Gritty Realism

Session 52
A Big Rock, an Inn and a Wizard's Wand with a Knob on the End

Francis awoke Azmodeus and I for our watch. Although his own watch had been quiet, he told us that he’d noticed more activity than we saw in the wilderness, the forest seeming more alive than the wilderness before. He also showed us a crude map that Boris had slipped into his pocket, showing a route past a ‘big rock’ to a safe place to rest. Our own watch was uneventful, and I awoke to the smell of Jarvok’s mushroom stew cooking. I realised he had been up for some time, looking for ingredients. Deciding to try my own hand, I found some beautiful pink mushrooms with big red spots. I showed Jarvok my find, but he seemed less than impressed. He didn’t recognise the variety, but he knew enough to warn me that these would not be good to eat. After a filling breakfast, we followed Boris’s map as it guided us along the line of the forest’s edge. Looking out from the forest, the land was barren but for the occasional tree or hillock.

We travel along the path for sometime, it was a quiet hike yet Darrick warned us not to leave the path. The forest is unnerving us all, each of us sensing different things, things moving just on the edge of our vision, half sounds and strange lights. Francis’s dog Pan picks up the scent of beasts about us. Francis himself goes into some strange meditative state, apparently able to sense the presence of beasts himself. North East is a pack of giant hyenas heading west, in the forest are foxes, mice and something new he doesn’t recognise, though far less beasts than he expected. He warned us to keep an eye out for the hyenas, yet we did not sight them in the end. As the sun sets, we look for somewhere sheltered to rest. Valin and Francis head out to hunt, while Azmodeus finds shelter away from the forest, an old cave which had been long abandoned by its previous resident, though I swear I could still smell the bear. I see Jarvok head towards the forest and decide to see if he can give me any pointers to find better ingredients. He’s a different man when he talks about food, and showed me a few books, although I could only read a few of his own notes in Dwarvish I understood a little. He plucked some herbs and gave them to me to touch, feel and taste. I thought I recognised a few tastes from various dishes and garnishes. I found a few herbs and berries which seemed suitable, added to Jarvok’s own haul and combined with the goat the hunters had returned with we had the nicest dish yet. If Jarvok is looking for work, I’d offer him a job in my kitchens before my feathered cap could hit the floor. We rested well, and after another day of travel we came across a rock the size of a three storey building. Valin and I both spot signs upon it indicating the way north to The Wanderer’s Rest, presumably the safe place to rest.


After a few more hours travel we spied the smoke rising from the tavern’s chimney. Heading towards it we each feel a tingling sensation as though we were passing through some kind of field or barrier, but it soon passed. Feeling more at home in here than the wilds, I headed in first. As I walked in the halfling playing the piano stopped, as did all the conversation in the room. The goblin behind the bar, presumably the proprietor challenged us. ’What do you want?’ he asked aggressively, pointing a crossbow at me. I grinned at him, goblin or no, barkeep was a language I was fluent in. ‘We want what any man wants, a drink!’. At this the atmosphere tangibly relaxed, the music resumed and we headed towards an empty table near the bar. We order rooms, a meal and of course a round of ale. It was pretty nasty stuff, but I’d been dry for over a week now and was in no mood to argue. We realise that this is a good opportunity to gather a little intel on this area and start to mingle, or eavesdrop at least. Francis heads over to the door we came in through and picks up a discussion about a mutant problem the two human hunters were having. Ishamael listens in on a couple of females, a half-orc and a half-dwarf no less, though really only notices how drunk the half-dwarf is getting. He tries his luck with the goblins nearby, but their tongue is indecipherable to him. However the couple by them with a distinct natural look were a bit more fruitful and seemed interested in our party. I see Jarvok head up the stairs, and head over to the bar. I ask him if he has any other beers, some craft or microbrews perhaps, using this as an excuse to see what’s hidden behind the counter. As Clonk tells me how all the beer on tap is the same stuff they send out to all of The Wandering Inns chain, I get a closer look at the crossbow, a wonderful weapon and not one I think was rightfully his. I also noticed that the bar extended past the wall, serving another room to the right. I compliment his crossbow, and he starts to talk about Betty as he’s named her, highlighting the large hawk’s head at the dangerous end. As soon as he gets the thing out, it catches Valin’s attention, who heads over to ask about it. Clonk immediately recognises his sword as Mick’s however, and doesn’t believe a word about how he came to be in possession of it. As he talks, Valin notices some lights behind the bar flicker blue momentarily and instantly Clonk is asking us to sit down. A man enters, but the goblin waiter quickly ushers him into the concealed room to the right before heading back behind the bar to tend the hidden bar I spotted earlier. Meanwhile Francis is having some luck with the wildfolk or whatever those people were. Apparently their whole tribe has almost been wiped out, some powerful druid called Narder left 10 years ago, yet there are rumours of his return that coincide with when the forest began to change, stories of docile beasts attacking people and even the trees themselves becoming hostile with the vines themselves eating people. They came to the inn looking for help, though all they could offer was a displacer beast cloak and directions to a cave which they believe is where Narder resides. Francis proposes to talk to the rest of us to see what we can do. He also asked about the new visitor. They didn’t know much, but they knew this wasn’t his first visit, and previous visits have been the same, he heads into the side room, meets with another man from the city, then leaves.

Meanwhile Jarvok has returned from whatever he was doing upstairs, he looks to approach the half-orc and half-dwarf but only pauses briefly, apparently not interested in whatever they were talking about. Valin had stuck up a conversation with the hunters by the door, he noticed they had silvered weapons, a precaution against undead and other monsters. Telling them he’s new to the area, he asks for any advice they can give. After some vague advice about staying out of trouble, Valin asks what they know about the Lord of Ash, but they’re dismissive, considering these petty affairs to be beneath them. He asks their names, and they tell him that he can call them Anlow and Brann, though it seems unlikely that these are their real names. He asks what they know of the Knights of Old, but they only warn him to be careful of the darkness. He asks about the visitor, but apart from believing he is up to no good they reveal nothing. He asks why they are here, and they say they are waiting for a man called Manfred from Frampt who has not arrived yet. Valin mentions that Darrick is from Frampt, and they seem keen to talk to him, so Valin sends darrick over to them.


I head back to the bar and ask Clonk if he has anything stronger. He heaves a great barrel onto the bar, marked only with an ominous XXX. Gingerly he pours a little into a glass and I take it to the far end of the bar to eavesdrop on the conversation next door while pretending to drink whatever it was Clonk gave me. Although I could hear the voices, something was wrong and I only picked up a few words, Reinmann, military, movement. It seemed as though one voice was doing most of the talking while the other gave short responses or acknowledgements. Focussing on the conversation, I absentmindedly took a sip from the glass I was nursing. By my angel, that one sip felt like being hit by the proverbial dunny cart! No longer needing to act drunk, I attempted to lift the mood of the place with a rousing verse of The Wizard’s Staff Has a Knob on the End, but the damn halfling kept playing the tune wrong and before I’d even gotten to the best bit about how long the staff grew, the waiter began to escort me to my room.

I headed downstairs early, fortunately the night had been tame compared to some of the epic sessions I’d had back in Silverbell and far from any hangover I was feeling pleasantly refreshed, perhaps letting my hair down had been good for my soul. Looking about, the goblins, hunters and half-orc and half-dwarf women were also down for breakfast. The rest of our party seemed to think eight gold was extortionate for breakfast, and proceed to negotiate a better price with Clonk. It seemed important to them so I left them to it. After a while Jarvok appeared, bringing down breakfast for the two women, introducing himself as he did so. After a little small talk, he presented the older half-dwarf with the dwarven axe he had obtained in the prison. She recognised it as one from her clan in Kazak-Karak, specifically belonging to a scout that had gone missing in Reinmann. He asks about Kazak-Karak, and she tells him how it had been taken from them by the greenskins. She herself was from Ringfield, and she marked it on our map for us, though she warns us that it is a secretive and well protected place. Valin asks Darrick about the conversation last night, it seems that Manfred is a witch hunter in Frampt, employed by Heinz Schiller. He arrived years ago, and helps Mr Schiller run the town and seek out adventurers to recruit. They were keen to know more of Frampt and were engaged in witch hunter business, the details of which they kept to themselves, though they did tell of mutants bathing in the blood of the fallen to change their own bodies. Meanwhile Ishamael has been pretty quiet about last night, instead bartering with Clonk for a couple of flasks of the XXX moonshine that I sampled last night. He eventually swapped a couple of short swords that we’d taken, though to my mind that seemed a pretty bad exchange, however potent that stuff was. As we left, the half-orc woman stopped Jarvok to tell him that many more of her kind had been killed by the dwarves.

We had agreed to help the wildfolk, I don’t know if this was the path that my angel wants me to follow, nor do I believe it will benefit my quest immediately, however if we are to stop some evil then I am happy to pursue this path for now. The cave is on our way anyway, so it should not slow us by any serious time, and as the wildfolk take us along hidden shortcuts I realise that this task may even shorten our journey. They ask Ishamael if he’s from Ravenholm, and he asks them if they knew of the Boom Busters, which they hadn’t.They offer to add Ravenholm to our map, and tell him that that is where a lot of tieflings migrated North. Francis tells Valin to show them the Forsaken Slayer we took from Mick of the Brown Bulldog Gang. Ishamael asks the wildfolk what the Forsaken are. They told him they are Dark Elves, which have been around for as long as they can remember. The Fallen strengthened them, some ride spiders and some even merged with spiders. The arrival of the Fallen signaled their appearance on the surface.

The journey went well, travelling directly through the forest only took a couple of days and throughout we were looked after and protected. Eventually the forest began to change, less greens and more brown leaves and dead foliage, and even deeper the forest seemed to be coated in some kind of slime. As night began to fall we arrived at an area where a cave was visible deeper into the forest. Here the decay is at it’s worst, and although most animals seem to have left the area, Francis can still sense rats, spiders, fish and a lot of squirrels. We decide to leave and make camp until tomorrow, and approach Narder’s Grove once light returns.

Session 51
Wrestling, a wet horse and Judgement

I awoke to a commotion, someone had spotted a bird circling above us, though in my slumber I missed who. My first reaction was that it was a vulture, come to pick our bones once we had perished but the rest of the party seemed sure it wasn’t. I wasn’t exactly an expert on birds, though I had often been tempted to try hunting by falcon. It was too high up for us to do anything about, however it was a little disconcerting that the thing started to follow us as we moved on, never getting close enough that a well aimed arrow might take it out. As we passed over a bridge, we heard the sound of dogs in the distance behind us. It was too much of a coincidence, and we knew someone was tracking us. I scouted ahead on the horse, but finding nothing I returned to the party. I offered to drop back, confident that Greg could get me away from our pursuers before they could catch me, but the party was against it. Greg went from a trot to a canter as the party picked up the pace and marched hard, desperately looking for somewhere more defensible in the wilderness as our pursuers followed.

Eventually we saw a rocky hill, not huge but far better than anything else around us. We climbed the slippery surface, loose shale meant I had to dismount and lead Greg up the slope slowly. It would stop a charge at least, and put us in a better bargaining position. As we reached the peak we saw a small plateau, certainly enough to make our stand at least. Francis handed out some of the shields stowed on Greg, and we moved a few rocks to give a little cover. After a while the approaching group became more visible, eight men armed with a variety of weapons including some heavy crossbows, one of which visibly bigger than the others, plus half a dozen dogs. As they approached, the hawk circling us returned to one of the men, better dressed and clearly the leader of the band.

They stood at the base of the hill, so Stephen moved forward, hailing them. The man with the falcon stepped forward to ask why we were passing through. Stephen tells him that we escaped from the prison in Reinmann and are headed North. The leader pointed out that there was probably a bounty on our heads, which would be worth their while to collect. Stephen asked who they were, to make such threats. He introduced himself as Boris, and his party were the Brown Bulldog Gang. As the dogs were neither brown nor bulldogs, it took us a few moments to respond to this. As we were still determining whether or not they were a threat, Stephen took the initiative and transformed into a likeness of Theradix, the demon we freed from the prison in Reinmann. Taking his lead, I channeled my angel powers as I had in the prison, appearing as an angel before them, great wings sprouting from my back and bathing me in a heavenly glow. Seeing the demon, the four gang members holding heavy crossbows loosed bolts at the apparition, most of which missed or flew through the demon shape but one caught the bard in the arm. In addition to the crossbow bolts, one of the men ran towards him throwing a mace which missed wildly. Before the situation escalates, both sides are shouting at their own men to back down, and Boris begins yelling at the charging man, Jimmy, to come back. Azmodeus steps up, telling Boris that we are only passing through, that the gang should avoid the trouble, however Stephen seemed less impressed despite his injury and told Boris to leave, that this was our place now. Before the leader could respond, Stephen cast a suggestion spell at him, in some strange form of poetry I was not familiar with.
I’m a demon fool,
what makes you think you rule,
don’t throw a mace in my face,
just leave this place.
Boris seems confused by this, maybe sensing the confusion on his leader, the man holding the dogs by a single leash released them, and they charged towards Stephen, biting at him and causing him more injuries. Boris shouts at his men to get the dogs under control, and our own party get ready to fight but don’t attack. I ready my ki in my hands, preparing some bolts just in case. The man who was holding the dogs runs up the slope, grabbing the chain attached to all the dogs and pulls them back, allowing Stephen time to get up.

Boris tells everyone to calm down. Our parties are evenly matched and an all out fight wouldn’t do either any good. He asks if we would like to trade for some information instead. He asks us where we are headed, and we tell him North, to the mountains. He has some information that might help, so Francis offers a trade of some weapons for it. Boris seems happy with this deal, looking at his men they are equipped to varying standards, a few swords and shields could improve their lot considerably. He tells Francis that the land to the north belongs to the Forsaken Gang. They are not to be trusted, and prefer to attack at night using magic.

Francis then suggests a contest, a little wager for fun. Boris suggests a game, but Francis convinces him that a feat of strength would be more entertaining. Our strongest man against his in a wrestling match. Looking at Azmodeus, Boris doesn’t seem to think that the match will be a fair one, even against Mick, their Half-Orc. He suggests we use our smallest member Jarvok instead. Having seen Jarvok in battle, none of us think that Boris has the advantage that he think he does, yet Francis is quick to capitalise on it, telling him that he’ll agree if he’ll wager Mick’s greatsword. Mick is upset at this, but Boris seems certain that he won’t lose. He asks what we will put up, and eventually a wager of 10 gold is agreed. I realise that even 10 gold is a lot to the rest of our party, so I slap Jarvok on the shoulder, telling him to do us proud and giving him a little angelic guidance at the same time. Jarvok goes into his barbarian rage, and easily proves himself the stronger of the two half-orcs, pinning Mick before he knows what happened. Boris insists on the best of three, and Jarvok punches himself in the face, maintaining the rage that helped him in the first round. It’s too much for Mick who forfeits the fight, and his sword. Valin takes the sword, and Boris tells him that it’s name is The Forsaken Scalper, a powerful weapon against the Forsaken. Despite losing the sword, the Brown Bulldog Gang enjoyed the match, and with their new equipment they are suddenly more amenable to us, even offering to escort us North. The journey is silent, with no sounds of wildlife on the way. Frances asks why it’s like this, as it was not this way a few days ago when he travelled into Reinmann. According to Boris it was a new occurrence that the wilderness had been quiet all day, though he didn’t seem particularly concerned by it.

After 4 hours of small talk it’s early evening, and the Brown Bulldog Gang tell Francis that this is as far as they are willing to go. Before leaving, Boris reminds us not to trust the forsaken once more before leaving. Before long Darrick sees the bridge to the north in the distance and is visibly relieved, however it has gotten late and we realise that we won’t reach it before nightfall. Deciding to make camp and arrive at the bridge feeling fresher tomorrow, a few of us split off to find a good site and I come across a crater deep enough to conceal us from the road. We set about making camp, Francis and Jarvok spy a good fishing spot and I take Greg to patrol the area. Finding nothing, I head towards the river to see how they are getting on with their fishing. Neither have had any luck with the fish. Foolishly thinking I could do a better job, I decided that maybe I could hit something with a well thrown spear. I rode Greg into the stream, promptly discovering that not only was it deeper than it appeared, but that there was a strong current beneath the surface. As we began to get dragged below the surface, I grab onto Greg, as Francis ties a rope to a tree and the other end to us. I tie it around Greg, then try to climb up out of these deadly waters. Years of easy living haven’t exactly left me with a lot of natural strength, and after swallowing half the river and several attempts at climbing out I was finally safe. It took all of us to haul Greg to safety, and I attempted to try him off but I had lost what little trust I had gained with him. Fortunately Jarvok had more luck searching for food, enough to put together a stew for us.

We organised watches, and Stephen examined the dagger he had taken from Blaine’s box in the prison. He found the knife had been made to drain the life force of a holy being. I would not like to be on the receiving end of that, I feel like it would devour the angelic forces within me. In a darker twist, he felt that the dagger itself had some kind of thirst within it, and that Blaine had been given it by someone who was not its owner. I drifted off, safe in the knowledge that my trusty companions would spot anything that would threaten us.

I woke to the sounds of unearthly creatures attacking us from all sides. As I battled these animated skeletons I saw rotting dead people attacking the rest of the party, one of which was taking bites out of Greg. After dealing with the skeletons attacking me, I loosed a few blasts at the creature attacking Greg, finishing him just in time. As we killed these things, more waves were coming from behind, filling the gaps in their ranks. This was not a fight we were going to win. I remember someone once said to me that cowardice was the better part of valour, or something like that. Basically that sometimes it was time to run away and fight another day. As I retreated I could here my companions responding to something unheard. Then it was my time. A voice asked me ‘Who are you?’ Realising that giving anyone my name was not a good idea, I responded cordially, telling the voice that a gentleman introduces himself before asking the same of others. As I did this, I saw another wave of these stinking dead swarm Greg. He was a brave animal, and I felt bad that he had died because I had brought him into this. I didn’t think about it for too long however, as a great man with a great hammer appeared through the fog which had surrounded us, accompanied by his own steed, lit in flame. I watch as Francis desperately tries to help his man Jerome, and I heal him a little to aid his retreat, but to no avail as he too is pulled apart by these things.

I have no doubt that this man advancing through the undead before him is the one called Judgement, Ozymandius’s right hand. As we retreat, he smashes his hammer into the ground which erupts before him, and more of those damn things emerge from the earth, clawing their way up to pursue us. We have no choice but to flee, we won’t stand a chance against Judgement and his undead. We run, and we keep running. We make it to the bridge with the growing army on our heels, yet at the bridge they stop, seemingly unable or unwilling to go any further. They stop and watch us go.

It takes us almost an hour of travel to reach the great forest we could see from the bridge, and we were sure that in that time we were not being pursued. After hunting for a suitable spot, we found a hollow great tree which offered enough shelter for us to camp. We needed rest, and I prayed to my angel that we got it.

Session 50
A demon, an unwelcome escort and a meal.

After our time in that hellhole, the fresh air that hit us was sweeter than any I had ever smelled, despite being the river that runs through Reinmann. As soon as we exited the giant steel doors covered with arcane symbols, the last man we rescued began to transform. Muscle and sinew began to twist beneath his skin as though trying to get free, gaining mass as he grew. Giant wings tore through his back, with a dark membrane stretching out as they extended. His growling as he changed paused momentarily as his throat and vocal cords began to tear and reform. The finger and toenails grew out to form claws, whilst the face and skull reform to form a snout. His spine enlarged as the vertebrae pushed out, straining the skin which itself changed to a darker hue. Finally his eyes changed from their original colour into a yellow, more animalistic form. Towering above us, the demon’s lips split apart into a smile full of wicked teeth. ‘Theradix the Ravenous Maw thanks you for his freedom. I shall not forget this day.” He growled at us “The fallen will rise.” With that, he flew up into the black night sky, leaving us to wonder what we had released.


Two boats were dry moored by the doors, one full of crates and the other with a cage and shackles. Two staircases ran up to street level on our left and right, and barely visible on the opposite bank was another where boats could dock. As we decided upon the best route away, we heard a shout somewhere above us. I helped the mountain man push the boat with cargo down to the water, though my own strength paled in comparison. Our rescuer loosed an arrow, and the bard yelled something about his mother, which seemed to kill the man. I may need to rethink that idiom about sticks and stones it seems. The party swiftly joined us in the boat, and we silently made our way to the other dock without incident, where our rescuers cart awaited our escape.

Our rescuer sent his strange doggy forward to scout ahead, while the rest of us followed at a safe distance, trying our best to remain hidden. Hearing trotting horses, we did our best to conceal ourselves in the quiet marketplace, between the stalls and crates scattered about. Mounted knights of the Purple Guard passed the end of the marketplace, fortunately they were unaware of anything wrong and passed on their way. The cart was fortunately larger than I had expected, and covered in the low grade furs of many creatures. Our rescuer’s man Jerome aided us in unpacking the furs, yet I dreaded being trapped beneath them. My angel had not guided me wrong so far so I trusted in that, the discomfort a minor thing by comparison. I settled down and did my best to hear what was happening outside.

We rolled towards the city gates, I heard the sounds of various establishments, even recognising the voice of the barkeep from The Foolish Horse as he ejected some patrons that had overstayed their welcome. Eventually the cart drew to a stop, and I could hear snippets of conversation. I hear the rescuer greeting a man by the name of Ankan, and something about an urgent order of night hag skin. After a tone that could only suggest a bribe, the disapproving response from this Ankan was enough to know that no coin had passed hands. The voices drew close, and I hear Ankan asking about another displacer beast cloak, too fine a garment for a mere gate guard. We held our breath as we felt the furs being disturbed above us, yet we remained undiscovered. I hear some new voices, the clank of armour and horses and as we move on our way, I realise we have gained an unwanted escort on our escape.

For a long time there is no talking, however we hear our rescuer, introducing himself as Francis, requesting that the guards ride ahead to scout for threats. He is curtly ignored and reminded that we are being escorted to Silverbell. Eventually the cart stops, and sounds of the knights dismounting indicate that the convoy have stopped for food. Francis makes his way around the cart, telling our escort that he needs to check if the furs have displaced. As he lifts the furs, the mountain man tells him that the alarm will have been raised in Reinnman and that riders will have been sent out. Knowing that we would not make it to Silverbell before the riders reached us, Francis tells us we need to kill our escort.

I swear the mountain man smiled as he stood up in nothing but a loincloith, heaving the furs that covered us backwards and exposing us to the guards. We attacked the three men as Jerome cowered behind the cart, however this was short lived, as the single mounted man loosed a great fireball at those of us who had not yet moved, burning me once again and if I had not gotten some rest on the journey so far I fear my adventure would have ended there. As most of our party attacked the two guards eating, I realised my speed and range may be our only chance of stopping this mounted mage. As the mountain man buried his axe into one of the guards, I leapt from the collapsing cart towards the mage, loosing more angelic blasts at him which I could see were effective enough. He returned the gesture in kind, hitting me with some of his own magic missiles yet after that fireball I could shrug them off. I turned my head from the impact, to see the carnage behind me. The doggy biting at the horses, one of the escort men dying in the melee, the second one in armour not doing much better, and the bard singing a song which gave me some much needed refreshment. I loosed more bolts at the mage, enough to put him down this time and raced forward to grab his horse. It would be a more civilised way to ride than walking now that our cart was burning. Riding the horse back, I see the last man pleading for his life. He was not successful.

We searched the bodies and salvaged what we could. I found a few coins on the mage but nothing noteworthy, and his horse’s saddlebags were empty. Once we had everything we wanted, their bodies were thrown onto the burning wagon, hopefully buying as some time when our pursuers found this scene. We carefully removed our tracks away from the scene, and the mountain man who seemed a natural guide, and thankfully dressed in armour now, lead the way north, away from the road to Silverbell.


For the first time since we left the cells, we have enough breathing room to learn a little about each other. This man Francis Skinner is more than just a fur trader, he’s linked to the same resistance which I had been searching for. Tasked with assembling us as a team he had managed to get. As it transpired, my drunken antics and subsequent arrest had not been part of the plan, but rather the trigger for it.

As I rode and the rest of the party walked, Francis told of us a great city that lay to the north, where knowledge is free and is shared as much as resources are. It sounded almost mythical and I knew that this could be the answer to the questions that had haunted me since I realised there may be a better way than what existed in the Kingdom. He told us of a cache of equipment and supplies ahead that had been well hidden from the path. While deciding upon the best route to take, Azmodeus objected to the discussion vocally. ‘You talk too much.’ he told Francis. ‘You think too little.’ he responded to the goliath, who seemed to surprised to respond. I think I like this fur trader.

On our journey, we traded stories and learnt about this party we had all found ourselves in. Other than myself, I found out that the rather pleasant singer by the name of Stephen Bruener was actually a half-elf, the tiefling was called Ishamael and really seemed to like fire,and the knight with a touch of magic about him, Valin Horn, was a blacksmith from Toulouse. The two in the cell next door it seems had just been a bonus, though one I feel we have all been grateful for, Azmodeus the goliath from the wilds, who though powerful enough seems a little overconfident in his abilities, and Jarvok, the half-orc, half-dwarf barbarian who I realised may have been a slave in my father’s mines once.

After several days travel, I spotted the glint of something by a tree. Francis looked worried as I pointed this out, it was exactly where the cache was but it should not have glinted. As we got closer we realised that the site had been disturbed, Azmodeus identify that hyenas had gotten into it, likely attracted by the smell of rations. Most of the heavier equipment remained so those that needed it exchanged theirs or picked up extra gear. A few arrows remained but many had been scattered or damaged beyond repair. The lack of rations worried me in this wilderness, if we couldn’t find food I worried that Greg, my horsey companion may be on the menu. I was surprised once more however, both Jarvok and Azmodeus were competent scavengers and as we made camp Jarvok provided us with a delicious roast rabbit with a berry glaze. He was a surprisingly good cook and in his own way I felt this food was his way of thanking us.

Whether it was stomaching almost a week’s worth of prison slops, whether it was the knowledge that my path was becoming clearer or that this was possibly the first time in my life I had truly been free, eating that rabbit beneath the stars with this mix of outcasts tasted like the greatest meal I had eaten for a very long time. As I slept in this makeshift camp, I once more felt the warmth and praise of my angel guide, I was on the right path, wherever it may take me.

Session 49
A New Path, an Adventure and a doggy.

Five days I’ve been stuck in this dank, fetid hole now. Not a single word about why I’m here from the guards. The last thing I remember was having a bit of a friendly drink and then waking up in the dark with the mother of all hangovers. I assumed it was the usual of course, a few drunken high jinks, a night in the cell to teach me a lesson then business as usual once a few people had been tipped for the inconvenience.

The first couple of days were dreadful. No angelic voices, the food they gave me was abysmal and I don’t think the stink of decaying faeces will ever wash out. I really thought they were trying to poison me. Just as I feared I’d hit rock bottom, they stuck a filthy tiefling in with me. As if this cell wasn’t cramped enough as it was. Naturally I was cordial enough to it, I am a Spoffington-Smythe and circumstance should not dictate etiquette. Then these guards decided to add two more prisoners, a human (I think) bard with at least a semblance of manners and a human blacksmith. Still, compared to the cell next to mine these crowded quarters seemed preferable. I’d seen more prisoners brought in, some kind of mix of an orc and dwarf, and what I thought must be a mountain man, the goliaths of which I have only heard rumours.

Then everything changed. The door next to our cell opened smoother than I’d ever heard, I only knew the patrolling guard outside was dead when I heard his body hit the floor. With barely a sound, our cell door opened, and the hooded figure announced ‘Come with me if you want to live.’ before moving to the next cell and repeating himself. We looked to each other, but we knew he spoke the truth and followed down the corridor. It had to be better than waiting where we were. He repeated his actions in the third cell, where an old woman answered that she was simply an old lady wrongly arrested. As the cell opened, a feeling washed over us of some unseen force dissipating and her voice lost the croak of age and became the beautiful melody of a far younger, and probably more beautiful lady. She told us her name was Jenina Maganti and that her coven would not forget this. By the time I could see in though, she had vanished. In the fourth was a timid man by the name of Darrick Oatinhan, who claimed to be innocent yet was here on charges of espionage. He agreed to follow us, but he did so cautiously, letting the rest of us guide the way. In the fifth cell was a shackled and noosed man covered in scars. He was given the same choice as everyone else, yet he did not wish to leave.

In the final cell, there seemed to be nothing. The sign on the door simply said ’ Blaine Morgante ’, but our rescuer throught the cell worth investigating. The moment the cell was unlocked, an unearthly apparition appeared before us, striking our new friend. We retaliated in kind, I let loose with the angelic powers within me, blasting several holes in the thing. It moved towards me and for a second I felt a compulsion to run, yet I am a champion and my resolve held firm. It was finally felled though.

The party moved on, around a corner and began to investigate what appeared to be sleeping quarters. I moved on, thinking to keep watch for more guards. As I waited, the mountain man walked down towards a heavy portcullis which blocked our way. I have never before seen such a display of strength as that great metal thing was lifted above his head, though he did not look like he could hold it long. As the party split to investigate what would turn out to be an interrogation chamber, I continued my role as sentry, moving forward to watch for guards, I felt the flagstone beneath my foot click, and a moment later I was in agony, bathed in fire from above. Who the hell puts that where someone could stand on it so easily? Recovering from my very literal baptism of fire about traps, I cautiously edged around the corner, the tiefling right behind me. I swear he enjoyed watching me get burned.

I checked down the next corridor, but as soon as I saw the guard he saw me too. My feet were moving before I had time to think about what I was doing, and fearing he would raise the alarm I channeled the power of an angel through me. I hit him harder than I thought possible, and killed for the first time. It felt too easy, and without guidance I did not know if what I was doing was right, wrong or just necessary. The tiefling had followed me, though whether I was the target or the guard I couldn’t say. I rummaged through the guards possessions, but apart from a key and a few coins there was nothing of use for me. As I did this, the tiefling moved past me, into what looked like a storage room. There were five locked boxes, which opened easily with the key. One of the boxes held my signet ring, but the large sum of coin was nowhere to be found. I realised then that the guards had not expected me to get my belongings back, that the stranger spoke the truth, I would have died in this place. In a pile of clothing I found what I had been wearing plus my travelling cloak. My quarterstaff had been added to a weapons rack, and as a measure of compensation I also took a spear for myself. The rest of the party took what they could find of theirs, though much like my money not everything was present. The half breed barbarian fished some paper from one lockbox, looked at them for a second as the man who introduced himself as Derrick claimed they were his. Before the barbarian could give him the papers, I intercepted them. One was a map of the kingdom, that alone would have been enough to put him in this place, with it was a couple of pamphlets, an advert for adventurers and something about a sausage festival which looked of no importance. The stranger took the map, claiming he knew something of them. The tiefling was toying with what looked like the witches spell pouch, though as he pulled some disgusting viscera out everybody was a little surprised when he kept the thing. There was a scroll of pedigree and a necklace for the box corresponding to that of the muzzled man, and one final hidden box which contained a black dagger with a ruby in its hilt. My last act here was an attempt to conceal the guards body within the pile of clothing.

With the party better equipped, we turned to the last door in the corridor. I followed the group into what appeared to be a large storage room, stacked with crates and barrels, one of which the barbarian had broken open to take some fish. However, as I entered I saw the tiefling fly up to inspect a heavy chain attached to the ceiling, before a great troll leapt up and smashed him back down before me where he lay unconscious. As the fighters moved around to engage it, I used a little of my angelic power to heal the tiefling, who swiftly took flight to blast the troll with magical fire. I had feared he might react badly to the angelic power, but as he recovered I realised I may have misjudged him. Hearing the fight in progress, I scaled the crates before me to see the mountain man and the barbarian taking some damage. I readied myself and blasted the troll, finishing the thing off. My second kill, though at least this one wasn’t a human.
The party did a quick search of the storage room, but finding nothing headed towards the only door out.
More experienced than I, they seemed aware of the traps in this corridor, and with some investigation realised that there was a weighted system that disengaged the system. As I followed the group, I could hear what sounded like guttural language, more beast than man and too many voices to make anything out. I heard the sound of steel on steel and rounded the corner to see another guard, and what looked to be an officer in better armour. It wasn’t a tough fight, yet as I finished off the officer, my angel praised my actions and I knew that what I was doing what was right. It didn’t take long before I saw the source of the racket. Orcs, goblins and some creatures I didn’t recognise were shouting and jeering, although a lot of this was directed at the half-orc dwarf who was even spat upon. As the mountain man and the barbarian figured out the traps within the next corridor, the stranger opened the last cell in which a man was chained to the floor, gagged, fingers all locked in place and chained to his knees. He was surrounded with runes, on the floor, walls, door, and there were scratch marks on the floor. The stranger unlocked his shackles using the keys from the guard we had just killed and he agreed to follow us to freedom.

The corridor had only required that we tread on the correct flagstones to avoid triggering the traps, and we all passed through without harm. In the next room we encountered what was obviously a torture room, with several orcs and goblins in various conditions having obviously been tortured. Some of the group began to put them out of their misery, but one pleaded to be released if he gave us some information, which the mountain man agreed to. We found out that the next door led to the guard room, which would be full of guards at the moment. He was rewarded with the release of death.

We successfully snuck past the door, however the group broke into a dispute about whether to leave the guards alive as it would mean our escape was discovered at the change of the guard. The tiefling disguised himself as a guard to infiltrate the room, but there wasn’t much confidence for the success of the plan. Eventually the discussion was halted by the mountain man throwing the tiefling into the room. We cast silence on the room, and with barely a sound we slaughtered the sleeping guards. We made a quick search of the room, found a few coins and some equipment.

We made our way to another corridor, but this time found no traps. I heard something scurrying behind us and went to investigate. Following us was the strangest looking dog I’d ever seen. About four foot long not as tall as a hunting dog but with strange facial features. No stranger to dogs from my days hunting I quickly befriended the strange creature. It was then that I learned that this animal was our stranger’s companion. A man who has won the trust of a dog is often a good man, and a man I should trust. My angel had guided me right once more and I felt more certain about this path.

We found the exit, and dispatching the last few guards we found alive before we left this place, pondering our next move to escape Reinmann before the alarm was raised.

Session 43 - Session 48

The party fought the demons in Toulouse proper as they invaded the capitol.

Nathan’s party fought a Balor in the palace courtyard, whilst the party searched for the The Rose Queen and the Princess. Finding and engaging Kraziel.

Vivianna was killed in the battle.

The party then set out to chase down a lead to stopping the demon incursions.

When the party found the keep they sought it was heavily warded. As Garridan Crowley attempted to disarm the wards Dain Dankil instead decided to set off the wards, activating two statues which he then attacked. Garridan dragged Dain off the bridge to safety and the statues returned to their homes. The party was then able to deactivate the statues and sneak past, however as they entered the warded area they realised it was an antimagic zone.

The doors locked behind them and arrows began to rain down on them. None of them were able to make it to the keep before succumbing to arrows or falling from the narrow winding corridor to their certain deaths.

Session 42
We've decided not to endorse your park.

The party managed to overcome the mad Professor Iven riz Hammend, revealing him to be a servant of Ozymandias. Though it was unclear whether his madness was caused by Ozymandias or merely worsened by him.

The party invited the gnomish folk to travel with them, and Garridan offered them work, food and shelter in their keep, growing his reagents and the keep’s crops.

Session 41
Clever girl...

The party journey from the small jetty to the Old Laboratory. Wading through the shoulder high grass was easier for some than it was for Dain. The party were able to make their way to the Laboratory thanks to Ivellious and Pete’s keen sense of direction.

The party decided to climb in through the facility’s high windows which were roughly ten feet from the ground, and checked the main door for traps. Finding none the armoured members of the party entered and the party set about investigating. Inside the building seemed to have been abandoned and over time damaged by the wildlife.


Corran could sense magic below them, and Dain found some healing potions in a cupboard. The party discovered a grand library where the books had either been stolen or destroyed however in the room there was a hidden trap door which Ivellious’ elven eyes detected. The party descended into the basement level and found two rooms.

The first seemed to be an office of sorts, containing some paperwork and the journal of Professor Iven riz Hammend which Garridan took a quick look through were he was able to work out that Hammend’s experiements were failing and he had succumbed to the temptation of power, taking one of Ozymandias’ orbs and his experiments started to finally succeed but he spiralled Into madness soon after. This facility was abandoned due to his paranoia and it seems his research assistants were fired or possibly just left behind.

The second room was behind sturdier doors, huge metal containment doors. Dain wasted no time in bashing the doors down, causing huge amounts of noise in the process. Once inside it was clear this room was the source of the magical energy Corran detected, a ritual circle in the centre covered in Iron roots, and the back of the room was covered in rare and expensive magical components including some Mandrake root which Garridan wanted.

Garridan was able to discern the nature of the circle, and that the metal roots probably harnessed the Volcanic energy and brought it into the ritual circle, allowing Hammend to transmute whatever he wanted. The group left the circle well alone, gathered some of the jarred ingredients despite Ivellious protesting everything here was unnatural.

As they left the basement level and made for the exit, the magical ward on the door was triggered and party were ambushed with Garridan warning the party as the windows around them began to shatter as raptors dived into the room, surrounding the party.


The party battled hard against the agile and intelligent beasts, barely overcoming them, with Theodore using his illusory mirror images to avoid otherwise lethal bites and claws, and Pete being severely wounded as a Raptor bit into his torso and punctured a lung. After the battle Ivellious climbed up to the roof, and Pete fashioned a Raptor-talon grappling hook and followed him. Dain also climbed up onto the roof after Pete. They surveyed the surroundings and Ivellious noticed a small village on the island in the centre of the Loch. They also looked to the purple at the edge of the map, concerned with Ozymandias’ connection to the colour and the purple light that seemed to be connected to the Forest of Chaos. The party decided against heading there as the Forest of Chaos was enough to send them mad already. Ivellious was worried the island may be a village of prisoners so the party headed back to the jetty where they had spent the night before.

The party’s journey over the water was uneventful and they arrived just before nightfall. As they approached the village they realised it was smaller than they thought at first, it was only a handful of huts but the huts were very small. The party heard a ringing bell, shouts in a squeaky language and small figures scurrying. Corran lifted his hammer to empower his voice and told the village that they came in peace. Garridan suggested he tried in Gnomish as he had recognised the language, he attempted to teach Corran the phrase but it didn’t quite come across right, resulting in a small arrow landing nearby.

Garridan attempted to step forward, using Mans as an eye in the sky to locate the gnomes, and tried to calm their nerves. In response a second arrow missed him by a wide margin, although he heard a gnome boasting about how he thought he’d got one. Garridan then told the gnomes to surrender their arms or he would rain down fire upon them, and exploded some minute meteors a safe distance above them. They threw down their weapons and scattered. Garridan reminded the party he wasn’t exactly a diplomat. Using Mans he tracked down the oldest gnome and once Mans started talking in Garridan’s voice the old gnome collapsed in fear. Garridan then introduced himself and eventually the gnome realised that the “giant invaders” weren’t (at least initially) hostile. Once they traded promises of not eating eachother then the Gnomes agreed to return to the village.


The gnomes explained they were trapped on the island due a great sea beast eating their kinsmen who attempted to cross, also the mainland was dangerous and the giant grass forests were impossible to navigate. The gnomes sustained themselves by farming and fishing.

Dain offered them alcohol and T-rex meat.
Pete entertained them with interpretative dance stories relating to his many trophies.
Garridan, Theodore, Ivellious and Corran discussed offering the Gnomes safe passage to somewhere that wasn’t a tiny island near a volcano in a dinosaur infested park. Garridan translated and told the gnomes they could stay, or they could come with the party under their protection. The gnomes said they would sleep on it and discuss it amongst themselves, obviously worried about the great sea beast that the party hadn’t seen on their way to the village. The party made camp next to the gnomes’ village and readied themselves for escaping the park tomorrow.

Session 40
Life, uh... finds a way.

The party made it to the base of the Volcano, Mount Goldenbloom, whilst carefully scanning the sky for the The Destroyer of Worlds. However the base of the Volcano’s north side was a giant pool of lava, meaning they would not be able to scale or cross here which left them with two options; Webber’s Tunnel or Serpent’s Crossing. Garridan suggested the tunnel, as crossing over lava was never a good idea and the old abandoned laboratory was in that direction also which he wanted to visit. The party made their way west to the tunnel.

As the party neared the tunnel Pete saw it, the Roc, the destroyer and the harbinger of the end times so he broke into a sprint. The rest of the party picked up the pace but only Pete sprinted for the half hour it took to reach the tunnel. The party were able to reach the tunnel before the end of the day, finding a tired Pete examining the tunnel entrance.

As night was falling Pete advised we should make camp inside the cave so we weren’t killed by the Destroyer of Worlds. Dain wasn’t so sure due to the suspicious giant spider tracks that led in and out of the cave, however the group made camp inside the cave entrance.

During the night Mans was surprised by an arrow, and died immediately. Garridan woke the party who met the ambush head on. The party had been assaulted by a pair of Drider archers and their giant spider beast.


The battle was intense, and Corran was struck down by an arrow to the head, which splintered on impact with such ferocity that it fractured his skull. The Drider’s poisoned arrows also left Theodore with an infected wound and scars, whilst Garridan had to remove a stubborn arrowhead that was sure to leave a scar from himself, and a severely deep arrow from Theodore that threatened severe injury.

The party overcame the Driders and their Huge Monstrosity eventually and made their way through the tunnel, passing by the altar to Lolth and emerging in the south side of the park.

The party made it’s way round to the southern base of Mount Goldenbloom. Making note of giant dinosaur tracks they had found earlier, but Van Pelt did not believe there was anything that size in the park. As they reached the base of the Volcano they discovered a massive cave entrance which they approached with caution. Upon inspection the cave seemed to be home to a giant T-Rex which Van Pelt explained was the Queen, something he thought not possible. The Queen was sleeping.

Garridan sent Mans into the cave (having resummoned him from his death in the Webber’s tunnels), Mans was able to sneak into the ash pile, but his entrance blew up a cloud of ash, waking the Queen. The party ran, seeking a trench to hide in. The Queen raised a mighty foot to crush the tiny raven and missed barely, the Raven escaping through a gap in it’s toes. Garridan then dismissed his familiar and recalled it back to him, shaking the ash loose from Mans’ feathers and into a small bag.


The party waited patiently for the Queen to leave the area, and then escaped to the South. Reaching the dock, it was just a small pier and rowboat. The party decided to make camp in the tiny rowboat, rather than sail at night, or journey to the laboratory at night. The night passed without incident although the conditions were very cramped in the rocking and swaying boat.

Session 39
Hold onto your butts.

The party, having defeated Van Pelt negotiate a deal with him for guidance. Corran summons a horse which carries Van Pelt whilst Ivellious tends to his quite grievous wounds.

The party skirted south around the Repugnant Redwood, making camp when they lost the light. The party moved north to Bumble’s Break avoiding another herd of mammoths as they did. The party spotted a Chimera flying above the Forest of Chaos, so they moved carefully to avoid it’s notice as they had faced such a creature before. Garridan made the mistake of peering into the forest, and felt the mental toll it took on him.

Eventually the party moved north and they ventured up the snowy incline to Bumble’s Break Van Pelt lapsed into unconsciousness due to the cold but the party pressed on. Upon arriving at the apex they found the cave and were ambushed by the practically invisible Abominable Yeti.

Garridan believed the Yeti to be a distant cousin of the Troll so opened up with some explosive potions, which seemed to frighten and startle the beast. Theodore noted the effectiveness and joined in with the fiery barrage. The Yeti began to escape however Corran speared the beast to a wall with a javelin as it fled. The party then made camp in the cave which appeared to be the Yeti’s lair.


Pete spent all night spinning the Yeti for it’s hefty fur, and Garridan collected a sample of blubber. Van Pelt awoke in the morning and was shocked the party had slain the eponymous Bumble. Pete covered Van Pelt in Bumble’s pelt to keep him warm. Dain discovered a small cave which he crawled through and discovered a source of clay. Garridan went through second and used light on Mans in order to see. Once through Garridan waded through the ice cold river that flowed through the cave and climbed to the top of the slippery boulder and began to scrape clay. Dain wanted to help so he tried to leap atop the small slippery boulder, managing to reach the top he stumbled into Garridan and sent them both tumbling to the icy cold river and rocks below. After some chastisement Garridan climbed back up to continue to scrape clay. Dain believed it’d be helpful to attempt to attack the clay from the gorund with his hooked chain. He swung heavily, narrowly missing Garridan and smashing heavily into the clay, also striking Mans who was nearby holding a light for Garridan. Mans was killed by the wayward chain and Garridan firmly requested that Dain leave the cave, suggesting his skull fracture was impeding his judgement… and threatening to kill him.

Garridan finished collecting the clay, informed the party of his need to resummon his familiar and then the party made it’s say to the frozen lake to the south. A chest lay in the middle of the ice cold lake with frozen islands. Dain noticed a purple light in the sky shooting south across the sky from the Forest of Chaos, Dain began to tell the party he’d seen a legendary bird.

Dain and Garridan had to then work together as the rest of the party looked on without helping. Dain hopped, fell and swam to the centre, taking considerable cold damage. Dain discovered the chest was marked “Rest in Peace” and skeletal remains were inside wearing a robe, some gems and a tome. Dain shook the remains out of the robe, brushing the dusty skeleton into the lake. Garridan then levitated the chest and Dain piloted it back.


The Party then travelled towards Mount Goldenbloom. Once they had reached the ashen wastes surrounding the Volcano they saw what appeared to be a Giant Roc, with a 100 metre wingspan. Pete, uncharacteristically overcome with fear, proclaimed the bird to be The Destroyer of Worlds and ran for cover stating it was the end times. The party sought cover, Garridan and Corran seeking shelter in a ribcage of a long-dead T-Rex and covering themselves in ash, laying low. Others finding a trench or hiding behind raised ground.

In the ashen wastes the party encountered a red-skinned T-Rex, which Dain was understandably petrified of, and made every attempt to avoid being crushed by it as the party fought against it. It appeared more feral than Betsy.

Once the way was clear of the Roc and T-Rex the party pitched tent and covered it in ash, hoping to camouflage it and set watches.

Session 38
Spared no expense.

Whilst recovering from aiding the tribes and Vonda Starag defeating the corruption of one of the forests and the Demon being summoned into the material realm the party is approached by Martin Cleves and told that Professor Iven riz Hammend would like to meet them and show them his work. Garridan having heard of the renowned scientist convinced the party this was a rare opportunity. Martin reveals he is Hammend’s personal steward.

The party were lead through the woods to Hammend’s extremely remote research centre on the edge of the Kingdom. Along the way they met with Hammend’s personal ranger, Van Pelt, a well spoken half-orc with a huge crossbow. Van Pelt has been way finding for Martin the whole way here and back. He has also caught a deer for their supper.

The party arrive at Hammend’s park and enter onto a rail-car that Garridan is able to sort of understand as it’s a blend of mechanical workings and magic. They arrive at the peak and there are a few buildings including Hammend’s research centre. Hammend greets them and requests that they tour the park first, and he’ll show them the research centre and answer any questions once they return.

The party climb into another rail-car slightly different to the first and begin their journey into the park, as they descend into the valley they take note of some features. The park is inside a ring of mountains, and in the centre there is a volcano. As they near the base of the descent they see some giant doors, with the name above them. Torcian Park.


The rail-car stops after the gates and they exit, finding supplies, a map and a note.

Dear Adventurers,
Welcome to the ultimate survival test. Your goal is to reach the southern point and exit.
The park contains mystery, adventure and reward!
If a Homunculus is what you seek, you will need:
Clay from the depths of Bumbles Break.
Ash from the cave at the base of Mount GoldenBloom.
and Mandrake Root from the old Laboratory.
Van Pelt will begin his hunt shortly, I advise you do your best to try to and avoid him.
Good luck!
Izen Riz Hammond


The party, now realising they’ve entered a deadly hunt consider their options. They must venture south through many obstacles and dangers, and evade the deadly Van Pelt. They move toward the east, as Garridan advises it’d be too obvious to go directly south, we would be safer zig-zagging through the park for survival purposes. Also he tells them he needs to go to the western-most point to visit Bumbles Break.

The party agree to leave the dense woodland quickly and travel into the open plains. Encountering beasts that they’ve never seen before. Avoiding a small herd of rhinoceroses but angering a group of Triceratops by entering their territory. The group overcame the dinosaurs however it was not easy and many sustained injuries.

However, due to the group’s decision to not waste time covering their tracks and just deciding to move quickly because Van Pelt could probably track them even without tracks, Van Pelt was easily able to find and ambush them. Van Pelt riding his T-Rex companion Betsy attacked the party. They fought hard however the party brought Betsy down, unfortunately she landed on Dain and fractured his skull. Corran was able to keep Van Pelt from running away; The half-orc appeared dead but was hanging on due to his Half-Orc constitution.

Van Pelt surrendered having being defeated honourably agreed to lend the party his knowledge of the area, however he was only the game-master of the northern locations.


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