Thursday, June 1, 2017

From the History of the Bound Blade: The Winter Wizard

In the year 899 of the Red Age, in the time of Hulmul V, a particularly fierce winter took hold of Nordenland. Crops froze, and the northerners went hungry. Many men travelled south seeking to earn food for their families. Sensing the weakness of the human settlements, the tribes of yeti launched a coordinated offensive. Whole villages burned under the onslaught as the undermanned militia units were overrun. Hope, like everything else that winter, had frozen over.

Yet when all seemed lost, a hero emerged. Svengar the Pyromancer, a mage of unprecedented power. Svengar led a cohort of novice wizards against the tribes. At the northern gates of Nordenfort, his men launched a volley of flaming bolts into the yeti ranks, breaking the previously undefeated horde within minutes. His forces chased the yeti deep into the Icey Woods. To ensure that they would never launch another assault, he acquired permission from the Duke of Nordenland to construct a tower at the southern tip of the woods.

Over the next 5 years, this tower grew into a magical fortress. Acolytes flocked to his banner, abandoning the outdated and decrepit Academy of Saardam in favor of Svengar’s combat-focused curriculum.  While the Academy refused to teach those who were not fully committed to the magical arts, Svengar welcomed the growing number of “Spell Swords” that came from across the Empire to hone the finer points of their craft. By 904 these fighters had formed a new chivalric order based in Svengar’s tower: The Fire Swords. With a steady supply of Fire Swords and battle mages at his disposal, Svengar’s power quickly eclipsed that of the Duke of Nordenland.

Perhaps if the Duke had sensed the shift in power, he could have prevented the impending conflict. Instead the Duke, blind with gratitude for Svengar’s past service, looked the other way as a private army was built inside his lands. The truth came out in 905, when fireballs exploded on the walls of Nordenfort. The fortress fell within minutes. Of the Duke and his family, nothing was left. Perhaps he was blasted with a fire spell during the battle. Perhaps he was executed immediately afterwards. Perhaps, in his shame, he found a way to flee. History fails us here.

We know with certainty that the Pyromancer’s army reached the gates of Saardam by the following morning. We know the names and crests of the 243 knights who rode out to their deaths to delay the army’s advance. Their heraldry is still inscribed on the east side of the palace wall, a reminder to all the bravery of the emperor’s best. The Battle of the Northern Gate lasted less than an hour.

The Knights of the Bound Blade had since its founding been ostracized for refusing to swear fealty to the lords of Rhurland. The aging Grand Master Ivon and his cohort of paladins watched on the walls with grim resolve as the emperor’s men were burned alive. The sight and smell of burning flesh put the Sardaam City Watch to flight. As the Pyromancer’s army reached the city gates, the Bound Blade paladins were the only defenders left.

With only minutes remaining until the Pyromancer’s arrival, Grand Master Ivon rallied his paladins and revealed his plan. Every man present knew that his plan would have high casualties. Every man present knew that the chance of success was abysmally low. Every man present listened with a steely resolve, nodded silently, and then maneuvered to their positions.

When the Pyromancer’s army reached the gates of Saardam, they saw empty walls and an open gate. Assuming that their performance on the battlefield convinced the emperor to surrender, the Fire Swords and the battle mages marched triumphantly through the main road. The imperial palace lay only a couple hundred yards ahead of them, the pointed circular towers standing proudly over every roof in the city. From the shops and workshops along the main road terrified urbanites watched the army advance. They knew that once the Pyromancer seized the palace, the looting would begin.
As the army moved closer to the palace, the road began to narrow and the buildings grew larger. Unperturbed, the Pyromancer’s men packed closer together and increased their pace. Only two hundred yards remained until their victory would be complete. The Imperial Hawk banners flying over the palace were royal blue and burnished gold, the colors of the current emperor’s family. Svengar, marching in the center of his army, smiled as he considered the ancient banners. Quietly he began to prepare a spell to burn down the banners. It would be the killing blow to the spirit of the city, the final sign of his ascent to the throne. His eyes blazed with eagerness.

In that instant chaos erupted from every direction. The paladins, hiding in the shadows of the dark alleyways of the city, suddenly erupted onto the main road. Their horses crashed hard into the tightly packed line, and men flew in every direction. The Fire Swords pushed to the flanks, but because of their haste to reach the palace the line was too spaced out for them to completely cover. Paladins intermingled with their ranks, preventing the mages from using their most potent magics. The swords of the Bound Blade glowed hot white with righteous power. They struck like a swarm of angry hornets, their blades quickly dispatching vulnerable battle mages. The Pyromancer’s forces, unmatched on the open field of battle, reeled like helpless children as they were cut down in brutal close quarters fighting.

Svengar seethed with rage. He raised his hands, now burning with fiery power. He would win the day, even if he had to destroy his army in the process. He began to chant a mighty spell, one that would ignite the entire road. Suddenly a sharp pain struck his side, and he was sent airborne. He collapsed along the wall of a building, a lance piercing his abdomen. Only his warding spells saved him from instant death. He looked up to see Grand Master Ivon dismounting his horse. The aging knight stepped forward and drew his magical blade, an ancient blue longsword he had named Errant.

The Pyromancer raised his shaking hands, still full of magical potential, and unleashed a torrent of flames at the Grand Master. The fire engulfed Ivon until only the faint outline of Errant remained visible. Yet the blade did not drop. Svengar watched with horror as the old knight continued his advance. Svengar pushed all his energy into his attack, the flames shooting so far past Ivon that they ignited the building behind him. Still Ivon advanced, the glowing blade the only indication that he still lived.

Svengar cursed the Grand Master as he approached, pleading mercy even as his flames continued. He offered Ivon the position of co-emperor, so long as Ivon swore his blade to Svengar’s cause. The sword now hung over the wounded archmage. Over the roar of the flames, Svengar heard a chillingly calm voice. Although it came as a whisper, it was somehow clearly audible to the men fighting nearby. “Only justice binds my blade.” Errant struck hard, piercing the Pyromancer’s black heart. The flames sputtered out as he fell backwards, impaled by the sword.

The men on the road watched with shock as the flames receded. Where Grand Master Ivon had stood, nothing remained. At that moment, the clouds in the sky parted and bright rays of sunshine illuminated where he had stood. The remaining men in the Pyromancer’s army dropped to their knees and pleaded mercy. Any other martial order in the realm would have given into the temptation and continued the fight. Grand Master Ivon was their leader and founder. He had given their lives purpose, and brought them victory on this day. His memory would not be forgotten, and neither would his lessons. The Knights of the Bound Blade accepted their surrender, ending the bloodshed that day.

From that day, the Knights of the Bound Blade were recognized as being among the most distinguished defenders of the realm. Embassies were opened in Saardam and Klingsburg, leading to a massive swell of the order’s numbers. Young paladins, previously mistaken as outlaw knights by townsfolk, now had seats of honor at the tables of local nobles. Grand Master Ivon’s sword remained the primary weapon of subsequent Grand Masters. It remained in the order’s possession until 935 R.A., when it was lost in battle to the Blackguards at Togfort.

From the History of the Bound Blade: Origins

In the year 872 of the Red Age, in the time of Emperor Hulmul IV, 122 years before the birth of Otto IV, a five-score horde of beastmen crossed the Murky River under the cover of night and besieged the small town of Gotstanz. A lone rider escaped before the town was isolated by the invaders. He rode hard to Westenfort, the domain of Duke Von Kurtz. The rider reached the castle by nightfall, and in front of Von Kurtz and his knights, bid the duke to unleash his forces on the beastmen. But the people of Gotstanz had fallen out of favor of Von Kurtz, being unable to be pay the duke’s heavy taxes. Von Kurtz refused to risk his knights against the horde.

The noble’s harsh decision did not bode well with all of his knights. Eight pious men defied their lord and rode out to save Gotstanz. In the rolling fields outside of town, alongside Raven’s Lake, the eight knights broke the hundred-strong siege and sent the beastmen running back across the Murky River. As the sun fell on the blood-drenched fields, only one knight, Sir Ivon von Marin, remained standing.

Branded an outlaw by Von Kurtz, Sir Ivon travelled east. Ivon swore that his blade would never be bound from protecting the innocent. So long as he lived, only justice would bind his blade. Ivon traveled between the castles of various lords, requesting that they release their most pious knights to aid him in crusade to protect those in need. The men who rode under Ivon became known as the first Knights of the Bound Blade. Their lack of steady income led to the knights of Rhur to mockingly label them “the Silver Knights”, as few carried more than a few silver coins in their pockets.

Today, the Order of the Bound Blade recruits men and women from all levels of human, hobbit, elf, and hill dwarf society. The majority of its recruits still come from Rhurland nobility. The Bound Blade has embassies in three cities. The Order is led by Knight-General Lucus Thul. Recruits undergo a one-year indoctrination program, consisting of both martial, moral, and religious training. After their novice year, young knights (known as “paladins”) go out alone or in small groups to bring justice to the world.

Religion is one of the greatest components of paladin indoctrination. The desire to bring balance and order to the world must be present in all recruits, and it is usually magnified by deep faith in the Six Sols. Some paladins choose to bind themselves to one deity, usually under the justice of Sol Illuminous or the protection of Sol Indomitus. Most revere the full pantheon, inspired to bring order to the mind, body, and soul of the civilized races. Despite the religious nature of the paladins, the Order has no association with the Hexsol Church.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Battle of the Crimson Field

Human Army: 100 Tellgart spearmen, led by Zaros and Marcus. 100 volunteer spearmen from nearby towns, led by Sir Reynard. 50 Tellgart archers, led by Morty the alchemist. 100 Bauchfort heavy infantry, lead by a captain from Bauchfort. 50 Bauchfort crossbowmen. 30 paladins. 30 mounted mercenaries "the Storm Riders". The army is under the command of Sir Lautrec.

Demon Army: 50 boar-men, led by Bath'gu Zar. 50 blood men. 400 goblin spearmen, led by blood men. 100 goblin archers. 30 hellboars hidden in a nearby farmhouse. 

Demonic Descriptions: The boar-men resembled Bath'gu Zar, but were smaller in size and much weaker. The goblins wore red war paint. The blood men looked like armored humanoids made completely out of a mixture of solid and fluid blood. The hellboars were bloated red boars that breathed fire out of their snouts. 

Speeches: It should be noted that some speeches were given prior to the battle. General Lautrec gave an epic Shakespearean-style speech that left his men stunned. Marcus's speech was short- "There won't be a battle today. It'll be a massacre." Zaros promised to give a speech honoring the dead after the battle. 

Humans- Tellgart spearmen on the north flank. Heavy infantry in the center. Volunteer infantry on the south flank. Paladins attached to each formation. Archers and crossbowmen in the back.
Demon- Boar-men on the north flank. Goblins in the center. Blood men on the south flank. Hellboars hiding in a farmhouse to the south.

Initial Moves: The human army advances. The mercenaries charge the southern flank. They crush most of the blood men, but are surprised by charging hellboars. The mercenaries are slaughtered and the remaining blood men mount the hellboars. The north flanks clash, with the humans gaining the advantage. In the center, human heavy infantry decimate goblin infantry. Tellgart bowmen take heavy fire from goblin archers, but stay together. 

Collapse of the South Flank: The hellboars crash into the human south flank, breaking the volunteer spearmen. Sir Reynard, realizing that he has no chance of survival, hopes to buy time for his army by challenging the strongest blood man to a duel. The foe he faces rides a massive hellboar and wields a wicked serrated sword. The two warriors slug back and forth, neither side gaining a definitive advantage. Finally the blood man falls off of his mount, which promptly flees. Reynard tries to land a killing blow, but his attacks are parried by the prone champion. In the most tragic moment of the battle, the enemy champion severs Sir Reynard's legs in one fell blow. He rises from the ground and lops off Reynard's head, which he presents to his nearby men. 

Holding the North Flank: Bath'gu Zar's boar-men are slain by Tellgart spearmen. He remains steadfast, slaying spearmen by the dozen. Zaros and Marcus decide to move in only after he is sufficiently weakened. Morty's remaining archers provide supporting fire.

Decimation of the Middle: The human heavy infantry mop up most of the goblins in the center, and move down to the south flank to screen the Tellgart spearmen from rear attack. Although the heavy infantry and supporting crossbowmen inflict heavy losses, it is evident that they will soon fall to the remaining goblins, blood men, and hellboars. 

Fighting Bath'gu Zar: The party engages the demon. Lautrec attempts a lance attack from behind, but fails to penetrate the demon's hide. Zaros weakens the monster with magic, and he, Lautrec, and Marcus engage in melee. Lautrec is severely wounded by the demon and retreats to Morty for some healing potions. Zaros takes a massive hit to the chest by the demon's axe, but remains conscious on one knee. The demon turns his attention onto Marcus, but divine protection saves the young paladin. Marcus delivers a mighty blow with his greataxe into the neck of the demon. Bath'gu Zar falls and stops breathing. His demonic minions are dispelled, and his goblin army collapses into flight. As the army prepares to move out, Bath'gu Zar rises up, his neck injury knitting back together. He wallows back to his mountain hide-out. 

Returning to Tellgart: The army returns. They did not succeed in slaying the demon, but both the demonic and goblin threats to Tellgart have been significantly reduced. Marcus is heralded as the hero of the battle for delivering the blow that saved the heavy infantry (and most likely the spearmen) from certain annihilation. The rest of the party is honored as well, as is Sir Reynard "the Brave". 

Humans: 20 Tellgart spearmen dead, 20 wounded. 20 Tellgart archers dead, 20 wounded. 50 heavy infantry dead, 40 wounded. 50 volunteer spearmen dead, 50 wounded. 10 paladins dead. 20 mercenaries dead, 10 wounded. Sir Reynard killed in action. Sir Lautrec and Zaros wounded in action. Marcus "Boarbane" and Sir Reynard "the Brave" cited for extreme heroism. 

Demons: 50 boar-men slain/dispelled. 50 blood-men slain/dispelled. 30 hellboars slain/dispelled. 320 goblins slain, 180 wounded. Bath'gu Zar wounded. 

A Brief Summery of Events Prior to the Battle of the Crimson Field

A Bardic Quest- Clay sought out a wizard to teach him magic. By chance, there was just such a wizard in Tellgart. After revealing himself to be extremely weird (possibly insane) the wizard directed Clay to a cave north of Layfell. There he would find a magical fiddle that could unlock his true potential. The party headed out to Layfell, where they spent the night. 

The Battle of Layfell- Their sleep was short, as the town was attacked by a warherd of beastmen (satyrs and minotaurs). The party rushed to the outskirts of the town, where an impromptu army of militia and townsfolk had formed up. Marcus took command of the townsfolk, Clay the militia, Lautrec the knights, and Edmund the archers. The beastmen army, over 250 strong, attacked. The townsfolk attempted to guard the left flank of the militia, but were slaughtered by beastmen infantry. Lautrec's knights cut down the minotaur shock troops, and then proceeded to cut into the beastmen middle. The battle was won, but at the cost of 100 human lives. 

The Blind Man- The party met the wizard again, who told them that they could be guided to the cave by a blind man who lived in the woods. They were warned that this man was crazy, and that he "must not see" under any circumstances. They went into the woods, where they found an old man wearing a black blindfold. He introduced himself as Serf. He took them to the cave, speaking in riddles the entire time. The party decided to leave this man alone. 

Belly of the Beast- The party discovered that the cave's only entrance was through the jaws of a long-dead dragon. The party descended down the neck and into the stomach, where they fought a gargoyle and some skeletons, and found a magical sun spear. Breaking out of the stomach, they found a campsite. There they were greeted by Professor Hucklefin, leading researcher at the State College of Saardam. He was greatly distressed that the party had damaged the insides of his dragon specimen.

A Cave of Sounds- The party journeyed further into the cave, where they encountered several sound-related creatures and puzzles. Two bucking brute monsters fought in a loud battle. A room full of cave paintings was discovered- paintings that made noise when they were touched. Some giant sonic lizards were encountered and avoided. A disintegration circle left Byrin the Squire naked (that wasn't sound related, just funny). A banging a drum would allow the party to collect a valuable necklace, but would also unleash a deadly monster. They banged the drum, killed the monster, and collected the necklace. Clay played into a magical fire, receiving a box of treasure for perfect musical skill. A sonic bat causes serious damage to the party, who promptly flee its presence. The World Obelisks- The party enters a room with a mysterious pit. The pit is covered by energized bars, and seems to keep horrible monsters from climbing up. They find an obelisk like the one in Klingsberg. An old satyr emerges, explaining that the obelisks protect the world from demonic invaders. This cave was dug out under the remains of Symphiel the dragon queen. Her husband was Zengius, an ancient dragon king that disappeared after her death. The great bard Lyrius expended his life force creating the obelisk. The party sees a skeleton laying next to the obelisk, holding a golden fiddle. Lautrec picks up the fiddle, but it crumples into dust, leaving behind only a small key. Lautrec and Clay have a fight over the key, interrupted by Byrin turning demonic and nearly killing everyone. They leave, and Byrin is later purified by Zaros. 

The Fight Over the Stupid Key- Clay and Lautrec continued to argue over the key. Clay secretly hired strongmen to "get rid" of Byrin. The party heads to Tellgart so that Lautrec can attend his knights' meeting. Soon after the meeting, Lautrec is attacked by these men, who fall to his and Byrin's immense strength. Clay is revealed to be the one who hired the men, and guards arrive to arrest him. He goes with great struggle, nearly killing Lautrec in the process, but is finally subdued by Zaros. 

Jail Adventures- Clay is thrown into jail. By accident, they place the man who ratted on him in the same cell. Clay, resigned with his fate, leaves the man alone. He gets a will written up, but the guard informs him that his weapons are now "evidence" and can be held indefinitely- specifically his sun spear and shrieking swordsword. The next day a fat pedophile is placed in the same cell as Clay. He confuses Clay for a little boy, and is promptly punched in the dick. A day later the wizard appears in jail. He pulls out a wand that he claims is the most powerful of its kind in the world. After a long and detailed history of the wand, he declares that the final use of this wand will free him from the confines of this jail. Clay asks why he doesn't just teleport out, but his question is ignored. The wizard sticks the wand into his mouth and blows his own head off. The night of Wolfgang's birthday party the jail is set on fire and Clay dies trying to rescue the other inmates.

The Count's Birthday- Sir Derruk is throwing a celebration for Count Wolfgang's birthday in his neighborhood. The party (minus Clay) attends. They are waited on by beautiful servant girls who provide plenty of free food and drink. Lautrec attends a private knights' dinner in Sir Derruk's house. Derruk leaves his knight friends with some lusty servant girls. Around this time the guard tower (containing the jail) bursts into flames. The servant girls at the party turn demonic, killing townsfolk left and right. Huge demonic boars burst up from under the tables, adding to the chaos. Lautrec and the other knights fight a desperate battle at their dinner, as none of them are wearing armor. They finally succeed, and Lautrec and Reynard lead the bravest knights downstairs. At the main party, Zaros and Marcus are able to beat down most of the demonic creatures, when Derruk sheds his skin and reveals the hellboar demon from Session 1. The knights lead a desperate charge against the demon, and one knight is cut in half. The demon is run off by a combination of the knights' efforts and Zaros's magic. 

Researching the Demon- Marcus learns from a paladin lorekeeper that the demon's name his Bath'gu Zar the Hellboar. He has appeared in Rhurland four times in the past, and was always banished at a great cost of human life. Meanwhile, Edmond and Albert return to town. Albert is haunted by talking animals, that warn him of a great danger. Finally a rat instructs him to go to the great library of Saardam, where he will learn how to defeat the demon. An army has assembled in Tellgart to face the demon, but the party convinces the count to wait a few days to allow them to gather information. The count introduces them to Morty, an alchemist he hired to study the demons' bodies. They go to the library and convince the owners to let them into the long-locked forbidden archive. This archive contains books that cause the reader to physically experience the subject. Zaros gets the plague. Lautrec experiences an elven brothel and gets elf herpes. Finally, they find a book that recounts an old battle against a crocodilian demon. That party put six magical coins onto a special shield, which shot demon-weakening energy and cleansed a world obelisk. The party decided that a quest to find magical coins would take far too long, and proceeded to lead the army into battle. 

A Brief Summery of Events Prior to the Battle of Layfell

Celebrating the Knights' Return- The party attended a celebration in Tellgart. A fat dwarf stripper was involved. An Asian woman was spotted. The party learned that bandits were preying on the eastern road between Tellgart and Klingsberg.

Securing the Eastern Road- The party fought through an ambush of human and goblin bandits on the eastern road. Their new friend Tycho the Shadow Ranger tracked the bandit's trail back to their lair in the mountains. After clearing about half of the lair, the party found the bandit leader holding a paladin hostage. After a three-way negotiation between him, the party, and the goblin king (who had taken another paladin as his bride) the party slew the goblins and walked out with the prisoners. Then they promptly walked back in and slaughtered the human bandits. 

Journey to Bauchfort- The party headed south to find instructors for the new Tellgart militia, passing through the Great Forrest en route. On the way they met an armature artist. While camping with the artist, the party was assaulted by a band of gnoll raiders. They slew all but two- the great grey gnoll lord and his only surviving minion. They tracked the two gnolls to a clearing in the woods, where they killed the gnoll lord in a difficult battle. They continued on to Bauchfort, where Lautrec (after some negotiating) was able to find decent instructors for the town. 

Journey to Wellwald- After escorting the instructors back to Tellgart, the party took the eastern road to Wellwald. There they discovered that a local farmgirl was murdered. One farmer claims that it was a mysterious creature known as the "owlbear". The Kato the dog tracked the trail of the supposed beast to a pond-side tent in the woods, where a mean hobbit shooed them away. They spent the night reconnoitering the hobbit. It was then that they met the owlbear (who was trying to steal food out of Lautrec's pack). He proved to be a nice creature, and informed the party that the hobbit was the real killer. The party entered a tussle with the hobbit, culminating with Clay severing one of the murderer's legs. 

The Owlbear- The owlbear (his real name being Jonathan) took the party to his cabin in the woods, where they all had lunch. The owlbear explained his story. He used to be a human adventurer, but was killed by a gnoll lord in the Great Forest. His girlfriend, a young druid, tried to reincarnate him. Unfortunately, the spell was too powerful for her to control and she was killed. The spell worked, in a fashion. Jonathan isn't sure if owlbears are real creatures or if the spell fused several animals together to create him. While they are eating, the cabin is approached by two Shadow Rangers. Tycho had gone off to get help to fight the owlbear, and returned with the captain of the Wellwald Bluecloaks. The captain declared that the owlbear was sentenced to death for being a magical creature. He would return at sundown with his band of Shadow Rangers to carry out the execution. 

Dilemma of Zaros- Zaros felt conflicted with the current situation. The owlbear was a nice fellow, but he was a resurrected being; an abomination in the eyes of his religion. Zaros went to the local temple to meditate. There he met a wise old priest. Using cups of water, he and Zaros concluded that his resurrection did not disrupt the balance of the world- the druid's death set everything right. Zaros realized that he had been missing the cornerstone of his faith; he needed to fight for the sacrament of death because death brings balance into the natural world by feeding life. He was so touched by this realization that he later purchased a grey cloak to replace his black one. 

Flight of the Owlbear- The party (minus Zaros) fled with Jonathan. Their goal was to get him to the druids of Hanlin, where he would be well treated. They ran for two straight days, finally stopping in Tellgart. Meanwhile, Zaros crossed paths with the Shadow Rangers, who were in hot pursuit. The rangers stole Kato to use for tracking, and Zaros tagged along. They reached Tellgart soon after the party, but wanted to rest a few hours before fighting the monster. They released Zaros, who immediately found his friends and warned them. They went to the church were Marcus, the owlbear, and the shadow rangers were staying. In the ensuing battle, four shadow rangers fell to Zaros's sound burst spells. The fight was broken up by Sir Derruk and Sir Reyndard, who sent the two groups out of town at separate times. The party got the owlbear to the druids, then promptly slept for two days.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Battles!!! War DnD Playtest Results

Naileye's Rebellion- Battle of Bloody Gulch (934 Red Age) 

Human Army: 200 spearmen, 100 heavy infantry, 100 shortbow archers, 60 mounted knights, four imperial officers.

Hill Dwarf Army: 200 light infantry, 100 crossbowmen, Throm'zuk Naileye and his two sons.

Battleground: A valley in the mountains north of Ostenfort.

Background: Throm'zuk Naileye rallied an army of hill dwarfs to mount a surprise attack against Ostenfort. He attempted to skirt his army around the fort and attack it from behind. Word of his plan reached the Duke of Ostenland, and a force was sent to ambush the dwarves.

Humans- Infantry centered in one rank. Knights on the right flank. Archers on the left flank.
Dwarves- Infantry centered in one rank, led by Naileye. Archers on the flanks, each led by one of his sons.

Battle: Human archers and knights destroyed the crossbowmen and killed both sons. Dwarven infantry stood firm, but were shattered by cavalry on their flanks. Naileye was the last to go down; refusing to surrender, her was run down by knights.

Humans- 40 dead, 30 wounded.
Dwarves- 180 dead, 120 wounded. Naileye family destroyed.

The Battle on the Border (994 Red Age)

Human Army: 400 spearmen, 200 heavy infantry, 150 shortbow archers, 100 crossbowmen, 120 mounted knights, four imperial officers.

Orc Army: 400 spearmen, 200 heavy infantry, 200 shortbow archers, 60 ogres, one orc war-chief, two ogre chiefs.

Battleground: A flat, barren plain southwest of South Lake.

Background: The provinces of Westenland and Togland requested the aid of the Empire in battling an orc horde amassing at the border. Knights flocked from Saardam and Bauchland to aid in the fighting.

Humans- Infantry centered in one rank. Archers up front. Knights on flanks.
Orcs- Infantry centered in two ranks. Archers up front. Ogres on flanks.

Battle: After some fierce fighting between archers, humans gained the advantage. The ogres were crushed by cavalry charges. Orc infantry at first adopted a defensive formation, but abandoned their tactics after the loss of the ogres in favor of an all-out charge. Other than losing a few heavy infantry, the humans easily broke the charge and shattered the orc lines. The orc war-chief and the two ogre chieftains were slain.

Humans- 85 dead (including 15 knights). 115 wounded.
Orcs- 670 dead (including 30 ogres and all leadership). 260 wounded.

Honors: 40 human knights dubbed "The Decimators" by infantry. Includes 20 imperial knights, 10 Bauchfort knights, and 10 Wellwald knights.

Session 4: A Miner Terror

Entering Klingsberg: The party arrives at the ancient dwarven city of Klingsberg. The city is built between two mountains, and features large stone walls, a mighty steel gate, and beautiful brick buildings. Long ago humans conquered the city and expelled all of the dwarves. Immediately upon entering the party notices a large number of hobbit and elven immigrants. Clay goes off to order a fancy new helmet from a master blacksmith and socialize with hobbits. Most of the hobbits are from the faraway Sylvani Empire, and have immigrated due to increasing food shortages in their homeland. Marcus goes into the paladin embassy and informs Commander Tallmart that the paladins he sent to Tellgart are missing. Tallmart promises to send more men, but orders Marcus to search for his missing brethren. Lautrec buys a room at a local inn (the Silver Tongue Tap) and learns that his contact in Klingsberg, Sir Neco, owns a mine north of town in the "Great Quarry".

Mine Mystery: The players head to the quarry, passing through the poorer parts of town along the way. The find a massive quarry with dozens of mine entrances. Eventually they come upon the Neco mine, deserted and boarded up. The party meets with a frazzled Sir Neco, who explains that his mine was overrun by some unknown terror three days ago after some kids snuck in. Many of his workers did not come out, and the ones that did boarded up the entrance without offering him an explanation. The party visits a few miners' homes, and receive contrasting accounts. One man reports a sudden flash and a spray of blood. Another recalls a giant monster. Yet another talks about his friends going mad and killing each other. With little idea what to expect, the party pries open the boards and enter the mine.

Mine Investigation, Take 1: Entering the mine are Lautrec, Clay, Marcus, Zaros, and Harold. Almost immediately, they find a room filled with possessed miners. These miners have been working mindlessly for three days straight; their bodies are skeleton-like and their eyes glow bright red. In the insuing battle, Lautrec is knocked out by two nasty pickax strikes. Marcus is also knocked out, but is revived by Zaros. While this is happening, Harold is chased down by a miner and brutally killed. Clay is also knocked unconscious, but Zaros is able to slay the rest of the miners and the party flees the mine. City guards come to carry Harold's body away to the church for burial.

Mine Investigation, Take 2: Two days of rest later, the party returns to the mine. They battle an over-sized demonic mole with little difficulty. Advancing further into the mine, they find a room with a dozen bodies heaped in the center. To the left is a cave passage guarded by a golem made from the organs of the corpses. The party defeats the golem before he can attack, and advance into the now-unguarded passage.

A Change of Scenery: The party finds themselves at a massive metallic door. The door features the symbols of the six gods of the Hexsol faith. Marcus touches the door and it slowly moves open. On the other side of the door is a corridor of stone brick. Immediately the party encounters two ghostly dwarven warriors blocking their path. The ghosts only seem to speak dwarvish, and they angrily flash their weapons at the party. Marcus steps forward with his holy symbol. The ghosts allow him to approach. When he is within arms reach, one of the ghosts grabs him and views Marcus's life in an instant. Satisfied, the ghosts disperse. 

Paintings and Traps: The party encounters several rooms with paintings on the walls. They also survive a fire-shooting rune on the wall and two spiked pit traps. The paintings appeared in pairs, as follows:
  1. A black wall and a white wall.
  2. Shield, leaf and sun on one wall. Sword, skull, and moon on the other.
  3. The Hexsol gods with winged angelic creatures in plate armor bowing down to them. The second wall was defaced long ago.
  4. Both paintings were defaced. 
  5. One wall showed a blue orb with green splotches on it. The other showed men, dwarves, elves, and hobbits bowing down to the angels.
  6. One painting showed dwarves, goblins, and other savage creatures bowing down to a mighty black dragon. The other wall showed them taking up arms for this creature.
  7. A large battle was depicted on one wall, showing the dragon's army clash with the angels' army. The other painting showed a great city being destroyed by dragons while a golden angel wept. 
A Tangled Web: The party comes to a large room with one big painting across from them. It shows the golden angel casting a spell with red and black energies. In the center of the wall is a broken-in passageway, covered by energized red webbing. Ghost dwarves stand waiting in this room. The party notices a ghost dwarf pinned to a side wall by this red webbing. Attempts to cut the webbing with fire and normal blades fail. Zaros grabs Albert's magic dagger and easily cuts away the binds. While he does this, the weapon forms a magical attachment to him. He also cuts down the web blocking the passageway, and everyone (including the dwarves) move forward. The party finds a ancient hallway filled with metal dwarven statues. At the end of the hallway is a metallic door similar to the one found at the entrance. This door is decorated with the image of a dragon's head. The door is covered with red webbing, which Zaros cuts down.

Battle Arachnid: The door opens into a massive room. In the center of the room is a glowing red obelisk surrounded by three cultists. Beyond that is a giant painting with thousands of monsters of all shapes and sizes in it. One cultist turns around and charges the party. He draws his short sword, which gives off a terrible shriek that stuns half the party and disperses the ghosts. With some difficulty, he is brought down. Marcus and Clay step forward to knock out the cultists while Zaros goes about the process of blessing the obelisk. Before the process is complete, a huge red spider steps out of the wall painting and assaults the party. The beast recoils in the presence of Marcus, but has no difficulty attacking the rest of the party. The spider manages to bite a charging Clay before he is brought down. During the fight, Zaros notices that whatever weapon he draws, he always attacks with his dagger (even if he just threw it out of reach). 

Exiting the Temple: The party collects the magical short sword and its sheath, a magical black book carried by the lead cultist, their one surviving cultist captive (the other was burned to death when the spider died). As they pass through the first door, the wall caves in behind them, sealing away the temple. On their way out of the mine, they find another cultist (this one completely mad).  

Wrap-Up: Marcus drops the cultists off at the paladin embassy for interrogation. Clay learns that his helmet's construction has been delayed, and gets some white ointment for his bite wound. Lautrec finishes up his business with Sir Neco. Zaros and Clay learn that the magic short sword unleashes a powerful shriek upon enemies and allies only when removed from the magic sheath. The party returns to Tellgart to allow Lautrec to attend his bi-monthly knight's meeting. On the way, Zaros starts to read the evil book. The words seem like nonsense, but over time Zaros claims that he is beginning to understand what it all means. Marcus suggests destroying the book. Zaros overcomes his suddenly unnatural fascination with the book and agrees. They lay the book on the altar of the Hexsol church of Tellgart. Zaros blesses the book, and it bursts into unholy flames. Natural water only makes the flames larger, but Marcus is able to snuff out the fire with holy water. They then go out to buy a new alter for the church.