Inside the Waiting Room

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.

The Dómstóllinn

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.

Go for the Eyes, Boo!

Session Report

November 14 and December 15, 2019

Sorry for the abbreviated and combined reports — I’ve been lazy and haven’t gotten around to writing these up until now!

The party continues on their journey. The weather is getting colder, although no deadly cold. A day or so after leaving the last village, they estimate that they are near the location on the map for the missing tiwstakn. 

A short time later they find their path blocked by a steep gorge with a rapidly flowing river at the bottom. A rope and wood bridge, decaying and moldy, crosses the gorge.

There is much discussion about what to do. The bridge may be able to support the lightest of the group, but Grend has serious reservations about the ability of the bridge to support him. They discuss going around, but a quick scouting trip shows that the gorge extends as far as they can see in both directions.

They decide to try to cross. First they find a good hiding place for the ponies with enough grass for grazing for a day or two, and secure them. They return to the bridge and discuss at length what they will do.

Eventually they get Findlay to drop his backpack and cross cautiously, with rope tied to his belt and belayed by others in the party. He makes it across. They then send each person in order of weight (lightest to heaviest) across. They first drop their packs into Grend’s large net.

The ropes creak and begin to fray; various board splinter and crack under their weight, a few snapping in half and falling into the raging river below, but they all make it across, even Grend. Grend ties the belaying rope to the net before he crosses; when he gets to the other side, they pull the net across with their belongings. They put on their gear and continue.

There is a path that cuts through a wooded vale between two ridges of the mountain that rise on either side of them. It seems to be heading in the direction of a dimly seen tower on the mountainside ahead. They take the path.

At one point they find themselves in an open area between two hills on the path. As they reach the bottom and start up the hill on the other side, two huge figure pops up from behind the hill before them and throw 2 large rocks at them. They both miss. Grend recognize these as Thurs — a kind of faerie and troll-kin and fierce fighters.

The party maneuvers to try to get out of the line of fire — the rocks the Thurs are throwing are pretty large and dangerous. All but Arne, that is — he charges straight up the hill at the two Thurs. Findlay begins to sing the Song of Alarum, which gives the champions bonuses to strength and damage.

Björn fast-draws an arrow and waits for a Thurs to reappear. One pops up with rock in hand, but Björn lets fly his nocked arrow and nails the Thurs in the eye! The Thurs bellows in pain and drops the rock, retreating back behind the hill. Björn readies another arrow and waits for their next move.

Grend, Shae and Enok head towards the cover of some trees off the path, as they do so, another Thurs lunges out of cover of one of the trees and attacks with a huge club. Grend successfully dodges the blow, and he and Shae attack.

Meanwhile both Thurs on the hill pop up to throw more rocks — yes, even the one with an arrow sticking out of his eye. Björn calmly puts another bolt in his good eye, spoiling any attack it may have made. The other throws a rock at Arne, who is still resolutely charging up the hill. He misses.

Grend calls on the Mother to create a concealing fog to hopefully make it harder for the rock-throwing Thurs to hit Findlay, Björn, or Arne.

Shae attacks the Thurs she is battling and hits, doing a huge amount of damage. It is reeling.

The remaining rock thrower pops up and promptly takes an arrow in one of his eyes. It screams in rage and pain and drops back behind the hill.

Grend and Shae take down the Thurs they are dealing with, and Arne performs the coup de grace on the remaining rock thrower. The group manages to defeat all three Thurs without taking a single point of damage.

* * *

They continue down the path. A few hours later, they see a glen to the right of the path. Björn notices an odd shape in the dirt and grass of the open, tree-lined area. They stop to investigate. Digging through the soil, they uncover the skeleton of a human — probably a Man — with the rusted remains of armor and weapons. A somewhat preserved pouch is also visible. Grend opens it to find it contains  a number of silver coins! 

As they marvel at their luck, six of the trees surrounding the glen somehow come to life and charge the party.

The trees attack with a combination of charge-and-slam, and using their branches for grappling or striking. 

Björn quickly realizes that arrows are likely to be useless against what appear to be (except for their animation) standard fir and aspen trees. He drops the bow and draws his sword. 

Findlay again begins the Song of Alarum.

The trees are fast, have a tremendous reach, and are resistant to much of the damage that the champions can do. The battle is brutal and long. Shae’s axe does the most damage, but it is Enok’s Lightning Bolt spell that makes the difference. When the lightning hits, the trees have a tendency to catch fire. The trees react very badly to fire, most often breaking away from combat and fleeing. However, both Enok and Grend are heavily damaged; Enok runs into the surrounding woods and passes out. Grend is barely hanging onto consciousness and is pretty much out of the fight.

Arne is grappled fairly early in the combat and while being held, is attacked by another tree. He is quickly reduced to barely hanging onto consciousness. Helpless in the grip of one of the trees, he calls out loudly in prayer to Tyr. As he finishes praying, the clouds part and a beam of golden sunlight strikes his armor. The branches holding him immobile begin to smolder and burn. The tree releases him as the fire spreads quickly up the branches to the trunk. Summoning all his willpower, he manages to weakly strike on of the remaining trees with his glowing sword, setting it on fire and sending it in retreat. Between his efforts and Shae’s strength, they finally manage to defeat the walking trees. They are in fairly bad shape.

The party spends the rest of this day and night camped here. Both Arne and Grend call on their gods and their supply of healing potions to cure the wounds of the others and themselves. In the morning they are fully healed and move on.

* * *

Around midday, they reach the base of the tower in the cliff face. There are a pair of large metal gates blown off their hinges and lying on the ground. They enter.

The hall in the lower part of the tower is large — it extends into the darkness before them. The party can just make out walls to the left and right, with a couple of doorways in each. There is a sound, barely audible, that sounds like the flutter of wasp wings in the darkness. 

Findlay casts Song of Echoes to try to penetrate the darkness. He picks up several small objects/creatures in the darkness moving towards them. Findlay warns the others and they prepare in case battle is called for. 

“They are about 16 yards away,” Findlay works the words into his song. “A small group, maybe 3-4, to the left, and another equal group to the right. Moving directly towards us.”

The others unsuccessfully strain to see the approaching creatures.

“They’re now about 8 yards away. Six.” Findlay sings.

“That’s inside the torch light,” Shae says. “Are you sure?” None of the others can see anything.

“They’re two yards away. One!” Findlay shouts. 

Several creatures appear out of nothing directly in front of the party as they leap to attack. There is a brief impression of large, 3 foot long centipede things on the floor that almost instantly flash into small flying demonic looking beings as they leap from the floor to attack.

Let Me Axe You a Question

Session Report

November 7, 2019

The party returns to the vicinity of the bandit camp. They decide that Shae and Grend, being the sneakiest (Drex, where are you??) will sneak into the camp and to the leader’s tent. If possible, they will free the girl and sneak back out. They figure both are needed in case the stealth mission becomes a standup fight with the bandit leader.

Grend is hoping that the Mother will answer his earlier prayer for a distraction should it become necessary. He is also prepared to pray for the Mother to cause a fog to spring up to cover half the camp. Findlay suggests that he could inflict terror on the other half of the camp, if he could move closer. Arne agrees to guard his back if that becomes necessary. Enok, too, will move up with them and use his lightning bolt spell to try to take out other bandits that are unaffected by the Song of Terror.

Björn climbs a tall tree at the edge of camp and pledges to shoot any bandits that may try to attack any party member that is not under cover.

They notice that in addition to any patrols that are wandering the forested hills around camp, there are now three patrolling guards circling the camp, on high alert.

The plan decided, Grend prays to the Mother to grant Shae the Arms of the Bear. In response to this prayer, Shae’s arms grow hugely muscled and covered in bear fur. 

Shae and Grend start their stealthy way into the camp. They run through the  gap between the patrolling guards. As they dash from the shadows of one tent to the next, a strong wind begins to blow. Sparks from multiple campfires around the camp begin to fly as the tents start creaking, thumping, and humming from the wind pummeling the canvas and whistling around the ropes. Several tents threaten to blow away in the wind as their pegs are pulled from the ground. Men nearby to these loose ropes run to secure them.

In a not much more than a minute, Shae and Grend arrive at the back of the leader’s tent. Shae cuts a slit in the tent cloth near the ground, and shimmies through.

Shae finds herself in a well appointed — for bandits anyway — tent, supported at each corner and in the center by poles. The tent is about 6’ to 8’ square. Shae comes through the slit behind a small chest. She flattens herself behind the chest and surveys the small open area. Besides the chest, there are some personal items — clothing, armory supplies, etc — arranged for convenience around the tent.

There is an armored (heavy leather) man standing near the tent flap, with a spear and buckler. He is holding the tent flap open and is talking to someone outside. The position of his head indicates the unseen conversant is above him — possibly the guard on the small watchtower?

Tied to the center tentpole, ad gagged, is a young girl, probably in her mid-teens. Her clothes are dirty and torn. She is tied facing the tent’s opening, and thus has her back to Shae. It must be Thorhildr.

As quietly as possible, Shae hefts her axe into attack position, and pads behind the man (the bandit chief?) at the flap, poised to strike.

Grend takes the opportunity to slip into the tent and takes up position behind the chest that Shae just vacated.

 * * * 

Meanwhile, the rest of the party have been watching the progress of the barbarian and the druid through the camp, and keeping an eye out for anyone who might be in danger of discovering them.

As they dimly make out Grend and Shae arriving at the back of the central tent, Björn notices a man leaving the privy. The man seems to be dressed in metallic armor, maybe brigandine? He stops to pick up a finely made Nordlond battle-shield and a spear and begins walking back through camp.

As first Shae and then Grend enter the tent, the man draws near. He seems to be walking directly to the bandit leader’s tent.

 * * *

Back in the tent, the man talking through the flap finally seems to wrap up his conversation. He lets the flap close and begins to turn to face the interior of the tent.

Shae swings her axe and in one blow, decapitates the man!

(Shae has a Axe skill of 19 and aims at the neck for a -3 penalty, thus having an effective skill of 16. She rolls a 6, which is a Critical Success — no defense possible even if she wasn’t attacking from the rear. She is doing an All-Out Attack, Strong, for +1 per die of damage, and has additional Striking ST +5 from Arms of the Bear. This takes her basic damage up to 4d+9 cut. Because the wound is to the neck, any damage that makes it through the armor is doubled. This one blow does over 40 points of damage, instantly killing him. Anyone killed by cutting damage to the neck is decapitated!)

The bandit’s head rolls to the door of the tent, and blood pools around it.

Grend is about to stand up from behind the chest when he is suddenly stabbed from behind! He staggers into the room, reeling from the wound. He turns as the real bandit chief, the man wearing brigandine armor and carrying a Nordlond shield and spear, ducks into the tent. 

(As he approached the tent from the latrine, the bandit chief noticed the tent cloth was cut. He used stealth to approach and investigate. He made his Stealth skill roll by 6; neither Grend or Shae made their perception rolls by that margin and so his stealth was successful. Finding Grend inside the tent, he attacked with a Spear skill of 16 and targeted the vitals at -3, for an effective skill of 13. Because his Stealth check succeeded and he’s snuck up behind Grend, he gets an additional +4 for backstabbing. On an effective skill of 17, only a roll of 17 or 18 will fail! Any impaling damage to the vitals that penetrates armor does triple damage. This is enough to drop Grend to less than 1/3 of his hit points, so he is reeling: Move and Dodge are halved, rounding up.) 

The bandit chief notices Shae standing over his dead man, and moves to attack her. Grend takes the opening to stagger back through the rip in the tent in retreat.

There is a scream from outside the front of the tent, and then several thuds that shake the ground. Björn and the rest of the party see that the rising wind has somehow knocked over the watch tower sending the guard to the ground below. At the same time, sparks from the campfires settle on several tents, setting them on fire. In the ensuing panic, the bandits rush around trying to tend to the fallen guard and tower and also to put out the rising fires.

Grend prays for the Mother to encase the other side of camp in a fog. The Mother answers. He then pulls out a healing potion from his potion belt and quaffs it.

Meanwhile Shae and the Bandit Chief square off. After a couple thrusts and blocks, Shae manages to get a blow through. This one blow is enough to take the chief down to barely hanging on to consciousness. He drops the spear and grabs hold of the central tentpole to remain upright. In two more blows, Shae drops him. Dead or unconscious, she doesn’t care. She cuts the bonds of the girl and throws her over one shoulder. Grend pauses long enough to shoulder the bandit chief’s chest. They both begin to make their way towards the safety of the forest and their friends.

Findlay says he will start the Song of Terror, but needs to get closer. Enok goes with him to watch his back and they walk several yards into the bandit camp. Findlay begins his song with visible reaction — bandits break and flee when they hear the music (“Well I just heard the news today. It seems my life is going to change…”).

Björn sees one of the guards appear to notice Shae and Grend retreating. The man readies his spear and begins to move towards the cat-folk and half-ogre. Björn draws a bead on the man and sends an arrow unerringly into his leg from 30 yards away. The bandit goes down.

A few turns later Shae and Grend make it to where the others are waiting, aided by Björn’s marksmanship and Findlay’s songs. They beat a hasty retreat into the forest with the rescued girl.

 * * *

The next day, the party returns the girl to her family — somewhat the worse for wear, but alive. They are grateful but poor. They offer as reward a silver Thor’s hammer pendant. In addition, they provide several days of rations and top-off the party’s drinking water supply. They stay that night with the family. Grend sleeps outside as usual and uses his Mother’s Embrace prayer to recover from his injuries.

In the morning, the group takes their leave and begin once again to follow the river towards their ultimate destination: The Lost Hall of Tyr.

 * * * 

In the afternoon, the adventurers reach a small village on the river. They use the opportunity to buy enough rations to completely replenish their supplies. They ask around and find that this is the last settlement before the river enters the Frostharrow mountains. Trade boats occasionally ply the river to buy and sell with them, but they go no further. The party only stays long enough to complete their transactions and exchange a bit of gossip, and then continue on their way.

About an hour’s walk outside the village, they hear a scream. Investigating, they find a young human girl high up in a tree, attempting to climb even higher even though the thin branches are bending and cracking alarmingly under her weight. She is crying with fear.

“What’s wrong?” Enok calls out. 

“Stay away! It’ll get you!” the girl says, gesturing towards the base of the tree. They look but there is nothing visible there.

Findlay begins the Song of Echoes (“Hello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me…”), trying to detect a hidden or invisible foe; he detects nothing.

Enok raises his chalk and slate and draws the Hagall rune and concentrates for a moment. “I am seeing a trace of magic around her,” he says, “but it’s different. Maybe some kind of fae enchantment?”

Shae expels a breath: “Pah!” Her cat eyes narrow. “I’ve had enough of this fae nonsense. I’ll get her down.” The catfolk barbarian puts down her axe and heads towards the tree. “Cover me,” she snaps over her shoulder at Björn. 

Shae climbs the tree and tries to grab the girl, but the terrified teenager is lighter than the armored catfolk and climbs into a part of the tree that Shae cannot reach. “Come down! There’s no bear!” she yells.

“No! It’s there! I don’t know how you got up without it killing you, but it’s RIGHT THERE!” she screams.

This is enough to trigger the barbarian’s notoriously bad temper. (In game terms, Shae has the Bad Temper disadvantage, with a self-control roll of 12. Shae’s character rolls and gets a result higher than 12.) “THERE. IS. NO. BEAR!” she roars, lunging higher up the tree on each exclamation, even though the branches begin to crack and splinter under her weight. Shae reaches out one claw and manages to snag the girl’s long blond hair. She pulls the girl by the hair from her perch in the tree, and before anyone else can react, drops the girl.

She screams again, and comes crashing down through the branches. She hits the ground with a thud and another scream, holding her leg.

Arne and Grend rush to her aid. She’s confused but the fall seems to have cured her of the faerie glamour. Arne lays hands on her and heals most of her injuries. The leg was broken but between Grend and Arne they magically mend it. 

When asked her story, she says that a handsome man came out of the forest to the west and flirted with her. She resisted; he was persistent but eventually came to understand she was not going to be seduced. The strangely magnetic young man then became angry, and said something in a language she did not know. After he left (again to the west) the “bear” attacked. 

Grend surmises that the man was fae. “Dey always methin’ wit’ mortals,” he says. “Twicktherth, everyone of dem.”

The girl says she is from the village they just left. They ask her if she needed an escort home. “N-no, I can manage,” she says looking at Shae from the corner of her eye.

She leaves and the party continues on their journey.

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.

The Contest

Session Report (September 5)

The adventurers meets up with Arne on the morning of their departure. (All but Drex, who told them to go without him suddenly, the night before. “I have some business to take care of,” he said. “If I am done in the next few days, I’ll catch up…”)

Arne drops to one knee and holds out his hards. “Come, let us kneel together and pray to Tyr for a safe journey,” he says. “Hold hands.”

The party looks at each other and shrug. “Okay…” They kneel with Arne as he prays loudly looking towards the heavens.

They set off towards Logiheimli, again taking the faster path of the plains between the hill country and the Greniheim forest. At first they are in civilization — farmsteads cluster together along a road worn into the earth by centuries of foot and hoof. As the day wears on, the farms and other structures become more sparse, the trail less distinct. Eventually, the trail disappears into the undergrowth.

It is late afternoon. The last sign of human habitation was a single cottage, a thin smudge of smoke visible from its chimney and animal pelts and hides stretched over frames outside, visible on a ridge a mile away, over two hours ago.

Shae’s cat ears swivel towards the righthand side of the trail. “Do you hear that?”

“Yeah. Thounds like cryin’,” Grend says around his tusks. They decide to check it out.

The party tracks the sounds to its source: a small human girl, clothes dirty and torn, sits on a fallen log, her face smudged with tears. She looks up as the party approaches and jumps behind the log. They can see the top of her head as she peers over the log towards their approach.

“It’s okay,” Shae tries to sooth the child. “We can help you. What’s wrong?”

“I’m lost,” the little girl says. “And it’s getting dark.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll get you back to your home,” Shae says.

“Do you know which way is home?” asks Arne.

“That way, I think,” the girl says. She points vaguely West.

“Mebbe you can find her twacks and follow ’em back to her home,” Grend suggests to Shae. She agrees and they quickly find her footprints leading West. The party takes off along the tracks, Shae in the front, tracking with Grend’s help, Findley and the girl in the middle, and Enok and Arne bringing up the rear.

They follow the tracks for a while. At one point, Grend puts one foot down on the path when a swarm of hornets flies up from the forest floor and attack — to no avail. Grend’s skin is too hard for the hornets to pierce. They quickly move away from the angry insects.

A while later, they are passing through an old forest section of the trail, when a rotted log that was leaning against another tree, and overhanging the trail, collapses just as Enok is beneath it. He takes minor damage from the collision. After he picks himself up and clears the fallen tree, Shae says, “Don’t you think it’s weird that these things started happening after we found this girl?”

The party is silent for a moment as they digest this information, but continue following the girl’s trail. The trail takes a turn into to low-lying land ahead. As they pass into it, they suddenly stop. Their feet seem stuck to the ground. The girl, apparently unaffected, skips merrily off to the side, then turns back to them. As she does, two things happen: she morphs from a small human child to a tall beautiful humanoid with elfin ears. At the same time, the ground at their feet vanish to be replaced with thick, viscous mud rising over their calves. She laughs delightedly at the immobile adventurers.

“Oh but you amused me, until that one –” she points at Shae “– spoiled it! What am I going to do with you?”

Shae holds up a hand.”We don’t intend to do you harm. How could we? You are so great and powerful — we are but cowering and lowly mortals before your might and beauty.” The faerie stops at these words. Shae continues, “Perhaps we can offer you something of value in exchange for our pitiful lives?” Shae removes a bronze long knife from her pack with the other hand. “Please accept this gift.”

The faerie laughs. “You’ll need to offer me more than this,” she says. She looks at them speculatively, until her eyes rest on Findlay. “You’re a handsome one,” she says to him. “Perhaps I will take you home with me, and there you will serve my pleasure until your too short mortal life is ended.” She begins to dance seductively, eyes locked with Findlay’s. Findlay looks dazed for a moment, but seems to shake it off.

The faerie creature screams in frustration. “How dare you resist me!” she says. She looks menacingly at them and begins to move forward.

Findlay speaks. “You are beautiful beyond words, my lady. And I am sure your singing voice is transcendent!”

“Indeed, mortal. There are few who can surpass my skill in singing.”

“As much as I would like to serve you, I cannot, for I am sworn to aid my companions,” Findlay says. “But I have also sworn to serve any who can sing better than I. I propose that we have a contest. If my voice somehow surpasses your own, you let me and my friends go.”

“And if not,” says the faerie, “you will come willingly with me to serve me until you die. So be it!”

“Who will judge?” Enok asks.

“I shall,” says the faerie.

“But–”

“Silence!” the faerie says. “It is decided!” With that, the faerie begins to sing. The fae’s voice is indeed good, but she also tends to rely on seductive looks and body language as much as vocal skills. As she sings, unnoticed, both Grend and Arne begin using brute strength to free themselves from the muck. They slowly make their way through the mud, reaching the edge of the mire just as the song ends.

Findlay clears his throat.

“No ‘Wonderwall'”, Shae hisses at him quietly.

Shooting Shae a scathing glance, Findlay begins to sing. He sings an ancient, sad, romantic ballad. His voice is incredible. As he finishes, there isn’t a dry eye amongst those listening, including the faerie. She lowers her head.

“You are free,” she says. She slowly vanishes (perhaps stepping through the Veil?).

(This was a Quick Contest of Singing skill. The Hulder makes its skill roll by 3. Findlay, who has Singing-19, makes his roll by 10!)

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.