Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Series 3 - Episode 3

The Templar left behind an elven druidess named Rhya. Evidently she'd been hired by them for one job in exchange for a bit of gold, and the Templar were not impressed with her abilities. She stayed overnight with the Kobolds and joined Ajeta, Mortis, Ven, and a small guard of Kobold warriors as they left for the Council, evidently hoping to find work.


Rhya is a female character. Colman, her player, is male. This is the second player to have an opposite-sex character for no immediately apparent reason (the other being Eli, who plays Ajeta in this campaign). You'd have to ask them what the reasoning behind this is, as I've no idea.


The mine shaft the Council was taking place in was surrounded by a massive Kobold camp of two thousand Kobolds, several hundred of whom were warriors. Several of the more hostile clans had moved their entire camp to the Council.


This does not bode well.


After Ven and his men leave to set up their tents, Ajeta is approached by a tall humanoid whose features are covered by a red cloak with a golden feather pattern on it and a skeletal mask resembling the skull of cattle. Rhya asked who he was in Elven, hoping to force him to ask for a translation, but Phoenix responded in perfect fluency "My name is Phoenix." Mortis and Ajeta looked at one another in slight confusion, so Phoenix stated again in Common "Hello, my name is Phoenix."

"What?" Ajeta asked in Draconic. Phoenix switched as well and said "Ah, Draconic. My name is Phoenix."

"We know what your name is!" Ajeta said, switching to Common himself.

Phoenix smiled slightly at the joke and continued. "I'm a representative of the Tenebrous Imperium," he said, "I've heard you have a vendetta with the town of Lusak."

"Yes," Ajeta said, "Why?"

"I think I may have a job for you. We're considering a strike against the town of Lusak and we'd like you to be a part of it. I'm willing to pay two thousand gold, each," Phoenix said.

"I'm a barbarian," Ajeta said, "I don't want gold."

"Ah, a shame," Phoenix said, and turned to leave.

"Hold up," Ajeta said, "I said I don't want gold, that implies I want something else."

"Alright, then," Phoenix said, "What is it you want?"

"I want the Kobolds out of this war," Ajeta said.

"Well, I can't give you that," Phoenix said, "The Kobolds are the army we intend to use for the strike."

They haggled for a bit longer, Ajeta asking if Phoenix had any magic items and Phoenix responding that he had none, though Rhya guessed he probably had plenty and simply wasn't willing to part with them. Ajeta asked why he was interested in Lusak, and Phoenix responded that they needed to get rid of the leader of the town guard, Nethmaethor. Regardless, the deal-breaker came when Ajeta said he would be involved only if it were a purely military strike, not involving the civilians. Phoenix stated rather plainly that there was no way they could make a strike on the town without harming civilians. War is not so kind as to discriminate.


In retrospect, I should've had Phoenix just lie outright about this. They wouldn't know it was intended to be a ruthless strike on both the military and anyone who happened to be within half a mile of them until the battle had already begun and their part was over (since they were intended to capture Nethmaethor at the very opening of the battle and bring him back to Phoenix, who would "persuade" him to give up some valuable military secrets).


By the time Phoenix took his leave, the Council was starting. Bidek was the leader of the Imperium Kobolds, and Ven and Vek together led the argument for peace. Ajeta represented collectively the guests of the Kobolds, who consisted solely of Ajeta and his group. Phoenix represented the Imperium.

When Bidek opened up the argument, saying that winning the war would place not only the surviving Kobolds but all of their children in a higher standard of living, Ajeta immediately responded that the Imperium would never retain its loyalties. The two argued back and forth a few moments before Phoenix stepped in.

"I find this concern for the Kobolds odd, coming from the Butcher of Lusak," he said, almost as if curious instead of confrontational.

"How about from the butcher of many?" Ajeta shot back.

The Kobolds were talking amongst themselves now, many of them unsure of where they stood. Phoenix stood at this point and said "My friends and allies, the Earth has tasted Kobold blood, and found it bitter, as it does all the blood of the innocent. Shall we allow the blood of these martyrs, of Alek and Zak, to go unavenged? Shall we allow these western savages to continue stealing your land and slaughtering your people until you are dead and gone, or shall you take this opportunity to fight back against your oppressors and become the heroes of the Imperium? Shall you allow Canis to fall before Alra's hand?! I say to you now, do this thing, take this risk, and you and your children and your children's children shall have the gratitude of the Imperium. With the Kobolds as our vanguard, the Imperium shall sweep away the races of the West, purging the Earth of their influence once and for all! Imagine a world where everywhere the Kobolds go, you will not be turned away. You will be never be hungry, never be cast out, never be hunted again! No man nor orc shall seek Kobold hides under the rule of the Drow! There can be no defeat in such an endeavor. Children of Canis, I say to you, god wills it! God wills it! Begin with these treacherous snakes who've come to deceive you into slavery to the West. Slay them first, and then on to Rabarac and the West!"


The soundtrack for this speech was Treize Khushrenada's theme from Gundam Wing. It worked rather well.


Several Kobold tribes were whipped into a frenzy and began to surge towards Ajeta, seeking to kill them, while the other Kobold clans kept their heads and moved to protect the guests of the Council. A battle broke out, and Phoenix drew his sword, slaying four of the Kobolds within seconds. Ajeta and his allies, who'd been preparing for a fight, suddenly decided that discretion was the better part of valor. They grabbed Vek, Ven, and Bidek and bolted. They dropped Bidek in the camp by his own people while Ven and Vek mounted their riding dogs and, abandoning their tents in haste, fled the camp as the battle spilled outside.

That night, they could see the smoke from the Kobold camp rising into the sky. The Imperium Kobolds had almost certainly won, which meant that the anti-Imperium clans weren't long for this world. Everything had changed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Series 3 - Episode 2

I'm giving up on reposting the music. It's too much effort. Just trust me when I say the music was awesome, alright?


The next day, Ajeta and Mortis dug a mass grave for the slain Kobolds. Surprisingly, a large number of guards turned out to help...Including Nethmaethor. When Ajeta questioned Nethmaethor on whether he knew about the women and children in the camp beforehand, Nethmaethor sighed and told them that in a war of mutual genocide he only had so many options to consider.

The party was disgusted, but not too disgusted to take the reward before leaving. They asked Vek if he knew of a Kobold named Ven. "Uncle Ven?" Vek asked.


I positively loved my players' reactions to that line. I hope I can trick them into doing something awful again sometime, so I can have it come back to haunt them for a while.


Vek knows the location of Ven's tribe, the Rektil Clan, and will take them there, more than happy to be headed to a Kobold tribe instead of off to some foreign land. A nagging worry stings at the back of his mind, however. He gave the location of his own clan away. What if there was an attack? And by giving the location of Ven's clan away as well, wouldn't he invite an attack on them?

But Ajeta and Mortis seemed to be...Concerned for him, somehow. He felt he could trust them, and besides, they were leaving alone, not with an army. They'd be hard-pressed to take on the entire Rektil Clan by themselves. The Rektil Clan had already proven themselves adept combatants when they seized the mine from the Morgar Dwarves, the faction of Dwarves who sought to join the Tenebrous Imperium. Evidently, there was a lot of tension between Alek's Tribe, the Rektis, over whether to join the Western Alliance in order to get in the good graces of the colonists, or whether to stay out of the war entirely. Alek was an idealist who believed in peace. Ven was a warrior who believed peace impossible in times of war. The two decided to peacefully divide the clan before tensions could come to a head.

About a day's travel to the north was the mine shaft where the Rektil Clan was camped. Upon arrival, Ajeta and Mortis found it to be under attack from Morgar Dwarves. Several Kobolds fought with Dwarves outside, and Ajeta and Mortis leaped into the fray, quickly dispatching the Dwarves. The Kobolds rushed inside into a guardroom, which was also in the midst of a fight, and the two mercenaries rapidly dispatched their enemies.

After mopping up a few more Dwarves in a barracks to the side of the guardroom, the Kobolds discovered the two sentries they'd left in the guardroom had gotten into a fight with a single Dwarf on the stairs. Ajeta slipped past the two Kobolds and behind the Dwarf, hurling him off the staircase and into the abyss below. A half-second later they heard a thunk as he hit the ground.

At this point, Ajeta turned to the rest of the Kobolds and told them he was looking for Ven, at which point one of them said that he was Ven. Ajeta said he was here to help save Ven's people, and the small army ventured deeper into the cavern, finding a larger battle between Kobolds and Dwarves in a large room that at one time had existed solely to connect other, smaller rooms, but which had become a feasting hall for the Kobolds.

Ajeta and Mortis plowed through the Dwarves and headed deeper down, confronting a pair of Dwarves on the second staircase down and quickly disposing of them. Finally, they reached the bottom, where they found four Kobolds desperately defending a large door from four Dwarves. These all were across an underground river with a natural rock bridge leading over it, with three Dwarves standing in front. By the time Ajeta and Mortis had carved through those three Dwarves, the four Kobolds defending the gate were dead. The four Dwarves, led by Captain Hrolgar, engaged the players, and with the inclusion of Hrolgar proved more difficult to defeat, but they fell in the end. Mortis fell as well, and began bleeding out, but they managed to stabilize him.

Ven pulled a key out and unlocked the door. Inside were huddled upwards of a hundred Kobold non-combatants. Ven conversed with the leader of the non-combatants while Ajeta attempted to stabilize the still-bleeding Kobolds who'd been defending the door. He managed to get two stable, but the other two were lost. After a moment, Ven concluded his conversation and ran back towards the stairs. Ajeta and Mortis stood there awkwardly for a moment before shouting "Praise Canis!" The Kobolds muttered amongst themselves and continued giving him strange looks. Eventually, the two of them rushed back up the stairs.

They found the battle was now over. The Kobold wounded were being tended to by a Kobold cleric and Ven was looking at a map of the region, planning a journey to the Kobold Council, hoping to dodge more Morgar surface troops. Before long, however, a messenger burst in, saying that Morgar reinforcements were on their way, at least fifty Dwarves. There were only minutes to spare before the Dwarves were upon them.

Ajeta quickly drew up a plan. He and Mortis would hold the main entrance, with archers firing through arrow slits to help thin Dwarven ranks. Ven would take his men and prepare a flanking assault and ambush just outside the mine. Being favorable to the plan and given no time to think of something better, Ven took his men and left immediately.

The plan worked well initially, with a dozen-odd Dwarven bodies piling up as the intimidating form of the two warriors and the lethally accurate Kobold archers both found their marks. The Dwarves, employing crossbows to attack from the back ranks, at one point accidentally shot one of their own.

Then the Dwarves began tunneling into the barracks, and Mortis left to deal with the new opening created by the mining explosives, and Ven and his troops began their attack in an attempt to thin Dwarven numbers. Mortis was able to hold the new opening with the help of the cleric, and it quickly became a question of whether the Dwarves would be able to overwhelm the heroes ability to heal themselves with raw numbers.


The answer to this one is anyone's guess, really. Regardless, I got bored, so I called in the cavalry charge I'd been planning to save until the players were desperate.


Suddenly, a rumbling came from overhead, and mounted humans came bearing down on the Morgar Dwarves, leaping on top of them from above the path above the entrance to the mines. The Templar quickly put the Dwarves to rout, and Ven and his surviving warriors began to prepare the dead Kobolds for burial whilst piling the Dwarven corpses far away from the mine for burning.

At the feast that night, a messenger arrived, carrying news of the fate of Alek's clan. Ven prepared to take Vek aside to explain things to him, but Ajeta told Ven of his own hand in things and asked to be the one to explain things to Vek. Ven agreed that it was best Vek hear it from his travel companions, but when they turned around, Vek was gone.

Ajeta sprinted after him and caught him about fifty feet outside the mine, accusing him of cowardice. Vek accused him of murder in return. After arguing back and forth for a moment, Ajeta dropped his weapon and put up his fists, challenging Vek to kill him if Vek hated him so much. Vek's hands went weak. He knew the truth. He knew his clan was gone, and that he'd been instrumental in their destruction, doubly so, having both invited retribution and facilitated it. He threw down his weapon and refused to fight Ajeta.

Ajeta told Vek that in order to be strong, he had to go to the Kobold Council and argue for peace. Ajeta and Vek both determined to prevent the Kobolds from entering the war, knowing that acting as the meatshield for the Imperium would decimate the Kobold population.


Yeesh. I probably shouldn't write these things when I'm suffering sleep deprivation. This was not terribly high quality writing. Oh, well, I got it out of the way and I'll be sure to write episode 3 a little earlier tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Series 1 - Episode 4

When we awoke the next day, we found some kind of celebration going on in the inn. Just about everyone was drunk, and they were discussing something which sounded disturbingly like some kind of arena match. I told myself that thwarting Nerull's influence on this land would end such savage practices soon enough, and that I should focus on that, instead of trying to right every wrong that I found.

A man offered to buy us drinks at the inn's incredibly large bar. There were six or seven bartenders, each serving multiple patrons. The inn itself was rather large as well. Alon the bard took the man up on his offer, but Falric and I declined, bound by our respective codes and paranoia. Fenrir and Zalan hadn't joined us yet. Alon took a drink and soon fell unconscious. Before Falric and I could react, the man had shivved us both with the same poison he'd slipped into Alon's drink.

When we awoke, our hands and feet were shackled, our weapons and armor were gone, and we were in a cell of some kind. In a panic, I reached for my amulet, and relaxed as I found it was strapped to my arm. Perhaps they were too frightened of the thing to remove it from its owner.

Once having ascertained the safety of the amulet, I bristled with fury. Our mission was too important to be stopped here. As I reflected on it, however, I realized that our patron was a student of the manipulation of time itself, and thus so long as our quest continued, we need not fear for running out of time. Evil had already won in this land, which meant that Good could bide its time, waiting to strike, the total reverse of the situation in my own home town, and home time.

After some time, a nobleman with a pair of guards entered and led us to a small arena with four rings and no crowd. It must've been some kind of proving ground. Fenrir was already in one of the proving rings when we arrived, but he didn't seem to be fighting anyone just yet. Falric was sent by the nobleman to fight with him, grappling with him and quickly pummeling him senseless. I breathed a sigh of relief. Fenrir's sword would have led to a far messier victory.

While the two fought, the nobleman placed an enchantment on our weapons and armor and then returned them to us. Then Alon and myself were moved into one of the rings. "Come, let's see which of you is better!" the nobleman said as crossbows were levelled at us. I looked at my full chain mail and the massive great sword slung over my shoulder. Then I looked to Alon's frail form. "You're joking, right?" I said.

"Looks can be deceiving," the nobleman said, gesturing to us to get started.

I considered the situation. I'm not fond of Alon. He's impatient, greedy, and bloodthirsty. I had no doubt he was considering how best to slaughter me at the moment. But I was considering something more noble.

slay the bard

I could feel temptation stinging at the edge of my mind. But could I really sacrifice one of my allies now? It may start with the likes of Alon and Zalan, but what if I were asked to fight with Falric and Fenrir? They were not just my allies, they were my friends.

kill or be killed

"Come on, I haven't got all day," the nobleman said.

"Neither have we, we're trying to save the world," I said dryly. The nobleman just laughed.

the quest must not fail

I shut my eyes a moment, grabbed my sword, charged towards Alon, and thrust my blade deep into the ground in front of him. "No!" I said, "I will not kill for sport."

"Did you think I wanted you to kill him?" the nobleman said, laughing some more, "These weapons have been enchanted with dullness."

My eyes widened for a moment and I grabbed my sword, yanking it out of the ground as Alon pounced on me, sticking his rapier in the gaps in my armor and leaving small pinpricks of blood. The blades may be too dull to penetrate very far, but they could still break the skin. I swung my great sword once towards Alon's middle, bowling him over, and then moved to finish him off, but he rolled out of the way and slashed at my legs. The blade did nothing but irritate me through my armor, and I brought my sword down on his shoulder, leaving a small cut, a large bruise, and Alon defeated.

The nobleman laughed and clapped his hands, saying "See? The bard's got some fight in him!" The guards stepped in, retrieving Alon and thrusting in Fenrir. We both drew our swords and readied for battle. I don't think Heironeous was with me in this fight. It was a prelude to a blood sport, in the depths of a land ruled by death. I'm not sure if he could even see me in that place, let alone aid me. But someone was with me in that fight as I wove out from underneath Fenrir's blade, smacking him with my sword again and again in spite of his remarkable evasive abilities.


When Fenrir was defeated, Falric was thrust in to replace him. A duel of champions, but I knew how it would go. I needed to defeat Falric before she could begin to grapple with me, or else I'd be unlikely to ever break free. Unfortunately, she was faster than I, and soon had me pinned to the ground, slowly smacking me senseless with my own blade. I was able to break free at one point and landed a solid blow on her, but she pinned me again and soon had me defeated.

"Pretty good, monk, but that'll never work in the arena!" the nobleman said. I didn't know if this was because the arena matches were free-for-alls or just because the crowd wouldn't want to see a monk maul someone to death with their own weapon. Maybe they'd rather see a noble paladin killing for sport. Either way, the guards took me from the smaller ring and thrust me into a larger one with a seven-foot tall brute with brass knuckles.

It was my fourth fight in a row, and I'd just lost one to a monk, leaving me punch-drunk and weak. I landed a single hit on the man's head, which dazed him, and if I'd managed to land one more like that, I think I'd have beaten him entirely, but I never did. He beat me nearly unconscious before the match was stopped. "I never expected you to defeat him," the nobleman said, laughing. He has a most irritating laugh. "He's been our champion for three years running."

He clapped his hands and the guards grabbed the four of us and began moving us down another corridor, further away from our cells. Eventually, we came to some stairs and were walked up, where we found a hooded man tied to a chair, Zalan (bound and gagged to prevent spell casting) and several more guards. "Kill him," the nobleman instructed us, pointing at the hooded man.

do it

Alon immediately drew his rapier and moved towards the man, raising his sword to strike. Then he stopped, considering who the man might be.


I was afraid of the same thing as the rest of the group at this point. What if this guy is actually a potential ally, and by killing him we're shooting ourselves in the foot? I wasn't eager to see the tables turned on me after the Kobold massacre stunt I'd pulled in Phoenix Rising.


If we didn't kill the man, the guards had it more than in their power to kill him themselves. It wasn't a question of if he would die, but rather who would do it. I couldn't fathom why Alon was hesitating. Did he think we could escape somehow?

"Who is he?" Alon asked.

"It doesn't matter," the nobleman said, "Kill him."

kill him

"What's in it for us?" I asked.

"If you don't kill him, we'll kill you. Is his one life worth all five of yours?" the nobleman said. He made a good point, on top of which we would accomplish nothing by sparing him. Nonetheless...I swore an oath.

kill them all

Alon still hesitated. I swept him aside in agitation and brought my sword down on the hooded man's head. He was killed instantly. The guards threw back his hood to reveal a boy about seventeen years old, while the nobleman laughed (again) and said "That's the kind of thing we need in the arena!" I'd done the best I could under the circumstances, I think...But it still felt impulsive and cruel to me. Then I felt a pinprick in my back and fell unconscious again.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Series 4: On A Mission From Gods - Episode 1

Doctor Skinn's log, entry 1:

I hate temples. So much, I hate them. I am, of course, a Cleric. And I suppose temples in general I'm more or less fond of. But this temple gets my undying condemnation. Not that the people running it care, I suppose. You see, every year a bunch of adventurers gather around this temple and are randomly sorted into groups of three to six by the monks who run the temple. They enter the temple and then never return, though the monks assure is that some have been chosen. I was down on my luck, my Banjhuluistic cult having recently disbanded, and feeling depressed. Why not, I decided, it couldn't hurt to try. It probably wouldn't hurt too much to fail, for that matter. I hear the afterlife is nice this time of year.

I ended up with a ranger and a half-giant. A psionic half-giant. I didn't know they made psionic half-giants, but apparently they do. Learn something new every day. The monks led us blindfolded into a room with one door and four statues, each to a different deity. Two I recognized as Xem, the god of war, and Efreya, the goddess of pleasure. The other two were some kind of ranger/huntress whose name just barely eluded me and a cloaked, childlike figure carrying a pair of daggers.

Slowly, we realized that the room around us was becoming a starfield. The half-giant also discovered he could walk through the walls, and that when he did so he appeared on the opposite side. A voice that I recognized as belonging to Xem said "One of you is not what he seems." The half-giant did the only reasonable thing at this point. He killed the ranger.

After a while, the eyes of the gods' statues began to glow. One of the gods got impatient and told us to get on with it, at which point we found the door had become unlocked. It did not lead back outside, which raises the question of how we got in that room in the first place. Regardless, I opened the door and was immediately sucked inside the next room. The half-giant followed after me with some precaution, and found I was zealously scarfing down some of the most amazing food I'd ever seen.

He splashed a bit of water on me, which distracted me from the food long enough to realize I was being enchanted. I backed away from the table slowly, at which point the half-giant picked me up and dunked me in a nearby fountain. This actually made me feel really good, but even so, I wasn't eager to try it again.

Then the half-giant decided to try some of the food, presumably tempted into doing so by Efreya. He hunkered down and started eating him. I prodded him to try and distract him, then tried splashing some water on him. Finally, I smacked him with my mace. No luck. After a few minutes, he came to on his own and we continued down through one of the doors in the hallway. And I was almost split in half by a saw blade. We were a bit more cautious after that, rolling a pumpkin from the banquet table to check for more traps before entering a large room with lots of letters on the ground. A statue to the thief-god was in the corner, and we were given a riddle. "What's my profession, what would you call me, and what I am?" the thief-god's voice asked.

Of course, with only so many letters available from each letter, we eventually were able to guess the solution from the possibilities: Thief, child, god, in that order. We were ever-wary of traps as we continued down through the temple, and came to a third room, this one with a dire bear trying to fish. It was less a room than a forest with doors in it. The half-giant managed to catch a fish, and tried to hand the fish to the bear on a stick, and the bear's paw passed right through it. Going through a bit of logic, I deduced that since we could touch the bear (the half-giant had given it a hug), and the bear was in the forest, and since we could touch the walls (the half-giant had run into them full-tilt whilst trying to see how big the forest was), and the walls were in the temple, then we were in both the forest and the temple, but the bear was only in the forest and the fish were only in the temple. Therefore if we handed the bear the fish, he'd be able to eat it.

The half-giant wasn't satisfied with this logic and tried feeding the bear the fish by placing it inside the pumpkin, then by placing it on the ground. Finally he tried things my way, and it worked. Ha ha, score one for human ingenuity!

Anyways, we continued on through the temple, this time coming to Xem's room, filled with white-clad soldiers fighting black-clad soldiers. "Darkness opens the way," a voice said. So we found a black-clad soldier and killed him. Nothing. Then he came back to life and went back to battle with the white-clad soldiers, ignoring us. We tried killing a white soldier instead. Nothing, but we did catch a glimpse of its eyes, which were odd. We pulled the helmet off for a closer look and found the black-clad soldiers had pure white eyes, and the white-clad soldiers pure black.

This one was a white soldier, and so had black eyes. "Quick!" I said, "Gouge his eyes out! We need darkness!" Then the soldier revived, took his helmet back with a bit of indignity, and shoved it back on his head, too late for us to try and emergency surgery. The half-giant, meanwhile, had noticed there was a large, sword-shaped indentation on the door leading out. So much for human ingenuity.

Ultimately, we discovered that a sword from the black-eyed, white clad soldiers would open it up. We also discovered that if you die in this room, you'll revive. We discovered this when the half-giant picked a fight with Xem and lost.

The next room had a clerk and an archangel bouncer. He demanded some water, which we could find in a well. We fetched it, and found a chest in the same room as the well. We were not stupid enough to open it. When we returned, he had us sign some papers stating that the gods were not responsible for anything that may happen to us whilst in their temple or on a quest for them. This was a revelation. I had no idea you could sue a god. Has anyone ever won such a lawsuit, I wonder?

Regardless, the ranger's corpse appeared and the clerk dipped his hand in ink and stamped the paper with the handprint. I guess that counts as a signature in this part of the world. He directed us on to another room, which was filled with gold. And also a giant gold dragon. Guarding the stuff, you see. He was obliging enough to move a pile of gold away so we could get at the door. Nice guy, I suppose. I'm really glad we didn't touch any of that stuff.

The next room had a mirror. With a mirror image of ourselves in it. "Hey," the half-giant said to his reflection. "Hey, yourself," the reflection said back. The two became fast friends. Then we started trying to figure out how to get through it. We tried stepping through, willing our way through, asking the gods for help, which gave us nothing, and finally I tried giving up. I leaned with my back against the stone wall next to the mirror. The half-giant started grunting and swinging his axe around at nothing. The loonies I get stuck with on these quests.

See, I came here to either receive an epic quest or die trying. And I wouldn't have been too disappointed with the latter, not when I went in, at least. But now that I was in this temple, I wanted to beat it. I didn't want to come so far only to die partway through. But even worse was to just sit around not knowing how to progress and not having any immediate danger to threaten you should you fail to do so. I kind of wished I'd picked a fight with that dragon.

I adjusted myself so that my back was resting against the mirror instead of the stone wall, and promptly fell through. I scrambled backwards through the mirror and stood up, dusting myself off. "How'd you do that?" the half-giant asked.

"I dunno," I said, and thought about it for a moment. "Try moving through the mirror backwards," I said. The half-giant tried it. It worked. Score! That's humans: 2, half-giants: 1.


Evidently this works because you can't see your reflection if you aren't looking at it, therefore the shadowy reflection in the mirror disappears if you aren't looking, at which point the mirror becomes permeable. It made sense in the DM's head, I suppose.


That was the final puzzle, I'm happy to say. After that, we came to a room with the four gods gathered in a circle around us. And they gave us a quest.

Finally. They gave us a quest.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Series 2 Cancelled

Yes. Series 2 has been cancelled. Why? Well, it may not have shown in the log (or it may have, I'm unsure), but the DM wasn't actually that good. The plot was cliched. He seemed to be making most of the DCs up as he went, sometimes after we'd rolled. He was almost certainly fudging dice rolls every ten seconds or so. And he stuttered, quite a bit. This isn't meant to offend him in any way. He's one of the bolder people I know, I'd hate to have him gone, and hate even more to have him as my enemy.

But the series was indeed cancelled. Doctor Skinn's insanity is going to be toned down a bit and he'll be inserted into Series 4, On A Mission From Gods, which should have its first installment up by tomorrow night (even though the actual session happened two days ago, the same day as Episode 1 of Phoenix Rising).

Series 3: Phoenix Rising - Episode 1

An out of character note: I'm DMing this one, so I'll be writing it from the perspective of an omniscient third-person narrator instead of the perspective of one of the characters. Also, because I use a soundtrack in my game, I will, where possible, post a link to a YouTube video of the soundtrack. If the video happens to contain a slideshow, feel free to ignore said slideshow. If no YouTube video can be found, I'll just post the name instead.


Soundtrack: Final Fantasy II Opening Theme

Since the end of the Demon War, the peoples of the west have lived in relative peace, free from fear of the Imperium Tenebrous. An age of prosperity and exploration that has lasted two hundred years...Has come to an end.

Striking from the ashes of their old empire, the monsters of the Imperium have already overwhelmed the frontier kingdom of Ishtan, and the Dwarves in the Lutgar Mountains have devolved into civil war, one faction seeking to join forces with the new Imperium.

Meanwhile, another frontier republic called Rabarac prepares for war. But old alliances have been forgotten, and only the Templar of Alra have responded to the call to arms, leaving Rabarac teetering on the brink of destruction.

In desperation, the Rabaraci Vanguard begins to hire mercenaries at exorbitant prices to come from distant lands to defend their territory. The mercenaries soon coming pouring in, and in response the Imperium begins to court the favor of short, nomadic, canine humanoids called Kobolds to ambush caravans en route to Rabarac and pick off the mercenaries before they can be organized and deployed.

Facing down a horde of monstrosities they cannot hope to contend with and now cut off from the support of the mighty nations of the west, Rabarac's situation has become even more desperate than before. In the days before the inevitable invasion, the people can do naught but pray for a miracle.

An arrow thudded into the side of the caravan as it lumbered through the Rabaraci desert towards the town of Lusak. Ajeta, the half-orc exile, grabbed his greataxe and leaped off the caravan, alert and ready. To the north he could see two Kobolds with slings and a third with a bow. Letting out a furious howl of barbaric rage, he rushed towards the nearest Kobold and cleaved him neatly in two while the others pelted him with stones.

Mortis, the human fighter Ajeta had saved during the pillaging forces of Kingdom Telmar as they sacked Ishtar, drew his weapons and rushed the Kobolds to the south, who pelted him with stones, cutting a deep gash in his forehead as he ran towards them. The Kobolds drew their daggers and began climbing atop Mortis, stabbing their weapons in the chinks in his armor. Mortis swatted one of them away with his longsword, stabbed another, and then succumbed to his wounds.

Meanwhile, Ajeta had cleaved through the other two Kobolds and glanced to see his comrade on the other side of the caravan going down. Ajeta glowered at the Kobolds and rushed them. They saw their dead comrades and one immediately fled, while the other was cut down. Ajeta spotted the fleeing Kobold and chased after it. Panicked, the Kobold turned around and attempted to stab his dagger into Ajeta's leg, but Ajeta parried the blow and brought his axe down on the Kobold's head.

At this point, the caravaneer climbed out from underneath the wagon where he'd been hiding and checked to see if the Kobolds were gone. Ajeta nodded towards him as he loaded Mortis's unconscious form in to the wagon, and the caravaneer set the wagon moving towards Lusak again.

It wasn't long before the ten-foot stone wall surrounding Lusak came into view. When they arrived, they found the town to be made up of sandswept sandstone buildings covered in sand with sand floors. Sand, it seems, was the town's biggest major export. Regardless, Ajeta looked around and found that the food prices were unusually high due to the Kobold's crippling of local trade. Few caravans were even willing to make the journey to Lusak anymore, as the prices of hiring mercenaries to guard the caravans now outweighed the profits to be had by selling there. Lusak was dying. So, too, was Mortis, so Ajeta hauled him out of the caravan and asked for a cleric, and found that the local cleric worked with the town guard, who conveniently were also the local employers of mercenaries.

Ajeta searched around and found a scrawny old man running a food stall with prices horribly inflated by the shortage. A weeks worth of trail rations was going at ten gold, nearly three times the normal price. "How about for three gold?" Ajeta "suggested" menacingly. The scrawny man called the guards. "No!" Ajeta said immediately, "I would never do that to you, that's completed inappropriate!" The guards glared at him with their hands on their swords, but didn't move to arrest him.


Ajeta is played by a kid named Eli, who also played the bugbear in How Not To Play D&D. Clearly, our other DM got him in the bad habit of intimidating his way into getting whatever he wanted. Since the intimidate check was successful, you could argue that, by the book, Ajeta should've gotten his way with the shopkeep, who would've been too scared to call the guards immediately, and may have only called them after Ajeta left. But this would've turned the whole thing into a huge mess that would've taken half the session to sort out, whereas simply having the man be scared enough to call the guards immediately sent the same message much faster.


In the guard headquarters, Ajeta found the captain of the guard, Nethmaethor. "I have two problems," he said, "First, I need work and I hear you're the guy with jobs for mercenaries around here. Second, my buddy is half-dead. Which do you think is more important?" Nethmaethor glanced at Ajeta suspiciously, but saw that his ally was perfectly human and so motioned his cleric over to heal the man. While the cleric went to work on Mortis, Nethmaethor asked "So, you've come to help with our Kobold problem, have you? We have a job for you, then. You see, while I have more than enough guards to keep this town safe, I cannot guard the entire desert. The only way to keep visiting caravans safe is to take the initiative and strike at the Kobold's camp. But we're not sure where it's located."

"Um..." Ajeta said, "That may be a problem. We're warriors, not trackers."

"We have a plan," Nethmaethor said, "The only problem is that I can't spare anyone to carry out the plan. I don't want to dispatch any guards until we've located the camp, for fear of a mass attack on the town."


I had to have some reason Nethmaethor couldn't solve the problem himself while still having the manpower to keep the PCs in line whilst in town. This is something of a problem when your quest ATM is head of the town guard. I think I handled it reasonably well, but I'm not totally satisfied with the solution.


"So what's the plan?," Ajeta asked.

"Simple," Nethmaethor said, "We load a wagon down with sand and send it out with a single guard disguised as a caravaneer through the area most heavily populated by Kobold bandits. When the caravan inevitably falls under attack, you capture one of the Kobolds and interrogate him for the location of the camp. Then report back here so that we can organize an attack on the camp."

Ajeta and Mortis quickly agreed to the attack in exchange for an advance payment of 25 gold each, and an additional 250 after the camp was destroyed. In about two hours, the caravan was filled with sand and the two of them set out with the disguised guard. About two hours after that, they were ambushed by Kobolds. Four archers and four swordsmen rushed the caravan. Two of the four archers snapped their bows while Mortis and Ajeta began tearing through the swordsmen. The battle was going incredibly poorly for the Kobolds, and Ajeta let out a roar to panic them into running away. Mortis was already grappling with one of them, and the guard bound him up.

Ajeta was easily able to get the location of the camp from the terrified Kobold, but something in the Kobold's eyes must have tugged at his heartstrings, because when they returned with their prisoner to Lusak, they decided they were going to take the Kobold under their wing. Through an interpreter who spoke Draconic, they found the Kobold's name was Vek, and they returned his weapon to him under instruction not to be stupid and try to use it on someone, as the guard would be watching him. The guard kept him in an unused bunk in the barracks while the bulk of them prepared for a night raid on the Kobold's camp.

Nethmaethor gathered the mercenaries and the guards in the war room of the HQ. "The Kobold camp is four hundred strong," Nethmaethor started. "There will be fifteen guards involved in the attack. Fifteen. Even given the average Kobold can't stand up to one of us in a fight, this is not going to be an even battle. Fortunately, we have the advantage of surprise, and fireballs." Ajeta gave a cheer. Nethmaethor sighed. "Unfortunately, these fireballs are scrolls, and the wizard who made them was something of a pacifist. He wrote them in such a way that they can't be used without a certain build-up time, so that the caster must be absolutely certain that he wants to use them before he can do so. I would love to find this wizard and punch him, but for now, we'll have to make do. Mercenaries, your job will be to protect the wizard while he prepares the scrolls. Now, hopefully we'll be able to take out the Kobold guards before they spot us, but we're not counting on it. We're leaving it up to the mercenaries to keep him safe, while the guards split into three groups of five at the north, west, and east points of the camp. The guards' job will be to distract the Kobolds and minimalize the number of survivors. Obviously, with these numbers, we won't get all of them, but we can still try.

"Any questions?" There was silence. "Then let's move out." On the way, Ajeta made some small talk with the wizard and became quick friends with him. The moon was just beginning to set when the raiding party reached the camp. Unfortunately, the guardsman sent to pick off the Kobold sentry failed miserably, and the sentry sounded an alarm.

A group of Kobold sentries rushed out to meet the attackers, a few skirmishes breaking out with the guard groups. One Kobold spearmen approached the mercenaries and was quickly stared down by Ajeta. The Kobold, knees shaking, held his ground as a dozen-odd of his allies rushed to aid him. They were led by Lieutenant Zak, who charged towards Ajeta and was smacked by his greataxe, sent flying five feet over the heads of his comrades, and hit the dirt behind them. He staggered to his feet and attacked glanced back towards the camp, contemplating retreat. Then he turned back towards Ajeta and charged. The second encounter was as short-lived as the first, and Zak did not get up a second time.

That's when one of the archers spotted the wizard in the back, yelling a warning in Draconic to his allies. The spearmen rushed to attack Ajeta while the archers began firing at the wizard. One scored a blow in the wizard's arm, heavily wounding him. He fell to one knee and Mortis rushed to defend him while Ajeta began carving through the Kobolds, picking up a half-dozen tiny nicks and scratches from the Kobold's shortswords.

After a minute or so of battle, the scrolls held by the wizard began to glow, and the Kobolds became desperate, rushing straight past Ajeta and Mortis, who cut all but two of them down. One spearman was barely able to slip past Mortis and thrust his spear towards the wizard...Who was healed by the guard cleric.

The spearman was immediately cut down by Mortis, and the wizard began his attack on the camp, fireballs streaming towards the individual caravans and bursting them into flame with military precision. Ajeta began chasing the archers as they fled, chasing them deep into the burning camp before he finally killed them both. By the time he looked around the camp, he realized something was wrong. Young Kobold pups screamed in terror and panic before succumbing to the flames. Women wailed over the burning corpses of their husbands. This was not a military camp. This was a fully inhabited Kobold village, which means that at least two hundred of its inhabitants were non-combatants.

It was a massacre.

And when the battle was over, Nethmaethor came and solemnly informed them that they'd be paid upon their return to Lusak. He also told them that anything in the camp was theirs to take, as part of payment for their services. Only two chests had survived the fire, both of them locked, but the burned wood easily giving way to Ajeta's fist. The first was a treasury, containing three hundred gold pieces. The second appeared to be the personal effects of one of the wealthier Kobolds, probably the leader.

It contained a ring of strength, three potions of cure light wounds, a tiny carving of a Kobold, an obsidian amulet on a leather string, and a letter.

The letter reads:

Captain Alek,

As I am sure you are well aware, representatives of the Imperium Tenebrous have been recruiting Kobold clans into their growing alliance, in the hopes that we might finally shatter the tyranny of Alra. They make a compelling case. For generations, we have been oppressed and rejected by the peoples of the west, and since the end of the Demon War we've been forced into a land all but completely wasted. And worse still, even among the easterners, the Kobolds are scum. And it's true, this could be our chance to change that forever.

But I write this letter to you urging you to come to the gathering of the Kobold tribes at the Imperium, not that you might persuade us to go to war, but that you might prevent it. It is true, without us to hamstring the Rabaraci forces, the Imperium invasion will likely fail. But what will the Imperium want with us once their conquest is complete? Are we really willing to send ourselves to the slaughter of war just to exchange Human oppressors for Drow? You are the only voice of peace left that the Kobold people will listen to, Alek. This war will destroy the Kobold people. The Templar will hunt us down and exterminate us to a man. The Kobold people must not be annihilated, known to history only as the meatshield of the Imperium. The only hope to continue our existence, even the meager existence we have, is if the Kobolds back out of this war.

I know I can trust you to make the right decision.

Your brother,

Series 1 - Episode 3

The staircase we had come down had vanished, and the dragon was reduced to naught but bone, much to Falric's dismay. We opened the door, walked through the hallway, and found on the other side a pair of zombies, which we quickly dispatched. Outside the old temple we found a vast city, utterly dedicated to the worship of Nerull. How the god of death could have brought about such prosperity is baffling to me, but I'm sure it is only a matter of time before it comes to ruin. I have seen what the future holds already.

In the city, our party dispersed to find new equipment. Fenrir and I headed to the smithy, where I purchased some chain mail and Fenrir some daggers, while the Sorcerer Zalan headed to the magic sector. There he learned that there was a cult of necromancers active in the city, but they were the type who came looking for you as opposed to the other way around. The magic sector didn't have much in the way of combat spells. Evidently, the city is laughably far from danger. Except in that the temple to Nerull is built in it.

We left town after stocking up, and found the land around us...Changing. It would shift from desert to forest, then back again every few minutes. We were unnerved, but headed northwards towards our destination regardless. Eventually, we were attacked by a trio of were-rats. The battle was going poorly for us, when a massive creature popped out of the trees and devoured the rats. Then, before that creature could attack us, a red dragon attacked it! And as the two creatures battled, reality shifted to that of a desert and a massive purple worm came from out of the ground, chasing something unseen!

After the worm left, we packed up camp and headed to the nearest town, arriving somewhere near dawn. The shifting stopped as we approached the town, and we collapsed in the inn, exhausted. I've no idea what's going on, but I hope this man the Sorcerer in the temple has us looking for knows the answer.