Thursday, 18 December 2014

Marking Twelve Months Of Adventuring...

The Chronicles Of Cidri has now been going for 12 months, which is something of a record for the Tuesday Knights.

It kicked off using the The Fantasy Trip mechanics, the very old system (dating back to the late '70s) from Metagaming, under Pete's guidance (always with the understanding that he and I would share the gamesmastering duties).

During the Tuesday Knights' early adventures, fellow blogger Chirine ba Kal (of the excellent Tekumel blog chirine's workbench) drew my attention to the Dark Fable miniatures of Dr Mike Burns.

Chatting with Mike, who was also a fan of The Fantasy Trip, he turned me on to Heroes & Other Worlds, a modern adaptation of TFT.

I did some investigating, got a couple of copies of the core HOW rules (one for me and one for Pete) and we decided to 'upgrade' our campaign to this more current engine. We haven't looked back.

The adventures I've run for the Tuesday Knights have all been based upon scenarios cooked up by the brilliant Tim Shorts (either from his fanzine The Manor or his Patreon campaign to produce micr-adventures), while talented cartographer Simon Forster (who is also running a Patreon campaign) has provided us with fantastic maps - updated from the sketchy originals in the TFT books - of the heroes' home town, Bendwyn, and the surrounding area.

Links to Campaign Chapters:

PREQUEL: Origin Stories - we all make new characters, using the TFT rules, in the wake of our TPK in Meredith's Warcraft campaign.

CHAPTER ONE: Dem Bones, Dem Bones and CHAPTER TWO: Zombie Sex Slaves - our heroes clear the undead taint from an old healing house near their town, so Pete's character (Kirchin) can restore it to its previous function.

CHAPTER THREE: Let's Hunt Some Ogre, CHAPTER FOUR: Battle Thong Of The Ogre Republic and CHAPTER FIVE: Frogroth Rising - Our heroes go to the aid of a neighbouring town that is being plagued by ogre trouble.

[At this point I took over running the game and we segued into using HOW]

CHAPTER SIX: Who Let The Pigs Out? Our heroes help the local salt pit owner to rid his mine of a troublesome pest.

CHAPTER SEVEN: The Hunt For Margesh Blackblood (part one), CHAPTER EIGHT: The Hunt For Margesh Blackblood (part two), CHAPTER NINE: The Hunt For Margesh Blackblood (part three) and CHAPTER TEN: The Hunt For Margesh Blackblood (part four) - our heroes travel all around the region in pursuit of an elusive bandit (taking in some side adventures on the way).


Meredith's first character, an apprentice wisewoman, was killed during the ogre adventure and replaced by her fiery young rogue, Imogen.

Clare made a welcome return to the Tuesday Knights during The Hunt For Margesh Blackblood arc, bringing with her trainee wizard Marigold Weaver.

My wizard (Marigold's master), Peter Entwhistle, retired to NPC status when I took over running the campaign, as I wasn't comfortable with the idea of having him around as a GMPC.

Pete's GMPC, Kirchin, stepped up to full player-character status when I became the campaign gamesmaster.

Kevin is playing the group's tank, a beefy dwarven weaponsmith called Davian Battlebeard.

Simon is the group's moral support, morale officer and amoral thief, halfling bard Harry Cobblethwaite.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Interlude II - Some Late Night Reading...

Betty Entwhistle
Betty Entwhistle's snoring could be heard from outside the wizard's house.

Marigold knew she'd be curled up in bed upstairs with her two young children - as Peter was still away - and so the young apprentice and her flame-haired friend Imogen tip-toed through the Marigold's own bedroom (which doubled as a storage room beneath the main sleeping area) making for the locked door that led to the wizard's library.

Imogen knelt down by the door, fished her lock pick set out of her belt and studied the lock. For someone of her determination and ability, it was a simple matter to pick the basic mechanism.

The door creaked open - the women froze, but no one in the house stirred - and a waft of dust, coupled with the smell of leather and mild decay, hit Imogen and Marigold.

Imogen gave a thumbs up sign and Marigold smiled. This was turning out to be easier than she'd expected.

The library was a small room, crammed floor to ceiling with books of various kinds and scrolls. In the centre of the room was sturdy desk, also covered in stacks of books. Some of the books were decorated with white splashes of bird excrement from Peter's pet raven, while others were coated in wax where broad candles had been placed on them for illumination.

Marigold lit one of the larger candle stubs and started to run her finger along the spines of the books on the closest shelf. 

She had briefed Imogen before hand about what she was looking for (primarily books about the "Witch Of Huldre Forest"), but as the potter's daughter was illiterate, they both decided it was safer if Imogen didn't go through the books.

Marigold knew the majority of Peter's collection were treatises on magic, but some were also books of magic and these were regarded as particularly dangerous in the hands of the untrained.

After about half-an-hour (it felt much longer), Imogen was starting to get bored and twitchy when suddenly Marigold let out a tiny squeal and pointed frantically at a green tome she had pulled from the shelf. Imogen shrugged.

'Legendes Of The Grayte Foret Of Huldre' was inscribed on the cover. Marigold excitedly began to leaf through this study of the various phenomena and folktales associated with the forest. She scanned over the section on ομίχλες της μνήμης (omíchles ti̱s mní̱mi̱s or 'memory mist'), which was clearly what she and her fellow adventurers had encountered the other week, before her eyes fell on a woodcut illustration:

The Witch Drowns A Peasant Woman
The accompanying text explained that the Witch Of Huldre Forest (Δάσος μάγισσα or Dásos mágissa) had first appeared at the court of King Ulfric (father of the present king) in Kaerater, the capitol city of Elyntia, about 76 years ago as an ambassador from an unknown land.

She was making outrageous demands on the court and Ulfric, who did not suffer fools gladly, had her entourage executed before she was stripped, beaten and driven from the city. With an escort of a dozen heavily armoured knights, she was then paraded through the land, from the capitol to the Bright River in the south, as a symbol of Ulfric's no-nonsense attitude.

When the party reached the Huldre Forest, the woman was cut loose, dressed only in rags and with no food, and left to fend for herself.

As the knights rode away, she was heard cursing them before she disappeared into the trees.

While most people believe she would have been immediately killed (and probably eaten) by the orcs of Tanander, rumours persisted in the decades that followed that the witch still lived and numerous child abductions (storytellers generally believe she wants to drink their blood) and drownings have been blamed on her.

Some said she became a queen of the orcs, while others suggest she magically travelled back to the kingdom from whence she came.
As Marigold finished reading, Imogen leaned in and tugged at her sleeves (the sign they had agreed to indicate that Betty was stirring).

They just made it out of the library (Imogen locking the door behind them) when the air was rent by an enormous farting sound as Betty heaved herself out of bed and, with a loud clatter and some fruity language, grabbed the bucket that was used for ablutions and stumbled, half-asleep, to the corner of the master bedroom.

The two young women couldn't help but giggle as they silently embraced, Marigold whispering her thanks to Imogen, who then slipped away into the night.

Marigold would have to pay a second visit to the library another night to swot up on the other matters she had an interest in.

The Entwhistle House: Peter's Library is out the back, accessed from the lower bedroom area on the left-hand side of the building

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Interlude: That Was The Week That Was...

It is now a week since Davian, Kirchin and co. returned from their epic adventure and while Sir Browyrd has yet to arrive from Dranning to collect the captured bandit, Margesh Blackblood, our heroes have been striving to get their lives back to normal.

Margesh remains imprisoned in the one cell of Bendwyn's Watch House, but as befits a person of his rank, he has been well-fed, with the best meals available from The Golden Axe, and has also attracted the attention of a number of single women in the village, who pay him surreptitious visits late into the evening.

Having been warmly welcomed home by her adopted father, Harry (who had been increasingly worried for his ward's safety with her extended absence), Imogen took Blackblood's fine studded armour to a variety of craftsmen in Bendwyn to see if any were able to alter the garment to fit her petite frame.

Sadly, none were able to oblige and James, Bendwyn's tailor, told her flat out that not only wouldn't he be able to adjust the suit of armour but that she should return it to Margesh.

"He may, presently, be under lock and key, but he is still of noble birth and a relative of the duke," he told her as he showed her the door.

Guess, she'll have to look elsewhere then...

Meanwhile, Marigold Weaver had discovered that her master, the town wizard Peter Entwhistle, had left the town shortly after he sent her to fetch an alembic from Syrius the Sage in Horst, to visit with Revoreesh, the most powerful conjurer in the duchy, on a matter of some importance.

He had left no further instructions with his wife Betty except that his library should remain locked and she should continue with his affairs as best as she was able.

Settling down to sleep on her rough cot, Marigold, the sorcerer's apprentice, was plagued with nightmares of dancing stick figures, cackling witches and blasted landscapes pock marked by spurting gas vents and dotted with dead trees.

The Yellow King
A boozy evening at The Golden Axe for Kirchin, Davian Battlebeard and Harry Cobblethwaite resulted in the canny halfing bard learning more about the name "Croatoan" and the mysterious "Witch Of Huldre Forest".

Croatoa, he was was reminded by landlord Gunther Treszhnak, was the name of an ancient land in a long-forgotten children's nursery rhyme about a supernatural entity known as The Yellow King who would steal the dreams of naughty children and replace them with wasps.

The Witch, however, Gunther told him, was not a fairy tale. She lives in the southern reaches of the mighty Huldre Forest, was known to eat lost travellers and commanded an army of demonic servants who move through the forest doing her bidding.

She is worshipped by some of the orc tribes of Tanander, who sacrifice captives to her in return for magical assistance in their internecine tribal conflicts.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Chapter Ten: The Hunt For Margesh Blackblood, The Conclusion...

Captured: Margesh Blackblood

With the ogres dead, our heroes quickly found the hidden room where their quarry - the elusive bandit leader Margesh Blackblood - was hiding.

The charming outlaw endeavoured to open negotiations, but the fiery-tempered dwarf Davian Battlebeard was having none of it and attacked, backed up by the magical webs of young wizard-in-training Marigold Weaver. Blackblood shrugged off a couple of Marigold's treacherous webs and gave a dazzling demonstration of his swordsmanship, landing a powerful blow on Davian while almost simultaneously disarming the sneaky Imogen (whose twin daggers of death had come into play).

Harry the halfling bard provided musical support, his tune bolstering the party's morale.

He was, however, soon overpowered and bound in ropes by our canny heroes. Marigold used her staff to bludgeon Margesh unconscious. He was then stripped of his possessions and secured across the back of the group's mule, Charles.

Kirchin, the only skilled swordsman in the group, took possession of Margesh's fabled Sword Of Aquin (for safekeeping), before the group headed off back through the forest towards Horst, a village they planned to avoid because it was a hideout for Margesh's band of ruffians, on their route back to Bendwyn.

As they approached the tree with the word Croatoan carved on it, that marked the start of the narrow trail back towards the "hellmouth" crypt they had explored days earlier, they discovered three corpses across the path - two men (no good ruffians, by the look of it) and a bound-and-gagged peasant woman.

A trail of blood led away from the site along the same path the party was taking, so they investigated only to find themselves back at the murder site. Although this time the woman's corpse had disappeared.

Perplexed, they carried on and again found themselves back at the murder site, although this time the woman's corpse had returned and one of the dead thugs now looked suspiciously like Kirchin!

Pressing on, our heroes found themselves once more approaching the murder site - only this time the murder seemed to be in progress and the path was blocked by a gigantic bear of a man, with bulging eyes and a frothing mouth, swinging an enormous axe.

Kirchin fired an arrow at the berserker, alerting him to the party's presence and he charged them. Marigold zapped him with a magical web, but he kept charging, head-down, like a bull and went crashing into the party.

Kirchin had dropped his bow and drawn the Sword of Aquin and in the ensuing tussle he decapitated the insane murderer.

Davian recognised the dead man as one of the shady folk he had seen the other week in Skarg's bar, back in Bendwyn, and Imogen realised that's where she knew the other two dead men from. The woman's identity remained a mystery.

Harry and Marigold went through the dead man's backpack, finding a stash of adventuring equipment, which the group divvied up, and a coin purse that contained - as well as cash - a crumpled note that Marigold read out aloud:

"to those of you who have killed Garig, thank you. I extend my offer to you as I did to him, bring me a woman of virtue and I will reward you with magic"
Although the party had already suspected there was some powerful magic at work here, this confirmed it and Margesh identified the mark at the end of the note as the sign of the legendary "witch of the forest", although he thought she operated in the far south of the Huldre Forest, beyond the Bright River.

It took the group some time, and a diversion to the tomb of Viktor Volkov, to realise they had somehow broken the magic spell - although it wasn't until they got home to Bendwyn and were telling the tale of their adventures that someone recognised Garig as the berserker from his description.

The party made their way out of the forest, heading to Dundraville, where they were warmly welcomed and put up for the night, before finally making it home to Bendwyn.

Sir Browyrd, the duke's agent, had left a message that a runner should be spent to Dranning upon our heroes return with the captured bandit.

Margesh was taken into custody by guard-sergeant Max Beerfoam and locked up in the town watch house, leaving our heroes to catch their breaths, celebrate their triumph and try to return to their normal lives.


  • Kirchin (Pete)
  • Davian (Kevin)
  • Harry (Simon)
  • Imogen (Meredith)
  • Marigold (Clare)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Chapter Nine: The Vault Of Viktor Volkov (aka The Hunt For Margesh Blackblood, part three)

A Glimpse Of Hell? Inside the metal coffin was a blackness blacker than this...
Continuing their exploration of the Vault Of Viktor Volkov, the party debated whether to open the door with the hellish engravings on or head through the plain door across the way from the secret corridor where they found the silver ingots.

They opted to bypass the engraved door for now, taking the clear symbolism as a major warning of a possible Hellgate!

Through the other door, and over another pit trap that Harry spotted, they came upon a room with an altar to Volkov's ancestors. While examining this room they could hear heavy crashing sounds from back in the main corridor - the living statues were trying to climb out of the pit they had been pushed into.

An examination of the pillars in the room revealed crowns that acted as switches and opened a panel in the top of the altar, revealing three copper tubes, sealed with iron plugs and wax. Kirchin pocked these, but left a small (two inch long) drinking horn they discovered hanging on the side of the altar.

Heading back to the main corridor, Imogen scouted ahead and narrowly avoided being grabbed by the animated statues that had made their way out of the pit trap and were blocking the doorway back into the main passage.

Imogen: She may look sweet - but she's a demon
with her paired daggers
A fight erupted in the narrow passage with Kirchin wielding Volkov's sword and Davian swinging his mace. Marigold was behind them, using her magical healing when one got hit by a stone golem. Once Kirchin reduced the first statue to dust, Imogen slipped round the side and started with her trademark double-dagger stabby-stabby routine.

Harry has tried to sing a rousing ditty to boost group morale, but had instead choked on the dust in the air and lost his voice for the duration of the battle.

With three attackers on it, the second statue soon crumbled as well.

Buoyed up by their triumph, they decided to check behind the "Hellgate door" and found a large pillared room with a metallic coffin at its centre, locked by half-dozen padlocks. Through a small side door they found a room with a magically locked chest that they were unable to open or move.

After much discussion, Imogen picked the six locks and the coffin was cautiously opened. When Kirchin looked in he saw only a pool of impossible blackness and before anything else could happen, the party slammed the coffin back shut and relocked the padlocks.They were (rightly?) terrified of whatever the coffin contained and had no desire to hang around and find out what it was...

Taking a silver ingot each from their earlier treasure find, and four to load on Charlie the mule, who was patiently waiting for them outside the dungeon, chewing on his bag of carrots, the adventurers headed back to Horst.

At the village they were greeted by Jerron, lieutenant of the infamous bandit-prince Margesh Blackblood. Kirchin handed over the map of the vault he had made, along with the four silver ingots and a "detailed" description of what they had found - including a dire warning of an "otherworldly portal to Hell".

Jerron: The party
don't trust him...
Jerron was pleased with the information and gave Kirchin directions to a ruined tower on the banks of The Bright River where he should be able to meet up with Margesh Blackblood. He gave Kirchin some words of introduction and a password: Magpie.

Our heroes immediately set off - feeling quite paranoid about staying in Horst - and made camp on the way to the Bright River. They were convinced that Jerron was setting them up and they were heading into some kind of ambush.

However, after a lengthy discussion at their camp site they agreed they were pursuing Margesh out of civil duty - rather than for any financial reward (as they had already found treasure far exceeding the bounty being offered by Sir Browyrd, The Sheriff Of Dranning).

The next day they party continued on and as they approached the ruined tower saw the corpse of a mauled horse and heard the sounds of battle emerging from the stairwell leading beneath the tower.

Cautiously surveying the brutal signs of a bloody battle they came upon a pair of ogres - thankfully one at a time - and felled them reasonably swiftly.

There were a lot of dead bandits here and signs that one of the ogres had been pounding on a wall for some reason.

To be continued...

  • Kirchin (Pete)
  • Davian (Kevin)
  • Harry (Pete - in Simon's absence)
  • Imogen (Meredith)
  • Marigold (Clare)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Chapter Eight: The Vault Of Viktor Volkov (aka The Hunt For Margesh Blackblood, part two)

In This Week's Thrilling Episode: Our Heroes Face A Pair Of Animated Stone Statues...

[After an extended break, gaming resumed for the Tuesday Knights yesterday with the return of Clare to our table for the first time since the birth of baby Bettany]

Picking up from the end of the last session, Pete's character, Kirchin the healer, had gained the confidence of Jerron, Margesh's number two, who offered him a chance to 'prove himself' by running a little job for the gang.

Jerron told him of a little "honeypot" his men had found in the Huldre Forest but hadn't had time to explore. He gave Kirchin directions to the old mausoleum and suggested he get a group of friends to help him haul out any treasure they found there.

The loot would be split 50/50 with Jerron, then Jerron would introduce him to Margesh who would have the final say over whether he could join the gang.

When Kirchin met up with his travelling companions - Harry Cobblethwaite (Simon), Davian Battlebeard (Kevin) and Imogen (Meredith) - to tell them about the job, he discovered they had found Imogen's friend Marigold Meaver (Clare), assistant to their old pal, Peter Entwhistle, the wizard of Bendwyn.

Following the directions they had been given, the group entered the forest and soon became engulfed in a strange smelling mist which stirred vivid memories in most of them (Kirchin recalled an incident from his time with the army, Davian a flooding incident from his days as a young miner, Harry remembered the time he turned his back on his father to follow his musical dreams and Marigold recovered a repressed memory about Syrius, the sage of Horst).

[By improvising these stories at the drop of a hat, the players earned 'cards' - thank you, Paizo for the Plot Twist: Flashbacks cards - that gave them a one-off bonus for use at a later time of their choosing]

Before reaching the entrance to the "dungeon", the group had a passive encounter with a wandering brown bear and came upon a tree with strange carvings on that only Marigold could read.

She couldn't quite make out all the letters, but Harry had a vague idea that it might be a word from an old song.

Finally arriving at the door of the mausoleum, the adventurers cautiously entered, discovering - and disarming - a number of traps before finding themselves in a tomb being attacked by a pair of animated statues. Incredibly - using teamwork [and a bit of the 'reality-altering' bonus gained from the Flashback cards] - they managed to push both the statues back into a pit and contain them there.

The party then opened the sarcophagus and found a skeleton clutching a shiny sword, which Kirchin went to pick up and was zapped with the memories of its former owner: a virtuous paladin called Viktor Volkov, who had been part of a team responsible for sealing a gateway to Hell.

Exploring further into the tomb the group found a closed door with fanciful engravings depicting horned demons carrying human souls down to Hell (seeing a theme here our heroes decided to shy away from that door for the moment), but while checking another section of the corridor the team of Harry and Imogen (the group's two "thieves") discovered a concealed doorway.

Behind this door was a short passage with a strange chest in it. The heavy chest - which turned out to be made of silver - had three movable handles on top. Harry realised it was trapped and although the trap kept resetting after he "defused" it, he methodically ran through all the combinations before Imogen pointed out there was a concealed keyhole on the back of the chest.

Harry picked the lock and the team were delighted to find it full of silver ingots.

To be continued...

Monday, 14 July 2014

Marigold's Story...

Marigold Weaver
Daughter of Bendwyn's weaver, Dennis, Marigold was apprenticed to town wizard Peter Entwhistle at a young age.

While this basically amounted to a lot of skivvying and looking after Peter and Betty's young children (Logan and Kitty), he did teach her a couple of useful healing spells.

She has also snuck a look in some of Peter's books and taught herself the "webbing" spell.

Recently while cleaning up for Peter, the teenager broke one of his precious glass alembics, and so he sent her to Horst to pick up a replacement from the alchemist Syrius.

It took her three days to reach the town, but unfortunately no sooner had she collected it from Syrius than she dropped that as well.

Now convinced both the wizard and alchemist will be furious with her she doesn't know what to do, but luckily she has spotted her friend from the town, Imogen (the potter's adopted daughter) and Bendwyn's smith, the dwarf Davian Battlebeard, in Horst.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Chapter Seven: The Hunt For Margesh Blackblood (part one)

Skarg The Half-Orc Was Not A Welcoming Host...

Our heroes had learned of the bounty on the cad Margesh Blackblood and that he had ambushed the Sheriff's tax collectors outside the town of Trews.

Kirchin (Pete's character) and Harry went off to purchase supplies for the cross-country journey, but Imogen (Meredith's character) spotted a shady contact from her youth, a skinny lad called Cooper, looking shifty and heading towards the out-of-town dive known as Skarg's - after its half-orc owner.

Imogen and Davian (Kevin's character) weren't exactly welcomed in Skarg's, with the foul-tempered half-orc showing them the door and his loaded crossbow.

Naturally a brawl broke out at the entrance to the drinking establishment with Davian and Skarg trading blows and wrestling, while Imogen slipped back inside and raced up to the roof to find Cooper. Too late, he had already released a messenger pigeon - but Imogen gave him a sound beating and got him to confess it was going to the town of Horst.

Eventually, Davian managed to clock Skarg on the back of the head with his mace, bringing the half-orc to his knees, but then he and Imogen left to meet up with Kirchin and Harry. However, Davian was heard to mutter threats about "coming back and burning the place down". Apparently he wasn't happy to have a crossbow pointed at his face in "his" town.

Even though the reward for the capture of Margesh maxed out at about 250 silver coins, Kirchin had spent 600 silver on equipment for the whole party and got them a donkey - called Charles - to carry the extra gear.

Imogen explained why they should start their investigation in Horst and so that's the direction they set off.

It was a three-day journey, but on the first night they stopped off at Dundraville, where they were welcomed as returning heroes, and the evening passed amidst a cloud of fine food, drink and conversation (the main topic being local politics and Margesh Blackblood, indolent noble-turned-self-proclaimed-people's-champion).

Horst (map by Dyson Logos)

Eventually our heroes arrived at Horst and found the house that Cooper described. By the sound of it there was a riotous party going on inside and so eventually the group decided to try and infiltrate this, as they'd heard tell that Margesh had 20 or 30 men in his gang and so a frontal assault was definitely off the cards.

Harry climbed onto the roof, where he spied a drunken guard snoozing against a pigeon coop. He seemed to be cradling a dead pigeon and Harry tried to extract the bird from the drunk man's grasp. The drunk stirred, as though waking, and Harry sung him a halfling lullaby, sending him back to sleep.

The pigeon still had its message bag attached to its foot and Harry carefully pulled out the fragile message - a coded string of symbols - and then returned it to the message bag, before he scuttled back down to the ground and drew out the message he had seen for the others to try and translate.

The "cryptic message"

[As a brief aside, because I don't think it'll be that important now. I scribbled out Cooper's coded message on a tiny sliver of toilet paper. And when Pete - as Harry - was looking at it, and memorising it, he was looking at the back of the paper. So the message he then drew out for the rest of the paper was backwards!]

Davian, bearing a cask of beer, and Harry then effectively gatecrashed the gang's celebrations while Kirchin and Imogen snuck round the back of the house.

The drunk bandits were conned into thinking that the dwarf Davian and halfling bard, Harry, were "the entertainment" - although things almost turned nasty when our heroes found themselves surrounded in a backroom of the gang's hideout.

There was loud, repeated, chants of "Dance, monkeys, dance!"

While Harry provided the musical accompaniment, Davian was made to dance on the table (he didn't dance well and ended up falling off. One of the bandits tried to give him a kicking but was too drunk to connect).

Meanwhile Kirchin and Imogen had set fire to the back of the house - as a distraction - and retreated to a safe distance to see who came out.

It was quite obvious that inside a fellow named Jerron was calling the shots and when the fire was spotted he ordered everyone out, although one gang member disappeared through a different door.

Harry and Davian slipped out with the gang (Harry, unnoticed, lifting a tube of coloured liquid from Jerron's belt). Except for Jerron and another, the assorted thugs went round to the back of the house to try and put the fire out - with the help of their neighbours who had spotted the burning building.

The drunk guard on the roof had been awoken by the fire and in his panic ran off the roof, crashing into the street and breaking his neck!

The gangster talking to Jerron went back into the burning house, returned a few minutes later and spoke to Jerron again before they both went back in and returned with the missing gang member - who had apparently, somehow, broken his leg really badly and looked like he was at death's door.

Kirchin was already tending to the guy who had jumped off the roof when Jerron asked him if he was healer, then ordered him to help his colleague.

The physicker - telling Jerron his name was 'Charlie' - bound up the broken leg and got chatting with Jerron, who said he could always do with someone with Kirchin's skills in his gang and was he interested?

To be continued...

Thursday, 26 June 2014

History: The First Kings Of Elyntia

Ancient statue of King Ater in Dranning. To the left is his son, Evets Of The Silver Hand (who became king after him)
and to the right is his younger son, Retep The White-Haired.

As recorded in The Book Of Millius (the tenth century Elyntian monk who set about documenting the oral history of the continent of Tekralh), it was King Ater of The First Men who led the exodus from the continent of Sevled to the orc-dominated lands of Tekralh.

Wielding his mighty sword Caliburn, and with his sons (Princes Evets and Retep) by his side, he peacefully carved out a land (Elyntia, meaning "Blessed Haven") for his people, as well as their dwarven kin, the halflings and the Huldufolk - "the hidden people" (elves).

Sadly, although work was proceeding in all haste on his capitol city Kaerater, this great king only got to enjoy the fruits of his labours for seven years before succumbing to a wasting disease and passing on.

The crown of Elyntia went to his son, Evets of The Silver Hand, who ruled for four decades and is generally regarded as the best king the island had. Fair and even-handed, the country saw 40 years of peace and unity under his reign.

But things weren't destined to last. After Evets died of old age, the throne of Elyntia had 13 other holders in the coming 238 years, of various quality and stamina. Never again would the country know the peace it had enjoyed under King Evets, with petty jealousies and old feuds rearing their heads from time-to-time as dukes and barons jostled for power at court.

Arturus Slacksword, son of Ultar The Bastard, came to the throne in 849 only to lose it during orcish invasions from southern Tanander in 861. It has even been suggested that one or more Elyntian barons actually aided the invaders as they had come to believe that the foreign power was better suited to ruling their nation than their own people were.

This was the start of The Thousand Year War which the Elyntians only really won when the orc kingdom imploded into a jumble of feuding warlords and city-states.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Chapter Six: Who Let The Pigs Out?

Our heroes - Davian (Kevin), Kirchin (Pete) and Harry (Simon) were enjoying breakfast with Harry's new friend, Imogen (Meredith) at The Golden Axe in Bendwyn when an old friend of Davian's turned up, sicky Paco, with a tale of misery and woe.

Just days before the tax man was due to turn up and collect his regular dues, a wandering monster had taken up residence in Paco's small salt pit - preventing the miner from working his claim.

The party, naturally, agreed to help Paco out and he produced a hastily scribbled (vertical) map of his mine that they could use for reference.

He warned them about one tunnel that partially collapsed and another that flooded and pointed out where his equipment was stored (rope, lanterns and oil), which the group were free to use.

Paco's Map

Having made the 40 minute walk to Paco's home - the salt pit was a short distance from his house - Kirchin gave Paco some silver to take his wife, Gwen, and their two young children (Owen, 4, and Pip, 3) to stay at The Golden Axe for a couple of days.

Our heroes inspected the claw marks on the house and the damage inflicted on the entrance of the mine before carefully descending into the pit and beginning a methodical search of the place.

There were definite indications that something had been living down here - animal bones, large mounds of foul-smelling excrement and collections of shiny trinkets.

Davian dislodged some rocks venturing into the collapsed tunnel, but luckily they bounced harmlessly off his armour, then just as the party was making plans to leave "Tunnel Number Two", a  creature sprung out of the shadows onto Kirchin's back, grazing him and forcing him to fall to the floor.

The creature that attacked Kirchin

Imogen rushed in to save her new friend, stabbing the beast and then Davian stove its sightless head in with well-aimed blow by his hand-crafted mace.

The battle was over in an instant and the party could have chosen to leave at that point, but they weren't wholly convinced that the creature was alone down here and so decided to check out the flooded corridor.

And this is where things went horribly wrong!

Kirchin took a lantern and Davian's collapsible rod and tip-tapped his way up to the edge of goopy, gray lake of sickly salt water... and then the edge collapsed and he disappeared under the water. Davian secured a rope around himself and raced into the water to rescue the group's resident healer - leaving Imogen and Harry to hold the rope and pull him out once he'd got Kirchin.

But things didn't go exactly according to plan - especially when Davian realised that trying to climb back out only caused chunks of wall to crumble away in his hands.

The end result was that Kirchin nearly drowned and Imogen only managed to eventually pull Davian back out the water when Harry started singing a rousing tune to boost the group's morale.

At this point, the group decided to retire back to Paco's house, have a meal, dry off and see if any more creatures appeared.

Resting up over night, they opted to use one of Paco's two remaining pigs (the creature had apparently eaten the rest of his livestock, so Paco had moved his last two pigs indoors to keep them safe) as a 'guard dog'. Unfortunately in the middle of the night, the pig escaped and disappeared into the woods with a gleeful squeal.

After that, the party took turns sitting guard outside the house, with Paco's last pig for company and keeping an eye on the trap that Imogen and Harry had set near the mine entrance.

Nothing came that night and so the party returned to The Golden Axe and updated Paco on what had occurred in the salt pit.

Although he'd recovered the errant porker, Kirchin told Paco he would buy him a new pair of breeding pigs. They also agreed that the group would return to the trap they had left every day for the next three days to see if another creature showed up and they would help Paco haul out the three baskets of salt he needed to pay his taxes.

Sir Browyrd
However, returning to The Golden Axe on the third day, they were met by Sir Browyrd, The Sheriff Of Dranning (and tax collector), who angrily announced that the taxes he had collected so far had been stolen by that notorious bandit Margesh Blackblood (dah-dah-dahhhh!)

Browyrd was offering a reward of 150 silver pieces for the capture of the bandit (alive, so he could stand trial) - with 100 silver piece bonus for the retrieval of Blackblood's sword, The Sword Of Aquin, which his master, The Duke, had his eyes on.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Chapter Five: Frogroth Rising!

Descending the ladder (found at the end of the last session) further underground, we found ourselves in a corridor where Davian Battlebeard (Kevin) set off a swinging club trap - but managed to avoid serious harm because of his armour.

The corridor led into an alchemist's lab, that we turned over as we are wont to do. An animated broom decided to attack Harry the halfling (Simon), but in the end we overpowered it (I managed to set it on fire, but Pete's GMPC, Kirchin landed the 'killing' blow).

Among the books and alchemical equipment, on tables around the room, I found a diary belonging to someone called Suto who was allied with an entity called "The Voice Below", was hunting for the "Codex Illium" and wanted to summon the demon Frogroth.

So, we were kind of right in that the ogre we defeated last time wasn't the "Big Bad", it's just that he was working for this evil Suto guy.

There were three passages out of this room and heading north we found a bedchamber - with more books and a diary, this time belonging to an old man called Erazmus who went on about unspecified "secrets" under Dundraville.

We then took the eastern passage out of the lab and - after carefully avoiding a giant Shrieker mushroom, clearly left as an alarm - we came upon a temple-like room where the elderly Suto himself had a silver pentagram on the floor and was just in the process of summoning Frogroth.

This was my wizard's chance to shine and he burned the last of his stamina casting a magic rainstorm over the room that extinguished all the sorcerer's fires, preventing him from completing the ritual.

Davian waded in, followed by apprentice wisewoman Veriel Whisperwind (Meredith) while Kirchin and Harry shot missiles from the doorway.

Unfortunately, Suto was able to throw up a protective shield that blocked our attacks. Then he summoned a gargoyle - out of the ceiling stonework - to aid him. Both Davian and Veriel managed to land attacks through the shield, but didn't really seem to be doing that much damage.

However, around this time Peter Entwhistle (my wizard) remembered the potion of strength he'd discovered earlier and necked it, but just as I was going all Popeye, the gargoyle grabbed Veriel and tore her in half (splattering the rest of us with her blood!).

Taking my magic staff in both hands, I roared into physical combat with Suto, as Davian and I sought revenge on the summoner - by trying to beat him into a paste on the floor.

The gargoyle had also slapped Davian around a bit, nearly killing him as well, until Harry felled the rock creature with a well-aimed stone from his sling.

In trying to batter our way through the magical shield, I'd managed to break one of Suto's arms and, in quick succession, Davian landed a pair of blows that broke our enemy's legs - but not before he'd managed to summon a poisonous spider, that took a bite out of Kirchin.

Eventually, the epic confrontation came to an end, with us wearing Suto down until Davian could finally deliver the killing blow.

Once rested, we moved Veriel's body to the bedchamber before exploring the final passage out of the lab. Down there we found a room of cages where the two villagers were being held: Dale, a serving wench from The Merry Tavern, and gnome merchant called Jonas who promised us great riches for rescuing him.

After that we left the cave complex, heading back to Dundraville to get villagers and carts to help us retrieve Veriel's body (to give her a proper elven burial back at Bendwyn) and - of course - the treasure (including another library-worth of magical and mysterious books for Entwhistle to add to his growing collection).

Chapter Four: Battle Thong Of The Ogre Republic!

Although five weeks had passed in our world, mere seconds had elapsed in Pete's campaign world when The Tuesday Knights resumed our campaign yesterday, still on the hunt for that elusive ogre that had been pestering the townsfolk of Dundraville.

We also suddenly realised that we did know the name of Simon's halfling bard - it's Harry Cobblethwaite... although I dread to think what song he will compose after this adventure.

The next room our brave heroes came to turned out to contain the ogre we were looking for - dressed in a hero harness and a thong, drunkenly collapsed across a table and snoring loudly.

We debated, in hushed tones, for ages about what to do next - ultimately coming back to the simple stratagem of hitting him until he fell over. It was - as all fights in The Fantasy Trip appear to be - a quite brutal fight, but somehow we miraculously came out of it relatively unscathed, while the ogre ended up unconscious.

Davian Battlebeard (Kevin), our feisty dwarf, was all for killing him straight away and after further debate, we agreed to look away while he caved in the beast's skull with his mighty mace.

I must confess to my wizard's eyes, he seemed rather small for a typical ogre and I'm rather worried that he might have been just a pup and the real ogre is still out there somewhere.

Anyway, I magically opened the ogre's giant treasure chest, which turned out to be full of silver coins, but still no clue as to where the villagers that the ogre had taken hostage (and we were supposed to rescue) were being kept.

And so we headed on, narrowly avoiding the ogre's pet wolf - thanks to our resident elf naturalist Veriel Whisperwind (Meredith) who calmed him down (and aims to return later with the idea of adopting it as her own pet) - and found several other abandoned rooms, and the way back out the cave mouth, but so sign of the kidnapped townsfolk.

Coming out of the cave system, we rested for a couple of hours, had some lunch and then returned to the concealed entrance through which we had first entered the caves, so we could check out a couple of passageways we hadn't explored before.

A tussle with a dire skunk and half-a-dozen poisonous centipedes later and we were still no closer to finding the kidnappees.

At my suggestion we then checked the eye sockets of the giant skull face carved into the hill (the mouth being the main cave entrance), but besides Harry getting into a scrape with a young vulture there were no clues.

Finally, and I can't remember who suggested this, we returned to the ogre's room and re-examined his storage alcove, finding foot prints we hadn't seen in our hurry before - foot prints that disappeared into the back wall.

One magical 'knock' spell later (thank you very much) and a hidden passagway was revealed, leading to a shaft, with a ladder to one side, descending down further into the earth.

To be continued...

Chapter Three: Let's Hunt Some Ogre!

Turns out that our group's celebrity reputation - after our last adventure - isn't restricted to our own town and has spread far and wide.

Not only have we attracted the attention of a travelling halfling bard (Simon's character) who wants to chronicle our exploits in song, but we received a plea for help from a neighbouring town, Dundraville, that was having a spot of bother with an ogre.

At an impromptu council meeting in The Golden Axe, we learned that the ogre had been taking tributes of ale and sheep from the town for years, and the townsfolk were happy to oblige, but it had recently upped its demands to include building materials, gold and finally people. When the villagers objected to the last demand, the ogre - whose name might be Blerg - kidnapped two peasants and returned to his lair in the nearby Skulltop Hillock.

Accompanied by the bard (whose name we either didn't catch or didn't care about), Davian Battlebeard (Kevin), Veriel Whisperwind (Meredith), Kirchin (Pete's GMPC) and I, Peter Entwhistle, wizard extraordinaire,set off to Dundraville.

Dundraville is primarily known as the home of the Berkclay Brothers' Brewery - so we immediately knew how they could repay us for handling their ogre problem - but we also heard tales of ghostly lights in the woods, the disappearance of an itinerant dwarf carpenter and the belief that the ogre was now trying to excavate an ancient warrior's tomb.

After spending the night in Dundraville, we set off at first light towards the nearby hills, aiming to discover a "secret" passageway at the rear of the caves where the ogre lived.

Our first encounter was a dozing hobgoblin shepherd, surrounding by 'his' flock. While Veriel was able to sneak reasonably close to him, the sheep started bleating and he awoke. So we had to take him out.

Although we knocked him unconscious, Davian broke the monster's neck before we could interrogate him. Davian clearly has some anger issues to deal with when it comes to hobgoblins!

Nearby was a foul-smelling narrow passageway through the rocks into the back of the hillock, so we squeezed in - doing our best to tread in as little excrement as possible. Turned out there was a bat cave at the end of the passageway, its floor deep in a guano.

Venturing further in to the cave system, we were prevented from going down one passage by the presence of a giant skunk, but in another direction we found a sealed tomb in which apparently lay the bones of a great dwarf warrior. Davian stripped the corpse of its fine suit of chainmail but then he and Veriel disturbed a slumbering skeleton and were attacked by the undead fiend.

The creature was quickly dispatched, although Davian's new suit of armour helped protect him from taking too much damage.

While we rested - I needed to get my breath back after some spectacular magic use - a couple of fire beetles scuttled in and were promptly dispatched.

Heading on, we came to a large cave, where a couple of other fire beetles were hanging out, but we managed to avoid them and make our way down a long winding corridor that appeared to come to a dead end. Once again, the mighty wizard Entwhistle saved the day and used sorcery to open a secret door into a chamber filled with crates, casks and a hand cart.

We checked these out, then debated where to head next.

And that's where our story ended for the night...

This tale of great derring-do will continue in April and hopefully by then, the townsfolk of Bendwyn will have catalogued all our treasure from our first adventure (I have my eye on the baby dragon skeleton, for my shop, and all the tomes and scrolls - as the only one in our town who can read) and Simon will have come up with a name for his bard!

Chapter Two: Zombie Sex Slaves!

Our Heroes (l to r): Davian Battlebeard, Veriel Whisperwind, Peter Entwhistle & Kirchin

Having found that the crypt under the abandoned The Temple Of The Lady Of Healing was infested with undead, Kirchin (Pete's GMPC), Davian (Kevin) and Peter Entwhistle (me) returned to the village of Bendwyn to rest up and see who we could to join us for the inevitable return trip.

Only Veriel Whisperwind (Meredith's character), the elven wise woman (wise in the ways of kicking ass, as it turned out) was brave enough, but as we found out later that was all we needed.

As soon as we descended back into the crypt, three more skeletons jumped us and Davian immediately smashed one to pieces with a single blow, breaking his run of bad luck from our last outing, and setting the trend for the rest of the evening.

I withheld using magic during this first encounter - knowing I only had a limited pool of stamina to draw upon - but foolishly still tried to engage one of the skeletons and suffered a massive hit that reduced me to below half hit points, before the team physicker (Pete) was able to stitch up my wounds.

Unfortunately this also reduced the amount of energy I had left to cast spells later in the adventure.

After the others made short work of the zombies we headed down into the mines that had been dug off the crypt, wandering into a four-way junction where four more zombies lurched from the three exits.

Even though I exhausted myself casting fireballs, the others - again - made short work of the shambling dead and while I got my breath back, Davian and Veriel cautiously checked out two of the passageways from this crossroads, discovering a pair of abandoned barracks - one significantly better quality than the other.

Leading off from the posher bedroom was a stairway down to a laboratory, complete with beakers, jars, arcane-looking books, maps, scrolls, iron maiden, glass cabinet of bubbling green liquid containing a skeleton and an operating table with a corpse on it - that reanimated as a zombie, which Davian dispatched.

I flicked through the books and stuffed some of the scrolls into my backpack before we returned to the intersection and headed down the passage we hadn't yet explored.

This spiralled down to an ornate curtain (this dungeon didn't go in for doors but had curtains across corridors instead) from where Veriel heard the sound of pacing.

Yanking back the curtain revealed an elderly man in contemplative mood, in luxurious bedroom with two shapes curled up at the foot of the bed.

However, because Kirchin was hesitant about shooting him (Kirchin is also a trained archer, but up to this point hadn't used his bow because of the close-knit nature of melee combat), the wizard - for that's what he was - animated the two curled-up zombies (I believe them to have been "sex zombies") to attack us while he made for a second exit.

Davian hurled a hammer at the retreating man, but it bounced off a sorcerous force field before he disappeared into darkness.

While Davian engaged one of the zombies and Veriel the other, I telekinetically lifted a flaming molotov cocktail over the one the dwarf was fighting and poured the flaming liquid over its head.

With the aid of my magically-assisted fire (which, again, exhausted me), we got rid of the two sex zombies but were too late as we followed the wizard, getting in to his casting chamber just in time to see him disappear in a cloud of green vapour.

Beyond that room, behind the dungeon's only wooden door, we found a final, morbid sight: a cold room filled with 20 to 30 corpses - clearly material for the manufacture of future zombies.

The dungeon was "cleared" as far as we were concerned and the Big Bad thwarted, if not defeated.

So we made plans to return to the town, round up all the able-bodied people and come back to ferry out the corpses, and dead zombies, so the town priest could bless them before we gave them all a proper burial.

Our team of labourers would also help us remove all the treasures - the books, a painting, a baby dragon skeleton etc - so the town council could decide what to do with it.

All being well, next month, Simon won't still be snowed under with work and he'll be able to throw his halfling bard into the mix, bringing our adventuring party up to full strength.

Chapter One: Dem Bones, Dem Bones...

Unfortunately two Tuesday Knight regulars were unable to make the inaugural session of Pete's new campaign last night - Meredith had injured her knee and Simon couldn't get away from work - but Kevin and I were still keen to get things rolling.

Pete began the session by walking us through the basic rules of The Fantasy Trip, particularly the combat (although none of us fully appreciated the difference that rolling 3d6 as opposed to our usual 1d20 would make to the chances of scoring the numbers we actually needed to hit anything).

The adventure began with the calling of an emergency council meeting in the town of Bendwyn (we are all members of the town council).

A physicker called Kirchin, and his young apprentice, had arrived with stories of a ghostly encounter in an abandoned healing house/temple outside the town. We all knew of 'The Temple Of The Lady Of Healing', and how it had lain empty for hundreds of years since a great plague swept through the area. There had been rumours of hauntings, but nothing we took too seriously... until now.

Davian Battlebeard (Kevin's dwarf) and Peter Entwhistle (my mage) suggested returning to the ruins, with Kirchin (who we realised was Pete's GMPC) in daylight to check it out.

The temple itself looked abandoned, as it always had, but Davian discovered a panel in the floor that led down to an ancient crypt where we were attacked by a pair of animated skeletons.

This battle seemed to go on forever and I was getting seriously fatigued by trying - but failing - to do any damage by hurling fireballs at one of these skeletons. Eventually I resorted to simply bashing him with my staff and that seemed to do the trick.

I then turned to help Davian and Kirchin and managed to land a couple of meaty blows with my staff that took out the second skeleton.

Yes, the wizard had, indeed, felled the two undead fiends while his more martial colleagues had flailed around uselessly. But I'm not one to gloat... well, a bit, maybe!

We then retired back upstairs so I could rest and regain my strength - and to give the raging fires I'd started in the crypt time to die out.

Then lurching out of the smoke came a foul-smelling zombie. I magically pushed out back down the stairs, then Davian leapt on top of it and caved its head in with a meaty blow.

We realised there was a dark, mine-like entrance in the far corner of the crypt but instead of investigating decided the best course of action was to seal up the crypt entrance and return to the town to find more able bodies to bulk out our numbers (ie. hope Simon and Meredith can make it to our February game).

The Fantasy Trip turned out to still be the fun system I remembered playing with Pete and Steve back in the '80s - even if I couldn't recall the finer points of the rules until Pete jogged my memory. It took all of us a time to adjust our mind-set to the idea that no-one (us or the bad guys) would necessarily hit all that often, but when a hit was landed it would probably do some serious damage.

Your chances to hit depend on your character's Dexterity - modified by whatever armour he is wearing - and several minutes into our first combat we realised it was a lot harder to roll under eight on 3d6 than it would have been on a 1d20 (the bell curve and all that). And also what a difference even a single point of a statistic can make - Kevin's armoured dwarf had a Dexterity of eight while my wizard had a Dexterity of nine and I was hitting way more than Kevin.

As a wizard I also grokked the idea that my fireballs wouldn't automatically hit and even if they did there was the one embarrassing piece of dice rolling where I managed to do ZERO points of damage (fireballs do 1d6-1 damage per point of Strength you invest in them, I was putting two points into each attack, and then managed to roll two ones on my damage, which, of course, meant no damage!)

But this also encouraged me to get creative, using my "drop weapon" spell on one of the skeletons and then telekinetically pushing the zombie down the stairs.

Already excited about next month's game.
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