Kingmaker

Game 22ish, Or The GM Almost Kills Us.

Kundal huddled naked in his prison cell, raving about what he had done.
“Calm down,” Zot told him. “You’re locked up. You can’t hurt anyone.”
“But, but I’m a monster! I’ve killed!” Kindal said, clawing at the bars.
“It won’t happen again,” Ravena reassured him, “We saw to that. Your lycanthropy has been cured.”
“How?” Kendil asked.
“We gave you a potion.” Ravena replied.
“Though I would like to keep Kandel to observe him until the next full moon.” Zot said.
“Indeed, how can we know that Kendul won’t change again?” Melvin asked.
Behind him, the imprisoned former werewolf tried to correct the pronunciation of his name, but his suggestions were mostly ignored. This might have bothered him, if he had anything left to lose. As it was, Kuhndahl was a nomadic Numarian who had lost his wife and two sons in a horrible wolf attack.
More important than his name or his past was what the future held for him. Initially Baron Melvin and Zot tossed around the idea of punishment, and both still favored keeping the man, but Ravena insisted that he was cured and should be free to go.
“Be that as it may,” said Melvin, “The townspeople are a superstitious lot. I’d like for Jhod to bless this man to give them further confirmation that the curse is lifted.”
Ravena stamped her foot and wiggled the tips of her hair in irritation. “Is my word not good enough?”
“Well, you know, Jhod is a respected religious figure-”
“I’m respected too, and I say Kundul is fine!” Ravena interrupted.
Finally the others relented and it was agreed that the barbarian would be sent to the farm where he killed the goatherd and decimated the flock to make reparations for what he had done.

The following day the foursome set out to investigate different reports of possibly supernatural wolf activity.
Prior to the establishment of Stagfall the adventurers had spotted huge wolf tracks to the southeast while surveying the area. More recently the Sootscale kobold patrols had reported encounters with the maker of those huge tracks, a worg named Howl of North Wind. The worg had told them in no uncertain terms that this land was his and that the settlers of Stagfall had no place there.
After riding for hours Zot, Ravena, Miracelli, and Melvin arrived at the wort’s cave.
“Come out!” Melvin commanded at the mouth of the cave, “We want to talk with you. We even brought a gnome for a snack!”
“I’m delicious and lean!” Zot agreed.
“You come in here.” The worg growled.
Ravena was remarking that they might have to go into the cave to fight it on its own turf when she saw the worg and three smaller wolves charging out of the cave toward them.
Zot was standing deliciously right in front of them, giving him a clear shot with an entangling cartridge from his gun. The worg and his followers were hit. In mere moments Melvin and Miracelli closed in, destroying the worg. The wolves were dispatched with equal ease.
After the battle Melvin decided that the worg’s pelt would make an epic baronly cape. He set about skinning the beast while Miracelli and Zot made their way into the cave looking for possible loot. In the very back of the cave they found what they were looking for in the form of a very, very dead guy with a lot of money on him.
Ravena was poking slowly into the cave behind them and overheard them talking about their spoils.
“What’s that?” she shouted in the echoing main chamber.
“Nothing!” Miracelli shouted back.
“That’s it, I’m coming after you,” Ravena replied, jumping off a small ledge and gently drifting to the ground.
“No need! Nothing interesting!” Miracelli was still shouting when the witch got to her.
“Were you seriously going to keep this from the rest of us?” Ravena said, indignantly turning to Zot.
“Why do I have to be so… nice?” The gnome sighed. “Lets give her a part.”
“Fine.” Miracelli agreed.
“Good.” Ravena said as she tucked the gold pieces into the pouch at her waist.
Back at the entrance of the cave Melvin was still skinning the worg.
“How was the cave?” He asked, “Anything interesting?”
His companions glanced at each other.
Finally, Ravena told him that Miracelli had found some money.
“That’s good.” Baron Melvin replied. As was often the case, his voice betrayed no strong emotion one way or another on the subject.
“I think,” Said Ravena, hoping to get him riled up, “That Miracelli was planning on keeping it to herself.”
“She does that sometimes,” the Baron shrugged. “I see no harm.”
Miracelli winked gleefully at Ravena.
“Well, what now?” Zot asked.
“I say we camp here for the night and do a bit more exploring tomorrow.” Melvin suggested as he wiped a trickle of sweat off his brow with the back of his hand.

The following day our heroes were fascinated by the giant piles of poop they found.
“I wonder what could have taken such giant dumps?” Miracelli mused.
“You just answered your own question.” Ravena replied. “Giants.”
The other half-elf’s eyes grew large. She kept an eye out for the massive men as they continued to ride, but none were to be found.
Fortunately, they did spot some rattlecap mushrooms.
“Perfect, Bill will love these!” Ravena exclaimed as she dismounted near the mud pit they grew around.
Bill whinnied in confusion.
“No, not you, the other Bill,” Melvin said, patting his horse’s head.
As Ravena began plucking mushrooms from the loamy earth the ground itself seemed to move under her. Suddenly, a terricolous emerged from the ground. The plant monster grabbed her in its horrible tentacles and held her tight- too tight for her to cast a spell to heal herself against the damage it was doing to her body.
The other three attempted to fight and free their friend, but the monster was too strong. A violent slap from the beast cracked Melvin’s strong centipede scale armor. The terricolous even tried to eat Zot because hey, everything wants to eat Zot.
Ravena fell unconscious and the monster gave up on squeezing her, believing the bloodied and broken elf to be dead. All outward indicators suggested she was, and none of her party had healing potions to offer- that is, if they could even get past the tentacles to where she lay. Her patron, Insanity, appeared to her in the dark.
“Oh, hi. Am I dead again?” Ravena asked.
“Save for a miracle, you will be.” Insanity replied. “But you’re good at miracles.”
“Are my friends being killed right now?”
“Most definitely. Especially Zot. Why does he have to be so delicious? Do you ever think about eating him?”
“No. That’s gross. You’re insane.” Ravena replied with a sneer.
“Righty-o. I am.” Insanity flashed a grin. “Speak of which, do you ever get the feeling that you’re at the mercy of someone, let’s just call him a GM for the sake of simplicity, and he’s laughing at you right now? Like maybe he’s what just killed you and he thinks that’s funny?”
“No, I don’t get that feeling. Isn’t it bad enough that I was just strangled by what looks like an angry vagina?”
“That makes it even funnier!” Insanity giggled. “Ooo, now that angry vagina is doing a number on Melvin. You know, I’m gonna go talk to Pharasma. Maybe she’ll let you go again. I really don’t want to lose you- you and your friends are too much fun to watch.”
Moments later Ravena found herself regaining consciousness. She was aware that she still had several broken bones, but the monster seemed to be faltering in its attacks and she was now free and able to heal. She saw that as the beast had thrashed around it had crushed most of the mushrooms they had come for in the first place.
“Stupid fucking mushrooms.” She swore.
“Stupid fucking mushrooms,” Miracelli agreed as she fought on, trying to miss the tightly grappled Zot in her attacks.
Finally, miraculously, despite the heavy wounds that the heroes suffered they vanquished the terricolous and Ravena was able to set about healing them.
“I can’t believe that angry vagina-looking thing almost bested us,” Melvin mused, sadly looking at his damaged breastplate.
“Nor can I,” Ravena sighed. “Sometimes these things are just insane.”

View
Game... 20-21Something? Or A Giant Turtle and a Werewolf.

“Look, I’m not against the brothel,” Ravena said, rising to lean across the table in the main room of the castle where the kingdom’s leaders were gathered.
“Well that’s weird,” Miracelli replied, standing to challenge her from across the oaken expanse, “Because you keep voting against it.”
“I only vote against it,”Ravena answered, “Because you want it to be a kobold brothel.”
“What?” Chief Sootscale glared, banging his small, three-fingered fist on the table, “You say kobold not pretty? We pretty!”
“Yes, yes, you’re pretty, I just would hate to see your women cheapened so.” Ravena replied diplomatically.
“We need diverse women- not just kobolds- for the brothel.” Melvin suggested.
Jhod furrowed his brow. “I feel that this is nothing we should encourage.”
“Aw, Jhod, you’re just being short-sighted.” Miracelli replied. “Think of the gold!”
“Think of the girls.” Jhod replied.
“I am!” Miracelli exclaimed.
“Well it’s clear we’re not getting anywhere on this subject.” Baron Melvin interceded. “Let’s call it a night, relax, and talk about more annexation tomorrow.”
“Or we could do something worthwhile.” Zot suggested.
“Are you suggesting that the roads, farms, houses and businesses we’ve built aren’t worthwhile?” Oleg asked.
“They are, but c’mon, we all know we’re bored. Let’s go do something! Take the giant turtle problem.”
“The giant turtle problem?” Ravena asked dubiously.
“Haven’t you seen the signs?” Miracelli asked. “Geez, you spend a lot of time in your room.”
“I have magical stuff to do.” Ravena replied as she sat back down. ”I had heard rumors of a huge worg and a hodag- I’m not completely out of the loop. By the by, Bill wants us to find some trollblood.”
“My horse wants you to find some trollblood?” Melvin raised an eyebrow.
“No, Bill Mansby, the alchemist. See,” Ravena said pointedly, “I am paying attention to the affairs of the kingdom.”
“Especially the affairs at the shrine?” Miracelli teased.
“Now, now, milady,” Jhod replied, “Ravena’s visits are always welcome.”
“Perhaps her jaunts out of town have made her miss the rumors of the turtle problem.” Melvin replied.
“Oh, you only know the affairs of town because you’ve been frequenting the makeshift inn’s bar!” Ravena replied, pausing before observing that the topic of conversation had turned to girls again.
“Are women not an integral part of our city?” Baron Melvin asked.
“They are.” Miracelli replied. “In fact, we’re probably the most important part of the city. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t funny when you gave the exotic woman a barbarian bracelet when she asked for an elven one.”
“They’re similar!” Melvin defended himself. “But how did you see that?”
“I’m good at my job.” Miracelli replied.
“And you smell gold exchanging hands from a mile away!”
“This is true.” Miracelli shrugged. “And what of it? Speak of which, I heard her telling you that there are elven ruins to the west. Do you think there might be treasure? That would be great!”
“I don’t know, but I suppose if we go I owe Lily a bracelet.” Melvin replied.
“Well that might be a matter for another day,” Zot suggested. “Tomorrow, let’s take out this giant turtle.”
The following day a fisherman ferried our heroes across the lake to his secret fishing hole. It looks more like a river than a lake, but other than that it’s very nice.
Zot takes off his armor and jumps deliciously into the water with just his sword and a rope.
A huge snapping turtle surfaces and noms on the gnome. The pond turns orange with gnome blood.
“Stop looking so delicious!” Ravena shouts from the shore.
“But I’m just so lean and meaty!” Zot shouts back.
Melvin is able to pull Zot out by the rope, but not before Miracelli is soundly disgusted by the amount of delicious gnome blood everywhere. She comes to, however, and delivers the final blows to the bastard turtle.
Zot insists on making turtle intestine jerky. As he does so he finds a lump in the turtle’s innards. Cutting it out he discovers a shiny gem, which excites Miracelli. Ravena immediately assesses that it’s a magical gem that calls forth a water elemental when crushed.
The group camps by the fishing hole overnight and is ferried back to town in the morning.
Because of the size of the group Arvin, the fisherman, has to make two trips. He delivers Zot to the shore first, where the gnome is immediately met by frantic members of his guard.
“Zot, sir!” One salutes breathlessly, “We have a situation on our hands.”
“What kind of situation? Spit it out.”
“A young maid was killed- her name was Saki- and so was a goatherd and some of his flock.”
“What could have done this?”
“We don’t know, it looks like a wolf.”
“No,” contradicts one of the other guards, “Not like any wolf I’ve ever seen.”
“He’s right,” Another guard interjects, “What was killed wasn’t eaten. It’s like it was killed just for the sake of killing.”
When the rest of the group have arrived on the shore Zot tells them the tale and suggests that they go to the cemetery to see the bodies being prepared for burial. Indeed, Sari and the goatherd look as though they’ve been torn apart by wolves.
“To the farm.” Baron Melvin proposes. “We’ll get to the bottom of this.”
As they crest a hill looking out on the plains north of town they see carrion birds circling over the farm. Zot’s keen tracking sense picks up on a set of large wolf-prints leading off to the east. He and Pilkies bolt ahead of their companions, hot on the trail of what is probably either a worg or dire wolf. They arrive at the spot where the wolf appears to have spent the night but are confounded to find bare human footprints fresh in the mud leading away from the circle of matted grass.
Severina rears and shies as they get close to the spot where Zot stands.
“Uh-oh,” Ravena says as she dismounts and examines the tracks, “This beyond magical. We’re not looking at a dire-wolf or even a worg. We’re looking at a werewolf.”
“Great.” Zot says sarcastically. “Well, time to go mace some silver bullets.”
“Good idea.” Melvin replies, “I’ll talk to the alchemist to see if he has a cure for werewolves laying around.”
“I’ll check with the Spyders. See if anyone’s been acting odd.” Miracelli announced.
“I’ll go with Melvin.” Ravena suggests as she mounts.
With that the foursome split up to be more effective.
At the herbalist’s shop Melvin and Ravena encounter Bill Mansby, who is not a horse but does look kind of horsey. He chews a lot of a mouth numbing herb, which causes his lips to fly around aimlessly when he talks.
Bill does indeed have a cure for lycanthropy, which he produces in a small vial from a dusty shelf.
“Wolfsbane,” Bill says, “That’s what makes it work. Rare stuff too. Expensive.”
“I see where you’re going with this.” Baron Melvin replies.
“Yeah. I want to give it to you, but a man’s gotta make a living here. I’m afraid it’ll be 500 gold.”
“Okay.” Melvin nods, “I can respect that. But how about I give you 300 gold now and then pay the difference in herbs later? How does that sound?”
“I dunno…” Bill says thoughtfully. “I think 500 gold is fair.”
“I understand.” Melvin replies, then makes his offer again.
“Well, there is one thing.” Bill suggests. “I’ll accept your terms if you can get me some black rattlecap mushrooms. They tend to grow around mud pits.”
“That’s reasonable.” Melvin assents, not realizing how difficult those mushrooms will be to procure.
Meanwhile, Miracelli checks in with her spyders.
One immediately comes forward, telling her that “neither victim had any enemies.”
“Um, I that’s not what I asked.” She replied tersely.
“I have something more useful”, one of them suggests. “There’s a man named Kundal who’s been acting odd. He spends most of his time drinking in the makeshift inn. He’s a tribesman from the north.”
“Excellent,” Miracelli rubs her hands together gleefully, “If you find him, follow him- stealthy-like.”
“Is there any other way to follow a person?” The spyder asks as she disappears out a window.
At this point Chief Sootscale reports to Melvin that his patrols have spotted a massive Worg to the southeast. Melvin tells them to double their patrols, just in case.
Meanwhile, Zot continues to craft silver bullets and Miracelli and Ravena meet up to stake out the inn.
Rafi, the innkeeper, says that Kundal doesn’t talk much and mainly keeps to himself.
Baron Melvin is totally missing out. While he’s busy going around instituting a curfew a bard named Gwendolyn is performing in the inn and she’s totally hot.
Miracelli decides to break into Kundals’ room. Ravena barely has time to survey the hall and tell her it’s a bad idea before the lock gives way and Miracelli waves the other half-elf into the room. A quick investigation reveals a gold earring with a chunk of ear still attached to it. They assume it belonged to Siri.
As night descends on the empty streets of Stagfall Miracelli and Zot ascend to the rooftops, leaving Melvin and Ravena on the ground below.
They spot the werewolf in a nearby alleyway, but the creature is too quick for them. It climbs to the wall next to Miracelli and hits her with his massive great ax.
Melvin decides that he’s too badass to stand by and let this happen, so he spurs Bill (the horse) into a charge then leaps at just the right moment to make a 20 foot jump and grab onto the werewolf. The two of them tumble off the roof.
The werewolf bites Melvin as they fall, but fortunately doesn’t pierce the armor.
The werewolf heals himself but Zot shoots it in the leg. The battle is intense, but Zot’s bullets wound and finally Ravena’s burning hands spell burns away his werewolf form, leaving a naked barbarian. Melvin pours Bill (the alchemist)‘s potion down the man’s throat before they take him and lock him up in the castle.

View
The First Full Year in Stagfall Draws to a Close

It was Abadius of 4712, and Baron Melvin was growing restless. A large map of the Stolen Lands was unfurled on the table in front of him, its unexplored parts taunting him. He knew that Zot, Ravena, and Miracelli felt the same way, but he also knew that their new job as leaders of Stagfall kept them busy.
As he was lost in thought a small but forceful knock came at the door.
“Come in!” He shouted, turning to greet Chief Sootscale as he entered.
“Baron Melvin!” The kobold exclaimed, making a hasty bow, “I have news!”
“And that is?”
“A proposal. My patrols, you see, we found another tribe!”
“Another tribe of kobolds? Within our lands?” Melvin asked with a cocked eyebrow.
“Yes sir! It is true! They’re the Browntooth kobolds,” Chief Sootscale said, shifting excitedly from one webbed foot to the other. “But we made truce! Like remember how you made truce with us? We made truce. They say they serve Baron Melvin like we do if you let them!”
After a moment’s thought Melvin nodded in assent. The Browntooth kobolds would be added to the kingdom’s defenses.
Time proved that the decision had been wise. The expanded kobold forces were a boon to the kingdom. When the leaders met a few weeks later it was inarguable that the forests were more secure. That, however, was not what had Miracelli giggling all through the meeting. Plans were made to annex the gold mine the original foursome had found while questing nearly a year prior.
Later, when the kingdom appears to be making no money Oleg becomes suspicious, but Miracelli enthusiastically investigates herself, ensuring that she is not the reason.
Finally, the month of Sarenith comes and with it the first year of Stagfall draws to a close. On the 10th the Day of Burning Blades comes. The priestesses of Sarenrae dance in their revealing outfits, showing a pleasant amount of side-boob and delighting Baron Melvin.

View
Romance, festivals, and everything else.

Erastus was a good month for all in the kingdom. Initially, Stagfall had felt a bit like Oleg’s- a small oasis on the edge of something fearsome and unpredictable- but as the summer solstice approached the settlers began to feel as if their city was truly home. Stagfall lacked the conveniences of Restov, but it had an able military, wise leaders, and clean, new buildings. The later were particularly novel to many settlers. Back in Restov new buildings were often only built after a fire. In the countryside farming humans could afford to have big families, but in the bigger cities when an old shoemaker or blacksmith died his eldest would take over the trade and its building, leaving their younger siblings with little. For this reason second and third-born sons were the first to respond to Restov’s call for settlers in the Stolen Lands. Many of the settlers of Stagfall proudly called themselves “third sons” regardless of gender and birth order as a symbol of their previously undervalued rank.
The populace was young, independent, and came from many different classes and races. Most were humans, but even the tradition-loving dwarves produced a few “third sons.” One swore he would open a smithy as soon as he was able but repaired the worker’s tired hammers and axes on his porch in the meantime. Others were half-elves, who regardless of birth order were always “third sons” to their families.
The human settlers proved to be well suited to construction and city protection, though some, like the blacksmith dwarf, had greater dreams. One human came with drawings in hand- instructions for proper mill construction.
“Soon,” Promised Baron Melvin, “All of these things will come to pass. Now that the castle is finished we can devote ourselves wholly to building comfortable houses for everyone. None of those filthy tenements some of you knew in Restov!”
At the start of Erastus spirits couldn’t be higher. Archerfest fell on the third and it was the most raucous one many had seen. In the spirit of the god Erastil it was a time for asking a girl’s father for her hand in marriage. “Third sons” and their female counterparts had no fathers to go through, which resulted in spontaneous proposals which were celebrated with much exhalation and ale. Jhod clapped his hands with delight as couples came to him, seeking his blessing in wedlock.
Underneath the high spirits something more sinister was brewing. In the month of Arodus what Miracelli and her newly christened “Spy-ders” had hoped was an isolated incident a month prior turned into a full-blown bandit problem.
Zot assumed that the problem could be fixed by increasing the patrols of his men. Unfortunately, his soldiers looked dubiously at the tiny, staghelmed gnome and wondered if he was joking. What the men needed was someone to rouse their patriotism, and Baron Melvin was just the person to do it. He called the populace into the courtyard of the castle and gave a speech from the steps.
Note to self: Ravena scrawled on the corner of a scroll, a meeting-place-hall-thing whatcha callit is probably a good thing to build for stuff like this… research it’s cost.
Ravena was never particularly good at calculation or organization so that note found itself quickly buried under the pile of notes and scrolls in her room. She had little time for reading anyway, as a healer her job was never done. She was always amazed by the clumsiness of humans. The places they managed to hit themselves with hammers… one would think that the alehouse had already been built!
Fortunately, the more graceful half-elves formed the base of Miracelli’s Spyders. A few humans fleshed out her crew, which also included a tiny female gnome who had the benefit of fitting into tight places but the detriment of having pink hair of a shade never found in nature.
It was in the month of Rova that a remarkable artist heard the calling of Erastil. He constructed a statue of Old Deadeye which was so lovely that it drew people from miles around. This boosted the kingdom’s economy as well as giving the populace a strong reminder that the kingdom itself bore the blessing of a god.
The favor of Erastil was a strange blessing for Stagfall to have. When the four adventurers met, neither Miracelli nor Zot had shown any interest in the machinations of the gods. Even Melvin was a fairly apathetic follower of Erastil. Ravena worshiped all things, aware of the presence of the gods all around them, respecting them, but truly following only her patron. Now the foursome found themselves leading a nation deeply steeped in the worship of Erastil. Zot even had a magical hat that told him to worship more.
For Ravena’s part, she still started the day the same way, waking before dawn to commune with Skitter and thus her patron, Insanity. She more fully understood the nature of the curse that blessed her. Though when Ravena had ascended Pharasma’s spire, Insanity had told her that their contract could be ended at any time, Ravena knew she would find it impossible. The pair’s fates were now hopelessly intertwined.
Nonetheless, one morning Ravena went to the new statue of Erastil, took to her knees, and prayed. The god was there, of that there could be no doubt. But now what to do with it? Erastil’s powers were so anathema to Insanity’s that the combination of the two made Ravena’s soul feel funny. She was attempting to grow comfortable with the contrast within herself when she was startled by a hand on her shoulder.
It was Jhod. Ravena apologized for not noticing him sooner.
“’Tis quite alright. It seems you’re as moved as I am.” The old priest observed.
“I… I wouldn’t say that.” Ravena replied as she rose, dusting off her black skirt. “You are, after all, the head priest. You know the god’s spirit better than any.”
“To think,” Jhod shook his head, “This time a year ago I was scraping by on the fringes, forsaken and lost.”
“Erastil understands. He forgives.” Ravena replied, gazing over Jhod’s shoulder to where Akiros was standing a polite distance away.
Miracelli suddenly appeared in Ravena’s line of sight directly in front of Akiros.
“How did you do that?” Ravena asked.
“A master does not reveal her secrets.” Miracelli winked.
But a master does, Ravena knew, tease a girl about marriage. Ravena struck before Miracelli could.
Miracelli argued that no such arrangements could be made until the kobold brothel is opened.
Jhod suddenly looked deeply annoyed and turned to leave without saying goodbye. Akiros shrugged helplessly and followed the older man.
“Did that not go as you had planned?” Miracelli said with a devilish smile.
“I have no plans.” Ravena replied then changed the subject. “Except how do we tell the boy kobolds from the girl ones? Also, it’s a dumb idea.”
“Well it’s hard to tell, so it’s even kinkier!” Miracelli exclaimed. “And it’s not a bad idea, it’s a FREAKING BRILLIANT idea!”
“Okay, we’ll leave that on the table,” Ravena lied.
The month of Lamashan began auspiciously enough, but then one of the Spyders reported to Miracelli the tragic case of a sick little boy. He seemed at death’s door but his father diligently cared for him, almost to the point of neglecting his service in the royal guard. The guard drug himself to work each day despite the sorrow that weighed upon him. Little did he know that his weariness was not the only thing causing him to falter on patrol. He had become infected with his son’s disease. Soon guards all over the city were falling ill. They took their own illnesses home, sickening the weaker members of the community. The very young and very old had little to protect them from the creeping green plague.
Zot’s men were quarantined, but for the little boy the city’s efforts came too late. A tiny coffin was crafted and carried to the newly built and blessed cemetery.
As the plague continued coffin production became sloppier in race against the clock.
Ravena was fighting the clock too. She ran from home to home, half-mad from sleep deprivation and magic overuse, laying her hands on each and every person she could find. Her hands glowed violet then white, cleansing what she could of the dread sickness. When her magic was exhausted, as it was every day, she patched up boils with blessed bandages. She had seen a contagion like this before and had her suspicions, but it wasn’t until one of the men by the newly founded mill noticed something odd. The lake- the very water upon which the city depended- was tainted.
Fortunately, through the whole city’s efforts the plague claimed its last victim and then showed its face no more. They were safe- at least for the time being.
Stagfall’s survivors had their confidence shaken, but they went back to their lives. New farms and roads were built. The farms and freshly minted miller assisted with internal food production, allowing the city to be less reliant on hunting and imported foods.
Still, no one said this would be easy, and if they had they were either lying, naive, or just plain drunk.
Even amidst the tough times the people of Stagfall had not forgotten their right to party, and Ascension Day is the finest excuse to party. It coincided with the first snow of the year, allowing for chilled kegs in the common areas outside and soul-warming spiced wines and ales inside the freshly constructed houses. No one got drunk enough to attempt the Test of the Starstone as the day’s honorary, Cayden Cailean, had, though Seamus, the blacksmithing dwarf kept threatening he would.
“Ha,” Zot laughed, “And they say Dwarves can handle their liquor! He’s hardly had 20 mugs!”
“Hush.” Melvin snapped. “If he hears you insulting him like that we’ve got a fight on our hands and that’s the LAST thing I want.”
“Indeed,” Svetlana agreed. She had been standing with them at the edge of the winter revelry in the open public area where houses and businesses would soon stand. “Now that things have calmed down after the plague the last thing we need are racial tensions within the city.”
Oleg danced through the crowds and over to where the group of leaders were standing.
“Oh, ho!” He exclaimed, “What have we here? No one dancing? No one with ale in hand? The fiddle’s playing, Svetlana, join me!”
She smiled at her exuberant husband and let him spin her into the thick of the dancers.
Suddenly, Zot became aware of a prickling feeling on the back of his neck. He whirled around to see the tiny pink gnome Spy-der sneaking up on him.
“Drat.” She said, looking shamefully at her snow-coverd feet, “Element of surprise lost.”
“What did you need the element of surprise for?” Zot asked.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Hot-I mean Hat-I mean Zot… yes, I covered for that well… would you mind dancing with me? Everyone else is too tall.”
“The hat frowns upon dancing.” Zot replied.
“Oh… wow.” She said, turning her wide-eyed gaze to the staghelm’s empty eye sockets, “The um, thank you anyway, Mr. Zot-hat.”
A group of reveling kobolds tried to drag Melvin into the dance but he was resistant. Ravena strode over to him with Skitter perched on the edge of her ale mug.
“I’m sorry,” Ravena said the the kobolds, “But Melvin’s true love is Miracelli.”
Miracelli suddenly appeared next to her.
“Ack! Stop doing that!” Ravena exclaimed.
“Seriously, Ravena,” Miracelli sighed, “That joke hasn’t been funny in 6 months.”
“That joke was never funny.” Melvin corrected.
“Okay, fine. I promise. I won’t make it again. Anyway, Miracelli, I just saw some interesting behavior from a Spyder. Looks like she’s consented to Kestin’s courtship request.”
“Oh god not the gnome!” Miracelli gasped mockingly.
“No, that one has eyes for Zot.” Ravena laughed. “Wouldn’t that be cute, though? Just imagine how tiny their babies would be!”
“Well good luck to her,” Miracelli replied. “He’s married to that hat.”
“But what if the hat tells him to get married?” Ravena asked.
“Ha. Lets see if it asks him to court tonight.” Miracelli laughed.
“Not sure why we need two courtship holidays in a year.” Melvin remarked.
“Well Arrowfeast is for proposals. This is for courtship.” Ravena replied.
“That’s not what I meant. I know what they’re supposed to be for. These feasts were huge in my hometown. I just don’t understand the point.”
“The point is that it makes people happy, I suppose.” Ravena replied.
“Sooo, Ravena,” the spymaster cooed, fluttering her eyelashes, “Couldn’t help but notice Jhod and Akiros over there.”
“Yup. They’re there.” Ravena replied.
“And you’re here.” Miracelli said pointedly.
“Yup. I’m here.”
“Seriously?” The blonde half-elf pulled her hood back in exasperation, as if seeing her face more clearly would drive home the point. “I thought we’d worked this out already. Aren’t you two already dating or something? This is kind of ridiculous.”
“No, what’s kind of ridiculous is that you and Melvin aren’t together.”
“Still not funny.” Melvin interjected.
“Very not funny. Also, you promised,” Miracelli reminded her.
“Your mom promised.” Ravena replied.
“You’re not even making sense anymore. That’s it, we’re walking over there.” Miracelli said.
“That’s probably good,” Ravena replied. “I need somewhere to put this mug down. Skitter says she wants to take the Test of the Starstone, which-” The witch raised the mug to eye-level and began to yell at her familiar. “No! You’re not doing it. Don’t look at me like that.” Skitter and Ravena glared at each other for a moment before Ravena plucked the spider off the rim of the ale mug and put her in her hair. Ravena put the empty mug down beside one of the kegs then turned to Miracelli. “Did it ever occur to you that I have intimacy issues?”
“Yeah, so does he. That whole killing someone you love thing’ll do that.” Miracelli replied.
“Why does that not strike me as a problem?” Ravena replied.
“Probably because your soul is owned by pure, primal Insanity. Either that or you have weird standards. Probably both.”
“Probably both.” Ravena agreed.
The two half-elves stared at Akiros from several yards away for a moment before Jhod smacked his hand on Akiros’ back and said, “I thought you were going to ask to court her? What are you waiting for? The god is on your side!”
“I’m gonna be somewhere else for a minute.” Miracelli said and then vanished.
“How does she do that?” Ravena mused.
“Do what?” Akiros asked, coming up next to her.
“Oh! Um, hi. Yeah. Hi.” Ravena stuttered. “I mean hi. I mean-” Finally, a few moments too late lucidity returned to her. “Hi, I’m glad that you came to town for Ascension Day. And Jhod too. It warms my spirit to see both of you.”
“I feel likewise.” Akiros replied, his gray eyes meeting her brown ones.
The fiddler changed tunes. She played an old waltz and many of the dancers shifted from the center of the muddy yard to the snow-covered wooden kegs or cozy doorways of nearby houses. Some stayed, drifting beautifully in the steps of the formal dance.
Ravena looked mischievously at Akiros. “Well, Mr. Chivalrous Paladin, I’m fairly certain you would have been taught a courtly dance or two.”
“I forgot-” He began to protest.
Ravena interrupted, “It’s simple. One-two-three spin. You walk forward, I walk backward. C’mon, we talk while we dance!”
With that she took his hands in hers and began to dance. He did know the steps. Ravena laughed gleefully.
“Told you so!” She grinned.
“You are… very pretty when you let yourself be happy.” Akiros said hesitantly.
Ravena caught herself and replaced the grin with her trademark look of apathy, but she couldn’t maintain it.
Akiros smiled at her attempt.
“Your hands are quite rough,” Ravena observed, “Has Jhod been working you quite hard at the Shrine?”
“I don’t know that I’ve ever had soft hands. I just don’t think you’ve held them for this long before. We spin now, right?”
“Yes,” Ravena replied as Akiros spun her around. Her big black boots tripped over a pair of kobolds who were attempting to mimic the dance. She fell onto what was either the boy or girl of the pair.
“Aw, you ruin dance!” The non-crushed kobold swore.
Ravena laughed, recognizing him at once. “Gar Gar! How are you?”
“Better when you off my girlfriend!”
Ravena helped the kobold girl to her feet and apologized in Draconic.
“Oh, we remember you!” The girl said. “Where Melvin?”
“Yeah! We wanna show Melvin how good I got with heavy chain things!”
“You mean your nun-chucks? Melvin’s um…” Ravena scanned the crowd. “Well he was over there. You can’t really miss him. He’s wearing a huge fur cape.”
“Why dance? Let’s see Melvin!” The girl kobold exclaimed, scampering off in no particular direction. Gar Gar chased after her.
“Your alliance with the kobolds is most unusual,” Akiros remarked.
“It is. Really, this whole thing is most unusual. The kingdom, the people… you.”
“I suppose of the many things I’ve been called, unusual is the least of them,” He replied.
“That’s not specifically what I meant, though you are unusual. What’s more peculiar is this moment right here. We’re dancing-”
Just as Ravena said that the music stopped. The human fiddler took a bow as a half-elf with pipes and a dwarf with two upturned empty barrels and two sticks took their places beside her. The dwarf began pounding a rhythm and the fiddler and flautist picked up the beat to a wild jig. Akiros looked at Ravena dubiously but she shouted over the music, “Try to keep up!”
The dancers crowded around thick. Even Melvin joined the fun, dancing simultaneously with a dozen happy kobolds. A circle formed. Partners were spun from man to man. Miracelli lifted Zot off the ground and tossed him in the air before spinning him off into a kobold’s arms. The pink gnome stuck out her tongue at Miracelli.
“I’ll dock your pay for that.” Miracelli joked.
“You can only do that if you can find me!” The gnome shouted, vanishing into the crowd.
Miracelli took a moment to be proud of her Spyder’s knack for going undetected. As long as no one asked her full name or why she was here (a deal many of the Spyders had) the gnome would serve Stagfall.
Back in the dance, a large circle had formed with partners flowing round in opposite directions. A carpenter picked Miracelli up and swung her into the arms of Kestin. Kestin politely handed her to Ravena. Ravena bowed to her new dance partner and kissed Miracelli’s hand. As she did so, Skitter crawled out of Ravena’s hair and up the sleeve of Miracelli’s coat. Miracelli was unsure what to do as the dance carried her away from Ravena, but Skitter seemed content to sit on her shoulder.
“A bit drunk, huh?” She whispered to Skitter.
“What, drunk ‘nuthin!” Exclaimed her new dance partner, Seamus the dwarf.
“No, silly, not you. The spider.”
“Spider?!” The dwarf gasped, quickly shoving Miracelli into the nearest man’s arms.
It was Akiros, who greeted her warmly. Their hands interlocked and Skitter took the opportunity to crawl from Miracelli’s shoulder and into Akiros’ hair.
Akiros froze.
“Is this…” He asked Miracelli, pointing at his head, “A good thing or a bad thing?”
“Depends. Is she biting you?”
“No. I mean ofyesow!” Akiros grabbed at his hair and pulled Skitter out.
The urge to crush the creature played through his mind briefly, but he pushed the thought aside. Although Skitter seemed hellbent on coming between him and the woman he loved, destroying her best friend would ruin his chances. But what to do? He took a step backward, out of the dance, and regarded the scarlet spider. Skitter was held by the body, futilely swinging her legs at him. He thought for another moment and then slowly, deliberately, placed the spider on top of his head.
“Do what you will, Skitter.” He whispered, stepping forward again into the dance.
Soon, Ravena was swung back into his arms.
“Have you seen Skitter?” she asked worriedly, “I saw her on Miracelli, but now I can’t find her.”
Akiros pointed to his head. Skitter was buried in his gray-brown hair, unsure of what to do.
“Skitter!” Ravena squealed, “Do you like him?” Then, after a pause. “You don’t? Not really? What, you bit him! You little bitch. But what, you gave up? He gave up? Akiros, you didn’t mind her biting you?”
“I have a bit of a welt swelling up, but I don’t mind. She’s your familiar. I will make peace with her.”
“And why,” Ravena smiled, “is that?”
Akiros swallowed hard. “Because this night I would like to ask for the right to court you.”
“You won that right the day you saved my life. I regret it has not been official sooner.” Ravena said, wrapping her arms around him. “And now, officially, you have until Archerfest to prove yourself.”
“Officially.”
Ravena smiled. “You have presented yourself as an honorable gentleman, despite what may have come before. But we will follow the stupid human conventions. You have until Archerfest. You know what that means.”
“I know what that means,” Akiros replied, holding Ravena tightly. “I shall not do you wrong. I only wish that Erastus would come sooner.”
Ravena smiled. “It shall come soon enough.”

View
Game 17, Or the Kingdom Begins

Our heroes have experienced another pile of exciting experiences! Back in Restov Ioseph gave them 5,000 gold (not each- to split evenly among them, MIRACELLI). He also gives them the command to build a kingdom and money and settlers for building said kingdom. Aforementioned settlers are to be referred to as such in conversations with them, though the group likes calling them minions when they’re not around.

Flush with cash burning a hole in their respective pockets our heroes hit town to buy some awesome gear. Unfortunately, all the awesome gear is out of their price range and that’s just the awesome gear they can see. A shopkeeper won’t even let them into the back of his store on grounds of “seriously? No way can you afford this shit.”

That night the foursome finds a quiet booth in the corner of a local pub and settle in for some serious negotiations.

“Well, guys,” Melvin starts off, “What are we going to call this place?”
“MikMiksomethingorother!” Miricelli exclaims
“I dunno,” Ravena replies, suspiciously eying her ale. “Will settlers want to live in a place named after a kobold? Also, this beer is nowhere near as good as Svetlanas”
Skitter continued to drink from the rim, undeterred.
“Well not only that,” Zot replied, “But where are we going to put the capital. I think we should put it centrally in the part of the Stolen Lands that we’ve already explored.”
“Eh, I think it would be more convenient north of that.” Ravena weighed in.
“Actually,” Melvin said, unfurling the map he had been carrying with him, “Hear me out on this. The Stag Lord’s old fort would be perfect.”
“Yeah. People love living around zombies.” Ravena replied, voice dripping sarcasm.
“Actually, the zombies seem to be a finite resource,” Miricelli interjected. “We kill them all and we’ll be good.”
“Also,” Melvin continued, “Though the fort is pretty run down there are sound parts of the structure and the rest can be salvaged for building materials. That should cut the cost of building a castle in half. Besides, it’s close to a major body of water which is good for defense and trade. “
“You know, Mel,” Ravena conceded, “I thought that was a stupid idea, but I’m convinced. Does everyone else agree?”
The group toasted to the good idea and moved onto the next issue.
“Well what do we call this city?” Miricelli asked.
Ideas ranging from combinations of our names, things involving MikMik, and It’s My City Bitch are floated. In the end Zot suggests “Stagfall” which seems like a pretty good idea, though he’s willing to compromise with “Stagfall Bitch”.

Finally, the group agrees to discuss the matter further later.

Meanwhile, Melvin’s animal training skills have increased. He trains Delilah and Severina of the Nightfall not to fear combat.

With their business in Restov finished the group travels back to what are, for the time being, the Stolen Lands. They are met with the usual warmth and enthusiasm at Oleg’s trading post. There the ask Oleg and Svetlana to take a role in the kingdom’s government. Oleg, with his smart money sense, agrees to be treasurer while Svetlana, with the solid head she has on her shoulders, agrees to be councilor.

Much to his delight, Kestin’s interminable boredom is broken by the proposal that he become the kingdom’s new General.

After their time at Oleg’s they head south to recruit Chief Stootscale to be the Marshall. He and his kobolds will patrol the woods, maintaining order and generally being awesome little lizard men.

Speak of awesome little lizard men, Gar Gar now has nun-chucks.

After that they head to the temple of Aristil to meet up with Jhod and Akiros. Akiros makes Ravena forget how words work. Meanwhile, the rest discuss with Jhod the possibility of becoming the kingdom’s high priest. He is initially hesitant, but with Akiros around to watch the temple he says he feels comfortable leaving his shrine to help the city now and again. Akiros accepts a heavier burden- that of the royal executioner. It’s a messy job but someone’s gotta do it.

With their ministers secured, our heroes head to their soon-to-be castle to deal with the zombie problem. The gnarly piles of bones are dispatched easily, giving the group a chance to explore around the area of their new home.

Along the edge of the lake they encounter a hut with creepy symbols around it. A crow tells them to bugger off but they persist. Finally they see the old BelleDame- a creepy witch about whom bedtime stories are told to simultaneously warn and traumatize impressionable children. She tells them repeatedly to go away.

“Okay,” Melvin replies, “Just introducing ourselves. If you ever need a cup of sugar or anything, we’re over that way.”

After that they see some large wolf prints and what seems to be a ruined fort on an island in the lake. They also encounter the Gutrend river. It’s sparkling clear, slow, 450 ft across and very deep.

Town building begins. The castle is completed first, followed by a number of houses and a road. Two months pass. The Archer Feast is a joyous success, lifting the spirits of the populace, but the city is hemorrhaging money. Ravena decides that her role as diplomat is less important than the money they could gain from her becoming the city’s magister and crafting high-end items.

Things are peaceful in the city, but one night there is a reminder that the threat of bandits has not vanished. A couple of guys with Stag Lord medallions are spotted within the city. They steal 3 build points. Bastards.

View
Games 14 and 15, Or Shit Gets Real

Red sighs, leaning against one of the few railings that remained on his tower. Another boring day on watch duty. Of course, they’re all boring days, save for the one when those fools tried to fight their way through the zombies. At the time he had been struck with terror by the mysterious weapon the gnome had used to take out one of the other guards, but thinking about it in retrospect Red couldn’t help but smirk to himself. That group had turned tail and fled, no match for the might of the Stag Lord and his excellent crew.
Suddenly, the roar of hooves- horses in full charge- disturbs him from his self-congratulatory day-dreaming.
“Holy shit!” Red shouts, “We’re being attacked!”
As always, Falgrim is cool and composed. He shouts down an order to Crab and Dirty Jeb to close the gate. The pair begin to close the mighty wooden doors but are shocked when two steeds thunder in through the shrinking gap. Before Dirty Jeb has a chance to register any of what’s just happened he finds himself deafened by a boom and struck from behind. Crab sees that his colleague has inexplicably been hit by a ricocheting… bomb? From a gleefully giggling kobold? Who’s mounted with another of his kind on the back of an armored war horse? With a knight? The situation is too surreal too be believed, and that’s even before he sees that the other horse is driven by an elven woman whose dark hair moves about her seemingly on its own accord, like a fearsome tentacled beast.
Crab is able to mutter, “Oh, fu-” before the words are kicked out of his mouth by a well placed hoof to the face. Bill, the ably trained warhorse knocks the man unconscious, but Melvin knows that the fight has only just begun. This will require all of his strength, but also all of his diplomatic skills. If he can convince the kobolds to lend a hand then surely he can challenge one of the Stag Lord’s men to turn on the vile bandit lord!
As he schemes, Zot, Miracelli, and two more of their kobold friends find themselves trapped on the other side of the gate, separated from the rest of their party.
Rather than attempt to climb the gate, as Miraceli does, Zot decides he hasn’t done anything insane and/or awesome in the last few days, so he urges Mr. Pilkington into a full run and then a mighty leap. At the apex of Pilkies’ jump Zot launches himself from the saddle and grabs hold of the top of the gate with his small but strong hands. The kobold who had been riding with Zot falls backward off Pilkies then sits up, rubbing his head in confusion.
Meanwhile, inside the fort, more bandits are visible within what appear to be some rather shoddy and smelly living quarters. An obese and clearly asthmatic man huffs as he runs toward the commotion at the gate, but doesn’t make it far. Stinktooth the kobold has more dynamite in his bag and is as eager to use it as his opponent, Fat Norry, is eager to get back to eating his pie. Of course that pie winds up going unfinished. With a squeal of glee Stinktooth lights and hurls the dynamite at Fat Norry.
“Yaaaay! Big boom kill big man!” Stinktooth shouts as Fat Norry falls to the ground.
Another man, Jex, is just visible within the living quarters. Melvin spurs Bill to charge at Jex, but Bill does more than that. After charging Bill kicks the bandit in the face, knocking him unconscious.
A middle-aged man with well-kept facial hair leans out of a doorway in the rear of the compound. Clearly one of the Stag Lords three lieutenants, he barks orders at more bandits behind him. These new additions to the fight aim their crossbows at Melvin but with poor results. One misses entirely and the other’s arrow glances harmlessly off of Melvin’s horned helmet.
The ever nimble Zot leaps from his precarious position on the gate to the guard tower occupied by Falgrim. The impassive bearded man drops his crossbow and unsheathes his sword, but Zot is too quick for Falgrim’s blow and rolls out of the way.
Back at the gate, Dirty Jeb has also unsheathed his sword and slashed Gar-Gar across the chest. Though the damage is clearly severe, Gar-Gar insists that, “It not hurt so much,” and continues to fight. Red takes aim at the little kobold but his nerves are still rattled from the initial shock of the attack and he misses his target.
Ravena raises two of her long, thin fingers, mutters something under her breath and dazes Dirty Jeb. His momentary confusion is enough to allow two of the kobolds to open the gate, letting the rest of the party in.
Dirty Jeb, already dazed, is given no chance to recover, as Miracelli and Gar-Gar both stab him.
Back in the filthy living quarters a young bandit with long, black hair smirks to himself. He reaches to his left, giving Ravena and Melvin a look that clearly says, “You are so fucked now.” With a rough grinding sound a metal grate opens, releasing Beaky, the owlbear.
“Well that explains the smell,” Ravena mutters.
With Beaky uncaged the raven-haired man, Dovan, runs toward an adjacent dilapidated room.
At this point each of our heroes is fighting on a different front. Stinktooth glances around, trying to determine what to do. He asks his idol, Melvin, who instructs him to do reconnaissance in the crumbling room Dovan had just run into.
Zot is knocked from the watchtower. Once he regains his breath he dusts himself off and enters the doorway behind Stinktooth. The ceiling above the pair shudders with footsteps that threaten to break the fragile wood. Two other kobolds join them in time to see a grotesque, ogre-like man descend the staircase. This is Auchs, who is both stronger and dumber than any of the stones that litter the floor of the room.
The first one to take a swing at Auchs is Sub-sup. The kobold damages the thick skin slightly, but Auchs raises his massive club and crushes Sub-sup into a bloody, squishy puddle of lizard-man.
“What you doing?” Auchs asks as one of Zot’s bullets strikes his flesh.
“It’s a game!” Zot replies, “It’s called ‘catch the shiny metal pellet!’ You’re winning!”
Auchs is clearly baffled, but he wouldn’t describe it that way because those words are far too big for him. Instead his external hard-drive, Dovan, processes them for him.
“Seriously, Auchs,” Dovan says, rubbing his forehead, “Just kill everything.”
Amidst all this confusion, a voice booms out from the room in the back of the compound. This can only be the Stag Lord himself. His rage terrifies his own recruits, who go running around the side of the building so as not to incur the Lord’s wrath. Now, one man stands between the fearsome but unseen voice and our heroes. It’s Akiros, the man who had ordered the two bandits with crossbows to attack Melvin before. Akiros fires his own bow at Melvin but misses.
“Come now,” Melvin shouts, “Renounce the Stag Lord and join us!”
Akiros looks confused for a moment but shakes his head as if dismissing an undesired thought then fires on Melvin again.
Meanwhile, the melee continues in the rest of the compound. Auchs kills another kobold, this time the noble Digger, with his club. Red and Falgrim rain arrows down upon those beneath them. The owlbear inches closer to Ravena. Amidst all this the Stag Lord finally shows himself. He emerges from the building behind Akiros. His scarred, tattooed body is less alarming his head. They had always known that he seemed to have the head of a stag, but upon closer inspection it’s obvious that the skull and antlers are a helm being worn by a man.
“What are you doing here?” The Stag Lord demands.
“Putting an end to your evil!” Melvin replies.
The Stag Lord grunts, unimpressed, and plants an arrow in Ravena’s shoulder. She falters, but does not fall.
Click-clack has no such luck. In a charge against Auchs the kobold stumbles and loses hold of his own spear, which Auchs stabs him with. Gar-gar avenges his friend with a spear in Auchs’ side, but that’s not enough to bring the brute down.
While Auchs wails on the kobolds his “brain”, Dovan, feels the sting of Miracelli’s rapier.
“Is that…?” Dovan asks with a smirk, “Poison? Wait, I know you!”
“No you don’t!” Miracelli responds, attacking him again.
“There are only so many pretty ladies in the poisoner’s guild,” Dovan says as he rubs a foul smelling cloth on his own blade. “Tis a pity.”
Miracelli has no interest in roguish reunions. Whoever Dovan is matters not when he’s on the receiving end of her sword. The two begin to dual in earnest, and through Miracelli is able to match him blow-for-blow his sword punctures her defenses and sends her reeling. For a moment she seemed close to death, but Stinktooth reached into his bag and found a jar of some kind of cream, which he slathered on the half-elf. She immediately felt better and was able to continue fighting the strange dark-haired man.
Back in the living quarters Ravena and Melvin continue to be assailed by the owlbear. Bill, despite his failing health, is able to kick Beaky in the face. Melvin finishes the job, slaying the beast, but as he does the Stag Lord charges.
“Join us!” Melvin shouts to Akiros, “End this man’s terror!”
Ravena tells Melvin he’s daft to try, but Akiros furrows his brow as if genuinely considering desertion. Finally, he raises his bow, taking aim at Melvin… but then slowly, consciously, shifts his aim to the right.
Akiros shoots the Stag Lord squarely in the back.
The Stag Lord wails, as much from the betrayal as the pain. He whirls around and takes aim at his former lieutenant, but the arrow merely grazes Akiros, whose mind is clearly made up: he will help our heroes take down his former boss, whatever the cost.
The Stag Lord runs for the dilapidated room where Zot has just brought Auchs down. The Stag Lord charges up the stairs, followed closely by Melvin.
Meanwhile, another bandit has taken aim at Ravena. His arrow strikes true and she crumbles to the ground, unconscious, hemorrhaging and at the brink of death. Her friends have just used the last of their healing potions and things look hopeless, not just for the half-elf but for the group as a whole. Without her healing spells the injured bunch may not be able to fight through the remaining bandits and ultimately kill the Stag Lord. They knew there was a risk of fatalities when they embarked upon this quest. Already kobold blood soaks the ground, but Ravena will be the first of the original group to ascend to the realm of The Lady of Graves, Pharasma. Images of the goddess swirl through her mind, accompanied by images of the life she had lived and the coaxing voice of her patron.
Slowly, another voice comes to her. A male voice, telling her to awake. A potion burns its way down her unwilling throat, causing her to cough. As she sputters up blood she feels someone lifting her head. She opens her eyes to see Akiros, whose potion seems to have healed her more than any potion could be expected to.
“My hero…” She mutters.
“Milady.” He replies.
But there’s no time for her to reflect on it any further. The fight has moved upstairs to where the Stag Lord is making his final stand in a tower with a few of his trusty bandits. Zot pulls out his grappling hook and uses it to climb right into the thick of things. Gar-gar kills Sillias, but Zot’s fight goes less well. As Miracelli struggles to climb the rope up to the battle, Zot is knocked unconscious on the edge of the roof. Ravena knows that she’ll never reach the gnome in time, but as her rage flares her hair grows, reaching twice its normal length to touch Zot and bring him back from the darkness.
Falgrim is knocked unconscious and tumbles off the roof and onto the ground.
The bandits make their last stand, assailed by Miracelli, Melvin, Zot, Ravena, Akiros, and the two surviving kobolds, Gar-gar and Stinktooth. Even the Stag Lord himself is no match for their combined strength. After being shot, stabbed, and hit with spells he collapses. Filled with rage, Akiros stabs the Stag Lord’s body one more time- the bandit king will not be recovering.
Soaked in blood and panting from the exertion, the group exchanges looks. They’ve really done it. The Stag Lord is no more.
“I wonder what’s under his helmet,” Miracelli muses.
“I don’t care! I want it!” Zot replies.
“It’s probably full of evil magic.” Miracelli replies, “Don’t even think about it.”
Melvin is already lifting the helm off. Underneath is a bloated, scarred, hideous face. Akiros spits on it, for good measure.
Zot grabs the helm and places it on his head. Though it’s way too big, it suddenly seems to fit him just right. Though Miracelli is still telling him to take it off because who knows what kind of magic is within, Zot feels that the helm is not evil. It’s embued with the power of Aristil.
Miracelli begins to engage in her favorite hobby, looting, while the others collect themselves. It’s late and the suggestion is made that they camp within the compound overnight.
“Probably not wise,” Akiros tells them, “There remain a few loose ends. There’s a old man in the basement who is best left alone until tomorrow. I recommend that we camp outside these walls.”
And so they do. A fire is struck and wounds are rinsed.
“Why did you help us?” Ravena asks Akiros, “I mean, other than the fact that Melvin’s very convincing.”
“Actually,” Akiros replies, “I had grown disillusioned with the organization- if you can even call it that.” He recounts how he had come to be one of the Stag Lord’s most trusted lieutenants. Once, long before he had begun wandering the Stolen Lands, he had been a paladin who had the misfortune of falling in love with a married woman. Things went sour and she accused him of raping her. In a fit of anger he killed his former lover and was forced to go on the run.
“That’s um, kind of horrible…” Ravena begins, but Zot cuts her off.
“Hey, guess what?” The gnome asks.
“What?” The others reply warily.
“WE ARE BITCHIN’ AWESOME IS WHAT!”

View
Game 13, or Zombies? Seriously?

Our heroes capture and question the three bandits then decide to sneak up on the fortress from the side and try to draw the guards out. This plan fails because HOLY SHIT ZOMBIES! For each wave of zombies the group kills another takes its place. Zot is amazing and jumps on a rock from where he gets a good clean shot off on a guard named Cragger. The man falls to his death, which terrifies another guard, whose name is Red. Another man in the fort, Falgrim, is yelling at him.

The group realizes that this is completely crazy and runs away. They’ll take their bandits to Oleg’s and regroup from there.

View
Game 12 Or Indecision

The hunters and our heroes are justifiably wary of one another, but after the masterful diplomatic flourish of Mel Vin FINALLY getting out of the trees, each group is able to convince the other that they are not bandits, merely hunters and adventurers, respectively.

They make camp, sharing stories and food with the hunters. The thylacine is so delicious that if it knew how delicious it was it wouldn’t have been saying, “getmeoutgetmeout” to Zot but rather, “may I suggest some wine pairings that really bring out my succulence?” The hunters, Kelvin, Zelda, Alice and Mark, had all previously hunted alone, but the bandit-related danger had forced them to join together. They describe the Stag Lord as a skeezy looking guy with tattoos. There is some debate as to whether he wears a hat or just has a really weird looking head. The hunters think our heroes are on a suicide mission, but give them some fireworks. If you’re gonna die, you might as well do it with fireworks.

In the night Zot spots a thylacine. He and Mel kill it, but they know soon that they’ll have bigger fish to fry. Fish that are actually deer… that are actually a human that looks like a deer. So really not fish at all. But there are fish in the river that they follow south, intending to find the Stag Lord’s fortress somewhere near where the Skunk and Thorn rivers empty into Tuskwater lake.

They spot the fort itself, which is a structure of dilapidated wood. Within it are stone walls and three watch towers. The party camps out to observe the comings and goings of the fort. Nothing particularly interesting happens, save for the occasional hoot of an owl-bear.

The time to take action has come, but the group is even more divided than when they have to agree on toppings for that big, cheesy, round flatbread thing Svetlana makes. Ravena favors peppers on her pizza and trickery in storming the fort. Just as Mel refuses to eat the dish with anything other than disks of spiced meat he also refuses to back down from his plan for entering the fort. He initially suggests further reconisance work, but then suggests contacting the kobolds to raise an army. Miriceli’s plan is similar to Ravena’s but her voice gets lost in the crowd- sort of like how her request for “cheese only” on her pizza gets ignored. As for Zot, he’s cool with people getting different toppings on different parts of the pie- when he’s hungry and knows what he wants he doesn’t take kindly to anything coming between him and the goal. He favors aspects of the Ravena/Miriceli angle. In their eyes the bandits coming down the path at that very moment are an integral part of the plan. Also, killing unrepentant bandits is part of their job description.

The time for indecision is over. The pizza is ready. The toppings may not be what everyone had in mind, and everyone may get the metaphorical shits from it later, but eating it will leave them full and ready to move forward.

View
Game 11, Or The Priest's Redemption (Still no Stag Lord)

The day dawns with one thing on Mel Vin’s mind: Destroying the Stag Lord. This mysterious figure is the chief thing standing between our heroes and their prime directive from Restov: Create a kingdom in this chaotic land of bandits and monsters. Everything takes a backseat to this imperative, even the vision of Jhod Kavken, an excommunicated priest of Eristil. Jhod saw Mel, the abandoned temple, and the fearsome bear-priest in what could only be a message from his god. The elder sought passage to the sacred spot, though Mel Vin was impatient to slay the Stag Lord. Miriceli and Zot were willing to accompany Jhod… for a price. This is understandable given that Zot’s profession is as a paid guide and Miriceli’s profession is treasure. Similarly, Ravena’s profession is brooding, avoiding people, and talking to spiders. And yet she finds herself increasingly taking on the role that she would have been raised for- the role that she eschewed- that of an Orlovsky-style diplomat. As such she sees Jhod as a possibly strong future ally and insists that the group help him. Still, she can’t resist harassing the rest of the group, planting the seed in Jhod’s head that Miriceli should soon be made Mrs. Vin.

The trek to Eristil’s sanctuary is relatively without incident, and once there Jhod shows his power by blessing their weapons and more impressively making piles of poop vanish. He also promises the group free holy services for life, which is valuable in a land where such things are expensive.

With this completed they proceed to where they believe the Stag Lord is. The river grows wider and rougher and they barely make it across a rotting bridge. Instead of the Stag Lord the group finds nothing of interest save for an abandoned camp site. Miricelli rummages around and finds an impressive two copper and a squirrel carcass. It’s not even a good squirrel. That night Mel spots a hungry wolf sneaking up to the camp but averts a crisis by throwing two of his rations at the wretched beast.

Another day passes with no Stag Lord in sight, though our heroes find a patch of fangberries surrounded by spider webs. Ravena doesn’t want to kill any spiders and so tries to pluck the berries with her hair. She hardly makes a dent in the number of berries they were supposed to bring back to Boken, and even “Stella” agrees that it’s not worth it given that he’s probably already forgotten his instructions to them.

Later they find a clearing in the Miricelli/Mikmik Marches where a thylacine has fallen into a hunter’s pit. We hide hoping to catch the hunters who laid the trap. The hunters appear but the group decides that they are not bandits but rather legitimate hunters.

View
Game 10

After hot springs, explored northern plains. Found a barbarian burial spot. Choose to let the dead rest. Back into forest, found a statue of Erastil. Found old ruins, a boggard lived there with his pet slurk. His name was Garuum and he was pretty nice since everyone was peaceful. Found Tuskgutter, killed him, brought his carcass back to Oleg’s. Oleg rewarded you with masterwork bow and +1 arrows.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.