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Hellgrath
One of Orenag’s greatest battles was against a demon lord by the name of Morval the Twisted. Now Morval was a sly demon with a silver tongue, he had two horns that twisted like a rams horns, and he was very strong looking with a natural skin color of cooling lava. Able to get his way with any creature, Morval sought fame amongst his family and so he went to the surface, looking for a strong city to which he could lay waste.

After traveling for weeks Morval stumbled upon a majestic dwarven thaig. Not knowing much about the place, he turned himself into a human female trader so he would be able to infiltrate the mountain city and learn more of its structure. Walking up to the main gate, he found it was fourteen feet high and ten feet wide. The doors had been chiseled out of solid granite, and embedded into the granite was twenty-five vicious mithril spikes per door placed at hip height, obviously for deterring a head-on attack. He noticed that the dwarfs used large iron chains connected to pulleys to swing the doors open. Entering further into the city, he saw that the main gate was not as heavily guarded as the center of the city was. “Interesting…” he whispered to himself.

After looking around the city for a while, Morval heard the town guard announce that the gates were to be closed soon for night. “Hmm, it’s only ten o clock” he thought. He began to wander back towards the city gates, slipping out before they closed. Knowing the layout of the city, Morval went and made camp in the mountains. He then began conceiving a plan in his mind for the utter destruction of the city. While he was thinking, he heard footsteps off in the distance. Knowing he could handle whatever it was, he waited for them to approach the camp. Much to Morval’s surprise, it was a small group of goblins hoping to make him their mid-night snack. They stood there, looking at him with perplexed faces. Morval then realized what his plan would be.

After speaking with the small group of goblins and convincing them that he tasted rather horrible, Morval told them of a wondrous meal inside the dwarven city that was awaiting them, if only there was a large enough group of strong, worthy goblins to help him enter the structure. The goblins escorted him to their chieftain where Morval started explaining to him his plan. He told them of the low amount of guards at the front gate, explaining how easy it would be to overrun them and destroy their defenses, quickly gaining access to the inside of the city, where the feast would begin. After the chieftain of the clan had spoken with Morval, he was convinced of the idea to storm the stronghold.

Preparing for battle, the goblins were amongst the rocks waiting for Morval’s signal. Morval, standing high on a rock face overlooking the soon to be battle zone, waited for the opportune moment to begin the siege. It was now 5:30 am. As the sun rose, the massive gates swung open. Morval shot a hellish fireball towards the sky which burst into large stare, creating a blinding flare to whoever looked at it. Slightly dazed, the two dwarves that were guarding the gate sounded warning horns as goblins rushed into the city, slitting their throats. Goblins now began swarming the open gates, pouring through like water rushing into the city. Mothers held their children tight and began running as their husbands grabbed their weapons to defend them, only to be trampled upon by the goblins. Soon though, the large goblin raid became out of control. They started pounding down houses and climbing on the walls, and Morval couldn’t understand why they didn’t stick to his plan. He managed to round up a small group of about fifteen goblins who, for the most part, did what he commanded. He led them further into the city where he was hoping to find the king he’d heard of while inside the city before. Suddenly, a volley of arrows came his way from behind a shield wall that had been formed by ten dwarves. He waved his hand across the breadth of the volley, turning them into harmless ash that fell at his feet. “Attack!” Morval yelled as his group of goblins ran past him, slamming into the shield wall with a loud crack of bone and steel. Watching from a safe distance, he smiled a bloodthirsty grin.

From the house Orenag was sitting atop, he noticed that the goblins were being commanded by a devil. He began to think, if he took out their leader, then the goblins would have no structure and their raid would fall apart. Knowing what was needed of him, Orenag ran along the roof of the house and landed behind the fierce devil-kin yelling, “Hey there big boy, wanna have some fun?”

Turning around, Morval hissed, “Oh I’ve been waiting all day for a corpse to toss around.”

Morval held out his arms straight up, where in a show of fire, blades formed around his arm. Twisting around his forearms multiple times before jutting straight out to a spiked point. Orenag pulled out his Dorn Dergar and began spinning the chain. They started circling, testing to see who would be bold enough to strike first. Impatient, Morval rushed at Orenag. The dwarf whipped his chain around towards Morval in a series of back and forth attacks. Morval would reach in with his arm blade, then Orenag would strike at his arms and then reengage with his flail. For an hour they went on, never stopping for fear of losing the advantage. Morval, expecting the chained ball from behind him, ducked and reached up an arm blade to snag the chain. The chain hit his blade with a resounding clang. Morval then began to wrap up the flail in his arms, rendering it useless. He dove for Orenag grabbing him by the neck, and lifted him off the ground. “Any last words petty dwarf?” spoke Morval in an almost happy tone.

“Actually yes, go back to hell!” Orenag yelled as he pulled a dagger made from silver out of his sleeve and drove it right under his chin through to his brain. Twisting the dagger he yanked it out, where it started to melt in his hands. Morval’s eyes rolled to the back of his head and he began to convulse, seeming to be burning from the inside out. Fiery light started to burst from the cracks in his skin, he then became consumed by an unearthly fire, burning his corpse to ashes and leaving only his horned skull behind.

After the battle was over, Orenag took the skull and mounted it on a wooden shaft hardened by fire. He then prayed Torag’s blessing over the weapon, thanking him for his victory and asking him to put the hammer in the hands of those worthy. So was born, Hellgrath.
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Mournful cries could...
Mournful cries could be heard echoing throughout the halls of Norin-stag. Any Dwarf whom heard them before would understand their deep meaning.

Peacefully on his bed, was Toe-nag, not moving an inch. It seemed he died in the night, without struggle, gone. The Heroic Bloodline of the Alumclan’s had chosen a brother once again, though, it brought to mind as to why it had done its deed now, instead of when the boys were younger. None could answer this question.

Far in the skies beyond the reach of any mortal, Torag stood, watching. Knowing full well Toe-nags deeds and his heroic fighting, but he knew that he was not one to carry on the bloodline though.

“What shall we do?” spoke one of Torag’s messengers.

In a deep contemplative voice, Torag answered “Bring his spirit here, he must full fill his destiny.”

“As you wish my lord.”

After sometime had past Toe-nag suddenly appeared before Torag. Frightened, he knelt on one knee face down, asking “What is your need oh Father Of Creation?”

“You know of your gifted bloodline yes?” Not allowing him to answer, Torag continued “One brother lives, all the others die, and always at the age of twelve. But, things can change, or maybe a better way of putting it, circumstances change. You see, your brother Torrian, has died.”

“What?! What do you mean…” Began Toe-nag before Torag Yelled in a voice that sounded like thunder, and hit his ears like lighting “Silence!”

“You will learn well your place Dwarf.” Spoke Torag sternly. “But, it shows you will take action even if the circumstances seem to… not be in your favor.” He said with a bit of a grin. “Now, where was I? Ah yes, I remember. Your brother is in a dark land known as the Broken Kingdoms. This place is retiled with detestable creatures of all kinds, mainly demons. A particularly powerful devil was amongst the land which, by unfortunate means, killed your brother. He is now a ghost sitting next to the tower that crushed him, bound there by an unnatural force. The group he was with is now taking him to a witch in hopes of reviving him. I, want you to go and assist them in any way possible. You will be my emissary. Fighting my battles and restoring my command where I send you. Do not fail me. The bloodline must survive through your brother, in this way it was meant to be. Now go!”

Toe-nag was given weaponry and gear that surpassed any he had used before. He even felt that he was stronger than when he was in his mortal body. Walking him over to the edge of a large cloud located in the lower halls, his navigator said “here’s your spot” with a wide grin on his face.

“What, I don’t understand… No!? You’re not going to make me jump are you?” Spoke Toe-nag fiercely.

“Oh it’s fine, all you do is close your eyes…” he began saying before being cut off by Toe-nag. “Close your eyes my mother’s butt!” At that moment the man shoved Toe-nag in the back, forcing him off the edge. Looking up Toe-nag saw the navigator peering over the edge, laughing hysterically.

Falling and tumbling down, Toe-nag saw the ground rushing towards him. Not knowing what to do, he covered his face and curled into a tight ball, bracing for impact.
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Years Later
I thought of Norton Stronghart today as I was hitching Elias up to the cart. Faust meowing in my ear almost sounded like the man's name, and a particularly strong gust of wind turned my attention Northward.

I smiled to myself because I remember everything people tell me, and I have not forgotten what the he said.

Perhaps now the time has come after all in which he requires my assistance. I have no idea what a lonely merchant Druid can offer such an esteemed individual, but once I get where the wind is taking me I'm sure it will be explained.

Until then, I'll trust the air.
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Epic!
Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 3 — Meant to Meet?
~ eighth-day, 18th of Ches, The Year of Wild Magic, morning
Ernest Ford


   Early in the morning, before dawn, there was a terrible storm with wind and thunder. The tree in which Mythlos was trancing had begun shaking, and Shrodinjer began croaking loudly in warning. Mythlos descended quickly and warned the others, and Leokas rushed to construct some shelter for them before the rain began pouring down. (Hakam sheltered in the safety of his tent.)

   Thankfully, Leokas' expertise kept them mostly dry and safe from the wind, and they were spared any lightning strikes. Things cleared up after several hours, and the party, well awake by now, set out again. The river was raging from the rain, and the fields they passed through muddied their animals' hooves and paws.



   They stopped for a break late in the morning at a very tiny thorp called Kiser's Rest, where they were told that they were halfway along the river to Darromar. While there, Leokas stopped and restocked some arrows. "Can you tell me of the terrain ahead to Darromar from here?" he asked the old fletcher.

   "Much th' same as you've exper'enced thus far, no doubt," said the man, "field and farmland."

   "Is this region dangerous? Or has there been an increase in danger lately?"

   "Not partic'arly, saer. But then, most folk don't travel much in these parts."

~~~~


   When highsun came, they were hailed by someone from the treeline to the north in Elven. Glancing out, they spotted three elves with wildly braided hair, facial, leg, and arm tattoos, and leathers. Hakam reached for his gnomish firearm, but Leokas stayed his hand. "Hold, Hakam."

   "They are wild elves, which are said to be dangerous in these parts," said Hakam.

   "Belvin will speak to them."

   Belvin indeed recognized them as wild elves, his distant kin, and quickly dismounted from Kamil and ran to meet them. The others saw him slap palms together above their heads with the three strangers in some sort of greeting gesture. The four wild elves began talking immediately in Druidic, not Elven, so not even Leokas or Mythlos could understand the conversation.

   After about five minutes, the three strangers turned and disappeared again into the trees. Belvin returned and filled in the others. The elves had been hunting worgs and goblins in the area and had discovered a reduction in the goblin numbers in the last few days. Then, they had come upon a wounded worg in the woods and slain it. Next, they discovered the gutted carcass of another worg, west of a human ferry town. From there they had pursued the party, curious as to who it was that was killing the worgs and goblins, and were soon easily following their tracks in the fresh mud.

   "Be careful," the elves had warned. "If you continue slaying the despised races in this land, you may incur the wrath of their larger tribes. Know you were easy to track."

   The three were from the Wealdath, the great forest of Tethyr to the north, where both wild and wood elves were said to live. They welcomed Belvin there at any time, and passed their greetings on to the elves of Chondalwood.

   "You could have introduced us," said Jayce.

   "Yes," said Belvin.

~~~~


   Pushing on, the adventurers reached the town of Ithbend by mid-afternoon. This was a larger settlement than the others they had passed since Myratma, and Hakam, Jayce, and Mythlos entered to find a late lunch. Jayce and Mythlos performed together and earned 19 silver pieces, which covered the meal for the three of them. There was some debate about how to split the remaining four silver pieces. Mythlos wanted to split fifty-fifty, but Jayce argued that Mythlos was only singing backup, while he was playing and singing. Mythlos countered that Shrodinjer had also joined in.

   "Actually," said a passing peasant, interrupting. "The frog was an added touch; it's why I gave you that silver coin in the first place."

   Over the quick meal, the three tried to gather some insight into happenings in the area, but all they really heard about were rumors that the queen's oldest child, Princess Sybille, of two years of age, was difficult to discipline.

~~~~


   The group pushed further on to reach West Branton by dusk. They were now in the Crown Lands, they were told. They also heard a rumor that intrigued Mythlos especially: "A friend o' mine in Dar'mar was tellin' me 'e meets this elf, see, who says a noble sacked 'is village! Which o' the queen's nobles would do that?"

   "When was this?" Mythlos asked the peasant.

   "'Bout sev'ral moons, I reckon."

   "I have no doubt the elf this man's friend met was from my old home," Mythlos told the others afterward.

~~~~


   They set up camp outside the village, trusting again in the village watch to alert them to any danger in the night. The days of travel were wearing on them, and they all slept or tranced deeply.

   In the middle of the night, Jayce woke with a sudden pain in the front of his right thigh. "Ah!" he called out. The pain was not severe, just a constant throbbing, but it was enough to make him stir. He pushed aside the right leg of his breeches to see a faint glow coming from the tattoo he had there. He had never shared it with the others, but in his past, he had suffered a terrible injury to his leg that would have crippled him, but a strange elven cleric had healed his leg and left the mark on him without an explanation.



   The tattoo had never glowed before.

   "Your leg is glowing," said Belvin, appearing beside Jayce's hammock and holding his sickle at ready and whispering. "Shall I cut it off?"

   "No!" said Jayce.

   "Quiet. Someone or something may be nearby that triggered this magic. Come!" Moving silently, the two walked a ways to the north.

   "It's hurting more, again," whispered Jayce.

   "Good, that means we must be drawing closer to the cause. There!" Belvin pointed toward the tree line. Jayce could not see anything in the darkness. "He's running away!"

   "Stop!" Jayce called out. He quickly abstracted the wire from his pouch while motioning and humming a quick spell. "We're not your enemy," he spoke into the wire. "Why are you running?"

   "You can hear me?" came a male voice from the wire.

   "Yes, by magic. I am a bard from Lantan. You have triggered a magical tattoo I bear, and I must know why."

   There was a pause. "The leaves cease their rustling," said Belvin. "He has stopped."

   "Does the tattoo, by chance,... glow?" queried the voice.

   "Indeed, it does."

   "Who gave it to you?"

   "An elven cleric."

   "Do you serve Erevan?"

   "I would not use the word serve, but, yes, Erevan is my patron."

   "He approaches," noted Belvin. "Shall I shoot him?"

   Jayce shook his head. He still could not see the stranger. Mythlos and Leokas came up beside their companions. "What is going on?" Belvin pointed, and the other two elves nodded.

   A light-weight humanoid, perhaps a few inches shorter than Hakam, stepped closer, dressed in a traveling cloak and wearing a hood. He looked at Jayce and lifted the sleeve of his left arm. There, on his bicep, was a glowing tattoo. "'Tis a strange thing indeed for two humans to follow Erevan Ilesere," said the man, "for two humans to bear tattoos that burn and glow within range of each other, for those same two humans to meet so randomly along a river in Tethyr. I am Mick. I was given this tattoo by a priest of the Trickster in my youth."

   "Surely you were not 'randomly' along the river Ith in the middle of the night," said Jayce. "To where are you heading?"

   "I am heading to Darromar," said Mick.

   "As are we. Are you an adventurer?"

   "I am a free traveler."

   "As Erevan himself."

   "Yes."

   "Why were you running?"

   "When I felt the pain in my tattoo, I feared some dark magic was nearby, so I fled."

   "Can you defend yourself?" asked Mythlos.

   "Relax, Mythlos," said Jayce.

   "He made it this far," said Leokas. "But from where?"

   "I spent much time of late in Waterdeep. I wanted to see more of the world."

   Jayce asked him to describe the cleric who had given him the tattoo. The descriptions did not match. "So the clerics were two different individuals," said Jayce. "It's as if Erevan himself wanted us to be together... or else this is just some elaborate joke of his.... Well, if you pay us the party fee of 50 gold pieces, you are welcome to travel with us, at least as far as Darromar."

   Mick half-laughed. "I see you are the one with humor in this party. Who are your companions?"

   The three elves were introduced. Then they had questions of their own for Mick.

   "You have very sharp features for a human," said Mythlos. "Are you fully human, or do you have elven blood mixed in your veins?"

   "I am fully human," said Mick.

   "Do something that would impress us," said Mythlos.

   Mick drew a coin from within a pocket in his cloak and held it between two fingers for them to see. "A Waterdhavian coin," said Mick. "Or is it only your imaginations?" Before their eyes, the coin vanished. Only Leokas' eyes were quick enough to see that with a flick of Mick's fingers, the coin had rolled down the back of his hand and into his sleeve. Leokas kept this knowledge to himself, for the trick was indeed impressive. Instead, he asked, "Tell me, have you had much experience with the hobgoblin kind? What are your thoughts on them?"

   "Usually, they are wicked, despicable creatures."

   "Usually?"

   "What is your favorite spell?" asked Mythlos.

   "Perhaps Bigby's...?"

   "What are your thoughts on the laws of Tethyr?"

   "I haven't given them much attention, to be honest."

   "What is your favorite weapon?"

   "I fancy the rapier, but any pointed object will do."

   "Have you seen such a sword as this?" Mythlos drew out his moonblade.

   Mick looked at Mythlos strangely. "No, I have no idea what that is, besides being a finely crafted longsword."

   "Let us suppose you were attacked by a human youth under the age of accountability," Mythlos continued. "Would you kill him?"

   "I think, perhaps, that I would rather just pay the 50 gold piece fee and be done with the questions," said Mick.

   "Leave him be, Mythlos," said Jayce.

   So Mythlos ceased his questions, and they all walked back together to the camp, where Mick joined them for the rest of the night.

   Both tattoos ceased their glowing, and the pain, too, went away.
Session: 29th Game Session - Monday, Mar 03 2014 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Shadows Over Paylen Overview
The Continent of Paylen Map




Introduction


This D&D campaign started out around 1997-8 on AOL and AIM as a chat room and message board based game using AD&D 2nd Edition rules set in a homebrew world called Paylen. In that time I was a relatively newbie GM and honed my storytelling and writing skills, meeting a great bunch of folks over the Internet to boot. The players came from all walks of life, house wives and working husbands, old crusty fogies who knew their way around the original 1st Edition OD&D rules, and young folks still trying to find their way in the world (I’d include myself in this latter category). It was great fun playing the game over the years and, though not without its share of drama and heartache, they were good times. When 3rd Edition rolled around, we were excited to convert to the new system and played 3.0 for a while.

Eventually it came to a point where we all had to take time off to go our separate ways and the campaign went into limbo indefinitely during 2000-1 in the middle of a particularly long adventure arc involving a ruined volcanic city. I myself went to school before joining the US military, and for a while gaming was a luxury I could ill afford since I just didn’t have the time. After talking about it for a few years, now one of the original players from way back (and a good friend of mine) and I have decided to revive the game in 2007, continuing where we left off now in 2014, only this time we decided to focus more intimately on a smaller number of characters with a split-style of political and intrigue-heavy storytelling using 3.5 rules (and the A Game of Thrones published rulebook), and less on globe-hopping antics and MacGuffin-seeking adventure hooks as we’ve done in the past.

In a way, it was going back to the roots of the game and made us remember why we played in the first place. I’ve come to realize that time sure does go fast (whether or not you’re having fun), and us young folks aren’t as spry as we used to be, advancing in our respective careers and/or getting married and raising a family. Still, we felt bad and more than a little nostalgic at having left the game of our youth when there was still so much left of the story to be told. For the time being, the campaign has returned in the form of play-by-post e-mails, at least until we ever get to a point where the game can resume a chat based format.

Eltera, daughter of House Trellust and a dark aelf warrior exiled from her native homeland of Nyctalinth, is the story’s main protagonist. And though she may have more than a passing resemblance to a certain dual sword-wielding hero, her story is a bit different as she tries to piece together the fragmented memories of her shattered past and escape the inner demons that continue to pursue her even to this day. The flip side is a relatively new character, Ser Fharys Drake, an Arcturion Knight and leader of the Quasi Lamna, or Shattered Blades, an adventuring turned mercenary company. His investigations into the intrigues of the Empire and the nobility within Drace and without will invariably lead him toward many dangers and plots that threaten the kingdom.

Events that happened before in the game will be explained either in the story’s narrative or with footnotes. I won’t fool anyone by saying we’re trying to write Shakespeare, but we try to have fun with all the various themes we have going and that’s all that matters. The campaign world also borrows a few themes from several sources, not the least of which being Eberron, Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Mystara, Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth novels, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series of books, and other odd bits and pieces that may or may not be recognizable to the reader. That said, a few real world cultures and nations are painted with very broad strokes in this story (but we’ve never claimed that we’re running a historical gaming sim, mind you!).

Without further introspection, I hope anyone who reads this enjoys the story and I’d be happy to answer any questions or comments they may have, thank you.

Synopsis


The game takes place in the northern kingdoms with a central focus on Mordrake, the vaunted high Kingdom of Dragons. Six years have passed since the B’astyian Empire invaded the weakened Republic of Veracia and crushed it beneath its iron heel. The Veracians themselves were as much to blame for their defeat as the Imperials, having given themselves over to hedonistic excess and wanton corruption many long years before the invasion. Nearly four score prior, the mad Veracian King Aermond the Usurper led the Republic on a self-righteous crusade against Numia, the Auld Kingdom of the First Men (known as the Numina) to the south, utterly destroying the ancient kingdom and casting Veracia into financial ruin and social upheaval.

When Aermond himself was brought a head lower by the people’s justice not long after, it had sown the seeds for the Republic’s inevitable downfall at the hands of the Empire. Today, there are whispers that the B’astyians mean to bring about a second War of the Veil as their Emperor Helbanion has lured the enigmatic Spirian Witches into his fold with the promise of crowning their sorcerer-queen, Suspiria, as his new Empress. This has the Dracians ever concerned for it seems to be an alliance wrought with contradictions. Long governed by a stern theocracy, the Iron Imperium has made no secret of its hatred of arcane magic while bringing to bear the full force of its military might using steam-driven monstrosities and screeching iron to lay waste to their enemies.

Still mourning his Queen Amestris Sethira who had perished thirteen years ago when the Exarchate of Ilvernus was destroyed by the supposed wrath of the gods, King Qelvinus Tuccius of Drace has begun to pursue the elusive dream of peace with the Hrundir, war-like barbarians who hail across the Abrisseen (Sea of Talons) from the cold and unforgiving realm of Haeslund. The northmen have ever been at odds with the civilized and law-bound Dracians as each side fought skirmishes to a bitter stalemate and launched coastal raids upon the other since time immemorial. Still, Tuccius is of a mind calling for truce and a possible alliance with the proud Hrundir and their implacable Jarl lords. After all, should Mordrake fall to the Imperial war machine, where next would the B’astyians think to look upon for their next conquest?

However, the immortal sisters known as the Nornir would see that the fates of these warring nations take a different path of their own choosing. And all the while, a small band of guardians and keepers of the peace called the Arcturion Knights stand at the ready, watching for any change in the tides of war. For many ages since Alhazarde’s Covenant was forged and the founding of Mordrake finally realized have members of their order stood vigilant against the threat of those who would bend the force called magic to their will and use it in the pursuit of dark ambitions. Her steps still haunted and steeped in blood, a lone exile from the lightless depths will have her part to play in this mummer’s farce, as both king and fool alike are mere puppets dancing upon strings held by forces yet unseen.
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Epic!