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The Crown of Shadows: Homebrew Campaign

The Crown of Shadows: Homebrew Campaign

Postby Icefield » Thu Jul 28, 2016 12:09 pm

I recently started a new campaign in a homebrew campaign I decided to call the Runelands of Atarthia. I have a younger player in a group of two at the moment, as my third player for this game lives in Germany but will be coming to the states for a stay soon.
The players are starting in a fief called Holth Barony that has, in last decade, doubled its territory by successfully prosecuting a vendetta war with a casus belli from the Duke against their neighbor: Barony Indroth. The prize of that fight was the trade town of Riverstone as well as the iron mines that had been the right of the Indroth Baron.

The characters are: Kelton, a Thief and street duelist who ran with the most established group of local cutpurses in RiverStone, until he fell out of favor with their leader over a dispute about cuts.
Darnath Algyron a fellow of good family who had been trained at arms hoping to join the house regulars of Baron Holth, but whose family suffered a burglary that rendered them broke and forced to work one of their tenant farms.

The Players were joined by their friends of recent acquaintance: Aryk, a spearman from down river who had come to Holth Barony looking for employ as a Merchant's Man (bodyguard). Dela, second cousin to Kelton on his father's side who was looking to help seek revenge for the recent murder of Kelton's father at the hands of Hafnor the Lighthanded (whom no one could seem to find after the crime).

The characters began their day at the Dog's Ear, a dank tavern near the docks area of RiverStone where they were engaged in a brawl with Durben the Dark and his crew. Darnath and Kelton had heard that Durben might have names concerning the thieves who had robbed his family and was keen to find out any possible information. Darnath squared off against a fellow called “Smiley,” who carried that moniker because of a chronic dour expression, and Kelton traded grips and punches with Durben himself.
In the chaos of the fight the two parties began to break up some of the furniture in the tavern and spawned a contagion of fistfights; as bets that had been made on the fight were disrupted by the fight itself. This caused the barkeep to run outside to look for the town watch. Seeing this, and having dispatched most of Durben's gang, Kelton grabbed Durben up by the shirt and demanded to know what they knew about the Algyron theft.

Durben said he, “Wouldn't know nothin' bout it, but Smiley might,” as he explained that Smiley had been in on that job and had been looking for help just like he had been that day. Looking around, the players realized that Smiley had managed to disappear from the fight (he had been knocked under a table). Kelton demanded to know where Smiley lived but Durben simply looked at Kelton's fine jerkin and boots.
“What's in it for me eh?”
Kelton dipped two fingers into his pouch and pulled out a silver, holding it as he waited to hear what Durben would say. Durben explained that he didn't know where Smiley stayed but did know that Smiley had tried to recruit them to steal something from the god's temple in the north fields that night. Durben further explained that he wasn't looking to **** off the gods, so the gang had declined. The players beat a hasty retreat as the town watch came running around the street corner and into the tavern.

The players made their way to the small temple, a two-storied stone building with a peaked roof and a small wall that surrounded the building and demarcated the sanctified ground. The light of the nearly full moon gave them some ability to see the temple and the woods that came close to the temple and town itself. They resolved to wait and see if Smiley showed up.
Sure enough, after a short time they began to witness figures in dark cloaks or robes going over the wall instead of using the arch at the front of the temple. They were about to approach when the wheat field they were in and the side of the temple building were suddenly lit a bit brighter from a large fire somewhere in town behind them. Hearing a great commotion in town they realized that they had to choose a course of action and resolved to prevent the church robbery if possible. Darnath elected to stay outside as a rear guard.

Upon getting into the temple first floor they noticed that it was empty, but saw that the second floor was only half the length of the building leaving a higher vaulted ceiling past the nave. Mounting the steps they arrived on the second floor to see the lay priest's quarters and a man they took to be the priest knocked cold with a lamp tossed on his garments to catch him alight. On the opposite wall a doorway opened onto a platform suspended form the ceiling by ropes that passed over the heads of worshippers and allowed cleaning and offerings to be put in the stone altar of the gods. The men in the black robes were on the platform and heading toward the altar. Kelton drew his estoc and dagger and made for the villains while Aryk (being especially pious) cut the priest's robes to try and keep the man from being burned alive, singing his fingers in the process. Dela looked frantically for something to douse the fire and found only the chamberpot, which did not get the job done, and made the smell considerably worse.

Outside of the temple Darnath saw another robed figure near the grounds beyond the structure where a small graveyard lay in the long shadows cast by the churning blaze in RiverStone. The man turned toward Darnath and he saw the bone-white mask of a member of the Cult of Bones, worshipers of a lord of the abyss. He had readied his crossbow while he had waited and now aimed for the dark cultist who seemed to be perhaps desecrating the grave of a town person. He pulled the trigger and watched as the bolt flew to the target and dropped the cultist. Moving toward the body to see if the foe was simply playing possum, Darnath began to smell a mossy and earthy smell, followed by a moldy odor that was plainly the scent of old death.

Kelton used passing steps to catch up to the men on the catwalk who were wearing the white face masks that would garner them a death by burning in the town square even if they hadn't broken into the temple and assaulted the priest. The man nearest Kelton drew a curved dagger from his belt and charged with abandon. The fight between them ended in Kelton spitting the cultist on his sword, and Kelton running toward the altar. The other cultists were now climbing down the altar to the first floor and Kelton noticed that the furnishings in the room behind him were now shadows among the angry flames. Seeing his path cut off he ran to the far end of the decking and leapt for the altar.

A fight broke out then: Aryk and Dela, who had carried the Priest down to the bottom floor, fought the cultists who were apparently attempting to leave. Kelton came up behind as well and the resulting fray killed the last of the cultists. They dragged the priest and the bodies outside of the temple as the rafters and ceiling began to catch flame.

Meanwhile Darnath looked on in horror as the ground near the dead cultist began to spall and bulge upward. A skull emerged form the ground with dirt packed into the eye sockets, and falling from tattered remnants of a burial robe. Darnath felt his courage buckle and he ran toward the church. He collected himself and thought of the stories of the Archlytes of Iros. Holding his shield up and raising his broadsword, Darnath charged the skeletal monster and battered it apart with a scream of combined fear and furor. He felt charged, very alive in that moment.

Upon searching the bodies the players discovered that one of the cultists was indeed Smiley from the Dog's Ear. On his person they found a large round gem that was half smoky and half opalescent. The priest was barely conscious from his wounds but he told the characters that the gem must be kept safe at all costs, and that they should be careful in who they trust.

Darnath told the group about his encounter and they were mutually afraid. This meant they needed more information, but they did not know where to start. Aryk suggested they head back to town to see what had happened, and upon arriving back in the town at a physician's home they learned that there had been an attack on the Mayor's villa and the adjacent guard barracks. The town watch had been attacked by a force of men who had successfully hidden among the people during the day.
Dithering will only serve to waste your Action Points...
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Re: The Crown of Shadows: Homebrew Campaign

Postby Belgath » Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:42 pm

I injoyed that read.
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Re: The Crown of Shadows: Homebrew Campaign

Postby Matt_E » Thu Jul 28, 2016 8:11 pm

Nice write-up! Oh, those wacky cultists, always up to something...
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Re: The Crown of Shadows: Homebrew Campaign

Postby Icefield » Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:38 pm

Thanks guys :) I had hoped someone would find it amusing. I am somewhat addicted to cultists and use them way too much.
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Re: The Crown of Shadows: Homebrew Campaign

Postby Icefield » Thu Sep 01, 2016 11:55 am

After a day of walking down sources, the characters find out that Smiley was from Holth Keep, the settlement that stands outside of the walls of the fortress with the same name. They undertake a short journey there by hiring a coach to drive them there, but only found a carter who was transporting some flour to a baker in Holth Keep Village.

The arrived to find that their carter is friends with the innkeep of the Highstone, a local alehouse with common rooms for travellers. Requiring no convincing the characters began to refresh themselves on the beer and cheese brought to them by the innkeep, who looked as though he could be the brother of the carter. Through the purchase of numerous horns of ale, and hours of rubbing elbows, they were able to discover that Smiley had been known to a be local troublemaker, but had also been seen coming out of the sallyport of the keep by a man named Little Schmaels who worked as a retainer for the Marshal of the keep. He informed them that the Bailiff, Guldron Venn, would sometimes offer silver in payment for “sneaking about, and bringing him the knowings of the town.”

They decided that the next day they would attempt to get an audience with the Bailiff.

After arriving at the Keep bastion at midmorning, the characters were allowed entrance into the keep courtyard, where merchants were selling goods to the grocer and some of the cooks. They logged their names with the clerk and asked to be seen by the Bailiff. About that time they ran into their friend from the tavern, Little Schmaels, who told the clerk he would see these travelers to the Bailiff.

The Bailiff met with the characters as he walked toward the main keep house, hardly looking at them as he spoke. Kelton told the Bailiff that he was looking to find out who Smiley had been, and the Bailiff told them that he simply did not trust or know them enough to talk to them about a former retainer that he may or may not have hired. He did, however, note that Schmaels had referred to them as swordsmen, and offered them a task of ridding the road of bandits that had been seen of late between Holth Keep and a riverside village called Maytree. They agreed and told the Bailiff they would come back once they had completed the task.

The characters made their way toward Maytree the following day, shadowing a merchant who used a cart and a wagon to move goods to Maytree along the river road and the thick forests that grew along the banks of the Dunarin River. By late afternoon they had come to a place where the woods grew deep and the road turned often leaving blind curves and bends. The characters began to feel as if things were too quiet save for the wagon and horses, and Darnath dropped back to make sure that they had an ace in the hole should any trouble arise.

The wagon came to a halt, the drays pulling it suddenly spooked at the sight of two men in the middle of the road with crossbows. The two men were actually older boys, with several younger boys in positions off to the sides of the wagon. The wagon was being ambushed by kids.

Kelton would brook no weapon be used against children, and told the driver to be still. The oldest boy was emboldened by this, and demanded that the driver get down and surrender the wagon to them. One of the younger boys then accidentally pulled the trigger on his crossbow, and shot a bolt into the beam on which the driver's seat was mounted. The driver panicked and whipped the horses while the boys put darts into the sides of the wagon and its sacks of grain.

The parents of the kids arrived thereafter and continued the robbery that their children had initiated. The apparent leader of the bandits, a man in old guardsman's tabard torn from brambles and hard living in the woods. Having some pity on the family band, and finding out that they were displaced men who had fled the siege of Indroth when Holth invaded, the characters gave them two sacks of grain and a small barrel of wine. The bandit leader pledged his gratitude, and the characters went on to Maytree.

In the small farming hamlet of Maytree the characters slaked their thirst at a tavern which had no name but served excellent heady beer. There they were somewhat entertained by a rather lewd old fellow who made eyes at Dela, and asked the characters questions about the goings on in Riverstone. As night deepened they slept upon the floor in the tavern, and Darnath, who held the stone they had rescued form the cultists, had a night of terrible fevered dreams. Feeling that this stone must somehow be tainted, the next day they inquired as to the presence of a priest or ritualist in town, and were directed to the lay priest who lived in a small dwelling near the top of town. There they met the old man who had leered at their companion in the tavern the previous night. He inscribed symbols upon the doeskin pouch that Darnaf used to carry the stone, and told them that they would be safe from any emanations of the stone. He also told them that they should be careful who they allow to know abut such a thing, for he felt that it was an evil trinket.

The characters then set out once again for Holth Keep, having given the merchant money for the lost grain and wine, but having gained potential allies of the bandits. They resolved to return to the bailiff of Holth Keep and tell him that they had not encountered the bandits.
Last edited by Icefield on Tue Sep 06, 2016 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Crown of Shadows: Homebrew Campaign

Postby Caliburn » Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:58 am

You seem to have mastered the rpg session writeup skill with the 'no hyperbole' specialisation.

A rare skill indeed...

I enjoyed it!
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Re: The Crown of Shadows: Homebrew Campaign

Postby Matt_E » Tue Sep 06, 2016 7:40 am

I agree. Keep 'em coming!

Incidentally, I believe you have a private message waiting. ;-)
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Re: The Crown of Shadows: Homebrew Campaign

Postby Icefield » Tue Sep 06, 2016 10:11 am

Thank you for the compliments :) I will get another one out soon as a lot has happened.
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