The Barons of Bellevue

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The Barons of Bellevue

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This thread will be for sharing the goings on in my local gaming group, The Barons of Bellevue.
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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

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The group began in January 2015. As of December 2018 the group consists of Andy, Devin, Don, Jeff, Morgan, Todd, and myself. Of the current seven members, Jeff, Morgan, Todd, and myself are original. Don joined us two years ago. Andy joined about six months ago. Devin joined about two months ago. There have been at least a half dozen other players come and go since the group started.

We are currently playing a Castles & Crusades campaign set in Aihrde. I'm the Castle Keeper (CK, DM, GM, Screen Monkey, etc) for the campaign. The campaign started in the summer of 2018 with the players generating 1st level characters. So far there have been three PC deaths: an assassin, a knight, and a monk. Another character, a bard, departed the adventuring group as the player wanted to try his hand at another class. The party, all still 1st level characters, consists of two human clerics of different faiths, a dwarf barbarian, a dwarf paladin, a human ranger, and a human wizard.

The group meets every other Sunday, barring interruptions with work or holidays, etc., from 1 PM to 5 PM. The relatively short sessions and a few missed opportunities by the characters contributed to the slow advancement... which is fine by me. When characters in my games advance levels, the players know they earned them.

Right now the characters are in the midst of C&C module A0 - The Rising Knight. They inadvertently set off an alarm before descending to the second dungeon level seeking Gritznak, a big, nasty gnoll running a protection scheme for tribute upon surrounding villages. On the second level, the party took out a few goblins and kobolds before running into a large number of goblins and a gnoll. After a brutal fight only 1 PC, a 0-level NPC, and a disgustingly obese and cowardly goblin cook they spared remain conscious. Regular patrols or bad guys will be combing the dungeon passages due to the alarm that sounded. Will the party survive the experience?
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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

Post by maximus »

Very cool, thanks for sharing. It will be nice to see some life back in the forum.

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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

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The lone conscious PC, and barely that at 0 hit points, is Vulrog, a once dandy looking dwarf paladin. As Vulrog and his loyal henchman, Kiint, a former leper whom Vulrog cured, discussed their predicament, they heard a clearing of the throat noise from down the hallway where sixteen goblins very recently met their ends. Vulrog and Kiint looked down the hall and saw the disgustingly obese and sweat-covered goblin cook peering around the corner.

The goblin thanked the dwarf directly for sparing his life then commented on the poor shape of the party. He stepped around the corner and slowly waddled down the corridor with his hands out to his sides to show he was unarmed. The goblin resembled a short waterbed with the way its flesh jostled and swayed as it moved. The goblin stopped roughly twenty feet from Vulrog and again thanked the dwarf for sparing is life though, in all honesty, some of the other PCs were involved in the decision. The goblin then offered to help the party in return for not killing him.

Vulrog asked how the goblin would help him and the party. As soon as the question was finished, the goblin waddled up to the dwarf, extended his hand, said that the other goblins call him Skinny, and waited for the dwarf to shake his hand. The dwarf did not react. Skinny spoke again, saying that if he and the dwarf were to negotiate his help then introductions should be made. It was a full two minutes before Vulrog extended his hand. Kiint immediately followed suit.

Skinny told Vulrog that he can revive sufficiently the party members so that they can "leave this place" or carry another out. Vulrog asked how this is done. Skinny replied that before anything else is said, Vulrog and Kiint must swear by the names of their gods and upon the name of Unklar to the following:

1. No one in the party will, in any way, cause harm to befall Skinny
2. No one in the party will, in any way, cause harm to befall the permanent structures and features of this place
3. No one in the party will divulge, in any way, that it was Skinny who helped the party and how that help was granted

Vulrog was fine with swearing by The All Father but wanted nothing to do with the name of Unklar. Skinny shrugged, the flab around his shoulders rippled, and said simply, "Those are the conditions for my help." Vulrog tried unsuccessfully to have Skinny relent on the Unklar requirement. Skinny countered by reminding Vulrog that time is precious since more patrols could happen by at any time. Vulrog was unmoved. Skinny then asked Vulrog what would serve the greater good: refusing to swear an oath upon the name of Unklar or saving the lives of his six companions. This was when Vulrog agreed. Both the dwarf and his servant swore the oaths as Skinny required.

The paladin asked how Skinny would help. Skinny replied that part of the reason why Gritnak's forces were so successful is that they have a good cook! Skinny then told Vulrog that each person Vulrog wanted revived would need to add the pinky finger of the left hand to the contents of his cauldron. Vulrog would be required to personally amputate the fingers.

The dwarf looked as though he hadn't quite understood what was said.

When he could bring himself to speak, Vulrog offered his own pinky finger rather than those of the unconscious party members. Skinny replied that it didn't work that way and besides, the dwarf was already conscious and didn't need reviving. Vulrog hesitated. Skinny said, "The choice is yours. You can have one, some, or all revived as you see fit... but I remind you that time is short."

After a few minutes, Vulrog decided that he did not want resentment from any party members if some had a finger removed while others did not. The paladin then amputated the left hand pinky fingers of the two clerics, the ranger, the barbarian, and the two wizards. Skinny clapped his hands quickly and quietly while the large sacks of flab hanging from his triceps quivered. Vulrog handed the bloody fingers to Skinny. The fat goblin sniffed them, said, "This will be a treat," and waddled down the corridor back to his cauldron. Skinny called to Vulrog, "Bring the one you want revived first."

Skinny tossed the fingers into the mostly full cauldron and stirred the contents. He used a ladle to sample the stew, shudder slightly, cut his eyes to Vulrog then say, "Aaaahhhh... soooo sweet!" Skinny went to one of the wizards Kiint had dragged to the cauldron, placed a hand under the back of his head then poured broth into the young man's mouth. The wizard began to wake, crying out as he did due to intense pain in his left hand. Each party member was revived in the same manner.

Kiint helped to support Vulrog as the group made ready to leave the dungeon. Skinny waddled up to Vulrog and told him that the oath he swore also binds those who received his help but how that matter is discussed would be left to the dwarf. Skinny then said, "Leave now while you still have time, my friend." As the adventurers walked slowly away, one of them looked back and saw Skinny take a cleaver, sever a dead goblin's arm at the elbow, and toss it into the cauldron.

The party encountered no patrols on its way out of the dungeon. Vulrog collapsed some forty feet from the exit.

"What did you do!?!" Rif, cleric of Augustus, shouted. Vulrog explained the deal he made to save their lives and how each of them were now bound by its terms. None of them were pleased. Rif swore loudly. Ulric the barbarian muttered to himself as was his habit. Eribus and Menlaus the wizards said nothing. Rif grabbed the exhausted Vulrog by an ankle and dragged him through the forest until the party found a place it could rest for the night.
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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

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The party traveled until they found a place to hide and set up watches. When the party was settled, Rif, greatly angered over now being bound by a promise to Unklar made on his behalf, punched Vulrog who immediately passed out. Eribus and Menlaus remained quiet. Kiint, the helpful 0-level NPC with the most hit points remaining, a whopping 3, took a double watch, first and second shifts, to let others have more rest. Luckily for the party, nothing disturbed them during the night.

Just after dawn, the wizards walked some 30-40 paces away to spend time in their spell books. Kiint, very tired after the events of the previous day and night, slept while the others started to wake. As Vulrog began to stir, Rif punched him again and he immediately passed out. One thing I've learned while running this adventure: don't ever F with Rif.

A few minutes after Vulrog was KOed, Eribus' voice was heard from where he stood, still some 30-40 paces distant. He held his disfigured hand towards the sky while invoking the name of his god, Aristobulus. As he did so, he extended his right hand and a blast of white light streaked from it to slam into Vulrog's head. The party was caught completely off guard by this. Until this point, Eribus had been a slightly whimsical sort, curious about new experiences, especially if magic was suspected. A few seconds later, another blast of white light struck Vulrog's head. Another cleric in the party, whose church is no friend to Unklar, checked Vulrog for a pulse and found one... barely. A third blast of light found Vulrog's head and shattered it like a melon.

Due to noise and activity, Kiint began to wake from his deep sleep. By the time he wearily muttered, "What --", Rif's morningstar caught him square in the side of the head, cracking his skull. Kiint dropped like a sack of wet sand whereupon Rif's follow up swing demolished the remainder of the man's head.

Ulric the barbarian was none too pleased with the way the others treated Vulrog and Kiint and voiced his opinion. Rif's anger was already known. Eribus was furious over what Vulrog had done - taking one of his fingers from his hand, the tools by which Aristobulus enabled him to wield power! Heated discussion ensued. As the talk continued, Vulrog's body vanished in a flash light gray smoke. Eribus knew this to be the sign that his sacrifice of Vulrog to Aristobulus had been accepted. Kiint, who was only a loyal follower to Vulrog and not the one responsible for harvesting fingers, was given a burial. Immediately after the burial, Ulric struck out on his own by departing south while the rest of the party departed north, both factions heading back to the same town.
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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

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:shock: , :shock:

NICE
As a player that tends to play paladins, I love it !

:twisted:
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Forgive all spelling errors.

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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

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Thanks!

None of the players had played C&C before this campaign. They've really gotten into their characters and C&C. 8-)
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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

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The party faction with Eribus and Rif reached Malforten in an uneventful manner at dusk after two days. Ulrich, who went south, was not there to see them arrive. The party, somewhat restored through the healing prayers of Resnick, made for The Empty Flagon to have hot meals and much ale. Though the travel had given time for tempers to cool, moods were still foul, and the party ate for the most part in silence.

Some time later when meals were finished, more ales were ordered whereupon Eribus and Rif began to discuss what next to do. Neither wanted to return to Gritznak's lair. Eribus was convinced the party was hopelessly outnumbered and considered another excursion to the lair to be suicidal. The promise of reward no longer persuaded them to risk life and limb to help the town. They deemed it time to depart, to seek better options elsewhere, and to leave the town to whatever fate awaited it. The stoic Resnick excused himself then retired to his room for evening prayers.

A short time later, Ulrich entered The Empty Flagon. He joined his companions and ordered food and drink. Eribus informed Ulrich of what he and Rif were planning which met with a disapproving look; several minutes of discussion and debate ensued.

At this point, an unnoticed halfling who had, so far, been quietly eavesdropping on the conversation, walked up to the party's table. He promptly introduced himself as Bigby Whistlefoot a.k.a. "Short Shanks." The nickname was accurate as Bigby was no more than three feet tall... and barely that. He hopped up into a chair, asked when everyone would be ready to go collect the reward on Gritznak, and extended a hand in greeting. The hand was not accepted by anyone since, as already mentioned, moods were foul.

Rif and Eribus attempted, more than once, to make it known that Short Shanks' company was not wanted but the halfling ignored the comments and continued trying to include himself in discussions. After a few minutes, Eribus went to the bar to refill his ale, leaving Rif and Ulrich to deal with the determined halfling. As Short Shanks prattled on, he suddenly went quiet and slumped in his chair. Eribus returned to his seat and informed Rif and Ulrich they could now continue their discussion as had used sorcery to put the halfling to sleep. As the Witching Hour neared, Ulrich, Eribus, and Rif went to their rooms to sleep. Short Shanks was left in his chair.
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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

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A short while after the characters' heads found their pillows, but still well before dawn, commotion outside The Empty Flagon awoke them. From their respective vantage points, the party members could see that many goblins and kobolds were scurrying about breaking windows, kicking in doors, and firing flaming arrows at some structures. Gritznak had decided to attack the town in retaliation for the incursions into his lair!

Ulrich made his way to the back door of the inn, stepped outside, and began shouting to the goblins to draw some to him. The other characters conferred and went to the common room to peer out the front door for a better view. They saw two groups of goblins spaced about thirty-five feet apart. Each group was comprised of two goblins with two kobolds behind them. The goblins wielded short bows and they were preparing to shoot flaming arrows, prepared by the kobolds, at The Empty Flagon. The party quickly closed the front door and went to the rear exit to find Ulrich engaged with two spear-wielding goblins with a third dead on the ground in a pool of its own blood. A kobold soon joined the fray but the party put down the monsters.

The characters, except for Ulrich, decided to rush forth from The Flagon and meet the foes out in the open. The dwarf decided to run around the side of the building and try to approach the goblin archers from a different angle. The waxing moon provided sufficient light for the characters to judge the goblin archers to be about forty feet from the front door of The Flagon and something much larger, about gnoll-sized, about thirty feet behind the goblins.

Ulrich charged at the goblins while screaming insults at his ancestral enemies. Unfortunately for the dwarf, the goblins were able to draw a bead on him and loose a volley of arrows before he could reach them. Three of the four flaming arrows struck Ulrich and he collapsed.

Rif and Short Shanks rushed out the front door in different directions to split the concentration of further incoming missiles. Eribus used sorcery to incapacitate the much larger foe by putting it to sleep. Rif and Short Shanks each took an arrow before Rif closed and began breaking goblin skulls (and other bones) with his morningstar. Short Shanks returned fire with his crossbow. Human sounding shouts and screams could now be heard through the town as many of the folk were fighting back against their oppressors. Eribus suspected the large thing he put to sleep might be Gritznak. He began making his way to it, hoping to avoid any foes, to administer a coup de grace.

The fierce Rif was outnumbered in his fight by 4-to-1 and needed help. Where had the ranger and Resnick gotten to? (Players missed the session) Eribus could now see another large, gnoll-sized creature approaching from further down the road. His dilemma: try to put down the new threat or help Rif. The wizard summoned the last of his potent sorcery (i.e. 1st level spells) and put to sleep the remaining goblin and kobolds around Rif.

Short Shanks continued trading fire with the group he had engaged. A goblin had been slain but the constant need to dodge had made it difficult for the halfling to score many hits (low rolls by the player). Eribus used his cantrips to create light at the eyes of the remaining group engaged with Short Shanks while Rif moved forward to begin smashing more skulls.

By this time, the larger creature joined the fray. It was a huge gnoll, about 8 feet tall. It wore a hauberk, a gold necklace, two gold rings in one of its ears, and carried a broadsword in one hand and a shield in the other. Rif immediately turned his focus to what all the characters realized must be Gritznak himself!
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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

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Rif and Gritznak attacked each other but, at the early going, neither could get past the other's shield. Short Shanks ran up to stab the blinded goblin and kobolds who desperately fought back. A goblin and a kobold were put down fairly easily before the last kobold managed a wicked stab to Short Shanks with a dagger, dropping the halfling. Eribus then moved up and, with the luck of a god or two, managed to bash in the brains of the last kobold present with his staff. (Eribus has a low STR with a penalty to melee so this was fairly impressive).

At that point, Gritznak's greater size and natural savagery overwhelmed Rif's defense and he landed a spectacular blow that dropped the warrior priest in one blow. The gnoll then turned his gaze to Eribus... who suddenly realized his companions were all either unconscious or dead.

Almost as if in answer to a silent prayer, Resnick, the priest of Ealor, god of the sea, sprinted past Eribus and engaged Gritznak with his trident! The gnoll towered over Resnick just as he had Rif but the priest gave no ground. Eribus had no potent magicks available to him so he decided to try something with the last bit of sorcery he had left. He held out his right hand and spoke the word to a simple spell. The luck of the god or two was still with Eribus as the managed to use a mage hand to wrest Gritznak's broadsword from his grasp and bring it to his waiting hand! The surprised gnoll bellowed with rage and began swinging his shield as a weapon, attempting to bash Resnick. In so doing, Gritznak's defenses were weaker thus allowing Resnick to stab with his trident. Eribus made a wide circle around the combatants so as to approach Gritznack from the rear. Eribus attacked clumsily with the broadsword but managed to wound Gritznak. The gnoll wheeled to face the small man but in so doing, stumbled (rolled a "1" for the attack which resulted in a fumble) and fell forward, onto the sword, impaled himself then died.
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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

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Resnick immediately tended to his fallen companions. By the grace of Ealor and applications of sea salt, wounds were closed and lives saved. The ranger who had been absent during the fight (player missed the session) returned to the Empty Flagon. He had been the first to run out and face the attackers, fighting with the locals at the outskirts of town. Most of Gritznak's forces were slain but a few fled into the night. Some townsfolk were injured. Some were killed. Nearly all of the structures were saved from the flaming arrows the goblins shot. Unconscious goblins, kobolds, and a gnoll were finished off when discovered.

Eribus examined Gritznak and found two golden earrings, a gold necklace, and an old, worn-looking iron ring on a finger, in addition to the shield he carried and a large hauberk he wore. He took the gold items and the iron ring then gave the broadsword to Ulrich.

The exhausted party returned to the Empty Flagon for some well-earned sleep.

By noon the next day everyone was awake and gathered in the common room. Food and ale were enjoyed. Discussion turned to making one last trip to Gritznak's dungeon lair which should, if luck was with them, should be pretty much deserted. Before making the trip, Eribus wanted to examine the items taken from Gritznak and a scroll tune he picked up on a previous excursion to the dungeon. Later that evening the wizard determined the iron ring and broad sword to be enchanted. He opened the scroll tube and found three spells he subsequently copied in to his grimoire.

Over the next few days as repairs were made in town and companions healed, Eribus ascertained that the ring offered its wearer a small degree of magical protection from attacks and avoiding harmful occurrences (+1 Ring of Protection that also granted the bonus to all saving throws). The broad sword was of elvish make with its name, Fëanáro, meaning Spirit of Fire, etched along the blade. The wizard discovered the command words to make the blade erupt in flame and to extinguish said flame. It was quite clear that Gritznak did not know what he possessed.

Rif claimed the iron ring and Ulrich kept the broad sword since both were prone to charge into battle. Nearly a week after the battle with Gritznak, the party, save Resnick, made ready to return to the dungeon lair. The cleric of Ealor yearned to return to the sea as it had been too long since he last smelled the salt air and felt the touch of the tides... plus he needed to replenish his store of sea salt as it was nearly exhausted with all of the healing blessings he has bestowed. (The player is out-of-state with work for the next few months so its a convenient way to have Resnick available when the player returns).
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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

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The group struck out for the dungeon lair of Gritznak, confident that it should be nearly, if not completely, devoid of threats after the assault on Malforten. The two-day trek was uneventful. The party was able to re-enter the lair through the hilltop opening used previously.

When the group reached the chamber that lead down to the 2nd level of the complex, they noticed two open corridors that were apparent on their previous incursion. They decided that some illusion magic had been in play, causing them to more quickly enter the lower level... for whatever reason. The party explored the many passages beyond the now-open passage and discovered several storage areas used by Gritznak's troops to store their ill-gotten gains.

Eventually the group descended the stairs to the lower level of the dungeon. In short order they discovered Skinny humming, whistling, and working away at whatever he had cooking in his cauldron. Skinny, ladle in hand, was taken completely unawares by Rif who moved towards him saying, "Make ready and defend yourself!" Rif was still quite upset at the deal that Vulrog had made and the loss of one of his fingers. Skinny let out a surprised "EEeeeek!" He jumped, reflexively raised his ladle and began to say, "My friend - it is good to," but that is as far as he got before Rif's morningstar crashed down atop Skinny's head with such force that neck bones could be heard breaking and the horribly obese goblin's head was forced halfway into his chest cavity.

At that instant, the mystical contract Vulrog made with Skinny was broken. All of the party members who had received help from Skinny returned to their previously injured states as wounds reappeared and poured blood. At that instant, every party member collapsed, unconscious... except for Short Shanks. The halfling was not part of the bargain between Vulrog and Skinny. With Rif, Eribus, Elimar (the ranger), Ulrich, and Menlaus, Short Shanks did the only thing he could by binding wounds and standing watch until someone recovered.

During the watch, a kobold (random encounter) wandered into view. It spotted Short Shanks & company, let out a yelp, then began moving towards them with a wicked looking dagger. Fortunately, Short Shanks was able to kill the kobold with a bolt from his crossbow before it cold reach the party.

After a day, Rif awakened. "I wondered what would happen if I killed that little bastard. It would've made no difference. I still would have killed him." Rif prayed over Eribus and the wizard revived. Eribus ate and composed himself then studied from his grimoire. He then drew his athame (personal, ceremonial dagger) across his forearm and wiped his blood upon Ulrich then recited the words of power and cast The Necromancer's Gift. N.B. This is a spell I designed for the game that allows the wizard to bestow limited healing to another (never himself) by either wounding himself or another living sentient creature. Within another day, the continued efforts of Rif and Eribus (with a few blood donations by Short Shanks) had the party back on its feet.

The group decided to continue exploring. They reasoned that if nothing more than a kobold appeared during the two days they were incapacitated then the lair must be unoccupied. One of the passages through which the group walked possessed a feeling of malice. Elimar was particularly sensitive to it as he was afflicted with migraines and nausea. He stayed at the rear of the party until he recovered sufficiently to walk. The party found the room Gritznak used as his personal bedchamber. Rif and Short Shanks entered the room to investigate. The noteworthy contents were three chests, each with a different type of coin. As Short Shanks was practically diving into a chest, Rif was surprised by a large snake that emerged from beneath the makeshift bed and bit him. The wounded warrior-priest staggered and the snake began to wrap itself around him. Short Shanks emerged from the chest and decided to shoot the snake with his crossbow. He missed and hit Rif instead (C&C's close supporting fire rule), knocking him out. the other party members were able to quickly dispatch the snake and revive Rif. The party sorted the treasure then decided to continue exploring....
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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

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A short while later, the party discovered a room that appeared to be prepared for a sacrificial offering. There was an altar of sorts upon which was draped some cloth with a ceremonial dagger atop it. Several alcoves, two per wall, were present. The room had a weak bluish glow to it though no source of light was apparent. The most unsettling feature was a 2’ diameter, roughly circular, stone colored portion of the wall opposite the PCs that opened upwards to reveal a sinister red eye with a cat-like slit of a pupil which bathed the room in with red light and a feeling of malice!

The characters and the eye watched each other for a few seconds. Unknown to the party at the time, the eye was conjuring a stone wall to seal the passage some dozen paces behind them. It then conjured a mystical, vaguely scythe-shaped force which quickly moved to attack Rif. The warrior-priest, protected by his armor and defended by his faith gave not an inch of ground. The other characters launched missiles at the Eye and prepared a small cask of oil then hurled it into the room so that as it spun oil was splattered over a sizeable potion of the room, including the altar. The oil was then set ablaze. In short order half the room was on fire and smoke began to fill the air. Elimar retreated down the hall only to discover a stone wall now blocked the way. Short Shanks fired bolts at the Eye while Eribus also combatted it with his magics as Rif continued to resist its conjured weapon’s attacks.

Without Gritznak and his minions to offer protection for the Eye, the numbers weighed in the party’s favor. Being embedded in a wall, the Eye was quite immobile and was struck by multiple bolts and blasts of magic. It’s blood ran profusely down the surface of the wall and pooled upon the floor. A foggy mist began to issue forth from the pupil of the Eye that quickly filled the portions of the room not ablaze, which included the party and the passage behind them. A final bolt from Short Shanks seemed to spell the end of the Eye as it quivered as though experiencing a seizure, the mystical scythe attacking Rif vanished, and the lid of the Eye slid down until blocked by bolts. Elimar and Menlaus then slumped to the floor unconscious. Ulrich and Short Shanks soon followed. Eribus and Rif were left staring at their unconscious companions for several seconds before they, too, began to feel fatigued and heavy. Though they struggled valiantly, the foggy mist overpowered them and they knew no more.
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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

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The characters awoke in the midst of a dismal swamp. They were divided into two separate groups upon floating rafts. In addition to Rif, Erebus, Ulrich, Elimar, Short Shanks, and Menlaus, there were two other characters: Hazel and Slog, human and half-orc respectively. (The new characters were played by two new players interested in trying C&C.) Introductions were made, questions asked since none of the characters’ last memories included being anywhere near a swamp. None of them had any idea where they were. Erebus noted that the few constellations he could see through the tree cover did not correspond to any he knew from Aihrde. Rif offered a prayer to Augustus to sense the presence of evil and everything around him, save for the other characters, was tinged with evil.

Each raft had a pole laying across it. The characters decided to try and find their collective way out of the swamp. Someone suggested that perhaps Elimar, being a ranger, could guide them out of the swamp. This immediately prompted a dog pile of jokes about the numerous failed tracking checks for which Elimar was well known. Nevertheless, the raft upon which Elimar, Rif, Erebus, and Menlaus stood took the lead. Thick clouds soon covered the sky and the swamp became very dark.

For a while the characters used their own means to produce light as they poled through the swamp. The water varied between two and five feet deep. In some spots no bottom could be reached with the poles. They navigated around floating trees that had rotted and fallen, vines hanging from gnarled trees whose branches seemed rather claw-like and whose trunks appeared to possess twisted faces. Occasionally something would bump against the bottom of a raft prompting more than one anxious expression. For hours the characters poled but found no egress from the swamp nor patch of land upon which they could make camp. Already weary from their experiences before arriving in the swamp, the characters decided to try and sleep on the rafts.

At once the trailing raft upon which Ulrich, Short Shanks, Hazel, and Slog travelled lurched upwards about a foot then five barbed tentacles emerged from the stinking water and began flailing in all directions seeking something to grab and pull under the water! Erebus was immediately struck as the others fended off the attacks. Ulrich spoke the command word to ignite the blade of his broadsword and fought back. The other party members drew their weapons and defended themselves. Erebus summoned a magical shield which deflected more tentacles. Eventually the characters severed several of the tentacles such that whatever controlled them decided to move on.

Hazel and Slog had no rations with them (they were on their donkey, Lady Fern) so decided to try eating some of the tentacles. They worked with Ulrich who allowed them to slide the tentacles over the length of his sword blade. Ulrich then ignited the blade and cooked the tentacles until Hazel, Slog, and Short Shanks (the hungry hobbit) were ready to try them. The meat was bitter but it was preferable to going hungry. From time to time a silent but terrible odor drifted across the raft causing noses to wrinkle in disapproval. Each time it occurred, the odor seemed to originate from the part of the raft where Short Shanks stood but when the hobbit caught the stares of Hazel and Slog, he quietly pointed to Ulrich who was looking elsewhere.

The loud noise of the various swamp bugs and other assorted critters combined with flying, biting insects made for a poor few hours of sleep before enough light penetrated the clouds to make it known that the next day had arrived.
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Ancalagon
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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

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The party poled aimlessly about the swamp for another day. Just as the characters were about to stop and try to sleep for the night, they noticed a flickering light in the distance. They decided to make for it as quietly as possible. After many delays and detours around impassable locations, they moved close enough to see a small patch of land, roughly a dozen paces wide, rising above the surface of the water. In the center of the island stood a garishly-colored covered wagon and two horses. To the right side of the wagon, the side facing the party, was a campfire around which sat an elderly man and woman and a younger couple. A small child chased after lightning bugs. All were garbed in the same garishly-colored patterns that decorated the wagon.

Eribus wondered how a wagon got into the midst of a swamp. Short Shanks wanted to feel the grass beneath his feet. Elimar was suspicious. Rif scowled. The party spoke quietly among themselves then decided to make for the island in the hopes that the people there might know a way out of the swamp. When the rafts moved to within thirty-five to forty paces away from the island, Eribus called out to the strangers. The younger couple stood quickly. The child stopped chasing bugs. The elderly couple remained seated. They spoke in low voices for a few seconds then the old man invited the party to approach and share the fire with them.

Introductions were made. The old man’s name was Scarengi. He seemed in good health other than his left eye was clouded over with a light gray film. When Scarengi spoke, he sometimes looked at people with his clouded eye. The younger couple, Scarengi’s son and his wife, appeared to have seen forty winters. The child belonged to them. Food was shared and the he characters relaxed a little after being on rafts the last two days… except for Rif who still scowled and spoke little. The strangers called themselves “Vistani” which didn’t help much as none of the characters were familiar with the term.

Eribus could contain his curiosity no longer then asked, “How did you get a wagon to this island in the middle of a swamp?”

Scarengi peered at Eribus with his clouded eye, winked, and replied, “By strange highways.” He said no more and the topic was dropped.

Through conversation the characters learned they were in the great swamp region of Souragne. The nearest settlement was a village called Marais de Tarascon which could be reached by raft by poling to the northeast for “a day or two.”

After an hour or so, Scarengi clapped his hands once and stood. He said, “Now we will have fortunes told! This,” as a shapely, young, dark-haired beauty with red lips emerged from the back of the wagon, “is my granddaughter, Valana!” The young beauty kissed Scarengi on the cheek, smiled at the party members, then set up a tray upon which she cast a handful of tiles. She stared at them for a few seconds before her features changed to show fear. “No! NO!! The dead will walk with the coming storm. You must find a way to put them to rest. If you cannot, the rain will turn to blood! It will drown you and all of Marais de Tarascon!”

The Vistani made protective gestures at the fortune. The horses neighed. Scarengi stood and ushered his family into the back of the wagon. “No charge for your fortune! It is time to rest after the toil of the day. Be our guests and sleep by the fire.” The characters asked a few more questions but no answers were given from within the wagon. Elimar and Ulrich wanted nothing more to do with the Vistani or the island so returned to a raft to sleep there. The remainder of the party placed bedrolls upon the ground and dozed. Rif remained on watch. Midway through the watch, Valana peeked out from the back of the wagon and whispered to Rif, “Beware the madman. Beware his blood.” She then disappeared back in to the wagon. A while later, Rif woke Short Shanks to replace him on watch duty.

The party awoke the next morning to find Short Shanks asleep, the wagon and horses gone, and themselves alone again in the dismal swamp.
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Ancalagon
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Re: The Barons of Bellevue

Post by Ancalagon »

Some of the characters were a bit uneasy with how the Vistani seemed able to come and go without a trace. The group decided to pole northeast as Scarengi advised to try and finally escape the swamp. It was slow going as the sky was completely obscured by dark gray clouds. Much of the weak light that managed to penetrate the clouds was blocked from reaching the surface by the canopy of trees covering much of the swamp.

The group trusted in Elimar, a ranger, to guide them. Elimar is a good man, always ready to combat marauding humanoids and defend settlements against the same… but he has struggled more than once to locate and follow paths (chronic low die rolls by the player when attempting to track). The other characters remind him about this fact on a somewhat regular basis. Fortunately, Elimar is good-humored and doesn’t let the ribbing upset him.

Many times, the party had to alter course while working its way northeast to avoid groupings of trees, vines, and shallow water that blocked the way. By the end of the day, determined by how very dark the swamp had become, the party was about to stop for the night when they noticed three lights some distance from them. The lights appeared to be stationary several feet above the water’s surface. Was it a settlement or a group like the Vistani? The group’s curiosity was roused and they didn’t like the notion of not investigating what could be a possible threat in the night.

Slowly the party poled their rafts towards the unmoving lights. At least one character suspected the lights were some monstrous manifestation meant to lure unwary (or overly curious) travelers to their dooms. That particular fear was unfounded as they party discovered the lights were actually two windows and the open doorway of a small shack that hovered about ten feet above the surface of the water… until the party poled close enough to discover that the shack was supported by four black-barked trees. They then noticed a rope ladder, the end of which dangling a few inches above the water, hanging from the narrow ledge in front of the open doorway.

Rif and Eribus decided to climb up first and investigate the shack. The wizard called out a greeting which received no response. Rif quickly reached the doorway and made ready his morning star. The shack was little more than ten feet by ten feet in area. Two crates of food sat to the right of the one-room dwelling. A cask of fresh water was to the left. A pile of folded blankets sat in a corner. Two lit lanterns, one to the right of the doorway and another to the left, hung from nails in the walls. A third lit lantern rested upon the floor, almost in the center of the shack. Next to the lantern was a wooden chair. In the chair sat a young man of perhaps twenty winters though haggard and gaunt. He had shoulder-length blonde hair that hung limply from his scalp. His clothes were clean. Clutched in his hands and resting upon his thighs was a book with a worn leather cover. No writing could be seen along the spine or the cover. The young man stared motionlessly, looking at nothing in particular, eyes bloodshot and tired. Eribus attempted to speak with the young man to no avail. He tried waving a hand in front of the gaunt face but the eyes did not respond. The two party members referred to the eyes as the “thousand-yard stare.”

Eribus tugged at the book in the young man’s possession and it came loose from the grip. The wizard opened the book and found an inscription that read, “To Luc, my beloved brother” and it was signed “Marcel.” The contents of the book consisted of children’s poems.

By this time, Short Shanks entered the shack and started helping himself to the crates of food.

Eribus returned the book to the young man who accepted it with no change in expression or any movement save for his hands.

Hazel entered the shack to explore. Space was now quite limited with half the party in the confines of the dwelling. The bard tried communicating with the young man assumed to be the “Luc” named in the book.

Eribus removed one of the lanterns from a wall and, since there were two others burning, extinguished its flame. At this occurrence, Luc’s eyes opened wide and horror filled his features. He bolted from the chair and ran into the wall where the lantern had been, screaming in terror and anguish. He fell to the floor then began beating his head against it while continuing to scream. Hazel and Eribus immediately thought to relight the lantern. Rif thought to restrain the lad if necessary. Short Shanks looked on with a puzzled expression and a half-eaten baguette sticking out of his mouth. Once the lantern was relit, Luc resumed his quiet state and returned to his chair. As he settled into the chair, Luc spoke for the first time since the party’s arrival by saying, “The on descend shall evil of night the land, at near is signs of hexad this when hand.”

N.B. The utterance caught all of the players (and characters) off guard. More than one player asked for me to repeat the line so they could try to write it down. But Luc wasn’t talking now and none of the players had stated they had produced paper, ink, and quill so I declined their requests.

Several party members helped themselves to the food stores (there was more than enough for Luc) and made their ways back to the rafts so the other characters could take their turns inspecting the shack and taking food. After eating food other than “roasted swamp critter,” the characters decided to make camp at the shack. Several characters decided they would sleep in the shack but some, Elimar and Ulrich in particular, wanted nothing to do with being inside the creepy dwelling. They, along with Short Shanks and Slog, spent the night on the rafts, taking turns on watch.

At dawn, or what passed for dawn with the ever-present overcast skies, the party woke then made ready to depart, hoping to find a way to the village Scarengi discussed two nights prior. The group decided to leave Luc in the shack, having surmised someone must be supplying him with food as he appeared incapable of caring for himself in his current state. As the characters departed the shack, Luc stood and followed them. There was no change in his expression. This weirded out some of the characters. Luc climbed down the rope ladder after the PCs and stood upon the raft with Eribus, Rif, Elimar and Menlaus. Without losing his “thousand-yard stare,” Luc repeated his twisted phrase from the night before, “The on descend shall evil of night the land, at near is signs of hexad this when hand.”

As Luc spoke, Eribus and Hazel scrambled to produce paper and quill but they were too late. The players were determined to record the ramblings and try to make some sense of them. The characters discussed what to do about Luc. Hazel persuaded the group that Luc was no danger to anyone but himself so they decided to let the young man accompany them. After several more hours of poling in the direction Elimar deemed to be northeast, the party found the shoreline. A clear trail led away from the swamp in the general direction of the village Scarengi called Marais de Tarascon.
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