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Winter’s End: Sessions update (29-32)

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After tracking the cultists into a fortress at the end of a grotto the party blitz-assaulted their base and routed the forces. Villagers were rescued and politicking carried out. It was the magic on one of the girls who shed light on the leader of the cultists, Milel, being a mage of some sort. Milel had been feeding on the girls essence. The forces were tracked to their rallying point at Anvil Rock. A defense was prepared and battle sought that night. A mantlet assaulted from the front and scouts tried to infiltrate the rear. It was another rout. Too well-organized and supported by a pack of summoned Dire Wolves the cultists never stood a chance. Until Milel drained the girl almost to her death and summoned a huge earth elemental. It collapesd the fortress around them methodically. All escaped with minor injuries and camped in the cold night. Milel escaped and probably with what ever they were trying to dig up.

The Sheriff took the villagers back to their homes. The allies (Lorco, the vampire hunter, Dalldra, the axe-woman, and Artan the wizard) continued to accompany the party. They had split ways and were beyond the borders of Vrim. Milel’s forces were tracked for two days when it became apparent they were headed towards the Keep of Kentos. That was one of the locations the Vampire Queen Marcelline could have been. It was only another day and everyone was convinced it was no coincidence: Milel was her servant.

One night they were awoken by Lorco calling out, “Be gone in the name of the Rose.”
He had turned some form of undead creature. Perhaps a wraith or a shade.
Later it came back and Felghanis rebuked it – gaining command. It was cemented now that the queen had sent this as a scout – this Allip. With agreement Fel’ pushed it away and Lorco destroyed it.

The next day they were within sight of the keep. Spells and familiars scouted the fortification. It was stout with an outer curtain wall and inner bailey where the donjon sat proudly. At least 40 lesser undead guarded the walls and manned the gatehouse. It didn’t inspire confidence. They had to act soon. Kalista was able to make out their shelter from the walls with her Arcane Eye spell. That meant anyone else could see it as well.
As they prepared the buzzing they had not noticed caught their attention as it rose to a thrumming drone. Lorco whipped open the shutters.
“Swarm!” He yelled, and loosed a fireball.
Slamming the shutters closed he looked pale and scared. “Locusts… a mountain of them.”
They fell upon the secure shelter like some kind of dark wave and the party shuffled closer together, touching shoulders, looking nervously at the roof.
“They can’t eat stone. We need more protection,” Don’ said. “That spell, the one that shapes stone.”
The roof was under assault. A multitude of nibbling mandibles were working their way through the old seasoned timber. Kalista shaped the stone floor up into a dome with fine holes for air. It was only a few minutes before the roof collapsed and the locusts filled the shelter with their angry insect noise. The cold was too much for them and before long they were silent. Goran was sent out by Fel’ to find out what happened. The locusts were all frozen in great swathes of icy chitin.
Dalldra freed them with a few swings of her axe and the gathered their supplies.
“We have to act now.”
They advanced through the strong wind driven snow. As the ground turned rougher and more steep they stopped to prepare their forces. Kalista cast speak with animals and as she was preparing a summons something fell from the sky exploding in rain of burning oil and potsherds.
“Catapult!” It was Lorco who yelled.
They broke and ran for their lives. The girl, Nullia had fallen and it was Don’ who bound her wounds and hoisted her over his shoulder.
Chests heaving and throats raw from the icy air they gathered in a gully’s steepest point between two hard rocky outcrops. The rest of the plan was put into action and Nullia was left behind.
The dire bats were enhanced and the flew out into the snowy gusts.
As the closed on the wall, a mere 200 feet away, large arrows streaked into their flight. The first bat fell, and then the second, but the others were fast enough to respond to Kalista and catch the falling allies.
On to the walls they assaulted the watch tower. Inside they fought skeletons and Felghanis seized control of their animus. Then they stormed the gatehouse. Dalldra’s axe splitting the door in one massive strike. Here they found a Rot Reaver, running for its hide, and skeletons poured down from above – only to be struck to dust by Lorco’s turning.
The keep’s walls were breached and the gatehouse taken, but the donjon remained to be stormed.

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Kiltayre: Session 23 review, part two

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Lord Tovran had asked the rest of the party to lodge at his keep.

“You will be my guests and have my hospitality. Your services to Vrim are worthy and I wish to repay you in at least this way.”

When the party reformed they had been to the Whalers’ Retreat to find their arrangement settled by Lord Tovran and a message from Arthur.

“Lorco is looking for you lot. He seemed a little annoyed.”

Walking into the keep felt strange. They were moving up in the world. Guards eyed them carefully but were respectful. It was the retainers, Lord Mikhail Tovran’s knights, who were a little snide, but only the one named Freyald. They ate lunch and were entertained by a bard but Lorco’s annoyance was tugging at Kalista’s conscience.

“We should try and catch him. If he only left this morning he can’t be more than 6 hours ahead of us at most.”

Don’ agreed and they quickly assembled their gear setting off at once. They pushed hard across the foothills of the Great Frost Mountains and did indeed catch Lorco on a wide mountain trail. His distinctive hat giving him away.

Lorco was with Dalldra, the Corssiff mercenary, and another plain looking man, Artan – who bore the trappings of a wizard.

That night they slept in a Secure Shelter that Kalista conjured and were waited on by an unseen servant. It was a restful night not having to stand watch outside the warmth of the campfire. Heavy shutters made the hut defendable and strong. When they arrived at Highgate Monastery they were wary. A vampire queen was no trifling enemy. Even Jonas would be challenged, it occurred to the dwarves Aenir and Kellor, and would be careful in his approach.

Bear tracks were in the snow. Fresh and deep.

“It must be a big grizzly,” Don’ said checking them.

The creature had been lairing in the old stables. Inside the monastery they found it abandoned but in pretty good repair.

“Wait.” Felghanis was looking at the doors ahead. “I sense undead in there. Four of them, and strong.”

They carefully opened the doors and saw a large room with four translucent figures circling a raised pillar-like sconce, chanting in distant haunting voices. Lorco called to them and they talked.

“Bring us the abbot, let us have vengeance, for taking the bowl of Ath-Voarnus,” the ghost hissed.

Artan knew of Ath-Voarnus. It was a spirit, of sorts, that could prevent ageing and increase vitality to those that gave it services. Ath-Voarnus longed to be made physical and lured people to it wherever it went.

“Sumbrad told me of this in the Red Stagg. He is pursuing what he claims to be  the cultists of Ath-Voarnus and looking for their hideaway & temple.”

“Another complication, then, it seems.”

They talked at length and then settled in to wait for the bear. It would be worth a lot of coin.

 

 

 

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Kiltayre: Session 23 review, part one

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Allabrahni was in front of Felghanis’ eyes when he awoke. Her visage at once gave him hope and sorrow.

“You have earned a reward, Felghanis. What would you have that is suitable in the eyes of Araytor?”

“I would know what the Church want with the books,” Fel answered as the sleep seemed to wash from his mind and body as if born away by Allabrahni’s aura.

“That is unclear. It is certainly possible that the collection of the books are for their use, as you well suspect. What else would you know?”

“Where is Jonas headed?”

“To Dwarf Town. They plan to use the altar there.” The angel seemed to be expecting more questions.

“Where is the Titan’s Tear?”

“In the final tomb of the Hrimpursar elders.”

“And where is that?”

“At the feet of the Iron Teeth Mountains, in the silver forest. The trail is marked with stacks of carved stones.”

“How does Hydraxus fit into this?”

“Unclear, although Hydraxus claimed to be beyond the reach of cold when he claimed the throne of water on this plane.”

Felghanis was troubled. Hydraxus was a god, and on this plane? Does that mean the elemental lord of water walks Kiltayre? He shuddered.

“Will Araytor accept my worship?”

“Araytor accepts all worship,” Allabrahni smiled and gently caressed Felghanis’ brow as a mother might. “Be at peace and have Aid for this day.”

Felghanis was suddenly looking at the ceiling for Allabrahni was gone.

In Kalista’s room the young animist-wizard awoke.

“Ah, my girl. Araytor is proud of you,” Allabrahni beamed and took Kalista into an embrace.

“Now, what reward do you think is suitable from Araytor?”

“ I have given this much thought, and to answer the question: something to help me Defend the People and Reveal the Truth? The answer is myself. So all I ask is this: To have the Strength to Defend those that do not. To be quick of body and mind so as to act when action is needed. To have the endurance to persevere through the thickest of storms. To recognise truth from lies, good from evil, and for the wisdom to judge accordingly and lastly, the patience and pressence to lead the people to the truth and encourage others to do the same.”

“Of course my child,” Allabrahni touched Kalista on the forehead. A silver glow swelled and Kalista felt an energy surge through her. It was like her mind removed blocks and needles complexes – her soul grew.

When Kalista opened her eyes it was to a murky room without the safe warming glow of Allabrahni.

Don’ was already downstairs in the common room eating with the Dwarves. They all seemed distant and quiet, yet happy and content. Allabrahni had left a mark on their hearts and the enjoyed its lasting warmth.

“I had some questions answered,” Felghanis said as he joined them. He shared his impromptu interview with the angel to nods and smiles of approval.

“What should we do next?” It was Aenir who asked it once they were all fed.

“I’m not sure but my components are thin so I at least have to visit the markets,” Kalista said.

“The library likely holds answers for me. I want to know where the Iron Teeth Mountains is exactly and find out more about the Hrimpursar elders. Goran’s body needs to be buried. I can’t leave it there.”

“Goran’s body can wait, or someone else can take care of it, Felghanis.” Donhallan’s distaste for this was clear.

“What about the Scours?” Kellor aksed. “We might be able to catch them.”

“They’re too far gone,” Don’ said. “They have nearly a day’s head start on us and in the high plains it’ll be almost impossible to catch their trail.”

“You’re a bundle of joy,” Aenir mumbled into his beard.

Don’ scowled, “What we ought to be doing is finding out if Lady Sipran intends to go back to Vrim and then inform Lord Tovran.”

“Yes. Then let’s go see her,” Felghanis said.

“All of this is in one direction and we can stick together,” Kalista put forward, pleased that there was no need to separate.

The did so and at the Beaming Censer found the pompador they met last time.

“Ah, hello again. How may I help you?”

“We would like to speak to Lady Murelle, or Varnia, Sipran.”

The pompadour sat them in the lounge and returned shortly.

“Did you see an angel by the library last night, by chance"?”

“We saw a woman in a cloak,” Don said quickly, as Kalista covered her mouth in surprise.

“Oh. There are people looking for her and they’ll pay well to find her. If you see her do let me know.”

They were all distracted by the heavy footsteps of the shield guardian that shadowed Murelle Sipran to the lounge. Pompador left with a hurried bow.

“My young friends,” Lady Murelle said warmly but there was no smile.

The conversation was brief. Lady Sipran would be returning tomorrow.

The door of the Beaming Censer closed behind the last of them.

“She really had no idea what a treasure was passed down to her in the books,” Felghanis mused.

“It’s her dreams that bother me. She has so many that she can’t interpret them all. It’s sad,” Kalista added.

“Whatever the case she has been gracious and helpful. We will tell Lord Tovran.”

In the library they approached the keeper of books: the Blakh who was in four places at once. It smiled briefly.

“Is there a book on the Hrimpurar’s last tomb?”

“Hmm, this one may aid you.”

History of the Hrimpursar, Meyendir Aravalon – archmage & scholar.

The book was well-written and led them through many facts about the Hrimpursar, their society, and how they were exterminated by Kentos and his army. What stood out most to them was the Wunder Trial and how it was a requirement to enter the moot where debate for leadership of the clan could take place.

To Felghanis it was something else that stood out. Some of the elders who went to sleep, from which some would rise as Frost Titans, died or never came out of the last tomb. What if Hrimpursar had a ritual like a Baelnorn; undead guardian of a people? It caused tumultuous excitement but he contained it.

Brannighan was there for farewells and they left through the ‘private rooms’ of the Sipran family. Felghanis collected Goran’s corpse, two day old entrails fell all over him, and only Aenir would help.

Lord Tovran was pleased with their report and sent two servants with Felghanis to make the burial. He was surprised when Felghanis said he would bury Goran in the chapel’s graveyard.

The ground was hard and icy. With the rest of his party away Felghanis took a few spells on the shovel. It had been almost a lifetime since he’d unearthed a grave, or even dug one, and all that strength was lost. The servants were well used to labour and they kept at it far longer.

When Goran was interred Felghanis said a few words and instead of the normal closing line he replaced it with, “May Davinus watch over your soul.”

Something flew out of the grave. But it was so fast Felghanis thought he was seeing things.

One of the servants laughed, “That’ll teach him.”

The other answered, “Worshipping the wrong figure head. Everyone knows Davinus is the true head of the church.”

Felghanis was shocked. Not only did these peasants assume everyone knew that he felt something inside him. It was calling.

“Avenge me and I will aid you with the power of death.”

“What are you?”

“I am Goran.”

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Kiltayre: Session 20 ideas

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The players have encountered the “diversion”: a sword demon. A feararkh blade from the Pale of War. It has been giving them a serious smack down. All the foreshadowing of its power was ignored by one player and the rest stuck with them anyway to try and keep Felghanis alive.

Fate Points were burned! No-one has more than two left after starting with four each.

I think they can salvage it without spending more and technically they can’t spend more since the Fate Point wasn’t intended to ignore a blow and stay in the fight. It was intended to keep the PC alive after the blow and use the narrative to explain why they didn’t die. Good example is Kellor after being struck by Thiridea’s poleaxe. It certainly looked like the dwarf had his head smashed in but when they checked him Kellor was alive, unconscious and missing his ear along with a swath of skin off the side of his head – making the mess they thought was his skull’s contents.

Unfortunately I was caught up in the excitement and fear of the confrontation with the Feararkh and allowed, if not encouraged, the use of the Fate Points in that way. And to top off the bad GM’ing brought in Fenris as a TPK preventer (god mode Sue?). I reneged on that and ret-con’d it after the session ended. It was fairly pointed out to my face that was what I had done and although it cut a bit it felt good to “undo” it.

Given the party are in a bad tactical situation I have to think of some narratives to save the day.

1) The fate points already spent will still do what they were meant to. OOC explanation will be made up front to clarify how FP are intended to work and what the IC ramifications are going to be. That is PC’s will be “saved” by the FP already spent but still go down and look dead. In future that is all that FP will be able to do.

2) Intervention: there is a caster within the keep, Lady Murelle, who could intervene and possibly save the party.

3) Aftermath: FP based survival has the characters “wake up” to the aftermath.

I don’t know what’ll happen, and I have a few more ideas that I won’t list, but I’m hoping to get it back in the good zone after my GM stuff-ups.

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Kiltayre: Session 19 ideas

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The trial should be fun. There’s a bit of a twist in that for the players that will put them off balance and realise that the NPCs are actually thinking & strategising. Also one of the PCs will gain a visit in an uncomfortable way. I’m hoping to arrange a one-on-one time before the main game so this can take place. It’s possible that they party will try to intercept a creature they can’t handle so it will be likely that Fate Points are required.

But this is conjecture. The main thing is that a reveal is coming up which should really make it a bit more confusing about the main plot element, yet brings the realisation that much more is at stake than they realise.

Probably too much information but I have to put it up anyway.

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