The First Temple

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After the assault on Chain Crag following a daring scouting mission, the Templar of the Falls successfully wiped out the monsters lairing there. Slynn Keenblade led a group underneath, and the mithril-armored dwarves took many injuries but no casualties as they rolled through their foes.

A month later, the clan’s masons were finishing their careful repair of Chain Crag, restoring it to its neglected appearance while maintaining its functionality as a lure and trap for local threats.

The First Temple

The priority of the clan’s efforts had already shifted to excavating the site that could be the First Temple, the first shrine established near Beardfall, the clan home. It was buried in the conflict between the isolationists and the templar, part of the struggle about whether to open the holy sites of Beardfall to pilgrims or keep them safe and secret. The mountain wall above the valley with the temple collapsed. At that time, the First Temple was used as an isolationist base, but there was some speculation a double agent or spy working for the templar collapsed the mountain.

Now, over five centuries later, a huge steam drill was helping clear the way to the temple site. It was to open by Remembrance Day, in about a month.

Three Council members and the Archon called in a trio of scouts to help in the effort.

  • Revelle Keenblade. Mauler, athlete, armorer.
  • Velda Windspear. Support, healer, weaver.
  • Ruman Crackerstacker. Leader, topsider, brewer.

They were to use a magical ritual to transport into the buried temple, scout it out, and report back. If there was a good reason the First Temple was buried, then the templar didn’t want to find out what it was when they opened the doors. Advance notice would be better.

After the Council members left, the Archon called them closer and told them there were few records of the First Temple, which is a very strange omission for such an important location; not sabotage or theft, but an absence of information. Tread carefully.

Entering the First Temple

After a long day’s ride by donkey (they could have walked two days, but wanted to get there faster) they arrived. They heard the handiwork of the half-crazed “Steambenders” who tended the excavation as they approached. The steam drill was audible miles away, but they took a higher path to an excavation up on the slope, where mystics had prepared a runic gateway to send them down into the temple. Melinda Wintershade equipped them, and led the invasion ritual. They got magical clay slapped on the back of their necks, and they were pushed through the stone to land in the First Temple. The wet clay was the key to the door to get them back; they hid some extra in the entry room.

They also had pendants that generated air, in case it was stuffy or poisonous underground. Revelle carried an arcane ear, so they could communicate with base if needed. They were also given stimulant potions, in case they ran into trouble.

Crackerstacker pulled out a tube of glow grubs and fixed it on his helmet, and in that feeble light they explored the deeply dusty corridors. It appeared wind had eroded the long-buried site, which wasn’t normally possible. Rather than peeking into every door or following every hallway, they looked for a larger room.

They encountered sluggish shadows of thin tendrils that seemed to be submerged in the stone, but moving; when touched, they drained body heat and life. They were not very aggressive, but they came from an area that had been magically shaped, like something was doing some mystic digging into the stone of the First Temple. The digging resembled the magic Revelle had seen in the dam sabotage. The intruders followed the peculiar metallic tendril shadows in the stone, heading down the shaped corridor.

The Puppet Show

The tendrils were more numerous and harder to avoid as they proceeded. They came out in a chamber with stony figures made of what appeared to be rock and fossilized bone, their body plans making no sense, and behind those figures was a crazed puppet master; his lower half fused with stone, and with one hand he controlled stone and with the other he controlled the metallic life-draining tendrils.

Velda kept up firing with her crossbow as Revelle and Crackerstacker discovered the stone figures merged into a regenerating wall; they darted around the wall, avoiding tendrils, and began merrily smashing the puppetmaster. As Revelle struck the final blows, knocking the thing apart, they saw a faceted ruby in the center, dripping metallic shadow. Crackerstacker pocketed it, and they left the crumbling stone and dissolving tendrils, returning to the First Temple chambers.

The Unfinished Statue

They found a pillared great hall that repelled the metallic tendrils. Its floor was a mosaic of a dwarf-like cosmic creature battling a draconic cosmic creature, both figures deliberately vague, on a landscape that seemed to correspond to the Beardfall clanhome. The wall and pillar decorations seemed to echo the theme, making sort of a multi-media experience. In the center, recessed in the floor, a dais had what appeared to be an unfinished hunchback dwarf-ish shape surrounded by broken stone.

The statue slowly shifted to track them as they walked around the room, so Crackerstacker approached it. When he touched the ruby taken from the puppetmaster to it, the statue became more animated. There was a ruby-sized slot in its chest, so Crackerstaker put the ruby in to see what would happen.

The stone around the statue rushed up to it, finishing out its features or drifting around it like ioun stones. The powerful guardian of the site sensed a contagion lingering in the dwarves before it, but offered them the truth, assuming they lacked the courage to accept it. They said they wanted a look, so the guardian lowered a barrier, revealing stairs, and warned them it was almost out of time.

The Truth is Down There

The invaders headed down the stairs, in another mosaic hallway telling more of the story in its abstract way. They found a stone sepulcher to the Witness. Not wanting to disrespect the dead, they were planning to leave it, but the statue spoke in their minds and mocked their refusal of the truth.

So, they heaved it open. Instead of a body, there was a book wrapped in cloth. Velda recognized the cloth as being made of Callithorn, a magical plant long thought extinct, capable of making powerful protection. The book itself was not expensive or dramatic, but it contained the final will and testament of Olamanok, Son of the First Witness, the Viewer, who watched two gods fight.

The dwarves knew the legend that their clanhome was formed and printed with strange divine energy because a God of Ur did battle with another cosmic creature and the battle climaxed there in the mountain. This might be a primary source referring to that battle. Was it possible supernatural means had been used to cloud their memories? They took the book, and retreated.

Closing Time

The statue, which could be an echo of an earth elemental lord, ran out of energy or focus, and the statue began to crumble. However, he told them the easiest way out before he fell apart, and they pursued it. On the way, in a corridor, they found an inset earth patch, and recognized a living Callithorn plant! This was a tremendous find. Rather than risk damage to the plant, they withdrew, back through the spell wall, rejoining the other templar at the excavation site.

Velda stayed to lead the effort to recover the Callithorn plant, while Revelle and Crackerstacker mounted up and took the book directly to the archon. The grateful clan gave all three of them 10 ledger for their heroic success! Yet not all mysteries were resolved…

 

Armored Column

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We pick up directly after the events of last session.

Korvask, Gudrun, and Tancred were joined by Devron Leveller, a berserker chosen mason. He was up in the high sands of the Caskbound Pocket meditating and getting high, buried to the neck in the loose sandy soil. He sensed the call going through the whispervine in his altered state, and when he came to he headed to Klassa to help out. (He also found his mustaches waxed and pointed aggressively forward like mastodon tusks, and dubbed them “mastostache.”)

He arrived in Klassa to see the burning of orc corpses. He renewed his friendship with Korvask, and agreed to join them in their defensive efforts.

Holding Action

Speaker Kurtz asked them to take shellers and go head off the incoming orc force. If they could slow it, that grants more time for reinforcements to come to Klassa. More arrive every day, so there were enough youngsters (up to 50 years old, still indentured to the clan) to send them out with assistants.

Each of them would get an assistant to run the sheller, and another assistant. This is what they ended up with.

  • Korvask: Finley (delver) and Topaz (topsider)
  • Gudrun: Danella (delver) and Penn (cook)
  • Tancred: Slish (delver) and Akbar (engineer)
  • Devron: Kreg (delver) and Lessa (topsider)

The Forest Door

They reached the point where the Shot River flows out of the Caskbound Pocket into the forest. While they rested, Devron scouted ahead. He encountered an elven party. Lessa translated, discovering that the elves forbade the dwarves from entering the forest; if they tried, they’d be shot.

Devron took the news back, and the dwarves hatched a plot to seal the entry and let the orcs and elves duke it out in the valley. Or at least threaten to do that, retaining the option.

Tancred and Korvask went to talk with them, and managed to wring a concession out of the elves. Turns out Grumbletch the Choppa threatened Tevuria Selvuria and his people; if the dwarves came out, the orc would massacre the elves and burn their forest down. So, the elves would let the dwarves through only if they promised to slay the orc war leader. They cheerfully agreed.

Onward

They continued on, scouting, and talked to their topsiders about what was local. They found a waterfall, and beyond that a marsh, and beyond that a fork in the river, and beyond THAT a human settlement called Brightstone ruled by Major Donnelley.

They moved as far as the marsh, and sent a delegation on foot to reach Brightstone and see about potentially luring the orcs to attack the human settlement instead.

Negotiations

They bribed their way into the walled town after dark, finding a seneschal and laying out the news of an incoming orc threat. The delegation was respectfully housed in an unused dining room for the rest of the night, and humans sent out search parties to look for the orc army at first light.

They also found a huntsman that Lessa had been teaching the dwarven language, he sort of helped.

The scouts found the orc army, and the humans decided to camp out in their walls rather than riding out to meet them. (An overall sensible plan, but not much help to the dwarves.)

Korvask worked with the catapult, fixing it and painting a blood rune on a container of flaming oil so it multiplied impressively in midair, part of an effort to convince the mayor to lure the orcs to battle here.

Korvask managed an impassioned speech, and the mayor agreed to send a force of a hundred raiders to help out in attacking the orcs. The rest of his people were needed for defense.

Meanwhile Devron took the huntsman to the local tavern and acted as a moneybags quest giver, recruiting a dozen adventuring groups to go after the orcs for promised bounty.

The Camp

The first night the party was split, a mass of two dozen wolves attacked trying to get the delicious sheller meat. They were driven off by the stalwart dwarves.

The second day they moved to the fork in the river; closer to town, but where the orcs couldn’t sneak past. That night they were attacked by a scouting party of orcs, and they slew them after a harrowing battle.

Ride to War

The skirmishers, adventurers, and mounted dwarves prepare to meet the onrush of the orc invaders on the field of battle.

Orcs at the Ford

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A number of Clan Caskbound dwarves were in the tributary town Klassa, where the Shot River flows out of their territory.

  • Korvask Wryt. A vanguard enchanter scholar with some experience.
  • Gudrun Caskbound. A mauler enchanter scholar.
  • Tancred Boiler. A skirmisher engineer gunner.

Gudrun and Tancred live in Klassa. Gudrun maintains the enchantments around the pale, the edge of the community, and helps maintain the Holy House of Hops. It is a temple shaped like a huge barrel, with fanciful carvings of hops along the inside walls.

Tancred helps with spreading the fortified dung in the fields that the massive shellers, giant dung beetles, then roll up into big balls. The dwarves hollow them out and cure them, using them for living spaces. He also helps collect the special beetle materials this clan uses to make bio-gunpowder.

The Warning

Tancred was in the temple when the community’s cluster of whispervine that hangs over the alter activated. Someone from Whiskey Forge, the clanhome, was warning them.

Intelligence came in that a big force of orcs was headed to invade the Caskbound Pocket by coming in the Shot River entry. Further, a small expeditionary force was going to try and climb up out of the crevasse after crossing the Dakra Ford, from deeper underground. They would catch Klassa unprepared, and it could be bloody. Klassa needs someone to head them off to give the village time to prepare to fight off an attack.

The Speaker of the village, Kurtz, pointed out that he needed himself and his stalwarts to prepare the village defenses. The only tough guys the village could spare were Korvask, Gudrun, and Tancred. So, off they went.

The Crevasse

After walking a couple hours into the dark, lit by glow worms in clip-on tubes, they found the crevasse that dropped down to the lowlands where the orcs would be crossing the ford. Tancred took the time to whip up a sort of block and tackle mini-crane for them to use to climb down, steadying the rope to aid the others in climbing.

Gudrun had some trouble climbing down, her harness snapping; she did not fall, but managed to swing to the side and find a ledge. Cave morays climbed out to investigate the fresh meat, but while Tancred re-worked the harness, she slew a few of them. Then she used the rope to climb down without further trouble.

Once down, they headed for the Dakra Ford, following the increasing glow of underwater reeds in the eddy pools of the underwater streams.

Seeing the shadows of orcs navigating the shallow path through the streams and pools, they scouted the land using Tancred’s expertise as an ambushing skirmisher. They picked a point for the initial attack, and a point where they could fall back and climb a cliff, both points forcing the orcs to fight in bottlenecks.

Korvask made two “landmines” with explosive war glyphs, voice activated. One went on the path to the rocky climb, the other halfway up.

Huddling in the reeds to watch the orcs come in, they counted twenty two warriors, a tough leader, and… a monster. A lumbering creature that only vaguely resembled an orc, impossibly muscled and deadly, with a monster skull lashed on to a massive bone with sinew as a weapon.

The Ambush

As soon as the orcs were close enough, they opened fire, throwing hand axes while Tancred fired on them. Dropping a couple, they fell back to their secondary cliff site as the orcs chased them furiously.

One blast killed a mass of orcs, and as they battled at the top of the climb, they triggered the other blast to knock out a few more. Their efficient murder was grinding up the orcs that scrambled up the rocks, but the orcs feared their leader more than the dwarves, so they kept coming.

Frustrated, the monster hurled a couple orcs up to skip the climb, but it was too late; the dwarves had mowed down most of the warriors. The leader and monster scrambled up the rocky hill, the last of their warriors with them.

Crushing blows from the monster’s bone weapon nearly did in the sturdy dwarves, smashing at Tancred and Korvask as Gudrun fended off the leader as best she could. They realized they couldn’t win this, and while Tancred teetered on the edge of stubbornly fighting to the death, the three dwarves followed the tactics of their people and scattered. Each ran a different direction, planning to meet up at the rendezvous point.

A Desperate Escape

All the orc forces followed Tancred, and he ran until he found himself in a canyon. Rather than selling his life as dearly as he could, he climbed the rocks, with javelins rebounding from stone all around him. Only the monster climbed after him, and they squared off on the top of the rocky slope.

Tancred leaped off the other side of the rise, down to a dark pool, hoping for the best. He crashed into the water, and stayed down; the monster did not follow, instead returning to its master.

Tancred’s worried clanmates were relieved to see him at the rendezvous.

Interdiction

There was still hope of stopping the greatly diminished warband before it reached Klassa. They scouted, finding the orcs had reached the crevasse wall and were preparing to climb. They retreated to their own dangling rope, fortunate to find it quickly.

Tancred and Korvask made the ascent. Tancred had to haul Korvask up, but his help made it possible for a safe climb. Gudrun was not so fortunate.

She was near the top when she fell, slamming off several ledges and cracking  her wrist. Then the cave morays began sniffing around. Frustrated and feeling the ticking of the clock, she slid the rest of the way to the ground, to hide and rest as the other two dealt with the climbing orcs.

Korvask and Tancred trotted along the lip of the crevasse until they found the chimney where the orcs were climbing. Tancred fired on the chief, who dragged one of his warriors in the way of the shot. Korvask quickly used the blood brush to paint an explosive rune on a stone as the orcs climbed, then the dwarves pulled back.

The triumphant orcs climbed up out of the chimney–the leader and his two remaining warriors. The monster was nowhere to be seen. Still, they triggered the explosive, killing the warriors and badly hurting the leader, who teetered on the edge. Then Tancred shot him, and the orcs were doen.

Hunted

Gudrun found the pain too intense to bind her wound properly, so she crawled into the bushes and waited. Then the insects went quiet. Turns out the monster didn’t climb the cliff! It was hunting, and it was smelling her blood. The creature was momentarily distracted by gunfire and an explosion some distance away at the top of the crevasse.

She knew she couldn’t stay put, so she tried to sneak away. The monster heard her, and chased her as she took off across the dim landscape of pools and bracken.

She spotted a pool with the corpse of a massive crab in it, and dove in to the stinky water. The monster missed her, casting about to pick up her scent trail. It roared, startling some local wildlife, which it chased. After waiting for a few minutes, Gudrun headed back to the crevasse wall, where she found a very worried Tancred waiting for her. They climbed up with Korvask’s help, uneventfully this time.

Klassa

They returned to Klassa and Told the Tale of the warband, and their victory, leaving only the monster alive.

While they were gone, the locals had used the massive sheller dung beetles to roll the round houses into a ring, gluing them in place with beetle juice. They fixed platforms on top so they could attack with ranged weapons, out of melee range for a while at least.

They rested and healed, and Gudrun got her wrist taken care of, and a thorough bath. Still, everyone knew it was the calm before the storm.

Monster Reprise

In the middle of the night, a roar roused them. The monster had followed their trail back to the village. It tore a massive sheller in half, and ripped off two of its legs to use as a weapon.

The three dwarves that killed all the other orcs advised the villagers to defend their fortifications and stay inside, then they strutted out to face the monster.

Tancred shot it in the chest, then they all charged in and battered the creature mercilessly, disorienting it and cutting at it until Tancred fired his other pistol into its head. The creature toppled, slain.

The expeditionary force had been destroyed by the fellowship. Now to prepare for the main force…

Axes and Anvils Update for August

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I’ve had a few busy months, and I want to let you know what’s been going on in the dim recesses of the Axes and Anvils Forge Hall.

First, I have had a number of things slow me down a bit. I finally have access to online gaming, and that means I’ve had a couple months where I’ve had as many as 13 game sessions in the month! This is dreamy and fantastic. I’ve been able to play Labyrinth Lord, Night’s Black Agents, Lasers and Feelings, Blades in the Dark, and more. Not only have I gotten to run games for players I’ve never met before, but I have had many opportunities to play as well! That’s not something I’ve had often at my home game table, so it contributes to my overall delight. I’ve participated in Antigen Con 2 online with several games, I’m signed up to attend a game day in Overland Park in September, and I’ve found a number of regularly scheduled games to join.

Second, the project has run into some kind of rough patches on the motivation. Implementing edits is never much fun, because it’s a blow to your pride to go through the red-ink stained document and rework things. I also am at a stage for reordering some things and putting in examples. This is the drudge work of game design, it’s the unpleasant-but-needed hard work that just doesn’t have much of the fun of gaming associated with it.

Furthermore, I put out the call to see if backers of the project wanted to play with me online, and I got one response. Just one. There are lots of reasons for that, I’m sure, and I’ve worked through it, but you can see how that would be a bit discouraging.

We are also coming to the point where I am going to be spending actual cash money on the project to make Axes and Anvils the best game I can manage. It will look and feel professional, and be a delight as a book and as a game.

Besides which, it was a good time to take a break from the game and survey some other great projects in gaming around the internet and around my game table. As the summer winds down, my attention returns to Axes and Anvils!

I have been working with Jason Paul McCartan, of Infinibadger Press, working on how he can help with Axes and Anvils. We are looking at a new logo and professional layout and design from the guy who worked on White Star! This is very exciting. His availability will firm up and focus as the summer winds down, so we can start really getting Axes and Anvils into the shape it will take in the end.

I also have arrangements in place so when the book goes live, you will have the option of getting a pack of cards customized for character and clan creation! Beyond that, the way the information is presented in the book will be more slick and custom than repeating what is on the cards for photocopying. There are some really great ideas coming together for how to take this book and, cards or no cards, handle character and clan creation smoothly. The physical components can be unwieldy, but they add a charm go the game that pulls people in right away. That’s the kind of puzzle that is still coming together in the design phase.

There are also details about promotional events that are coming together, and we’ve got a schedule roughed out (but I will share it with you as we successfully hit parts of it, rather than ahead of time–I’m sure you understand why.)

In the meantime, as things settle out into fall I’ll be running online games of Axes and Anvils. I hope at least some of you will be available to join in! This game will lend itself very well to online play, and I’m continuing to familiarize myself with the tools so I can provide a great experience to players.

More later!

Templar of the Falls Adventure 4: Under the Lightning Rod

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The cast:

  • Slyn Keenblade. Skirmisher, Gunsmith, Delver. Name weapon: trench knife.
  • Blane Keenblade. Support, Adept, Mechanician. Name weapon: pistol.
  • Ravelle Keenblade. Mauler, athlete, armorer. Name weapon, kukri.

Further Developments

After the fellowship returned from the dam, the clan sent Master Enchanter Kaldrak to check the corrupted rune. It knocked him out for a couple weeks when he saw it, and it will take him, his apprentices, and enchanters from Onyx Arm years to fix it. A dwarf must be responsible for the corruption.

War Council

The archon called a war council. The clan allows a fortress called Chain Crag to stand empty, because it serves as a lightning rod; it collects local monsters and scum, and every few decades the dwarves attack the fortress and wipe them all out. The fortress has a magical foundation that allows it to slowly rebuild itself, so the gloves are off when the order comes to attack. Huge bodies are rolled off a cliff on the back side of the fort, and the empty fort can start attracting evil again.

After the council started setting up this iteration’s tactics and assignments, the Fellowship was called aside after the meeting. The scouts found caves below the fortress that were previously unknown. One of the scouts is missing, and it would be handy if the dwarves could find a way from the caves up into the fortress. Go scout it out. On a more sinister note, there was rotting stone there, like what was seen at the dam. There must be a connection in there somewhere.

The Fellowship borrowed a tablet that could absorb runes into itself, and they were sent on their way.

Into the Caves

They borrowed a boat, and floated into the caves (only revealed when the water level was low enough to boat in.) As they scouted, they were telepathically contacted by a roper, who revealed that beardless sky dwarves laired in the caves.

They cautiously entered one of the side caves to find many mirrors set up; they were taunted from inside the mirror by a beardless dwarf, who retreated somehow, and a pile of dwarves broke out of the mirrors and attacked. The Fellowship dispatched them, and confronted something that peered out of the darkness in a mirror with red eyes, but they broke the mirror and did not find out what it was.

In another chamber, they found a lever that released the captive tortured scout Anok. Another mirror in that chamber had sketchy poor imitations of a number of Templar of the Falls dwarves; disguises perhaps? They discovered the images had been torn from Anok’s head during torture he endured at the hands of two beardless sky dwarves.

They found a mirror warded with runes, and left it alone. They also found a box with a cup and a small golem, and another box with a book that had instructions for how to do earth magic for adepts. Finally they found a treasure room with human and dwarven currency; they took all the coins.

The whole area looked like its owners had moved through in a hurry, snatching up the most important things and leaving the rest. In the process they set fire to some documents that burned incompletely; the Fellowship found a picture of the original foundation rune of the dam, a map of the area with some sites marked, and a sketch of the archon. Clearly the malefactors here were involved in the sabotage, and had more trouble in mind.

Eventually they withdrew back to the main chamber, and found a long spiraling ramp up to a secret door into the fortress.

With both the secret door’s location and the missing scout in hand, the Fellowship decided to return and report what they found.

Editing done!

The redoubtable Brent Newhall has finished the edit of Book I of Axes and Anvils! He has lots of great suggestions, so I’ll take the time to go through and smooth the game down to be even more polished and accessible and ready for easy play.

This is great news. Now I will make the most of it.

Templar of the Falls Adventure 3: Damnation

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Further Clanbuilding

The clan was founded in 1173, that’s when they broke off from Thunderforge in negotiating the Clearwater Compact. (The current year is 2129.)

The Keenblade family has traditionally defended shrine sites.

Beardfall has three notable tributaries we discovered this time.

  • Arkaig. They focus on digging coal. They have one of the first dam constructions of the clan, a reservoir to smooth the depth of the river for easier water travel. They sluice mines. They have a big dam.
  • Ettricks. They focus on farming and logging, famed for rangers and topsiders.
  • Crosswaters. They manage the river traffic between the other two tributaries and Beardfall. They have a river lock system, and they manage a garrison that keeps the river traffic safe.

We also learned of a haunted forest near Crosswaters known as Mirar Modena, the Watchwood. Trees can get restless if the renewable lumber harvesting gets too aggressive. The woods currently occupy the attention of Crosswaters’ militia.

The cast:

  • Slyn Keenblade. Skirmisher, Gunsmith, Delver. Name weapon: trench knife.
  • Landon Crackstone. Berzerker, Chosen, Brewer. Name weapon: maul.
  • Blane Keenblade. Support, Adept, Mechanician. Name weapon: pistol.

A decade after the last adventure, we rejoin our heroes. In the interim they had built up 5 ledger, and also been given mithril-laced armor or a mithril-laced weapon in gratitude for their service. (The clan’s 50 finest warriors are outfitted with mithril-laced gear.)

The clan experts talked to Sobelthek, learning how to work mithril in record time. He wants to be put down, and the council is likely to allow it. Meanwhile Sobelthek’s forge is still corrupted, though enchanters are working on it.

The clan recently welcomed the Onyx Arm family after a period of years petitioning. They bring about 50 more adults, and a couple accomplished enchanters.

The Journey

Archon Keenblade summoned the fellowship to have a private conversation. His friend Overseer Torfal managed Arkaig, a tributary to the north, and he wanted some help with a mysterious problem. Keenblade sent the fellowship to help if they could.

They traveled to Arkaig on a steam barge piloted by Dorn Kassarock with a crew of 12, armed with a number of cannon. They were on the water for 4 days, with a stop in Crosswaters. During the trip, they were interrupted by giants hurling boulders at them (they shot some giants, and even shot one boulder out of the air.) Also ogres with torches rushed the barge, but were summarily gunned down with grapeshot.

The Rune

They reached Arkaig and met with Arias, the Overseer’s daughter. She took them to Torfal, who told them that the engineers noticed part of the dam was beginning to deteriorate; that should not be possible, as there are powerful runes put in place by enchanters of past generations that should be impervious. Torfal had to go into the sealed records to see if there were any clues about what could have done this. He did find a map to the site of the foundation rune, one of six in the dam, that could be the problem. This was strictly need-to-know! So the dwarves solemnly swore secrecy, and headed out with Arias as a guide.

The rune location was buried in stone, supposedly. But the stone had an open gaping wound, like acid had melted it. Guarding the way was a mud-beast with a glowing stone at its core, powering it! The fellowship tackled the creature, pulling at the stone and generally laying waste to it, but the monster was tough. It hardened to stone, but was knocked to pieces and its power source shattered.

The fellowship went on to discover a questing path had been melted, wandering but insistent, and the rune was uncovered. It was inverted; what had been a rune of protection was now a rune of destruction, and it was slowly damaging the dam!

The fellowship traveled all night to get this sobering news back to the overseer. He lifted their obligation to the vow of silence, and they agreed to go talk to their archon and see if they could get some of their finest engineers back here to figure out what could have gone wrong.

First they checked to see if they could figure out who did it. Who was the tributary’s last enchanter? They checked his work for similarity to the damage at the dam, and checked his grave to make sure it was all peaceful. All seemed well.

So they traveled back with their grave news, seeking the clan’s help with the puzzle.

The Legend of One-Eye Galdra

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This legend was generated for the Templar of the Falls by players using the lore-building deck.  (5.8.15)

Once upon a time, Galdra was a dwarven lass. She learned that the Stonecutter family, nobles in a clan near the Templar of the Falls, were plotting to overthrow the archon. They were lying, accusing the Templar of the Falls of raiding across the border, and they were provoking the Templar of the Falls into a border skirmish. They planned to use that conflict as an excuse to make a bid for the throne!

She ran toward the Templar of the Falls with her terrible secret, and hunters of the Stonecutter family pursued her to silence her. Before they caught her, she fled into Welderia Marsh. There she met a powerful and wise hag named Griptwist, who sheltered her in the mists.

Galdra learned from Griptwist that the evil of the Stonecutter family was deeper than mere politics. They worshiped demons, that was why they were so powerful. Determined not to let them get away with it, Galdra disguised herself as a bandit, raiding their family holdings with great daring and cunning and the magical help of the hag witch.

She became famous as One-Eye the Bandit. As she raided the Stonecutter family holdings, she discovered it was almost time or them to pay a tribute of sacrifices to their demon patron. She focused her energy on finding the sacrifices the Stonecutter family collected to give the demon, and liberating them. When the time came, the Stonecutter family had no tribute to offer.

The demon burned off the flesh of their heads, leaving only a skull above the neck. So great was the demon’s rage that the holding was pulled down and haunted.

In the end, no one knows what became of Griptwist, or whether Galdra the One-Eyed Bandit followed in her footsteps and became a witch in turn. What is known is that the Stonecutter family seat is still a tumbled and haunted ruin to this very day. And that is how the sky fell upon the Stonecutter family.

Templar of the Falls Adventure 2: Reclaiming the Mine

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Building the Archon

We built the archon as a mini-game before we got started with the adventure. 

Boscar Keenblade (affectionately known as “Boscar the Grouch”) is an elderly dwarf elected by the Council to rule. He has ended up somewhat bitter and depressed, neglecting his ruling duty so (or maybe because) the Council can make all important decisions.

He is also a famous brewer, he has his own business: “Boscar’s Taphouse.” There you can get many delightful drinks–17 varieties of ales, 12 liquer, and 4 kinds of mead. (The mead relies on fungi pollination–don’t ask.) Famous drinks include Boscar’s Thoughtbomb, a cinnamon liqueur. Also Hopfall, Baldface Bandit, and Boilerroom Stout.

Boscar is kind of a wacky uncle of the Keenblade clan, including several of the characters.

Further Clanhome Details

The Grand University of Engineering is built around the Clanheart, the vast steam engine in the center of the clanhome. The dean is Kiernan Scarspire. He is into logistics and administration. HIs daughter Nicoto is next in line, and where Kiernan is grouch, ruthless, and stubborn, she is more laid back.

The Steamholders are an organization tasked with maintaining the steam pipes. They are notorious for having attitude, working when and how they want to, and getting into alcohol-soaked brawls.

The “Trim & Tale” is a respectable destination owned by Francis Clearwater, head loremaster and respected barber. He is Chosen of the Gods of Ur, and his strange business combines lore and beard trimming–beard trimming is no laughing matter, for there is lore for 140 words for harm that can befall a beard.

Into the Mine

The cast:

  • Slyn Keenblade. Skirmisher, Gunsmith, Delver. Name weapon: trench knife.
  • Landon Crackstone. Berzerker, Chosen, Brewer. Name weapon: maul.
  • Blane Keenblade. Support, Adept, Mechanician. Name weapon: pistol.
  • Ravelle Keenblade. Mauler, athlete, armorer. Name weapon, kukri.

A year after the last adventure, we rejoin our heroes. The clanhome is celebrating, because a long reclamation project is culminating in opening the way to a lost collapsed silver mine far beneath the clanhome, today. It can take centuries to clear the way to lost areas, since they are not top priority, and the current site was likely lost between 500 and 600 years ago. History is not terribly clear on what happened here.

Sidri Stonewhisper, Captain of the Delvers, led the ceremony to send off the adventurers. The adventerurs borrowed some Delver treasures to help them in their mission.

  • Delver’s Medallion. Made of quartz. Once a round, it can grant full armor instead of rolling for armor (assume maximum roll) to an ally within a hurl.
  • Talking Fork. A tuning fork that arcanists can use to send one of a dozen pre-set codes through rock for long distances.

Archon Keenblade was there to see them off, along with a small crowd of delvers. The adventurers descended down the long, rough passageway.

What Happened Here? 

As they entered the mine, they found murals carved into the wall. This was more than a mine; a family of dwarves was trying to found a new sub-clan down in the darkness. Sobelthek was the leader, assisted by Drekthar, a Chosen.

The adventurers pieced the story together from a series of murals spread through the complex. There were murals carved before the collapse, then defacement and later murals that painted a very different picture. The entry orginally had a chiseled greeting, “Welcome to Spireheart Mine” that was hacked out and replaced with “The Escape is Underway.”

There were up to 30 dwarves in the mine when it collapsed. They had almost finished a master-craft forge that could serve as the foundation of a new clan. Shortly after the collapse, they discovered a massive chamber with gromthier, the base stone from which mithril can be taken! A quantity so vast it could yield up to 100 pounds of mithril!

Furthermore, the dwarves discovered the secret of how to work it–an achievement that would catapult the new-forged clan to assured status. But the collapsed tunnel trapped them, rendering them desperate. They had a siege garden, so the food would last for at least a while, but they had to find a way to get out.

Drekthar reached out into the supernatural world, and found the Devourer of Caverns, Gilthirakanom. This powerful supernatural demon of the deeps was like a vast worm, and perhaps it could tunnel them out.

There was serious conflict between Drekthar and Sobelthek about whether or not to summon it, and it is unclear who favored which approach. In the end, they summoned the demon wyrm, but it radiated insanity and they had a change of heart, perhaps at the last moment. They sealed the wyrm behind wards, trapped in gromthier, the only kind of stone that could imprison it. The demon wyrm was able to spread influence through tiny brain worms.

Now the sole leader, Sobelthek was desperate that the secret of working mithril that they discovered not be lost to the greater clan. The last of the dwarves conducted a mighty ritual on the forge, and used the life force of six of their most stalwart to sustain Sobelthek as he was encased in a mechanical body, which was then installed on a throne to await the return of the dwarven people to these haunted halls.

The Delve

The adventurers followed the murals, and found the overgrown siege garden (that still had living things rustling around inside.) They found the undying corpse of Drekthar, and released him from his painful failure; a brain-worm of the Devourer of Caverns crawled from his corpse and was smashed. They also found the summoning scroll for the Devourer, with some commentary; a worm came out of that too. The worm was destroyed, as were the records of how to summon the demon of the deeps.

They found a staff, mostly finished, that they surmised was to control or at least repel the golem. They did not disturb it, or test their luck; when they found the golem, it was almost inaudibly weeping on its throne before the mummified remains of six dwarves. They left it alone.

They did retrieve Drekthar’s name weapon, a hammer, as well as Sobelthek’s signet ring (laced with mithril.) They found the master forge, and left it alone. They did take some armor pieces that were ready to use to make more golems.

The corpses in the delve were oddly preserved, but prayer to release them allowed the remains to crumble to dust.

The presence of the Devourer could be felt as pervasive self-doubt and worry; it most likely drove the surviving dwarves mad with prolonged contact, and was likely more intense before centuries of imprisonment rendered the monster sleepy. The door to its chamber was connected to the massive cavern with the gromthier (where the adventurers broke off some mithril to take as a trophy and proof.) They did not disturb the warded door.

Aftermath

The cautious delvers returned to their clanmates, then to the clanhome. They told the tale, showing the mithril and the map, the name weapon and the corrupted forging hammer of Sobelthek. (And they got 5 ledger.)

Rivelle went on to study the secrets that the clan’s master craftsmen extracted from the now-mechanical Sobelthek, and she now has mastered the secret of how to extract and shape mithril.

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