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Now that my Wordpress blog at parsantium.com has been going strong for a year, I'm going to stop crossposting Parsantium content here, and go back to using this Livejournal primarily for session logs from my D&D games.

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Here's what happened in last night's game. Each PC gets 1,387 xp, enough to reach 4th level.

14th Mirtul, 1390 DR

The PCs are joined by Gwastdyn who has arrived from Greenest. Leaving Turin to keep watch over the raiders' camp from the tower, they head back inside the cave. No new guards await in the entrance so they return to Frulam Mondath's quarters. The Wearer of Purple has heard them coming and has her spirit guardians in place to protect her. But with no cultist allies this time, Mondath is easier to defeat and Rosie delivers the killing strike. Gwastdyn tidies up after the battle, putting the cultist's body in her bed. The dwarf druid doesn't like to leave a mess.

Rosie sneaks ahead, climbing down the shaft to the Dragon Shrine. When she's spotted by Cyanwrath, she calls for help and turns invisible. The other PCs climb down, which is just as well – the half-dragon's lightning breath drops the warlock as soon as she becomes visible. Crake kills one of the berserk cultists, as Ug seeks revenge on Cyanwrath for his defeat in Greenest. But it's Gwastdyn in bear form that takes Cyanwrath down, much to the paladin's disappointment. Crake opens the chest without triggering its trap and grabs the loot. More tidying up follows as the party haul the bodies up to Mondath's room.

The PCs enter the Dragon Hatchery. Ug is glued to the floor by kobold grenades and set on fire, but he is able to pull himself free. Still under fire, the PCs go down the stairs to the eggs but are attacked by a pair of drakes. At this point, they become aware of the roper in the corner who asks them if they are here with more meat. With the odds against them and Rosie unconscious yet again, Crake and Gwastdyn take inspiration from Turin's song that says "you've got to search for the hero inside yourself."  The battle turns in the PCs' favour – the drakes are killed, and the last surviving kobold surrenders.

hot drake on Crake action

Deyjen the kobold guides the party to the "meat locker" and Ug drags a dead bear back to feed to the roper. After munching it down, the weird creature crawls off in the direction of the meat storage, leaving the PCs free to explore the hatchery. Three black dragon eggs are found and smashed. Ug lets Deyjen go ("he's done his job").

The PCs explore the rest of the caverns. Ug manages to trigger two kobold traps - one in the Drake Nursery and one in the Kobold Barracks, collapsing part of the ceiling on top of Crake and Rosie. There are young drakes lurking in the nursery but they hide behind stalagmites when the PCs take potshots at them from above. The kobolds appear to have all fled from the roper.

Gwastdyn changes into a giant rat to scavenge through the waste pit, attracting the attention of four troglodytes who appear through fissures in the walls. With only 7 hp, he's back in his dwarf form as soon as he's hit by a javelin. The rest of the party cover his retreat, killing one of the trogs with ranged attacks. The other foul-smelling creatures slink away, and the PCs decide to do the same, heading back outside for a long rest.

Pic by @gogmagog
Here's what happened in Saturday night's session of Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Each PC gets 443 xp.

13th Mirtul, 1490 DR

Rosie wakes up in terrible pain after a night of disturbing dreams of torture. Somehow her skin was peeled from her back while she slept and used to cover the sinister Book of Shadows she finds at the bottom of her bed!

When the PCs meet for breakfast, Gwastdyn tells that Leosin has a mission for them, but he needs to stay in Greenest for a day or so and look after the monk. He gives the party a big bag of goodberries to take with them. Leosin arrives and asks the party to return to the cultist camp and discover what their plans are. In particular, they should find out what's in the well-guarded cave. They are to meet Leosin in Elturel to report – if he's not there, they should seek out the paladin Ontharr Frume, a member of the Order of the Gauntlet, at A Pair of Black Antlers, the city's best-known tavern.

The PCs travel back across the Greenfields to the raiders' camp. As they approach, it's clear that the majority of the cultists have left. Climbing one of the guard towers, Turin and Rosie spot a couple of hunters who are skinning an antelope. The party talk to them for a few minutes and learn that some of the cult leaders and kobolds are still in the cave. Rosie uses friends to persuade the woman to take them up to the cave, but the spell wears off before they can get inside, and the hunter stomps off angrily.

Rosie casts invisibility and goes ahead, followed Turin, then the other two. Unfortunately, the bard walks straight into an ambush by two dragonclaw cultists and goes unconscious in the first round of combat. The warlock brings him back round with a goodberry, and the PCs are able to kill the dragonclaws. After searching the area where the two attackers appeared from and  finding nothing of interest, they head further into the complex.

In the fungus garden, Turin and Rosie are attacked by violet fungi – the warlock experiences hallucinations of a monkey stealing her Book of Shadows and running off with it. While she chases it up a large stalagmite, the others destroy the dangerous plant creatures with ranged attacks from the top of the steps.



The cave beyond is full of hundreds of bats which Ug disturbs with his clanking and stomping. As the bats fly around, filling the cavern with their squeaking and flapping, a swarm of stirges take advantage of the confusion and attack the adventurers. Crake, Rosie and Turin all have a stirge latch on to them, but Ug ends up with three attached. The paladin loses a lot of blood before the party can help him dispose of the nasty little creatures.

With everyone low on hit points and most of the goodberries eaten, the PCs decide they need a short rest. Returning to the entrance cave, they sit down in the "dead end" they found before and Turin gets out his lute to play a restful tune. Sadly, his strumming attracts a group of cultists who come through the hidden passage from their barracks and attack the party. The PCs are able to defeat them, but decide not to push their luck, retreating to the empty huts outside to rest without being disturbed again.

When the PCs return to the cave shortly afterwards, they find the entrance occupied by a vicious guard drake and two urds (winged kobolds) who annoy the party by dropping rocks on their heads from aloft. Once these foes have been dealt with, the adventurers push on to the barracks where run into yet more cultists. Three of them dash out of the exit to the east, while the others step up to attack. After these too have been vanquished, Turin checks out the almost empty treasure vault to the west, killing a snoring, drunken cultist in cold blood.



From here, the PCs press on, advancing into Frulam Mondath's quarters where the three cultists who ran off await with the Wearer of Purple herself. The evil cult leader is surrounded by ghostly red demons and hangs back to cast spiritual weapon, leaving her lackeys to engage the party in melee. The PCs battle past these minions – Crake perhaps wishes he hadn't when he falls foul of the infernal spirit guardians protecting Mondath and drops unconscious. Fortunately Rosie has one last goodberry and is able to bring him round. Ug moves in to attack Frulam with his fearsome war cry "Feel my slash!" but the cultist has had enough, jumping through a hidden opening in the floor. The half-orc runs after her, but thinks better of it when he hears Cyanwrath's voice and remembers he is very badly injured.

With their enemies on the run but still very much alive, and our heroes out of spells and low on hit points, they decide to withdraw to the nearest guard tower for a long rest.
Here’s what happened in last night’s game. Each PC gets 500 xp, enough to reach 3rd level.

11th Mirtul, 1490 DR

An hour before dawn, the PCs hear cries coming from the battlements of the keep. The raiders appear to be getting ready to leave, but a fearsome blue-scaled half-dragon has approached the keep. This is Langdedrosa Cyanwrath. Surrounded by his kobold honour guard, he calls for Greenest’s champion to come forth and face him in single combat. In exchange, he will release four pitiful prisoners – a woman and her three children. Ug is, of course, eager to fight the half-dragon and marches out of the keep right away; the rest of the PCs follow at a safe distance. Cyanwrath is true to his word, releasing the two youngest children before the start of the fight, while his kobolds hold knives to the throats of the other two captives to ensure fair play from the adventurers.

The battle begins. Unfortunately, the half-dragon is fastest, breathing a line of lightning at the paladin which he can only partly dodge. Then, Ug closes to melee and strikes the half-dragon with his axe. Cyanwrath slashes twice in return, reducing the half-orc to below 0 hp, but his relentless endurance allows him to stay on his feet. Ug lands a critical hit on the evil warrior, but then falls to the half-dragon’s sword. Cyanwrath strides into the darkness, as the kobolds release the other two prisoners, laughing at the paladin’s fate. Gwastdyn rushes to Ug’s aid and heals him.

With the raid finally over, the PCs have a few drinks and collapse into bed, exhausted. Gwastdyn is completely out for the count so Rosie takes the opportunity to shave off the dwarf’s eyebrows and moustache while he snores away.

In the early afternoon, the PCs are woken up by a knock on the door. Governor Nighthill has come to ask them to follow the raiders to their camp and bring back information on their leaders, numbers and intentions, offering them 250 gp each (!) from the town treasury. He tells the party that an injured monk is also waiting to speak to them in the courtyard. Gwastdyn refuses to get up, so the others go and talk to the monk alone. The lisping young fellow introduces himself as Nesim Waladra and explains that his master, Leosin Erlanthar, has been captured by the raiders. Leosin, a member of the Harpers, had been trying to find out as much as possible about the dragon cult in the library at Candlekeep and had come to Greenest to spy on them. When the others tell Gwastdyn this, he is keen to get going straight away – Leosin is an old friend who once saved his life.

The PCs travel across the Greenfields, following the numerous tracks of the cultists. After a few hours, the gently rolling hills give way to rugged terrain as the trail winds between steep-sided rocky plateaus. Up ahead, the party spot a thin column of smoke from a campfire. As they get closer they can hear the sound of raised voices – a group of raiders are arguing over the best way to cook prairie hens. Ug rushes up the slope to get a better view, with the others close behind. The PCs are able to attack the four humans and eight kobolds with surprise, defeating them easily. Two of the kobolds run away but Gwastdyn chases after them in his bear wild shape and kills them before they can warn any of their allies in the main camp.



Crake had knocked one of the humans unconscious so he can be interrogated. Unfortunately, Ug loses patience and smashes the prisoner’s head in before he can tell the PCs anything useful.

Back on the trail, the PCs enter an area where the tracks head through a narrow gap between two rocky outcrops. Suspicious, the party manage to spot a group of cultists lying in wait in the rocks above the path before they attack. Turin casts sleep, taking two of the cultists out, and the PCs climb up to the rocks and attack the cultists in melee. Two of the cultists are acolytes and use command to force Crake and Ug to jump back down again, suffering falling damage in the process, but the party are able to make fairly short work of their enemies.

Turin kills one of the sleeping cultists, then the PCs interrogate the other one. Rosie leads the questioning, banging a piton into the cultist’s hand to encourage him to talk. This tactic proves effective and the warlock learns there are actually two half-dragons among the cultists and that the main camp is less than a mile away. After unpinning the cultist's hand, she also learns the five-fingered cult salute (“Praise Tiamat’s glory!”).

After a short rest, the PCs move up to the horseshoe-shaped hollow where the raiders have set up their camp. Gwastdyn wild shapes into a cat and scouts around, identifying the tents of the kobolds, three mercenary groups (the Storm Blades, the Red Suns and the Dark Sails), the cultists, and the command tent. He can hear voices inside the latter speaking in Draconic. He also spots a well-guarded cave and the place where Leosin is tied to a wooden cross. He returns to the others to report.

The adventurers decide to dress in the cultist garb they’d taken from the ambushers, and masquerade as returning raiders with Ug as their prisoner. They make their way past the kobolds without too much trouble and, through talking to several cultists, work out that the truly-dedicated make a three-fingered (rather than five-fingered) salute to Tiamat. Some of the Dark Sails recognise Ug from his duel with Cyanwrath but fall for the PCs’ story that they are taking the half-orc to Frulam Mondath.

Crake suggests causing a distraction to allow them to approach the well-guarded cave without being detected. Turin uses minor illusion to make it sound like the Red Suns are attacking the Dark Sails while Gwastdyn sets fire to one of the Dark Sails’ tents with produce flame. This creates enough of a kerfuffle for the PCs to reach the cave, but the guards on the entrance do not let them in despite Rosie’s persistence. No one is allowed into “the nursery” without permission from Rezmir, the female black half-dragon who is the overall leader of the raiders.

The PCs decide it’s too dangerous to try and get into the command tent and retreat to a cave in the cliff wall to keep watch. When a young messenger returns from the leaders’ tent, they grab hold of him and drag him into their cave for questioning. They learn that Rezmir, Mondath, Cyanwrath and a red-robed human wizard are in the tent, and that the cult are planning to head north in a couple of days with the loot they’ve captured. The PCs tie up their prisoner and wait for dark.

Turin climbs up the cliff wall and secures a rope, while Crake and Rosie take position at the bottom. Meanwhile, Ug and Gwastdyn cut the grateful Leosin free from his bonds and help him down. They hustle back to the others and make their escape. As the last PC reaches the top of the cliff, Leosin’s absence is spotted by the cultists and the alarm is sounded. The heroes hurry away into the night.


12th Mirtul

The PCs arrive back in Greenest with Leosin who has filled them in on everything he knows about the cult. Nesim and the other monks are overjoyed to see their master alive, and Governor Nightfall pays the party their promised 250 gp each, praising their courage and daring.


Pic by Gog Magog

Sea Bitch now on sale

Avast! Looks like Sea Bitch, my new pirate village for Raging Swan Press is now on sale at drivethrurpg.com :)

Sea Bitch Preview

My latest bit of game design - a new pirate village backdrop - is out on 4th June from Raging Swan Press 😃

Read the preview at Raging Swan
Here’s what happened in our first session yesterday.

Each PC earns 400 xp, enough to reach 2nd level.



Introducing Our Heroes

  • Crake Crozier, human rogue, charlatan

  • "Flotsam" Rosie Fleisch, half-elf warlock, pirate (sailor)

  • Gwastdyn Strakeln, shield dwarf druid, outlander

  • Turin Elinast, moon elf bard, entertainer

  • Ug St. John Smith, half-orc paladin of Ilmater, acolyte



10th Mirtul, 1490 DR

After travelling for several days across the Greenfields, guarding the wagon of optimistic merchant Samardag the Hoper, the PCs arrive at the town of Greenest at sundown, only to find it under attack from a dragon. Ug rushes into town to investigate; the others follow, leaving Samardag and his wagon at the side of the road.

Ug charges down the main road, closely followed by Gwastdyn; Rosie, Crake and Turin are more cautious and decide to follow the stream to the south into town. The half-orc and the dwarf soon run into a family being chased by four kobolds. It’s too late to save the woman, but the pair kill the kobolds and rescue her husband and three children. Meanwhile, the other group have encountered a second band of kobolds accompanied by an ambush drake. Turin and Crake go unconscious, leaving it to Rosie to stand alone. Fortunately Crake rolls 20 on her death save and comes round, then Gwastyn and Ug arrive to help. The druid heals Turin, Crake stabs the drake through the head, killing it, and the party are able to defeat the remaining kobolds. They hide in a house with the farmer Cuth Swift and his three children and have a short rest. Cuth tells the PCs they need to try and reach the safety of the keep.

Sneaking though the brush by the stream, the PCs lead Cuth and his kids towards the keep, with Ug carrying the body of Linan. Open ground lies between their position and the castle, so Turin uses his disguise kit to make the children look as much like kobolds as he can while the rest of the party and Cuth pretend to be cultists. The group are challenged by a patrol of raiders but manage to bluff their way past to reach safety. The doors of the keep are barred shut behind them as soon as they are inside.

Governor Nighthill is up on the parapet at the top of the keep and fills the party in on what’s been happening. The governor asks the PCs to open up the old tunnel which runs from the cellar to the stream so it can be used as a secret route in and out of the keep. After some persuasion, he gives them a potion of healing to take with them on their mission, and suggests they try and bring back a prisoner to interrogate. The party are taken down to the cellars by the castellan, Escobert the Red, and given the keys to the tunnel doors. The PCs battle two swarms of rats in the tunnel, then open the grate at the other end. They encounter a group of cultists and kobolds by the banks of the stream, defeating them quickly and taking one of the humans prisoner.

The PCs take their prisoner back to the keep where he is interrogated – Escobert and Ug take it in turns punching him until he tells them all he knows. The party learn that he is a member of the Cult of the Dragon, the raiders are in Greenest to collect loot "for the great hoard that will usher in the reign of the Queen of Dragons”, and they are led by a woman called Frulam Mondath. The dragon flying overhead is an ally but not under her command.

By now it is midnight and the governor sends the adventurers to rescue the townsfolk trapped inside the temple of Chauntea which is under attack from three groups of raiders. The PCs sneak through the bushes alongside the stream to reach the church without being detected, then use the smoke from the fire the cultists have started at the back door to provide concealment as they attack with surprise. Crake picks the lock on the door and the party goes inside. After some shouting they manage to calm down the panicking townsfolk with the help of Eadyan Falconmoon, the priest, and get them through the door to safety before the raiders manage to smash down the front door.

Back in the keep, the governor again asks the PCs for help – this time he wants them to stop the attackers burning down the town mill. This time, the party what kind of payment they can expect in exchange for their services. Governor Nighthill is a bit disappointed but gives them a second potion of healing and promises them a reward when the town is saved. Satisfied our heroes head for the mill but when they get there and see that the building isn’t really on fire, they are suspicious. Rosie scouts ahead and spots a pair of cultists lurking on the upper floor. Deciding it’s a trap, the PCs return to the keep as they can see the dragon is now circling around the tower.



The PCs hurry to the roof and make a few ineffective ranged attacks on the great blue dragon as it swoops in to breathe lightning on the defenders. Luckily, the party are unscathed, but several brave town guards are killed instantly. Rosie – who has experience of firing a ballista from her time as a pirate – shoots at the terrible beast, scoring a critical hit! The dragon decides that it’s not worth tangling with the adventurers and maybe getting wounded again. He flies off, leaving Greenest. Relieved, the adventurers go back downstairs for a much-needed short rest.

Making My First Numenera Character

For the last few weeks, I’ve been reading the Numenera core rulebook. This is one of a number of RPG books I’ve bought in PDF in the last year, often at sale prices from drivethrurpg.com or via Bundles of Holding, and I’m slowly working my way through reading them. I don’t think I’ll get the chance to play or run Numenera any time soon, so thought I’d create a character.

One of the cool concepts behind Numenera is how your descriptor (the adjective that describes your character),  type (character class), and focus (what your character is all about) combine into a sentence like this:

Rafiq is a mystical (descriptor) nano (type) who explores dark places (focus)

So if another player asks you to tell her about your character, you’ve got this sentence to sum him or her up. Very neat.

Each of these three elements gives your character some abilities as you’d expect:

The nano is the Ninth World’s equivalent of a wizard or sorcerer, so Rafiq knows about the numenera – relics of past worlds that can be found while adventuring – and gets to use esoteries – magic-like special abilities that fit in with Numenera’s science fantasy setting. I picked Ward which gives Rafiq +1 armour – handy as I don’t think he’ll be wearing any – and Onslaught which allows him to attack an enemy he can see with either a ray of force or a mental blast.

Being a nano also determines Rafiq’s stats. There are only three in Numenera – Might, Speed and Intellect. Each has a starting value and I get 6 points to divide between them. Rafiq has 9 Might, 11 Speed and 14 Intellect. I also choose a nano connection for Rafiq – he studied at a school infamous for its dark, brooding instructors and graduates. He’s not going to be a jolly soul.

The Mystical descriptor gives Rafiq +2 Intellect, bringing his pool to 16, and gives him another esotery – Hedge Magic – pretty similar to prestidigitation in D&D. He can also sense “magic” around him but his moody, introspective nature makes it hard for him to make friends – tasks involving charming and persuading others are one step harder. Rafiq’s descriptor adds to his background too – I decide a dream has guided me to wherever the first adventure starts.

Each PC's focus is meant be what’s unique about him, so there shouldn’t be another PC who Explores Dark Places in Rafiq’s party. His focus makes Rafiq’s esoteries dark – almost silent, and any visual effects are shadowy. Cool. He’s trained in climbing, balancing and jumping, as well as searching and listening, and gets some bonus gear including an explorer’s pack. Handy for anyone who likes poking around in dangerous ancient ruins. I need to choose another PC as a former adventuring partner and Rafiq will get +1 to die rolls when the two of them collaborate on a task or attack the same foe.



Rafiq is obviously going to wear a black, hooded cloak over dark clothes; I choose a rapier as his weapon. He also gets three cyphers and two oddities from his type and descriptor. Cyphers are very cool one-use items, bits of ancient tech that can be found in ruins and other locales throughout the Ninth World. Rafiq can only bear three of them at any one time – the game activley encourages players to use these, rather than hoarding them.

Rafiq has a psychic communique (a metallic disk on his forehead which allows him to send a one off, one way telepathic message of up to ten words to anyone he knows), a temporal viewer (a wristband which shows, in sounds and images, events that took place at the current location up to a year ago), and a visual displacement device (a belt which projects holographic images to confuse attackers).

Oddities are like 5e’s trinkets, interesting little items that don’t have game effects. Rafiq has a lightning bug in a glass globe and a rose made of nigh-indestructible glass. Maybe he’ll find a use for these items on his adventures, or will be able to trade them with someone?

And that’s it. Character creation was fun and straightforward, and I’ve ended up with an interesting PC with some nice background elements to think about and a handful of cool abilities and one-shot items to use in the game. I've still not got my head round Numenera's rules system, but making a character has certainly got me excited about the game.

So, when do I get to play him? ;)

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Village Backdrop: Red Talon

It's not a Parsantium book, but if you like my stuff, why not check out Village Backdrop: Red Talon, the pirate village I wrote for Raging Swan Press?

Village Backdrop: Red Talon

Here's the blurb:

Huddled in a sheltered cove at the base of lofty cliffs, the tiny village of Red Talon is inaccessible by land for all but the best climbers. Its folk are insular and vague rumours lay cannibalism and devil‐worship at their door—with good reason. Founded by the vicious pirate captain Hagruk Stormrider Red Talon hides a vicious, depraved cult dedicated to the unholy, cannibalistic worship of the little-known Ukre’kon’ala.

Adventurers often come to Red Talon—not to battle the hidden cult—but for the pirate booty said to lie in the waters just off the coast. Twenty years ago, Hagruk and his entire crew went down with his ship and now rumours of glittering treasure yet lying among the wreck of his galleon bring many to the village. Few leave… Village Backdrops are short, richly detailed supplements that each present a single village ready to insert into almost any home campaign. Perfect for use as a waystop on the road to adventure, as an adventure site themselves or as a PC’s home, Village Backdrop present the details so the busy GM can focus on crafting exciting, compelling adventures.

You can also read an extract at Raging Swan's site.
Here's what happened in last night's final session of the Ongoing Adventures of the Juma Gang. Each PC gets enough xp to reach level 21 and the epic tier.

The Juma Associates climb the ancient paved road towards the ring of stone pillars. Hrothgar checks his map of unseen lands: ahead is the vast snow-covered peak where Vrishabha lies trapped in the ice, waiting to be freed. A great stone arch crosses the road, guarded by three rakshasas. Hrothgar charges in, followed by the others, and they are quickly dispatched.

From here, the road leads steeply upwards to a large round stone platform about a hundred feet in diameter. Nine great rock pillars, over 40 feet high and irregularly-shaped surround the platform, forming a circle of stone. Within the ring of pillars are eleven rakshasas – some have the heads of tigers and other great cats, others are foxes or vultures – and Gyeltsen, a yakfolk sorcerer.

These rakshasas are led by Avishandu (the Fourth Tribune and Boss of All Bosses); also present is the infamous Heinsoo, Aurius Kalothese (Tribune of the Imperial Quarter) and Mardinuya (once the deva Samael who discovered that Srivatsa’s Bow and the Arrows of Hanuman could be used to free Vrishabha).

Avishandu mocks the Juma Associates for their naivety and stupidity: “Before we kill you, I’d like to thank you for freeing so many of our servants from the curse that trapped them in bovine form. You really have made things so much easier for us. Now, prepare to die in agony.” Hrothgar responds with a bloodthirsty threat of his own and battle is joined!

Heinsoo shoots Hrothgar with his poisoned crossbow, then Juma is bloodied by a hail of arrows from the rakshasa warriors standing between the pillars. Gil takes down two of these archers with magic missile, then brave Juma charges in, only to go down from multiple sword attacks from Mardinuya and Aurius. Hrothgar also charges the rakshasas, despite being slowed by the poison, and Jenma attacks an archer with acid orb, while Ulthar moves forward to heal Juma. Unfortunately, Avishandu’s misleading visions send him reeling backwards and the Urskovian warlord’s carefully planned tactical sequence is in tatters. He does manage to heal the genasi but not much – Aurius’ deadly aura of doom prevents healing magic from functioning at full strength.

IMG_6230

Vashnawi and Gil kill two more warriors, but now Hrothgar is in trouble, falling unconscious to attacks from Mardinuya, Heinsoo and Aurius. Marduniya’s cloying words dominate Ulthar but fortunately Jenma is on hand to slap the warlord in the face and snap him out of it. Still bloodied, dazed and prone, Juma teleports away from the rakshasas; he’s hit by Gyeltsen’s withering staff and weakened. Wisely, he decides to use his mask of the impish grin to hide.

As Ulthar goes to heal himself, the dagger with a gold dragon’s head hilt he’s been wearing on his belt for months, transforms into its true form – that of a snake-like raktavarna rakshasa – and bites him in the leg. The nasty creature’s mindbite again throws his plans into disarray and he growls in frustration, before pulling himself together and smashing the raktavarna to a pulp with his great axe. Meanwhile, a dao blademaster appears from the stone, summoned by the yakman, and attacks Vashnawi. The pair continue to fight each other at the edge of the stone platform for the rest of the encounter.

Jenma is pulled towards Aurius with his phantom lure and attacked, but the dragonborn turns one of the rakshasa’s sword blows back on him with chaos echoes. Gil casts ice storm to create his signature zone of icy terrain around the rakshasas, then follows up with furious immolation on the following round to burn Aurius, Mardinuya and Gyeltsen. “Bring me my great axe” rings out in the mountain air, and Hrothgar is healed as Heinsoo steals the escalation die with reversal of fate. The gnoll enters the hydra rage, his axe darting and biting like the hydra’s many heads as he attacks the rakshasas.

IMG_6229

Aurius has been bloodied but Juma unbloodies him when he rolls his gambler’s die. Then, Mardinuya bloodies Jenma, allowing her to strike back with aspect of the dragon. At the end of the round, Ulthar attacks four opponents in turn with path of storm, killing Avishandu and Aurius. Gil turns to stone after being hit with Gyeltsen’s diamond bonds, while Juma is tricked into attacking an illusionary duplicate instead of the real Heinsoo. Hrothgar falls unconscious and is dying again. Jenma slays Mardinuya with twin bolt.

Ulthar heals everyone, rallying them to his warlord’s banner and grabs the Arrows and Bow from the stone altar. Next, he unleashes his warmaster’s assault and Hrothgar and Juma charge Heinsoo as the Urskovian takes down Gyeltsen. With her master slain, the dao vanishes.

Only Heinsoo is left standing, but not for long as Hrothgar uses his final confrontation to slain the party’s arch-nemesis.

With the rakshasas vanquished, Vashnawi leads the PCs in an hour long ritual to destroy the Arrows and Bow. As they sustain their om chants, dark storm clouds gather overhead. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning flashes down, striking the altar and blowing the two weapons into smithereens!



Epilogue

Now the final adventure of the Juma Associates is over, our heroes go their separate ways.

Gil returns to Forathin to his father Paelias, in the hopes that his magical knowledge and prowess will at last impress him.

Hrothgar travels to the Great Grass Sea in search of a legendary totem which will unite the gnoll packs of the steppes under his rulership as Khan of All Gnolls. A confrontation with Urgedai the Kinslayer seems inevitable.

Jenma tracks down her sister Sora and persuades the paladin to go on a new adventure with her.

Juma steals the secret formula for Parsantine Fire but Ulthar persuades him not to give it to Sheikh Babak al-Hasid. As punishment for his failure, Juma is forced to serve as a pleasure slave among the nomads for a year and day.

Ulthar goes into politics with the ambition of becoming the first Urskovian to sit on the Inner Council. The Old Quarter tribune, Murad al-Rumi vouches for him, and Juma helps his comrade’s political campaign behind the scenes with a few dirty tricks.


Pics by Gog Magog
Here's what happened in Sunday's game – the penultimate session in the campaign. Each PC gets enough xp to reach 20th level.

11th December (contd)

With trepidation, the Juma Associates enter the fiery temple of Imix beneath the ground floor of the Mosque of Blistering Atonement. Here, they are confronted by Simsek (fire genasi Chosen of Imix), Dhalal (efreeti flamestrider), a conflagration orb and four azer. The Chosen urges Jh'od to side with the Eternal Flame. When this is ignored, he summons harginn (fire) grues in front and behind the party, which burn the PCs standing next to them.

Ulthar manoeuvres around the back to get into a flanking position while Hrothgar charges in, and is quickly surrounded by azer flamewards, taking 97 hp damage in a single round of attacks. Gil teleports on top of a plinth, taking position against a temple wall, while Jh’od casts his thundering vortex on the azer pyromancer and the flying conflagration orb.

The relentless attacks on Hrothgar drop him below 0 hp but uses his deathless frenzy to keep going, then Ulthar heals him before he has to make a death save. Meanwhile, Gil uses the handglyph the party found in the geomancer ruins in Sampur to blast his enemies with thunder and lightning. As the battle rages, he spots another azer sneaking around the fringes of the battle behind the party – only afterwards do the Juma Associates realise this was Heinsoo in disguise, searching for Srivatsa’s Bow.

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Jenma’s azure talons inflict a critical hit on the efreet who is now bloodied, as is the azer pyromancer, but all of the PCs’ enemies are still standing. Then, the Chosen’s fiery orb knocks Gil unconscious; luckily, Ulthar’s martial healing powers bring him round and provide much needed solace to everyone else.

Hrothgar has got the (fire) horn so he blows it, making the genasi, efreet and azers no longer immune to fire damage. He kills the azer pyromancer but is surrounded again and out of surges. Gil is down to 5 hp; he uses his burning transformation to go insubstantial and hopefully take advantage of the horn’s magic to damage Imix’s cultists with his fire spells. Unfortunately, all of them make their saving throws at the first attempt, and are immune or resistant to fire again. Ulthar is bludgeoned unconscious by the efreet; Gil stabilises him, but with only one enemy down, the PCs decide they need to flee for their lives.

The Juma Associates make a run for it as efreeti and fire archon patrols close in. Gil is struck by a flying scimitar from an efreet and also goes unconscious but Jh’od grabs hold of him and they carry on running. Managing to reach the golden-feathered roc they spotted before they entered the Mosque, Jenma intimidates its firenewt handler into letting them climb on the giant bird so they can fly to safety.

As the huge bird takes to the air, ballistas are fired from the towers of the Furnace – one strikes the firenewt, killing him instantly, but the great roc flies on to the Bazaar of Beggars. Here, Gil is revived by Hrothgar with a healing potion; the mage casts the Planar Portal ritual to bring the PCs back, beaten and bruised, to Vashnawi’s tower in Parsantium’s university.

While Hrothgar and Gil collapse exhausted next to the unconscious Ulthar, Jenma and Jh’od go to find Vashnawi in her bedchamber. The naga is tossing and turning in her sleep and babbling in tongues, clearly having terrible nightmares. When the PCs wake her up and explain what’s happened; she relates her vision: the rakshasas and yak-folk had the Arrows and the Bow and were performing the ritual to curse both holy items so they can be used to free Vrishabha from the ice. There is no time to waste: the party must come with her to the Vale of Descending Stars in the Pillars of Heaven Mountains, stop the ritual and destroy the weapons.

Reluctantly, the naga agrees that the Juma Associates need a full rest before she teleports the party to the mountains.


12th December

In the morning, Vashnawi opens a portal to the Vale of Descending Stars, teleporting herself and the Juma Associates. They arrive in the middle of an ancient ruined town, high in the mountains. Strangely the air is warm and the lush foliage more like that found in the jungle.

The PCs don't have much time to take in their surroundings as they are ambushed by rakshasa archers and yak-folk sorcerers hiding in the ruined buildings who rain down ghost arrows and cast evil spells of Visions of Things that Should Not Be on the party.

Gil casts stormstone fury to attack the archers on the balcony, while Ulthar smashes down the door to one of the buildings and charges in to engage a yak-folk sorcerer. The yikaria withers the warlord's arm with his necrotic staff but the weakened Urskovian manages to kill him with help from Hrothgar. Meanwhile Juma attacks the other sorcerer while the spellcasters and Vashnawi dive for cover – Gil and the naga duck behind a crumbling wall, Jenma runs into the trees.

Hrothgar charges the second yak-man, teaming up with Juma; the gnoll slays his shaggy opponent, but not before both he and Juma are also weakened by necrotic damage. Juma is actually bloodied for one of the few times in his entire adventuring career! Ulthar heals the wounded, dons his shadowform cloak and flies towards the balcony.

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Jenma and Gil kill one rakshasa with their spells; then Vashnawi kills a second after its true location is revealed. Ulthar lands on the balcony, joined by Hrothgar, who finishes off the last one. As the bodies of the rakshasas dissolve, the Juma Associates realise that these are just three of the forty-nine they freed from their imprisonment as cows.

A worn, paved road leads up the mountain....
Here’s what happened in last night’s game. Each PC gets 6,000 xp, so you’re all still 19th level.


11th December (contd)

Now inside the Furnace, the Juma Associates race through the streets to the Mosque of Blistering Atonement. As they hurry along, evading archon and efreeti patrols, Hrothgar and Gil spot a huge golden-feathered roc, hooded and tied to a stone pillar, attended by a solitary decrepit-looking firenewt. Perhaps the giant bird could provide a means of escape later?

The PCs approach the nightmarish-looking mosque, its walls made of black basalt and its domes sheathed in corroded green copper. Entering through the great brass doors, the party surprise the occupants: three fire giants and a fire titan. At first, the battle goes our heroes’ way – Gil casts ice storm in the centre of the temple, immobilising Olostro, the priest of Imix, and slowing the other giants while the others gang up on one of the fire giants. Hrothgar charges, Ulthar unleashes his hail of steel and Jenma finishes the giant off with acid orb.

Then, Olostro activates the crystal idol of Imix, trapping Hrothgar inside – his fur starts to sizzle and burn. Hrothgar tries to smash his way out, to no avail. The other PCs attack the second fire giant warrior, but before he can be taken down, he retreats to the mirhab to use its healing magic. Ulthar throws an axe at him and Gil casts magic missile but the giant is able to make it there on 1 hp and heal some of his wounds. He’s still bloodied, though, and Jenma is able to kill him with another acid orb. Gil’s next magic missile takes down the priest who has been clobbering Jh’od and shoving him into the blistering pillar.

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Meanwhile, Hrothgar is still trapped inside the crystal idol, trying to smash his way out. Ulthar arrives to free him but realises he doesn’t have the necessary arcane knowledge. Jenma tries to help rescue the gnoll too but also fails; Hrothgar finally escapes of his own accord and charges the titan.

Ulthar uses his warlord’s banner to rally and heal the party before unleashing his war master’s assault, giving everyone a basic attack against the fire titan. But the Urskovian is down to 21 hp and he falls unconscious when the huge giant hurls fire at him. With the rest of the party ganging up on the titan, it doesn’t last long, and the Juma Associates are able to revive Ulthar so he is conscious on 1 hp.

Ulthar and Gil swap magic boots so that the warlord is able to sneak around like an elf, hopefully avoiding taking any damage, and the PCs explore the rooms leading off from the main hall of the mosque. There they find several potions of cure critical wounds which Ulthar swigs down enthusiatically, as well as a magical fire horn.

Low on surges and daily powers, the Juma Associates have no alternative but to head downstairs in search of Srivatsa’s Bow. Ahead is a fiery temple where a fire genasi priest of Imix and his azer and efreeti acolytes await the party....
 

Books Read 2014

Pleased to have read 50 books last year! Quite a few graphic novels, and lots of D&D too. I haven't included the excellent 5e Player's Handbook and Monster Manual because I didn't read them cover to cover. Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb was a re-read – for some reason I didn't like it very much when I first read it over 10 years ago but loved it on the second go-round. I'm currently enjoying The Golden Fool, second in the series.

1. A Drink with Shane Macgowan by Victoria Mary Clarke and Shane Macgowan
2. Be Awesome at Freelance Game Design by Creighton Broadhurst
3. The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
4. Dead Simple by Peter James
5. The Racing Factions by Robert Fabbri
6. Of Dice and Men by David M Ewalt
7. Arrows of Indra by RPGPundit
8. Dark Fey by Adam W. Roy (Pathfinder)
9. Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
10. Cold Granite by Stuart Macbride
11. Tell No One by Harlan Coben
12. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1910 by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill
13. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969 by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill
14. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009 by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill
15. Midgard Tales (Pathfinder adventures)
16. Ruined Kingdoms by Steve Kurtz (Al-Qadim)
17. The Body in the Mithraeum by M E Mayer
18. Wolfsangel by M D Lachlan
19. Inferno by Dan Brown
20. Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle (D&D Next adventure)
21. Murder in Baldur's Gate (D&D Next adventure)
22. Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novik
23. Fey Revisited (Pathfinder)
24. The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin
25. Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
26. The Spirit in the Spice Groves by Donna K Fitch (d20 adventure)
27. The Mahabharata by R K Narayan
28. Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb
29. Personal by Lee Child
30. Witch Doctor Vol.1 Under the Knife by Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner
31. The Fallen Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
32. Not Dead Yet by Peter James
33. Shadows of Eldolan by Cal Moore (13th Age adventure)
34. A Tap on the Window by Linwood Barclay
35. Designers and Dragons: the 70s by Shannon Appelcline
36. Not a Drill by Lee Child
37. The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
38. Hoard of the Dragon Queen by Steve Winter and Wolfgang Baur (D&D 5e adventure)
39. Want You Dead by Peter James
40. Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
41. Saga Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
42. Saga Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
43. Saga Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
44. Scourge of the Sword Coast (D&D Next adventure)
45. Age of Shiva by James Lovegrove
46. Mouse Guard: The Black Axe by David Petersen
47. Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb
48. The Rise of Tiamat by Steve Winter (D&D 5e adventure)
49. Looking Good Dead by Peter James
50. Dungeon Master’s Guide (D&D 5e)

Tags:

Here’s what happened in last night’s game in the City of Brass. Each PC gets 12,000 xp, half way to 20th level, and can also recover one healing surge for making it inside the Furnace.

Jenma needs one more encounter to end her death penalty; Hrothgar needs another one to recover from his depression and be able to rage normally again.


11th December (contd)

Gil buys arcane reagents for rituals. Jenma hires a courier to take a message to Shah Abdul-Azim Abassi, asking for a meeting at the Burnished Coffee Pot in the Plume district. When the azer messenger returns, the efreeti noble’s reply is “tell the bitch to come to my house”. The Juma Associates cross the fiery Riqaq Canal and head through the Char district. They go past a parade ground where efreet officers are drilling fire archon and salamander troops, before arriving in the wealthy Plume neighbourhood.

Knocking on the door at the Palazzo of the Blue Horse, Jenma and her companions are shown into a large courtyard filled with leafless black serpent trees to see the efreeti shah. Abdul-Azim Abassi welcomes Jenma menacingly, asking her if she’s come to return the genie prison she stole from him and to apologise. Jenma, Ulthar and Gil bow deeply, heads to the floor; Hrothgar and Jh’od just stand there, confused. Jenma uses flattery to win over the efreeti, and with support from Ulthar, convinces him to tell the PCs where they can find Srivatsa’s Bow in return for the stolen genie bottle. The party must retrieve the Bow from the treasure vaults of the Chosen of Imix, beneath the Mosque of Blistering Atonement, in the Furnace district.

As the Juma Associates leave the palazzo, the great brass gong sounds, marking the start of the nightly curfew when non-efreeti must be off the city streets. The heroes attempt to avoid trouble by moving quickly through the estates of the noble efreets, running through garden and leaping over walls. Hrothgar and Jh’od lead the way but Gil isn’t that athletic and they are spotted by a fire archon patrol. Luckily, they make a run for it and are able to escape. The PCs cross into the Char without trouble and make it past the parade ground. As they approach the Phoenix Gate, they encounter another archon patrol but again manage to give it the slip.

Reaching the great gates into the Furnace, the Juma Associates discuss their strategy in an alleyway: the burning hot gates are guarded by two efreets, three salamander archers and five hell hounds. Unfortunately, they spend far too long in one place and a third fire archon patrol spots them. This time they can’t get away and a battle ensues. The archons are troublesome opponents, creating clouds of cinders that obscure vision and scorch the PCs. Hrothgar takes down the first one when Ulthar unleashes his hail of steel; Gil’s magic missiles finish off the last two.

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Returning to the gate, the PCs drink their elixirs of flying and land on the roof of a nearby building. Ulthar is left behind though, and is surrounded by the hell hounds. He activates his cloak of the shadowform and flies after the others, landing on the top of the dome ahead of them. This attracts the attention of the archers who shoot him twice each; the warlord uses his phoenix sash to stay on his feet. For the first time ever, Gil heals Ulthar, then summons a stormstone fury on the top of the walls to battle the salamanders. He decides not to spend an action to control it, so it attacks of its own accord, which does thunder damage to the eladrin and knocks him over each round. The two efreets throw their flying scimitars at Hrothgar and Jh’od, then fly in to attack the party in melee. After the fighters and Jenma have done plenty of damage to the first efreet with their weapons and spells, Gil pings it with magic missile, killing it, obv. Jh’od shoves the second efreet off the roof, where it lands on top of the hell hounds, squashing three of them.

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Meanwhile, Ulthar has flown over to the salamanders and landed on the burning hot ramparts. Dropping his insubstantiality, he kills one of the salamanders. Then, Hrothgar leaps down from the roof on top of the fallen efreet, slaying him. The two surviving hell hounds have fled, leaving a pair of salamanders for the PCs to finish off. Once these too have perished, the Juma Associates fly down to the other side of the gates and catch their breath. They are inside the Furnace!


Pics by Andy
Here’s what happened in last night’s game in which there is a tragic death, and the truth about Hrothgar is finally revealed. Each PC gets enough xp to bring them to 19th level.

30th November
The Juma Associates arrive back in Kishkindha with the geomancer sorceress’ head and a plan to come clean with King Narinda and tell him why they need the Arrows of Hanuman. If that doesn’t work, they will use the code word “diamond” and Juma will steal the arrows from the treasury. Unfortunately, when they get there, it turns out the arrows have been stolen already and the PCs’ guide Balachandra is the prime suspect. The party rush in to see the angry vanaran king who demands to know where Balachandra is and why a letter addressed to the Juma Associates was left in his treasury in place of the arrows!

Jenma eagerly grabs the note and reads it aloud, falling victim to the shadowflesh curse embedded in the writing. The dragonborn is wracked with hideous pain as her flesh warps, stretches and twists, infused with a spark of horrible, unnatural life force. She collapses to the floor, dead.

The note is a mocking message from “H”, which Ulthar guesses must be the infamous Heinsoo, a rakshasa agent of the Rajah Vrishabha. It is clear the Juma Associates have been very naive! Jenma’s body is taken away to the temple of Hanuman to be raised from the dead by the wizened high priestess, Sunazara. King Narinda tells the Juma Associates they must leave as soon as she is returned to life and bring back the arrows. Gil says the party will do their best.

7th December
The party arrive back in the village of Madhwa. Jenma is alive but has a death penalty until she reaches three milestones. Most of the PCs get a good night’s sleep in the Nutmeg Inn, but Hrothgar continues to be troubled by recurring nightmares of violence and slaughter.

8th December
Heading downriver on Pradnesh’s kettuvallam, the PCs arrive at the tributary leading to the lair of the notorious catoblepas. The Juma Associates board a small boat and row through the shallow, stagnant water for a couple of miles, coming into a dingy swamp full of diseased plant life. When their boat gets stuck, they climb out and continue through the bog on foot to the monster’s lair. Hrothgar charges in to attack the strange-looking beast, backed by the rest of the party. Gil casts mass resistance to poison on everyone which makes the catoblepas’ normally deadly breath much less effective and the creature is bloodied in the first round. Crying out “for Mormekar!”, Hrothgar enters the rage of the oak hammer, striking first with a critical hit, follow by a terrible rage strike which slays the beast.

Killing the catoblepas wins the death god’s favour, freeing Hrothgar from the demonic spirit that has possessed him for so long. The demon leaves the gnoll’s body, screeching in frustration, and Hrothgar slumps to the floor, sobbing as the terrible realisation hits him that he killed his own pack. Ulthar consoles him, encouraging him “to let it all out”. Searching the amongst the matted reeds and human and crocodile skulls in the lair, the others find treasure: 12,000 gp and a +4 earthbreaker parashu.

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10th December
The PCs arrive back in the port city of Surivata. Hrothgar is still very low – for now, with the anger and hatred of the demon no longer spurring him on, he needs to make a saving throw to rage.

Gil casts linked portal and the Juma Associates teleport back to Vashnawi’s tower to report.  The naga is horrified to learn that Heinsoo now has the arrows, and she urges the PCs to set off for the City of Brass without delay.

11th December
Gil makes a brief shopping expedition to the Victory Ward’s magic district to buy ritual scrolls, components and, of course, whetstones, then the PCs step into Vashnawi’s teleportation circle and are transported to the Elemental Plane of Fire. Juma becomes Jh’od before he teleports so he will blend in.

The planar portal bring the PCs into the middle of a great square, guarded by fire archons. They are in the centre of the Bazaar of Beggars which lies a few miles outside the Diamond Gate to the City of Brass. It is swelteringly hot, the sky is a dull red, and the imposing walls and shining brass domes of the fabled city can be seen in the distance.

City_of_Brass_by_Eric_Deschamps-D&D_4ed_(2008-12)_WOTC-Manual_of_the_Planes

Gil and Hrothgar need protection against the heat of the Elemental Plane of Fire, so the PCs visit Axam’s Forge to buy brazen amulets for 4,000 gp each from the azer smith. They still have geomancer magic items to identify, so their second stop is the tent of Burgundy Rose, a cheitan (half-efreeti) sage, who is able to tell the PCs their powers for a fee.

Knowing they are in a race against Heinsoo, the PCs decide not to join the slow-moving, miles long queue to enter the city. Instead, they approach one of the gargantuan tusk lords and pay 15,000 gp to bypass the queue. Ulthar does a fairly convincing impression of the catoblepas’ cry in the hopes that this will get them a discount but to no avail. As they approach the city on the back of the colossal elephant, Gil casts Sezrakan’s deceitful sensor to foil scrying for 12 hours.

At the Diamond Gate, the PCs join a far shorter queue. As they wait in line, a group of fire giants stride up, shoving past anyone in their way. Only Jh’od holds his ground – the other PCs step aside – and gets clobbered by a giant as they jump the queue.

Finally inside the city, a dishevelled, blind mystic grabs Ulthar’s arm, warning him that his “weapon will betray him”. The Juma Associates make their way to the district of Iskalat where they rent overpriced rooms at Razi’s Rest where Jenma has stayed before. From here, they travel to the Bazaar of Arcana in Pyraculum’s City Market and visit Hansiq’s Library. While Gil peruses the extensive range of rituals, Ulthar asks the djinni owner if he knows of Srivatsa’ Bow – he hasn’t. It looks like Jenma will have to brave the wrath of Shah Abdul-Azim Abassi and offer the efreeti noble her apologies and the stolen genie prison in exchange for information about the bow’s location....

Confused GM Crib Sheet

I've been getting a bit confused recently remembering how things like opportunity attacks and shooting into melee work in the different D&D editions. I'm currently playing Pathfinder on Monday nights, finishing up my long-running 4e Parsantium campaign and DMing two groups through Lost Mine of Phandelver. I also plan to run some more 13th Age again soon. No wonder I'm getting things muddled up!

To try and dispel some of this confusion I made this little crib sheet. It's not intended to be comprehensive but does cover some of the things that are similar but slightly different from edition to edition. Hope some of you find it useful too. Feedback and suggestions welcome!
Here’s what happened in last night’s game. Each PC gets 7,500 xp.


26th November
On the way back from speaking to King Narinda, Gil stops off at a market stall in the central commons of Kishkindha and buys five whetstones of combustion. Praghal the whetstone dealer is sure to be talking about the bonanza the day Gil came to town for many years afterwards.

Back at the Heron and Lotus, the PCs speak to Zakti, the only vanara to survive from the scouting party that ran afoul of the sorceress, Shareshka, Sunderer of Dreams. He tells them what he knows about the geomancer and limps off. Juma explains that as an earthsoul genasi, Shareshka will get her power from contact with the earth, so the PCs come up with the idea of lifting her into the air. They return to the market and purchase an elixir of flying each, making Sajjana the elixir seller as happy as Praghal.

27th November
Jenma recovers from jungle fever, but Gil is still at stage 1. The Juma Associates head off through the jungle to the ruins of Udnagiri.

28th November
Gil finally recovers from jungle fever. The party arrive at the ruins, coming to an open plaza where they are attacked by stone thralls – ogres marked with strange glowing geomancer tattoos. Fortunately Hrothgar spots the lurking ogres, foiling their ambush, and the PCs charge into battle. The ogres do a lot of damage with their mauls: Juma and Ulthar are bloodied first, then Jenma is pounded into the ground with a crushing smash. Juma turns the tide, killing the first thrall, then Ulthar’s hail of steel kills the second with lethal damage coming from the warlord’s greataxe, Gil’s magic missile and Jenma’s acid orb. Hrothgar kills the third ogre, then the PCs surround the last one and Gil finishes it off with a precision-targeted scorching burst.

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Climbing the broken stone steps, the Juma Associates can see the ruined temple of Kubera through the trees. Deciding that stealth is the best option, Juma sneaks around the side while the others creep through the foliage straight ahead. The genasi spots three earth archons and a huge earth titan at the temple entrance – using his mask of the impish grin to make himself invisible to them, he moves in closer. Meanwhile, Jenma and Ulthar don’t manage to be very stealthy, but the PCs are nonetheless able to get the drop on the monsters.

Gil and Jenma attack first – Gil’s ice storm is very effective in keeping the earth archons pinned down at the entrance and he follows it up with frostburn. Shareshka appears and casts Abi Dalzim's horrid wilting on Ulthar but the warlord resists and only takes half damage. Hrothgar drinks his elixir of flying and charges the mighty earth titan with support from Ulthar and Gil. Jenma is buried alive by Shareshka but manages to pull herself out of the ground. Juma moves in to attack the archons and sorceress, triggering a rba’ symbol of warding as he passes into the courtyard. Jenma and Gil (now transformed into a pillar of fire) finish off the hapless archons as the bloodied Juma flies after Shareshka, triggering the symbol for a second time.

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Hrothgar takes down the earth titan and now all the PCs move in to attack the geomancer. Unfortunately flying over the wall into the courtyard does not protect Hrothgar and Ulthar from the warding symbol. Nonetheless, with the whole Juma Gang attacking her, Shareshka does not survive for long – Gil delivers the killing blow yet again. Sadly, the party didn’t get a chance to implement their plan to lift her off the ground while flying.

After a short rest, the PCs search the sorceress’ body, finding her +4 greater talisman of repulsion, and also recover several interesting geomancer artefacts from her campsite in the temple.
Here’s what happened in last night’s game. Each PC gets 7,500 xp.

21st November (contd.)
After their battle with the girallon, the PCs continue their hot, tiring trek through the jungle. Hrothgar spots some of the yellow jungle geraniums said to help cure jungle fever growing in a tall tree; Balachandra scampers up to get them. The PCs stop for the night and are perplexed by strange glowing lights bobbing around and tinkling near their campfire. No harm comes to them though.

22nd November
Jenma feels better: eating the jungle geraniums has brought her jungle fever down to stage 1, but Gil is still at stage 2.  During the day’s travel, Juma climbs a “ladder” of large, flat, woody mushrooms spiralling up a large tree. At the top he finds a skeleton overgrown with plants and manages to pocket a pair of tiger agate gems without the rest of the party noticing. That night, Ulthar and Gil are disturbed when a huge swarm of bats flies though the camp. Hrothgar spots three large pairs of eyes watching the party but when he goes to investigate, they’ve gone. Balachandra can’t explain the bats’ strange behaviour but suggests that the eyes might belong to man-eating tigers, and points out the party are now in jungle giant territory.

23rd November
It turns out Balachandra is right: as the PCs strike camp, they are approached by an 18’ tall female giant accompanied by three giant tigers. Jenma talks to her, using her helm of languages to translate what the giant is saying. She introduces herself as Kadufi, and explains that she and her two sisters are overjoyed at the PCs’ arrival. She offers the party ten valuable tusks of ivory if they will pose as models for the sisters – they love creating topiary and think the Juma Associates would make great subjects.

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Kadufi is joined by Wadufi and Padufi, her two sisters – the youngest, Padufi, is particularly taken with Ulthar, bending and twisting his limbs painfully into suitable poses until he shoves her off. Willing to go along with the giants’ suggestion for a while, the party follow the sisters to their nearby stockade, a large wooden structure with 50’ high walls surrounded by the topiary the giants have created. Kadufi’s sculptures are terrible but the giant is oblivious to this. Reluctant to offend her, the PCs compliment her creativity. Wadufi’s sculptures are just as bad, but Padufi’s are the work of a real talent. After showing off the topiary, the giants head into their stockade to prepare lunch.  The Juma Associates aren’t keen on following them inside so Jenma tells Padufi they would like to get started on the modelling straight away. At this time, they notice that Balachandra seems to have disappeared.

Padufi jerks and twists the PCs around into the poses she wants and starts clipping away at some nearby bushes. By this time, the PCs patience has run out and Gil summons a stormstone fury to attack the giant. Her sisters and their tigers soon arrive on the scene and a big battle ensues. The PCs dispose of the three giant tigers swiftly but the giants are tougher opponents, capable of inflicting grievous wounds with their khandas and arrows. To make matters worse, the giant wasps nesting in the stockade fly in to defend their mistresses – their poison first slows, then immobilises PCs who are stung. Wadufi is killed first, then Jenma slays Kadufi with azure talons, and finally Ulthar (who has blasted the pesky wasps with his conch) knocks out young Padufi. They tie her down to the ground with ropes and stakes and loot the stockade, finding a +4 stone of good luck and the ten ivory tusks (which weigh 200 lbs each!). Balachandra returns and the party decide to leave; Ulthar loosens Padufi’s bonds so she can escape when she wakes up.

ruinedKingdoms_zpsf824ffc7

25th November
After two days of hot, sweaty trekking through the jungle, the PCs arrive at a waterfall flowing into a lake through a ruined wall flanked by two ancient giant stone statues, one with the head of a hippopotamus; the other with its head missing. Large boulders form stepping stones going part way across the water. Before the PCs can slake their thirsts, a voluptuous dark-skinned female figure (a yaksha) emerges from the water of the lake and speaks to the party, explaining that the forbidden waters will kill anyone who doesn’t first answer a riddle. The yaksha’s “riddles” are more like philosophical questions designed to test if the answerer is enlightened or not which annoys Ulthar who was expecting a traditional Urskovian riddling contest. Nonetheless, Jenma is able to figure out a satisfactory answer to Ulthar’s riddle and Hrothgar answers his own; both can drink and bathe in the waters, while the others go thirsty.

26th November
Towards the end of the day, the party at last arrive at their destination: a cave entrance leading down to to the vanaran city of Kishkindha. Hrothgar climbs down the thick vine into the vast cavern where the city is located, followed by the others. At the bottom, the PCs are greeted warmly by the guards who direct them to the comfortable Heron and Lotus Inn. Here, the PCs are welcomed by Mathur, the inn’s vanaran owner who serves them vegetable curry accompanied by Lotus Heron, an exotic intoxicating drink made from mangoes and jungle spices. Mathur recounts that an evil sorceress has taken up residence in some nearby ancient geomancer ruins and this is making it impossible for his sons to harvest the spices they need to make the drink.

After the PCs have rested and eaten, they are escorted to see King Narinda, the ruler of Kishkindha, who asks if the party will get rid of the sorceress in exchange for a large emerald. When they ask about the Arrows of Hanuman, the king tells them they are a priceless holy relic of the vanaran people. The Juma Associates decide not to push the point, although Juma offers to slay the sorceress in exchange for a glimpse at the arrows before the others hastily shut him up. After some deliberation, the PCs agree to the mission. King Narinda promises to send Zakti, the only survivor of the patrol that went after the sorceress, to the Heron and Lotus to tell the PCs what he knows.

From the Realms to Parsantium

I've written a guest post for the awesome Creighton Broadhurst's new blog on how I got started in RPG freelancing:

From the Realms to Parsantium

Here's what happened in this afternoon's game. Each PC gets enough xp to reach 18th level.


17th November

After a good night's sleep for everyone except Hrothgar (whose chicken sacrifice does not appear to have done any good), the Juma Associates board Prandesh's kettuvallam bound for the village of Madhwa upriver.

The first day passes uneventfully but Hrothgar is not impressed with the vegetable and fish curries at mealtimes. Ulthar tries to get Pradnesh to tell him what the strange crocodile shrines are along the river without success but Jenma has more luck with Jayanti, his wife, learning that they are there to protect the villages from the evil jungle goddess Magar-Mach.


18th November

The PCs' kettuvallam comes under attack from a boatload of Magar-Mach cultists led by a whip-wielding priestess who shapeshifts into a giant humanoid crocodile when Hrothgar leaps over to attack her. Juma finds himself surrounded by cultists and is shoved overboard twice into the mouths of the waiting crocodiles in the river. Ulthar heals the bloodied genasi and also jumps over, attacking one of the cult enforcers and the priestess. Meanwhile Gil and Jenma are casting spells from their boat. Hrothgar does an impressive 129 hp damage to the priestess in one round but it's Ulthar who delivers the killing blow, much to the gnoll's disappointment. Gil and Jenma join their companions on the enemy vessel, arriving just in time to be set on fire by Juma's seed of war spell which doesn't quite work as he intended it to. Jenma pushes a cultist overboard to be torn apart by the crocodiles, then Hrothgar slays the last one standing.

The PCs search the cultists' boat, finding a chest of Parsantine gold coins; Ulthar dons the priestess' ostentatious headdress of swift punishment. With no one alive to interrogate, Gil casts speak with dead on a cultist, learning that a well-dressed Parsantine with a beard hired them to attack the party.

Hrothgar sets fire to the cultists' boat, dedicating the pyre to Mormekar in the hopes the offering will be enough to stop his nightmares. It isn't.


19th November

The PCs harvest blue lotus flowers growing in a ruined temple by the side of the river. Dried and crushed to dust, the flowers can be used to extend the range and duration of arcane spells (+5 squares or no action to sustain).

Later, the boat passes a tributary where the vegetation is diseased and dying. Pradnesh tells them a terrible beast known as the catoblepas lives there. Because the monster has a connection to Mormekar, Hrothgar is determined to visit its lair when the PCs return this way after recovering the Arrows of Hanuman to see if he can win the god's forgiveness by killing (or even talking to) the creature.

Later that day the boat arrives in the jungle village of Madhwa. After getting rooms at the Nutmeg Inn, the PCs do some last minute shopping for supplies and hire a vanara guide named Balachandra to take them to Kishkindha.


20th November

The Juma Associates head into the Vyaharaja Jungle with Balachandra leading the way. Travelling through the jungle is hot, sticky and unpleasant and several PCs suffer because of the heat. Hrothgar, Gil and Jenma also catch jungle fever, although the gnoll manages to shake it off with help from Ulthar that night when the PCs camp. Unfortunately for Gil and Jenma, their fever gets worse (progressing to stage 2). Balachandra suggests the party keep an eye out for yellow jungle flowers which can help cure the disease.


21st November

As the PCs continue towards Kishkindha, they are ambushed by a jungle girallon alpha who lays into Ulthar with his mighty fists, bloodying the warlord. Although Gil's summoned stormstone fury doesn't do much damage, the rest of the Juma Associates' response is swift and terrible - Ulthar's warmaster's assault gives everyone an attack. Jenma criticals, then finishes the four-armed ape off with her dragon breath.

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Green Man
richgreen01
Richard Green

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