15 October 2017

Reaping the Harvest of War!

3rd Thank’s Day, Tower of Balyntine, Talingarde: No rest for the wicked. On the eve of the visiting troupe of actors to the tower, the Nessian Knot decided next to assassinate Tassitus. Pretending to replace the guards outside the Lord Commander’s chambers the Knot scaled the wall down to Tassitus’s chambers. In his rooms they appropriated his spell book as well as a vial of concentrated tincture of wolfsbane before finding a strange ice golem in his laboratory and a cauldron of brewing. The Nessian Knot laid ambush, Ulmaticron stealing Tassitus’s voice as soon as he entered his room with the might of the Woodstick and Brand causing the mage to flee. As he turned to bespell the Nessian Knot, Brand grappled the mage, crippling his spell casting ability while Ulmaticron and the Woodstick stabbed the magister to death. In his dying moments, Tassitus sacrificed himself with a fireball spell, injuring all in the room. The Woodstick then roused the ice golem and as it chased the rogue to the window, Brand threw Tassitus burnt corpse at it. The Nessian Knot made good their escape reassuming their guise as guards. It took the Lord Commander and the lives of eight guards to disable the ice golem. The tower assumed that the magister had been slain by his crystalline discovery.

Over the next few days, the Nessian Knot in various guises, bought all the arsenic in the area.

Tower 4th Mitra’s Day, Tower of Balyntine, Talingarde: Disguised as servers, the Nessian Knot was able to discretely add both the wolfsbane and arsenic to Mama’s stew, killing nearly a third of the guardsmen and incapacitating another third. The Tower was now severely weakened, down to a third of its strength, three of its four captains dead, its magister dead, and its chaplain vanished. Pretending to be the relief for the Lord Commander’s guard, the Nessian Knot infiltrated the Lord Commander’s chambers. They ambushed him most vilely in his sleep, he made good account with his blade before falling to the Knot. They secreted his body in the ice golem’s table in Tassitus’s laboratory.

The Nessian Knot then disabled the Seal of Balyntine, a great stone that could have sealed the donjon and trapped any invaders inside. They then went to the guard tower, dispatching the four guards, disabling the burning sand, and disabling the portcullis and drawbridge. Next they slew the four guardsmen who crewed the ballista before releasing the flare that would bring Sakkarot Fireax and his horde. Thousands of bug bears poured into the Tower and Balyntine and put Talingarde’s northern fortress to the torch. As the bug bear army grew, the townsfolk fled and more humanoids came to join the great march South. Both Adrastus Thorn and Asmodeus are pleased...

26 August 2017

In brightest minds, in blackest ops. No good is it if the body flops

3rd Sun’s Day of Fall, Aldrick, Talingarde: Disguised as Captain Varning and two of the guardsmen the Nessian Knot found an outlying farm putting all but a single child to the sword and then burning it the ground. They left behind Captain Varning’s family crest ring. Assuming the guises of passing big game hunters they returned to the Lord Dalliance and allocated rooms. The Nessian Know learned more of Mama, who cooks the beef stew every week in honor of her two sons who used to serve the garrison. They heard rumors of their own nefarious deeds outside of town and that night searched the inn’s basement to after much, much and a good deal more searching they found the secret passage to the Tower of Balentyne. They entered through the Dwarven Vault where they found 12 bottles of elven wine and nearly a years worth of garrison rations. Brand silently entered the armory and smithy above the vault before finding the nearby room of Captain Varning. Here he stole the dead captain’s treasure and extra uniform.

3rd Mitra’s Day, Lord’s Dalliance, Aldrick, Talingarde: The Nessian Knot forged two notes, one to Kathleen Mott from Captain Eddardly begging her to come to the Lord’s Dalliance tonight, so that he might worship her in his arms. They asked she come at 9 bells and a quarter. Similarly they sent a note to Captain Eddardly as if from Kathleen Mott, begging him to meet her at the inn at 9 bells and a half. Then using their rings of disguise and Captain Varning’s uniform impersonated Eddardly reserving a room at the Dalliance. Kathleen Mott sent a response implying a forbidden love. The Nessian Knot then spent the day uncovering the alchemist in town who had enough arsenic to poison the entire tower. When Kathleen Mott arrived, she was ambushed by Brand who stunned her with his martial prowess. Ulmaticron and Brand then faked her suicide, murdering her in cold blood with a knife in her bosom. Meanwhile, the Woodstick disguised as a simple peasant ran to the Tower yelling about murder most foul. When Eddardly arrived he turned pale and screamed, he was nearly catatonic when the guardsmen arrived. Captain Mott was so enraged that he slew Captain Eddardly and was sentenced to Brandescar Prison.

3rd Two’s Day, Tower of Balentyne, Talingarde: Disguised as servants, the Nessian Knot infiltrated the Tower of Balentyne and over the next three days learned that Tassitus takes his meals in his room. He is gruff and dismissive, two guards are stationed outside his room at all times. They also learned of Father Donagan the garrison’s cleric, who is jovial and loved by all. They learned the name of the fourth Captain, Barhold. On the third day, Brand made a pretext to visit Mad Martin the master of the rookery. He then stunned Mad Martin and threw him from the ramparts much to distress of the ravens. Ulmaticron then forged a note for Father Donagan seemingly written from a possessed but ashamed Captain Varning who asked the priest to come help him the next day.

3rd Wedded’s Day, the Wilderness, South of the Tower, Talingarde: Disguised again as Captain Varning, Ulmaticron ambushed Father Donagan, with the rest of the Nessian Knot. Grumblejack decapitated one of the acolytes with a single blow, while the other fell to the Woodstick’s rapier. Father Donagan attempted to use spell craft to defeat his foes only to fall before the might of the Nessian Knot. And the plot to topple Talingarde continues, the party has used 9 days of a possible 28 days to bring the Tower of Balentyne to it’s knees.

13 August 2017

Sowing the Seeds of War!

Thorn Manor, Old Moor Road, Talingarde: Having completed the training and forging of the Nessian Knot, Adrastus Thorn was ready to start the downfall of Talingarde. Adrastus told the Woodstick, Ulmaticron and Brand about a plan to bring war to Talingarde and topple the followers of Mitra. They would deliver weapons and armor to Sakkarot Fireaxe, a bug bear chieftain, and his hordes who were gathering near Lake Tarik. With these armaments Sakkarot would unite the barbarous humanoid hordes (note: hordes not whores, Woodstick!) for a push into Talingarde. The Nessian Knot would travel by longship, the Frosthamar, captained by a berserker named Odinkirk. Due to Odinkirk’s inflexibility at bending the knee to the Asmodians, Adrastus ordered his and his crew’s death. The Nessian Knot was then to infiltrate the Tower of Balentyne, kill it’s commander, and throw open the gates for Sakkarot’s hordes. They were then to break the clay tablet that Adrastus had given them.

The Camp of the Fireaxe, Lake Tarik, the North: After a long journey along the coast and into the icy rapids of the Tyga, the Frosthamar, laden with crates with a flaming axe on them, reached a large encampment of bug bears, goblins, and free roaming polar bears, scattered around a rickety pier stretching into to the frigid waters. With Grimjack translating, the Nessian Knot was able to make contact with Sakkarot, a massive, highly intelligent bug bear bearing an enormous flaming axe, who commanded his hordes to honor (rather than eat) his guests. After feasting on a titanic dire boar, Sakkarot summoned the Nessian Knot to his yurt and questioned them on their motives for betraying Talingarde. Brand rambled ecclesiastic about being a weapon of Asmodeus wrapped in a meat puppet. Ulmaticron indicated that as an inquisitor Asmodeus was a more rewarding deity, and the Woodstick likely betrayed that he was in all actuality a spy of the Mitrans. Sakkarot would grow his horde over the next two weeks but would not be able to keep them in an idle state for more than four. The Nessian Knot had a month to topple the Tower of Balentyne.

Hidden Cove, Lake Tarik, Talingarde: Odinkirk and the Frosthamar delivered the Nessian Knot to the Southern shore of Tarik, upon which the Knot fell upon the captain and his crew. A pitched battle commenced with the raging Odinkirk grievously wounding Grimjack before the rest of the party could bring him a cold death. After restoring Grimjack they put the Frosthamar to the torch.

2nd Free Day* of Fall, Lord’s Dalliance, Aldrick, Talingarde: Leaving the monstrous Grimjack in the forest outside the town, the Nessian Knot disguised as simple laborers infiltrated the town, gathering at the only inn, the Lord’s Dalliance. Through the wit and guile of the Woodstick (surprising, we know) much rumor was gathered including:

  • Surprisingly for xenophobic Talingarde, a gang of dwarves lead by the grouchy Barnabas are repairing the Tower of Balentyne. The tower is actually of ancient dwarf make. Barnabas can drink anyone under the table.
  • Tassitus, the creepy magister, is working on something in his tower…something unnatural that was recovered in the North.
  • Captain Varning is leading another patrol out of town tomorrow for 4-5 days. Most think that this is just an excuse for him to get out of drudgery around the tower and to go galavanting around.
  • Mad Martin tends the rookery in the watchtower. He loves his ravens and is very eccentric.
  • Lord Thomas Havelin is the most honorable and capable commander of the tower. If he can’t do it no one can.
  • How did the ugly Captain Mott get and keep his wife, the most beautiful woman in town, Kathleen Mott?
  • Captain Eddardly is handsome, gallant, and unmarried.
  • There are about 100 soldiers in the tower.
  • Mama’s beef stew is served every Mitra’s Day to the entire garrison at the Tower of Balentyne. Mama is a local legend for her cooking.
  • The Lord’s Dalliance allegedly got it’s name because it used to be a brothel with a secret tunnel to the tower.
  • A traveling theatre troupe is coming to a do a performance for the garrison next Thank’s Day.

The Nessian Knot then bought rounds of beer for Barnabas and his work gang, before offering them whiskey that they had “liberated” from the Frosthamar. Back in the dwarves quarters the Nessian Knot watched the dwarves crew drink itself into oblivion, except Barnabas who wanted to wrestle. Brand escaped several pins before putting Barnabas in a resounding slumber with a stunning fist. Woodstick stole the dwarves map of the Tower and then the Nessian Knot fled the inn and their assumed identities.

2nd Satyr’s Day, North of the Tower of Balentyne, the North: Captain Varning’s patrol was met with two felled trees one in their path and one behind them. The Woodstick sank a goose-quilled shaft deep into the captain’s side, while Brand and Grumblejack ambushed the front of the party, and Ulmaticron sealed their only avenue of escape while ushering them into the afterlife. Grumblejack smote the trees and earth around Captain Varning and his mount with great fury but could not smite the gallant soldier (Aside: I rolled a 3 on a d20..5 times…in a row. That happens 1 in 3,200,000 times). Brand used his lethal strikes to break the bones and burst the vital organs of the captain’s nearest men. The Woodstick struck exposed targets with hemorrhagic results. Ulmaticron used his arcane powers to destroy and suck life from the guards he killed. In the end, the Nessian Knot still stood and the patrol lay dead and dying around them. Time to make use of Captain Valentyne’s poor reputation and begin to break the Tower of Balentyne...

*The Mitran Week: Sun’s Day - Mitra’s Day - Two’s Day - Wedded’s Day - Thank’s Day - Free Day - Satyr’s Day

 

 

 

14 June 2017

The Trials of Asmodeus, Part the Second

Catacombs Beneath Thorn Manor: Past the room with the fake sapphire jewel the party followed a winding passage way to the next chamber. Wary of the warnings from the tortured squire they backtracked until they found another secret door parallel to the suspected chamber of the shriekers. This second room held four barnacle encrusted driftwood coffins. Both the Woodstick and Brand slipped through the room like shadows before the midday sun. When Ilmaticron the Dickish and the walking cacophony Grumblejack attempted to slip through, they woke the slumbering undead who began to break free of their seaweed bedecked resting places. The party rapidly left the room and attempted to seal the door behind them. Ahead lay a locked banded door with the key awaiting on a hook, preparing for battle the party opened the door to find a perturbed knight of Alerion wearing the sapphire symbol of Mitra!

As they heard the door at the far end of the hall splinter, they attempted to recruit the knight to save his own skin. The fool preferred to be slaughtered so the grim four went about their dark business with Grumblejack dealing and receiving many wounds. With the help of Brand, Ilmaticron, and the Woodstick, they finally smote the knights head from his pretentious shoulders.

Their victory was short lived, they were trapped and without healing when the four brine soaked undead fell upon them. It was only the vicious bladework of Ilmaticron, Grumblejack, and the Woodstick that saved the day. Brand spent much of his time missing and receiving grievous wounds before losing consciousness.

The bloodied four return to Adrastus with their prize and he began their training in earnest, granting them new traits in their fight to liberate Talingarde from Mitra’s thrall. After the training was complete, Adrastus pronounced them ready and held a great banquet in honor of the new Nessian Knot in an infernal ritual involving blood and fire.  During the ritual, Adrastus summoned forth a barbed devil and offered it one of the slaves.  The devil gleefully ripped the screaming man apart and feasted on his still beating heart.  Adrastus then drew forth some of the devil's blood with a silver athame and traced the unholy symbol of Asmodeus on each of the party's foreheads.  Behold he proclaimed, "The Nessian Knot is forged."

31 May 2017

The Trials of Asmodeus

Thorn Manor, Old Moor Road, Talingarde: The gruesome group was greeted by Theodora and led to the chambers of Cardinal Adrastus Thorn. A devilishly handsome, bald acolyte of Asmodeus, Thorn asked for the fealty of Brand, Ilmaticron, and the Woodstick. With some discussion they entered into a pact of the Bound with the powerful cardinal. Thorn told them that to complete their training they must complete nine lessons in the catacombs beneath the manor. While they waited and rested their every need was meet by Thorn’s slaves, however another group, the White Raven, who were also bound to the cardinal shared an icy tolerance of our villainous cohort. After they were adequately “rested" Theodora took them before Adrastus who challenged Brand, Ilmaticron, and the Woodstick to find a magical sapphire jewel hidden within Asmodeus’ Nine Lessons. He gave to them silver unholy symbols of Asmodeus as well as iron circlets of disguise. Grumblejack agreed to further service and also made his mark on a pact of the Bound. Theodora then brought them to the entrance to the catacombs.

The first chamber was a test of deception. Using a novel technique, the Woodstick and Grumblejack tripped the trapdoor trap and fell on the spikes below. After this stumble, the party did find two secret doors, one which held a gem of alchemist’s ice and the other which led to the next lesson. The next lesson was a test of independence, Ilmaticron noticing that two of the three exits to this room had many tracks in the dust, the one that did not was guarded by heat sucking mold which was quickly dispatched by the alchemist’s ice. The third lesson was one of darkness, the room swallowing light sources whole. Strategically using 10’ poles they were able to illuminate the magical source of the darkness, an obsidian orb that they shattered with a firm shove from another pole. The party was attacked by a bloodsucking leach foam that roiled through holes in the floor. Using oil and fire they battled it back while unbarring the door exiting in the room, Grumblejack taking the worst of the damage. The fourth lesson was a room with a torturer’s rack, with a young squire of Mitra hidden in a secret door. The vile quartet put the rack to use and extracted the following:

  • Beware the metal cobras!
  • Secret door opposite the stairs.
  • Shrieker screams if there is light or movement.
  • Four drowned men will rise when the shrieker cries!

The young squire was left on the rack, in case a diversion was needed later in the lessons.  The party then entered the next room and faced two metal cobras. Brand took much poison damage. The room following this contained, what appeared to be, the sapphire jewel they had been sent to retrieve. A flight of stairs rising to the left. Wary of deception, the party found the secret door opposite the stairs and sought the next lesson...

09 April 2017

Way of the Wicked Character Spotlight: Brand Pylgrim

Infernal monk Brand Pylgrim (made with heromaker.com)

Twenty years ago during the Asmodean Purges, Morganian the Younger a 10 year old squire of King Markadian IV the Zealot’s Knights of Alerion was caught up in a fierce battle with Asmodean priests and anti-paladins in the sewers beneath the ruins of House of Barca. One of the anti-paladins bore a Blade of Asmodeus, a powerful, intelligent, magical sword of Infernal make. As the tide turned against the Asmodeans, the bearer of the Blade lost faith in his dark overlord and with the next blow it shattered, the fragments piercing the boy, Morganian, who fell into waters of the sewer and was washed away. The squire and the accursed blade were thought lost.

But this is only the beginning of the tale of Brand Pylgrim. The boy was injured but did not die and the powerful blade was broken but not destroyed, the boy’s mind proved to be no contest to the ancient power of the Blade of Asmodeus in whole or in parts. The Blade of Asmodeus was no longer a weapon, so it created one in the man who would grow to hold it’s shards, building a weapon to appease it’s devilish creator. The blade called this creation Brand Pygrim and forged Brand’s body with Infernal arts of unarmed combat. And now this weapon is ready to take back what the House Darius and the line of Markadian has taken in the name of Mitra.

Would the Blade of Asmodeus wish to be free of it’s new existence?

Does Morganian’s psyche still exist?

Does the family of Morganian still seek their lost child?

Ill Met in Brandenscar

Brandenscar Prison, Talingarde: Three vile villains, the blasphemous rogue Lars von Woodsoul (called the Woodstick), the murdererous inquisitor Iltimacron the Dickish, and the heretical scarred monk Brand Pylgrim all faced death for their crimes. They were branded with a “F” glyph for felon and cast into the horrorific halls of Brandenscar Prison to await execution. They were aided by an ethereal, cold, beauty, the platinum haired Theodora who befuddled the guards and provided Lars with a veil of many things. While Iltimacron kept watch, the Woodstick and Brand used their superior agility, pleasure palace contortionist training, and epic level infernal mastication arts, to free the lock pick from the the veil secreted within the Woodstick's loin cloth. They made their escape from their cell and recruited the fiend blood ogre Grumblejack. While Lars clamored for the guards, Grumblejack and Brand lay in ambush, quickly slaying their tormenters with their bare hands as Iltimacron secured the alarm horn. Using a potion of cure moderate wounds they swore the gravely wounded Grumblejack to their service for one month.

Using the disposed of guards kit, Lars and Iltimacron pretended to escort Grumblejack to the lower levels of the prison (the famous Star Wars maneuver), surprising and slaying the guards at the exit. The dark quartet rapidly explored the prison, dispatching guards asleep in the barracks and gathering the necessary supplies need to escape, lantern oil to create a distraction and enough rope to safely make it to the sea. They also found intelligence that indicated the pass phrase for the guard tower as well as an illicit gambling session that most of the guards would be attending that evening. With this information Bran, Iltimacron, and Lars gained access to the guard tower and with the help of Grumblejack charging across the courtyard, were able to dispatch the guards. Spreading a large store of lamp oil in the tower, the frightful four set the tower ablaze and made their escape. Brand was able to deflect one arrow sent his way but was grievously injured by the second. At the bridge to the mainland, the evil doers were able to use the rope they had secured earlier to safely make it to the ocean below. From here they escaped to the moors, finding the house with the single lantern on the second floor on Old Moor Road as described by Theodora.

08 October 2016

Marvel Civil War Scavenger Hunt

NOTE: Marvel and all characters herein are copyright and trademarks of Marvel, Inc. I hope in the spirit of imagination young and old that they understand the intended use is recreational and NOT commercial use of these characters in this party game.

For my son’s first birthday we did the Gummy Bear Pirate Captain Treasure Hunt, essentially due to his love of the Gummy Bear Song:

An annual series of inopportune family weddings have made celebration of his birthday a smaller event for the last few years. This year my wife and I decided to plan another scavenger hunt, using elements of the Amazing Race using the world of the Marvel Civil War. We sorted our son, nephews, and their parents into two teams, Team Captain America and Team Iron Man. Each team got a T-shirt as a party favor and team uniform. They were gathered to get a briefing from Agent Maria Hill (my wife) and myself, S.H.I.E.L.D. Executive Director Mick Fury (Samuel L Jackson’s brother from another mother). I told them that they had to find the missing Avengers and whichever team found the most would win. There would be three missions, each mission would cause the losing team to have a time penalty on the scavenger hunt that followed each mission.

My wife’s Maria Hill was accomplished with black workout gear. As props I bought a pirate eye patch and some Halloween military insignia. Combined with black EMT pants, shirt, and a trench coat round out my Mick Fury costume. Which I wore in public. But hey the little guys were wearing luchador masks, so I blended. Each mission came in a manila folder with the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo on the front. Each clue that Director Fury handed out came in a S.H.I.E.L.D. emblazoned envelope..

Mission #1: Escape from the Red Skull

Escape from the Red Skull

The first mission occurred at a local park, each team member had to accomplish a task. The cumulative time giving one or the other the advantage in the scavenger hunt to follow. The tasks were:

  1. Across the balance beam
  2. Back across the balance beam
  3. Across the monkey bars
  4. Up the cliff wall
  5. Down the escape slide

Back the house the teams got 25 minutes to solve their first clue:

Of all the things in the world, I am the shortest and the longest, the swiftest and the slowest. I am the thing people waste the most. Yet they need more than anything else, for without me nothing can be done.

The answer of course is “time”, which lead the teams to an alarm clock, under which their next clue lay:

Round and round I run, but nowhere do I go.

The answer for this clue was “treadmill” under which they found three figures from Cap’s side: Winter Soldier, Falcon, and Hawkeye. Of course this was misinterpreted as “fan” so they accidentally found a clue for Mission #2, which forced me to change the location of this later clue while everyone was distracted with another mission.

Mission #2: Secrets of the Submariner

Secrets of the Sub Mariner

My nephews and to a lesser extent my son, love fishing. The second mission was a competition between the two teams at who could catch four fish first or the most fish in 30 minutes. The fish weren’t really biting so only my father-in-law caught one, giving his team a one minute advantage. Back in the house the scavenger hunt continued with 25 minutes to solve:

Wind does not make me go, yet I spin round and round to let it blow.

The answer being “fan”. I moved the clue previously spotted in the last mission from one of our ceiling fans to one of the bathroom exhaust fans. Hilarity ensued when both teams ran to the original site and then accused each other of stealing their copy of the next clue. The clue here was:

I have eyes, but I see nothing. I have ears, but I hear nothing. I have a mouth, but i cannot speak. I always will look just as I look now. If I am young, I will stay young. If I am old, I will remain old. Nothing can change me.

The answer being “photograph” and behind one of our family photos they found three members of Iron Man’s faction: War Machine, Vision, and Black Panther. After this challenge the teams were neck and neck.

Mission #3: Action at Avengers Headquarters

Action at Avengers Headquarters

The last mission utilized my son’s favorite toy, his electric Jeep, in which he raced for time in a lap around the outside of our house. This was followed by 10 baskets for time (dropped to 5 because of the aim of the players involved) and carrying an egg on a spoon around the outside of our home. The last event was the three-legged race using two members of each team. The team with the winning time got the difference as a time advantage for the next 25 minute scavenger hunt challenge. Previously, the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo bedecked envelopes they came in were without text but this time:

SHIELD envelope

Inside the teams found this mysterious photograph:

IMG 2478

Which is actually the “X” from the APEX logo on one of our television, the remainder being the bottom edge and television table. Underneath the base they found their last clue, a famous riddle from J.R.R. Tolkien’s the Hobbit:

A box without hinges, key, nor lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid.

Which of course is an “egg” (or eggses per Gollum). This clue was supposed to lead our staunch Avengers in-training to the egg cartoon in the fridge, inside which the last the figures could be found: Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Widow.

Both sets of little boys got gift cards and to keep the figurines they had found. Everyone got to keep their T-shirts. And fun was had by all…except complaints about the last riddle as being inaccurate. Which I attribute to geek illiteracy. All in all it took about two and a half hours to complete the missions. I fell victim to incorrect answers leading to clues again this time, something that is easier to correct in a role-playing campaign than it is in real time.