Anyone running CZ:UW?

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Akrasia
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Anyone running CZ:UW?

Post by Akrasia »

Is anyone running Castle Zagyg: Upper Works in their C&C campaign? (With or without CZ: Yggsburgh.)

If so, how is it going? I'd be grateful for any 'actual play' reports, as I'm contemplating using CZ:UW soon (but without CZ:Y).

Thanks!
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Xaltotun
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Post by Xaltotun »

I've just started running CZ:UW, but it's wilth my old Mentzer Basic D&D campaign. I'm new to C&C and although I really, really like what I see in it, I haven't had a chance to run it yet.

But if you'd like to know how it goes, I could post play reports here.

Xaltotun

Akrasia
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Post by Akrasia »

Xaltotun wrote:
...

But if you'd like to know how it goes, I could post play reports here.

Xaltotun

If you have the time to post such reports, I know that I'd be happy to read them!
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serleran
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Post by serleran »

I have been considering it, but I am not the current gamemaster, so I just plot.
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Treebore
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Post by Treebore »

Buttmonkey ran it for a while, but when the license got cancelled he cancelled his game.
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Xaltotun
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Post by Xaltotun »

All right, great! I'm writing stuff up right now, and I can be a bit wordy sometimes, when I'm excited. There's a lot of background information and stuff about my campaign world, hope you guys don't mind. They'll get to the castle proper soon enough! I'll post the stuff here as soon as I'm ready.

Xaltotun

Xaltotun
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Post by Xaltotun »

EXPEDITION TO CASTLE ZAGYG (the Upper Works)

using heavily house ruled Frank Mentzers Basic Dungeons & Dragons

Player characters:

Eela, 2nd level female lawful good elven fighter/magic-user, 16

Borg Jrgen, 2nd level male chaotic neutral human fighter, 16

Chandresh Saini, 1st level male lawful neutral human monk, 14

Gronaldo, 1st level male chaotic neutral halfling magic-user, 15

Non-player characters:

Ambiorix, 2nd level male lawful good human fighter, 16

Arborus, 1st level male true neutral human cleric, 16 (soon 17)

Uda, 3rd level female lawful neutral human thief, 16

The background: the silver coin

Last autumn, during a drunken solstice celebration/hunting trip, local goblins had captured Borg Jrgens father Anton, a minor landowner, in the intention of sacrificing him in a solstice celebration of their own. Borg Jrgen, the prodigal son of the large family, sober enough to realize what was going on, gathered some of his friends that were still able to stand up, and went on a desperate rescue mission. With the ever logical and ingenious elf Eela, the shy, neurotic and trustworthy thief Uda, and Arborus, a wandering young cleric of the nature god Erugis and an expert in wilderness survival, they tracked the goblins through the forest to their lair, a ruined and burned old watchtower built by humans during war times. First by means of espionage and then by risking their lives in mortal combat, they managed to free Mr. Anton, as well as an orc called Tshashik that the goblins were holding as a prisoner in the tower. Grateful of his release, Tshashik gave a peculiar silver coin to his rescuers. The coin had the symbol of Zagyg on the other side, and a picture of a (Grey) Hawk on the other. He explained in the goblin language, that Eela and Borg Jrgen were able to understand, that he had gotten the coin from some other orcs of the Skull Crusher tribe, who had taken it from a place of great power and treasure. He also knew, that the Skull Crushers (of whom he was not a member) were able to enter the place, because the Curse of Fog and Frogs had been finally withdrawn. He could not care less about the Skull Crusher tribe, and thus hoped, that the coin would lead his young rescuers to wealth.

Borg Jrgen, ecstatic about the fact that for the first time in his life, he had impressed his father, quickly forgot about the silver coin that he held in his pocket. It was only after the winter, during next spring that he finally remembered the mystery again.

[DM note: This was not the first adventure of these characters; for Borg, I think it was second, and for Eela, third. I was ready to run CZ after this adventure, but the players completely forgot about the rather obvious plot hook, the silver coin. It was only after two more adventures that they remembered it again, and started working on it. During these adventures, they befriended and adventured with Chandresh, a young monk student from a far away land, with exquisite fighting prowess but no social skills whatsoever.]

Xaltotun
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Post by Xaltotun »

Researching Zagyg and his castle

Borg Jrgen took the silver coin to the best sages and scholars that he could find in his home city, and asked them about the coins origins. The scholars inspected it, and found that indeed was a coin made by the Mad Archmage Zagyg himself in the southern lands. A rare wonder, they explained, as the castle of the master magic-user had been swallowed by a cursed fog in ages past, and was thus impossible to enter. This alarmed Borg: only now he remembered the ramblings of the orc Tshashik, and knew that he had now spilled the beans about the treasure. He quickly went to Eela, told her what he had found out, gave her the coin, and asked her to ask about it from her teacher, the most knowledgeable ally they had.

Inullor Beech-stump, a happy-go-lucky elven adventurer and a magician, was Eelas teacher. Prone to drinking, partying, singing, and playing the lute, Inullor wasnt one to take life very seriously, but he had travelled most parts of the known world, and possessed considerable knowledge about legends and magic. Eela gave the coin to him, and his curiosity awoke right away. Weeks passed as Inullor searched legends about this mysterious mage called Zagyg, and his legendary castle.

Finally his research was ready, and he presented what he had found to the young adventurers. Zagyg was certainly one of the most powerful magic-users that ever existed (that remained in this plane of existence), if not the most powerful. Some spoke of him highly, while some claimed that he was evil incarnate. He had never allied himself with any king or faction, and no one knew who had been his teacher. What was known was that he had built a magnificent fortress for himself, in the southern lands of the crumbling Empire, in the sparsely populated province of Valorum. That fortress was rumoured to have been a place of high adventure and treasures untold, until an impenetrable curse had swallowed the castle, completely barring entrance to the place. What was strange were the conflicting accounts on the time when the castle had been built, and when the curse descended. Also, no one knew whether Zagyg was still alive or not. But all of this ensured Inullor that an enormous treasure lay almost in their grasp, and an expedition should be formed at once. He would not enter the castle himself, the semi-retired adventurer that he was, but he would accompany the young ones (who had never actually set foot on foreign soil outside the thick forests of their homeland) to the vicinity of the castle, guarding them from the wandering monsters of the lands. He would do this out of the chaoticgoodness of his heart, and to help his protg Eela earn her wings. If she was to become a protector of the elven people, this would be the anvil to shape her to greatness!

[DM note: I have always insisted on day-by-day travel, and rolling wandering monsters. This makes the wilderness outside of inhabited areas and roads a very dangerous place. Thus, PCs under, say, level 4 do not generally venture to the wilderness: to be able to do so is a sign of great power and skill.]

Xaltotun
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Post by Xaltotun »

Assembling the group

Quickly, Eela took to the job of assembling the group. All the adventurers who had been in the team that found the silver coin in the first place would have the right to join: thus, the core team consisted of herself, Borg, Uda and Arborus. In addition to them, they chose the brave and honorable, if slightly immature fighter Ambiorix, their old friend from many adventures, and the eccentric but jovial foreign kid, Chandresh the monk, known to be a fine cook as well. They tried to establish an even larger group, but many people they tried to reach were unavailable.

[DM note: I have a somewhat large pool of PCs and NPCs: player availability, in-game circumstances, player choices and my railroading dictate, which ones take part in the adventures. Now, my players know that CZ is made by the pen of Gygax, and they fear the name of the esteemed Dungeon Master like no other. Thus, they tried to make a very large group, excluding only those NPCs that they absolutely dislike, to maximize their safety. I ruled several NPCs absent due to the difficulties of managing such a large group. Seven is pretty large anyway, and it might grow from there when some of my now-absent players return to the campaign.]

As a last minute addition, an old friend of Inullor, the magic-user Kerendas Bullneck came to see his old friend. He presented his new pupil: a halfling magic-user! This is rare indeed, as all halflings in my campaign world come from one city: the Empires northernmost city Oramastor, where 99% of them are being held slaves. Kerendas, an experienced magic-user, had helped the halfling escape, after having sensed his potential for magic. He had heard that Inullor had these days pupils of his own, and wanted to introduce them. The halfling Gronaldo was thus introduced to the group, and his master Kerendas agreed to join as well, for the duration of the trip to the vicinity of the castle.

[DM note: can you sense when a new PC joins the group?]

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Buttmonkey
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Post by Buttmonkey »

I posted my campaign journal here:
http://www.freeyabb.com/phpbb/viewtopic ... llordgames

As noted by Treebore, I killed the campaign back in October when Gygax Games yanked the CZ license from TLG (boo!).
tylermo wrote:Your efforts are greatly appreciated, Buttmonkey. Can't believe I said that with a straight face.

Xaltotun
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Post by Xaltotun »

Departure from home

Thus, the nine of them left the City of the Yellow Moon in the northern forests, and begun their trip to the southern lands of the Old Empire. They would first reach the city of Oramastor in the province of Terravinum, west to the province of Valorum where Castle Zagyg lie, and gather more information about Zagyg and his castle there, as there were no known cities in Valorum.

They made their way southwards, all the while making getting lost-checks and dodging wandering monsters. A pack of wolves was just about getting ready of finishing the young adventurers, but Kerendas saved the day with a well-aimed Cone of Cold. A lone gargoyle, disguised with a robe, surprised them one night, and they winced in terror as they witnessed their non-magical steel not even scathing the demonic monster. The high-level NPCs [DM note: both 7th] again proved the group that without them, the younsters would stand no chance in the wilderness. They tore the gargoyle apart by Magic Missiles, but also the diminutive magic-user Gronaldo proved his worth by sending in a single Magic Missile of his own. When they were closing in on Oramastor, they furthermore got ambushed by three giant robber flies on the green, rolling hills. This encounter almost cost them Chandreshs life, but they prevailed in the end. Eelas new familiar, that she had acquired after having been granted the Find Familiar spell upon reaching level 2, the barn owl Arrak, named after a great elven king (and nowadays god) of old, scouted for them, preventing many an ambush by the best of his ability. By night they kept watch in pairs, Eela pairing with her newfound love Arborus. The relationship was the first of its kind for them both, but being shy, the kept it secret from the rest of the group, to the best of their ability.

After two weeks of roaming southwards they finally reached Oramastor, the city of wine, fertility gods, and enslaved halflings. Gronaldo had to make a disguise for himself, for although it was a couple of years ago that he had escaped enslavement, many would certainly still remember his face and the only spell he had was Magic Missile. There were a few privileged free halflings in the city, ones who had been bought or granted freedom, so a free halfling would not be a complete anomaly. Anyway, they settled on a story that Gronaldo was the slave of the group. They chose the tavern and inn of the Green Griffin. [DM note: I have a multitude of inns in the city but the PCs always choose the Green Griffin!]

While Gronaldo was completely terrified, locked in his room and not daring to come outside, the others scattered around in the city. They were looking for information; any clues about the mysterious archmage Zagyg or his castle. They talked in taverns, sought out bards and scholars, and Inullor and Kerendas went straight to the library of the magic-users guild. Not much information could be found here; this city was still too far away from the castle. They did find out that the province of Valorum to the east was a wild and sparsely inhabited place, only having a small administrative center, the castle Fortum Aguilum, owned by an order of religious knights. But what was best, was that when Inullor and Kerendas came back, they slammed a map to the table. A map they had found in the magic-users guild.

[DM note: this is when I slapped a map on the table myself. The player map of the surrounding areas of Castle Zagyg, that comes with the CZ:UW package.]

Together they examined the map. Little Hillwood, Grey Pools Mire, Old Castle Track, and the Castle itself. Places they had heard of, but not seen on the map until now. They made plans: they were to set off for Fortum Aguilum, the castle of the law-enforcing knights, to ask for final directions and pieces of advice. It was on the way, anyway. But Inullor and Kerendas came to the conclusion that they were no longer needed. Castle Zagyg was so near that the young ones could make it by themselves. They would stay behind here, in the Green Griffin, drinking, partying, and reminiscing on old times they had gone through together. If Eela or Gronaldo would need further magical tutelage, they would be welcome here again. Eela also instructed Inullor, in her trademark precocious elven teenage girl way, that should any of their friends from the City of the Yellow Moon arrive here in search of them, Inullor should lead them on to Fortum Aguilum and Castle Zagyg. That night, the group indulged in some drinking and partying in the Green Griffin with the locals, tasting the delicious and famed wine of the city. A local bard asked Eela to dance with her, and she agreed, generating feelings of envy and frustration in young Arborus. Drunk, he opened up to Ambiorix, the fighter, about his relationship to Eela. Ambiorix, having a little crush on Eela himself (like probably all male members of this group) listened silently. As the night drew in, the Green Griffin staff brought a large vomiting jar to the room, so that people could empty their stomachs and continue drinking. Eela, Chandresh and Uda retreated back to their chambers at this point, while the young lads Borg Jrgen, Arborus and Ambiorix delved deeper into the local customs of wine drinking and vomiting. Probably at this point Borg Jrgen realized, that theres something going on with Arborus and Eela, shattering his own fantasies, and making him look at the chubby and shy but otherwise adorable Uda in a different way

[DM note: theres going to be a lot of character drama, silly little teenage crushes and the like in this campaign. My players love that kind of stuff and I love it as well. Dont worry, theres also going to be combat, traps, curses, and searching for secret doors. I dont think these things cancel each other out.]

Xaltotun
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Post by Xaltotun »

Departure from Oramastor

So the group had shrunk down to seven young adventurers, and they left Oramastor in the fertile agricultural province of Terravinum, to the knightly castle of Fortum Aguilum in the province of Valorum. They would have gotten lost several times during that trip in the roadless wilderness, had it not been for Borg Jrgens considerable survival skills. The guy might blurt out the strangest comments, and act like a drama queen when hes in the mood, but he sure knows his wilderness and his goblins (Hes an expert of goblins, having battled them with his father and brothers practically since he could walk). [DM note: Borg is not a Ranger, although I do have rangers in my game. I just utilize a very simple skill system, and he had invested heavily in Survival. Hes not as good in the wilderness as a fully-fledged Ranger would be, however.]

They arrived in the fortress in a couple of days, and were given hospitality by the ever knightly knights, worshippers of the unconquered and just but warlike sun-god Zura. There they met the high-rank paladin Vladimir, who gave them the last bits of advice. He took the adventurers to a high tower of the castle, and from there, in the noon light, they could see the Little Hillwood looming in the horizon. The place was supposedly filled with monsters and horrors; no one ever went there, explained Vladimir. But, if they really wanted to know more about the fabled Castle Zagyg, there was one more place where they could go. The sinful and lawless city of Aquanerum, or Blackwater City, lay just a bit north of Little Hillwood, by the False Urt river. It was a place filled with thieves and cut-throats, but if someone had knowledge about Castle Zagyg and its history, he would probably reside in that cursed city, so infamous that it is not usually even marked on maps.

[DM note: thus I presented the players a final choice. They could head on to Little Hillwood and the Castle straight on, or they could dare enter Aquanerum, the city of thieves, to gather some final information.]

They spent a night in the knightly castle, and then made their choice. Aquanerum sounded way too scary for them. They would rather confront the Castle with the information they already had. So they headed northeast, for a trip that should not last more than two or three days. Just some hours into the trip, they encountered a lone rider, heading the same way as them. They stopped to chat. He was a fighter, slightly more experienced than them (they could tell by the level title sorry, I wont be translating those as we play the Finnish translation of Mentzer and I dont remember the corresponding level titles in English). Quickly it became clear that this guy was heading to Castle Zagyg as well. It seemed that the closer one went to the castle, the more the locals knew about the lifting of the curse, which was only to be expected. Gronaldo started testing his hiding in outdoors ability and fooling with the fighter, shouting annoying remarks and insults from his hiding-place in the grass. The group had time to squeeze some information from the fighter: he had heard that theres supposed to be an underground lake somewhere in the depths of the castles dungeons. But he quickly lost his temper and rode away. Ambiorix was quite disappointed in what happened and criticized Gronaldo, and some other team members as well. However, after a while, he felt bad about it, and apologized to everyone. Gronaldo, on the other hand, never apologized: he seemed quite pleased in his little trick.

[The fighter, called Ivan, was a random encounter that I rolled up and just winged on the spot. The players, however, seemed to regard him as an important NPC that theyre sure to meet later. Well, why let them down? They will surely meet the grumpy and self-assured Ivan, and his battle-axe Mir later.]

Little Hillwood drew close. Only one small village lay in our heroes path before it. They decided to enter. After some Charisma checks and failing none of them, the adventurers had succeeded in befriending the grumpy villagers. The culture and communication in this part of the world could be called pessimistic, fatalistic and overly dramatic. This confused the heck out of some PCs, but Borg Jrgen (who is very often smarter than what he seems like INT 16, but with attitude problems) quickly understood that this is just a part of their culture. Soon, they got the locals talking, and they heard even more rumours about the Castle.

[DM note: so, my players had skipped Aquanerum, where they might indeed have been robbed, but where they could have found out a lot of information. For example, they still hadnt heard about the manse (Dark Chateau), Zagyg imprisoning gods and demons, Zagygs connection to the East and the monks, or Zagygs desire to present challenges and derring-do to adventurers and seekers, just because that sort of thing amused him. I mean, they obviously shouldnt know everything, but they should know something. So I decided to be merciful rather than just, and I presented this village as the final place where they could gather information if their Charisma rolls succeeded and they did. I rolled 4 times from the rumour table in book 1 for them.]

In the village, they talked about which route to take to the castle. They had heard many rumours about the dangers of Little Hillwood, and of the dangers of swamps in this part of the world in general, so they decided not to take a direct route through the woods, nor to enter Grey Pools Mire and go by boat. The north side of the map got them scared as well, as there was the city of Aquanerum that they had developed a veritable phobia of. Neither did they dare to take an eastward route, as the sign in the map that marked the Tamarack Stand freaked the hell out of them. How scared can a PC get? Were they not obviously TREES, as opposed to, say, ropers or piercers? Anyway, my timid PCs settled finally on taking the Old Castle Track. Not a bad choice!

Xaltotun
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Post by Xaltotun »

Little Hillwood finally!

In the final night before entering the map and the Old Castle Track, Borg Jrgen insisted on taking a guard post with Uda, his new love interest, to get to know her better. To his dismay, all she wanted to talk about was Ambiorix, Borgs best buddy. He rightly deduced that Uda was completely in love with the brave red-haired paladin-wannabe. So, Borgs in love with Uda, whos in love with Ambiorix, whos in love with Eela, whos in love with Arborus, whos still searching himself. Im starting to like this. Only Gronaldo and Chandresh seem to be out of this midsummer nights dream, but the former remains a halfling and the latter does in fact have a Charisma of 4.

The following day they entered Little Hillwood. The unnatural and strange vegetation was at odds with the lively and abundant animal life. With Borg Jrgens skills, they quickly found the beginning of the Old Castle Track. The path, while certainly not clear, was not at all as filled with roots and thickets as the rest of the forest. As if maintained magically, the ancient, uncanny path beckoned to the adventurers to step on it. The youngsters were certainly scared, but Eela proposed a theory that there might be some kind of abjuration spell preventing the path from disappearing into the forest. Thus, the spell might also grant some additional protection from the horrors of the forest. A specialist in the school of abjuration, and a positive thinker, Eela already believed in the paths benevolence. [DM note: how right she was!] Besides, they had heard a lot of conflicting rumours about Zagyg, and were not at all convinced that he was as malevolent and mad as some people seemed to believe. [DM note: again spot-on!] Maybe he had made a magical, safe way of entering the castle. [DM note: well, something in that direction!] As the day was drawing close, they decided not to fool around, and thus they entered the Old Castle Track.

They only got to travel two more kilometres before the sun set. Right when the last rays of light waned away, they heard a prolonged, blood-chilling, inhumane scream from the depths of the forest, followed by ominous, primitive, rhythmic drumming! [DM note: thats the losels in the forest doing their rites I noticed how unnerved my players were, and decided to frighten them even more it worked! Although their first reaction was a quip Who dropped something in a well?!?, a LOTR movie reference, I could clearly see the fear in their eyes, mwahahaa!] Panicked, they set camp on the path itself, believing that it might somehow protect them from harm. [DM note: well, yes! Well done!]

As morning was approaching, Eela and Arborus had guard duty. Arrak the barn owl, the familiar of Eela, heard something approaching, and warned his master immediately! The two of them startled. Was the Old Castle Track not safe after all? There was some hilarious dialogue then, something like this:

Eela: Ill stay here to confront whatevers approaching! You wake our friends!

Arborus: No, Ill stay here, I can take them! You go to safety and wake our friends!

Eela: No, I care too much about you! You go there, I stay here!

etc, as both of them tried to show how they cared about the other and were willing to sacrifice themselves. That went on and on, until the approaching strangers had almost reached the camp. Eela cast her strongest spell, the Protection from Evil, and grit her teeth, ready to take on what was coming.

From the darkness, four pairs of gleaming, malevolent, red eyes appeared. Eela pleaded on Arborus to take out his holy symbol, asking him to try to call on his gods power to drive away the monsters. He took his wooden holy symbol, carved in the likeness of a man and a woman, joined at one side like Siamese twins. Calling on the power of the hermaphrodite nature god of wisdom and balance, Erugis, he shouted the classic phrase: Begone, foul creatures!, only to be met with a snarl and a volley of arrows. The arrows crashed on tempered steel of the adventurers plate mails and shields, leaving them unharmed. Goblins!, shouted Borg Jrgen, who had identified the all too familiar snarls.

The adventurers then charged to battle, fearing more arrows! Eela and Arborus led the charge, as they had been on guard duty and were thus armoured, but Chandresh the monk joined the charge, ready to enter melee with only his inner strength as his armour and weapons. The foolhardy Borg Jrgen joined them as well, screaming obscenities in the goblin tongue as his battle cry, only wearing a loincloth but brandishing his trusty shield and longsword that had tasted the blood of many a goblin. The goblins were caught by surprise! Chandresh grabbed one goblins shoulder, driving his knee to the monsters face, crushing its front teeth, nose and lips, but not succeeding in killing the creature. Borgs overhead cleave cut deep in the thigh of another, stopping only after hitting the bone, but leaving it standing as well. Eela used precision, driving her longsword straight to the chest of a third goblin, cutting through its heart and emerging from the back! Stupefied, the last goblin stared at the slaughtering of his brothers in arms, totally forgetting about the cleric Arborus. He held his mace with two hands, baseball-style, swinging it with all his might to the cranium of the unsuspecting brute. With a nauseating sound, the goblins skull cracked in two like a rotten hairy melon, revealing and unleashing the brain tissue within. The quick fight was over when the remaining two goblins, both wounded, threw their weapons to the ground and their hands towards the sky.

With two members in the group proficient in the goblin tongue, an interrogation was in order. Eela and Borg Jrgen asked, if the goblins had attacked them with the intention of robbing their valuables. The goblins vehemently denied, claiming on doing it instead to gain honor and glory for themselves, their tribe, and something or someone called Gubeezablu. [DM note: these goblins, that I rolled from the wandering monster table, belonged to the Kree-Gub tribe that has settled in the Mouths of Madness. Gubeezablu is their devil-god.] They told how their tribe had come to the dwelling of the Big Magic Man, feeling its call. They told how it had drawn all manner of creatures in: gnolls from the plains southwest, orcs from the wilderness of Valorum itself, hobgoblins from the eastern shores, kobolds from the north-eastern mountains, and goblins from the north-western forests that the PCs call their home. They all sought the power of the place, but in the end, with the help of Gubeezablu, goblins would be victorious and wear the skins of the other contesters with pride. They also told of big and dangerous things in Little Hillwood, swinging in the branches of the trees, but not daring to step on the Old Castle Track. [DM note: that's Losels, the biggest danger in Little Hillwood.] With no more useful information to be found, the adventurers let the wounded goblins go. Eela was a little bit disappointed about the goblin attack. Did not the path protect them after all, with the mighty abjuration that she had been suspecting? [DM note: Eela! Didnt you just hear a word that I said?]

And as the goblins fled, the first rays of the rising sun were just starting to emerge from the red-hued horizon

[DM note: thats where the last game ended. Ive got no more to post here until we play again!]

Xaltotun
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Post by Xaltotun »

If anyone has any questions about this game, the PC's, the NPC's, or my campaign world, I'll be happy to answer them here.

Akrasia
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Post by Akrasia »

Buttmonkey wrote:
...

As noted by Treebore, I killed the campaign back in October when Gygax Games yanked the CZ license from TLG (boo!).

Why?

It seems that there is a lot of adventure to be had in the CZ:UW box set, even if no additional products are published for it.
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Akrasia
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Post by Akrasia »

Thanks for posting your campaign log, Xaltotun. I hope to read it later tonight or tomorrow.

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Hrolfgar
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Post by Hrolfgar »

I started a campaign write up but after circumstances (economic mostly, like people moving away for work )have put that game on hold,

lost my enthusiasm. That and I didn't care for my write up .

I will try to write up the other sessions when I'm less tried.

I was using CZ:UW with the Yggsburgh setting and was happy with the results. CZ: UW and Yggsburgh have a lot of information, and required a lot of "homework" for me to use them. Using CZ:UW in your own setting, Greyhawk should be a little easier I think. CZ:UW is written better than Yggsburgh as well.
Akrasia wrote:
It seems that there is a lot of adventure to be had in the CZ:UW box set, even if no additional products are published for it
I agree with this, and product this good shouldn't just sit on self collecting dust.

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Post by Akrasia »

Xaltotun wrote:
...

Player characters:

Eela, 2nd level female lawful good elven fighter/magic-user, 16

Borg Jrgen, 2nd level male chaotic neutral human fighter, 16

Chandresh Saini, 1st level male lawful neutral human monk, 14

Gronaldo, 1st level male chaotic neutral halfling magic-user, 15

Non-player characters:

Ambiorix, 2nd level male lawful good human fighter, 16

Arborus, 1st level male true neutral human cleric, 16 (soon 17)

Uda, 3rd level female lawful neutral human thief, 16

...

The numbers at the end refer to the characters' ages, I assume? So everyone in your game is an adolescent? Yikes!
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Post by Akrasia »

Xaltotun wrote:
... That night, the group indulged in some drinking and partying in the Green Griffin with the locals, tasting the delicious and famed wine of the city. A local bard asked Eela to dance with her, and she agreed, generating feelings of envy and frustration in young Arborus. Drunk, he opened up to Ambiorix, the fighter, about his relationship to Eela. Ambiorix, having a little crush on Eela himself (like probably all male members of this group) listened silently. As the night drew in, the Green Griffin staff brought a large vomiting jar to the room, so that people could empty their stomachs and continue drinking. Eela, Chandresh and Uda retreated back to their chambers at this point, while the young lads Borg Jrgen, Arborus and Ambiorix delved deeper into the local customs of wine drinking and vomiting. Probably at this point Borg Jrgen realized, that theres something going on with Arborus and Eela, shattering his own fantasies, and making him look at the chubby and shy but otherwise adorable Uda in a different way

[DM note: theres going to be a lot of character drama, silly little teenage crushes and the like in this campaign. My players love that kind of stuff and I love it as well. Dont worry, theres also going to be combat, traps, curses, and searching for secret doors. I dont think these things cancel each other out.]

Ha! Amusing stuff. I get a kick out of this kind of drama, so long as it doesn't dominate the game. It sounds like you have some fun players.
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Post by Akrasia »

Thanks for the write up, Xaltotun. I quite enjoyed it. Your campaign setting sounds rather interesting.

I look forward to learning what happens once the characters reach the castle environs!
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Post by Xaltotun »

I'm glad you liked it Akrasia!

Yes, the numbers there refer to their ages... I require everyone start at either 14, 15 or 16 years. There's usually a couple of months downtime between adventures, so they will age and mature quickly. It just clicks with my vision of a first-level character. They're clueless and "straight from the farm". I know that not everyone agrees with that, but that's how I do things. Also, people are considered adults at 15 years in this world. That of course means nothing, they're just as immature as the 15-year-olds of our own world
My players are indeed very funny and cool, I love them!

The next time we play might be in 1-2 weeks (but still in May anyway). I'll post it up here immediately!

Xaltotun

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Post by Akrasia »

I have to say that I'm kind of amazed that not more people are using this adventure. Sure it will never be completed, but the box set is pretty amazing. It is my favourite C&C product to date. It would be sad if this were to sink into obscurity ...
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Post by moriarty777 »

Akrasia wrote:
I have to say that I'm kind of amazed that not more people are using this adventure. Sure it will never be completed, but the box set is pretty amazing. It is my favourite C&C product to date. It would be sad if this were to sink into obscurity ...

Sadly, the inability that many have had to getting the box set (due to limited distribution) causing in the insane inflation of prices for them since officially OOP are making this box set memorable for a completely different reason.

It's a great set, and though I was looking at the possibility of using it soon for a couple of different campaigns, player preference forced me to choose something different. It's there just waiting ... nay... demanding to be run though!

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Post by Xaltotun »

A couple cases of flu have delayed things a bit... but: CZ:UW game this Friday!

The player of Chandresh the Monk won't be able to join, so Chandresh will be a NPC this session. A new character will join the group, though:

Samuel, a chaotic neutral human thief, level 1, 16.

Samuel has two adventures under his belt already and needs only 4 XP to level up, poor guy!

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Post by Xaltotun »

Lost in the forest splitting the party

The goblins had fled. Ambiorix, often trying to be the fearless leader, goaded the group to keep pressing onward. And they did, going ever further along the enchanted path. The magical aversion spell started working, and the PCs started making saves vs. spells. Some succeeded, some did not, some recovered from the magical fear by a successful save. Sweat started to drip, their skin turned pale, and the swords they held shivered like reeds in the wind. Halfway through the path, the fear was too much for some. Borg Jrgen, Ambiorix and Gronaldo screamed aloud, as they failed their third consecutive save. They turned 180 degrees, and started to run back where they came from. The four remaining adventurers tried to make them stop, but for no avail. The two plate-armoured fighters and the diminutive magic-user disappeared along the path. Eela then made a new plan. Borg Jrgen and Ambiorix were both second level fighters; really tough guys by the standards of this group. They should be okay, and able to protect Gronaldo easily. The four that could still fight the fear-inducing enchantment should press on, and try to reach the castle. Arborus and Chandresh agreed quickly; Uda was not so sure, but she trusted on the wisdom of her friend, and agreed. Eela sent her owl familiar Arrak after the fleeing members, and checked the situation regularly, concentrating and seeing through the eyes of the owl.

Arrak saw the three fleeing with no intention of stopping. Their faces had turned red, almost purple, as they ran in their plate armours. Then Eela tried a trick; she telepathically instructed Arrak to sink his claws into the scalp of the only fleeing person not wearing a helmet; thats poor Gronaldo the halfling. Maybe the shock would make him come to his senses. One painful claw attack later, it was evident that that was not the case. Head bleeding, Gronaldo continued his frenzied flight, Arrak the owl still following. Eela decided that the rest of the group could stop and eat; thats what they did. After the meal, she saw through Arraks eyes that the rest were still running. So, Eela, Arborus, Chandresh and Uda continued along the other direction.

and they continued battling the fear. Arborus was about to crack, but then braced himself, finding new strength. Chandresh pressed on, slowly getting more nervous. But the stress was too much for the girls. Eela and Uda snapped, started screaming and running back. Arborus tried to run back for Eela, but the coldly logical Chandresh grabbed his arm.

Eela cried to her love, Arborus: Farewell, my dearest friend, for we might not see in this life again! Arborus replied with a desperate NOOOOOO, but Chandresh wrestled him down with his monk skills easily. We must go, he said in broken Common, Shell make it as well, shes strong.

The party was thus split in three parts. Arrak observed that Ambiorix, Borg Jrgen and Gronaldo had reached the beginning of the path, and they stopped their flight, collapsing on the moss carpet. Then he started flying around, observing the forest for any closing monsters. What the owl saw, was a lone man riding a mule, on the south side of the forest. He contacted Eela and flew closer. Eela was running in fear, but could concentrate enough to see through the eyes of the owl. And she recognized the young man on the mule: that was one of her oldest adventuring friends, Samuel the thief! She had indeed left letters and notes to all of her at the time absent adventuring friends in the City of the Yellow Moon, so that they could follow the group. Samuel had been one of those friends. Hes just a kid, like the rest of the group, but he has a morbid side that no one is aware of (he likes backstabbing a bit too much) and he is disturbingly chaotic, valuing randomness in life (his player often chooses Samuels decisions by dice!). But he is a true friend, despite all that.

[DM note: we played a short solo game with Samuel: after reading the letter, he had to pay a large sum of money for a caravan travelling south to Oramastor; then he quickly found Inullor and Kerendas in the Green Griffin; then he paid another merchant group to take him with them to Fortum Aguilum; there he met Vladimir the Paladin, and learned of Little Hillwood. And to Little Hillwood he went, then. Thats when Arrak saw him.]

[More stuff to come very soon!]

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Post by Xaltotun »

Mortal combat pt. I

Eela instructed the owl to try to get Samuels attention, and lead him to the three guys already at the beginning of the Old Castle Track. The owl landed on the head of the mule Samuel was riding, hooting and gesturing with his wings towards the forest. Samuel considered whether to kill or to obey the thing, but he settled on taking its advice. The owl led him on in the forest, and soon he met with Gronaldo, Ambiorix and Borg Jrgen. The two latter guys, who knew Samuel from long ago, were pleasantly surprised by meeting their old friend, and much hugging and back-slapping resulted. Then they tried to re-enter the path, but the mere thought of setting their feet on it made the three, now under the aversion spell, almost panic. On the other hand, Samuel could do it. They decided to follow the path again, Samuel on it, and the three others walking on the side. They knew that if the path offered some form of protection, now only Samuel would be gaining it, but they decided to take the risk, as they didnt have much choice.

Meanwhile, Eela and Uda were running back in panic, many miles away. Eela was happy that Samuel had now joined the group, with the help of her owl, but her happiness didnt last long, as they began to hear growling voices from ahead. Big, growling voices.

[DM note: I decided that the fear made by the path is a kind of fight-or-flight response: normally, you flee, but if you are forced to fight, you can stop and defend yourself, like a cornered animal.]

The two girls knew that this might be their doom; they had never fought an adversary with such a small group. They stopped. Uda stepped from the path, trying to hide in shadows behind the trees. Eela cast her protection from evil spell, and held her longsword and magical shield (+1) tight.

From behind a curve in the path, two hideous monsters approached. Barrel-chested, thin-legged, covered with long and thick black hair, wearing hides, wielding spiked clubs, and walking with a monstrous, shambling, heaving manner. [DM note: bugbears.] Seeing easy prey, two teenage girls, they attacked! Eela had time for one last desperate act. She remembered a magic potion she had been saving: a potion of growth. Now was the time to use it. She grabbed the potion and drank it, growing suddenly to three meters in height! [DM note: I made morale checks for bugbears, but they succeeded.] Then the monsters charged, one towards Eela, the other towards Uda, who had not succeeded in hiding. Eela blocked the spiked club with her enchanted shield, with sparkles sprinkling from it. Uda was not as successful, and felt pain as the other spiked club tore through her leather armor and lacerated her chest. The monsters attacked again as the girls cowered in fear. Eela took a small wound in her leg, as the brute tore through her protection spell. Uda could but watch as the other abomination smacked her skull with the cruel weapon. Bloodied, she fell to the ground. [DM note: Eela now thought that she was lost. In reality, she still had 2 hit points left. Death comes in 0 hit points in this game.] Then Eela could strike. She wanted to avenge her friend, and slashed the chest of her adversary in anger. The hairy beast could not block the strike of the 3-meter elven giant, and fell back from the meteoric blow, his ribcage now shattered and torn open. But it was not yet quite dead.

[DM note: at this point, I too, thought, that Uda would die. I took a look at her character sheet; yes, I have proper character sheets for NPCs, as well. And there it was: a single potion of invisibility, her only magic item. I dont even remember, from which adventure she had found it. But there it was!]

Stunned and bloodied, Uda rose up, seconds away from being mauled to death by the brute. She reached to her backpack, and took out the potion. After swallowing the potion in mortal desperation - pop! - She was invisible. Eela saw that from the corner of her eye, and breathed a sigh of relief. But now she had to fight both of the creatures alone. Dodging and parrying frantically, she managed to cut down the wounded monster, but got a crushing blow to her back as well. The unscathed horror grinned at the sight of the wounded elf-maiden; giant-sized or not, she would go down soon. But then, from nothingness, Uda appeared behind the monster. Risking it all, she drove her sword to the back of the monster, impaling it like a fish! In its death throes, it tried to get Eela with one final stroke, one that didnt manage to penetrate her protection spell. Then, Eela finished it once and for all, slicing its throat and making it suffocate in its own blood.

The girls rejoiced, emerging victorious from a battle that could have caused two character deaths. But then the paths fear enchantment kicked in again, the panic resurfaced, and they had to continue their flight westwards.

[More to come!]

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Post by Xaltotun »

Mortal combat pt. 2

East from there, Chandresh and Arborus pressed on towards the Castle. They encountered the two paths diverging from the main path, one going to the Dark Chateau, the other to the ogres cottage, but they pressed on, eager to reach Castle Zagyg at last. When the castle was almost in their sight, the aversion magic was too much for Chandresh, who bolted backwards. But Arborus went on to the very end, and was the first one to reach Castle Zagyg! Of course, he being a NPC, there was no big and dramatic scene to tell to anyone. He reached the Barbican, hollered to the men inside and got in. He told them that while he was the first to reach this place, there would be seven more (no, wait, six, because he did not know about Samuels appearance) to come very soon. He remained there, paying for his upkeep for quite many days to come

[DM note: I allowed Arborus a bonus of 300 XP for traversing the Old Castle Track in its entirety.]

Meanwhile, in the beginning of the path, the group of Samuel, Gronaldo and Ambiorix moved eastwards, Samuel on the path, Gronaldo and Ambiorix beside it. The trip went well, Samuel succeeding in his saving throws and all until something horrible happened. Two lassos flew down from the high trees, capturing the halfling and the fighter! Samuel the thief watched in horror, as his two companions were yanked up the trees by two deformed, simian monsters. But Gronaldo was not as helpless as the others. His mouth and hands still free, he flinged his signature Magic Missile, an undulating yellow bolt of power emerging from his mouth, towards his captor. But it was not enough to kill the creature [DM note: the monsters are losels, the demon-worshipping, man-eating ape-men of Little Hillwood. They cannot attack anyone on the Old Castle Track, and thus Samuel was safe]. The halfling was quickly pulled up the tree, where he faced the lasso-wielding mongrelman face to face. But Gronaldo had one more trick up his sleeve: another Magic Missile! [DM note: I force all magic-users to be specialists in one school of magic, and ban two schools. If the magic-user has a bonus in intelligence, he or she gets one bonus spell from his or her specialized school from each spell level, per day. So, while first level, Gronaldo, an Evocation specialist, gets one extra Magic Missile per day]. The magical bolt hit the beast in its face, making its skull explode in a torrent of hair, blood and brain tissue. Gronaldos plan had only one flaw now there was no one to hold the rope. He dropped. Miraculously, the fall did not kill him, just cracked a rib bone.

While he got up, Samuel had been peppering the other monster with arrows, but not hitting with any. Ambiorix was unable to free himself from the ropes, and he was pulled to the treetop as well. There, the beast-man quickly tied him up with more rope, grabbed him with one hand, and started to flee deeper in the forest [DM note: to sacrifice him to Demogorgon in an unholy ceremony of the losel tribe and eat his flesh afterwards]. Samuel shot more arrows, but couldnt hit the monster that was quickly disappearing to the foliage. In an act of foolish bravery, he stepped off from the path, and started to pursue the kidnapper. Gronaldo joined him. Being lightly loaded, they reached him, and finally wounded him, Samuel with arrows, Gronaldo with thrown daggers. The angered assailant left the tied-up Ambiorix on a tree branch, and descended down to kill the remaining two with his stone club.

Kill or be killed-time again; a wounded ape-man against a 1st-level thief and a wounded 1st-level magic-user. The exact details escape me, but although Samuel got badly wounded by a blow from the club, both PCs survived, and the monster fell, having its throat pierced by a dagger thrown by Gronaldo (who certainly proved his worth during this session!). The lucky heroes freed poor Ambiorix from the ropes, his pride more hurt than his body.

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Post by Xaltotun »

A Small Correction

Now I also realize that Ive made a small mistake: where was Borg Jrgen? Wasnt he with Samuel, Gronaldo and Ambiorix? Yes, he was, and the following bit that explains where he was at time of the battle against the losels happened actually BEFORE the last part, Mortal Combat pt. 2.

So, when Samuel, Gronaldo, Ambiorix and Borg Jrgen were walking on, or beside, the Old Castle Track, they met the fleeing pair of Uda and Eela, fresh from the battle against the bugbears. There was not much time for talking, but Borg Jrgen decided to follow the two back to the beginning of the path again, seeing as how they were both wounded (and wanting to look cool in the eyes of the girls, I suppose). Samuel, Gronaldo and Ambiorix continued on, and soon the losels found them (Mortal Combat pt. 2). Uda, Eela and Borg Jrgen reached the beginning of the path again, and being exhausted from the running, made camp there again.

Re-assembly

The group was split in four:

Arborus, in the Barbican;

Chandresh, running in fear westwards;

Eela, Uda and Borg Jrgen, camping in the beginning of the path;

and Samuel, Gronaldo and Ambiorix approaching eastwards.

Night started to fall. Arborus could stay in the Barbican with the bandits commanded by messieurs Cooper and Smith (actually, I changed their names to suit my campaign better, as I did with almost all the names in the advanture they are called Cupaefex and Ferrarius, approximate latinizations of their English names). Chandresh was still running. Samuel, Gronaldo and Ambiorix were mid-way in the old castle track, and made camp there.

While Samuel was holding guard in the night, they re-encountered with Chandresh, running westwards. He had time to yell that Arborus had probably made it to the castle, but then he was off again. During the next watch, held by Gronaldo, they encountered something more sinister. A pack of wolves approached them from the darkness. This would be a fight they could not win by any means, so they tried their best not to aggravate the animals. Gronaldo, with ranks in the secondary skill/nonweapon proficiency/whatchamacallit of Animal Knowledge, gave his companions tips in what NOT to do.

[DM note: I made a reaction roll, and gave it a +1 because of Gronaldos Animal Knowledge. It resulted in the wolves being friendly.]

The wolves studied the camping adventurers a while, but decided not to attack. Instead, they began sniffing on the path, and disappeared west. Although they had eluded the immediate danger, this was bad news for the group: the wolves might reach Chandresh! Frustrated, but not willing to compromise a companion, the three campers made a decision: they should go west as well, to protect their fleeing companion(s) and re-assemble the group again. There they went, with only a couple of hours sleep behind them, muscles aching.

[DM note: I liked how scared they were, and how their plans became foiled, but decided that the wolves would not reach Chandresh, in the name of Fairness.]

In the middle of the night, Chandresh reached the beginning of the Old Castle Track, and the camp of Eela, Uda and Borg Jrgen. He fell to the ground, immediately asleep. When morning was approaching, the group of Samuel, Gronaldo and Ambiorix reached the place as well. The group was together again, only without Arborus, who (unbeknownst to them) had made it. But they were in the beginning of the path again. They were frustrated, angry and bitter much ado for nothing! However, me and the players found much comedy in the situation as well!

[DM note: What I learned was how a simple game mechanic, like the Old Castle Track, can do incredibly many things. I was actually reminded of the Tomb Of Horrors, where the dungeon splits the party again and again, and brings them back to the starting point, to their great frustration. While the path appears to be a blessing (protecting the party from the losels), it now seemed more like a curse to me, with the mighty power of splitting the party, and pummelling them down with wandering monsters. Just compare the wandering monster frequencies: on the path, 1/6 chance of a monster, checked ONCE PER MILE TRAVELED. Off the path, 1/5 chance of a monster, checked ONLY 2 TIMES IN THE DAY.]

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Post by Xaltotun »

A Day Of Rest

Using the wilderness and travel rules of the Mentzer Expert Set, I had noticed that the PCs had overdone their allowance of daily travel. Under these rules, if you travel 100-150% of your daily maximum during a day, you are using forced march, and youll have to rest the following day in its entirety. So, either willingly or unwillingly, almost everyone had exceeded their limit, and now they should rest one day.

[DM note: from the battle against the losels, Samuel had gathered up enough XP to actually level up to level two (he was only 4 points short). But I require levelling up to take months of training, usually in a city. Samuel wasnt willing to retreat now; he would stay with the group. He could gather XP to the limit of being a single experience point short of level three, after which he would gain no more XP until he had done the training and levelled up to level two.]

While resting in the camp, the emotions of our heroes were mixed. They had survived battles with horrible creatures, but they had made no progress. Many of them were wounded, some very heavily. Uda, Samuel and Gronaldo were in especially bad condition, just resting immobile on the moss carpet, with faces pale and oily. Borg Jrgen, our very own drama king, mistook Uda resting side by side with Samuel as a sign of affection between the two, and that made him sour and even more frustrated. But worst of all, Arborus was missing. He was an able fighter, strong and quick, but the blessings of his god, Erugis, were not upon him yet. [DM note: clerics get spells from level 2 on in this version. Actually, the 300 XP that I had awarded Arborus for reaching the Barbican had put him to level 2, but without the proper training, as with Samuel, he would remain level 1.] Eela, although very happy of her personal triumph over the bugbears, was of course extremely worried of her boyfriend. She stayed silent, hoping for the best but fearing of the worst. She had heard the rumour about clerics having no business in Castle Zagyg and that was unnerving her the most. But perhaps it was a false rumour, she thought, made to scare clerics away? Maybe clerics were the only ones who could actually prevail against the Castle and the Mad Archmage? After all, it usually is the power of the gods, that scares magic-users the most.

[DM note: it seems that while there are many courageous heroes in this group, Eela seems to be the most ambitious and power-hungry, a real risk-taker. Chandresh is very brave, almost foolhardy, because of his faith in his Inner Strength; Ambiorix is extremely brave, but unwilling to risk the lives of his friends he acts by a code of honour, not because of any real ambition; Samuel is brave, but hes in it for the excitement; Gronaldo is somewhat brave, while being smart about it; Borg Jrgen and Arborus are cautious survivors who will probably live to fight another day, and Uda is not very brave at all, unless constantly supported by her friends.]

Water supplies and rations were still looking good, so now they only had to fear the monsters of Little Hillwood. Gronaldo and Eela studied spells from their spell books, and had a small discussion about the schools of magic. The extrovert, borderline-crazy halfling specializes in flashy Evocations, while the meticulous elf specializes in the school of Abjuration, the better to shield herself from harm.

During the day, a large group of travelling people found the camp of our heroes. The adventurers were ready, having been warned by Arrak the Owl, Eelas Familiar. These rugged grown-up men were woodcutters, cutting select hardwoods to be skidded by an ox to a river barge for transport. While they numbered in almost 30, they had no desire to fight youngsters armed with swords, bows and plate armours. These outcasts and outlaws made their living by trading with the equally shady rivermen of the False Urt, the infamous Swamp Rats. They had a brief discussion with the camping glory-seekers, during which our heroes became aware of the Swamp Rats, as well as the fact that there seemed to be at least some boat travel on the False Urt. The rest of the day proceeded uneventfully

[DM note: I think this was where this session ended. Now, a third session has already taken place, and guess what during that session the group finally reaches Castle Zagyg! Stay tuned my Castle-keeping & Crusading friends!]

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Post by Xaltotun »

Meeting the Elves

Next morning, before our adventurers had time to move out, they met another group of travellers. A large group of wood-elves was moving through the area, inspecting the trail of the woodcutters. They noticed the camping adventurers, surrounding them in no time, bows and arrows ready. The situation seemed volatile until Eela stepped forward, first addressing the strangers with the common tongue, so that the whole group would understand the conversation. The elves, while proficient in common, showed their attitude by sticking to the elven language. Realizing whos the boss, Eela quickly changed to elven language herself. Only after that, the gruff elves started calming down: meeting this well-mannered and pretty elf-maid reminded them of their original homelands in the northwest. Eela told about the groups intentions of sneaking into Castle Zagyg to loot whatever they can find, and how they had battled with and slain monsters of the Little Hillwood two days ago. The elves told about their camp east of the False Urt River, and how they, under Ember Raventree, were the lords of that forest there. They gave a warning: the monsters that the adventurers had met thus far were nothing compared to the true horror of the Little Hillwood: the infamous werewolf who haunted the hills. This creature, a lycanthrope so ferocious and devious, was what the elves truly feared. It would still be a couple of days until full moon, but on that night, the adventurers would better sleep somewhere safe. As a final gesture of goodwill, the elves granted the adventurers the right to trespass the eastern forest, and perhaps even stay there overnight should they feel the need. But then they were on their way, and the adventurers were on their own again.

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