Thursday, July 25, 2013

Campaign Report: Shadowcast Company: Episode 5

The Fifth Voyage of the Shadowcaster (part one)

It was impossible to procure enough weapons to fully arm the warriors of the Nox Tribe by purchasing from the merchants of Tam alone, so decided to set course for the Imperial City. It wasn't a long voyage, but Amalia managed to find a bit of cargo for us to transport anyway.

I hardly concerned myself with the details, but we brought a "spice" which is illegal in the city by decree, a few cases of wine, and magical materials. I found myself in several conversations over the course of the trip where my companions seemed to be under the impression that since there were magical markings, my curiosity would set me to opening the packages without permission. They are apparently under the delusion that I have time to decipher and steal another mage's research.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I am very busy with my own research.

We exchanged our goods for payment and purchased the outstanding balance of arms required to uphold our end of the bargain with the Matriarch of Nox and set sail for the Island. This time, thankfully, we managed to navigate there rather uneventfully, though our stalwart dwarven companion Pyre was made so seasick by the journey that he was no help at all.

On a personal note, we've been been at sea on and off for over a year now, and I am beginning to feel dreadfully tired of this ship. It's cramped, the food is horrible, privacy is impossible, and our nerves are beginning to fray. I am lucky, because my research will lead to a long extension of my own life, but my companions are spending a significant portion of their lives that they will not get back living in this hell.

Just a few days before we sighted land, I left my journal unattended for a few moments while taking note of the locations of the Moons of Agrandor, a condition of which I must account for in order to balance a particular spell I enjoy, and it was passed around as entertainment by a few of my hardier companions. They took offense to my description of their bravery as less than ideal, though it may be me who has the last laugh, because they certainly took it to heart to be a bit more adventuresome.

We stopped at Nox and distributed the weapons. After our warriors helped theirs acclimate to the feel of steel blades in their hands, we made a plan of war with the Matriarch. Our first target would be the slaver's isle.

Upon arrival we found that their fortress had been destroyed by the Boar's forces, which was a real pity because it would have made a fantastic base of operations for the remainder of our sojourn. One of our tribal allies suggested that we search the southern outcrop of the isle, and we found a camp of the survivors of the slavers!

They had three ships approximately equivalent to the Shadowcaster, and enough tribal catamarans that we were able to estimate that their force would be about equal to our own.

This was a real problem because none of our number save the dwarf, who was completely unable to assist us, had any useful military experience.

Still, the accusation of cowardice still rang in my companion's ears, and they were easy to convince that we should attempt a sortie by land made up of ourselves, while the tribesmen attacked by sea.

We breached their bramble wall and entered through a wooden watchtower by virtue of the stealthy capabilities of Sparrow. Thereafter I set about summoning nether-beasts to swell our numbers, which was a successful tactic. When a lieutenant began marching up the hill with a company of thirty disciplined soldiers, I admit that found myself suddenly able to understand the appeal of the old chestnut, the fireball spell, which I do not know.

No matter. Amalia produced a ball of flame which responded to her commands. Coupled with the control of the winds she took, it was devastating to their infrastructure, if not their forces. She also managed to summon a wall of smoke which we put to good use by charging through when a number of the enemy were distracted enough that they lost us long enough to put a small distance between our company and theirs.

During this encounter I came to conclusion that the "Field of Pain" spell I have devised is a useful parlor trick, but not powerful enough for battle use. I will revise and strengthen the spell when I have the time and resources.

Sparrow had previously made it to the water and was fighting a battle on a longboat. We encountered and defeated a few more lieutenants and their men, and discerned that their apparent war chief was a mage of considerable skill.

With great effort we managed to take the boat. Amalia and myself found ourselves completely out of magic ability, and most of us were hurt badly. We sailed toward our own fleet which was just about to meet the retreating slaver fleet which was heading to sea...

- Excerpt, Field Notes of Corwyn Mor, Volume II

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Campaign Report: Shadowcast Company: Episode 4

The Fourth Voyage of the Shadowcaster (part two)

Continuing further into the temple, we found a cell littered with the remains of a dozen nearly intact corpses, a pile of skulls, and a few ghouls, one of which had been trapped inside an iron maiden for centuries.

Nearby, we found a bronze statue depicting a pile of human skulls, which confirmed our suspicion that this shadowed condition was brought about on purpose. I was not sure how much the people of the first age knew about necromancy, but this was evidence that their knowledge was more sophisticated than some scholars have led us to believe.

In a chamber below we spied on an undead torturer (a wight I presume) taking pleasure in the only subject that could survive his ministrations so long, an emaciated troll. I can only imagine how much rage the beast must feel after enduring for such an extended period.

We continued further into the underworld and came upon a golden skeleton laid on a table. Fresh looking entrails were strewn about the floor. I should have been more curious about their nature, because it should have been obvious how unlikely they were, but our voyages have not been as profitable as I hoped (greatly due to the somewhat prudish and un-bold natures of my fellow adventurers who have been known to jump at shadows and enter into dungeons and lairs with the ferocity of a pack of rabbits at times). Anyway, with funds lacking and gold laying before my own eyes, I had no time for their he-hawing ways about retrieving it.

I could have waited for the inevitable debate regarding recovery of the precious metal which no doubt probably would have devolved into making Pyre do it, but the longer we were there, the more likely my companions were to be spooked by a cobweb or an errant moth, so I stepped forward and began sacking the treasure.

The remains of some old experiment took offense at my removal of the golden bones, and the entrails pulled themselves together into something which in describing, my poor vocabulary can do no justice, I can say that as a member of the Order of Thule, fifth rank, even I have never read a description of such a beast. It was made only of flesh, and with none of the skin, eyes, or even mouth one would expect. It was more like a a knotted pile of ropes and strings manipulated by an invisible puppeteer.

With great strength and fury it attacked our band. Amalia was thrown to the floor, and she was so addled by it that she willingly crawled into the darkness of the tomb to flee it. Our party defended itself, but we were only barely able to overcome it with our combined might. When the fight had ended we found that our wounds were great, and that Amalia had disappeared entirely.

Logic dictated that if she was crawling about in the darkness, the most likely direction to flee would be the one from which we came, which was a good thing because I suspect it was the only direction we had the strength to travel ourselves. So we reversed our path through the temple and by luck we heard her screaming. She had been located and bound by the wight-torturer who was preparing for his first fresh victim in many years.

Luckily our company still had enough fighting spirit remaining to overcome the wight and to rescue Amalia.

We returned to the Shadowcaster, where we knew that we would spend a few days resting. Not wishing for another incident like the one at Wyvern Isle, (where we were attacked by angry spirits for disturbing their tomb), we instructed the crew to sail the ship about the tribal islands we were near.

When our strength returned, we paid a visit to the village of Nox, which was said to be populated by cannibals. We confirmed that they were indeed headhunters by the ornaments they kept, and we exchanged in a dialog with them where we learned that our adventures have had several wide ranging effects on the native peoples.

Firstly, we learned that "The Boar," a wereboar mage whose compound we had raided previously, was seeking out our party for retribution. He had sent an envoy to Deimos because of rumors that we might be found there or that the inhabitants would know more about us.

Secondly, the dwarf-keep northeast of Deimos had certainly been affected by my leaving of the Scepter of Strife. The magic had attracting two dragons, one of which was presumably the red dragon rumored to have lived on the western side of Collosi Island. The surviving wyrm destroyed what was left of the dwarfs and apparently settled in since it was also known that it set a ship ablaze in the sea nearby.

Thirdly, dwarf refugees had made their way to Deimos. We can only assume that our party would not be welcomed with open arms into that village at present.

The village elder, a matriarch, asked about the destruction of the dwarf hold. Eamon the bard related the tale to the audience, but his telling was quite flat. I decided that it was imperative we impress these people, considering they were cannibals and that they could betray us to The Boar, so I used a bit of magic to immobilize a number of their warriors in pain (a spell developed especially by myself), and shouted for Revloth, my dragon, to come to me.

Before releasing them, I told the matriarch that I chose not to hurt them but that it was quite within the power of the spell to do so if I had wished it. (I exaggerated the effect of my spell which may only cause pain, but which may not truly harm.)

Upon releasing them, I took command of the negotiations, and there is something intoxicating about power, which I admit goes a bit to my head. I told them that we had selected them because they were obviously the strongest village, and that we could make them even stronger. They were a poor people, but what they wanted most was metal. We could supply them with arms enough for their entire tribe.

What we will do with them, I don't know. We allowed two of them to accompany us back to Tam in order to impress them with the wealth of our own culture.

Sparrow, a former assassin, seemed fine with this turn of events, but the rest of the party is a little uncomfortable with an alliance with the cannibal tribe.

Upon arrival in Tam, we learned that it would be quite difficult to gather all the weapons we need for the tribe in a short period, so our next voyage is to the Imperial City, where we can purchase the remainder quick enough.

- Excerpt, Field Notes of Corwyn Mor, Volume II

Friday, July 5, 2013

Campaign Report: Shadowcast Company: Episode 3

The Fourth Voyage of the Shadowcaster (part one)

After returning to port in Tam, the company decided to take a little time off in port. Most of the party remained in the city to spend a substantial portion of their loot.

Pyre dismissed a henchman amicably, though upon learning this, Corwyn the Necromancer attempted to hire the dwarf as his own henchman, but was refused. This was most likely due to Corwyn's rather nasty reputation. Nevertheless, Corwyn hired some thieves to make certain that the former comrade did not take any copies of navigational data or notes regarding Collosi Island with him to a new company. A substantial amount of data was recovered by the burglers and Corwyn burned it.

Afterwards, Corwyn traveled to the Order of Thule's stronghold, to consult the library and perform some research, which went well.

When the Shadowcaster set sail again, things went against the party.

We had trouble navigating back to the isle, and wandered substantially off course before noticing our predicament. Upon correcting our heading, we encountered a powerful storm which threatened to sing the Shadowcaster, and eventually found ourselves drawn into a conflict between two seagoing giants who had natural power over storms and currents.

We became partisans in the battle when the first giant attacked our vessel. Eamon the bard was gravely injured and we feared that we would need to turn back to port, but the victorious giant, who we had inadvertently sided with took pity on us and had us follow to his refuge.

We were led to a great tower set upon a singular rocky outcrop rising from the deep. There, elf servants of the giant took our comrade into the outpost and gave us fresh supplies and tools. We rested on our ship for a few days, and were invited in once to look around. There we were told that there were kingdoms and castles floating in the skies and that this keep served as a tether between the worlds below and above. On top of the tower were old runes in a circle, only a handful of which any in our party could read, but they seemed to names of old places. We surmised that this circle was a fixed hub in a network of gates, but we didn't see them used, so that is conjecture.

Our companion was returned to us in fine shape, and we resumed our course to Collosi Island.

We did not return to the Boar's lair on the southern tip of Wyvern Isle, but instead made our way to a suspiciously vacant island surrounded by other small islands, all of which are inhabited. We expected to find a temple or old ruin, and we did.

It was in the form of a solid stone dome (the rock was not native to the island we were on), that required a good bit of searching to open. At last we found a trick mechanism that caused a set of stairs to rise from the ground and opened a portal in the dome.

Inside, we were beset by some form of undead similar to wights. We found signs of human sacrifice over the years and believe the place to be cursed by evil.

To be continued...