Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Story so Far

It has been a long time coming.  Please let me know if you remember anything I left out.

The Story So Far…
Goldengrass the 25th, 1845

 Flight from Riveon

The party was trying to devise a plan.  They considered using the slave girl Shianna as bait to catch Illnath off guard.  Svarnos considered his spells and thought that if they used rope trick the majority of the party would be able to hide in the bedroom itself (albeit in a dimensional pocket).  Two could conceal themselves under the bed and the illusionist and his guards could be ambushed. Immediately, the group began to see holes in this plan. First, Shianna was bound to Illnath by a charm person spell and thus was still loyal to him. Second, nervous as she was, it did not seem she was up to the task of pretending that there wasn’t a throng of adventurers hiding in the room with her.

It was now that Svarnos remembered something that shattered the plan completely.  When looking through the eyes of his familiar he had seen Illnath and recalled how the illusionist’s eyes had glowed with faint blue light.  Svarnos, having learned the magical arts on the Wizard’s Isle, remembered how some of the more powerful mages would permanently affix a spell called arcane sight to their vision causing their eyes to shimmer with a bluish glow. The spell would allow them to see the radiating aura that magic spells gave off.  If Illnath had this spell upon him would he be able to see the aura of the rope trick spell? The party thought it was likely and did not want to risk finding out the hard way.

As the party was trying to come up with another plan they heard some one calling out and opening doors in the hallway outside the bedroom.  The door to bedroom was opened but the heroes were ready and they tackled the man that entered.  It was a young pale skinned man with long black hair and red-brown robes.  Shianna cried out for them not to hurt him, as he was Illnath’s apprentice Ovgen (and she had seen what had happened to the goblin servant earlier).  The grim bunch of soot-covered adventurers terrified the apprentice.  He nervously explained how Illnath brought him to Riveon so that he could have an assistant and someone to pass his knowledge on to. He did not realize how evil Illnath was and saw it as a great opportunity to learn more phantasmal magic.  When he was brought to the citadel however he found it over run with orcs and other foul creatures all under the influence of Illnath.  Ovgen became more of slave and prisoner than an apprentice although the illusionist did instruct him in some magic.

From Ovgen, the party learned that the flying beast called “Margor” that was housed in the top dome of the High Tower was in fact a terrifying manticore.  This creature was Illnath’s pet and the illusionist used him to strike terror into the hearts of the orcs and keep them under control.  Many orcs had been fed to the beast over the years.  The beast was also used in the Arena that was located on the east side of the city.  Illnath entertained himself by watching captured prisoners futilely fight for their lives against the powerful manticore and his elite half-orc guards in the Arena.

Ovgen was only in the High Tower once before and he said that it housed strange protective magic. The apprentice said he would be willing to help the party if they promised to take him with them when they left as he felt it was the only way he would ever escape the citadel.

The party decided to trust the apprentice and try to use him as bait to ambush the illusionist.  Ovgen told them that he was soon to be meeting Illnath in the library and that they could launch their ambush there.  Ovgen would safely lead them to the library past the guards of the castle.  So they set off after telling after hiding the body of the goblin under the bed and telling Shianna that she was to stay in the room where they could return for her.

They approached the door to the guardhouse and Ovgen told them to wait while he distracted the guards so that the party could pass unseen.  The apprentice entered the room and began to speak to the guards in orcish. It was then that the party was betrayed.  Eldan the ranger, who understands orcish, drew his sword and told the others that Ovgen was telling the guards to attack the intruders out in the hallway.

The orcs rushed out and fell upon the heroes.  The party returned the offensive and was able to kill the orcs quickly.  Svarnos ran past the fray to try to get to Ovgen.  He saw the apprentice escaping down a stairwell and tried to cast a sleep spell upon him but it was resisted.  Ovgen escaped screaming for Illnath and making for the throne room.

The adventurers knew they were in dire straits and decided to flee back to the ruined chapel and down the long tunnel to the Curthor Crypt.  Before the doors to the chapel Eldan laid down some pepper to disrupt their scent trail if the orcs tried to track them down with wargs.  As they closed the trap door leading to the tunnel a great inhuman bellow could be heard echoing throughout the castle.

It was a nightmare race to flee the citadel. In the graveyard outside the tomb Fionnula turned a bunch of ravening ghouls.  Once out of the graveyard the city streets were no safer.  Patrols of orcs, ogres, goblins, and wargs had to be avoided.  Thrice the party had to battle a group of monsters as the horns and howling reverberated through the city.  Reaching the rent in the north wall of the city flights of arrows clattered about them with some almost finding their mark.

The party fled westward between the rocks of the Broken Lands with the sounds of pursuit behind them.  They ran until they were exhausted and night had fallen.  They knew that it was unlikely that they had escaped pursuit but they had to rest.  Svarnos used rope trick to hide whom he could but two would have to stay outside.  Lono and Fionnula remained outside and hid atop a pillar of rock hopefully out of reach and sight of any creature that should wander by.

However, soon three-spear bearing goblin warg rider discovered them.  A desperate battle ensued. Lono used his sling from atop the rock and some of the warriors tried to slide down the rope to engage the monsters.  Gjord, Martijn, and Galifynakus all were injured because they hit the ground hard.  Eventually the monsters were defeated but many in the party were wounded almost unto death. And the night was not yet over.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Next D&D session?

Sorry for the blog posting attack this morning.

I'm looking for some dates to play D&D.  I know weekends have been tough to organize recently but I'm also open to weeknights as well.  Throw out some dates everybody.

Here is some stuff to keep you entertained in the meantime.

D&D World of Adventure

The Dungeons & Dragons Experience

Whisperer in Darkness - the new trailer.

A link to Grognardia for the new trailer.  I like James Maliszewski's comments on it so check it out there.


New look for Neothera

I've made some changes to my Neothera online gallery.  Stop by and let me know what you think.


I know most of you have seen this article before but its worth revisiting.  They also go over some old modules like "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks".

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Story So Far... Inside Castle Riveon

The Story So Far…
Goldengrass the 24th – 25th, 1845

Outside the tomb of Minress Curthor, Svarnos came up with an ingenious plan to deal with the shadowy undead rats within.  He instructed the strong warriors of the group to move some of the marble sarcophagi from the walls of the chamber they were in to create a barrier to prevent the swarm from entering the room. The party could then fight the creatures from on high if they stood atop the sarcophagi.  When the doors would be opened he would first blast the swarm with a burning hands spell.  The plan worked brilliantly as the flames of the spell consumed the entire swarm and the rats were burned to a crisp.

Inside the now unguarded tomb the adventurers were able to search the carved sarcophagus holding the remains of Minress Curthor.  The corpse was just dry bones wearing a rotted cloth-of-gold shroud with wispy strands of golden hair still attached to its grinning skull.  Yet, on the skull was a great treasure, a delicate tiara of platinum set with black opals.  The treasure was taken and the party decided it was time to head to the long corridor that they discovered.  The corridor they believed was the secret passage that led into Castle Riveon.

The 12’ high arched corridor was stoutly constructed by dwarven stonemasons yet time had still taken its toll on it.  Water dripped from the ceiling in places and roots had caused the stone blocks to crack and crumble which created minor cave-ins.

They walked the corridor for a long stretch of time when Galifynakus noticed a refection on the ceiling directly ahead of them in the light from their lantern.  It turned out to be a patch of green slime growing on the ceiling.  The dwarves Gjord and Norgrim both knew of the acidic fungus, as it was a bane to dwarven miners.  They also remembered that fire was the best way to destroy it.  Using a torch, oil, and Svarnos’ burning hands spell again (recalled by the magical pearl of power) the disgusting slime was eliminated.  In the process some of the nasty stuff slopped onto Galifynakus’ boot, destroying it, and burning the barbarians foot underneath.

The party continued on and finally came to the end of the passage where there was a sturdy iron ladder leading up to a solid marble trap door above.  The group decided to rest and replenish their spells before trying the trap door so they spent the rest of the day in the underground passage. The next day they carefully ascended the ladder into the remains of a ruined chapel dedicated to Varcan.  The heroes were within Castle Riveon! 

In a small adjacent room they found a prayer book and some useful clerical scrolls hidden behind a loose brick in the hearth.  The old map of the castle that was acquired by Eldan was produced and the party could see exactly where they were inside the stronghold.  The plan was (as usual) to use the ever-faithful familiar Jarvis as a scout with Svarnos reporting back what the cat was seeing.  Lono picked the long disused lock on the doors that led out of the chapel and the cat slunk through the doors to scout around.

Immediately the sound of a door opening behind the cat led to him seeing a strong-looking manacled dwarf being led by two black orcs through the hallway.  The cat hid down another turn in the hall.  Doing so caused him to pass a most peculiar door that was made of reddish colored metal with the image of a bearded horned demon-like face in its center.  As the cat passed, the mouth of this face opened and said, “Oh! A kitty cat.”  Jarvis, having no time for talking doors, ignored this and doubled back down the hall after the orcs and their captive.

Jarvis saw them enter the large wood and iron doors that led to the Great Hall and he was able to peer in after them as the doors were left ajar.  The dwarf was led down a many pillared hall to stand before a figure seated on an ornate raised thrown flanked by tapestries.  There were several orcs milling about and four armed half-orcs at the foot of the throne.  The thin man upon the throne wore clothes of gray with a voluminous cloak and cowl that was drawn over his head keeping his face in shadow.  Only his eyes that seemed to glow with a faint blue light could be seen under the hood and a gray beard hung down to the middle of his chest.  The man questioned the dwarf and asked him with a mocking voice if he still refused to fight in the arena.  The dwarf only glared at him.  Angered that the prisoner wouldn’t answer he told the guards, “Feed him to Morgor.”  The orcs roughly grabbed the doomed dwarf and began to take him out of the hall towards the castle courtyard.  Jarvis ducked out of the way and returned to his master hiding in the chapel.

The adventurers had an argument about whether they should save the dwarf or not.  Fionnula, Martijn, and Lono were the most opposed to the idea for they felt that it would alert the guardians of the castle to their presence.  Svarnos and Gjord were determined to try to save him however.  It was decided that Lono and Jarvis would go to the courtyard doors and try to see what could be done.

They crept to the doors without alerting anyone and looked out.  The dwarf was being bound to a statue in the center of the courtyard.  The sound of loud clanging metal that the party heard before when they saw the top of the castles High Tower dome peel back began to sound again.  The flying monster was to be released!

The thief and the cat returned to the others and more arguing ensued.  Svarnos decided he was at least going to try to use his message spell to communicate with the doomed dwarf.  He snuck out with Jarvis to the doors but he was too late, for when he cast his spell he found no dwarf to communicate with.  Svarnos returned and conveyed what happened to the others.

So, the party determined to continue with their stealthy exploration of the castle.  They would try to enter one of the bedrooms and climb up the chimney to the roof of the structure if possible.  From there maybe they could find a way into the High Tower.

They made their way to a bedroom that was richly furnished although a bit musty.  The fireplace and chimney were large enough for a man to fit through, although it would be uncomfortable and sooty.
Lono was the first sent up and he made it to the bedroom on the second floor.  He had to remove a grate that held old chunks of burnt wood that was blocking his progress.  He lifted this and set it into the bedroom he was climbing into.  To his shock he found that this room was occupied.  A comely young woman with black hair and green eyes was sitting bolt upright in the bed with the blanket held tightly in her fists up to her chin and look of terror on her face.  The soot covered rogue clambered into the room and said, “Don’t worry, I’m just your friendly neighborhood thief passing through.” The woman screamed, shot out of bed, and ran to the door.  She began to cry out and pound on the door but it seemed that it was locked.  Now that Lono saw her fully he could see that she was dressed in an immodest slip of a nightdress as if she had been awaiting a lover in the bedroom.  He could also see that her back bore the mark of the whip upon it as well.  Lono accosted the woman and pulled her away from the door.  He treid to calm her but she kept crying out, “Illnath, Illnath!”  Lono could think of nothing else to do so he slugged her.  It took a couple punches (Lono is a lover not a fighter) but she was finally knocked out.  Lono shimmied back down the chimney and told the party what happened.  They’re reaction was one of horrified amusement.

The whole group came up the chimney then.  Svarnos cast a charm person spell upon the young lady as Fionnula revived and tried to comfort her.  They learned that the woman, Shianna, was abducted from her family’s farm near Arrain.  From what they could tell Illnath was apparently using her as a sex slave and he visited her almost every night.  She was kept prisoner in this room although she sometimes was sent to work in the kitchen with other slaves.  The party noticed also that she seemed to have a strange devotion to Illnath and that she did not really speak ill of him calling him her lord and master.  It was his servants that she feared.  The heroes realized she was already under the effects of a charm spell from the illusionist. 

While they were talking there was a knock on the door and it opened with a goblin carrying a tray of food.  The creature barely set foot in the room when Gjord brained him with his hammer.  They closed the door again.

So now, with a twice-charmed terrified slave girl and a dead goblin lying upon the bedroom floor our heroes began to formulate a plan.

Feel free to add anything you want in the comments and let me know if I missed something.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

D&D This Saturday 8/28/10

We're looking at 6:00pm.  I'll try to get a synopsis up tomorrow.
Check out the Useful Links section in the sidebar for the new file and PDF page.
There you can download character sheets and check out the new layout of the Elethian Calendar.
Hopefully it'll make more sense now!

Friday, July 23, 2010

D&D Tomorrow




Sounds like a threat doesn't it

If you get a chance please recopy your character sheet.

The Story So Far... The Curthor Crypt

Goldengrass the 23rd to the 25th, 1845

Having battled their way through the ruins of Riveon the party found the cemetery and the crypt of the Curthors - the last ruling family of the once grand citadel.  Somewhere within the crypt is a secret passage that leads to the chapel inside the castle stronghold of the city.

Inside the crypt, the adventurers faced and defeated a host of undead horrors.  Zombies and skeletons dressed in the rotted finery of noblemen and women, others armed as warriors and knights.  They also met and destroyed a twisted wight-like horror that was filled with a necrotic energy that it used as a weapon sending forth terrible bolts of the foul stuff which paralyzed those that it struck.  This fiend was also the source of the sinister music that sounded throughout the dark chambers of the crypt as the monster played an ancient organ in the underground temple which was its lair.

After the conflict with the creatures of undeath the party found refuge in a secret chamber that contained a glowing magical pool. This pool turned out to be a great boon to the party as it proved to be a blessed pool dedicated to the Immortal known as Numora -The Whisperer of Secrets (see the Immortals of Eleth from the old 2009 post). It not only healed and revived all who drank from it but it gave them strange unreachable experiences that entered the hidden recesses of their minds and strengthened them physically as well. (The party gained x.p. and 2 permanent h.p. to boot! Including Jarvis!)

The heroes also encountered the spirit of a boy who's appearance matched the eerie statue of Prince Garin Curthor in the main hallway of the crypt. The ever faithful Fionnula attempted to tell the spirit to pass on into the afterlife but the ghost was wholly evil and malicious and had to be destroyed.

A great amount of treasure was found in the south wing of the crypt after a battle with armored skeletons that burst forth from their ancient sarcophagi where a magic lance was found that had the ability to shrink down to a miniature replica so it could easily be carried.

More treasure was found in a flooded treasure room.  The adventurers were able to avoid fighting the rooms inhabitant - a grayish ooze that lurked in the fetid water.  They accomplished this with the use of Svarnos' magic wand of levitation with Gjord being the one to be levitated above the water.

In the North wing of the crypt the party was attacked as they inspected the sarcophagus of Lady Minress Curthor.  It was as if a shadowy mass of crawling rats were gnawing at their feet. These things could not be clearly seen in the dim light of their lantern.  When bit by these unseen vermin the heroes could feel their strength drawn from them.  Fighting back against the them was difficult as the creatures were essentially invisible.  The party fled the room and slammed the marble doors to the chamber behind them.

So, this is where we left our intrepid heroes still deep in the haunted depths of the Curthor Crypt.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Reading Posts

Note.  I would recommend reading Malavon posts on the actual blog.  For some reason when the posts are translated into email format they get a bit wonky.  Thanks.

The Quest for The Key to the Gate of Dreams

A little excerpt from Lovecraft's The Silver Key that makes a case for having fantasy and wonder is ones life. 

All the more reason to play D&D!  We are planning for this Saturday July 24th at 6:00pm.

"When Randolph Carter was thirty he lost the key to the gate of dreams..."

"He had read much of things as they are, and talked with too many people. Well-meaning philosophers had taught him to look into the logical relations of things, and analyse the processes which shaped his thoughts and fancies. Wonder had gone away, and he had forgotten that all life is only a set of pictures in the brain, among which there is no difference betwixt those born of real things and those born of inward dreamings, and no cause to value the one above the other. Custom had dinned into his ears a superstitious reverence for that which tangibly and physically exists, and had made him secretly ashamed to dwell in visions. Wise men told him his simple fancies were inane and childish, and he believed it because he could easily see that they might be so. What he failed to recall was that the deeds of reality are just as inane and childish, and even more absurd because their actors persist in fancying them full of meaning and purpose as the blind cosmos grinds aimlessly on from nothing to something and from something back to nothing again, neither heeding nor knowing the wishes or existence of the minds that flicker for a second now and then in the darkness."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Davros the Hilarious Fascist

This is my favorite Davros quote from Genesis of the Daleks a Tom Baker Dr. Who episode.

"Ours is the victory, Nyder. They talk of democracy, freedom, fairness. Those are the creeds of cowards! The ones who would listen to a thousand opinions and try to satisfy them all. Achievement comes through absolute power! And power through strength! They have lost!"

This from a guy in a funky wheelchair.  You gotta love'im.

New Painting - Akivasha, The Woman who Never Died.

My interpretation of the sexy vampire from the Conan story Hour of the Dragon by Robert Howard.  There sure are a lot of scantily clad women those stories!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Malavon Awaits

Just wondering when our next foray into Malavon will be taking place.  You guys did exceptionally well last time considering all the horrific battles you went through.  You should be getting some decent experience points.

By the way the girl in the ad is actually one of Gygax's daughters.  (Not bad Gary - ROWR!)

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Story so Far.... The Ruins of Riveon

1st Day, Goldengrass the 23rd, 1845

The adventurers are deep in the heart of the ruined citadel of Riveon.

 Long ago the forces of the Shadow Dragon Zorvoath laid waste to the city and it is now under the dominion of a foul horde of orcs and other goblinoid creatures.  Some power holds these chaotic creatures together as it is unusual for them to keep from cutting each others throats.  So now, our intrepid party along with Eldan the ranger, Norgrim the dwarven bard, and the ever faithful Tursan are ready to explore the mystery of this fallen city and put an end to the evil.

The ranger Eldan, in his previous foray into the dire citadel, learned from an orc that he took prisoner that they have a master that they greatly fear called Gorthukon.  From what Eldan could tell he thinks that this may be a  shaman or wizard but he couldn't be sure.  The orc also let out that the master has a "pet" that is almost as feared as he is.  Eldan said that the description was vague, but it is possible that the creature could be a dragon.

In his quest to discover more of the lore of Riveon, Eldan discovered a secret way into the central fortress from a senile old dwarf in Senion.  There was a secret tunnel from the Curthor tomb in the city's cemetery to the chapel within the castle itself.  A way to strike at the heart of the enemy!

The dwarf even gave him some old maps of the castle as he had been one of the architects that had designed it.  Armed with this knowledge Eldan felt confident that a small party of bold heroes could make a difference in Riveon where an army could not hope to assail it.

The adventurers remembered another reason why they were braving the perils of the city.  The sorceress Aness had told them that she believed that a Shadow Cylinder (see previous posts) may be found within the city.  She learned that Cyndara the court illusionist of Riveon had one in her possession before the downfall of the city and it was possible it was still there.  If the party could retrieve this, Aness would have all three of the mysterious cylinders that contained a secret so great that she cast the geas upon the party so that they would tell no one.

Aness believed that this Gorthukon the captured orc spoke of could possibly be Illnath, Cyndara's apprentice that was believed to have betrayed his city and his mistress on the night the Shadow Dragon attacked.

With Lono leading the way the party sneaked into the heavily guarded city through destroyed sections on the north side of the surrounding defensive wall — a legacy of the city's downfall. 

Svarnos, showing his usual resourcefulness,  found a way to get a birds eye view of the layout of the city.  Using the magic wand of levitation found in the ruins of Gormoon's tower he levitated his familiar cat Jarvis high into the air to report back to him what he saw.  In doing this Svarnos was able to get a good idea of the layout of the city and even found the location of the cemetary.  

Inside the city they found a once glorious place run to rot and ruin.  There were burnt out and collapsed buildings and rotting husks of homes once populated by the men and women of Riveon.  But not all the buildings were left derelict.  There were barracks and worg stables for the awful orc soldiers.  Smoke rose into the sky from forges and cooking fires.  The party even found a church once dedicated to Varcan being used by the orcs for rights to their evil gods.  Fionnula the Sister of Varcan led the way in making the orcs regret their sacrilege and  not one orc in the church was left breathing.
So, the party wove a stealthy path through the city.  They encountered ogres, goblins, worgs, and in addition to the typical orcs there was a larger black-skinned breed that fought like devils.  

Slowly, the party was making its way to where they believe the cemetery to be.  Suddenly, in the distance, the sound of orcish horns sounded answered by the howl of the wicked worgs.  Dusk was settling over the broken towers of the city but our heroes with weapons drawn and magic as their ally were ready for anything.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Conan the Agnostic

I've been on a Robert Howard kick lately since Alicia and Norb both got me Conan/Soloman Kane related stuff for my birthday.

I think this conversation between the pirate queen Belit and Conan from Queen of the Black Coast best sums up what the barbaric character is all about.  I don't know why but something in it just resonates with me somehow.  Although, on a much lamer level as I haven't done a lot of "slaying" recently and my adventures are just confined to my imagination.


"What of your own gods? I have never heard you call on them."


"Their chief is Crom. He dwells on a great mountain. What use to call on him? Little he cares if men live or die. Better to be silent than to call his attention to you; he will send you dooms, not fortune! He is grim and loveless, but at birth he breathes power to strive and slay into a man's soul. What else shall men ask of the gods?"

"But what of the worlds beyond the river of death?" she persisted.

"There is no hope here or hereafter in the cult of my people," answered Conan. "In this world men struggle and suffer vainly, finding pleasure only in the bright madness of battle; dying, their souls enter a gray misty realm of clouds and icy winds, to wander cheerlessly throughout eternity."

Belit shuddered. "Life, bad as it is, is better than such a destiny. What do you believe, Conan?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom's realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer's Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Posting Comments

If you guys can please try to post any comments or anything else directly to the Malavon blog.  This way we can all see the comment right under the related post.  I plan on opening the blog so you all can create your own posts.


D&D This Weekend, Monster Counters, and New Art at Neothera!

Looking to get a session of D&D in on Saturday or Sunday evening.  Alicia is free so let me know.  I'll be putting up a brief synopsis before Saturday.

The Monster Counters site is up and running!

Also, enjoy a new painting I just added to Neothera.
The Dark and the Light

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Whisperer in Darkness

Here's a link to an article from Grognardia that has a new trailer for the upcoming adaptation of The Whisperer in Darkness by the HP Lovecraft Society.  The trailer looks good, I was afraid that this one being a "talkie" would be a little off but you can decide for yourself from the trailer. 

I hope they mean that its coming out on October of this year.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Where the line blurs between fantasy and reality.

I love this image of the Iceland volcano.

I hope that this is really Tiamat trying to force her way into our world.  It would be worth the world ending just to see that!

Monday, April 19, 2010

What Kind of D&D Character Would You Be?

I'm not sure if this quiz is accurate but it was fun to do anyway.

Here was my result (I thought I was answering the questions as honestly as possible).

I Am A: True Neutral Human Druid (5th Level)

Ability Scores:

True Neutral A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn't feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he's not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment because it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Druids gain power not by ruling nature but by being at one with it. They hate the unnatural, including aberrations or undead, and destroy them where possible. Druids receive divine spells from nature, not the gods, and can gain an array of powers as they gain experience, including the ability to take the shapes of animals. The weapons and armor of a druid are restricted by their traditional oaths, not simply training. A druid's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Encumbrance.  Ah yes, the word that I know you guys all love to hear when we enter into one of gaming sessions.  In this video from Troll Lord Games you get a visual example of what your character looks like carrying all that crap around.


An inspiring short message about RPGs

This is a great inspirational message about Castles and Crusades from one of the Troll Lord guys.

Monday, April 5, 2010

In Search of the Unknown

Tips for playing D&D from the first module produced for the D&D Basic set.  It still holds up as good advice actually.  

Although all the stuff about respect and not arguing probably won't hold over very well with us. Especially after a couple of beers have been drunk.


Beginning players would do well to profit from some basic advice before beginning their D&D careers, and with that in mind, the following points are offered for consideration:

1) Be an organized player. Keep accurate records on your character (experience, abilities, items possessed, etc.) for your own purposes and to aid the Dungeon Master.
2) Always keep in mind that the Dungeon Master is the moderator of the game, and as such, deserves the continued cooperation, consideration and respect of all the players. If you disagree with him or her, present your viewpoint with deference to the DM's position as game judge, but be prepared to accept his or her decision as final—after all, keep in mind that you may not know all aspects of the overall game situation, and in that case, not everything will always go your way!
3) Cooperate with your fellow players and work together when adventuring. Remember that on any foray into the dungeon or wilderness, a mix of character classes will be beneficial, since the special abilities of the various characters will complement each other and add to the overall effectiveness of the party.
4) Be neither too hasty nor too sluggish when adventuring. If you are too fast in your exploration, you may recklessly endanger yourself and your fellow adventurers and fall prone to every trick and trap you encounter. If you are too slow, you will waste valuable time and may be waylaid by more than your share of wandering monsters without accomplishing anything. As you gain playing experience you will learn the proper pace, but rely on your DM for guidance.

5) Avoid arguing. While disagreements about a course of action will certainly arise from time to time, players should quickly discuss their options and reach a consensus in order to proceed. Bickering in the dungeon will only create noise which may well attract wandering monsters. Above all, remember that this is just a game and a little consideration will go far toward avoiding any hard feelings . . .
6) Be on your guard. Don't be overly cautious, but be advised that some non-player characters may try to hoodwink you, players may doublecross you, and while adventuring, tricks and traps await the unwary. Of course, you won't avoid every such pitfall (dealing with the uncertainties is part of the fun and challenge of the game), but don't be surprised if everything is not always as it seems.
7) Treat any retainers or NPCs fairly. If you reward them generously and do not expose them to great risks of life and limb that your own character would not face, then you can expect a continuing loyalty (although there may be exceptions, of course).

8) Know your limits. Your party may not be a match for every monster you encounter, and occasionally it pays to know when and how to run away from danger. Likewise, a dungeon adventure may have to be cut short if your party suffers great adversity and/or depleted strength. Many times it will take more than one adventure to accomplish certain goals, and it will thus be necessary to come back out of a dungeon to heal wounds, restore magical abilities and spells, and reinforce a party's strength.
9) Use your head. Many of the characters' goals in the game can be accomplished through the strength of arms or magic. Others, however, demand common sense and shrewd judgment as well as logical deduction. The most successful players are those who can effectively use both aspects of the game to advantage.

10) The fun of a D&D game comes in playing your character's role. Take on your character's persona and immerse yourself in the game setting, enjoying the fantasy element and the interaction with your fellow players and the Dungeon Master.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Varcan The Message-Bringer

Here is another drawing from my sketchbook.  This is the statue of Varcan that your characters have come across before.  Also, at the end of this post I have a listing of the Octadic Creed of Varcan.  It will help flesh out the religion that both Fionnula and Martijn follow.


This statue of the Immortal known as Varcan the Message Bringer can be seen standing before the doors of his temples. The scene depicted is known as the "Exalting". It shows Varcan taking the soul of a departed faithful cleric to his hallowed realm.

Each motto of this creed represents a point upon the cross of Varcan which is a symbol of the pathway to his realm.

The Octadic Creed of Varcan
  • Always be kind and never cruel.
  • Give mercy to those that ask for it.
  • Thou shalt never lie and remain faithful to thy pledged word.
  • Thou shalt respect all those whom are weak, the poor and the innocent, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.
  • Be charitable to others and give to those in need.
  • Live a pure and noble life. 
  • Suffer no undead creature to exist for they are a blight and a great evil upon the world.
  • Thou shalt be everywhere and always thy champion of the Right, the Good and the True, and forever the foe of Injustice, Tyranny and Evil.


Here is a drawing from my sketchbook of how I envision the sorceress Aness.

The alluring and potent elven sorceress that lives in a magically protected tower north of the town of Berengel.

Note: If anyone wants to make a comment please try to not email me directly but post it up in the comments in the blog.  This way we can all read them and this blog won't look so dead.  Thanks.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Story so Far XIII

I'll have our last adventure up soon, this is our previous adventure.

6th Day, Goldengrass the 12th, 1845
7th Day, Goldengrass the 20th, 1845

The days passed swiftly for the adventurers as they planned for their expedition to Riveon.  Svarnos took advantage of learning some new spells from Aness' spellbooks, and the party spent their days either at Aness' tower visiting with her apprentice Vanen or in Berengel at the Jaded Unicorn.  During this time Aness was showing signs of fatigue and stress that the party attributed to her possession of two of the Shadow Cylinders.  Aness admitted this was true and claimed that she could hear voices at night in the dark, see fleeting shadowy forms at the edge of her vision, and she had the constant feeling of being watched.

For their journey to Riveon, Aness let the party borrow a magic ring of spell storing with a Lightning Bolt spell stored within. She also used her spells to identify the magic items that the party possessed.

As the days passed the heroes began to notice that every time they were leaving the tower there were three horsemen that they could see in the distance on the road towards Berengel.  At first they thought this was a coincidence as there are usually regular travelers on the road between Berengel and Grisoan.  Soon however, they began to suspect that they were being watched as the riders appeared more often than not.  The party decided to concoct a plan to discover who the riders could be.

In the afternoon of Goldengrass the 20th, Svarnos sent his familiar cat Jarvis out of the tower to investigate.  The cat stealthily watched the riders from the cover of the rocks to the east of the road.  They were gray cloaked and hooded men mounted upon warhorses.  Their dark hoods hid their faces, they wore plate breastplates of dull metal and clothes in dark shades of gray, and they were armed with longswords.  As the cat watched (sending his senses back to his master) one of the men temporarily removed a glove revealing a hand of dark gray skin and pale colored nails.

The adventurers committed themselves to solving this mystery and endeavored to discover why they were being watched.  They decided to leave the tower to head back towards town and Svarnos would concentrate on his familiar to see what the riders would do.  As soon as the party was mounted the riders began to head back towards Berengel.  Svarnos sent Jarvis after them and the familiar ran at top speed to keep up with the riders.  Gjord led Svarnos' horse so he could keep his attention upon his familiar.

A the riders approached the gate the one in the middle seemed to incant some sort of spell.  He suddenly transformed into a golden haired young man in a bright blue cloak that waved a greeting to the guard as they sped through the gate.  The exhausted familiar followed the riders through the gate but lost them on a side street from the main road.

The party rode back to The Jaded Unicorn and Lono was sent to scout out the area where the riders were last seen.  Turning around after heading down a dead end alley, Lono saw the riders (none of which resembled a blonde haired man) pass the mouth of the alley.  Lono followed them and the riders took up a position down the street in sight of The Jaded Unicorn.  It appeared they were watching the party again. 

Lono snuck back to The Jaded Unicorn and entered (after picking the lock) through the back door which brought him into the inns kitchen  He finagled his way past a cauldron scrubbing barmaid, first pretending to be a delivery man, and then telling her that he wished to surprise his friend who was out in the bar.  The daft wench was a bit charmed by the rogue and let him through a door into the common room of the inn.  He came out and announced "Happy Birthday!" to his friends as he sidled past the confused barkeep.  Lono then related what happened out on the street with the riders to the rest of the party.

Gjord came up with a plan to trap the riders.  They sent Jarvis out to keep an eye on them and report back to Svarnos. Then Fionnula was sent out as bait to see if she would be followed. The rest of the party would then come out and try to trap them.  To the party's consternation only one rider followed after the half-elven cleric but they thought might still trap at least the one.  As Fionnula turned down a side street the rest of the party followed but they in turn were pursued by the two remaining riders.  They knew that this would happen but they were determined to try to trap at least one of the riders.

After she turned down the side street Fionnula accidentally gave her self away by trying to cast a Protection From Evil spell upon herself.  The rider that was following her turned his horse about and tried to get back to his comrades.  This drove him almost right into the middle of the following adventurers and he had to violently reign his horse in to try to turn about.  Knowing that they would never catch up to him on foot Svarnos cast a Sleep spell upon both rider and horse.  The cloaked riders warhorse fell to the ground beneath him asleep as the rider jumped clear and landed on his feet.  The rider than whipped his longsword from his scabbard to meet the attack of the charging adventurers.  Martijn, Gjord, and Tursan took the fight to the single rider as the rest of the party prepared to take on the others that were fast approaching.

The three warriors swung their weapons at the rider but he parried and dodged most of their attacks but Gjord was able to get one good strike in.  Suddenly,  one of the approaching riders from behind incanted a spell and the three fighters fell to the ground before their enemy overtaken my a magical Sleep spell.  One of the mysterious riders was obviously a wizard.  Svarnos rushed forward to awaken Martijn and as he did so the rider they had been battling turned his longsword point downward and set it against Gjord's throat!  He called out to the party (which were about to engage the other riders) to stop fighting and lay down their weapons.  Fionulla came around from the side street then and attempted to use the Wand of Fear that they had acquired in their last adventure.  The wands spell washed over the rider but he resisted its power and almost plunged his sword into the dwarf.  A tense stand off had begun.

In the midst of the conflict the cowls of the riders had fallen back to reveal their eerie visages.  They all had skin of a dusky dark gray hue, gray hair, and dead white eyes showing no pupils.  They looked like men that had been drained of all color.  There were some townsfolk in the street that were watching the conflict and most of them cried out and fled when they saw the faces of the riders.

The stand off led to a tragic conclusion.  The adventurers were at a loss of what to do as the valiant dwarf was at the mercy of their enemies.  Martijn had been awakened by Svarnos but continued to feign sleep in hope of catching their enemy unaware.  The riders grouped together around the helpless dwarf and one dismounted and kicked the sleeping horse to awaken it.  The rider that was threatening to kill the dwarf shouted for the party to get back.  One rider that seemed to be the leader (and the spellcaster) proclaimed that the party was being deceived by the elven sorceress Aness and that they knew that she possessed the Shadow Cylinders.  Svarnos began questioning the riders in hope of wasting time as he knew that the Sleep spell upon the dwarf would eventually end.

Lono, forgetting about the Geas upon him, spoke up and let slip his knowledge about the cylinders!  He felt the spell subtly take hold and he knew he had erred as soon as the words left his mouth.  Lono, unfamiliar with powerful magics like the Geas, wondered if he would drop dead at any moment.

NOTE: I can't remember exactly what Lono said.  So maybe you guys can fill me in.

The strange riders knew that the wizard was purposely wasting time.  They told  the party that they were leaving and that the battle was over.  The one threatening Gjord shouted for them to get further back down the street.  The heroes were at a loss of what to do as they did not want the riders to escape but the at the same time the dwarven warrior's life was hanging by a thread.

Finally, realizing that the effects of the Sleep spell would end soon the one on Gjord shouted for the party to run away.  The adventurers, thinking he was bluffing, stood their ground.  It was then that evil rider thrust his sword into the defenseless dwarfs neck!  Martijn, who was feigning sleep,  tried to thrust out with his dagger at the rider but he was not fast enough to stop the slaying of the dwarf.

Horrified and angered the party went into action.  The fighters took the attack to the one that had killed Gjord and Galyfinakus destroyed him with a powerful sweep of his two-handed sword.  The creature faded away into a cloud of grey smoke leaving a heap of his clothes, armor, and weapons behind.  The other riders tried to escape.  A furious Svarnos took out a powerful scroll of Lightning Bolt that they had discovered in Gormoon's tower and used it to blast the other dismounted rider (the spell caster).  All that was left of him was a smoking pile of his equipment.

The last rider began to try to ride away down the street and Svarnos launched a Magic Missile spell at his horse in hopes of taking it down under its rider.  The spell struck but the rider was able to escape.

Gjord was dead and it was soon obvious that the party was ready to do anything in their power to change this dire situation. For the heroes knew that there were powerful magics that could recall a being back from the grip of death. Not knowing what else to do Svarnos wanted to go see Aness to see if she knew of any way to accomplish this.  Fionnula and Martijn wanted to find a temple to the Immortal that they worshipped, Varcan.  Powerful priests of Varcan have the power to raise the dead.

As the party was discussing this, men-at-arms of the town watch had finally arrived, and wanted to know what happened.  The party told them and many townsfolk in the street corroborated their story.  The men-at-arms took possession of the horses of the riders and told Martijn how to get to a shrine dedicated to Varcan that was located nearby.

Martijn, Fionnula, and Tursan took Gjord's body to the shrine while the rest of the group went back to the sorceresses tower.  Both groups were successful in their endeavors to some extent.

Aness was furious at Lono when she discovered he had activated the Geas and she told him she should let the spell take its hold.  She calmed down however, when she realized he had only spoken of the Shadow Cylinders and had not mentioned the passing of the archmage Moandor.  She would remove the spell that bound him and then cast the Geas again upon him.  Aness also told them that she could recall the dwarf back from death but she needed the proper components.  Namely 5,000 gold pieces worth of diamonds.  She would cast her most potent spell, Limited Wish, that could mimic the power of even a clerical spell.

Martijn and Fionulla found no cleric of sufficient power to raise the dead at the small shrine.  An old priest named Omarth who kept the shrine took pity on the adventurers and their dead comrade.  He revealed that there was a trust of treasure that was being attained for the construction of an actual temple to Varcan in Berengel.  He said that the high priest that had passed away years ago had the means to raise the dead and there was a cache of diamonds for just that purpose secreted away by the remaining clergy.  Fionnula knew this ids what they would need if they found someone to cast the spell.  Without hesitation they exchanged the glorious sapphire of Gormoon for the diamonds.  They thought that they could find a cleric at the temple to Varcan in Wychton so they went to seek the others.

Eventually the party came together and the body of the dwarf was taken to Aness and her conjuration room.  She invoked her most powerful spell and sprinkled the diamonds upon the dwarf which turned into a phosphorescent dust as they fell.  The body glowed with an eerie light and suddenly the wound upon the dwarfs neck was gone and Gjord's eyes fluttered open.  He was among the living again.

They heroes gave a sigh of relief and they were happy to have the stout dwarf back.  Gjord had no memory of what occurred and was surprised to find himself where he was.  He was also greatly weakened by his ordeal.  Aness comforted him and the party saw a brief moment of tenderness from the usually stern and enigmatic demeanor of the elven sorceress.

She told the party that they should continue upon the adventure that they had meant to set out upon.  Riveon was waiting and that possibly another Shadow Cylinder could be found there.  This would be one way they could strike a blow against the Shadow Dragon and his minions.

Aness said the mysterious riders were creatures called Shades. Servants of Zorvoath the Shadow Dragon, these were beings that had given over their life essence for that of the demi-plane of Shadow.  This shadow essence gave them supernatural abilities and it was a quick way to power.  It also enslaved them to Zorvoath's will.  These creatures were drawn to things of the shadow plane like the Shadow Cylinders and anyone who bore these was not safe from them.

Aness looked weary and she asked the party to be on with their quest as soon as possible.  The sooner that the mystery of the Cylinders was revealed it would be better for them all.

The Books that Founded D&D

This is an interesting article I found by James Maliszewski the prolific writer of the Grognardia blog.  If you ever wondered what books most influenced the creation of D&D here is a complete list with descriptions on how they influenced the game.

I would also suggest checking out Grognardia itself for a host of great articles on D&D and swords and sorcery pulp fantasy in general.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

D&D Kitteh

The Story So Far XII

NOTE: You may notice many more details in this synopsis than you remember.  Be assured these are all thing that I want you to know. -EJ

Festival of High Summer
Day One

Our heroes awaited the festivities that would begin as soon as Wyrlos began to rise into the sky that evening.  Galthran's acolytes Faysa and Ulath set a large oaken table outside the lodge and a large fire-pit was prepared.  Galthran hunted early in the day and returned with a deer that would be prepared for the festival dinner that evening.  The druid also brought out some barrels of hard cider that he had made for the occasion.

Soon other friends of the druid began to appear.  A younger red haired druid that went by the name of Khorgal armed with a scimitar and wearing leather armor with robes of a brown hue arrived first.  Later, four elven travelers from the Silverwood strode into the clearing.  They wore simple tunics and trousers of silver and green colors and were armed with long bows.  They introduced themselves as Galadren (obviously the leader), Lamial (who also bore a mandolin amongst his gear), Arost, and Elil (an elf-maiden that brought a flute with her).  They had all come to spend the festival days with the druids.  Galadren also announced that he had brought several bottles of elven feywine to share amongst the revelers.

The elves and druids performed some rites and observances within the stone circle as dusk approached.

The night finally arrived and Wyrlos rose up in all its majesty.

As it rose Svarnos remembered from his studies of arcane knowledge that it is theorized by some wizards that this mysterious moon is the conduit of magic to the world of Eleth. 

The heroes were treated to a feast and the elves along with Norgrim the dwarven bard began to play upon their instruments.  Norgrim and Gjord sung some time-honored dwarven songs and Galifynakus showed off his singing skills by belting out a song of celebration that he used to sing among his clan.

Some of the adventurers wanted to sample the feywine that the elves were drinking.  The elves warned them that the wine effected non-elvish folk in strange ways and it would be wise for them to wait a couple days before sampling it so as not to miss the rest of the festival.  Lamial told them how the wine was made from the Fainbereth flower.  This sacred flower is believed by the elves to be where the elven race came forth from in the deeps of time.  It could put a drinker who is not a pure elf into a deep sleep that could last weeks.  Lamial said that if they do drink it that they should wait until the third night of the festival when Wyrlos is highest in the sky.  He told them that when the feywine is drunk during the Festival of High Summer it could bring strange prophetic dreams.  The heroes took his advice.  So, the adventurers partied, feasted, and drank as the orange ochre hue of Wyrlos shone upon them.

At one point a shape could be seen moving through the trees towards the stone circle upon the hill.  As the figure emerged from the trees the revelers saw what appeared to be a nude woman of unearthly beauty walking up the hill to the stone circle.  She had long honey colored hair that blew about her in the warm summer breeze.  Galthran told them all to be silent and not to approach her, as this was nymph that had come to visit the sacred stones.  All who looked upon her could feel an uncontrollable wild passion building within them.  Their hearts hammered in their chests as if it were trying to break free.  The fey creature walked to the middle of the stones and turned towards the gathering.  She seemed to give a slight almost imperceptible nod to Galthran and then she vanished from sight.  Immediately, everyone felt the enchantment break and they were themselves again.  Galthran related how nymphs were quite rare in the Ivy Forest and that one may have been the only solitary nymph in the forest. He said that nymphs were dangerous unpredictable creatures and if that one had chose to reveal her full beauty upon them their hearts may have burst from sheer passion.  The elves told the adventurers that the standing stones were a fey crossroads that could transport those who stepped between them during the Festival far away to other fey crossroads.  The elves intended to make use of the stones on the final night of the Festival.

After this the first night of the festival was over.

Festival of High Summer
Day Two

On the second day the grig leader Nuur k’k’ and a five other grigs came to join the party as they heard that there was feywine to be had.  That evening they accompanied the other musicians with their small fiddles.  Always a mischievous lot they used their magic to cause the adventurers to dance an irresistible charmed dance.  Only some were affected, but others joined the enchanted dancers and raucous group enjoyed the joke.

At one point in the evening a flight of pixies glowing with faerie fire swirled into view.  The diminutive translucent winged creatures sipped from the cups of the elves and then proceeded to cast a glamer of a group of ghostly riders chasing a stag through the woods.  The elves clapped and called out with appreciation of the spectacle.  The pixies then proceeded to the stone circle and vanished.

Festival of High Summer
Day Three

This night was the height of the festival and the night that the party would sample the feywine.  Galadren, the leader of the group of elves, took out some fine crystal cups and began to pour out the wine.  Martijn and Lono refrained as the knight wanted to stay in control and aware of what was happening and the thief was a little wary.  When Galadren handed a cup to Gjord he said that he wished this to symbolize another healing of the rift between their two races.  Gjord agreed heartily.  Galifynakus then Gjord partook of the wine and the others waited to watch how they reacted.  First they became quite inebriated and in time they began to see a faint glowing aura of multicolored light coming from the trees the grass and their fellow revelers.  Elil, the elf maiden, explained that they were seeing the emanations of the life force that all living things emit.  The others except for the knight and the thief then began to drink the feywine as well.  In time they would suffer the full consequences of drinking feywine under the light of the High Summer moon.

Four magnificent unicorns then emerged from the forest and they made their way to the stone circle.  The elves and the druids were in awe for this was a living symbol of the nature deity Duvarion the Grey Unicorn.  The druids got to their knees in supplication at the foot of the hill.  The unicorns seemed to be drawing a strange ectoplasmic mist from the stones that swirled about their horns as if they were drawing some power from them.  Suddenly they neighed and began to charge down the side of the hill right at the kneeling druids.  The acolytes began to arise and back away in fear but Galthran stood his ground.  The unicorns charged right at him but right before they collided with him there was a flash and they vanished. Galthran said that unicorns had blessed their gathering and he took it as a personal sign from the deity Duvarion.  The druid told of how unicorns had not been seen in the forest since before the time of the Shadow Dragon and that their appearance here was a good indication that things were changing for the better.

All who drank the feywine were soon unable to see as the glowing echo intensified and soon drowned out all other vision.  They then fell into a trance where they muttered strange cryptic phrases in archaic elvish.  After this they fell into an enchanted sleep and were subject to the strange prophetic dreams that the wine brought.

NOTE:  If you could all do me favor and enter your dreams in the comments I would appreciate it, as I don’t have all the descriptions with me. –EJ

Festival of High Summer
Day Four & Day Five

The rest of the festival days were anticlimactic after that night although Lono did consume of the feywine on the following night.  His half-elven blood served him well however and he resisted the effects of the potent wine although he still had a strange dream.  Martijn stood firm on his decision and kept in control. Lono and the grigs had some fun at Gjord and Galifynakus’ expense as they kept arranging their sleeping bodies in awkward positions of embrace.  Martijn looked upon this tomfoolery with disdain, which made them all laugh harder.

On the final night the elves said their farewells and used the fey crossroads to return to the Silverwood.  The grigs also left, bounding into the woods, after thanking them all again.  The enchanted sleepers continued to sleep.  So, our heroes had an extended stay with the druids although only Lono, Martijn, Tursan, Norgrim, and the cat Jarvis would remember it.  Though they awoke at different times they did not all awaken until the morning of the 9th of Goldengrass!  The druids took care of the sleepers during this time and fed them a concoction of nuts, berries, and milk to sustain them.

2nd Day, Goldengrass the 9th, 1845

Later that day Galthran led them to the edge of the forest to return to the road back to Sulthe.  Before they departed Galthran said he was glad to have made new friends and he gave them each a carved wooden oak leaf on a woven necklace.  He said that no fey creatures of the Ivy Forest would harass them if they wore these.  The party thanked him for the gift and the hospitality he had shone.  They then proceeded northward to Sulthe to find the elf jeweler Rumil.

Near dusk they knocked on the jewelers door and he let them in.  Rumil was happy to see them as it had been some time (25 days to be exact) and the elf was worried that they did not survive their foray into Gormoon’s ruined tower.  They showed him the recovered sapphire and the elf’s eyes shone with delight.  He said that he would have the gem cut by tomorrow evening.  So the party left him to his work and they left their horses behind, as the elf had taken good care of them (especially after the small fortune they left behind for their care).  They proceeded into the city to find an inn.

They got into the city right before the city guards were about to close the gate for the evening.  They went to the Laughing Ogre a small cozy inn located near the south gate owned by two sisters that are known to have some magical talent.  Their names are Beruna and Leanna and they both are middle-aged women with dark brown hair and green eyes (in fact they look very similar).  They always keep a wand or two in their belts as they are tending the bar.  Svarnos, remembering that they were wizards, asked if they knew anything about fixing their torn Bag of Holding.  The sisters looked skeptical that it would be possible to fix.  It was at this point that Leanna remembered that someone was looking for a party matching their description.  She said a ranger named Eldan was looking for them and if they wished they could seek him out at the Jaded Unicorn in Berengel as he would be there for the rest of the month.  This excited the heroes, as the last they heard of Eldan was that he was gathering information about the ruins of Riveon.  They intended to meet up with him as soon as possible.  Gjord, Martijn, and Galifynakus then decided to have a drinking contest.  They purchased a whole bottle of Hadramoorian Firewater (this is what drew the Hadramoorian knight into the challenge) and began taking shots.  Beruna called out that a drinking contest was going on and some of the patrons of the inn gathered round and started placing bets.  Many shots later Martijn passed out, followed by the dwarf, and the barbarian won the contest.  In fact he proceeded to finish off the whole bottle!  The crowd applauded as Galifynakus broke into a drunken song.  The sisters said that his feat of drinking would be remembered for some time at the Laughing Ogre.

3rd Day, Goldengrass the 10th, 1845

The next day the party (with some hung-over members) explored the city and purchased some new provisions, clothes, and even masterwork weapons with their newfound wealth.  Later in the evening they went back to Rumil who showed them the fantastic results of his work.  The sapphire was now a true treasure expertly cut and as they held it in their hands it reflected the light into bluish rays like a thousand distant stars.  Rumil thanked them again concerning his daughter and he said that he would be returning to Avaneth shortly so they probably would not see each other again although he hoped that one day they would.  They party returned to the city and spent another night at the Laughing Ogre (stabling their horses this time).

4th Day, Goldengrass the 10th, 1845
6th Day, Goldengrass the 12th, 1845

It took two days to travel to Berengel by way of Grisoan.  Grisoan proved to be a small wood and earthwork-fortified town.  The place had a feeling of a large barracks as it was populated with many soldiers.  This town was staging area for the constant watch upon the lands to the north that are under the dominion of the Shadow Dragon.  They stayed at the Golden Barrel Inn.

On the way just outside Berengel they passed the tower of Aness the elven sorceress.  They were a bit wary encountering her just yet however due to what Lono saw in his feywine induced dream. (See comments for the dream.)

They finally arrived in Berengel by noontime.  They finally met up with Eldan at the Jaded Unicorn and this is what the weather worn ranger told them.  


He had been scouting the area around Riveon and he had even entered the citadel itself.  The outer city wall of the ruin was mostly still intact except for two places upon its northern side facing the River Arcas.  Orcs patrol the walls, which are battlemented stone and stand 20’ tall with 30’ guard towers at various intervals.  Inside most of the buildings are burnt out, collapsed due to neglect, or just rotting husks.  Some are being used as barracks, warg stables, storage, and smithies.  Creatures that Eldan saw other than orcs included, wargs, goblins (that seemed to be subjugated by the orcs), ogres and a vicious larger breed of what looked like some sort of monstrous orc.  For lack of a better name Eldan called them “Black Orcs”.  Some of these orcs bore shields bearing the dragonhead device – a symbol of the Shadow Dragon.

Eldan said that there was a fortress in the center of the city with a high tower rising above it.  The top of the tower appeared to be made of glass and iron like a large domed greenhouse.

Eldan was discovered and barely escaped with his life.  He used an old ranger trick and used black pepper to hinder the scent trail of the wargs.

Some days later he captured a lone orc and got some information out of him before he sent him to the Nine Hells.  There is a ruler of the ruined citadel that the orc called Gorthukon (which means master in orcish) and from what the ranger could gather he does not think it is an orc.  The main fortress is only manned by the “Black Orcs” no other orcs are allowed within.  The orc was also afraid that if he told too much the master would feed him to his pet, which he seemed terrified of.  The descriptions that the foul creature gave Eldan were vague but Eldan thinks it may be a dragon of some kind.

After his scouting mission Eldan traveled to the city of Senion to visit the great library there.  He hoped to find maps or other pertinent information about Riveon.  He found nothing but a list of names of designers and architects of the city and the great fortress.  He saw that all were human and most assuredly long dead except for one who was a dwarf and possibly still alive.  The dwarfs name was Brognor and he was actually a somewhat famous architect having designed a great many structures in his time.  The ranger went to the local stonemasons guild and discovered that the dwarf was alive and living in Senion!

Eldan found the dwarf and the poor old coot was quite senile.  His son was taking care of him and helped Eldan in his conversation with the dwarf.  Brognor gave Eldan some old maps of the fortress of Riveon once the home of Duke Curthor Malavon and his family.  He told of how Duke Curthor had them design and construct an underground tunnel leading from the castle chapel to the family vault in the cemetery as he wished upon occasion to visit and pray among the bones of his ancestors without having to stroll amongst the commoners of the city to do it.  Eldan knew he had found a possibly way into the heart of the fortress and his dream of rooting out the evil of Riveon looked as if it could come true.

The Maps of Castle Riveon

He asked the adventurers if they still wished to join him.  Most were in agreement and Martijn saw this as an honorable quest.  Lono and Svarnos needed a little coaxing however but were convinced when Eldan spoke of the treasures that assuredly laid in wait for those bold enough to seek them.

The party wanted to visit with Aness and her apprentice Vanen however.  They were curious about Lono’s dream and they thought maybe the sorceress knew something more about Riveon.

Svarnos, Martijn, and Lono took off for the sorceresses’ tower and they left the black cylinder behind with the party.  At the entrance to the tower the magical stone golem that guards it allowed them to pass and the door opened.  Vanen and Aness both greeted them warmly and took them to a sitting room to have some tea.  Svarnos tried to ask about fixing the Bag of Holding again but the sorceress dashed his hopes completely this time as she told him it would be easier to create a new one (which is really no easy task).  The wizard then began to ask her about other items that they had and Aness asked where they acquired them.  The wizard vaguely stated that they were fighting bugbears in the Ivy Forest and that is where they acquired the magical items.  This led to a play of words that led to a discussion of a black cylinder.

NOTE: I am leaving this part unclear, as I can’t exactly remember how the discussion of the cylinder came about. Svarnos was being vague as he wanted more clues but was loath to give away that they had a cylinder. I know that Aness detected deception from Svarnos and soon the party was revealing more information with Lono even relating his dream to her.  If you guys could help me out in the comments it would be greatly appreciated. -EJ

Aness said she would not speak more on the subject unless she cast the Geas (a spell that places a magical command upon a person to carry out some service or to refrain from some action, as desired by the wizard) that upon the heroes.  For she did not want what she was to say to ever be told to anyone else.  Svarnos and Lono were very reluctant to have this happen but Martijn (in his usual fashion) knelt before the sorceress and stated that he would accept whatever charge she would lay upon him.  There was an argument but eventually the heroes could see they would get no further with Aness without the Geas.  They said they must have the sanction and the presence of the rest of their party before making such a decision.  They returned to the inn and explained the situation to the rest of the group.  There was some trepidation from Eldan and Norgrim but Tursan was ready to follow Martijn’s lead as usual.  So, they returned to the tower after dusk fell and Aness was ready with her spell to begin the casting of the Geas upon them.  Svarnos and Fionnula could tell that the spell was enhanced somehow as the Geas is usually cast upon one individual creature at a time but this spell seemed to effect the whole party.  Even Vanen her apprentice had it cast upon him.  Now that they were under the spell, Aness seemed to relax and she began to tell them of what she called the Shadow Cylinders.

“There are three cylinders containing the sundered fragments of the scroll of Myrthas.  Myrthas was the archmage that founded the Wizard’s Isle over 900 years ago.  Myrthas was a gifted seer and shortly before his death he used powerful magic to see far into the future to find out what would be the outcome of his teaching others his arcane secrets.  He feared that in time the power that he shared for the sake of his fellow men would be corrupted and used for evil purposes.  Using complex supernatural rites he hurled his sight far into future time and saw the events of many centuries in a single moment.”

“Thus, he witnessed the coming of the Shadow Dragon Zorvoath.  He realized that this entity was to be the greatest threat to the lands he had known and loved all his life.  So, he planned a way to thwart this coming evil.  Calling upon the forces of the elemental planes he created a magical artifact.  A scroll upon which was written a secret plan to halt the dark future that he had witnessed in his prophecy.  The scroll was not written in ink upon parchment. It was sorcerously created out of alien substances from other planes.  The scroll was indecipherable and Myrthas told that it would reveal its secret when its need was greatest.  This secrecy was needed because Myrthas also saw that if those who would ally themselves with the Shadow Dragon ever read the scroll they could undo his plan.”

“After the passing of Myrthas the scroll was secured in Myrthas’ Tower that which we now know as the Howling Tower.  Over the centuries it was forgotten and the tower stood alone in the wilderness, yet still defended by magical servants and spells.”

“Only after the coming of Zorvoath was the existence of the scroll rediscovered by the wizard Moandor, the current archmage of Vegraine.  Yet, the discovery was too late.  After Pelegrim, Myrthas’ Tower was the next stronghold to be assaulted and taken.  It is believed that somehow Zorvoath knew about the prophecy and his attack upon the tower was solely aimed at obtaining it.  Thus depriving his victims of their only true hope against him.  Moandor used his powers to discover the fate of the scroll and he found that the Dragon had his fanatic warlocks try to destroy the scroll for they could not decipher the runes upon it.  The scroll proved impossible to destroy and they were only capable of rending it into three pieces.  In frustration they encased each piece into magic prisons – cylinders made of bizarre metal from the demi-plane of Shadow.  These warlocks then tried to send the pieces into that dire plane.  In this they were incapable for the spells that Myrthas cast upon the scroll went into action.  The fragments of the scroll (though unable to shed their cylindrical prisons) teleported away from the clutches of Zorvoath.”

Aness related how she now suspected that the fragments went to each of the good-hearted archmages in Malavon.  Each found the cylinder within their treasuries but they never spoke of it to each other for there was a great rivalry based upon foolish pride between them.  The archmages were Moandor (Aness knew about his possession of a cylinder for he was her mentor in the magical arts), Gormoon (who’s cylinder was found by our heroes), and Cyndara court magician of Riveon.  Cyndara was an illusionist of great power and not really an archmage, her title among wizards was Mistress of Phantasms.

Then Aness told them the greatest secret and this was the main reason she had put them under the Geas.  Moander the archmage of Vegraine was dead and now there was no living arch mage in all the lands.  When Zorvoath attacked one hundred years ago Moandor proved the only one who could take the Shadow Dragon head on.  He polymorphed into a great silver dragon and forced Zorvoath to retreat while the knights and warriors of Malavon and Elnarra drove his forces back from Miragar.  If the Shadow Dragon knew that the arch mage was dead he would not hesitate to attack again and this time nothing could stop him!

Moandor was very old and was sustaining himself by supernatural means for some time.  He claimed that since the cylinder came to him over time he felt as if he was being watched, even on Vegraine.  He would see shadows at the corner of his vision and hear whispers in the dark at night.  He no longer felt safe anywhere even within his chambers.  Aness said she believes that this strange paranoia contributed to his demise.  Aness has told the other wizards of Vegraine that their master has gone on a long voyage to Xoranara in search of some rare components.  She does not know how long she can keep up this ruse.

Aness said that she also has the feeling of being watched and that she feels it would be unwise for her to leave the safety of her tower.  This began two weeks after she received the cylinder that she charged Vanen with retrieving from its hiding place on the Wizard’s Isle.  She feels that there is some curse connected to the Shadow Cylinders.

Moandor, before his death, gave his most faithful apprentice Aness a powerful spell that would break the enchantment upon the cylinders and free them of their prisons. This spell can be used but once so all three cylinders must be present to utilize it.

Aness believes that the last cylinder may still be in Riveon.  She said she would keep Gormoons cylinder safe if the party would leave it with her for it may prove dangerous to possess it for them in time.  She offered to help the party identify the magic items they had found and perhaps help them in other ways if they would tell her of what they discovered in Riveon.

She also related this last piece of information.  When Zorvoath and his forces attacked Riveon long ago it was always known that that there was some inside help for the attackers for Mistress Cyndara was found murdered in her chambers.  Therefore she could not come to the aid of the city against the assault.  Aness always suspected one of Cyndara’s many apprentices especially an ambitious spellbinder named Ilnath.

So, it was now late in the evening and the candles in the room burned low.  A grand adventure had come upon the heroes.  Though it came with solemn news that was perhaps either a new hope or a dire fate for Malavon.