BareBones Campaign

Right Where we Left Off

Right where we left off…

Rask is dead, felled by the heroes and killed with Content Not Found: Rylan arrow.

Content Not Found: Violet is standing in the hallway, confused, as her friend, Jadia Starfyre, flees into the distance.

The Blink Dogs guild is rumbling, as panic at the heroes intrusion leads to thieves arming themselves and preparing for what will likely be their last stand- perhaps there’s a way to bring about a diplomatic solution, because a battle like this will likely bring death to far too many… and possibly our heroes as well.

Content Not Found: Grimm has heard troubling rumors about the results of his teachings among the lizardfolk, rumors of an evil dragon that’s been clawing out a kingdom and endangering innocents is too evil to ignore. The lizardfolk have named her ‘The Dark Queen,’ but little more is known about her.

The swamp grows more and more dangerous by the day, as lizardfolk cultists attack, troglodyte tribes war, and even bullywugs slaughter the humans of the wetland forest.

What these rumors mean for the town of Otisberg, it’s too soon to say, but we’ve left it on a dangerous precipice…

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Double Time Now!

Double Time Now!

It had been a rough couple of weeks- fighting in town had devolved from guild war to all out war, with arson and murder a nightly occurrence. Several of the heroes were unhappy with the situation in town, but there wasn’t much to do other than defend themselves.

The Adventurer’s Guild had been burned down, as had many of the graineries that gave this section of town its name, as well as the distilleries that gave the local thieves guild (really no more than boys) their name. Despite this, the young rogues had decided to protect the heroes, giving them places to sleep and rest between battles, and even enlisting in the lizardfolk militia at the suggestion of Sevang and Grimm.

Violet was haunted by an elven woman- Jadia, who treated Violet as an old friend, despite her friends advising her to avoid contact. Jadia seemed to know her, and genuinely like her, though, asking about her past, and laughing and sharing stories.

Rylan was unhappily caught between the two guilds- he wanted nothing more than to just leave the two guilds in a stalemate, but it became increasingly clear that there would be no peace while both guilds continued, at least while Rask still lived.

Grimm was caught up in the friendship of the lizardfolk, many of whom continued to protect the town as best they could in this time of great distress. There are mutterings of satisfying ‘The Oath,’ although no one seems to want to explain it to the heroes. The younger lizardfolk have taken great interest in Grimm’s tales and sermons, requesting he preach whenever the older lizardfolk are not around.

Sevang, happily training with the young rogues to make them into a passable militia, and learning to operate with the lizardfolk is second nature- it gives her confidence, makes her feel better about the progress of the town, and it even amuses her that the young humans have taken to mimicking her speech and mannerisms.

A message reached the heroes; the merchants who had been in hiding because of the fighting wished to see them, pleaded with them to meet them in secret- after the adventurerers had made sure this was not a clever trap, they met with the leaders- and found that a number of the citizens simply wished to escape the chaos, for the safety of a nearby dwarven outpost.

The slog through the swamps brought nothing of value, but only a few of the citizens fell. Their spirits were not high when they arrived; the heroes paused outside the dwarven fortress Kel’Dromma, satisfied that the orkish threat had been dealt with. The bodies of the orcs, and their gruesome leader had been disposed of. None of the heroes had any explanation for the blue silt that lined the hills, but it was clear where the Blue Hand Orc tribes got their name.

Off in the distance, a rider- a harried figure with wounds and scores of a fresh battle, riding desperately. The figure cried out, in triumph, at the sight of the heroes and rode ever harder to reach them. As he approached, the group recognized Sanders, a young human lad who had taken to Sevang’s militia training and joined the lizardfolk in defending the town.

“You’ve got to come back to Otisberg,” Sanders cried, not even waiting for Grimm to tend his wounds before delivering his message. “Rylan has discovered that his old guild is somehow tied to the Blink Dogs- and that they’re trading captives away as slaves; I don’t know which upset him more, but I’m afraid he’s been planning something rash.”

The swamp stood between the heroes and their comrade, a dangerous place filled with terror, monsters, and a new threat- that of a mighty dragon gaining followers and throwing the swamps into chaos. The lizardfolk militiaman who had accompanied the heroes, Liberty, knew her only by the name that some others used “The Dark Queen,” but he knew that many of the younger lizardfolk had been swayed by Brother Grimm’s sermons, unintentionally causing the lizardfolk to abandond their oath of service, and drawing strength away from the town. No wonder the Lizardfolk captain, Survivor, had been wary to trust the group.

From the dwarven hall, there’s shouting for the heroes to come…

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New Directions

New Directions

A week has gone by, and it’s been a busy one. Fighting in the streets has intensified as the two rival guilds (the Blink Dogs, backed by Rask; and the Distillery Rats, backed by our heroes) have sought to destroy their opponents. The Blink Dogs were much larger and better armed to begin with, and the majority of the fighting has taken place on Rat’s turf.
This includes the attempted burning of the Inn where the heroes are staying, the White Grinning Skull (known as the Grinning Skull, or just ‘the Skull’). After the third attempt, the proprietor (a distance descendant of the Hero Otis) asked the heroes to find another place to stay.

This led to the heroes staying at the abandoned [[Adventurer’s Guild]], which was soon attacked and burned down, although the heroes were able to drive back the body of the attack into the town. It soon became apparent that there were two dividing theories about how the situation should be dealt with- Content Not Found: Rylan_ wanted to push the two guilds back into a stalemate after defeating Rask, while Content Not Found: Sevang_ and Content Not Found: Grimm both argued that they couldn’t leave the town in the grip of two such obviously evil groups.

It may be said that the next several nights changed their minds, as the Distillery Rats opened homes and hideouts to the group, keeping them safe and hidden while they rested. The Distillery Rats, the weaker of the two guilds in town, are little more than a gang of urchins who have grown up and become moderately successful. Content Not Found: Rylan has heard that the Blink Dogs have allied with his old guild- news that he sees as most disturbing; but it’s the news that the Blink Dogs have begun dealing in slaves, kidnapping urchins, merchants, and any unwary souls to be sold to the highest bidder that most disturbs the others.

War has taken its toll on the town- the lizardfolk have done all they can, but with their reduced numbers, there’s not much more they can do. Several homes and businesses have burned, and most folk keep the doors locked and the windows shuttered. More than one family has been made homeless, and many merchants in town have been ruined by the fighting. Among the lizardfolk, there hasn’t been much discussion as to why there are so few. Their Leader, Survivor, seems to favor the heroes, although his reasons are unknown. Many of the younger lizards have taken to following Content Not Found: Grimm around, asking about his Dragon-based religion and listening raptly to his sermons. Survivor does not approve of this, although his reasons for doing so are also unknown.

It has become clear that the lizardfolk operate in Otisberg as part of “The Oath,” although they fearfully decline to give details whenever Survivor is around. From what snippets you have heard, apparently the Hero Otis was long ago able to save a small band of lizardfolk, and in return they promised to protect his descendants; eventually, they came to protect the town he founded, as well. A group of specialized warriors within the lizardfolk are held in high reverence, called “Rangers” by the young ones following Content Not Found: Grimm, they travel the swamps to attempt to make it safe for travelers.

It’s time for something to change…

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On the Road
(aka Routine Maintenance)

On the Road
h2. (aka Routine Maintenance)

With the Goblin King defeated and his armies scattered, the citizens are now safe. Thanks to the generosity of the Lord Stonebrook’s father, merchants have been arriving bearing supplies to rebuild and improve the town. The little Lordling (Gerard Stonebrook) is furious, because he believes someone out there is forging papers in his family’s name, and is refusing to pay for it. This is making him even less popular with the people (who have been given a strong hand up by the adventurers), and they formed a town council to deal with governing.

Generally unsatisfied with local leadership, a town council forms (renamed Freetown), complete with militia of soldiers and will of new citizens.

As the heroes bid a fond farewell to the town and head out to seek more adventure, the council invites them into a meeting to discuss what honors you would like for your brave service. They have decided the rename the Inn (and Town Center) in your group’s honor, and the heroes have gratefully accepted the re-naming of the Inn as the “Heroes’ Hearth.” The Inn sign carving will show the four heroes in front of the new stone fireplace, painted to show the colors of your armor, clothing, and hair.

Areas of possible exploration:

South, into the ‘Borderlands,’ a patchwork quilt of squabbling kingdoms, nation-cities, and fiefdoms that extend into the far more stable southlands. Hundreds of mercenary bands and noble house soldiers fight to control the land, wiping out bandits that spring up like weeds, and put down ‘usurpers’ of whatever monarch controls an area.

North, through the wetlands into the Forests of Riffalian, the elven empire’s stronghold. Further north of the elven lands lies the Kingdom of the Northlands, where the ancient heroes once made their name; a great place for any group of heroes to make a name for themselves.

East, into the hills, mountains, and eventually into the Dwarven kingdom, where few outsiders are trusted and dwarves jealously guard the source of all the magical weapons they forge and trade. The western mountains, known as ‘badlands’ to many, hold terrible monsters and elementals, and on the far side of the dwarven kingdom is a great impassible desert.

West, into the rolling hills and down into the narrow strip of arable land by the sea that’s been hotly contested by hundreds of merchant clans and pirates. Known as the Plains of Megiddo, the law extends no further than the tip of your sword or the reach of your spells. Once ruled by a merchant king, the lands now constantly war and struggle to control trade.

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War with the Goblins
Death of the Goblin King

The group convened for the first ‘real’ time, allowing everyone to show off their new characters and get used to each other.

Their first stop was in a tiny nameless town with mud huts and orchards, ruled by an annoying Baronling named Gerard Stonebrook, who had been sent here by his father as punishment for his unforward dalliances in the capitol.

As the heroes stopped in the local drinking hole, known as The Vulgar Unicorn, it had a wooden sign depicting a unicorn stallion with an erection. A page was sent from the local Lord’s house, requesting the group attend his lordship immediately.

As a result of his banishment, ‘Lord’ Stonebrook behaves as a petulant child. Despite hiring them to recover the signet lost when goblins killed his Stewart and the caravan of men guarding him, he managed to get on the heroes’ bad side. They stopped the goblins, looted the treasuse, and found no Stonebrook signet ring, although they generously used the treasure to help start building real structures in town.

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Barebones... Redeaux...
This time it's not Dangeresque 1...

We met for the first session with the new group, and played a short game of Microscope, which was not universally enjoyed. It did give us some of the basic history of the world, and a very handy list of “dos” and “don’ts” for making the world.

h1. Major Historical Events

Creation of the Worlds

Titans Versus Gods versus Dragons versus Primordials

Multiple, Competing Pantheons

Zeus, Loki, Vecna, Moradin

Mighty Dragon Empire

Time of Elves, Dwarves, and Ogres

Dawn of Human Civilization

Rise of Age of Heroes

Rise of Human Empire

Power corrupts, corruption leads to secret societies

Demon War

Heroes of Old (Osbourne, Quarion, Eledwhen, and The Dwarf)

Heroes of Old Die to seal Demonic Rift

Rise of Dragon Power and War with the Human Empire

Barabbas, King of Dragons

Zoltar, Human Emperor

Peasant who changed the course of history

Defeat of Dragons, and Fall of Human Empire
((Mutually assured destruction))

Dragon Magic Sealed away in stasis

Churches Divide, war against each other

Rise of Monsters

Life without Empire leads to new age of Heroes

Do

Religious Wars
Problems with Thieves’ Guilds
Many Kingdoms
Classic D&D
Dragoins Talk
Multiple Pantheons
Duels are Common (to Bloodied)
Pirates
Elves are Vegetarians
Dwarves are heavy drinkers
Dwarves live underground
Shattered Empire
Geographically Diverse
Mundane (“Routine”) Maintenance

Don’t

No Teleporting
No Flight/Passwall/Instant travel
No useless ‘Bling’ Magic
No Immortality (everyone can die, even if they don’t age)
No one rides Dragons (dragon’s don’t like that)
No Underdark
No Full Frontal Invisibility
Literacy on Decline
Magic Items Uncommon
No Scottish Dwarves

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From the Old to the New
And it begins again!

The group settled down for the night, wearied by the long battle against the orkish foes. Gingerly climbing out of the dungeon, they avoided the traps found by Jin, the human thief. Osbourne Greenbottle, the Halfling paladin and leader of the group, wearily looked over his comrades. All had taken wounds in the fight with the orkish warparty below ground, but he considered each of them a close friend. Eledhwen, the lady ranger, sat comforting the one slave they had managed to save from the dungeon. Quarrion, the stalwart mage limped from the wounds he had taken, as well as favoring the side where he had taken damage from a fire trap. Geurk and Torek, the two dwarves followed up at the rear of the party.
“That spell should keep them holed up for most of the night, and any who don’t die will be weakened- we can finish the rest of them in the morning,” Geurk, the gruffer of the two dwarves said. He straightened his holy symbol, a tribute to his God, Moradin. Geurk was a priest, although what Osbourne had heard of Dwarven drinking had not been reflected in the actions of this curt dwarf. His ally, Torek, had held up to more of what Osbourne had heard of dwarves from the elven traders who came to the monastery. He was outspoken, almost to the point of rudeness, and he was able to drink like a squat stone fish.
Quarrion collapsed on his bedroll, his tent set up near the fire outside the dungeon. “I fear that I have exhausted my body as well as my magical energies,” he said in his elven accent, but that was his way of saying that he wouldn’t be cooking or taking his turn at guard tonight. Osbourne didn’t care if the slim elven man ever took his turn at night- his spells were an invaluable addition to the team. Eledhwen took a break from comforting the woman to grab some food from the fire. Osbourne flinched, remembering the horrors that had occurred when she took her turn cooking- they now let her take her watch, and not much else. Smacking his mouth, he remembered the salt she had lathered on the rabbit he had eaten. She was good at taking her watch, though, and an accomplished fighter.
Jin, the odd human thief, although he referred to himself as an “explorer,” had not been much of a help to the party in the dungeon. He had stumbled across the traps at the opening into the dungeon, unable to disable them for the party members who followed, and had not been much help in the battle with the orks underground. Still, he was a loyal companion, and had managed to defend the wizard and priest as the rest of the group fought. Jin was a quiet one, often not saying a word for days on end, only to pop into the conversation for a few minutes before continuing his unspoken vow of silence. Jin moodily stared into the fire, nursing cuts and bruises from the traps. He turned the roasting rabbit over the fire, trying to keep any part of it from burning.
Osbourne stared at the fire, favoring his shoulder where the huge orkish warchief had hit him with that greataxe, scoring along the shoulder of his armor, a split that would need to be repaired before too long. Taking watch meant walking around the camp every few minutes, watching for shapes within the woods as well as listening for anything out of the ordinary. He watched for his set time, and then woke Jin gently before stripping out of his armor and falling asleep near the fire.

Suddenly, Osbourne awoke. There was a tingling down his spine, a sign he had been given by his God to warn him of evil and danger. Bolting up, he grabbed his sword, a long blade that should have been too large for him to handle, but he had been trained with the blade since he was strong enough to hold it, and he was as good with it as he was fighting with his own hands. He shouted for Quarrion, hoping to wake the caster and allow him to loose some of his frightening magic. He saw the shape he knew was Eledhwen, rousing from her sleep, and grabbing her weapon. Osbourne charged toward the forms among the tents, crying his God’s name, when he tripped, falling face-down. Shocked, he looked around, fearing that he had been caught off-guard. To his horror, he saw Jin’s face, his eyes unmoving and his face covered in dust. His throat has been messily cut, and the surprise on his face was evident. “Goodbye, friend,” Osbourne whispered, his voice cold and harsh. These invaders would die for their crimes, as was just, but Osbourne felt some satisfaction that he would be able to deal justice to them himself.
Rising to his feet, Osbourne again shouted for his friends to awake. Eledhwen was facing off against two orks, each of them carrying a large-bladed sword that would have fit a giant. Osbourne moved through the camp to Quarrion’s tent, pushing aside the ork who fought to enter it before him. Quarrion had roused himself, but clutching his spellbook, he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw his friend, the paladin.
“I feared when your battle cry cut off suddenly that something had happened to you,” Quarrion whispered, hunched over his spellbook, “I am forever pleased to see that you are intact.”
Osbourne turned from his friend, attacking the ork he had pushed aside. The ork was not prepared for battle, for it seemed they had planned a messy cut for each of the sleeping heroes. Only a few blows of Osbourne’s sword were required to fell him. Over his shoulder, he said in a voice that felt as cold as he did, “They killed Jin. Slit his throat.” He could think of nothing else to say- nothing to follow that statement. Osbourne had been dead once. He knew the joy of meeting old relatives and dead friends, but he knew how it was to lose your life, the moments of uncertainty, the darkness before the light, sadness at the parts of your life that were missing, especially missing those who had been close to you.
Pushing out of the tent, Osbourne saw Geurk and Torek fighting several orks alone. Osbourne hung back, protecting Quarrion, but moved toward the group, attacking those disgusting bandits. Geurk shouted- a shout that faded to a gurgle, as Osbourne saw that one of the orks had shoved that large sword into the dwarven priest’s chest. Torek shouted a wordless roar, a hatred for orks and goblin-kind, and rage at the attack on his friend. Wielding his dwarven axe with the skill of a master warrior, Torek spun, swinging his axe in an arc that ended in the chest of the ork facing him. Two others closed behind him, and for a moment Osbourne feared that they were lost. Eledhwen suddenly appeared from the darkness, her bow singing as it fired shaft after shaft into the orkish bandits. As one approached her, she switched weapons to her small blade, dispatching them quickly, and then re-drawing an arrow to her bow. One of the orks broke away from what was quickly becoming a slaughter, raising a horn to his lips and blowing one it. The note sounded, rough and deep, as Osbourne dispatched them from behind.
“That will mean that more will be on the way,” Torek said in his gravely voice. One of the swordblows had caught him across the face. His helm had taken the blunt of the blow, but the edge had caught part of his chin and nicked the front of his throat. Osbourne sighed, glad that he had not seen any more friends depart this life tonight.
“More of them?” Quarrion’s voice shook as he asked. The wizard had never been one who enjoyed the sight of blood. Off in the distance, three more horns sounded.
“More, and quickly. We need to go,” Eledhwen’s voice cut into Osbourne’s sadness. Eledhwen was an experienced fighter, and Osbourne appreciated her skills. She was right, after all. Many more orks would be here soon, and in order to survive, this small group of adventurers would have to flee.
Osbourne turned to gather his things- they would have to leave behind much of the supplies, but he wanted to make sure that he had enough food to feed himself and his companions. He quickly wrapped Jin’s body, closing his friends’ eyes, and was surprised when he turned to see Eledhwen doing the same for Geurk. The two had never been overly close, being elf and dwarf, but Eledhwen nodded when she saw that Osbourne had cared for Jin. Torek took the litter that carried the body of his friend, and Osbourne pulled the litter that carried Jin. Eledhwen dressed the corpse of the woman they had rescued, dragging the litter behind her. Quarrion packed as much of his equipment as he had time for, and the group set out through the night.

It was a hurried and exhausted trek through the night, heading north to avoid the sounded horns, hurrying when the horn apparently stumbled on their camp for the night, staccato bursts almost hounding their steps. They moved through the forest all night, only resting when the sun rose- Orks had a hatred for sunlight, and it would keep them safe. They rested for a few hours, stopping to eat, and then turned their journey south, heading toward the tiny village of Kylien, where they had friends waiting. About three hours after starting again, Eledhwen spotted smoke to the south- in the direction of the village. She pointed it out to Osbourne without elaborating as to what it might mean, but the blood drained from Quarrion’s face. They all knew that friends waited in Kylien, and smoke meant that something was wrong.
“Marrik is a decent fighter… he probably held them off…” Quarrion said, trailing off. They knew that Marrik was overmatched, especially if all three warbands had converged on the tiny village. The rest of the journey was at a near-run, as fast as they could travel with the litters. The sight that greeted them was as bad as any of them feared.

The village of Kylien was in ruins. The smoke had risen from Marrik’s inn, where the adventurers had enjoyed many a brew. The ashes of what was let was not enough to say whether Marrik had been inside or not. The horses that had lived in Marrik’s stables lay slaughtered in the street in front of the ruins, corpses bloated and flies feasting on the remains. The blacksmith’s home and the merchant’s store had been burned as well, but the forge had been stone, so those ruins stood alone. The orks had even desecrated the church that stood in the town, digging up the graveyard and leaving rotted remains in the center of town. Osbourne noticed with half a mind that they had toppled a small crypt- the crypt he had once been laid in. He dropped his litter, rushing toward the church where he hoped, in vain hope, that Brother Rule was still alive.

The sight that greeted his eyes inside the small church turned his stomach. Brother Rule was there, lying dead near his altar. The child he had been training to replace him was gone, but that was not what held his attention. Behind the altar, someone had used Brother Rule’s blood to paint a message on the wall behind the altar. Dropping to his knees, Osbourne prayed silently for Brother Rule’s soul. The man had worshipped Pelor in a most fitting manner- an entire lifetime of service and love. Osbourne hoped that he had not suffered long before passing.
Behind him, Osbourne heard footsteps. Not turning to see who it was, Osbourne stared at the blood on the wall, letting fury for justice build within him. He heard Torek’s rough voice from near the door. “Eledhwen said there’s adventurers approaching- others who saw the smoke.”
Osbourne made no reply, for he had none. After a moment of silence, Torek said in that same emotionless, gruff voice, “It says, ’This is what come to those who go against Prince Kiran,’ with some swearing, insults, and a mark that means ‘Well of Souls.’ Those bloody orks chasing us came here.”

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Well of Souls I
Descent into the Well of Souls

They went to avenge Marrik’s wife, but did they bite off more than they could chew?

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Ozzy's Return!
Osbourne Comes back- and they find components for Bro Rule

The big reveal in this one was Jad returned to playing Ozzy, I had made a big deal about them not being able to afford resurecting him, because it costs like 10,000 gp worth of diamonds. Jad was “making his new character,” but still sitting in on it, and I made a point of talking about how sad everyone was that Ozzy was dead.

And then they went to Kylien, and BOOM! There’s Ozzy.

Everyone was pretty excited, so they didn’t even mind going and fighting a venerable troll to get the diamonds to pay Bro Rule back.

Alls well that ends well, right?

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Things go Bump In the night
Wherein there are Monsters

I was watching a lot of Supernatural at the time, so I introduced some NPCs that were a lot like Sam and Dean

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