Ald Sotha was the main city where my Saturday campaign took place, a city completely of my own fabrication co-governed by humans and dwarves. It’s not a major city but when things go down, the Dwarf King and The Emperor do squabble over its natural resources and optimum port location. The city had been recently sacked by sentient undead. The guild that took the PC’s in, The Axefall, were an instrumental part of keeping the city safe. Although they lost in the end, the guild managed to get 500 people (sick, elderly, wounded, women and children!) out of the city before it truly fell. Sadly, the cost of that was greater than intended. Galgurt Galehammer, the guild’s current leader, had fallen during the battle. Luckily, through Lisbeth’s (played by Jessica) strange elven magic (6 Icon relationship point with the Elf Queen), Galgurt’s body achieved a stasis, and his consciousness lives on to guide them through Lisbeth’s mind.

Last night, the party just reached their destination city, New Port. Needless to say, after two months (in-game time) of guiding those hardy folk overland, the players were happy to be at the end of the tunnel. The session overall was a hit, I think. Previous to that session, the PC’s had found a house on the fringes of the Wild Wood that was currently occupied by orcs, one of the orcs being from Lisbeth’s past. He fancies himself a general and lead an assault decades ago to raze her home to the ground. That event claimed the life of her baby sister. Of course, his presence wasn’t well received. Crysx (played by Ben) used himself as bait to distract the orcs by playing as a lone traveler. When the orcs tried to get Crysx to submit, his friends jumped out of the brush to come to his aid. The warriors were slaughtered, the archers got away, and General Gug was taken prisoner. The interrogation proved somewhat fruitless, but they did learn that he seems to be working with someone, though he wouldn’t say who. The party of course assumed the Orc Lord, since such reckless rage can only be directed rather than commanded. The archers that escaped the conflict in front of the house decided to set it ablaze in an effort to create an opening for General Gug to escape.

Lisbeth made him view his own innards instead. Crysx ran outside to find where the fire started while Corbin and Maple (played by Mike and Jess H.) ran upstairs to combat the inferno. By the end of all of it, one of the archers was cut down, the other escaped and the party stood outside of the burning manor with their lot of (now) 300 interspersed civilians and guild members to watch their shelter from the harsh winter burn. Nobody talked that night. The children whimpered as their mothers comforted them. The flames flickered in the hopeless eyes of the guild members. All thought they were going to die out there. A restless sleep found the players that night.

Their minds converged and found themselves in a void that seemed a dream. A voice that sounded of the snapping of bones said, “You are fools. You can’t escape death. You will not escape me again.” Crysx felt that the place they were in had some physicality to it, while Corbin tried to free his mind of what he assumed to be a spell that bound him to that dark place. Crysx dug deep inside him to condense his courage into light and fought the dark with the head of his magical axe (6 icon relationship with the Great Gold Wyrm). They were in a stone hallway. The light could barely shove back the darkness, the very setting they were in seemed black and white. They progressed into it. On the wall there were torches that burned, their flames a dull grey. They emitted heat, but no light to reveal their presence until Crysx’s courage illuminated it. Fear sat in everyone’s stomach like a lead ball as they progressed down the long hall. It never seemed to end, until they found a door their right, it had two windows flanking either side of it about three feet high by two feet wide. The door was boarded shut with heavy chains secured tautly over that. Outside the window they could make out the shapes of naked trees, and what seemed to be a community of houses. A glowing purple sun lazily burned in the sky, bathing everything in an eerie light. They realized they were home, it was the council house of Ald Sotha. But… this was not their home, it was some hellish copy. “I will break your will. I will crush your spirit under the fist of death,” the voice echoed in the air.

Continuing further down the hallway, they found a message on the wall scrawled in some gray liquid, though everything was gray here. “This way to your death,” it said, with an arrow pointing to a set of double doors now at the apparent end of the hallway. Maple had done this before, in another dream. The very thought made a cold bead of sweat run down her forehead, her heart pounding in her ears. Crysx ran up to the doors and shoved a heavy foot between them, though expecting a crash, there is no sound. They found themselves in the familiar dining hall of the council house, where this whole horror story began. Two corpses lay on the table, seemingly chewed to a state that past being identifiable. But Maple knew… Maple had seen this before. There was a figure standing on the opposite side of the table. As he turned, Maple and Crysx were grasped by fear, it was the necromancer from their dreams previous. His skin was a sickly white color, the pallid color of a corpse. Eyes sunken deep into his head, lidless and wild looking, a permanent lipless grin on his face, a hole where his nose should be. He spoke, though there was no evidence his throat emitted the terrible sound, “Now, you become mine.” Roll for initiative.

The fight only lasted until escalation die 3, but it was a good one! For a level 5 climactic conflict, I felt it was well-received by the party. They were definitely relieved by the end of it. The necromancer was protected for most of the fight by skeletal hounds and was really only able to set off three spells, one of which missed and another one negated by Corbin’s Counter Magic spell. He missed a melee attack on Crysx, who had hacked his way to the back of the room. The party was definitely run ragged by the travel, only a few recoveries left between all of them. Crysx had made good use of a five with the Elf Queen by reducing his remaining hit points to zero, to split the value, and gift it two his two other elven companions, Corbin and Lisbeth. I liked the enthusiasm, but had to dial it back a bit and only allow them to be temporary hit points. A daft move, considering the undead were willing to forgo all of their actions to attack him while he was helpless. Three points from perma-death, he came. Close call. But in the end they reigned victorious! Waking up bathed in a cold sweat and finding that the wounds they sustained in the dream had translated to their physical bodies. What a great session. I find often times that the session never feels amazing until I look back on it, which is almost a little disappointing. Then again, there’s a lot of work to be done as a GM, so maybe it’s just that I can’t really appreciate it the same way the players can. Oh well, it’s worth it.

Before the refugees get access to the city of New Port, the party must talk with the city’s Imperial Governor, and state their case to reach an agreement. 300 people is a lot to have homeless in one day without notice, what will they conjure up to make this work?

A more pressing question for after this… How will they take back their home?

 

Stay Metal! \m/