Campaign of the Month: March 2009

Denizens of the Nentir Vale

A Golden Shower

Torben Eastlander had a problem. As he sat nursing his glass of Nentir ‘97 in the Nenlast Outpost, he pondered his dilemma. He believed the adventurers; he really did. Yes, they told fanciful stories and perhaps embellished the truth. But at his core, he knew they were telling the truth. The problem was the public – those howling masses who demanded ever greater excitement. They didn’t care about noble causes, saving the world, rescuing the dragonborn. No, they just wanted a ripping good yarn full of death and destruction, back-stabbing, romance, and spurned lovers. And Torben knew that his friends just didn’t have those kinds of adventures.

Take for instance their latest adventure. Barrick, as effusive as ever, had slapped him on the back hard enough to knock out his platinum filling.

“Have we got a tale for you!!” the dwarf had exclaimed.

Torben looked down at his scrawled notes and sighed. Fandril Staghelm? Chief Druid of the Flame? His readers would scoff. It was all so absurd. Okay, so the guy had gems floating around his head, that was somewhat interesting. And there was some strange connection to Tira Duskmeadow. The audience might like that – they always seemed to gravitate towards the beautiful sorceress. And that look of shock and panic in Fandril’s eyes. Perhaps Torben could make something of that. Was it really Tira’s long-lost father? Tira made it clear that Fandril was under a charm, and he had given an amulet to someone. But who?

Torben took a deep sip. Now if the party had suddenly turned on Fandril and attacked, then he would have had something to work with. Tira, being conflicted, might have tried to stop them or even defended her father (?). But instead, Fandril had simply said “I can give you an audience with Ragnaros”, shot some red beams out of his gems, opened the door, and immediately been turned to stone by Ragnaros. Boring!

At least the battle with Ragnaros was interesting. There was some background about the Prince of Frost (Ahune?) in the realm of cold, but Torben could simply leave that out. Then, just when Torben was worried that they would actually try to negotiate with Ragnaros, the ranger Erik had lost his cool and shot an arrow in Ragaros’ face. Thank Correllon for that!

And then there were the four elementals. Now there was something that Torben could work with. Erik, shooting his arrows like a mad man into the magma elemental. Rift wielding her dark star staff on the fiery tornado, only to get hit by a terrible fire blast. Z’alden with his fancy colored sacred flames, fighting alongside the mad dwarf Barrick, both of them struck by a fireball.

Torben muttered to himself, “what about the bag of gold?” A nearby half-orc cocked an eyebrow and nudged his table mates.

Ah yes, Barrick had dumped an entire bag-of-holding full of gold onto the magna elemental’s head. Okay, a little humor, that helps. But he needed more Tira; the way that wild sorceress vaporized the elementals with her thunder and lightning. Rift, with the ray of frost, and again with the same ray of frost. Boring!

Now Ragnaros waded into the fray, hitting Rift and Z’alden, stunning them, unconscious, dazed. Good stuff that! But a blast of cold from Rift and a strange day/night spell from Tira pushed Ragnaros back. Barrick, throwing his axe (good dwarf!) and jumping onto the giant’s back. Why did the dwarf like to ride giants? Was he making up for his own small stature? Perhaps Torben could explore that angle further.

Torben took a sip of ankheg stew. By this point in his notes, Z’alden was near dead, his cleric healing used to help others but not himself. Ragnaros picked up Barrick and threw him across the room at Erik. That was good! Then Torben stopped and sighed. Of course the adventurers couldn’t finish the battle themselves. They had to summon that pesky Ur Feyn, the stupid lich. Torben’s readers would think he was just making that up to save the story, like he couldn’t come up with anything better.

Okay, so Ur Feyn had helped the party by removing all of their afflictions. Torben could just leave that part out. Much better to concentrate on Tira, who in the middle of battle, had wandered off into another room, looking for treasure? And then had found a healing potion just in the nick of time to save Rift. Was there something going on between those two? Hmmm, Torben thought, then shook his head. No, much better to keep the tension between the ranger and the two elves.

Barrick stunned Ragnaros, then (perhaps his dwarven greed getting the best of him) also went into another treasure room, discovering a cache of sapphires and a forest green crystal.

Finally, Ragnaros swung Sulphurus, his mighty hammer, at Erik, knocking down the brave ranger. Torben had scribbled “Erik crawling!” on his notes at this point. Z’alden had made Ragnaros disappear, giving time for Erik to apply a gem (Torben hadn’t written down which one) to his war glaive. The gem somehow (damn his notes!) gave Erik the power to destroy Ragnaros completely. A burst of crackling red fire, and Ragnaros exploded (good!).

“2000 rubies?!” Torben exclaimed to himself. The half-orc and his companions were now staring greedily at Torben. One of them fingered a knife in his belt.

Yes, there was the forest green crystal, a scarab-looking amulet, and some other damaged amulet. Useless!

Torben slumped back in his seat, defeated. How would he turn all of this drivel into a coherent story that his editors in Fallcrest would accept?

The half-orcs rose from their seats, loosening their knives in their scabbards.

Comments

The hours blend together as time passes as aimlessly as a rivulet of water of a dragon’s back. So too does Erik’s mind wander and with no foe to slay today, he focus on practicing his martial arts. Alas, his thoughts of one-on-one combat vanish and he starts to ponder squad level combat. His compatriots are off to whatever they are doing and so he is left to his own devices. Finally he strikes upon an idea.

Erik will simulate squad level combat. He talks this over with Rift, and she describes the strange magics of probability theory and how polyhedrons could be employed. So, Erik designs a scheme to simulate both martial and spell combat. Simulated combatants will have something called “armor class” and “damage points”. Erik really likes the idea of “mana” for spell casting, but for some unknown reason that idea is rejected. Never-the-less, his squad-based combat mechanics begin to take form.

Perhaps his compatriots would like to join him in a combat simulation some day?

A Golden Shower
 

With no one to play his adventure and combat simulation with, Erik thinks to himself that maybe he should take a break from training his strength, dexterity and wisdom, all worthwhile for a ranger, and instead work on his charisma. That might come in handy one day. So, he gathers Rajel, Stewie, Lars and Monica in the dining hall of their great castle and he tries out a joke:


A hell hound walks into the Roc Express. They promise fast delivery of messages to far away places at a reasonable price. The elven clerk at Roc Express describes the message pricing structure to the hound. “It’s 10 silver pieces for the first 10 words and each additional word after that is 1 additional gold piece,” explains the clerk. The hound agrees. The clerks says, “Okay, what’s your message?”

The hound says, “woof woof woof, woof, woof woof, woof woof, woof.”

The clerk takes down the message and replies to the hound, “That’s just nine words. Ten words costs the same. Would you like me to throw in another ‘woof’?”

The hound looks at him, cocks his head and says, “But that wouldn’t make any sense!”


Erik looks out at his audience. Rajel is laughing hysterically. Stewie is laughing, but Erik is not sure he really gets it. Monica and Lars are smiling, having known the punchline from the start.

Erik wonders if the gods were listening. Maybe one of them will have liked the joke enough to boost his charisma [by two points].

A Golden Shower
 

After a few days of joking about and generally enjoying a well-deserved respite from saving the world, Erik decides to investigate why it seems that small amounts of food are missing from each meal. He searches high and low in the castle, but cannot seem to determine what is happening. Even Barrick, who occasionally develops a bit of a hollow leg, doesn’t seem the slightest bit suspicious. Perhaps Ur’feyn needs food for some reason.

Several days later Erik wakes late into the night, roused by his almost supernatural ranger senses. He grabs his warglaives, and sneaks down to the main hall. What he sees surprises him: a white haired man sits at the feasting table enjoying a helping of the pork intended for tomorrow’s supper.

What does Erik do, especially considering his feeling of heightened charisma?

A Golden Shower
 

Erik thinks to himself that this must be no ordinary man, for he has somehow avoided the Black Knight of the drawbridge, the magical gargoyles that line the rooftop, and all the other castle guardian and warning mechanisms. So, Erik sets his warglaives aside and quickly heads to the kitchen to grab an unopened bottle of Nentir ’97, some cheese, and two goblets.

Armed with nothing but greetings, Erik sits down opposite his unexpected guest and says, “Welcome, guest, I’m Erik.” As he waits for a reply, he uncorks the bottle and motions an offer for the man either accept or reject a pour.

At this point Rajel wanders into the dinning hall, having remembered to slip on a silk robe despite still being half asleep. She sits down next to Erik and with a late-night whisper asks him, “Who’s our guest?”

A Golden Shower
 

“My name is Geralt. I am known in the northern kingdoms as a witcher. We are an order of professionals, one that tends to keep the view that the world has no need for heroes. However, there is a threat beyond my ability, one that has made me seek you out.”
He motions for Erik to pour. As he is pouring, Erik takes a moment to more closely observe the man sitting across from him. Geralt wears armor of leather and chain, with few adornments. The chain shines, but also bears the marks of many battles. This simple armor hides the build of a hardened warrior, who likely bears the scars to match the chain. Around his neck he wears an amulet, carved of a shining grey stone, that resembles a wolf. Looking to the man’s side, Erik sees two swords leaned against the chair, one of steel, the other of silver.

A Golden Shower
 

Erik does his best to ascertain the full nature of Geralt’s weapons, armor and amulet.

“Geralt, welcome to Wizard Island and our castle,” replies Erik, “You are our guest for as long as you need, but I gather that this threat is urgent and we soon will be traveling companions. I too am from the Northern Kingdoms, and have heard tales of the blood hunters since I was but a small child. Is your order of witchers related?”

Rajel then chimes in, with a more direct question that gets to the heart of the matter, “And please tell us of this threat. What manner of beast, demon or devil casts a shadow of great peril?”

A Golden Shower
 

Z’alden stumbles into the Hall focused on Erik. “Good friend Ranger! Dragon’s wings, but one cannot believe what problems confusing ‘Dual’ and ‘Duel’ can lead to in enchanting the correct arrow.”

“His High Lord of the Right Talon at the monastery always said spelling doesn’t matter. Ha! He should try making your arrows,” the cleric laughed at himself.

All three notice small cuts on the hands and face of the cleric. He shakes his head, mutters a prayer, and silver flames bathe over him, the cuts mending.

“The other items were much less onerous, my good friend.” Z’alden finally seems completely awake and notices the others in the room. He bows graciously to the witcher, “I am Zenithar son of Denithar, servant of the Great Dragon Bahamut. By the Wings that guide, Peace be upon you. My friends call me Z’alden.”

[OOC: What does the cleric know of a witcher? Does he recognize the symbols or know the use of the silver sword?]
[OOC: Everything that Erik had requested of Z’alden has been made. There is also a potion of flying and several other items for every party member]

A Golden Shower
 

Geralt fidgets with the worn bronze ring around his finger and sits back.

“The foe I seek your aid in defeating is something of myth. Centuries ago, an ancient white dragon terrorized the north. Four great heroes led an army to the foot of its lair. My ancestor was the sole survivor of the conflict that ended the beast. I fear it has risen again, at the hands of a powerful necromancer. The undead are becoming more than just a nuisance in my homeland. Their strength is tenfold that which it used to be.”

He sips at a glass of water and turns to the ranger.

“The Witchers are similar in many ways to your Blood Hunters. Some would call us rivals. Perhaps the key difference is that the Blood Hunters are heroes in every sense; selfless and fighting for what the north can call civilization. We Witchers are simple professionals. We kill monsters for coin, plain and simple.”

He chuckles at that and gets up from the table. Turning his head, he asks:

“Now, where can I find a place for a few hours rest until the morning?”

A Golden Shower
 

The cleric bows his head graciously and motions for the Witcher to follow him. “Please, allow me to offer you my quarters. I will be praying in the chapel for guidance from the Great Dragon on how we should address this threat.”

A Golden Shower
 

When Erik inspects Geralt’s equipment, he notices subtle carvings in both swords and in the heavy hide armor Geralt wears. The wolf necklace is perfect, as though the stone had formed that way instead of being carved. Erik suspects the necklace provides Geralt with similar benefits that the Bloodhunter’s gem provides Erik. Erik also notices characters of the language supernal carved on the bronze ring Geralt seems to constantly touch on his right hand.

Z’alden remembers that the Witchers focus especially on the hunting of undead and lycanthropes, and this is why they carry the silver sword, to better fight these dark monsters. Z’alden can also recall a small part of the Witcher tale of the Wild Hunt: The Wild Hunt is an army of the creatures of misery and darkness, led by Orcus’s second in command: Doresain the Ghoul King. The wolf symbol of the Witcher’s represents how their purpose is to fight the Wild Hunt, and while they pride themselves in being only glorified mercenaries, they will fight as heroes against their ancient foe.]

A Golden Shower
 

The party and their companions make their way to each of their bedchambers, with Z’alden opting to seek rest in prayer.

The martial warriors, the human ranger and dwarf fighter, drift into a hazy sleep, disturbed by the news brought by this Witcher.

Those who wield the strange arcane powers of the universe do not find solace in sleep like their companions, instead each is thrust into vivid dream.


Rift looks around. Tomes cover the walls and a good portion of the floor in this circular room, and a cloaked figure mutters over a desk in front of her. She can vaguely make out his words:

“Mhm… oh yes… a curse of enfeeblement… quite interesting… oh, more rot… always paladins.”

Rift quickly realizes that she is in the chambers of Ur’feyn. She steps forward and begins to speak, but he immediately turns, slamming shut the dark tome and interrupts:

“Rift. How strange. Please refrain from speaking. I have some quite specific curses in place, and you seemed rather separated from yourself… I am curious though, as to why you are here. You seem just a surprised as I am.”

He pulls a worn book off a shelf and pages through it. Stopping on a page he reads for a moment and Rift glimpses a symbol for Archmage on the page. Ur’feyn grimaces, shuts the book, and tosses it on a nearby pile.

“You Archmages, binding your very brains to the arcane. I suspect you cast a spell without consciously realizing you had done so. Something fired in your brain, made a connection faster than you could actively think, and put you here. I must know something very important to you.”

He leans on his staff, and shuts his eyes for a moment. Opening them, he speaks softly to Rift, almost as if he is fearful.

“When you called for my aid, pulled me across the planes, my master knew. Well, my old master. A Lich is never free from the prince of undeath… It was in that moment that he was not only reminded of me, but learned of you and your companions, and the possibility that you may actually pose a threat to his domain.”

He moves to a shelf filled with large rolled papers, quickly selects one, and motions for Rift to come over to him at a table. He unrolls the paper. It depicts a map of much of the northern reaches of the world.

“Rift, his agents have all moved into this region. I know not why, but suspect it is of great importance. That stranger in your castle is from there. I must confess I like to watch the comings and goings…”

Ur’feyn continues to speak, but Rift can no longer hear him, and quickly the dream fades back into the darkness of her normal trance state of rest.


Tira takes a step forward. She squints her eyes against the bright light around her. Looking all about, it seems she is standing on some sort of massive crystal, or perhaps fractured glass. Suddenly, she is teleported across the surface. Immediately she is teleported seemingly hundreds of feet above the surface of the strange object. Looking closely at it, Tira can tell it certainly tell it resembles a cut gem.

Again she is teleported. This time she feels as though a vast distance separates her from the object. It seems as distant as the first sight of a towering peak, but is still large enough that she cannot block her sight of it with an outstretched hand.

Finding herself even farther away, the object is now smaller than a single gold coin to her. She reaches her hand out again, to compare it with her thumb. She feels her thumb press against it ever so slightly. She reaches forward and grabs it between two fingers, then holds it before her.

A familiar voice speaks to her, “Don’t you realize? This is the real one.”

Her mind returns to the dull silence of sleep.

A Golden Shower
rplayer gorthmog

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