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<![CDATA[Pen & Paper Games - Blogs - Farcaster's Musings by Farcaster]]> http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/blog.php/1-Farcaster-s-Musings Pen and Paper Games hosts a very powerful, but easy to seach and join database of players and game masters in the United States and Canada. Our forums are also a great place to find the most recent news, product releases, tips, and rpg discussion. en Fri, 29 May 2020 00:54:21 GMT vBulletin 60 http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/pnpg_style/misc/rss.jpg <![CDATA[Pen & Paper Games - Blogs - Farcaster's Musings by Farcaster]]> http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/blog.php/1-Farcaster-s-Musings The Gatekeeper Campaign Log http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1665-The-Gatekeeper-Campaign-Log Sat, 15 Oct 2011 00:14:31 GMT I kicked off a new campaign about a year and a half ago called "The Gatekeeper," and I have had the extremely good fortune of having a published WotC designer and author at the table with us, Mr. Erik Scott de Bie. Erik, I have come to find out, is a tenacious writer. In the first few weeks of our game, he actually sent me more post game followup than all my players combined have sent me in the following year.

So, I asked him if he'd focus that insatiable pen of his towards chronicling our sessions so that we'd have a place our players could go back and reference past games. Erik, of course, took this to the next level and made more of an adventure log that anyone could follow. Now, if you're interested in reading about our bi-weekly paragon tier, planar adventure, you can check it out on Obsidian Portal at http://www.obsidianportal.com/campai.../adventure-log. Maybe it'll give you an idea for your own game? :cool:

If you enjoy it, please drop a note and let us know, and be sure to become a "Fan," so that you will be automatically updated when new logs are available... By the way, he's written up all our sessions to date, but the published content so far is only up to the first 10 games. That is to say, there's a lot more to come. ]]>
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1665-The-Gatekeeper-Campaign-Log
The Year of Blue Fire: Gearing Up http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1474-The-Year-of-Blue-Fire-Gearing-Up Mon, 13 Dec 2010 19:52:05 GMT So, our first game for the Year of Blue Fire campaign is coming up this Friday. I’ve got the basic concept together for the first adventure, but I... So, our first game for the Year of Blue Fire campaign is coming up this Friday. I’ve got the basic concept together for the first adventure, but I still need to sit down and stat out potential encounters and spend some time jotting down key locations and information. I usually work well under pressure and it is a first level game, so I’m not too worried about it.

I’ve decided to try out logging the campaign on Obsidian Portal. I created a campaign there last night. So far, I’ve only put in the campaign background which I blogged here a couple of weeks ago and I started a house rules section, but I’ll be adding more as we move forward with the campaign. Actually though, I’m curious what you all think about this experimental house rule I’m going to try out.
Scaling Magic Items (Experimental)
“Common” Magic Weapons/Defensive Items: These magic items use the standard rules. For example, a +1 magical longsword grants a +1 enhancement bonus regardless of whether your character is level 1 or level 20. These, therefore, have a limited lifetime in which they are useful.

“Uncommon” and “Rare” Weapons/Defensive Items: Uncommon and rare magic items scale with your character, continuing to become more powerful as your character gains levels. Instead of having a static plus, these will be described as heroic, paragon or epic tier magic items and will have an effective enhancement bonus based on the tables below.

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The problem that I am trying to solve with this rule is twofold. One, I really don’t like the grind of constantly acquiring and discarding magic items. I would rather give out fewer but more interesting magic items. I was using the optional inherent bonus rule in my planar game, but I decided I really wasn’t satisfied with that. For one, it led to the players (wisely) acquiring/creating a barrage of lowly +1 magic items and taking advantage of the fact that the +1 item would still operate like a +3 in their paragon-level hands. This was completely the opposite effect that I was looking for. The last thing I wanted to happen was for the PCs to turn into walking bags of magical equipment. By mixing the inherent bonus system with the concept of items that level with you, I am hoping I will end up with a happy medium.

The second issue is really a math problem. I tend to want the players to have a better than average chance of hitting with their attacks. Waiting for 10 minutes for your turn to come up and then utterly missing with your attack isn’t all that fun. The base goal of the 4e engine is something like a 60% hit rate. By adding another +1 at paragon and +2 at epic tier, I’m ticking that hit chance up just a bit -- 5 to 10%. I may even take it a step further and make it a +1 at each tier, but I’m going to try it out at a little more conservative level to start out with.

Thoughts? ]]>
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1474-The-Year-of-Blue-Fire-Gearing-Up
The Year of Blue Fire - Campaign Background http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1451-The-Year-of-Blue-Fire-Campaign-Background Mon, 22 Nov 2010 21:14:12 GMT I am starting up another campaign soon. I may be a little crazy for trying to run two games simulateously and "assist-DM" in a third, but I just couldn't resist when my buddy asked me to run a game for a group he was putting together.

Unlike most games I have run in the past, I'm not coming to the table with a campaign idea already in hand. Instead, I am working with the players to create their backgrounds and then I am going to build the campaign organically from their backstories. I used this technique in the planar game I started earlier this year, and it has been a smashing success so far. Why? I think because it's not just my story. It's theirs, and that makes them far more invested in the game and their characters.

The campaign itself does have a little bit of a "background" to start with though. It will be set in Forgotten Realms just after the cataclysm of the Spellplague. I think this will be an incredibly interesting period of time to explore in Faerun's history. What do you think? Here's the campaign introduction I sent the players last night along with a list of questions for the players to consider as they are creating their own backgrounds.

Magic has failed. Horribly. The very fabric of the Weave has come completely undone. Wizards who once were regarded as the most powerful men to walk Faerûn have become nothing more than frail, old men – broken, and those are the lucky among them that did not lose their minds entirely with the Weave’s sundering. Free willed spells tumble over the landscape leaving it scarred and forever changed, while the prayers of the faithful go unanswered.

This campaign will pick up in the immediate weeks and months following the worst cataclysmic events to rock Faerûn in thousands of years. The goddess of magic has been murdered and the consequences to the world have been catastrophic. The network of magic that Faerûn has relied on since the beginning of time has been destroyed. Magic that still works is often unstable and unpredictable in its results. But, there are those who have begun learning new ways, apart from the Weave, to tap into now raw and unbridled magical energies. Perhaps this is you? Or perhaps you are among those who never relied on magic in the first place and you find yourself suddenly elevated just a bit?

Whatever the case, the world is currently a mess. Baldur’s Gate, one of the largest and most renowned cities in Faerûn, has so far avoided the “Spellplague,” which has begun to spread across the land, but they have been far from unaffected by the disaster. Refugees have begun to pour in – perhaps you are one of them? Their presence overflowing into the streets is undeniable. Disease, which was previously easily kept under control by the many priests residing within the city walls, is now a real threat, and the city’s guard finds themselves overwhelmed and unprepared.

This is where find yourselves. It is 1385. The Year of Blue Fire.

You are starting out at 1st level, but that doesn’t mean that you haven’t already seen some adventure. 4th edition assumes that 1st level characters are already quite a bit ahead of the curve compared to the common man. Another consideration is that with the failure of the Weave, you may have personally lost some power. Perhaps before the Spellplague, you were actually a fairly accomplished spell caster and now you have to relearn a whole new way of using magic. Even divine priests have to learn new ways to tap into their god’s power.

Here are some other questions to keep in mind while you are crafting your character background. You should not feel compelled to answer all of these verbatim, but you certainly can if you like. The more quality hooks you work into your background, the better.

  • What were you doing before the Spellplauge? Was you an adventurer? Were you diminished in power by the fall of magic?
  • Why did your character choose to become an adventurer? Was it a choice at all? Does he even see himself as such?
  • What do you do now? For coin? For fun?
  • Baldur’s Gate is one of the places that is known not to have been hit by the Spellplauge. Is that why you are here, or were you here before the Weave collapsed?
  • Was anyone you cared about affected by the catastrophe? A lot of things happened when magic failed, even in Baldur’s Gate. The most predominated effect seen was magic gone completely wild. A spell cast by a wizard intended to allow him to fly would instead turn him into a human sized fly, for instance. Portals were suddenly ripped open to planes such as the Abyss, allowing demons to spill in. Even minor cantrips or prayers might have resulted in deadly and completely unintended consequences.
  • Have you lost anything or anyone close to you? What would you be willing to do to get it back?
  • What training do you have? How were you trained? By who? Why?
  • What was the single most defining moment of your life leading up to this point?
  • Is there anything that makes you special ... unique?
  • What are your morals? Your beliefs?
  • Do you belong to any organizations?
  • What are your motivations? Do you have any goals or plans for the future?
  • What friends do you have? Family? Lovers? Professional associates? Enemies?
  • Do you know any of the other player characters already? How did you meet? What do they know about your background?
I can't wait to see what they come up with! ]]>
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1451-The-Year-of-Blue-Fire-Campaign-Background
Have you checked out d20Pro? http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1172-Have-you-checked-out-d20Pro Thu, 22 Apr 2010 20:58:22 GMT *d20pro (http://www.d20pro.com/)* pushed out an update today. Version 2.1 (http://www.d20pro.com/release_notes_2_1_0.php) is out of beta and... d20pro pushed out an update today. Version 2.1 is out of beta and available for download.

You know, I recently ran a 4th edition demo game using d20pro. It's actually a pretty sweet little app for running remote games, and even for using as a digital replacement for your battlemat at your regular face-to-face games as well. It was designed specifically for the d20 OGL ruleset and has a set of plugins to integrate nicely with Pathfinder. There are also patches for 4th edition, and the software will even automatically import the D&DI Character Builder files. It still has a ways to go to be able to truly handle 4e well as there are a number of things that you have to either keep track of manually or jury rig to handle the 4e ruleset. Nonetheless, I'd highly recommend checking it out. If you're running a 3.5e / Pathfinder game, this is going to be a perfect fit.

Check out this video.

Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1172-Have-you-checked-out-d20Pro
<![CDATA[Why I'm Starting to Consider the iPad...]]> http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1037-Why-I-m-Starting-to-Consider-the-iPad Mon, 01 Mar 2010 16:00:00 GMT Attachment 2430 (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=2430)A few short weeks ago when the iPad...
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A few short weeks ago when the iPad was first announced, I was not among the throng of excited Apple groupies who had already made up their minds before Steve Jobs took one step onto the podium that I would be buying this device no matter what it did. I've never quite understood the mentality of if it has XYZ sticker, I simply must have it, and that extends to the iWhatever-the-Hell-They-Come-Up-with-Next. I was a late adopter to the iPod, simply because I never wanted to spend so much money on what amounted to little more than a device to play music on. It took a drastic reduction in prices before I came on board, and that was years after the initial launch. Still, I looked forward with some interest to hear about what Apple would come up with for a new tablet.

As the details of the new iPad poured in, I found myself initially disappointed. What I had hoped for was something greater than just an iPod with a bigger screen. Don’t get me wrong -- I get it; it has more computing power and capacity than its smaller cousin. However, what I had hoped for was something more akin to a true computer wrapped in a nice and tight, sexy, Apple shell. I've never been a Macintosh user, but I would have even been extremely happy with something that came with a fully featured Mac OS. So, I found myself less than thrilled with the direction Apple took -- a fact I railed about to friends and coworkers.

Flashing forward to today, why then have I started to soften my stance and consider becoming one of the early adopters? I’ve been thinking about what a boon this could be to my roleplaying experience. More and more RPG publishers have been moving towards PDF publishing –- with the notable exception of Wizards of the Coast, who stuck their toe in the tepid waters of electronic publishing and found it too hot for their delicate tastes. Nonetheless, I can still hope that they will change their minds eventually, and in the meantime many of the other major publishers are putting out digital editions of their books, including: White Wolf, Hero Games, Steve Jackson Games, Paizo, and a slew of others. The idea of having my entire RPG library available to bring with me on a single device is extremely appealing. I had hoped that the [ame="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0015TG12Q?ie=UTF8&tag=penandpaperga-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creative ASIN=B0015TG12Q"]Kindle DX[/ame] could be this device, but it is still a black-and-white device and moreover its price point is prohibitively high. The iPad is similarly priced, but as a convergence device, it offers much more to justify its cost.

Consider the myriad applications that are already available from the iTunes library and imagine the possibilities of what kinds of applications we'll see on a device with a larger screen, more power and an expanded SDK. If someone isn’t already working on some sort of digital table for the iPad platform, I would be surprised -- and, if they aren’'t, they should be! The question of whether developers will step up to the plate and start pumping out product for the iPad really seems to be a foregone conclusion though. It is Apple after all, and I did mention the "i" prefix on the name, right? Guaranteed gold.

So, as the release date inches ever closer, I find myself more and more tempted. Sure, I could take a wait and see approach to see how well the iPad takes off, and maybe I will for the first few months. I suspect though that sooner or later, I’ll end up with one of these in my eager hands. For a device with so much promise, $500 just seems like too low a price to pass up.

(BTW, this is all despite its wholly ridiculous name...) ]]>
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/1037-Why-I-m-Starting-to-Consider-the-iPad
After all these years... http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/750-After-all-these-years Sun, 27 Sep 2009 06:37:02 GMT It's been ages since I've actually played a roleplaying game. Oh, I suppose, I have joined in on a session or two in the past ten years, but I haven't been in an ongoing campaign as a player in a very long time, and frankly, I've reached a point of GM burnout.

I had been thinking for a while that I needed to take a break and play for while, so when the opportunity to join a game with Chris Sims from Wizards of the Coast popped up, I jumped on it. When he told me that his new campaign would be set in the world of Dark Sun, I was even more excited. If you've never had a chance to play in this setting which was first introduced in second edition AD&D, let me tell you that this takes a major departure from the typical fantasy setting. Life is harsh in Athas. The world's resources have been reduced to mostly vast expanses of desert and dotting this unforgiving landscape are solitary city-states. The adventure is more about staying alive than seeking treasure. It's this very nature that makes this the perfect setting for the new Points of Light paradigm that Wizards is trying to capture with fourth edition settings.

So, we met last night for our first session, which we spent rolling up our new characters, figuring out our various background stories, how we knew each other -- if we did, and getting a brief introduction to the world and environment we'd be thrust into when next we played. Chris put it all out on the table. Darksun is a world where just about everyone has suffered some sort of loss or tragedy, and our characters are to be no exception to that. Whatever sort of tragic character background you might find in another game, he encouraged us to take that and ratchet it up by a factor of ten.

My character, a dwarven shaman by the name of Malamac, has lost his entire clan, who were rounded up by the Templars (read bad guy police force) for resisting the Dragon King -- the biggest, baddest guy of the city-state of Tyr. Most were murdered, some were tortured for information and then later executed. My character was tormented and beaten and then eventually thrown into the gladiator pits of Tyr because my captors thought it would be amusing. Malamac only narrowly escaped with his life when Tyr was at last "freed." A dwarf without a clan, Malamac now seeks only retribution on any remaining Templars he can find who had anything to do with the slaughter of his people.

This sort of tale of woe is echoed in the history of all the characters at the table, and to be honest it is just this sort of gritty story that I really enjoy. Chris promises to twist the knife a bit and really complicate things next week ... I can't wait! ]]>
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/750-After-all-these-years
On My Way to GenCon http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/634-On-My-Way-to-GenCon Wed, 12 Aug 2009 17:06:21 GMT The day has finally come and I am on my way to GenCon. I'm on the plane even as I write this as this as a matter of fact, and if you should notice any glaring typos, I blame it on the fact that I am writing this blog on my ipod. It turns out there are some disadvantages to having a 17 inch widescreen laptop. Particularly when the guy in front of you reclines his seat, suddenly and unexpectedly pressing your laptop into your unfortunately ample belly... Nonetheless, I wanted to remind you all that you can follow my coverage of GenCon here in my blog, and I will also be updating you frequently on the P&PG twitter page at www.twitter.com/pnpg.

If any P&PG'rs are going to be at GenCon this weekend, I would love to meet up with you. Shoot me a pm and we'll try to meet for lunch or something. I'll also be updating on twitter with my current plans if you want to look for me at one of the events or such. ]]>
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/634-On-My-Way-to-GenCon
The Damned II (Session X) - Deeper in Mentiri http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/329-The-Damned-II-(Session-X)-Deeper-in-Mentiri Wed, 29 Apr 2009 07:51:32 GMT *Getting the Worms Out* The 49th day of Agony, 25306 After a fitful rest filled with the frustrated wailing of wights who press themselves... Getting the Worms Out
The 49th day of Agony, 25306

After a fitful rest filled with the frustrated wailing of wights who press themselves futilely against the bars of the portcullis securing the makeshift throne room of the wight known as Darius, the party readies itself to head deeper into Mentiri.

Lore reveals her plan to remove whatever affliction or curse their unnamed "benefactor," placed upon them. Here in Mentiri, they cannot be observed by any sort of divination, so it is the perfect opportunity. She has purchased a scroll and the components needed to cast Remove Affliction multiple times. Tim agrees to try to cast this -- in fact he already has the spell.

Donaar is the first to have this cast on him. The process turns out to have an unintended side effect. Whatever Meliphisus had put in their heads had grown and integrated itself into their brains. The spell seems to destroy the creature, but not without causing some damage to the host (-1 int). Nonetheless, Snow and Jonas agree to have the worms removed.

Jonas, unfortunately, is killed outright during the removal. Tim is ready with a spell to resuscitate him, but when it comes to his turn, he must take an enormous risk. If the removal goes poorly and he dies in the process, there is no one to raise him. The party presses him to take the risk and the certainty that his faculties will be affected by the removal. Reluctantly Tim does so and thankfully the process goes well, save for the permanent loss of intelligence.

Out of the Crypts
The 50th day of Agony, 25306

Afterwords, they head up the stairs at the far end of the throne room and find themselves soon in a massive chamber reinforced by iron pillars thirty feet high. Within the massive chamber, positioned towards the end, is a circular hole about twenty feet wide in the ceiling. From above, they can hear the sounds of the guttural dialect of Supernal spoken by devils. There is an iron platform which takes up most of the circular pit, which is rigged to be lower to the floor of the chamber they are in.

As they try to decide how to proceed, they hear the sounds of heavy locks being unlatched from above and a great iron door being swung open. They retreat back from the opening and shortly after the platform is lowered. After it hits bottom, they hear someone say in the sinister tongue known as Deep Speech, "Get off the platform, cur!"

After the platform has been raised again, they are met by a descendant of Gith who introduces himself as Tebrion. Tebrion offers to help the party if they would be willing to assign him in reclaiming his gear. Although he was led to this pit in darkness, he was able to count their steps and knows the way back to where he believes Hope is being kept. He also has some small measure of telekinetic ability and can help them get up to the platform. The party is suspicious, but agrees.

The party is able to relatively rapidly storm the room above using a combination of a rope tied to the platform with mage hand, Tim's innate ability to teleport short distances, and Tebrion's telekinetic assistance. As they light up the room above, they realize in horror that it was a Beholder that they heard speaking in Deep Speech. Thankfully, this is a weaker sort known as an Eye of Flame. The party takes some awful scalding, but more concerning is that one of the legion devils guarding the room is able to sound an alarm bell.

After the fight, the party quickly picks the locks on the massive iron door and flees deeper into Mentiri to the most secluded and abandoned area they can find. Beaten, bruised, burned and exhausted they rest on the uncomfortable flagstone floor in an abandoned cell block.

The Hezrou
The 51st day of Agony, 25306

Their Gith companion, Tebrion, suggests an interesting idea. When he was being transported down to the dungeons, Tebrion remembers passing a cell block where he is certain a Hezrou was imprisoned. He suggests that the party create a diversion by freeing the Hezrou and letting it create a swathe of destruction.

The party, having no better option, agrees and they have Tebrion lead them to where the Hezrou is kept. Lore convinces the fairly dimwitted Hezrou that its best path to causing the most harm and destruction to its captors is to let the party live and find and slay everything else in its path. It agrees, but it does give Lore a good choking and a obligatory toss against the nearest wall after she frees it.

The gambit turns out to be worth it as this allows the party to slip by in its wake. Lore also transforms her appearance into that of a Succubus and the rest of the group pretends to be her thralls. This helps them either bypass roaming guards or at lest get the one up on them.

No Hope
The 51st day of Agony, 25306

At last, Tebrion leads the party to the cell block where Hope was being interrogated. The area is under guard by a pair of elite Legion Devils detached from Dispater's personal guard. They do not let the party past them without a fight, despite Lore's clever illusion. Apparently, they were only guarding Hope's things, because when they do get into the chamber where she was being kept, she is gone. They do recover Hope's gear, however, including the Tabard of Largesse.
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Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/329-The-Damned-II-(Session-X)-Deeper-in-Mentiri
The Damned II (Session IX) - Mentiri http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/275-The-Damned-II-(Session-IX)-Mentiri Tue, 07 Apr 2009 06:55:20 GMT *Unintended Consequences *The 46th day of Agony, 25306 After her discussion with Mason and the realization that he will betray any or all of them... Unintended Consequences
The 46th day of Agony, 25306

After her discussion with Mason and the realization that he will betray any or all of them given the right motivation, Lore leaves the Crown of Iron where Mason has been staying. After she makes her way out of the front door, she makes a quick change into common clothes and then transforms herself into an exact duplicate of Mason.

As Mason, she sneaks back into the Crown of Iron and up to the proprietor's bed chambers. She intends to find the safe that she supposes Murdle, the owner, keeps and rob it to frame Mason who has been sharing Murdle's bed for the past few days. Before she can find the safe, she is interrupted by Murdle who walks in on her.

Of course, Lore appears to be an exact duplicate of Mason, and she manages to assuage any concerns Murdle might have by coaxing Murdle into bed. Before things go too far -- and thank the gods for that -- Lore manages to get Murdle to drink a glass of wine that has been poisoned with a powerful sleeping agent.

Now transforming herself into Murdle's image, Lore sends for Mason, who is downstairs. She then takes all of Mason's gear which he left in Murdle's room and robs Murdle of whatever valuables she can find. When Mason arrives, he finds Murdle on the bed, naked and knocked out.

Seeing that he has been effectively framed, Mason looses all sense and decides to get a dagger and slit Murdle's throat on the spot. After murdering her and armed with only a dagger, he plows a swatch of death through the inn, slaughtering anyone who gets in his way. He makes it halfway to the Fetter's bridge when he is apprehended by an osyluth--a bone devil, and part of the elite police force in Dis.

Someplace They'd Never Look
The 46th day of Agony, 25306

The Infernal Guard is still searching for the rest of the party even as Lore make's her way back to the abandoned warehouse she left them at. And, the situation with Mason has brought the entire district on even higher alert. Sneaking the entire party out of the district is extremely risky. However, the IG are already systematically searching all the buildings in the area, so staying put may be even more dangerous.

The party decides to take their chances and try to sneak out. Lore convinces the party to help her sneak into the most famous prison in all of Hell known as Mentiri. She has other reasons which she does not share with them to do this, but she tells them that a paladin by the name of Hope was recently arrested and brought to the prison. Hope was in possession of a holy relic known as the Tabard of Largess, which is part of a set of armor known as the Armor of the Penitent. Lore would like the party's help to rescue Hope if she's still alive and the Tabard in either case, because it is certain that should the devils realize what they have, they will destroy it.

The party is dubious about sneaking into a fortified prison in Hell, but agrees nonetheless. Before they set out, Lore quickly pawns off Mason's gear she stole and buys a scroll and some reagents which she hopes will be helpful for her plans. She also enlists the help of Tristan, a half-orc, half-elf fighter whom she can trust. He agrees to come along with them.

Lore leads them out of the district via a network of underground tunnels and back alleys. Unfortunately, they are waylaid along the way by a pair of succubi sisters and some paid mercenaries who were tracking Lore somehow. They fight the devils off, killing one of the sisters, Lusterious, but they are unable to prevent the other sister's escape.

The 48th day of Agony, 25306

It takes two days to reach Mentiri traveling the vast labyrinthine streets of Dis. Lore leads them to a secret underground entrance that will take them into the deepest bowels of the prison. Lore warns them that this level is thick with undead.

Tim remembers some history of this place and explains that when a living person is captured and brought to Mentiri, the devils actively attempt to corrupt them into damning themselves. They pit the prisoners against each other so that they must commit murderous and horrible acts to survive. Those that don't turn are thrown into the dungeons below Mentiri. If they are slain by the undead there -- which alone and unarmed, is a certainty -- then they are doomed to join the ranks of the undead, and thus their souls are never free to go on to their proper afterlife.

Armed with this knowledge, they proceed into the depths and wade through countless undead, mostly wights. They lament the loss of the sun sword, which would have proven more effective than any other weapon at their disposal against the likes of these.

Along the way, they encounter an undead knight who challenges Tristan to single combat. The wight is impressed with Tristan's fighting prowess and warns him of another, more powerful knight named Darius who has lost all honor and will stand in their way to reach the prison above. The fight is a close tit for tat, but Tristan manages to destroy the wight, who is thankful to be free of his cursed existence.

Finally, they find the stairs leading up to the next level, but as promised, their way is blocked by Darius (a Battle Wight Commander) and a throng of undead. Tim doesn't wait long to see where parlay will go and launches a fireball into the throng. It doesn't put them down nearly as quickly as he might of hoped, however, and another difficult battle ensues.

Once Darius and the rest of the wights are put down, the party secures the makeshift throne room and sets down to rest.


The Player Cast of Characters
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/275-The-Damned-II-(Session-IX)-Mentiri
The Damned II - The Player Cast of Characters http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/277-The-Damned-II-The-Player-Cast-of-Characters Tue, 07 Apr 2009 06:54:53 GMT *The Damned*: *Donaar *(played by Alan (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/member.php?u=4078)) is a dragonborn and was initially only known as... The Damned:

Donaar (played by Alan) is a dragonborn and was initially only known as "Red," for the color of his eyes. He remembers nothing of his past prior to waking up vomiting forth the feted waters of the River Styx. However, he is also the one we know the most about. Meliphisus revealed early on that Red was actually a Legendary General known in life as Donaar Hammerwing. Apparently, Donaar made some sort of agreement with Bel, the Lord of Avernus, which damned his soul and indebted him to an eternity of service to Bel as a general in his infernal armies. Since Bel is not normally in the business of corrupting mortals, this is very unusual indeed. He is still being actively sought to this day by the legions of Hell to fulfill his side of whatever bargain it is that he made. As to his personality, Donaar seems to generally be good and want to do the right thing, which has caused him great heartburn at times traveling alongside the rest of his damned companions.

Snow (played by Lisa) is the often quiet elven ranger. Her memories begin at the moment she drug herself out of the River Styx, so she has no idea why she would have ended up damned to Hell. Although she does not say much, when she does speak, her tongue is often as barbed as her arrows.

Tim (played by Jim) is an Eladrin wizard and acolyte priest who finds himself in the most peculiar position of being dead and having gone straight to Hell, but somehow still in the favor of Kelemvor, the God of Death. Like the others who pulled themselves from the River Styx along side of him, he remembers nothing of his past, so this unlikely scenario is a complete enigma to him. Generally, Tim is brash and straight forward. If it is clear, to him at least, that diplomacy will not resolve the situation to his liking, he has no problem throwing the first punch -- or spell in his case.

Jonas (played by Bill) is a dragonborn swordmage. By chance, Jonas washed up at a different point along the River Styx. Not knowing who he was or having any idea of where he was, he trailed the group until he lost sight of them in the mountains. He ended up being captured by kobolds who meant to sacrifice him to the "Great One," but a little imp visited him in his captivity and offered him the choice to serve Meliphisus. Turns out, serving an evil entity is better than being snuffed completely out of existence, so he agreed. Meliphisus dispatched the party to "retrieve," him and he has traveled with the group ever since. Jonas tends towards doing what is right, but isn't overly motivated to do anything that is outside of his own self interest.

Thorn (previously played by Zach) was a dark-elf rogue. Although he didn't have any memories of his previous life either, he nonetheless immediately demonstrated all of the qualities one might expect from someone damned to Hell. Sadistic and cut-throat, Thorn was willing to do whatever it took to survive and cared little for the pain he might cause others. Sad as it may be, Thorn abruptly "left," the party when he was slain by a red dragon in the Elemental Chaos on the 59th day of Torment, 25306. The party suspects that Thorn may have simply been banished back to his home plane (Stygia), however, and it is quite possible he was not destroyed.

Mason (previously played by Jon) was only known to the party as "Beard," for the unshaven mess of hair he attempted to keep untangled and kempt despite the lack of proper implements or clean water. From the moment he arrived on the Shelves of Despond, he never spoke a word to any of the other damned. It wasn't until months later that he finally said anything to anyone, and then it was only to shout, "SWORD," when he needed one. Despite his silence, it was obvious that he was pretty twisted, and he showed an eagerness to align himself with an evil patron such as Meliphisus. On the 46th day of Agony, 25306, Mason made himself a liability to Meliphisus and an enemy of Lore. He was arrested and taken into custody in Dis on the 46th day of Agony, 25306. What happened to him after that is unknown.

The Living:

Lore (played by Zach) is the doppelganger leader of a resistance cell operating in the City of Dis. Before she became tangled up with the party, she used her shape shifting abilities to stay one step ahead of the Infernal Guard and to make her organization appear much larger than it really was. She is an unusual example of her kind, and truly wants to help those in need. Her reasons for bringing her fight to Hell's doorsteps are not known, but it is quite possible that she is trying to redeem herself for some past transgression.

Tristan (played by Jon) is an unusually handsome half-orc, half-elf fighter. He is a friend and contact of Lore's who has served as part of the resistance operating in the City of Dis. Tristan is a very recent addition to the party, but he has already demonstrated himself to be an extremely skilled swordsman. ]]>
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/277-The-Damned-II-The-Player-Cast-of-Characters
Wizards of the Coast Illegal Filesharing Suit http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/279-Wizards-of-the-Coast-Illegal-Filesharing-Suit Tue, 07 Apr 2009 05:25:15 GMT So, Wizards of the Coast announced today that they have filed suits against some despicable individuals who violated copyright and redistributed PDFs... So, Wizards of the Coast announced today that they have filed suits against some despicable individuals who violated copyright and redistributed PDFs they purchased of the Players Handbook 2. I say bravo to that! I somehow doubt that the persons responsible has any assets worth WotC's time to sue over, but maybe they can at least cause these people some pain and perhaps a couple decades of wage garnishment.

However, at the same time, Wizards also decided to pull the online sale of all PDFs of their material. Not only that, but they yanked all download access to materials that had already been purchased. And, with what notice? Apparently, none. Paizo sent out emails today notifying people who had access to digital books they purchased from WotC saying that their access would be terminated at 11:59PM the very same day. What time did I receive that email? 7:48PM. Bad move, Wizards. Bad move.

The fact is that there were illegal PDF copies flying around long before Wizards decided to offer digital copies of their books. In fact, its because someone was foolish enough to redistribute a PDF they bought from Wizards that had encoded information about the buyer that they were able to identify the culprit and bring a suit against them at all. I really doubt that this is going to fix anything at all. But, they have managed to tick off a lot of people.

At the very least, they should have given people who purchased their PDFs more time to make sure they had a solid backup of their copies. They deserve every ounce of the venom that has already begun to bubble up for making such a brazen, inconsiderate customer service blunder. ]]>
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/279-Wizards-of-the-Coast-Illegal-Filesharing-Suit
The Damned II (Campaign Lore): Armor of the Penitent http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/269-The-Damned-II-(Campaign-Lore)-Armor-of-the-Penitent Mon, 06 Apr 2009 00:35:34 GMT There exists only twelve sets of the Armor of the Penitent. Few know when or exactly why these sets were created, but what is known is that five... There exists only twelve sets of the Armor of the Penitent. Few know when or exactly why these sets were created, but what is known is that five sets were given to the kings of old more than a thousand years ago in an effort to combat the corrupting forces of Asmodeus. Each set is comprised of seven pieces representing the seven heavenly virtues. In the hands of the virtuous, these sets bestow incredible boons. Unlike the infernal sets crafted to tempt mortals, the Armor of the Penitent does not exert any influence over those who don it to follow it's principles. Rather, the armor functions only for those who demonstrate their worthiness, and its power is magnified for those who demonstrate the virtues without fail.

Unfortunately, only the seven sets which remained in Celestia are known to be fully intact. The rest have been scattered across the planes and mortal lands. Even a single piece of this wondrous set of armor, however, can bestow powerful miracles upon those who extol its virtue.

The seven virtues and their opposing vices are:
  • Chastity vs. Lust
  • Temperance vs. Gluttony
  • Charity vs. Greed
  • Diligence vs. Sloth
  • Patience vs. Wrath
  • Kindness vs. Envy
  • Humility vs. Pride

This article will be updated with specific statistics for any pieces found or researched by the party.

Tabard of Largesse
Part of the original sets of the Armor of the Penitent, this tabard rewards those who demonstrate self-sacrifice and abhor greed in any form.
Click image for larger version. 

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Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/269-The-Damned-II-(Campaign-Lore)-Armor-of-the-Penitent
April 1st Login Event: After Action Report http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/260-April-1st-Login-Event-After-Action-Report Fri, 03 Apr 2009 17:02:58 GMT Well, I'd like to say that the event was a resounding success and we blew that 430 record right out of the water, but technology stepped in and really gave us a whipping. I do think that we would have made it to 430, honestly. Just one minute before the designated start time at 6pm, we were already at 211 registered members online and somewhere in the neighborhood of 60+ guests. That would put us within about 140 logins from what we needed.

In a cruel twist of fate, at exactly 6pm, the site promptly died a horrible death as, I am guessing, many who were already online refreshed the webpage simultaneously and, I suspect, many more were trying to login for the beginning of the event. Ironically, I think the hardware was reasonably up for the challenge, but an overlooked configuration blew the entire operation.

For you techies out there who will understand this, the maximum connections for mySQL was not set in the configuration file. As a result, it defaulted to 151 maximum simultaneous connections. That wasn't enough to accommodate a few hundred people trying to make a mySQL connection at the exact same time, so it created a huge cascading failure as people got database errors and then furiously tried to refresh the page. I was logged into the backend server at the time, and you could even see that the CPUs were not overly taxed (30% usage,) but the load was insane at between 400 and even all the way up to 900 at times.

All that aside, I still count this event as a success. It was really an awesome thing to see a bunch of P&PG'rs come together online and to watch the shoutbox chat go wild even a couple of hours leading up to the event. I do want to apologize to all of the folks who weren't able to get their names on the list and tried to login only to find the site utterly decimated from 6:00pm Pacific to about 6:35pm. It wasn't an April Fools joke, it was just a low mySQL skill-check on my part that was at fault. :sorry:

Nonetheless, we did get a confirmed 233 members out for the event, which I think is pretty awesome. If you did try to login and weren't able to vote on this poll. I'd love to get a feel for just how many more members we might have had if the server hadn't crashed.

A number of members have asked -- will we try this again? I think the answer is a definite Yes. As to when, I'm not sure -- perhaps next quarter and certainly before the end of the year. In the meantime, I would like to do more site wide events on a bit smaller scale. I've been thinking that we could do some round table type chat events. If anyone has any ideas, send them my way.
To all of the many members who came out to support the site at this event, let me again extend my gratitude. And if you were one of the many folks who didn't get their names on the log because of the server crash, we've put up a public poll that will let you add your name to the list here: http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9684.

- Robert A. Howard ]]>
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/260-April-1st-Login-Event-After-Action-Report
The Damned II (Session VIII) - Dis http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/245-The-Damned-II-(Session-VIII)-Dis Mon, 30 Mar 2009 05:07:16 GMT *Session Date:* March 7th, 2008 *The 2nd day of Agony, 25306* After a month of patrolling the Elemental Chaos, the haggard band of adventurers... Session Date: March 7th, 2008

The 2nd day of Agony, 25306
After a month of patrolling the Elemental Chaos, the haggard band of adventurers finally sets off for the City of Dis. The Centurion Decimus keeps his promise and leads his contingent of one hundred plus the party, now short one member, down from the Burning Mountains and on the long road to the second layer of Hell. The journey is not without danger, as along the way the contingent must pass through the region known as the Fields of Pus. These fields are so named for the pustules that plague the landscape, occasionally bursting to release some Abyss spawned terror. Decimus proves to be an extremely effective leader and a more than capable fighter in his own right. The unit suffers only minor losses as a result.

The 42rd day of Agony, 25306
After a long and grueling march, the contingent arrives at the cave that descends down to the City of Dis. The tunnel is marked with ancient writing which reads, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!"

The 44th day of Agony, 25306
Decimus' army arrives at the Iron Gates of Dis. Exactly as Meliphisus foresaw, his minions--the party--are not questioned or given a second glance upon their arrival with the rest of Decimus' contingent. This allows the party to enter Dis without travel orders, which they would certainly have had to provide otherwise. Here, Decimus tells the party that they are free to go. He also warns them that if anyone asks of them, he will claim that the group deserted his army.

The party's best chance of not being challenged for papers is to go to the district known as the Fetters. It is, in fact, the only district they can enter without potentially being forced to show their travel orders. It is also where most planar travelers go -- that would be those crazy enough to visit Hell willingly.

The group heads to the Fetters with all due haste, but as they cross the bridge that leads there, they are beset by specters. The specters seem to mean no harm. Many are just seeking news of the living world or someone friendly to speak to, but their touch drains away life -- even from soulshells such as they -- nonetheless. The party is nearly overwhelmed, but Mason activates the powers of the Sun Sword he carries which is extremely effective against these undead.

Unfortunately, Mason also turns on the daylight properties of the Sun Sword, which other than the red-hot iron walls of the buildings and roads around them, is the only light to be seen in the cavernous city of Dis. This attracts the attention of a two ton, flying goliath known as a Horned Devil. The Horned devil does not interfere with the fight, and merely watches. But once the group has defeated the specters, he requests to examine this most interesting blade Mason wields and then he neglects to return it.

Drained, the group heads to the nearest Inn, the Wages of Sin. There they obtain a room, and Mason becomes .. ahem .. involved with the proprietor, a woman of hefty girth and an abundance of zeal, shall we say and leave it at that.

Over the next couple of days, Donaar and Jonas begin inquiring around the Fetters as subtly as they can about any resistance cells operating here. Donaar attracts the wrong kind of attention to himself and the rest of the group when he inquires about getting forged travel papers.

The 46th day of Agony, 25306
The party makes contact with a woman by the name of Lore. Lore has received word of the group's bold inquiries and has also heard that they are soon to be arrested. Despite the grave risk of making contact with them, Lore claims to want to help them, but they first have to prove themselves not to be infernal agents.

To that end, she engages the services of a priest to help her magically discern if any of them are lying to her. When the questioning reveals that they are holding something back as to their reasons for wanting to find this place called Redemption, the party tries to inform her that they were sent by Meliphisus. However, they are magically prevented from even saying his name in her presence. Their fumbling causes her grave concern.

Sensing that the party is losing an opportunity at a lead and becoming aggravated that they keep trying to say his name, Meliphisus makes telepathic contact with them via the worms implanted in their head. He tells them to say whatever they need to without fear of being magically detected. The only thing they cannot reveal is his name.

The party--minus Mason who is back at the Crown of Iron attending to his "duties"-- manages to convince Lore, at least to some degree, that they want to be free of the control of this unnamed master and that they have their own reasons for wanting to find Redemption.

Lore leaves the party at a safe house and goes to speak with Mason. Mason proves to be a problem when he admits that though he would not betray Lore or her organization, he would be willing to kill her or anyone else for the right amount of money or incentive. This goes directly against Meliphisus' orders to say whatever necessary to still Lore's fears, so he sends a telepathic message to the rest of them that Mason has become a problem and needs to be dealt with.

The Players: Alucinor (now playing Lore, the Human, and very much alive, Rogue), SpiffyBananaFoot (Tim the Eladrin Wizard), Corii (Snow the elven Ranger), Aidan (Red the Dragonborn Warlord), JonDOT (Mason, a human fighter), Krackmonkey (Jonas, Dragonborn Swordmage) ]]>
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/245-The-Damned-II-(Session-VIII)-Dis
The Damned II (Session VII) - The Elemental Chaos http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/191-The-Damned-II-(Session-VII)-The-Elemental-Chaos Wed, 25 Mar 2009 06:05:46 GMT *Session Date:* Saturday, February 21st. *Preamble* Before reporting for duty, the party makes contact with an Azer by the name of Gilt. He is a... Session Date: Saturday, February 21st.

Before reporting for duty, the party makes contact with an Azer by the name of Gilt. He is a free laborer here at the Fortress of Ash (one of the few) and he is a master of crafting all things metal. He is especially fond of and adept at working with Baatorian Greensteel and is willing to trade a tidy sum for the shard the party acquired in the mines surrounding Meliphisus' lair. However, the party doesn't want to give up such a precious metal so easily and negotiates to trade some of the other magical equipment they have come across in their travels to have him craft some greensteel-alloyed javelins.

Duly impressed by his craftsmanship, they negotiate with him to produce another weapon forged of more pure greensteel and a suit of Ragedrake Scale armor -- another of his specialties. There are a number of other elements besides greensteel that Gilt favors for forging, and the party offers to gather some of that in trade.

In particular, he is in need of a material called Ignicite which can be harvested in the Elemental Chaos. Ignicite is a porous, brittle rock that can be found in places where the elements of fire, earth, air come together. It is especially more likely to be found in quantities where all four elements have been in contact with each other. Gilt explains that when ignited, ignicite burns hotter than any coal and is extremely useful in working with difficult metals such as greensteel. He gives them specially treated leather sacks to fill and warns them that the ignicite will not ignite from a casual spark, but it would be very dangerous for the ignicite to come into contact with open flame.

The 59th day of Torment, 25306
The session begins with the party on the run in the Elemental Chaos. They have been serving on the patrols for most of a month now and have not had the opportunity to explore any areas far beyond the battlements protecting the mountain pass from the Elemental Chaos. However, their patrol was under attack by a number of fire achons and felementals when a firestorm swept through the battlefield. Their unit became separated, and they managed to escape with their lives by fleeing the storm front deeper into the Elemental Chaos. Their unit commander, the surly Bearded Devil named Brutis, was also separated, and only four of their legion devil escort survived.

The fun begins as the party finds themselves cornered at the fork in a river of fire. To their left, the river falls off into a void, so deep that they cannot make out a floor. To press on, they must cross a fire-flow some ten feet high and equally as wide, which threatens to sweep up and burn to a cinder anything caught in its fiery embrace.

Their pursuers quickly catch up, but the group is able to repel their attackers, a group of flamelings (small fire elementals that are more dangerous in groups) and some beasts of seemingly made hardening magma. Still, even after the fight, going back is not an option as the front of the firestorm still threatens to overtake them. Using floating motes of earth, the group makes a bridge across the fire-flow. Crossing is still not without danger as the flow catches up the earth-motes and forces the party to cross them while they are on the move.

Safely across, the party continues their flight from the firestorm, looking for any sort of shelter they might be able to use to ride out the storm. They are also hoping to make the best of this opportunity to find some ignicite, as their tour is quickly running out and they will be marching to the City of Dis soon. Tim makes an educated guess that what they are looking for might be found on a larger earth mote with some obvious fire-sign.

With some luck, they find such a place. The earth-mote is one of the larger ones they have seen at about half a mile in diameter. Flowing off the side of the floating mountain is a continuous stream of lava. This is just the sort of combination they were looking for. The only problem is that this earth-mote is floating some one hundred feet above the ground. There are smaller gravity defying chunks of rock orbiting around the mote at various heights, but they are dangerously far from one another.

Mason, actually only known to his fellows as Beard since he's never spoken aloud to them, makes a series of Olympian jumps and uses rope and grapple to pull the motes closer together so that the party can follow. Once atop the floating mountain, the party finds a field of polygon shaped basalt with pillars of columnar basalt inland a few dozen yards. Here, they are beset by a pair of nasty elementals known as Firelashers, which appear as small tornadoes of fire with whip-like appendages and a hatred of all things.

After the group wins their ground and defeats the Firelashers, they set off to explore the rest of the mote. They find a deep tunnel that will serve as adequate protection against the storm and shows some potential of possibly containing ignicite. Thorn, the only one who can see in complete darkness, sneaks off ahead of them to scout the tunnel and finds within the sleeping form of a young adult red dragon in a large cave within. He also can see that there are veins of ignicite that crisscross the cavern floor that they can harvest.

The party "stealthily," moves into the tunnel, and near the mouth of the large cave, Thorn stops them. Thorn makes a bold, but ill-fated decision to try to sneak up on the sleeping dragon and deal it a mortal blow and flee before it can respond. Unfortunately, as he approaches the dragon, he comes to find out all too late that the dragon wasn't still sleeping. Within a few seconds, he is downed and even as the party pours into the cave to try to engage, the dragon tears his unconscious form apart, slaying him.

The "ambush," turns in the dragon's favor, but the group is still able to defeat it. Not without loss however, as by the time the battle is over, Thorn's body has dissolved into a nasty, purplish goo. If Tim's understanding of their condition is correct, Thorn hasn't been slain in the traditional sense of the word since he wasn't on his home plane. It is more likely that he has been banished back to his home plane. In the case of Thorn, that probably means that he is somewhere in Stygia -- naked without his equipment which still remained behind. That might as well be dead for the moment though, since the group has no hope of being able to mount a rescue to recover him from the frozen bergs of Stygia any time soon.

After collecting the small hoard the dragon had collected, its hide and golden-dipped horns, and, of course, the ignicite, the party waits out the storm and then retraces their steps to the Fortress of Ash. Only two of the legionnaires that originally accompanied them survived, and both returned to the Fortress giving high praises for Donaar's leadership through the Elemental Chaos.

Their commander, Brutis, is incensed by their high praise for the dragonborn and finds cause to punish them for their supposed cowardice and inability to follow orders that lead to their unit from being separated. In truth, it was Brutis' cowardice and inept leadership that undid their unit, but there is no avenue of appeal. Brutis forces the party to "decimate," one of their number, and has the two remaining legionnaires draw lots to determine whom shall be punished since the group is protected from being included in the sortition. They are not immune to dealing out the punishment though and are required to beat one of the legionairres to death.

Their day does end on a high note, however, since they are able to trade the ignicite and the the dragon scale in to have Gilt make a greensteel fullblade for Jonas, the swordmage, and two sets of drakescale armor. ]]>
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/191-The-Damned-II-(Session-VII)-The-Elemental-Chaos
Losing Control http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/165-Losing-Control Thu, 05 Mar 2009 22:21:08 GMT Here is a short story that has been sitting on my hard drive for a long time collecting "digital dust." I thought I might share it with you all. The story is loosely based on one of my characters from the best campaign I have ever played in. I hope you enjoy it, and feedback is welcome. :biggrin:

Losing Control
Robert A. Howard

Ylin felt himself suddenly falling. Around him, a swirling maelstrom of blackness mixed with deep shades of crimson and purple threatened to catch him in its violent embrace. His mouth was agape and his features etched with dread. Through the wind's howling cacophony, he couldn't even hear the sound of his own screams.

The wind bit at his open eyes causing tears to erupt in salty rivers which streamed back into his hair as it was whipped from his face by the force of his descent. Despite the bitter sting, he dared not shut his eyes. Below him, he could see the cyclone culminated into a vortex of absolute darkness.

Whatever dark-stuff made up the maelstrom itself reacted violently as it impacted its core, seeming to be contorted and then ultimately rended completely from existence. A cold realization welled up in Ylin's throat, choking him. In moments, he would be brutally torn apart as he was forced through the whirling black center of the tempest, now dreadfully close below. He couldn't think; he couldn't breathe. He desperately gasped for air, but his lungs would not open. Panic overtook him, and he clawed at his throat madly.

Tightening sharply near the end, the whirlwind constricted around his body like a powerful serpent. Pain exploded from every synapse as his body was forced torturously into an impossibly small space.


Ylin shot upright in his bed still gasping for air. His chest heaved labouredly as he struggled to catch his breath. Outside a storm raged. The rain pounded relentlessly and the wind violently beat the unlatched shutters repeatedly against his bedroom windows. Bright bolts of lightning illuminated his bedchambers in quick angry flashes.

Once he found himself able to breathe evenly, he swung his legs off the bed and just sat for a while, head in hand. At last his heart finally calmed its frantic pace and he dared to rise. Apparently, he rose too quickly and he almost blacked out as his head exploded into a torturous throb of intense pain. He swooned and let himself fall back to the bed's edge.

Tentatively, he stood again. The throbbing in his head continued unabated. What manner of drink could he have imbibed that would leave him so completely impaired?

Cupping his hands in the water basin nearby his nightstand, he washed its cool contents over his unshaven face. His fingers withdrew immediately, unaccustomed to the course reception--a month's growth at least by his judgment, and he had always been attentive to keeping his face closely shaven even on the longest of travels or deepest of winters.

Focusing his thoughts and senses through the sharp throbs that still plagued him, he prepared a lantern and stumbled across his chambers towards a grand armoire. The armoire's stained cherry finish had been masterfully crafted to display a magnificent oak tree carved with a blaze of flame extending from its unsinged crown. This familiar image stirred memories, and Ylin immediately recognized the exquisite workmanship in the seal of the Firetree Crest--he was in his father's manor! But how he had come to be here, he could not recall.

Yawning, Ylin unlatched and opened the cleverly concealed doors of the armoire and silently cursed himself a fool for almost dropping the lantern at the sight of his own image. Set inside the armoire was a half-length mirror that revealed his youthful features and disheveled appearance. The image cast back from the mirror was unmistakably his own, but somehow not what he expected. It was as if he was seeing a man he once knew, but couldn't quite remember.

Examining the image cast back at him, he'd plainly fallen asleep without so much as taking the time to remove his boots, much less anything else. A splattering of something thick and crimson, he could only guess to be blood, trailed across his blousy white shirt.

His first thought was that it was his own. Alarmed, he lifted his collar to peer beneath and was relieved to find the flesh there unmarred and unstained. Neither was the cotton front torn or cut, however one of the flared sleeves had been ripped slightly where it met the shoulder leaving a gap some four fingers wide.

Ylin struggled to remember anything about the day that had led up to him standing here now, blood stained and disoriented. It was no use. He couldn't recall when he had gone to bed, let alone when he'd come home. When nothing came, he turned, and with his lantern in hand, he headed towards his chamber door.

Hung there on a peg to the right of the door was a familiar vestment--a long white stole with an emblem of a two handed sword with a round shield set atop the center of the blade and embroidered in gold thread which bespoke his position of high authority within the church. He took up the ceremonial garment with his free hand and draped it over his shoulders easily. It hung about his neck extending past his waist, a hand's length from touching the tops of his knees.

Something had stained the stole too. Shining the lantern upon it, he could see it was of the same consistency and color as the splattering on his shirt. In fact, the trailing pattern across his shirt continued in near perfect alignment across one side of the stole.

Ylin pinched the stained material of the stole between his fingers. The fluid was wet and sticky, undeniably blood. However his clothing had become blood-stained and torn must have happened recently. A cold dread welled up within him. What had happened? Whose blood was this?

His door opened with a click, and he quietly closed it behind him and then descended the wide staircase down into the family dining room. The room was open and airy with a vaulted ceiling set high, which provided a view of the landing that rung around the chamber serving the second floor bedrooms.

The furnishings here were every bit as elaborate as those in his chambers with deep blue tapestries bearing the family crest draped along the walls. The room's many candelabras were unlit, leaving him with little else to see by than the lantern he'd brought with him.

Ylin walked tentatively through the house and towards the manor's front entrance. There he peered out one of the oblong windows on either side of the double doors. The rain was coming down hard, obscuring any view of the courtyard he might have otherwise glimpsed.

He let the lantern drop to his side and stood pondering as he peered into the gloom. He found the sound of the storm strangely calming. He closed his eyes for a moment and just listened to the constant drum of the wind-whipped rain. Peering into the darkness, he let his thoughts wander. The raging thunder between his temples calmed slightly to the level of a dull roar.

"What happened next?" The thought startled him; it was not his own.

A flash of lightning suddenly illuminated a heavily robed figure standing no more than a pace or two outside the window looking back at him. His features were cloaked in shadow, but in that brief instance, Ylin could see that the man's head was misshapen, bulbous even. A thickly corded and matted beard, at least a foot in length, seemed to writhe in the wind from under the figure's cowl. Though he could not see the man's expression, Ylin felt at once a cold malevolence.

Ylin fell over himself as he recoiled from the windowpane. He hit the wooden floor, bottom first, and painfully hard. Reflexively, his hand went down to his side seeking a weapon he did not have. When he looked up again in the next moment, however, the figure was gone, leaving him unsure if he had really seen anything at all. A shiver ran down his spine.

Gulping hard, he scrambled to his feet and forced himself back to the window. He raised his lantern, attempting to get a better view outside, but the light only succeeded in creating more glare. His heart raced. What had he seen?

A voice, calm and reassuring asked, "Again we come to this mysterious man. Do you really believe he was there?"

"No," he heard a voice answer weakly.

"What do you suppose the image means, then?"

"It's my reflection isn't it," he realized the answer came from him. "It's me. By the gods, it's me because of what I did," he was weeping.

Ylin furled his brows. None of this was making any sense. He felt as though he were possessed. What was his inner voice talking about? What's happening to me, he wondered, frustrated.

"You're remembering," the voice answered his unspoken question. "You are doing very good. This is further than we have gotten before."

"What were you doing at your father's manor? Why were you there?" the voice continued, far off.

"I ... I don't know"

"You do know," the voice persisted.

"But I don't, I swear," he blubbered.

"Try, Ylin! Try! This is very important. What were you doing at the Firetree Manor on the 15th night of Summer's End?"

"I," he heard himself pause. "I had just arrived home that night from the temple. It was my first night back. I hadn't been home in so long, but I had stopped at the village a few hours ride outside the manor."

Ylin clutched his forehead with his free hand as though that would somehow make the voices stop. He felt as though he were mad. He had to find out what was going on! As the voices continued to drone on inside his head, he set himself to searching the downstairs.

"Why did you stop when you were so close?"

"I had planned to stay the night there, so that I could ride out fresh in the morning. Moreover, the last time I had seen the village was when I was barely twelve winters old. I was curious if anyone would even remember me, since it had been nearly five years," he could hear that the second voice--his voice--had calmed a little in the telling. This was all so surreal.

"Did you stay the night there?"

"No. I purchased a room at the tavern and had a quick meal, then went out to see how much the village had changed. I couldn't believe it! My father, the Duke, was at the central square. He was asking for volunteers to travel to the ruins of the Arch Mage tower to investigate some claims of restless dead in the area. I don't know why –- I guess I wanted to show off how grown up I had become, so I stepped out of the crowd and volunteered. Of course, he recognized me immediately."

"How did he respond?"

"He was furious! He shamed me in front of all those people. He forbade me from going like I was some child. He said it was too dangerous. So, I asked him how he could stand there and say that his son's life was worth more than everyone else's."

Ylin vividly remembered the day the voices were discussing. This was all exactly as it had happened, by his remembrance. But what was so significant about that day long-past? So, his father had been a little upset–-okay, he had been very upset. So what was so interesting about that?

Ylin continued searching the manor. The first story was abandoned. Not even the servants' candles were lit. And peaking into the servants' bunkers revealed only empty beds.

He dared a quiet, "Hello?" to the darkness. Then another, only this time he called out loudly.

"I'm here, Ylin. It's okay. Tell me what happened after you got back to the manor," the voice in his head was the only answer.

Ylin rushed up the central stairs, this time not worried whom he might wakeup.

"For a while, he said nothing to me. We went through dinner without speaking at all. I still hadn't told him."

"About becoming a priest?" the voice questioned.


Ylin checked the second level, room by room, trying very hard to ignore the voices. The entire manor was completely empty. All the bedrooms were left unused. His two brothers' rooms, his cousin's, his parent's rooms were all empty. He was alone.

Pain erupted from his skull as though a dagger had been plunged into his left temple. He wheeled and fell to his knees from the intensity of the throbbing he had all but forgotten in the moment. He sobbed at the agony of it.

"Ylin, I want you to try to remember what happened that night. You had gone to the solarium to confront him and tell him that you had joined the priesthood despite his wishes, is that right? What happened when you told him that?"

Looking up the stairs to the third floor, he could see now that there was a flicker of light spilling out from the solarium. He struggled to his feet, leaving the lantern in the hall where he had fallen, then climbed the stairs with great effort, using his hands as well as his feet to crawl his way to the upper chamber.

"Ylin, answer me. We don't have much time left. You must remember."

Tears were streaming from his eyes as he forced himself to stand straight before pushing open the door to the private family chambers. He could feel each step he took echoed by the throbbing in his head.

He could tell immediately that something was amiss. The room's many candles had been left unattended and had dwindled to waxy nubs, spilling streams of wax unceremoniously down their decorative candlesticks. By the dimly flickering light, he could see a shelf of books had been knocked over.

Ylin walked steadily into the room. He noticed too that one of the gossamer curtains adorning the room's many beveled glass windows had been ripped away. His heart sank as he crossed to the far side of the room where the book shelf and curtain had been left asunder. He dropped to his knees.

"No, it cannot be!" He cried out to whoever might be listening.

"What can't be? What do you see?"

Ylin sobbed unabashed as he looked down at his father's body. The back of his head had been caved in. The body laid stomach down, with his head cocked to the side. His father's lifeless eyes seemed to gaze at the pool of sticky blood spilt from the gaping wound, now congealing into the grooves and crevices of the wood grain floor. His jaw hung open with an expression that seemed to ask, "Why? Why did you do this to me?"

Ylin's gaze fixed onto an ivory hafted mace discarded next to the body. The delicate flange of the ornate weapon was covered with gore. Disbelief in his eyes, he reached out and grasped his fingers tightly around the ivory haft of the mace--his mace!

"I ... killed him," Ylin answered audibly this time, between sobs. "Theorin forgive me, I remember! We were arguing. I told him that I had dedicated my life to the service of Theorin. That I had joined the priesthood and there was nothing he could do to stop me. I had never seen him so angry. He was beyond furious.

"He couldn't understand why I had chosen to follow the path of the priest. He thought it was some fool child's notion or that I did it to escape my responsibility to the barony and to the family.

"He made it clear that I would renounce my dedication and put this foolishness behind me. When I told him, ‘No,' he grasped me by the shoulders and for a moment, I thought he was going to throttle me in his anger. ‘You will do as you are told!,' he was screaming.

"Then he turned away from me. He told me that he would send a letter to the monastery forbidding my confirmation. After all these years, how could I have thought he would understand? Why did I think he would let me live my own life? I knew there was no escape.

It happened in the blink of an eye. Something deep inside me broke and I lost all control. The next thing I knew, I was swinging my mace. The blow caught him in the back of the head.

With a single sickening crack, everything I had ever hoped for, everything I had hoped to be was crushed. How could I murder my own father?"

Ylin clenched his eyes shut. A fresh wave of pain and nausea swept over him. When he opened his eyes again, he finally became aware of his true surroundings. He was in a dank cell. Daylight streamed into the room from a barred window set teasingly high from the floor.

Sitting across from him was a lithe man dressed in heavy ceremonial robes of red and white. Draped over his shoulders was a long white band of linen embroidered in gold with the symbol of a broad circular shield set atop the middle of a large two handed sword, which bespoke his position as a High Justicar of the Faith.

The Justicar's expression was grave but sorrowful. He reached out to Ylin, putting his hand on his shoulder to comfort him.

"I am sorry that you had to recall such a painful memory, but as a novice of the faith, you know as well as I that it would be against our beliefs to put a man to death that did not know the reason for his punishment," his voice was the same as Ylin had heard in his dream-state.

Ylin sat in shock, tears flowing freely. From behind the High Justicar, he heard the rattling of keys and then a click before the heavy wooden door was swung open.

"I had feared that we would not break through your mind-block before the appointed hour. A few more minutes and we might not have."

The Justicar gave him a reassuring squeeze and then released him and stood away, as two guards came in from behind him to unshackle his hands and feet. They lifted him to his feet and caught him when he almost fell. His heart raced. Everything was happening so quickly.

Within minutes, Ylin was walking in the warm light of a high noon. He was taken through a courtyard and then a set of great wooden gates. More guards joined the procession as he was taken through a large crowd that had gathered in the cobbled streets to bear witness of his execution. Behind him, he heard the Justicar giving last rites as he was led up to the scaffold.

As he ascended the wooden steps of the platform, a fresh wave of agony from behind his left temple brought him to his knees. The guards mistook his sudden collapse as resistance and roughly jerked him to his feet and half dragged him the rest of the short distance to the block.

Ylin stood looking into the crowd of angry faces as the pronouncement of his sentence was read officially into record. He couldn't blame them for their rage. He deserved to die, if he had really killed his own father. Was there doubt about that? He could see in his mind's eye his father's lifeless body lying in a pool of his own blood even now. And there beside the body, lay his ivory handled mace--a gift given to him when he was anointed as a high priest.

The Justicar stood now in front of him, "Do you, Ylin Firetree, wish to confess before Theorin and these people what you have done that your soul might be unburdened?"

Ylin's gaze went to the priest's vestments. He stared incredulously at the gold embroidery of the man's stole then with his eyes still fixed on the symbol he pronounced loudly, "This isn't right! I could not have killed my father!"

"You did! Confess what you have done--that your soul will not be eternally damned." When Ylin did not look up, the priest grabbed his head with both hands and forced his eyes to meet his own and added again, "Confess!"

The man's strength was indomitable and his grasp renewed the white hot agony between Ylin's temples. He pulled Ylin uncomfortably close. Nearly nose to nose now, Ylin noticed the man's skin seemed mottled and gray.

Ylin grabbed at the Justicar's hands. He could not have guessed it by looking at the gaunt man how strong he was--it felt like his skull was going to crack under the pressure of his grip. He could feel the world fading fast to blackness around him. He thought that these might be his last moments.

"I did not murder my father," he screamed and fought with renewed effort. The Justicar's right hand finally came free with a nauseating gurgle--and then a pop? Blood streamed from the wound behind his left temple. The fingers of the man's left hand were still digging painfully into his skull.

Ylin jammed the palm of his hand into the insane priest's neck and pushed him an arm's length away. To his side, his fingers tightened around the haft of a weapon that was inexplicably absent only a moment before. He locked his gaze with the man's milky white eyes and brought the head of the mace in an upward arc, connecting solidly with the priest's jaw and sending his tormentor sprawling to the ground. At last, he was free of the man—no, the creature's--grasp.

The feeling of vertigo that washed over him in that moment as the creature fell was intense. This nightmare, he realized, was not real--or not entirely. The blue sky was consumed by a canopy of darkness, and the cobbled streets gave way to rocky outcroppings of stone. The truth of his peril came upon him swiftly. The manor had been an illusion wrapped in yet another illusion. But this abomination he fought was quite real. The holes it had drilled into his skull, those were real too.

Ylin took up his mace, which in the darkness shone with a light more brilliant and steady than any torch. He advanced on the undead thing before him. It rose to face him and he could see now that it was no man and the bloody appendages stuck in his head just a moment before were not fingers either.

Its tentacles writhed, obviously angry they had been denied their feast. Its mottled grey flesh had decayed and its milky-white eyes were devoid of life. The monster's beaklike mouth clacked and screeched.

Ylin narrowly dodged out of the way as a bolt of sizzling blackness whizzed by, piercing the air where his chest had been a moment before.

The creature raised its other hand, perhaps to try to blast him again, but Ylin rushed it, bowling it over. Perhaps pinning his opponent hadn't been the best of ideas, however. The writhing mass of tentacles immediately went to work burrowing into his skull. Ylin tumbled away, but the creature stayed with him, and ended the roll on top of him.

Where its clawed hands found gaps in his armor, Ylin's flesh went instantly frigid--its touch was colder than ice. Its unnatural touch numbed him, making it difficult to fight or even move.

Ylin summoned what courage and strength he had left to him, rebuking the creature in the name of his god. "Back! Get thee behind me, thing of evil! Theorin commands it!"

The monster withdrew from him instantly. Its rotting flesh was singed and smoking from the show of divine power. The agony it now felt was probably the first pain it had experienced in ages, but this was an undead of the worst sort. It could not be destroyed by an invocation of his faith alone.

This aberration, which resembled a horrid merging of a human with a squid like head, had been born like all of its kind with potent psionic powers. That alone allowed it to dominate or even slay a man with just force of will. This one, rare among its kind, had also mastered necromantic magic, which it had used to become the perversity Ylin now faced, neither dead, nor alive.

The lich-thing had only been briefly repelled. It spun around suddenly, tendrils of magic playing between its clawed fingers casting a greenish glow on its malevolent visage. It clicked and screeched and as it uttered the last syllables of its spell, stretched its clawed and skeletal finger towards him. A bolt of sickly green light shot from its outstretched finger.

As soon as he saw it turn and point, Ylin dove for cover behind a stalagmite but not quickly enough. The ray caught him in the shoulder of his shield arm, easily dissolving the plated armor he wore and the flesh beneath. The ray left a circular wound several fingers wide through and through, which oozed blood still sizzling and bubbling. Ylin's scream reverberated in the large cave, visibly bringing pleasure to his assailant.

"Theorin, turn your gaze upon my enemies. Light my way with your radiance that leaves no secret unrevealed," he cried out and jumped from behind the stony pillar. He had a few tricks of his own. From behind him, intensely bright light illuminated the entire cavernous chamber, seeming to frame his silhouette in an aura of white fire.

All was revealed to him. There in the cavern, not far away stood the short, but powerfully built white-bearded dwarf, Malamac. His well-worn axe lay at his side, discarded. Timidly peering out from behind his dwarven-companion, stood an even shorter and far more scholarly-built robed figure. His frizzy white hair and gold rimmed spectacles slipping down his nose identified him as Flindel. His friends, dwarf and gnome, stood unmoving, though seemingly uninjured. He'd never meant to face this horror alone, yet it seemed he had little choice.

The lich hissed its displeasure and struggled to keep its gaze upon him. A creature of darkness and death, the radiance burned at its eyes. Even though it shrunk back, Ylin knew still that in a straight battle of magic, he could not win.

Thankfully, it responded just as he'd hoped, uttering the arcane words Ylin recognized would summon magical darkness to cancel the divine light he'd conjured. No rays of disintegration would be coming his way for a few seconds at least. He took his opportunity readily and charged it with his exquisite ivory-handled mace held high.

The monster abandoned its casting with a hiss, and was able to lift its arm just in time to protect its bulbous head from the downward arcing blow. Even the most devastating of attacks would normally do little except irritate the lich-thing, but the instrument of Ylin's furious attack was no mere mace. A smile crossed Ylin's face as he heard the bones of the creature's forearm crack and break. The creature screeched madly, not from pain, but frustration as its skeletal forearm hung loosely by a few rotting sinews. Good, Ylin thought, at least now we're even.

Outrage evident in its milky dead eyes, the creature reacted with deadly speed, grabbing Ylin by the throat with its remaining clawed hand. Immediately, Ylin felt the other-worldly chill of its touch fast numbing his senses and then a rush of air as he was tossed bodily a few feet away. Without pause, the monster bore down upon him again, but Ylin had the presence of mind to bring up a boot and landed a powerful kick to its chest that sent it sprawling.

Seizing the opportunity, he came at it again, striking it full in the face as he passed. Momentum and strength combined in one overpowering blow that crushed its monstrous face, causing an eruption of putrescence, the smell of which made Ylin gag. The last words of the arcane spell died away on its beak like maw as the monster crumpled unceremoniously to its knees. Ylin called for divine strength and struck it again and once more until finally it lay unmoving on the cavern floor.

Seeing that the creature was at last dead, Ylin went straightaway to his friends. His left arm hung limp and useless at his side and the pain of his wounds was overwhelming, but he had to know that they were alright before he could tend to himself.

The light of his spell still illuminated the whole of the vast cavern revealing his companion's faces locked in expressions of horror and grief. Malamac was weeping, something he had never seen him do in all his years of traveling with the dwarf. The gnome's mouth was stretched wide in a silent and unending scream.

Ylin shook them and called their names, but nothing seemed to register. Still their eyes were each affixed on something that only they could see.

In his spell-driven nightmare, he had almost been beheaded. He wondered what would have happened if the entire illusion had played out? He imagined it was reasonable that if his mind believed him dead, perhaps the body would have followed. Ylin realized that even though the creature was destroyed, its hex could still very well kill his friends if it was not lifted.

Ylin closed his eyes and whispered a fervent prayer to his god, pleading that the spell would be broken and the illusion revealed to his friends and long time companions as it had been to him. A moment, long and tense, passed with no sign that the spell had been ended. At last, the dwarf gasped and the gnome, similarly released, let loose a high pitched squeal. Only then did Ylin breathe again, letting out a sigh of relief and a sincere prayer of thankfulness.

"What happened?" Malamac asked as he uncomfortably wiped tears from his eyes, leaving clean streaks on his otherwise grimy face.

Ylin explained how the undead mage-illithid had used some sort of spell that made him believe he was back more than a decade hence, somehow forgetting everything that had happened since that time and even the deadly opponent he and his companions had come here to slay. He told them of the visions that had corrupted his memory making him face his worst fear-- losing control. In reality, he hadn't murdered his father, but in the heat of the moment he had wanted to.

Malamac and Flin recalled their own terrors, each terrible and grim as his own.

"That was Weird," the gnome announced. The look of abject terror on his face a few moments before was replaced with an unusual elation.

"Aye, it was strange, runt, but I'd have to describe it as a wee bit more on the horrific side," the dwarf started to respond.

"No, it was Wierd. A spell called Weird," the diminutive gnome corrected. "Or at least, it was something very close to it. Some combination of psionic suggestion and arcane magic, I would guess. Very interesting," he added excitedly.

"Ya might have warned us ya know," Malamac snorted, determined to be angry at someone.

"Well, I didn't know he could do that! It's not like we ever fought one of those before."

As Malamac and Flin continued to argue, Ylin called once more to his god, summoning one of His greatest gifts. Golden light spilled from his hand as he rubbed it over his injured shoulder. The wound closed, leaving only a slight scar --another one that would never completely heal. There was nothing he could do for the wound that lay just under the surface left there by the guilt of his own internal struggle. He wondered if that scar would ever fade.

Ylin smiled as his companions settled into their usual bickering. At least they seemed none the worse for the ordeal.

"Anyway, how did you figure out that it was not real? I was completely fooled and I know the dumb dwarf didn't have a clue," Flin asked, not missing an opportunity to tease his friend.

Malamac growled obligingly in response.

"Two things, actually. I received this," Ylin presented his ivory hafted mace, "As a gift from the church when I was anointed as a Justicar. Yet, in my nightmare, it was the weapon I used to kill my father before I had even been accepted as a full priest; and why would a mere initiate be wearing a stole signifying such a high rank as Justicar? It didn't make any sense."

"Very smart of ya, lad," Malamac replied, not really impressed, but trying to be uncharacteristically polite. "So, now what?"

"Now, I think its time to go home. Theorin has shown me what I needed to see. I didn't realize how much I resented my father for trying to stop me from becoming a priest. I mean to end the schism that has long grown between us."

Malamac and Flin exchanged surprised glances. It wasn't often that Ylin admitted he was wrong about anything, particularly when it came to his family.

"Alright, let's be off then," Malamac said, giving Ylin a supportive, if not a little heavy, pat on the back.

The light of Ylin's spell finally dimmed as the trio made their way out of the Alhoon's lair and off on the long trek back to the Firetree Barony. ]]>
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/165-Losing-Control
The Damned II (Session VI) - The Burning Mountains http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/163-The-Damned-II-(Session-VI)-The-Burning-Mountains Mon, 02 Mar 2009 04:44:36 GMT *Session Date*: February 14th, 2009 * The Sea of Silt* The party recuperates its strength before finishing their difficult climb up the mountain... Session Date: February 14th, 2009

The Sea of Silt

The party recuperates its strength before finishing their difficult climb up the mountain pass and to the Sea of Silt. They do not sleep, of course, because their immortal bodies, or souls rather, don't require it, but they still need rest. They half hope that the Warlock will attempt another attack while they rest, and they are disappointed when he doesn't make a move that day.

So recovered, the party finishes their climb and they are soon greeted a daunting sight. Far in the distance, an ancient volcano spews ash into the air, raining it down for miles upon miles. Leonis explains that the flat expanse of gray ash they see was once a valley between the mountains. Now, the only passage across is on the peaks of the mountain range. The path is barely visible, and treacherous. One misstep could send them plummeting down through the ash to be buried below, perhaps miles beneath the surface.

Unfortunately, the path Leonis once took through this deadly terrain has since been obscured. Mason wordlessly offers to lead the way by stepping out boldly as they others discuss who should lead the way. He is assisted by Leonis who is able to float below the surface and look for dangerous pitfalls along their way. The others follow Mason on his silent journey, nervousness gnawing at them the entire way. The way is not long, but caution dictates that they travel slowly. It is some twelve hours before they will reach the safety and sureness of bare rock.

As they travel, they spot a lone figure following their path over the Silt Flats. They press on until they reach safe ground and then wait for the figure to approach. It does not, but instead waits for them to continue. They appease their follower by moving ahead, but they wait in ambush at the first opportunity.

The Warlock is stealthy, but not stealthy enough to evade the keen senses of the dark elf, Thorn. But then, neither is the party particularly quiet even when they aren't clanking about as they travel. A sneeze from Donnar gives their position away, but Thorn sneaks ahead to waylay their pursuer. Thorn moves like a shadow around the bend, but the Warlock is wary and spots him.

The Warlock bids Thorn and the others to give up Donnar, but of course, they won't do that. As the others move up and prepare their defenses, the tiefling queries them. "Do you know what it is you serve," he asks them. When they attempt to feign innocence, he tells them that he knows they are in service to a Hellfire Worm. Worse still, the one they serve is an exile. He was once a Duke of Hell, but lost favor centuries past.

Tim ends the conversation by launching spell, cutting off the Warlock's escape with a stinking cloud. The moment he is attacked, the Warlock surprises them all by disappearing completely from sight. And so, he eludes them again, and the party holds hope that that is the last time they will cross paths with him. (OOC: The group claims that since they don't know his name, he can't possibly become a recurring villain.)

So, You Serve Meliphisus?
After the exchange with the tiefling, Leonis confronts the group about how they really came into possession of the gem. He confirms what he already suspected that they do indeed serve Meliphisus. Still they claim that they had no choice and that they do not actually want to serve him. In the case of Thorn, this is a lie and Leonis knows it. Donnar, he senses tells the truth.

He entreats Donnar that if he should help them the rest of the way to the Burning Mountains, he must agree to destroy this emerald prison he is trapped in. He doesn't care if it destroys his soul, it would be better than this endless captivity. Donnar agrees to "do his best," and that is the best offer Leonis can possibly get.

The Burning Mountains
It is only a couple of days journey from the Silt Flats before the party reaches the Burning Mountains, and it is not long before they can see the flame licked range ahead of them. The Burning Mountains are so named because of the inferno that ranges on the other side of the mountains that burns so high and with such intensity that the flames can be seen rising above the mountain peaks.

As they approach the Fortress of Ash, Thorn picks Donnar's pockets, relieving him of the soul-gem, but staying close to Donnar so that his thievery won't be discovered. When Donnar stops to attempt to destroy the gem, he finds he doesn't have it. He suspects that Thorn took it, but beyond a verbal confrontation, he doesn't press the matter further.

The Fortress of Ash
When the weary band finally arrives at the Fortress of Ash, they are met by a sentry of Bearded Devils riding Nightmare steeds who ride up to meet them on the edge of the kill-zone. Despite the group's claims that they have come here on orders with a message for the Centurion Decimus, they are arrested for their lack of travel papers and stripped of their possessions. One of the Bearded Devils, a legionnaire commander by the name of Brutis, confiscates the gem containing the imprisoned Leonis. Thorn marks his name well, fully intending on assassinating this Legionnaire should he ever have the opportunity.

After a long wait in cell far too small to accommodate all of them, Decimus is finally summoned and he has with them the letter sent by Meliphisus. He queries them of the soul-gem they were to deliver, and they tell him of the legionnaire Brutis who took it from them. It seems the gift or Meliphisus' letter was persuasive enough, for Decimus instructs the party that they are to join his cohort on a march to the City of Dis in one month's time. In the meantime, they will join the fortress sentry guarding the mountain passage that leads from the Burning Mountains into the Elemental Chaos... ]]>
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The Damned II (Session V) - Hunted http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/140-The-Damned-II-(Session-V)-Hunted Fri, 20 Feb 2009 09:45:43 GMT Session Date: February 7th, 2009

The Players: Alucinor (The 'elven' Rogue), SpiffyBananaFoot (Tim the Eladrin Wizard), Corii (Snow the elven Ranger), Aidan (Red the Dragonborn Warlord), JonDOT (Mason, a human fighter), Krackmonkey (Jonas, Dragonborn Swordmage)

On the Other Side
Having regrouped from their tribulations with the manticore and the unstable bridge, the party makes haste along their journey. As they make some distance between themselves and the bridge, they hear the frustrated baying of hounds coming from the trail behind them. They decide not to send a scout to investigate and press ever forward.

Seeds of Discord
It is a few days, if indeed there are such in a place such as Hell, before they reach the mountain pass that will lead to the Silt Flats. They travel unaccosted, but not without conflict. Leonis, their spectral guide, proves to be a continuing source of aggravation to Thorn in particular who lacks wit enough to assuage Leonis' mounting suspicions about the party's escape story. Neither does it help matters when Leonis begins to take "private," but unfortunately overheard, council with Donnar. In these supposedly private discussions, he urges Donnar to take action against Thorn or to at the very least seek to separate himself from Thorn as soon as possible, for he senses great evil in him.

And so, the seeds of discord continue to grow even though Leonis' claims certainly surprise none of these ragtag travelers.

The ascent up the mountain pass is a strenuous climb. Mason shows some talent for mountaineering though and guides the rest of them up the best route. However, a dangerous trap has been laid for them. A tiefling warlock has been hunting the group ever since they emerged from the cave outside Meliphisus' domain. He has patiently stalked them since then, waiting for the opportune time to strike. Once he was certain of the route they would take, he ventured ahead of them and found the ideal point to set an ambush along this difficult path.

The first rock slide that hit them was a clever snare and didn't alert any of them that they were under attack. No one was seriously injured, but it did its job well of putting some distance between the party. The next collapse further spread them as some of the group rushed ahead of the fall and others stayed behind. On the third collapse, one of the party finally spots the tiefling warlock raining fire down from above to set off yet another rock slide.

When next the warlock peeks out from above, Tim is ready and launches himself into a spell that creates a radius of slippery ice around his adversary. This marks Tim well, and the tiefling responds with a fiery assault that lays Tim low and nearly takes his life. As the party tries desperately to regroup, the tiefling continues to launch volley after volley of hellish flame down on them. All the while, he calls out from the precipice above that he will let them go in peace if they will simply give up Donnar. When they do not agree, he looses his hell hounds on them and trips the final rock slide with an infernal blast.

The situation looks very dire, until at least, the adventurers finally manage to regroup. They defeat the hell hounds and make their way up the winding path to the precipice above. Seeing that he will not win the day, however, the tiefling flees down a tunnel and collapses the way so that he cannot be followed. Frustrated, Mason tries to pursue, but by the time he clears the debris, the tiefling is no where to be found.

Exhausted from a difficult climb and still licking their wounds, the party sets up camp right there on the very spot they were ambushed atop the wide precipice, near the top of the mountain pass.

And that concluded our session for the night... Will there be rest for the wicked? We'll find out at the next session. ]]>
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The Damned II (Session IV) - The Guide http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/97-The-Damned-II-(Session-IV)-The-Guide Tue, 17 Feb 2009 10:24:28 GMT Session Date: January 17th, 2009

The Players: Alucinor (The 'elven' Rogue), SpiffyBananaFoot (Tim the Eladrin Wizard), Corii (Snow the elven Ranger), Aidan (Red the Dragonborn Warlord), JonDOT (Mason, a human fighter), Krackmonkey (Jonas, Dragonborn Swordmage)

A Boon
Having dispatched the kobold chief and relieving him of his head, the party is once again transported via a dark portal back to Meliphisus' immense lair, stocked with treasure rivaling many nations combined. Tim is bold enough to suggest that the group is poorly equipped to take on this mission Meliphisus is sending them on. Feeling uncharacteristically generous perhaps, Meliphisus does not destroy Tim instantly for his insolence, but instead gifts each character with a boon from his hoard.

To Mason, he gives a double-bladed sword that caught his eye. This exquisite weapon was crafted by an artisan of a time long forgotten using techniques that have been lost to the world for centuries hence.

To Red, who has now firmly decided to go by his living name Donnar, he gives a glaive that once belonged to a legate of Hell's armies who was legendary for his incredible martial skill--but who made a poor choice in whom he named an enemy. The blade of the this weapon is etched with sinister, devilish visages and is wickedly sharp despite it's obvious age.

For Snow, he finds a set worn leather braces that once belonged to a archer who was willing to give anything -- everything -- to be the very best in all the land. And indeed, he was for a day. Although he does not tell Snow of the history of these bracers, he does tell her that these will guide her shots, improving her aim with the bow or any ranged weapon she sets her hand to. Perhaps as importantly, he gives a quiver full of sturdy iron arrows specially forged at lower temperatures to retain their effectiveness against demons of all kinds.

Seeing that Tim and Jonas are ambling about in little better than patchwork kobold skins and loincloths, Meliphisus equips them in the hardened leather armor of legionnaire officers that were once the standard before the black enameled plate that is now used.

And lastly, he allows Thorn to keep the magically sharp dagger that Thorn had been previously used to stab Snow, cut off the tip of his own finger, and then was ultimately used in the torturous and long process of ritual scarification inflicted upon all of them -- a process that left a perpetual smear of dull brownish blood along the blade which slowly and inexplicably drips from the tip, never drying.

Traveling in Hell without the appropriate papers absolutely not permitted. To go anywhere requires the proper authorization. Any soulshell or mortal who is found to be in violation of this rule is subject to arrest and worse. However, Meliphisus makes it clear to all of them that they are not to divulge to anyone who their true master is. For this reason, they are to travel to the Fortress of Ash in the Burning Mountains. There they will deliver a sealed message to the Centurion named Decimus. The party is to accompany Decimus' century into the City of Dis. Traveling as one of Decimus' soldiers will allow the group to slip into Dis without the need of presenting their own papers.

To reach the Fortress of Ash, the party will need a guide, however. Meliphisus gives the party an emerald with a soul bound within it. The captured soul knows the way and can guide them to the Burning Mountains. Meliphisus warns that this spirit is an obstinate one, and they will have to impose their will upon it, or otherwise convince it to assist them. When the party reaches the Fortress, they are to give the gem to Decimus as payment. Meliphisus tells the party that this should be more than sufficient, given the trouble the bound soul bound gave Decimus in its living days.

More Unpleasantness
Before releasing the group to their journey, there is one final matter. They will need a way to contact Meliphisus to let them know of their progress. From a tiny leather sack, Meliphisus plucks a small maggot-like creature. He forces each of them to submit to placing one of these maggots in their ear. The maggot wiggles its way into their ear, and makes an excruciating passage into the host's brain. Eventually it settles itself atop the brain towards the back of the skull. This worm will allow Meliphisus to communicate with the group once it "matures." He assures them that it will also prevent them from being forced to betray him by means of torture or magical cohesion.

After the legion of devils searching for Donnar gives up its search and departs, the party emerges from a cave not unlike the one they entered days ago. Tim performs the ritual for summoning their guide from his emerald-prison. The party manages to convince the spirit, known as Leonis, that they have escaped from Meliphisus' lair where they stole this gem. They tell him that they are looking for Redemption, but this is a place that he does not know. They claim that they need to reach the Fortress of Ash to find out more about this place known as Redemption. Through some fast talking, they are able to persuade Leonis to help them despite some obvious flaws in their cover story.

Along their journey, they ask Leonis to tell them of himself and how he became trapped in the gem. He claims that he was once a prominent paladin and that Meliphisus tricked him into performing a ritual that was supposed to return the woman he loved to life after her untimely death, but instead the ritual trapped his soul to this accursed gem. He is not truly dead as they are, but he also doesn't know what has happened to his body since he has been trapped here for at least seven years, by his best guess.

The Bridge
Three days into their journey, the party comes to a old wooden bridge, suspended across a gorge a hundred feet wide and nearly equally as deep. From a distance, it looks like there are daggers sticking out of the wooden beams all along the bridge. Thorn sneaks ahead to check it out and finds these to actually be oddly shaped iron spikes. He plucks one from the bridge and sneaks back to the group.

Snow knows this to be the sign of a manticore attack, and she correctly surmises that one lurks near by and prays on anyone who passes over this bridge. Armed with this knowledge, the group is able to successfully draw the beast out by taking advantage of one of its key weaknesses -- impatience. They simply wait it out at the chasm edge until the beast's growling stomach gets the better of it and it comes in for the attack.

The party fights the thing off, badly wounding it and sending it fleeing.. But certain that it will try attacking them again and wanting blood for their trouble, the party continues their ranged assault as the manticore tries to flee across the gorge and they manage to take it out before it can return to its nest. Unfortunately, during the process Mason rushes across the bridge only to find that time has made it less than stable, and he plummets ninety feet to what would likely have been the death of any mortal man. But, he is not mortal, and although he is badly injured, he survives.

Below the bridge, Mason finds sign of less fortunate travelers, and directly beneath the ledge the manticore nested on, he finds a bow made of an unusually white wood. It is cool to the touch, and later when Snow examines it, she finds that any arrow she cocks with it is instantly crystallized in an icy rime.

Proving to be an exceptional climber, Mason climbs all the way up to the manticore's nest and there he finds among the grisly remains a suit of fine elven hide armor and a few other minor cast off baubles.

Meanwhile the rest of the party carefully crosses the expanse. Tim is the most cautious of all, using his innate Fey ability to teleport short distances to find his way across the bridge.

Once Mason rejoins them and they have a chance to catch their breath, they set out again with haste, eager to avoid a confrontation with a mate, should the manticore have had one. Although the way ahead would prove to be even more dangerous and they do not relish what is to come. For they knew that the dreaded Silt Flats still lay ahead imperiling their way to the Burning Mountains. ]]>
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The Damned II (Session III) - Vermin http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/81-The-Damned-II-(Session-III)-Vermin Thu, 05 Feb 2009 08:47:00 GMT Session Date: January 3rd, 2009
The Players: Alucinor (The 'elven' Rogue), SpiffyBananaFoot (Tim the Eladrin Wizard), Corii (Snow the elven Ranger), Aidan (Red the Dragonborn Warlord), JonDOT (Mason, a human fighter), Krackmonkey (Jonas, Dragonborn Swordmage)

When we join our party again, we find them still very much in need of food and water. They have completely depleted their store of Journeybread that they found, and soon will have to resort to eating the kobold that they butchered earlier. Worse still, they have become dangerously dehydrated. Without water, they will soon perish. (The good news, is they leveled to fifth and given some time Tim will be able to master the Travelers' Feast ritual)

Meliphisus, perhaps lacking the baser needs of soul shells such as they, reveals no source or water within his lair. However, if the party needs food and water, Meliphus offers that they can take it from the kobolds who infest the mines and tunnels nearby his lair. In fact, the kobolds have been a nuisance as of late to Meliphisus and he wishes their numbers culled and the head of their chieftain brought to him.

Meliphisus gives the group time for a brief rest. When they are ready he will provide them a portal to the midst's of the kobold caves. In the meantime, he vanishes from the lair.

When he returns, he reveals that there is another, like they, who followed them here to these caves, but has been captured by the kobolds. It seems that they intend to offer him as a sacrifice to Meliphisus. The kobolds needn't have bothered, for Meliphisus already appeared in the form of an imp to the errant soul shell--later to call himself Jonas-- in the dank cave that served as his cell. With him, Meliphisus made a bargain for his service in exchange for helping him escape.

Being the magnanimous sort he is, Meliphisus creates a portal directly to Jonas' cell for the party, depositing them there with every expectation that they find their own way out. After scarcely a hint of introduction to their new companion, the group makes short work of the stone door barring their passage. They arm Jonas with little more than one of the basic longswords they recovered from the Legionnaires and press on.

On the other side of the stone door, they find a path of stepping stones gong across a pool of dark water. In the water, they can see the bio-luminescent bodies of serpents or eels slithering about. Although they are all intensely thirsty, none dare try the water until they can be sure that it is safe to drink.

The kobolds have also trapped the stepping stones so that if more weight is put on it than that of a kobold--which is to say, not much--a series of crossbows will fire automatically. Thorn makes his way across first and is able to disable the mechanism from the other side.

Here the party is met with some resistance as Meliphisus has placed them in the heart of the kobold colony. They fight a couple waves of kobolds as they advance their way into the kobold's central cave. In the central cave, the kobolds mount their final stand. The best of their warriors have been positioned throughout the massive cave to weighlay them as they are pelted from afar by kobold slingers. This strategy is complicated by a well positioned (and annoying) stinking cloud cast by Tim, however.

When at last the moment seems right, the Kobold Chieftan rides into battle atop a Rage Drake. He charges in and quickly disables Jonas (who received what our group fondly refers to as the "Wizard Welcome"). Jonas imagines the great things he might have done as he sits there stunned from being tapped on the head with the butt of a great axe and immobilized from the gluepots he's been pelted with from afar.

Nonetheless, the party is able to steal a victory against overwhelming odds. The chieftain, among the last standing, tries to negotiate for his life, but it surprises all when Red is heard to say, "The Great One demands your head." Shaken to his core, the little leader of the kobolds tries to flee, but is caught and liberated of the weight that was so long affixed atop his shoulders.

After the battle, Meliphisus appears to the group again. (In fact, he makes quite an entrance when I put his "mini" on the board, but I accidentally dropped it and nearly took out the table... What can I say, he's a biggin). Pleased, he allows them to loot what they will and take what water and food they need. He does not, however, allow them to exterminate all of the kobolds, as they very much desired to do. Although they aren't overly enthusiastic about the kobold's supply of fiendish rats, the group does stock up on the water which they found earlier and confirmed to the the kobold's primary water source.

After the long and difficult battle, and all the bodies were thoroughly looted, of course, it is here that we ended for the night.
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The Gick http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/67-The-Gick Tue, 27 Jan 2009 10:15:47 GMT Well, first it was my oldest son, Jason, who came down with the "gick" first--or in the technical terms of our pediatrician, "the crud." He's been down and out with it for over a week now. Then our newborn, Chris, started coughing and sneezing. Luckily, he seems to be resisting it pretty well as opposed to me. It started on Saturday as an itch in the back of the throat and by Sunday it was on in full. Only my wife has yet to succumb. And we all pray that she won't -- who would take care of all us male-folk then?

The good news is that I stayed home from work today and got time to work on a new feature I have been working on. It's real close now. Soon, each social group will have it's own calendar to schedule events on. This is something I have wanted for a while now. In large measure, because I want to use it with my own D&D group to schedule our games, so I figure that it has to be something other groups would be interested in.

So, expect to see a new edition to the social group functionality coming very soon! At least there was some bright side to what is otherwise a complete suck-fest. ]]>
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The Damned II (Campaign Lore): The Infernal Calendar http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/52-The-Damned-II-(Campaign-Lore)-The-Infernal-Calendar Fri, 16 Jan 2009 10:27:59 GMT The Legions of Hell reckon time much as prime material worlds do. Their calendar is divided into six months. Each month is sixty days long. At the... The Legions of Hell reckon time much as prime material worlds do. Their calendar is divided into six months. Each month is sixty days long. At the end of each year, there a five day "transition period," which is dedicated to the monumental task of archiving the year's records to be sent off and compiled in the Labyrinth of Truths. Every sixth year, the transition period is six days long. On this sixth day after the six month on the sixth year, the Arch Dukes of Hell meet in a special council to give account to Asmodeus himself.

The names of the six months of the Infernal Calendar are:

  • Terror
  • Anguish
  • Torment
  • Agony
  • Sorrow
  • Despair
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Ventrilo as a Baby Monitor? http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/51-Ventrilo-as-a-Baby-Monitor Thu, 15 Jan 2009 08:04:27 GMT This may be less than interesting for those of you who've never had kids. For that matter, it may be less than interesting for those of you who do have kids, but I had to share this little story of my geekdom. I've found an interesting use for Ventrilo that I very much doubt the developers ever thought of when they designed it. Turns out it makes a great baby monitor. So, here was the dilemma I was faced with.

It turns out that our new boy, Chris, is a very noisy sleeper. He's constantly squeaking and groaning except for brief respites where he actually settles into a deep and restful sleep. That pretty well scuttled our original idea of having his bassinet in our room with us, since his little noises are just loud enough keep you from falling into a deep sleep. On the other hand, I will only be working half-time for this next week and then it is back to work full time for me. So, I needed a solution that would allow the wife and me at least some rest between feedings. I tried using a standard baby monitor, but if it is set loud enough to pickup his crying and wake us up, it is also loud enough to pickup his constant racket.

While I was out purchasing our little basic baby monitor though, I saw this fancy model that actually had a little webcam deal and a video feed on the monitor. That got the idea spinning in my head -- Heck, I could do that myself. Discovering that the baby monitor just wouldn't cut it if we wanted to be able to sleep, I decided to try my idea out.

So, I rolled his bassinet over to the computer and clipped my webcam onto the frame and I dangled a bluetooth headset on the canopy just above him. I used Skype to get a video feed, but I muted the mic feed for it. Next, I setup a little internal Ventrilo server and connected to it. Ventrilo fit the bill perfectly, since it allows me to set a minimum sound level to trigger the voice transmission. With a little monitoring, I found that his squeaks and groans never really rose above what Ventrilo claims was 3-6 dB at a distance from the mic of maybe one foot. So, I set the sensitivity to 10, which was safely well below his crying dB level.

I then setup my laptop in our room and connected up to the Skype webcam feed and to Ventrilo. It worked like a charm! It wouldn't transmit the squeaks, but if he started crying it didn't subdue the sound and it woke us up immediately. Then, if he settled right back down, we had the webcam going so we could tell if he had gone back to sleep--as opposed to Ventrilo messing up and not transmitting when he was actually crying, or the mic giving up the ghost, or whatever... What can I say? Being a parent makes you worry about these kind of things.

So, there it is. Ventrilo makes a great baby monitor! I highly suggest it for those extra noisy baby-sleepers! ]]>
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Exhausted http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/47-Exhausted Tue, 13 Jan 2009 21:52:02 GMT So, "Baby Chris" has finally come home after being in the hospital for an entire month in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Nothing was wrong with him; he didn't have any problems that any baby born seven weeks early doesn't have. He just needed a little more time to "cook," as we like to say. But -- ding! -- the timer went off and now he's back with us here at home. (Not so secretly, by the way, I am waiting with anticipation to find out what the bill is going to be for five weeks in the NICU. It has gotta be a wowza!)

He's been back with us since Friday night, and as you might imagine, Thursday was the last night I got a full night's sleep. I'm working half days at work this week, and the wife and I have worked out a system where we take shifts at night with him. He's a noisy, noisy sleeper that constantly makes squeaks and groans throughout the night, so keeping him in our room while we sleep ended up being out of the question. So, I take the first shift from around 9:30pm until 4:00am. I get five to six hours of sleep and then wake up and get ready for work. I've been promising myself to use some of the down time between feedings to get some work done on this site, but I've just been so exhausted mentally and physically that I just can't seem to get up the motivation to do anything other than sit on the couch and ready a book or watch TV.

Alas, only a few more months of this -- we can hope -- before he starts going a little longer between feedings and the wife and I can get some sleep. Until then, just consider me to be one of the Walking Dead.

:bored: ]]>
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The Damned II (Session II) - Meliphisus http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/34-The-Damned-II-(Session-II)-Meliphisus Fri, 02 Jan 2009 10:57:27 GMT (First some corrections to last week's entry. Snow is actually a full elf, not a half elf, and Tim is more specifically an Eladrin, not just an elf.)

Session Date: December 27th, 2008
The Players: Alucinor (The 'elven' Rogue), SpiffyBananaFoot (Tim the Eladrin Wizard), Corii (Snow the elven Ranger), Aidan (Red the Dragonborn Warlord), JonDOT (Mason, a human fighter)

A Wheel of Iron
The party stands before a curious and sizable circular door made of stone. In the center of the door, there is a wheel of iron that can be turned to secure or open the locking mechanism.

The group takes a moment to gather themselves before they venture further into this mysterious cave. As they rest a moment and recuperate from the bone numbing touch of the the wraiths they just fought, they note that after the release of steam from the massive stone pillars that dominate the room, the sounds of moaning they previously heard has finally subsided to an occasional deep groan echoing up from below the pillars. Red's words of encouragement lift their spirits, until at least they hear the faint sounds of baying hounds echoing from the tunnel ascending to the surface.

Tim gives the strange door a very close look and finds that the iron wheel is smeared with some kind of gelatinous material. The 'elven' rogue--who tires of being referred to as "Hey, you," and has decided to go by Thorn--confirms that this gummy substance is some kind of poison. He tries at first to bypass actually touching the wheel by wedging a sword in it, but cannot get the right leverage to turn it. So, he carefully tries to remove the residue by wiping it clean with some cloth, but the gummy substance seeps through. His limbs go weak, but after some more encouragement from Red, he tries again. He still manages to poison himself again on the vile stuff. Finally it is Snow, the ranger who is completely untrained in matters such as these, that is able to get enough of the residue off to safely turn the wheel.

Baatorian Mines: Staging Area
The doorway gives way to another short tunnel and then opens into a large cavern. Mason's sun sword lights the way, but he keeps the light turned low on the advice of Thorn. Thorn scouts ahead while the rest of the party hangs back. He disappears into the utter darkness of this place, heightening Tim's suspicions of his new companion's origins.

This massive cavern seems to once have been the center of some kind of mining operation. On the cavern floor, there are twin rails that lead from the entrance and all the way across and into a pair of reinforced passages. Remnants of picks, hammers and more shackles litter the floor. A platform and a large cauldron lay in ruins here as well, their purpose unclear.

Tim, who seems to know a lot about this Hell they have ended up in, surmises that this may have once been a Baatorian greensteel mining operation. He explains that of all the things that may could be mined here, Baatorian greensteel is the most valuable, and it stands to reason that is why the operation is entirely underground and is unmarked anywhere on the surface.

On the other side of the cavern, the party finds a disturbing scene. Lining the far wall of a side tunnel is a three to four foot high and two foot wide pile of bones which continues into the darkness of the passage beyond as it curves back towards the direction they came. The bones have obviously been here for a long time, and their arrangement seems to suggest some sort of ghastly decoration. Whatever the case, this collection represents the parts of hundreds if not thousands of mixed humanoids--mostly human in size.

Driven perhaps by a sense of morbid curiosity and ignoring their growing fear that something very untoward lies down this bone lined tunnel, the group follows this side passage. The tunnel leads shortly to a smaller, fenced in cavern. The bars of this 'cage,' are made of sturdy iron and furnished with cruel, downward curved barbed spikes to prevent climbing over them from either side. A stone statue of a gargoyle-esque devil with fire-agates for eyes keeps eternal vigil of what is now a tomb. For inside the group spies more remains. These dessicated and long dead skeletons are scattered here and there throughout the small cavern, some clustered together, others lie curled up on the hard cavern floor. None of their number has been afforded the dignity of even a shred of clothing.

Tim offers that this fenced in cave was likely where the devils kept their slave labor. Life would have been very difficult for these hapless souls, and considering the secrecy surrounding the location of any viable source of greensteel ore, they would never be allowed to leave.

After prying the fire-agate eyes from the gargoyle guardian, Thorn shows his skills by using a shard of bone and his dagger to unlock the iron fence so that they can explore this area more fully. Both Tim and Thorn carefully search the parimeter for any secret tunnels. In a small area that is obscured from the now empty-socketed gaze of the devilish statue, Tim finds a shard of greensteel that has been carefully amongst the rocks. The shard looks large enough to be affixed to a spear or perhaps it could be used to make some kind of shiv.

While the party is searching the area though, a group of kobolds sneaks down the side tunnel. While the group is distracted, the kobolds manage to close the gate (now quite noiseless thanks to a well used prestidigitation spell by Tim) and jam the lock. The kobolds get the drop, pelting nearest target, which happens to be Tim at this point, with nasty pots of special slingshot. Very quickly, Tim is immobilized by sticky glue, doused in a foul smelling substance that makes it difficult to concentrate on his attacks, and--best of all--on fire.

Sadly for the kobolds, their advantage does not last long. With frightening speed and accuracy, Thorn responds first with a barrage of daggers that leaves each of the three kobold attackers wounded and momentarily blinded. The initial surprise volley is the only one these poor kobolds will ever launch. For in the next round, this surprisingly deadly group of adventurers has dispatched all of them.

After Thorn unjams the lock, Tim finally acquires something more than the loin cloth he's been wearing by cutting up the leather armor the kobolds were wearing. It provides more for his modesty than any sort of real protection though. Each of the kobolds also carried a dagger, which happily adds to Thorn's growing arsenal. And although it is not her preferred weapon of choice, Snow now has a sling and a large supply of bullets and a couple rounds each of special shot from the Kobold Slingers. (OOC: Who knew that this common equipment could be such a treasure to 3rd level adventurers?)

Uhh, are you going to eat that?...
After stripping the kobolds of anything usable, Snow cuts off a couple of the kobolds legs after Thorn butchers the attempt on the first one and truly makes a mess of the corpse. Tim freezes the meat by way of spell, and then they continue back to the main staging area and further into the mines. (Hey, they only have a little of the journey bread left at this point, so ... well, let us just imagine that it probably just tastes like chicken.)

Deeper into the Mines
From the main staging area, two parallel tunnels run out of the room. Both have track leading into them and both have wooden doors which were previously closed off. The kobolds left one of the tunnel doors slightly open in their passing, though, and that is the one the group decides to follow.

The kobolds seem to be on the alert though and spring another ambush on the group when they explore one of the excavated caverns. The fight is a difficult one, and Thorn gets himself in a tight spot when he accidentally sneaks himself right into the middle of the ambush. Though he quickly assassinates one of the kobolds, the rest come out of their various hiding spaces behind stone pillars to surround him. As the rest of the party joins the fray, Red berates Thorn for his tactical foolishness. (Oddly, this seems to be just the "inspiration" Thorn needs though.)

Thorn is able to disengage from the kobolds now encircling him by summoning a cloud of darkness around him that only he can see through. Tim has seen this trick once before, and this time Tim knows that Thorn used some sort of innate ability rather than a spell. This confirms what Tim already knew. After the battle, Tim confronts Thorn on his ability to see through the deepest darkness and drop globes of inky blackness by will alone. Thorn thinks nothing of it though and simply replies, "It really isn't all that dark in here."

Unfortunately, at least one of the kobold ambushers was able to escape the last fight, so the party knows that they remain here long, although they are now quite battle weary. So, they press on.

The complex of excavated caverns that branch off form the main tunnel seems extensive and abandoned. The party doesn't immediately encounter any more resistance. As they continue to descend the main tunnel, however, Thorn spots a group of four kobolds lurking ahead with his exceptional night vision. The kobolds who see that they have been spotted when the party stops, draw their swords and approach. They keep their weapons dipped down, however, suggesting a desire to parlay.

The group negotiates safe passage out of the mines, but they are double crossed when the kobolds lead them into yet another ambush. The party knows that they are being led into a trap when their kobold escorts lead them into a small cavern with no visible exit. But, these kobolds seem to be possessed of an unnatural ability to goad their opponents into recklessly attacking them by hurling insults regarding their questionable heritage and far more unsavory taunts.

After successfully drawing all except Red into a the trap, the kobolds drop an iron portcullis to block their escape route. Several kobolds armed with slings and a sorceror of some sort begin pelting the group with bullets and magic from a platform that was cleverly hidden in the wall. The aggravating kobold taunters who lured them in attempt to escape down a small, kobold-sized, tunnel before the kobold warrior types engage, but only one of the little taunters is able to escape before having to turn and engage the party.

When the kobold warriors join the fray, the group despairs, believing these to be overwhelming odds. The kobolds believe it too, and call for the party to throw down their arms so that they might be sacrificed alive to "The Great One." This doesn't prove to be an alluring enough offer, and the group fights a desperate battle.

Despite the apparent poor odds, however, they do win and they capture one of the kobolds alive. The party questions their kobold hostage and convinces him by threat of a very slow and painful death that he should lead them to his colonies food and water source. Although the kobold acquiesces, neither Tim nor Thorn are convinced that he will make good on his promise and not lead them into another trap. Thorn decides to kill the kobold and starts doing so in the most excruciating and slow way he can think of. Snow cannot abide long with the screams though and quickly kills the kobold.

After the party gets the portcullis cranked back up, someone whispers from the darkness to Tim--who had earlier used his Eladrin powers of teleportation to get on the other side of the portcullis. "Bravo! Well done," someone says and claps. Tim looks around but sees no one. He hurries back into the room and calls for the portcullis to be closed. After he tells them of what he heard, the party decides to rest here for a while since it is somewhat defensible and they are quite spent.

Something Unexpected
While they rest, someone collapses the tunnel that leads into the room. The party tries to flee down the small tunnel one of the kobold taunters used to escape, but that too is collapsed before they can get too far. Once they head back into the ambush area, they find a new portal of utter darkness on one of the walls of the little excavated cavern they were resting in. They venture to stick one of the kobold legs they were carrying through the portal, but when they withdraw it, it is disintegrated down to the nub.

Thorn risks it anyway and sticks his finger through the portal. When he notes that he can still feel his finger, he sticks the rest of his hand through and tries to feel around. While he does this, Snow brazenly pushes him through the portal and then throws herself through as well. Red quickly follows, and then Mason. Tim hesitates, but then decides to plunge through the portal despite his trepidation.

On the other side of the extra-dimensional portal, the party finds themselves in another massive cavern. Only Thorn, who can see in the complete darkness, is able to initially see the horrifying sight that awaits them. He calls out to "The Great One," and approaches. A deep and powerful voice resonates through the entire cavern, "I did not give you permission to approach, Deadite."

By this time, Tim arrives through the portal, and he is greeted with small explosions of fire that set the room aglow so that all may now see. The cavern is filled with massive piles of gold and treasure beyond that of the most powerful kingdoms of man. On the far side of the cavern, an enormous dragon with fiery red scales sits atop his vast horde, watching their horrified expressions. The creature is some three hundred feet long from tip to tail and has fiendish spines that make him even more terrifying to behold.

The creature questions the party as to their origins. He seems dispassionate regarding the deaths of his "followers," the kobolds, but at the same time holds their offense against them. The conversation takes dangerous paths. At times, he seems ready to kill them all, seething and undulating with burning rage. He's quick to recover, however, and in general he speaks with charm, wit, intelligence and cruelty all at the same time.

The dragon demonstrates this cruelty when Snow asks him why he has brought them there. He muses that perhaps he brought them there to entertain him. Turning his attention to Thorn, he then demands, "Entertain me!" Thorn responds by taking out a dagger and stabbing Tim in the ribs. The dragon can hardly control his laughter. "See," he says, "and so you have entertained me." Tim, not so entertained, claps his hands together creating a wave of thunder and sends Thorn flying. This is met with more barely contained laughter.

He challenges them each on the extent to which they would go to in order to entertain him, and his next challenge to Thorn is to cut off the tip of his own finger. Thorn complies and the dragon even provides him a magically sharp dagger from his horde to do it with. Once done, he bids Snow to eat it, but she refuses. When she challenges him again as to why he brought them here, he contains his fury and tells her that he suffers her to live only because he has a purpose for them to fulfill.

The dragon reveals to the party that they are what is known as soul shells. They are those who have died and have been damned to an eternity of torment, or perhaps to be slowly tortured before going on to their final oblivion. He explains that unlike mortals who take a dip in the River Styx and loose their memories, their memories will never return.

He also reveals that the devils who are searching for them are looking for a very special soul. A Legendary Captain who in his mortal life made a bargain with Bel, the Arch Duke of Avernus, to lead his armies. Apparently, however, forces of good--or at least they fancy themselves so--found out about the captain's death and fate and launched an attack on the Shelves of Despond where newly damned souls arrive in an effort to either destroy this captain or reclaim him for their own side. This captain that everyone is apparently looking for is apparently Red--known in life as Donnar Hammerwing. Red, of course, remembers nothing of this.

But what of the rest of them? He doesn't know specifically their history, but "The Great One," goes on to explain that the Damned all arrive in Hell bearing the mark of the House to which they belong--the one the was most responsible for their corruption. Thorn, he claims, is property of the House of Levistus, lord of Stygia. Snow belongs to the greatest House, that of Asmodeus himself. Mason is property of Fierna. Tim belongs to Mephistopheles. And, Red belongs to Bel, the lord of Avernus, as he already explained.

These "forces of good," that are looking for Red are known as the Redeemed. Their ranks are filled by fallen angels, who though cast from the light did not descend into darkness, and other "deadlings," such as themselves who managed to escape their torments somehow and join forces against the legions of Hell. They don't have the numbers to really mount a truly devastating attack, but they have managed to land a lot of painful stings against the forces of Hell in the past many years.

The dragon, which reveals himself to be named Meliphisus, is intensely interested in finding their fortress, which is hidden somewhere in Avernus. The fact that Red is the captain they are looking for, is a perfect way in for the party if they can make contact. Meliphisus wants the party to find this hidden fortress known as "Redemption," for him.

Presented with the likely choice of instant destruction or agreeing to serve Meliphisus as he demands, the party agrees to do as he says.

The party may need to gather information in Dis regarding the Redeemed. Meliphisus outlines a grim and cruel fate for any of them should they be caught and found out for what they are, for soul shells are little more than the currency of the Hells--cattle to be bought or sold, tortured or destroyed. He claims that the only escape from this fate is to be elevated, which is something that he can do if they will serve him. The elevated take on the physical mark (as opposed to the spiritual one they have now) of those to whom they belong. In creating this mark, he can obscure their soul-marks so that they can never be read. Without this mark, he claims, they can travel nowhere in Hell.

All but Red willingly take the mark. Meliphisus transforms into the form of a tiefling and marks Thorn first using the knife he just gave him. He has the others hold Thorn down as he slowly carves intricate and complicated patterns and runes in his flesh. These carvings span from the lower back all the way up and around his check and then up past the neck and just above the jawline. The process is excruciating and lengthy. When he finishes, he repeats this process on each of them.

(After Meliphisus transformed into a tiefling, Tim recognized that he is what's known as a Hellfire Worm. He says nothing at the time though.)

With all the others marked, Meliphisus asks the group to take a vote as to whether he should mark Red or not. If he doesn't, Red may be a liability to them. The party votes unanimously (if you don't count Red's vote) to forcibly mark him, and they knock him out so that Meliphisus can complete the ritual. He didn't stay knocked out for long once the cutting started though...

And this is where the session basically left off... What cruelty will befall them next? We'll find out this weekend! ]]>
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/34-The-Damned-II-(Session-II)-Meliphisus
The Damned II (Session I) - The Shelves of Despond http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/7-The-Damned-II-(Session-I)-The-Shelves-of-Despond Fri, 19 Dec 2008 09:16:29 GMT Session Date: November 22nd, 2008

This is the first session of a new D&D 4th edition campaign. I recommend you read the introduction to the campaign here: http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/blog.php?b=5.

The players are:

  • Aidan (Playing Red, a Dragonborn Warlord)
  • Alucinor (Playing the here-forth unnamed 'elven' Rogue)
  • SpiffyBananaFoot (Some call me, Tim? Playing the Eladrin wizard.)
  • Corii (Playing Snow the elven Ranger)
  • JonDOT (Playing Mason, a human fighter)

They are all third level, and they are all in Hell. Should be interesting...

The Shelves of Despond
After pulling themselves out of the fetid and memory-sapping waters of the River Styx, the characters gather together on the rocky shore. None of them have or admit to any knowledge of how or why they may be here, nor can they recall even who they are. The wizard, who lacking any remembrance of his former name decides to go by Tim, quickly surmises from the flaming balls of pitch flying through the sky and the oily, crimson waters of the Styx, that the lot of them have somehow ended up on the first layer of hell, Avernus.

Amongst them, there are two elves, a dragonborn, a half elf, and a human. They all share signs of being bound, ill-treated, and all are ravenously hungry and dehydrated. Even more curious, they each have skin (or scales in the case of the Dragonborn) that are an identical and drab shade of olive-gold.

Deciding that they are in a rather precarious position standing unarmed and unprotected in one of the most dangerous places in the cosmos, the party looks for a way to get away from the Styx and perhaps find some cover. A bed of razor sharp scree and a treacherous, if not impossible climb without gear, precludes any possibility of ascending from the canyon floor. Lacking options, the party travels along the river as it continues to descend until they find a safe path cut into the canyon wall that leads up and out of the gorge.

An ancient battlefield greets them at the top. Here, they find the bones of strange creatures now long dead. Now away from the rushing waters of Styx, the party can hear battle cries and sounds of warfare from the direction they came and on the other side of a punishing range of low and jagged mountains. They decide to investigate the battle, but not before they search the area for anything that might be useful.

This ancient battlefield has not been too badly scavenged, but most of the gear lies in ruin after long exposure to the harsh environment of Hell. Still, they manage to hobble together some gear for themselves including:
  • Pitted Plate Armor (-1 ac, 7 AC) – 25gp
  • Rusted Longswords x3 (-1 dmg) – 5gp each (15 gold)
  • Worn Leather (-1 ac, 1 AC) – 5gp
  • Damaged Chain Mail (-1 ac, 5 AC) – 20gp
  • A broken short sword which can be used as a dagger – 1gp
  • A Glaive in pretty good condition – 25gp
  • An unidentifiable bone of sort, maybe a femur from something large, that can be used as a greatclub – 1gp

So armed, the group heads along a winding pass that leads back up and around the low mountain. By the time they arrive, the battle has already come to its bloody conclusion. The rogue, still undecided as to what to call himself, and the ranger who calls herself Snow scout ahead close to the battle. In the pass, away from the battle, they find a gruesome scene.

Cleanup Duty
A winged devil covered with think spines, known as as a spinagon, directs a group of three hulking, grotesquely fat humanoids in cleaning up the battlefield of those who may still be living. These creatures, known as "The Gorged," were once human. In life, they were those who gorged themselves with rich meals and wallowed in luxury while others around them starved. They are those who would not even spare the crumbs from their plate to save the life of the most needy. In the afterlife, their bodies are stuffed with corruption and they are made to eat all manner of unwholesomeness far beyond the point of being sated.

Perched atop a jagged boulder, the spinagon watches with sadistic glee as the Gorged find a mortally wounded, but very much alive angelic humanoid. His screams echo through the pass as the Gorged begin feasting on his body.

Scattered along the rocky pass, are several more bodies, some of them perhaps still alive. Their fate promises to be similarly gruesome.

Snow and the rogue sprint back to the group, alerting them of what they have seen. Unwilling to allow anyone to share such a horrific end and hoping to better arm themselves with equipment and information, the party heads quickly to the scene and fights a difficult battle. The spinagon initially rains down quite a bit of pain, but is quickly put down by the mage and ranger -- an important accomplishment since spinagons are known to be cowardly and apt to run and get reinforcements. The Gorged also prove to be very tough and demonstrate a nasty tendency to vomit forth streams of corruption on their attacker when they are hit too hard.

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Following the battle, the party finds one of the angelic beings still alive, but far beyond help. In his last breath, he whispers, "You must reach ... redemption."

Amongst the dead, the party finds a virtual treasure trove of usable gear, including:

  • One of the angelic beings had:
    • A sturdy and well crafted longbow (+1) -- Snow actually found this during the battle and picked it up along with the quiver to help put down the Spinagon.
    • A quiver with 12 arrows remaining
    • And a suitable set of leather armor.

  • The rogue manages to recover several daggers.
  • The one who died whispering of redemption had:
    • A Sunblade (Falchion)
    • And a set of Fortification Armor +1 (Scale)

  • From the body of a Dragonborn Cleric of Bahamut, the party recovers:
    • A set of Exalted Armor +1
    • An Angelsteel Shield with the symbol of Bahumut emblazoned on the front
    • A +1 Mace
    • Alchemical Regents (600gp), Sanctified Insense (500gp), Rare Herbs (700gp).
    • A ritual book (see attached).
    • And most importantly, he is the only one amongst the dead who has any provisions - Journeybread (7 days left) and a waterskin (3 days left).

While the group loots the dead, a group of legionnaires stumble upon the scene. One of them points toward Red, the Dragonborn, and shouts, "That's the one we're looking for! You there, halt!" The party manages to dispatch the legionnaires and prevents one of them from escaping to inform the army proper.

When it rains...
After equipping themselves with their looted gear, the party heads hastily away from the site of the battle, where clearly the devils have won the day. A short time later, perhaps an hour or so, it begins to rain. In this hostile, volcanic environment, the rain is highly acidic. The slick, oily residue it leaves behind itches and stings. The party does its best to cover any exposed skin. The mage is the worst off since he is still clothed in not much more than a tattered loin cloth. Snow is able to quickly find refuge for them in a nearby cave.

The Cave
Unfortunately, the cavern has other occupants. Four fire bats call this particular cave home, and they do not take kindly to being disturbed. These bats are nearly as large as a man and have bodies of flame. They prove an almost overwhelming challenge as everything they touch is set aflame. Within the first few seconds of combat, the entire party is on fire. (And you know things are bad when the ranger has to stop in the middle of combat and look for the arrows she's fired so she can fire them again.)

The bats aren't willing to fight to the death, however their attempt to flee is thwarted by the acidic rain. One of the bats is able to escape down a tunnel in the back of the cave. It is badly injured, so while the rest of the party recuperates, the rogue sneaks down the tunnel and dispatches the last fire bat. The rogue feels a little bold, so he sneaks further down the tunnel.

At the end of the tunnel, he discovers a stone door with straight and formal runes etched into it that he does not understand. Smeared unceremoniously in blood on top of the etched runes is a warning written in crude Dragconic that Red will later reveal to say, "Cinderfoot Clan," and "Stay Out or we kills you." But, for now, the group is still recovering from the recent ordeals and must rest.

The next morning--if there were such things here in Hell, the group awakens to the sounds of a large group in the pass some distance outside of the cave. Again Snow and the rogue go and investigate. From their hidden perch in mountain pass, they see a contingent of devils, perhaps a hundred strong, methodically searching the area -- forming grids, and leaving nothing unturned. The cave they are in was difficult to spot and is fairly well obscured, but using such a thorough technique it seems pretty sure that they will eventually find this entrance.

A large winged devil flies down while they are watching and is obviously agitated. After speaking to one of the legionnaire commanders, the winged fiend merely flicks its wrist and the commander goes flying into a group of his men and summarily explodes.

When the party receives news about the search, they decide to investigate the tunnel and door to see if they can find another exit to escape unnoticed. Red surmises that the writing in blood on the door was probably left by kobolds, who are well known for leaving snares. And from the other side of the door, they can now hear some kind of deep moaning.

Unfortunately, the rogue (still unsure of what to call himself) does not find any traps, and Red is doused in acid from a pail positioned above the door on the other side, rigged to fall and splash whoever opens it. The burns are thankfully minor.

Steam Room
The door opens into a small and roughly rectangular cavern. There are two massive stone pillars some twenty feet in length and ten feet in width which run perpendicular to eachother with a fifteen foot gap between them. Extending all the way to the ceiling twenty feet above, these pillars dominate the cavern. On the outside of each pillar are massive wheels, and between the pillars are iron loops which are a little larger than a mans fist. These loops are secured to the cavern floor and look like they can be used to tie something down. At the base of the pillars there is a gap about four fingers wide that runs along the inside end of the pillar that descends into darkness. On the other side of the room is a great circular door. The moaning sounds like it is coming from everywhere in this room. With the echo, it is impossible to pinpoint the source.

Being the adventurous sort, the party decides to turn the wheels, which causes steam to spray out of the pillars in the area between them from nozzles that had previously gone unnoticed. The nozzles are pointed at a downward slope towards the cavern floor to allow them to effectively direct the steam towards whatever is secured there. That's when the horrible screaming starts, and for a moment the rogue's heart sinks when he thinks that there might be some helpless captives being steamed alive beneath the pillars. Alas he missed his guess.

Through the obscuring spray of steam, the party sees figures thrashing about, which were not there before. When they turn the steam off again, the figures are revealed to be some kind of spirits. These wraiths, freed from their agony look malevolently towards their "tormentors." The rogue turns the steam back on and the wraiths begin thrashing again.

The mage known only as Tim feels deeply that this outrage against Kelemvor, the god of the Dead, cannot stand. The party readies themselves and sets upon the wraiths as soon as the steam is turned off.

After destroying the wraiths, the party prepares to venture further. Before them lies a great circular door made of stone which perplexes them greatly...

That's all of this session. Don't worry. We'll find out what happens next all too soon...
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Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/7-The-Damned-II-(Session-I)-The-Shelves-of-Despond
<![CDATA["The Damned II" Introduction]]> http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/5-quot-The-Damned-II-quot-Introduction Thu, 18 Dec 2008 08:24:00 GMT I've decided to try my hand at something I have never done before by writing up a campaign log for my currently running campaign. This campaign originally began in January 2008, but the story (and the characters) became a little mangled in our attempt to switch from D&D 3.5e to 4e. So, we decided to hard-reset the game and start from the beginning on a fresh 4th edition slate. Although the introduction remains the same, however, this will not be the same story that the players embarked on almost one year ago to-date. So, in honor of all (bad?) sequels, I have called this campaign "The Damned II." And just like the movie industry is wont to do, this will be a different take on pretty much the same idea.

What follows is the original introduction given to the players describing their character's first memories:

You awake as if from a horrid nightmare, unable to breathe. You try to scream, but instead find yourself on your hands and knees retching forth what seems like an endless torrent of something foul and oily. Your entire body convulses with pain as the last of the fetid, crimson tinged fluid spills from your lips. You cry out in agony and confusion, but your voice is little more than a whisper in the howling, crackling wind.

Above you, streams of black smoke streak across the hazy red sky--tails left in the wake of gigantic flaming balls of pitch. A field of broken, charred and dangerously sharp rock rises in a daunting slope before you, meeting shortly with a blackened cliff that towers for hundreds of feet. Here and there, the cliff face is cut by what appear to be thin streams of blood that flow down and eventually join an oil-slicked crimson river that rages only a dozen or more feet beneath the precipice of jagged rock you now find yourself on.

Your mind races, trying to recall how you might have come to be here, or for that matter any thing at all. You remember nothing. Your first and only memories are of clawing your way from the putrid water of the river below, from which the stench of death and decay is overpowering.

As you look back towards the foul waters, you spy several ragged figures trying desperately to pull themselves free of its violent embrace. One of the lot suddenly looses his grip and is smashed viciously against a jagged boulder before being swept away. A smear of gore leaves no question as to whether he survived.

Those few that do survive soon join you on the rocky shore. They, as you, are adorned only in tattered undergarments. And their wrists, as yours, are raw and bleeding, suggesting you may have been a prisoner of some sort, some how freed. As their agonized cries ring in your ears, you feel, truly this must be hell...
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/5-quot-The-Damned-II-quot-Introduction
WotC and the Amazon Kindle http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/4-WotC-and-the-Amazon-Kindle Thu, 18 Dec 2008 07:04:13 GMT Perhaps I just missed the big announcement, but it looks like Wizards of the Coast quietly slipped a toe in to test the waters with publishing on the... Perhaps I just missed the big announcement, but it looks like Wizards of the Coast quietly slipped a toe in to test the waters with publishing on the Amazon Kindle. The other night, I was browsing for suggested books on my Kindle, when what to my wandering eyes would appear? Four Forgotten Realms books by R.A. Salvatore available since October this year: The Pirate King, The Orc King, Road of the Patriarch, and Promise of the Witch King.

This is great news for Forgotten-Realms-reading Kindle owners! Here's for hoping that they end up with amazing sales! :thumb:

:whoo: ]]>
Farcaster http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/entry.php/4-WotC-and-the-Amazon-Kindle