AD&D - New World

prologue...
Welcome to Grudgewood

Even this far west, the air smells differently when the wild storms rage in the summer. The air flashes a strange color and a burning, chemical smell lingers in the nose, only for a moment. A strange green color to the sky in the morning. Something that’s just … off.

Word in the Westlands is that this is the reason the Goblin Kingdoms are fraying at their edges. They say chaos is seeping into Ur at the edges, at the cracks that have existed since magic was cursed so many centuries ago.

Others are more practical. The Pope is elderly and his influence is waning. Without him, the goblin kings are more likely to fight amongst themselves, to jockey for position and power and the ability to place the next pope on the papal seat.

But in the meantime, the human stragglers coalesce power on the frontier. They establish settlements and towns with no legal authority, they mine steel from the mountains and they unlock old ruins that have been closed since the great disaster.

The goblins are in decline, once the stewards of law and order in the face of chaos. Humanity is on the rise, once a shattered people without a home.

The town of Grudgewood is on the edge of sinister badlands and bluffs rumored to be haunted by great beasts and laden with lost magic and treasure. The town itself is ramshackle and ad hoc. It has been constructed from nothing in a matter of months. The buildings are made of wood, cut from the sparse timber of the pine forests nearby. Shallow streams lead from the foothills. Many have sunk mines seeking iron or silver, but some are intent on rediscovering the lost magic and treasure they sure still exists in lost ruins. The town itself is inherently illegal — this is goblin land and Fort Hangtooth is less than a week’s ride away, ruled by the Duke of Bark — and magic itself is outlawed and persecuted by the goblins in the name of their Pope, the elderly and long-ruling Pior XII.

Grudgewood has no official government and no laws, but it is well known that the de facto ruler is Red Al, the owner of the Lonesome Tankard saloon. Al is a rough frontiersman who personally felled the trees he built his bar from. He suffers no fools, but he is a good friend to the bold. He is also, the whispers say, a thief, a murderer, and an outlaw wanted in a number of kingdoms.

Rumors abound — the Duke of Bark will lead his Carolingian knights to wipe the town away; the mysterious, black-cloaked Night Wolves will kidnap children in the night and their parents will never see them again; the Lonesome Tankard is built over the ruins of a lost human city built of crystal. Are any of these rumors true? Are all of them?

You are a member of a band of adventurers that has traveled to Grudgewood, far from your home. Are you seeking adventure? Paying off a debt? Looking for someone thought lost?

What brings you to Grudgewood, traveler?

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1: "No Responsibilities..."
our heroes gather...

Bea, Bertram, Canicus, Ervendi, Khalid, and Mildred come together at the Lonesome Tankard in Grudgewood, a group of strangers with ties to another. Mildred and Canicus decide to help rid Grudgewood of its Spotty Fever epidemic, they attract the town’s attention by ringing the silver triangle on the porch of Mammarie’s brothel. Mammarie, rather than drive them away, recruited Canicus as her champion and asked him to rescue Drea, one of her “best girls,” from a hobgoblin she ran away with.

Red Al, the owner of the Lonesome Tankard, and the de facto leader of Grudgewood, has already sent a group of his mercenaries after Drea, but they have not returned. That very day, Al received a message — from Drea’s white crow familiar — that read “bandits at the tower.” Red Al believes this refers to Eddistone Point, a tower 3-days travel away.

The group asks Mammarie to convince the Spotty Fever-sufferers that they will return as soon as possible, and they head to Eddistone Point — but not before Bea casts a flaming cantrip over Bertram’s crotch.

The next day, the group approaches a bridge that stretches over a dry ravine. A goblin patrol, under the banner of a tower ending in a sharp tooth, demands a toll. Bertram casts an illusion on himself before the group and the goblins, and the goblins attempt to engage the group in combat. Khalid skewers one of the goblins — Bea is nearly killed, but revived by Evendio — and Mildred charms one of the patrolmen, who subsequently backs over the edge of the ravine. The group kills all the goblins but one, who surrenders to them.

With the goblins all dead, the group is now effectively in command of the bridge that spans the ravine….

XP
Bea: 140
Bertram: 140
Canicus: 140
Ervendi: 140
Khalid: 140
Mildred: 140

Group Breakdown
accepted quest (eddistone point) 10
accepted quest (spotty fever) 10
goblins defeated 20
general RP 50

Individual Breakdown
Bea: playful secret 10, spellcasting 20, preexisting relations 10, near death 10
Bertram: spellcasting 20, goblin evasion 10, preexisting relations 10, neverending backstory 10
Canicus: fever curing 10, oathkeeping 20, new bonds 10, NPC ally 10
Ervendi: healing 20, tactics 10, preexisting relations 10, elven aloofness 10
Khalid: crowdworking 10, bloodletting 20, preexisting relations 10, accentwork 10
Mildred: fever curing 10, charming 20, preexisting relations 10, new bonds 10

LOOT
11gp (for Spotty Fever treatment)

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1.1 "The Incident at Vast Bridge"
our heroes clean up after a battle...

As the heroes loot and strip the bodies of the goblins, they discover the silver the tollkeepers have collected in the name of Fort Hangtooth. They discover a magical dagger sewn into the vest of one of the dead goblins, as well as this note:

Dearest Mawthra,

I am here guarding the Vast Bridge. We arrived safely though it took more than the expected week to arrive from Hangtooth. The others are a little rougher than I expected. They rib me, but I know we will have one anothers backs.

When you receive this package, please keep it safe. I found it on the person of a deceased human. I believe he may have been fleeing from New Camp. It looked like he was run through with a sword or spear. I do not know if he was a good man.

Your loving husband,
Glick

Mildred requisitions the goblins’ carrier pigeons, sending one to Fort Hangtooth affirming that all is well at the bridge. Canicus interrogates Pick, the remaining goblin. Pick initially believes that Canicus’s order is directly responsible for the attack on the bridge, then comes to believe that Canicus is simply the leader of a band of brigands.

Bertram offers to transport Pick back to Fort Hangtooth and to turn himself over to the Duke of Bark. As the others debate the merits of this course of action, Khalid offers Pick a drink from his wineskin. Pick subsequently falls over dead.

XP
Bea: 10
Bertram: 10
Canicus: 10
Ervendi: 10
Khalid: 10
Mildred: 10

LOOT
- 6 short swords
- 6 pairs of goblin-sized leather armor
- 600 silver pieces
- dagger, +2 (to hit and to damage), sewn into the interior of one of the suits of armor.

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Thread pt 1.

Bea loots. Bea doesn’t think Bertram is a coward. She could tell he was trying to get away from the fray to better affect the battle. She thinks that was probably a pretty good idea, maybe better than getting skewered. Maybe next time. In the mean time, she contemplates how to tell him who she is.

Mildred rummages through a few pockets but quickly gets bored. She looks down the ravine at the smear of goblin. “Blech.”

She turns her attention towards the captured Goblin and squats in front of him. “You know this would have been much easier if you Goblins weren’t so magist. I mean, what’s the harm in a spell or two? Or, or in calling upon a demon to grant you unearthly power, for that matter? Can’t people just mind their own business? Hmph.”

“Now listen, you. Where is your outpost, or camp, or wherever you and your boys check in with your magist goblin bosses? Is it far from here? Which direction? That way? You better speak up or maybe I’ll have a mind to turn you into a prairie rat!”

Bertram took it all in. The smashed body of the goblin in the ravine below. The goblin so terrified of his illusion that he clutched his heart and died. The goblin that caught him casting a spell and was nearly cut in half. The other goblin that tried to squeeze the wind from his throat, his cold, dead fingers still grasping out for nothing. There was one more, afraid, waiting to die.

He now knew why Claudius had taught him to be deceitful about his profession, and to keep his abilities to himself. He also saw evidence of the power of his illusions; the power to kill. He had never seen it done, in fact, it was forbidden in Claudius’ workshop. He had only meant to scare them, or trick them into letting him pass! Had the world gone mad? Back home, magic was viewed with suspicion, but the abilities of the image maker were still the foundation of many festivals and ceremonies dating back centuries. Things were changing, and it seemed to Bertram as if the world at large had come to blame magical knowledge for the mistakes of the past.

But what of Grudgewood, and the humans that live there? Surely, the response to what they had done would be tenfold. What started off as a quest to save a damsel in distress had quickly deteriorated. He wondered if the human man and woman would have betrayed him to the goblins to save themselves. One of them, the girl, was casting a cantrip over his crotch for nearly and hour. It embarrassed Bertram deeply, but he was too modest to say anything. He was still wet in the morning when they left from the bucket of ale Khalid used to try and douse the flame.

Bertram should have just paid the toll, but he panicked. What if the stories of goblins were true? Their response to his spell certainly confirmed it in his mind, they were mad! In his home, no one would ever think to…but he wasn’t home anymore. Ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse to break it. He would turn himself in. It was his crime, and he would not allow others to die to answer for it. One almost did, the woman. Comely, for a human. He thought she and Canicus would make a good couple one day. He watched as she slipped away from Ur to the Great Beyond, just as he had watched his master do all those years ago. How many more would have to die before Bertram’s forays into the magical arts were satisfied? No. No more.

Fun Fact: Paladins are not titled “Paladin” until they’ve reached the 9th level, at level 1 they are simply Gallants of their order.

He knelt before the battered and broken corpse of one of the goblins who guarded the bridge and felt sick. It wasn’t the sight of blood – no, far from it: the fields of battle bathed in a slick wet burgundy were a familiar and sadly comforting arena – but it was the shame he felt at not acting. As a knight of the Fourth Order it would have been simple: cut them down where they stand, retrieve supplies and intel, burn the bodies to honor the dead, and move on. Simple. Dead simple. There was only allegiance to the Fourth, and service to the living King on the Throne of Jade. A low-born like Canicus had no place to question, no right to think, and no tongue with which to speak. All of that changed when he became a paladin.

The Risen King was a man of myth and legend, an ideal wielded by the church to give the poor something to aspire to or for the rich to cite as justification for their complex and unwieldly laws. Canicus never believed him to be real and prayed to him out of tradition, not of a fervent desire for divine guidance. Taking his oath deep within the heart of the Twelfth Barrow, he felt nothing; the empty words he knew would give him the means to defend his low-born brethren from tyranny both within and without the borders of the kingdom. His heart swelled with emotion as he thought of all the good he would be able to do as a Gallant of the Twelfth Barrow: laws of the land could be bent with the power and station conferred by the title; he could do what was good and just. And then the Eternal Flame ceased.

“Benedictus…” he mused aloud, still kneeling before the mangled goblin’s corpse. He stood again and looked across the remnants of the skirmish. He should have had the guidance of a true Paladin, not be so unceremoniously thrust into the moral quagmire of the world outside the Twelve Barrows. A Paladin would have been able to act decisively, would have had the clarity of thought and presence of mind to execute the justice in the name of the Risen King. But Canicus’ mind was awash with shades of gray, moral lines that constantly shifted and ebbed as he so delicately treaded upon them.

A decision must be made. He searched his heart and clawed away the frustration, looking for its source. True, the Dwarf cut the goblin down as they rushed him, driven in no small part by his lust for goblin blood, but was that not in the end defense of self and ally? Was Bertram not simply trying to utilize his innate abilities to defuse the situation? The line is blurry, to be sure, but as he searched his feelings he knew the persecution with prejudice of magic users by these goblins did not sit right. In the time of the Risen King there was freedom for all within the limit of the law, and though he knew he was in a foreign land with laws of its own, he could not stand idly by while innocents were attacked for being who they were. Was not magic a part of the lifeblood? An inseparable

He looked to his new companions and stood, saying, “you are all my charges now, under the protection of the Risen King so long as we stay a goodly path and so long as our missions align. I cannot condone such outright violence as I witnessed from you, good Khalid, but neither do I condemn it as you seemed to have little option. Let us answer with our tongues before our swords, especially in these uncertain times and in this uncertain land.” Canicus felt new determination and purpose, and unbeknownst to him the flame of the Risen King burned brighter than ever, now in its new home within the walls of his heart. This journey would reveal to him the lost codes of the Risen King, the truest canon of the Paladins of the Twelfth Barrow.

“Gather what you can, then we burn the bodies to honor the dead. Though our enemies may not respect our dead, we will not stoop to their base level.” Canicus stood over the pile of goblins and recited the Canticle of the Fallen before setting their bodies ablaze.
The captured goblin watched in horror as the paladin burned the bodies of his friends. He witnessed each in turn – Ick, Splick, and Glick – as their faces crackled and charred, the fatty layer beneath their skin cooking and smelling of acrid goblin flesh. To him, Canicus was a psychopath in chain mail, a human who delighted in defacing the dead. The smell of his own piss and the smoky ash of his friends’ corpses burned his nostrils and he wretched and gagged.

“And if we take the goblin with us, we treat him well as a prisoner of war: we water, feed, and tend to him. Else cut him loose as he no longer has fight left in him. I will not suffer another needless death.”

CODE: Burn the bodies to honor the dead. Failing to do so before leaving the field of battle troubles the Paladin and he must repent to the Risen King or return and finish the deed. This does not apply to beasts, demons, etc., though the Paladin is likely to destroy the remains of anything evil if it can be done.

Various searches reveals the following loot on the goblins’ bodies:

- 6 short swords
- 6 pairs of goblin-sized leather armor
- 600 silver pieces
- dagger, +2 (to hit and to damage), sewn into the interior of one of the suits of armor. Folded up and next to the dagger was this letter, written in goblin:

Dearest Mawthra,

I am here guarding the Vast Bridge. We arrived safely though it took more than the expected week to arrive from Hangtooth. The others are a little rougher than I expected. They rib me, but I know we will have one anothers backs.

When you receive this package, please keep it safe. I found it on the person of a deceased human. I believe he may have been fleeing from New Camp. It looked like he was run through with a sword or spear. I do not know if he was a good man.

Your loving husband,
Glick

“I am Pick,” the captured goblin tells you, speaking the Common tongue. “I am Bark’s goblin, from Hangtooth.”

No matter who speaks to him, or who he speaks to, he won’t take his eyes off of Mildred.

“The Risen King!” he says, echoing Canicus, and he spits on the ground. “This is how you repay the long friendship between your Barrows and the Pope! Whether I live or die, know this treachery will be repaid with divine retribution! The Barrows will be razed!”

“Pick from Hangtooth, eh?” Mildred stands up, which is not so much taller than when she’s crouching.

“Well, what do we do with him?” She addresses the others, but mostly Canicus who already seems to have opinions on the matter. “If we cut him loose, those Hangtooth bastards will be coming our way, that’s for sure!”

“Would you like a new pet, O brave paladin? You can water him, feed him, and wipe his arse while he plans his treachery in our midst.” She hands Canicus the end of the rope to which Pick is tied up.

“I acknowledge your gods, goblin; I acknowledge your rights within your land, too, but I do not acknowledge any such friendship between the Barrows and your Papacy. Last I recall there was nothing more than a neutrality agreement between our nations to not infringe upon one another’s borders, and unless something has changed within these two months’ time since I’ve seen the majestic spires of the Twelve Barrows I heartily doubt I owe you anything as a servant of the Barrows. Know this: though I have been abandoned by my people, I will never abandon them. If your nation sets foot on the Barrows’ hallowed grounds in an act of war I will visit upon you such a vengeance and wrath the likes of which have not been seen since the Risen King obliterated the Thrall Nation of Kamad’Ull! Now stay thine tongue and pray that my good Dwarven friend here can stay his blade as well, lest another funeral pyre sullies these fair blue skies.” /intimidate

“Canicus, let him go. It was my infraction that caused this mess. Let me be the one to answer for it. I will escort Pick back to Hangtooth, and plead my case before Bark. Bark will then empty his keep in Hangtooth searching for you. Nowhere will be safe. Take your friends and find Drea. You might be her only hope. If you take this goblin prisoner, Bark will scorch the earth to find him. Many more will die.”

“Don’t be a fool, gnome! You’d be as good as dead. And so would we with a regiment of Goblin troops after us! Pah! Out of the question!”

Bea, moved by the letter from poor Glick to his loved one, holds the dagger in her hand, examines it. A beautiful thing, she thinks. “Maybe if we all go to Hangtooth to pay our respect, and return the dagger to this Mawthra?” she says.

Mildred climbs on Canicus’s shoulders as she is wont to do lately. “And how would that go? Dear Mr. Bark, we killed six of your goblins because half of us are magicians. Here’s a dagger, please don’t hurt us.”

“Trust me, little girl, old Mildred the Frowzywig knows firsthand not to go knocking on the doors of folks who want you dead. You and that gnome seem to be cut from the same cloth! Not thinking with your heads!” She flicks Bea on the cheek. “Pah!”

“Phew,” says Bea, pocketing the dagger. “I was hoping someone would say that.”

“Your heart is in the right place young lass, but I fear our witchy woman is correct in her assumption. Hang on to the letter, or if you prefer I might. In better times or if we curry a favor, maychance we’ll find a means to deliver it to the widow.”

As the party discusses their plans, Khalid takes a packet of folded paper from the folds of his robes. He walks a short distance from the group and tips the packet over the open mouth of his water skin and lets a fine white powder pour into his water.

“Bickering, bickering.” He mutters, shaking the water skin and walking back over.

“Goblin, have no fear, these are good men. There is no need to curse them. Here, take a drink—you will need for the long walk.”

“Good on you, sir Dwarf. ’Tis noble to provide succor to even thine greatest enemies! Perhaps together we can make a positive change in these wayward lands.”

Pick’s eyes go wide at Canicus’s imposing presence — “You — you’ve been cast out of the Barrow? What are you people — brigands?”

He attempts to back away, but jerks to a halt at the end of the rope in Canicus’s hand.

As the others discuss his fate, he warily — but then, gratefully — accepts the drink from Khalid.

“Thank you,” he says softly. “If you do return me to Fort Hangtooth — I swear I will do my best to keep you from being hanged.”

Mildred writes a note in Goblin that reads as follows:

All is well at Vast Bridge. No need for supplies or reinforcements, the camp is secure, the land rife with sustenance. Collected toll from wayfarers, and chased a horse thief into some brush, where Ick speared him in the back. Otherwise uneventful. Will report in the coming weeks if anything goes awry.

—Pick

Mildred carries the cage of pigeons and straps it onto Smiley the mule. She then carefully removes a pigeon, fastens the note to its foot, and sets it free.

Khalid sits down in front of the goblin and says, “Pick, yes? I am from far and away from here, and know your people only as invaders and zealots. Tell me, then, of who you really are and how you live.”

The pigeon flaps away to the north. Smiley the mule flips an ear back as Mildred straps the cage onto its back, but otherwise makes no sound.

Pick glances to Khalid, but otherwise keeps his eyes on the kobold.

“I don’t think so,” he says. “I don’t want you to ensorcel any of my people with your - your sorcerer’s ways. This was -” Pick burps - "supposed to be an easy job, just collect a copper from travelers. Better than patrol. Mostly you meet, oof -" Pick squints and tries to spit, but the saliva gets caught on his chin — “you meet nice people, get to hear where they’re, frrr-frum, from - aw, please -

Pick slumps toward Khalid and vomits onto the dwarf’s lap, a milky white bile with flecks of pink.

Pick falls face-first into the dirt, dead.

All of the goblins at Vast Bridge have been dispatched.

Khalid leans forward and closes the Goblins eyes. “May you find peace in the halls of your absent God.”

He then rips a sleeve from the goblin’s jerkin and uses it to wipe his robes clean. “Come—once the big man burns this one’s body, we should be off. We should not linger in this place after such deeds.”

Khalid stands and throws his water skin on the pyre, selecting a new one from the goblin’s supplies. He takes the other pigeon, too, putting it in the folds of his robe like a children’s magician, and the party can see, if they look, a second bird tucked there, sleeping.

Canicus is shocked as the goblin slumps forward, covered in his own sick. “By the Risen King…” he murmurs as he inspects the body for signs of some explanation for the goblin’s sudden death.

(( I rolled a Diagnostics check and failed ))

“Something is not right about this, perhaps the goblins have some means of taking their own life to avoid capture. A pill, or some special gland. Either way, let us move onward.” Canicus sets the body ablaze and says a few words over the burning goblin before turning to the horizon and steeling himself for the journey ahead.

Bea gags, dry heaves a little. “Agh, Canicus! The thing already smelled like rotfiend butthole. This stink is going to stick to my clothes for a week.” She shakes her hands as if to shuck away filth and quicksteps as far away from the burning corpse as possible.

A thick, black, acrid plume of smoke rises to the sky.

Everyone make a Constitution check, or throw up from the smell of burning humanoid hair + flesh.

Canicus inhales deeply, taking in the too-familiar mixture of burning humanoid hair, flesh, and rotfiend butthole. “I’m sorry little Bea, but all creatures deserve solace in the afterlife.”

Khalid busies himself with packing up while the corpses burn. He seems unaffected, except for a bit of the smoke that causes him to squint as a single tear rolls from one eye.

“Divine retribution?!” Ervendio asked incredulously. He sneers at the goblin, “Do you know the meaning of the word Divine, little goblin? I think not. Your pope is old and his influence wanes. You hold to no ‘divine’ anything. You are a squabbling kingdom of uncouth barbarians with no culture, art, or knowledge of the true Divine purposes of your ancestors. Now be silent and hold your tongue of empty threats.”

“Canicus…” He turned his serious gaze to the proud fighter and a slight smile came to his face, “your words are righteous and eloquent. While this elf does not require the protection of the Risen King, I will accept it. Oh, and you look delightful with Mildred on your shoulders. Khalid, you are too quick with the blade and violence, you should hearken Canicus and learn patience and diplomacy. Today I will forgive your haste for it seems the goblins would have taken Bertram, or worse, and that I cannot allow. I swore an oath to protect him, and many other oaths that I will not say at this time.”

Ervendio starts collecting ration packs and sleeping pads, “Now these, these could become useful later on.”

The smell doesn’t even register on the “bad” spectrum to Mildred’s nostrils. The swamps of Middlemarsh, not to mention her own poultices and salves, produced much worse odors.

Mildred eyes Khalid. Her knowledge of herbs and medicine made it clear enough that the goblin was poisoned as she examined the white froth on the ground. She knew the dwarf was a shady customer, but hadn’t expected this level of treachery.

Her conscience wants to be more distraught than it is, however. The witch knows this was, perhaps, the cleanest solution to their problem. As the body burns, she sees a single tear fall from Khalid’s eye. “I trust it’s not the goblin’s death that makes you cry, eh?” Mildred nods at the dwarf with squinted eyes, but says no more, and walks away.

Bertram let his shoulders relax after Mildred refused his offer. He was hoping someone would say that, to be honest. The thought of being drawn and quartered, then scattered about Hangtooth on display, was not a particularly appealing fate to a gnome that had grown accustomed to cozy teas by a warm fire with a good book. Nevertheless, the guilt remained. He looked on with a heavy heart.
He would need these people to protect him out here, and as they went about the business of covering their tracks, he quietly observed them. Bertram was humbled by the total debasement of it all. Is that how he would die? Gored, pockets picked over, fat bubbling as he was cooked to ash? Now he knew the reasons behind the hard stares of the refugees that would breeze through Bramblewood on occasion. How long had the world been going on like this while he sat in the comfort of his study? He pondered these questions to himself as his little legs tried to keep pace with the group. He was hoping someone other than himself would suggest a break for second breakfast, but by the time elevenses approached, still no one had said a word. He grimaced as sweat trickled from his brow all the way down through his robe. “Right, pip pip! Stiff upper lip, and all that.”

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2: Approaching the Point
our heroes reach Eddistone Point...

The group passes over Vast Bridge, leaving behind the burning pyre of goblin bodies. Several miles down the road, they encounter a corpse hanging from a tree — burnt and hanged, it was a human male in life. The knight was wearing full-plate mail, emblazoned with the insignia of the Kingdom of the Twelve Barrows. Khalid stripped the armor from the body and loaded it on Smiley the Mule. The sound of wolves was heard in the distance.

The heroes traveled on, spending an uneventful night just off the road. After discovering four human corpses off the road — two stabbed to death, two with horrifying visages indicating they had been scared to death — they left they left the trail. They left Smiley tied up off the road and approached the tower at Eddistone Point. They crept up under cover of night, encountering the white raven — Drea’s familiar — who cawed + indicated that Drea was in the nearby tower.

The tower, surrounded by a fog bank, seemed to have only one entrance — a shuttered window at mid-level. Mildred turned into a bat and spied on the tower’s top, seeing two hobgoblins and a tarp-covered object. Bertram created an illusion of the four corpses that scared one of the hobgoblins off, but failed to trick the other. Bertram then illusioned himself as a human waving a white flag (Khalid’s turban), but those in the tower remained suspicious. Mildred again flew to the top and attempted to charm the hobgoblin, but the spell failed. The hobgoblin attacked Mildred, killing her with a single swipe of his sword. Mildred fell to the ground even as Bertram was struck and knocked unconscious by an arrow.

Khalid scaled the wall and easily dispatched the goblin longbowman within, then dropped a rope from the window.

The heroes now had a way into the tower, but one of their spellcasters had been slain….

XP
Bea: 70
Bertram: 70
Khalid: 70
Mildred: 70

LOOT
- a singed set of full plate mail, with the insignia of the 12 Barrows

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Thread pt 2

Khalid dragged the goblin’s corpse into a corner and shoved it behind a set of boxes, muttering quietly to himself as he did it. “What am I doing this for—this is not the plan. Stupid, to be alone in this tower.”

They had killed Mildred, though, and he had run in without thinking. She had been a good companion on the road, and had cared for him even when he was under her spells, making sure he ate and washed up and rested. And when he had regained himself, they had bickered, certainly, but it had been a good bickering, with smiles behind the scowls. It had reminded him of home.
Khalid checked the rope he had let down out of the window. He hoped his other companions would not leave him here. And then he drew his dagger and began creeping quietly into the tower.

Bertram’s Dream:

Bertram suddenly felt as he could peel away reality like layers of an onion. He felt the great void beneath it all. It was pulling him away like a coin spinning out of a bottle, it felt…right.

Moving reflections moved past Bertram as he slow jogged his way out of time. The Big Nothing swelling like a lead ball in his stomach. He saw Wellesley, he was placing whipped cream on his sleeping father’s hand. He saw his hold boss, J. Clazton, accepting a bribe under the table at the Gemcutter’s Union Gala. He saw Bea Purplebottom, afraid, clothes bloodied and torn, hiding in the woods near a dark tower.

There was a change inside. The polarity had been reversed somehow. Now, the reality that seemed so far away was pulling him back. That tiny, infinitesimal dot was sucking him back, and like a cellulose film inside a vaccuum he plunged back through the stars toward his weak little body. He was being called back. He was needed.

Canicus stared into the flames long after they went out. He heard thunder crash in the distance and the White Wind gently began to tickle his eyelashes. It was insensible at first, the breeze gently playing across his face, cooling it as he stared remorsefully at the charred corpse of a goblin teen of no more than 17 years. The Rites had been said, the verse recited, and the act performed, but somehow he still felt hollow – it was like he was taking life again for the first time, but he hadn’t, really. He hadn’t even the time to lift his sword before it was all over. Instead, he fumbled around ungracefully, laying hands upon his comrades to staunch the flow of blood, becoming obsessed with preserving life instead of taking it as he once had. His killer instinct was gone: torn between a newfound responsibility to uphold a form of justice across the lands and a kindling loyalty to this new rag-tag group with whom he aligned himself. Both devotions conflicted him deeply.

The thunder crashed closer now as the White Wind began to pick up, but none around him seemed to be phased. His companions busied themselves with breaking camp: some packing sleeping pads, others secreting away pigeons for reasons unknown. Canicus observed all and did nothing and said nothing as the din of thunder began to fill his ears. How do they not hear it? Peal after peal of thunder and not a flinch, even from delicate little Bea? He tried to stir, tried to tell them they need to find shelter before the storm was upon them, but even as he struggled in vain to speak he found himself unable to do much of anything. His gaze was fixated, his body stiff and unyielding, and most unsettling of all: he had ceased to draw breath. The White Wind howled, thunder crashed, and Canicus could do nothing as the tumult washed over him.


“Has anyone seen my ride?” asked Mildred after they had packed the last of the things and prepared themselves for the journey ahead.

“Your what?” Bertram replied, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

“My ride, you know: tall, chain mail, lets me ride on his shoulder. Canicus!” Mildred searched about a little with her eyes.

“Perhaps he left us in the night, or was taken by the boogey man.” remarked Bea with a touch of snark, but she too was unsure why their metal man had disappeared.

And it was at that moment that Mildren’s keen sight pierced the veil and saw Canicus standing quite still where they had left him the night prior: over the corpse of the goblin, some foul wind jostling the chains of his mail. Only she could see him, she mused, but why?

“I think he’ll catch up with us. He’s probably dealing with the bodies or doing one of his silly paladin rain dances. Feh! Now, who will carry me?”

And with that the adventuring party soldiered forward, hoping the paladin would stay true to his word and rejoin them with haste. The road ahead was rife with danger.


A moment had passed – or a day? Canicus could not fathom or sense the passing of time, he only knew that he had stood here transfixed as the noise buffeted him and then fell silent, the gale of wind slowing to a gentle breeze once again as he now found himself looking back at his body. A strange bluish hue washed over everything and the shapes before him ebbed and flowed in pieces, stirring and being tugged in many directions all at once as if something was smearing them across a canvas. He shook his head once and again before looking back at his still-stiff shell as it lorded over the goblin.

“Glorious…” he uttered, his concerns for the party fading as something greater now had revealed itself to him. “Hello?” he called out, but his voice was muted by the wind and deadened by the oppressive stillness. “Hello? If this is some sorcery or wickedness reveal yourself and fall by my hand!” but even he knew that he had no power here; his threats reassured himself little.

“PALADIN OF THE TWELVE BARROWS,” boomed a voice from everywhere and nowhere all at once, “WE HAVE MUCH TO DISCUSS.” And in the distance a figure he had never lain eyes upon before stood bathed in a milky blue twilight. At once he knew he stood in the presence of the Risen King. His training had begun.

CODE: Sanctity of the Fallen Ally. Any ally who has fallen in battle while under the paladin’s protection must be avenged. If it is not possible to avenge the fallen ally in the current combat, the Paladin must devote himself to this cause. This can be as simple as slaying the assassin, or more complicated such as undermining a whole institution that directly or indirectly caused the death of his compatriot. Abandoning this cause can have dire consequences for the paladin and may lead to the eventual loss of his powers and/or title.

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Jongle Enters

Juggler. Slam Poet. Ventriloquist. Prop Comic. Interpretive Dancer. Jongle G. Janglemancer is a goblin of many crafts and many tricks. How he learned and honed such a wide array of skills is somewhat of a mystery. If you asked Jongle, he would tell you a different story every time. But if he were to tell you the truth, which he surely would not, you would know that he grew up on the mean streets of Skullcap, the bustling goblin port town of the Westlands.

For 15 years, as early as he could walk a tightrope and juggle a sack of oranges, Jongle survived by busking, conning, stealing, and performing. His claim to fame in Skullcap was a back alley, risque puppet show called Winky and Stinky, which at its height, played eight shows a week in taverns, gambling dens and dance halls—until, unbeknownst to him, his audience included one Sork Manbreath, an agent of the Pope himself, who found the act so distasteful and uncouth that he ordered Jongle and his partner Tibb to be executed.

As the town guards slit the neck of his best friend, Jongle somehow slipped free from his restraints and bolted for the city wall. He ran and ran, until he couldn’t anymore, collapsing on the open road. It was there that he was picked up by the Ironshod Gang. Then the Green Scorpions. He bounced around from crew to crew, always sure to never outwear his welcome. When the Freebooter Kings were slaughtered by a band of murderous brigands, Jongle was spared (because he pantomimed his dramatic death at the foot of his assailant, and made a funny fart noise at the end).

Essentially a prisoner, Jongle now entertains his fellow bandits as best he can to avoid the boss’s ire. His act has devolved into a masochistic routine of punching himself, and falling over comically, leaving him bruised and battered. But the boss doesn’t understand any of his highbrow comedy, and Jongle figures a few self-inflicted bruises are much better than the back of the boss’s meaty hand.

Several Days Ago…

“Jongles! Git yer little nuggets in here!”

Scalf took a bite from the charred donkey leg and and leaned back in the big wooden chair to watch his new favorite jester punch himself in the face over and over again. Scalf snorted in laughter and nudged Ungerd, his hobgoblin second-in-command.

“One of the hu-mans is going to die,” whispered Ungerd. “The big one.”

“Stuff him in the poop chute,” said Scalf, and then, to Jongles, “Do the bit where you heel yerself in the nuggets!”

Ungerd sighed. He had meant for better than this. He had been a knight, once! Now here was, second to a bandit, watching a desperate fool kick himself in the testicles.

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Ungerd made his way to the tower’s first floor. It was filled with horses, mules, poop of all kinds, and their human prisoners. The girl was tied and gagged — she was a magician of some sort, and though she was weak from hunger and her wounds, it was too risky to allow her the freedom to speak. Spellcasters were not to be trusted, and they wouldn’t have let her accompany them from Grudgewood if they’d known she was magic-prone in the first place. Allowing that other wizard to travel with them was bad enough.

Her dark eyes looked at Ungerd pleadingly. They’d shared kind and affectionate words, once. Pleasant glances, and even a few unpaid-for-kisses. But that was over now.

Ungerd approached the other one, the male. He was pale and whispering to himself again. He’d been stabbed in the attack — the hu-mans had laid in wait for them like they were the bandits, but Voro’s unholy magicks had saved them from the attackers.

“Up, then,” Ungerd said, kicking the human.

The human winced.

“I know that you’re dying,” Ungerd said, “but I’m not going to slit your throat. That’s cruelty.”

Ungerd kicked the human over to a grate-covered hole already streaked with refuse and dirty water. Ungerd pried up the grate and dragged the whimpering man to the hole.

He tumbled down pathetically, slid a few feet, and became stuck in the chute.

“Unnecessary cruelty,” Ungerd said, dropping the grate back over the hole.

He cast a glance to the woman, said nothing more, and grabbed one of the last chickens from the small pen. He returned to the kitchen, where Scalf had installed himself, and wished this fog would lift so they could complete their mission and go home.

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3. "Swimming Through Flaming Horses"
our heroes rescue a prisoner...

We begin with Khalid alone in the tower at Eddistone Point and Bertram unconscious outside. Bea has disappeared in the woods, but Ervendio and Canicus have returned to help their friends.

(Ervendio had been distracted by a sylvan get-together somewhere on the trail; Canicus had a misty vision of the Risen King and found himself lost in the netherworld, or, the fog)

Bandits attacked Khalid, still alone, and the dwarf was felled with one blow. Knocked unconscious, Khalid was stablized by Ungerd, one of the bandits, who ordered the jester Jongle to take him down below with the other prisoners. Khalid subsequently lost both his scimitar and his bird.

Outside, Canicus and Ervendio saw to Bertram’s wounds. Canicus and Ervendio charged the tower to seek a way inside (with Mildred’s corpse strapped to Canicus’s back), while Bertram remained in the trees.

In the tower, Jongle saw this hubub as his chance to escape his cruel employers/captors. Recruiting Brang, the elderly goblin who worked in the tower, they opened the tower’s secret downstairs door. Canicus and Ervendio took the opportunity to enter even as Brang made a break for it across the clearing — and was shot down by an arrow from above.

Bertram cast a simple cantrip to hopefully distract from further attacks as the others debated what to do. As they tried to plan, the bandits tossed a torch down into the crowded stable setting it aflame. This spooked the many horses crammed inside, but Ervendio calmed the animals and led them out one by one. Canicus and a revived Khalid grabbed an unconscious Drea, and they all made their escape under horse-cover.

The group fled the flaming tower, encountering Smiley the mule on the way. 20 horses and mules waited for them at the trail’s head, and Ervendio led the herd back toward Grudgewood.

But the herd attracted hungry, wandering ogres, who were only dissuaded from eating the entire group by their new friend Jongle, who turned the ogres around with a few knock-knock jokes:

Knock-Knock.
What?
You have to say “who’s there.” Knock-Knock.
Who’s there?
Ogre.

You have to say “Ogre who.” Knock-knock.
Who’s there?
Ogre.
Ogre who?
Let’s do it ogre again. Knock-knock…

When making camp later, the group was briefly beset by an unrelated band of goblin bandits, but Khalid scared them off by being terrifying and stabby.

After bringing Drea back from unconsciousness, she told the group that she believed Scalf and the goblins at Eddistone Point were planning to use the signal mirror to rally other goblin lords into attacking the Kingdom of the Twelve Barrows. She then offered a 100 gold reward if they returned to retrieve her spellbook, but the group pressed on to Grudgewood.

Bertram, Canicus, Ervendio, and Khalid saw to Mildred’s burial in Grudgewood’s small cemetery as Jongle escorted Drea back to Mammarie’s and accepted the group’s reward of 2,000 gp. Jongle spent 105 gold on drinks for everyone at the Lonesome Tankard, and nearly turned the crowd against him upon speaking vaguely of the bandit goblins’ “plans,” but tensions eased when the rest of the group arrived.

They went upstairs to speak to Red Al, who saw the goblins’ plans to attack the Twelve Barrows as an opportunity to move against Fort Hangtooth itself….

XP
Bertram: 678
Canicus: 678
Ervendio: 678
Khalid: 678
Jongle: 678

individual breakdown

Bertram: 20 (tower ingenuity), 20 (breakfast), 108 (ogres), 10 (goblins), 20 (burying a friend), 500 (Drea’s rescue)
Canicus: 20 (tower ingenuity), 20 (damsel rescue), 108 (ogres), 10 (goblins), 20 (burying a friend), 500 (Drea’s rescue)
Ervendio: 20 (tower ingenuity), 20 (horse calming), 108 (ogres), 10 (goblins), 20 (burying a friend), 500 (Drea’s rescue)
Khalid: 20 (tower ingenuity), 20 (damsel rescue), 108 (ogres), 10 (goblins), 20 (burying a friend), 500 (Drea’s rescue)
Jongle: 20 (tower ingenuity), 20 (ogre jokes), 108 (ogres), 10 (goblins), 20 (taking credit), 500 (Drea’s rescue)

LOOT
1895 gp
permanent 50% discount at Mammarie’s (Jongle only)

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4. "Owlbear Country"
our heroes go into the urth...

After making a delicious soup for Grudgewood, Bertram is crestfallen when Stefan announces that he does not like the soup. Stefan puts Bertram on notice.

Bertram tells the others that Mad Hettie has been murdered, but he refuses to alert Red Al or anyone else in Grudgewood. Bertram and Bea pounce on Mad Hettie's spellbook, which Bertram retrieved from the remains of her hut, and which Bertram believes was the cause of her death. The spellbook is later given to Drea when she is dispatched to warn the Kingdom of the Twelve Barrows of the impending goblin attack.

The goblin army approaches your borders, reads the message to the Twelve Barrows, send couriers and scouts to the watchtowers. Ready the Fourth Order. Goblin armies unifed = Duke of Bark.

Meanwhile, others in the town discover Mad Hettie's remains and they give her head a proper burial. They surmise that goblins killed her in retaliation for the attack on the guards at Vast Bridge, which is believed to have be the fault of bandits.

The group heads to the Haunted Halls to retrieve gold, treasure, and a tribute for Red Al's case. They approach the Halls' entrance in Starwater Gorge and enter a dark, rank cave, only to discover it is the lair of an owlbear! Forced into combat, Canicus is dispatched and nearly killed by the beast's bite. Bertram momentarily distracts it with an illusion as the other pepper it (and, occasionally, Khalid) with darts. The owlbear is finally killed when the wizards are rallied to the attack.

After a hard battle, and with Canicus stable but unconcsious, the heroes elect to make camp in the owlbear's lair…

XP
Bea: 220 [50 (the soup thing), 100 (Drea dispatched), 70 (owlbear)]
Bertram: 220 [50 (the soup thing), 100 (Drea dispatched), 70 (owlbear)]
Canicus: 220 [50 (the soup thing), 100 (Drea dispatched), 70 (owlbear)]
Ervendio: 220 [50 (the soup thing), 100 (Drea dispatched), 70 (owlbear)]
Jongle: 220 [50 (the soup thing), 100 (Drea dispatched), 70 (owlbear)]
Khalid: 220 [50 (the soup thing), 100 (Drea dispatched), 70 (owlbear)]

LOOT

  • Mad Hettie's spellbook (given to Drea)
  • 71 gp

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5: "Into the Haunted Halls"
our heroes enter + exit the Haunted Halls of Grudgewood...

Leaving Canicus to recuperate in the now-empty owlbear cave, the heroes find the actual entrance to the Haunted Halls in another fissure of Starwater Gorge.

Entering the Halls, the group encounters a pile of worn but usable weapons — a mix of swords, knives, and a large metal shield — and a magical mouth appears on the shield, announcing Beware! These were carried in by those who will never carry them out again! The mouth disappeared and the spell — if it was one — confounded the heroes.

Ervendio discovered a secret door that took them around a rusty barred gate that proved unmovable. They discovered a green slime clinging to a ceiling, and immediately retreated; they discovered a putrid-smelling privy and immediately retreated; they discovered a slain human woman, evidently killed by the Night Wolves, cultists and Westland boogeyman, and Khalid promptly stole the dagger that had killed her while Bertram stabbed the fresh corpse. An icy gaze seemed to focus on Bertram for a moment, then receded.

The group encountered a goblin in a room just beyond the corpse. The goblin professed to be a prisoner and patsy of the Night Wolves, who forced him to lure the woman from Grudgewood so that she could be used in their terrible ritual. Ervendio took the goblin prisoner and they brought him with them.

Encountering two statues that were trapped with some sort of (possibly magical) electricity, Bea was able to open two bronze doors from a distance with a rope, enabling the group to dash past. They found a trapped chest, which they triggered from the hall, and it contained gold and four rings. Jongle detected magic on the rings and told his companions they were indeed magical.

Bertram and Khalid climbed a rope they discovered in the ceiling above the chest, and though the rope broke — and the two sustained a nasty fall — Khalid first discovered a number of kobolds camping in the ruins above the Halls. With their supposed magic rings, the group decided to leave.

Stepping out of the Haunted Halls, their goblin prisoners still in tow, the group was suddenly set upon — from the cliff above! — by the kobolds Khalid had seen. “Rain down hell!” the kobolds yelled, readying their bows!

XP
Group Rewards: Entered the Haunted Halls 150, Evaded the Statues 200, Discovered the Night Wolves’ Victim 100, Disarmed a Treasure Trap 75. Total Group Reward: 525, 105 each.

Bea: (rope use 50, group reward 105): 155
Bertram: (courageous climbing 50, group reward 105): 155
Ervendio: (secret doors found 50, group reward 105): 155
Jongle: (jokery + magic detection 50, group reward 105): 155
Khalid: (traps checked 50, group reward 105): 155

LOOT
40 silver pieces
2 canvas sacks, each holding 225 gold pieces (450gp total)
4 golden rings, each set with 3 emeralds

3 short swords, 2 long swords, 1 bastard sword, 1 dagger, 1 large metal shield, 2 belt buckles

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