Attronarch's Athenaeum

Campaign journals, reviews of TTRPG stuff, and musings on D&D.

Adventurers

Character Class Description
Brawley Dwarf level 1 Stocky, baldy, scimitar-wielding sea knave.
Mano Stern Cleric level 1 A dwarfish follower of Mesha, the Bringer of the Seasons. Blessed with almost supernatural ability to detect wickedness; cursed with a limp and clumsiness.
Norwell Thief level 1 A finely dressed slim fellow of few words. Carries the scar of betrayal.

Mano Stern's report linked at the end of the post.

Warmshade 8th, Earthday

Gods weave the strands of destiny as they please; and what is pleasure to them rarely makes sense to the mortals of Wilderlands.

A dwarf pirate left for dead on an island whom managed to survive on a diet of coconuts and rats.

A man of faith whose body fails him, seeking what he does not yet understand.

A thief hiding the wounds of double-crossing underneath noble's clothes.

Which deity brought the unlikely trio will never be know, but the trail left by them perhaps will become a story of legends.

It was a hot day without a trace of shade. They saw the massive eagle-like temple towering over the city way before they even reached the Gates of Antil. The guards greeted them with enthusiasm, despite some members sporting a rather dishevelled look. They recognised the symbols of Mesha—a snow-covered twig with vibrant sprouting leaves—and were in good mood due to bountiful yield they've had this year.

“Lads, I'm taking you to the finest establishment in Antil, and getting you drunk!” Brawley rumbled.

“That is a kind offer, but I am short on coin.” Mano replied in a humble manner. Norwell was happy his status was honoured—of course he should be taken only to the best of the best.

“Worry not! It's on me!” the dwarf insisted.

Of course, having set foot in Antil for the first time in his life, he had to ask the locals for instructions. And so they headed off to the Seven Vultures inn at the docks.

Three streets were bustling with life, from street urchins running in giggling gangs to sun-tanned paddlers selling their goods to muscle clerics of the Windgod engaging into wrestling matches.

This richness of life was so captivating that Norwell failed to notice a child-like figure until it bumped into him—and ran away with his coin purse and set of thieves tool he kept in a sack!

Mano Stern, shocked by such villainy in broad daylight, immediately pursued. Norwell followed. Brawley, dressed in plate, panted heavily far behind them, but followed none the less.

They ran after the child through narrow alley ways, leaving the chatter of life behind them. The houses here were so tight that barely three men could walk side by side. Pumped with adrenaline, the trio barely noticed the lack of life and unusual quietness about the place.

“There he went!”

Mano pointed at at ramshackle stone building sandwiched between two larger buildings. The wooden door were slammed shut, and there were no windows. It seemed to be a one story house. Once the dwarf caught up and rested, the party was ready to go in.

The doors revealed a staircase going down what seemed to be a cellar of the building. The sun barely penetrated into the building, revealing a wide sofa opposite the entrance. Lighting a torch they descended.

It was a musty room, quite wide. There was a door to the right of sofa, and a wooden chest and glass cabinet to the left of it. No child was in sight.

Mano stood in the centre of the room, providing valuable light. Norwell carefully inspected the doors, finding nothing, but picking up a heavy smell of rum emanating from behind. “Surely a trap!” paranoid Brawley muttered.

Glass cabinet intrigued the dwarf. Visual inspection revealed that it is suspiciously flush against the back wall. Applying some force to it led to yet another discovery—the cabinet rotates around single vertical axis, and opens up into another corridor.

Mano's torch barely illuminated it, revealing three doors alongside it: two on their left and one the right. Dwarf picked up on the shoddy construction of the whole place, and the fact that corridor actually slopes downward.

Arranging themselves in a single file rank, the party cautiously checked door by door. First to their left was stuck; second was locked; first to their right opened up.

It's been nearly three hours since they reached this point. Brawley was at the edge of his wits; Norwell was convinced that this is some sort of thieves den and they should get out as soon as possible; Mano was the only calm one.

Seeing nothing but three beds and two small round tables was enough to send the dwarf into the rage. He rushed in, yelling and cursing, stabbing each bed with unadulterated violence. A weak whimper was heard from the second bed.

“Show yerself, ye scum!”

Flipping the bed revealed a freshly perished child-sized figure lying on its belly, coin purse and thieves tools right next to it. Kicking it over made others exhale a sigh of relief—it was a nasty goblin, not one of the street urchins. But the dwarf wasn't finished yet. He cut off its head and kicked it around the room.

“What do ye think about dis, cleric!”

“The seasons come and go, such is the cycle of life.”

Mano Stern was not to be disturbed easily.

The room had little else to offer. But the locked doors still beckoned them. Although they've proven themselves to be too much of a challenge to Norwell's lockpicking skills, combined strength of Mano and Brawley was enough to knock them open.

Another two small beds, a wooden chest, and a small roundtable with weird looking lamp sitting on top of it. The dwarf focused on chest, while the thief and cleric inspected the lamp.

The chest held a curious assortment of skulls, bones, and flagstones. Brawley moved them around with his scimitar, finding an iron stick on the bottom. He braved picking it up. It was indeed a rusty iron stick.

The lamp looked rather exquisite in its make. Although it seemed no precious metals were used to craft it, the shape was complex. It resembled a spiral, almost as if someone took a piece of wood and twisted it like a liquid in some unnatural shape, and then froze it. It felt both natural and alien at the same time. Mano put it in his backpack.

Having had enough of this rotted cellar, the party decided to head out.

It was still day, and the alley was still devoid of life. Well, mostly devoid of life. An ebony skinned figure dressed in plate mail was leaning against the building, whistling an unfamiliar tune. Its bald head was protected by a neat white turban.

“Oh, have you found anything of value inside?”

The trio was perplexed.

“You, yes, you!” the figure insisted, pointing figure to the party.

“Have you found... The magic sword?!”

“Oh come on, you surely found something? A little coin for me to keep my mouth shut?”

Last request hadn't landed to well with the dwarf, causing him to brandish his bloody sword at the extorting person. The man retreated back and whistled loudly. Three drunk men tried to run forward, but were constantly tripping and stopping to catch their breath. Brawley recognised his own ilk.

Few well thrown rocks and witty insults were all that was needed to send the pack fleeing and reeling.

“Where can we sell this lamp?”

It didn't take much asking around to learn about the Walled Bazaar, where all kind of wares trade hands. They reached it within an hour or so.

“Wait, I wanna rub it first... Cover me...”

Brawley gently held the lamp while Mano and Norwell stood guard. The retreated to one of the side alleys leading the famed marketplace. The dwarf felt warmth and could sense the craftsmanship required to make such a lamp. He rubbed it gently. No djinni came out of it. But something else happened. He noticed a faint flicker of light. Whenever he rubbed it for a minute or so, the lamp seemed to flicker for a second.

“Boys, this requires further investigation!”

The party proceeded to rent a room at King's Arms tavern. Without chronicling all the details of their bedroom shenanigans, it is sufficient to say they figured out how to rub the lamp the right way for it to emanate a bright white light.

One of the gods laughed.

Player Session Reports

Discuss at Dragonsfoot forum.

#Wilderlands #SessionReport

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A zine chronicling the Conquering the Barbarian Altanis D&D campaign.

This issue details the seventh, eighth , and ninth session. It also includes a gorgeous full-page illustration of Richter the Ruddy by Rebecca Burgess.

You can download the issue here.

Overlord's Annals zine is available in print as part of the legendary Alarums & Excursions APA, issue 563:

#Zine

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Dr. Daniel Proctor, the creator of Labyrinth Lord, Advanced Edition Companion, Advanced Labyrinth Lord, Mutant Future, and much more, has shared some exciting news:

When I suspended Goblinoid Games' social media presence two months ago, it was because I gave myself an ultimatum.

I would write a substantial, totally new product by the first of the year and be well on my way to editing a new edition of Labyrinth Lord. If I didn't succeed in these challenges, I had decided I would close up shop for good. I am near completion of a new solo adventure, currently sitting at around 24,000 words.

In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have been so hard on myself. I've suffered from moderate to severe anxiety for about the last seven years, amplified by a series of large life changes. The kind of life changes you check the boxes for on a form to determine how much stress you have in your life. At any given time during those years I would probably have three or four big ones happening at once. As a result, all of my hobbies essentially came to a halt. It was hard enough to get by day-to-day, much less write creative content and keep up with the demands of my publishing business. Some of you know I'm a professor, and just performing those duties was challenging enough. And of course Covid.

But I'm happy to say that at this point I'm in a much better place than I've been in years. I've come to terms with many things in my life, and I'm finally in a position to pick up where I left off. I know the industry has changed, and I know many of my supporters have been disappointed with my lack of support for my game lines, Labyrinth Lord especially. I've also let down my publishing partners. But I'm here to tell you today that all of that is coming to an end. I'm still a one-person, Indy publisher, but in addition to my own efforts I'll be be reaching out to others for partnerships moving forward. I'm very excited for what the future holds, and I hope some of you will join me on this new journey.

To read a little bit more about what I have in mind, please visit my website. It's still under construction but I have some information there about what's next for Labyrinth Lord.

Here's to the future!

Dan

goblinoidgames.com

Be sure to read the link website because it shares more about upcoming changes. Some of the highlights:

  • Labyrinth Lord (LL) was one of the first retroclones (alongside OSRIC). Nobody back then knew what was and wasn't allowed under Open Gaming Licence. For that reason LL changed a number of small things from B/X (e.g. experience tables, treasure tables, and so on). As Old School Essentials (OSE) has shown, it is possible to entirely copy the system without running into trouble.
  • With new insight, LL 2E will come even closer to B/X, the system it emulates, and will include all the known errata (hopefully they are aware of this one) as well as improved layout and presentation. To be honest, I don't find the current one very lacking. It just oozes character.
  • There will be second edition of the Advanced Edition Companion (AEC) as well. There might be a second edition of Advanced Labyrinth Lord (compilation of LL + AEC).
  • Second edition won't be crowdfunded, and will simply arrive into stores (DTRPG and Lulu I presume). I've noticed a lot of resistance to fundraising from the older guard. Not sure why is that, but I get a feeling they think it would somehow sell them out, or something similar. In reality, it would provide them enough funds to improve the production values of their product.
  • Tentative release date is Q1 2023.

I am very much looking forward to the Second Edition!

#OSR #LL

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OZ (PDF and print):

OZ

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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.

Conquering the Barbarian Altanis: Session 13

Hydra Abomination, Amanda, Kallahan, Sashundo, Gabriel
Moments before the chaos.
From left to right: Amanda, Brother Kallahan, Sashundo, and Gabriel Faria.

This Tuesday my players—Anthony, 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!

#Wilderlands

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Fight On! Foliated Folio +8:

Fight On! Compiled Compilation II + 11:

#Postbox #OSR #FightOn

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Dingbatt Barett Thief level 3 Ginger, skinny, and scrawny copy of Johnny Depp; speaks like a moron.
Kenobi Thief level 3 Short, elderly man dressed in blue leather armour with a matching scarf.

Warmshade 7th, Waterday

It's been nearly two months since Dingbatt joined the Hydra Company. And it's been as much time since he went out on an expedition. Everyone seems to get to do cool stuff but him.

“Go shovel some bale.” “How about you rearrange some boxes?” “Hey, all these men need to be trained. Show them some of your tricks.”

Oh the injustice! But Dingbatt had an idea; nay, a plan! He will show them all how valuable he is. Two weeks ago he ran into an older man. Kenobi was his name, thievery his trade. Remembering how Winslow used to test new recruits, he challenged him to a climb-off. The man gladly accepted.

And so they went to the warehouse Hydra Company calls their headquarters. There, they faced each other, climbing on the beams and old cranes, swinging around like monkeys. Dingbatt was first to fall down, proving that Kenobi is indeed a better simian.

Following their bonding experience, the two accomplices decided to thoroughly survey Antil for any interesting marks. Now, they reconvened to discuss their findings:

  • The Windgod Temple, a 200 feet tall, monumental statue of an eagle spreading its wings, towers over all of Antil. Heck, it is visible for miles. The High Priest and a hundred of mightiest acolytes are housed there. It swallows and regurgitates endless stream of pilgrims day by day; many of them leaving donations. Brother Kallahan believes most of the treasure is deposited in the underground vaults, and not on the higher levels.
  • Seniskell manor, a large walled estate with a sea view. Resting at the edge of Pilgrim's Quarters from the time before the quarter was even established, and owned by a supposedly quite old and rich family. Locals consider them mad, and rumours run amok for they rarely, if ever, leave their estate.
  • The Black Spire, a 50 feet tall tower with no discernible windows or gates. Although a source of many mysteries, residential buildings now surround it. Locals mostly ignore it, and children play at its base.
  • The Temple of Jamboor, although in slums outside of the Walled City, the rumour has it that it is only a front for more sinister matters. They pick up street urchins, beggars, panhandlers, and other lowlife, and “get them to see the light.” They've been refused to establish their temple in the Pilgrim's Quarters.

“Old, rich dudes make for the best target!”

“But how do we get closer without looking suspicious?”

“I know! We have an old rowboat. We'll pretend to be a father and son fishing, and we'll use the opportunity to survey the manor.”

“Who will be father? Who will be son?”

A day of pretend-fishing did not go entirely as planned. Two rowboats with six armed men each, intercepted them around noon, demanding they “stop ruining Lord Seniskell's view of the sea.” The men wore colours of the City Guard, and threatened immediate violence. “Father” and “son” were quick to row back, muttering profanities under their breath.

“We shall strike on the night of following day!”

Warmshade 8th, Earthday

Two master thieves came up with another bulletproof plan for surveying the manor—offering street urchins a dagger in return for intelligence. “Why give you coin, when I can give you a dagger, and then you can earn your own instead?” Dingbatt attempted to close the sale with a heavy wink.

Alas, the children were more interested in their own coin purses, and were quickly all over them. “Why don't you earn something first and then come back to us?” one yelled. “Ha, look at these losers!” another one chimed in. The duo responded in kind, slapping and belting whichever kid they could lay their hands on.

With the justice served, Dingbatt and Kenobi were now ready to rest until nightfall.

Howla and Vanis, the Sister Moons, were high up on the sky in their full might, providing illumination to the writhing life underneath them.

The thieves approached the walled estate from the east side; a dark alley rarely travelled. The young helped the old climb over the ten feet wall. Gardens were eerily quiet. Numerous windows were covered with what seemed to be black curtains.

The manor, although of olden design, was quite sturdy. It was a one story affair with a simple slopped roof. The duo quickly scaled the building wall, finding themselves on the top. There they lay in total silence and spent some time observing and listening. Nothing was to be heard from anywhere.

Finally, Dingbatt determined it was time to act. Kenobi tied a rope around his waist, and then he descended down to inspect one window. Like the rest of the building, it was of sturdy make. There were no bars or securing mechanisms of any kind—or to be more correct, the thief hadn't found them. A simple latch was on the inside, a trifle for Dingbatt.

Carefully moving the curtain to the side revealed little. It was pitch black and the moonlight wasn't at the right angle to penetrate the darkness. The room had a feint smell of feces. He pulled on the rope gently, and climbed back up to share his findings with Kenobi.

This is what they came here for. No time to chicken out now.

And so, down through the curtain they went.

It took them nearly an hour to scan the room they found themselves in. Spanning nearly hundred feet, and nearly as wide, this was obviously some sort of a master suite.

A massive, four-poster canopy king-sized bed was set against the northern wall, flanked by two teak nightstands. A grand piano dominated the north-east corner; two harps, a harpsichord, and a cello were neatly arranged in the center of the room; two seven feet high, four feet wide wardrobes, and four dressers rested against western wall. An oak table with four chairs stood close to the musical instruments. There was a matching end table with a silver tea service. Double doors on the southern side were flanked by suits of plate mail holding halberds.

Everything was covered in dust and cobwebs, with rat and mice droppings here and there.

The duo rummaged through stuff, finding mostly moth-eaten clothing and more droppings. Few items of value were found: a gold earring, a pearl necklace, and two gold cufflinks.

But the most interesting findings lay underneath an ornamental wooden box in one of the wardrobes. Kenobi recognised something was amiss with the floor panel. A secret entrance? He ran his fingers on the ground, finding a notch running on one edge. Sensing great riches underneath him, he stuck his fingers in, and pulled.

Dingbatt was listening at doors when we got startled by a loud “thud!” sound coming from his right. To his surprise, Kenobi lay there, face first, bum out, in the wardrobe. Unwilling to touch him, he pulled on one of the halberds. The statue offered no resistance, and went down to the ground, causing tremendous noise.

Unwilling to waste no time, he ran up to Kenobi, only to discover him quite stiff. There were no prick-wounds on his fingertips, although his hands were all hues of purple all the way to his elbows. Sure that all kind of guards will pour through the doors, he dragged stiff Kenobi and rolled him under the massive bed. Scarf was all that protected his face against feces underneath.

Next, he went for the doors, and tied the handles together. And then he hid in one of the wardrobes.

KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK.

Three loud knocks could be heard.

It is difficult to say for how long have they been hiding, but long enough for Kenobi to regain control of his limbs. Nobody tried to open the doors. No further knocks were heard. Both listened attentively, but the manor was as silent as when they first entered the estate.

This is what they came here for. No time to chicken out now.

And so Dingbatt proceeded to make a trap-like contraption connected to the doors. If someone tried to pull them open, they'd have to break the bed. At the same time, Kenobi tied grappling hook to a rope, threw it over a hanger in the wardrobe, and then gently jammed the tip into the notch. Then he pulled on the rope from safe distance.

The panel gave easily, opening up into a staircase below.

And so, down they went.

Sneaking on, they found themselves in a stone chamber, some forty by twenty feet. Two wooden coffins laid on raised stone platforms. Between them stood a simple stone column with a pedestal on top. On it, a crystal ball rested. South-west wall seemed to be ajar, as if someone forgot to close a secret doors or something of a kind.

One of the thieves threw a sack over the orb, while the other secured their escape route by wedging some iron spikes into the trapdoor they came through. Dingbatt's attempts to lasso the covered ball were unsuccessful. Taking a deep breath, both entered the room.

The younger of the two approached the column, and carefully tied a rope around the base of the orb. The older approached the suspicious looking wall. He took a peek inside. It was pitch black; unnaturally dark. But he could see Her, the most gorgeous woman ever. And she called him; and her gaze was irresistible just like her passions.

When Dingbatt turned to his right, Kenobi was nowhere to be seen.

“Kenobi?”

No answer came back.

“Damn... Oh, damn!” Dingbatt cursed “Damn, damn, damn!!!”

“I should run... But I cannot leave him behind!”

Steeling his resolve, he covered his eyes and burst into the room, yelling and swinging. Peeking between his index and middle finger revealed little of the room, except a gorgeous woman with pale skin, and Kenobi slowly walking towards her.

He could see him take few steps, and then stop, as if he is hesitating. But then he'd take few more steps.

“Leave him be!” Dingbatt shouted as he threw his lantern. Alas, darkness, adrenaline, and covering his eyes, did not help at all. The lantern flew somewhere... And was caught by someone.

The true nature of his predicament rapidly uncovered itself. There was a pentagon-shaped depression in the center of the room filled entirely with thick, red liquid. Over it hung a naked human body suspended with a series of wires, still dripping into the pool below.

The grisly sight dominated his attention so much he barely heard the maniacal laughter that filled the room, nor did he register sinister laugh as the secret doors behind him closed.

“Are you lost, friend?” a warm male voice inquired. There stood a pale gentleman in fine clothing. It was obvious this was a true gentleman; someone who will care for Dingbatt much more than those “officers” of Hydra Company. This man right here was worth following, nay!, worth dying for.

“Friend, I have some work I need help with. A little bit of clean up and organisation. Would you be willing to do that for me?”

“Oh yes, Master! Anything for you, Master!” Dingbatt squeaked with delight.

“Come, come into my embrace!” the woman beckoned Kenobi. And he did, and they hugged and kissed. And Dingbatt watched Kenobi shrivel and grow even older right in front of his eyes.

“Would you like to meet my husband?” she asked gingerly “Oh, isn't it too early for that? I mean, I just met you?” Kenobi retorted confusingly “Don't be shy on me now. Come, let' go...”

Wondering how he found himself in an upcoming threesome, Kenobi took a step into darkness. Alas, he tripped over something, and fell face first into what felt like a pool of gooey substance.

“Oh, you dirty pig! How dare you!” he heard the dames enraged voice. He felt someone lifting him effortlessly, and then swinging him around like a ragdoll. Next thing he felt was cold, hard stone, breaking his spine. The last thing he heard as life abandoned him was a male voice “Oh, come on Esmeralda, why'd you have to kill him! We could've drained...”

“Follow me friend. We will be here soon.” the surviving thief was more than eager to make his new patron happy. He will prove himself!

“Here we are! You see that pile of bodies over there? I need you to separate hands and arms into one pile; ankles, feet, and legs into the other; torsos one the third; and finally, anything remaining on the fourth. I want them really neat. Can you do that for me?”

“Oh yes, Master! Oh yes! Do you want me to do it on all four with my teeth? Because I can do it like that if you want me to!”

The man looked at him with a surprised face. “Quite devoted, are you? Go ahead!”

This is what he came here for. No time to chicken out now.

And so Dingbatt dove straight into a mass of mutilated, gnawed corpses, and started sorting them out. He could hear cheers of approval from behind—unlike anything he ever heard from his supposed “comrades” in the Hydra Company.

He had found his true home at last.

Discuss at Dragonsfoot forum.

#Wilderlands #SessionReport

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Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes :

Mythology_Timeless_Tales_of_Gods_and_Heroes

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Francis Goreaxe Dwarf level 2 A son of a jeweler aspiring to become a great chef. Wears apron over his copper plate mail, and cast iron pot instead of a helmet.
Morfindien Elf level 1 Seeks a cure for his genetic ugliness. Despite his great strength and intellect, his face is only barely acceptable in elven circles so he is treated by them with disdain.

Later:

Character Class Description
Mac Thief level 1 Young and stuttering rogue looking for his lucky break.

Unknown date

Who knows how long they've been stuck in this burning hellhole in the middle of nowhere. Kod'l locals call it. More like Chock'l! Scorn of the society forced the unlikely duo of Francis Goreaxe and Morfindien to collaborate in their attempt to get out of here. Trading ships go down the river every few days, but since neither had coin to pay for their travel nor enough charm to convince the ferrymen otherwise, they've been forced to loiter around.

Their luck turned for the better when a fine looking man approached them with a most generous offer:

“You look like the hardened type that'd be up for some delicate work... Couple of hours from here is an abandoned temple that holds deep within a large golden egg. In fact, it is as big as an adult dwarf!”

“Retrieve it for me, and I will take care your journey is a most pleasant one. The temple has two entrances. The front is on top of the ziggurat. Three large stones hide the back entrance. Beware the birdmen. Oh, and make sure you do not open the egg. I will know. You might find the following useful...”

The mysterious patron handed them over hundred feet of rope, two oil flasks, a small mirror, and a healing potion. Too poor to get themselves anything else, and too ugly to find additional help, the duo set out for the desert temple.

Following their patron's instructions, a ziggurat with two tiers came into their sight after some four hours of walking. It looked faded brown, bleached by the unforgiving sun. Although stone bricks were chipped by time, the ziggurat stood strong.

Opting to go for the secret back entrance, the duo spent and hour looking for the described three stones. The man wasn't lying—an opening into the temple was just behind them. Francis rushed towards the passageway, and then slammed himself to the side. The elf followed. Peeking around the corner revealed a piece of ground that looked much cleaner than the rest, almost as if it had been swept.

Morfindien prevented the dwarf from further rash action, for he wanted to inspect this curiosity further. What if it was a trap? He took out hundred feet of rope and threw the bundle on the cleared area. As the sand started setting, his elven eyes noticed a find stand spanning the whole width of the hallway.

Next, he tied an unlit torch to one end of the rope. His plan was simple: throw it over the strand, and then pull it back in order to activate the trap from safe distance.

IOUUU! IOUUU! IOUUU! IOUUU! IOUUU!

Oh, and activate it he did! Loud, repetitive shrill could've been heard echoing from the inside. A quick glance between the two was all the communication needed—they were sprinting out. Both rushed behind one stone and did their best to push it toward the opening. Alas, they weren't strong enough. So they did the next best thing—run around to the front of the temple and hide underneath the ramp.

It took them half an hour to collect enough courage to move on. This time they opted for the main entrance. A sharp smooth decline is all that greeted them. Progressing carefully, the quickly reached a large chamber with three doors.

Each had a small bronze plaque on them. From left to right, they read: Dexterity, Strength, Mind. They beefy elf knocked down the middle door; vicious bites from a feral dog being his only reward. Heavily armoured dwarf pulled him out of the danger. They took care of Rex with speed. While Morfindien explored the chamber, the dwarf decided to practice his butchering skills.

Moving on, the duo came into a T-shaped junction. Three doors were down the corridor to the right; a door and corridor into darkness to their left; and a sprawling chamber straight ahead. To the left they went.

Another turn, another dark corridor. Their torchlight illuminated a skeleton propped against the eastern wall. The duo quickly frisked it, finding nothing but bones. In doing so, they raised enough dust and sand to notice yet another tripwire. Francis took of the skeleton's head, and placed it by the wire, to serve as the reminder when they come back.

It took the duo nearly ten minutes to move on because the wire was at hip-height for the dwarf. He had to take his backpack—pots, and all—off, crawl under, then get his stuff from elf, then put it back on... Proceeding, they arrived to yet another turn, and then yet another T-junction.

A familiar looking chamber was to their right, and a rather large door to their left. Opting to go right, the duo found themselves in a large chamber with four stone statues in the middle. They all looked like primitive take on human figure, with blocky heads and limbs. Their torsos were facing in different directions, but their heads all faced toward the center of the room. There a stone slab stood, slightly elevated compared to the rest of the sandy floor.

“You know what? I gonna do it.” and with those words Morfindien stepped on the stone dais. Rumbling sounds immediately filled the rooms the statues' bodies turned towards the center. One of them rotated a bit too fast and feel down to the ground. The remaining three promptly started pummeling the confused elf in the middle. A stone punch to his gut brought him down to his knees; two stone hammer fists to his face turned him into a bloody mush.

“Oh no! My face will be even uglier now!” were his last thoughts.

For a second Francis looked in horror. Not longer, because he fled out of there as fast as he could. Unwilling to abandon the golden egg, he rushed toward the large doors. It took him three tries to get in. Nothing followed.

“A-a-are you here to save me?” a weak voice addressed him. Mac, a young thief, was caught by a group of armed birdmen whilst sneaking around. They roughened him up and threw him into this arid, dark chamber.

“Get up boy!”

This was by far the biggest chamber they've found so far. A large nest, full of bones and small carcasses, was in the north-west corner. Three dwarves could've easily snuggled there. Opposite of the entrance was a passageway with tall arch. Fresh air was emanating from there.

A quick investigation revealed a circular room with a hole in the centre. Looking down, it seemed as if there was water below. Indeed, that was confirmed once Francis lowered Mac down. It was some thirty foot descent, which terminated with a square chamber barely illuminated by the torch. The water was dark and chilly, but otherwise nothing else stood out. Except a dark corridor to the east.

“Pull me up!” the dwarf couldn't resists pranking the thief by lowering him instead “Hey, don't be an ass!”

BAM!

Somebody—or something—burst open the doors to the south. The very doors they came through moments ago. Mac quickly hid in the shadows and prepared his bow. Francis tensed his grip on his trusty butcher's cleaver in right and lit torch in his left. And then he charged forward.

He met four human figures with crow heads. Two of them had spears, and two from behind seemed to drag some humanoid figure between them. In the ensuing confusion Mac took down two of them, the dwarf butchered one and in return got stabbed twice, and one ran away. The figure turned out to be puréed remains of Morfindien.

Helping themselves to the elf's possessions, Francis gulped down the healing potion, while Mac put aside a long sword and a “spell book.” And then they went back to the chamber with the hole in the ground.

They came up with a brilliant plan: use grappling hook and iron spike to create solid anchoring points, tie hundred feet of rope together, and then throw it down. Francis took off everything but his underwear with sausage motifs. Down they went.

The water was even colder than it seemed, but both managed to swim to the east corridor without too much hassle. This time it was a sharp ascend, nearly 45 degrees. They found themselves in a rectangular chamber. To their left was a three feet wide opening on the wall, and to their right were two large wooden chests and a massive golden egg on a pedestal.

“Watch this, boy.”

Francis took off his underwear and used it to cover the opening on the left wall. Then they both proceeded to rummage through the chests. Thousands and thousands of gold coin. Both silently wept at the realisation they have no way of taking all of it out. Mac stuffed his large sack as much as he could, but that wasn't even a tenth of the coins there. Francis went for the egg.

The moment he touched it, the water started gushing violently out of the opening behind them. His underwear was nowhere to be seen.

“Time to get out!”

Mac was out first, lugging a sack of coin with him; Francis barely escaped in time, hugging the golden egg with one arm, and pulling himself up with the other.

“Come on, we have no time to waste! Let's leg it!”

The dwarf remained naked, sans the butcher's cleaver, iron pot on his head, and the golden egg. The thief quickly threw the backpack on his back, and together they took a run for it.

Alas, they did not get far.

A large, deformed human head emerged from the darkness. It hovered nearly ten feet above ground, and was tilted sideways; contorted in some sort of maniacal expression.

“Kh-kh-KHRO!” the spittle flew out from its crooked lips. The monstrosity soon revealed its horrible secret—the horrendous head was joined to a body of a giant crow. It threw out a fat tongue, like an innocent dog, and licked its lips suggestively whilst twitching incessantly.

And then it took a few steps towards the naked dwarf and the trembling thief.

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Sinai Cleric level 3 White-robbed beduin, worshipper of Bukera, The Silent Scorpion.
Rhovar Fighter level 2 A generic Nordic guy.
Adkin the Butcher Fighter level 2 A hot headed warrior quick to fury trained by Marco Vitelli, retired quartermaster of the army of the Invincible Overlord.
Rad Thief level 1 A young, short and malnourished rogue.
Amanda Hugencuise Thief level 4 A new girl in town, claiming to be foreign exchange student, up for some “exciting missions” and enjoying the local cuisine.
Gon'd'elf Elf level 2 “Surely magnificent, am I not?” is his favourite opener. Works every time, 40% of the time.

Sinai's report linked at the end of the post.

Warmshade 6th, Airday

“Please, I keep dreaming him! I see him in a black, tar black hole. He is suffering! But it is not a dream! It is real! I know it is! I beg of you, please rescue him! Please!” a heavily distraught woman pleaded with Rad, a Hydra Company officer. “He is in a dark hole! Lost and scared! And there is this hairy creature with him... Oh, please, I beg of you!”

“Miss, please calm down. We will take care of it. Can you tell us more about his location or anything?” alas, the woman was getting more and more upset, and had little to offer except possibility to inspect her husband's workshop.

A month passed since she visited Rad, and she was overjoyed to receive his visit. The party rummaged through his belongings while she described her dear husband “Oh, he stands over six feet tall with long, gorgeous blond hair. A smile that melts peoples' hearts! Very wise and gifted man. We were so happy, but one day he decided that he wants more for us. He joined a band of adventurers who sorely needed his arcane talent. It went fine for some time, but then they went missing...”

Indeed, most of scroll and books were on arcane matters. They did find mentions of a “lost city” with a supposedly “vast library of long forgotten knowledge.” No maps could be found, although the entries indicated that the entrance might be where from “whence the Whitecrown Stream emerges.”

“Penelope, we will take care of your husband. But we must research more about his whereabouts.” Unfortunately no sage was to be found in all of Antil. They did learn about Drommo, a divination extraordinaire. Apparently, he visits Antil once a month.

“You know what? We could visit those peasants that sought our help as well. I mean, they are on our way anyway, right?”

And so the party consisting of Sinai and his three followers Herat, Phelim “The Scorpion”, and Norna “The Repulsive”; Rhovar, Adkin “The Butcher”, Rad, Amanda, and Gon'd'elf with his two trusty retainers Ariad and Ehrman, started preparing for their expedition.

Warmshade 8th, Earthday

What a sight to behold! Heavily armed and armoured party of twelve, ridding their magnificent steeds through the Gates of Antil! A banner depicting the purple, three-headed hydra, fluttered against the wind as they galloped along the coast of Romilion Sea. Fearless! Glorious! Unabated!

They scoffed at villagers of Kestizar; crossed the River Highcourse unchallenged; and rode to the heart of Bathdawn with gentleness of Great Thabrian Khans of Old. Peasants fled for their lives—some threw themselves into the wheat fields, others ran into their modest huts, and whomever remained soiled themselves.

“Fear not, we are here to help!” Adkin The Butcher announced striking the Hydra banner into the ground. An eternity later, two young—broad shouldered and red skinned—men walked out to face them. Both were visibly shaking, but tried their best to hide it.

“Y-You said you a-are here to h-h-help us?”

“Indeed!”

“D-Do you know Winslow? T-The fighter we asked for help in Antil?”

“I know not him; but he too was an office in our glorious company! We are here to offer our assistance with your problem!”

Colden, the cool one, and Eilif, the stuttering one, did their best in describing the happenings that have been plaguing them for months now. First, some cattle went missing. Then, people started going missing as well. They are all perplexed since there are no carcasses left. They did find some sort of sticky white residue from time to time, but it was so unfamiliar they've simply ignored it.

Whilst searching for his brother, Eilif found his armband close to the rocky banks of a small river in the hills. The trail disappeared down into a fissure in the limestone rock. He was too scared to go into the darkness... Hence they sought out warriors who'd be willing to help them.

“Take us there!”

Leaving Herat behind to guard the horses, the party followed a fast-running stream into the fissure... They traversed a narrow and uneven path, ever watching not to hit their head on the hanging stalactites, nor to slip on the treacherous floor. They were chilled by the fresh stream. After some half an hour, they found where it terminates—a waterfall.

Rad, secured with a rope around his waist, edged closer and closer. A fungal (or mossy?) overgrowth crusted on the southern cavern wall caught his attention. Alas, it was so interesting he slipped and lost footing. Waterfall was quick to pull him down, and gallons of ice-cold water poured down his back. Luckily, his friends quickly pulled him up.

Unsure how to proceed, the party spent an hour discussing different plans. “How about we build a dam?” “What about re-routing the stream and waiting for whatever is inside to come out?” “Maybe if we get a bunch of sheep and use them as bait?” “That moss is evil! We have to scrape or burn it!” “Anybody got climbing hooks? We can nail them to the ceiling and have one of the thieves traverse it from above?”

“Maybe I can take another peek?”

And so Rad approached the waterfall once more. Having learned his lesson, this time he went on all four, ensuring he doesn't slip. The crusted fungus looked like it sprawls down into the darkness. There seemed to be holes in it as well, as if for climbing. Another curiosity caught his attention as well. There was a wooden pipe, roughly five feet below the waterfall, that seemed to be fed by the flow of water. It hung in the air and followed the northern cave wall.

“Hold me guys, I'm going down!”

And down he went. A large, wet cavern it was. The stream continued south-east. Following it led him to a narrower tunnel flanked on both sides by an extraordinarily ugly plants. Both looked as if they were growing straight out of the rock. A group of tendril-like appendages hung from their bottom side. Rad took a shot at one; it responded by releasing some goo and flattening itself against the cave wall.

Unwilling to proceed further alone, Rad inspected the cavern once more. This time he found that the stream actually splits in two before reconnecting. The smaller flow seemed to run through a hand-made canal that has a small pool to the side. There he found a small wooden casket which contained a wooden key. He went straight back to inform other adventurers of his findings.

“Are we sure these plants are evil? I'm not willing to go around exterminating life on potentially erroneous assumptions.” Gon'd'elf offered. After some back and forth, Amanda decided to come closer and see if plants actually do anything. Indeed, as she came within ten feet of the northern plant, it attempted to lash out by flattening itself against the cavern wall, and then bouncing of it. Amanda was too quick and experienced to fall on such trick, and was quickly out of danger.

It didn't take long until both plants were filled with arrows.

Down the tunnel was yet another waterfall, but this time so wide there was no clear access point. There was a round wooden indentation on one side of the tunnel, and a small wooden box on the other side. The latter had a keyhole. Lo and behold, the key Rad found fit in perfectly.

Turning the key triggered the round door-like wooden indentation to come out and divert the flow of water to a narrow canal to the side, revealing natural looking wooden-rung ladder going down. After brief descent, the party ran into a four-way intersection. A large growth of the wood in the middle of the junction divided the stream into three parts, guiding them down the central channel of each tunnel. So far all the encountered wooden object seemed naturally grown.

Without any leads, the party decided to flow the west tunnel. Even without a dwarf they could feel they are descending. It was a long, winding tunnel. Nothing but the stream and their armour clanking could be heard. After some time they passed by a cavern whose entrance seemed blocked b ropy pillars of fungus growth. They moved on, following the stream.

Much to their surprise, they encountered a waterwheel connected to a large wooden box. A funnel fed into it. Clicking and creaking noise came from inside the box, as did a strong smell of fish. One of the members dared to open it, revealing some sort of mincing device producing a pinkish paste.

Proceeding further, they encountered a T-shaped junction. The southern tunnel continued visibly downward, and the stream seemed to speed up as well. Stalagmites covered the uneven ground, and stalactites were more numerous then so far. It looked quite difficult to descend. Hence they opted for the eastern tunnel.

They quickly found themselves at what seemed to be another large cave. Nine crooked trees in large earthenware pots were illuminated by bluish light from numerous strands of glowing moss hanging from the ceiling. The floor was grooved, creating three channels from the stream. Each was flowing under three pots.

Sinai felt something was horribly amiss. A feint, but constant, murmuring could be heard. It filled the chamber, and sounded like it was coming from every imaginable direction. The tree closest to them started shivering. Its branches descended down, as if they were arms, and it pulled itself out of the pot. Stretching its warped frame revealed its true size, towering nine feet tall.

Two more trees joined it. The hateful sounds became louder.

Player Session Reports

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