Archive for the 'D&D: The Eighth One' Category

22
Aug
12

D&D: The Eighth One – Campaign Conclusion

D&D: THE EIGHTH ONE – CAMPAIGN CONCLUSION
PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Translation 3
NEXT: D&D: The Eighth One – Home

On the whole, I enjoyed running this campaign. Unfortunately, I never got the impression that my players particularly cared for it. They certainly did not share the enthusiasm for it that they had for our Shadowrun campaigns. They were kind enough to indulge my romp through D&D with them, but they all seemed more eager to get back to our Shadowrun game.

I would say this campaign featured more missteps and mistakes along the way than  our other games as well. A large part of this, no doubt, is due to the fact that the story, sessions, characters, etc. were completely hand crafted by me. It was definitely an experience building time for me. A second part of it may have been the stated, short term nature of the campaign which may have caused my players to approach it as a more casual, throw away set of sessions than I really intended for it. I definately failed to get proper feedback from my players regarding their feelings for the game, where it succeeded for them, where it failed and just how much they actually enjoyed it (or not).

I would love to tackle D&D again in a long term situation like I am with my Shadowrun games, but at the very least I expect I’ll have to do it when its not a “between games” initiative.

Still, I do have some future things planned for this story. You’ll just have to wait and see where they turn up.

– Geoff

PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Translation 3
NEXT: D&D: The Eighth One – Home
Advertisements
21
Aug
12

D&D: The Eighth One – Translation 3

THE EIGHTH ONE – TRANSLATION 3
PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Session 7 – Part 2
NEXT: Campaign Conclusion

As with the first Divine Text, this was another tablet for the party to translate and to learn some of the background for the campaign. This used the same key as the first text, but the tablet this time was found upon the Isle of the Divine shortly before the final battle.

I felt the timing for giving the players this information made sense with the final battle upon them. However, the result was that the campaign was now done and what little interest the players had in the game was completely done. Most of the players never read the final translations and I’m not even sure any of the players even bothered to translate the third one like they did the first two.

Third Divine Text

The third text translated as…

FINALLY THE COMBINED MIGHT OF THE SEVEN LANDS PUSHED THE FORCES OF CHAOS BACK    THE AVATARS OF THE DIVINE BEINGS JOINED THE FINAL ASSAULT ON MALAK AL-MAUT S STRONGHOLD    BREACHING HIS CENTER CHAMBER    THEY SHATTERED THE SEAL OF THE BLACK DRAGON WEAKENING HIS AVATAR

EVEN SO NOT EVEN THE DIVINE BEINGS COULD KILL THE SPIRIT OF MALAK AL-MAUT    GATHERING THEIR POWERS THEY PERFORMED A RITUAL THAT WOULD DRIVE THE AVATAR AND HIS SPIRIT INTO THE VOID BETWEEN PLANES AND BANISH HIM FROM THE WORLD

THOUGH MALAK AL-MAUT WAS DEFEATED HIS DARK FORCES REMAINED AND THEIR LAND WAS TAINTED ONCE AGAIN WITH CORRUPTION    IT WAS WITH GREAT SORROW THAT THE DIVINE BEINGS SANK THE LANDS OF THE EIGHTH ONE BENEATH THE WAVES OF THE OCEAN AND BURIED HIS CORRUPTION FOREVER

TROUBLED BY WHAT COULD CAUSE THE CORRUPTION OF THE DIVINE BEING AND THE GROSS COST OF LIFE THE DIVINE BEINGS CREATED THE DIVINE ISLE OVER THE SITE OF THE FINAL BATTLE    THE ISLE WAS TO SERVE AS A REMINDER OF THE TEMPTATION OF CORRUPTION AS WELL AS ITS COST    ON THE ISLE THE AVATARS CONSTRUCTED A TEMPLE AND BURIED BENEATH ITS SEVEN FRONTS A FRAGMENT OF THE SEAL OF THE BLACK DRAGON

AT THE CENTER THEY BUILT A RITUAL SITE THAT COULD FOCUS THE POWER OF THE REMAINING SEVEN DIVINE BEINGS SHOULD MALAK AL-MAUT BE EMPOWERED TO RETURN BY WHATEVER ENTITY OF CHAOS CORRUPTED HIM

PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Session 7 – Part 2
NEXT: Campaign Conclusion
20
Aug
12

D&D: The Eighth One – Session 7 – Part 2

THE EIGHTH ONE – SESSION 7 – PART 2
Written by: GM           Played on: 27 Apr 2011
PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Session 7 – Part 1
NEXT: The Eighth One – Translation 3

Without hesitating, Rock dashed forward towards the massive, shadowy creature. It took two great strides forward as the shifter bounded towards it. Keeping forward, Rock dug his long claws into the beast and scrambled up it’s leg. The beast snaked its long neck around, snapping at him and spraying acid from it’s teeth, but the shifter was too quick. As he reached it’s back, he drew his sword and dug it deep into the creature. It reared back with a screech. With a flap of it’s wings, the creature lifted off the ground with Rock on it’s back.

The next few rounds involved Rock being lifted further and further off the ground. Every turn, the creature would initiate an attempt to throw him from its back while rising higher and higher. The goal was to throw him and let him fall to the ground. At the beginning the impact would have done a sizable amount of damage and, by the end, it would have killed him outright. Despite all odds, the creature never managed to throw Rock and he rode it up hundreds of feet into the air until the end of combat, effectively taking the creature completely out of combat single handed.

The winged beast twisted and clawed, trying to dislodge Rock, but the shifter kept his grip, repeatedly stabbing his sword into the creatures hide. Below them, the others continued to battle the tide of creatures. In the distance, though much closer this time, another roar shook the island. A dark silhouette on the horizon soared closer, still too far to make out.

Bharash ordered his men to form a perimeter, trying to stem the tide of creatures. The Divine Guard at the other gates were falling against the onslaught. The voice of the Divine Hualpa came to them again. Hold strong, guardians of this world. The ritual is nearly complete. Soon we will sever your world from ours. Malak Al-Maut will threaten you no longer.

The players had put together the avatar’s plan by this point. As mentioned in the Divine Texts they had translated, the seven Divine Beings and Mulak Al-Maut were actually beings of another plane of existence and the great dragons, the avatars, were their physical manifestations in the world. The Divine Beings were seeking to cut their world of the mortal races off from the plane of the Divine Beings. This would prevent Mulak Al-Maut from impacting the world and interacting with his avatar, but it would also cut the Divine Beings themselves off from the world and the mortal races.

Looking up, Bharash could see a winged dragon, larger than all the avatars of the southern kingdom. It’s form blocked out the sun and cast a shadow over the battle below. For just a moment, the battle abated long enough for both sides to gaze up at the awesome sight above them.

As quickly as the moment came, it ended. The swords flashed and the battle renewed. On the ground, Bharash and his men were slowly pressed back by the creatures, falling into a unified rank against their attacks. Rock, still astride the winged beasts back, continued to rise higher and higher into the air.

The voice of the Divine came to them again, though it felt somehow weak and faint, Heroes, the ritual is complete. It has been our greatest honor to serve you… The voice disappeared, leaving an emptiness behind.

The great, black winged dragon, swooping down towards the temple, suddenly let out a terrible cry and twisted through the air. It’s massive form crashed into the marble temple full speed. The wall fell under it’s massive, thrashing weight. From inside the temple, a chorus of panicked roars and cries. The great black dragon lashed out, collapsing more of the structures roof and walls as it pulled it’s hulking form out of the temple.

The ground shook under his crashing steps, staggering the remaining Divine Guard. From the ruins of the temple and the rising dust cloud, the scales of the other avatars flashed in the sun as they scrambled over one another and the debris. The great, blue scaled dragon of the Northern Kingdom was the first to break free, flapping his great wings to lift his body into the air. The leviathan, the great sea serpent, crashed through one of the standing gates towards the ocean.

Finally, the green, feathered serpent of the Southern Kingdom staggered from the debris. Her wings, bloodied and torn, still glittered in the sun. As the black dragon lifted off into the air, Hualpa’s face, visibly dazed and confused, surveyed the area before her. “Hualpa!” Bharash called out to the avatar. “Hualpa, we are here!” The dragon did not even pause as she took three staggering steps forward before launching into the air. “Hualpa! Hualpa!” Bharash’s cries went unanswered as the avatars each flapped away from the ruined temple.

Far above, the shadowy winged creature Rock sat astride twisted and screamed in unison with the black dragon as it crashed into the temple. As the dragon’s power waned, the creature dissolved and Rock suddenly found himself plummeting towards the ground below.

Below, the creatures of chaos seemed momentarily disoriented as the portals around the island snapped shut. Gathering their wits, the Divine Guard struck out at the nearest creatures and creating a cleared around around them. Hearing Rock’s cries above, Scith jumped upwards, her body transforming into a large eagle once again. Flapping furiously, she rose towards the falling figure.

As Rock reached her, Scith’s talons reached out and grabbed for him. Her sharp talons dug into his arm and she was wrenched downward through the air. Quickly, however, she stabilized their fall and glided down to the ground below, safely depositing the shifter with the others and reverting to her regular form.

Once again, the players thwart my best attempt to kill them!

Though the portals allowing the creatures of chaos onto the island had closed, there were already hundreds of the creatures on the island. As they recovered, they turned their blood red eyes back on the party. Looking around, the party could see little of the other Divine Guard which had stood with them in defense of the temple. Those who still stood were quickly overrun and cut down by the creatures that still swarmed the island. Twisting his head in every direction, Bharash’s eyes finally came to rest on the boat still moored at the nearby docks, the standard of the Ocean Kingdom drifting in the wind from its masts. “To the boat!” Bharash ordered.

We had been playing for an awfully long time by this point, but we were close enough to the end that I preferred to play it through to the end. The party had a long battle to the boat, so I reduced it to a series of rolls meant to quickly simulate a long, drawn out combat and skill challenge. The players were told to make a series of attack and skill rolls against a moderate level Difficulty Check. At the end, they totaled up all of their failures and suffered 10 damage points for each failure. At the end of the rolling, any player that still had hit points left over, was determined to have survived the movement to the ship and escaped to safety. Anyone who did not died in a suitably heroic fashion.

The party moved forward as a group. Cael, Inara and Sir Henry carved a path with their devastating spells and a flurry of arrows. Margoloth led the charge, the spear tip of the party’s movement. As they broke through the bulk of the forces and entered open territory, quickly making for the boat, Bharash came to a stop. The dragonborne knew the ship would have to be unmoored, its sails unfurled and the boat prepared for sailing. Even at their fastest and in the best of conditions, it would take the party several minutes to ready the ship for travel, time they did not have.

Turning away from the ship, Bharash faced the horde of creatures that followed them. As the others ran for the ship, Bharash raised his sword to meet the onslaught and to buy them the time they would need to escape. To his left and his right, Sir Henry Longthorn, Scith and Aunwynne appear at his side. He turns sternly towards each, but his words die on his lips as they meet his gaze proudly. The four turn to face the tide of creatures and rush forward as it washes over them.

On board the ship, Cael, Margoloth, Rock and Inara, unaware of the others actions on land, cut the ships moors and prepare to set out. As the sails unfurl, the ship began to move in the water, drifting slowly away from the island. Finally, the four look up, prepared for a wave of creatures to try to board the ship that do not come.

Cael leaps to the bow of the ship as it begins to pull away. He reaches his vantage point just in time to witness Sir Henry, spraying fire at the creatures that buried him in a sea of bodies. Scith pulls Bharash and Aunwynne back towards the docks, hoping they might still make for the ship, before taking a spear through the chest as she pulled Bharash out of the way. The dragonborne and half elf stood back to back, their swords cutting and slicing everything around them just short of the docks as the creatures surround them

Arrow after arrow snaps from Cael’s bow, each finding a mark in the horde of creatures. He continues until Inara’s calming hand finally lays on his forearm. The elf’s hand quivered just over his next arrow as he looks around, realizing the ship had pulled even further away from the docks than he realized. From where they were at, they could not even see the remaining two Divine Guard left on the island among the sea of creatures.

Stepping down from the bow, the four stood in silence. Rock manned the wheel while Inara stared out into the distance over the ocean. On the far edges of the horizon, spreading out in every direction, the great dragons could still be seen flapping out of view.

Neither said anything as Rock steered the boat, first east, then west, south and then north, searching for the answer, searching for a destination. None sure what would come next or what they had witnessed would mean for the world.

PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Session 7 – Part 1
NEXT: The Eighth One – Translation 3
20
Aug
12

D&D: The Eighth One – Session 7 – Part 1

THE EIGHTH ONE – SESSION 7 – PART 1
Written by: GM           Played on: 27 Apr 2011
PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Translation 2
NEXT: The Eighth One – Session 7 – Part 2

The scales of the avatar shimmered in the sunlight, glittering off Hualpa’s feathered scales. The few remaining creatures retreated through the dark portals which closed behind them. The dragon looked down at them, her green eyes seemed to smile, albeit sadly. Finally, she spoke to them, her voice manifesting in their minds. Great warriors of the Divine Guard, you have served me well. You have accomplished much against great odds. I require only one more service of you, to secure the safety of our world.

“Anything, Divine Hualpa. We have seen much destruction at the hands of these creatures. We will do all that is required to rid the world of them once more.” Bharash bowed his head to the avatar.

The avatar of Divine Hualpa knelt, lowering her massive frame to the ground before the party. Then climb upon my back, brave warriors. We have far to travel and much to accomplish. The Divine Guardsman climbed up the side of the avatar. Securing themselves to her back, they felt the avatars wings spread wide and begin to beat. The avatar took three great strides forward, then plunged over the plateau’s edge. Swooping forward, they passed over the burning city of Throal.

With each beat of her feathered wings, the avatar carried them miles over the Southern Kingdom. Way up there, the fires that burned in the villages they passed seemed like nothing more than campfires. The destruction of the major cities looked like nothing more than new construction. The piles of bodies and destroyed families they knew lied below could not even be seen from their altitude.

In minutes, they travelled a distance that would normally have taken the whole day. In no time at all, they had soared east of Throal out over the coast. The blue water of the ocean shimmered in the setting sunlight, stark contrast to the devastation they had witnessed on land. Before long, the ocean was all they could see, the land disappeared behind them.

In less than an hour, their destination appeared before them, the Divine Isle, the sacred island of the Divine Beings sprouted out of the ocean a hundred miles from the nearest land mass. Hualpa circled the island, giving them a good view of it’s entirety. The land was mostly flat, but covered by immaculate gardens. At the center of the island a massive, seven sided, white marble temple loomed, larger even than the avatar’s personal chambers in Aurucania.

Outside of the temple, a number of armored figures could be seen setting up camps. A blue scaled dragon, they recognized as the avatar of the Northern Kingdom, walked along the bricked paths, observing the Divine Guard on the ground as it meandered towards the large gates cut into each of the seven sides of the temple. To the south, a large sailing ship was docked, soldiers disembarking with their gear. Nearby, a long sea serpent, the avatar of the Ocean Kingdom, hauled it’s massive form out of the ocean and onto land.

Hualpa’s body leaned forward into a steep dive. As she closed with the land, her mighty, feathered wings beat, slowing them into a gentle landing. Nearby, Divine Guardsman wearing the fur lined armor of the Kingdom of the Frozen North shielded their eyes from the dust. Bharash and his men climbed down and the avatar stood upright again. Once more, they could hear her voice in their heads, Wait here. I must commune with my divine brothers and sisters inside the temple.

The avatar turned and walked resolutely towards the large gate in the nearby temple wall, above the doors they could see the sigil of Hualpa carved into the stone. Bharash ordered his unit to unpack and set camp in the grass amongst the gardens, near to the gate. As the hours passed, other avatars and their retinue arrived. The ivory white dragon of the Kingdom of the Frozen North, the golden scaled avatar of the Western Kingdom, the bronze scaled serpent of the Eastern Kingdom and the blood red avatar of the Kingdom of Air arrived to join the other three. each, in turn, entered the temple while the Divine Guard of their kingdoms waited outside.

As the sun set, cooking fires began to sprout up. The party wandered through the neighboring camps, greeting their brothers in arms and exchanging news from their lands. The guards of the other kingdoms reported similar stories to the ones the party had seen. An overwhelming attack on their capitals. Murder and destruction in every major city. Armies of creatures swarming the land. Among the survivors of the Kingdom of the Frozen North, Rock found his old mentor, the longtooth shifter Thorn.

Scith wandered away from the party and the others, seeking the peace and the solitude of nature in the gardens. On the south side of the island, in The garden dedicated to Hualpa, flowers and trees from the across the Southern Kingdom were gathered together and grew in concert. Lightning bugs flitted between the trees and the shrubs. At the center of the gardens, Scith found a small statue, carved in Hualpa’s likeness. At it’s base was an inscription, written in the same ancient language as the other two they had found before. Taking a moment, she made a rubbing of the inscription and carried it back to her camp along with the others.

In the morning, the sun rose in the east like it did every day, unaware of the destruction burning the world below. There, in the shadow of the temple and amongst the gardens of the divine, the party found the first restful sleep they had in days. As they finished breakfast, they heard the voice of Hualpa once more, Guard of the Divine, enter the holy temple, I would speak to you again.

At the other campsites around the temple, they could see the other Divine Guard rising and casting uncertain looks at the others as they headed for the temple. It was clear they had all received similar messages.

Pushing through the massive doors, they entered the temple for the first time. Inside the single massive room, Hualpa and the other avatars stood around the perimeter of the room near the entrances they had each used. Behind the avatars, a pedestal carried the seal of each of the Divine Beings. Beyond them the center of the room curved down into a bowl where a blue, magical fire burned. The walls of the bowl glittered in the light and, on closer inspection, they realized it was inlaid, golden text, written in the ancient language of the divine.

Along the exterior walls, a detailed mural showed the arrival of the avatars and another, eighth, black scaled dragon. Around the room, the mural showed the dragons battling and defeating the forces of chaos. Troublingly, a later portion showed the black dragon, larger and more menacing than before, leading an army of twisted creatures against the avatars. The mural eventually showed the avatars defeating the dragon and it’s minions, sinking the lands beneath the sea in the process.

Heroes of the Southern Kingdom, as your kind has proven time and time again, it is truly the mortal races of is world that are it’s saviors. Once again, you stand ready to real the world back in from the brink. The avatars of the seven kingdoms will do our part. The forces arrayed against you are greater than you know; the evil of the great dragon, Malak Al-Maut, has returned though we long believed him defeated.

We underestimated him before and your world has paid dearly for our arrogance. We will begin a ritual to create a more permanent solution. We will sever his evil from this world permanently. The forces of chaos will be able to detect our plan as soon as we begin, however. Malak Al-Maut will spare no expense to disrupt our efforts. You and the others of the Divine Guard must fulfill your oaths once more, you must ensure that no creature gains access to this temple until we have completed our ritual.

“Our lives are yours, Divine Hualpa.” Bharash’s voice was steady with confidence, but even he cast his eyes around the party, searching each of their faces for confirmation. None flinched from his gaze. “We will ensure you complete the ritual.”

Then we will begin immediately. Go with my blessings, heroes. You are truly a testament to the strength of the mortal races. The heroes felt a wave of energy wash over them. The pain from their wounds lessened. The fatigue from the last few days disappeared. They could feel the energies of Hualpa’s blessing fill their beings.

The players were given the Blessing of Hualpa. Each had one charge that they could use once at any time during the last battles. The blessing would grant them an additional action, just like an Action Point, would let them immediately use a Healing Surge and would also allow them to regain one spent Daily Power. This was a pretty powerful blessing but, I thought, the final battle was pretty tough and this would help balance it back in their favor. As it turned out, I could have and should have made the final battle much tougher. None of the players ended up needing the blessing at all!

Bharash and his men filed out of the temple as the others did, each using the massive entrance built for their avatar. Outside on the landing, the dragonborne took a look around at each of the members of his unit. Each met his gaze resolutely. “Prepare for the worst. The Avatars are counting on us. We will not fail them.”

Only moments after the massive doors shut, the first signs of the coming flood appeared. The wind around them died down and the light seemed to dim slightly. A wailing, soft  and distant could be heard. The air before them began to twist and tear. The first black portal ripped the air apart, a window to a twisting space of chaos. The first demonic, twisted creature burst forth as a dozen other portals tore into existence.

From around the island, the war cries of the other Divine Guard signaled the attack came from all fronts. Bharash ordered his men forward to meet the charge head on. The first wave crashed against their swords and shields. Spells arced overhead, explosions incinerated the features en masse. Every body that fell, however, was replaced by three more creatures. The portals continued to grow, allowing larger and larger creatures into the world. Winged beasts began to swoop from the openings.

As the battle continued, the horde of creatures did not abate. In the distance, a terrifying roar shook the island. Nearby, the party could see the Divine Guard of the Frozen North and the Northern Kingdom suffering under the onslaught, but holding strong. The voice of Divine Hualpa manifested in their heads as they did battle, Fight on, heroes of the Divine. The ritual continues, but Malak Al-Maut approaches. His most powerful minions herald his arrival.

Arrows, spells and steel tore through the flesh of the creatures. The portals around the idle continued to tear apart, larger and larger. From the breach, a large winged beast, seemingly made of twisting shadows, clawed it’s way free. It’s clawed feet cracked the ground beneath it’s weight, it’s size was nearly comparable to the avatars themselves.

PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Translation 2
NEXT: The Eighth One – Session 7 – Part 2
16
Aug
12

D&D: The Eighth One – Session 6

THE EIGHTH ONE – SESSION 5
Written by: GM           Played on: 19 Mar 2011
PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Session 5
NEXT: The Eighth One – Translation 2

The intimidating cliffs of the plateau outside of Throal, nicknamed the Throat of the World by the people of the Southern Kingdom, stretched over a mile into the air above the party. Taking a deep breath, Bharash’s orders his men to break out ropes, harnesses and climbing equipment from their packs. Preparing to climb, Bharash’s orders Rock to the fore and for a stretch of rope to be tied between each of them in a long line. Following Rock’s surefooted lead, the party begins the assent.

The climb is long, lasting most of the afternoon. They stop several times to rest and eat, giving them the perfect vantage point to overlook Throal as it burns below them. Finally, with the end in sight, a long, drawn out squeal fills the air. A dark creature, with the twisted head and wings of an eagle but the body of a lion soars through the air nearby, clearly eyeing the party as they climb up the exposed face. It’s cry draws the attention of several other winged beasts, including several larger ones bearing riders with long spears. As they fly in toasted the party, large spiders the size of small men crawl out fools in the rock and over the edge of the cliffs above. Bharash’s voice can be heard over the howling wind, ordering his men to draw steel and prepare to defend themselves.

Part of my inspiration for this set piece combat was in the old Greek tales of heroes, where the hero didn’t just scale a mountain, he scaled a mountain for ten days. He didn’t just walk to the next city, he marched continuously for three weeks with no food and no water. Plus, fighting on a vertical grid just sounded like a lot of fun and an interesting challenge. On the whole, I’d say it was one of the more successful combat encounters of the campaign.

The winged beasts swooped down on the Divine Guard clutching onto the wall and secured together by ropes. The party did their best to fend them off, but the limited mobility afforded to them being bound to the ropes and the wall made combat difficult. Sir Henry was ripped from the wall by one of the creatures talons, he flailed helplessly at the end of his rope until he found new handholds. Above him, it was all Bharash’s could do to hold onto the wall as the guardsman’s weight swung below him on the rope.

At the bottom, Scith glared up resolutely before pulling a dagger from it’s sheath and swiping it across the rope. As she tumbled away from the party, she spread her arms wide and whispered words in the ancient tongues of the forest folk. Her outstretched limbs thinned and sprouted feathers. Her clothes and weapons melded into her body. Her face and mouth stretched out, beak-like. Her body transformed into an eagle, a few flaps carried her up and out from the cliff face. With a high pitched screech, she crashed talon first into one of the beasts. Twisting through the air with the creature, the rider was thrown down to the ground far below.

Just above where Scith had cut loose, Cael hung from the end of the rope relying on the strength of the giant, Margoloth, above to keep him stable. As the giant swung his massive maul from one hand while clutching to the wall with his other, Cael unleashed arrow after arrow into the circling creatures. Another winged beast plummeted to the ground below, it’s wing torn apart by arrows.

Sir Henry and Inara cast spells from their perch on the rocks, splitting their attention between the circling creatures and the spiders crawling down the rock face above. Aunwynne scrambled to one side while Bharash’s moved to the other, with swords drawn, they fended off the poisoned fangs biting down at them.

Rock drove his blade into the nearest spider, peeling it off the wall and sending it plummeting to the ground far below. Looking down at the soldiers below, struggling with the winged creatures, he sheathed his sword and dug into his pack. Producing a length of rope, he wrapped it around his waist and tied it off both to himself and the original guide rope they were climbing on. Looking down, gauging his timing and taking a deep breath, he threw himself sideways along the wall. As he fell, the rope reached it’s length and he began to swing, directly into the diving path of one of the winged creatures. Through the thrashing, he managed to cut loose his rope and wound the spare end around the beasts head, using it as reigns to overpower and guide the creature.

Despite their difficulties, the battle finally began to turn. As the few remaining creatures wheeled away, the party completed their climb to the top of the mountain. Rock forced his mount into an unceremonious crash landing at the plateau top, driving his sword across it’s throat as they came to rest. The plateau stretched out around them, the city of Throal lost through the clouds below them. The only feature on the otherwise flat cliffs is a marble structure.

Approaching the alter, Inara stepped out in front and placed her hands on the carved sigil of Hualpa. Like it was just the day before, memories of her past life, of her many lives, constructing the alter to Divine Hualpa, attuning the energies of the Seal of the Feathered Dragon to the alter, the first time she communes directly with Hualpa through the holy portal. While she drifted back in time, the others spread out around the alter, vigilant for further threats. Scith stepped around the back of the alter, noticing that it had another inscription similar to the one they found in Haven. Taking a moment, she took a rubbing of it and stored it in her pack along with the other.

Inara turned to Bharash,”We must begin the ritual immediately, commander. I can instruct the others on the basics of the ritual, any devout follower of Hualpa can perform the necessary steps. Be warned, however, the forces of chaos will know what we are doing. They will be able to sense the powers we draw here today. They will come to stop us. It will take some time to complete the ritual and, when it is done, the alter will take time to syphon energy from the seal. We must ensure it is not disturbed. This is our only chance to resurrect the avatar.”

This challenge was built around the ritual. At the center of the map was the ritual site. Any player standing on the ritual site could make a religion, arcana or history roll against a moderate difficulty check to assist with the ritual. The party had to get a certain number of hits to complete the ritual. During that process, they would be involved in open combat against a never ending stream of monsters, so they had to balance the needs of the ritual against the needs of the combat.

I had three phases stated out, one group of monsters for the beginning of combat, a second larger and tougher group to switch to at the half way point and then a final Boss group that only appeared after they completed the ritual. For the first two phases, any time one of the monsters died in combat, they would a replacement would arrive on the edge of the map at the beginning of the next combat turn. Though the monster groups weren’t particularly tough, they had the extra strength in numbers. Still, I probably could have afforded to make the monster groups a little more robust as the players didn’t have much difficulty with them.

“Very well. Inara, take Scith and Henry. Instruct them on what to do. We will hold the perimeter.” Bharash turned to the others, pointing them to positions around the field as Inara instructed them on the key points of the ritual. As the Deva began the ritual, a great cry rose up from the clouds around the plateau, Bharash and the others turned resolutely to face them.

More of the winged creatures, bearing dark riders rose over the edge of the plateau. Some swooped overhead menacingly while others landed and their riders leaped to the ground. With a war cry, Margoloth began the charge. The battle whirled and waged around the plateau, arrows, spells and steel casting distinct arcs through the air. For every creature that fell to their weapons, two more cropped up to replace them. When the winged beasts and their riders fell, dark portals began to open and from them the armies of chaos streamed forth.

“Scith, to the north!” Bharash’s command broke through the ritual and Scith pulled away, leaving Inara and Sir Henry to continue. As she turned, the Den Mother unleashed a wave of thundering energy that washed over the creatures threatening Cael and Aunwynne. The tide of creatures continued to swell, lizard like creatures with taloned claws began to join the other creatures arrayed against them.

“Longthorne! We need your fire!” Sir Henry broke away from the alter, casting a glance to Inara, as fire consumed his hands. The Deva paid him no heed, continuing to focus the power of the seal, weaving it’s energies into the alter’s finely crafted structure. As she guided and weaves it’s arcane energies, she could feel the alter’s power begin to grow. Soon it began to feed on it’s own power, becoming self sustaining. She stepped back, a coy smile creeping to her lips for the first time in days.

As Bharash struck down a pair of the creatures, a large portal opened before him. As it receded, a small army of skeletons stood before them. At there center stood a familiar, cloaked figure; the necromancer from Haven. Behind him, Aunwyunne’s rage filled cry could be heard. Her short sword carved through the chest of the lizard man she was fighting and she charged across the battlefield towards the necromancers. Bharash’s voice raised above the din, rallying his soldiers to the new threat.

The necromancer hissed from beneath his dark hood and the skeletons shambled forward. Bharash, Margoloth and Rock shot to the fore, crashing into the first line of skeletons. Cael, Sir Henry, Inara and Scith cast arcs of fire, energy and lightning, incinerating their bones where they stood. Aunwynne slithered through the skeletons, her weapons snaking out to strike at the necromancer.

As the battle raged, the alter continued to brim with increasing power. So concentrated was it that it began to distort the very air around the alter and manifest on the physical plane. One by one, the nectomancer’s skeletons fell as Aunwynne circled and danced with the creature that had murdered and desecrated the body of her beloved Pop-Pop in Haven. Finally, she saw her opening and lunged forward. Her dagger buried in the creatures chest to the hilt. As it doubled forward and let out a pain filled hiss, her second strike from her short sword severed the necromancers head off at the shoulders.

Behind them, the energies at the alter reached a crescendo. Suddenly a massive explosion filled the plateau, knocking many of the warriors to the ground. As the dust settled, a mighty roar tore through the afternoon air. A massive, clawed foot smashed to the ground before a second bellow. Turning to look, the party gazed upon the shimmering green scales and feathers of the feathered serpent. They gazed upon the Avatar of Divine Hualpa.

Woo hoo! The first session to really end on an upbeat note.

PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Session 5
NEXT: The Eighth One – Translation 2
15
Aug
12

D&D: The Eighth One – Session 5

THE EIGHTH ONE – SESSION 5
Written by: GM           Played on: 16 Apr 2011
PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Translation 1
NEXT: The Eighth One – Session 6

Greatly saddened by her friend’s fate, but hiding her sorrow behind a strong face, Scith gently placed against Emmy’s stone face. Bharash consulted with the mages about the nature of the magic used by the necromancer while the others observed the large round room.

Along the walls, a detailed mural depicted the history of the Southern Kingdom after the Diving Beings arrived. One portion showed the war that waged for many millennia against the forces of chaos. Another showed the followers of the Divine building the citadel of Aurucania. The last showed Haulpa herself watching over the progress of the intelligent races as they progressed and prospered. Though uplifting, a dark feeling hung over the entirety of the painting that could not be placed.

Besides the mural and decorative columns, the room contained little else. Cael and Aunwynne checked the silver and gold chest that had contained the Seal of the Feathered Dragon. The craftsmanship was superb and it appeared to flow naturally out of the marble pedestal supporting it. It did not appear that it could be removed, indeed it had no handles or clasps at all to speak of. Near the center of the room, Margoloth observed that it was very odd that the statue of Emmy was placed on a raised pedestal in the middle of the room, as though it had been built specifically to hold her.

Bharash’s raised voice caught their attention. Inara stood motionless near the commander, her eyes locked somewhere in the distance, as though looking a thousand years into the past. Indeed she was. Though rare, the party had seen this before, the Devas, known for their many lives granted by the Divine, occasionally triggered flashes from their past lives.

Inara’s mind turned thousands of years into the past. In another life, she accompanied a party of Hualpa’s most powerful and trusted disciples into the untamed woods north of Aurucania. A thousand workers had labored for a thousand days to build the Temple of Haven, cut directly into the side of the great mountains. Built to safely house the Divine’s greatest prize, Inara’s herself carried the Seal of the Feathered Dragon to the temple.

In the secure chamber, the master smith provided the silver chest that would contain the seal. The Grand Inquisitor and the High Priestesses worked together to bind the chest to the room itself and carved magic runes into the pedestal at the center of the room. The Grand Inquisitor, the only human of the group, offered himself up as sacrifice. Standing on the central pedestal, the Inquisitor spoke in the ancient language of the Divine, though Inara understood him as well as if he were speaking the common tongue, “Divine Hualpa, I give myself to thee, in turn open thy secrets to me.” In a flash, the Inquisitor turned to stone and the chest cracked open ever so slightly.

Inara placed the precious seal inside the chest on the red velvet lining, then turned and signaled to the priestesses standing by. Between the four of them, they pulled and pushed the statue of the Inquisitor, lifting him from the pedestal. As he moved out of the ruined circle, there was a flash of gold light from the chest and it’s lid clamped shut. Retuened to flesh, the High Inquisitor gasped and collapsed to his knees in the priestesses’ arms, visibly shaken from his experience.

As suddenly as it had come over her, Inara’s mind returned to the present. “Remove her. Pull her down from the pedestal.” Her voice, filled with confidence, was unquestioned. Margoloth single handed lifted the heavy stone statue, Rock steadying it’s movement as he swung it off the dias. A flash of golden light filled the chamber and the silver chest snapped shut. Emmy returned to flesh in Margoloth’s arms with a loud wailing cry. Collapsing to the ground at the giants feet, Emmy’s voice fell to a soft whimper as Scith knelled by her side to comfort her. The young girl shook and muttered in the Druid’s arms as a cold sweat broke out over her body.

“Darkness… Darkness everywhere… So long… Emptiness… How… How long… How long…?” Awareness slowly returned to the girl as she locked eyes with Scith, though it did nothing to relieve her violent shaking.

“It’s ok Emmy, you’ve only been maybe an hour,” Scith tried to reassure her.

“No… No, no, no… The darkness… The emptiness… It stretched into eternity… I am lost to time… I have lived an eternity in the darkness and emptiness…the darkness and emptiness has become me… An eternity…”

Inaras expression softened slightly. “Her mind will return, in time. She perceived the world of the Divine, not ours or the Avatars, but the timeless, mystic plane the Divine Beings reside in. It is not a place for mortal minds. The Divine Hualpa forsaw the importance of her seal and so it was sealed behind powerful magic. It can only be removed from the chest by leaving behind a sacrifice, this girl in this case. Removing the sacrifice seals the chest, but it also forces the seal to return to it’s container.”

Sir Henry raised his voice, “You mean the seal we watched the necromancer take is back in that chest?” Inara nodded. “Excellent! Then we’ll just put the girl back up there and-“

“No, no, no! Not back into the darkness! Not the emptiness! Not for another eternity! No, no, no…” Emmy’s sudden, panicked cries cut Sir Henry off. Her sobs filled the silence between the party.

“This girl has suffered enough. We will not leave her to that fate again,” Scith growled, clutching Emma to her side.

“Someone must.” Inara stated flatly.

This was another moment of moral choice for the players. I was hoping the conversation might turn to one of the players volunteering to remain behind, to become the sacrifice, though it wasn’t required. Instead they immediately started searching for other ways to trick or force another into the role. Had one of the players chosen to stay, I would have had them take over running the monsters during combat encounters so that they could still have a significant involvement in the game. This would have also helped me out considerably as I was often playing remotely and the players were moving the monsters around on the battle map for me.

The group sat in silence, their eyes flitting between one another. Finally Bharash’s broke the silence, “Aunwynne, go upstairs. Find one of the Divine Guard that was badly injured in the attack. He will be our sacrifice.” No one said anything as the scout slipped away. She returned a few minutes later, supporting a soldier between herself and Eldar Solarin. “Put him up there.”

Though obviously in pain, the guardsman perked up as he noticed Emma moaning and ranting from the floor. “What… What is going on?” Aunwynne steadied the man in the center of the pedestal before pulling Eldar Solarin away as well.

“You will serve as Haulpa’s savior. Repeat after me.” The guardsman took some convincing, but finally Bharash’s command position convinced him to comply, despite his fears. The man’s voice waivered as he completed the chant, Emma’s sobs increased in intensity as his flesh was consumed in stone. Across the room, the silver chest opened with a soft click.

Moving swiftly to the chest, Sir Henry Longthorne flipped the lid open and reached inside. From the chest he produced a smooth, marble tablet with golden runes inlaid upon it’s surface. At the center, the sigil of the Southern Kingdom, the sigil of the Divine Haulpa, wrapped around a large, blood red ruby that glittered in the light of the room. Behind them, Eldar Solarin’s voice broke the mood, “What have you done? What have you done to Jorin?!” Emma’s sobs punctuated his words.

“We did what we had to. Take the girl and leave. Jorin must remain.” Despite Eldar Solarin’s protests, Marfoloth pressed the two out of the chamber at Bharash’s orders, followed closely by the commander and the rest of the unit. As they exited, Bharash’s plucked the two control crystals from the wall, sealing the chamber behind him. He passed one of the crystals to Scith and the other to Sir Henry. “Safeguard these. We will carry them with us to ensure the necromancer does not return to pull the same trick we did.”

“This is not right, commander. You did not tell him what his sacrifice would be!” Eldar Solarin continued to protest.

“He is a member of the Divine Guard. He will do as he is commanded. He will do what is necessary for Hualpa, just as you and the remaining soldiers will continue to protect Haven until relieved.” Bharash’s brushed past him, heading for Haven’s main gates.

“I do not see you or your men making the sacrifice for Divine Hualpa, commander. I pray the Divine proves you correct.” Eldar Solarin turned away in disgust, taking Emmy with him. Bharash ignored the old man, circling his troops and gathering supplies from Haven’s stores.

“Where to now that we have the seal, Inara?”

“We travel for the city of Throal, commander. Atop the plateau outside the city, a great shrine was constructed to honor the mighty Hualpa many ages ago. There we attuned the shrine’s powers to Hualpa’s divine essence, the Avatar of Hualpa and to the power of the Seal of the Feathered Serpent. Hualpa foresaw this eventuality and the shrine was built to allow the mortal races to resurrect the avatar should the need arise. We must take the seal there and perform the ritual to summon the spirit of Hualpa’s Avatar back to this plane.”

Gathering their supplies, the party once again marched out into the woods, determined to put the Forests of Bylgia behind them by the time night fell. Camping just off the road some time later, the party tried to regain some of their energy and treat their wounds. Though they slept undisturbed, the party’s rest was once again tormented by nightmares if twisted creatures and fire that threatened to consume the world. Waking early, they break camp and head for Throal.

Staying to the roads as much as possible, they pass signs of destruction everywhere. Small towns lie in ruins, inns and farms smolder from simmering fires, everywhere bodies and death litter the fields and the paths. As afternoon reaches it’s peak, a column of smoke indicates their arrival at Throal. From the hilltop, they can see the city burns. Winged creatures swoop through the buildings, occasionally diving into the streets below and rising with a figure clutched in their talons only to drop them back to the streets below.

I’m pretty sure there was another fight in there, but, honestly, it was too long ago to remember.

Pausing only for a moment, Bharash’s directs them down into a gully leading through the trees outside Throal. They will travel around the city to the plateau on the far side of the city. Moving cautiously, but quickly, the party makes their way to the base of the plateau without incident. Standing at the base of the sheer cliff wall, the party looks resolutely up, nearly straight up, the intimidating cliff that stretches a full mile into the sky.

PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Translation 1
NEXT: The Eighth One – Session 6
02
Aug
12

D&D: The Eighth One – Translation 1

THE EIGHTH ONE – TRANSLATION 1
PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Session 4
NEXT: The Eighth One – Session 5

Over the course of the adventure, the party encountered a series of stone tablets with messages carved in the ancient language of the Divine. The intent was to deliver some of the back story for the mini campaign in an interesting fashion that involved some player interaction. To that end, they discovered a translation key in the temple at Haven along with their first tablet.

Divine Text Key

First Divine Text

The first text translated as…

THE DIVINE BEINGS CAME FROM THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS A PLACE BEYOND TIME    WHEN THEY CAME THE WORLD WAS COVERED IN DARKNESS RULED BY PETTY BEINGS AND PLAGUED BY EVIL    THE EIGHT DIVINE SHONE A LIGHT ON THE WORLD BUT SO GREAT WAS THE DARKNESS THAT EVEN IT COULD NOT BE BURNED AWAY BY THEIR PRESENCE ALONE    THE SENTIENT RACES THOUGH PRIMITIVE RULED THE WORLD AND ONLY THEY COULD BE TAUGHT TO SAVE THEMSELVES

THE DIVINE BEINGS CREATED EIGHT GREAT AVATARS TO BE INSTRUMENTS OF THEIR WILL    EIGHT GREAT DRAGONS SET DOWN UPON THE LAND AND SOUGHT OUT THE MOST INTELLIGENT AND DEDICATED RACES TO BRING TO THEIR SIDE    TOGETHER THE AVATARS AND THE MORTAL RACES PUSHED BACK THE DARKNESS

EVEN AS THE LIGHT WAS ALLOWED INTO THE WORLD    THE FORCES OF DARKNESS WELLED UP TO MEET IT    THE BATTLE BETWEEN LIGHT AND DARK LASTED MILLENIA LONGER THAN ANY OF THE MORTAL RACES WHO WAGED IT    THROUGH IT ALL THE DIVINE BEINGS PERSISTED AND DROVE BACK THE DARKNESS BANISHING IT FROM THE LANDS AND USHERING IN THE LIGHT

PREVIOUS: The Eighth One – Session 4
NEXT: The Eighth One – Session 5



Archived Logs

Enter your email address to subscribe tothese logs and receive email notifications when new ones are posted.

Join 190 other followers