Rise of the Runelords

Session 14: The Legends That Never Were
Fortress of the Stone Giants
 
Castle Korvosa, Dining Hall. Three months after the wedding. 

Queen Ileosa: Husband dear, I received a strange requisition order today. Vencarlo has somehow managed to get in a demand to the palace about any and all remaining information on the Swords in the Wind band. It seems that he believes the crown is withholding details about them, including the current whereabouts of all three main adventurers. I am not sure what I am to do with this demand, given that I have no idea where to even look for this information.

King Eodred: And so you think that I have been hiding some sort of secret vault of documents from you eh? My dear, I love you to much to hide any such secrets from you.

Ileosa: So then what should I tell him? He will not be satisfied with such an answer.

Eodred: Well, as it happens, I do know of the fate of the Swords. I will tell you what I found out, and you can relay the info to good Vencarlo.

Ileosa: Very well my husband, my ears are all yours.

It seemed that the misadventures had come to an end. The Swords in the Wind went back to Sandpoint to await information they had requested, as well as check up on old friends and projects. The newly resurrected Shalelu and the warblade Tirion roamed the countryside and found traces of ogres and giants around the town. This was quite troubling news as giants were a much greater problem. While the two patrolled, Libra used his new found wealth to buy the rest of the Glassworks. His first task was to move all the members of his Voices of Reason guild to Magnimar, where there he had a raid planned on the mayor’s manor to recoup the gold that had been promised to The Swords.

After only a few days in Sandpoint, word got back regarding Karzoug. Many thousands of years ago, he was known as the Claimer and he ruled the ancient kingdom of Thassilon with his fellow Runelords. His body now lay dormant in some unknown location. That was all that could be discovered.

As the messenger left, the sound of cracking stone echoed from outside. A quick glance by the Swords, noticed stones flying through the air and crashing into the wall of the town. Only stone giants could be so accurate. As they ran to the wall, Libra mentioned that the attack seemed more a distractionary tactic, but the threat still had to be neutralized. Sure enough, as they gazed out through the tundra, several massive forms glad in armor were lobbing boulder after boulder through the air.

Jakardros and Shalelu prepared their bows to fire, when suddenly their keen ears picked up the sounds of screams elsewhere in the town. From their vantage point they saw that, in another part of town, three dire bears and two stone giants had already infiltrated the town and were massacring people.

Tirion used his boots to teleport closer to the immediate threat. Vala meanwhile dimension doored herself, Libra, and Jakardros near the bears and giants, while planning on flying back to help Tirion after. Splitting up the party was always a bad choice, yet in this case there seemed no other option.

Tirion charged at the three giants, and they all seemed to be caught off guard as their lazy swings missed him completely. Shalelu fired her arrows, but the brute’s plate armor deflected most of the barbs. With his healer far away, Tirion still threw caution out the window and caught one giant with a slash to its knee, while placing himself in a dangerous position amongst all three. And the well trained giants made the warblade pay, hitting him five time in a span of only a moment. Feeling pain as much as he had ever felt, Tirion could only retreat back to the wall. By then Vala had arrived and she reached out a healing hand to him, one which he couldn't grasp as two boulders thudded into his back to drop him down. Realizing her precarious position, Vala used her vanishing cloak to go into invisibility. She then ran to her fallen friend and healed some of his wounds. Looking up, she was relieved to see one of the giants drop from a lucky arrow hit through its eye slit. There was no way to get to Shalelu without wasting precious magic. And so, Vala dimension doored herself and Tirion away, leaving the elf to fend for herself.

In the meantime, Libra and Jakardros were faced with an even bigger challenge as dire bears and giants towered only a few feet from their position. One of the giants spotted Jakardros in his hiding position and sent a rock into the ranger to let him know he had been discovered. Libra charged into the fray, and became a dervish of dodging steel. As a giant lunged in and missed, Libra dove under the strike and opened up a sizable gash in the giant’s thigh. He then scaled the giants back and stabbed it hard through the neck, dropping it in an instant. Jakardros was distracting the other giant and bears with arrows, but he wasn't having much success. Libra then scaled one of the bears and stabbed it repeatedly in its chest, dropping it to join its master. At this, the dire bears simply ran away. The remaining giant looked back at the fleeing mammals for only a second. That second was just enough as Jakardros aimed an arrow at the base of the beast’s helm where no armor protected. The fletchling severed its spine, and it dropped like a rock. Jakardros and Libra were victorious in their little battle.

Vala and Tirion were hiding behind a tannery, away from the fighting. There, Vala was able to heal more of Tirion’s hurts. There too, they saw something that disheartened even the warblade. For upon monstrous wings flew a red dragon, breathing fire everywhere it went. As it landed among the frightened populous, it scooped up two citizens and popped them into its mouth like a pair of honeyballs. The two heroes decided to make themselves as small as possible in the shadows so as not to be seen by the great wyrm.

Soon Jakardros and Libra heard screams of their own, but it was not those from the dragons victims, but rather from more townsfolk being slain by a trio of stone giants who had wandered into the middle of the town. One among their number was obviously the leader of the force against Sandpoint that day. As the two ran towards the new threat, they spotted their two friends in the shadows and signaled for them to follow. And so the Swords in the Wind entered the invisible gates of hell towards the three armored foes that would prove to be their greatest challenge yet.

Sensing the direness of the situation, Libra cast keen edge on his rapier as the four snuck up on the giants, while Vala cast her protective bubble. The nearest one took the halfling’s rapier right in the gut, while Tirion moved behind it and gave a wicked slash across its spine. Jakardros' arrows bounced off solid steel armor and Vala used a mass cure light wounds to heal up everyone to 100 percent. The leader giant whipped out two huge picks and hit Tirion with a roundhouse swing from one of them. Tirion countered with a Mithril Tornado on all three giants. The technique placed him right in the middle of gray-skinned carnage as the giant’s swords and picks rained down upon the mighty man. Still he stood though, and Vala was able to heal many of his wounds from a distance. After seeing this, the leader said to his minions to "Kill the woman."

Libra, who was the only one who understood this, relayed the warning to his friends. He stabbed a giant hard in the knee, the magically keened blade biting deeper than it normally would have. Yet the heavily armored foes were tough for the Swords to find purchase on flesh. Meanwhile, in the sky, flaming death continued to rain down from the dragon upon the town.

With the power of her protective bubble, Vala was able to keep only one giant away. Yet even one was all it took as these foes were stronger than any they had faced as of yet. Sure enough, an unaffected giant moved through the magical protection and used all his might to cleave Vala nearly in two. The other giant took a sweeping sword chunk out of the halfling. The leader, whose name turned out to be Teraktinus moved towards Vala but somehow missed her ducking form. With so many people wounded, Vala chose Tirion to mend a few of his wounds as he was weaker than everyone. He thanked her by nearly cutting the nearest giants foot off. Libra meanwhile snuck up from behind Teraktinus and hamstrung him, knocking the behemoth to the ground. That opened the way for Jakardros who send two arrows into the fallen foe.

The skirmish was a veritable blood bath as everyone was hurt badly.
Vala used a mass cure light to help her friends, yet the giants were hitting a lot harder than her spells could heal. Teraktinus was able to get to his feet an hit Tirion in his ribs. The warblade was able to get in a quick stab of his own but it seemed only a glancing blow. Libra, now flanked by the other two giants, couldn't find purchase with his blades on any giant flesh. Seeing the advantage, the giant going for Vala turned on Libra and slashed the halfling twice with all its might. Its friends capitalized on the wavering halfling and used its might to slash the halfling two more times. The last swing was one that decapitated the little man. And the Swords in the Wind were suddenly down one important blade.

With everyone injured and one dead, Vala was faced with an incredible decision. She had the power to bring back her fallen friend to life, yet she knew the cost would be high if the giants continued hitting her friends. Yet with Jakardros failing to connect against his hated enemies, and Tirion wavering on the edge of death himself, she decided to use her magic to bring back their fighting chance to life. It was almost as if Teraktinus was waiting for just that. For before Vala could lay a second healing hand on Libra to bring him to his feat after she had brought him to life, the leader of the giant’s laid Tirion low with a pair of massive pick chops. After the hits, the giant commanded his soldiers to finish the job, while he continued the mission he had come to Sandpoint for. And with that, he ran off deeper into town. What that mission was, know one knew for sure. The giants responded by hacking Jakardros to ribbons in a two second span.

Vala moved to Tirion and healed some of his wounds. As the warblade’s eyes opened, he saw how insane the situation had become. Praying to any god that would listen, he swung with all his might at the closest giant, not daring to rise at the risk of a dangerous return swing. His blade bounced harmlessly off the closest giant's ankle plate. It didn't even bother to turn, as its attention was fully on Vala. A rock came from its friend to hit the healer in the chest, staggering her. Its friend capitalized on her momentary lapse in defense and swung his sword with all his might. Vala's body dropped, severed from right shoulder to left hip.

Tirion knew that it was all or nothing. He had failed his comrades against the lamia, he had failed his conrads against the ogres. He had failed his friends against the crows. Not this time though. This battle would not be a defeat in the history books of the world of Golarioan. He felt his rage boil into a single point in his weapon arm. He used that rage to guide his strike, and connected on the giant that had slain Vala. His technique was perfect as the brute was stunned from the blow. The other giant, no longer impeded by the protective bubble, moved up and gave a glancing blow upon the warblade. Still on the ground, Tirion knew he had to take the chance to gain his feet, and did so at the cost of yet another stinging blow. One that left him calling for a medic that would never arrive.

Tirion prayed to Sarenrae for her to guide his strike, for he needed a lucky break. Yet sadly. unbeknownst to him, there existed a broken sealing pillar one mile below his feet. This pillar was one of the bolts that held the great prison shut. One whose only occupent was an actual God. His name was Rovagug, and it was Sarenrae who had in fact help imprison him where no light would come. And so the God of Wrath, Disaster, and Destruction heard the prayer through the small breach in the pillar. And he smiled and sent a single beam of his influence above, into Tirion's sword arm as it descended for the kill. Only Rovagug was not surprised when the blade connected on giant flesh, but bounced harmlessly away, nearly ricocheting back into the warblade's own flesh. The God smiled, for he knew what was to come next. If only the human warrior had known how close he was to the legendary sword Serithial, the legendary sword his lovable gugs were helping to protect.

But that is a story for another time…

A last sword swipe by one of the giants send Tirion down for the last time. Seeing that he and the halfling were still breathing, the very wounded giants took much delight in sending their foes souls to meet whatever gods would have them. After a few more minutes, they heard the horn of retreat, meaning they had succeeded in their grand mission. Soon Karzoug would rise, and the rebirth of Thassilon would begin. Soon the fires in Sandpoint were extinguished, the living gathering the dead for burial. Only three were brought to the temple, where there a spell of speak with dead was cast upon the corpses.

Father Zantus's voice echoed through the heavens, calling each Sword in the Wind by name. To each member, a question: "Do you wish to return to the world of the living?"

Vala had endured a lifetime of helping others, and had already been returned to youth once, only to be slain and brought back again. Now, death had claimed her for seemingly a third time.

A time too many.

In life she would continue to face a world of death, hardships, and failures. She would see her friends suffer and she would be there to take the pain away, only to see them suffer again. It was an endless cycle. But in her god’s arms, there was no such agony. Here in the afterlife, she was at peace. She finally admitted to herself that she had lived to long to deny herself such a wonderful gift. And so, her answer to Father Zantus was "No."

Tirion's blade slashed open the devils throat. It clutched at its spewing life's blood before falling to the ground. Another devil, wielding a glaive came up from behind, and this too Tirion cut down, his sword becoming wedged in the creature’s ribs. Now weaponless, the warblade called for another sword, and like magic a greatsword appeared in his hand.

He was not the only one fighting. Other warriors of the world were battling side by side against The Hoard. Many flying, walking, and even burrowing denizens were fighting them hard, yet already their numbers were swindling fast. The day would be won. As had the day before that. And the day before that. For even though the battles were won, the war seemed endless. Indeed it seemed as though Tirion's swinging battle arm had not ceased since the battle against a trio of giants so many years ago. It was a memory almost half hidden now. For Tirion, it was as though all his existence had been in the service of the one who had plucked his soul from the field of battle that day and conscripted him into service. And that person was Gorum, God of Strength, Battle, and Weapons.

Suddenly Tirion heard the voice of a mortal cleric from another world. He knew the name somehow as Father Zantus. He heard the question asked by the priest, and it brought to mind images of fighting a lesser battle. Of a simpler time when he had a half-dragon priestess by his side to heal his cuts, and of a halfling rogue whose presence seemed to be a hex upon the warblade’s existence. And then there was a memory of failure. They were memories that he did not want to revisit, nor was it a life that he wished to regain. In Gorum's service, he was an immortal warrior. For a warblade, such was a penultimate gift. And so, in between cleaving through a pair of shadow imps, Tirion's answer to the Father's question was "No."

Libra's soul was wrenched from his body and began plunging down into the surface of the earth only a few hundred feet. Though he was a spirit, he still felt the pain of his injuries in life. Now he found himself in a line of other souls, ones he recognized as the ones from Sandpoint, and even a few from Turttleback Ferry. Something burned hot upon his foot. It was the wizard mark that the lamia had placed upon it so many weeks ago. It was a magical cantrip that should have disappeared in death yet, still it was there. In fact, everyone in the line of people bore the seven-pointed star mark somewhere on their body.

In single file, hundreds of people walked in a slow cadence. It was evident that this was not a willful act as everyone's spirits stretched out left and right to try to break the hold that the infernal grasp had upon them. Libra was no different as he tried in vain to escape the thread of people. Although he had full movement of his arms and head, his legs remained rooted in the ever moving path of shuffling spirit feet.

And then there were the screams.

It was a constant in this dark world whose only light came from the dead. These screams were not random. Every ten minutes, a spirit would scream somewhere ahead. And then suddenly, the line of spirits would move forward two steps. Never was there a deviation in the routine, making for hundreds of faces becoming more and more fearful, the heroic locksmith being no exception.

Libra's advance soon brought him closer to where the screams were originating, and it was a sight that would have made even his friend Tirion weep in terror. At the point where the spirits moved forward, there existed a huge skeletal head. A spirit would be forced into its gaping maw, and the jaws would shut. Through the holes in the skulls peeled off flesh, one could see the spirit as the monstrous jaws chewed the soul to shreds, sending absolute agony into the spirit before it became: nothing. The soul was fully consumed, leaving no trace of anything left and nothing to go on to a proper afterlife.

Libra was as powerless as any other soul to stop the inevitable from approaching. Perhaps if he had given himself to Sarenrae or any other god, they might have been able to save him. Now, oblivion would be upon him in just a few short minutes.

And then he heard it, a voice he recognized as that of Father Zantus, and the question that brought phantom tears to Libra's eyes. If it meant escaping this strange place of peril, he most definitely wanted to be brought back to life. And gave a heartfilled answer of "Yes."

Libra's eyes opened to the world of the living. Beside him, his fallen companions rested under burial shrouds, with no life moving through their veins. Zantus confirmed that Libra was the only one who wanted to come back to defend Golarion from whatever forces were against Sandpoint and the surrounding areas. The others were content with their gods. Libra thanked Zantus and gave him his horn of blasting in recompensense. Yet in Libra's mind there was no question of resuming the fight for those that needed his blade. For he knew the fate that awaited him if he should die again. And he would die if he fought for Sandpoint. And so, without another word, he left his hometown to its own fate, disappearing to a place only the gods know where.

Thus would the history books record that Vala and Tirion died as heroes saving those they loved. So too would they contain a record of the halfling Libra: the hero who abandoned those he had sworn to save.

Not long after the events of Sandpoint, an ancient conqueror of old would rise up, claiming Sandpoint and the lands around as his kingdom. This was the ancient Runelord Karzoug the Claimer. And what his future plans for the region were, was reserved for his own mind to plan.

Ileosa: My Gods! Such a horrible and tragic end to the tale. It is no wonder I've not heard songs about Swords in the Wind in any taverns. There is simply no good to be said about them. It seems they tried so hard, and yet failed at every turn.

Eodred: Yes my wife, it is a sad tale, and yet it is a reason why there are so few adventuring groups around these days. The truth of the matter is, they simply do not work out in the end. Thankfully, we live in a world where their blades are rarely needed. There are few true evils in the world. And whenever a diabolical event does occur, the people affected simply adjust to the new situation. Take Sandpoint for example. Its people were killed by agents of Karzoug, and yet the survivors are now ruled by him. They could run to Magnimar if they wanted to, and yet they have chosen to stay.

Ileosa: Husband, you seem to be more of a scholar than a king today with such insights. Tell me though, how do you know of what the Swords in the Wind experienced in the afterlife?

Eodred: Well, like yourself, the Swords caught the curiosity of my heart. It is fortunate that Abadar smiles upon those willing to pay great sums of money to have questions only a God can answer.

Ileosa: I see. That explains the two percent tax raise you announced to the public the week before our wedding, disguised as a protection policy to pay for guardposts in the surroundings that will secretly never be built.

Eodred: (smiling) Ah, this is why I married you my dearest. You see me for who a really am. Anyway, I hope Vencarlo will be pleased with the information about the Swords. Be a dear and go to him in person, as it will perhaps make him look more favorably upon the crown.

Ileosa: I will do so tomorrow morning my King. Perhaps I shall bring a few servants and a grand breakfast with me to his school.

Eodred: A splendid idea my dearest. Now on to a more serious matter. One which you must be made aware of. There is another reason I sought your hand in marriage my dear. You see, it is my hope that your youth help with something.

Ileosa: Dearest Abadar, you scare me with the tone of your words. What ever do you mean?

Eodred: It saddens me to say this, but there is in fact a secret you were made unaware of when you took the crown of Queen, for I feared you would reject me. It is a problem the royalty of Korvosa has experienced for generations.

Ileosa: Husband, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish together. Whatever this hindrance is, we shall vanquish it together.

Eodred: That it my hope my dear. Indeed, I believe together we are strong enough. For it will take all of our cunning, and perhaps even adventurer that I plan to enlist to help rid our lineage from:

The Curse of the Crimson Throne
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Session 13: Revenge of the Lamia
Chapter Three: The Hook Mountain Massacre
 
Korvosa, Church of Abadar, God of Commerce.

Stepping through the gates, a gracefully dressed man passes by all the entire line of people waiting to make deposits or wanting to take out loans. His body jingles heavely with several pouches of coins. A cutpurse from the Cerulean Society ponders this approaching mark, yet one look at the mans face, stays his filching hand. For this man is not a man to be triffled with. True, it wasn't Blackjack, but it was one who was almost (some say even more) dangerous with a blade than he.

The man continued his stride, sending a quick glance left an right. He knew no one would dare attack him. Still, stranger things had happened. Perhaps his old and only surviving friend had been charmed into taking him out. Desna only knew that his chances in such an encounter were slim. He didn't think his own political views had sparked any such retribution as of yet though. Nor did he think it would. After all, Korvosa had been kind to him. since he hung up his blade from those silly adventurers.

Silly. Were they such? Now a days…

"Vencarlo! Vencarlo Orisini, welcome my friend to the church of Abadar."

Turning, with only a hint of startlment, the Master of the prestigieous Orisini Academy Fighting School turned and greeted the speaker.

"Ah, Archbanker Tuttle, I am very pleased to see greet you. I bring with me quite the coin load to enter into your vaults. This terms enrollment was quite a success."

"Excellent, excellent. Please follow me. If you don't mind me asking, are you alright? You seem a little distracted today?"

"Oh its nothing Archbanker. I was just remenicing on my past glory days as an sword-for-hire. So many good times, such camaraderie. And the wealth! Those were some very good times."

"Oh, so they were my friend? Yet here you are training the Sable Company and the Hellknights from what I have heard. You make an old man wonder why someone lusting for such action is now striking at straw dummies."

"Its a long story Archbanker, and one which I'd rather not speak of."

"You know Sir Orisini, here in the church of Abadar, we service everyone in town not just with spells and sermons. We are here to help ease peoples minds from whatever troubles them. You say you long for your adventuring days. I say you forget the hardships that those days brought you. As it so happens, I have a sermon that will remind you of such. You have undoubtebly heard of the Swords in the Wind? They were once here in these very halls with a very powerful request. In their time here, I had the chance to speak to one of their number: a halfling named Libra"

"Libra! You met him in person?"

"Indeed my friend, indeed. I obviously did not know then what I know of him now. But i digress. He told me of his, at the time, recent adventure. And I will now tell it to you, so that it will help you be at ease with the decisions you have made. I will read it to you as he wrote it down for me. You will have to excuse some of the wording as he comes from one of the southern towns." 

"Very well Archbanker, I open my ears to your wisdom. Read to me this story of his. If anything, it might give me greater insight into this infamous rogue."

"Then let me begin. Th dam ta the north ad obviously given way. The wa'er was risin…

…fast an me aliies an oi were forced ta scale th cliff ta keep outa th rushin current. Our destination was clear. We ad ta get ta Turttleback as fast as we could ta warn em. Bu at th rate we ware shinyin th cliff face, we knew we wern't gonna get there in toime. Pieces of ogres began flowin past us, an twas obvious tha th ogars ad broken th dam. What coulda ripped ta pieces was anyones guess, till tha "guess" floated right by us. Twas a monstrous beast like a floatin tree, only th soize of a wizard tower. An it was going fast tawards our destination. Vala an meself put our twos and trees tagethar an we realoized tha th beast was th Mother of Oblivion. A monster who ad been trapped in th Storval Deep an kept back by th dam. Considerin wha it ad done ta th ogars, the tought of wha it would do ta th people of Turttleback was quite frightful. 

We quickened our pace, passin th night on our feet. We knew it would be to late for th town, but we swore vengeance for th fallen. All oi could remember was tha anything teleportationy near th beast would result in something along th lines of havin ones insides vacuumed out trough ones arse. As we neared town, Tirion an th spellless Vala cried tha they needed a couple winks ta get their energy going. Knowing wha tha meant, oi took me leave u th two lovers an scouted th town out meself, saying oid come back if der skills were needed.

Twas indeed to late ta save th town. Only th middle portion remained partially in tact. The Oblivion beasty ad done its work, leaving many dead, an much destruction in its wake. Oi spoke ta mayor Mailu who said it ad fled ta Clay Bottom Lake. Oi gave me report on Fort Ranick, bout it bein retaken and suggested tha th people ead off ta it, while sendin word ta th people from Magnimar ta bring lots a food fer them.

By tha time me friends ad finished wha they needed doin, an oi told em wha th mayor ad said. Oi also suggested tha we check out Hook Mountain, given twas th birthplace a th ogre hords. Mailu countermanded me suggestion owever, sayin th dam should be our first stop. Given th valley was not completely flooded meant that th dam was mostly still in tact, Ow long was a differing story though. Given twas close ta th fort, Vala summoned a new power a hers ta teleport us tree there, while Jakar stayed bahind ta lead Mailu's people on foot.

From Ranick, me, Vala an Tirion marched trough mud, arriving finally at Skull Crossin Dam. From afar we saw a uge ole in its upper half. The gushin water was intermingled wit th sounds a ogre picks pickin away. Makin haste, we ran up th 200 foot stair case, inta its confines. Pikes were planted wit giant warning, something tha oi could read now what wit all th giant speak oid eard lately. Soon th air was filled wit th smell a rottin mutton. After th smell, came th on profittin from th odor as a two-eaded giant, or ettin as Tirion identified as, blocked our path. E said e would smash us fer th Skulltakers. Doin what e always does, Tirion charged in, usin somethin e called a Disrupting Blow. Didna do much damage, bu it seemed ta adle th brutes thinkin abilities. Gave me th chance ta move up inta position fer a stab ta its knee. After it gave me a glancin club hit, Tirion and meself cut it down ta nothin.

We finally came onta th dam, an there we spied five exausted ogres swingin picks. Tirion did is Disruptin thingy on one. Its friend wailed on th warblade, but in der exausted state, only one made contact. Soon oi was inta th mix. LIke Tirion, oi too ad a new tactic. Usin me small stature, oi ducked under a pick an climbed aboard an ogre. Wit is eart right by me blade, oi stabbed inta it twice, bringin th beast down. Tirion meanwhile was it twice by picks, bu retaliated an downed one of em. After another flurry of picks an pricks, the last tree fell ta our blades. Vala used a ealin spell from afar ta eal our wounds an we continiaed on.

A domed structure upon th dam was th only other access ta th other side, so in we went. Oi used me knock wand upon th door ta gain acceess ta it. Dis first room was covered in seaweed, ogre parts, and weapons. From th vines sprouted several trolls. Seein dees foes, Vala cast er protective bubble. Didna seem ta affect em dough. Th first one jumped upon me, bu oi was prepared fer it, ducked underneath th blow, while stabin it ard in th shnards. As oi emerged dough, another troll got a glancin claw cross me back. Tirion seemed ta fair better, blockin claws an maws an Disruptin one of em. Meself, oi used quick ands ta climb pon th troll oi ad just castrated, an drove me blade trough is brain, sendin im down. Tirion meanwhile downed is troll, an th remainin two were easy prey ta our blades.

After a couple empty rooms we came ta a room wit a set a double doors and a warnin of sorts tha said "Below Dwells Wet Papa Grazool." Moit as well ave had an arrow sayin "Boss Here." We found a door tha led ta th other side a th dam, bu no other pickin ogres were seen. Found a lo of dead ogres though, likely from tha sea Oblivion Mother. After scoutin out th rooms, we foun nothin ta write in a journal bout. Tha left only Papa da deal with.

After findin no traps, oi led me fellow Swords trough th doors, an down a long stairway. We came ta a room wit a pool a water in th center. Two side doors led off, while at th far end, a column of uman skulls blocked another doorway. Fearin Grazool was hidin in th water, oi let Tirion investigate. Good thing oi did, as a two-pronged spear lashed out of th water an impaled th big man. Vala ealed im up, but Grazool lashed out again. Th water troll was a lot more skilled than th ones we ad faced above. Tirion didna let th beast get away wit that last it. E jumped inta th water an Distruped it. Hopin fer an easy kill, oi jumped in as well an impaled it. Wasn't nearly enough, as th troll shook itself outa its stupor. Tirion gave it a nasty slash, bu seemed ta lose is balance in th water an began sinkin. Still injured from before, seemed Tirion was a drowned gonner. Seein er lover in dire straights, Vala dove inta th depths of death an ealed is wounds.

Seemed th tug of th current was indeed strong as its pull snagged me under. Since oi couldn't keep meself afloat, oi magic missiled th regeneratin green skin. Didn't a do nothin ta distract it, as was me hope, as Grazool's entire attention was still focused on Tirion. An me thinks Tirion got a we bit too much lovin from the creature as it dropped its spear an decided ta rend th warblade inta junks a floatin flesh. Tha was enough pain, an the brave warrior decoided ta kick is eals tagether an teleport out, leavin me lonesome self ta drown facin Grazool. Sure enough, as me small legs couldna bring me back up, Grazool grabbed me arms an pulled wit all its might. It felt like a bath in a pond a paranhas. Vala saw me plight, an dimension doored us both out. 

On th edge of th pool we saw th troll swim down a passage in th water. Figurin it was going ta another pool, we followed its direction, which brought us ta a room wit skulls on th walls an another pool. Figuring th other way would ave somethin similar, oi scouted it out an found a room wit a miniature version of th dam, as well as a pool wit stairs going inta it. Tirion meanwhile at jumped inta th water ta face Grazool again, only ta ave th troll swim away fer safety back ta th first room. Tired of th game, Tirion decoided ta ignore th troll an start clearin way th column of skulls blockin th door. No sooner did e start then Grazool jumped up from th water an impaled im right trough th back. E then swam away ta one of th other rooms.

We picked one, an guessed right as th troll was just swimmin on th edge of th skull carvin room. A Distrupter from Tirion sent its brains ta addlin, nearly choppin its claw off wit th strike. After a retaliatory spear it, Tirion decided ta jump inta th water ta try an block off its escape ta th other rooms. While Grazool followed Tirion, tha gave me th chance ta jump in an stab it trough its thick skull from behind. Wit th troll dead, we were free ta go trough th skull-pillar door.

As we entered, we were quite startled ta see somethin we ad never seen. We saw two cages with magic-like circles glowin in each. In one was a pile of ash. In th other was a red demon of th pits. E was pretty roughed up an spoke ta Vala, askin fer us ta free it. Oi didna think tha was a good idea, thinkin tha perhaps e was like a power source an th ole reason th dam was still in tact. As is always th case, me friends voted me down. They'll never admit it but, twas th biggest mistake they would ever make as me intincts were spot on as we would find out later. The fiend said is name was Avaxial, an tha e ad been imprisoned ere by a mage named Karsuge, creater of th dam. Vala an Tirion decided ta kill beast.

Wit no other things ta do, it seemed th dam was secure. We went ta Fort Ranick ta check on th people there. We asked Mayor Mailin ta send word bout all tha ad happened so tha Magimar would send some builders ta repair the dam. Tha was when th air was rocketed by a big explosion from that said place. We all knew wha tha meant, the dam ad given way. We would later find out that th imprisoned demon ad indeed been keepin such disaster from appenin. Within moments, water came poorin down th mountain side, floodin four or more feet all round th land. Obviously there was no way fer us ta knowingly prevent such a disaster. It also gave us another beaf ta pick with th Lamia.

We decided ta continia wit our origianl plan an ead ta Hook Mountain, bringin Jakar with us fer support. As we neared th snowey valley, we noticed black smoke coming from a cave an we sensed we were again nearin our mortal enemy. Two ogre guards were our only impediment, bu they were a long way away. Seein us coming, they took out a couple long bows an fired away. Tirion prepared ta take th hits, bu surprisingly no arrows found their mark on im. Vala owever was shocked ta see said fletchings sproutin from her body. Seems Lucrecia ad lerned from our last encounter and ad left orders ta kill th ealer insteada th rogue.

Not wantin any more arrows in er, Vala fought trough th pain and dimension doored us right next to th guards. Imediately, Tirion tried ta Distrupt one, bu fer some reason th ogre resisted th magical effect. Jakar sent a couple arrows inta th same brute. Th other ogre sent an arrow inta Vala's back. Th ogre in front of Tirion, rather than strike at th warblade, stuck wit is orders an went round ta swing is pick mightly upon Vala. Critically wounded, th dragonborn fell back, to wounded ta bring er ealin magic ta bear. Tirion hit is foe again, while oi snuck round its blind spot an killed it cold wit a disembowlin dagger slice. Th day seemed won, except that th other ogre with th bow was still standin. It obviously knew its days were numbered, so decided ta do its job ta th end. E raised is bow and sent two arrows inta Vala, droppin er in th snow.

Didn't seem like they were lethal arrows, bu oi ran ta er fallen form with me wand. Twas when oi got there tha er critical state was made plain an clear. She ad but seconds ta live, so oi whipped out me curin wand ta send a wave of relief inta her hurts. But then th unthinkable appened; th wand jammed! No magic came flooding forth from its tip. Oi screamed ta Jakar ta get is bandage kit over ta stop th blood. A few seconds later, e arrived, and began puttin preassure on th wounds. Bu they were simpy to deep. 

An then her chest stopped movin, and Vala was dead.

Oi screamed ta Tirion tha she was dead. He screamed in anger, saying e was nothin without her, as he rounded on th one who had killed is lover. Th ogre took out its own pick an prepared fer its final fight. Thinkin fast, oi remember a scroll oi ad found in our previous quest. Takin it out, the title read "Animate Dead." Oi what a relief. In me hands oi had th power ta bring Vala back from th dead! Twas quite complicated as oi ad never even eard of th spell. Sure enough though, as oi spoke th last silible, Vala arose from th ground. Oi called ta Tirion, saying oi had brought er back ta loife! Tha seemed ta inspire im as he charged an killed th remainin ogre in one strike.

Yes Vala was back wit us, in all er shamblin, arrow-riddled, moanin brilliance. Twas tha last revelation that made me realize that th spell oi ad just cast ad been mislabeled. Should have been called "Animate Undead," for tha was what Vala ad become: a mindless zombie. Only good consolation was that we didna have ta carry er cumbersome corpse with us ta th nearest non-flooded town. Before we left, oi wrote in blood in th snow "The healer is dead. You win Lucrecia."

After weeks a raft ridin we finally came ta tha nearest town – the City of Korvosa

After some asking, we came ta th temple of Abadar where there we met wit Archbanker Tuttle. E offered ta bring back Vala fer twice th normal amount. Given we ad no choice, we accepted.

Soon Vala was back again, though a little weakened. After spendin some toime in th city, oi began wonderin if Korvosa might be a good place ta settle down, given we were a failure as an adventurin party. Tirion an Vala saw otherwise. They wanted ta return ta th cave we ad left behind. Oi decided ta umor em an go with em.

More weeks went by, but we finally arroived, only ta see tha there was no foes ta face. The simple cave ad a giant statue wit th blasted seven-pointed star pon it. On th wall though was a simple message: " Thanks Libra." Lucrecia ad indead won th war between us. All we could do was hang our eads in sorrow an go our seperate ways.

An so me journey shall take me back ta Sandpoint ta check on me Voices of Reason guild. Our first major mission oi have fer em. Seems th Mayor of Magnimar decided not ta pay me fer ridden Ranick of the raffle that ad taken up residence. Twas toime ta make the scale of justice equal. An as always, tha scale would likely be drenched in blood.

"Quite the facinating read Tuttle. It is also amazing to hear of Libra and his actions. Almost reminds me of my own past when I was younger"

"Indeed Vencarlo, indeed. Yet, I did not give you the manuscript to analyze his actions. I gave it to you for your own conscience. Was such wisdom adopted by you?"

"Yes Archbanker. After reading this, it reminded me of the hardships and death an adventurer enjures. I have been so caught up in all the glories my group had. Yet we faced so much blood too. As it was, our party ended with a disagreement over treasure which ended the lives of all but two of us. Tell me, do you have other such documents as this?"

"You would be surprised just how much the Sword in the Wind's exploits have propocated in town. If you are interested, you should seek them out. Who knows what other insights you might garner. His majesty himself had quite the facination for the group if rumors are to be believed "

"Thank you Archbanker for your words. You've given me much to think about. So rare it is these days to hear of people trying to do good for the world. And after hearing this tale, that might actually be for the better."
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Session 12: Player’s Thoughts; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Chapter Three: The Hook Mountain Massacre
 
Contributed by Chris

In a review I buy every month for video games, they have a section called The Good, the Bad, and Ugly. Thus I thought I would try to include a similar review for this campaign. No pulling punches this time. Note that what comes next is my opinion and not fact necessarily. To those who this concerns, try not to take anything too personally.

<u>The Good</u>

There has been a lot of good in this campaign. For starters, our party is another unique blend of personalities. In Libra you have a classic rogue. Money is one of his passions. He is a mix of man who always seems to be balancing on the edge of a sword whether its with his friends or his enemies. Libra is a man who despises religion, no matter what deity, and yet appreciates anything that pure nature created. He is a mix of several personality traits. At times he strives for self-preservation. Yet when the need arrises, he will place his small form in front of the healer to protect her, or run into the breach to stand against any number of odds, even if it means his death. For the moment, he seeks cash to fund his own thiefs guild. And yet he seeks funds to raise Sheilu back from the dead as well.

For Tirion, it is not the varrying styles that make him important, as much as the damage any style dishes out. They are very powerful and if it wasn't for regular 40+ damages, we would all be making characters to replace our dead ones.

Vala's healing is more important than Tirion's damage. With a near inexaustible supply, she keeps us all alive as was made evident even more during this last session. In every battle, it is a race to see if we can down the enemies before Vala has to dimension door us out once her healing does run dry.

The printed maps are great! It's nice to have all the clear details before us.

Bob as a DM is great! Given how much time has passed since he last Dmed, it was a concern on my mind to see how he would fair. So far so good. Little tweaks to rules fit in seemlessly and there has been very little conflict over anything.

Particulary last session, Bob was very realistic in the spells he threw at us. Sometimes as DM's we are tempted to use spells against players that we know they are not immune to. However Bob kept it real and threw enchantment spells at us and even lightening bolted a near dead ogre to hit us, something that any boss would do in a second if it meant killing ones enemies.

<u>The Bad</u>

Although the campaign has been great, the links between chapters sometimes seem a little blurred. It seems like we are sometimes just jumping from adventure to adventure sometimes, rather than chapter to chapter. Case in point was saving the Keep. All of our characters were pretty much ready to retire as realistically, everything seemed solved. Only after the lamia and her 7 pointed star showed up did there seem to be a link. And what of the Foxgloves? Is that over, or is there more coming? I'm sure there is much going on in the background that we simply haven't discovered yet. I know this because this is exactly how the next campaign that I will run is paced out.

Critical hits on halflings, very bad. It seems like Libra gets hit and criticaled a lot more than statistics should allow. This is not dice fudging from the DM, just bad luck against poor Libra.

On that same note, both Libra's and Tirrion's armor classes suck. That is the conclusion I have to draw as our enemies have pretty high attack bonuses, needing a miracle not to hit us.

Sneak attack. Thank god I have the feat to sneak attack on critical hits, else I would never be sneak attacking; the basis I built my character around. The campaign maps seem built for close quarters fighting meaning no way to flank enemies. The adaptable flanker was supposed to help in such cases but so far, I've used it very little.

Unlucky attack rolls for Libra this past session. I've a pretty high attack bonus, particulary with ranged weapons and still I missed most of the time. Probably would have been better just to have Tirion go nuts with his sword as he had a much better chance to down ogres with one hit thanks to his high critical range. I needed a 19 with the dagger and 20 with the sling.

In the beginning of the campaign it was nice to see Vala being rollplayed as this elder who was given the gift of youth thanks to her good needs. However that rollplaying element and her dedication to Serenrae has become completely lost since then. Vala has been reduced to the roll of a healer, but she is SO much more than that. I would think than her god brought her back to do more than just keep a warblade and silly halfling from getting themselves killed.

<u>The Ugly</u>

Nearly dying twice in two rounds thanks to a power attack ogre. To be twice only 3 hit points away from dying was about as ugly as its become this campaign. Even worse, the ogre wanted to finish the job, something we've never had in our other adventures. Obviously there was a reason, other than the lamia thinking Libra slew her sister. I hope so anyway.

The session before Tirion dropped early on in the last battle. Because Vala couldn't get to him and Libra was desperately fighting off the enemies, poor Markus could do nothing but doze as there was nothing he could do.

It will be a major headache to convert the next pathfinder campaign to 4E as I said I would do. This is starting to make me rethink that decision. Every NPC has to be redone with their classes being changed to the new system and replacing classes that no longer exist. Equipment, tactics, and enemy numbers, all need to be changed.

Staying on the 4E subject, from what I understand, battle will be more epic. After this past session though, my fear is that they might become too epic. Even though this past session was one battle, it was a lot of fun. However, my fear is that if it had been a 4E battle, then it would have lasted another three sessions, which might not have been fun.

<u>So on, so on, an so forth</u>

We have the rest of this campaign, the three Ptolous back-to-back campaigns, and possible return to Key of Destiny coming up. That means that when it comes time for me to DM my next campaign, my godson (who just turned 2 years old) could be starting 2nd grade.
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Session 12: A History Lesson
Chapter Three: The Hook Mountain Massacre
 
City of Korvosa, study hall of Castle Korvosa

A beautiful, young woman enters the room, her three servants stumbling behind carrying her books. It is mid afternoon, which means another long hour of studies before her. As she scans racks and racks of books lining the walls, their bindings nearly bursting apart thanks to all the history of the city within them, she is reminded of just how much knowledge she has yet to absorb. Wondering who amongst her endless line of teachers will be schooling her today, Lady Ileosa Nektar is surprised to see her future husband, King Eodfrid Arabasti standing next to Neolandus Kalepopolis, seneschal of the castle. With no other people in the room, that could only mean one thing; her education on how to be a proper queen would begin.

Eodfrid: My love, please dismiss your servants. Your books will not be needed today. I know you have endured much to become my wife. Today I give thee a break from why writings. However, thy mind must be open to what is to come in today’s lesson.

Ileosa: Dearest King, you are everything my heart has ever desired. To be by your side for the rest of our days is my very wish. I understand the trials and am ready to continue them. I know, in order to gain the loving peoples hearts, I must gain their respect. And the only way to do so, is to show that I am truly one of them.

Eodfrid: It warms my soul to hear your words, for I know them to be true. What you see in my aging body, I know not. But I am grateful, for you have granted me a gift I thought lost when I first wife died a century before your birth: love. I digress however. Now is not the time for pleasantries, but rather a time for your lesson today. And to give such, I leave that unto my trusted advisor Seneschal Neolandus. I shall leave thee two alone.

Neolandus: Good day my liege. And to you my future queen, I bid you my fondest good tidings. I know we have yet to speak much, as my duties are greater in number than even the books you see around you, I'm afraid I must get to the point. What I am going to recount to you today is a story.

Ileosa: You mean one where a handsome bard jumps to the aid of a fair maiden being held prisoner by vicious goblins?

Neolandus: Not quite my dear. This story is one of truth, though one that you will not find in any of your current history books. Tis only a partial tale of one much greater than time will allow me to recount. There is a goal to me telling you this story, so listen carefully and absorb each and every word.

Fort Rannick was a bastion of defense on the frontier of Magnimar. Their legendary Black Arrow guardsman were the elite of the elite. Yet for some reason, they were beset by infighting. And as black arrows turned upon black arrows, the front door of the fort was smashed down by an ogre barbarian, with a battalion of its kind behind it.

In short order, the keep was in their grasp. Led by a beautiful lamia, they were determined to hold the fort against all odds. Even when a powerful band of adventurers attempted to sneak in, the ogres leader and one of her barbarian lovers repelled them. The band escaped, leaving one of their numbers behind. And as they planned their next move in a secret tunnel, above them, a signal horn was sounded. A blast that reverberated throughout the keep walls, and announced to all that an invasion was afoot.

The adventurers called themselves the Swords in the Wind. Their leader, a warblade named Tirion, hailed from lands far beyond. His home was the world, and his goal was one thing and one thing only, to do good where good was needed to be done. The second of their number was Vala the healer of Sarenrae. Though Sandpoint was her new home, her old home was a place in another lifetime, literally. Brought back to youth by her goddess, she had dedicated her new life to her new companions. The third was a new member of the band named Jakar. A ranger by trade, and in reality the only known Black Arrow survivor of the massacre of Rannick. Last of their number was a fiendish rogue named Libra. No one knows where he came from, but his name, even today is synonymous with betrayal.

They were discussing the reward that Tirion had neglected to mention for taking back the keep. Libra said he intended to use the money to bring back Shalelu, a former Sword in the Wind member who had fallen in battle. At mention of the name, Jakar perked up. He said that his former lover’s daughter was named Shalelu, and that it was likely the same person.

It was decided that the four would regroup north of the keep. Their journey brought them to where a beach was supposedly located. When they arrived though, they noticed that none existed and that the water level was very high. The weather did not make their situation any less grave as rain began pouring down in buckets.

As Vala healed their wounds, Libra remarked how much magic it took to mend all of Tirion's wounds, compared to his own. What the smart-ass halfling should have realized is that a warblade is trained to take a lot of punishment before dropping. The same sword blow that would fell a normal man, is not enough to drop a warblade. As they waited for Vala to regain her spells, they debated on how the keep could have fallen in the first place. With Tirion's vast knowledge, he recounted all that he had heard about lamias. It was established that such a creature could have easily infiltrated single handedly the keep by either charming the personnel, or changing herself into one and assassinating them one by one.

The course of action was finally reached. With Jakar staying behind, the remaining three would fly to the keep and teleport in an upper tower. There they could scour the place room by room, slaying anyone in their path. As they magicked into tower however, their ears heard voices on the other side of the only door in the room; those of many ogres and the lamia.

The Swords in the Wind were not known for being silent in their battles. Tirion smashed open the door and used a stance he called Insightful to hurt the first ogre in line. The room itself was a meeting hall that currently had five ogres, the lamia, and her charmed thrall Vale: the companion the Swords had left behind. With no room to get around Tirion, or perhaps because he secretly hated his companion, Libra blew a magical horn that sent a cone of sonic energy ripping through the room. Tirion took the force right in the back, but so too did four of the ogres. Vala meanwhile cast a protective bubble that impeded those who wished to attack with melee strikes. Although this encompassed her allies, she knew that their willpower was strong enough to overcome it.

The ogres were fast to get themselves organized; indeed it was as though they were waiting for the Swords to arrive. Our roguish hero was faster however, sending a dagger into the ogre in front of Tirion. Barely standing, it stepped aside, making room for a barbarian ogre with a metal jaw and devilish hook. Its friends all encouraged him on, pointing out weak points in Tirion's defense. Steel jaw took his friends advice and sent that hook right into the warblade's ribs with the force of a storm giant. There was magic in that weapon that sent an aftershock of pain as the weapon was enchanted to be the bane of humankind. With quickness that bellied its huge form, the ogre brought the hook down again upon Tirion a second time.

Wounded horribly, Tirion was able to get in a glancing blow upon steel jaw. The pain from the hook wounds was excruciating, yet he knew twould not last long. He was blocking the doorway for a reason, so that no ogres could get into the room, thereby preventing anyone from hitting Vala. For she was his lifeline. And she did not disappoint as she sent healing energies into the warblade to mend his wounds. The lamia meanwhile was to far away to bring her rapier to bear, yet she had her own magics. However, her attempt to bring Tirion down with a laughter spell failed. Libra missed with his next dagger toss, given his friend was unintentionally acting as a shield for the barbarian, but was able to hit it with a simple stone from his sling.

Metal jaw continued listening to his friend’s advice, but this time Tirion was ready and barely parried both blows aside. This gave Vala the chance to heal the remainder of his wounds. After another glancing blow by Tirion, Libra began shouting at the lamia to gloat on her plans, and why she wanted them all dead. All that she would reveal was her name; Lucrecia. She also made it apparent that, her goal was to get through Tirion as fast as she could so that she would finally slay the halfling. It seemed the rogue had been the one that had dealt the killing blow upon her sister and family vengeance reigned in this lamia family. In order to facilitate that, the used a mind spell to suggest to Tirion to flee, thus opening the way to Libra. Luckily the warblade resisted, but took another hook slice while he was being distracted by the spell. Yet again Vala healed those wounds.

The Swords in the Wind began suggesting battle strategies amongst themselves. As the ogres were now defending Steeljaw, Tirion adopted the same technique, and shouted to Libra to continue throwing those sling stones. Libra responded with a rock strike that hit the ogre right in the middle of the forehead. It started to swoon, nearly falling unconscious. It was a barbarian though and it shook the hit off faster than anyone could have predicted. Enraged at nearly being feld by a stone, Steeljaw swung past the defending Tirion to try to get to Libra. Its powerful blow though struck nothing but the stone floor, but put the rogue in a bit of a panic. Libra sent two more rocks skipping off its chest, but despite the wounds, it was as though he couldn't even feel pain anymore.

Lucrecia sent another suggestion at Tirion to flee, and this time his will was broken. The warblade fled up a flight of stairs behind, leaving a wide open path to Libra. Steeljaw smiled, and with two chops, sent Libra in a fit of pain and anger as he took exception to the monster actually striking him. Vala quickly used a protection from evil spell on Tirion to temporarily remove the enchantment. In the blink of an eye, he raced back down into the fight, only to see his halfling friend receive two massive hook slashes across the face. He didn't have time to lament his friends passing, as he sent an insightful strike upon Steeljaw. Vala meanwhile was faced with a near impossible decision; use her magic to calm the barbarian, or save Libra who was in fact barely holding onto life. She chose the former. Yet her godly magic was unable to get through the wall of rage.

Lucrecia meanwhile was content to use her magic to heal her ogre loyalists. From her vantage point, she could see her lieutenant fighting with someone, but didn't know who it was. An opening suddenly presented itself and she saw the halfling whom she wanted slain, lying in a pool of blood. Thinking him dead, she was shocked to see a draconic healers hand reach out and heal many of his wounds. Cursing in her own guttural tongue, she screamed at Steeljaw to slay the halfling.

Libra's eyes opened for only a second. In that time he saw Tirion standing before him, Vala beside him, and a large hook reaching past his warblade friend to slice into flesh. Again the rogue fell. Seeing this, Lucrecia commanded her ogres to make sure he was dead. Lamenting his fallen friend, this time for good he hoped, Tirion summoned all his skill and sent a mighty chop that caught Steeljaw right beneath his steel jaw. Still the barbarian stood, but the warblade quickly moved into position to stop it from entering any further into the room.

As it was, Vala saw her fallen friend was barely hanging on to life. She knew that her other friend would be needing her magic soon, and so moved in between Libra and Tirion, while sending a wave of magic to mend Libra's wounds. Rising on rickety legs, he continued sending his sling stones flying. Although he got one lucky hit in, the rest were deflected by the ogre brethren around Steeljaw as they, seeing Tirion back in the mix, started helping defend their leader.

After already exhausting her mind spells, Lucrecia resorted to scorching rays from her wand. Tirion seemed to absorb some of the damage and continued to swing time and time again at Steeljaw. It was a race to see what would happen first, whether Vala would run out of mending spells, or Steeljaw would hurt Tirion enough that no healing spell on earth would be able to fix the warblade. Libra eventually got in a lucky hit with his dagger that pierced Steeljaw's lung. It staggered on one knee and Lucrecia raced up to heal a few of its wounds. Yet it was not nearly enough as Tirion slashed open its other lung, finally bringing it down to the ground.

Through it all, Steeljaw's fellow ogres had been in awe at their master’s prowess in battle, and the power of the ogre hook. Seeing its own chance to shine, one such ogre took up the fallen hook and charged at Tirion, only to be cut down with a single swing by the warblade mighty sword. All the while Vala was there to mend her friend’s wounds like she usually was. Eventually, the magic in Tirion's protective crystal gave out, and the full sting of the scorching rays sent by Lucrecia started burning in.

Another ogre decided to pick up the fallen hook and got in a good slice on Tirion. Libra meanwhile seemed to find his stride and began sending stinging stones slapping soundly against its forehead and chest. The little man though was simply not in a position to truly strike any vital areas as was his specialty. His participation in the battle was almost inconsequential as it was his mighty companion who was the meat and grind of the Swords in the Wind party. As if on cue, Tirion downed the current hook-wielding ogre, leaving only one other to take up its power.

Then things began to turn for the worse for the heroes as a magic-wielding ogre walked into the room and, at Lucrecia's command, cast a booming shout spell that hurt both Libra and Tirion, but also acted as a warning horn for the keep. Meanwhile, Lucrecia and her only other current ogre continued to harass Tirion with flame and hook. While the forces of good fought with sword and stone.

The lamia commanded her mage to begin harassing Libra, and it did by sending bombardment after bombardment of magic missiles into the halfling, forcing Vala to eventually direct her near exhausted supply of healing on him. In his rage to get at the mage, Libra tossed his dagger with all his might at the current hook wielder, sending it to the precipice of death. The mage sent it over the edge as he lightening bolted it and both Tirion and Libra. The warblade only partially dodged it aside, but the small halfling was able to duck the magic completely.

Despite everyone’s injuries, it seemed like the way was clear to finally get to Lucrecia. That was until another barbarian ogre walked into the room to bar the way. Smiling it charged at Tirion, who in turn created a whirlwind of death to meet it. In his desire to end the fight, he forgot in that moment where his friend Vala was. His swing was true upon the ogre. Yet it was but a glimmering moment of victory, as the scream behind him was all that he heard. And one that would forever haunt him.

Looking behind, he saw what he had inadvertently done. Vala was staring ahead in blank shock, her entrails clutched in her hands as though she had reached out to stop them from fallen to the ground in an instinctual manner.

A cry of pain from Libra, as he was hit by more magic missiles, brought Tirion back to the action at hand. Before him was another ogre barbarian after all, though one whose skill seemed less apparent than the previous one. Yet again, it was a battle between ogre and warblade, with the mage, Dorella, sending a lighting bolt in to hit both.

Vala meanwhile was out of the fight for the moment. She watched as Libra sent a pitiful healing magic from one of his many wands to stop Tirion from dropping. She herself took the time that was direly needed to mend the gaping wound in her belly. On the verge of unconsciousness, she steadied her breathing for one great call to her god to take away her hurt. And in that prayer, it seemed as though Sarenrae both blessed her and mocked her. For indeed, healing magic flooded into her body; while before her, Lucrecia stood, having gone through a dimension door to get there.

Seeing their friend in dire straights, both Tirion and Libra abandoned the ogre to defend against the lamia. In her time away from the battle, she had cast several defensive spells upon her that made it almost impossible to strike her lith form. After a few lucky hits, it was apparent that the day was lost. More ogres were heard approaching, and Vala had but one remaining spell left. Touching her two friends, she dimension doored themselves out of the keep, and the three ran as fast as their legs could take them to where Jakar awaited.

A third plan was hatched, much like the first, to invade the keep. Vala healed everyone’s wounds, and Libra used his hat of disguise to pose as Vala, making for a confusing target. As they magicked into the keep though, it was apparent that it had been abandoned. Nothing of value was left, making it clear that it had been a well organized retreat. They found their charmed friend Vale, dead by a slit to the throat.

Given the retreat had been recent; Jakar was able to follow their tracks, particularly given the heavy rain. After only a few hours of following the ogres, they were forced to stop, and back-track fast. Very fast! For before them a wall of water was heading towards them. It was a veritable tsunami, and by their estimation, it was headed towards the down of Turtleback Ferry. It would be a race to warn them in time. But that my dear is a lesson for another time.

Ileosa: My words dear seneschal! It's almost unbelievable that such a battle truly happened. You hear bardic tales of such things, yet always with great exaggerations thrown in, and always with the heroes on the winning side.

Neolandus: Indeed my dear, yet my telling you of this event was not only to entertain you. It was a history lesson, one of many which you will need to hear and understand if you are to be queen of Korvosa. So tell me my dear, what did you learn?

Ileosa: Hmmm, well there are many things to take from this tale on both sides. First of all, one must find the weak link of an army and get to it before it can be brought to bear. Dimension door can be used to bring several people through. Thus, if I had been Lucrecia, I would have brought my barbarian companion with me using that spell into the room where the three adventurers were and had my barbarian friend destroy the healer. The other ogres were already in the other room blocking any exit, so they would have harassed the warblade. I would then have gone after the halfling as I had some unknown hatred towards him, leaving the warblade the last to die.

Looking at the adventurer’s side of things, since this was their second time attacking the keep, I would not have gone with a different plan of attack. They should have gone with a more shadowed entry. Perhaps sending in the rogue and have him slit a few throats. Even if I had gone with their plan, once I saw that the odds were greater than they were the first time I had attacked, then I would have abandoned everything then and there. For how can I succeed against odds I failed to succeed against when those odds were lessened before?

Other possibilities would have been to conscript Turtleback Ferry people into the group. All in all, there was no strategy for battle in the Swords tactics. And to win, one must have a sound plan, especially when one is against insurmountable odds.

Neolandus: Well done my dear. It is important to see a problem from all sides. This group of adventures, though only semi-famous, had their movements well documented. Their failures and victories will be taught to you to prepare you for things to come.

Ileosa: What do you mean "Things to come?"

Neolandus: (sigh) I'm afraid I've already said to much, but do not worry, you and all of Korvosa will be more than prepared.
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Session 11: Player's Thoughts; In a Class of its Own
Chapter Three: The Hook Mountain Massacre
 
 
Contributed by Markus

So we're about midway through our Runelords campaign, and I thought it would be a good time to give my thoughts on my class choice for the campaign – the Warblade.

Coming from the Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords, I opted for the Warblade because of its clear ties to our upcoming switch to 4th Edition. In many ways, it was a test-model for what they are going for in 4E, in terms of having each class have some very cool "special moves", which really distinguish them from one another, while also aiming to keep their usage very simple and streamlined.

For those not familiar with the Warblade, you basically get to select some Maneuvers which you cycle through in a fight, using each once, and then are able to refresh them by spending a round doing nothing but one single normal attack (or just stand there doing nothing at all).

I personally find this system very exciting for three reasons:

1. Firstly, I love how much strategy is involved in the selection and usage of the Maneuvers. Rather than all being simple attack-do-damage strikes, I've found that they cover a much wider range of tactics. You have some defensive ones that help with saving throws or AC or health regeneration. You have tactical ones that employ disarms and charges and bull rushes and ability damage. And even within the range of damaging ones, you have some that become touch attacks, utilize your Concentration skill as a damage roll, or attack foes in a radius, line or other positional set-up. It makes it so that from the time of selection through to the time of usage, you are constantly thinking about which maneuvers you like, and how to best put them to use in every given round.

2. Secondly, I love the fact that they are so easily replenished. With mages/clerics, your power weakens over the course of a series of fights, as you use up your best spells and soon find yourself needing to rest. That always bothered me, conceptually. The powerful wizard can only fight for a couple of minutes a day, and then needs to go back to sleep to get his power back? Seriously? Hard to imagine an epic battle between vast armies, where the spellcasters were only good for a couple of minutes worth of power, while the frontline fighters could go for hours. I find that the Warblade's "refresh" would do wonders for any other kind of caster, in terms of keeping things fun and exciting, and am glad that it's part of the 4E model.

3. Lastly, I love the fact that each and every level of advancement brings with it a whole new play experience. Since the Maneuvers at one's disposal impact so much upon their battle tactics, each time you can a new ability or can swap out an old one for a replacement, you are effectively changing your strategy and approach in significant ways. That has been reflected in my character Tirion, by the fact that at low levels, he wielded two-handers and reduced his defenses in favor of offensive power… But later adopted a model of sword-and-shield, boosting his defenses significantly and relying more on elements like a Concentration skill, for offensive potential (via Insightful Strike). Who knows what higher levels will bring, but I'm sure I'll continue to evolve the character's strategy along the way, when other new and exciting abilities come along.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg, don't forget…

The Warblade is but one of the three cool classes in the Tome of Battle.

And where Tirion is specialized in two Disciplines (Iron Heart and Diamond Mind), there are a total of SEVEN others I haven't even touched on this character.

So a future Warblade could take on a completely different playstyle. Or I could use similar abilities but in the hands of a Swordsage, to use them in a very different manner.

All in all, I've just found it to be an incredibly refreshing change to the usual 3rd Edition system. Where a fighter is all about boosting regular attacks with passive feats, or a rogue cares only for flanking and sneak attacks, the Warblade has given an option for melee combat that feels more cool, exciting and innovative in every respect. And as mentioned, some of its systems like ability refreshing could easily be transferred to other spellcasters to "fix" their problems as well.

So I must say, that at least for me? If this is a sign of what's to come in 4th Edition, then I'm very excited about it all. :)
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Session 11: Marked
Chapter Three: The Hook Mountain Massacre
 
The ouse seemed pretty much devoid of other tings ta kill. Th bush monster below seemed th only other enemy ta slay, an if the master of th bear was below, e was obviously mulch by now. As usual we all got inta an argiament wit me. Twasn't religion er any u that nonsense. Na, twas in fact treasure an the wantin by two of the stupider members of our party, me excluded, ta destroy a few tings. Most notably, giant ogres hooks whose magical properties screamed "Sell me fer quick, easy cash." Both Vala an Tirion wished ta destroy dem, tinking that some evil being would end up with them an murder people. Oi reasoned correctly tha the same could be said fer any of the other tings we sold fer cash. Oi also pointed out tha they ad no problem wit me sellin the magical skinsaw masks made from th skin of th victims dey came from! A bunch a turncoats. Me tinks Tirion was just tryin ta score a few extra points wit Vala so tha he could… well… score.

Our debate was cut short (keep yer halflin jokes te yerself!) because of some cute dogs barkin ouside at me friendly ol bear. Seems th dogs oi ad let live ad come back fer a rematch, and by the rumblin of footsteps, ad brought der other masters wit dem. Wit Tirion leadin th way, e was th first ta come upon the dogs. Mercifully e cut one in two wit one blow. Th dogs ad no interest in th warblade, they wanted bear meat. In a split second, me friend bear was down an bleedin. Vala did some mumbo-jumbo ta summon a new power of ers called "Don't attack please." Sure enough, th ogres didna attack us, they just sorta looked at us in a friendly manner. Tha gave Tirion th time ta whirling tornado their asses. By tha toime me legs ad caught up to th fight, fer a second, me arm didna want ta strike tanks ta the don't attack me aura of Vala's. Luckily oi fought off the urge an stabbed an ogre true is lung, bringin im down. Put me in range of th dogs who all charged me; an all sat down, their cute tails waggin as dey became four victims ta Vala's aura. Leavin th remainin ogres ta Tirion, oi moved ta the bear an ealed im wit me wand, while coaxin im ta play dead. Seein th dogs, oi couldna help but pet one. That's when it troied ta bite me hand off. Oi knew it tot oi was bein threatinin, an oi ad a choice ta either bring im down or defend th bear. Oi chose th latter, as oi opened up the dogs brain wit me rapier. Tha sent the remainin ones runnin away, and in doin so, out of the zone of magic tha stayed the rest of their bites. They all thus turned on Tirion who was just finishin off th last ogre. An after another whirling tornado, e fisnished the tree lungin dogs off as well. A quick healin from Vala brought th bear back up. Seemed the reinforcements ad come from the barn we ad overlook before. 

After going in an up a flight a stairs, Tirion came across a cage holdin tree prisoners, one of which was likely th bears master. Below in th barns interior was a lot of webbin, meanin our big bad boss fer this little hideout was likely a big-ass spider. As oi moved up ta unlock th cage, Mr. Fangs climbed from is hole and bit me hard. Man did it ever hurt! Yet depite me rage, there was also a sense of compasion fer th colossal vermin. Oi jumped inta th webbin ta get a closer look, only ta find that th strands wer thicker than oi tot, and th logical portion of me brain said ta get outta there. It took another bite from the Mr. Fangs ta make me realize that me time on earth based was better served on whether oi could kill th beast, not befriend it. While Tirion decided is best coarse of action was ta talk ta th prisoners insteada doin is job and killin monsters, oi hit th spider wit me blade, before escapin from the strands and makin me way to the cage again. Vala was there ta heal me wounds an oi used er shoulder ta boost me up ta th cage door. This put me outa reach of Mr. Fangs and put th warblade where e shoulda been; between me at th spider. In no toime, oi ad th cage door opened, and everyone ealed up wit me wand. Tirion an Mr. Fangs exchanged a couple blows, with th two legged creature fairin worse. With everyone on their feet, all of us made it out the second story door, alive. In our flight we still exchanged flame strikes, fangs, and big sword chops, but we made it. 

Seems all tree were survivors from th keep we were ta investigate, an all tree of them wanted ta join us. Oi was venomently against that coarse of action. Oi came all this way fer riches and ta save their arses. And yet ere they were ready ta trow der loives away in needless battle. Oi insisted that dey go ta Turtleback Ferry and stay der till we got everthin fixed at the keep. Coarse, me opinion mattered as much as cow turd while Tirion cheared em on. Oi did get a little support from Vala at least. Vale friend of the bear, Jaker, guy with a patch, an Kaven, rogue wit me dagger, all helped emselves to our hard-found equipment that dey claimed was ders and prepared fer the next battle. A battle which was decided ta be gainst th spider we ad just run from. A pair of doors on the lower level obviously led to it, but were completely barred. Luckily oi had me wand of knock ta blast it open.

Tirion was th first ta feel the wrath of th escaped spider. Luckily the warblade dodged aside the initial strike, an retaliated wit a strike that practically disemboiled th creature. Vale fired an arrow tha took out one of its eyes, while oi moved in ta strike it in a vital area. An all of a sudden, the idea of attackin suddenly left me. In tha instant, Vala remembered somethin. In the fight wit mama tumogre, it ad cast a spell that ad seemed ta do nothin to me. Now owever, Vala realized tha it was a powerful spell that cursed me ta retink all me violent actions. Th fact that th effects were only evident now was simply bad luck, or the contrary considerin ow much violence oi ad dished out before that moment.

The next few minutes were a miasma of fountainin blood and ocre. Wit so many bodies in th way, oi resorted ta usin th wand of magic missiles whenever oi could gather me wits da do somethin. A final decapitatin strike from Tirion brought th spider down, an bringin a sigh of relief to everyone. Unfortunately it seemed ta give our new recruits a star next to der names in this, what they seemed to see as their special education class. Only casualty was Vale, whom sadly was still breathin. What's more, Tirion, who was an entire special ed class on his own, used a precious potion a eal th warrior. After Vala ealed us all up the best she could, we were given some intel on the fort. Seems Vale and is band of merry, suicidal men were an attack party ta take back the fort from th ogres before we arroived. E and several others were taken back to the house as prisoners. Sadly, a run trough the house came upon the corpses of those other supposed survivors. Only good ting Vala could provide was a map of the fort, includin a couple secret ways in. Ta get revenge fer th fallen, we would kill the shamblin mound on the morrow.

As mornin dawned, Vala approached me wit a glowin hand. She said er touch would remove the curse upon me, ad sure enough me toughts of violence became much more clearer after er magic took affect. We descended down the stairs in the ouse, takin out a couple cute rats in our march ta meet the vine monster. Soon our exploration brought us to its whereabouts, and the weed-wacking began.

Knowin me blades would be of little use, oi stayed back an opened the volley wit a magic missile. Jaker meanwhile charged in wit, spear leadin th way. Tirion den moved up an Insightful Striked it, sendin pieces of plants scatterin round. E was sadly rewarded fer is insight by a bite from the shambler. Vale meanwhile was roped in by one of the shamblers vines. Again oi magic missiled it and again Tirion cut at it, but like the last toime, the things seemed ta be indestructable. And then the pain began even more as poor Vale was swallowed hole, is bones bein ground by the shambler's teath, while is flesh began bein melted by the shamblers digestive juices. We could ear th poor rangers screams of agony but couldna do nothin fer im. All we could do was continia ta cut and magic it but it just seemed not ta die. Tirion shrugged off its attemps at joinin Vale thanks ta a spell tha made im slippery in th arms of any who tried ta bring im down. Didna stop the bites an whips dough. Jaker too took some massive pain, but Vala was there ta eal is urts, wastin more of our magic supply.

After what seemed like an eternity, the shambling mound stopped moving. Tirrion cut the plants ide open ta free Vale, who despite is burns, was barely oldin on ta loife. A chest in th next room revealed couple more valuables in a chest, but nothin ta make this ole trip worth it. As oi began sifttin trough th loot, we noticed the plant begin movin again. Figurin is regenerative nature was kickin in, th fighter began acking at it wit blades. Yet still it kept gettin better. That's when me insight directed me and ta me magical third eye. As oi placed in in me forehead, oi remembered readin a tale bout a shamblin mounds treatinin a farm and ow th farmer beat it ta death wit a shovel. Oi told Vala ta use er stick ta beat th plant. After a funny look in me direction, she began smackin dose vines an sure enough dey eventually stopped movin fer good. Wit little spells and guts everwhere, we forced everone back ta Turtleback Ferry ta recupe.

Next day, Kaven was gone, along wit th dagger oi ad lent im. Other two yahoos were still in toine and still wantin ta go wit us ta th fort. Tirion ad found somethin interestin th that eve; well two things. First was that e ad not been unmaned given ow many toimes and places e ad been struck th day before. Second was tha e had found a poster wit tha god-fersaken seven pointed star tha kept appearin before us. It was th mark of a place called Paradise which was a pleasure boat near th town tha ad sunk a month er so ago. Somthin ta merit checkin out later on.

No convincin could convince Vale and Jaker ta turn back, specially wit Tirion encouragin them ta stay. Couple hours later, th stench of piss an blood indicated we were close. Our footsteps took us true a waterfall, inta a secret cave complex. We were assaulted numerous toimes by shocker lizards, but our force easily dealt withem. Soon th musty air took on a perfumey alure, makin fer a surprise more startlin than if we'd come across a portal ta the abyss. We came ta the entrance inta the keep, and from behind came a voice askin ta indentify ourselves, and whether we ad come ta save er. As we entered, our eyes fell upon the speaker; a serpent lady brushin er air, similar ta th one we ad slain not to long ago. Upon seein us, she dimension doored away.

Tirion saw a flight of stairs an started another of is insesant Tirion Runs. Vala though, taught tins true and cast a spell ta enable er ta find a hairbrush. Sure enough, th magic guided us up two flights of stairs ta a pair of doors no different den any oders. As Tirion bashed em open, our eyes drifted ta a prayer chamber dedicated ta Lamashu, Goddess of Disease, along wit er image of a tree eyed jackal painted on th wall. Witiin th confines was also an ogre wit a signal horn in hand, and th snake woman.

Jaker fired a couple arrows at th ogre which seemed ta send im in a rage. Droppin th orn, e charged at th nearest person e couple, which tankfully waasn't me. Is club descended on Tirion wit such force, oi figured we'd ave two half Tirions by th end of th clubs descend. Th warblade cried out in pain, but somehow managed ta stay on is feet. In retaliation, e charged at th lamia girl and gave er a nice cut. Oi meanwhile figured ta try ta end th battle quickly and used me mask of the medusa ta try ta petrify er. She easily resisted th effects and screamed out th question as to where oi ad gotten th mask. Figurin it was er sisters and not wantin a piss er off, oi trew it ta her as recompense fer killin er broodmate. Luckily Vale interposed imself between meself an th bitch, an suffered multiple rapier an dagger stabs from er for is stupidity. Tirion meanwhile was outta reach of Vala's ealin touch an dropped ta th ground after th ogre pounded im once, then a second time fer good measure. Our ealer tried ta use er aura of "Do Not Attack Me," but no one gave inta th magics curse. Needin ta do somethin ta save us all again, oi moved up ta th ogre and stabbed in a couple times. Seein such a uge creature, oi begun studyin is frame ta find better ways a bringin a giant down. Next toime oi faced such a foe, oied try ta put such skills ta use.

Wit only th ogre ta deal wit, oi figured, oi might ave a better chance. Tha was until lamia bitch cast a spell ta encorcel Vale's mind. He stepped asoid an she stepped in front a me. Tha distraction cost me a really painful club hit from th ogre. Vala still kept er butt outta range of any combat, meanin outta range of any ealin. She did wave er ands ta calm th barbarian ogre down. Oi jabbed im a couple more toimes, but still it stood, an oi knew then tha me end was at hand as e hit me again. Barely standin, oi saw death at th end of th lamia's rapier, an prepared ta meet whatever god would ave me. Strangely though, she simply reached out an touched me foot. Oi felt a we bit of me ability ta tink remember tings drain away, but udderwise, oi was unharmed. Me maneauverin skill ad finally brought me ta Vala's side and she was kind enough ta mend some of me urts. Jakar, who seemed ta be doing nothin, finally did somethin and finished off the near dead ogre wit a single arrow. Knowin she probably ad magical defenses up the wazoo, oi still pepered er wit all steal oi could bring down upon er, all of which ricotcheed off a thousand invisible shields. She copied th same swing on me, an sadly no shields could block dose deadly, piercin hits. Puttin all me skill inta one strike, oi flashed in rapier as hard as oi could stab, an was rewarded wit a frown of pain from er snearin mouth. Vala meanwhile took matters inta er own hands. Wit th ogre down, she was able ta get ta Tirion. Rather than eal im up though, she cast er dimension door spell and spirited e, me, and she out ta the room below where first we ad entered the complex.

Won't say whether she did th right ting er not, out of me own personal grudges. Oi will say tha me cuts hurt like a tousand needles, an th wallops th ogre had dealt me still rang in me bones. Oi was ready fer round two as soon as possible right away owever. Yet there was one ting tha put a we bit of esitation in me step. Lookin down at me foot, oi saw something strange. On me foot, where th lamia ad touched me was the sign of that stupid seven pointed star.
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Session 10: Anything THAT Ugly Deserves ta Die
Chapter Three: The Hook Mountain Massacre
 
Tis a funny wurld we live in eh? Me mission ta save the loives of everyone came ta a most undramtic a conclusion. Wit me disgruntled moral in tact, me tots turned ta me tieves guild in the Glassworks, where me Voices of Reason continaed ta train an steal from th suspectin citizens. The Scarney guild beware of me building reputation. An yet tha life oi began, oi put aside at th victory horn of adventure. Wit Tirion's call ta arms ta investigate a Fort near Hoock Mountain, ta see why the militia ad not contacted Magnimaar of recent dates, wantin ta hit the road took hold. Thinkin of me new equipment, oi tot id be nice ta try some of it out.

As we disagreed on th way ta get there, we of course went wit the majority. That being the usual lovers always choosin the same way while ignorin me own request. They wanted ta take the ferry, which, though faster, bypasted the Shimmerglens. So many wonderful stories ave oi eard of the place. A magical forest where ya might become one wit nature. Where ya could dance wit nixies an be seduced by dryads. Twould a done Tirion some good ta get a little… well, never mind. Twas still a long boat ride fer sure. Nearly ad Vala confinced ta invest in me glasswurks factory, an all the politically incorrect tings tha came with it. Talk also turned to me own demise as usual. Dis toime, the mention of reincarnation came up. An interesting notion fer sure. Ta no longer be a halfling? A paraditical tot, but still not one oi tink oi would want.

After we arioived at the town of Turtleback Ferry, the closest town ta our destination, we spoke wit Father Maelin Shreed, worshipper of Arasteal. Oim not an aimer of gods. Bu dis temple truly spoke to me, almost beconin me ta take up the worship ta dis god of nature. Woulda made me comrads day as they still wanted me ta drop me locksmith profession in place of a mage, er something else dey considered useful. Maelin gave us a couple more details. Seems the militia, or Black Arrows as they called themselves, had indeed not been eard from in a while. Rumors spoke of ogres that ad moved inta the area. Dis at least gave us a clue that der might be killin ta be ad.

We gathered our tings an eaded off on foot. Oi began experimentin wit me hat of disguise, going from medusa, an settlin on a harmless kobold guise. Not to long inta our walk, we eard the pained cry of an animal. No animal suffered on me watch, so oi led us all in the direction of the sound. The branches gave way ta a bear trapped in a lockjaw ankle trap. Not wantin it ta kill me, oi drank me potion ta commune wit varmints, an told im oid free im. E told me we ad ta go save is master. Oi said oi would an started unhingin the claw trap. No sooner ad oi began me work, then the sound of dogs echoed on the winds. Der yips oi understood as "Oi smell bear," and oi knew me furry ally was in trouble. Emergin the trough weeds, five cute doggies emerged, their teath droolin misunderstood demise fer all dose dey came across. Leadin dem was a large brute, whose form was nearly indescribable. Tink scrambbled eggs, bulgin trough yer skin. That e was alive, was a miracle in itself, as any mother u somthin like that would ave drown the kid in a lake bed an claimed ta th authorities "Look at it! Tis an abomination of the nine hells! Would have been sacrilige ta keep the ting alive." An she would have been given a town feast fer her good deed.

Th dogs charged at us, with most going tawards Tirion, thinkin him the larger threat, rather than a harmless kobold. Oi tried ta go faster on the trap but was forced ta defend meself against an attackin dog. Tirion did some sort a Whirling Tornado maneuver ta wound tree dogs while me own quick strikes sent one down an wounded a couple others. The ogre meanwhile charged an impaled Tirion, but the warblade practically laughed the blow off, knowing that is return strike would be much more deadly. And a mighty hit he did land, but not enough ta bring down is opponent. The bear took a couple bites, but Vala was beside im, ealin all is wounds. After th bear brought another dog down, oi realized the main treat was the ogre. A diving roll brought leapin over an attackin dog ta appear right behind the tumours ogre. As oi emerged from me roll, oi plunged me rapier trough the behemoths knee, and did yikes did e howl in pain! Fer some reason, Tirion tought that twould be an opportune moment ta flee the melee. E clicked is eals tagether an teleported a short distance away. Which left me face ta ankle with the ogre. Wit Vala elpin the bear, oi was all alone, an suffered a painful stab from is spear. Outta position fer any of me sneaky strikes, oi still gave it a couple insightful paper cuts ta send it howlin in pain, while sating me own anger at bein struck in the first place.

Gettin over is cowerdly lack of judgment, Tirion charged in, thinkin perhaps ta steal the kill from me. Is sword laced a nice ribbon of red across the ogres ribs, but still it stood its ground. In the corner of me eye, oi saw Vala club a dog to oblivion, while the bear was finishin off the other mutts. The ogre meanwhile decided ta continia its focus on me. With the quickness of a pixie, oi dodged the spear aside an used it ta hide me spin as oi came up from behind and seperated both its kidneys from the rest of its internal organs. Tha was enough, an the beast fell ta the ground. There remained only one dog, an oi couldn't kill it in cold blood. Usin me skill with animals an me ability ta speak with them, oi convinced it ta run off. Oi checked the other dogs an found that, though badly wounded, oi could save em. A couple of charges from me cure wand brought them back ta their feet. While convincin yips sent em off ta join der friends an leave us be. After Vala ealed us all up, oi freed the bear. Frantically e said we ad ta follow it ta its master, an figurin is master ta be a druid er a ranger, oi ad ta elp. Odly, Tirion an Vala didna even question going off the mission path ta elp an animal in distress.

After a short run, we came ta a house, its front yard coverd by piles of flesh, while several human effigies hung in the trees. Hunched over the flesh piles was a deformed animal, which on closer inspection, was another tumogre as oi named it. Seein fresh meat, the thing charged us in a bloodshot-eyed frenzy. Oi decided ta use me newest tool and put on me mask of the medusa. The snakes upon it whipped to an frow an oi felt a warmth in me eyes as a green flash eruped from it. The magic struck the ogre square on, an its eyes became those of a doomed man as is entire body turned ta stone. A nod ta Tirion brought a cleaving sword hit ta decapitate the statue, before it turned back ta flesh.

We came to the front door of thr delapidated ouse. The bear said is master was inside. Before entering though, oi decided ta check ta see if these seemingly stupid ogres were smart enough ta set a trp. Sure enough, me proddin eyes came across not one but two deadly traps. After oi sent everyone back, oi proceeded ta disable em both, a first oi might add fer traps so complex. In the end, the spikes would no longer impale anyone standin on the welcome mat, nor would the swingin scyth vorpal off an appentage. Vala mentioned oi ad more than just locksmith skills it seemed. Twas nice ta get a complement fer once.

The entry room was barren, save fer a couch an another door. Oi walked to th doors and began checkin fer traps again, with Tirion right behind. Suddenly though, the boards below Tirion's feet gave way, an e barely jumped aside from a fall that would ave sent im upon a bed of spikes below. What was worse though was the reachin vines from some sort of exotic plant creature that tried ta drag Tirion down. The warblade saved it the trouble an clicked is eels tagether ta bring himself right up against it. Would ave been nice if e ad used that small brain of is ta think about is action first. In such close proximity, the shambling mound easily grabbed hold of our tank an bit down hard. Tirion's Mountain Hammer sword technique seemd ta do little damage, as the pile of vines an twigs whipped and bit Tirion time an time again. A couple balls of flame from me wand barely slowed it down, an oi ad no choice but ta jump down and give the mound another target or else Tirion would be dead. Vala ad other ideas owever. Usin a spell of ers she created a doorway and pushed us all inta it, emergin on the porch next ta the bear, just as an ogre with two heads came ta elp out the plant monster.

Not wantin ta face that thing again, we decided ta go ta the side door. It opened inta a kitchen covered in cockroaches an blood. The dinin table was obviously made of uman skin. There were several doors leadin ta other places. The first one, oi discovered another scyth trap, and was able ta disable it. As we entered, we found the room ta be a playroom. Two tumogre children were playin with a couple dead raccoons. Such abomintions, no matter ow young, did not deserve mercy. A quick thrust from me rapier opened the first's juggular, and endin its existance fast. Tirion followed me lead and cut a wide gash in the other head. Seemed the things brain were elsewhere in its body as it still flailed around ta strike me. Duckin under its reach, oi finished it off with a slash that severed its spinal cord.

Wit nothin else ere, we went to another door. Me cursory eyes spoted nothin, so Tirion went on in, only ta receive a glancin blow from a decendin scyth trap. Seems oi should of examined above the door, not below. My bad. We found ourselves in a bedroom, wit body parts scattered everywhere. Me search of the bodies turned up a nice ring that fit remarkably well on me finger. A side door led to a latrine, whose depths eld piles of small bones, like those of children. Another door led to stairs going up and it was that way we eaded.

We came inta a room filled with junk, as well as a tempin chest. The trap upon it bespoke of the riches oi would find within. And what a liar it was as the confines eld a pile of fingers. Obviously twas used as currency among these tumogres, an so oi took em with me in case oi needed ta bribe one.

Only one other door was seen, and Tirion kicked it open ta reveal an absolutely disgustin female tumogre, whose weight likely topped 700 pounds. Beside er was the two eaded ogre from below, while three zombie ogres guarded mama. She quickly cast a spell that created six duplicates of erself. A Tornado move by Tirion wounded the zombies, while oi used me horm of blastin ta sent a shockwave through the zombies and mama. Two-head was outta the blast radius an pounded me on me shoulder. Oi defended meself the best oi could, but couldn't get ta any of is vital areas. Mama meanwhile sent a purple ray inta Tirion, reducin is muscle mass. Vala tried ta elp out, but er entry ta the room was suddely impeded by a dire weazel. Two-Head suddenly let out a howl of rage an it seemed is tenacity doubled. Oi stabbed and jabbed enough wounds ta drop a giant, yet somehow is barbarian rage kept im staddin. That was until Vala did probably er best move oi've ever seen, She used er magic ta calm two-head down. And in his calm state, he lost is ragin power, sending him falling ta the ground.

Seein mama as truly the main threat, oi dived under zombie legs an disintegrated two of er images. Tirion, still bein it by zombies round im, focused is attention on mama tumor, an somehow managed ta it er actual body. Blubber girl then reached out an touched me wit a cruesome hand, an magic coarsed trough me. All of a sudden, me actions in me ead didna match the actions of me body an oi couldn't bring me blades ta bear upon er. Tirion kept th fight going, destroyin more of er images, while the zombies continaed ta beat on im. Mama then reached out an touched Tirion, takin some of is life force inta er. Now though, tanks ta Tirion, she ad no more images left. An luckily fer me, me brain got hold a me arms and oi profitted ta bring precision death ta mother ugly. Vala's fight fer her life gainst the weazel suddely came ta an end as the summoned creature disappeared. The remainin zombies, with no master ta guide em, became practice dummies fer Vala's quarter staff, Tirion blade, an me own little daggers.

While Tirion was attended to by Vala, as e was the only one injured, me eyes turned ta looting the bodies and findin hidden treasures. Unfortunately, as it seemed in all cases, our goal seemed ta be down, not up. Meanin round two gainst the shamblin mound awaited us. An unlike the fight wit Malfeshnikor, this prospect seemed not ta Tirrion's liking. But it was the only coarse left fer us. We ad come this far, and oi saw the resolve in the faces of me allies that we'da continia the fight.

And it was all ta possibly save a dryad.
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Session 09: Ow
Chapter Two: The Skinsaw Murders

The ouse seemed pretty much devoid of other tings ta kill.  Th bush monster below seemed th only other enemy ta slay, an if the master of th bear was below, e was obviously mulch by now. As usual we all got inta an argiament wit me. Twasn't religion er any u that nonsense. Na, twas in fact treasure an the wantin by two of the stupider members of our party, me excluded, ta destroy a few tings. Most notably, giant ogres hooks whose magical properties screamed "Sell me fer quick, easy cash." Both Vala an Tirion wished ta destroy dem, tinking that some evil being would end up with them an murder people. Oi reasoned correctly tha the same could be said fer any of the other tings we sold fer cash. Oi also pointed out tha they ad no problem wit me sellin the magical skinsaw masks made from th skin of th victims dey came from! A bunch a turncoats. Me tinks Tirion was just tryin ta score a few extra points wit Vala so tha he could… well… score.

Our debate was cut short (keep yer halflin jokes te yerself!) because of some cute dogs barkin ouside at me friendly ol bear. Seems th dogs oi ad let live ad come back fer a rematch, and by the rumblin of footsteps, ad brought der other masters wit dem. Wit Tirion leadin th way, e was th first ta come upon the dogs. Mercifully e cut one in two wit one blow. Th dogs ad no interest in th warblade, they wanted bear meat. In a split second, me friend bear was down an bleedin. Vala did some mumbo-jumbo ta summon a new power of ers called "Don't attack please." Sure enough, th ogres didna attack us, they just sorta looked at us in a friendly manner. Tha gave Tirion th time ta whirling tornado their asses. By tha toime me legs ad caught up to th fight, fer a second, me arm didna want ta strike tanks ta the don't attack me aura of Vala's. Luckily oi fought off the urge an stabbed an ogre true is lung, bringin im down. Put me in range of th dogs who all charged me; an all sat down, their cute tails waggin as dey became four victims ta Vala's aura. Leavin th remainin ogres ta Tirion, oi moved ta the bear an ealed im wit me wand, while coaxin im ta play dead. Seein th dogs, oi couldna help but pet one. That's when it troied ta bite me hand off. Oi knew it tot oi was bein threatinin, an oi ad a choice ta either bring im down or defend th bear. Oi chose th latter, as oi opened up the dogs brain wit me rapier. Tha sent the remainin ones runnin away, and in doin so, out of the zone of magic tha stayed the rest of their bites. They all thus turned on Tirion who was just finishin off th last ogre. An after another whirling tornado, e fisnished the tree lungin dogs off as well. A quick healin from Vala brought th bear back up. Seemed the reinforcements ad come from the barn we ad overlook before.

After going in an up a flight a stairs, Tirion came across a cage holdin tree prisoners, one of which was likely th bears master. Below in th barns interior was a lot of webbin, meanin our big bad boss fer this little hideout was likely a big-ass spider. As oi moved up ta unlock th cage, Mr. Fangs climbed from is hole and bit me hard. Man did it ever hurt!  Yet depite me rage, there was also a sense of compasion fer th colossal vermin. Oi jumped inta th webbin ta get a closer look, only ta find that th strands wer thicker than oi tot, and th logical portion of me brain said ta get outta there. It took another bite from the Mr. Fangs ta make me realize that me time on earth based was better served on whether oi could kill th beast, not befriend it. While Tirion decided is best coarse of action was ta talk ta th prisoners insteada doin is job and killin monsters, oi hit th spider wit me blade, before escapin from the strands and makin me way to the cage again. Vala was there ta heal me wounds an oi used er shoulder ta boost me up ta th cage door. This put me outa reach of Mr. Fangs and put th warblade where e shoulda been; between me at th spider. In no toime, oi ad th cage door opened, and everyone ealed up wit me wand. Tirion an Mr. Fangs exchanged a couple blows, with th two legged creature fairin worse. With everyone on their feet, all of us made it out the second story door, alive. In our flight we still exchanged flame strikes, fangs, and big sword chops, but we made it.

Seems all tree were survivors from th keep we were ta investigate, an all tree of them wanted ta join us. Oi was venomently against that coarse of action. Oi came all this way fer riches and ta save their arses. And yet ere they were ready ta trow der loives away in needless battle. Oi insisted that dey go ta Turtleback Ferry and stay der till we got everthin fixed at the keep. Coarse, me opinion mattered as much as cow turd while Tirion cheared em on. Oi did get a little support from Vala at least. Vale friend of the bear, Jaker, guy with a patch, an Kaven, rogue wit me dagger, all helped emselves to our hard-found equipment that dey claimed was ders and prepared fer the next battle. A battle which was decided ta be gainst th spider we ad just run from. A pair of doors on the lower level obviously led to it, but were completely barred. Luckily oi had me wand of knock ta blast it open.

Tirion was th first ta feel the wrath of th escaped spider. Luckily the warblade dodged aside the initial strike, an retaliated wit a strike that practically disemboiled th creature. Vale fired an arrow tha took out one of its eyes, while oi moved in ta strike it in a vital area. An all of a sudden, the idea of attackin suddenly left me. In tha instant, Vala remembered somethin. In the fight wit mama tumogre, it ad cast a spell that ad seemed ta do nothin to me. Now owever, Vala realized tha it was a powerful spell that cursed me ta retink all me violent actions. Th fact that th effects were only evident now was simply bad luck, or the contrary considerin ow much violence oi ad dished out before that moment.

The next few minutes were a miasma of fountainin blood and ocre. Wit so many bodies in th way, oi resorted ta usin th wand of magic missiles whenever oi could gather me wits da do somethin. A final decapitatin strike from Tirion brought th spider down, an bringin a sigh of relief to everyone. Unfortunately it seemed ta give our new recruits a star next to der names in this, what they seemed to see as their special education class. Only casualty was Vale, whom sadly was still breathin. What's more, Tirion, who was an entire special ed class on his own, used a precious potion a eal th warrior.  After Vala ealed us all up the best she could, we were given some intel on the fort. Seems Vale and is band of merry, suicidal men were an attack party ta take back the fort from th ogres before we arroived. E and several others were taken back to the house as prisoners. Sadly, a run trough the house came upon the corpses of those other supposed survivors. Only good ting Vala could provide was a map of the fort, includin a couple secret ways in. Ta get revenge fer th fallen, we would kill the shamblin mound on the morrow.

As mornin dawned, Vala approached me wit a glowin hand. She said er touch would remove the curse upon me, ad sure enough me toughts of violence became much more clearer after er magic took affect. We descended down the stairs in the ouse, takin out a couple cute rats in our march ta meet the vine monster. Soon our exploration brought us to its whereabouts, and the weed-wacking began.

Knowin me blades would be of little use, oi stayed back an opened the volley wit a magic missile. Jaker meanwhile charged in wit, spear leadin th way. Tirion den moved up an Insightful Striked it, sendin pieces of plants scatterin round. E was sadly rewarded fer is insight by a bite from the shambler. Vale meanwhile was roped in by one of the shamblers vines. Again oi magic missiled it and again Tirion cut at it, but like the last toime, the things seemed ta be indestructable. And then the pain began even more as poor Vale was swallowed hole, is bones bein ground by the shambler's teath, while is flesh began bein melted by the shamblers digestive juices. We could ear th poor rangers screams of agony but couldna do nothin fer im. All we could do was continia ta cut and magic it but it just seemed not ta die. Tirion shrugged off its attemps at joinin Vale thanks ta a spell tha made im slippery in th arms of any who tried ta bring im down. Didna stop the bites an whips dough. Jaker too took some massive pain, but Vala was there ta eal is urts, wastin more of our magic supply.

After what seemed like an eternity, the shambling mound stopped moving. Tirrion cut the plants ide open ta free Vale, who despite is burns, was barely oldin on ta loife. A chest in th next room revealed couple more valuables in a chest, but nothin ta make this ole trip worth it. As oi began sifttin trough th loot, we noticed the plant begin movin again. Figurin is regenerative nature was kickin in, th fighter began acking at it wit blades. Yet still it kept gettin better.  That's when me insight directed me and ta me magical  third eye. As oi placed in in me forehead, oi remembered readin a tale bout a shamblin mounds treatinin a farm and ow th farmer beat it ta death wit a shovel. Oi told Vala ta use er stick ta beat th plant. After a funny look in me direction, she began smackin dose vines an sure enough dey eventually stopped movin fer good. Wit little spells and guts everwhere, we forced everone back ta Turtleback Ferry ta recupe.

Next day, Kaven was gone, along wit th dagger oi ad lent im. Other two yahoos were still in toine and still wantin ta go wit us ta th fort. Tirion ad found somethin interestin th that eve; well two things. First was  that e ad not been unmaned given ow many toimes and places e ad been struck th day before. Second was tha e had found a poster wit tha god-fersaken seven pointed star tha kept appearin before us. It was th mark of a place called Paradise which was a pleasure boat near th town tha ad sunk a month er so ago. Somthin ta merit checkin out later on.

No convincin could convince Vale and Jaker ta turn back, specially wit Tirion encouragin them ta stay. Couple hours later, th stench of piss an blood indicated we were close. Our footsteps took us true a waterfall, inta a secret cave complex. We were assaulted numerous toimes by shocker lizards, but our force easily dealt withem. Soon th musty air took on a perfumey alure, makin fer a surprise more startlin than if we'd come across a portal ta the abyss. We came ta the entrance inta the keep, and from behind came a voice askin ta indentify ourselves, and whether we ad come ta save er. As we entered, our eyes fell upon the speaker; a serpent lady brushin er air, similar ta th one we ad slain not to long ago. Upon seein us, she dimension doored away.

Tirion saw a flight of stairs an started another of is insesant Tirion Runs. Vala though, taught tins true and cast a spell ta enable er ta find a hairbrush. Sure enough, th magic guided us up two flights of stairs ta a pair of doors no different den any oders. As Tirion bashed em open, our eyes drifted ta a prayer chamber dedicated ta Lamashu, Goddess of Disease, along wit er image of a tree eyed jackal painted on th wall. Witiin th confines was also an ogre wit a signal horn in hand, and th snake woman.

Jaker fired a couple arrows at th ogre which seemed ta send im in a rage. Droppin th orn, e charged at th nearest person e couple, which tankfully waasn't me. Is club descended on Tirion wit such force, oi figured we'd ave two half Tirions by th end of th clubs descend. Th warblade cried out in pain, but somehow managed ta stay on is feet. In retaliation, e charged at th lamia girl and gave er a nice cut. Oi meanwhile figured ta try ta end th battle quickly and used me mask of the medusa ta try ta petrify er. She easily resisted th effects and screamed out th question as to where oi ad gotten th mask. Figurin it was er sisters and not wantin a piss er off, oi trew it ta her as recompense fer killin er broodmate. Luckily Vale interposed imself between meself an th bitch, an suffered multiple rapier an dagger stabs from er for is stupidity. Tirion meanwhile was outta reach of Vala's ealin touch an dropped ta th ground after th ogre pounded im once, then a second time fer good measure. Our ealer tried ta use er aura of "Do Not Attack Me," but no one gave inta th magics curse. Needin ta do somethin ta save us all again, oi moved up ta th ogre and stabbed in a couple times. Seein such a uge creature, oi begun studyin is frame ta find better ways a bringin a giant down. Next toime oi faced such a foe, oied try ta put such skills ta use.

Wit only th ogre ta deal wit, oi figured, oi might ave a better chance. Tha was until lamia bitch cast a spell ta encorcel Vale's mind. He stepped asoid an she stepped in front a me. Tha distraction cost me a really painful club hit from th ogre. Vala still kept er butt outta range of any combat, meanin outta range of any ealin. She did wave er ands ta calm th barbarian ogre down. Oi jabbed im a couple more toimes, but still it stood, an oi knew then tha me end was at hand as e hit me again. Barely standin, oi saw death at th end of th lamia's rapier, an prepared ta meet whatever god would ave me. Strangely though, she simply reached out an touched me foot. Oi felt a we bit of me ability ta tink remember tings drain away, but udderwise, oi was unharmed. Me maneauverin skill ad finally brought me ta Vala's side and she was kind enough ta mend some of me urts. Jakar, who seemed ta be doing nothin, finally did somethin and finished off the near dead ogre wit a single arrow. Knowin she probably ad magical defenses up the wazoo, oi still pepered er wit all steal oi could bring down upon er, all of which ricotcheed off a thousand invisible shields.  She copied th same swing on me, an sadly no shields could block dose deadly, piercin hits. Puttin all me skill inta one strike, oi flashed in rapier as hard as oi could stab, an was rewarded wit a frown of pain from er snearin mouth. Vala meanwhile took matters inta er own hands. Wit th ogre down, she was able ta get ta Tirion. Rather than eal im up though, she cast er dimension door spell and spirited e, me, and she out ta the room below where first we ad entered the complex.

Won't say whether she did th right ting er not, out of me own personal grudges. Oi will say tha me cuts hurt like a tousand needles, an th wallops th ogre had dealt me still rang in me bones. Oi was ready fer round two as soon as possible right away owever. Yet there was one ting tha put a we bit of esitation in me step. Lookin down at me foot, oi saw something strange. On me foot, where th lamia ad touched me was the sign of that stupid seven pointed

 

 

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Session 08: Player’s Thoughts; I'm Pretty Amused
 
Provided by Chris

No sarcasm there in the title, I was in fact very amused by this past session. Laughter is not always a key to success, but it has been so far during this campaign. Our group always has a blast, but given the new time slop for our session, I thought there might be a downward spiral in the funny category of sessions. So far though, that couldn't be further from the truth. We could start at 4am I think and still I don't think the laughs would stop. That's not to say there is a lack of seriousness to our campaigns, but there is a lightness that keeps the sessions, well, light.

For me, this past session was very amusing because of one particular element, Tirion running from the crows. I was COMPLETELY taken off guard when Mark had his character run from the swarm and dive through a window to plunge eight f&^%ing stories! I still think of it and I'm still shocked, and I'm still laughing in my head about it.

Out of all our campaigns, it's hard to think of one which was the most serious. Its hard to even think of campaigns before the Shackled City actually as that, for me, was when D&D got a huge boost in the enjoyment factor. 

Most of my characters start off as pretty serious and rough individuals, and might explain why my last character incarnations have been a little mean. My one real attempt at making a funny-type character, failed miserably thanks to a bad campaign and bad DMing. I speak of course of the legendary Porenthian and his way of treating every situation as a joke. Libra was created to be a bit of a prankster, in the way the stereo-type halflings are often portrayed in books and films, but with a bit of a pissed-off side. So far so good. My friends always seem to come up with a nice variety of character personalities and I very much admire them for that. Because for all my years of experience, all the books I've read, I always feel like I keep playing one or two of the same personalities over and over. Man do I ever wish that Dang had been my character as THAT was an incredible play by Eric. Ookbar of the Mushroom god, played by Mark was so far away from his norm. Bob and his Xenogear was just a wonder to see in action. These were the funny characters of the past. These were the laughs, these were the heroics, for good or ill.

Libra is indeed my attempt, unintentionally really, to try to change the attitude of my character. So far there have been laughs, but not planned ones, and perhaps that's for the better. I wanted to make someone that was unique. Someone who we would not say "He's a lot like Dang or Elminster." By being bitter, it becomes funny…sometimes. In a sense, now that I think of it, I'm always playing him like Dr. House from the tv show of the same name. Libra is tolerated, despite his sometimes brash behaviour. He is pretty direct in his actions. He is rarely kind, but on some occasions it does happen. And he infuriates his team members. Not to mention that, in the end, he is always right (Brothers hideout, Malfeshnekor’s hiding place, secret way into goblin hideout, the goblin attack being only a ruse, etc…). Not only that but Libra is pretty much disabled what with his short size and inferior ability to go mano-a-mano in a fight.

Jumping a little bit off topic, and onto the actual session, the end result of Aldern was pretty weird as has everything else been so far. Really, I woman who turns herself into a demon and has her inards become outards. The noble Aldern suddenly developing an obsesison for a party member and becoming a really strange ghast. The haunted house itself. I mentioned to Bob that, so far there doesn't really seem to be an actual goal so far to the campaign. But the overall feel so far has been simply weird and twisted. And that is pretty darn cool. It's hard to predict where we're going to go next. Now there are more and more players being inserted into the story. Whereas before we thought the final boss, if there even is one, was the demon lady. Now we have the Mistress of Nature's Pagan, something, something. We also have the Brothers Seven whose involvement we don’t truly know. We don't know the importance of the note Libra found in the town house, and I regret not brining it up in the Aldern fight, yet was important enough for some strange doppleganger thing ta come after him and try ta kill him.

Even only playing once every two weeks, the story is sometimes hard to keep up with and remember. Things that sometimes seem important, we often simply skip over as nothing or don't recall what we have found. Regardless, we somehow continue to move along, albeit going to a destination because of a different reason. Those in themselves prove to be funny circumstances. Even though we missed something, or dismissed something as unimportant, we still end up on the path of the adventure, even skipping ahead about a hundred rooms.

For those who question how anyone can sit on a couch for six hours and simply play a game whose details play out in our imaginations, they should sit down and listen to just one of our sessions. It is not the slaying of demons with battle axes that keep us coming back from the table. It is the laughs that come with it, and the camaraderie that has developed over all these many years. We could make a party of commoners and still have as much fun if we all were playing super characters. Its not the characters that make a campaign fun, its the players involved in it. We have tried a few times to enlist a fifth member, but ultimately, after our last failed attempt, we have come to realize the we four horsemen of Dungeon and Dragons Productions are all we need to keep the spirit of the game alive and laughing in our heart.

We are the kings of D&D, the masters of the game, and the iatolas of roll-the-diceollas. Long live the game.
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Session 08: Player's Thoughts; DnD vs. DDO
Chapter Two: The Skinsaw Murders
 
Provided by Eric.

I've been playing Dungeons and Dragons for quite some time. In fact I believe it has been 14 years and still going strong. During the course of these fourteen years I've had both the honor and the misery to play and have played with various people. It is quite the small social gathering where we let our imagination take us into a realm of fantasy where we roll play, crack jokes, and combat the unknown.

In the same fourteen years I have also had the pleasure of playing a massive multiplaying online game known as Everquest for a 7 year period where this too you emerge yourself into a fantasy world not in ones mind and on paper but on a computer screen communicating with a mic and earphones. Hereto I've had both the honor and misery of playing with various peoples though the numbers had totaled well over a thousand.

Both Dungeons and Dragons and Everquest are appealing, though in all honesty the online game was WAY more addicting. Known as 'Evercrack' it was far easier to go home, sit by a computer, boot it up, log in and immerse yourself into the fantasy world where you explored, grouped and had fun. Day after day… night after night, this endless game would always be there waiting for me to come back to play some more. DnD was less accessible because since it was a gathering of close friends, we had to pick a time and day when we would all be available for a few hours to pick up where we left off. I made a choice however and I decided to end my online account, and suspend all Everquest game play. I stopped cold Turkey, and man was it painful.

Several days ago did I finally learn that Dungeons and Dragons online granted fee access to anyone. There was a catch however, that being you could not progress beyond 20th level, you did not have access to the higher end zones, and you did not gain access to all classes and races. How could I refuse such a tempting offer? Darn right I downloaded it, and damn straight I've been playing it from time to time since. Now whereas Everquest was in my mind amazing, unique and really kept bringing me back for more… I don't find Dungeons and Dragons online to have the same qualities. In fact from what I've read and what I've made mentioned to a World of Warcraft friend, DDO is practically the same as WoW, just done in a DnD style.

Both DnD & DDO allow you to play with friends or strangers.
Both have quests.
Both have basic classes.
Both have basic races.
Both have actions points, skills and feats.
Both use an xp leveling system.
Both use a D20 for combat and skill checks.
Both allow mages to cast Magic Missile _
Both have dragons, zombies, ghouls, beholders, etc…
Both have traps, need lock picking and decent search checks.

In fact there are a lot of similarities between both the book, paper and dice game and the online experience. Then again like EQ, DDO allows me to play DnD whenever I want. I can group with friends or strangers, or even hire goons should I want a large party group. I have both a lv 2.5 Warcleric and yes… a lv 2.8 PALADIN! I vowed never to play one again since my Anakin Skyrunner ordeal, but I created one in the DDO universe. I can visually see myself hacking and slashing at my foes. I know clearly when spells and abilities can be refreshed, and of course I can 'return' to town without hassle. It is somewhat different than DnD and definitely different from EQ but nonetheless it does have a fun factor to it.

Then again there are many aspects of DnD that isn't there in DDO.
To name a few… Bob, Chris and Mark.
To sit around, lounge around and talk, laugh and poke fun at something.
The storylines created by us and / or the modules we follow (which are damn good).
The actually roll playing and diverse class creations.

How many times have we referred to our unbeatable 'Outsiders' party? Markus has the amazing ability to link several story arcs into one master piece. Bob is one of the few people I know that creates a character with so much soul and spirit and plays them to a T. Chris can always be counted on to take his character in a direction that makes you ponder what the final outcome will be of his character. Where else can I create a Wild Mage? Nuff said.

My final thoughts and end results…
Dungeons and Dragons by far beats Dungeons and Dragons online. I would never in a million years choose DDO over DnD. As mentioned there are a lot of similarities, however in comparison DDO is a piss poor substitution that only helps fill in any DnD urge. I would never and could never trade in my good friends for this online version of the game. DnD is always coming up with something new and exciting and though from time to time we all feel like we've done this before, the fun factor is only increasing. New parties, new stories and new characters. Soon we will be delving into the newest 4.0 edition which should add some spice to the mixture. 

All in all, it is DnD that gets my two thumbs up. I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.
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