Session Report (Jan 5, 2019)
The questers are attacked by small demonic creatures known as hrogn. They seem to be able to go invisible at will. Although weak, they are fast and hard to see. The battle is long and frustrating for the group.
The hrogn tend to flit about trying to sting its foe. Occasionally one will land on a target and crawl around on it, trying to find a chink in its armor.
Findlay sings the Song of Alarum, granting extra strength to each member of the team.
One lands on Enok and Shae swings her axe at the thing on his chest. Enok flinches as Shae’s deadly axe whizzes by inches from him, but Shae’s aim is true and she decimates the thing.
Grend grapples one that lands on him. He struggles to get a good grip on it with both hands. When he succeeds, he rips it apart. (The player’s are using Fantastic Dungeon Grappling rules — Grend successfully grapples the hrogn and spends the next turn or two increasing his control points on the thing. Finally he spends control points to add to his damage.)
After a couple of the hrogn are destroyed, the remainder fly off invisibly into the darkness.
Findlay begins the Song of Echoes again, and detects two of the four lay a few yards up ahead. The group cautiously approach. As they do, Findlay’s Song detect the other two lying in wait on either side of the party, and he warns them.
“Coordinated attack pattern,” Shae mutters. “Two draw our attention to the front, but then the attack comes from the sides, from the two we didn’t even know were there.” The group closes ranks with Grend, Shae, Björn, and Arne guarding Findlay and Enok as the hrogn surge forward from three directions.
Again, it is hard to hit and subsequently defeat the small and invisible demons, but the demons have a harder time getting through the armor. At one point a demon manages to get his bite through Enok’s leather armor, causing a very minor wound. For a second, Enok feels dizzy and nauseous, but it quickly passes (Enok failed his HT save against the Hrogn’s toxin, but his player spends a Story Point to turn that roll into a success.)
As weak as the hrogns’ attacks are, it is only a matter of time before they are defeated.
The party searches the waiting room and find a few coins, and some salvageable gear and other possessions from amongst the ruins.
At the back of the waiting room is an archway through which they can see a circular stairway leading upwards into the tower.
Shae and Björn study the layers of dust in the room at the entrance to the stairwell. “A group of humans, maybe 5 to 7 in number, passed this way weeks ago. At most a couple of months,” Shae says. “The tracks go in both directions, both into and out of the stairway.”
The heroes ready themselves and ascend the stairs.
At the top of the stairs they enter a large trapezoidal room. They enter from the base of the trapezoid; diagonal walls to left and right converge towards another wall straight ahead. The room is filled with ruined and smashed furniture of sculpted stone, which have been scattered about. There are two open archways to the left and right of the top of the staircase landing, and an ornate door, in perfect condition in the center.
All three doorframes are covered with runes, which are glowing, and scintillating through every color imaginable.
Enok moves to examine the runes on the archway to the left, and as he crosses the room he suddenly pauses. “I’m in a mana dead zone,” he says. He takes another step. “Its narrow, but it’s there.” He takes a few experimental steps in several directions. “It extends in a line. I don’t think magic could pass through it.”
After a bit of experimentation he plots the zone. It extends in a gently curving line from left wall to right, enclosing the arches on either side as well as the back wall.
Enok studies the runes on the arch. “These runes are some kind of warding. It as if they are preventing something or someone from crossing the threshold.” He moves to the center door. “These runes are preventing this door from opening until some condition is met.” He then goes to the archway on the right.
As he does, a starving man in mangled armor, caked in dried blood, steps out of the shadows of the room beyond, to stand in the open arch. He appears half-starved and haggard.
“Thank Odin you have found me!” he says. “I am saved!”
The group questions how he came to be here. He is Orm Haraldson, son of a Nordvorn jarl. He is trapped inside the room; the glowing runes on the archway prevent him from leaving. He was one of a number of valiant of thegns from Isfjall, including a holy warrior (Sten Skardeson) and the champion of last year’s Valor Festival sword competition (Lief Halfdan), who ventured into the wilds a few months ago. They fought a demon here. During the fight, Orm was knocked unconscious. When he came to, he was trapped here, unable to pass the archway presumably because of the runes. He’s survived on the remains of his rations, the occasional vermin that wanders into the Hall, and a trickle of water that is leaking from a crack in the wall. “Would you please remove those runes that I may return to Nordvorn?” he pleads with the heroes.
While he speaks, unnoticed by the others, Shae looks dazed. She stares sightlessly into the distance for a second or two. As Orm finishes his tale, Shae says, “Yes, we should free him,” and begins walking towards the archway. She raises her axe as if to deface the runes there.
“Wait!” Grend says, rushing forward to grab Shae’s axe. “Help me!” he shouts to the party. Björn and Arne move to help restrain the barbarian catfolk. They struggle for several minutes before Shae seems to come back to herself. On the other side of the arch, Orm is visibly seething, fists clenched and an evil sneer on his face.
“Wait — what am I doing?” she says. She assures them that she is okay. They turn back to Orm in time to see him undergo a transformation.
His torso swells and elongates, the lower half bending to be parallel to the floor. His legs become long and multi-jointed. Two more insectile legs burst out of his changing torso. His arms transform into multisegmented horrors as two more arms grow out from below them, these tipped with huge pincers. His face sprouts long spikes along the jawline and brow while his eyes become pools of black oil. Skin, clothes and armor disappear to be replaced by hard, red, chitinous armor. The monstrous crab-like figure grows until it seems as big as two huge warhorses combined, and 12 feet tall. The demonic thing throws itself towards the party but it seems to hit an invisible wall that fills the archway. It screams in frustration, scrabbling at the unseen barrier.
Instinctively, Björn reacts. Quick as lightning, he draws an arrow, nocks it and lets it fly, straight and true. It unerringly impales the demon’s eye. Pausing its dance of frustration, the crab-monster stands stock-still for a moment, then calmly reaches up and pulls the arrow from its eye socket. To their horror, the eye grows back from a ruin of ichor and jelly to uninjured in an instant. Looking directly at them, the monster smiles slowly.
The terrible sight suddenly is masked by inky black, as if surrounded by something that sucks all the light out of the room. Shae’s feline sight can still make the monster out through the unnatural darkness as it retreats away from the archway and moves out of sight in the room beyond.
The party reels back in horror. “By Tyr’s Right Hand!” Arne exclaims. And then, more softly: “I — I think I soiled myself.”
Shaken but still resolute, Enok continues to study the runes. “I’ve got it,” he says. “The runes to the left and right seem to prevent otherworldly creatures — demons, I’d guess — from crossing. The runes on the center door prevent it from opening until the demon is gone.”
The party instinctively know this is perhaps the most powerful creature they have yet encountered. “Let’sh go outside an’ make a plan,” Grend says. “Away from dat ting!” They agree and retreat to the lower level and leave the Hall. There they make camp for the night and over the fire begin to plot how they will defeat the demon.