This One Time, at Bandit Camp…

Session Report

October 10, 2019

The band of hale companions quickly leave the area in case the Hulder faerie returns. They make camp, set watches, eat, etc. The next day they set out again, keeping the forest on their right hand, and heading generally north. In the afternoon, they see more dense forest appearing in the distance to the west (on their left). After a while they see the forests on either side converging up ahead — they realize they have wandered into an “inlet” into the forest, and they now have a choice of backtracking several hours or pushing through the forest. Considering the pack ponies, they decide to backtrack. This takes the remaining day. They eventually get back to where they can continue north along the edge of the forest. Done for the day, they stop and camp again.

In the morning, Grend Ravenfrond prays to the Mother to ask her to guide them to the location of the lost tiwstakn. Once the prayer completes, he has a vision.

In the vision, his vantage point appears to be that of an eagle soaring high above. Grend can make out the small figures of the adventurers below before the vantage point then begins to speed north. The landscape blurs as the unseen observer flies north along the edge of the forest. Soon, Grend can make out the silver band of sun glinting off the waters of a river cutting across his line of sight, roughly west-to-east. The vantage point wheels to the west, following the river towards its source. A short while later, he sees another river flow into the river from the north. The vantage point continues along the original river through rough hill country until it reaches the mountains of the Frostharrow. It enters a mountain vale, and crosses a deep gorge with a river at the bottom. There, the vision ends.

Grend tells the party that they need to continue north until they reach the river, then follow it back into the Frostharrow. They pack up and continue.

By noon, they reach the river that Grend saw in his vision. They turn to follow it to the west. Mid-afternoon, they discover a dirt track that leads from a small wood, across their trail and to the riverbank. They can make out the rotted piles of a long-since vanished dock in the water. Looking back up the trail, they can make out a small hunter or fisherman’s hut in the woods. As they discuss whether to explore it, a figure comes out from around it. It’s Björn!

When asked, Björn explains that after the druids healed him, they asked him to patrol in the wild lands to the north of Isfjall due to the increase in dangerous encounters (bandits, fae, demons, etc…). Björn has been patrolling the area when he was approached by a family living in the wilderness near the river. Bandits had raided them the previous night, took what meager items of value they had, and kidnapped their teenage daughter, Thorhildr. Björn had been tracking them and the tracks led back to where he met up with the rest of the party.

The group decides that rescuing Thorhildr takes priority; they agree to help Björn. Together they backtrack the bandits into the hills. They eventually come over an unassuming hill to find a secluded valley below; in the center of which they can just make out a large clearing with several plumes of campfire smoke rising. They decide to send the stealthiest member of the party — Shae, since Drex left — ahead to scout.

Shae sneaks down the hillside towards the clearing. She climbs a tree and looks down into the camp. She sees what might be a dozen small tents suitable for 1-2 men surrounding a larger more elaborate tent. Near this fancy tent is a small lookout platform, maybe 6-8 feet high. The camp is busy with a number of figures tending fires, maintaining equipment, napping in the sun, having conversations, etc. As she watches from the tree, Shae hears people moving below. A few seconds later she sees two bandits, one with spear and one with a bow, patrolling the area. She waits until they leave and then goes back to report. The party discusses what to do — they decide to wait until nightfall. The plan seems to be that they will try to manufacture some kind of distraction that occupies as many of the bandits as possible, and then they will sneak into the camp to try to rescue Thorhildr. They are assuming that the girl is being held in the large tent in the center of camp.

Grend prays to the Mother to help them by sending a suitable distraction when they attack the camp. He feels that his petition was heard and feels certain that a distraction will occur when needed.

After darkness falls, the entire group slowly and cautiously make their way down the hill towards the camp, on guard for the patrols. They get within a few yards of the clearing. Before they can launch their plan, they see a large, armored man step out of the center tent. He says something to the guard on the tower and the guard pulls out a hunting horn and gives it a long, low blast. The other men in the camp begin to gather around what the party assumes is their leader. They wait for a few minutes, and eventually two groups of 4 men, armed and armored, come out of the woods to join them in the center of the camp.

The leader speaks: “We will continue the raids tonight. Gíslunn and Sigurgeir, take four men and sweep the area. Start at the river, work your way north and then cut back across to return to camp. You’e free to check out anything interesting, but don’t attack unless you clearly have numbers on your side. If you see a likely target but need more men, come back at once. Otherwise I will expect you to be back by midnight.”

The six men arm themselves and head out of camp, towards our heroes.

Grend says, “We’ got to retweet — they can’t find us heah…”

Arne agrees. “Perhaps we can set an ambush for them on the other side of the ridge.” The party sneaks back over the hill. Once there, they search for a suitable ambush site. They find a wide gulley with banks that rise to 6 feet on either side. Arne says, “We need to make sure they come down here. Perhaps we need some bait?” They discuss and quickly decide that Shae will pose as a traveller with an injured leg. She strategically hides her axe behind her. The rest of the party hides themselves up on the banks on either side of the gulley.

A couple of minutes later, the bandit raiding party appears. Shae begins to moan and limp down the gully, making sure that she is seen.

“What have we here?” says the one they’ve identified as Gíslunn. “A traveller ripe for the plucking?” Shae moans and limps a bit faster. “Just you stop where you are!” Gíslunn continues. “Don’t make this hard on us and we may allow you to escape with your lives.” He turns to the others. “Sigurgeir, you and Dagnyr cover us with your bows. The rest of you come with me.” The two bandits armed with bows nock arrows and train them on Shae. The others advance on the catfolk barbarian. “Drop your weapons!” Gíslunn says.

Shae draws her long knife and drops it on the ground. “Don’t hurt me!” she says.

The bandits, lead by Gíslunn, advance on her. Just as they get within striking distance, Shae whirls around, bringing the axe up and around to bite deeply into the leader’s armor. As the bandit goes down, the other adventurers wheel into action.

Björn sends an arrow into the vitals of one of the archers. It momentarily looks like a superficial wound, but no — he goes down!

Findlay steps out of cover, strums his lute, and composes a short insulting limerick about one of the men. His magic bard song has the intended affect — the man sputters, turns red, and stares back up the bank at the halfling hobbit. “Oh yeah?!” he says. “Well, you are so… uh.. dumb…” he struggles to find an insult to top Findlay’s, any thought of attack or defense forgotten for the moment.

Grend charges out of cover and down the bank to attack another of the bandits from behind. His spear penetrates the thick leather armor and sinks into the man’s abdomen. The bandit falls.

Arne also charges out of cover but doesn’t quite reach the remaining archer. The bowman turns and fires an arrow at Arne but misses the holy warrior.

Enok fires a lightning bolt into the two bandits still standing near Shae. They both are hit and are stunned.

Björn can’t get a bead on the archer that is engaged with Arne, so he turns and fires at one of the two standing near Shae. The arrow hits but the bandit remains standing. Shae moves towards the other one and chops him down.

Grend moves towards the one one Björn injured and takes him out with a thrust of the spear.

Arne reaches the remaining archer and hits! The man goes down.

They quickly check the fallen bandits. Two are merely unconscious, the others dead. They tie up the survivors.

Grend says, “We can question dese guys to make sure tha girl’s theah in the camp. Anybody got skills to, uh, persuade dese guys to tell the twuth?” He glances at Findlay.

Findlay looks offended. “Are you asking me if I have any ability to interrogate them?” he says, indignant. “‘Cause if you are, I totally can,” he finishes with wry smile.

They awaken one of the bandits (Sigurgeir) and Findlay sings Song of Command. This makes the bandit obey Findlay as long as he plays. Findlay works their questions for Sigurgeir into the song he’s playing. “Is the girl — Thorhildr — still alive?”

“Yes.”

“Where is she?”

“In Andri’s tent. That’s the big one in the center of camp.”

“Andri is the leader?”

“Yes. He’s also the best fighter of any of us.”

“Is the girl unharmed?”

“Uninjured? Relatively so. Unspoiled? No.” At this Arne becomes visibly angry.

They don’t have any more questions for the bandits, and Grend dispatches them both to Hel. Arne has no problem with this.

Return to Isfjall

Session Report (August 29)

The party of adventurers take their leave from the barrow at Logiheimll and begin the long hike back to Isfjall. Several days later they reach the town after a couple of minor encounters — one with a bear, the other with a wild boar.

In Isfjall, they find Geirolf Tyrthegne and tell them of their progress. They show him the meistaratakn (master token) and how it can be used to locate the final missing tiwstakn, way up in the Frostharrow. At this Geirolf grows excited. “That relic must have been carried by one of the final pilgrimages to the lost Hall,” he says. “It’s probably near the entrance!” 

Grend agrees. “An’ we wanna go check it out,” he slobbers. “But dair’s more… In da Ward’n’s tomb we saw a sword.” He and the others describe the blade to Geirolf. “We tink it’s da Law Gibber,” Grend finishes.

“Yes!” Geirolf says. “It must be Lögfræðingur, the Law Giver. As a relic it is very important. Someone,” he eyes the party, “needs to go get it.”

“We can’t,” says Enok. “The Warden says that only a holy warrior of Tyr may wield it. He refused to give it to us.”

They discuss the situation a bit. “We must take this to the Braeðralag of Tyr,” Geirolf says. “But they won’t take my word for it. You all will need to tell them your story. Then maybe the Braeðralag will be able to spare someone to help you recover Lögfræðingur. I will set up a meeting with the Braeðralag.”

Geirolf takes his leave with a promise to send word once the meeting is set up. The adventurers begin the business of selling their loot, purchasing new gear, procuring room and board, and the like.

A few days later they receive word that the meeting with the Brothers of Tyr has been set up. They go to Tyr’s temple and are ushered into a large room outfitted as a study or library. A long table fills the center of the room. At one end sit three stern priests of Tyr. Geirolf is standing in the back of the room behind them.

At the closer end of the table is a single chair; in front of it, on the table, is a weird brass contraption consisting of several tubes curved in cunning ways. The largest brass tube sticks out of the device vertically. This tube has a narrow diagonal cut in it that reminds Findlay of a flute’s or a recorder’s reed.

The elderly, grizzled priest at the opposite end of the table speaks. “I am Harald Prestursson. I, along with Toke Tyrthegne, to my left, and Skarde Ulfson, on my right,  are here to listen to your story.” He pauses for a moment. “Choose one of your number to speak, and that person shall sit in the chair before you.” The group confers briefly and decides that Findlay is best equipped to speak for the group. The Halfling climbs into the chair at their end of the table and peers around the brass device back at the priests. “Tell us of your recent discoveries.” Harald says.

Findlay begins to tell the story in his inimical style, his voice rising and falling dramatically. When he gets to the first attack of the skeletons, he exaggerates a bit: “And there we were surrounded on all sides by hundreds of humanoid skeletons, each armed to the teeth…” The brass device emits a tremendously loud whistle, drowning out Findlay’s voice. He stops, frowns, and tries again. “At least fifty of the horrendous monsters…” The whistle blows again. “It was easily a dozen with some old swords,” he says tentatively. When the whistle doesn’t go off again he continues.

Chastised a bit by the lie-detection apparatus, Findlay continues without too much hyperbole to relate the events around their discovery of Logiheimli. (As Findlay starts to get carried away by the dramatic narrative, a few faint whistles from the device helps push him back towards the literal truth.) Once he finishes, Harald speaks again. “Most interesting. You certainly believe that the ruins you found were Logiheimli. And many of the details would seem to fit.” He stands. “Please, step back into the common hall while we discuss.” An acolyte leads the party out of the library.

Thirty minutes go by, and finally they are led back into the chamber. Standing near their side of the table is a human, wearing the colors of Tyr over light chain armor, a sword on his belt. He is tall and rangy with red hair. Although he looks to be in his twenties, his dour expression would be more appropriate on someone twice that age. “It is decided,” Harald says. “A chance to recover Lögfræðingur cannot be ignored. We task Arne Arneson, holy warrior of Tyr,” he nods at the warrior, “with accompanying you to the ruins of Logiheimli. There he will recover the holy sword in the name of the Braeðralag.” His gaze shifts to Arne. “Sir Arneson, I leave it to your judgment: after you have secured Lögfræðingur, you must decide if returning the sword here should be your priority, or if joining this brave party of questors on their investigations into the Frostharrow is warranted.” He then addresses the party again. “I’m sorry that we cannot spare but the one warrior to accompany you on this mission. We are stretched thin on multiple fronts.” Harald dismisses the adventurers. (In the background, Geirolf flashes them a thumbs-up.)

As they leave, Arne grabs Shae by the arm. “I will need a few days to prepare. Shall we meet the morning of Thor’s Day, 3 days hence?” They agree and the party departs.

A Sturdy Door (Part 2)

Session Report (July 17)

A couple of minutes after Shae walks through the wall into the unseen chamber beyond, the magelocked doors suddenly fly open. In the opening there is the wavering, translucent figure of a warrior in mail.

“Enter…” They hear the voice in their heads. They see the burial chamber and Shae waiting for them inside. As they file in, two spectral huskarls leave down the passage on the right hand side of the room.

“They opened the doors when I said we were looking for the lost Hall of Tyr,” Shae says.

“Do they know where it is?” asks Enok. “What did they say?”

A new ghostly voice replies: “All in time, runecaster.”

The band of adventurers turn towards the voice. The two ghosts that left the room a moment before have reappeared from the passageway escorting another ghost — this one a tall, regal woman wearing the accoutrements of a priestess of Tyr.

The ghostly Priestess speaks again. “First we must consult the Warden.” The figure glides through the chamber into the opposite passage. They follow her into another burial chamber, this one dominated by a stone bier upon which rests the imposing figure of a man dressed as for battle. His arms and armor are even more ornate and expensive than that of the huskarls in the outer chamber.

The Priestess speaks: “Arise, my husband! For these brave thegns would speak with thee.” The spectral form of the Warden arises from the corpse upon the bier to stand with the priestess.

“Why have you come?” he asks.

Findley tells them about their quest to find the lost Hall of Tyr: how they were attacked by demons in the sewers of Isfjall, their meeting with Geirolf Tyrthegn and the mission to rediscover the Lost Hall, the journey to the ruins of Logiheimli and their battles with countless undead, and finally the destruction of the obelisks to remove the curse from the ruins.

As Findley finishes, the Warden says “At last! The curse has been lifted. It is perhaps the end of our watch.”

“Indeed,” says the Priestess. “If these brave Questors will swear an oath to Tyr to find the lost Hall, then perhaps we can enter Valhalla at last.” She looks at the party. When she speaks, her voice is changed. The timbre and cadence seem to indicate that these are formal, ceremonial words. 

“Do you so swear, upon the right hand of Tyr, whose word is both bond and law, to search for, and if found, reveal the location of the Hall of Judgment, the lost Hall of Tyr, to the Braeðralag of Tyr?” She asks each of the adventurers in turn to swear the oath. They agree.

The Warden then tells them the story of the fall of Logiheimli:

Centuries ago, Logiheimli was the starting point for Brothers of Tyr and others who wished to pilgrimage to the Hall of Judgment. The priests supplied questors with tiwstakn — Tyr’s tokens — which led them to the Hall, somewhere in the Frostharrow. The way was difficult and dangerous, the Hall hidden. The tiwstakn could be used, along with specially enchanted maps, to find the Hall.

But the Braeðralag of Tyr was not the only group who desired the location of the Hall. Rumors told of demons, along with their cultists, who desired the location for evil purposes. It was also believed that the Fae also wanted to possess the Hall — for what purpose, who could tell? The motives of the Fae have always been enigmatic.

Upon returning from a journey to the cities in the south, the Warden, High Priestess, and their huskarls found the village and fortress a smoking ruin and the curse heavy upon the land around it. At this time, the curse was even stronger; the undead more numerous and deadly. After they failed to remove the curse, they retreated to the barrow, and magically sealed the door against entry. They prayed to Tyr, who intervened with Halja, the Goddess of Death: the spirits of the group would be allowed to linger until the ruins were cleansed. 

Once the Warden finishes his story, the Priestess speaks: “The demons and their human* cultists have been plotting for centuries to overthrow the Hall. It is perhaps part of some grander plan of which we have no kenning. If they possess the Hall, the challenge you face will be dire. If the Fae are behind the disappearance of the Hall, remember: Deal not with the Fae in this or any other matter, for their deals are subtle with deceit.”

(“Human” in Norðic refers to all the intelligent, humanoid races: catfolk, halflings, dwarves, elves, etc. The specific race of Homo sapiens is generally referred to as “Man” or “Men”.)

Grend asks, “You don’ know who ish behin’ thish?”

“The Hall is not just lost,” says the Priestess. “It is closed to farsight. Not even I can detect the Hall itself or understand what has befallen it. Something is wrong at the Hall that may threaten the Gods themselves.”

The Warden offers them aid: he gives them the meisteratakn (master token), which they used to find tiwstakn that were lost when misfortune befell questors. He also grants permission for each party member to take a single item from the barrow of the huskarls as long as it will be put to use in their quest. (The ghosts of the huskarls seem disturbed by this, but do not protest.)

The party turns to leave. As they do, Grend looks down upon the sword lying next to the body of the Warden. His eyes widen. “Ish tha’ the Law Gibber?”

The Warden smiles and looks down upon the sword lying next to his body. “Yes. Lögfræðingur. The Law Giver. Only a Holy Warrior of Tyr may possess and wield this blade.”

“Can we take it back to Geirolf?” Grend asks. 

“No. It is too valuable to give to any except Tyr’s holy warriors or a member of the Braeðralag.” He refuses any further discussion of the sword.

The group leaves the Warden’s tomb. Returning to the huskarls’ chamber, they each take an item as respectfully as they can while the huskarls’ ghosts look on. Then they leave.

A Sturdy Door

Session Report (July 17)

Part One

A set of runes is carved into the lintel of the doors. “Law over All,” Enok reads.

Drex examines the door and finds no traps or hidden mechanisms. Trying the door finds it unyielding, but there is no obvious keyhole.

Shae takes Drex’s crowbar and attempts to force the doors. They don’t budge even when she applies her full strength.

Enok casts his Earth Vision spell in an attempt to see into the room beyond the doors, but his spell cannot penetrate the walls. 

Grend prays to the Mother for guidance. At the end of his supplication, one of his hands begins to glow in a warm yellow light. He approaches the doors and places his glowing hand upon it.

The warm yellow light flashes brightly, flows from his hand and envelops the two iron-bound doors. The glow reveals a set of runes inscribed upon the doors. Enok exclaims, “Magelock!” The others look at him quizzically.

“Magelock is a spell which magically secures a door. Those doors will not open unless someone can negate the spell, or destroy the doors.” He looks sheepish. “I don’t have a Counterspell. But there’s more.” He studies the runes a bit more. “It looks like there is a Ward against the undead written here as well.”

“That’s promising,” Shae says.

“Does Magelock prevent us from bypassing the doors in some other way?” Findley asks.

“No. In fact, I have a spell that may work,” Enok says. “I think I can improvise a spell to enable one of us to pass through the earth and stone of the walls directly into the room beyond”.

“Gweat,” Grend says. “Wha’ if dere are monsta’s in dere? Da one who goes in will be alone.”

“And we don’t even know if they will be able to open the doors from the other side,” Shae says. “How long does that spell last, Enok?”

“Three minutes. That should be plenty to get in, try the door, and if you can’t open it, get out again. Assuming there aren’t any enemies in there.”

Shae rolls her eyes. “Yeah. What are the odds there’s a monster in there? There’s been bad things in every room we’ve entered, it feels like.” She looks at the others. “Well, any other ideas?” No one speaks. “I guess that’s our only plan, then.” She looks at Enok. “How much can I carry with this spell?”

“Just the essentials,” Enok replies. “It should be good enough for your weapons and armor.”

“I’ll take care of your loot — I mean, gear,” Drex says. 

Shae drops her backpack, bow, and quiver at Grend’s feet. She reaches down to pull out the arrow that still glows with the light of Enok’s Light spell. “Keep our little burglar away from my stuff,” she says. (Drex looks hurt.) She takes a deep breath and hefts her battleaxe in her right hand while holding the glowing arrow in her left. “Enok, I’m ready.” 

Enoks casts the spell. Shae walks up to the wall. She hesitates briefly and extends one arm into the wall. It passes through without resistance to the stone. She steps through.

* * *

Shae steps into a large dark chamber lit only by the arcane glow of the arrow in her left hand. Unlike most of the barrow, this room is built of granite slabs for the walls, floor and ceiling. There are passages exiting the room on both the left and right walls.

On the wall opposite are six stone biers, each holding the skeletal remains of a warrior. The bones are clothed in ornate heavy chain mail hauberk, a Norðlond  battle shield place resting upon their chests. Each is armed with ornate, fine weapons: a knife, a spear, and either a one-handed sword or axe.

As Shae takes in the room and its deceased inhabitants, transparent figures of the dead huskarls rise up out of the skeletons. The six ghosts silently converge upon the catfolk barbarian. They stand staring at her, ghostly weapons at the ready. Shae’s fur is standing on end. A thin, airy voice fills the room, although Shae cannot see any of the figures’s mouths moving. “Why… are you… here? Why have you… disturbed… our rest…?”

“I am here on a selfless mission,” she says. “My companions and I do not wish to harm or steal anything from your burial chamber.” She waits a few moments but the figures do not move. “My companions await me outside this chamber. We mean you no harm.”

The figures slowly move forward towards Shae. She continues. “We… There are signs of a great evil being loosed upon the land,” she says. “We believe that finding the Lost Hall is key to defeating it and that there are clues to its location here.”

The ghostly figures step back, their weapons, once at the ready, now dangle nervelessly at their sides. “The… Lost Hall…?”

“…Of Tyr,” Shae finishes for them. A ghost in the center of the fright (TIL that the collective noun for ghosts is ‘fright’) glides slowly towards Shae, growing closer. She freezes in place, squeezing the grip of the battleaxe in her right hand, uncertain if it would even do anything to the disincorporated figure. It glides right up to her, and without pause, through her. It reaches the barrow doors and throws them open.

Obelisks of Evil

Session Report (July 10)

Our heroes continue to scope out the rest of the ruined temple to Tyr, and find a storeroom, and some other living quarters. They decide to go back to the large living suite on the other side of the temple.

They enter and begin searching. The room is open to the elements as one corner of the temple has collapsed. Rain and condensation create pools of muck on the stone floor.  Shae searches a large closet/dressing room, in which there are two rotting bureaus/wardrobes, an empty lantern hook on the wall. While she examines the wardrobes, Grend  joins her. He notices that within although the floor in this area is slightly lower than that of the rest of the bedroom, it is remarkably drier.

Findlay joins them, and his musician’s ears pick out the sound of water dripping constantly. The sound seems to be coming up from beneath the floor near a bare wall in the dressing room. They call Drex over to examine the room. He finds the outlines of a trapdoor in the floor but there seems to be no way to open it. Shae tells everyone to start searching for a hidden mechanism, and the party begins searching the walls, floor, etc. After a moment, Grend stands up from what he is examining, walks over to the lantern hook, and pulls it down. The trapdoor swings silently open.

Below they see stairs leading down into the darkness. They descend.

At the bottom there is a stone corridor leading deep under the temple. The ceiling is formed of arched stone, rising some 12 feet overhead. More mouldering boxes, crates, and barrels line the walls. After advancing about 30 feet down the hallway, it turns to the right.

As they round the corner, the frontmost party members (Shae, Grend, Drex, and Enok) see an evil green glow from a chamber up ahead. As they see this, a stack of boxes topped with several barrels against the wall behind them tilts over and falls on them. The barrels — full of water and sealed, each weighing something close to 100 pounds — crash into and around them. Both Shae and Enok are hit by one of the barrels and take significant damage.

Findlay is spared from the collapse of the wall of junk as he had yet to round the corner. Instead, he sees that behind the wall of crates and barrels is an opening, through which three ghouls emerge. They attack Findlay, who begins to defend.

The rest of the party turns around to help Findlay but the footing is treacherous with the remnants of the wall of junk. 

The ghouls coordinate their attacks and it is only via Findlay’s skill and luck that he avoids being hit. The party quickly takes out two of the ghouls. The third turns and begins to runaway down the hallway. Shae, Grend, and Findlay follow. Shae finally catches up to the ghoul upstairs in the dressing room and takes him out.

They return to the corridor with the green glow. At the end the hallway opens into a stone chamber, dominated by a large obelisk set into the center of the floor. The column of stone is glowing green and emanates evil. Against one wall is a nook in which a stone plinth stands, topped with a slanted shelf and raised lip as if it held a book at one time.

Near the wall opposite the plinth stands a large polished stone slab upon which there is an engraving of a grand hall marked with the Tyr rune. It is depicted as situated in the mountains, above a river. Other mountains and landmarks are depicted in great realism around the hall, including a peak with a distinctive silhouette. The party doesn’t recognize the area, but both Shae and Grend think that if they somehow could get close, they could use the landmarks in the engraving to locate the hall. Could this be the lost Hall of Tyr?

They search the room but do not find anything else of interest. They turn towards the evil obelisk. 

Enok reads the runes on the obelisk, and tells the rest of them that it appears to be some sort of curse against Nature. Grend believes that the evil could be removed — and should be removed — either by magically removing the curse, or exorcism, or physically destroying the obelisk.  Lacking either Dispel Magic, Remove Curse, or Exorcism spells or prayers, they decide to go with destruction.

Everyone except Shae leaves the room. She retrieves her mallet and begins to attack the obelisk. It is slow going, but she eventually chips away a large gash in the stone, and then finally breaks it in two. As she does so, it rings like a chime and an explosion of green light rapidly expands out from the artifact, washing over the chamber. The release of evil green energy wounds Shae. As the ringing sound diminishes into the distance, the party can hear two faint echoes from the east — perhaps from the barrow they found outside Logiheimli?

The green glow is gone and immediately Grend feels the Mother’s energy return. The supernatural defilement of Mother Nature has ended with the destruction of the obelisk. The two mana-sensitives — Enok and Findlay — still detect that the area is low mana, however.

The Barrow!

The party decides to go check out the barrow. They find the original doors of the barrow lying on the ground, torn from its hinges. Entering they see a tunnel cut into the earth and shored up with stone beams leading straight into the hill. Some ways down the tunnel it is joined by passages on the left and right. Further ahead the tunnel ends in a double door. At the intersection, they can see another evil green glow, similar to the obelisk underneath the temple, in each direction.

They go to the tunnel on the right. They see another, smaller obelisk set in the center of the tunnel. Beyond it, the passage continues, with several openings on the left and right. Inset into the walls are niches in which they can see the bodies of the dead. They are all in armor with shields and weapons, many of which are ornamented with gold, silver, jewels, etc. For a moment Drex’s eyes shine with avarice, before he is able to control his impulse to loot the bodies of the dead warriors.

Enok interprets the runes — this time the curse seems to reduce the power of the gods from reaching this area. He surmises that there are three obelisks — the one in the temple’s basement defiles Nature, this one corrupts sanctity, and the third must reduce the ambient mana.

They decide to destroy this obelisk as well. This time, Grend uses his knowledge of mining and stone cutting to damage it just to the verge of destruction, then the party stands back as Shae hurls the largest rocks she can find and lift at it. While the work is going on, several of the dead rise from their niches and shamble through the tunnels. They appear to look at the party, but then wander off without attacking.

Shae manages to hit the obelisk and destroy it. This time the party is far enough away that no one takes damage as the glowing green ring of light explodes out from it as it crumbles to the ground. This obelisk’s chime is answered from the direction of the remaining green glow behind them.

Traveling to that location, they indeed find a third evil obelisk. In this part of the barrow, all the bodies appear to be more common folk rather than warriors. 

They destroy it using the same tactics they used on the second one. Again, as the lengthy process progresses, some of the dead rise to move about, but none attack.

When this obelisk is destroyed, two things happen: first, as the flash of green energy expands around it, Findlay and Enok both feel the mana return to the area. Secondly, all the restless dead return to lie down in their niches.

The band of heroes returns to the main tunnel and look at the double doors ahead of them.

A Ghoulish Reception

Session Report (June 20 and June 27, 2019)

More skeletons continue to emerge from the ruins as the battle goes on. Enok gets separated from Findlay at some point, and is surrounded. He holds them off — several times it looks like he is about to be taken down but miraculously manages to avoid major damage. This continues for several seconds but he is eventually overwhelmed and drops unconscious to the ground.

Ultimately, the heroes win the fight with the skeletons. Grend practices his Esoteric Medicine skills on Enok, getting him conscious again, but still barely holding on. After searching the ruins and discovering a few coins in the rubble, they decide to leave and once again camp in the wilderness to allow everyone a chance to recover. This time they find a suitably sheltered camp site.

Grend calls upon the Mother (Nature) to allow him to cure some of Enok’s wounds using Grend’s own energy (in the usual way — Grend hawks a loogie, slaps it on Enok’s back and prays). He also tends to the (relatively minor) wounds of the others. Drained and weak, he then calls upon the Mother to restore his own wounds and falls into a deep sleep (while the prayer works its healing on him).

The rest divvy up the watches and they rest for an uneventful night.

The next day the band of intrepid adventurers head back into the ruins of Logiheimli, determined to find clues to the location of the Hall of Judgment. Shae tells Grend that they are going to the temple ruins and that she will not under any circumstances muck about in the outbuilding ruins again.

They approach the temple ruins. Ahead, through the unnatural fog that seems to shroud the ruins, they see the edifice. The front wall of the temple is 60-80 feet long. Near each corner there is a short set of steps leading up to a door set in the stacked stone walls. In the center looms a larger opening. Massive doors lie in the muddy ground in front of it, appearing to have been battered and wrenched off their hinges. They step into the opening.

After their eyes adjust to the gloom, they see a massive hall. The floor immediately inside the opening is stone set into the ground. This extends about 15 feet to either side and 30 feet into the room, then a raised (about 6 inches) wooden floor covers the rest of the hall. The lower stone floor is covered in rainwater. The ceiling is thirty feet above them, supported by massive wooden beams forming arches from 8 columns along the sides of the room. Gray light filters through numerous cracks in the roof, and there is a steady drip of water falling from above onto the floor, echoing in the large space. 

Broken pieces of tables and benches litter the room. The near right corner is filled with rubble from a larger cave-in of the roof and part of the walls. At the far side of the room is a short flight of steps rising about 3 feet to a raised dais, upon rests a stone altar that appears to be cracked and broken. To the left of the altar, near the corner, is a large (4 foot high) urn carved from a single block of stone. In the right corner is a large (10 foot) statue lying facedown. On the back wall, on either side of the altar, is a pair of normal-sized doors.

The group searches the room. Grend goes over to check out the urn. He sees that it is filled with rainwater, and at the bottom there appears to be the body of an emaciated man curled up with its knees pulled up to its chest. It is utterly still. The others come over when he calls out what he has found. 

They decide to (literally) fish the corpse out of the water. Everyone readies their weapons as Grend pulls out a fishing hook and line, and reaching over the urn snags it on the corpse’s clothing. He carefully pulls it up until the body just breaks the surface of the water. Holding the line with one hand, he reaches over with the other to grab the corpse by the scruff of the neck, ready to pull it out of the urn. As he does so, several things happen simultaneously.

The figure’s eyes snap open. One of its hands quickly grabs at Grend’s hand and Grend feels a sudden sensation like an electric shock jolt him through the contact.

Another gaunt figure drops from the ceiling to land nearby, snarling and raising its bony claws to strike at Grend.

As the party’s focus is on the two creatures (ghouls), a panel in the wall behind Enok slides open silently, unseen.

For a beat, the party stands unmoving in surprise.

Then Shae’s axe moves blindingly fast, twice, at the ghoul in the urn. Both hit! The ghoul and the urn disintegrate in an explosion of water, flesh, and stone. 

Shae’s player declared All-out Attack, Double. The first attack roll is a 3 — critical hit! Rolling on the Critical Hit table indicates normal damage. The second attack roll is a 4 — also a critical! This one does double damage. Shae rolls and gets over 50 points of damage.

Findlay begins to play the Song of Alarum — which increases the party’s damage by +2 (or +1 for impaling weapons).

The second ghoul charges Grend, who dodges. He strikes and misses as the ghoul moves past him. The ghoul then attacks Enok, who sweeps his staff dramatically, catching the creature on the back and propelling him several yards beyond. 

Enok’s player rolled a critical success on a parry roll. The dice were with the PCs this night!

As Enok deftly defends, a bony claw reaches out from the panel behind him and grabs him by the neck, dragging him out of the temple. The thing’s touch shocks and paralyzes Enok, he falls in the narrow corridor in which he has been dragged. 

Grend moves to where Enok has been dragged. He enters the corridor behind the secret door to find the third ghoul bending down about to take a big bite of Eldhud flesh…

Drex decides on discretion over valor and disappears into the shadows. 

Shae moves to attack the ghoul still standing inside the temple.

Grend manages to hit the ghoul about to chow down on Enok, which draws the ghoul’s attention to him. Shae strikes and hits the other ghoul as Drex comes out of the shadows to strike as well. A couple of rounds later and the two remaining ghouls are defeated.

The combat over, the team goes back to exploring the temple. They determine the fallen statue to be Tyr, the Law God. The secret door leads to a hallway that runs along the entire length of the  right wall of the temple room. At one end is one of the smaller outside doors they noticed outside the temple, and the other ends in a pile of old crates and barrels stacked against the wall.

The group searches both the right and left walls for more secret doors, and discover that an identical hallway with matching secret doors runs along the left wall of the temple as well. This hall, too, is choked with junk and debris blocking any way further into the temple. The only obvious way further in are the two doors on the platform near the altar.

Drex checks the door for traps — none — and they step through. Exploring the ruined temple, they find a large common eating/cooking room. Rusting cooking utensils and rotting tables surround a fire pit in the floor, over which a brick chimney is set in the ceiling. Drex melts into the shadows and checks out the room. He senses more than sees a couple of shapes hidden in the ceiling above. When he goes back to report, Shae pulls out her bow and an arrow and asks Enok to cast a Light spell on it, which he does. Shae then fires the arrow into the chimney where it embeds in the crumbling brick. At this, they hear chattering, hollow laughter from the chimney which fades as the source moves rapidly away.

Searching the room, they find nothing of interest. They continue to search the rest of the temple. At this point, Enok casts an Earth Vision spell, which gives him the ability to see through stone. They use this ability to scope out several rooms — several barracks and living quarters on one side of the temple, and a large living suite on the other. The suite was obviously for someone important but is now a rotten, sodden mess. One corner of the building has collapsed, exposing a (once) well-appointed desk and sitting room, and the bedroom proper. Enok can see a large closet or other storage space off the bedroom.

Into the Ruins of Logiheimli

Session Report (June 13, 2018)

With darkness coming on, they decide to retreat for the night outside the ruins and the desecrated, low mana, defiled area. They look for a suitable place to camp but cannot find a spot that is protected from the rain and the cold which settles around them as darkness falls. Instead they spend an uncomfortable night, wet, cold and miserable.

Before they sleep, Grend uses his druidic prayers to transfer some of the wounds of Shae, Findlay and Enok to himself. He then prays to the Mother to restore those wounds and drifts off to sleep. Shae, Findlay, and Enok take turns guarding the camp while others sleep.

The night is cold and damp. They each awaken, except for Shae, fuzzy-headed and groggy from lack of sleep, and aching from the cold and hard ground.

Near dawn, as Shae’s watch is ending, she hears the underbrush being disturbed to one side of the camp. Without waking the others she sees three skeletal warriors in mail, carrying weapons and shields. They see her as well and attack. Shae engages and shouts to the others to awaken.

Grend wakes first and yells at the others to get up. He climbs to his feet and finds his spear as the others wake up. Enok sits up, clears his head, and fires a Stone Missile at one of the skeletons. He hits!

One of the skeletons, armed with a spear, manages to get through her defenses and scores a minor wound.

Grend prays for a moment, and roots and vines burst from the ground to entangle the skeletons. Two of them do not defend, while the third dives for cover. The tangle of growth slow the other two skeletons down but they break free.

Shae gets a good hit on one of them and it shatters as it disintegrates. Enok fires again with a Stone Missile and its enough to destroy it. Grend moves around behind the third and takes it out.

After the battle, Shae studies the footprints of the skeletons. They seem to trace a route parallel to the berm that surrounds the ruins of Logiheimli. They follow them around the temple complex; it is roughly oval and maybe 250 yards along its longest axis and 150 yards across its shorter axis. Almost directly across from the gate they entered yesterday — the one with the skeletal warhorses — is a barrow mound. A dark tunnel leads back into the hill. The skeleton tracks, and many more like them, lead into the barrow. Looking back towards Logiheimli, they see there is another opening or gate in the berm opposite the barrow.

The party decides to go into Logiheimli, and cross to the berm and pass through the gate inside its walls.

They see a large building directly in front of them, silhouetted in the mist. To the left and right, several yards away, are the ruins of 3 or 4 smaller buildings, perhaps longhouses. The group stops to discuss where to go first, with Shae wanting to go towards the larger, central building. “That must be the temple. If there is anyplace that contained a clue as to the location of the Hall of Judgment, it would be there.”

Grend disagrees, saying that if there are any hidden enemies among the ruins, they should find and eliminate them now instead of having to deal with them if they are overwhelmed inside the (supposed) temple building and need to retreat. He sways them to his argument, and they step closer to the ruins on the right.

As they do so, a dozen or more humanoid skeletons rise from the ruins and attack. They are mostly armed with spears, swords, and axes, along with shields. Two have bows instead.

Grend and Shae wade into a small group of skeletons, weapons swinging. Findlay starts by playing the Song of Alarum, which boosts his allies’ ST and DX, but as he is threatened by skeletons he quickly shifts to the Song of Warning, which keeps several of the skeletons 4 yards away from him. Enok stands near him, using his staff to hit at skeletons outside the area of repulsion. Enok is aiming at arms and legs — one good hit on a limb is enough to dismember the brittle skeletons.

Shae does a Double Strike on one and takes it out.

The fight progresses. Two of the skeletons have been ‘disarmed’ but continue to fight much less effectively using their shields to bash, or bony claws to strike.

(To be continued…)

The Journey

Session Report (May 23, 2019)

The party meets Geirof a week later, collects the supplies and pack ponies he’s provided, and sets off to find the ruins of Logiheimli.

They travel northwards along the plains between the Greniheim Forest towards the East and the hills at the foot of the Vestrurham Range to the West. The July weather is good; the skies are clear and the temperature comfortable. The make good time all day. In the afternoon, they come across the tracks of something huge that seemed to crash its way through the forest on their right and across their path into the hills. Whatever it was has pushed down trees, stripped the bark from several of the largest trunks, and denuded the tops of most of the trees along its destructive path. Several enormous hoof prints are left in the dirt and mud.

Grend and Shae confer briefly and declare that except for its size, it appears to be moose spoor. But the moose would have to be thirty feet tall to have left this trail of destruction.

They push on, and as darkness approaches, they search for and find a suitable site to camp. They find a mountain stream that they suspect has fish; Grend and Shae try their luck and each land a medium-sized fish that the team uses to supplement their rations.

The night passes uneventfully.

The next day, as the party packs up their gear and prepares to set off again, they notice two ravens circling some distance off into the Greniheim Forest. There is something about their behavior that seems off. The party decides to investigate. They push through about a mile into the forest to the area the ravens are circling. They find a small clearing, at the center of which is a large rock. The group can hear the burbling of water, and circling the stone they find a natural spring bubbling out of a cleft in the stone, running down a natural sluice and soaking the ground. The water seems pure and potable; Grend suggests they refill their water supply.

As they wait for the vatnvikur to fill, they make a small sacrifice to Woden the Allfather in thanks for the find. After they do so, a penny falls from the sky. Enok picks it up and examines it. Drex looks over his shoulder and thinks that it has very little monetary value, and wanders off disinterested. Enok notes that the penny has the Òss () rune and pockets it.

The party collects the ponies and pushes on. The weather worsens; rain begins to fall and the temperature dips. As the afternoon approaches, the rain turns to mist and fog.

Late afternoon, the party begins to make out the line of a low ridge silhouetted in the fog ahead and to the left. They turn in that direction and find that the ridge is the remains of a berm. The remains of rotted wooden posts stick up from the crest. At its base is a ditch collecting water and mud from the day’s precipitation. The earthen mound runs both left and right as far as they can see in the mist (a hundred yards or so). A short way to the right there is an opening through the berm.

They lead their ponies to the gap in the berm, and down into the ditch and back up. On the other side of the berm are the remains of several buildings dimly seen through the fog. Immediately at hand, on the left, are a number of stone pillars set into the earth, each with several slots carved into them as if they once held planks of wood to connect the posts to form a fence or corral. They can see the bones of various animals in the dirt beyond the posts. Grend notices that his connection to Nature is severely limited — he believes the area is supernaturally defiled in some way. Enok tentatively tests his connection to the mana and finds that the magical force is also very low in the ruins.

The party investigates the once-fenced area more closely. As Enok steps past one of the pillars to examine its other side, four of the piles of bones begin to tremble, then rise up, coming together to assemble the skeletons of large warhorses.

The skeletal warhorses attack! They charge directly at the party at full speed, lowering their heads to crash into the nearest character. They spend the next handful of seconds fighting the warhorses, determining that piercing and impaling weapons do less damage than usual; crushing weapons appear to be extra effective. Grend shifts his grip on his spear to use it as a staff instead. Shae manages to do enough damage to cause one to crumble back into a pile of bones. Drex picks up one of the defeated skeleton’s leg bones and throws it between the galloping legs of one of the remaining skeleton horses, which trips and falls. Drex dodges one of the charging warhorse skeletons which plows into one of the pack ponies, hurting it.

Several tense action-packed seconds later, the party has defeated the skeletons. Shae, Findlay, and Enok all took damage.

The Lost Hall

Session Report (May 23, 2019)

Geirof comes in and sits with them.

“The town of Isfjall owes you a debt, whether they know it or not,” he says. “I was afraid that the demonic activity in the Frostharrow would eventually reach here, but I’m a little surprised it got here as soon as now.”

When asked about the “demonic activity”, Geirof tells them that the holy warriors and clerics of Heimdallr are spread very thin chasing down demonworshiping cults in the area. “Over 50 members of a demon cult were recently discovered performing a ritual designed to weaken the boundaries between the Nine Realms,” he says. “I believe this, plus the upswing in restless dead attacks, herald a problem: the Lost Hall of Judgment has fallen into evil hands.”

“The Lost Hall is one of the physical connections between this realm, Midgard, and that of the Gods, Asgard. Tyr the Lawgiver reigns in the Hall, and his influence is in part what keeps the powers of Chaos in check.” He sighs. “That influence, I believe, is missing. The reports of demons, demonic cults, undead attacks, and more frequent encounters with the Fae have led me to believe that the Hall has fallen, and with it, its tempering influence.

“Alas, others in my Braeðralag do not agree. They believe the unrest is a temporary thing, and will settle over time. But I know I’m right!” he says, slamming a fist down onto the table. He looks up at the group. “What I need is a brave group of thegns to find the Lost Hall. If it is in demonic or Fae hands, to free it. I can’t offer much in the way of reward, but anyone who manages to do this will have their deeds sung and sagas written about them for ages!” He looks to the party expectantly.

The party agrees to go on Geirof’s quest — he asks them to vow to Tyr to complete the task to the best of their abilities. They agree.

“Thank you, my friends,” he says. “I have some things that may make the quest easier.” He produces an old map on crumbling vellum and unrolls it. It shows the area north of Isfjall.

“I, uh, liberated this map from the archives in the hajarl’s hall. It is said to contain the location of the Hall of Judgment. I have pored over it, and used magics on it, but it refuses to yield its secrets.” He points at a location. “This is Logiheimli. Once it contained a great temple to Tyr. If any place contains clues as to the Lost Hall, it would be there. Unfortunately, Logiheimli fell to incursions of the evil from the Frostharrow ages ago. I would be very careful entering the ruins.”

He reaches into a pouch at his side and removes a hematite armlet, with silver chasing in the shape of the Tyr rune. “This is a tiwstakn. It was found on the body of Gyrid, the champion of last year’s Valor festival, after he died. He and a group of thegns ventured into the wilds a few months ago, questing for glory. All were slain, but Gyrid held on and tried to return to Isfjall with hideous injuries. His body was found just days ago outside of town. He was carrying the tiwstakn and a sword, both of which are embued with subtle magics that we have yet to identify. I believe Gyrid’s party discovered clues about the Lost Hall, and that these artifacts are connected to it. Perhaps the magic in this tiwstakn will be useful to those who quest for the Hall.”

Geirof also offers the heroes the purloined sword. “Perhaps this will also be of use,” he says. “Certain demons cannot be defeated without magic weapons.” He sighs. “Alas, I cannot offer much in the way of payment. Perhaps the knowing that you saved Norðlond from an encroaching evil or that you may be successful in rediscovering the Hall of Judgment when others have failed, will be enough. I can provide, however, four pack ponies with water and food to start you on your way.”

The team agrees to the quest.

This Way to the Egress

Session Six (May 9, 2019)

The party is still in the chamber at the end of the blasted passage where they defeated the “husk” of Meryle. They take the snake’s tooth medallion and the signet ring, and begin to make their way back to the surface.

Around 200’ up from the bottom, the party hears the sound of rocks grinding and cracking. They send Drex up ahead to scout. He sees five things (rock mites) that resemble headless stone pygmies. Their torsos are lumpy and egg-shaped. Their legs are stumpy, ending in flat, slate-like “feet,” while the arms terminate in “hands” of rock with four “fingers”. They are picking up chunks of rock and putting them in a “mouth” near the top front of the torso. This jagged maw is filled with a magma-like substance that melts down the rocks and incidentally light the cavern with a flickering, inconstant reddish glow.

Drex goes back to report. The rock mites appear to be busy eating, and the party thinks they may be able to sneak past. The only member of the party without some skill in stealth is Enok. Grend proposes that Enok get on his back and he will carry the runecaster past the potential danger.

One by one the team sneaks past. Grend, carrying, Enok, goes last. The others make it past the rock mites and into the darkness beyond. Grend finally sets across, but with the effort of carrying Enok, he stumbles, knocking a pile of rocks over which clatter loudly through the cave. The nearest rock mite turns its ‘head’ towards the sound, and walks slowly towards Grend and Enok. Grend stands utterly still waiting … and then the rock mite gets right up in front of him and picks up one of the rocks Grend knocked over and eats it. The thing chews on the rock for a moment, and then shuffles off, finding other tasty tidbits on the cavern floor.

Grend and Enok make it safely to the other side of tunnel to join the rest of the heroes.

They continue to climb. Several more hundred feet in, they encounter another rock mite group feeding, and manage to sneak past once more.

Back up at the altar room, the team crosses towards the door with the rune-cursed hallway and the exit. They note that the lanterns they previous took from the room once again turn red as long as they are in this room.

In the rune-limned hallway, they stop and take stock. Grend says that he doesn’t want to pray to Mother Nature again, as too many times in a single day is not good. They decide to take their chances and run across. One by one they dash across. Enok takes some mystic damage as he does so — it feels like all the moisture is being sucked suddenly and violently from his body. He’s weakened but not seriously harmed.

When Björn runs across, he takes a much more potent dose of the evil magics. He falls screaming, and then passes out. The party manages to pull him the rest of the way across, but when they check his signs … Björn is dead!

Or maybe not. Grend performs his Esoteric Medicine and miraculously Björn’s vital signs come back — weak, but there.

Once in the cellar of Skald’s End the team retrieves the giant rat carcasses they found while burning off the spider webs. They knock on the door to signal to Leeander that they want to be let out.

Leeander lets them out, and expresses concerns as to their wellbeing. On seeing the comatose Björn, she sends Findlay to find a priest named Geirof Tyrthegn.

Meanwhile the rest of the party tells Lee about what they found, including the husk of Meryle. They show her the signet ring. She settles up with them the money she owes – 400cp for the giant rat carcasses. She wants to buy the ring from them but cannot afford it’s full value. Instead, she suggests that she give them as much as she has — another 100cp — plus puts in a good word to the merchant’s guild for them to pay for any of their loot at full price. The party agrees.

Geirof appears with Findlay, and he first sets about healing everyone. Björn, he says, needs to be tended back at the temple. The subterranean demonic temple needs to be properly taken care of — Geirof says he will bring in a group of priests and thegns to clear it out of any remaining creatures, and exorcise and destroy any of the temple’s unholy features. He leaves to arrange for this and eventually returns.

Meanwhile, Lee lives up to her word and reopens the inn with the team of heroes as the first guests — with room and board on the house. The common room begins to fill up with other patrons as the team sits down to a meal and drinks.