be very deadly for foolish characters. This actually works great for some genres, not so great for superhero games. I was thinking a superhero game along the lines of the Hero series--less superpowered, more realistic. GURPS is also a rule heavy system with a lot of options.
  3. Mutants and Masterminds: The second superhero game of choice, and for some the only choice. Simpler and more streamlined the Champions. Easier to pick up and play, quicker to learn. I have heard, though, that in M&M you can also die quickly if the dice go bad. The flavor of this game is closer to the golden age of comics.
  4. GURPS Conspiracy X: Gurps X-files. You play a secret government agent out to save the world from an uncertain evidently evil alien menace and a host of other supernatural buggers.
  5. GURPS Space: This is what Gurps does best--science fiction. This is the principal Gurps sci fi book and can be made to fit about any sci fi genre possible. A few I have considered: Transhuman Space: Realistic sci fi set in our future solar system. Cybernetics and genetic engineering is a reality. There are no aliens per se, but enginered hybrids between humans and animals that are about as alien as it gets. Traveller: Sci fi in grand space opera style. The focus is on gaining power in the Imperium by traversing known space, gaining money, influence and allies until your power outweighs all others. Also does typical "space adventure" style of play well. Star Trek: arguably there are other perhaps better Star Trek games out there, but Gurps does a dang good job of crafting the Star Trek universe and allowing you to go where no one has gone before.
  6. Alternity: A TSR version of D&D in space. It's sci fi, but with interesting twists. The game received rave reviews when it first came out, but that was only a year or two before TSR was bought by WoTC. You can still get it though and I'd love to give it a try.
  7. Multiverser: This one I looked into for Cory. Though, not a time travel game per se--the game certainly can incorporate that. The basic idea is that you create a character that is as close to you as possible and then take off adventuring. The adventure comes in as you hop from dimension to dimension, differing timelines included. The real kicker is that when you die in one dimension you are automatically transported to another dimension. Interesting concept that has a lot of cool possibilities.
  8. Star Frontiers: Another TSR product. Their first space opera based game. Alot like early D&D.
  9. Gamma World: a post apocalyptic world of mutants. This was TSR's first published foray into science fiction. The cool thing about this game was the crazy mutations you could come up with for characters.
So what would get your vote? One of the above or something else entirely? So far Champions is gaining in popularity among club members for the next game we play. Or, I should say a supers game of undefined brand. I personally prefer Champions where supers is concerned and have ordered several Champions resources. But please keep in mind that we're presenting D&D as an option to the committee too. If they approve we'll play it as well. Maybe the idea is to not focus on just one game?

THE VJH RPG Club Blog Starts

Well, we've done it! We officially started a club webpage. Okay, not exactly a webpage, but a blog--and that's almost as good and even easier to do. This will be the page where we archive all of the information about the club, extra info for those who are interested, gaming defense articles, gaming website links, etc. It will more importantly be an ongoing log for all of our gaming sessions. Your heroic exploits and fantastic adventures will be recorded here for the whole world to enjoy! And it will be an open forum for gaming members and club fans to discuss current issues and club realted news and items of interest.

We are also preparing for our Community Committee Meeting on Wednesday, October 1st, 4pm in room 43. This meeting is an effort to get build community support and understanding for the RPG club and expand our club offerings to include games from other genres. As some of you may know we received a few concerns from community members about playing D&D at school. Even though the club requires parental permission (parents who do not agree with the game do not have to allow their children to participate) we felt that we owed it to the community to allay concerns about the myths often generated about role-playing games.

So far the principal is in full agreement with us. We have sent the parent letters home to all parents at the junior high and extra info hom to game club members. We are looking for as much support as we can so that we can get underway soon. Hopefully if all goes well, the committee will approve our new club organization and we will start meetings on the following Thursday Oct 2nd.