Decisions 4

Two 12 Hour Gaming Sessions Of AD&D

2nd Edition (Spikehelm Campaign World)

The Back Story: (aka the idea that became the setup for this game)
Continuing from Episode 3.
This was the first of 3 epic weekends -- this weekend was a total of 24 hour of gaming, with 12 hours on both days.  I was running 4 gamers that just totally jived and worked so well together that the time just flew.  I'll try to do the game justice, so bear with me and hopefully I've remembered it all correctly.
Daniel and Vlas had returned with the shards of the orb.  The Exchangers were happy to get it back, but they had further bad news -- three towns, that contained their outposts, were burned to the ground and all the people within killed.  It was odd that the Orcs hadn't pillaged the town and taken slaves -- that was what the Orcs had always done in the past.  With the attack on the towns and this latest attack on the wagon, the Exchangers were worried that they had been found out and the Orcs were retaliating.  As the last town to be destroyed was under the protection of the Monastery, they also wanted to understand what had changed.
As the only adventurers that knew of the Exchangers and their Orbs, Daniel and Vlas were asked to help out and -- since the last time they were in desperate need of scouts to track -- the Loremaster convinced Maldis, a Scout, and Ansr'isar Shadowhawk, an Elven Ranger, to help out -- after also swearing a Blood Oath to secrecy on these matters.
The Adventurers: (aka the Player Characters)
Name Class Level Gender Race Brief Description
Daniel Blackthorne Battle-Mage 5 Male Dracôrian (Human) N/A
Vlas Cleric 3 Male Southern Durnite (Human) N/A
Maldis Scout (Thief) 4 Male Southern Durnite (Human) N/A
Ansr'isar Shadowhawk Ranger 4 Male Albein (Elf) N/A
Session Start: Saturday - 12:00 pm
Location: Four Towers Monastery, Southern Durnite
Game Date: The 25th day, in the month of The Harvest (Summer), in the year of the Gold Hunter, in the 6th Age, 941 Years After The Great Crossing.
Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous
The Loremaster asked the group to ride out to the last town that was attacked -- and one that they had trade dealings with -- to determine what happened and if possible bring back any refugees.
At the end of their first day of travel, they came across the tracks of a large mounted group heading in the direction of another protected settlement.  As night was falling, they were forced to wait until the next day to turn back and give warning to the Monastery.  They pushed their mounts and arrived just before supper.
The Loremaster met them at the gate, worried as to why they had returned.  He took the news with grim determination then gave them a small egg like item, with directions to break it once they arrived -- that way the priesthood could send help directly.  It was too late to go back out, but at the first hint of dawn they were back on the trail.  They soon picked up the trail of the Orcs and followed it, but stayed a valley over, so that they wouldn't run into the back of them.  The oddest thing was that the Orcs seemed to be marching day and night.
They travelled as fast at they could and on the next day, they could find no tracks.  Hoping that they were now ahead of them they pushed their mounts again the following day.  They made the settlement on their forth day -- it was still intact, they had beaten the Orcs.  They could also see that there was a large summer thunderstorm moving in from the west that could either help or hinder their defence.
With a priest from the Monastery, they were let in without question.  They warned the people to prepare for the raiders as Maldis went to look at their stone structures.  He found what he was looking for -- one of the outer walls held stonework arch that had been filled in to make part of the wall -- an Arcanite gateway.  It was as big as the arch in the Monastery.  He focused on it and could see the shimmer that meant it was still useable.  Just as he turned to tell his companions they had a way out, arrows hailed down from the sky.
As Maldis was looking for the gateway, Shadowhawk and Daniel climb the main gate to watch for the Orcs’ arrival.  No sooner did they take up positions than a wall of riders appeared in the south.  With a blaring of war horns the wall divided and move to the east and west to surround them.  They shouted a warning to take cover just as every Orc raised bows and fired arrow after arrow into the town.  As they didn't have any real cover, Shadowhawk and Daniel tried to get off the wall, but not before each of them took several hits.
As soon as he arrived, Vlas smashed the summoning shell, moved into the mead hall and started gathering up anyone who knew anything about binding wounds.  When the warnings sounded and the wounded poured in, they were ready for them.
Then it began in earnest -- a growling chant rose up from the Orcs as they continued their barrage.  Maldis was trapped against the gateway with arrows barely missing him.  His only choice was to open the gateway -- he imagined the Monastery and watched the shimmer firm up, he placed his hand against it and pushed.  A moment later he stepped through into the main hall and was met by chaos, but then he could see that it was an organised chaos.  Almost immediately guards had him and he was rushed to the Loremaster.  He asked if Maldis could open the gateway again -- which he could -- and they were rushing back to the gateway with the Loremaster shouting orders the whole way.
In minutes there was a score of guardsmen with heavy tower shields.  Maldis opened the gateway and the settlement appeared in the shimmering haze between the archway.  They moved through it.  As soon as the Loremaster heard the chanting, he ordered his men to hold the gateway.  With a flick of his wrist and murmured incantation, he trotted off -- arrows deflecting away from him.  Maldis, was stuck holding open the gateway.
Vlas was elbow-deep in wounded when the Loremaster came through his door.  With a quick look around and an even briefer conference with Vlas, he order the entire town to be evacuated before he turned around and went back to the gateway -- sending through re-enforcements to get everyone out before the Orcs' spell was complete.  Vlas' pentad showed up moments after.
They could all hear the Orcs at the settlement's gates, but the arrows were still raining down heavily there, so no one was willing to risk it to see what they were doing.  More Monastery troops poured out of the Gateway with shields held high and evacuated the settlement in short order, with commands to take only what people could carry.
Within minutes the town was nearly empty and only a few stragglers were left to be rounded up.  The Chanting was intensifying and the Loremaster was roaring at a group of men loading a wagon to hurry up as Daniel came by -- he was going through the settlement to make sure that no one was left behind for the Orcs to capture.
No sooner was that wagon moving toward the gateway, when the Orcs took down the main gate -- Daniel hearing the crash, sprinted for the gateway, but just as he rounded the last corner a Raider spotted him and took chase.  Daniel skidded through, but the Raider still saw him.  Shadowhawk raises his bow and headed back through with Daniel a step behind -- they couldn't let that Orc tell anyone else what he saw -- Daniel's spell surged wildly, but Shadowhawk’s arrow was true.  With the Orc dead, they moved back and Maldis shut the gateway before any other Orcs saw them.  Only then, in the darkness of the Monastery, did they notice that Daniel's spell had an additional effect -- on himself, Shadowhawk and Maldis, everything magical was glowing a bright golden hue.
It took almost 2 weeks for that glow to dissipate.
Session End: Saturday - 12:00 am
Location: Four Towers Monastery, Southern Durnite
Game Date: The 14th day, in the month of Celebration (Summer/Autumn), in the year of the Gold Hunter, in the 6th Age, 941 Years After The Great Crossing.
Moon Phase: New Moon
Session Start: Sunday - 12:00 pm
Recovered from the battle -- and no longer glowing -- they made plans to go back through the Gate and track down the Orcs -- the Loremaster once again gave supplies and gear to aid them.  The main hall was cleared and the team gathered with their horses.  Again Maldis was able to open a gateway to the settlement, but when it opened there were 2 ritually gutted Orcs, whose entrails were pulled out and made into a runic circle.
Vlas and Daniel went through first to check and when they couldn't find anything the rest came through, but as Maldis released the gateway the ancient stone arch that had stood there for centuries, collapsed with a surge of released power -- the runic circle had done its job.  They would not have the gateway for a quick getaway this time.  They finally took a look around and saw the devastation wrought by the Orcs -- the settlement was levelled and all the dead, over 20, were missing.
For the next 4 days they tried to find the Orcs -- getting only the smallest of clues, they stayed on their trail... barely.  That trail led them through a large area of grey ash with a vile aura about it.  Vlas insisted on checking it out to see if it was the work of the Orcs, but as they started to move around the outside of it they were attacked by skeletal undead "castoffs" -- none of them were whole.  Using his god granted powers, Vlas held them at bay, while the rest of the team destroyed them.  After that, he attempted to consecrate the ground to stop any more undead from being raised and he was noticed by Skrie, the Dark Lord -- which wound up blasting him flat to the ground 10 feet away and gave him a bloodied nose and ears.
Soon after this, a heavy storm front rolled in, the skies opened up and in seconds the torrential downpour drenched them.  Without anywhere to take shelter, they slogged forward across the plains and tried to keep on the Orcs.
On the fifth day of the storm they came across a large gorge and decided to go down into it and look for shelter enough to dry off and warm up.  They found a large cavern system halfway down -- hopefully high enough not to get flooded out -- and got out of the storm.  They had just gotten the horses in, and had started to look around when they found a large cavern cut in half by a gorge that fell away into the darkness.  Maldis picked up a rock and tossed it in -- he probably shouldn't have done that -- and as soon as it hit the bottom, they heard weird hiss-warbles and then the scratching of many feet clawing their way up to them.  Daniel quickly produced a magical light and sent in to the top of the cavern dome, so that they could see what it was -- it was a nasty sight, scores of Drake hatchlings.
Maldis killed the first one to reach the lip with a stab of his rapier.  As the others readied for the fight, Vlas thought of a new way to use one of his spells, and it worked with spectacular effect -- the entire length of the ledge became muddy and unstable for 4 feet in -- and it collapsed under the weight of the hatchlings, taking every single one to their deaths below.  But then, that same weird hiss-warble, only this one was much deeper and louder, came from the depths on a blast of wind from the mother Drake's wings as it smashed its way upwards.  They quickly fled and Daniel blasted the narrow tunnels leading back out into the rain -- hoping that it would slow or stop it from following them, and also destroy any scent that they may have left behind.
The rest of the day they moved east down the gorge -- hoping that the fast moving water and rain would mask them and the high gorge walls would keep them unseen by a Drake flying above them.  As dusk approached they were forced to head up out of the gorge for fear of drowning in the rising waters.  At the top they found a large House-Wagon camped in the lea of a rock face -- mostly protected from the downpour -- with a man and child cooking supper.
As they got closer they could see that the child was actually a female Halfling.  They soon traded introductions and named themselves:  Horod -- the lanky 7' tall man -- and Syleste -- the Halfling.  They were invited to stay the night.  While setting up for supper, Daniel and Maldis came face to face with Amara, Horod's wife, whose beauty was so profound that they fell hard for her.  She quickly covered her face trying to minimize the effect, and their strange behaviour was noticed by both Syleste and Shadowhawk -- the latter interposed to snap them both out of it.
The next day, they parted ways and headed up over the rock face.  It took longer then they thought, so they were forced to camp on the crest.  During the night a giant snuck up on them and attacked -- killing Daniel's horse with one punch.  With a concerted effort the four forced it off the ledge -- with Shadowhawk putting 2 arrows through its eye -- to fall to its death.  They heard another cry and decide to head down immediately in case more giants showed up.  They had been very lucky and knew that another fight up on the crest would be suicide.  When they reached the bottom, there was no dead giant or anything else, except for the wreckage of its fall.
Not wanting to risk another night so close to potential giant attack, they decided to continue on.  They came down into a dried mud flat, desert-like, area between the two mountain ridges.  As noon approached, Maldis was scouting ahead and heard a pair of Orcs talking.  They were under him in an ancient underground waterway that had dried up and been partially exposed through erosion.  He headed back to warn the others before they got too close.
Daniel agreed to send his Familiar -- a large ferret named Cudgleigh -- to track down the Orcs.  It didn't take him long to find them in a cave with a sinkhole in the middle of the floor -- there were 7 horses, 6 Orcs and a slave girl.  They made a quick plan to take the Orcs and rescue the girl.
Maldis was given a rock with a silencing spell on it and tried to sneak in close enough to kill one of the two entrance guards -- Shadowhawk readied a shot to take out the second one.  One of the guards moved down a side tube and just as Maldis gained a position to attack him from behind he turned and ruined his backstab attempt -- luckily the silenced stone covered their struggle.  Vlas enchanted the arrow that Shadowhawk shot into the cave -- to blind the Orcs within -- and then shot the second guard, but as he was outside of the silencing, his death scream woke the others.  With that, they rushed the cave entrance.  Maldis got there first and saw an Orc that looked like it was chanting a spell, so he tossed his rock at him.  It wrecked the shaman's spell and caused a spray of small gems to shoot forth from his hands instead.  Maldis cleared the cave entrance and dove to the side after an oncoming Orc, while the others began their ranged attacks on the shaman and his remaining guards.  Daniel opened up with his favourite spell and electrified a few Orcs while Vlas took up the entrance with his shield to block any other attacks.  In the confusion, the Orcs lost track of Maldis and he was able to sneak up on the shaman -- decapitating him as the remaining Orcs died.
They collected the now hysterical slave, who clawed at each of them before they got her to understand that they were saving her and not going to hurt her -- she promptly crumpled to the ground unconscious.  Shadowhawk took the horses out of the unstable cave as the rest start going through the Orcs’ gear.  Daniel saw a small chest grow legs and reacted by firing off spells at it to stop it from getting away -- which led to the collapse of the cave floor.  They had just enough time to grab the girl and drag a few of the saddles with them before the entire floor cracked and crumbled into the water below the sinkhole.
Location: 10 Days North East Of Monastery, Southern Durnite
Game Date: The 23rd day, in the month of Celebration (Summer/Autumn), in the year of the Gold Hunter, in the 6th Age, 941 Years After The Great Crossing.
Moon Phase: First Quarter
-- To Be Continued --
Session End: Sunday - 12:00 am