Caskbound Strange Mission: Heart of Kyber

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(I was the scene master, and I randomized “help the clan atone for angering the gods” in a “monster lair.”)

A greedy group of explorers from Clan Caskbound found their way to the Temple of Six Doubts and stole a fist-sized ruby, the Heart of Kyber, from deep within. Now the clan elders realize that the ruby was a key, turned in the lock of Prince Fasaash, a demon prince, who will be released if the ruby is not replaced by midnight tomorrow. The temple is defended by the People of Dust, masked sand elementalists.

Four dwarves volunteered to go. Tancred (Shaun), The Dan (Simon), Korvask (Michael), and Barteus (Andrew). They piled into a rowboat and headed for the island, unsure of what they’d find, with only the semi-coherent story of the surviving dwarven thieves to guide them. Korvask carried the Heart of Kyber.

Scene One. (Shaun. Crystals, Homestead. Hunting Monster.)

They saw a dock, and pulled the boat up onto the sand near it. There was also a tower and a house by it. The dwarves talked with an old man in desert robes and a turban and face wrapping, who was humanoid if not human. He told them if they fetched a book from inside the temple, thus transferring ownership of it to him, he would give them crystals that would ward off the monsters that would otherwise haunt their steps to the temple. They agreed, and as they followed the path they saw massive sand worms at a distance that did not approach.

Scene Two. (Simon. Vent, Redoubt. Hunting Monster.)

They came up to a 20 foot wall that stretched on both directions. Barteus threw a grappling hook and rope up to it, but a goblin popped up and told them there was an easier way. He led them 20 minutes down the wall to a goblin settlement with all sorts of goblintech, and told them he’d show them a better way in if they could trash his refurbished guardian that the last group of dwarves walked all over.

He activated a metal construct that operated on mystical fuel pumped into its back via cables, and the construct used its gripper arm and firehose arm to fight them. After being torched and battered, they knocked the metal monstrosity apart, featuring The Dan’s brutal berserk fury and annoying the goblin. Still, the goblin did show them a metal tube down into the ground, under the wall, so they could continue.

Scene Three. (Michael. Corrupted, Disputed. Hunting Monster. We decided not to honor any more hunting monster results after this!)

Following the pipe-like sewer-like tunnel, they came to a stinking room with big vats of waste. As they crossed the room, lumbering sewage constructs loomed out to fight them. They held forth against one of them, and tried for the exit when another emerged and they barely escaped. They found a mine cart on a track powered by goblin tech, and scooted on their way.

Scene Four. (Andrew. Dread, Fangs. Environmental Hazard.)

They drove the cart along the rails until they reached a place that smelled better, and Korvask successfully deciphered writing in big signs that warned they were about to need protective gear they didn’t have. Tancred managed to bring the cart to a halt, and he scouted ahead. His body experienced fear, and he saw translucent teeth in the darkness, attached to very unpleasant mouths. He retreated back to the cart.

Korvask’s education prepared him for this. Those things were the Formless Dread, a cosmic outsider attracted to where powerful otherworldly beings touched the material world. They were probably near the tomb of Prince Fasaash, and this was a guardian. He used his enchanting to make blood runes for armoring their life force to resist supernatural intrusion, and that was enough to hide them from the monster that was attracted to delicious fear. This cost about all his Resolve, and The Dan shared drinks and bolstered their resolve before they attempted the bridge. They passed the elementalist-built bridge with its goblin tracks (noting some goblin corpses along the way) until they passed through a massive gate.

Scene Five. (Shaun. Ice, Cache. Environmental Hazard.)

They came to an area locked in receding ice. They noted how the flame that always danced in the center of the Heart of Kyber drew heat from the environment here as it had back in the clanhome as they studied it. They found a square column with four holes, and Korvask studied the holes and discovered two were traps, and of the remaining two, he guessed which one was right. He put the gem back in place, and it sealed the Demon Prince in. The temperature dropped further, and it was time to escape; they scrambled up the ladder as fast as they could, ice swelling over everything far below.

Scene Six. (Simon. Ectoplasm, Transforming. CLIMAX)

They found a dead desiccated dwarf missing his name weapon, an with a moment’s thought they realized they were going backwards of how the escaped dwarves described their route. The other dwarves crossed a river of souls, then down to where the gem was, across the bridge, through the sewers, past the goblins, and down to the coast.

They came to an intersection, and followed the path with the greatest energy, hoping to find a way out. Instead they found a room with the spellbook described by the tower-dweller on a bookstand, chained in place. As soon as Korvask touched the book, he was locked in place as though by an electric current. The door to the room slammed, and a thirty foot ectoplasmic giant took shape with an axe, ready to kill them all.

Korvask struggled to vent the energy away from himself to not take damage while he was stuck to the podium. Attacking the podium just got shocks, so the dwarves took some of Korvask’s healing potions and turned their attention to fighting the giant. It walloped the dwarves around some before The Dan’s relentless assaults led the way to putting it down. Only name weapons could hurt it, as they were connected to their owners.

Tancred struck the killing blow, and as he stood in a swirl of luminous ectoplasm, he wrapped his wrench-hammer name weapon in it and gave up a permanent Resolve, so the weapon became supernatural and able to ignore normal armor.

The door creaked open, Korvask and the book were released, and the dwarves left the battlefield in search of an exit.

Scene Seven. (Michael. Foundation, Rapids. Movement Hazard)

As they approached what appeared to be the exit, a number of robed and masked figures leaped out at them, brandishing snakes from their sleeves. Pitched battle ensued, with The Dan plowing ahead and the rest of the fellowship killing off those he injured first. Gaping holes opened in the roof as the ownership of the temple shifted to the ones bearing the book, and the People of Dust fought back hard, even employing an area of attack snake-splosion. Still, the dwarves won free.

Conclusion.

They went to the tower by the coast and gave the strange man the grimore they liberated from the temple, and returned their guardian crystals. Then they boarded their boat and returned to the ship.

This was a Historical mission (it really happened) and everyone got 5 ledger except the Bearer of the Heart, Korvask, who got 6.

Caskbound: You Remind Me of the Babe

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[We played a “Strange Mission” game, without a GM. I was the Frame Master, who set the scene based on the random elements, and everybody got two words and a type of scene was generated when we started it. Out of game comments will be in brackets.]

[To set the scene, I had the words “safe haven” and “minefield” and generated the location as a secret pocket realm, and the objective to destroy secret clan lore in the hands of others.]

The fey princeling Sardine was visiting Whiskey Forge with his diplomatic entourage. The archon graciously put on a sports event for him. While watching, Sardine got bored, so he snagged the archon’s son (Rensen) and vanished. The archon was furious, but this sort of thing is a risk you take when you have diplomatic dealings with the fey. Sardine’s entourage was very apologetic and offered to open a gateway to the princeling’s favorite hideaway, so a group could go after the baby. No one of blood relation could go, so the archon chose a stalwart group.

Tancred (Shaun), The Dan (Simon), Onexia (Elizabeth), Gudrun (Iris), Piker (Mark), and Barteus (Andrew) were picked for the job. Steeling themselves, they marched through the fey diplomat portal. They found themselves on a pretty sand beach with bones here and there, under a gorgeous sky, the ocean at their backs and the jungle ahead.

Scene One: The Beach [Environment Hazard. Autonomous, Artifact. Mark]

As they started across the sand, it twirled into sinkholes with bone cages in them that rose up around the trespassers. The Dan and Onexia were accustomed to uneven floors as carousers, and Piker got lucky, so they weren’t caught up in the cages that swayed up on stalks like deadly cage flowers. Tancred, Gudrun, and Barteus had to break out of the bone cages and jump down to the sandy beach, or slide down if the trap was damaged and listed to the side. They evaded the rest of the forming traps, making it to the jungle eaves.

Scene Two: The Vine Door [Movement Hazard. Riddle, Rotten. Iris]

A path led to the jungle, but it kept splitting like a delta, and they risked losing their way. They came to a wall, and it had a doorway that was grown through with vines that wove into a barrier. When prodded, the vines set forth a glimmer of a riddle, but none of the dwarves could read it. The vines tightened when pestered, and there seemed to be a chasm underneath that was emptying of vines as the door was reinforced.

Losing patience with this fey trickery, the dwarves assaulted the portal, hacking through in an explosive flurry of violence, and dashing past it. As they did, the ground ruptured, because the door pulled at vines from the ground to reinforce itself, tearing apart the tunnel behind the door and the ground beneath them. Gudrun, Onexia, and Barteus made it across, while The Dan and Piker (who tied themselves together) both fell, along with Tancred, into a foul rotten goop far under the vine door. The party was split!

Scene Three A: Tunnel Panther [Hunting Monster. Warning, Cache. Elizabeth]

The Dan, Piker, and Tancred won free of the horrible muck, and followed a pathway up. When it split, they were attacked by a giant puma from one side; focusing their efforts, they blasted it down in the initial clash. They went to its lair and poked around, but didn’t find anything they wanted to keep (except from the puma corpse, where they harvested the tail to make a belt, the four big fangs, and some claws.) They found a ladder leading up.

Scene Three B: Rrrumblecats Ho! [Movement Hazard. Tapestry, Lurker. Simon]

Gudrun, Onexia, and Barteus came to a big hall, where Sardine taunted them by flaunting the baby, then teleporting out on a platform. Two huge panthers with whips coming out of their shoulders had runes branded on their sides matching runes on the platform (so it would only work if they were on it.) They attacked!

As the dwarves fought the vibrating cat-things, the injured one retreated to the platform and cloned itself. Still, the dwarves killed all three, and dragged the bodies onto the platform, and teleported–

Scene Four: Pain is an Illusion [Dealer’s Choice. Adventurers, Scorpion. Shaun]

Gudrun, Onexia, and Barteus teleported into an alcove by where The Dan, Piker, and Tancred were following the tunnel to a ladder. Reunited, they headed up the ladder–only to find progress was an illusion and they weren’t going up at all. So they headed down the corridor, and came to a side chamber where there were gleaming bones and such, and an opening high above. It was where corpses were dumped; they saw about 9 bodies, with some humans, maybe human children, at least 1 dwarf and elf, all jumbled together. The bones were picked clean, but no one had the urge to look for loot.

Continuing on, they found a big room, dark, with a spotlight on an altar in the center with a gleaming Clan Caskbound axe–a rune weapon! They took the axe, and heard skittering, so they ran. Checking the axe once they got away, they saw it was a rusted piece of junk. (Barteus kept it anyway.) Continuing on, they came back to the same room, and the axe was there again! They went to retrieve it again, but this time they were attacked by two massive scorpions with saw-tooth stabbing tails.

As they battered the scorpions, dismembered scorpion pieces broke down into smaller swarms, and they attacked those swarms. Gudrun got far enough back from the fray to realize the scorpions were an illusion, and they all came around to seeing it. They also saw Sardine laughing at them, hefting the baby on the far side of the room. He ran, and they pursued.

Scene Five: Time Space in a Knot [Movement Hazard. Sorcerer, Thorns. Andrew]

They came to a sphere, with pole-tops sort of big enough to stand on in a field that curved up the sides, defying physics. On a platform on the far side, Sardine, with a marimba where when he struck a note, one of the pillars gusted magic. They had to cross the room to get to him, and save the baby.

Piker tried firing his rifle, but the bullet curved around the weird physics of the room and nailed him instead. He picked himself up and tied himself to The Dan and Onexia, and together they tried leaping across.

Tancred, an engineer, could not accept the broken rules of gravity in the chamber. While he struggled to come to terms with what his eyes were telling him, Gudrun rushed out and didn’t get much closer to Sardine, avoiding his magical blasts. Piker, the Dan, and Onexia fell. Piker got stuck at the bottom, waking swarms of imps, but that left The Dan and Onexia hanging from an odd angle with the rope, able to take advantage of their strange position to get much closer to Sardine. They cut the rope to Piker and closed in, swinging each others’ weight on the rope, reaching the far side as the others were stranded or trapped in awkward situations.

When they reached the platform, they leaped out of a gem, to find themselves in a nice jungle gazebo. Sardine was pinging the teeth of a comb, looking into the gem where everyone else was, and the baby was off to the side being cared for by fey critters.

Onexia and The Dan insisted they won and it was time to give them the baby, and Sardine agreed. He dumped the rest of the dwarves out of the gem, and let them keep it as a souvineer. They got the baby, and he opened a portal back to Whiskey Forge; they had a chance to make themselves presentable, then they strode out with the baby and the gem in hand.

The Conclusion

The fey diplomats apologized once more, and headed out through the portal. The archon expressed his gratitude to the dwarves who saved his baby, and he received the gem from them as a gift. Then they were all generally happy that they wouldn’t have to host the fey princeling for at least another year… [and they all got 5 Ledger, and agreed that this version of the story was the truth as it really happened.]

Caskbound: Scouting the Gorecyst

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Sarbado, the general who assists the archon, called in Vecna, Gudrun, and Tancred. He told them that topsider agents in Brightstone were reporting that a human blood cult called the Summoners Argent was making noise about mounting an expedition to the Gorecyst. That was a corrupted corner of the Caskbound Pocket where Hellifino, a God of Ur, once battled a blood demon for weeks before vanquishing it. Where the battle unfolded, and the demon fell, the ground was corrupted and it became known as the Gorecyst.

The dwarves knew that a few decades ago a trio of medusa moved in, but they kept to themselves, so no one bothered to root them out. Also, the local wildlife was tainted with blood diseases and dangerous to visitors.

To the Cyst

The dwarves agreed to set out and investigate to see if all was well in the Gorecyst or if some further action was needed. They traveled for a few days, skirting the unhealthy center of the Pocket, and passed the settlement of followers of the Gods of Ur known as the Cysters of Mercy (mostly men.) They headed up to Tipsy Ridge, overlooking the Gorecyst, where a lone watch tower monitored the situation.

The lookout was an elderly dwarf who lived alone, with his liquorlizards and beetle pets. He insisted the sullen, unhealthy glow that suffused the plants and animals of the Gorecyst had changed its rhythm. They observed for a while from the tower, and resolved to get a closer look after they visited the Cysters of Mercy. When they visited the religious settlement, they heard stories of the ancient battle from the earnest believers, and they got a night’s rest before heading in.

After several hours they reached the Gorecyst. Its edges had been staked out with standing stones of warning, and the growths had continued 100 feet or so past the standing stones. As the dwarves approached, they saw one was covered in what looked like scabs. Upon closer inspection, the “scabs” turned out to be wings of blood moths, who tormented them briefly before Gudrun chopped them all out of the air with vicious axe sweeps. Where their blood fell, the mushrooms glowed.

Medusas

They headed in further, and were shot from ambush by a medusa. Averting their eyes as best they could while still fighting, they took her on. Gudrun was turned to stone, but the others survived the brutal fight more or less intact. They hefted their companion’s statue and returned to the Cysters of Mercy, who had an alchemist/healer expert with a vial of what was reputed to be the blood of a God of Ur, who managed to change Gudrun back to her fleshy self. After a few days for that process, they returned.

This time, they were attacked by both remaining medusas, and the following battle was savage. The first one fell quickly, but as they faced the other, Gudrun (already reeling from multiple snake bites) turned to stone, and Tancred struggled for victory only to be turned to stone also. The battle was down to Vecna and the badly injured medusa, and they raked at each other mercilessly–but the medusa survived long enough to turn Vecna to stone as well.

Whiskey Forge

The dwarves regained consciousness in Whiskey Forge, and found that when they did not return, the Cysters came out to look for them and retrieved the three statues (though the dead medusa were nowhere to be found, so a cure was difficult to manage.) They were shipped back to the clan home, where significant resources were bent to their recovery. Still, they did kill two of the three medusa, and they risked all for the clan, so Sarbado was grateful for their service.

He also told them that when the next expedition went to the Gorecyst, they would be considered veterans and likely sent along.

Caskbound: Rain of Terror

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Vecna and Devron went to meet with the Shieldsplitters. They traveled for a day, finding axes stuck in trees and trying to puzzle out the meeting location (the code was painfully primitive, but referred to common knowledge the Shieldsplitters shared that Caskbound didn’t.) A Shieldsplitter ambush caught them out, but Vecna persuaded the leader to go find a bigger boss, she had a proposal for glory for all of them. She was instructed to wait in a barn.

The next day she met Forkbeard Facestabber, and admired his crude magic hammer, Snoothammer (it was the front nose and fangs of a dragon, enchanted.) When she described how the goblins were attacking from the air like cowards, and they could be stopped on the ground, the Shieldsplitters put aside their gripe with Caskbound and agreed to go on this glorious venture. A retinue of 60 headed out that very night.

Scouting

Meanwhile Korvash caught up with the others at the bandit hideout. The Dan decided to go “scouting” and kill some goblins, and he took Korvash, Onexia, Tancred, and Gudrun with him. (They left Revelle to mind the beetles and make sure the humans didn’t hurt them or get hurt by them.)

Scouting involved attacking a group of goblins on a cliff, then finding another group on a cliff, but as the goblins sounded horns to summon more, the raiding dwarves withdrew back into the human hideout and worked on its fortifications.

Assault

Vecna, Devron, and the Shieldsplitters arrived before dark. That night, the goblins attacked, goading three trolls into rolling the rock aside and charging into the hideout. Gudrun and Korvash had used their enchantments to turn rocks into bombs, and they flattened the trolls. A combination of burning liquor, torches, shattered lanterns and hurled firebombs followed as the dwarves rushed out to burn the regeneration out of the trolls before they rose again, and before the goblins swarmed in.

As the goblins swarmed, the trolls were still being burned, but the Shieldsplitters surged and fought them off. The goblins withdrew, regrouped, and made another rush.

This time their morale was such that they pushed the Shieldsplitters back with superior numbers. The Caskbound dwarves leaped in and fought hard, reinvigorating the defense, and the goblins were driven out again.

The Caldera

The next day the dwarves marched out, shooting at airships and backing them off. The goblins withdrew their forces to the caldera, to face off against the dwarves there, with overwhelming numbers and lightning guns and airships.

Undaunted, the dwarves doggedly pursued. They reached the lip of the caldera and saw the goblin force, and the massive mechanical avatar construct lurched up out of the central shaft. The Shieldsplitters charged it, with Vecna, Devron, and Korvash trotting in their wake.

A quarter of the Shieldsplitters were incinerated by the defense field, and another quarter died in the close fighting, but they pulled apart the avatar Deus Volt and used individual weaponized walkers to gleefully terrorize the goblins.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Caskbound dwarves climbed up to an airship, took it over, outgunned another airship or two as they rose as fast as they could, and they launched an effort to take over the goblin’s biggest airship, with two gasbags and a long undership. After a short and brutal fight, they won in close quarters, and the airship was theirs.

Meanwhile Vecna led the charge down into the shaft to find Luck’s son; he was in a mechanical cage thing, and he kicked and screamed as they rescued him; he was well on the way to becoming a goblinish thing himself. They escaped before the self-destruct of the base detonated, frying most of the rest of the Shieldsplitters and most of the goblins.

The surviving Shieldsplitters wished to be named in Caskbound Ledger for their service, and such honor was promised. Then Caskbound returned the boy, and took their airship back to the Clanhome to knock off the goblin tech and replace it with proper craftsmanship.

Caskbound: Deus Volt

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Vecna, Devron, Onexia, Gudrun, and The Dan were already in the Luck Bandit Hideout. Revelle and Tancred took a route to follow them until they reached the Corpseknife Badlands, when they took the high road and avoided trouble. They too rode a giant beetle, and brought along Revelle’s hunting beetle Mr. Stab as well. On their journey, they saw several axes set into trees, painted with runes that the Shieldsplitters were gathering.

Revelle and Tancred were challenged by door guards, and there was a misunderstanding and the dwarves took them out; more bandits arrived, realized the mistake, and summoned Vecna to vouch for them. Soon they were all inside enjoying crab chowder. They got up to speed on the situation and decided to climb up into the mountain in the dark, and attack the goblins at first light.

While they rested, they reflected on the Legend of Fuggov Pass and regained some resolve.

The Dark Mountain Paths

As they headed out they saw some goblins with gliding gear and firebombs watching the hideout. Revelle and the Dan snuck up on them and pounced, taking them out. The Dan festooned himself with the volatile fire bombs, and Revelle tied on an unconscious goblin to interrogate below. They tried to climb down, and the Dan lost his grip. As he fell, he flung bombs away from himself.

Some of the dwarves evaded the falling firebombs, others got somewhat toasted, but the Dan fell into a chemical fire from the faster-falling bombs and bounced, coated in flaming material. Everyone got their fires put out, and they interrogated one of the goblins kept alive for that purpose. He told them of the gas harvesting and flying machines, but he wasn’t very helpful; they snapped his neck and moved on.

Evading more patrols, including gasbag airships that were flimsy but potentially dangerous, they approached the ridge that turned out to be the lip of a crater where the mountaintop should be. They saw it had been heavily harvested, with gas derricks set up and filling bags and tanks, goblins everywhere, plenty of airships. A much greater than expected force!

Into the Crater

The goblins had many devices where they used pedaling to generate energy to fuel lightning guns or steering machines. The dwarves sabotaged one of the towers so it would fry all the goblins involved if they tried to use it, then moved on one of the fuel tank/bombs. Onexia was a skilled mechanician, and Tancred was an engineer, so they had a distinct advantage.

The goblins fired up the tower and all died, and the dwarves got the massive tank unmoored and rolling, and Tancred’s expert gunner skills punctured the tank and actually got it to fire like a rocket, so it shot down into the shaft in the center of the crater and exploded, causing untold damage.

Now that the goblins were roused, the dwarves turned to thoughts of escape. They slaughtered an airship crew, including its tough leader (who almost slew Tancred as that brave dwarf ignored him and managed what passed for pre-flight on the goblin craft.) The rest of the group ground him up with the rest of the goblins, and as they attempted to escape, they saw a massive goblin construct that defied description charging up the crater wall towards them; held together with crackling blue energy, it was a goblin construct god, Deus Volt. Dozens of goblins crewed the obscenity; it was built for harvesting, construction, and war, and it appeared to be a fusion of independent constructs.

Flight

Onexia used the lightning cannon on their stolen airship to delay pursuit, as other dwarves doggedly pedaled the mechanisms to make energy and Tancred steered the craft. As Deus Volt built up a killing charge to blow them away, Onexia interrupted it with the lightning gun; some of the charge traveled up the beam and blew up the gun, rocking the ship badly and doing some damage. Still, they were on their way to escape when the goblins’ much bigger warship with dozens of goblins aboard generated a lot of propulsion power and came after them.

Tancred sniped at their tough pilot with limited success, and as the bigger ship got close enough to use its superior lightning gun, Tancred shot the gunners; but as one fell, another clambered into the seat.

The bigger ship gun came to bear, and the dwarves leaped from the airship, aiming for trees, some lucky few slowing their fall with anchor lines. They thudded down into the woods with dispersed dwarf-fall, and managed to find each other and retreat as fast as they could, limping and clutching their various wounds, as the airship burned and the goblins gathered to form hunting parties.

They found their way back to the Luck Bandit Lair, but trouble was sure to be hot on their heels.

Caskbound: The Legend of Fuggov Pass

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Long ago, Mad Marga was a master sculptor of Clan Bastion. Her gift and specialty was for sculpting nudes, which displeased the more prudish archon of the clan. He censored her work, so in protest Mad Marga seduced his wife and made an anatomically detailed and accurate four-times-life-size sculpture of her and displayed it in the public square of the clan home.

Predictably, she was banished. She fled to Whiskey Forge, where she was welcomed with fanfare. She inspired a whole movement with her nude statues of the clan leaders. Then a Chosen prophesied that she must go to Picnic Pass, on the surface of the mountain far above, higher than the snow line. If she did, then she would receive a great blessing.

After fifteen years, six months, and four days, Hellifino (the ‘h’ is silent) visited her. He was famed as a God of Ur, the Bad Hombre. He presented her with a rune-scribed hammer, to make sculptures. His only request in return was that she make a statue of him, nude. She spent 300 years practicing to get it just right.

Shortly before the final masterpiece statue was finished, Gorefang led a greenskin horde to attack the dwarves of Whiskey Forge by surprise, moving through Picnic Pass. Hellifino animated the hundreds of nude statues Mad Marga had carved through the centuries, and they crushed the green tide.

Meanwhile, a Chosen acolyte had a dream about Hellifino’s distress in the pass far above, and journeyed to check on Mad Marga. He found her burned out with divine energy, surrounded by a carpet of greenskin corpses, compulsively carving the last touches of Helifino’s nude statue.

The archon authorized a crypt be carved in Picnic Pass, renamed Fuggov Pass, after the massive battle that fended off the greenskins. The hammer was entombed with Mad Marga in the crypt, which was within the massive wall that sealed off the pass so no further sneak attacks would be possible. The orc-facing side was festooned with skulls fixed to the stone, a horrifying deterrent against future incursions, blessed with the power of the Gods of Ur.

Clan Caskbound was spared by the obedience of Mad Marga to the Gods of Ur. Follow their promptings, and the clan will prosper through your efforts.

Caskbound: Luck Be a Bandit

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The dwarves were at a local festival, the Feast of the Gold Tadpole, in the tributary settlement of Klassa. It was good to spend the week away from Whiskey Forge, because the clan home spent the week with a tanning focus, so it was awfully smelly, and it was also an important week for political meetings.

The dwarven children used skimmers to harvest the bright orange tadpoles, which were like living jello shots with a cheezy texture coating. For every ten ingested, a dwarf got a little carved tadpole to hang from a beard, mustachio, hair construct, etc.

Gudrun won the Golden Frog award as royalty of the festival, receiving a frog hat with back leg earflaps that was luminous gold, with sparkly eyeballs.

The Speaker of Klassa called for them after the ceremony; a matter of some urgency came up. Four humans had infiltrated the Forest Door and found their way to Klassa to bring word to the dwarves, and the Speaker delegated dealing with them to Vecna, as she was a diplomat and figure with some stature in the clan.

Vecna, Gudrun, The Dan, Devron, and Onexia Delvestride (Mauler, Carouser, Mechinician, played by Bess) heard out the emissary. His name was Bug Eyed Turner, and he represented a bandit named Bromley Luck. Luck had attacked several caravans of dwarven goods in the past, and had a sour reputation. But the bandits brought word of a growing threat.

A goblin with mechanical genius settled in to mine and craft in the mountains. He was making magical flying ships, and mechanical monsters that were huge and could stomp a much bigger force; when Luck sent his forces against the goblins, not only did they drive him back, they counter-attacked and stole his son Briggs. Turner tried to imply that the dwarves would be well served by stopping this flying menace before it affected their mountain home, but it was clear he just wanted help and couldn’t expect to get it from the humans or elves.

Sending the humans to sleep in the beetle barn, the dwarves talked it over and decided to go have a look.

The Forest Door

Taking two giant riding beetles with howdahs (Ringo and Mr. Tap) they ignored Ralph, one of the humans who was vomiting constantly unable to handle the rhythm of the beetle stride. They traveled to the Forest Door, and overnighted near it. The next morning they spoke to the elves, who granted them safe passage. They overnighted in a stone ring as they had before, but headed towards the human lands. Passing through elven territory was uneventful.

The Shieldsplitters

They entered human lands, and as darkness approached, they decided to stash the beetles in the wild and go to a coaching inn for the night. However, as they entered, they saw half a dozen Shieldsplitter mercenaries who were already quite drunk and had alienated the locals.

Resolving to ignore the Shieldsplitters as long as they were able, they were nonetheless accosted almost immediately. The Dan threw a punch and got things started, and before the Shieldsplitters could properly show up for the brawl they were missing teeth and strewn about the room.

Otherwise, the night passed uneventfully, but it was good that they didn’t linger. They spent the next night in a known bandit camp that was safe from authorities.

However, upon leaving they encountered a pack of thirty Shieldsplitters, looking to get revenge for the battering of some of their number. Vecna stared them down from astride her majestic beetle, holding on to her enchanted prestige weapon, and the Shieldsplitters reluctantly parted to let them pass.

The River Through Corpseknife Badlands

They entered bandit territory, opting for the more heavily guarded river approach rather than the sparser highland workaround. Soon they were intercepted by the Blue Slash bandits, weirdo cannibals. The bandits blocked their path (after the dwarves failed to ride into the pit trap) and their leaders emerged.

Two of them had primitive flamethrowers, then there was a giant with a helmet made out of pieces of other helmets. He bore a broken executioner’s sword and a mace with a horse head pointed either way reinforced with metal. Vecna challenged him to single combat.

They had a brutal fight, but she managed to kill him at last with a hammer blow that broke his face. The Blue Slash reluctantly parted to let them pass, and began infighting to choose a new leader immediately.

The dwarves were followed and shadowed by other groups as they proceeded, but they didn’t slow down until they entered the underground hideout used by Bromley Luck’s bandits.

A Lucky Hideout

There they met with the bandits, who had killed a giant crab and were sharing its chowder. They spoke with an educated bandit who was better at Neverecht, the language they had in common. He told them about the goblin encampment for years, quiet and keeping to themselves, then how they came out with lift gas in balloons, flying and pillaging, and how they had some “volt” mechanical contraption that could break into parts or recombine. Very frightening stuff.

The dwarves resolved to investigate further.

The Voskul Pit

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Subarchon Sabado called upon a few trusted warriors for a secret mission. They were distracted on the way in by watching a comical puppet show of the Miserable Union, then they continued on to the out-of-the way meeting chambers Sabado preferred.

  • Vecna. Vanguard, Diplomat, Chef, Chosen (Kristy)
  • Tancred Boiler. Skirmisher, Engineer, Gunner (Shaun)
  • Dandol “Dan”. Berserker, Carouser, Miner (Simon)

Seluvria, the elven ruler at the Forest Door entry to the Caskbound Pocket, sent word. The elves guard the Voskul Pit, a site in the woods that necromancers once used as a base. The occasional undead thing would shamble out and fall to the elven shafts. But traffic was higher lately, and Seluvria saw the Pit as a Caskbound problem.

After all, Pyoros the Dread Necromancer was the Pit’s last master, and he raided in the Pocket 200 years ago. Legend states that he got the Sifting Maul, a powerful weapon of the clan; the Coldsyvin family was the second line of thanes, and the Sifting Maul was their archonic dynastic name weapon. Returning it to the clan would be a victory indeed.

Journey to the Pit

They traveled down the Shot river to Klossa, where they were met as heroes. They chatted briefly with Speaker Kurtz, and they spent the night with the Boiler family (Tancred was from Klassa.) Dandol made it a point to bed one of Tancred’s cousins.

The next day they rode a beetle down through the rough terrain to the Forest Door, and they followed the water, encountering elves who spoke broken Neverecht. They were guided along to a henge, where they spent the night. The standing stones were built by dwarves, long ago, not elves. And they commemorated the site of a battle between one of the Gods of Ur and a dark force. Perhaps it was no accident that the necromancers chose the nearby pit as a lair; it was suffused with ancient darkness.

Eventually they had to walk, leaving the beetle behind, and the elves guided them to a narrow ribbon of rock that led across a chasm to the entry into the Pit. The stalwart dwarves roped themselves together and traveled the expanse, then descended.

The Pit

The doors lifted on a pivot, and could be turned to open. Tancred figured out the counterbalance (and some of the traps) and they entered. As they moved in, they saw pools set up to condense any memory of life and transform it to incorporeal undead. Not wanting to wake anything prematurely, they left that alone, and continued on.

They found a throne with a long carpet before it, and lights mounted on the back, with a robed figure slumped before them. They roused him, and the throne dropped into the ground so only the lights emerged, and the carpet became a ramp for an endless swarm of skeletons to attack them. After battling for a while, they realized the skeletons were endless. Tancred smashed the lights on the back of the throne, cutting off the entry, and the floor became solid once more.

They saw a metal door set in the wall like to a furnace, and left that alone. They also found what appeared to be a necromatic trash pit, and didn’t explore it. They did find a very fancy door, and once Tancred defeated the lock they stood before a massive brittlestone-infested statue of the necromancer.

Brittlestone grows slowly, it is like a mineral that infects remains and raises them as undead. It is the necessary ingredient for necromancers to do their work.

Pyoros the Dread Necromancer

As the dwarves regarded the hideous statue, a wraith of the necromancer emerged. It stuttered, crossing with the corporeal plane for just a moment, and the dwarves pounced and tore it to pieces before it could destroy them. Then the statue split in two, and they saw the mummifed remains of the necromancer inside it, and they smashed up the corpse.

A supernatural wall of thorns blocked the way forward, so they hefted a massive piece of the statue and laid it on the thorns, making a way through. They found a whole tree of brittlestone! No wonder the site was active.

The Apprentice

Exploring further back they found bushes infused with brittlestone, and a young human in bone armor boasting he would ascend now that his stifling mentor was gone. They pulped him at once, and had a desperate fight with his undead bushes. Then they settled in to rest and heal up some.

Pushing their luck, they ventured deeper in, and found a statue that was a horrifically expressive rendition of a pile of dead dwarves, a feast for scavengers. They understood that captive dwarves had been forced to make these horrible statues. They smashed it, and inside found a trunk of gems stolen from them centuries ago.

The Sifting Maul

The only light they could see was from one hallway, and they followed it to find the Sifting Maul; it had been glowing brighter as they got closer, in response to them. Vecna passed two creepy statues and pulled the maul off the display, triggering a foul wind that was likely to draw the undead.

They moved fast, encountering minimal resistance. A wraith popped up out of the undead making fountain, but the maul slashed through it and they kept going until they were safely back in elven woods.

The elves thought about trying to take the maul, but Vecna discouraged that line of thinking, and the dwarves were soon back under the mountain. They kept their prize a secret until they were back at Whiskey Forge, so the subarchon was the first to know.

They did the clan a great service, raising its prestige, and they were honored as they Told the Tale. In addition, Vecna was chosen to be the bearer of the Sifting Maul, so it could be an active symbol of the pride and power of Clan Caskbound.

Caskbound History: The Miserable Union

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During the war between Clan Caskbound and Clan Stonebridge, there reached a point where the embittered archons tried to make peace by contributing a child to marriage. The Caskbound archon sent his grown son Wilfram, and the Stonebridge archon sent his grown daughter Murdia (her annoying brother called her “Murd” and she hated it, but he mysteriously disappeared, and she preferred “Dia.”)

The marriage was a grim and heavily armed affair, and the subarchons didn’t waste any time making themselves and each other miserable. Wilfram and Murdia were totally wrong for each other (some would mutter for ANYONE) but forced into a marriage partnership they got downright vindictive.

Those who knew them on both sides were just relieved that their spite was pointed at someone else, and someone from the warring clan at that. The unexpected side effect was that a mutual dislike of the married couple proved to be the common ground that the prideful dwarves on both sides needed, and bonding on that common ground (“Aren’t Wilfram and Murdia the WORST?!”) they managed the peace that they could not find before.

The miserable union was the turning point, from war to peace.

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…