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Archive for the ‘D Erte’ Category

The outer bastions of the Free Port City of the Marquoil

Said to be impregnable, the free port city of the Marquoil juts out into the sea at the southernmost tip of the lands of D Erte. Protected from land by a an extinct volcano, and from the sea by a ship-navigable tunnel, the deep water harbor is surrounded by a natural defensive bulwark. Over the centuries, the city grew from a safe haven for pirates as do most of the cities in the Three Seas region, to become a powerful city, both in trade and in strength of its free booter navy. The port became the lock through which all traffic between the Three Seas the mysterious and wild far east must pass.

Besides the natural defenses, the city has been improved by the construction of a mighty fortress overlooking the harbor from its volcanic precipice. Known as the First Lords Bastion, it is home to the most dreaded weapon in the Three Seas – the Fire Bolter, which is an arcane contraption able to hurl fireballs over half a league. The Free Marines man traditional ballistae and catapults on the rocky clifftops overlooking the cove.

A lighthouse guides ships through the treacherous waters and towards the outer docks, where they may seek entrance into the city. The Free Navy billets its many ships along the same wharf, and ships may dock here, or for a greater fee and inspection, they may pass into the inner sanctum. On foot, travellers may pass through the Free Marine Training Grounds to gain entry into the city, but all cargo has to be floated through the tunnel.

Inside the bulwarks, the great safe harbor is a riot of activity. Three long docks extend toward the center of the bay, with all manner of boats and ships docked alongside them, while teetering buidings form a line down the center of the docks. The Larboard, the Leeward, and the Main, these massive constructions are the life blood of the city, and much of the populace of the free city spend their days and nights on these floating docks.

North of the docks is a narrow strip of built up shore where many of the largest market houses were built of the same local sand colored stone. Above them are two plateaus, on the lowest are the estates of many of the wealthiest of the populace while the highest holds the massive First Lords Bastion.

To the left and right of the harbor two long arms stretch out in an embrace that meets at the tunnel. On the Leeward side (the east) rose three stone castles of the Merchant lords. The first was Castle Tallyman, and it guards the eastern approaches to the city. In the center, built upon piles of sea walls was the hulking structure of Castle Crabstone, and the third was Castle Grey. These massive walled keeps were designed to withstand a seige by enemy or by storm, but the many hundreds of hovels, tents, and shacks that spring up around them are periodically swept away by the huricanes that sweep in from the deep oceans.

On the larboard side the wealthiest house of all, House Samarquoil, had its sprawling palace. The merchant lords of House Samarquoil held the rights to all the wealth of the nearby river delta, and surrounding lands. The soft and hardwoods of the forests to the north, as well as the rare and exotic herbs and spices of the river delta were much prized throughout all known realms. House Samarquoil had wealth enough to construct their own floating colonial outpost near the mouth of the delta, which has become an offshoot suburb of Freepot.

Four great merchant houses rose to power in the city, and they formed an alliance which they named the Marquoil Treaty. Since its signing, centuries ago, the four houses have continued to rise in power and prestige to control nearly all shipping in the region. According to the treaty, one lord is voted by the free populace of the city to become the First Lord. The merchant rules for life, and resides in the fortress. He controls the Free Navy, made up of an equal number of ships from each of the four houses, and the Free Marines.

The current first lord is Arnace Tallyman, who has lived in the fortress for many long years. Some say he will never die, but only become richer and richer until the weight of the gold sinks the fortress into the sea.

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Example of Play: I would like to suggest some sort of adversarial shift in the fabric of the universe to allow for a temporal flux. Perhaps these … are actually solid chunks of compressed residuum, and indeed, they form the crust of the bubble that begat all creation? it could be a world-destruction event, like those outlined in a supplement I cannot remember which. Ah, the hilarity will ensue when they crack (the pc’s of course) thru the last layer of protective residuum and unleash the big-bang!

Player1: I deflect the emerging blast of the big bang with my silvered mirror.

DM: You dont have it equipped.

Player1: I drop the pick-axe as a free action, and my mirror is always swinging on a leathern thong about me wrist.

DM: For what purpose?

Player1: Such as this.

DM: Roll acrobatics check

Player1: I am untrained in acrobatics, but I do know dance!

Player2: Why would you need to dance?

Player1: Out of the way of the emerging big bang.

Player2: You could just hold the mirror in front of you.

Player1: OK I do that.

DM: Roll.

Player1: What?

DM: Acrobatics!

Player1: I thought I was dancing!

DM: Whatever. Where do you deflect the blast?

Player2: Back into the cauldron’s inferno.

DM: It isnt a cauldron, it is a globe, now cracked open, a geode of all existence.

Player1: I deflect the blast back into it and then plug or seal, as needed.

DM: Excuse me?

Player1: Ya, the glue stuff.

DM: OK.

All: What happens?

DM: The universe ends.

All: !

On a late spring Friday Night in 2008…

Once upon a time in a tavern in a village...

Game Night No. 1

So, King’s gate is a tiny town, probably too tiny considering all the trade that would pass thru this bottleneck. It could actually be an enormous tax revenue bringing colony… but its not. It is little more than a village. The tavern Frank’s Place (joke) was a sturdy tower, to which the old wooden gates from the Ancient Barricade, were made to add the two-story inn. It is across the doorway, to the other side is attached the guardhouse, attached to the Tower-wall. and next to it the mayor’s home.

To the north is a bazaar square, and north of that is a fair-ground, to which gypsie travellers and merchants come once per year for a great festival. They call it Night of the March Hare, in mid-spring, just before planting. East and west the town dwindles to farmhouses. A strict martial presence is kept about the town, and in times of danger, the town can evacuate into Inner Shalazar, and bar the gate. Not this time around, though…

The campaign begins on a dark and stormy night (of course lol) where the group all gathers at the tavern (of course again)

Generally it is caravans who travel the King’s Road as it is moderately dangerous, especially to small groups or slow individuals. Orcs send a constant stream of tribal warriors in from the east, and they often raid, as well as some others. A few of the characters met on the caravan. Another came from a distant land, and two elves had grouped up together.

It was awkward that first night playing, and there was a lot of taking of deep breaths, but we all got thru it. Half the party was in the tavern (elf rogue, gnome bard, elf wizard) one was across the street at the temple (human cleric) and on the portico of the temple human druid with riding dog companion. The sixth player – my wife(!) couldnt make it opening night.

The only NPCs were a priest in the temple and a bartender. Oh and also there was a hooded bard plucking at his lute idly. I should have added more for flavor, but my plan had so many variations, and I only settled on a final plan as I was setting up the board (battlemap of town pre-drawn. I used a piece of un-laminated architectural paper, and used all sorts of colors of pens. There was a fountain, a couple other building, it looked pretty good!

Well, thats where the characters were. When I had to descirbe the opening scene. It gets a little muddled but basically lightning cracks three times, the temple bell starts ringing, the bard NPC leaps up and runs into the street, and black clouds start brewing and swirling. The bell was pulled by the priest who comes careening out of the back room pursued by 3 ghouls. He pulls on the bell cord and dies. The human cleric witnesses this.

The druid witnesses clattering of bones and ranks of skeleton warriors come marching north out of the great barricade. 8 step forward, but ranks upon ranks line up just inside the wall. (Shalazar is captured by the undead. Orcus is attempting to take over the lands of Shalazar as his dominion on the prime material.) The armies of the undead are led by these Mummy Princes whose uneasy corpses rested in the many catacombs beneath shalazar.

A Mummy Lord commands the undead attacking Kings Gate (who are in actuality merely sealing off the wall in prder to prepare for an assault that must come.) He makes an appearance on top of the wall to prove a point but the elf mage shot her magic missile at him, so he retreated and cast a 30′ globe of permanent darkness on the gate.

So the bard npc dashes across the street, thru the temple and grabs this bronze ‘crucible,’ to St Cuthbert the temple deity, and exits thru the back. The ghouls attack him as he passes, but he evades. The cleric tries to turn but fails miserably twice in a row. The druid and dog rush in to fight with the ghouls and they slug it out, he goes down paralyzed for 2 turns, gets up and ends the battle at 1 hp I think. The cleric chases one into the back room, and finally downstairs into a crypt, where one of them lies open with a large 5′ wide hole in the bottom. the bard npc must have gon thru it.

In the street, the elf rogue and the gnome bard, both new players, spend the next 2 or 3 turns going to upstairs windows. The mage shoots an arrow thru the window. Then breaks out the window, casts mage hand on his staff, and wacks a skeleton (I gave him -4 but he rolled really well) doing 1 point of damage and killing it. The tavern-keep, actually a level 0 commoner holds off 4 skeletons until the mage kills one and the rogue shoots down on one and kills it with her heavy crossbow (I know -elf with crossbow lol) the tavern-keep takes down one with his club and I cant remember how the other one goes down. Anyhow, that is how the night ends, at the tail end of the battle, only 1 skeleton is left alive of the 4 that veered into the temple. Everyone lived.

In search of the unknown

Game Night No.2

Reconstructing the evenining… I believe everyone may have been in attendance. I started the game post-battle, joking that the barkeep took the last skeleton down and it was enough XP to take him to 2nd lvl Bartender. It was needless to set everything up and get the initiative order just to off one last foolish skeleton. No one seemed to mind.

So the first decision was, to follow the bard thru the hole in the ground immediately or wait till morning. They chose morning which I thought was a little timid considering only a few spells were cast, but on the other hand at 1st level, one doesnt get much more. So, they pile into the tavern and spend a tense night. There are a few roving bands of skeletons and much of the village is burned or destroyed. Those few survivors are either gathered in the fortress like tavern or cower in their darkened homes.

Next morning is grey. Roiling clouds spiral above the city of Shalazar, far to the south. The globe of darkness remains in place and at dawn the Mummy Prince stands on the towqer and proclaims the news about Orcus taking over. The characters rush across the street, meet a young priest cleaning up the gore, and go down into the hole.

While in the narrow tunnel they are attacked by 3 dire rats which ends up being a pretty funny encounter since they are in confined quarters and have no room to swing the larger weapons. The main fighter has to drop her bastard sword and fight with a dagger, but quickly dispatches 2 of the rats. The mage who only has a staff is out of luck. Wants to break her staff in half and use it as a club, but lacks the strength (lol I used that trick last night.

So they make it thru the tunnel which opens in the bole of a tree in a graveyard on the edge of town. They don’t know where to go, or what to do, but someone thinks of using the riding dog track skills to follow the NPC bard. Good thinking! Sadly, I forgot to note who made the suggestion, probably the druid.

They enter the woods I had intended them to enter hot on the bards tail the previous night, but the trail is cold now, so begins a random trekking about first to a druid enclave where the speak with an oracle who gives them some pertinent riddles. Then to a monestery where they learn the crucible is one of 4 magic items used to bring back the Forgotten King. And so the goal of the adventure materializes at last: to retrieve the 4 magic items and bring back the Forgotten King who will battle Orcus and free the land. (Heh heh, so they think. Its a lo-o-ong way to level 20.

The monestery points them to the Tomb of the Dwarf Lord, where one of the items, the Sword of Konnag, rests in the Dwarf Lord Konnag’s vault. Sadly, the tomb has been sundered and a tribe of orcs uses it aws their base of operations.

The group makes their way towards the monestery, and on the way met with a wandering party of 4 orcs just coming from there. They dispatch them with ease. Soon they come to a clearing in which is a rocky hill 30′ high maybe 100′ around. There are two partially worked cave openings, one at ground level one 20′ up the side of the hill. 2 orcs stand inside each opeing. Oh, and it is morning, they spent the night at the monestery.

Now it is important to remember that everyone is either new or rusty at this, I know I have made many errors since we started, and some make me cringe to think of them, I’m sure I’v emade just as many that I havent caught. But the players have made their share, and coming cockily off the qick 4 orc encounter, they rush willy-nilly into this one and it is almost their undoing. The orcs weild short bows and looted masterwork dwarven short swords. 2 more orcs and the orc lieutenant rush out of the lower cave on the 3rd turn. The druid and his dog charge up the hill, while the fighter charges up to the lower and is quickly surrounded by 4 orcs.

The elf mage wildly runs up to save the fighter (the mage feels guilty for not pre-casting mage armor, this is a trend so far) and miraculously rolls 18 to hit, and does 7 damage, killing an orc! And that is where we end the night (it had already run late) with the fighter surrounded and down to very few hitpoints and 5 or 6 strong orcs still alive. Ended up being a very cliff-hanger ending, unintentially, but it created some good buzz for next week…

Wondering whats around the corner

Game Night No. 3

Ok, it was a long week of strategic planning and worry for the players but Friday finally arrived and with it the weekly D&D game. One player was absent (the druid and his super-dog) so Jackson my 11 yr old son got to play the character. He did all the dice rolling and moving the miniature around, but decisions were made by committee. It worked out well and the boy enjoyed the game and came one step closer to being a ‘regular’. The fact that we have a full party of 6 players is the main reason he isn’t already a full player. In time.

So, the scene opens with the main fighter surrounded by 3 orcs. The wizard standing to her flank. The druid and dog was at the higher cave entrance holding off 2 orcs. We re-rolled initiative to get a fresh start. The elf rogue, who was absent the week before rushed towards the sound of battle and made her appearance and the tide of battle turned with the party victorious without anyone falling. The elf rogue and gnome bard then proceeded into the cave mouths to inspect the area before the party left to return on the morrow.

(I am glad I planned for this eventuality. With half the orc footmen down, the remaining orcs rig the barrow with traps throughout the day. I would have had to improvise rigged traps if I didn’t prepare for the possibility of them leaving without going on. It always pays to prepare!)

So the rogue and bard, two girls with the least experience, proceed into the cave mouth and into the now-deserted barracks room. There is a chest in one corner (trapped) and a door in the far wall. The girls make every mistake in the book, and try to open the chest without looking for traps, and then the thief has no thieves tools! Strangely enough the bard does have a set, so they manage to get it open and out leaps a poisonous spider (lol!) but they get some loot.

They listen at the door but hear nothing (it is just a hall) Then they go to the upper cave mouth and peer in. It is filled with bones and corpses,the floor is invisible from the gore. (that was a clue) Across the hall is a big dwarf-carved door. The bard, riding the druids riding dog, enters the hall and falls in a concealed 10’ pit, oh that was funny! She took 7 points damage from spikes at the bottom and was covered in gore. The riding dog, who made his save stopped and she flew over his head! It was rich.

So they decide that is enough for the day, though it was only 9 am, and retire back to the monastery to heal and memorize for another assault the next day. To wrap up, they come back, there is mo hijinx with even more traps. The funniest part was the same chest, the one they already looted, was re-trapped, and they went thru the whole rigamarole again, luckily disabling all the traps this time! They open the door, proceed down a hallway where 3 spiders are waiting to drop from the ceiling, 2 ppl get bit and lose Con. Then they barge thru a door and have the penultimate fight – an Orc Shaman and his two bodyguards. This was a weird battle where the elf rogue and elf wizard moved first so they ran into the room and each targeted the shaman. The shaman went down before he ever had a chance to make a move (argh!) but on the orcs turn, the two orcs each take down an elf before themselves dying. So the evening ends right at the end of this battle. Each elf had a Cure Light Wounds cast on him (from the absent Druid lol – make the guy who’s not there memorize all the cure spells) and so it ends.

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Player Handout B - The Wild Isle of Wide Eyed Dread

An Expert level 4e Adventure site for characters entering the Paragon Tier.

An homage an old adventure from the Golden Era of Dungeons and Dragons. With pirates. And dinosaurs. And other furry, fuzzy, flying, fanged things. The entire island can be viewed from the top of the active volcano in the central north, and from there the furthest south-easternmost tip of the island just brushes against the horizon, while it spreads its craggy wings to the east and west. It could take many days to cross the island from one side to the next. Three major mountain range divide the island into regions, an any single region looks like a day or more walking to cross.

One of the rivers has carved a path through the mountain range that attempted to hem it in, and the gap over the river is crossed by a long swinging bridge of rope and wood. The other river begins in a deep lake and cascades into a waterfall before reaching the sea. A high-arching natural bridge is the only connection between the main landmass and the southern landmass.

Land formations of the island
Rocky Mountainous coast
Immense active volcano
Steep-sided mountain chains
Misty Bog
Raised Plateau with cliff edges
Rolling Hills
Temperate rain forest (Jungle)
Huge lake with central island
Serpentine rivers
rolling grassland

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