Conquering the Barbarian Altanis: Facing the Abominable Hydra illustrated by Stefan Poag
The treasure was where they left it—a pile so wide six men could easily roll in it. Everybody but Amanda, Silente, and Theo dove straight into the pile, stuffing their sacks with as much coin as they can. A pile of mangled deer corpses next to it were no concern of theirs.
“Ahem—Boys!” Amanda coughed loudly, pointing down the dark corridor they haven't ventured through yet.
A massive human-like head, adorned by long, greasy, lanky hair—imagine armpit hair half-a-meter long—with horse-like jaw hovered high in the air. Its diabolical cackle revealed a sickening array of ghastly, yellow, rotting teeth. True horror was revealed only after it'd made few more steps forward.
Lantern light now fully illuminating the figure, revealing its elephant-like body covered in warts and blisters. To further the nightmare, ten more heads like the first one—with varying degrees of balding—were connected with thick worm-like veiny tubes to the body.
|Moments before the chaos.
From left to right: Amanda, Brother Kallahan, Sashundo, and Gabriel Faria.
This Tuesday my players—Anthony, Daryl, Mitch, Moss, and Sam—surprised me with a mind-blowing gift. They commissioned the prolific Stefan Poag to illustrate the above scene.
I love how he managed to convey the look of greed on Brother Kallahan, Sashundo, and Gabriel. I mean, just look at Gabriel's smirk! And Amanda in the background, trying to warn them, is just perfect. And of course, the abomination itself is just wonderfully disgusting!
By all accounts, it was an intense scene. The players knew something horrible and dangerous lurks in the caves, but the massive piles of coin were just too alluring. There was is in fact more coin than they could carry—even if each one of them stuffed two large sacks each. But not all of them were gold.
Hence Sashundo, the party dwarf, basically filtered gold coin through his hands, while the others shovelled them in. The players were rolling every turn to determine how much gold coin they managed to take, racing against time.
Thanks to Amanda they were not surprised. The death toll was still quite staggering: Sister Silente and Brother Theo, Krom Molder and Bowie, and Sashundo. Four retainers and one player character. The last perished in an amusing way (as it often happens with that player). He tried to run past the monster, but the floor was littered with corpses. So he decided to jump over them. Alas, he landed straight into the monster's mouth(s).
I was wordless for quite some time when the players presented their gift. Couldn't do anything but laugh from happiness and gratitude.
Thank you guys!
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