Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Quattro con Carnage - Session 1 - Basic Fantasy RPG

Dramatis Personae con Carnage

  • Umbrin, a guard-for-hire from Tannryth once in the employee of a wealthy Archon, played by Jeremy
  • Lomman Senan, a devout crusader of Ogmios looking to enforce some "justice healing", played by Marc
  • Rydian Ornitiar, an elven relic-hunter who longs to recover a lost family artifact, played by Andy
  • Jorin Everlast, a pilfering halfling initiate to the Embrace who just "made bones", played by Craig

Our Story So Far

Autumn morning, 307th Year of the Crossing

The small town of Zerlina's Rest was once a shining oasis for the Tannri people.  Having sustained a terrible war in their native land, a small band of Tannri soldiers and refugees passed through the Warlock Gharlan's portal to this place of solace along Redfrog Lake.  This is commonly referred to as "the Crossing."  A small halfling village rested nearby, and together the humans and little-folk forged an important bond.  The area was not without its own unusual flavor.  This new land was obviously darker, and more foreboding from their bright and shining jewel of a nation.  Rain was common, and every morning a thick mist of fog would roll in from the lake.  A tower-bound sorceress, whom the halflings paid homage to, was also a neighbor, and the Tannri refugees were careful to pay their own respects.  First called "Last Rest" by the humans (the halflings had no particular name for this village, just calling it "home"), when Lady Zerlina, savior of the refugees, would finally pass after years of protecting this new realm, the town took up their first hero's name. 

But that was three centuries ago, and much has changed.

The great city of Tannryth, on the eastern edge of the Queen's Forest, has been the seat of Tannri commerce and power for quite some time.  The wealthy Convocation of Lune, an oligarchy commanded by the Seventeen Archons, controls most of the realm from within Tannryth's mighty walls.  Zerlina's Rest slowly faded into just a unique stopping place for merchants and caravans traveling from Fallingdale and Happenstance on the way to Tannryth and beyond.  Despite the best efforts of Prelate Jarro Dumont, selected by the Convocation to oversee Zerlina's Rest success (for the Tannri are a commerce-focused people), most would agree that little can be done to improve the town's place in the realm. 

In such a dark and dangerous time, a failing town was in dire peril from threats, both those from the monstrous beasts outside the walls, and petty politics within.  But this strife created opportunities.  Recently four bold adventurers came together in Zerlina's Rest, bound simply by an understanding that each claimed abilities that complimented the others: a soldier, a priest, an arcanist, and a burglar. 

The soldier, Umbrin, was a skilled guard who had recently left the employ of the Archon Rand Lavos.  The city-born Tannri served for eighteen months as a simple caravan protector, traveling the Queen's Forest Road between Tannryth and Zerlina's Rest before crossing a crooked Sergeant-at-Arms.  Hoping to find a way to regain the favor of the Archon, Umbrin thought he could prove himself as an adventuring fighting man. 

The priest and crusader, Lomman Senan, grew up in a family of justicars in service to the militant Order of Zerlina.  Although the values of bringing order and justice to his native town of Zerlina's Rest and the surrounding territory were important to young Lomman, he always dreamt of following in his near-famous uncle Callum's footsteps as a crusading Cleric of Ogmios.  When his uncle fell in combat, deep within an ancient catacomb, it would be Lomman that would reclaim the priest's body.  Later, when it would be time to recite the holy words of Ogmios in the temple, Lomman would do so while hoisting his uncle's mighty mace.  But over the past decade, worship of Ogmios has fallen out of favor, as the Cult of the Awakening spreads its own message amongst the people.  Nowhere has this been more felt than in Zerlina's Rest.

The arcanist, Rydian Ornitiar, an elf of Aarenia, came to Zerlina's Rest adorned in the blue, vivi-fox pelt robes of his ancestors, and wearing a pointed yellow hat handed down to him by his millennias-old grandfather.  Ancient by human years, but quite young by elvish, Rydian was a relic-hunter, commonly traveling between the Ever After and Fallingdale to trade in artifacts that could only be recovered in the dreaded misty wastes beyond the Fall.  On this journey, however, Rydian was looking to return an enchanted item back to his people: a legendary bone dagger known as the Cat's Claw.  After Rydian discovered the wondrous object, he was beset upon by spectral thieves who stole the blade.  Rydian believed the tower-bound sorceress in Zerlina's Rest was behind the theft of the important artifact, and the young elf would make a name for himself by returning to Aarenia bearing the bone blade.   

The burglar, Jorin Everlast, still felt the pains of his initiation into the notorious halfling thieves' guild known as the "Embrace."  Well known for their strict code of honor, high expectations, and severe punishments for those who fall out of favor, the Embrace only accepts the most accomplished young rogues into their fold.  For Jorin this was both a blessing and a curse.  The young halfling recently "made bones," surviving the initiation, but only with the obvious intervention of his uncle Gadfrei.  Although technically a member of the Embrace, Gadfrei made it clear to his nephew: "Now you need to earn this... or the suffering will be far worse and certainly final." 

The Fountain of Health, Part 1

Adventure by Ann Dupuis, first featured in Dungeon Magazine Issue #39

The four adventurers were seated at a plain oaken table planning their next big "quest."  The previous evening, all four heroes managed to clear the Silver Reed Inn of a minor vermin problem in its wine cellar, much to the delight of owner, Averick Daggerditch.  Old Averick  was a questing rogue during his earlier years, and repaid his vermin slayers with a free night's stay, breakfast, tea and one mug of ale.  The team was low on gold, however, and they needed to take on a major quest to keep themselves afloat and maintain their adventuring lifestyle (murder hobo-ing).  Luckily at the the Silver Reed there was always the Posting Pillar.  In the far corner of the room a chewed up and near-busted vertical beam rose from the floor.  Long past its point of serving as a support pillar, this beam was where quests could be shared with the travelers who almost always stopped at the Silver Reed.  

Umbrin, already finished with his mug of ale strolled up to the Posting Pillar and gave each mission a quick glance.  The last was written in a strange script, so the warrior crumpled the parchment up into a ball.  He returned to the table with two missions in hand, while Rydian angrily left the table to pick up his fellow adventurer's refuse.  

The first mission was posted by Sister Bethany, of the Temple of Ogmios. The young daughter of Rhadaro, the town's dwarven armorer, had been poisoned by goblins while out foraging east of town. Since the Temple was failing, and no high priest assigned, the herbal remedies that the good Sister could provide were not working.  Someone needed to find a cure!

The second was posted by a man named "Erik", on behalf of the village of Happenstance to the west.  Erik made claims that the village had been trapped in "winter" since the end of summer, and that the weather was causing great harm to the people.  Erik asked to meet interested parties at the Silver Reed Inn later that evening, after dinner was served.  

When Rydian couldn't make out the strange symbols on the page, he handed it to Jorin.  The halfling thief instantly recognized the dots, dashes, and images as "Thieves' Cant" from the Embrace.   A man named Brennan wanted a pail of milk from the old Wrenwald Estate on the far side of Redfrog Lake. This request made Lomman gulp, as he shared the legend of the Wrenwalds and their cursed homesteading at the edge of the Lunar Fens.  

Jorin pushed for the opportunity to please the Embrace, but Lomman's commanding voice and tone won the crew over temporarily.  The mission to the estate would require a boat, which they would need to acquire.  The mission to Happenstance seemed tempting, and was worth consideration, but saving young Oarei (the armorer's daughter) would not only enhance their status with the Temple of Ogmios, but it could gain the permanent assistance of a great armorer.  So the party finished their drinks, thanked the two waitresses (Maeve, cousin of Lomman, and Favaria, a young indentured girl) and headed out for the Temple.  

Entering the old and dilapidated church required Lomman to push past a small trio of "Dreamers."  The cultists worshiped the Awakening Ones, ancient deities that once walked the realm long before the Tannri endured the Crossing.  Embracing freedom, youth, and chaos above all, the Dreamers called out the the crusading priest and mocked him viciously. But it only took the grim cleric to draw a line in the dirt between himself and the women to make them back off.  They may have been trying to cause a little grief, but they weren't suicidal!

Inside the Temple of Ogmios Sister Bethany greeted her dear associate Lomman warmly and offered the party the little information she possessed.  None of the tinctures or herbal poultices in the Temple proved to help the poor little girl, and she now only had days to live. Sister Bethany feared that the church's inability to save Oarei would further disillusion the parishioners to the wise power of Ogmios and into the dark, yet inviting arms of the Awakening Ones.  The Sister shared the name of a hidden ruin, called the Fountain of Health, which could possibly provide healing waters to save the young girl.  

The minute Umbrin heard the term "healing waters" the business-minded Tannri guard fell in love.  Selling healing water could make him rich!  Looking for more information, the four adventurers cut across town to the armorer's shop.  Greeted by Thimna, Oarei's mother, and eventually by Rhadaro himself, the dwarves recited much that Sister Bethany already shared.  The armorer also showed the party a finely crafted, near-magical shield that he built with his own hands: the Shield of the New Mountains.  Forged out of weird-iron, and strong against breath weapons, the shield could be payment to the party, if they agreed to the mission.  Umbrin, knowing that time was of the essence, asked for horses for the trip, and Rhadaro agreed to do what he could.  The armorer would leave with the party in the morning, his wagon and two dwarven ponies to carry the slower adventurers and the dozen or so ceramic jugs that the team bought to stock up on healing water.

Now that the dwarf armorer was signed on as part of the adventuring troupe, the team headed back to the Silver Reed Inn, to gain more information and rest up.  Rumors of the Fountain of Health abounded in the inn.  Some said that it was part of a temple once dedicated to a capricious old god.  Several more whispered the word "minotaur" when the name "Fountain of Health" was even mentioned.  Although the name did not invoke fear like the Wrenwald Estate, no one in the town seemed to know anyone who ever visited the place.

Which meant untouched, unclaimed treasures to this greedy little band!

Still, one additional dwarf would be helpful, but a trio of strong guards would be even better.  When Umbrin saw three of his former compatriots, Mindt, Brak, and Serathos playing Three-Dragon Ante in the corner, a plan was hatched.  Umbrin talked the three into joining the team, and then had his halfling compatriot Jorin take part in the game, aided by Rydian's magic.  Any winnings would be paid back to the guards for their service.  Unfortunately the "shaming" that Lomman was giving his team over cheating must have messed up the hands, because Jorin ended up paying out.  But the coins didn't stay in the pockets of the guards for long.  Eventually they agreed to split some of the treasure and come along for the short mission to the Fountain of Health.  

Umbrin did happen to notice a strange man and the bar, who he figured was "Erik."  When the fighter introduced his party to the Rifter, Erik started his big pitch.  Happenstance was engulfed in a terrible and snowy winter, and the burgomaster believed that a nearby place of evil was the cause.  Hoping for some adventurers, Erik was sent to fetch them that evening, as not a moment could be spared.  The party joined their fighter, and listened to Erik, but decided that they couldn't do both missions.  So instead, the ancient and wise elf Rydian shared some words of arcane secrets with Erik:  

"Go find some things I know exist that will take a while to procure, like, you know, feathers of somethin' or other, or some plants that grow over here, and boil it in a pot and spread it over the door frames, then burn it for a while, then winter will go away after a few days."

Erik was completely enthralled by the elf's brilliance, and after paying the party left the inn at that very instance to procure a few chickens and try the ritual.  Needless to say, this would not have the desired effect in Happenstance, but we'll get to that later.  The next morning the entire team set off for the Fountain of Health.

The five hour journey to the Fountain of Health started on the Queen's Forest Road, but eventually took the party on a path into the shadowy woods.  The team wasn't a half-hour into the forest when Rydian's sharp ears picked up a sound:  Dire Wolves!  A pair of the beasts, each ridden by two goblins, came tearing after the wagon and its guardians.  Rydian instantly cast a spell on Lomman making the crusader's armor incredibly mighty.  The first pass of the wolf-mounted goblins left Brak dead, and a crossbow bolt felled poor Mindt.  But the team was not without their own special tactics.  Lomman baited the creatures into striking his massive frame, while Umbrin, Jorin, and Rydian peppered the wolves and their riders with missiles.  When the last wolf collapsed, Umbrin hefted his battle axe and walked up to the dying goblin, putting him out of his misery.  

… to be continued …

Most Notable Quotations

Umbrin - "You want to help out a broke ass church?"
Lomman - "As a member of the broke ass church, yeah!"

"Unless you have a mast and sails stored in that bodice…" - Umbrin to the poor, rather inexperienced waitress trying to help point the party towards some boats.  

"You certainly shouldn't worry, she's in very good hands… I think." - Umbrin to Thimna, mother of Oarei, the poisoned armorer's daughter.  

Jim - "He returns with this beautiful, beautiful circular shield…"
Jeremy - "Dibs!" 

Lomman - "Being good is its own reward." 
Rydian - "I think 'stuff' is a good reward." 


"First of all, stop calling me short stuff…" - The joke was getting old for wee little Jorin.  

"Nothin' says 'ominous' like a big-ass pointy hat." - Erik the emissary from Happenstance to Umbrin.  

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