Of Stone and Shadow

Heroes Doing Heroic Things

Some might say that heroism arises from a sense of duty, that heroes are the people do the hard things so others don’t have to. Others say heroism is born from adversity and the hero is forged in the fires of loss and pain. There are even some who say that heroism is simply the nobly born acting as their birth dictates. Those things might even be true, but there is room in the world for more truth than society wants to face. One of those truths is that the seeds of heroism can be planted in empty wallets, fed with dark intentions, and watered with innocent blood. In the end history will, as it wont to do, gloss over the false starts, the vile deeds, and the dark events, and paint the victors in the veneer of beatification. Stories will be told of crusades against great evil, battles against overwhelming odds, and brilliant strategies that snatched victory from the claws of certain defeat. This is not that story. This is the story of four people whose only skill is murder.

No one set out that day with the intent of becoming a hero. Four near vagrants met at their favorite watering hole to peruse the bulletin board for any new leads. It had been two weeks since they had all come together and where money had run short desperation had grown large. Though they were loath to admit it, the time had come to do what passed for honest labor. With no prospects in the city the four decided to revisit an old rumor and investigate the old dwarven ruins to the north. This idea held merit because old ruins often held hidden wealth and the more well known the ruins are the more likely it would be that someone else would do the heavy dirty work of liberating that wealth. These tomb robbers, should they exist, would be met with swift justice and the world would be rid of such vile individuals while our four heroes financial woes would be alleviated. Should the worst case scenario actually come to pass and the group be required to actually sully their armor creeping through dusty halls they may still come away with some powerful old magics that could be put to use for less plebeian endeavors. Fate smiled upon our heroes that day and they did not make it to the ruins.

Three miles from the edge of the city the group came across an ethical dilemma, six men were accosting three wolves. The group was torn between watching the fight and killing the survivors, charging into the fight and hoping to take out both groups, or offering aid to the humans and then turning on them at an opportune moment. After brief threat assessment and discussion the group decided on the “approach and betray” method. It was well known that there was a bounty on bandits and with the road being such a dangerous place it was safer, and more profitable, to just assume that everyone was a bandit unless they were better armed than you. Two of the men were engaged with the wolves using swords while the other, smarter, four stood back with bows at the ready. The party approached slowly and attempted to parley were ignored twice. This lack of decorum was too much for Malleus to handle, so with a mighty battle cry he charged the four ambivalent bowmen. Our story might have taken a tragic turn ending with the mighty Malleus doing a passable impersonation of a quiver if not for the rather gruesome demise of one of the swordsmen. It turns out that, like many creatures, wolves do not appreciate having swords waved in their faces. It is also a fact that when wolves are unhappy with a situation they have very direct conflict resolution methods. In this case the wolf made his feelings known by ripping out the throat of the man who was menacing him. This also served to distract the bowman at just the right time to allow Malleus’ skin to remain whole and unblemished. In a show of solidarity with their teammate, the rest of the party lept into action. In Sturbin’s case this was literal as he jumped onto the shoulders of one of the bow man and promptly cut his head off. Liryl and the drow did not sit idly by. From the back ranks they commanded the fight and offered ranged support.

Without the support of his bowman the remaining swordsman was put into a bad position, this position only became worse with the loss of his forearm to a wolf’s jaws. Meanwhile back in the melee one of the bowman made the last mistake of his soon to be short life. One man displayed both supreme bravery and utter stupidity when he chose to stand his ground and take a shot at the ferocious frog who had just beheaded his comrade. His mistake was not in trying to kill the frog, that was a thought worthy of a super genius, his mistake was that he failed. Offended by such a poor show of hospitality Sturbin answered act with act and took the man’s leg off at the knee. Meanwhile Malleus, with small help from a wolf, finished off his manner less foe, in thanks for the wolf’s help Malleus gave it a quick death with one clean stroke. By this time Liryl and the drow were able to mobilize the hirelings to go forth and help finish off the remaining canines. Faced with such a dazzling display of destruction and given the option to surrender the remaining bowman threw down his weapon and surrendered.

Liryl came forward to question the gentlemen about their purposes on the road. As luck would have it they were admitted bandits. Unfortunately the man who surrendered was as thick as a brick and proved both intractable and immune to Liryl’s powers of persuasion; fortunately this immunity did not extend to axes or swords and, upon request, Sturbin and Malleus raced to see who would execute him first, Sturbin won by seconds. The remaining survivor proved to be far more useful and provided the party with directions to his camp, as a reward for his gracious aid Liryl requested he die swiftly. The bandits proved wealthier than they appeared and between the coin, gems, wolves, and bounties the party was far better off than they had begun. Te decision was quickly made to return to the city to cash in before setting out again for further business ventures.

Once again the group left the city, this time armed with the location of a potential goldmine in bandit bounties. After a few hours of travel the four wandered across an odd sight two heavily armored orcs doing battle with a confused bear while a robed gnome watched. The three potential bandits didn’t appear to notice the group, and with the bear as a distraction it seemed like the perfect chance to find some valuables lying around on the trail. Unfortunately events rapidly went from a money making opportunity to an opportunity to gather battle scars. As the group approached they spooked the bear, which freed up the two armed orcs and alerted the gnome to presence of the group approached from the rear. The party still felt reasonably confident that the orcs and gnome were bandits, mostly because they were outnumbered 6 to three, but that assumption was also quickly reversed when the gnome suddenly exploded into multiple fractured moving versions of himself. Faced with this new information about the strength of these three strangers they were upgraded from bandits to fellow travelers and Liryl and the drow decided to parley instead of attacking. After a brief, confusing, discussion it turned out that the three strangers were also bandit hunters. It was decided, with much hand waving and vagaries, that it would be better to just part ways peaceably and not share the location of the encampment with other travelers. Still wary of a potential ambush, the group continued on their way.

After a few more hours the group eventually reached the bandit’s encampment though, truth be told, it was less an encampment and more a small fortified town. Crestfallen to find that this would be no easy haul a debate sparked up about the merits of joining the well provisioned and fortified bandits but ultimately it was determined that both greed and ego would not facilitate easy entry into another command structure. Disappointed by the lack of further entrepreneurial opportunities the four, now heroes in truth for having rid the land of six other murderous vagrants, contented themselves with their earnings and retired to the city to replenish and re-plan for their eventual entry into the dwarves ruins.

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Adventure log -- Sunday 18 September
Dead Goblin Fun

((18 September 2011))

Dearest Arete…

I hope this letter finds you well. My sojourn has taken an interesting turn, and I thought I’d put quill to parchment and let you know how things are going.

The ragtag little band I wrote of last split up, many pursuing other interests, but the drow and I decided to investigate the Dwarven ruins I mentioned before. We equipped ourselves and decided to hire a couple of pairs of extra hands before plunging into the wilderness north of the city. It was a good thing we did! We found a dwarf and a gnome willing to take on our cause for minimal coin, and we plunged into the wilds.

For the most part, our journey was uneventful, even boring, though you would have loved many of the breathtaking vistas we were privy to. We passed through gorgeous rolling farmland, and saw few other travelers. Wolves roam these parts, and we saw a pack of them. A band of gnomes, evidently plague-stricken, we avoided, and eventually we arrived at the broken, crumbling ruins of a gatehouse that guards the road north.

We chose to take our time exploring this haunted place, and we slipped through the rusted portcullis. In one ancient room we encountered the spirits of a slain party of adventurers, not unlike ourselves, which was a sobering thought. Their spirits didn’t notice us, and chastised, we continued to cautiously explore the structure.

At the top, in the gatehouse tower, we were set upon by blood drinking insect things. The fight was quick and brutal, but we prevailed, and my companion preserved what parts he could for his alchemical research. We came to the conclusion, based on signs seen earlier, that these ruins must have picked clean, so we continued on into the valley and one by one explored several caves. Rot and mildew were our rewards, and we fought a giant beetle with a belly glowing like crimson fire..I was reminded of the fireflies we used to catch as children.

One of the caves appeared in many ways to be formerly a home, complete with a worn cot and a stone block altar. Definitely the lair of a predator of some kind, we were preparing an ambush when a large cat, a mountain lion, entered and we engaged in fierce battle with the thing.

After slaying it, we continued our explorations. From a distance, we spotted some form of abberrant horror, which we avoided, and we had a brief and furious conflict with walking skeletal horrors who shrugged off our mightiest blows as though they were mere taps. We fled…something I was loathe to do, but our injuries and exhaustion were catching up to us. We determined a return to the city was for the best, so we began the journey back.

Goblins, Arete…more than a gross of them…and they charged us suddenly. We met their charge in a clash of blood and steel. My companions acquitted themselves well, but they fell due to injury, and it was up to me and grandfather’s sword to fend off the bloodthirsty little cowards. They surrounded us and attacked in a pack, but I reaped a bloody harvest, and soon they cast their weapons down in surrender. I could feel grandfather’s spirit watching me with approval, my sister.

I’ve earned a new scar, and my companions are even now resting from their wounds, but we won the day. Soon I will send money home. I hope you are doing well, send me news should my assistance be required. Fare thee well!

With love,
Malleus

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Of felinicide and near death experiences

The day began with a perusal of the local bulletin board on the tavern wall. After a lengthy discussion about the merits of the various pleas for help the group decided to assist a seemingly dimwitted fellow with a rat problem. When they arrived upon the scene the sextet of heroes found the situation to be not quite as advertised. The man who made the plea was a crazy hermit hoarder with a basement full of pet rats. His walls were less than adequate at keeping out the local alley cats so in exchange for an undisclosed magical weapon family heirloom the party agreed to rid the man of his cat infestation so that his rats could play in safety. A plan was quickly devised in which Sturbin would cling to the ceiling and make rat noises to lure the unsuspecting felines into basement where instead of a savory rat lunch they would only taste steel instead. The group made short work of the waves of felines with fashion being the only casualty the protagonists suffered. Their reward proved be as ludicrous as it was useful when the hermit bestowed upon them the Scepter of Farcity, a mace that appeared to be a ceramic urn jammed on to a quartz and slate rod, which upon further inspection proved be a very sturdy weapon as well as a living room conversation piece.

Flush with their fresh success the party retired to their favorite bar to seek further gainful employment from the bulletin board. After a rousing debate about the legal definition of possession and ownership as it pertains to persons leaving unclaimed ruins the merry band decided to assist with a problem of disappearing cows. After a short trek to the edge of the city the intrepid entrepreneurs met with a farmer leaning against a post in front of a disassembled bovine. After a brief discussion it was discovered that this man did in fact offer the best kind of work. For a small price it was agreed that a certain shadowy figure would be removed from the premises in a permanent manner. While the more presentable party members engaged the unsavory gentleman in distracting banter the resident eviction specialist moved into position. The pest proved to be more than he seemed though as he did manage a nearly impossible shot after receiving a dire wound delivered on high with a smile. After Poor Sturbin fell to an onslaught of arrows, the remaining Ladies and Gentlemen managed to drive him off sans bow and armor. After some emergency amphibian aid the group decided to investigate further into the claims made by the vagabond. It turns out that the original board posting was his and he was attempting to impede the farmer from the lawful disposal of his property. With this new information and an injured companion the group decided to retire to their favorite haunt and recuperate.

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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