Wednesday, March 31, 2010

the Northern Wastes

The Northern Wastes. Once, the last outpost of the Empire. A testing ground for young heroes and a cold grave for old champions. An abode of giants and ice drakes.
A perpetual frozen wind blows across the Northern Wastes, down from the Dragon's Teeth. It is said the sun never shows his face in the Wastes, except to weep at its cold vastness. Indeed, the gods themselves seem to have forsaken such a place. Krolos, Lord of Battle and the cold places of the world, warred here against the Old Ones. It is their dying breath that still blows down from the mountains. After his fight, the wounded Krolos left, never to return. Where his blood dripped, pools of magma formed. These hot spots are the only source of warm in an otherwise frozen land.
For a time, people settled around these warm places, making their trade in furs and plunder from the sea. But they too, were consumed by the hungry cold. Their tombs are still heaped in treasure, it is said.
Brave, or foolish, is the adventurer who seeks fortune in the Wastes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Undergaurd

For centuries, the Wall has kept the dark things of the barbaric North at bay. Its seemingly endless span is patrolled by the Guardians above, and its border is protected below, by the Underguard.
Dark forces have tried many times to circumvent the Wall by attempting to go around it, or hitting weak spots. They have also tried tunneling under. Each threat has been stopped by the stalwart forces of the Underguard.
The ranks of the Underguard are filled mostly by dwarves, with the occasional gnome, halfling or shorter human. Their life is just as harsh and under-appreciated as the Guardians that patrol above. The Underguard's life spans have been shortened by the sometimes brutal subterranean environment. A tragic fact given the normally longer life that demi-humans have over Man.
There is an almost endless maze of tunnels beneath the Wall, and earning all of them would take a lifetime. There is a cadre of mappers that do just that.
Most of time, however, the Underguard can be found at listening posts spaced inside the tunnels. A system of mechanisms, both magic and mundane, constantly monitor for the telltale sound of scratches and digging that proceeds an incursion.
Few above know of the small battles that happen more and more frequently below their feet. Not too long ago, a marauding Bullette found its way into the tunnels. Three Underguard died bringing it down. The harsh reality, is there are attacks, and fewer defenders each year. Who wants such a unforgiving job? How many Underguard die, alone in the dark?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Legend of the 3

Legends, whether whispered over a mug of ale in the dark corner of an inn, or sung by troubadours at court, surround Wall and its environs. Some legends grow over time, while others fade or change. Few stay the same. One of those few legends that remain unchanged, is the Legend of the Three.
The Three first appeared over two hundred years ago. One of the last large scale military patrols left to go Beyond the Wall. It was supposed to be a raid against an orc tribe that had been plundering the last few settlements north of Wall. They found the orcs, but they had already been punished. The entire tribe had been slaughtered, and standing amidst the carnage were three figures.
All three wore heavy armor, and appeared to be human, but their helmets obscured their faces. One wore a helmet in the shape of a wolf, another a ram, and the last a stag or hart. The Wolf carried an ax with its crescent moon blades emerging from a howling wolf's head. The Ram carried a massive warhammer shaped like a ram's head. The Hart, a huge bastard sword.
Before the Captain could thank the Three for making quick work of the orcs, they attacked the patrol. They fought with the speed and strength of the champions of old. Only the standard bearer survived by hiding beneath the rapidly growing pile of dead. He alone returned to Wall to tell his strange tale.
Years would pass before the Three were spotted again. Tomb raiders and scouts would return with tales of the Three. Sometimes they would help parties, sometimes they would attack. Sometimes they were sighted alone, and sometimes together. There seemed no pattern to their actions, no cause.
Only one man ever spoke with them.
A group of thieves had escaped Wall and headed north to hide out for awhile. A wealthy merchant put up a reward for their return along with the stolen jewels they took. A mercenary named Toth, a grizzled soldier from the Widowfang Mountains took the job. He tracked them for two days, and on the second moonless night found their camp. They lay asleep next to a fire. He snuck up silently, but it was a trap. The sleeping blankets were empty. The five thieves jumped Toth and subdued him. The thieves were just about to finish him off when a rider burst from the tree line.
The horseman wore a wolf's head helmet. He slaughtered the bandits single handedly with his great axe. When his work was done, he rode up before Toth, and simply stared at him.
Toth, not knowing what to say, simple said "Thanks" and "What is your name sir?"
The rider replied, "I am the Wolf".
Toth swallowed. "Whom do you serve, good sir?"
"I serve He Who Waits". And the Wolf turned his horse and departed.
After finding the jewels, Toth returned to Wall. With his reward and his strange tale, he was the toast of all the finest drinking establishments. But it was not to last. A few weeks later, Toth went Beyond the Wall again. This time never to return.
Scholars have spilled much ink on the Legend of the Three. Some believe they must be undead because of the length of sightings. Other believe they are different people, a role passed on over the ages.
Whatever their origin, their true motives are yet to be uncovered.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Professor Nodd's: Apothecary and Curiosities

On a dead end street, tucked up against the Wall itself, lies Professor Nodd's. You'd walk right past it, if you weren't looking for it. Some say there's a spell on the shop, that does just that.
Did you find an scroll that needs deciphering? Do you have a cursed sword that needs un-cursing? What about a magic ring, need one of those? You can find all that and more at Professor Nodd's. The old curmudgeon that is Professor Nodd has been around for as long as any can remember. He is ill tempered and sometimes rude, but a genius at all things magic. Like most of Wall, the Professor is surrounded in mystery. Some theorize he is a retired adventurer, others think he really is a professor, cast out from University for delving in the Black Arts. No one has actually seen Nodd perform any type of spell but on several occasions he has come to aid of Wall when demon has been loosed or a curse laid. Whatever his past, Nodd is tight lipped about it and all business.
For the right amount of gold, anything seems available at his shop, from cursed monkey hands to magic blades. Any adventurer worth his salt should make a stop by the end of the street, where there's a shop that isn't there.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Calavetti Bros. Arms and Armor

For over six generations, the name Calavetti has been synonymous with fine arms and armor. They have been armorers to kings and the god of war himself, if their claims be accurate. Indeed, for a time the weapons were of such a fine quality, they were denied export by imperial decree.
The Calavetti's had fame, riches and the ear of the Emperor. All that changed when Donatello Calavetti was implemented in a plot to assassinate one of the emperor's favorite nephews. The charges were baseless, but the Calavetti name was forever tarnished among the nobility, and without their favor, the family floundered.
Enter Giovani and Nicoli Calavetti. These grandsons of Donatello pulled up shop in the south and moved to Wall. Ever since their arrival they have been providing quality equipment to the military and adventurers alike. "Good Steel at a Good Price" is their motto, and they stick behind every weapon or piece of armor. If you break a sword, they replace it, no questions asked. The ringing sound of hammers, echoes from their shop every day, where at least one of the brothers is working while the other dithers over prices in the front of store. (or they're apologizing to a local farmer over indiscretions with his daughter).

The Calavettis have earned people's respect in this harsh part of the world. When all else fails, you at least know the Calavetti steel in your hands, won't let you down.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Interlude: Life on the Wall

Living on the very edge of of civilization can be hard. Living on the Wall is harder. The climate is harsh, ranging from the numbing cold blowing in from the Frozen Wastes to the blistering heat of the summer. Now, throw in the constant threat of being overrun by hordes of bloodthirsty monsters and you begin to understand why life on the Wall isn't for everyone.
But, the life of a Guardian has some benefits, full Imperial citizenship for one. In return for 25 years service, a retired Guardian can expect a pension, and a small plot of land, usually just south of the Wall.
While in service he will get a steady, if meager pay.
The Wall itself stretches for leagues upon leagues, interspersed with mile forts along its length. These forts become little fortresses in and of themselves, with villages springing up to service them. Some Guardians spend their whole lives here, never seeing the city of Wall, or any place within the empire. The post of Guardian has become hereditary with a father's post passing to his son. It can be a solitary life, with long stretches of the Wall abandoned and crumbling in places. Each generations has fewer and fewer Guardians. More and more would-be recruits head to the more prosperous south, in hopes of a better future than walking a seemingly endless parapet.
That hasn't stopped men from joining though, as many a desperate drifter has become a legend. For instance, the great Cerdic, who snatched back an imperial standard from the claws of a great War Troll at the siege of 1346,  during the Third Incursion. Then there's Osbert the Slayer, who single handedly slew a great wyrm, but died in the process. Only his hand was found. Or there's Captain Martel, who served valiantly for 20 years, then one day disappeared into vastness Beyond the Wall never to return.
All these men and more have their names listed on a obelisk at the center of Wall. Many men will brave the weather, the danger, and the sometimes lonely life of a Guardian, simply to have their name someday etched on that monument.

Everything turns to dust...

"Oh well," Nemon said. "this ruby ought to pay for a new shield".
The party gathered around the jewel and gazed in wonder.  It was roughly cut and would probably have to be cut down to get a stone worthy of display, but the sheer size would bring some coin.
After putting the jewel safely away, attention turned to the chamber itself. There was a grand hallway to the north, but Gruffydd was staring at the bizarre geometric pattern that ran around the chamber like a belt. After a few minutes study, he noticed the pattern was off in the south east corner.
"Hmmmm," he said. "There's another hidden door here. You can see where the pattern's off."
Indeed, there was a seam. A few of the ceramic tiles were recessed, like a handle. But before Gruffydd tried it, he saw there was a black paste smeared on it. Using Guthix's torch, he burned away the residue, then tried the door. He pulled it open.
There was a blast of fresh air, and a soft ray of daylight shining down from the upwardly sloping passage beyond.
"This looks like a way to the surface." Gruffydd said. "A quick way to bypass the level above. Probably comes out on the back side of one of the hills."
"Let's go," Miss Adventure sighed. "This place is gross, and I'm tired."
"Let's go just a bit further," Nemon suggested. " we still might be able to come up behind a that room with double doors that we passed."
"Yeah." Gildrid said. "That room where you thunked that morlock to the door." He pantomimed shooting an arrow, then crossed his eyes and stuck his tongue out like he was dead.
It was decided to head up the northern hallway. It ended quickly at a thick wooden door. It wasn't locked and opened to a small room, richly, but disgustingly decorated. It was personal quarters of the morlock's priest by the look of it. Shabby tapestries hung from the walls. Bones littered the floor, and blood was smeared everywhere. From behind a drawn curtain, snoring could be heard. Mellion yanked it back.
Immediately a bloated female morlock snapped awake. She was obese, filthy, caked in dried blood, and very upset to awoken from her sleep. She hissed while grabbing a bone dagger.
Three arrows sunk into her white, gooey flesh at the same time. A dagger flew passed.
"Damn!" Nemon muttered, "missed again."
The she-morlock gurgled and went limp.
A search of the room revealed various statues, gold necklaces (which straws were drawn to see who would pull them off the corpse), and a potion.
There was also a door to the east. It opened into a long antechamber. Along the south wall were dozens of cubbyholes, filled with various knick-knacks. But, covering the whole shelf was a fine yellow mold.
The air smelled faintly of burnt oranges.
Nemon grab a drape from the priest's room and tried to wipe away the mold. Poof! Spores exploded and filled the room.
"Everybody out!"
The slammed the door shut.
"Now can we leave?" Miss Adventure asked while stifling a yawn.
And so they did. The party decided to climb the long secret passage and out to the surface. The sun was just going down, and no one wants to be caught Beyond the Wall at night. Mellion's horse was rounded up and they began the march back to Wall. Nemon began coughing. He kept hacking up yellow foam.
The pace quickened. The very night seemed to stalk them. They felt pursued by unseen enemies.
Finally, the Wall loomed into sight. And with it, safety, for now.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A cold reception

THWANK! The arrow flew straight and true. With a "Thud" it sank into the morlock priest's back. He howled and stood up. A quick look around and he had spotted his assailants. There was a commotion from the north and two huge guards appeared. These were the biggest morlocks yet. They wore ghastly breastplates and helmets made from bones. A few gutteral orders from the priest and they charged the hidden door.
"Shut it!, Shut it!", Gruffydd yelped.
The door slammed shut just as two crude spears smashed into it.
"What now?" Nemon asked.
"We open the door. Then fight them one on one." Gruffydd said. "I'll go first".

Mellion quickly slid the door open. Gruffydd slammed his warhammer into the skull helmet of the first guard, who fell backwards into the other. Abandoning the plan, the rest of the party poured through the opening and began hacking at the guards. Nemon's thick plate deflected the primitive morlock weapons and he skillfully beheaded one of the guards. The elves, Mellion and Gildrid cornered the other guard and brought him down.
The priest stood near the bloody idol hissing at the slowly approaching Miss Adventure, She had her poisoned dagger behind her back. Gruffydd gave a war cry and charged him. His attention drawn to the approaching dwarf, he didn't see the halfling until it was too late. She sprang, and drove the dagger hilt deep into the shaman. He howled again then fell silent against his bloody god.
"That jewel is mine!" Dimzad stomped up to the idol. He clammered up the pile of bones. He quickly became covered in blood. After a few precarious moments, he balanced himself, drew a dagger and began to pry the great ruby loose.
There was groan from the belly of the beast. "Ah-oh." Dimzad said.
A great blast shot from the central mouth of the statue. It was colder than the winds off the northern wastes. It hit Dimzad square in the face. He fell, covered in ice to floor below. The others came to his aid. Gruffydd cracked the ice from his face. Unfortunately, it took what was left of his beard, too. Dimzad was unconscious. Again.
Nemon sighed, and took the last vial of Verena's tears from his pack. He forced it down the dwarf's throat. Dimzad coughed, sputtered and regained his senses.
Nemon picked up his shield and climbed the idol. Bracing his shield between the mouth and himself, Nemon began to pry at the jewel.
Once again it belched forth cold. His shield whined and cracked under the freezing wind. At last, it popped loose. The cold stopped. Nemon dropped his shield and it shattered into a hundred pieces.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

And in the depths, they worshipped a dark god

There was surprisingly little hesitation. Everyone started harvesting mushrooms. Most of the party was knee deep in beetle dung.
"Hey Dimzad," Guthix said, "these mushrooms might be similar to the healing potions. Or they could kill you."
The dwarf started crushing a few mushrooms into a blue glowing paste. He stopped, looked at the others and began to vigorously rub it into his wounds. It tingled, then burned like dragon fire, but it seemed to have staunched the blood flow.
"Try eating one," Miss Adventure said with a smirk on her face. It was no secret that she found the dwarf a loutish, brainless oaf. "Go ahead. I'm sure it will be fine".
Everyone looked away, sure Dimzad was about to breath his last. Gruffydd just shook his head and went back to harvesting.
Miss Adventure had climbed to the top of the dung heap. She spotted a small doorway, mostly covered by the pile.  "Fellas, I found a way out."
They all clamored over the top. All except Dimzad. He still stood in the middle of the room, staring at the blue mushroom. Gruffydd yelled at him. "Well? You gonna eat it or not?"
Dimzad sighed. He popped the glowing fungus in his mouth. It tasted awful. His stomach burned. The room spun. He dropped to his knees and wretched up his lunch. It glowed blue on the cavern floor.
But, amazingly he felt better.
The dwarf caught up to the rest of group huddled at the end of a stone passage. The end of the passage held a door that was made of wood, but disguised as the same stone around it. From the other side came otherworldly chanting.
"Great," Gruffydd whispered. "They probably grow these mushrooms, get high as shit, and do a kinds of crazy stuff I don't want to know behind this door".
He moved the door a crack a looked inside. Unlike the rest of the caverns, this one was lit. Candles and torches burned about the room, illuminating a thing of nightmares.
It was a large statue. It had many arms and mouths, and a great bloated body. It sat atop hundreds of bones, and bones littered the filthy floor. The whole statue was drenched in gore. Blood spattered every surface, but in the center was a large ruby glistening in the fire light. Surely this was god of the morlocks. A cannibal god.
Seated in front of the horrific statue was a large morlock. Unlike the rest, this one wore rudimentary clothes. A dirty scarp of red blanket served as his priestly robes. He seemed lost in his chanting, rocking back and forth.
Gildrid pulled an arrow from his quiver and set it to bow. He drew back and took aim on the priest.
Gruffydd whispered in his ear. "Try not to miss this time".

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Is a blue glow good?"...

"I think I figured out what the big sticks are for!", Miss Adventure yelled.
The beetle was shiny, black and enormous. It's mandibles clacked and sputtered, in anticipation of a meal.
Dimzad and Gildrid charged, despite being already wounded. The beast knocked them aside with ease. Dimzad slumped to the floor unconscious. Miss Adventure grabbed a discarded morlock pole-arm and began to distract the giant insect. Nemon threw a dagger and missed, again. He then grabbed another strange pike and helped the halfling. Gruffydd slammed his great warhammer into the beast's carapace, there was an audible "crack". Mellion went in swinging.
It began a dance of sorts. The beetle would lunge ahead, whack a party member, then be forced back by Miss Adevture and Nemon wielding pikes. Finally, the creature was cornered, it's back to a small passage.
Mellion saw an opening. He dashed under the belly of the beast thrust his sword in deep. He barely managed to dive out of the way as the beetle crashed to the ground.
The party looked around. They were all bruised or damaged in some way. Dimzad was out, almost dead.
Before the group had left Wall, Gruffydd and Nemon had visited the Temple of Verena. A few donations had granted them five vials of "Verena's Tears". These magic potions, from the goddess of healing, were known to heal any wound or sickness. After using all but one, most of the party was invigorated. All except Dimzad. The battered dwarf had simply taken too much damage. He was alive, but barely walking.
"Look down here!" It was the ever inquisitive Mellion. He was peering down a roughly hewn passage to the south. It wasn't big enough for the beetle to have come through and there was a earthy smell to the place. And an unearthly blue glow.
Slowly, the party moved down the passage. It was muddy and slick, with a gentle downward slope. There were also two parallel furrows cut into the floor. After a few twists and turns it opened into a small cavern.
Piled against the wall was a large pile of what could only be beetle dung. And growing in masses from it, were hundreds of blue, glowing mushrooms.

Friday, March 12, 2010


The sword bit deep into the wood, missing the eyeslit by inches. There was a hoarse cry from behind the door. The lever would be pulled, the alarm would be raised, filling the tomb with hungry Morlocks!
"Coming through!" Nemor charged from nowhere and put the full weight of himself and his armor into the door. The hinges gave and the whole door smashed inward on the morlock guard within. There was a wheeze and a gurgle from under the door. Gildrid pried his sword free, then plunged into through the eyeslit.
Everyone gave a collective sigh of relief. There were no noises of alarm, no horde crashing in from the dark to eat them.
Guthix walked up to a sheepish looking Gildrid, "Smooth. Real smooth."
"Least I didn't waste my only spell for the day!" Gildrid retorted.
After a quick scan of the room, the party moved to the intersection. Half went north, half went south. The northern passage ended in a carved out section, recently used to house the great ape. All they found was a dirty nest of straw and rags.
The southern passage simply ended. No door or steps. The dwarves poured over the hallway, looking for any secret doors or traps. There was definitely a sliding door at the end of the passage, but no way to trigger it. Nemon walked back to the guard room. Close examination of the lever inside showed that there were three marks on it. It was currently in the top position. They knew the lowest position set off the alarm. So he took a breath, then slid it to the middle position.
CLANK! Shoomp! "Hey! Nemon! It worked", Miss Adventure said.
Indeed. Where the passage had ended before, was now a dark flight of stairs heading down. These steps were different from earlier ones. They were narrower, and construction was newer and less skilled.
They turned back on themselves and ended at a landing.
Unfortunately, the torches alerted the four morlock guards at the bottom.
They were big brutes. Yellow fanged and their nearly white skin filthy. They gave a low growl and charged, brandishing strange long hafted pole-arms. Nemon threw a dagger and missed wildly. The rest leapt forward to meet the guards. There was mad swirling of weapons. Dimzad and Gildrid were heavily wounded. Mellion got a thump on the head, while Gruffydd only suffered  a few scratches. Three morlocks dropped lifeless to the floor. The fourth made a break for a hallway ending in two reinforced doors. It surely led to more morlocks.
Thunk! An arrow pinned him, dead to the doors. Miss Adventure smiled, and put away her bow.
Before anyone could take stock of the situation, the ground vibrated, and all attention moved to the lumbering shape emerging from a huge cavern to the south.
A giant beetle. A giant carnivorous beetle.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Into the Dark, again

Sobbing, Dimzad hacked away the wooden stakes to free the body of his goat. Gruffydd quickly explained to Guthix and Nemon, that the trap hadn't been there the last time they entered. Someone was prepared for visitors. Down the long steps, the pits were still there, along with the iron spikes that were driven in to attach ropes to cross them. But someone had loosed the spikes to give way when weight was applied. Gruffydd pounded them in again, the echoes drifting into the dark below.
The pits were crossed quickly, without mishap, until it was time for Guthix. Whether overconfident, or just lost in thought, the young magician lost footing a plunged into the second pit, But, instead of plummeting to his death, he found himself falling into a crude net, strung not ten feet from the top.
"Hey!" he yelled, "get me outta here!"
It was dwarves that hauled him up. The net was made from white fibers. Hair, maybe?"
"Look in here!", Miss Adventure said. It was the chamber where they had battled the orcs. The torchlight revealed the bodies were gone, but dried trails of black blood lead away into the depths of the tomb.
The bodies must have been dragged away. The trail lead into the burial chamber of the king, then to the former lair of crab spiders. The body that had been there was gone too. The gory trail stopped at the closed door to the hallway where they had fought the giant albino ape.
The door was unlocked. The hallway beyond was quiet. It had a intersection at the end, where the carcass of the ape was gone, too. The hallway also had two doors. They knew the one on the south side was full of refuse and bones. The door on the north side had held a guard station, with a lever inside that had alerted the creatures below.

"We got lucky last time", Gruffydd whispered to the others. "I bet there's a guard this time.
Gildrid was elected to investigate. He slid along the north side of the passage till he was right next to door. His elven ears picked up harsh, rasping breathing on the other side of the door. Someone, or thing, was watching through the eyeslit in the door. Gildrid took a deep breath, readied his blade, and made ready to thrust it through the eye slit.
He lunged,... and missed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

back to the Tomb

The rest of group could see Dimzad's flailing legs and and muffled cries. After a few moments they decided to grab hold of his legs and dragged him out. He was battered and bloody, and missing a large chunk of his beard. He slumped, degraded into the mud. "We can't get at tose critters till we get past that thing," Gildrid observed. Looking down the dark hole, he could still see it, waiting to pounce, but just out range.
"Here!", Nemon trudged up, and unceremoniously dropped a bloated corpse from up the creek in front of the hole. "That outta get him out."
Sure enough, after a few minutes, the giant crayfish emerged to investigate the bounty at its door. Wham! Dimzad slammed his ax into the creatures head, while Gildrid pinned it with an arrow. It squirmed, then went limp.
"Alright," said Mellion, "who's going in?" Everyone tuned to look at Miss Adventure who was absentmindedly eating a pear. She groaned, pulled out her dagger and climbed in.
The tunnel went in about 15 feet, then dropped quickly straight down. She peered down into the hole. She could here screeches and growls, the 3 pairs of eyes appeared below. A shriek. Then a lot of eyes coming up toward her.
Miss Adventure turned and scurried out the hole. Splash! "They're right behind me!"
But, instead of following, the kobolds began collapsing the tunnel. A few arrows and bolts were shot down the tunnel, but whether they hit or missed was unknown.
Muddy and empty handed, the party returned up creek to see what Gruffydd had recovered. It turned out to be little. There were a few coins, some daggers, which Nemon took after he assured them that he was quite the knife thrower, and some leather belts and bags. The corpses, both horse and human, were riddled with black fletched arrows. No one knew quite what to make of it. They began the hike up the hill to the tomb.

The tomb was much as they left it, although someone had cover the entrance up again, hiding it with vines. The door slid much easier this time.
Dimzad looked distressed, not only because he was bleeding and missing half a beard, but because he gained nothing in return. "What am I going to do with Bob while we're inside?"
Everyone looked at each other, then at Dimzad. "Who's Bob?", they said.
"The goat," Dimzad replied. "I can't leave him out here. "I know, I'll take him with us!"
He picked up the goat, who was not happy about being picked up, and pushed him through the entrance.
SHOOMP!  A group of 4 sharpened stakes hammered down from just inside the entrance, impaling the goat, and pinning it to the floor.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Fight at the Creek

Mellion's horse was not a warhorse. And as such, it reared short of the little monsters. He swung wildly with his sword and missed. The creatures leapt at him. One dug a nasty dagger into the elf's thigh. The other slashed at his ankle. The dagger went in deep.
By now the rest of the party was on the way. "Kobolds!" Gruffydd shouted.
There was a rush of wind and a blur as Miss Adventure blew past the rest, off to the southwest to cut off the fleeing creatures. This was followed by a loud "Shaa-kow" as brilliant blue magical bolt leapt from Guthix's hands to slam unerringly into a fleeing kobold. The creature exploded in a dazzling blue flame. Chunks of meat rained down into the creek and further frightened the kobolds already running. "Crap," Guthix said. "I forgot, I can only do that once a day." The young magician cursed under his breath and trudged down the hill.
Mellion had managed to hack one of the kobolds to death, and the other was quickly dispatched by a charging hammer blow from Gruffydd. The rest of the party went after the fleeing kobolds, who were now dropping their loot to run faster. Nemon brought up the rear, clanking behind is his heavy armor.
Thunk! An arrow from Gildrid skewered another kobold, but the creature kept running. The little monsters were so busy looking over their shoulders they nearly ran into Miss Adventure. She drew her dagger that was now tainted with Crab Spider venom, and grinned at them. "Boo!"
The surviving kobolds were terrified now. They were trapped between an obviously fearless halfling, and a crowd of heavily armed strangers splashing down the creek. "Let them go!" Gruffydd bellowed. "We'll follow them to their lair!"
"No! Kill them now!" It was Dimzad, bouncing along on his goat. His blood was up, and he wanted a kill.
Miss adventure stepped aside. The kobolds looked at her nervously and saw the opening to run. They scurried off, carrying their wounded brother. The party followed at a safe distance, except for Nemon, who was winded by all the running in armor, and Gruffydd, who had stopped to examine the loot.
The party followed for a few minutes by lost sight of the kobolds once they reached an area where vegetation had sprouted along the creek. After a few minutes searching they found a hole in the side of an embankment. The sides banked up with mud, and kobold footprints betrayed this as their hide out.
Dimzad, though the hole was just big enough for him, dived in head first. He barely had room to move. The tunnel was pitch black, but his infra-vision showed movement ahead. "Gotcha!", he said.
A mass of claws and legs shot from the black. It was the biggest crayfish Dimzad had ever seen. He had seen big ones too, found in the pools and depths of his mountain home. Before he had time to react, this one clamped a claw around his face, slowly crushing his skull.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Return to the Tomb of King Loras

The day was bright and unseasonably warm for winter. A fair group of Wall's citizens had assembled to watch the adventurers leave on their return to King Loras's tomb. Two weeks had passed since the group had returned, battered and bruised, with tales of bandits, orcs and foul things in the dark. The had gained two new recruits, Nemon, a mercenary from the the Free Cities, and a young magician, Guthix.
Alabazium would not be joining them as he was away at the library, researching tomes to decipher the scrolls he had found. Neither would Gwynfor be along. He had debtors to pay.
So it was that the elves Mellion and Gildrid, the dwarves Gruffydd and Dimzad, the halfling known as Miss Adventure and the two newest members left the safety of the gates and went again, Beyond the Wall.
They were rested and re-equipped. Mellion and splurged and bought himself a riding horse. Dimzad had settled on a goat for his mount, though the ill tempered little creature kept stopping to graze, and had to be led most of the way. About noon the reached the massive tree of the little dryad, Newli.
"Newli!" Miss Adventure shouted. "Newli, it's us. Your friends."
"My friends?' A little pale face had appeared in the branches above. 
"Yes. Us." Miss Adventure gestured to the rest of the group. "Have you any news?"
"News? Newli looked perplexed. 
"Has anything happened since we were here last?', Gruffydd asked
"Oh! Men. Lots of Men on horses came. They looked very cross. They looked like they were looking for something. Is that news?" Newli smiled.
"Yes,"the old dwarf said as he turned to his companions."looks like we should get going." Then to Newli, "Thanks again, we'll be back soon."
The party left the old logging camp behind and headed northwest, where they knew the old tomb stood.
After about an hour they crested a hill. Below them a small creek ran between the hills. At a ford in the water was a scene of carnage. The corpses of three bloated horses and two figures had dammed the creek. A half a dozen small creatures were stripping the bodies.
"Charge!" Mellion shouted. The impetuous elf drew his sword and put spurs to his horse. Gruffydd put his hand over his eyes and sighed. As Mellion flew down the hill, Guthix began a eldritch chant and Gildrid drew his bow. Miss Adventure calmly sat down down and put on her Boots of Speed.
The creatures were small. Smaller than even a halfling. They had scaly rust colored skin and small horns. They were somewhere between a dog and lizard in appearance. They were gleefully stripping the bodies until they spotted the elf charging pellmell straight at them. Six scattered and began splashing south along the creek. Two stood, gave a soft growl, and drew their tiny knives.

Friday, March 5, 2010

People and Places Beyond the Wall

As you might have gathered, gentle listener, Beyond the Wall is a deadly place. Most that enter its wilds seldom return. But, a few see it as a sanctuary, a last wilderness beyond the reach of law and civilization. In fact, many infamous bandit chieftains have left the south behind and set petty kingdoms behind walls of ruined fortresses and deep woods. Karok Bloodhand is rumored to inhabit an old castle beyond the Black River. There he prays on adventures and monsters alike, safe to retreat within its walls.
Possibly the greatest of the these groups of cut throats, is the Brotherhood of the Black Hood. They have formed a veritable army of thieves and murderers. Some say Brotherhood spies creep into Wall now and then to collect rumors of expeditions. Then they wait to waylay adventurers and tomb robbers along the roads.
The Brotherhood often wears crude black hoods made of dyed burlap, and hangman's nooses around there necks. These serve two purposes. One, to frighten any would be foes, the other, to remind them of their fate should they be taken alive. Horns are also sometimes sewn on the hoods. From a distance, they appear as demons and monsters. Useful to scare off unwary opponents.
The Brotherhood's leader is a shadowy figure. He is an unnamed giant of a man and is known to have killed 13 contenders to his thrown barehanded. He is also thought to have amassed vast wealth in his hidden fortress. Any adventurers brave, or foolish enough, to enter his lands will have a fight on their hands, and possibly end up with a noose around their necks.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Interlude: Peoples Beyond the Wall

When the Empire collapsed, and the Wall was built, some humans and demi-humans chose for various reasons, to stay beyond it's safety. Most of the communities and towns were quickly destroyed in the monster incursions that followed. Others were consumed by wars of dominance in the lands free of Empire's grasp.
Some went underground. They survived for a time, but over the decades became no better than the creatures they fought above the surface.
The human survivors were the worst. Shunning the light, they devolved into degenerate versions of themselves. As food became scarce, they began to pray on others, turning into cannibals. Stories reached Wall of roving packs of pale humans that hunted at night. They had created vast communities underground, in old tombs and monster warrens. They were given a name. Morlocks.

Though appearing as dirty albino cavemen, Morlocks can be quite cunning, setting traps for would be invaders. Anyone foolish enough to enter one of their lairs, is often taken alive for sacrifice to their blood drenched god. Their eyesight might be poor, but their sense of smell is excellent.
Morlocks are vicious predators, and should not be under estimated.
Rumor has it, morlock communities in the north are being pushed closer to Wall by invaders far darker and malign.