Monday, January 18, 2010

SESSION TWENTY THREE "Have fun Stormin' the Castle"

Rory jumps clear of the grasping hands of the shamblers. At the top of the ladder, Tristan prepares to jump by unsheathing sword and prepping his shield. As Rory swings his sword in defensive patterns, Tristan jumps down, hitting the floor with enough force to fall partially through, finding himself now at a distinct disadvantage as the shamblers find a new target. And to top it all off, the candle Tristan was holding goes out in the fall.

Thankfully, Rory and the others are ready. From his bandolier Rory pulls a dagger, which soon springs forth with magical light, before being thrown into the ceiling. Tristan pulls himself free of the flooring and lashes out at the nearest shambler as gruff sends shadowy tendrils toward one of the other undead.

Ewald chooses to forego the ladder altogether, using instead his lighter than air tread to simply move into position above the shamblers and start swinging away. By the light of Rory's dagger everyone can see that this tower level is made up of one giant storage area. As Tristan already found out, the floor is in poor shape. Besides the hole he made, a wide swath of floor has fallen away in the center of the room.

Even though a new shambler joins the fray from the far side of the room, and Tristan nearly gets hugged more than he wishes by unclean, dead things, between Gruff's shadows, Tristan’s magic sword and Durin that float like butterflies, the shamblers are soon taken care of. Wiping bits of goo off of their swords and clothes, they thoroughly explore the level, discovering a trapdoor on the far side of the room that apparently leads to the rough basement of the tower. Seeing that there are a couple more shamblers below, they decide they've seen enough and head back up.

The others notice with some curiosity, that Gruff has acquired a new shadowy sword by somehow enchanting one of the Daggar's own weapons with his new shadowy magic.

Faced with the certainty of having to use the parapet door, Rory decides to see what he can see and carefully peeks out. While no enemies are currently visible, mornings light is not far off. Shortly thereafter, a new set of Daggar appear at the far tower and start making their way towards the group. Even though Gruff rushes the ambush, soon two more Daggar join the pile of dead. Torn between proceeding at once, even though the spell casters are weakened, or resting and chancing discovery, the party decides that resting is the better option.

After disposing of the bodies down the shambler hole, Tristan keeps watch on the main door, while the others take a rest. Though Tristan hopes for the best, he's not really surprised when he sees the latch on the door begin to move. Quickly nudging his sleeping companions he pulls the side door mostly closed as weapons are silently drawn. They watch first one, then another skeleton warrior begin searching the halls. When the skeletons open their door, they are quickly brought down by Tristan and Gruff. Gruff is in turn, nearly brought down by the heavy crossbow bolts fired by the Daggar at the tower door.

As return fire, Rory lets loose with a fireball that while not subtle, takes all but one of the five Daggar out of the battle. As Gruff and Ewald engage the remaining enemy, a horn resounds from the main keep, signaling the end of the stealth portion of the mission. Tristan and Rory race down the outer tower stairs, taking fire from more Daggar on the main keep roof, until another fireball from Rory puts an end to that nonsense.

Not wanting to be left behind, Ewald takes the quick way down off the wall, jumping onto, and through the rotting roof of one of the inner courtyard buildings. Perhaps it's luck, or divine grace that keeps him from injuring himself, but whatever the cause. It means that he gets to the main keep stairs at the same time as everyone else. As they all scramble up the steep stairs, they are urged on by the sound of the drawbridge chains raising.

The main keeps drawbridge is more than a quarter of the way up when they reach it. Gruff Tristan and Rory make hurdling the obstacle seem easy. Ewald makes it look heroic. Still, results are all that matter at this point and time is of the utmost importance. As three heavily armored skeletons move forward to intercept the heroes, gruff once more calls on his shadow Magic to ensnare them.

Taking the initiative, Tristan moves past the entangled skeletons and straight into the keep. More crossbow bolts lodge themselves in his shield (which is of course better than his flesh). Rory sends a third fireball past Tristan to help clear the way, then Tristan is facing a well armored Daagar captain that appears to be Ewald’s dark opposite, with field plate and a greataxe.

While Gruff deals with the skeletons and Tristan dances with the Daagar captain, Rory and Ewald rush to help. With an acrobatic leap, Rory comes over the defensive platform and spits the heavily armored captain on the length of his bastard sword – a move that doesn’t fail to impress. The soul remaining Daagar warrior puts up a valiant fight, but soon falls to the combined might of the four heroes.

The next obstacle appears to be an inner portcullis that blocks their way. While there are no enemies present for the moment, sounds can be heard in the keep above. From his small store of dark energy, Gruff summons extra strength and moves toward the portcullis. The others move to help.

With the element of surprise now gone, speed becomes of paramount importance. Will the heroes find and defeat Kadagar? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A bit of the comic side

All in good fun my peeps

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

An illustration inspired by our last session...

I call this one "An Evil Wind"

Completely designed in photoshop.

SESSION TWENTY TWO "Ice to meet you"

It takes precious moments for any of the others to even SEE the elementals, much less effectively react beyond brandishing weapons. Somewhat in the way of a helpful pointer, Rory sends a fireball toward one of the icy apparitions. Ewald makes good use of his time casting an enchantment upon his axe. Then the enemy is upon them.

Two of the elementals swarm Ewald, while the other two harass Rory and Gruff. As luck would have it, those with magic weapons seem to be able to hurt the creatures, though how much damage they actually do is questionable. Rory continues aiming fireballs at them, though it appears the fiery blasts do more to stun then actually kill. Gruff calls forth that old dark magic he does so well... only he doesn't.. exactly... do so well with it. A situation that quickly annoys the angered goat-man.

For their part, the elementals begin inflicting damage by enveloping the heroes in swirling frost and freezing winds. In moments, most everyone is suffering from frostburn on some exposed part of their body, Ewald taking the worst. They continue to swat at the insubstantial opponents while their curses are pulled away into the depths of the chasm below.

Though things at first look grim, eventually the tide turns as fireballs and magic weapons begin to take their toll. Much to his relief, Tristan finds that the punching dagger recently given to him by Goric the gimp is very effective against the elementals. As the first of the creatures is destroyed by a well placed thrust with said dagger, Tristan screams out a warning to Rory, "The ropes! They're freezing! They might break!" Rory however is too busy yanking on said ropes, using them to perform miraculous dodges and narrow escapes, to hear his friend.

The first rope to give is the one between Gruff and Rory. With a snap that is quickly swallowed by howling winds, the rope breaks. Rory and Tristan, weighing only somewhat more than a feather, immediately swing wide away from the Trulla and go trailing out in an arc behind Ewald.

Gruff, who at this very moment is silently cursing Seer Gavin and his worthless shadow magic, briefly considers making for the far side of the chasm without his friends. But it's only a brief thought, really.

Ewald wounds one of his opponents enough to send the creature fleeing into the depths of the canyon. He turns from his victory in time to see the weakened rope holding his two levitating companions snap. With a cry of despair, Tristan and Rory go sailing off into the dark at the speed of the rushing wind... or at least they would have, if not for the quick, furry hands of Gruff, who neatly reaches out and grasps the flailing rope.

Another creature is scared off by Ewald's deadly axe and the last remaining elemental is stunned by a quickly tiring Rory, allowing the group to grab hold of each other by whatever belts and harnesses they can find and make air-walking tracks toward the relative safety of the mountainside.

The last remaining elemental makes another go at stopping the heroes, but is put down and sent fleeing by the combined might of Ewald's and Tristan's magic weapons.

Perched on the exposed rock of Kadagar's mountainside, the group huddles and rests, attempting to gain back a little strength and stamina before making the last climb to the keep itself. Though the others show concern, Gruff's summoned wolf (which everyone can't help but notice looks much different than Finn, his old celestial companion) moves up the mountainside to scout the approach.

With several candles of darkness remaining, they set off once more. In hopes of saving their magical strength for later, when it might be more needed, they elect to make the last ascent without the aid of Ewald or Rory's spells. Drawing nearer to the keep, they notice for the first time, a small gatehouse below the castle itself. Opting to swing wide around that nest of possible traps and enemies, they approach the keep from the south side, making some difficult and perilous climbs to get there.

About a hundred feet below the south wall of the keep, they are stopped by a near sheer cliff. Looking up at the old walls, they can see the ruins of some sort of structure built off the wall. Possibly a pulley-house or some sort of lift, with broken chains dangling from the windows.

As they consider the best way up, a face appears briefly from one of the windows, Stillness and darkness keep them from being spotted, but also keep them from verifying the identity of the guard. Resigned to the fact that one more round of airwalk spells will be required, Ewald casts his now familiar magic and the group quickly climbs toward the southeast tower, aiming for one of the deep-set windows higher up.

There's another close call when a second guard is spotted on the Northeast, main keep tower, but the group quickly moves out of sight and behind the bulk of the south tower. Finding the narrow window shuttered and barred, Rory has to spend several minutes jimmying the catch before the group can step into the blackness of the tower itself.

They find themselves in a narrow hall that seems to bisect the tower. In each wall are two shut doors and at the far end is a steep staircase that apparently leads down only. No sound can be heard behind any of the doors, and once the shutter is re-latched, the hallway grows almost completely dark. Needing to try at least one of the rooms, Gruff steps into a dusty barracks room. If the dust is any indication, the room hasn't been visited in years.

One by one, they descend the stairs, with their designated scout, Rory, in the lead. At the base of the stairs the passage turns left. Rory's excellent vision is enough to spot a sentry standing thirty feet away at the four-way junction of intersecting halls. A quick inspection by Gruff notes the guard to be of the bloodless, skeleton variety.

A prodigious Trullik leap puts Gruff in easy sword swing of the sentry, where he absolutely destroys the creature with one solid, if-not-quiet-at-least-quick blow. A moment later, drawn by the noise, a Daagar head pops out of the newly exposed west hall, and then quickly pops back in when he sees a charging Trulla warrior. Before the white-skinned daagar can shut the door, Gruff is on him and he is desperately defending himself. Rory and Ewald are quick on Gruff's heals and the first daagar takes a nasty wound and tries to dive under a table to avoid the swinging great weapons.

Rory spots the other two daagar in this room, just rising and reaching for weapons. Moments later they are helplessly entangled in a mass of sticky, magical webbing. As Tristan makes his blind-Neran-in-a-dark-hall way toward the candlelight this room helpfully provides, Gruff ends the first Daagar by cracking his skull with a Trulla headbutt and the two remaining enemies begin screaming "HELP! INTRUDERS!" in Daagar. Hoping to shut these two up quickly, Tristan and Rory begin poking at the figures through the webs. Though several shouts are raised before the two are skewered, there appears to be no general alarm.

Not wanting to chance staying in the same place for too long, the group quickly checks the room across from them, opting for the moment to stay away from the large door at the end the hall, which Ewald believes will bring them to the well guarded front wall and gate area. The room they do enter appears to be a storage room of some sort. A quick search reveals a trap door in the floor that leads down by means of a rickety ladder. Again Rory takes the lead, climbing carefully down and using what little light trickles down from Tristan's candle to peer into the gloomy room.

There are many shapes in the shadows. While Rory's kirith-syvani eyes are good, it's the squeaking floorboards and rotting smell that give him his only split-second clues. From all sides out of the darkness lunge more bloodless undead, this time in the form of four shambling corpses that may have have been hodran at one-time. Springing backwards, Rory deftly avoids the putrid arms of each and every one of his attackers, slipping through the rungs of the ladder, kicking off the tower wall and somersaulting over the grasping undead. Coming to his feet with sword in hand, he faces off against this newest threat with hope that his friends above will quickly join in...