Warhammer

City of Bone

City of Bone: Having arrived in the Southern most city of Arabia, __. The heroes set off on an over-land journey to the ancient city of _. Barak has been very closed lipped and evasive about the city, but also very persuasive that it will be worth the journey when they get their payout. So they set off with the caravan that includes elephants, exotic foods, a small library of books, and a whole entourage of entertainers and helpers.

A very brief piece of this journey is through the desert but the caravan quickly reaches the jungles of the Southlands and spends a week or two trudging though the heat and insects. In their travels a few things surfaced about Barak: he is fairly well known to merchants, his face appears to be severely scarred which he claims came about from a childhood illness, and he has a crush on the Dark Elf (DE) even spending a large amount of money on jewelry and gifts for her. Other than that there were only two notable encounters along the way.

First the heroes were ambushed by a group of Yuan-ti, snake men. These were essentially chaos beast men to the Empire folks but instead of being a dog, goat, or cow mix they were snake and reptile abominations. Needless to say, Aaron had a great time fighting them. During this encounter Kozar nearly destroyed them with his swords power when he rolled a critical failure on his rolls. The sword effectively sucked the winds of magic out of the air and prevented any magic user from casting. Then it spat the energy out in shock waves that helped finish off several of the yuan-ti. Barak did not participate in this battle either but the heroes did hear him chanting within his howdah atop the lead elephant. The battle was won without much damage, but Barak was still furious that he had lost some precious cargo.

Second, the caravan was stopped when a giant blocked the path and demanded that they answer a riddle to prove their good intentions. This they did not do and were forced to fight the giant, who turned out to be dead and disguised with a clever illusion. The giant proved to be an easy victory for the heroes, but it was their first exposure to what was to come.

When they arrived close to the city, Barak dismounted and ordered that the caravan remain behind until he could meet with the rulers himself. He invited the heroes to accompany him on this journey and ensured them that the King and Queen would send for the good shortly. This was when the heroes got a true glimpse of what they had gotten themselves into. As the approached the city they noticed workers in the fields sluggishly baking bricks, repairing the road, clearing jungle, and reconstructing the city walls and buildings. It took a minute, but they soon realized that the workers were all zombies. Of course this prompted some tense questions with Barak, but they agreed to meet with the King and Queen to better gauge the situation. This proved to be quit interesting as well.

They quickly marched through the city and came to the Jade Palace where Kaserabet (the Queen) and Sumulael (the King) held court with an entire entourage of undead servants. They were actually greeted by Shalmaneser, the Queen’s highest advisor, and shown to areas where they could bath and refresh themselves. They were provided with rooms, clothing, and all sorts of luxury. They did not meet the rulers until later that night at dinner. Kaserabet was the first to arrive and she quickly initialed the ritual of Salt Bond, which basically ensures that nothing harmful will befall the guests as long as they give the same respect to the host. She was an excellent host and although aged a little, very attractive and amiable. They casually dinned with her exchanging pleasantries and speaking about here work as Queen and studies as a mage until her husband arrived. Sumulael entered seated on a thrown carried by four enormous zombies and flanked by , a yauan-ti diplomat sent by her people somewhere in the north. Sumulael was an incredibly large man and also very foul in his words and manners. He ate like a slob and almost blatantly threatened the characters the whole time. He was also very lewd with the DE and __.

But the most shocking discovery came as dinner was served by a zombie that the heroes recognized, one of the porters from the caravan! Sumulael enjoyed this thoroughly and it was all the heroes could do to not attack them all immediately. But, their equipment had been left in their rooms and they were outnumbered. The rest of the meal passed with only Sumulael chatting with about all sorts of experiments he had planned for the rest of the caravan.

(I think I have to read the rest of the module again to see how everything played out.)

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Big Mike's Interlude

When they returned to Altdorf after visiting the dwarfs, they decided to restore Durag Dol to an operable condition. To do so they needed knowledgeable dwarfs to help. So they set about recruiting in the taverns and neighborhoods with the biggest Dwarf population. Here Kozar again won some of the dwarfs over with his tales and performances. He actually rolled another critical success and the heroes were able to recruit a master plumber. Or more specifically, they ran into the assistant of the most prominent waterworks expert in Altdorf. After hearing about Durag Dol he immediately agreed to go to Durag Dol and help out. It turned out that Durag Dol had originally been designed with a variety of water-based and water-powered systems to exploit an underground river that was close to it. The engineer was only too glad to see the devices for himself. Only he even remembered/knew that they existed and he had given up hope of even finding the ancient hold.

With such a prominent figure going, it wasn’t hard to convince others to accompany the heroes. They soon had a small group of 10-15 dwarfs who agreed to accompany them. After some preparations, needed supply acquisition, and a stop at the Amethyst College to drop off the Necromancers’ possessions for investigation the heroes set off. This time they took the Witch Elf (WE) along too.

On their way up the river, the heroes stopped at a small village named __. Here the heroes were asked to help with some interesting happenings. A small group of Sigmarite pilgrims had been ambushed in the woods not far from the town and the local populace lacked anyone who could/would investigate. The heroes decided that they would send Dillon and Kili on with the rest of the dwarfs and supplies whilst they investigated.

It did not take the heroes long to find the ambush sight as one lone initiate had survived and was able to show them the place. She (the initiate) was also suffering from horrid nightmares and visions associated with the attack and after showing the way she returned to the village. There was one younger lad (about 14) who agreed to come along with the heroes though, Olaf. Olaf had an uncanny eye and was the best shot in the entire region. He was so good that he was even conscripted into the town’s militia to serve as a watchman and scout. He accompanied the heroes as they searched for the group responsible for the attack and any possible survivors. They had found no bodies at the sight except some unrecognizably burnt figures, but not nearly enough to constitute the entire group.

Whilst investigating the ashes however, Kozar found an unusual amulet that he decided to keep. It seemed out of place and definitely not something a group of pious devotees would be carrying. He reasoned that it must have been dropped by one of the attackers. What he didn’t know was that this had been left behind intentionally by the culprits and they very much wanted someone to pick it up. This was a magical amulet that allowed them to see through the bearers eyes, influence their dreams, and track their progress. Who were they? A trio of chaos crones who had managed to control a small band of orcs and undead and decided to start taking what they wanted from the surrounding country side.

The DE was also able to help a little with this as she used one of her ability of psichomancy (?) to look into the recent past and discover what had happened. She saw the burning of the wagons and what not and was also able to see some of the orcs. This way the heroes knew at least a little about what they were up against. It did help a little as the journeyed on but not that much.

While Kozar was wearing this amulet, the crones had been invading his dreams and making his sleep all but worthless. Instead of send their minions to attack the crones were setting up a nice reception and hopefully weakening the party as they traveled to their hideout. It proved to be a two day journey and Kozar was all but exhausted by the time they arrived at the cove complex that served as their lair. Here the heroes had to battle their way past Ettercaps, orcs, zombies, and even trolls (Big Mike can clarify this maybe, I don’t remember all that well.) to get to the hags. This they did however and Olaf proved to be an invaluable support with his bow skills and expert eye. So much so, that we decided to keep him on as a hireling and eventually developed him into a real character.

The heroes ended this threat and made off with quite a bit of the loot as well. Of course some of it was returned to the sigmarites, and a little given to the villagers who had suffered from the attacks but by and large they were able to keep most of it as no one could claim it. However, when they returned to town it wasn’t to a heroes welcome as they had expected.

When they showed up, the town was happy to take their money and glad for the help eliminating the threat, but in the week it took them to accomplish it all someone had been spreading rumors and fomenting suspicions. It turns out that the same assassin that had tried to kill Kozar in Altdorf had followed the heroes upstream and began working on the villagers as soon as the heroes left. He was the angry brother of the noble that Kozar had spurned so long ago and the enemy he maintained on his character sheet. Because they were both elves the villagers almost felt like it was something they could not interfere in, and after hearing both sides of the story they decided that it would have to be settled with a duel. The idea for which I can’t remember who came up with.

The duel was going somewhat poorly for Kozar until he scored a luck hit on his opponents arm/hand. This didn’t immediately end the fight, but after a very poor roll, the enemy had dropped his sword and was pleading for mercy. Kozar was feeling benevolent and decided that it was in order to grant him his request. However when he bent to help the enemy up, he was viciously stabbed in the manhood and momentarily caught off guard. He was able to fend off one last attack before the enemy turned to flee cradling his wounded arm. The crowd was stunned as very few of them had even seen an elf let alone a duel of honor between two of the. Because none of them moved to stop them, BM nailed him in the back with his spear and the WE finished him off before he could get far. This effectively vindicated Kozar, but whilst all this was happening BM was running his mouth and one of the sigmarite priests who had showed up to take care of the lone survivor decided that he sounded/looked too much like a heretic to let him go on his own. The heroes had no choice but to let him be taken back to Altdorf for “questioning.” The heroes had been in the focus of the witch hunters from time to time just because they were so different, but rumors of their stories, magic, and other things had made the witch hunters a little suspicious. Add to that BM’s Norse heritage, social stigma, and chaos taint and they had fairly made up their mind to bring him in. As this was a priest from Altdorf, he was vaguely aware of the rumors and being a little overzealous would not settle for anything else.

So BM was carried back to the city. The WE and Olaf decided to go on to Durag Dol to tell the Dwarfs what had happened as well as deliver the rest of the supplies and new found money. Kozar returned to Altdorf behind BM and used some sketchy contacts he heard about through an initiate from the Amethyst College to find some one who could break BM out. There was simply an exchange of money and the promise that BM wouldn’t show up again for a good long time. This was the best deal they could get. And in the end, it worked out well and BM was able to get out of prison and make his way to Durag Dol. I didn’t do details on this, but I figured that there was someone who took a bribe and let BM go instead of someone else. There may have even been a loss of documents so that they wouldn’t have to worry about them coming for him again. There were a few witch hunters however who remember BM’s face and may be inclined to bring him in in the future if they happen to run into him. I hadn’t decided if I wanted to make more out of this than that. The Heroes paid a good sum to get this all taken care of and I think I will let it stand unless they do something else to trigger the attention of the authorities.

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Between

Between: the details and minutia After some time recuperating and working on things at Durag-Dol, the heroes decided to return to Altdorf for some needed supplies. They also figured that it would be a good opportunity to check on all of their loose ends and recruit some more help if possible.

While there the heroes were told by a friend at the Amethyst College that a southern trader had recently inquired about rare books and perhaps would be interested in buying some of the items Kozar had acquired from the necromancer. While everyone else was doing there thing Kozar followed up on this contact and met a man who called himself Barak (the trader). He was obviously Arabic and always kept his face covered with a scarf or veil, even when eating. Nevertheless, he was able to offer a significant amount of money for the trip and after some conversation he mentioned that he would also like some help delivering the book. The heroes’ money supply was quickly being depleted with all of Durag-Dol’s needed repairs, and Barak made a very good offer.

The heroes decided to act as guards for Barak and soon set off. Kozar, Olaf, the Dark Elf (DE), Aaron’s great sworder (GS) (I am not sure how we worked him in) all accompanied Barak while BM stayed with the dwarfs at Durag-Dol to make sure things were running smoothly. Barak preferred to travel by land down to the Border Prince lands and then take a boat around the Arabian Peninsula. On the way, the heroes made a stop in Highdeck, a small town built on the ruins of an ancient dwarf city. Barak needed a few days to finish up business and so the heroes decided to explore a little. They were able to get a surprisingly good tip from a drunk local who knew how to enter the ruins below the city. The heroes couldn’t resist and were soon trekking through ancient dwarf halls.

They had not gone far when they stumbled upon a strange cult preparing to sacrifice a young boy of about twelve years. The heroes quickly intervened before the ritual could be completed and made short work of the four cultists present. They were also able to save the young boy who was unfortunately so traumatized that he quit speaking. The heroes later found out that the cultists were none other than the boys parents and they were worshipping _, who is claimed by some to be a variant of Thal. At any rate, the heroes put the boy in the care of a Shallyan priest and went back to exploring.

Up to this point, they had found very little amidst the ruins. It looked like the locals had been down to these parts of the ruins and taken anything valuable long ago. However, one of the heroes spotted a secret door which led the heroes into an unplundered section. Here they found all sorts of broken weapons, old skeletons, and destruction. Highdeck had been overrun by green skins and the ruins showed it. Everything was destroyed and the heroes were only able to salvage a few worthwhile items. Things did get a little more interesting though.

After exploring a few rooms and passages with several bodies the heroes came into a room where a great battle had taken place. It was a huge open space and was littered with bodies. After searching for some time they uncovered the body of what they believed to be a grand old dwarf. He was in a very damaged but still impressive incomplete suit of ancient armor and still held a huge book in his dead hands. This they took and added it to their plunders, even though they not understand any of the words. This turned out to be Highdeck’s last stand, and this their Book of Grudges. They later returned it to the dwarf scholars at Slayer Keep and were rewarded handsomely.

They still had time to kill however and so the heroes continued on. A few chambers later they came across a strange green glow. They were weary and soon that caution was shown to be warranted. As they drew closer to what looked to be a pulsating globe of green mist, it suddenly sent out a shock wave that animated several orc skeletons. The heroes began destroying everything that came at them, but every few seconds the orb would pulse again and more would rise. As they watched, the orb took the distinct shape of an orc shaman, but remained opaque and insubstantial. The heroes were forced to withdraw to regroup and the orc skeletons fell to the ground after going a short distance. The heroes regrouped and came back with a new strategy to destroy the orb. Olaf had been given several spell arrows from the dwarfs and attacked the orb with them and several others took shots with their muskets. In the mean time, they had to fight off several orc skeletons but they managed to extinguish the ord. Or so they thought.

The heroes quickly searched the remains and found the shaman’s skeleton but little of value. They did not have long to enjoy their victory though as several minutes after their victory the orb began to form again. I had originally created the orb to stop the heroes from exploring because I didn’t want to have to create any more of the map, which I was doing spontaneously. I did decide to let them “kill” the thing and explore a little more before having it begin again. I did not make them fight anymore skeletons but they were smart enough to make a quick get away. Their time was short anyway and they were a little battered from their success. I told them that this was the psychic residue of the great WAAGH of the orc war band that had somehow continued on here. This WAAGH had taken on a life of its own and continued to fight and destroy anyone who came too close. So the heroes didn’t get too sidetracked but still came away with something significant. They were also able to do some recruiting while there as many dwarfs still live in the town.

Next the heroes ventured over the Mountains and into the lands of the Border Princes. This also proved to be eventful. On their trek the heroes stopped at a small walled town where they were immediately contacted by the local ruler and asked for assistance. The ruler turned out to be a surprisingly attractive women, who invited the heroes to her palace and wined and dined them. Kozar ended up spending most of the night with her and readily agreed when she asked him to take a correspondence to a neighboring village. It was only partially out of the way so Kozar and two others went with him (I can’t remember exactly who). When they came to the village however, the found the place sacked and burning. There were figures around the town so the heroes hailed them. When the first mounted figure approached however it became obvious that they were not friendly. As the lead figure advanced a huge section of his mounts front quarters sloughed to the ground. Needless to say, the heroes decided to leave as quickly as possible.

As they raced to catch up with their group they were dogged by several men on horseback and a strange loping humanoids. They were able to put some distance between them and their pursuers but not loose them entirely. They quickly sent the wagons ahead and prepared to confront the mysterious pursuers. As they closed in the lead figure began to proselytize! He was indeed a follower of father Nurgle and had come to spread his faith and disease with all he could catch.

What followed was a desperate struggle for the heroes. However with the help of their magical gifts from the Dwarfs and an unexpected ally they prevailed. This follower of Nurgle proved to be a true Chaos champion and nearly proved too much for the heroes. He was a massive brute and wore a thick corselet breastplate and arms. He also had massive spiked gauntlets and a sort of skirt covered in a patchwork of various skins sown together. His marred face was covered with the bottom piece of a great helm (the part that lowers and rises) and kept on with a sort of leather harness. He was armed with a unique flail that appeared to be made of a black orc spine attached to a wooden head. The grip was some sort of claw that also gripped the users forearm and dug its claws in at about the elbow; there is little chance of dropping this weapon. He also carried a very unique shield. A human skin had been stretched across the surface and the still attached head was mounted on the top. There were a variety of cuts and pustules on the skin and it almost appeared to still be bleeding and oozing. The real surprise came when the shield was struck for the first time and the mounted head screamed and vomited a nasty acid bile all over the perpetrator. It was funny to see Moots face while we were doing this fight. I know that some of that is kind of sick, but I really wanted them to get the feel for how fanatic and badass these guys are. This wasn’t a simple mutant or cultist, this was a real-deal champion. To add a little flavor, I came up with little chants or missionary lines for him to say like “Embrace the sickness that is Father Nurgle, he will give you a balm for your suffering and sweet infection for your pain.” I think it might have been a little much for everyone and it was honestly hard to play something that was so obviously vile. Anyway, we don’t do that very often but I might send that idea to Games Workshop so they can work it into one of their miniatures or something like that.

The battle was going well enough when the heroes only had to face the chaos knights, but when the Plague Bearers showed up they looked close to despair. Olaf used 3-6 magical arrows of lightning to down the champion, but everyone else was in bad shape. It was then that they noticed a mysterious shadow racing behind the Plague Bearers slaughtering them one at a time. This was a very unique high elf who had been hunting the band for quit some time. He helped them destroy the last enemies and was insistent that everything be burned including the clothing the heroes were wearing and all of their weapons were sanitized with fire. The elf also told them some supposed stories that surrounded the champion. It was rumored that he was the offspring of a human and an orc. Scholars would say that was impossible as orcs don’t breed, but try convincing the locals of that.

After the much needed help the heroes invited the elf to accompany them south. He readily agreed; he was in fact a shadow warrior of Ulthuan and sworn to hunt down and destroy any enemy of good be it Chaos, undead, etc. Later the heroes noticed that his eyes were solid black and he preferred to sleep during the day and be active at night. He fought with a Naginata; which he could wield as a spear, halberd or two handed sword; and some form of martial arts he had learned in his long life. He eventually told the heroes that he had been enhanced by magic to be able to fight these monsters on their own turf, in the dark and was equipped with some powerful spells, including sun bolt and invisibility, to help him with his task. He was however a sort of vagabond and outcast as evidenced by the fact that he worked alone and did not keep in contact with any other elves. He was a solitary assassin and very good at it. The heroes also noticed later that he sometimes coats his weapons with a powerful poison and sometimes even a bolas. He is all about stealth and is very fanatical about his duty to destroy enemies of the elves.

So with this new recruit, which Barak was not very happy about, the heroes continued their trek through the Border Prince domain to the Dwarf hold of__. From here they sailed around the Arabian Peninsula stopping at various port cities to trade and resupply. It was during one of their first stops that they had a long layover and decided to follow up on a rumor they had heard. Barak actually found out about this and floated it to the heroes so that he could judge their worth. He declined to accompany them of course as he had important business transactions to watch over.

The heroes decided to explore a ruin some distance from the city that was rumored to still contain a good amount of treasure as no one had gotten much from it in the past. (I will have to fill in the details of this after reviewing the module.)

After successfully returning to the ship, the characters made the rest of the voyage without incidents and arrived at __, where they took the last part of the journey by land.

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Durag Dol

The Halls of Durag Dol – Originally from White Dwarf Magazine but heavily modified by me. On their return to the Empire from Nagaroth, the heroes spent some time recovering and getting established. There was one small subplot with Kozar. One night as he walked through the streets of Altdorf he encountered a group of robed figures running from the officials. These were not ordinary officials though, and neither were the robed figures (but Kozar didn’t pay much attention to that).

As these men got closer, one of the figures was clipped by a shot from a black powder pistol fired from behind. It just so happens that as he stumbled forward he ran straight into Kozar who immediately went to his aid and caught the man. Two others ran past the group in their hurry to escape; they may not have even noticed that the one had fallen. He was gaunt and had a shaved head. There was little time to talk however as Kozar’s attention was ripped away by the Witch Elf (WE) who had been accompanying him on a night of elfin entertainment. She had seen an assassin taking careful aim at Kozar’s back and moved him out of the way at the last moment. The arrow only skinned his check; the robed figure wasn’t so lucky, and took the arrow full on in the chest. He knew he was finished and tried to utter some sort of plea. Sadly, only a mumble emerged. He did have enough strength however to press an intricate crown into Kozar’s hand.

At this point the assassin made a hasty escape and the WE followed. Kozar was left holding the dead man and the strange crown. It was bigger than an average man’s head and extremely intricate with a large gem stone set in the front. Kozar decided that it would be better to stay put than try and do anything as the sounds of the dead man’s pursuers were closing in. He thought it was the watch, but it turned out to be the temple guard and witch hunters.

They immediately seized him and searched the body of the dead man. Interestingly, when Kozar tried to return the crown his hand would not release it. None of the men seemed too eager to touch it anyway and they whisked him away to the high temple. There he was informed that the crown he carried was none other than Nagash’s own. The men were cultists who had somehow broken into the deepest vaults of the temple and managed to steal the crown. Some priests viewed this as evidence that Nagash still lives as his possessions are trying to return to him. Needless to say, the priests asked Kozar to keep this experience to himself and had him followed to ensure that he did.

Here in the temple each of Kozar’s fingers was systematically broken in order to pry the crown free. It was incredibly painful and the ‘doctors’ were none too gentle. But after that ordeal Kozar was attended to by one of the temple’s best healers, who were secretly probing him to see if the short exposure to the crown had warped or tainted him in any way. He even went so far as to let Kozar read some chapters from a copy of Nagash’s Book of the Damned to see if he would succumb when confronted with something else of the necromancer’s. But Kozar passed several will rolls and really seemed ambivalent to what was happening. I have to admit that I was disappointed with this, but have to say that it was true to character and he played his honesty very well. I had planned to use this as a tool for introducing the heroes to a variety of undead and perhaps even a journey to the Southlands or perhaps even close to Nagash’s citadel, but they didn’t bite and so I let it pass. Kozar returned to the inn where they were staying and met up with the others.

Kozar was also informed that the arrow used to attack him was definitely not normal and when he examined it he discovered that it was of elfin make. The authorities did not guess this right off the bat and were much more interested in the crown. So Kozar left before the witch hunters could do much investigating. They did however finally figure it out and began following the heroes afterward to see if this was a key to some sort of weird plot. Paranoia was rampant. Kozar deduced that it was probably an isolated incident and related to his enemy – the family of a young elfin noblewoman he had spurned and humiliated. He did not think that they were so obsessed that they would try and kill him though.

Whilst all of this was happening with Kozar and the WE, Dillon and BM (BM) were out carousing. It turns out that they decided to drink at a bar that catered to dwarfs and that they happened to choose the one night of the month when it actually allowed Troll Slayers in. Needless to say, since the heroes didn’t choose their own direction the DM had to. Dillon and BM ended up drunk and passed out on the floor. The next morning they discovered that they had made a blood oath with Kili Thekerson, a troll slayer, to help him revenge the wrongs committed against the Durag dwarf Clan and restore the war hammer that Kili carried to its ancestors in an old clan hall that had been overrun and forgotten about for several hundred years.

After some preparations, the heroes set out to the hold (the DE stayed to work on training with some psi-abilities she had a natural talent for). It is located east of Sylvania in the foot hills of the World’s Edge Mountains about halfway between Slayer Keep and Zhufbar. Somewhere between the __ and __ rivers. The heroes entered unmolested. (I will have to include a map here at some point so that this makes sense.) The skaven had been here for several months without incident and the creature in charge of security was very lax. The first two levels of the colony were dedicated to farms, industry, and the temporal well being of the clan and the skaven copied this for he most part. They had converted many of the rooms into rat kennels, mold frames, etc. The heroes were able to walk through most of the first level without much of a fight, but they allowed one sentry to escape and so had a little more difficulty with the second level (both of these levels were designed by me).

Here they were presented with a barricade and simple trap. None of the skaven in the warren were especially accomplished except the white seer so they did not put up much of a direct fight. They allowed the heroes to break the barricade guarded only by a few slaves and then unleashed close to ten warp rats on them. The heroes did a poor job of managing Kili however and he charged straight into a combat that could have been easily won. Instead the heroes were severely hurt. Seeing this, the waiting guards thought to finish them off. They did not know about Kozar’s sword. He used the time stopping ability and saved the day. The heroes had to recoup at this point and took some much needed time to heal their wounds. Meanwhile the skaven prepared below.

Knowing that he had seriously erred and needed to finish the heroes quickly, the skaven in charge of security decided to put all of his forces into defending the lower levels. The heroes were left relatively unmolested for the remainder of the second level. They encountered some interesting rooms including an area where the skaven had begun cultivating a form of wheat that could grow with very little sunlight. This has been called black wheat and the heroes took a sample to the university in Altdorf for research. They also found a millstone and some of the dwarfen tombs. Most had been sacked millennia ago, but Kozar with his heightened Elfin senses found an antique helm and decided to keep it in spite of Kili’s warning not to plunder any of the dwarfen treasure. He was momentarily cursed for this, but ultimately ended up with the helm and no adverse affects.

At the third level, the heroes came to the Main Shaft (modified by me) where the skaven launched their first line of defense. This chamber was essentially the intersection of the colony. Here steps/passages from the above galleries intersect with the lower living and temple areas. It is basically a shaft that travels all the way from the surface to the mines below. Of course the top is sealed to keep unwanted visitors out and the mines have flooded. There are three walkways: one around either side of the shaft and one that roughly goes through the middle. There are no handrails or guards to keep someone from falling. Like the dwarfs of old, the shaven had set up their initial defenses here.

This area was mainly to slow down intruders, gauge their strengths, and pick off as many as possible. To this purpose the skaven had stationed two jezzailichs and a number of slingers here to harass intruders as they crossed the open shaft. The White Seer had also placed several magical traps along the walkway. When the heroes arrived, the skaven were waiting. Kozar quickly un-slung his bow and provided supporting fire, BM initiated a spell, Kili charged, and Dillon used his returning axe. This was a tough fight for the heroes and Kili took a jezzailich shot head on. He was so injured from the impact that he was inclined to stay here while the heroes moved on to clear the lower levels. The idea was that he would catch up in a little while. Now that I think about it, this wasn’t very troll slayer-like, but I think he had taken enough damage to kill him twice over so instead of just getting rid of him I had him sit it out. (Not only that, but the players were having trouble convincing him not to charge into every combat and needed a little reprieve from that sort of fighting.) The heroes pressed on.

The fourth level is the gauntlet (modified heavily by me) and as the name implies, it is designed as the main defensive position. Here the heroes faced some tough opposition. At first the whole floor seems to be comprised of only one chamber, but in reality there are secret side passages that parallel it. Fortunately for the heroes the skaven had not figured this out yet and only knew about the traps. Being aware of the heroes though, they did bring the surviving rat ogre into the fray (the other had been killed on the 1st or 2nd level). Again this was a tough fight, but the heroes discovered the secret doors and used them to good effect to ambush the skaven and turn the tides. In this manner they confused the skaven and turned the traps against them. The assassin, who had been assigned to security, took a chance to ambush BM here and nearly succeeded in killing him during this fight. Some magic saved him however and the assassin fled to the upper levels.

Finally the heroes entered the fifth level, the Kin Hearth (heavily modified by me). It was here that the most important activities of the dwarfen colony took place. Here the lore was kept, here the dwarfs worshiped their gods and ancestors, here the young were taught, and here the clan elders debated any relevant issues to the clan’s safety and progress. The skaven used it for a similar purpose. The most powerful leaders had taken this level and adopted it for their own purposes. The White Seer dominated the level with his personal and sleeping areas. The warlord/clan leader (in name) also had his quarters here. The assassin had fled at this point and was watching from the shadows to see if the more powerful skaven would finish this threat for him. The White Seer had even used his magic to control a cave troll which the heroes had to fight to get to him. This last fight proved to be memorable.

It was obvious from the get go that the heroes were out gunned. They had to face the most powerful skaven, with their bodyguards, after having fought their way here and were already fatigued and battered. They did succeed in vanquishing the troll fairly quickly, but that took about everything they had. That is why Kozar decided to use his time stop ability again. It proved to be very useful and he was able to dispatch the warlord and several bodyguards before attempting to slay the White Seer. It was then that he rolled a critical failure and dropped his sword; the spell’s costs proved too much and he collapsed having been completely drained of energy. Dillon had been incapacitated and Kili had suffered much from the troll (I brought him back recouped so he could help with the troll, plus that is what a troll slayer is all about anyway, right?). BM was essentially all alone with the White Seer and two of his bodyguards. That was when he decided to use the daemonic ruin he had learned from Narse, the Dark Elf sorcerer. It had a spectacular effect.

Time was temporarily halted and BM was brought before Tzentch himself, or so he thought. It was actually a greater Lord of Change answering his master’s call. Here BM struck a bargain with Tzentch’s servant to serve the foul god and received the help to finish the skaven as well. Both Dillon and Kili were shielded from this as they had long since passed out. Kozar being more in tune with the aetheric winds was awakened and offered his own deal. Slaanesh used the conduit created by Tzentch’s servant to make his own appeal. He promised Kozar untold pleasures: wealth, women, prestige, power, etc. which we promptly refused. Both Kozar and BM were shown a vision of Chaos’s final triumph over humanity and promised a part in it if they would worship these dark powers. Neither was aware of the other’s offer, nor the results. After this vision, Kozar was again drained but BM was augmented and sent several yellow horrors to help him. The horrors quickly finished the White Seer and almost BM as they turned on him when all of the other opponents were slain.

BM then had to tell the other characters that he had finished the last of the skaven off on his own. Of course he left out everything about chaos. He was able to explain this away by showing his battle wounds and the heroes were forced to accept what he said, for lack of a better explanation. Kozar had his own things to worry about and was under the impression that the whole thing was caused by his use of the sword’s chaotic magic. In truth, this helped both Tzentch and Slaanesh appear, but the main impetus was BM’s use of the ruin. Kili was also suspicious as Sognirstain, the magical hammer of clan Durag, gave him certain awarenesses. From time to time he could even distinguish some of the words the ancestors were speaking (their souls would speak through the hammer and were very active now that the characters were so close to their clan temple), and they told him to be weary of BM. The skaven were however dead and the heroes could complete their quest. They dedicated the hammer and any other treasures they had (including Kozar’s helm) to the clan’s ancestors and allowed them to rest. After some much needed rest and the final exploration of anything that had been left behind by the skaven, the heroes covered the entrances as best they could and returned to Altdorf with the spoils.

They had found several items that required more attention and expertise than they had:
  • The jezzailichs
  • The black wheat
  • The special rats the skaven had been breeding for food
  • Some of the mold specimens

These items they took to the university and left for scholars to wrestle with.

There were a few other items that they left at the Amethyst College for safe keeping:
  • A small bag of warp stone snuff from the White Seer
  • The White Seer’s special glove of life stealing
  • Some skaven weapons including the warlord’s halberd

The heroes then took a trip to the Dwarfen hold of Slayer Keep to return the bounty of skaven ears that the Empire folks just laughed at. There they were formally recognized and awarded a sort of honorary dwarf status. For all intents and purposes this was just a nicety. It granted very little in the way of respect, reputation, privileges, etc. The one thing it did give them was the ability to travel freely through most of the dwarfen city and community. (I guess you could call that substantial as most humans, let alone elfs, never get that opportunity). While they were there recuperating they made some friends, learned some basic Khazalid (dwarfen language), and got to add dwarfen to their cultural familiarities.

During all of this, Kili asked the dwarfen priests to work with BM on whatever questionable thing he had done while fighting the Grey Seer. He had also noticed that BM would spend hours alone studying or meditating and this only fueled the suspicion. It turns out that BM had been lead to a Tzentchian tomb made of metal plates that was conveniently hidden on a dead body just inside the main hall of Durag Dol. It was no coincidence that he was lead there, nor that that cultist had been lead there only to die after tripping on a loose stone. It also wasn’t a coincidence that the skaven never found the body, and thus couldn’t take his belongings. This was all part of Tzentch’s plans and gave BM a guide to his new life as a servant of the dark gods. He and I worked out a fairly complicated daemonic pact with spell packages, consequences, vows, etc. The studying he was forced to postpone however while with the dwarfs as Kili was too suspicious and the priests kept him on a strict schedule.

It was also around this time that Kozar decided to use his sword’s ability to cast Death Vision, which grants the user a glimpse into a possible future where they witness their own death. In the vision Kozar saw the DE, who he had begun to have a romantic relationship with, welcoming them home. She proceeded to lead him up to one of their rooms. He was pretty excited at this point. When they got there she made her move but in the middle of their kissing she stabbed him in the back with a vicious looking dagger and laughed as he collapsed to the ground in his own blood. As he lay bleeding on the floor the DE’s face morphed and cycled through just about any character that I thought could somehow become involved in the adventure, or had been up to this point. He saw the faces of his family, each of the other party members, the cultist with the crown, members of the Amethyst college, witch hunters, etc. Needless to say, after this dream Kozar was very weary and actually went so far as to have special back plate made just in case. This also made him very standoffish and basically killed the relationship. He did however avoid that fate and is still alive. I would still like to work that in somehow though, just to freak him out.

At the time BM was doing his penance with the priests, Kozar went back to a spot on the trail they had used to get to Slayer Keep when they had run into a few odd undead. (They actually fought an undead orc and two or three humans.) Kozar was able to find a trail and follow it to an abandoned homestead close to a small mine. Kozar took some time to do surveillance and noticed that the place was inhabited. Interestingly he did not see any real people, just tracks in the snow. So he followed these into the mine. There he encountered several zombies and their creator. He was nearly vanquished in spite of his sword’s abilities. After recovering (this actually took him several days) however, he was able to sort through the Necromancers possessions and found several interesting items. Most important was a large skin-bound tomb in a foreign script. But he also found a silver skull pendant, a journal, and several other odd books that detailed history and some of the necromantic trade. I introduced this as another plot hook to see if the heroes would delve into it at all; just a temptation to see how interested they were.

The skin-bound book however was what I used to get them into their next adventure.

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Dark Elves

Big Mike, Kozar, Dillon. The heroes became friends working together as mercenaries on multiple operations and decided to get out of the company after the commander was killed and the troop took on new management. They had just made a big raid against some beast men. The mercenaries eventually won the battle but lost a great deal of men and ended up being harried by bands of beast men all the way to Altdorf. There they decided to take on some different work and set out on their own. The non-humans had to stick together.

They were contacted by a representative of the Amethyst College and set out immediately for Nagaroth. They weren’t on the best terms with their former colleagues and decided that a hasty exit was better than sticking around. Their task was to find and retrieve one of the magisters who had been living in Nagaroth studying their culture, society, and mostly their magic.

On the way out of Altdorf, they were ambushed at a narrow point in river by some of the beastmen they had been fighting before. This was mostly just to give them some action and see how they would play their characters and how they would do in a fight. It also gave me an opportunity to show off some of the magic used by their Amethyst college. During the fight Big Mike’s Norse rune mage got a critical failure on one of his castings and actually made the last surviving beastman grow to an incredible size. Luckily after only a few rounds of combat the beastman got a critical failure and fell into the river. The Amethyst magister also used some cool magic. He enchanted his dagger with a strange blackness that inflicted big damage. I didn’t actually decide the effects though as it was mostly about atmosphere and something new.

After the fight, Ben was able to heal one of the sailors injured and received a strange old silver coin as payment. This was an heirloom passed through his family from his grandfather. I had intended to work that back in again, but haven’t had a chance. It could possible come in handy down the road if the characters are ever involved in an adventure that takes them to the dock area of Altdorf or they need some help along the river Reik as well. Who knows, but it is good to reward charitable behavior I think and not always just with character points.

They sailed to Mariengurg where they met some Arabian sailors who would take them to Nagaroth. This trip all happened without incident and they soon hit the southern shores of the New World’s northern continent. There they met some Dark Elf corsairs and changed ships. They were taken on as pseudo-passengers, but in actuality were treated more like prisoners. They sailed along the huge underground rivers that connect the north and south of the continent. Along the way they fended off a Skaven attack and gained the grudging respect of their captors/crew. The captain (name?) was secretly impressed with their magical abilities and truly wanted them to succeed in their mission which he suspected was going to weaken the sorceress enclave. In the end though, he was more interested in getting paid and he wouldn’t even get that if he didn’t deliver his cargo/slaves; he did however present the heroes with sea dragon cloaks from the sailors who died during the skaven raid in payment for their help. The first mate on this voyage, (Narse), was secretly a member of an all-male brotherhood of magic users who had to remain undercover for fear of reprisal from the Witch King and his mother with her enclave of sorceresses. An interesting side note about Narse and the Brotherhood – they worship a version of Tzentch as will be seen hereafter. One way to distinguish a brother’s magical abilities/time in the order is how much of his skin is black. With time and more exposure to the warping effects of chaos, the skin of these men will slowly turn a deep bluish-black starting at the finger tips and working up the arms. I hadn’t really thought through how it would work after that because there was no need. If the heroes ever go back to Nagaroth and encounter more senior members of the brotherhood, I would probably have to figure that out.

When they finally landed, they met their contact and traveled a short distance before stopping to stash their equipment in a safe place (really just buried in the ground). Narse arranged this contact, who was also a member of the brotherhood, and the heroes were told that they would actually have to be smuggled into a remote prison as slaves in order to save their wizard contact that had been discovered by the Dark Elves and imprisoned. The heroes knew none of this but had little choice except to continue, or turn back empty handed. After 3 months of boat travel none wanted to do this, nor did they know if they would be able to do so without further help from their contact, who was now in prison. Narse did give them the guarantee that their equipment would be safe and sealed the cache with a special ruinic protection. This proved to be a chaotic representation of the God Tzentch. He secretly did this so that the heroes could see him trace the ruin because he knew they would never be able to forget it. It was a powerful ruin and burned its impression into all of their minds forever. It did however protect their equipment as will be seen.

They waited at the cache for a few days and then were turned over to slavers who took them to the prison as slaves. The prison was actually a huge tower controlled by the sorceresses. It was huge and included dozens of levels, more like a keep than a simple tower. Of course I didn’t detail everything, but I had about 4 levels mapped just in case and included the escape route as I knew we would use at least that much. Once there, they quickly met their contact, Stephen, who proved to be a powerful wizard with some unique powers of the mind as well – I based this representation of Amethyst magisters on some of the 1st edition WFRP materials where they were mentalist or psionisits. This isn’t really how they are portrayed anymore, but it was what I had so I went with it.-. They also met and befriended a semi-reformed Witch Elf who was scheduled for torture for failing to do her religious duty of slaying young children. They were in the process of planning an escape when they had some fortuitous help. A leading sorceress from the enclave had come to interrogate Stephen and their plans got a little rush.

Unbeknown to the sorceress, a rival had sent an expert assassin to kill her while she was in the prison. The heroes witnessed the assassination, which was successful, but the assassin was also shot with a repeating crossbow by one of the sorceress’s bodyguards and had to make a quick retreat. With Stephen’s help the heroes were able to escape their cells and follow the blood trail to a secret escape tunnel which wound under the fortress.

After only a few turns, the heroes found the assassin collapsed from loss of blood and decided to heal him and enlist his aid to fully escape the fortress. They took a secret route through some underground crypt where they had to flee an elfin banshee. Once outside the assassin quickly took his own route and the heroes were left to find their way across the frozen country.

First they returned to their equipment cache which, sealed with the ruin, was completely secure. Next they plotted a course around the northern course of the bay that would take them away from major settlements. It was a long journey and they never would have made it without the Witch Elf who was able to get into settlements and buy/steel needed supplies. During this trip they only had one mentionable encounter.

At one point as they traveled, they came across a giant who was being hunted by chaos hounds and close to succumbing. This giant fought bravely, but with the loss of blood and fatigue it was clear that he would not survive. The heroes intervened and made a unique discovery as well. In the course of the fight, the giant reached for something to fend off the hounds and inadvertently grasped the handle of an ancient hidden door, which he promptly tore off the hinges and used as a weapon, in the side of the mountain he had been backed into. This door he used to both shield himself and bash hounds.

After the fight was over and the giant tended to, the heroes examined the mysterious door. It was massive and almost big enough for the giant to enter. The door was excellently made and the giant decided to keep it; it was also enchanted and proved to be a perfect weapon for the slow-witted creature.

The heroes entered the mountain and quickly discovered that it was both ancient and extremely well constructed. A huge corridor lead to a mysterious pillared chamber. That corridor was also decorated with paintings and murals of strange half-dragon giants charging to battle. The pillared chamber was very unique in that the pillars were actually carved statues of men, beast, warriors locked in deadly combat. As the heroes explored, they began to hear actual sounds of combat and see fleeting images of figures amongst the pillars. This continued until the heroes were carried away into a magical 3-D reenactment of some long forgotten battle, or so they thought.

They were actually seeing a future battle, the Last Charge of the Dragon Ogres. It basically showed the Dragon Ogres rolling out of their caves and mountain strongholds to fulfill their oaths to the chaos powers. There was a whole series of battles and different individuals shown, from the greatest and strongest to the smaller and insignificant. What did stick out to them was that they always noticed a certain smaller Dragon Ogre with a distinct oriental look to his armor and weapons; black with silver inlays of dragons and other mythical creatures. Finally they watched the last of the Dragon Ogres be smitten down. There remained only this smaller unique one to tell the tale of his people and their fall (not only is he a recorder of history but a sort or seer for the future as well). It was actually a pretty tragic story and tells how the Dragon Ogres weren’t actually evil but that they had made a pact with the ruinous powers to serve them in exchange for eternal life. Thus, the only way to escape this eternal servitude was to be killed while performing that same servitude.

Eventually the magic played out, the pillars returned to their solid state, and the sounds of battle faded. The heroes then became aware of that same unique Dragon Ogre standing before them. He gestured for them to follow and they were lead deeper into the mountain. There the Dragon Ogre speaking perfect Reikspell asked them their business. After some short explanations, Kozar asked if he could tell a tale (perform) for the Dragon Ogre. He was in no hurry to kill them but planned to challenge them to single combat and finish each one at a time. Kozar then rolled a critical success on his performance check and I had no choice but to give him something for it.

This creature was impressed and decided that the stories, the same being his specialty, were worth more than he would gain from slaughtering the heroes and asked to hear some more. After exhausting his repertoire Kozar and the heroes received an explanation of the Dragon Ogre 3-D movie and were presented very special gifts from the centuries of plunder the Dragon Ogres had collected. This was actually a sentry positioned here as a protection and actually saved the heroes from walking into a whole den of sleeping Dragon Ogres. He left them for a short time and returned with weapons for each of the player character.

Big Mike received a fire spear with several enchantments: unbreakable; warmth – on all the time, no cost to bearer (came in handy on the journey across the frozen lands of Nagaroth); ability to cast flame jets out of the tip – the spear will power up to 2 points into any jet per turn; and flaming armor – I believe that this costs 8 energy and the spear will pay all of it. But the spear only has a limited amount of energy (12 I think) and when fully depleted will loose all magical abilities including unbreakable and warmth.

Dillon received two dwarfen axes. One was enchanted with defensive powers and gave the bearer 2 extra damage resistance as well as a +1 to all active defenses. The other was enchanted as a thrower (super stereotypical I know) and is enchanted to return to a user after a throw as well as leap into their hand when needed. (I can’t remember the actual enchantment names since no one played this character after Dillon quit playing with us, but you get the idea.)

Finally, Kozar was given a very special bastard sword, actually a dagger for a Dragon Ogre. This sword was enchanted with several special effects: cast death vision at 30th level of ability; one or two levels of penetrating blade; and a unique time stop/great haste for the holder; (This last ability was very chaotic and the specifics will have to be detailed later.) finally the sword also had a hollow handle that was designed to hold any variety of items and gave the sword/bearer unique abilities. I had originally planned for these materials to be pure natural substances like sand from the middle of the great desert, ice from an untouched glacier, etc. But the effects of this were completely up to the DM and arbitrary to what I wanted to do. Ben also experimented with potions, magical items, etc. Really it was just some thing to try and bring out the chaotic nature of magic, give them a healthy respect for it, and add a little randomness to things. (Which always makes it a little more interesting. Every time he put something new in the sword or used the time stop/speed ability the game got pretty intense.) The catch was that the sword quickly drained whatever was in the hilt when the time stop/speed was used. Every use would take approximately half of the contents. On the other hand, when the sword was just used normally the material would deplete at a slower pace. Again I kept all of this purposely ambiguous and random to show the inherent chaos involved. I wanted them to get the feel that magic wasn’t as predictable as “good cold steel.” (Maybe those were conflicting messages, but it made for some interesting encounters.)

After receiving their presents the heroes left the Dragon Ogre and made their way home to the empire. The giant accompanied them the all the way to the coast. There weren’t any other significant happenings and we didn’t even play this part out if I’m not mistaken. Somewhere in there, there was another member of the brotherhood who somehow helped them in the original escape. He had bad intentions and planned to turn the characters in, in hopes of earning some sort of reprieve from his sentence. I hadn’t developed that and in the end I just killed him off. I had the Witch Elf go with him into a city for resupplying purposes and just come back with one of his fingers. It might have been a cop-out but it helped a little with character development for the WE. I don’t think I even had her tell them what happened, but they knew she was hardcore after that; a little of her darker side.

We could have probably played out a whole bunch of other stuff there in the wilderness or even trying to scrounge food together to stay alive. We just sort of glossed over all of that. I think part of it was that I had gotten a little tired of it and part of it was that I was already working on the next adventure, the Halls of Durag Dol.

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