Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The End of the Beginning

This recap begins with the PC's finishing the invasion of Tonguescum's camp and ends with them standing before the gates leading to their next series of adventures. Quite literally.

Recap: The group starts out in a home of one of the camp shaman. After turning the place over for whatever they could find of use and healing themselves for the upcoming siege of Tonguescum's compound, they head East toward another single level stone structure. They enter the site unmolested, the camp at this time is deathly quiet and no orc attempts to challenge their advance. This new building has a floor plan identical to the previous one and is clearly the home of the second dead shaman. The place is devoid of life and is far neater than the last one, though still far from clean. They ransack the flat, opening any and all drawers and closets. They find likely more than they expected to as on the bookshelf a wand of Magic Missiles is found and in the nightstand near the shaman's bed a large, flat box made of polished wood about 1'x1' is also found. After picking the lock and opening the lid, a magical, golden necklace with amulet is revealed. Before leaving the stone structure, Luethar opens the door to a room utilized as a privy and blasts a pisspot with two magic missiles, to confirm the identification of the wand. He laughs wickedly as he sprays orc urine and feces on the far wall. After that, they decide to leave.

At first the PC's contemplate climbing to the roof of this structure and jumping to the wall surrounding the compound. They change their minds after realizing that the logs making up the walls have been sharpened to a point at the top. Instead, Ryan MacBrady tells the group of the legend regarding Tonguescum's ascension to chieftain here. He says that there may be a good chance that, if challenged, Tonguescum will open the gate and meet them in direct combat. After finishing the tale the PC's decide to give it a go, the only exception being Cor'Nal, who again turns himself into a hawk and perches at the top of a large, north-side pine overlooking the compound.

After approaching the front of the gate MacBrady issues his challenge to the orc chief.

A pair of sentries greet them on a parapet above the wall on either side of the immense gate. One disappears for a few moments before climbing back up, returning with a MacBrady brother, Derris, holding his beaten, bloody body up by his hair for them all to see in a gruesome display. He is beaten so badly and his face is caked with so much dried blood that none of the PC's recognize him until Ryan mutters his name. When the orcs are satisfied with Ryan's recognition of their victim they toss him over the wall. He falls 15 feet, landing in a crumbled heap at the base of the wall. Ryan rushes over to his brother and falls to his knees beside him, realizing he is alive he tells Derris to hold on while pouring a healing potion down his throat. Derris comes to, though still barely alive as Ryan stands and screams at the wooden gate. He demands that Tonguescum rebuke his cowardice and meet him in battle. After a few seconds, the gate begins to open.

The open gate reveals six orcs, four of them apparently high ranking, possibly Tonguescum's personal guard, in a staggered, two by two formation spreading out from the front. At the rear, standing in the center between two orcs about ten feet apart from one another is the chieftain himself: Tonguescum. He is flanked by a bound and kneeling Piter MacBrady. Tonguescum has his right hand holding a giant scimitar and the left, a fistful of Piter's hair. He laughs at them mockingly and tells them if they leave now they can take Piter with them.

Knowing the offer to be a ruse, Piter speaks. In a raspy, barely audible voice he says "Kill them Ryan! Kill them all!"

Without a word Luethar fires a pair of magic missiles at Tonguescum. Taking them in the chest he takes a step back, roars, and shoves the blade of his scimitar into Piter's exposed abdomen, tucking it under his ribcage. Piter's midsection takes a few feet of the steel and a geyser of blood rushes out as Tonguescum pulls it free. Once loose of the blade's grip Piter falls to the ground, face first, his bound hands at his back. Black blood pools around his body with impossible speed.

At that, Ryan lets go of a bloodcurdling, ear-shattering scream and charges toward the massive orc, ignoring those around who guard him, his sword held high over his head. Before Ryan reaches him Cor'Nal blasts the orc with a "Hypothermia" spell damaging Tonguescum and sending him to one knee. After Ryan reaches the orc chieftain and he takes a mighty swing damaging him severely. Tonguescum flies into his barbarian rage and the rest of the combatants join the fracas. A long battle ensues, at the beginning those that could focused solely on Tonguescum, Ademar and Luethar firing at him from afar with flaming arrows and magic missiles while Ryan hacks at him with his greatsword. The strategy pays off. Before flying to the ground to join the melee as a bear, Cor'Nal casts a spell on the other orcs that heats the metal in their hands and on their bodies. They take damage over several combat rounds.

As a large bear Cor'Nal assists Ryan and his brother Derris who had been given a weapon earlier after another healing potion brought him up to an acceptable fighting level. Derris fights with the chieftain's guards and doesn't last long before he is cut down. Ryan is soon after cut down by Tonguescum, he is seriously injured but alive. The shapeshifted druid-bear, with continued help from the halfling and the arrow-slinging elf, takes down the chieftain after a solid one-two bear paw combination. Tonguescum falls to his back, bloodied but alive and moving. Cor'Nal takes this opportunity to heal the fallen Ryan MacBrady, who gets up and delivers the triumphant death blow to the fallen chieftain. Standing over Tonguescum's body, his greatsword held with two hands in an underhand style, the weapon driven through the chest with such ferocity as to penetrate the ground beneath him. After a triumphant second, he pulls the blade up as a fountain of orc-blood sprays up from the now-dead monster. A few moments later the PCs clean up those surviving orcs that remain.

Ryan MacBrady kneels to his father's side and realizes he is still, barely, alive. Ryans cuts his bonds and gently rolls him to his back, he is conscious. They whisper a few words to one another as Derris, now healed by the druid, looks on from over Ryan's shoulder. Piter manages to pull himself up, ever so slightly, enough to whisper in his youngest sons ear before his strength fails him. As he is gently lowered back down his body seems to lose all tension and Ryan raises a hand to his father's face to close his sightless eyes. With streaming tears, he stands and walks out of the compound.

The PC's search the bodies and the adjacent buildings, presumably where the captains and sergeants lived, and loot what they can from them. A few moments before they start the search, they notice the bulk of the female orcs and their children lying under the trees behind Tonguescum's burned-out home. They show no aggression towards the group and the PC's decide to ignore them as well, figuring that with all the men dead, they will have to make a pilgrimage to another area.

Once satisfied with their looting the PC's head away from camp and compound. The elves follow Derris back to the ruin of Snoam-Schlabach with Piter's body while Ryan and Luethar head to Whitewall to wait for them. While in Snoam-Schlabach the elves assist with stacking the bodies of women and children inside Piter's estate for a mass burning. Wood is gathered and funeral pyres are created for all the fighting men that defended the town. A special pyre is set aside to be burned first for Magda Dervish. A rare honor for a female. While this is going on Cor'Nal secretly uses his witchery to help erect a new building to honor Piter MacBrady and the fallen. Ademar makes sure to check the cellar of Piter's estate before flame touches it to search for any sign of Fengis or his remains. He finds neither, only a dark rootcellar with dirt flooring and two load-bearing posts, attached to which are sets of empty iron shackles. Dismayed at the open-ended fate of Fengis he returns to ground level.

Stacking the bodies, creating the building, gathering the wood and igniting the pyres takes the human and two elves four days. On the fifth day before leaving, Ademar makes an agreement with Derris to give him control of Fengis' store if no one lays claim to it. Derris says it is his if Fengis or any of his relatives do not claim it for a year and a day, per custom. They then shake hands as Derris thanks them for their help in allowing his fellow tribesmen to pass on to Valhalla with some measure of dignity. With that, the elves bid farewell to Derris MacBrady, new chieftain of Snoam-Schlabach, this time for good.

While in Whitewall, Luethar decides to start asking questions of the group of women left behind. He learns that he is not the first traveling companion his new friends have had since they arrived. In fact, he finds out to his dismay, he is not even the second. He learns that his friends once had a half-orc companion who, he was told, had been eaten by a great white bear while defending his friends from said bear. He also learns of a dwarf, named Porch or Snatch or something odd like that who hadn't been with them long but was never seen again afgter they left for an adventure in the Olde Snoam Mine. Luethar is rightfully troubled by this and decides to confront them on it when they return.

Five days after splitting up the companions are reunited at Whitewall and everyone is happy to learn that Loomis is still wearing pants among the women and children. After a night of rest the PC's confront Ryan who assures them that if welcomed, he is still interested in traveling with them. They agree that he is handy in a pinch and agree to welcome him along. They leave for the mythical town of Henutsen that very day.

After packing up their five person, eight (maybe its six now I forget) horse, three wagon, one pony caravan they head east. Less than two miles from Whitewall they encounter a small group of hostile gricks that they quickly dispatch. They camp out every night for four nights and have only one encounter along the road. While camping out one of the nights Cor'Nal hears what he believes to be the sounds of the yeti's heavy footsteps, although he never sees the beast. He decides, yet again, to not tell his skeptical friends of the beasts presence in the area.

During the trek the trail takes them along the foothills of southern Snowsquall Peaks. After coming to a fork in the road they head northeast as per the instructions given by the Whitewall innkeeper. The trail becomes rockier and narrower, for miles they travel uphill at a slow pace, along a gradual incline. Eventually the slope levels out and the trail becomes wider, quickly becoming over a hundred feet in width. Along the sloped southern edge, they look down to reveal that they have traveled over a thousand feet in the air realizing for the first time (as their southern exposure had been concealed for the last several miles) that they have bee traveling up and around a mountainside. Pushing on nearly a half-mile in the distance they see a large town, seated neatly in the largest corrie any of them ever laid eyes on or even heard legend of. It was as though the gods themselves scooped a crater out of the side of the mountain and decided to conceal it with a wall of solid rock, 40 feet in height all around at its shortest. It is a natural marvel, likely unduplicated anywhere else in the world.

Once they pry their eyes away from the sight of the village they notice in the space between them a pair of smoke columns rising up nearly 600 yards from the town. Approaching, they find it to be a pair of funeral pyres, one larger than the other, a woman and her young female charge at her side. Both of them in apparent mourning. Moving on without a word they reach a wooden gate, 25 feet high and forty feet long. It is the only man-made protection required as the rest has been provided by the gods themselves in the form of natural mountain stone walls.

They stand in front of the massive gate, a single old-cockney voice is heard from behind the wooden wall as a slide-view opens at eye level.

"Well, state yer bidness then." The old man says...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Proposition

Years ago, when my world was in its infancy, I slaved over the names of the elven nation and her cities. I wanted them to be wildly different not only from one another, but also very different from the elven cities and nations of fantasy lore. Such as Rivendell, Qualinost, Silvanost, Lothlorien, Evermeet et cetera. In so doing, I remembered a city that I thought had an excellent name that fit the criteria of originality and unique sound. A city that was home to a character once played by a good friend of mine. It was not my creation, but I thought the person who created it, also the same person who played the aforementioned character, would not mind my use of his intellectual property and would in fact be quite flattered by its inclusion.

That city was to be The Citadel of Mist.

Unfortunately, as I have found out years later, it was not his original property and he didn't come up with the name at all. That is not to say this friend of mine is a plagiarist, not at all. In fact the fault is all mine as my friend never actually made any claim to the name itself. I myself had made the assumption all along, and my continued ignorance of the Forgotten Realms continent of Faerun only contributed. I'm sure this friend and fellow gamer only thought I understood that all these years and was likely, quite surprised upon finding that I had "lifted" The Citadel for my own world.

This too, was not the case. Regardless, this years long misunderstanding has created a conundrum for me. I now have a major city in my world that is exactly the same as a major city that exists in the world of Toril on the continent of Faerun in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting.

I have told you all that to tell you this: We need a new name.

I cannot have our world be perceived as a knockoff of a major campaign setting. Whether the world is ever published or not is irrelevant. I just want to preserve the integrity of my, of our, creation.

So, to all those who play in my campaign world or read this blog: A challenge.

Submit to me, via email, your suggestions for a new name, or even many names, that you feel could be a suitable replacement. Keeping in mind that The Citadel of Mist is a home to elves traditionally known as "High Elves". The thinkers, scholars, scientists and aristocrats of elven society. The Citadel is a large city, the largest in square mileage and population in Kemmermere. It is made almost entirely of stone structures, as Sanctuary, The City to the South (as it is called by The Citadel's residents) is its antithesis, a city in the trees, many square miles of structures created from wood and leaf.

Keeping those things in mind about the city it would be appreciated if you would send to me any ideas you may have. The suggestions you send should be completely original and of your own creation. I will leave this open for awhile as I hope to get many suggestions over a few weeks time. I will then pare the list down and post it as a poll on the blog, whereby I hope to have a clear winner made by vote of the people. Those people being all five of us who read this blog.

Thank you in advance for your submissions.

Just in case my address is