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Sunday, 26 March 2017

Company of the Hardened Anvil PT 9


Roll # 1 - Going thru the halls DC 11 Fail 8
Roll # 2 - Wandering Monster Check (10/20) Result 5 (Success), Finding (D), Result (9/100) - Jackalla
                                 A - 20% Monster (2d10)
                                 B - 20%  Monster (2d20)
                                 C - 50% Monster (3d20)
                                 D - 10% Monster (1d100)
Roll # 3 - Room Check 1d100 - Sequestered Room via stairs heading down

In a few more moments, the rest of the unit joined Caventh in the corridor, content that there was nothing else to be found or looted in the cultist hideaway. The Ranger led them south, through a curve heading north.

There was an unusual kink in the road, a joint turn, one leading ahead straight, the other towards the west. Investigating, they found plenty of debris, but this time from soldiers. Tips of spear-heads and arrows and bits of charred hederak meats and dried vlums, a place of rest or meal. "Half a dozen boot prints. They weren't here long, and not too long ago."  

They headed west not specifically following but still going in the same direction of the boot tracks.  The path narrowed, making it much harder for them to go two abreast. The hallways were more polished, nearly shiny, quite unusual. Ennos, near the back of the group stopped to touch the walls, Unnos watched her quietly. Her blue skinned hand reached out slowly to touch the walls, and she seemed to hesitate. were the walls here? Were they real? She touched the not-so-cool walls, some heat in them, but reflective, very apparently so, when she got very close.  Her Master, Unnos came over to her, and started to peer at the same subtlely mirrored walls - it wasn't obvious, but both believed these walls either caught or reflected magic; was this a natural phenomenom, or was it a trap, neither were entirely sure.

The Ranger asked them to stay put then went up ahead, he was hearing something, an echo of some sort. Going down another side passageway, he say the magical trace of a ward, a very strong or recent one. Going further, there was a furred humanoid standing tall and ready with a large curved sword in his paws. Not much further, another one of these furred humanoids, this one he could see the animal like face, but he had a long two-handed warhammer in his hands smashing down on group of cadavers, a common type of undead found in many dungeons. He look a step forward but the creature near the back of the large room, held up a hand, motioning him to stop. He understood, this wasn't a battle, these threats were minor and was safely in their paw.  `No need, Climber. This is ours to handle.` the creatures voice was calm and non-threateningm just a simple statement in full command.
Caventh realized these creatures were the Jackalla, the morticians known for their dedication to hunting undead creatures.

In almost every large community their Towers of Sorrow stood to intern the dead, as citizens paid a silver to place the True Dead in a peaceful resting place. Adventurers knew them much better for their perpetual hunting of undead, to keep the land and dungeons free from the undead scourge, ever threatening to overcome communities or places of magic.

`My team...` Caventh wondered for a moment if he should share their true goals with the slayers, he didn`t think they would find offense, but Rillo probably wouldn`t like it. 'are here to explore the dungeon.'

The slayer nodded, 'Your activities are of little interest to us, unless you strengthen the undead - either knowlingly or not. We care little for your treasure or politics as long as you maintain the Balance of Life.`

He understood that these lawful beings would turn agaisnt them or anyone that messed with magic that could boost undead creatures. `We are looking for a commander of Tower soldiers, have you seen anyone or any group that fits this general description?'
'
Yes, we passed one, three hours ago. Head north, the group is on a standardized path.`

Caventh`s attention turned to the sole hunter of the Jackalla group, using his warhammer to pound the creatures apart. `Are there many of those things in this Tower?' Caventh asked.

`No. For a Tower of this size, there are many warriors that do our bidding, willingly. The undeads numbers are small, but now and then, a new group is found.`

'You know this Tower?'

'Very well, for most...` the Jackalla priest hesitated for a moment, looking over to his brothers then back to the Jahlen again, `stages. Most stages have known themes, as creatures have similar interests tend towards each other, sometimes deliberately sometimes by accident of the environment. We study these places, to best seek out our foe.`

'If you know these corridors, can you guide us?'

'No. We maintain an alliance with many...creatures.`the cleric said balancing his words carefully. 'If we were to help you, you could come up agaisnt our would-be-allies. Your struggle with evil or politics or social ills is of no importance to us, we mantain the Balance of Life, nothing else. if we were to help you, our balance would be moved, and that is not for the best. The only one way, is payment in advance and eliminate an undead, whether a remnant, a student or an item. Then we repay, action with knowledge of what you are seeking.'

The ranger nodded, he didn`t like, but few civilized people begrudged the Jackalla, and understood their point, appreciating them for the betterment they did for civilization and peace. Caventh looked  over, and realized the combat was over. Three of the Jackalla had begun to gather the dozen bodies into a pile. Another took out a sack, and began to sprinkle dust on them, seconds later, the dust had buried them, immediately. As soon as he saw the Dust of Peace, Caventh had remembered that this was another reason Jackalla were so popular among adventurers, undead were a common threat, and immediate internment was the best way not to face undead repeatedly, as they often rose hours after defeating them. He negotiated with the cleric for a pouch of dust, then headed back.

The ranger explained the events, and none said a word of protest. Few intelligent creatures ever judged a Jackalla and their duties harshly. They were unforgvinging, hell-bent on an honourable duty - attacking the undead scourge. Best to know that they were here, the liklihood of running into an undead, especially powerful ones were much decreased with their ever-present activity. It also helped them understand why their outside figure needed to secret something inside, there were lawful eyes making sure no contraband came from outside. That's what they were carying, they all knew it, but didn't want to admit it to themselves. Sure, it wasn't something that dealt with evil spirits or undead, but it was still borderline illegal among the lawful groups and churches above.

They forged ahead, taking a side passageway, that split again in four, all going north. They took the one that looked the most travelled, plenty of bits of broken armor and weapons. As they through noticed plenty of small side rooms, some used, many looked abandoned. Continuing on, they saw a side-path, one that led to even more pathways. It would be so easy to get lost in here, not exactly a maze but close enough. They continued on, keeping generally the same direction.

They soon stopped, seeing a messy pile of debris on the ground, mostly weapons again, except this time in one of the side rooms.  Rillo looked carefully at the pile, and then realized they weren`t just battered, many of them were partially melted. She picked one of the pieces up, then bashed it on the ground, and it broke in half quite easily. `Caventh - these weapons are partially melted...why would they be piled up like this?`

The jahlen kneeled down and grabbed smaller bits, 'Rusters, I think. Snake like creatures that feed off metal.' He looked up, then put his arms out, Rillo walked back at his quiet insistence.  The Jahlen took a running jump, then bounced agaisnt the wall to hurl himself much higher. He grabbed the ceiling for a few moments then dropped back down. 'There are nets placed above. If we were to rush into them, it would drop the nets...They are hunting the rusters. Dwarven designed traps.'

'So our instinct was good to leave them alone.' Rillo said.
'
But if they are dwarven, then they probably would have a way to see or detect if something was triggered. Unnos?' Caventh spoke out, 'Can you scan the room?'

The sorcerer nodded, and began mumbling that turned louder each second. His eyes glowed purple, then shot out of him as he scanned the room. His eyes stopped and he pointed to an area, he went over and began scratching a the wall, until he caught on to something and threw it on the floor, a small hidden room, with a humanoid figure sitting down. For a second, none of them knew if this was a construct or even a golem or perhaps a living person.  Rillo walked over to it, a metal humanoid figure, sitting still, no motion at all.

'Is that alive?' Rillo asked Unnos, who shook his head.

'It could be a living metal, but we are not doing its activation mode...the trigger to ...'

Rillo nodded, 'Yeah , I get it. So nothing here...'  She waved her hands, motioning for the team to move further into the tunnels, looking for their contact or even better, a magical loci.

Roll # 1 - Going thru the halls DC 15
Roll # 2 - Wandering Monster Check (9/20) then D100 for below
                                 A - 10% Monster (2d10)
                                 B - 10%  Monster (2d20)
                                 C - 70% Monster (3d20)
                                 D - 10% Monster (1d100)
Roll # 3 - Room Check 1d100

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Fairyland Cookie Monster

This was one of the many fairyland monsters I created to run an adventure at a con last year. Didn't actually get a chance to use them.

Biscuit Beast or Cookie Monster
CR 1
N (G); Humanoid (Fey)
Init +1; Perception +5

DEFENSE
AC 12, touch 11, flat-footed 11 (+1 natural, +1 Dexterity)
hp 21 (2d10 +8)
Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +1

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee Bite +2 (1d6+1)

TACTICS

Morale 17 – they very rarely retreat when hungry

STATISTICS
Str 13, Dex 12, Con 19, Int 13, Wis 8, Cha 12
Base Atk +1; CMB 2 CMD 13
Feats: Connoisseur (Double all food related skill rates)
Skills: Perception +5,Survival +5, Knowledge (Food) +12
Weapons: Short Sword or Dagger (Typical)
Languages Faerie, Elf, Dwarven & Common

Location Usually Fey Forest
Alignment Neutral (Good)
Advancement: Bard, Ranger or rogue

Special Abilities

Unending Hunger: While Cookie Monsters can eat a standard amount of food, they are never fully satisfied. If given the opportunity, they eat an unending amount of food without suffering from the ill effects of excess consumption.

Stomach of Iron: Cookie Monsters are not harmed from bad food or natural poison. They may temporarily suffer the ill effects, but once the poison is consumed, it is slowly dissolved into a natural harmless by-products.

Cookie Monsters are five feet tall, blue furred humanoid creatures. They have large eyes and wide mouths. They are welcomed in almost every type of racial community, as dwarves, elves and halfling enjoy their company with open arms for their knowledge of food and food culture. They are infamous in fey communities for their sense of smell and unending hunger – they are never satisfied and will always eat more when offered. While they have an unlimited appetite, they do not need to consume, they merely enjoy it.

Most cookie monsters are quite happy to spend their time in the community or kitchen, but some adventure in order to help friends and allies. A few increase in HD / levels in order to locate rare ingredients.

Raising HD
Increase +5 skill points every HD
+1 in natural AC every HD until 7th, every second HD until 13th, and every three HD thereafter
New feat every second HD
Increase bite damage to higher dice every three HD
Increase attributes every four HD
+1 to Perception and Knowledge (Food) skill ranks every HD

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Gargoyle Brood ('Goyle or Cross-Breed Template)


One of my favorite creatures in a Tower Dungeon is the Gargoyle and the core idea of this beast was to mix the race to create a mixed variety of them. I really like this template and its one of the most useful templates in my gaming world. The idea is that the Gargoyle brood, referred to as Goyles, is a mish-mash of different creatures, winged warriors with minotaur, elven or dwarven abilities.

I will be honest, it was only after thinking about the whole process that I kinda grossed myself out. It made sense but its ugly. It's not really something that has come up in -game, but its a neat process that works out stylistically.

Gargoyle Brood (Template)

Size and type: Change to Monstrous Humanoid
Hit Dice: +1d8
Speed: As original creature; gains fly 20 (Poor)
Armor Class: +2 natural AC on top of base creature
Attack: Gains Claw Attack (2 X 1d4 dmg)
Feat: Gain Multi-Attack

Adjustments:
1-3 HD: 1d4 dmg; +2 Natural AC Bonus; 1 Dmg Red; Fly 20 (Poor)
3-6 HD:1d6 dmg; +3 Natural AC Bonus; 3 Dmg Red; Fly 30 (Average)
7-8 HD: 1d6 dmg; +4 Natural AC Bonus; 5 Dmg Red; Fly 40 (Average) + Tail Atk (1-3 dmg)
9-10 HD: 1d8 dmg; +5 Natural AC Bonus; 7 Dmg Red; Fly 50 (Good) + Tail Atk (1-6 dmg)
11-13 HD: 1d10 dmg; +6 Natural AC Bonus; 10 Dmg Red; Fly 60 (Good) + Tail Atk (1-8 dmg)
14-16 HD: 2d12 dmg; +8 Natural AC Bonus; 15 Dmg Red; Fly 80 (Perfect) + Tail Atk (1-10 dmg)

Special Attacks: Tail Swing (1d3) at 7 HD
Special Qualities: Dmg Reduction/by HD, Darkvision, Plus feature from maternal side
Abilities: Str +4, Dex +2, Con +4 at birth; +2 / every HD higher
Skills: Gain base skills as per their matron species. Then +4 bonus on acrobatics, intimidate, perception, +8 fly skill check bonus; +6 / every HD higher
Environment: Spirelands or Lonely Towers
Organization: Wing (3-6 gargoyles); Brood (11-20); Family (23-80)
Treasure: Half Standard
Alignment: Always Evil (Tend towards Neutral)
Level Adjustment: As base class +1

Appear quite similar to the standard gargoyle race, but these are the by-products of gargoyle’s ability to inter-breed with other species. Most have small horns, tough leathery skin, long but lightweight wings which appear folded while on foot. While most gargoyles use claws, the brood will use short swords or short bows to gain an advantage on their foes. They prefer smaller weapons as it is easier for them to carry in the air.

A gargoyle has two ways to reproduce: the first is through a rookery, which creates the standard gargoyle found in the Monster Manual, with small broods every year. As a fecund species, they can mate with any other humanoid species to create a cross-breed with features of both. Many tribes expand their numbers by forcefully mating with humanoids for specific traits to grow their tribes abilities.

For example, a dwarf-breed would be short and squat with abilities mimic their home species ability with precious stones. While a minotaur-breed would be larger and stronger. However, Goyle types are infertile, they cannot reproduce to form their own distinct racial group.

Most times, the "other" or mother species, are kept prisoner in the gargoyle lair, as their gestation period is half the time of the non-goyle. Sadly, due to the birthing process, most mothers do not survive the birth, thus there is always a need for more slaves. Mother is a generic breeding term, as the carrying breed does not actually have to be a female, but since the gargoyles are always looking for a mate that can survive the gestation and birth process, they look for female volunteers.

The brood have long been hated through-out the domain, as their slavery and mating process angers many peoples who have suffered at their hands. Their raids occur in a cyclical pattern usually every five to ten years. They attack towns at night to steal females away. They prefer smaller towns because the defenses are usually a lot less, and it is much easier to travel to and from them without being noticed.

Most packs have lairs in abandoned ruins. They will sometimes work with a lamia or medusa, but they really have no need as they have a wide group of brood members with various abilities. Goyles are fiercely territorial, claiming a mountain or Tower as their own territory and defend it to the bitter end.

Every Goyle pack is unique. Some work wing-on-wing with standard gargoyles, others are seen to be servants to the stone masters, in non-combat roles. They are strongest when the Goyle Brood forms a pack on their own.

Goyles do not gain the Freeze ability of full-blooded Gargoyles naturally, however after 7 HD they can gain it by taking using a feat to gain the ability.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Minotaur-Goyle
AC 17 touch 11, flat-footed 15 (+2 Dex, +6 natural, -1 size) 
hp 60hp (8d10+16 con)
Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +6
Special defenses  8 Dmg reduction

Speed 30 ft.
Melee Heavy Axe +11  (2d6+6/×3) and gore +4 (1d6+2) or +9/+9 claw (1d10+4)
Special Attacks powerful charge (gore +12, 2d6+6)

Str 19, Dex 14, Con 15, Int 7, Wis 10, Cha 8
Base Atk +8 CMB +13 CMD 25
Feats Great Fortitude, Improved Bull Rush, Power Attack, Multi-Attack, Track
Skills Fly +8, Intimidate +10, Perception +10, Stealth +2, Survival +10; Racial Modifiers +4 Perception, +4 Survival
Languages Minotaur, Gargoyle


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Thirteen Questions - City Intrigue


The Thirteen Questions

1. Tell me about a church, temple, ashram, etc. in this neighborhood

There are no holy buildings in this city, instead there are obelisks that are dedicated to a particular idea (justice, equality, etc.) Here in the Orag, is the obelisk of Truth. Once a ten-day, they gather to hear sermons from priests, lecturers or others on this or related subjects. Clerics gain a boon if they have a truth based spell memorized. Best place to obtain scrolls or potions in the area.

2. Tell me about a shop that sells standard equipment and one of the shopkeeper's quirks

An'Ram - A Jahlen, former adventurer well recognized for his stake in a multitude of adventuring parties. Is willing to equip or sell at a discount, but only until he hears the parties plans and intents. Some say he has hundreds of maps from his former patrons.

3. Tell me about someone who sells something illicit in this neighborhood

Quenno, a Tenderfoot (Halfling) notorious for his expertise in poisons. Has every recognized antidote in his shop, but its open only once a month for three days, and he never seems to be there. Lawful groups question why nobody has ever tried arresting him.

4. Tell me about a powerful wizard or warlock in this neighborhood

Shirik D'Kamag - Of the Elven Kamag Family. Was sent away for formal schooling, but came back with an understanding of Imps. Rumoured to be able to summon them almost at will, he sends them far and wide on little missions. On at least two occasions has summoned a horde of them for his own purposes.

5. Tell me about a feared warrior who lives in this neighborhood

Bruthos, Minotaur, 9th High Quartermaster. A former beloved gladiator who was ridiculed for cheating, and then came to the backwaters due to banishment. Has helped numerous times in bringing fugitives to justice if they have bounties, but has also been warned for bullying others. A notorious drunkard.

6. Tell me about someone who is wealthy in this neighborhood

Fanyen  D'Kamag - half-elf trader, who was originally an adventurer, but was the lone survivor of an expedition to the Yaross (Islands), who came ashore with a sizable stash. Bought his way onto the city counsel, and has kept a paw in the antiquities trade ever since.

7. Tell me about someone you can go to for help in this neighborhood

City Knights of the Purple Shield.  These former soldiers patrol every area in the city and are comprised of honourable or rich anyway men who survived local port battles. In order to keep their Walking Rights (non-taxation status) they must do two hours of patrol every week. They ensure all laws, customs, and civic duties are adhered to with absolute precision. They are the only ones that can kill someone in non-lawful combat without interference.

8. Tell me about someone somewhere  you can go to for information in this neighborhood

Head Post - A site of a former hangman`s noose, where the formless dead seem to gather. They watch the living, then whisper secrets based on what script is read. Some adventuring groups use this as a way to gather secrets about local dungeons. Others say the undead can inhabit the living to get their revenge by hopping into the would-be heros.

9. Tell me about a gang or criminal organization operating in this neighborhood

Four Fingers - a group that operates throughout the region. They have their spies in virtually every group, cult or order. If you want to know or get a small favour done, they are the ones to go to. Long tolerated, as they don't bother the ruling elites, who use them to spy on the lower classes.

10. Tell me about a pub, club, cabaret, gymnasium, bathhouse, etc. where adventurers hang out

Eye of the Bull: A pub that formerly was a cults HQ which is infused with magical influences, as the trace of magic energies from days or weeks gone by, are apparent to everyone. Strangely, spellcasters glow spectacularly, and even worse, they get drunk within minutes of coming into the Eye. Lots of games are played here, as it is one of the few places where magic cannot influence the outcome. 

and

Dorrine's, the lounge of choice for illusionists, who have been come here to get paid free drinks to change the apparent identity of the customer's to cavort with leisure.

11. Tell me about an ongoing problem in this neighborhood

Sekkets - a vile poisonous snake long thought wiped out in the wild, its venom is a popular mixture when processed as a dreaming potion, a very expensive draught. But these wild snakes seem to be causing the dream madness without the alchemical processing. Dreamists, the official group, who own the rights to the dream potion are upset that citizens are Drezzing without their concoction. But lots of teens and soldiers alike, are coming here for the freebie experience.

12. Tell me about a popular form of entertainment or a popular entertainer in this neighborhood

Darts

13. Tell me about a food or drink that is popular in this neighborhood

Dried Vennth, made from the Venn Bat, one of the local bat species that haunts the neighbourhood. Some say it can turn the hair or face a hot-pink colour if properly prepared.

 Inspired by :
http://talesofthegrotesqueanddungeonesque.blogspot.ca/2017/03/the-neighborhood-game.html

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Nemesis or Evil Magical Twin - Template

A long time ago but still in this same galaxy, I loved playing the old Prince of Persia computer game. I adored the jumping, running and timing mechanics of the game. There was an enemy you created by going through a mirror, a magic duplicate. That was the inspiration for this monstrous template.

The Nemesis are often created by interaction with an artefact, powerful magical items that seek to protect its presence or influence others. While similar to a curse, it doesn't exactly manifest like one. It doesn't or shouldn't need a player to fail a saving throw, instead it is done by action, setting off a grisly turn of events. The Nemesis has only one objective, ruining the life of its generator.

A Nemesis can be used for a one-shot or specific dungeon. That's why it has the damage reduction and deflection bonuses. It is a perfect mirror of the character (attributes, skills, etc) except for the magic items so they should still be significantly weaker than the base character. While set up as a short-term dungeon foe, another way to use this enemy could be a long-term one. The creature sets out to ruin the PC by committing treasonous acts, not necessarily excessively evil ones so allies will know its not the individual. If you intend to use this type of creature, tone down the AC and damage reduction aspects, as it will have time to properly gear oneself.


Nemesis [Template]

This template can be added to any living Humanoid or Monstrous Humanoid. It happens when
good creatures are touched or affected by evil magics which creates an exact physical duplicate of the creature but it’s an evil, version; existing only to destroy the original creature.

Size and Type: It retains the creature type of the base creature. Do not recalculate hit points, skills, saves or BAB.

Speed: The base creature's speed is increased by 10.

Armor Class: Gains a deflection armor bonus of +4 versus it’s main target, +12 versus all other
creatures. It may have items that are common in an area, so give the creature weapons or items that typical humanoid creatures in a dungeon might have found.

Attack: A Nemesis retains any natural attacks it had before, and gains two natural slam attacks,
both of which are treated as primary natural attacks. If fighting in melee, a Nemesis prefers to
use it's slam attacks.

Size Slam Damage
Small       1d8 + any dmg for high strength
Medium    1d10 + any dmg for high strength
Large       1d12 + any dmg for high strength

Full Attack: A Nemesis fighting without weapons uses both of its slam attacks when making a
full attack, as well as any secondary natural attacks it might have. A Nemesis usually only uses
ranged weapons as part of a full attack.

Special Attacks: A Nemesis retains any special attacks from its base form.

Special Qualities: A Nemesis has the special qualities of the base creature, plus the following
qualities.

-Darkvision out to 60 feet
-Damage reduction 5 /-- against its primary foe
-Damage reduction 20 / -- against all other foes

A Nemesis has near perfect immunity from creatures that are not it’s mimic copy. However, it has a 5/- against it’s original creature.

Frightful Presence (Ex): A Nemesis can radiate an aura of fear within a 50 foot radius around it. The Will saving throw DC for this effect is equal to 10 + the Nemesis' total HD plus any positive Charisma modifiers.  Those who fail the save, do everything reasonable to avoid the creature's presence. If they are unable to leave the presence, they cower, taking no actions against the Nemesis.
It's mimic copy is never affected by its fright ability.

Unique Weakness (Su): Many times a nemesis has a unique, personal weakness due to its own history. A childhood toy, a wedding ring, etc that if confronted with can make them hesitate, causing a -3 penalty to its attack for the next hour. Give a Will DC 18 to avoid this connection. Additional times being confronted by this item will required will save by 2. (DC 16 on the second time, etc.)

Abilities: Adjust from the base creature as follows: Str +4, Con --, Int -2, Wis +2, Cha -2.

Skills: A Nemesis has skill points equal to its base creature despite the changes in it’s ability
scores.

Challenge Rating:As base creature +1

Alignment:Always Neutral Evil or Chaotic Evil. Lawful Creatures will always have a Chaotic
version of themselves, all other creatures have a Neutral Evil mimic.


Dedicated to the my beautiful wife, one day I'll be brave enough to ask if she's the evil twin or not.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Company of the Hardened Anvil PT 8

Roll # 1 - Checking out the cage and lock DC 16 Succeed - DC 20
Roll # 2 - Further check on the room         DC 17 Fail 13
Roll # 3 Wandering Monster Check (6/20) Result 10 (Nothing substantial)
                                 A - 25% Monster (2d10)
                                 B - 25%  Monster (2d20)
                                 C - 50% Monster (3d20)

Ennos removed her cowl as she approached the area. The immaculately white statue caught the others eyes, but it was the prison that caught her own. She wanted to touch it, but hesitated, her hands already up in the air, reaching out, looking for the information this location held. Intuitively, she tried to grab the mana, the magic - it often existed away, off from dweomered items, leaking from objects. It feed her, and she lapped it up, deliciously fragrant, aromatic to only her. There was much of that mana here, around this cage, it tasted old but still strong.

Her completely white eyes started to dazzle, as she peered at the cage, she saw fragments of the past. Glimpses into what was. Her hands expanded, as she looked into the item, droplets of red mana solidified on her, she saw the pounding of the light blue metal in the past. she saw images of the cage, in other places, not here, nowhere close to here. She saw flashes, on tall metal men, and war, and cages, prisons for other creatures. She closed her eyes, trying to shut them out, but it took her time. She saw a long history of the cage, but the statue... the dweomer from the cage blocked any history. "This is not from here, not from..." she hesitated looking for the right word, "here. It is planar, and old."

"The prisoner?" Rillo asked, caring only about the person inside. The beautiful, elegant, marble eligy inside. she was mostly nude, one of her hands holding her skirt to cover her lower half, her upper body twisted hiding most of her features. Her hair was long. Her features so small, so fragile, for a statue, yet still so stunning. The shackles were also stone, in a style not anything anyone recognized, chaining her to the floor. She was five feet away from their end of the cage, in the center of it.

"Nothing, it may not be alive..." Ennos said looking at the statue then Unnos then Rillo. "We have no way of knowing."

"The cage is old." Unnos said touching the blue steel frame. The cage was thin, the frame built in a style he didn't recognize. There was no apparent frame opening, or, it wasn't in their front at the least.

She nodded, the living mana-eater was certain about that. It was not from this world. It could be enchanted, but most likely not, it was the metal that had the qualities.

"Trapped?" Rillo asked, as she came forward, hesitating to touch it, "Is the cage trapped? Are there enchantments?"

Unnos spoke, as his student froze, looking at their commander, "She can tell us about the magic, not that. She is a reader..."

Rillo put up her hand to silence the Sorcerer, she didn't care, she wanted in. She took out her dagger and tapped the cage, watching for any subtle change. She waited a few more seconds and banged it - hard. It clanged and gave her a sharp shriek back, an electrical charge. She took her dagger and snapped at the cage, there was a light, but no discharge this time. She waited longer...still staring at the cage, then grasped it with both hands, it gave her a buzz again, but not enough to make her release. She yelled and banged her dagger up agaisnt the metal cage again and again until she stopped, her entire party was staring at her.

She stopped to look at it again...then shook her head. She closed her eyes, and tried to solve the problem in her head. But she didn't know where to attack it, where the cages weak spots were.  She looked it over again, looking for something to give her a clue. "Check the room...quickly." Rillo began diving into the property around the cage, looking for anything to give her a deeper understanding of what this was.

Unnos and Ennos spread out, to go over the storage areas. Debris from many meals, many visitors. This place seemed to unused for a long time. It was an odd mixture of faith but also knowledge, of magic, containing elements of both. There were hiding places, in the corners, where papers had probably been kept, but nothing here, all cleared out long ago.

Caventh had mostly ignored the area, then realized the wizard's familiar hadn't actually come into the sanctuary yet. He glanced around, looking for any signs of debris from pests or vermin. While not kept up, there were no small pools of waste...no animals came inside here.

The cleric had intuitively taken out his mace, and held it up to his shoulder. He was nervous to have the magic eater with them - but Rillo had insisted on it, she seemed so intent on getting their mission done as quickly as possible. Vasano had curiosity but more important didn't want his team mates hurt. He saw his commander frustrated, but he didn't know what to say or do, so he stood silently by. This temple of magic, which was a dreadfully odd phrase, seemed out of sorts, at least there was no signs of mana. The only possibility was, "This was a cult?" Vasano asked. In Nyssian terms, a cult was the worship of a deity not found on this world, there was many different or alternative forces that could be followed, with different names or rituals or focuses but the Being followed was on the Nyssian realm of existence. Officially a cult worshiped an outsider force.  This mixing of the rituals with arcana best fit what this could be.

"Uh-huh..." Rillo responded, which none of them knew exactly if that was a positive or not. she grabbed some debris and threw it on the floor, the old papers and writing materials."Nothing!`she screamed, frustrated and angry at not finding something, anything here to give insights as to how to get the cage open. "YES," she yelled at Vasano, "Most likely...' she calmed down, and sat at one of the benches.

"Did you expect to find a key, Rillo?" the ranger asked her, "How long do you think this place has been abandoned? 100 years, 500 years? How long have the patrols passed through here? Maybe 50 years, in that time how many of the scroungers have been here, how many times have this place been picked clean. Not just taking magic but anything, anything they can sell. There's nothing here."

"Damn it, Caventh, shut up! I know all that!" she said grasping at some of the debris and threw it towards him. "Still, we gotta try." She looked at him and smiled, then laughed. She nodded and was about to give them an order when Ennoss came over to stand immediately in front of the party cleric. She stopped for a moment to see what will happen.

"Follower of Darras." Ennoss said plainly and very slowly, as she addressed Vasano the party cleric, "You said, if I ever had a question of the gods, I could inquire to you." she said the words, and looked directly at him, straight into his medallion of faith, what he often referred to as his holy symbol.  The cleric nodded, and looked mostly at Unnos but kept at eye on Rillo as well.

"Why did you call this a cult? Why is this any different from your group of faithful?"

The cleric grasped his holy symbol of a hand glorified by by a star. Here, in this dark unholy spot it was little more than a medallion, but in cities it shone with magical energy the literal mana from the heavens. "They aren't different." the priest said, "from all of the faithful. From mine, yes, very different. From the core tenets of the Lord of the Poor, yes. They are holed up in this place, far from the city, far from community, plotting or sharing sinister secrets, vile rites. Others, from the earthly deities, may share some of the vile elements. But the difference is that these gods, even the worst ones, are still from here, from this land. These outsider powers, to get their power, their majic, they must be willing to offer a sacrifice, usually a dark and grisly ones. An evil force, based on this land can give their followers their boon without it. These outsiders, cannot. It is born of dark, sacriligious evil elements.

"It is why they come to these dark holes, to do their sinister actions away from the cities and the glorious obelisk temples. Shun that which hides in the dark."

"Is that why, clerics murder wizards? Why clerics kill others who do not worship their gods" Ennos said. Her wizard companion looked at her with some confusion, and the others did the same. She looked and sounded most times like a member of the party, someone that followed orders, but there was something that she obviously didn't follow.

"We don't. We stop those who hurt or kidnap or steal or kill from others. We don't hurt the weak - ever. " Vasano looked at her, plainly, simply saying the words, trying to understand what she was trying to learn.  Was it a true question, or goading him into saying something. He took his time, "Good aligned creatures won't do any of these things, unless it is to stop suffering of others."

"I have your word." Ennoss said, "And I know that you will not mislead us." All of them stared at her blue skin, so very alien to them at times.

"Is that a question? You don't ask questions, I do" Rillo said, coming in between Ennos and the cleric. "I pick the team members, and I trust each of you. Do your job and we will end this curse. Maybe not today or tomorrow but we will find a way. And that is enough. "

The ram-horned humanoids ears tweaked, he heard something. His hooves skittered across the stones, out into the hallway. His eyes adjusted to the darkness, enough to pick out a few shark fins skating across the walls. Shakrins - the wall rats, a nuisance for many underground inhabitants, unless they come in large enough numbers to cause problems.


Roll # 1 - Going thru the halls DC 11 Succeed - DC 20
Roll # 2 - Wandering Monster Check (8/20) Result 10 (Nothing substantial)
                                 A - 20% Monster (2d10)
                                 B - 20%  Monster (2d20)
                                 C - 50% Monster (3d20)
                                 D - 10% Monster (1d100)
Roll # 3 - Room Check 1d100

Friday, 24 February 2017

Company of the Hardened Anvil PT 7

Roll # 1 Track Check +8 (vs DC 16) Succeed Find Evidence of lots of Dwarves
Roll # 2  Random Monster Check # 1    4 / 20 (2d10) Fail (+2 on next roll)
Roll # 3  Encounter A - 15% Location Roll - 2d10
                                 B - 15%  Monster (2d10) - Action determined (# 24)
                                 C - 50% Location
                                 D - 20% Monster (2d20)

Caventh was already stepping away from the party in the opposite direction as the dwarves went. There were so many boot prints from the various dwarven patrol, as this was not the start but in the middle of a long route they followed.  The  Ranger started to head down the pathway, motioning for his teammates to follow. The remaining members did as asked, keeping very quiet. Unnos motioned to Zounnos, his familiar, a winged snake to take flight, and watch their backs. Rillo and Unnos had small magicked devices that gave out a little light, but the rest of the party didn't need them.

The tunnel was approximately ten feet wide, and a little higher. They could have gone down side by side but the Jahlen led more than fifty feet ahead of the others and the others got into a standard formation zig-zag. Caventh's hoofed feet made barely a mark in the sand on the floor.  Every few minutes, he disappeared going ahead to scout, then returned to tell them that there were smaller rooms ahead, none of them with little interest.  They went down and passed the three rooms, all around 15 by 30 feet, and a quick glance revealed nothing, then came up to a turning corner, heading south.

They continued down the path, but switched so the Finder and commander of the party led. She went much closer to the walls, slower and a more deliberate step, she went around the corner and waved them forward. In the middle of the long passageway, was a 30-40 foot hole, and up from it many kinds of vines, with small bright colourful flowers. The vegetation didn't seem to match anything in the geographic region, much more vibrant.

Slowly continuing, Rillo turned to Caventh, `Is this natural?`

But it was their Sorcerer that answered, `Yes, it's called a bolt, a break in realities. It's not what we need.`

"It's not a portal?" Rilla asked, turning to Unnos.  Caventh started moving closer, very slowly, he took out his large axe and scanned.

"I doubt this goes to another world. It`s most likely somewhere else here, on Nyssarria."  Unnos explained, he closed his eyes and started to hum, concentrating. He opened his eyes moments later.

The Jahlen ranger came closer, and started smelling something...a wonderful bouquet of fresh vegetation, so many plants, and vines and flowers. The smell made him hungry for fresh food.
He hesitated, and as he looked into the jungle canopy, he swore he saw a pair of black eyes, staring at him, hiding behind some of the leaves.

The Ranger spoke in Elven, the most likely language of a plant based creature, welcoming the thing out. But it was not a puny, pointy eared humanoid, but a large, black furred ape, carrying a large metal sword, in a style of armor that he didn't recognize, walking carefully out.

His party members grabbed their weapons...but Caventh put up his arms to ward them off. He was not, a danger, or, not an immediate one. The ape held his weapon at bay, he growled something, and Vassano acknowledged in another language. the cleric held up his holy symbol, and there was no energy emanating from it. Not a threat, just not an ally.

'He's telling us to go.' the cleric said, 'very bluntly.' The ranger moved up, and grabbed some of the leaves to break them off, then brought them up to his mouth to take a bite. This was real, it was really there. When he looked up, he saw the ceiling. But when he looked down, there was a jungle. The ape shifted towards him, and he took a step back. Another motion in his periphery...this ape was not alone.

The cleric stated plainly, 'We don't need to confront him, he's not an enemy.' He looked at the ape, who had slightly moved towards the ranger, ready at any moment to strike him down

The Jahlen ranger stepped back, there was enough room on their pathway, then continued walking backwards. When he was safe, and passed the hole, he called out, 'Are you still seeing this?'

'What?' Rillo asked.

'Come over here and look at this!' Caventh said in wonder, and the human Finder slowly walked past, never losing the ape in her vision. But when she was three steps passed, the bolt, the ape, the plants, were all gone.

'Unnos, why are we not seeing it from where we are?' She took a slow swipe with her weapon, but there was no affect.

One after another, they all stepped past, and again it dissapeared quickly from their view. It wasn't just the view, Caventh heard, and smelled the bright living energy of this far away land. But now, none of it was there.

Unnos looked back and then added, 'The bolt is directional, it only works heading south, if we were to pass by it heading north...we may never have noticed it.' His eyes glowed brightly, as he hummed a spell, his eyes now cast a light outward. 'And there's no mana, no tell-tale sign of any magic anywhere.' He blinked, then moved back in the other direction, slowly until he could see the bolt hole again, he reached out to grab some of the vines, and tore it off.

'Toss me some of those plants again, very tasty!' the goatman said, most of his kin, the Jahlen, were herbivores, and those leaves were certainly fresh.

"How often does something like this occur?" Rillo asked, taking a few more steps away.

"Very rare." Unnos said, "But it can naturally occur. Many fae say this is how they travel between forests, but in small bolts. Not what we need."

"Vasano, what language was that?"`Rillo asked, turning to the heavenly cleric.

"It was a derivation of the natural Plant tongue. The Thornes taught it to me."`he said, "He certainly understood my reply." the cleric replied.

"Plant?" Rillo responded, "Plants talk?"

The heavenly cleric smiled, "No, but they do sing, a lot. Almost continuously in some places. You just have to know how to listen."

"Well we," the ranger replied, rocks thump. Like a drumming sound."

Their leader shook her head, trying to wrap her head around it. Then remembered her mission, "We have someone to find...move it!" Rillo said, and took the lead again heading south, again the tunnel turned, and lead to three smaller rooms on the left side. These, for the most part looked

like natural formations in the caves, they had sections that were more worn out, but, nothing seemed to be alive in them. The passageway took a sharp angle down, still passable but they needed to slow their pace to avoid tumbling over, the Jahlen again led the group.

 As they headed down, he began seeing something on some of the stones. He leaned in to see some of the natural grooves filled with a pusy orange colour, then he looked up, scanning around, seeing a break in the rock. He motioned up to the others, then preped himself in order to jump. His people were considered the best jumpers, but normally it was to find footing during an escape or battle. His strong limbs let him take two small steps and bounce upwards, high enough to grab onto the upper surface and look in.  Quickly he dropped the thirty feet back down to tell the others, "Slime trap. Follow my lead, stick tight to the walls." The party did as requested, staying very close to the walls. Caventh wasn't sure if this was a natural trap by some barely conscious slime creatures, or one set up by someone using these creatures.

Not long after the slime trap, they noticed the tunnel sloped downward again, not exactly a slide, but if one were too heavy or too fast that could always trip. Rillo took over, scouting up ahead, she motioned for the group to stay put. Coming back a few minutes later, she explained that there was a slime pit up ahead, and the passage way split off.

They took their time headed down the stone tunnel, as the slime trap was not natural, but it was fairly easy to understand and avoid. The pit they passed down was very deep, fifty feet down, and it was well designed as to have no notice before the drop. Rillo indicated she wanted to go down and see if there was anything left over, but Caventh hesitated. In other traps like this, it was used to capture and kill invaders, then take their equipment, and at that depth, most likely all but coins or magic trinkets wouldn't be able to survive the fall.  The slimes in the pit did not seem to notice them, they were barely aware of anything other than their natural tendencies to slog and hunt.

They had two choices of immediate path, one going mostly west and the other immediate east. Since the west one had much more footprints from boot marks, that seemed to be the most logical. heading along, they found a much larger room than any of the other areas they had seen so far, when Caventh looked in, he reined the others over. There were benches, two aside and a dozen deep, all lining up with a small pedestal. There were no other symbols on it, so the group wasn't sure if this was a religious area or not .The area was in disarray, though no immediate signs of magic.

Caventh noted the four dark tapestries along the back wall, so faded, it would be easy to miss if one wasn't paying attention. As in the upper Tower, windows were up around fifteen feet, though no light was pouring in. The two tapestries on the outer rim showed generic battle scenes at first glance, the interior two showed elegant display of hundreds of rings. They opened them up, showing three mostly empty storehouse, containing broken items, books, small figurines. Mostly garbage. But the last one contained a cage, and in the center of the locked room was a solid, white stone statue of a woman held in chains.

Roll # 1 - Checking out the cage and lock
Roll # 1b - The Statue (DC 19)
Roll # 2 - Further check on the room (DC 13, DC 16, DC 22)
Roll # 3 Wandering Monster Check (6/20)
                                 A - 25% Monster (2d10)
                                 B - 25%  Monster (2d20)
                                 C - 50% Monster (3d20)

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Enzalmed Skull of Kaiddor'Vec

I love it when someone posts an idea that inspires me into game tinkering. Thanks +Christopher Mennell

The Enzalmed Skull of Kaiddor'Vec

Zalming is an ancient and generally outlawed practice of taking bones from spell-users and creating a spell focus from them. Most often, practitioners of this vile art take complete bones from fallen spell-casters (Mages, Clerics but any other is possible) and coating them in plaster just after their deaths. The idea being since magic never truly leaves the body, so it acts as a focus for spell-casters, giving a spell a +1 or to the DC of one of their spells once a day.

While this is generally the understood practice, stories tell of the ultimate instance of this magic when a renown magic user named Kaiddor began enzalming himself before their death. His family, the di Vec* clan were regognized artists and had vast fortunes from their work with royalty. There are various rumours about why he did this, the one most believed is that he was trying to change himself to lich in a unique fashion, enzalming himself while alive. Instead of taking his own life to complete the ritual, he was kidnapped by a group of dark cultists and executed, his head removed. Since he had already prepared himself, they they had a complete and powerful Enzalmed Spell-Head.

Mechanically it can either provide three additional spell levels of a caster's lowest spells they can cast per day, or it can provide +5 on spell focus for non-healing or fire related learning spells.

Cost: 10,000 gold pieces, Spell Level: As 7th level Caster




*di XXX is the designation of honoured families in any given area. Many have specific rights over non-honored families, including taxation and voting. Thus when he was alive, his recognized name would be Kaiddor of House Vec or Kaiddor di Vec in common usage. Stripping him of the recognition of the family is a significant embarrassment to him and potentially any offspring who could also lose these same rights.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Company of the Hardened Anvil PT 6 b


The party settled into the back of the unit, but two dwarves immediately walked behind them as they came up to the front of the Tower. From just a few hundred feet away, it looked like a solid grey stone wall, but this close, they could see the many colours of the stone meshed together,

There was a group of black armoured human soldiers at attention there, elaborate weapons at the ready. One of the Keranites greeted the Dwarf First Axe commander and his herald shouted the proper responses, and the guarding soldiers stepped back, letting the party through.

Almost immediately there were in a large high room, filled with weapons rack, armor and crates. The circular room was more than 500 feet around, no pillars or other support networks, ceiling was fifty feet high, and three  stairs lead up to differing parts of the upper levels.  A dozen or more triangular windows streamed light in, yet there were no windows on the outside of the Tower, certainly none less than 400 feet high.

There were around a hundred human men, most wearing armour in the various colours of their faith. The Black Kerintes, Gold Quannians, Purple Casnians, and Orange Japethians mostly kept to themselves in their groups, all huddled around a ladder, in four ends, each directly opposed to each other. Most of the soldiers were not at attention, they were laying down or sitting, playing card games or drinking, doing what soldiers did everywhere.

The Dwarves headed to the Orange Coloured followers of the god Japeth, Holy Knight and Defender of the Weak. His followers were the strictest of the good aligned gods, many of them strove to be Paladins, but even those that did not abide by the rigid code, still tried to be dedicated to good causes. One of the Orange suited human soldiers came out and greeted one of the Dwarves, and then a few others came out and did the same, shaking hands and having polite words. No one said anything to their company who were among the Dwarves.

Vasano knew who each of these groups represented and why they were here; every soldier, knight, or even priest and many others often came to the Obelisk churches in the city for healing or curse removal, most often they would be sent to these locations to serve in lieu of coins. If not for the formality, he could strike up conversations with probably a dozen of more of the men here, who like him served one of the gods - yet among the rigid formality, he could not, they could not. Peace was more important than arguments, even polite ones. They served together because they had to, in case anything from below the tunnels again. They each had their role, and out of formality tried to avoid making any kinds of political waves. There was magical energy here, but unlike most he was exposed to, it was not aligned, it was a chaotic, uncontrolled, and a taint of evil.

The sorcerer realized what this place was, and it overwhelmed him. In every city, there were two or more obelisks that provided the magical energy from the gods, these were the centres of faith.  All magic users used this energy, whether as the faithful clerics, or the mages that usurped the energy, or even sorcerers that was gifted access. But this Tower brimmed with more energy than any place he had ever experienced...he could cast his spells repeatedly without losing them in his memory, exactly like clerics in large cites. The question came to him. if this placed exploded with such magical energy, why were there no spellcasters here? He looked around, and he saw a few clerics or paladins here, but where were the Wizards?

Some of the Dwarves pulled out coins and threw them down the hole beside the ladder, they were gifted with magical light, and they began to go down the stairs. Even before their party reached the ladder, the dwarves were already at the bottom level, and began to move in a rhythmic manner, going thru the pathways, towards another ladder. They moved into another room, another tunnel, another ladder. Their train went on, and on, a dozen times. The entire party going through the steps.following the Dwarves who knew this path.  Sometimes the ladders descended twenty feet, other times, more than a hundred feet. The rooms, the floors, the ladders, no patterns but the Dwarves knew where to go without delay.

Eventually, going down one of the larger ladders, the party noticed the dwarves had remained firm, circled around the ladder until everyone came together, The leader, the First Axe spoke to them. `That was two hours to get here, it will take us three to go back. There are other ladders, but this is the quickest path, and you wont get lost. Get back here in five hours, and you can travel back. If you deviate, you will get lost. We won`t go looking for you, and I doubt your employer will either.`

Rillo, the smallest of the party had already taken out her two daggers, placed them at her side as she looked around, `So, if we see something - we can kill it? If we find something - we can take it?'

The First Axe nodded his head, 'I would give you more precise suggestions, but I know you won`t listen. Don`t take anything nasty or evil out, leave it down here - those soldiers above won`t just kill you...they can do much worse. Trust me on this...anything more than a trinket they will confiscate it.`

Rillo nodded, and so did the rest of her party in agreement. Almost in unison the dwarves lifted their axes and pushed out an 'ooph' and then began their route.

As soon as the Dwarves left, Unnos spoke up, `You may not feel it, but there`s mana here. Pools of raw magic. Unlike anything I've ever felt. Do you feel it Vasano?`

The cleric looked at him and shook his head, `Do you understand, Freecaster,` using an old pejorative term for any magic user not dedicated to serving the gods, 'This isn't mana. This is Not from the gods. It is chaos from the depths, from the Darkness.` He took out his holy circlet, his connection to the divine, without it he could cast no spells or affects. Anytime he was around divine energy, it would glow, to indicate the magnitude of the energy. If Unnos was correct, it would sparkle with energies, but it was blunt, no sparkle, no light. 'Any divine energy, I would feel it. This is dangerous... Avoid casting spells.'

Caventh grabbed his hammer tightly, and looked away from the others...he was sensing something, what was near them?

'So..`' Rillo said, `'You have less energy' she said pointing at Vasano, 'And you`re drunk with it.' motioning to Unnos. She shook her head. `'We have two missions in six hours. We find the guard Renthok, and if we have enough time we... look for what we came here for. we are not engaging unless we have to.`

`Tracker...'  Rillo motioned to Caventh who had already stepped away, looking for signs of movement.

Roll # 1 Track Check +8 (vs DC 16)
Roll # 2  Random Monster Check # 1    4 / 20 (2d10)
Roll # 3  Encounter A - 15% Location
                                 B - 15%  Monster (2d10)
                                 C - 50% Location
                                 D - 20% Monster (2d20)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
DMs Note: Up until now, I haven't been using the characters actual skill scores for checks, they are only in use while in dungeons / gameable situations. Also, the way I use them is each time a character succeeds in a check, they get a -1 for the next identical skill roll by that character in the same day. 

Example: Caventh the Ranger has +8 in his track skill. If he attempts to simply identify a set of tracks and succeeds, then on his next roll, he gets a +7, etc for the remainder of the day. If, on his roll he fails, but tries immediately (5 rounds or less) thereafter on the same check, he would get a -5 penalty assuming everything else remains the same.



Sunday, 12 February 2017

"Company of the Hardened Anvil" PT 6 a

"Company of the Hardened Anvil" PT 6 v1

Roll # 1  Meeting the Patrol Leader (DC 11)  +5 - Result 9 (Fail)
Roll # 2 First Level In (DC 12)  +4 - Result 6 (Fail)
Roll # 3 Stairs Down (DC 14)  +3 - Result 14 (Succeed)
Roll # 4 - Any other suggestions?

At the appropriate time, the party made their way toward the Tower, trying to ignore all the distractions on the path. There were many, anyone with coin in their pocket or longing in their heart or a dry mouth, could find something to better capture their attention. But the early moon was out, it was early evening and they had somewhere to be.  The Tower knights paid them little attention, but a few of the marching soldiers looked directly at them.

A hundred feet outside of the site, a group of well armed and heavily fortified Dwarves, around twenty or so, stood ready, but not in attention, their flag had the markings they were looking for. All of them had very similar weapons, an axe, hammer and crossbow, and their armors mirrored each other in precision. This was not a rag-tag bunch of volunteers = these were soldiers, professional ones. They looked old and rugged and marking of experience across their faces.  A few of them looked over, but there were no welcoming shouts.

The party stopped, and Rillo stepped forward, looking for someone who looked different, someone who looked in command. None of them spoke, or lifted a hammer, the most traditional way for Dwarves and their allies to greet one another. Rillo wasn't sure what these men, these Dwarves were told, if anything. 'Is there a Lead in this group?' She waited for a sound, but a few guffaws greeted her, but they all stood silently still, looking at the party.

'Wee're heere to elp ye in yer search.' Rillo spoke again, changing her accent to the Spirelands, the mountains of rock that bolt up from the earth to high above the sky, hoping that this would get a better reaction from them. Again nothing.

The ranger, Caventh came up to her, and put a hand on her shoulder. 'First Axe' he said in Dwarven. His people the Jahlen were called Stone Brothers by their mountain Dwarf kin, in many places, he hoped they would recognize him as an ally.

'Ye be Raiders?' came the reply by one of the Dwarves in the same tongue, who stepped out. No weapons in his hand, but his armor semed a little different than the rest.

"No. We're working for Vorrecknos the Bull" A bunch of the dwarves jeered and turned away. The leader said nothing and did not move, at first.

"Your first mission for him?" the fighter asked... Caventh nodded. "Do you know his reputation?"

Caventh hesitated, "We're new...here. We need to get below, he was..."

The Dwarf commander finished his sentence, "The easiest way to get below."  The jahlen froze, he could tell the Dwarf disapproved. The First Axe commander turned away, but spoke, "Follow us. Don't get in our way...when we get down to the 20th floor,  you'll have five hours, maybe six. Whatever you want done, do it. No slaves, no undead...If we get bounty, you don't get a share."

"Got it." Caventh said slowly. He wanted to go up and shake the dwarves hand, but hesitated. The commander wasn't angry, but his contempt was heavy. So the dwarves weren't allies, probably knew they wouldn't turn them away,

Ennoss stepped forward to speak with him. 'They cast belief spells...they don't trust us.'

Their leader, Rillo said bluntly - 'First steps. We may stumble but we need to get down there.'

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *