Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Play Report: Brigid's Diary, Part 2 - Return to Richacre

Real time: played in two parts, 10/4/14 and 10/18/14
Je. played Brigid, a 1st level human barbarian
J. played Athanasius, a 2nd level human cleric
A. played Starkiller, a 1/1/1 half elven fighter/cleric/mage
S. played McCloud, a 1st level human druid
N. played Thoren, a 1/1 half-orc fighter/thief

[Note: The entry is written 'in-character' and changes in tone and such reflect the character at different points during play]
 DM notes are in [brackets], player notes in (parentheses)

   After my first adventure, I came back to Oldbridge with Starkiller. We sold our treasures, and I made enough profit that I was able to put many gold pieces into the Baron's bank for safe keeping. I carefully compose a letter to my family, telling them of my good fortune and assuring them that I will return once I have saved enough to replenish our family's coffers.
  I write in our family's code, so as not to raise any suspicions with anyone who may read the letter as it travels, both for my own protection, and that of my family's.
  I find that before long, I begin to thirst for more adventure. The rage inside me has been very quiet, and I am hopeful that I am learning more self control, but I still long to further my skills, and increase my fortune. Just as I was about to get very restless in town, I received a very strange letter.
  I write this diary and my letters home in the script of Eiru, but I am not able to read much of the common language. I ask Starkiller's cleric friend Athanasius to help me read the letter. It is from Toril, the headman of Richacre. He pleads for help, as there are strange doings going on in his village. I remember the kindness of the people of Richacre, and also remember the unfinished business we left there, the strange seal of evil in the tower basement. Combined with my restless thirst for more adventure, I know I must go.
  I convince Starkiller and Athanasius that we should travel with all haste to Richacre to assist them in their hour of need. We find two others, friends of Athanasius, who wish to travel with us, the druid McCloud and the half-orc, Thoren. McCloud is another follower of the strange gods that I don't trust, but I can't deny the usefulness of his skills. Thoren is an interesting fellow, very dim of mind, but strong, and cunning in his own way.
  We agree to leave the very next morning, after replenishing our stocks and equipment.

 Day 1 
   We follow the familiar route to Richacre, passing through the village of Ham-on-Wye and stopping at the Sad Wolf Tavern. And later, we enter Stowanger and stop at the Tankard and Bowl Tavern. Finally, we approach Richacre. The charcoal huts on the outskirts are empty and obviously were hastily abandoned. Then, I notice that the wooden tower on the palisades is shattered, and the gate is wrenched open, hanging broken and precarious. Through the opening, we see bodies scattered around, and the town is dreadfully, terribly silent. No one comes to greet us, there is no bustle of a town's work, and I fear the worst. Thoren and I decide to go ahead of the others, as we are tough and strong and better able to weather any threats that remain inside the palisades.
  We see terrible, terrible things. Some bodies seem untouched with no obvious cause of death, but with looks of abject horror forever frozen on their faces. While others - oh, the others! Some bodies have organs ripped out, some have huge chunks of flesh missing, others appear to have fallen from great heights. We see one house that seemed to have taken a lot of damage, and it has a large hole ripped through it, but with the edges of the hole as smooth as glass.
  Suddenly, someone calls my name. My heart is in my throat before I realize that it is Bertrand, the Hedge Mage, blessedly alive. He calls me over and hurriedly tells us that two nights ago there was something in the sky, that lights came from the sky, and whatever the lights touched, died. He was injured by the light reflected off a mirror. Now, he has seen the gargoyle in the sky again, and is fearful that he is too badly injured to escape. We assure him that we can help, tell him to stay hidden while we go get our friends and search for other survivors. We find one other man who seems to have survived, and Athanasius casts some healing spells to heal both men. He also casts detect magic, but finds nothing magical in what is left of the village.
   We continue to search through the village, and we find the Widow Schumacher who was mentioned in Tardill's letter. We also find a severed arm, holding a few pages from a journal. It must belong to the madman that Tardill indicated the widow sheltered. The journal pages are cryptic, yet terrifying, indicating he was a Mage, and mentioning a map of the cultist's temple, and finding the library of Skull Mountain. The last page seems written much later than the first, and the poor man had obviously gone mad. Mentions "devilfish", "Them", and "Lurkers", indicates he had been kicked out of the Duke and Count's courts, priests had tried to cure him, but they obviously failed as he continues his rants for at least several more paragraphs. I wonder what he had to do with the destruction wrought on the poor village of Richacre?
  I convince Athanasius to copy the pages here in my journal so that we can remember what it says. He added those pages later.
   Meanwhile, Starkiller recognizes that the wounds on the dead seem to be those of a "reversed" spell of healing. And Bertrand is very, very worried about the return of the Gargoyle. We assure Bertrand that we will take care of the gargoyle, and he gives Thoren an amulet vs. charm, and gives us a scroll that "enchants a weapon", giving it a temporary increased chance to hit and damage (+1/+1). Meanwhile, darkness is falling, so we hide as best as we can, and get some sleep.

 Day 2 
  We wake up the next morning and notice that some of the houses on the far side of town have been trashed overnight. We head out to check on the tower, figuring we will find the gargoyle there, and we can also check on the evil seal in the basement, figuring it might have had something to do with the town's destruction.
  We approach the tower directly, assuming that the gargoyle will be stone during the day, and thus, not a threat. Thoren approaches the door to the tower and is picking the lock when the gargoyle drops on us from above! The gargoyle savagely attacks Thoren [DM- taking him to -1 HP]. We immediately attack the gargoyle, Starkiller and I land blows. Athanasius casts a light spell, blinding the gargoyle. I attack and kill the gargoyle, making sure to take an extra, final blow to ensure its death. Meanwhile, Athanasius casts two cure spells on Thoren, saving our friend from certain death. I say a quick prayer of thanksgiving for good clerics. We talk amongst ourselves, debating as to whether we should go back to the village, or forge on to discover what is going on with the evil basement seal.
  While we are talking, the door behind me opens, and a Kobold wearing strange, cobbled together, almost full plate mail appears. Thinking fast, I try to talk with him. I tell him we killed the gargoyle, and he says he is glad, tells us that they hated the gargoyle. We ask if we can come in and see the basement, and he tells us no, that they now worship those gods. Before he can say anymore, we attack. The Kobold lands a minor blow on me, but I manage to kill him.
  We grab the head of the gargoyle and his backpack, and we notice he is branded - it almost looks like an eye surrounded by smaller circles. We also grab the Kobold, and decide to go back to the village to prove to poor Bertrand that we killed the gargoyle. We return to the deserted town of Richacre and tell Bertrand all that has happened. We go through the gargoyle's backpack, and find great treasures. Copper and electrum pieces, a silver bracelet with an amber crucifix, a Druidic scroll which we give to McCloud, he tells is it has animal friendship, animal growth, commune with nature,and cure critical wounds. There is also a broadsword - my weapon of choice! As I pick it up to admire it, it is tarnished and dull, but I notice the hilt has a carving of a beautiful women, head bowed, covering her eyes.
  Suddenly, the sword starts speaking! It speaks in the language of my childhood, Airu, and tells me it's name is Mor Altach, which means "great fury". It says that it can also speak in Orcish, Kobold, and Ogre, and it's blows do not cease to hurt (which makes me believe it is a sword of wounding). It also says that it can detect traps and magic within 10', though it has to be able to speak about them. Starkiller detects evil on the treasures, and nothing, including the sword, seems evil. Everyone agrees that the sword should be mine. The sword tells me it does not like my other sword, and I assure it that I will get rid of it as soon as we can get back to a town where I can sell or dispose of it safely. The sword reluctantly agrees that is ok, but I get the sense that I had better to be true to my word. I am unsure how I feel about my sword talking to me, but since it speaks to me in my beloved Airu, I rest a little easier. We try to question the sword about the gargoyle, and how it got here, but the sword was captured long ago, and has spent almost the entire time in the depths of the gargoyle's backpack, so it has very little information. So, we decide to rest for the night, and head back to the tower in the morning.
  Athanasius insists that we must deal with the kobolds, and we also really need to check on that evil seal. I hope, that with good rest, and focus, I can continue to keep my inner rage in check. 

Day 3 
  When we woke up the next morning, Thoren told us about a strange dream he had. The bracelet we found spoke to him in his dream, saying that it was weak now, and Thoren was the only one who could save it. When he awoke, the bracelet was on his wrist. I find that very eerie.
   As we head back to the tower, we notice smoke off in the Briars, almost like from a bonfire. It is far enough away we feel it is safe to deal with the tower without worrying about the smoke. I wonder what it is, though?
   We arrive at the tower, and thankfully Thoren checked for traps, because there is a nasty pit trap at the base of the stairs to the entrance. We are able to work around it, and Thoren goes up to check on the door. Suddenly, a rock is thrown at him from directly above! We look up just in time to see two kobolds duck back inside. We retreat away from the door for fear of the rocks, and we make a plan. We march up to the tower while firing arrows at the kobolds above, and quickly bust down the door and enter the tower. Inside we find three kobolds, and rather quickly kill two of them. We ask for surrender from the final Kobold, and then we knock him out and tie him up, figuring to deal with him later after we assess the rest of the area.
  We enter the stairwell, and find boulders coming down the stairs. We duck back out of the stairwell, wait for them to pass, then quickly rush up the stairs. We pass three closed doors, and then on the roof, we see two kobolds pushing boulders towards the door. I have to hurry, or they will knock us all down the stairs! I make a charge attack - and miss horribly. I quickly whip back around, and McCloud has killed one, then I kill the other.
  We go back down the stairs, and sense evil behind one of the doors. We open the door, and capture and tie up another Kobold, then head to the basement. There is a trap by the door to the basement, Thoren attempts to disarm it, but fails. Starkiller uses his spear to reach over Thoren's shoulder and poke the door open. A sapling whips out from the corner of the room with a dagger on the end of it. It just misses slicing Thoren's face!
  Then, before we can even blink, a giant weasel attacks Thoren! It immediately bit down and started sucking his blood. Starkiller and McCloud and myself attacked the weasel and Athanasius cast healing spells on Thoren to keep him alive. Finally, we kill the weasel and save Thoren. I look down and notice my sword is gleaming. The woman on the hilt has changed! Her hands are no longer covering her eyes, they are crossed over her chest, and she has a beatific look on her face. She has long, flowing gold hair, and her eyes are brilliant sapphires. I'm not sure what this means, but I feel a kinship with my Airu sword that makes me feel less homesick. We take the dagger from the trap after our battle with the weasel, and we feel certain it is magical. We find the secret door and go into the other room.
  There, we see 3 kobolds and a Kobold shaman who is casting a spell. I immediately charge the shaman, and to my shame, I miss, once again. But, on my next attack, I kill him instantly! The other kobolds attack and injure me, Thorin, and McCloud, but we manage to kill them all.
  (In the heat of battle, McCloud calls Athanasius the "Altar boy" - DM says 25 extra EP!)
  We enter the room with the evil seal, and find 2 humans tied up with another Shaman standing over them. I charge and kill the shaman - finally, I hit during a charge! As we release them, the two humans tells us their names are Allen, a peddler, and Gerb, a porter. Allen immediately pledges fealty to me, who saved his life by killing the shaman. When we get out of this tower, I am going to see if I can convince Gerb to stay with me, too, since the two are apparently life long friends. I find that I am more proud of saving the lives of these fine men than I am excited about finding treasures to send back home. My need for revenge has been so strong for so long, I'm not quite sure what to make of my new attitude.
  As we are standing there talking with Gerb and Allen, some of us see movement out of the corner of our eyes, and we go to investigate. We quickly realize that some Kobold women who must have been in hiding have escaped - and they took our two tied up captives, too! We decide to track them, as we can't let them get away. We find them fairly quickly, and rather than kill them, Athanasius tries to convert them to the truth of our faith. All evil can potentially be used for God's advantage!
  He succeeds in converting the kobolds, but knows their faith is weak. We negotiate with them, and convince them to shelter at the Abbey southwest of Ekull. A little time with the consecrated brothers and sisters will certainly strengthen their faith!

 (From the tower, and the kobolds we killed, we do find some treasures. Five pieces of Amber, a gourd jar with a paste that we later identify as a pagan potion of Hill Giant strength, and the magical dagger is identified as a +1 dagger/+2 vs. smaller than man size. We also find a fair bit of gold, so after paying our expenses and dividing it up amongst all of is, we each get 376 GP and a piece of Amber.)
   I decide to hire Allen the merchant and Gerb the porter. I know they will be loyal to me if I treat them well, and certainly they will help me amass my fortune and figure out how to get it back to my family. And meanwhile, my new sword gazes at me with those sapphire eyes whenever I look at it. I wonder what it all means? I believe I must rest for awhile, study and hone my skills. I suspect I have something more important to do than send my family my fortune.

  (GM indicates 1360 EP per character. Brigid will level up to 2nd level.)

 Letter Received by Brigid 
To Miss Brigit of Eiru, with all blessings,
  Fair maiden, I write to you with trepidation. You and your companions recently saved our small village from great evil and for that we can never repay you. But odd things seem to be afoot in our village again. Roald Collier recently found a madman wandering in the forest, tattered and bruised from wandering through the Briars. This poor wretch babbled about starnge things in the mountains above the Briars (which, truly, are enough to break a man's mind) and scribbled in a book. The Widow Shoemaker took him in and swore to nurse him to sanity.
  Since his arrival, however, the forest has been unquiet. Shadows move under the trees, the animals are fearful, and I have strengthened the palisade guard. I have written to the Count, but you are 4 days closer. Is there any chance, Miss Brigit, that you or your friends could succor us? 

  Yours in Hope,
   Toril, headman of Richacre

 Page from beginning of the stranger's journal 
decided to take my mentor's advice and begin a journal of my travels.
  It is strange, I must admit, to be far from home and from the library and lab of my mentor. I thought I was a grown man when I began apprenticing as a mage, then learned I was not once my mentor proved how much I had to grow. Then I thought I was a man when I mastered my first spell, until my mentor proved that a single cantrip is no more than a drop of water beside the sea. Now that I am no longer an apprentice but a full mage I fell I am a man. Am I to be show wrong again?
  But my mentor tells me this journal will help me understand my growth in knowledge and experience. That by looking back at my thoughts I will gain more insight than by merely living them once. I hope he is correct. We will see.
  Tomorrow I depart for Oldbridge to meet with the rest of my companions. With the map we have of the cultists' temple we think we might succeed where so many others have failed. Imagine – finding the Library of Skull Mountain, the accumulated tomes of a score of looted libraries, the research libraries of a dozen mages, and the writings of other worlds! Thought destroyed in the final battle my friend Jonzar swears that it survived and he

 Last page of the stranger's journal 
Last Deepwinter, but as you know all who know of the devilfish must die! The death of Zhonquil the Mage was no feud between wizards, it was an assassination by Them, the lurkers, the slaves to those foul creatures! I tell you truly, my knowledge of the truth is a blessing and a curse. Yes, I know we are all playthings to them, the secret masters, the ones from beyond. But that knowledge threatens to shatter my mind. And I am surrounded by fools! Can they not see?! Worries about bandits, orcs, and dragons, pfagh! All distractions, all to blind us to the slow, creeping horror of the devilfish as they corrupt more and more. The Duke threw me from his halls and the Count tried to have his priests “cure” me. I damn them all to the slavery they deserve. Yes, those who cannot recognize the Truth I speak and my genius deserve to be eternal slaves to the slime!! One day the king, the dwarves, even the haugty elves will bend their knee to me, ashamed of their arrogance in refusing to obey me as I fight Them! Who else can do so, the weak-willed king? The blind priests? The na├»ve paladins? NO! Only I have the wisdome, the knowledge, the vision, and the courage to save the world from slavery and worse than slavery from thos abominations from beneath the

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