The Enchantress of the Burning Wood: Gaming Summary, April 10, 2005

It's recappin' time! Last night, we caught up with the characters from NuNeng. How new are they? So new, they don't even have a decent name for their party or their campaign yet. How about “Swiftside Story” for the time being?

When we last left our intrepid party, they had agreed to carry a message to the Enchantress of the Burning Forest. (Or, rather, Thamon had agreed, and hired the others to come along.) The previous session ended on the cusp of an encounter, and as we pick up the trail, an encounter there was….

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Excellent Vancouver Andventure, II

[Read the other part first, chums!]

Oh, the situation was dire indeed: my character, Ham, was imprisoned in the oubliette for a murder he didn’t commit, and Scott’s character, Benel, couldn’t have cared less! And this had been the adventure where I hoped to demonstrate that not all my thief characters are evil! **sob!**

Fortunately, I was released from my prison by the Dolphin steward’s humongous cousin, who believed I was too stupid to have killed anyone and told me to flee to the lower city. I trudged around underground, making for the docks, and encountered no monsters thanks to a merciful GM.

Benel, meanwhile, looked for employment elsewhere. First he tried the House of Otter, but they were in mourning. Then he tried the House of Octopus, where he was able to convince them to hire him to write a dirge honoring the fallen Otter steward. They said yes, as long as it was also an acrostic. He came up with:

O T T E R
T O W R E
T W I G S
E R G O T
R E S T S

Um. Yeah. His versifying was, amazingly, better.

I reached the docks, had a bath, found an inn, and slept. Benel, working on his acrostic in a tavern, was informed of my escape and my innocence. Gullible as he was, he believed every word (of course, it happened to be true…). Did he set out to look for me? No, he bought himself a drink.

Later, he went looking for the dolphin steward, who wasn’t in. He left the steward a note saying “Ham is not the real killer! If you need me, I’ll be down by the docks, alone!” He went walking by the docks. He was found later, his throat slit.

Upon seeing his corpse, I ran to the steward’s cousin to offer my services finding the real killer. He informed me he didn’t need an imbecile helping him. He gave me some money, and I went back to the inn, where I awaited the arrival of spring…

Excellent Vancouver Adventure

During his visit to Vancouver, Josh led Rachel and myself on a two-character adventure set in Harmody in the world of Neng. I played Benel the Elder, a 55-year-old bard/storyteller from Loiborra. Rachel played Ham, a thief whom I trustingly hired as my bodyguard. (Gullibility is one of my character’s flaws.) Ham was also a skilled poisoner — think Zekel the Zekarian. Upon entering Harmody, I presented myself to the Great House of Dolphin, where I arranged to perform a 4-night epic ballad to commemorate the mercantile alliance between the Houses of Dolphin, Otter, and Octopus. We received lodging in the visitor’s part of the palace.

One evening as Ham was wandering about, and while I was getting beat up by a jug band in a taverna, someone apparently came into our room and rifled through our stuff without taking anything. Ham took it onto himself to ask around, and to search the room of another house guest, whom he concluded must have been behind this. The guest, who turned out to be the steward’s cousin, discovered Ham in the act, to which Ham responded: “Somebody rifled through my bags, so now I’m here to rifle through yours.” The other guest concluded that Ham was mentally defective, and meant no harm. Ham then went to harass the steward of the House about how our room had been searched. The steward denied that this could have been possible, and he and Ham took a strong dislike to each other. Ham was in fact thrown into the oubliette for the night, but let out the next day. Ham then swore terrible revenge against the steward within hearing of a chambermaid. Foolish Ham.

The steward and I agreed that given what had happened, it would be best if Ham left the House to find other lodging. Ham reluctantly agreed, but secretly decided to sneak around the house and get revenge. To further this peculiar goal, Ham stole a maid’s outfit, dressed as a maid (despite being a man and having no skill in disguise), and was sneaking around the House. I uncovered Ham in my room, and insisted that he leave. He then promptly crawled out a window while still wearing the maid’s outfit.

That evening the performance went splendidly. I actually wrote out my verses. Let me record the first several lines of the poem that Benel actually performed for the assembled dignitaries in the House of Dolphin:

Back when the world was young
Many songs were once sung
Of Krokan of the House of Otter
Who had a lovely daughter
That betrothed once became
To the scion of the house of fame,
Dolphin, a mighty lord
Throughout Harmody adored.
The two houses together ventured
On ships with servants indentured
Across the realm of Harm
To lands where it was warm
Wine-eye Krokan and
Long-thighed Dezeldun
Sailed for many a moon
Trade they made with Goos
Of the House of Octopus
In mercantile ability
Achieved great civility.
The rate of exchange was great
Profitable was the freight
From ships laden with goods
Like rain upon Par-quds
That for long aeons fell
As Harm’s realm did swell.
Tax benefits did accrue
To the Three Houses Great and True
As Pendel-bar’s thunderous shield
Cleaved on watery field,
As Hazaltar slew the marg
So sailed to Harmody carg-
o, rich and true
On Harm’s plain of blue.

I kid you not.

That night, during dinner the visiting steward of the House of Otter was poisoned! The steward of the House of Dolphin immediately proclaimed Ham to be the prime suspect, since he had (1) been caught rifling through belongings in someone else’s room (2) had been thrown in the oubliette overnight (3) had quarrelled with the Dolphin steward, and had been heard threatening revenge, (4) had poison, cheese and extra socks in his bag, and (5) had been seen climbing out a castle window while wearing a maid’s outfit.

The guards searched the town for Ham and found him easily enough — he wasn’t trying to hide, and of course, I wasn’t about to warn him. Now, Ham had in fact done all of the things attributed to him, except for the actual crime of poisoning the Otter steward. In spite of being innocent, you must admit that the circumstantial case was damning. Benel immediately disavowed all knowledge and association with Ham, believing him to be utterly guilty.

(To be continued)

Like Moths to a Flame

I have just added on to a summary already written by Brian:

The party ran into a rather large ice-golem that seemed to be immune to the pink light. Trust me — the first thing we did was have Merath zorch it, so she
stayed firmly in character (Wendy was absent this session). After that didn’t work, Merath cleverly cursed it so that its ice became rotted and brittle. Nathan found a giant bow in the chamber, but he wasn’t strong enough to draw it. Marath quickly blessed him to increase his strength. This allowed Nathan to shatter the golem with a couple of well-placed arrows, which was a good thing, because Jacob the Mighty (TM) was busy rolling 1’s. We learned an important lesson about ice golems, though — splitting an ice golem in two gets you two full-sized ice golems. So although there was some clever strategy and teamwork in evidence, we required the legendary cunning of Bastriel to get us out of this mess (Editor: This was in Brian’s original version).

After extricating ourselves from the Golem Menace, we wandered about the caverns, finding that they exhibited some odd physical properties. This was quickly dubbed the “Scooby-Doo Effect” as we found that when we left the central room via one passagway, we almost always returned to the central room via another passage.

Trail and error finally worked in our favor and we stumbled upon the a small “city” of humanoid moths (we had run into one such fellow a bit earlier in the evening). Bastriel straining the limits of his diplomatic skill instructed the Mothmen to “Take me to your leader,” and surprisingly enough they complied. Queen Mothra is her name, a blue-skinned beauty (much to Bastriel’s delight), and she informed the party, due in large part to Nathan’s gentle manuevering of the conversation, that all is not right in Moth-ville. Being heroes, the party looks like they are going to help, and there have been knowing glances exchanged about perhaps adding the mothmen to the Rose Kingdom’s faithful subjects.

Deeper Into The Ice

The Rambling Bumblers (it is the Rambling Bumblers, isn’t it? Are we all agreed?) explored deeper into the Nefari-built ice caverns beneath the Red Keep. Coming to a huge fanged archway carved in the ice, Jacob the mighty sliced it apart with the Thorn Sword….and released an enormous Ice Worm. Unfortunately for the poor fauna of the ice cavern, Jacob’s skill at Giant Killing made short work of the beast. Unfortunately for the party, the carcass of the worm attracted the hungry attention of the cloud beast in the chasm, which poured up out of the chasm towards them. Eleazar quickly hurled some silver crescents and put up a ward to protect the party, and after some hemming and hawing, Merath of Yahar let loose with a full-power blast of the Rose Light to try and destroy the worm carcass, so that the cloud would lose interest. Merath forgot, apparently, that within the Rose Kingdom, the power of the light was nearly unlimited, and ended up vaporizing a 30-yard diameter sphere including the worm, the archway, a goodly chunk of the cliff, and the ice bridge that the party had come in on. Ooops. It did kill or drive off the cloud beast, though.
Buried in the ice they found a new PC, Nathan (played by Brian). Nathan had somehow came to be buried there after severely annoying a curse witch three years before, but he was fuzzy on the details. Seeing no other way out, he elected to follow them, although throughout the evening they gave him cause to wonder at the wisdom of that decision.
A bit of fancy work with the rope later, and the party was in the ice tunnel (twenty yards behind the original entrance); proceeding down the tunnel, lit by Merath. After a while, the tunnel came to be suffused with at first a blue, and then a blue-green glow. Eleazar came to be more and more aware of whispering in Nefari that apparently only he could hear. Spotting shadowy humanoid figures paralleling their line of march, Jacob slashed through the ice, revealing another tunnel, and the polished surface that was reflecting the party’s images. They moved over to the new tunnel, and a fair distance farther came to a big, deep cavern, reminiscent of the cavern of the Rose Light beneath the Rose Tower. In the center of the cavern was an icy platform, and there were 24 ice bridges from the platform to tunnels in the walls; below they could see another such platform, and another beneath that, which was as far as the golden light from the torch ensorcelled by Bastriel could carry. As soon as they stepped onto the bridge, the ambient blue-green glow went out, and Eleazar stopped hearing the whispering.
Merath refused to enter the cavern once she figured out that her precious pink light wouldn’t work there, so the others investigated the platform and discovered a Nefari spiral underneath the undisturbed snow. Unlike certain other PCs, they did not walk right across the hidden spiral, so no unexpected journeys to the Nefari lands for them. Yet.
They decided to explore the tunnels methodically, starting at the immediate left, and once they had gotten to it safely managed, with some difficulty, to persuade Merath to join them. Once in the corridor her light worked again, and she was much relieved.
Down the corridor they were attacked by a horde of tiger-sized Ice Weasels, who attempted to rip their flesh. They dispatched several, but there seemed to be no end to them, and eventually (once they rediscovered the fact that Merath’s pink light worked as a damage shield) they sent Merath out into the pack, and eventually the ravening weasels were reduced to so many cauterized gobbets of flesh. In order to prevent them from being used by spirits to make undead, Merath systematically vaporized the lot of them. In the weasel’s nest they discovered a fancy red stone box with gold trim, in which they found a Nefari magical charm (a ring linked to a bracelet) that they tucked away for future examination. There was a narrow tunnel leading out, but since they would have to slither through it, they elected to ignore it.
In the second corridor they found a barrier of differently colored ice, and when Jacob poked a hole in it, water poured out (presumably from the lake above); Merath used her hedge-wizardry to reseal the hole before the entire lake came in.
In the third corridor they discovered a temple with a Nefari altar of ice (shackles, blood-grooves and everything), which Eleazar ritually defiled–although the process of doing so knocked them all out. Upon recovering, they explored two of the three adjacent rooms, in one finding feathery vestments in iridescent blue and green, and in another many sharp knives and instruments of torture as well as a big black Book O’ Evil. Jacob attempted to set fire to the book, and burst into flames himself. Unable to put out the fire on his leafy form, he raced back to corridor two, cut another hole and doused himself. Merath followed, a little belatedly, and sealed up the hole before too much of the lake came in.
At that point, we broke for the evening.

The Neng Campaigns

I currently have several campaigns set in Neng, although they have varying degrees of frequency.

Russell has a two characters Carlys eal Tharstorr and Salaomer ein Ringoral (who drop in on the other campaigns when he’s available generally once or twice a year); when one of us visits the other, we usually get in a solo adventure for one of them.

The Rose Tower campaign is the one that my Sunday group played for about two years, before we decided to put in on hiatus. One of our players (Rob Barrett) left, and three new ones joined (Scott Oser, Rachel Hartmann, and Mike DeSanto) and there seemed to me to be a real divide between the characters who had been adventuring together all along and the new characters; the campaign was big on politics and continuity with past events, and the newer characters tended to not have the ties that the others did and the players tended not to know what was going on unless someone stopped and explained it to them frequently. I thought it would be best to start everyone with new characters, at least until the new players got “caught up” enough on world events and developed enough of a backstory not to be put in the shade by the established characters.

The Rambling Bumblers campaign was the result of the decision I mentioned; the characters all started as students attending the same boarding school in Neng, although they were free to leave and adventure after that. The Rambling Bumblers was the name the group gave to itself after its first couple of adventures in alternate dimensions led to horrible, horrible things happening in those dimensions. I had meant for the dimension hopping to be a short diversion, and give all the players an equal footing as far as knowing the history of the place; in retrospect, it was a mistake, and afterwards they never really fit into the Neng setting, plus they developed a bad habit of running away from any trouble they stirred up–generally to a new dimension. They are currently semi-stranded in the Spice Islands, far to the south of Neng proper, and since Rachel and Scott are leaving for Canada at the end of the summer, if we continue with Neng we may revert to the Rose Tower campaign.