(D&D) Ley Lines and Underdark

I’m rather inspired that there’s a gaming history involving ley lines. A way for multiple fluxuations in the magical powers running through the earth that focus nacient energies. Flows of energy might interact in waves, constructive and destructive.

Consider the amount of minerals buried in the viens below Galentaspar. Not only dwarves noticed it — but orcs, drow, giants and dragons noticed it. Some grew to understand the warp and weave created by the mineral veins below what is now the gravel pit. Some areas are positive, others the opposite.

What areas summoned your characters? What areas repel them?

 

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(D&D) Close Enough to Shave a Ghoul

This session, our adventurers began in a bind: surrounded by the orcs and undead of the drow. Whirling around, the party began to sense that this fight was going downhill, and as Vino, the vile necromancer above them, waved his hand and whispered to the void, things got even worse when he shouted, “Purge the outsiders!” And the sky grew darker…

First skeletons rose from the five graves before them….then a putrid stench rolled across pavilion as  bugbear ghouls followed from four of the graves. Our party, cut off the easiest route of escape–was clearly outnumbered. As the dirt fell from the bones of the skeletons, it became clear they were thicker of bone and clearly battle scarred, rattled forward quickly with their swords drawn.

Lothric began to feel his palms sweat. Just when we thought all was lost, Wiri piped up, and everyone turned towards him. “Wait.. They ‘elped me,” Wiri said, stepping in front of the drow. Wiri then raised a staff, and with it saved us from the undead, just as they approached us–they suddenly stood still: Wiri had restrained them.

0-Bear_skull“They are my sacrifice to Lolth!” Vino responded, and pushed Wiri aside and pointed his finged and whispered upon us words of the nether, sending hero and orc alike running in fear. We quickly regrouped and rallied, and rejoiced at the arrival of Ville the Toad, only to remember our situation, and then we ran.

After spending a night of paranoid watching around the campfire, awaiting pursuit, we decided that, even we couldn’t conquer the camp yet, we could still take action and disrupt supply caravans.

In the morning, Lammanon led the party to a road that carved a path through a rocky outcrop. Lammanon climbed to the edge of the road, and cast an illusion of a boulder. We snuk into bushes and behind boulders…and lay in wait for our prey.

Sure enough, within the hour we heard word from Lammanon, who had gone forward to scout, that there was an orc caravan on its way towards us. As the orcs and their wagon rattled towards us, we lept out; they had walked right into the trap. Four orcs were lead by a large and confident half orc woman in bright chain mail.

One battle and several dead orcs later, we were tying up their horse, and picking the trinkets off their bodies.

(D&D) Drums and Undead

barrel-headThe party rested in Botilo after they dropped off the captured renegades to Wiri Bentspear. These cairn towns lacked anything such as an inn, so they had to sleep wrapped in their cloaks outside town. With the late rising moon, about an two hours from dawn, the sound of a drum woke the party. Then a second drum added a counterpoint to the beat. Then some cheering and chanting.

Our party gathered their weapons and walked in the south road. As they walked into town, they watched a party of six dark figureson horses, two with banners, ride in on a trail from the east. The only thing from the east was the huge gravel pit of Galentaspar. This probably meant drow.

Behind the crowd near the casino in at the town pavilion, Wiri Bentspear stood before the cairn with a black staff. Wiri then bowed formally, “Lieutenant Webcross, you and your drow are welcome in Bilito. It has been a long time, Vino.” They did not meet each other with friendly eyes, and Wiri was clearly not enthusiastic about this visit.

Quickly, the riders unmounted and a moment the tall drow commander tossed back the hood of his dark grey robe, showing his purple hair and blazing purple eyes was raising his left hand to the sky. The crowd quieted. When he raised his right hand, in it was a terrible mace made from silvered bones and the now silent crowd stepped back. In abyssal, he shouted: All hail thee, Lolth!

Lolth! The crowd answered. Some of our party didn’t understand what was being said, and when the crowd started to kneel, some of them didn’t. This could not have been more conspicuous…hiding in shadows or not.

“I am Vino Webwright, priest of Lolth. The priests of Lolth congradulate you on your fine trade topside! However, we hear of outsiders infiltrating our outposts, and are here to help rid you of your infiltrators. We’ve heard of the elven attack, but there has been too much trouble of late…

“Who here among you does not belong? Bring them forth!” Reaching into his saddle bag, he produces a huge helping of gold coin in loose sack, and jingles it. “This for those who bring them forth!”

Lotheric is turned on by a huge half orc, one of the many anti-paladin soldiers occupying the cairn towns, and is pushed forward. Lotheric swings repeatedly and the half orc deftly dodges. They are not surrounded by orcs and half orcs. More creeping in around them.

A battle starts when one of the orcs staggers back with a sword sticking out of him, A hail of daggers wounds a half orc, and Lotheric swings again. But they are surrounded and pushed forward again…to see six exhumed graves in the pavilion with skeletons staring up out of them.

“Oh, this will be easy…why are they even bothering?” mutters Lotheric, confident that skeletons will cleave like paper under his attacks.

Wiri raised his black staff, and the slowly brightening sky instantly grew inky clouds that boiled from directly above the cairn. A purple glow issued from the black pyramid atop the cairin. The skeletons started shaking and rolling in the graves. But then the smell hits them as the skeletons start to move in their graves….graves too large for the … multiple…human skeletons in each shallow pit…

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(D&D) A Bit Overwhelming

A group of ten middle schooler boys is a bit tough to make an environment inviting to all players especially if so many of the young people playing are physically restless and tend to be loud.

The ideal DnD group is actually four players.

Splitting a group of ten or twelve in half is difficult, especially if they are all in the same room, being restless. How is that an environment that seems inviting to young females or quiet inviduals that seem to wait endlessley for their turn.

I need more DMs, and I need more DMs willing to be LARPing leaders. Because many of the active boys present need to express their energy and adventure at the same time. LARPing would be ideal for them.

(D&D) arrests and apprehensions

Wiri Bentspear had tasked Lothric, Tiberius, Ville, and Alex to apprehend Deronden and Alldar because they were a threat.

Traveling south, they encountered a small group of scavengers that were picking up detritus from the elven battle against the undead at the Galentaspar stone wall.

One of the members was a very shrewd lizard folk–with cheek flares like a commodo dragon. Another two were different colored Dragonborn. Lothric’s party approached them with discouraging looks and this motley crew of lizards admitted that they were helplessly drawn here, but wanted to adventure.

The group continued south for another half a day and arrived in Anitus in the late afternoon. Gregor spotted them and walked out to meet them on the road. As Gregor stepped out of the tent, Daturan and Allda spoke up to him: “No one else is invited here! Your friends are not our friends, they are not welcome!”

Gregor walked out to greet Lotheric, Tiberious and Alex and found a much larger group than when they split, days ago. Two more dragon born and a desert-style lizard folk was with the group. They all seemed intent on a mission, some were clearly enthusiastic for battle. To the middle of Anitus they wandered. When they walked past the slaves for sale at Trader Vic’s, some of them grabbed their swords but where pushed back into the group. In the middle of the pavilion they circled had a chaotic discussion across each other until they agreed to go into the Rock Pub.

When they entered the Rock Pub, the bartender called out, “the last group your size cost me money to replace all the furnature! You have to pay a cover charge–10 gold!” Some bickering but a lot of silver was shed and some of the group appeared to get a drink. The story about how Wiri Bentspear putting a hit out on Daturan and Allda was shared, and how the group was too big to all go after both, so they decided to split up.

Grigor looked out the tent flap of the pub while Arjihan looked back holding the flap open. Argihan noticed that two of the four half orcs that were present in the pub remained. Grigor saw a group of nine orcs and half orcs suddenly split from a conversation and run between tents the moment of eye contact. “Something’s up” Grigor said. The followed some of the orcs across the pavilion.

Allda was dressed in a grey cloak with black patches and sleeves stiff with pockets. Scanning the crowd, Trader Vic’s had a guard in a gray cloak with a spear. They approached. With so many people approaching, the human gaurd in the gray cloak asked, “You want to buy a slave?”

“No. where did you get your cloak?” Arjihan asked.

“A guy sold it to me, about an hour ago. Right here. Said it was too warm for him. A slave tore up my shirt earlier today so I bought it off him.”

This didn’t sit right with Grigor, Arjihan or Derek the Destroyer (dragonborn) and the human raised his hand and shot Arjihan with a fire bolt, and turned to run! Gregor struck him with his sword and Allda, now half orc again, fell to the ground behind the line of slaves, clutching his wound. The group immediately had to respond to two senior orc guards brandishing their scimitars at them. Grigor struck one of the orcs, and Arjihan launched a fireball right between them!

Which was a mistake…it caught the leatherworker’s tent on fire, plus brought three orc verterans out for the commander’s tent and leveled all the attention in the pavilion on them! Getting sticky much…?

Alex cast darkness on himself and urged the rest of the group to stick close to him. “We won’t be tracked if we run through the brimstone of the fire right before us!” And some of them were seared by the flames as they raced into the confligration but found themselves away from the orc patrol and on the track of Allda soon enough…

…for Derek to be struck by another fire bolt! He stumbled back at the corner of four tents and the rest of the group ran past to continue the chase. Arjihan tried to grab Allda, then Grigor. Next Derek and the Alex. Derek got hit by the next fire bolt–but Grigor launched forward to tackle Allda and Alex landed a solid blow with his quaterstaff that knocked Allda out.

Tying him up, they escaped north and met up with Lotheric, Ulipa and Tiberious, who has captured Daturan without, apparently, too much difficulty. After a brief rest, they walked north all evening, intermittently arguing about how the bounty was going to be split, and  at dawn, they stepped in front of Casino Bolito, and Ulipa was invited in, while a few other rest of the group bickered about how much gold they were getting.

Wiri met Ulipa, “You did better than I anticipated. I thought that Daturan was more of a threat. In fact, it seems you found him quite readily. Here’s what I promised…about…600 gold. She spread it out on the table and found 59 platinum and a 20GP gem. She pocketed the gem, and asked for a drink while she divided it into piles for the group, and then, after finishing her drink…redivided the piles, doubling many of them to reflect proportional shares.

“You’re getting paid today, crew!” Ulipa said, walking out of the casino. And most of them were happy, especially Lotheric, Alex and Tiberious, noticing their own larger bags. But how long do we remain such a large group…were what many of them were asking.

(D&D) Lotheric v. Barkar’s Bugbear

The morning after Wiri hired Lotheric, Ville, Ulipa and Alex on a hit contract, they were packed up and walking out of the inn on the Bolitus pavilion–when Barkar, flanked by a huge bugbear and four beefy orcs start jogging toward them. Everyone drops their backpacks and draws their weapons–but unfortunately the party gets separated into two groups.

Barkar and two orcs attack Ville and Alex and the bugbear and other two orcs gang up on Lotheric. The fighting is heavy–Lotheric is unusually slow this morning and nearly hurts Ulipa when he over-swings and misses the bugbear. In contrast: orcs are fresh and cunning, landing piercing and stunning blows to Lotheric and Ville with brutal accuracy. These orcs must be representing for all their fallen comrades, they hit so hard!

Lotheric barely has time to wipe the sweat dripping into his eyes before he is struck again and nearly toppled. This is preposterous. Time for bigger guns, Lotheric says to himself. Putting his left hand to his right, he twists his Ring of the Ram into position and fires a mighty blast into the bugbear–to great effect!

Lotheric has a bit of time to take a few steps back and Ulipa makes it back to him an restores him somewhat. At about half his energy, Lotheric looks over his shoulder and finds that the bugbear, shoved many yards away and tumbling an orc in the process, has gotten up and is shaking himself like a dog to fling the dust off. That orc that should have been killed by a huge bugbear falling on it is nearly back up as well. What the hell?

A little breather is better than no breather, so Lotheric grips his greatsword again. He has a second to look over at Ville, who’s taken a viscious blow and is down, with Alex and Tiberious standing over him, fighting off Barkar and the other two orcs. We’re not winning, Lotheric mumbles to himself. This is bad. Everyone is injured and–amazingly Tiberious lands a killing blow on an orc!

But we’re still out-matched, Lotheric mumbles, and swings at the bugbear again. Finally, a solid hit! But an orc is behind him and strikes at the same time. And Lotheric hears a scream as Tiberious is hit. Ulipa is hit trying to get close to Lotheric. Things are going so rough he barely notices the sound of horse hooves and the jingle of new swords.

Their bouncer orc that introduced them to Wiri was at his side, parying blows from the other orcs! And a half elf ranger he hadn’t seen for months was at his other side–where did he come from? No time to talk…

But the orcs kept hewing at them and the bugbear wasn’t showing any signs of wearing down. Tiberious and Alex were retreating and draging Ville to the mules, but Barkar and an orc were still hewing at them as well. Everyone was going defensive.

Two arrows sang through the air and stuck the orcs before Lotheric, followed by a rough voice, “Hands off! Those people are mine!” commanded Wiri. He stood with his hand on a short sword, and four rouges half orcs on either side of him, two of them with longbows and two brandishing longswords. Before the moment of confusion was over, Wiri was already standing over Barkar, brandishing his sword at his neck. “This one is mine.”

Wiri’s crew pushed away Barkar’s hirelings and they turned and fled, the bugbear crashing right through the leatherworker’s tent to many curses from the vendor.

“Lotheric!” Wiri announced, “That was disappointing. I’m going to have to reduce your rate. I expected more of you and your crew. Don’t hang around here, go do your task, and return promptly–I want to see evidence of your task soon!.”

Lotheric sighed. Day is off to poor start. Getting harassed by evil crime lord is embarassing…

And the team gathered their packs and headed south, looking forward to a short night of rest halfway to Anitus. The offer of 800 gold for their job getting cut somewhat–how much? Very frustrating. If they don’t develop a reputation for working with the crime lords in the cairn towns, though…how will they learn where the evil power in the region actually resides?

(D&D) Ulipa, Lothric meet Ville The Toad

After Lothric, Tiberius and Aredellus freed the slaves in orc caravan, they headed east into the hills. A day of rest at Oaksparrow camp and they had a conversation with Feltor who debriefed them on what was causing the magic barrier…still no evidence, so they were asked to return. Aredellus decided he needed to rest longer, so unloaded his bag of holding and Lotheric and Tiberius were left with the weapons. Among the hundreds of wounded elven warriors in the camp, the weapsons for sale were sharpened and cleaned and loaded on a pair of mules. Lotheric and Tiberious set off…determined but not enthusiastic.

Out on the plains, most of the way to Bolitus, the northern cairn town, they encountered a pair of travellers: a monk named Ville the Toad and Ulipa, both from further south on the east side of the Sing’Jar mountains. After some skeptical looks, they all agreed that they resented Orcs, Drow, and evil…so they agreed to travel north to Bolitus together. Ville the toad made jokes about Canadians the whole walk…very annoying, eh?

As they approached Bolitus, those from Anitus recollected that they did not see any elves. In fact, most of the elves in Anitus were drow. Surface elves are never popular with either drow or orcs. Some of the group decided it was smart to disguise themselves a bit when entering the town.

Bolitus, much like Anius, was a rough ring of sun beaten pavilions and canvas tents around a twenty foot tall cairn of bolders, at the top of which was a black onyx pyramidal capstone. The whole area was bustline with humans, orcs, half orcs–covered with dust, leading carts laden for trade. Most carts were lead by oxen, smaller carts were lead by horses, and some were lead by slaves.

Following the southern track into the center pavilion, the part parked their mules in front of the Dented Cup, a pub that would allow them…the bouncers at the Orc Pub just shoved them back into the dirt…Lotheric and Ulipa stayed outside with the mules. Tiberius, Ville and Alex strode into the bar and after ordering some drinks, were approached by a veteran orc named Bakar asking them to play a game of dice.

Some huming and hawing later, some dice rolled and some money won by Tiberius, a converastion started about where they could sell some weapons. Barkar said he’d pay in gold and would like a look at the goods.

As they lead him out of the pub, Barkar grabbed the reigns of one of the mules and tried to rush off with it! The rest of the group intercepting Barkar, giving him a sound tumbling, and Barkar ducked back into the pub, clutching his wounds…but not before Barkar called for help from within the bar.

A huge Orc in chain mail faced the group at the door, backed by threeww other orcs with mauls. The huge orc traded blows with Lotheric, but didn’t last long. The other orcs spread out, were defeated in a minute by the rest of our party. Alex rushed inside the Dented Cup and fired arrows from his short bow at Barkar who was header out the kitchen exit of the pub. Barkar escaped, but the barkeep showed up at the door and demanded a cut of the loot picked from the pockets of the fallen outside his door. “Come again, adventurers!” the owner said as they left.

No sooner had they walked away from the Dented Cup, but a pair of red-vested, black hooded, shadow-covered drow pranced forward from the casino across the plaza towards them. As Lotheric, Ulipa, Alex, Ville and Tiberius approached the middle of the plaza, three schrewd operators from three separate tents reached them first, introducing themselves as adventurers.

Tiberious offered the skinnier two new adventure seekers a (paltry) reward for hunting down Barkar than the third, a well spoken half orc, approached Lotheric…”You wont get into the casino if someone else doesn’t introduce you. I’m known there, I can get you in. If each pay five gold, I’ll be able to pay your cover charge.” And in a few minutes, they had been greeted by a pretty half orc waitress and lead to Table 1 of the Bolitus Casino, where they stopped before a pair of humans with greatswords garding the velvet trimmed oak table.

…and they were introduced to Wiri Bentspoon, owner of the casino and other businesses in Bolitus. Wiri admitted that he was impressed with the strength of their team (especially Lotheric) and how Lotheric handily defeated Barkar’s best muscle. But these swords they were selling, that was another matter. The market is flooded: drow don’t care for sunside elven weapons, orcs neither. Someone is always going to be buying weapons, but everyone already has one–so there’s no good way to give a fair market price on the lot of them. A half price counter-offer is made.

“What is more valuable,” Wiri says, “is your skills. Not all adventuring humans are so robust or brave. I have trouble in Anitus. There’s a ranger and a wizard down there that have been trying to kill the cairn leader down there. If you take care of those two, you’ll get paid better than what you’re selling these weapons for.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

(D&D) Ulipa and the Bargain

Beneath Genbooth’s general store in north bay Sing’Jar, a dozen robed figures hunched over benches, writing in leather bound journals with quils. As one figure shifted, their bench would totter and another’s ink block would slide off the edge and be grabbed at the last moment and placed back on the bench. Their hoods covered their faces, not because they were shy–no, they love to tell stories, they were historians–but it was cold in this basement. Their hoods were spotted and stained with black or brown smudges and finger prints from their inky hands stained from reflexively whisking their falling ink blocks out of the air before they smacked to bits on the roughtly tiled floor.

This was one of four suites rented out beneath Genbooth’s–two were storage and the third was a cobbler’s workshop. There was a regular creak of the broad, dark wooden steps that lead up to the entry hall to the ground floor as people brought their shoes in for repairs. The tapping and rattling of work next door added a comforting tempo to the quiet writings or the erudite conversations of the sages on their benches, sharing and preserving stories and knowledge they gathered from their studies in the library, at the mayor’s house or from the captains and crew that were in the city between their regular cargo routes. Often when the sailors would tell stories, sea gulls would hop up behind a scholar and tear a page out of their journal and fly off with…

Sea gull? Stop! Ulipa awoke, flailing her arms around her to drive of the bird. With an upset call, a bird lifted into the air away from her bag, and she pulled the bag right up to her belly and straigtened the papers in it.

“You’re up just in time, traveller,” a robust voice said from above her. Pulling her head up, she leaned into the horned shadow of a minotar–the first mate on this schooner. Dressed in faded orange denim pants with a sailcloth vest, he couldn’t be anything but a sailor. He had some good stories to share.

“El’gas! Are we almost at the Octrans?”

“Certainly are, little elf.” (How annoying–I’m a half elf) “You’re about to be present to a rare experience–very lucky indeed. The marine elves of these islands are not generally friendly to visitors. But their pidgeon messages indicated they were glad to talk to any historians or sages from the mainland. You might just find a new home here.”

A day later, the ArrowAxe having deboarded all its skinny, city-bred refugees from the burned timbers of Sing’Jar, Ulipa was sitting cross-legged next to Ost’se Ing’se, a cleric of Shashelas was sharing a story of the early days of the Octran islands over a very salty kelp loaf and rather sandy oysters. Ost’se, so old as to be gathering some alge between the wrinkles in folds of his neck and constantly scratching at the small barnacles trying to settle on the back of his upper arms looked at her curiously.

“Ulipa–you are the least agitated member of your guild, do you realize that? Your whole city burned down and many of your peers here nearly forgot their journals on the boat that just left. They are devastated…but you are quite rational. Share with me how this journey has been for you.”

Ulipa was not alright or comfortable with the destruction of Sing’Jar–who would be? But what could she actually do about it? She was not in shape to heft a sword, she hated running, she was never as good as her brothers at climbing trees or walking silently in the woods. “Ost’se…It’s horrible. I’ve cried the nights on the boat. Among the first time since I left my family in the forest I feel afraid and lonely again. I’m no fighter. What can I do? When I get people to share their stories and journal some history, I feel purpose and it takes my mind off the people I couldn’t help in the city.”

“You want to help more…Ulipa? There is a visitor older than myself on the way here I would introduce you to. I think you and he will get along well.”

And another day passed. Ulipa dwelled on the strange foreshadowing that Ost’se revealed. The patterns of the seaguls shifted. She saw sails on the horizon. Many of the aquatic elves ran for their canoes or waded in and swam to island Unus. Ost’se slowly got up, clutching his knapped-shell trident and disappeared into the surf.

Ulipa flipped her head around when a shadow fell over her. A handsom, warm skinned man in a dripping pair of shorts with a pair of sandals tossed over his shoulder dropped to a cross-legged seat next to her. “Greetings, sage! My name is Bron. I collect stories, too.”

And before she knew it, Ulipa and Bron had talked until sundown, completely oblivious to the grounding of ships and the battling pirates one island away. She described her home in the mountains, and how she met Feltor when she was little. Bron described how he helped out on the islands and helped make one of the largest houses on the islands far away from here. He described how this favorite home of his was destroyed by a spiteful giant and many of his friends were killed. Ulipa, her hand shaking with sadness and anger, wiped tears from her face. “I wish stories could defeat these disgusting orcs!”

“There are secrets in stories, you know,” said Bron, lifting a stone from the beach. In his thick fingered brown hands, beneath the brass rings with green turqoise inlay, he played his fingers around the surface of the stone. Crack! With a spark and chips clattering off the stones between their knees, he showed off the two halves of the rock.

As the moon rose to the zenith, Bron continued teaching Ulipa so many stories, so many bits of wisdom, she was startled to find a second listener, light eyed, golden hair and draped in a linen shawl, quietly seated next to her. “Jonrite,” Bron said, “this is Ulipa. She is a faithful scholar of this world and has suffered greatly from the orcs. I find her fascinating! Ulipa, this is Jonrite. Jonrite visits me very seldom and I consider it a rare honor to have his presence.”

“Ulipa,” Jonrite asked in a voice so calm that it hushed the sound of the crashing waves when he spoke, “I have watched you learn magic at the hand of Jonrite tonight and understand it. You are not afraid, nor are you shy. Of your fellow scholars, Ost’se picked you out as most worthy. He is the oldest aquatic elf of the islands. Between the three of us, we would invite you to take up the mantle of a champion and return to mainland.”

Ulipa was about to ask…

But Jonrite answered her in stride before she spoke: “aptitude for power and strength of  character make a great foundation for a leader. You can channel your frustration with the world into change–and I can grant you powers to fight the evil taking over this land.”

And by taking Jonrites hands, she accepted a pact with a Solar. After finishing her vows, she looked up to find the stars replaced with a large bronze curtain surrounding them, and the head of a dragon looking down at her. In a not-exactly-quiet, growly voice, the dragon said, “Ulipa, respect the pact with the Solar and we will fight together, side by side one day soon. Be the spearhead that breaks the shield defending the evil to the east. When you and your team get beyond the gravel pit of Galentaspar, I will join you again.”

Jonrite put his fingers over Ulipa’s eyes and they were battered by gust of wind and stones from the dragon launching into the sky. When Ulipa opened her eyes again, she was alone on an empty beach, the pale edge of dawn in the east starting to grow.