Lizard and Lunk

The continuing GURPS adventures of eight men who really should find better uses for their time.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Back in the Saddle

28 June 2012

I'll go over the last two sessions, although the older one was back in early May, I think.  We had a bit of a hiatus with the end of the academic year and the beginning of summer (and summer vacation) time.

We assaulted the castle from the top down, with the help of our air raft and our resident teleporter.  It turned out that the castle was being used as a base of operations for a group of marauding orc bandits, but they were mostly ready for trouble coming down the road- not trouble coming down their own tower stairs.  With ruthless efficiency, we plowed through their ranks, eventually chasing them out of the castle entirely. 

After we cleaned up that mess, we decided to go back to the trail of the missing handmaid, who we thought had been heading south along the road, pursued by ogres.  We headed west until we struck her trail, and that of her pursuers, then headed south toward a deserted town where she might have sought refuge.  When we arrived in the town, we found but one building standing, with smoke issuing from its chimneys.  It appeared to be the village forge, and though the rest of the village had been abandoned, looted, and largely destroyed, this building remained relatively intact. 

Judging the smoke to be an indication of current habitation, we approached stealthily, but couldn't detect any signs of life.  Instead, we noted the presence of two burned and dismembered ogre corpses outside the forge, with another ogre corpse and that of a woman just visible inside.  We reconnoitered the building from all sides, but could see no movement, even though the smelting furnaces and the forges seemed to be burning at full intensity.  We eventually decided that there might be a fire elemental or a salamander or something in residence, and decided to send in a decoy.  Bill's illusionist sent an illusory version of Jeff into the loading entrance, but nothing happened.  After a few minutes of nothing, Jeff himself went forward, since his dwarf has magical armor that is especially resistant to heat and fire.  Just as he entered the building, he was grabbed by chains that are normally designed to lift the ore into the smelters, and before he knew what was going on, he was drawn up into the chains and moved toward a smelting vat.  The rest of us took that as our cue, and we came in after him, trying to destroy the mechanisms and get him down. 

While that was going on, Craig noticed the other smelter tip over, and a glowing hot, semi-molten, iron golem-like thing emerged from the vat.  We frantically tried to get Jeff down, while fending off a creature so hot that merely being near the thing caused burns, and Craig ended up dragging Jeff out while it tried to grab him.  Michael distracted it with a couple of throwing axes, and so it went after him, instead, and his shield arm got pulverized for his trouble.  We beat a hasty retreat out of the yard, but Bruce's elf ran in and grabbed the woman's body while the creature pursued Michael, cutting off her hands to do so since she had been chained to a post.  The rest of us beat feet, and made it over the low wall that seemed to be the creature's limit, as it couldn't pursue us out of the yard.  Burnt, injured, and carrying a dried out corpse, we broke there for the night. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Our First Break

24 April 2012~

We picked up at the tavern, where we got the opportunity to talk with the town reeve about the situation.  Bill, with his magical ring of perception, was able to really get a sense of the man, and also used his impressive social skills to convince the reeve that we were there to help- unlike the other heavily armed party of people searching the land for a little girl and a duchess's handmaiden.  Their motives, of course, cannot possibly be as pure as ours.  After all, they've been aggressive and vaguely threatening to the locals, and... um... never mind. 

Anyway, Bill eventually got the man to admit that the girl was in hiding in the town, and that she was in good hands.  He also agreed to keep her safe until we came for her, since we can't very well cart her around with us through the increasingly hostile wilderness.  In addition, he gave us directions to the old keep (one of the rumored locations of an evil shrine that we think might be causing the curse), with a warning that it might not be safe- as if that would deter us.

As it turns out, even fording the river wasn't really safe, as we discovered when Craig's reptile man tried to swim it.  While the rest of us looked on from above (we now have a cloud raft), a surge of water (or water elemental?) moved upstream towards him, although we couldn't actually see any physical form.  Craig scampered out on the other side, and the rest of us got well back from the shore, but something sure seemed to be there- when Kevin threw an experimental rock into the river, it came flying back at him as if shot from a cannon!  We decided to head for the keep instead of messing with the whatever-it-was.

The keep itself was barely visible from the river bank, with one lonely tower still showing above the trees.  Kevin spotted what appeared to be a sentry in the tower, and set off to cause some havoc.  He teleported into the tower, appearing behind the orcish guard stationed there.  The guard turned to attack, but Kevin grabbed the orc and teleported them both off the tower and into mid-air.  As they started to fall, Kevin teleported himself back onto the tower, leaving the orc to fall to his (presumed) demise.  Next week, we plan to storm the castle!  Huzzah! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Three Months in Nine Paragraphs

18 April 2012~

So... After spending some time in a larger port city resting, re-equipping, and spending some of our money, we accepted a bounty-hunting job chasing down a particularly nasty bandit lord named Navarro and his followers. Following rumors of his movements, we came to the small village of Grassguard, where we discovered that Navarro and his band had struck only a few nights before, destroying a farm house and murdering the resident family before retreating into the shelter of the nearby "haunted" Wildwood. Actually, according to the town's halfling mayor and an insane half-elven bard, the wood was indeed haunted, and the ghosts in residence were particularly dangerous to elves, who they would try to lure to their deaths with some sort of song. We decided to enter into the woods anyway, and tracked the bandits to their point of entry.

At that point we waited until night to foray into the woods, trusting on our stealth and night vision to give us an edge- which it did. We came upon a small bandit camp in the dark, and slaughtered the bandits almost to a man. Then Kevin decided to raise a couple of them as zombies, and gave them orders to attack their fellows should they return. We ventured further into the woods to look for the other bandits, and soon came upon the ruins of an ancient elven city. Looking out over the city, we could see the bandit camp on the other side of the ruins, but then we were attacked by a group of dire wolves. We killed them quickly, and then Kevin animated several of them to serve as cannon fodder and night-time guards. We covered Piran's (my elf samurai) ears to block out the ghost song and camped for the night, but we didn't get much sleep, as a number of distant screams and shouts seemed to indicate that the bandits had encountered some of the less pleasant denizens of the region.

That might have worked out anyway, except that Kevin woke up in "fluffy bunny" mode (in which he is necrophobic) and panicked at the sight of the undead dire wolves. He cut loose with a fireball, and suddenly we were embroiled in a melee with zombie wargs that Kevin had created! Of course, as luck would have it, a small group of ellyllon had approached us at dawn, and they joined in the fray thinking that we were being attacked. We were embarrassed enough not to disabuse them of their assumption (after all, we would have been crazy to have undead dire wolves with us, and even more crazy to attack them if they were ours), and we proceeded to learn a bit about the elven city nearby. It seems that centuries ago a small elven community had been destroyed by some sort of vengeful tree spirit, and that the ghosts of the elves still rose and sung an unearthly song every night, calling other elves to their doom. There were also three elven sisters living nearby in a swamp, and they appeared to be connected somehow, although the ellyllon didn't know much about them.

We decided to approach the sisters, and discovered their island in the swamp was guarded by a number of undead ogres, as well as an undead hill giant swathed in tied-on suits of elven chainmail. After defeating them (and there were some scary moments), we saw a vision of one of the sisters, and she begged us for help- explaining that they were trapped underground inside the island. We proceeded inside with caution, following the sisters' instructions until we came to a hall that apparently led to a cell door. Unfortunately, the hall itself was an illusion, and when we were halfway through we discovered that the hard way- a huge and unfriendly water elemental came through one illusory wall and slammed Michael's dwarf off the bridge we were on and into a large pool of water. As we reassessed the situation (and Michael began to drown in his heavy plate armor), the creature came back for more of us, and we blasted it with everything we could muster. We eventually defeated it, only to discover the elf sisters facing us, now revealed to be banshees, and another fight was on just like that! After a harrowing melee, we finally killed (re-killed?) the three of them, and discovered a serious trove of treasure, including a magical silver harp which could (as we understood it) lift the curse of the elven ghosts.

We returned to the city and played the harp, which summoned the malevolent tree demon, which turned out to be every bit as unfriendly as you might guess. Another battle ensued, and eventually ended in the destruction of the tree demon (at the cost of a cool magic healing/hurting rod) and the lifting of the curse.

We returned to Grassguard to claim our reward, and the mayor told us that he had more need of us, if we were so inclined. It seemed that in our absence the village had received word that the Duke of Listonshire (the local liege lord) had died, and the mayor needed to travel to Castle Liston to pay his respects. We agreed to go, since we needed our reward money anyway, but when we got to the castle we found that there was yet more intrigue. The Duke, it turned out, had been foully murdered,- along with his family,- and the local priest (Father Barclay) was suspicious of a certain Baron Kendrick, who stood to take over the duchy in the absence of a living heir. Father Barclay didn't believe that his Baron had committed the deed (there is, after all, a powerful curse on the land that has attracted all sorts of unpleasant monsters to the area), but was concerned that the Baron had not publicly announced that one of the Duke's family had not been found at the ambush site, and thus might yet be alive. On the Mayor's recommendation, we were offered the job of finding out what had happened, and off we went!

Our first stop was the family crypt, where there were a couple of restless dead folks scaring off the priests. We re-killed them, too, and then Kevin spoke with some of the dead spirits of the place and learned that the curse was probably connected to an old cult dedicated to a being known as the "Lord of Plagues," and that the Baron- while opportunistic- probably didn't kill the Duke. We also learned that there had been suspicions of a local shrine to the Lord of Plagues, although none were quite sure where it was. We then traveled to the grave of one of the Duke's guards, who told us that he had seen one of the ladies in waiting (Lady Darnelle) flee the ogres that had attacked the Duke's party on her horse, carrying the Duke's youngest daughter, princess (and now heir-apparent) Linara.

We decided to visit the site of the ambush, and stopped at the small village of Brond to have dinner, where we were asked to take a quick look for a missing carpenter. We went out the next morning to seek him, and eventually tracked him down around noon- he having been charmed by a dryad. We convinced her to release him, then took him back to town, and left on such good terms that the dryad let us know that she had seen a lady ride by on the night of the ambush, that the lady had been carrying a child, that she had ridden for the village, and that she had been pursued by ogres. We took the carpenter back to the village, where we were all warmly welcomed and thanked by the populace. When we mentioned the lady, however, they claimed to have no idea what we were talking about, although two of the villagers looked uncomfortable at the question.

Bill bought one of the villagers a couple of drinks and tried the friendly approach, while Kevin (in bad-to-the-bone necromancer mode) and Craig intimidated another, and both eventually gave up what they knew: the lady had been seen riding alone out of town late that night, and that a group of the Baron's men was out scouring the area for the child- just like we were, although they had given off a much more negative vibe.