Thanks again for this, James, it’s awesome.
May 28, 2009 22:17
May 28, 2009 22:13
The dice game that the goblins were playing seemed very similar to one that he knew from his youth, except this one required more strategic thinking, and involved more ‘imaginary’ combat, which was probably why the goblins enjoyed it so much.
As such, the Halfling warlord found himself to be very adept at this strategy-based variant and within a short space of time Ryam had won himself an impressive prize, the almost legendary Tankard of The Endless Pint.
The goblins were miffed at the newcomer’s success, and, by way of a ploy, struck up a conversation, seeking to distract Ryam’s attention away from the game.
“New stock you say?” began the first hobgoblin, rattling a fist full of dice, “We just sold a bunch of slaves to the Duergar a few days ago. Miserable bunch of humans we rounded up, I thought we’d never shift ‘em.” The hobgoblin spilled the dice onto the table and cursed.
“Maglubyet’s cock! Missed again!”
It was Ryam’s turn. He scooped up the dice and began to rattle them himself, both hands clasped around each other.
“Oh really.” he said, feigning disinterest. This was clearly a ploy to distract him, but he knew very well that slaves the hobgoblin was referring to may very well be the ones the party had been searching for. Maybe Cass’ brother, John, was among them. He decided to play their game and pry further.
“And where are the Duergar taking them?” he asked nonchalantly, as he rolled out the dice in his hand. The goblins at the table looked concerned. Each die had rolled it’s maximum value. For Ryam the result was a complete success and would spell the end of the game. Totting up the result in his head, Ryam took it upon himself to subtract a liberal amount from the total.
“Blast it!” he muttered in mock desperation, “15. Another miss!”
The hobgoblin quickly understood that Ryam had appeared to miscalculate, but he was not the type to pass up the opportunity to capitalise on an opponent’s error. He greedily grabbed at the dice.
“They’re off to a very nice little place, they’ll have a great time where they’re going!” he laughed. The other goblins around the table began to cackle, one after the other joining in. The hobgoblin rolled the dice.
“22. A hit!” he shouted. The dice clearly indicated a somewhat lower amount. The hobgoblin was cheating, and not very well. The goblin audience cackled once more. “I shift, and all enemies within 2 squares are ‘glum’, save ends.” added the gloating hobgoblin.
Ryam scooped up the dice once more, with a furrowed brow. Glum was not good. Surveying the tokens on the table he spotted a key strategic move that would destroy his opponent entirely. Ryam moved his token in the opposite direction, putting himself in a very vulnerable position. The goblins grinned at each other.
“What kind of a place is that then?” he asked as he rolled out the dice. Once again his roll was as good as it could possibly have been. The hobgoblin, seeing this, quickly began talking, making exaggerated gestures with his arms in an attempt to capture Ryam’s attention.
“The Horned Hold!” he declared with his hands twisted into claws to emphasise the nastiness of the place he was describing. “A Duergar citadel. A place where slaves work and die!”
Ryam tipped out the dice onto the table. The Halfling could not believe his luck. He had rolled the maximum possible once again.
“By all the gods!” spat the Halfling, with a look of disgust on his face, “Missed again! But I save versus glum, and all adjacent creatures are ‘discontent’ until the end of my next turn.” he added.
The hobgoblin sneered. He could handle discontent. He rolled the dice, and added a random number to the result.
“Ha! Critical!” The hobgoblin cried, to rapturous applause from his goblin minions. Ryam feigned reluctance as he removed several of his tokens from the table. “Your turn.” challenged the hobgoblin victoriously.
Ryam picked up the dice and rolled them quickly out onto the table. Straight away the hobgoblin started talking again.
“And… so, any news from where you’re from?”
Ryam had decided that enough was enough. These goblins probably didn’t have any more information for them, it was time to finish this. He nodded to Aran who, along with Fau and Waylander, had been watching the game. Aran took the hint and spoke up, leaving Ryam to concentrate on the game.
“Actually, we were telling Chief Krand, these this big nasty Eladrin Paladin of Pelor stomping around.” chirped the other Halfling merrily, “Says he’s after slavers and wants to kill every last one of ‘em!”
The goblins around the table looked at each other uncertainly.
“Pelor my arse!” mocked the second hobgoblin after a moment, “We piss on Pelor! Maglubiyet pisses on Pelor! If he shows up here we’ll show him what it means to go up against the Bloodreavers!”
“I just thought I’d mention it.” added Aran, “He teleports all around the place you see. You never know where he’s going to show up next.” This last statement was intended to be a cue, as such he said it with a slightly raised voice so that the other party members waiting on the other side of the door might hear.
“That 3 hits, 1 critical, and you are ‘self-depreciating’, save ends.” declared Ryam.
The goblins looked at each other once more, this time with more concern on their faces. Aran repeated the intended cue, this time a bit louder.
“I said, you just never know where he’s going to show up next!”
At that, the door swung open. In stepped Elwanen and Cass with their weapons drawn. They stood several steps from the table, looking around at the gathering. The goblins looked back at them: a tall young woman dressed in scale mail wielding a huge great axe standing next to a mean-looking Eladrin paladin dressed in battered full plate, carrying a chipped sword in one hand and a dented shield with a symbol of the sun on it in the other.
“Right then lads,” spoke the Eladrin paladin, “Have you found out where the hookers are yet?”
The goblins and the bandits sprang to their feet and reached for their swords. Ryam jumped out of his chair and drew his scourge. All around the room the goblin minions dropped what they were doing and desperately dived for their weapons.
May 28, 2009 22:11
Aran walked boldly into the room. Around a table sat a group of figures drinking, arguing, and rolling dice. A large open fire crackled to one side, lending the room a smoky haze and a shifting light. In the dim light Aran saw that there were goblins, hobgoblins, even several rough-looking humans, all busy in their game.
Also around the room were some other hunched figures, probably goblins too, scurrying around tending to a pair of large, fierce looking wolves who lay on the stone floor chewing bones.
The moment the Halfling ranger entered the room everybody stopped what they were doing. Behind the small figure of the Halfling stepped Waylander, Ryam, and Fau.
“And you would be…?” asked a surly hobgoblin who was sitting at the head of the table. He spoke in common, and did not sound as if he wished to be trifled with.
“Thirsty!” chirped Aran, nonetheless. There was a pause.
“Does this look like some kind of tavern?” snarled the hobgoblin after some thought.
Aran took a moment to look around. Beyond the table of drinkers and gamers, at the far side of the room, stood a long counter with cups and bottles on it. Behind the counter could be seen stacks of kegs, and also what looked liked sacks of food and supplies. Standing there was another goblin wiping a goblet with a rag. There was even a badger’s head mounted on a plaque above the fireplace.
“Well…” he began, but then quickly decided against the smartypants answer and went for the good old bluff, “Well, Chief Krand said to come and get a drink here when we brought in the new stock.”
The hobgoblin thought about this. It had never happened before, but that wasn’t to say that it couldn’t happen, and no-one wants to get on the wrong side of Chief Krand. Besides, these visitors had the look of coin about them. What did it matter if they were lying, let’s just take their money and send them on their way.
“If you wanna stay, you have to play.” offered the hobgoblin, slyly shaking a hand full of dice, “Which of you wants to go up against me?”
Ryam sat himself down at the table in between the two humans. They were dressed in grubby outdoors gear, swords on their backs, and each a face like a bulldog licking poison off a nettle.
“I’ll play.” stated Ryam, making room for himself between the two bandits, “What’s the game?”
May 28, 2009 22:10
“Sounds like a tavern to me.” whispered Aran, as he crouched next to the stout wooden door.
“I can hear cheering, some mugs clinking… and I think that’s the sound of dice rolling!” observed the drow rogue, “There’s some conversation, I think that’s goblin. Fau, see if you can make it out…”
The raggedy warlock craned his neck towards the door. He listened for some time, no expression could be discerned through his long matted hair. “Goblins of various kinds.” he muttered, “They are playing some kind of dice game. Each has adopted a role, a persona, and together they are… acting, it appears. Some are assuming strange voices…”
“Strange? Strange how?” inquired Aran.
“There’s one speaking in a squeaky lilt. I’m certain that it’s affected, and not natural. From what I gather, this goblin is pretending to be a halfling.” explained the warlock flatly, “Another is using a slow, gruff, drone-like voice. No creature of this world would speak like that by design. I think this is a hobgoblin imagining he is some kind of depressive, other-worldly human.”
“Strange behaviour, even for goblins.” commented Waylander, “But if I were a goblin, I would probably pretend I were someone else too.”
Ryam came close to the door, joining in the huddle. “Perhaps it’s some kind of strategy meeting. Students of the art of warfare often act out battles or negotiations before hand, in order to prepare themselves for a variety of eventualities.”
Cass had been standing back away from the door with Elwanen, her heavy armour and weapons tended not to lend themselves to subterfuge or eavesdropping, but the whispered conversation amongst her party members had intrigued her.
“What are these imaginary people doing, I mean, pretending to do?” she asked, stepping forward.
Fau listened a while longer. “They are…they are eavesdropping at a door, and trying to discern what might lie on the other side. There seems to be different opinions amongst the group as to how to proceed.”
“Typical,” tutted Aran, “Ambush. Eavesdrop. Argue. The three goblin A’s”
“Ah. One of them has opened the door and gone in.”
“I don’t get it.” pondered Elwanen, who found himself drawn into the analysis, “Who decides what the one who just went through the door is about to see? What, do they just make it up?”
“One of the Hobgoblins seems to be ‘in charge’. He tells them what happens whenever they do something.” replied Fau.
“So what happened?” asked Waylander.
From the other side of the wooden door there came what sounded like dice rolling on a table. The voices beyond grew more animated. The party listened further. There were shouts of victory, curses of fustration, a cackle of laughter rang out.
“Sounds to me like they’re pretending to fight!” observed Elwanen, raising an eyebrow.
“Indeed,” affirmed Fau, “They have encountered, get this, a group of goblins, and after brief negotiations they have entered into imaginary combat.”
“Well what are the odds!” gasped Waylander ironically.
“Excellent!” whispered the halfling warlord, “We shall observe their strategy…”
May 28, 2009 22:08
The adventurers fought their way into the Duergar guardroom, but they proved hard to kill. As the melee was in progress voices could be heard from further down the corridor. A Hobgoblin Warcaster stepped through one of the doors at the end of the narrow passageway, took one look at the battle ahead of him and called for his commander.
“Lord Krand! We are under attack!”
The Warcaster thumped his staff on the stone floor and a blast of energy came roaring down the corridor. One by one the adventurers ducked and dived but some were thrown back as it caught them. Flanked by a Hobgoblin archer the Warcaster took up a defensive position using the turn at the end of the corridor for cover.
The party saw that to get to him they would have to brave the length of the passage whilst under fire from both the archer and the arcanist. At that point another figure stepped out of a side door halfway down the passage. A heavily armoured hobgoblin warrior, whose badges and weapons indicated that he was of high rank.
The warlock Sabbat Fau and Marianna found themselves caught in the corridor with the guardroom at one end and the Hobgoblins at the other, while the rest of the adventurers worked on dispatching the sturdy Duergar. There was an exchange of blows and eldritch blasts as both sides lashed out at each other.
With the last Duergar eventually hacked to pieces, Aran and Elwanen raced down the corridor to deal with the Hobgoblin leader. Elwanen teleported behind Lord Krand and, flanking with Aran, hacked him down.
As the remaining Hobgoblin were quickly slaughtered, the adventurers became aware of the sound of loud merry-making from beyond a nearby doorway. It sounded as if there were many more creatures in revelry, possibly Hobgoblins too.
May 28, 2009 22:06
Team Halfling lead the charge into the corridor, With Theron and Marianna providing support. Elwanen piled into a goblin sentry, and there was a brief but fierce battle to secure the entrance to the Blood Reavers lair.
Meanwhile Waylander and Fau, entering via a side door, found themselves looking down on a guard room where several goblins and a bugbear were preparing for battle. Before the large hairy goblinoid had finished putting on his armour the two strikers had brought him down in a hail of arrows and eldritch blasts.
Of the two remaining goblins, one found that it had no choice but to charge up the stairs, whereupon the warlock teleported into the room behind the confused goblin, before Waylander kicked it back down the stairs. The hapless goblin crashed in a pile a Sabbat Fau’s feet, and just managed to open it’s eyes in time to be blasted at point blank with arcane force.
The other goblin however had seen fit to run from the room, out into the passage where Team Halfling were finishing off the other guards and make for a doorway nearby, shouting ‘INTRUDERS! INTRUDERS!”
Marianna sprang forwards and raced after the goblin, catching it just as it reached the door. With an acrobatic flip she flung it tumbling back the way it had come into the middle of the melee.
Moments later the adventurers, having dispatched the last of the guards, were ready to proceed. The door that the goblin had tried to open revealed a small room where two sturdy armoured figures sat by a roaring fire. A wave of heat eminated from the chamber, and as the two squat looking soldiers stood up it could be seen by their swarthy skin, ugly faces, and heavy dwarven armour that they were Duergar. Beyond the two Duergar soldiers was a narrow corridor along which stood several solid looking wooden doors.
May 27, 2009 14:22
Once the group were once more assembled they began making preparations to make for the Chamber of Eyes, the location of the Blood Reavers slavers. Waylander recounted what he had learned from the one-eyed Drow at the trading post he had recently visited, on related business he assured.
“You asked a one-eyed man about the Chamber of Eyes?” asked Theron.
“Very insensitive, I feel.” agreed Marianna. Waylander appeared nonchalant.
At length the adventures passed through a series of hallways that lead away from the activity of the Seven Pillared Hall, eventually arriving at a large doorway adorned with iconography of the dark god Torog, lord of the underdark. Below that could be seen the stylised image of a beholder.
The adventurers listened closely at the doors, to hear the sound of conversation, most likely in Goblin. Quickly a plan was reached. A balcony nearby led to another door, which suggested that it might provide another way into the Blood Reavers lair. A 2-pronged attack was agreed upon, Team Halfling, which for now would honourarily include Elwanen, Theron and Marianna, would enter via the main doors. Team Striker, consisting of Waylander and the warlock Sabbat Fau, would climb the balcony and enter via the side door, to attempt a flanking manouver, should geography favour them. Elwanen climbed the short staircase that led to the main doors. There came a voice from the other side.
“Who’s there? What do you want?”
“Justice, motherf—cker!” yelled the paladin, and, with a mighty heave, Elwanen threw himself against the stone doors, which instantly shattered into tiny pieces of masonary. Beyond lay a corridor in which waited a group of goblin guards, who seemed very surprised at the abrupt entrance of a group of heavily armed adventurers.
“W..What business do you bring to the Blood Reavers?” the boldest among them inquired. There was a brief pause as the adventurers looked questioningly amongst themselves.
“Oh…” realised the goblin sentry, “INTRUDERS!”
May 25, 2009 16:20
In the aftermath of the battle the adventurers were faced with a dilemma. A single hobgoblin slaver had survived and there now remained the question of what to do with him.
“I say we take him to the Seven Pillared Hall and sell him to a rival gang of slavers.” spoke the Drow, Waylander. “There will be a certain irony therein, would you not agree?.”
Theron stepped forward. “As a Good Person I must vote against promoting the slave trade.”
“And as a Good Person you would rather kill him?” replied Waylander.
“That, of course, would be perfectly acceptable.” agreed the wizard, to nods from others in the group.
“I do so admire human morality,” mused the Drow, “Its so… flexible.”
“Lets us not get into a debate on morality,” advised Elwanen, “For such discussions have as their reference points abstract concepts with no actual meaning in the real world in which we live, and they most often do not end well, if at all.”
A decision was made finally that all found more or less agreeable. The captive should be left tied up in the thoroughfare with a note attached which identified him as a member of the Blood Reavers gang, and from that point on fate should take it’s own course.
The Halfling who they had saved from torture and slavery at the hands of the hobgoblins introduced himself as Rendle Halfmoon, part-owner and proprietor of the Halfmoon Inn, in the Seven Pillared Hall. Grateful for the parties intervention he offered to guide them there.
The Seven Pillared Hall
“Welcome to The Seven Pillared Hall!” announced Rendle Halfmoon, gesturing into the cavernous space ahead of them. “Here the surface world and the underdark meet in peaceful and mutually profitable trade, mostly. If you’d like to look around you’ll find all manner of wonders and spectacles you’d never see back in Fallcrest.”
The adventurers followed their new companion through the flickering torchlight of the cavern. In the immense space they passed stalls with traders hawking mining supplies, shops that advertised quality adventuring goods, and a few mysterious buildings that did not attempt to identify themselves openly.
“That there is the Duergar trading office. They’re a surly bunch for sure. And that building belongs to the Drow.” The Halfling indicated a small structure that had been built from stones into a cave beside the main cavern. Waylander stopped and looked keenly into the cave. To the others he appeared to stare into the darkness, but to his eyes markings and symbols revealed themselves that identified this building as one of significance to him.
“I have some business that I must attend to. I’ll meet you at the inn.” said the Drow, before vanishing into the shadows.
The hospitality of the Halfmoon Inn was such that the adventurers were welcomed with food and a place to sleep. Grateful for the return of her brother, Era Halfmoon, a generally business-like Halfling, had endeavoured to repay the group, if only for the short term, and taking care to point out that drinks would be extra.
May 21, 2009 21:14
One day you will meet this person. It will not be a good day.
May 15, 2009 13:43
Fallcrest is a large town in the centre of the Nentir Vale, split into two levels. The Upper Side stands north of the Nentir Falls , the dramatic waterfall on the river that is the only hindrance to trade. A thriving community of dockers were always available to transfer trade from the Upper docks down to the Lower – and if you paid the right premium, none of it would be ‘lost’ on the way, either…
For Cass, it was like coming home. The familiar shape of the Moonstone Keep, dominant over the town from the position of height at the north end, was as reassuring as the grip of her axe in her hand. Although she had not succeeded in finding her brother Jon, she had adventured into the world, faced it’s dangers, and returned. She felt proud and accomplished.
Aran Thule , Halfling tale-teller, also enjoyed returning to Fallcrest. He knew that there were several good Inns in the town, not least of which was the Blueflame Orb, owned by Cass’ father Par Breenan. Strolling along the road towards the bridge over the Nentir River , he laughed to himself, still enjoying how Theron had grown increasingly desperate against the Kobold That Wouldn’t Die. Having his money pouch stolen afterwards had just added insult to injury, and Theron (whilst taking the incident with good grace) had been bemoaning his luck and refusing all offers of financial aid.
Waylander kept his eyes open, searching all the while for anything he might recognize. During the days of travel he had been trying to remember anything that might be of use to him, any fragment of his past. The only detail that had sparked any memory at all was when he had realized that he had a tattoo on one arm, of a part-risen sun. This had stirred some thought deep in his mind, and a name had floated to the top of his consciousness – the Horizon Syndicate. None of the rest of the group recognized the name, but both Cass and Riam had suggested the Lucky Gnome taproom as a place he might start looking.
Riding on his pony, Riam felt slightly self-conscious. His previous years as a mercenary, serving in the Underdark, had meant that this was the first time he was approaching a human settlement in peace. His military instincts were twitching, and he found himself wondering idly at some moments when his scouts would report in with details of the town’s weaknesses. Sighing, he once more checked his equipment and prepared to talk to humans.
Amongst other sights on the low skyline of Fallcrest, one stood out. Glittering green in the light, the Septarch’s Tower, seven sided and built of green stone, was a unique construction. Both Theron and Sabbat Fau were drawn to it, as during their previous visit they had not found the time to speak to it’s occupant. However, both also knew that before they satisfied their curiosity they needed to speak to Douven Staul, whom they had rescued from the clutches of Agrid. Douven had swiftly returned to Fallcrest after his rescue, and had said to them they were invited to his house when they arrived.
Over the next couple of days, the group spent some downtime in Fallcrest. Elwanen made a report to the Church authorities and informed them of his decision to help fund a permanent watch on the Portal in the Winterhaven Keep. Cass spent some time with her father, and Aran spread tales of his friends good deeds across the town.
Theron and Fau enjoyed their meal with Douven Staul and his wife, and Theron finally managed to get inside the Septarch’s Tower. However, his encounter with Nimorazan the Green, the Wizard of Fallcrest, was less than encouraging. Nimozaran demanded a 2000gp sum to join the Wizards Guild in Fallcrest, and despite Theron’s attempts at negotiation he refused to budge. Dejected and rejected, Theron returned to his room at the Blueflame Orb and pondered his options, vowing one day to return and shove the contempt he had been shown down the Wizard’s throat.
Waylander, accompanied by Riam, met another Drow in the Lucky Gnome taproom. This Drow revealed himself to be another member of the Horizon Syndicate, a Drow organization that traded with the surface world races. He provided Waylander with some better quality weapons and armour, and asked him to take a small package to someone in the Seven Pillared Hall in Thunderspire Mountain . Accepting, Waylander couldn’t help but have the feeling that he had entered into a deal he didn’t quite understand.
On the morning of the second day, each member of the party received an invitation to Moonstone Keep, at the behest of Lord and Lady Markelhay. It appeared that Lord Parrag of Winterhaven had sent word that of the heroes, and now the rulers of this city wished to speak to them. All agreed, and wondered what sort of people would rule such a place.