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.