MERP: Mahala Redmane

One night, late at the Flippery Fish, gnoshing on finely browned tater tots, the party planned their next move. Three of Oldahr’s rangers — Sentalos, Avalas, Lintario – keep strangers from the table.  At the table is Elias (Sam Elliot), Oldahr, Bertram, Grafarlig, Tanuukkodol, and Jacklesprat Flutergork Whisperwhammer. Jacklesprat tells them that they can find Taleric Hammrammer at the Palace in the Sands, an ancient temple in the desert southwest of Dilgul. Jacklesprat said Taleric said to return to the beginning, and that is where his adventures with Taleric began, and where they went when things went south. In other words, Taleric was waiting for Vicini.

“This reeks of the ways,” grumbled Bertram. Encouraged, Oldahr dragged Bertram aside. “This hobbit is either lying or mad,” he explained.  “I think it would be better if you went to Shrel Kain and help put Elentaria down. A small team could sneak in and get her palantir.” “Then,” said Oldahr, “the right people can govern. The West should control the Rhunaer.

Elias pulled Grafarlig and Tanuukkodol to the side. “That hobbit can’t be trusted an inch,” said Elias. Instead, you should find out what is happening in the East? From Goktig?” “He was deep in a forest in Oldaer, but we couldn’t find him,” said Grafarlig. “I’d like to find him,” adds Elias. “The People of the East should be able to govern themselves. And we need to stop Delcaran.”

“Nah, let’s go south,” agreed the party. “If Delcaran gets ahold of that master palantir, the whole area is in trouble.” Tanuukkodol draws out from Jacklesprat that Taleric is out for himself, and generally an anti-hero if not an actual villain.

Bertram was silent. His deepness was very deep and his silence impressed the others not at all. Bertram then told Jacklesprat that Elias and Oldahr thought he was insane. The hobbit agrees that the party and he couldn’t trust Elias and Oldahr. “What am I,” said Grafarlig, “Chopped Liver?” “Oh no, I trust YOU, of course,” said Jacklesprat in a condescending way.

Bertram says, “We need some desert gear. I’m thinking black leather masks with metal spurs and long black leather straps…” “And a sun hat,” added Grafarlig. “Let’s go to Desert Equipment are Us,” says Tanuukkodol. “I just saw it across the street.” They picked up cloaks and pants and hats, but found little S&M gear. Bertram got special gear for when he changed into Ughthug. “Oh no, that’s going to have to be bigger,” commented Tanuukkodol.

Tanuukkodol advised Grafarlig to give Lord Windsor 50,000 s. to build a fleet against Elentaria. He told Lord Windsor to find Drogo, who would probably get him more. He also had her buy the party camels, saddles, and extra water bags for the trip to the Palace in the Sands.

The next day, the party headed out in the camel caravan to the deep desert just southwest of Dilgul. They had to cross a river first. Tanuukkodol helped the others manage their camels. That night the party had bad dreams, dreams that troubled them personally. Tanuukkodol felt an evil presence sweeping over the world. Bertram dreamed that six demons kept punching him in the head. Grafarlig dreamed that she woke up and everyone was gone, and that she was all alone. Jacklesprat slept great.

Jacklesprat cooked tater tots for breakfast. Jacklesprat leads them further and deeper into the desert. That night, Bertram sensed that someone was out in the desert watching them, during his night watch. There is a force, figures, surrounding the party. The party prepared their weapons. Tanuukkodol swings up into the saddle and spots the eight men around them.  “Identify yourselves,” he shouted in Ulgathig. “Kill them,” they returned. Tanuukkodol killed one and wounded two in the first round. Grafarlig chops off the top of one of their heads. Bertram strummed the happy harp to soothe his attackers. Two attackers pause, confused. One attacker sweeps up Jacklesprat and rides off with him on a camel. Tanuukkodol’s two other foes expire from their wounds.

Next round, Tanuukkodol puts an arrow through the throat of Jacklesprat’s abductor, killing him. Jacklesprat tumbles to the ground, and Tanuukkodol gathers up the camels of that one and the others dead (5 camels). Then he stopped Jacklesprat (who was fleeing into the desert) and rejoined the others. Two bandits had fled, one had given up, and Grafarlig had killed the others. Tanuukkodol questions the survivor. Upon learning that the bandit speaks Black Speech, is from the plains to the east, and was hired by Delcaran to get Jacklesprat, Tanuukkodol puts a spear through his head. “He was one of those I have found all of my life, who served the evil ones,” says Tanuukkodol.

Tanuukkodol searches the saddle bags and finds 10 gp. total and pockets them. Bertram is enormously suspicious, as usual. Jacklesprat tells them that the men were from the Brygath tribe. Tanuukkodol told the hobbit that the bandits had been hired to take the hobbit back to Delcaran so he could be tortured to death.

The party heads on to the palace in the sands. There is one enclosure above ground (a house). The DM’s map is revealed for a moment against the light, showing that he has been using Dave’s Mapper to create a sideview dungeon. There is a nomad stationed in front of the door. Bertram distracts him with a calming song and Tanuukkodol knocks him unconscious and ties him up. “That’s Grendel Redmane,” says Jacklesprat. “There’s six to twelve of them, and they’re all scumbags. Mahala Redmane went with Taleric on his journey.” “Draven is dead already.” They strip Grendel, and Bertram wears his clothing. He has 20 s., 5 gp. Tanuukkodol cuts his throat outside and as he gurgles his last, he piles sand over him.

Jacklesprat leads them through the dungeon, avoiding traps and revealing secret rooms. In a secret room, they find a dagger of orc-slaying (+5 damage, and double criticals against an orc) and 1,000 bronze coins.

At the bottom of the dungeon is a group of six bravos relaxing next to an ancient statue. Mahala, now 70, is there as well. One guy is particularly tall and has darker hair.

Mahala, Taleric, Lomeilinde, Jacklesprat, and 9 other guys were on the initial trip. Lomeilinde left with Jacklesprat and Mahala. Taleric and the 9 guys went towards Tol Sulereb.

Bertram took off the clothing he stole and dragged Jacklesprat into the room. Grafarlig and Tanuukkodol hid in the room outside with their weapons.

Bertram asks Mahala for help finding Taleric and trying to find a palantir. The men start to surround Bertram. He talks about the mad elf and the siren as a danger to Middle Earth. Mahala says Elentaria has only six months to live and doesn’t want to deal with the other siren. Bertram then talks about Delcaran building a cult and amassing an army. Mahala says he must have a dark palantir. The four palantiri are from Torlumen, and she and the other stole them. Bertram tells her that Jacklesprat told Delcaran about Taleric. “When you need Taleric, he’s not going to be there for you,” says Mahala. If you put a palantir in the four corners of the Rhunaer. One in Shrel Kain, one in Lest, one in the Strand, and Torlumen. The master palantir is in Tol Sulereb and can control the others, and control the Sea of Rhun and from there the rest of the world. Taleric took a very pretty girl, whose clothes are in shreds, the daughter of Demetrios. 

Demetrios put his hand on Jory Barlen’s head and aged him extensively.  Tally put a sword in Jory’s eye. In the theft, they stole four palantiri.

  1. Jacklesprat took one, but lost it in cards to Lord Windsor, from whom Drogo stole it.
  2. Mahala took another. Draven took it and sold it to Elentaria. The party captured that one and gave it to Pallando, who gave it to Drogo.
  3. Lomeilinde took one. She threw it in Valaraukar’s lair.
  4. Taleric took one.

Mahala reveals that “Taleric is now one of the rangers, now under another name.” (Elias)

There’s a noise from above. Someone has come in from above.  All six boys headed up past the hidden Grafarlig and Tanuukkodol, to attack Delcaran. Mahala prepared for defense.

Tanuukkodol follows the men and takes a station at the top of stairs. Grafarlig is behind him. Three men come from either side, an archer, a swordsman, and a mage. He wounds an archer, and kills the mage on one side.

They run down to the room at the bottom of the stairs. Two of Tanuukkodol’s arrows are burned up by the warrior in the lead. The other hits the man in the head for 20 damage. Grafarlig and Ughthug attack him.  Grafarlig misses. The man misses. Ughthug is stunned.

Tanuukkodol holds his shots until the circle of flame goes out. Ughthug crushed the head of the man circled by flames, and then runs upstairs after the archer, with Grafarlig following. Grafarlig is stunned for a round by an arrow.

Mahala and Tanuukkodol meet and Mahala then follows Grafarlig.  Tanuukkodol follows her.

Grafarlig hits the archer in the head, killing him.

He talks just like this. Mahala goes to the top and raises her hand and an incredibly bright light comes from it, stunning him. Ughthug attacks and wounds him. Delcaran throws a fireball but fumbles and burns himself badly (losing his spell through fear of the attack), stunning himself. Grafarlig attacks him in the left leg for a grazing blow.

Ughthug himself and turns back into Bertram. Grafarlig wounded Delcaran.

One of the soldiers jumps the stairs and receives two arrows from Tanuukkodol, stunning him for two rounds.

A goblet falls out the sky and bonks Delcaran on the head. Bertram runs through the flames to escape. His clothing catches on fire. He falls unconscious.

RULE ADDITION: Unconsciousness is until -10 HP, and then can go another -15 because of his Stamina and then will die.

Grafarlig hits Delcaran in the torso, doing 9 damage. Delcaran casts a fireball and burns Grafarlig for 19 hp but 1 hp/round. Bertram is still on fire and takes another 8 damage.

Tanuukkodol shoots Delcaran in the eye. The second shot kills him.

The soldier weeps over Delcaran. Tanuukkodol shoots him again, and then strides over and kills him with his spear, stabbing him through his heart.

Grafarlig puts Ughthug’s fire out, and then does First Aid.

Tanuukkodol searches Delcaran and finds black rigid leather armor, a mahogany staff (magical), a ring (warm to the touch), and a single handed axe at this waist that looks evil. He’s resting his hands on an invisible thing, a palantir. Tanuukkodol puts the palantir in his backpack with the ring and gathers up the staff and axe. Then Tanuukkodol used 2 moon doses to bring Bertram back to consciousness, and then puts carpet moss on his burns to double his healing speed.

When the party goes downstairs to search for Mahalla and Jacklesprat, they are gone. Grafarlig looks in the faux fireplace and finds a secret passage way that leads downward. Mahalla & Jacklesprat have escaped.

They find 25 gp. in chests, a staff emanating with light, a pair of glasses on top of a bookcase, plus 12 dead acolytes in black rigid leather, plus 6 good longswords, some good longbows, plus 1,000 bronze pieces (worth carrying) plus 1,000 bronze pieces in the secret room. Plus Delcaran’s armor, and 3 of the Redmanes, plus Grendel’s.

Pallando has returned from Torlumen. He met with Demetrios. His garden was beautiful. Through one door is the ways to Tol Sulereb but it was pure black and deep underwater. He flung a hollow elf through the door and crushed under the great pressure. A vicious awful fish with serrated teeth was there. Demetrios said he would need a palantir to show the way.

Bertram takes the Staff of Healing and Nine Eyes (the fear axe). Tanuukkodol takes the glasses of herb finding. Tanuukkodol gives Pallando the Ring of Fire and also (after the others have left) the third palantir.

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An Ankheg Queen by Caio Monteiro

A while back I talked about how old D&D monsters kept mutating as new artists got a hold of them. The Ankheg was what set me off in old-timer grumpiness, but here’s a new image of the Ankheg I liked. This one is by Caio Monteiro for the Pathfinder campaign, Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes. The queen is pretty cool. I have major issues about the ridiculously large sword weilded by the hero, and the flail he’s swinging so recklessly. And the queen is still not much like the original monster, but I’d use her in my campaign.

Ankhkeg Queen by Caio Monteiro

 

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Terror in Meeple City

This is one of the few board games we play any more. The game came out in 2013, but I first learned about it at Pax East 2017 when my wife and I volunteered at the Game Library. They had a copy of it when it was named Rampage, which was since been changed to Terror in Meeple City in 2014 to avoid confusion of the game with the Rampage video game from Bally Midway, dating from 1986. I loved that old video game, so I immediately went searching for a copy of the first version and snapped up in its original wrapping. Here’s the original version of the boardgame:

Rampage game with a player about to fling a bus

And here’s the newer version. They now include stickers for each meeple, to add some personality to them.

Terror in Meeple City, with the stickers on the meeple.

The game itself is a blast, both because of its simplicity and because there’s plenty of variation built into the victory conditions. There are very few game mechanics. You move by flicking your base, and you attack buildings either by physically blowing on them or by dropping your monster on them. There are multiple victory conditions, depending on the character you are playing and the powers it has. The game also is one that you can play with anyone. My mom hates most games, especially strategy games, but she had a lot of fun with this one. The only other ones she’ll play are Sorry and Snakes in the Grass. To see Terror in Meeple City gameplay in action, check out Trueflight Swiftwing’s review.

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NAVAH: The Homecoming

The evening began with the party trying to get rid of the Halka Lord in the Dome of Darkness. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to banish it. In the days of planning, Josette unenchanted the Dancing Sword (releasing a Krepgan into the town) and the Sword of Woman Killing (the Lystdogga trapped inside fled back to his own plane). In doing so, she gained +1 MASS and +1 APP.

Ian kept one of +2/+2 broadswords and gave one to Glern. Ian gave one of his swords to Brendan.

Ian then attacked the Halka, using the ring of dark vision and Brendan’s +2 Earth Shield. Brendan shot his light ring in first, blinding the demon for three rounds. Two air daggers were sent in, but failed to hit anything. Josette resummoned Skortch and sent the fire elemental against the demon, but it did nothing. Ian managed to cut off the demon’s right arm and then hamstrung his right leg, causing him to disappear into a mist. The dome of darkness remained, even after George the Earth Elemental had disassembled it. He also closed off the entrance to the dungeon, so that locals wouldn’t hurt themselves. Ian put a silver arrow with a q on it in the darkness and told the locals that the heart of the demon was still in the darkness, and that it had great power but could also take you over. In the years to come, the Mystical Black Dome of Jellakar became a major attraction for visitors.

Ian gave Brendan the ring of darkvision.

On their way back to Restwell, they were joined by a black knight named Adrian, who would not raise his visor until he had fulfilled his quest, a search for a loved one in Restwell.

When they got back to Restwell, the town was under siege by vampires. Hegelina had returned and now sought vengeance. She had turned the top three NPC fighters in town (Two of the Atkynsons and Joner) and also had turned the Worcestre family, the enemies of the Atkynsons.

They arrived at night time and no one would let them in. Ian was attacked by one of the Worcestres and took a major hit to the chest. Josette healed him and then Glern took a major leg wound. While Ian tried to decide whether to open his box of rings and use the Ring of Hateful Strength, Brendan and Adrian sliced the vampire in half. Upset that he didn’t get to hit her, Ian tried to stab her, but she turned to smoke and fled too quickly. Josette healed Glern.

Parinita Heton showed up the next day to collect Brendan’s long overdue debt to Farbrath the Horse Trader and Jimric the Guardsman. Brendan settled his debt with the golden chamberpot, and she left the next day, though she does consider returning someday and seeing Brendan again.

The party then went out to the Worcestre cabin in the woods, looking for clues, but finding none. On the way back, the Great Boar followed them until Ian chased him off. Ian suspects the Great Boar of being behind the vampire attacks.

Josette sensed that Adrian was a powerful spirit, so Ian and Brendan quizzed him through the evening in the inn. At the end, Ian threatened Adrian, and the knight retreated to his room. Outside, Guang the artist came to visit his patron (Brendan) but they wouldn’t let him into the inn after dark, and the vampires killed him. In the morning, Guang’s body was found outside the inn, along with three new paintings he was bringing Brendan. A look of horror was still on Guang’s face. 

Alexios returned the next day with Balau, Pongnam, and Lorlop. They had come through The Pass and reported that most of the residents of Amidst had been killed by the Slicers, who were no longer seen anywhere.

Hammond Scawsby appeared to Brendan later in the day, warning him that Hegelina was seeking vengeance. Brendan didn’t remember her at all, and had to be reminded of that misadventure. Brendan tried to buy back his hat, so Scawsby retreated after telling him that the vampires were in the Darkrealms.

And there we ended for the night.

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NAVAH: How Restwell has grown

When the Sir Alexios Barthold inherited the village of Restwell two years ago, there were only 29 buildings. The tower was in shambles and there was no inn or walls. As the players return to the town, the inn has been completed and named Sir Barthold’s Rest. There are now 54 structures in town, including a covenant, a militia training yard, and a wooden palisade atop a low earthwork. The tunnel through Amidst has been opened, though Amidst has been devastated. The reopening of the Pass diverted only a small part of trade from the northern route, but it represented a large increase for Restwell. The residents complain that a seedier sort has been moving to town, and preying on the caravans. In fact, Sir Alexios has been developing a loyal following of burglars, cutpurses, and thugs. Despite his rise to nobility, he can’t shake his old habits.

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MERP: The Return of Delcaran

The party learned that after they left Lest, Elentaria’s power in the south was broken, and she retreated to Shrel Kain with her sole remaining palantiri. Many of her followers followed, because the Syndicate began to clean house in Lest and elsewhere, killing many. The old leaders used mages who turned the victims’ legs to stone and then tossed them in the water to drown. Feldenaeth was less traditional and more bloody in his quest to establish a power base, slaughtering even more people, but with more prosaic means. He hid his identity beneath a number of alter egos, including Gelfablaeth, Smirkalato, and Trevor but his methods pointed to a single source.

Pallando’s mission to Demetrios was a failure. Demetrios declined the wizard’s offer to talk and also remarked in his note that the souls that Pallando sent were not hardy enough and didn’t last very long.  

The other piece of news came from Elgaer at the east side of the Rhunaer. A woman in a town there said she knew how to get to Tol Sulereb. The Rangers were sent but the town was burned down by a mad elf (the party immediately thought of Delcaran). One young ranger, Goektig, sent a message that he knew the way. He could say no more but asked them to send help. “Only send those whom you trust,” he wrote. 

Pallando decided to go north to treat with Demetrios himself. He sent the party east to Elgaer, led by Tanuukkodol. When the others had left and they were alone, Tanuukkodol asked about the palantir, worried that it might be lost if Pallando did not return. Pallando told him that he was going to hide it in the Nabal Mazry. That didn’t reassure Tanuukkodol, as Drogo had already disappeared and the only other place he could think of was with the dead Balrog. It would be safe there, for a time, but irretrievable if needed by the Rangers.

The party traveled to the port of Kelepar in Elgaer. There they visited the Slippery Fish, where they learned that the town of Nash was the one that burned. The innkeeper Fiorn had little respect for the people that lived there, saying that they were “low rent.” Tanuukkodol bristled at the injustice, and silently said to himself, “that’s one.”

Nash lay just 4 miles east. The DM had meant to say 4 days, but he was tired. Much sport was made of this for the rest of the evening.

No more than 20-30 families had lived in Nash, and all was burned now. The trees gathered in anger until Tanuukkodol told them (Plant Mastery) that the party sought the one who burned the town, to make him pay, to make him suffer. Then the trees revealed the path to be taken to the northwest.

Ughthug was the only one to see the people tracking them in the forest. With great anger (and more that a little joy), he charged the small skinny people who shot him with puny arrows. Tanuukkodol drew his bow and exclaimed, “You have my bow!” Grafarlig readied her weapon and said, “And my axe!” and the stereotypical battle was joined.

The party discovered that Ughthugh was fighting two preteen boys, and doing a pretty poor job of it at that. One of the boys started crying and crawled away after Ughthug smashed him with his mace. The other continued to fight, so the orc tried to punch him. Ughthug missed and the kid backflipped away (crit). Then Ughthug lost all patience and pushes him down, hard. Tanuukkodol and Grafarlig got the orc calmed down a bit, and the plainsman put away the arrow he had been ready to put into the orc.

Tanuukkodol then talked to the children, who took them to a little hamlet. There were two families, 7 people in all, and inbred. Definitely “low rent.” The large father said they get a due which goes to mama.

Mama calls herself Tia Barlen (the party learns later she is not) and is a big woman. She comes in just as her husband Florigel is explaining that a tall skinny woman (Lomeilinde) used to give them their due, and now a little guy (Jacklesprat) came back and was supposed to do the same, but didn’t (he found out she wasn’t Tia).

It emerged as the evening went on that Taleric Hammrammr had gone to Torumen with Jacklesprat and Lomeilinde and Jory Barlen. Jory died in Torumen, and made the others promise to give Tia Barlen (his wife) her “due.” They promised. Taleric stole Demetrios’s eye, his daughter, and his gold, and was rightfully pursued by an army. He then went to Tol Sulereb, where he was supposed to have died 50 years ago. Jacklesprat and Lomeilinde were with him and got away. It turns out now that Taleric also survived, which Jacklesprat learned just recently. Lomeilinde began giving the fake Tia her “due” as a joke, and after her death, Jacklesprat kept doing it, until he figured out the joke. Over 50 years, they gave “Tia” 120 gp. Each year, which amounted to 6,000 gp. Which is why the kin were so worried about someone getting their “due.” Additionally, it was Mama who suggested that she knew the way to Tol Solureb (she doesn’t), and that’s why Nash was burnt by Delcaren, and why the rangers and elves and Syndicate came looking.

While Mama and Ughthug and Grafarlig were drinking poor mead and sharing tales, Tanuukkodol went out back to take a leak, and also to search for the gold. He found 40 gp. In the back (he did not yet know about the 6,000) and gave Mama 1 gp to draw a map about where she sent the little man (Jacklesprat).

The party left the house and went deeper into the forest. Tanuukkodol could tell that the trees were moving, and guided the party safely through them.  The party came to a “vast small waterfall” (remember, the DM was tired) that led to a cave. At the back of the cave was Jacklesprat, claiming he got lost. Jacklesprat told the party that Taleric is alive and visited him in Dilgul. Jacklesprat offers to guide the party to him.

They all head back to the shack where there are howls and screams and fire. There are two young elves (both women with oak staves and black rigid leather) burning things with fire. Over in the corner a massive dwarf rushes out with two axes and smashes things down. Jack and Grafarlig recognize him as Gribble Rockhammer.

The party didn’t recognize any of them as rangers, so they assumed that either Pallando’s mission to Demetrios had been ensorcelled, or that these bandits had killed the rangers and taken their armor. Regardless, the bandits were attacking the family and the children, so the party had to take action.

Tanuukkodol shot one elf in the lungs and she dropped, gurgling and drowning in her blood over the next 3 rounds. The other elf shot a fire burst back at the party and hit Ughthug, who feels a little heat but little damage (14 hp).  Tanuukkodol then shot the second elf, who was hit through the neck and gurgled, near death. Tanuukkodol shot Gribble but did very little damage to the dwarf in field plate.

A mystery archer from the woods shot Tanuukodol for 3 hp, and he replied with 21 hp to the archer’s head, stunning him for 2 rounds. Then he put down the mystery archer with another arrow to the head. Tanuukkodol rushed to the downed archer to be sure he is down. He was.

Ughthug struck Gribble but did little damage. Grafarlig attacked for 5 hp to the torso.  Gribble hit her for 4 hp in the head. He tried to hit again, but Grafarlig dodged out of the way. Meanwhile, Tanuukkodol took the arrows, bow, and black rigid leather off the archer.

Ughthug hit Gribble again, doing 4 hp to the torso. Gribble struck Ughthug’s head, doing 5 hp. damage and stunning him for a round.

Another elf emerged from the burning house, speaking about the great Delcarnen and casting Fear. He took 21 hp to the chest from an arrow. Once again, he had black armor on. Tanuukkodol hit him a second and put him down for good.

Gribble, Ughthug, and Grafarlig fought on. Ughthug took 18 hp to the head and turned back into Bertram, screamed, and ran away. Grafarlig hit Gribble in the left arm for 15 hp. A book then fell out the sky (Bertram’s curse at work) and hit Gribble in the head for 27 hp.

Tanuukodol had little doubt of the result of the melee, so gathered up 40 gp. from another pile and stashed it. Grafarlig cut off Gribble’s head.

The party searched the bodies. Gribble had boots of steadiness, and rigid black leather. The three elves had rigid black leather, a harp (+20 calming), a Rageroot salve, 3 oak staves (one of which is +10), and 101 s. Grafarlig took the boots of steadiness and the Rageroot salve, Tanuukkodol took the +10 magic stave, and Bertram took the harp (+20 calming). They piled up the rest of the material on the horses, and caught a ship back to Dilgul.

As they left the port, they saw Delcaren watching them, surrounded by his cultists. The cult of Elgaer now worships Delcaren. It was the cultists who attacked the rangers and took their armor. Delcaren seeks Tol Sulereb, so he is looking for Taleric as well.

When the party returned to Dilgul, Pallando was not back. Taleric did not show up where Jacklesprat said he would. Jacklesprat mentioned he might have told Delcaren about Taleric before he realized the insanity of the elf. The mad hobbit then told the party that Taleric would meet at a Second Age Temple in the Plains near Mistrand.

Oldahr arrived at Dilgul with Avalas, Lintario, Elias, and Sentalos, the rangers.  The party gave them the five recovered suits of black armor. No-one seemed terribly worried that they never found Goektig.

And there the tale must end, for now.

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NAVAH: Arnold is found

Brendan examines the helms for hidden decapitating blades and finds none.  He does the same for the new broadsword.  He then hangs all of them on his back, fearful of using them. I have trained him well.

They enter the top room of Arnold’s secret base. The party finds a secret door and then compliments each other for ten minutes. Brendan checks for traps and finds none. He listens and hears nothing. He opens the door. There is a ladder inside and they climb up and find a small room with a pentagram, circle, and triangle. Ian does an interpretive dance in the center of the pentagram. Though he does poorly, Brendan compliments him anyways and urges him to go professional.

Ian goes down the ladder in the corner pit and descends to the door on the next layer. There is a bed, chest, and dresser. Brendan checks the chest for traps and then unlocks the chest. Inside are great riches: 80 F., 21,000 s., 56 p., 42 emeralds (200 p.), 23 rubies (400 p. each), 4 gold rings (200 p. each), 1 thick gold necklace with 5 diamonds (60,000 p.), and 1 mithril ring (400 p.).

Ian and Brendan expressed an interest in ceasing their exploration and returning home. Brendan carries the rings and gems. Ian carries the necklace and florins. They split the shillings among each other. Ian then suggests killing Musuoulus the bartender, cutting him to pieces and throwing him outside the building and absconding with the funds. Eufemmia is appalled by this plan and questions their relationship.

Brendan, then 556, then Josette, then Glern, then Eufemmia, and Ian the Reluctant. Brendan jumps down, clinking. He finds 4 demons playing cards and says Shit. They spot him and say “Hey.” They pick up tridents with burning hot tines and attack. Brendan tries dancing away. It doesn’t work. In the ensuing battle, Brendan takes 2 major wounds to each leg, and a grim wound to his left leg. 556 took a major wound to the abdomen, Glern took one to the left arm, and Josette banished 4 demons. Ian’s sword proves to be a Dancing Sword, and protects  him as he is unready to defend himself. Brendan critically wounded one in the groin, which Ian decapitates and it fades away.  Josette heals 556 and heals one major wound on Brendan.

They retreat to the secret room to hide. It takes them five days to heal, with Josette’s Sorcery and Ian’s limited surgery skill.

Ian again raises the possibility that they kill Musoulus. Again, Eufemmia is appalled. Their relationship is seriously strained. During the time it takes Brendan to heal, Josette uses Object Reading to identify the magical treasure.

There are two helms of clean air, and they go to Eufemmia and Brendan.

There is an +2 earth shield (can transform into a wall to protect its owner), which goes to Brendan.

There is a Woman-killing sword, which the party decides to disenchant. They also decide to disenchant the Dancing Sword, because it is powered by a Krepgan, a demon well-known to try to injure its masters.

There is a pair of boots of water walking, which go to Josette.

There are three +2 daggers, which are daggers that fly with the aid of air elementals. One goes to Brendan, one to Ian, and the last to Josette.

Lastly, there are four magic rings. The Ring of Light goes to Brendan. The Ring of Fire Resistance goes to Ian, along with the Ring of Hateful Strength (STR:24, +12 damage bonus). Josette keeps the Ring of Fire.

The party decides to continue exploring, and finds themselves stymied by a number of pools of scalding sulphurous water. Over the next two days, Josette Shapes bridges over them and they find the disassembled and smashed body of Arnold in the final room. His signet ring is the only thing that identifies him, and Josette identifies it as a Ring of Grues that allows its user to see in the dark. Ian also gets that.

They then continue to search the caverns, looking for the lost guardsmen. They encounter a group of drunken imps who hold a cave at the top of a pit, which they can’t reach. At first Ian thinks they are his lost demon children, and the imps use that knowledge to enrage him. Finally they dump a barrel of brandy on him and set it on fire, giving him third degree burns all over his body. Brendan puts his bedroll on Ian, now in shock. Josette saves his life through Sorcery, but it takes six days for him to fully recover. By then, Josette has Shaped stairs up to the imps, but they have fled.

Ian leads a determined search for the imps, but they are gone. He finds the remains of the guardsmen, who fell into a pit and resorted to cannibalism. All are dead now.

Moving on, they return to the cells where they heard the buzzing, and are attacked by six dog-sized flies with human ravenous heads. They swarm over Ian, but his plate mail protects him from their bites. Josette uses her Ring of Fire to burn them to death, and this time Ian is protected by the Ring of Fire Resistance.

The party decides to head for the surface, but Brendan is in the rear and is sure they are being followed. Ian has on the Grue Ring, so he investigates, and discovers two Brendans. They seem identical in behavior and appearance. He asks one to describe Lystdogga, a character from an old adventure. He does, and Ian promptly kills the other Brendan, who says, “Wait!” before dying. Ian turns out to have killed the right one, though in reality the demon knew everything that Brendan did. Ian had a 50% chance of attacking the wrong one, but he rolled low and killed the right one.

Next they reached Musoulus, who insisted on leaving. Ian refused and threatened to kill him if he didn’t behave. Though he didn’t know it, this last act of cruelty cost him the love of Eufemmia, though she did not tell him then. She considered him a psychopathic killer, and therefore insisted he was still her hero, at least until she could get away from him.

Brendan and Josette recharged their rings, and let Musoulus go. Eufemmia ran off as well, with Ian’s curses in her ears. Ian then put on his rings, all of them, and entered the darkness to kill the final Halka demon. He was sure of victory, and he got the first shot in, but he only gave the creature a minor wound. It replied with a critical hit, stabbing him in the right leg with a red hot tine and doing a major wound even through his armor. He went into shock, and fell. As the demon raised its trident to deliver the killing foe, Ian released his Ring of Light, first in a general glow that failed to penetrate the darkness, and then in a single burst that managed to blind the demon temporarily. Josette sent her fire against it, but it was a fire demon and received only minor wounds. Brendan, Glern, and 556 ran into the darkness to rescue Ian. 556 became disoriented and was lost. Brendan and Glern grabbed Ian and dragged him in different directions while Josette shouted directions to them. Luckily, Glern was stronger than Brendan, and Brendan kept hold of Ian, so Glern dragged them all to safety. As they emerged into the light, they heard 556 being smashed by the Halka.

After healing, Ian wanted another shot at the Halka. Josette was determined to banish it.

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