Archive for August, 2011

This is the tale of how the halfling Friday rose to become the greatest halfling, and set his people free.

There once was a mighty enchanter named Obitello Amber. He was accounted wisest mage in all the world during his years in the major power centers of the world. After he became powerful and wealthy, he realized that he had gained all he could from the world, and that to further his research, he needed to leave the worldly ways behind, so he could search within. Obitello had three children, Ismella, Isolda, and Xvart, who were also his apprentices in the arcane arts. Together they made plans to trade in their worldly wealth for the perfect place to study deep magics. A lonely isle far down in the southern sea suited them perfectly. On this jungle isle was a lake, and in the center of the lake was a perfectly circular island. This is where they built Amber Mansion.

For many years the family dwelt in their mansion on the lonely isle within an isle. They had the barest communication with the outside world. A small colony of colonists from the mainland eked out a meager existence on the far shore, many days from the enchanter’s mansion, and there were rumors of a pirate camp in a hidden harbor, but the dangerous nature of the local fauna was a better barrier than the sea for keeping unwanted visitors away. Much of Obitello’s research in those days was in the nature of mental powers, and the magical energies harnessed by various creature’s minds. There was a breed of four-armed white ape that was the subject of many early experiments, before Obitello moved on to his greatest discovery on the island.

In the great steaming jungle in the center of the isle was a race of small forest creatures whom he called the fanaton, which was a corrupted elvish for flying-boy. His apprentices however, called them chibi-fanaton due to the hilarious calls of “chibi-chib-chibi” they made to each other as they glided from branch to branch in the spreading canopy above. They made nest like homes tied to one another with swinging vine bridges, and held obsidian chip daggers in their prehensile tails. They always had smiles and a curiosity for the Ambers, and eventually they brought home a chibi fanaton and named him Friday for no apparent reason.

Friday learned every trick they taught him, and his curiosity knew no bounds. One day, after successfully mastering a new trick, the creature shouted out with glee “Chibi-chibi-fanaton!” and the wizards were surprised to see it could learn language. The master of the house, Obitello became interested as well. He spent many long nights with Friday, studying him as he tried to teach him to speak. After incorporating Fanaton into its vocabulary, Friday seemed to have no interest in learning further words. Obitello went to his treasure chamber and brought out his greatest possession, a Philospher’s Crown it was called, which he used when a problem seemed insurmountable.

Friday watched the wizard with his big brown eyes as Obitello sat down with his crown, pondering the problem. The wizard knew the chibi-fanaton could speak, but wouldn’t. He turned to one scroll after another, trying to unlock the mysteries of the vast powers stored within the mind of every sentient creature, including this new species. No answer was forthcoming, and his exhaustion drove him to remove the crown at long last with a groan. The morning sun shone threw the curtain, he had burned away another night. He sighed and as he closed his eyes, he looked up to the end of the table, where Friday still sat watching the wizard with shining eyes.

As one set of eyes closed, a long tail uncurled to hook the crown over its tip. Slowly Friday drew the crown to him and dropped it over his head. Friday was so small and the crown so large, it was sure to fall to the table, or smash his toes, but no, the platinum rim caught upon Friday’s fuzzy brow, and as it did, the crown swung round to circle his head and a strange thing happened. With the circlet complete about the tender mind of the chibi-fanaton, magic flared, powerfully and pure. The Philospher’s Crown released its illuminating cargo into an innocent mind, and Friday screamed “Chibi-chibi-chibi-fanaTON!”

He crumpled to the floor, and shook, and his fur began falling out in clumps, except for that on his head, hands, and feet, which grew long and curly as the creature groaned and spasmed on the table top. Eventually the seizure ended and the fanaton was unconscious and sweating, naked and pink like a newborn babe. Friday’s brow was furrowed as if in deep thought, and the crown rolled away to come to rest by the wizards hand, which gripped the table edge as he watched the strange transformation. Ismella and her sister rushed in to find the poor creature, and wailing in dismay they picked him up to swaddle him, but shrieked when his long and handsomely thick tail fell off with a little splash of blood.

Days later, the chibi fanaton opened his eyes, and catching sight of Obitello who sat at his bedside, the little person spoke. “I am Friday!” he said. In the following months, Friday brought more and more of his people to Amber mansion who transformed into small people that the wizards called Halflings. Eventually they had twenty or thirty of the halflings, who they trained to work as servants and grounds keepers.

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Yup its da giants

With the threat to the city at anend the heroes finally had a chance to speak to Obanar, the last guardian of Argent, and they learned much about the history of the world, and what led up to the abandonment of the city.

Near the beginning of time, there was a great war between chaos and order known as the Dawn War. The gods, and their creations the demihumans, fought on the side of order, while Chaos was led by the primordials, sick imitations of the gods spawned by the constantly churning energies of pure chaos.

One of the primordials Piranoth was brought low and chained beneath what is now known as the Dawnforge Mountains, and it is held captive by the placement of certain ‘divine engines.’ The city of Argent began as a guardian outpost of one of these engines, but over the centuries it grew to become a city devoted to protecting the fragile world from the unceasing attempts of chaos to bring the ordered world back into the flux of chaos. For centuries, the greatest nations of D Erte sent their heroes and champions to the city of D Argent to hold back Chaos.

Then 100 years ago came a world war unlike D Erte has ever endured. All the nations of the world were duisrupted and cast down as the good peoples of D Erte fought against a two pronged incursion by the agents of the Abyss as well as the lord of the undead. When it was over, the Champions of D Argent never returned to the stronghold, and eventually the city fell to ruins.

Besides heroes, the city is run by a race of people known as Torrians. Obanar is a torrian, a race of lion-headed humanoids. It was up to these torrians provide the every-day labor involved in the running of the city, and the greatest among the torrians roase to become Guardians, companions of the Silver Cloaks who were the true heroes of the city of Argent. Obanar was the head guardian, and he went out to locate any trace of the Silver Cloaks after they failed to return at the end of the Undead War.

When obanar finally returned to the city, he learned that the rest of the torrians had held a vote and decided to leave the abandoned city to forge a life of their own. Only Rowthar, Obanar’s young son remained behind. Obanar put Rowthar into a magical slumber until the city was needed again, and Obanar sat down to wait.

For 100 years he waited, until he discovered that giants, creatures of Chaos, were once again growing restless in the mountains. A force was uniting them and leading them to raiding and war. Obanar was shocked when the giants began sending attacks against the city of D Argent, and he began the ritual to wake his son Rowthar. He was interrupted in the middle of the wakening by a concerted attack against the wall of force surrounding the city, and left to fight for many hours on the battlements overlooking the Valley of Chaos to the north of the city. Hours later, Obanar returned from battle, victorious, to find his son Rowthar gone.

Rowthar had amnesia from the long sleep and wandered away to turn up in the capital human city Shalazar, where he met the heroes, who agreed to escort him back. Rowthar was known to them – they had met him at the City at the End of Time, and Rowthar was the very old guardian of that city. He told them that he knew them from earlier, but that the next time they met, he wouldn’t know them, but they would know him. And so it came to pass.

With rtears in his eyes, Obanar greeted the hroes returned to save D Argent and hence the world. His son was successful in finding and bringing back heroes, even though he had amnesia and did not know what his quest was. Obanar was taking them to their quarters and discussing all the things that needed to be done – find the torrians, find som “sky metal” to craft powerful magical aids, when he senses another attack. The giants have returned and are beating against the force field with rocks and clubs. He and Rowthar go off to defend the walls, and Obanar asks the characters to go to the deepest vault where lies the Divine Engine. They must make sure it is secure.

Following a bouncing globe of light down down down, deeper past the empty storage chambers, lower past a chamber full of immense siege engines – ballistae, catapults, wheeled towers, down another light of steps that ends at a dome of rock. In the center of the done is a circular hatchway that lies yawning open. The vaults have been compromised.

The heroes have to fight through three chambers, each with elemental enemies of ice, rock and flame. The enemies were easy to defeat but took time, and Hex could feel a ritual being cast in a nearby room. They fight their way through the elemental enemies and come face to face with a human wizard standing neart a force field beyond which hovers a strange contraption of gold and silver turning cogs. The wizard is in no mood to parley but frantically tries to complete the ritual.

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Yup its da giants

The adventure kicked off this week. I changed around the background and some of the introduction to better mesh with the current campaign, but the meat and bones of the adventure should stay fairly true to the source. (That’s not true, I invariably change and distort any store-bought adventure I run. This is due to a desire to make it my own, the fact that much of my DM’ing style is based on improvisation, and usually an imperfect understanding of the material.) Whatever the case, I just can’t help but mix it all up when I am babbling semi-coherently for 3 hours every Friday night.

The heroes of Hommlet had just had their first taste of giant. While traveling with their new old friend Rowthar towards the city of D Argent, they made a detour to check on the ruined pile that Thokk and Poppy call home. The ruins were halfway between Hommlett and Winterhaven, and the entire area had been recently raided by giant raiders. 3 Hill Giants and their pet Roc had taken up residence in the keep and were turning it into a homestead. Poppy and thokk would have none of it, and commenced slaughtering.

After the battle, it was decided to continue on towards D Argent, since there was little they could do. They made arrangements with the people of the two towns to help with the reconstruction, and they left their 15 chibi fanaton at the keep. With these arrangements in place they headed north on a 20 day journey through the mountains.

As they traveled, Rowthar began having headaches and strange dreams as his memory slowly started returning, but he kept his mouth shut. After 10 days, the path became rugged and the last vestiges of civilization were left behind. After another 10 days they reached the site of D Argent. A mountain had its peak leveled, and three of four sides chopped into sheer cliffs hundreds of feet high. The fourth side, facing the direction of civilization, featured a road winding up to the flattened peak, where rested the city of D Argent.

Upon arrival they found an abandoned city. High stone walls gave the city a martial appearance, and its bronze doors were fifty feet high, yet partially open. As the party moved through the city, they learned much of the history of the proud people who called D Argent home. It was a city of heroes. The great civilizations of the past each sent their best warriors to the city to become part of the Silver Cloak Guardians, whose duty was to guard against another incursion of primordials, the lords of chaos who oppose civilization and the gods. According to legend a primordial was trapped beneath the Dawnforge mountains. It was unkillable, yet imprisoned for all eternity by a series of constructions called divine engines. These engines were one of the things the Silver Guardians were sworn to defend.

Just as they were finding this out by reading the engravings that covered every square inch of the ancient city, they heard a commotion from ahead, and ran forward to find a lion man on the ground between the paws of a huge magma beast. Another giant seemed to be the master of a pair of giant dog like creatures made of smoking magma, and a few piles of sentient gravel or something.

they killed the enemy, rescued the old lion man who introduced himself as Obanar, father of Rowthar the last Torrian Keepers of D Argent. He said that for overa century he stood alone, his son in a magical slumber, waiing for the return of the Silver Cloaks. Eventually the other torrians left to make new lives for themselves, abandoning the bastion of defense since no heroes, old or new, came to the city. The world was torn by war and in its rebuilding D Argent – and the primordial danger it guarded, were forgotten and lost.

A new evil has sprung up and Old Obanar cannot fight it, so he woke his son to go out to the world and seek heroes. While waking him, the ritual was interrupted by an attack against the magical defenses of Argent. He left to defend the city and when he returned, Rowthar was gone. (Rowthar shrugs sheepishly)

Weeping for joy the ancient grey-dreadlocked lion man spreads his arms wide and says :but my son has returned to me with his quest accomplished, welcome o heroes, o paragons of history..

(There was a little more after that, but nothing so climactic.)

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The Red Tower of Diamond Vise

Momuz Thobthiket was the dynamic dwarfish leader that led the expedition to found Diamond Vise. Building on the mistakes of her ancestors, she determined to succeed where they failed, and she achieved great success by making Diamond Vise into the greatest dwarf fortress to rise from the Realms of Dawning.

Momuz was the expedition leader responsible for founding the fledgling community, and she oversaw the creation of the first 13 or so levels of this, the greatest of Fortresses to straddle the Realms of Dawning. Her Red Tower proudly guarded the passes leading into the realms, and her foundation was stable enough to overcome the many obstacles of the treacherous country.

3 years after its founding, the dwarf High King granted the lands surrounding the tower a barony, and the dwarves unanimously nominated Momuz Thobthiket (who lost the mayoral race) to the status of nobility. The baroness was so excited about this, that she began spending more and more time outdoors surveying her lands. Goblins were in the vicinity, and more than a few snatchers were caught in traps set up on either side of the silver drawbridge.

So the baroness was outside picking flowers when a real siege by goblins began. She was pierced with arrows, one in each limb, and a silver arrow in her chest, piercing her lung. It did not look good. The captain of the militia had to choose between sending out the military to try and save the baroness while fending off the goblins, or to pull up the drawbridge and sentence her to death. He did the noble thing, and sent 3 of his 4 squads after the goblins, while he sent the newest squad to station where Momuz Thobthiket lay in the bloody grass.

The plan worked, and the squad got to Momuz while the rest of the army held off the goblins. Momuz was carried inside to the hospital, by members of squad 4, while the other 3 squads destroyed the goblins handily. The only survivor was one goblin archer who fell into the pit under the drawbridge.

Next, a call was put out to the surgeons and doctors, who suddenly found that their burrow consisted of the hospital. Surgeon to surgery STAT! In a tense few minutes of running back and forth looking for buckets and clean water, Momuz was stabilized and over the course of the next 3 months she remained hiospitalized and underwent multiple surgeries. Even as this was happening, the first adamantine was being pulled up from the depths, and Momuz was lucky to have her wounds sewed up with adamantine stitches. The lung was repaired with adamantine staples, but she will forever have a silver arrow sticking out of her.

One day, while in surgery, a letter came from the king, raising her up from baroness to countess. She would have celebrated had she been conscious. Eventually she regained consciousnees, and then her ability to walk with a crutch. After many long months, she wanted to get back to work (as a mechanic.) so she issued a mandate requiring 3 traction benches built. She then demanded that Diamond Vise not trade traction benches away, and taking up a crutch, she hobbled over to the new mechanics shop built right next to the hospital to build her beloved traction benches. The Countess was happily recuperating after a harrowing close call with death.

Meanwhile, the lone goblin archer had been making a nuisance of himself, scaring the dwarves who crossed the bridge, even if he couldn’t hurt them. Apparently dwarves hate the sight of goblins, and just seeing them was enough to get them to drop everything they were holding and back away. This was slowing down productivity and causing the drawbridge to become messy and unusable, so the captain of the guard ordered that the stone wall separating the pit from the barracks be turned into a fortification. This would allow the crossbow marks dwarves a little target practice eliminating the pest. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as planned. After turning half the wall into fortification, it was open enough that the dwarves could catch a glimpse of the goblin lurking within, and the stone mason was too scared to continue. Then more and more of them got caught up in the scare, since they had to go past the goblin to get to the main stairway, until practically the entire fortress was lined up in the room, refusing to walk past the goblin, and productivity ground to a halt.

Since the fortification was only half-built, the goblin had a corner to hide in, and the marks dwarves couldn’t get to him, so a cycle of hiding, then leaping out to scare dwarves started that literally brought the whole fortress to a standstill. The countess Momuz Thobthiket heard about the goblin and promptly hobbled on her cane steadfastly upwards to take care of the problem. First, she decreed the drawbridge raised – for the first time! – and when it happened, she was waiting there with a silver hammer for the goblin to emerge.

Bang bang, Momuz’ silver hammer came down upon its head, and two hits made sure it was dead. The Countess Momuz Thobthiket had saved the day! If only the story ended there, but little did the dwarves know that they were living the last golden days of their lives. Even as Momuz was solving problems up top, the miners were collecting all the adamantine they could 153 layers below the surface. They dug too deep.

It is too painful to relate the gory details of what was unearthed, but the adamantine pipe they were following led to a vast cavern, and the horrible screams echoing up from that bleak place echoed through the fortress, chilling dwarvish blood.

The countess was no coward and her last act was to confront a demon of the underworld with her silver hammer. She died, and her fortress fell in much the same manner as herself. Of the army of darkness that was unleashed upon Diamond Vise, the dwarves will be remembered for having slain a single demon, at the cost of their entire population.

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This week, the adventurers left Shalazar on a quest to escort their ally Rowthar back to the ruined city where he woke up with amnesia. On the way, they wanted to stop by the ruined keep owned by Thokk and Poppy, so they had heard it was infested with giants.

As they neared their lands, they came to the village of Hommlett which looked abandoned. As they approached, they realized it was under bombardment from the nearby keep. A group of 3 hill giants and their pet roc had taken up residence and were hurling the stoned of the keep at the village, one by one. This was Poppy and Thokk’s keep, and they wouldn’t stand to let it be destroyed, so they mounted an immediate attack.

The ruins of the keep were nearby, and the characters were able to sneak up behind a hillside to close distance, before launching their attack. Felipe crept out forward and took on the roc, while the rest of the party surged ahead like an army of wild Indians. Tonight also featured a new character, Shorty the dwarf cleric, played by my daughter Audrey (who has played before but never on a permanent basis. This may change.)

The giants hit hard with the leader wielding an axe that with the push of a stud became enveloped in sickly yellow electricity, causing anyone struck to fly backwards and land prone, while the two lesser hill giants hurled rocks or struck out with rock-holding fist. The roc had a good time lifting Felipe up 50 feet and dropping her, and trying to do the same to Poppy, but in the end they were no match for the group of 13th level heroes, and they were able to clear out Poppy and Thokk’s ruined fortress.

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The Red Tower Barracks Level

The northern limits of the Dawnforge mountains are littered with the remains of failed dwarf mining colonies. Lust for the rich metal veins combined with dreams of magma forges led one expedition after another to try and set up a lasting fortress in the region, known as the realms of Dawning.

First came Minesport. It was an amateur affair, and the dwarves had little idea what they were getting into when they delved the shallow dirt-tunnels of Minesport, and it fell within a few seasons. The next expedition began delving Stasis Gem. These gem-loving dwarves were more interested in the precious stones they could mine than anything else, and their stoutly defended warrens lasted many seasons before crumbling. Digging too deep too fast, they were beset upon from above and below, and the fortress was flooded and wiped out in a season.

By then the dwarf High King of Mountain Home became interested in the Realms of Dawning, and he called upon a great structure to be built to guard the high passes into the realms. The third attempt to colonize was called Megadru the Hammered Pillar, and over the course of 10 years many expeditions set out to build the testament to the dwarves greatness. Finally, when a legendary carrion dragon took up residence in the hollowed delve, and the dwarves were unable to slay or drive off the beast, did the king regretfully ban any further attempts at re-colonizing Megadru.

Moving further into the pass, Thobost Gar was the next attempt. The fourth fortress showed more promise than any that came before, and they delved carefully for many years. Their plan was similar to the Pillar of Megadru, but this time they kept it close off from the surface while they hollowed out its foundations. It too eventually succumbed to the numberless goblins infesting the mountains. The bloody halls of Thobost Gar became a tomb.

Many years passed before the dwarves had regained enough strength to send another expedition, and this time, the wary leader determined that he would not fall prey to the goblins. He created the plans Diamond Vise, a highly defensible tower near the peak of one of the tall mountains of the realm of Dawning. From Hollow Mountain they could turn their backs on the surface world while they delved ever deeper towards the magma.

The Red Tower

From the peak of Hollow Mountain, a stocky red tower clutches the mountainside with its sturdy walls of red bauxite stone, trimmed in polished coal. The mountain peak has been flattened and its sloping edges cut away into vertical cliffs. Two bridges connect the tower to the mountainside. The first is a retractable bridge made of nickel, and it spans from the flat peak of Hollow Mountain to the next peak over. Then a deep pit gouged into Hollow Mountains flattened top is spanned by a drawbridge of pure silver, and this which is the only entrance within the stout red walls of the Red Tower. When the nickel bridge is retracted, the peak of Hollow mountain is sealed off from its surrounding. When the silver bridge is raised, the Red Tower is sealed off from the rest of the peak. Together, the bridges protect Diamond Vise from all overland threats.

Situated inside the walls of the Red tower are two huge ballistae, aimed right through the trade depot and out across the bridges. They have never been fired in anger. Also in the walled yard of the red Tower are two large openings that look down into the chambers below, where two catapult wait to unleash stony death on any army foolish enough to challenge the dwarves of Diamond Vise.

The level just below the surface is taken up with the squad training chambers and siege engines. It is the last line of defense from up top. There are two more ballistae in here pointed at the doors leading to the surface. If the Tower should ever be breached, a hallway filled with traps, a crack squadron of x-bow dwarves, and those two ballistae should put a grim finish to the battle. Thus is Diamond vise defended by the Red Tower and its marks dwarves.

The Vaults
The Hollow Mountain gets its name from the Vaults. Beneath the red Tower and its defensive chambers, the stairs wind down a long way to open up into the high ceilinged Vaults. Massive chambers measuring hundreds of cubits long, wide and tall, stretch out to almost fill the circumference of the mountain. Into these massive chambers are packed the store-houses of the dwarves. One such chamber holds no fewer than fifty thousand barrels of dwarvish rum.

Besides the vaults, much of the mountain is made of sandy clay, and into these chambers, forests of mushrooms have been allowed to grow, tended by dwarves knowledgeable about underground farming. Great forests of giant mushroomes sprout up and are cut down for use as wood, while the smaller mushrooms and other fungus provide grazing for their many alpaca, goats, and yaks.

Besides the vaults and the mushroom forests, the Hollow Mountain also has tunnels connecting chambers to a swift flowing mountain brook, and with a complicated series of flood gates, the dwarves of Diamond Vise are slowly creating a waterworks system that will allow them to flood, and un-flood, any level of the fortress. This is a never-ending work in progress due to the tedium involved as well as the risks.

Beneath the vaults, and into the roots of the mountain are many levels of workshops. The crafters, smiths, woodworkers, glassmakers, and other all have their shops here close to the main storage vaults, but protected by the many tons of stone above them. Layered between the crafting halls and the housing level is the first of the treasure vaults. This series of chambers holds the first, and lowest valued, of the dwarves many treasures, including their supply of coinage and their gems, large and small.

The main housing district is built at level 10. Here are two grand chambers – one for dining, and one for drinking. The mayor holds court in the dining chamber, while the drunkard of a baroness spends her days idling away in the great Beer Hall. Surrounding the two great meeting halls are the homes and offices of the majority of Diamond Vise’s residents. From ten foot hole in the wall to palatial mansion, level 10 is the place to live.

In the future, the housing will spread out, as individual dwarf homes are carved out of the rock nearby the work areas of those dwarves who show the most promise. Every legendary dwarf will get his own comfortable home attached directly to his private workshop. In this way, it is hoped that the efficiency of the dwarves of Diamond Vise will be increased, and the most skilled dwarves will do the most important work.

Continuing down, the 11th level is made up of the sheriff’s office, with attached jail. Beyond the jail is a growing dungeon, where enemies of the dwarves are locked in cages and left to rot behind green glass, while a promenade winds its way through, allowing the dwarves to take casual strolls through the dungeons, laughing and taunting their erstwhile enemies, who starve pathetically behind glass. Dwarves are not known for compassion, especially to their enemies.

The great caverns of the underdark were breached at level 18. Here the Rough Wanderers, a crack squad of dwarves in adamantine breastplates, and wielding silver warhammers, makes their home in an advanced barracks and training hall. From here down, exploratory shafts have been dug down, down down, to the level of 153, where a pipe of adamantium was discovered cutting up into an underdark cavern. Where there is adamantium, magma is close, and the dwarves struck magma at last 158 levels below the surface. It is along walk through dark tunnels and steep steps, but already the plans are in work for a deep off-shoot colony to build the great magma forges that have drawn so many expeditions before this one.

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When Megadru the Hammered Pillar was abandoned, the dwarves were not ready to give up on the region, and so a few years later, they launched a new expedition. This one was named Thobost, the Pillar or Girder, but it soon became known as Thobost Gar, Girder of death, due to the excessive number of dwarves who lost their lives building and defending it.

The region, known to the dwarves as the Realms of Dawning, was a mountainous highland plain. Surrounded by peaks, the sandy badlands was inhospitable to all but the most wretched creatures, like goblins, trolls and ogres. But beneath the ground, the layers of stone provided ample veins of precious stones and metals. Deeper, it was connected to the vast linked underworld caverns, and even deeper yet were the fabled magma seas, which the dwarves hoped to tap into for their magma forges. It was too good a site to pass up, and so the fourth expedition launched. They passed by the ruins of Stasis Gem, shaking their heads sadly. They gave Megadru a wide berth, fearing Corpse Dragon who had claimed it for its lair, until they came to the site of the new fortress. This time, they would stand the test of time, and build a bigger, better fortress: Thobost Gar, Girder of Death.

Campaign Note: One of the ideas behind this campaign will be simply FINDING the correct mega dungeon out of the ruins of previous attempts. The Dawnforge region will have at least 3 (hopefully just 3, although Thobost Gar is in a tenuous position at the moment) ruined fortresses and the first goal of the campaign will be to determine the site of the true mega dungeon. Hunting through the ruins of previous failed attempts will be a great low level endeavor, and will include clues to the whereabouts of the true goal, as well as having treasures of their own to uncover, such as the magic elven amulet Fancypresent and a certain magic iron boot named Dancefortress. See the previous article for the plan for the campaign game.

Another expedition broke the ground on the edge of the plateau near a swift flowing mountain stream. This plan called for a preliminary guard station, where the 7 founding dwarves would carve out more or less temporary quarters and work rooms as they delved further. Eventually this zone would become a guard station and have its own tower jutting up at the corner of the walled Pillar. The dwarves, you see, had not given up on their vision of an awe inspiring tower straddling a deep, open central shaft.

The dwarves had learned from their mistakes, and the leader was skilled in mechanics, engineering, and architecture. The expedition leader Kaz, chose to begin work on a waterworks system to bring fresh mountain spring water to the halls from the outset. By fall, the fledgling fortress had running water, and thirst would not be an issue. It was a good thing, because Kaz had seen a vision.

It was of a fortress destroyed by thirst. From 55 dwarves at the beginning of the Autumn Freeze, the dwarves died one by one until only a mother and her dwarf infant remained. Then the mother died, and for a long sad month the baby crawled from dining hall to dining hall over the decaying corpses of its aunts and uncles, searching for its parents. Miraculously the baby didn’t die of thirst, its mother having nursed it even while she was dying, and when the Spring Thaw came, new migrants showed up. But not in time, even as the migrants were trundling down the stairs to their new home, the baby finally died of thirst. It was so sad, and the migrants fared no better. They spent the summer clearing out carnage and had no time to make barrels of beer, or to fill the water cistern, and they too died of thirst. (OOC After this disaster I reverted to a previous save.* Thereby becoming “vision” rather than reality. It was pretty gruesome.)

Kaz knew the devastation of thirst-crazed dwarves and his waterworks system saved them that first year. They laughed as the stream froze solid, while they were still having hot baths and running water in their warren. Good times.

By the spring of the second year, the foundations of the Girder were complete. Another innovation of the engineer Kaz was to dig out a room, then channel out the floor, eliminating the need to dig the room below, and also vastly reducing the chance of a dwarf falling to his death. Five floors of open space, with a massive winding staircase ascending the center was their reward for a years worth of mining.

So far Thoboast Gar was a stunning success. It was however fraught with its own turmoils. These dwarves were fond of their food, and they had brought along cows, donkeys, goats, and lamas to milk and butcher. Fortune smiled on the skilled animal handlers, who were soon swamped with young. Meanwhile, the cook and brewer were spending all their time planting, brewing, and creating lavish meals. They turned milk into cheese as fast as they could, but the amount of cheese they were producing became overwhelming until it began to rot, creating purple miasma.

Goblins were another threat, and after suffering many casualties holding off a small raiding party, Kaz decided it was time to build a curtain wall surrounding their fortress entrance, and immediately set to work. The work of the fortress was demanding, and they had to cut corners to get it built. The military was one such cut, and it led to losses, so when winter of the second year set in, Kaz turned to his Captain of the Guard and ordered 3 squads – 2 of heavy armor, and one crossbow squad. You see he had another vision:

This vision was of a complete curtain wall by spring, right as the Elven caravan arrived with all the wood they would need the coming season. While the elves were overstaying their welcome, another goblin raiding party showed up, but this time they were stymied by the walls. They milled about, not doing any harm, but keeping the dwarves, and now the elves, penned in all summer. Finally Kaz threw up his arms in disgust and ordered a surprise sortie of his crack three squads out to engage the single troop of goblin invaders. It was an ambush! 4 more hidden goblin troops waited just outside the door, and it became a bloodbath.

It would not have been so bad except for one of the dwarves died defending the entrance to the fortress – literally RIGHT in the doorway, and so the doors were stuck open. The three green squads were defeated, the goblins entered the fort, and all dwarves were mobilized to fight for their lives and home. When the goblins were finally driven off, or rather left after engorging themselves and pillaging, barely a dozen of the 70 or so dwarves were left alive. Good thing it was a vision (Revert to autosave.)*

Kaz reminded himself, keep the doors locked AT ALL COSTS! More to come as Thobost Gar begins its third year, the year of delving deeper and training a crack squad of goblin slayers. They need those magma forges!

Updated to add: The fortress was not lucky enough to survive the next season. The goblins could not be held back and they eventually breached the fortress, sending another colonization attempt to ruin.

*A note on cheating. I prefer not to cheat, and only do so when serious tragedy strikes before I am ready to call it another failed fortress. Even then, I have it set to autosave every spring, so if I revert to a previous save, chances are I will have lost hours or play-time. It is not done lightly.

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