The Shattered Circle Pt 1

Yusif ibn-Ahmed, the eccentric merchant who lives in Estoque, seeks the party of intrepid adventurers early in the morning after the night of the large celebration. He asks them if, though he knows they have their own destination, they’d be willing to help him. He is headed out to the small shepherding village of Tillo, not the very north-western boarder of Saragón, to escort a Noblewoman to Torre de Manzanas. Before he can even really try to sweeten the deal, the Honourbound Dreigh offers the group’s help.

Through the plains, the terrain starts to turn into gently rolling hills. One night, before getting to the village, the small caravan makes camp just off the trade path, in the shadow of a hill that has a strange henge-like structure. It is on this night that Roen’Thagur, during his watch, spies a a mysterious black unicorn. Before he can really investigate, it seems to blink out of existence. He keeps it in his back pocket for the time being and, after the rest of them wake, the caravan makes their way to the village of Tillo.

The village easily has more sheep than people and, aside from an inn, the only real source of merchandise is travelling caravans making stops to the remote village. However, the village is all abuzz with some strange recent happenings. It seems that a young shepherd named Kurt Charbonnier went missing some nights ago when he passed his sheep through the henge trying to save some time. (Normally, the shepherds in the area steer clear of the mysterious place!) And since he hasn’t returned, villagers and travellers alike have seen all manner of strange creature out by the henge. Including a black unicorn! This piques Roen’s interest, and he presses some of the villagers for information.

Meanwhile the rest of the party explore the small village square, through the various caravans stopped. Yusif ibn-Ahmed introduces the Noblewoman, Queláni d’Elvina, to Dreigh, and soon thereafter to Roen, Roxy and Dren once they are all rounded up. Meeting the Noblewoman is difficult for Dreigh, for on one hand Queláni is an absolutely beautiful half-elven woman, on the other hand, Kyrosh d’Elvina was one of Dreigh’s close friends and a comrade in arms. One of the Honourbound to die in the betrayal by Kyorl. Unsure how to act, Dreigh only expresses the utmost respect toward the woman, while keeping his distance. Although Kyrosh was human, there is a definite family resemblance, though Kyrosh never mentioned a sister or noble birth! However aloof Dreigh wishes to remain, the Noblewoman makes a beeline for him immediately. She recognizes that he is an Honourbound and, though he seems not to be travelling with his comrades, he none the less has an Inheritor and two adventurers with him. She asks that he and his group help the villagers. When they agree to after delivering her, she insists that Don Luis is capable of waiting, and that this is of the utmost importance!

After gathering a little more information from the locals, the group head to the strange circle of stones, about a mile outside the village proper, to begin their investigation.Upon reaching the circle, they find the Devil’s Step, mentioned by one of the locals, and soon find their way to a recently uncovered set of stone stairs leading deep into the earth. Light on provisions, the group has to return to Tillo to find torches and some other random exploration gear. A merchant also sells Roen a fancy belt, which he gifts to Dreigh. No one is interested in the Merchant’s supposed flying carpet, however.

Now properly outfitted for a subterranean adventure, the party heads down the long, winding staircase. They find themselves in a room filled with blue smoke, so thick that they cannot see more than a few feet in front of them! Groping around, they discover a trap! The four of them fall, each narrowly missing spikes in the heart of the pit. It seems Kurt Charbonnier was not as lucky. The party get out of the pit and find there is a door, fashioned like a dragon, spewing the blue smoke. Roxy attempts to use her legacy to pass through, but a magic barrier prevents her attempt. The door, upset by the attempted trespass, spews a green, poisonous fog. Only Dren, the elf archer, was far away enough to not inhale a small amount. His luck turns south quickly, though, as he finds himself stabbed by something in the dark! Two arrows loosed bring the assailant down, and the party find themselves face to face with a strange, pallid creature that looks almost like a cross between a human and a spider. He was holding a dagger fashioned from a large, single tooth.

Unsure what to do next, the party find a few doors. One set is locked, though not magically. Another leads to a small hallway covered in a thick white webbing. Curious, Roxy attempts to cut through some of the webbing, but finds herself stuck! Two more creatures resembling the stabby creature in the previous room emerge from the webbing, chitting and pressing swords into Roxy’s neck. The language barrier is soon broken when, after setting some weapons down and relieving Roxy of her sabre, another of the creatures exits the webbing. This one speaks some of the surface language, though not much. He convinces the party to stand down and asks that they talk to the leader of the creature. Curiously, Dren is forced to stay behind. Called a word none of the party knows, “drow“, the creatures clearly do not trust the one with pointy ears.

The party is brought through a few rooms, carefully guided through the webbing, until they are brought to Uelwen, the leader. To either side of her are massive spiders that seem to follow her command. She explains that she and the other Chitines are refugees, escaped slaves. Through the discussion, they learn that the race called drow are their slavers, and the chitine guards mistook Drn for one of them. They also explain that though they are not looking for a fight, their original leader, Caullum, is. He’s become obsessed with a stone he found, and has been gathering other chitines for reasons she doesn’t entirely know. She asks that the adventurers help her and her people, some thirty chitines in all, find a new home on the surface world. The party is unsure they can help, so ask that she wait and they be allowed to gather their Noble friend who has a better idea of where they could stay. Roen and Dren stay behind while Dreigh and Roxy gather Queláni for assistance. She is willing to help them move through Saragón territory, to a place in Bosque de las Sombras that is secluded enough for them to have their own place, but also still within the Barrier. Together with Queláni, the adventurers and the entire community of chitines make their journey. It takes a few days, and in that time, the adventurers and the Noblewoman learn of the chitines, and the chitines learn of the surface world. The party is also surprized to discover that Queláni can cook.

Saying their farewells, the party leaves the chitines to found their new home, while they make their return trek to Tillo. The journey will take less time with such a smaller group. One night into the journey back, the camp is attacked by bandits! Dreigh, having been on watch, makes quick work of two of them so precisely that one of the bandits pees himself and runs. The others try to take him, but Dren and Roen help out. Strangely, Roxy manages to sleep through the entire encounter. When the battle ends, the bandit who tried to run is sleeping. Perhaps some sorcery has placed him in that state, but with Roxy now awoken, they adventurers tie him up and try to interrogate him. He isn’t forthcoming with information other than they thought the camp was an easy mark. While Dren is on watch, the bandit tries to get away, but an arrow make quicker work of him than taking him back to Tillo for trial would have.

The party return to the village early in the morning with time to get a hot meal. Dreigh has an uncomfortable conversation with Queláni, wherein he reveals that only he and the one who betrayed the order survived the attack on his band of Honourbound. She thanks him for the information and excuses herself back to her room. Unsure how to proceed, he gathers the rest of the party and they make their return to the henge, hoping to at least get to the bottom of the compounding mysteries below.

What lies in store for our intrepid adventurers remains to be told…


The Jade Hare

A band of friends, travelling to the town of Escudo in Saragón, stop for the evening in the insular, Ylari town of Estoque some few miles from their destination. They’ve been travelling a while and, with evening turning to night, this small village seems as good as any place to stay. Draigh Veloci the human honourbound fighter, Roen’Thagur the tortle Inheritor and priest of Mother Ocean, Roxy the rakasta swashbuckler bard and Dren Ramos Salazar the elf beastrider archer (fighter), four adventurers in all, visit the only inn in this small town. To their surprize,they are not the only adventurers in the inn this evening. A large party, sent out bu Don Luis de Manzanas himself are currently waiting on their food. Of the twelve patrons aside from the party, only one, an elderly human man named Abdullah, is native to the town.

Abdullah calls the adventurers over, and tell mostly Roen and Dren the story of the town’s most precious item, a Jade Hare. According to the old man, the Jade Hare protects Estoque, much as the Barrier Mask protects Saragón. He invites them to come to the museum in town (his house), to see the hare tomorrow, before drifting off to sleep for a while at the bar.

The leader of the Don’s party, Maria Cordoba, invited the wayward adventurers to dine with them, as the large party has already ordered almost all of the inn’s food anyway. Delicacies of Ylari treated turkey, wild rice, and a mixture of native and imported vegetables sate the two adventuring parties while they chat over dinner. The Don’s party is on a mission to find an artifact, and although Maria cannot conscript them herself, she offers that if they’re interested, they should attempt to make contact with the Don. A young man named Orlando recognizes Draigh’s crest and asks if he’s honourbound. Learning that he is, he attempts to set up a duel between Maria and Roxy, though Maria insists they won’t have the time right now, much to Orlando’s dismay.

ibn Ali, the inn keeper, does his best to see to the comfort of the patrons, but most of the adventurers have to sleep on the floor, as it is clear that the inn isn’t large enough to handle such a large crowd. The early morning sees the Don’s party leave, and our intrepid adventurers having time to bathe, eat and, they expect, continue on their way. After stopping in to the museum to see the fabled Jade Hare, of course. Their plans are suddenly upended when a panicked Abdullah bursts into the inn, exasperatedly shouting “they’ve stolen the Jade Hare!” It’s apparent immediately who’s taken it. A band of goblins prowls the town. The adventurers spring into action to rescue the Jade Hare, but are stopped by some goblins before they can intercept the lead!

After felling the goblin foes, the group look to their tracker to find where the goblins took the Jade Hare, but it turns out Dren is more a tracker in theory than in practice. Thankfully, with the aid of Roen’Thagur’s far sight legacy, they managed to stay in the right direction for some time. As luck would have it, when they lost the trail, they found a merchant named Yusif ibn Ahmad, an animated man prone to falling to his knees and praising or cursing al-Kalim, depending on the news. Upon hearing the precious Jade Hare was stolen, he eagerly offers information regarding a cave where a sorcerer lives, who also has goblin guards. “Likely unrelated.”

The adventurers take no time getting to the cave, and there they find a large entrance full of bats! Wading their way through the mass of angry bats, the group presses inward to find a cave that quickly becomes a well hewn headquarters for the mysterious mage. Inside the hidden hideout, the adventurers encounter goblins, an ill-tempered hobgoblin chef, a goblin and his pet spiders, and two ghouls resting under bags of old millet, who paralyze and almost end the young life of Dren. The goblin barracks proves difficult, but the final meeting with the sorcerer and his bugbear bodyguard Balgoruk provesnearly deadly! The sorcerer is ready for the adventurers, immediately hitting them with a spell that paralyzes everyone save for the elven archer. A chance to turn the tides and perhaps save his friends is passed up in favour of shooting arrows at Balgoruk and showboating, causing the bugbear to run around the cave to come up behind the archer. The sorcerer, in the meantime, casts spell after spell to harm the party and protect himself. Balgoruk’s ax nearly splits Dren in twain, causing the terrified archer to throw millet at the bugbear’s chest and run away. So angry with the disrespect, Balgoruk punches Dren in the face, breaking his nose and knocking him out. But Roen takes the opportunity to fell the bugbear with his red steel mace. Roxy tends to the fallen Dren, making sure he doesn’t die, while Draigh steps into engage the sorcerer. A mirror image spell makes Draigh’s mighty swings all but pointless, but the sorcerer, feeling that a single tap would end his life, disappears and runs off to collect hit things, using invisibility to hopefully escape. Draigh’s war cry legacy stops the invisible sorcerer in his tracks, and a wild, lucky swing finds the sorcerer cut in half!

The room the sorcerer retreated to is an alchemy lab of sorts. There, the adventurers find several unmarked potions, as well as a hastily drank vial of what Roen immediately identifies as Crimson Essence, the materials to produce Crimson Essence, and a note from someone named ‘Balazar’. Tucking the potions, the note and the vial away, the adventurers continue to look for the Jade Hare. Draigh finds a key on the body of the sorcerer, as well as a red steel dagger. The key leads to a treasure room that is protected by a gargoyle! Dren shatters his sword on the creature’s hide, while Roxy’s blades cannot penetrate the skin. Draigh uses the red steel dagger to pierce the creature and, while it cries out, Roen finishes the creature before it can fell any of them. Along with the Jade Hare, the adventurers find a haul of coins and various treasures! The adventurers hastily return to Estoque to find elated townsfolk. The travelling merchant Yusif ibn Ahmad announces that today will be a celebration, and the inn keeper Ali whips up his greatest delicacies, while Yusif provides exotic spices for the food and some of his personal stock of tej (a style of mead).

What lies in store for our intrepid adventurers remains to be told…

The Note
01 - Note

Secret GM Notes and Preparation!

Surviving the goblin barracks

Dren is about to die!

Red Steel

So I found these in near mint condition at a gaming store a city over.

Red Steel is one of those weird campaigns that my group saw vestiges of while we were actively playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, but something I never got to play. The only GM who had any of the stuff for it, a random book from one of the boxed sets, and he thought it was “too weird”. This guy also didn’t understand how THAC0 worked, and thought the game was unplayable past level five, but I digress.

Anyway, what I saw I was always like “looks neat.” Over the years, I went on to 3e and stuff, and Red Steel kind of didn’t. Not officially. There were things in a few Dragon magazines here and there, and I did add some of those races to some of my campaigns. Anyway, I have been really wanting to introduce my new players to AD&D, and it took a little talking up to get them like “yeah, let’s play this weird, old game”. I also had to explain that THAC0 isn’t really that difficult, haha. Anyway, I got them to agree to play, and then random ass trip finds me these two boxed sets, with everything. The CDs are even still cellophaned! So I am so hyped to get this going and to introduce my current players (save my Husbutch, who used to play AD&D with me) to the weird and wonderful world of AD&D and the Savage Coast!

So, expect campaign updates!