Blood Bowl: 5th Nuln Artillery (xbox360)

We picked up a copy of Blood Bowl for the Xbox a week or so ago. It's pretty much a direct conversion of the board game - which is cool if you like the board game :) The interface is kinda rough but it play great and looks pretty darn good. I picked a human team, to be able to choose a throwing or running game as circumstances require, though the team has quickly drifted towards a throwing game (which causes trouble against other teams like Skaven and Wood Elves that are dodgy and throw).

My current roster:

  • Lineman x2 (Block)
  • Lineman (Dodge, on a lucky double)
  • Lineman (Kick)
  • Lineman x4
  • Blitzer (Block, Stand Firm)
  • Blitzer (Block, Tackle)
  • Blitzer (Block, injured -1 MA - need to replace him when I get the money)
  • Blitzer (Block)
  • Catcher (Dodge, Catch, Block...something else I forget. Need to use this guy to score less to level others)
  • Catcher (Dodge, Catch, Block)
  • Thrower (Pass, Sure Hands, Accurate, Block, +1 AG)
  • Thrower (Pass, Sure Hands - just got this guy to have another ball handler)

Suffers from some Newbie-itus on skill choices, and again heavily biased towards the thrower and catchers as they make so many ocmpletions and touchdowns - I really need to concentrate on getting my linemen and blitzers levels, either through handing them the ball at less critical moments or stepping up how many injuries they cause. I've also been thinking of getting an Ogre to hold the central line, but wondering if he's more of a liability than a help.

Defense at Silver Hollow - Session 5


  • Malik - Shifter Warlord
  • Fyodora - Elf Monk
  • Phoenixfire - Dragonborn Sorcerer
  • Luccio - Drow Rogue
  • Konrad - Human Fighter
Full five players: Defender-Leader-Striker-Striker-Striker, a powerful crew. They'll need it...

Luccio finishes settling the accounts in Silver Hollow after the first three members of the party set out for the Tomb of Aheem the Shining, and buys a horse for himself and Konrad to make the journey. They head down the pass to the east, into the desert. After following the trade roads to Kurusan, capital of the Shifter Caliphate, the two leave the road headed north towards the tomb.

As they near the tomb, the wind, which has been blowing from in front of them for most of the trip, shifts to the south behind them. Konrad and Luccio detect a strong scent of...urine? They strongly suspect hyenas, which can mean only one thing - gnoll raiders. Since they can't see anyone following them, the pair deduces that they are not in immediate danger of attack and hurries on to the tomb, where they meet up with Malik, Fyodora, Phoenixfire, and their two remaining horses. Rather than try to fight off the gnolls, they make plans to head inside the tomb with the horses, risking that the confined space will be safer for their mounts than the dangerous wilds outside.

Malik's horse is affectionately known as "Fat Pony" thanks to the drawing he made on the 2" acrylic circle I gave the players to represent their horses. I had expected them to prepare defenses and fight off the gnolls, but it really made no difference one way or the other to me if they went in immediately instead.

They approach the front door of the tomb, where the following is carved in the smooth stone:

Welcome pilgrims to the tomb of Great Aheem the Shining May the supplicant receive the Light of god Pelor But thieves who plan to leave this shrine with treasures they be finding Will find that this becomes their tomb in Darkness ever more

They touch the door and it slides down easily, revealing the dark tomb beyond. They send Luccio in to scout. He finds a large room divided by a thick wall that runs partially through the center. On the floor on one side the symbol of an hourglass is carved into the stone floor and inlaid with gold; on the other side, a stylized sun similarly adorns the floor. The walls are inscribed with text; against the walls, bowls are filled with gold coins, pewter plates hold long-dried offerings of food, and small pieces of paper sit folded and sealed. Seeing no obvious danger, he invites the rest of the party in.

They lead the horses into the tomb, taking out a sunrod to provide light. Another touch to the stone door makes it rise smoothly to cover the entrance again. They continue to look around the room and find that in the back, there is a stone slab set into the floor with a carving similar to that on the entrance door:

In this desert did a Warr'ior draw his final breath Paladin of Good and Prophet of the God of Time To remember Great Aheem's brave sacrifice and death On each Summer Solstice may the Light of Pelor shine

Neither Aheem nor the crystal shard they are after seem to be here; there must be more to the tomb. A quick Dungeoneering check later reveals that the floor slab can liekly be lifted. Three adventurers attempt to help the strongest, Konrad, lift the heavy slab. Unfortunately, his fingers slip and he stumbles backwards, knocking over several bowls. Translucent forms manifest from the walls - they seem to have hooded thieves' garb with ghostly short swords. As they prepare for battle, tiny darts shoot from the walls in each room and hit party memebers and their horses at random. Roll initiative!

One of the ghostly guardians phases into Luccio's body and takes over control, dominating the rogue and causing him to run off into the other half of the room with the horses. The other two ghosts attack the remaining party memebers. The walls continue to pepper the party and mounts with darts; those on one side seem to cause radiant damage while the darts on the other cause flesh to wither with necrosis.

Two soldier-ghosts, a trap haunt, and dart traps - the party will be seeing similar throughout the session. Of course a tomb is going to be full of traps! Nick, Malik's player, caught the whole time->necrosis, sun->radiant thing; I think the others were too busy trying not to die to notice the significance.

Luccio takes some time to fight off the control of the haunt, while the rest of the party discorporates the other two ghostly guardians. Finally, the rogue's will forces the invader from his body; the adventurers gang up on this remaining enemy and take it down quickly. Thankfully, when the last enemy falls, the barrage of magical darts does as well.

They try again to shift the large stone slab in the floor, this time with success. Below, a steep narrow stair leads down. With the perceptive Luccio in the lead, they head down in single file. Luccio holds a hand up abruply mid-way down - the next few steps are not quite the same as the others have been. They suspect that these steps will trigger a trap when stepped on, so the rogue digs out his tools and manages to jam the triggers - for a time. Since each person to step on the trapped stairs may jostle the fix and set off whatever dire consequences the tomb defenses may have, they decide, despite the narrow, steep, and low space to have those able attempt to jump past. Luccio makes the jump and makes his way to the bottom of the stairs without incident; Konrad doesn't like his chances and simply walks down, trusting the rogue's skill to keep the trap from triggering. Phe jumps successfully, but stumbles on the landing and spills down the stairs, slamming into Konrad and pushing him and Luccio a bit further into the room. Malik repeats Phe's blunder and pushes the group even further into the room, where under Luccio's feet a tile makes an ominous 'click'.

The stairs rotate immediately into a smooth steep slide. Fyodora, the only one remaining on the stairs, leaps up and braces arms and legs against the sides of the narrow stair. Seconds later, an iron portcullis falls from the ceiling between the stair and the next room. The other exit is a heavy metal door with three locks; the four adventurers now stuck in this room glance around warily, ready for the worst - and to meet expectations, the side walls of the room start rumbling and moving inwards, threatening to crush them. To make matter worse, they hear a hissing, breathing sound from behind the walls and a spectral hand reachs out from one wall.

Sliding stairs, and iron portcullis trap, and a crushing walls room trap, plus three phasing monsters: a specter and two different types of wraith. Plus, the party is divided! This should be fun...

Luccio reacts quickly, dashing for the locked metal door and using his nimble fingers to immediately open two of the three locks. Phe, Malik, and Konrad attack the three spectral forms that have glided through the walls into the room. Fyodora lets go of the walls and makes an acrobatic slide down to the portcullis. With a quick look around, she finds a loose brick in the side wall; pushing on it reveals a small crank; she attempts to turn it but the cramped space makes it too hard to shift for the moment. Meanwhile, Luccio unlocks the final lock as the walls close in and flings open the door. Luccio and Malik escape into the corridor beyond, while Phe and Konrad still have an enemy between them and the exit. Pushing hard on the closing walls, they team up and manage to keep the walls from crushing them.

Phe blasts one enemy into oblivion while Konrad knocks another aside, sending it floating through the wall. Fyodora braces herself and manages to turn the difficult crank; the portcullis raises and she sprints through the room to safety on the other side. Konrad follows as the insubstantial enemies emerge from the walls into the hallway to confront the party again. Unfortunately, this leaves Phe alone with the crushing walls. The dragonman's great fortitude keeps him from being crushed and he runs from the room as the walls close behind him. The last of the spectral enemies are defeated and the party takes a quick breather.

The narrow corridor beyond branches out in two direction. With careful scouting, the adventurers identify quite a few floor tiles that are designed to collapse when stepped on; they avoid these and find that the corridors do meet up again, at a large double door inset with golden abstract designs. At a touch, the doors swing open, revealing a high-ceilinged chamber beyond. In the center of the floor is a round tile marked with the sun and hourglass of Pelor; flanking this are two large, golden, winged sphinx statues. On either side of the room, platforms sit some 10 feet up along the walls. On the end of one platform is a lever; on the other is a large crank and capstain. Leading from the crank, a chain goes to the ceiling and then down to the round tile in the floor - obviously this is designed to raise the tile. They touch the doors again and they close, revealing a staircase on either side that leads up to the platforms...and enemies, spectral cloth-draped forms as seen before near the crusher.

Luccio seizes initiative and runs foward to assault the nearest foe. As he passes between the sphinx, fire billows from their mouths catching the rogue in a great orange gout. Heavily seared, he decides to retreat rather than press on. He and Malik head up the stairs towards the lever; Konrad and Phe go up the other towards the crank. Fyodora leaps into action and crosses the room towards the enemy; it seems like once triggered, this flame traps fires at regular intervals, which she avoids. On the other side of the room, she finds a small square hole in the floor, and a matching hole in the ceiling. Malik, having checked out the top of the tomb in the day while they were waiting for Konrad and Luccio, remembers a similar hole on the top of the tomb. Along with the the second inscription, they suspect that on the summer solstice, the sun will shine down this shaft. It is several weeks from the solstice yet.

Flame trap and more specters and wraiths. Repeating monsters might seem boring for DMs - though these were slightly different than before, the party knew what to expect which made their plan of attack more clear.

The adventurers have a tough fight; the insubstantial nature of their foes and their soul-draining, weakining attacks makes it slow going. Stuck up on the platform with no enemies in reach, Konrad attempts to turn the crank; the round tile lifts very slightly but then stops solidly, as if locked. With two of the foes down and only one remaining, Fyodora climbs up and throws the lever. When Konrad tries again, the tile lifts free of the floor. A massive fluttering echoes into the chamber, followed by a stream of dark, winged shapes. These coalesce into two swarms of shadowy birds. Konrad hurredly drops the crank and the tile settles back into place.

Don't open any doors until the fight is done and you are rested! This added two swarms, Uncertainty of Ravens, from the next encounter. Well, it'll make the next fight easier anyways...

Flapping wings and scratching talons fly into the faces of Konrad and Luccio, blinding them. While the blades and arrows of the martial members of the party have trouble connecting with the swarm of shadowy feathers, Phe is in sorceror heaven. At one point, he stamps a foot to the ground and a great clap of thnuder sounds, damaging the swarm next to him (and incidently Konrad too) and sending the sorcerer flying through to air to land on top of the head of one of the sphinx, the force of his landing damaging the other swarm (I can't remember the actual name of this power, but being children of the 80's this was of course called the Gummy Bear Attack). The last of the ravens fall dead to the ground and the party, weary and powers exhausted, rests.

Thus ends session 5. Next up, the party opens the Pelor-marked tile and heads deeper into the tomb. The ravens were certainly different than all of the ghosts and specters so far - I wonder what's down there? And hey, what are all these shadow creatures doing in the tomb of a shifter paladin of good and shrine to the sun god anyways? Find out next time; same cat-time, same cat-channel!

The Chronicles of Phe: Chapter 1

There should be a steep price to pay for my sins against Bahamut. Phe thought to himself as he lay next to the fire. He stared through the flames to the thick forest outside the cave. Even though the night air was thick and still, Phe threw another breath on the fire.
Phe reached into his sack with his leathery scaled hand to pull out a small map. After studying it for a short time, he leaned out past the cave opening to look up at the sparkling diamonds above him. They spoke to him.
He sighed. Will this be far enough away? Will they find me? No one can know who I really am. They would never trust me. The map was very old and had a small seal in the lower right corner that looked like a draconic eye staring through fire. Carefully, he rolled up the map and placed it back in his sack. Tomorrow would be a long day of travel on foot, and he would need all the rest he could get to finish scaling the pass to find the desert. No one would think to search for him there. He hadn't been home since he was a child – and he was not going back.
As he put the map back in his sack, he felt another piece of parchment in his bag. Phe didn't have to look to know that this other document was a poster for The Circus. This specific poster was advertising the Fantastic Pheonixfire and Musician. A rare smirk lined Phe's face as he closed his pack and laid back down.
Though Musician was Tiefling and Phe was Dragonborn they found friendship in their priority of honor. After they were forced to leave home when they were children, Phe and Ian had fled to The Circus. The Circus was a generic group of gypsies and misfits. Each act was as separate as the performers. No one conversed out of their act though they traveled as a family. Phe and Ian performed as brothers. Phe threw flames and ice that would dance to Ian's lute. Their performances were often favorites among audiences.
Unfortunately, The Circus performances often found the seediest parts of the land. The final performance that Phe and Ian held ended in death, destruction and sadness...
The Fantastic Pheonixfire (Phe) is my dragonborn character in our current D & D campaign. I chose to have a solitary character who didn't speak much due to my need during game play to get up frequently and take care of one of the geeklings. My DM (also my husband) added the circus performing bit of the character, which I think is a nice touch. After a couple of the other players asked, “where DID Phe come from?” I started wondering myself. I have never laid a hand on any of the D & D books. But when I made the decision to start telling my character's story, I knew I would have to crack the books and do some research. My husband never thought he would see the day...

YouTube Awesomeness: Pomplamoose

Original songs and crazy covers from two musicians, multiplied several times by the magic of recording. The videos are well-produced enough to be on MTV, if they actually played music videos. Pomplamoose (spelled slightly differently, "grapefruit" in French)

Defense at Silver Hollow - Session 4

  • Malik, shifter warlord (Nick)
  • Fyodora, elf monk (Lisa)
  • Phoenixfire, dragonborn sorcerer (Cathe)
From six players to three! This session promised to be much more about social intrigue and less combat, so it didn't hurt too much.

Phoenixfire, Fyodora, Malik, Konrad, and Luccio awake in their rooms at the Rusty Bucket Inn and make their way downstairs for some breakfast. They find Ezmerelda passed out under the bar, snoring loud enough to rattle the dishes. The innkeeper has several letters for the party that were delivered (from the end of the last session) in the early hours of the morning. They open the letters as they eat.

  • From Alese Vaca, Master of House and Grounds of House Deepvein, a request to meet regarding the information about the Deepvein Shard that the party had requested.
  • With a wax closure bearing the House Vallund seal, simply a date (today), a time (this afternoon), and a place (a club called the Baying Hound). The signature is unreadable but the initials are "E V".
  • From Yusef Ben Hamid Al-Sansur, an urgent request to meet on a matter most dire.
  • From Sir Pompadour Meteron-Soulsmith, Office of the Sheriff of Silver Hollow, a notice that any of the lost Crystal Shards are vital to the defense of the city and shall be turned over post-haste.
  • From the Sisters of the Seven Pillars: "Have you considered donating your time and wealth to the Seven Pillars?"
Yes, the party got medieval-spam-mailed by a religious organization :)

Malik, Fyodora, and the Fantastic Phoenixfire decide that the letter from the Al-Sansur's seems to be the most urgent and plan to head there first. Luccio heads out into the streets to try and track down the location of some of the rare magical items that the party is looking for. Konrad and Ezzie are assigned to guard the large green crystal; Malik takes the Bag of Holding with the small red crystal with him.

As they leave the Rusty Bucket, there is a young elf boy? girl? (it's hard to tell) in red and green Deepvein livery (Fyodora confirms that it's a boy). He is a page named Pietre and he was assigned to deliver Master Vaca's letter and then wait for the party. They decide to change plans and follow Pietre to House Deepvein to meet Master Vaca again.

Master Vaca, who they had met before heading into the mines, relayed their request for information regarding the Deepvein Shard to Caden Deepvein, one of the Lord and Lady's son's. Unfortunately, he is rather loose-lipped and leaked this information to his 'gang' at the Beak and Feather, a notorious den in the Chasm. It is likely that the other families know what the party is up to. Alese warns that the others will try to take the crystal shards from the party for their own use and offers the Deepvein vaults as a secure holding place.

Malik assures her that the shards are well protected (cut to Ezzie sprawled on top of the green shard, still passed out).

Ezmerelda is funny even with her player absent.

Malik, Phoenixfire, and Fyodora head on to see Yusef Al-Sansur as they had originally planned. The thick wooden front door of the house is carved with a sun over an hourglass - the symbol of Pelor, patron of the desert shifter Caliphate. They are lead by a servant into a sitting room; though the house is of grey stone construction similar to others in the rich Market Circle of Silver Hollow, the sitting room is filled with the plush carpets, pillows, hangings, and golden oil lamps of a shifter sheik.

After some time, an elegantly-robed cat-man comes into the room and introduces himself as Yusef ben Hamid Al-Sansur. He gets right to the point - he knows that the party is after the crystal shards and has a dire warning: the crystal's power is infernal. The original creators of the crystal four hundred years ago (the great families of Silver Hollow) mixed their blood with that of a Devil to give power their creation; thus, they changed from human to tiefling, dwarf to duergar, and their decedents carry their cursed blood as well. Yusef's family, many years ago, took the shard from the dying Bluesun family and placed it deep within the tomb of their greatest ancestor: Aheem the Shining, Prophet of Pelor and a great paladin. His spirit guards the evil of the crystal shard, and Yusef begs the party to place any shards that they find into the tomb as well.

The party shows him the threat of the building orc horde; Yusef maintains that the risk of the evil inherent in the crystal is not worth the power it may provide and insists that there must be another way. He will not take the crystals himself, though he will provide a guide to the tomb when they are ready. He leaves, as do the party.

Malik, Phoenixfire, and Fyodora head back to the Rusty Bucket for lunch. They meet up with Luccio, who has good news and bad news. The good news: he has located some of the items that they are looking for. Several of them are in possession of the hobgoblin warlord Kugla, in the mountains to the north. The bad news: one of the other items is in the swampy ruined lair of Da'al-Denak, a vicious black dragon, on an island to the northwest. Luccio heads back out after lunch to continue his information gathering; Malik asks that he also try to locate the Tomb of Aheem the Shining.

This is how we are handling major magic items - the things form the players' wishlists won't improbably be found on the random enemies they are fighting, but will be more of a sidequest. The items found in the 'storyline' enemies will lean towards general party use.

After checking that Konrad and Ezzie are OK, the remaining three party members decide to conduct an experiment. They find an empty field in The Farms, a district of Silver Hollow to the southeast, with a single tree. Malik fishes out the small red crystal that they had previously retrieved from the fallen house of Lightbringer and hands it to Phoenixfire. She tries to use the crystal to augment her fiery sprays, but she only succeeds in setting fire to the tree (quickly put out with a blast of cold). Fyodora takes a turn but is also unsuccessful; whatever power the crystal shards have, they don't seem to be channeling it correctly.

Late afternoon arrives, and they head to their appointment at the Baying Hound. Under the sign of said hound, in the Market Circle, they find a windowless building and a reinforced door with a sliding peephole. They knock on the door; the slider opens and black eyes rimmed with red skin peer out. They show the letter from "E V" to the (assumed) doorman, who responds with, "One minute."

They look around the small square; in the center is a small shrine - a round roof held up by seven pillars. They have seen these shrines before; they are built in many cities and towns by the Sisters. The three adventurers check out the shrine - each of the seven pillars is carved with the sign of a god or goddess: the Raven Queen, goddess of the North, Winter, and Death; Sehanine, goddess of the East, Autumn, and the Moon; Pelor, god of the South, Summer, and the Sun; Corellon, god of the West, Spring, and Art; Avandra, goddess of Trade, Exploration, and Adventure; Bahamut, god of Justice, Law, and Leadership; and in the center, Erathis, goddess of Civilization.

The door to the Baying Hound opens and they hurry inside. A well-dressed tiefling servant leads them through wood-panelled hallways to an opulent room with red carpets, soft lamps, and dark wooden bookshelves filled with books. A very large (don't call him fat, he looks dangerous) tiefling man sits in a plush chair, with five empty chairs set facing him. He seems surprised to see only three, but motions for them to sit down. A servant offers them an amber liquid in a fine crystal goblet; only Malik imbibes.

The red-skinned, horned man asks if they know who he is. Surprisingly, they do - he's Eduard Vallund, aka "Ironhand Eddie", a well-known 'loan officer' and 'aquirer of rare items'. He heard that the party had raided the old Lightbringer house and was impressed that they got past its defenses. Eddie would like them to retrieve something for a client of his - a golden idol, held by an Ogre Chief in the hills of the southern Principalities. He would be in their debt - a rare position to be in with Ironhand Eddie. He gives them until the next day to make a decision.

As the party leaves, he says, "I know what you are looking for: it's not worth it. The shard was lost to our family nearly fifty years ago, and good riddance! Leave them alone if you know what's good for you - it's brought us nothing but sorrow."

The three adventurers head back towards the inn, when a cloaked figure approaches them from behind; it's Lady Primrose, head of the arcane Cometfall family. She has heard that they are recovering the crystal shards and warns that other families will try to take the shards; she offers an extra-dimensional vault that the Cometfalls own as a safe place to store them. When they do not seem interested, she reminds them that she is an expert arcane ritualist and offers to perform any that the party may need, at cost, in return for allowing her to store the shards. They still decline; Lady Primrose angrily insists that there is something that they should see - meet her at the house of Cometfall after dark tonight.

The players continue to refuse to give up the shards, even though the artifacts may put them at some danger. They genuinely don't trust anyone else. Eeeeexxcellent... *Mr. Burns fingers*

The three agree that they should avoid the Sheriff and head back to the Rusty Bucket for dinner. Over the meal, they decide to see Lady Primrose tonight, and then head to the Tomb of Aheem the Shining without notifying Yusef Al-Sansur, the location of which Luccio found that afternoon. Malik pens a letter to Ironglove Eddie, saying that they will retrieve the golden idol - in return for the Vallund Shard. Malik will deliver it tomorrow morning.

Malik, Phoenixfire, and Fyodora head to the house of Cometfall as the sun sets. They are greeted at the door by a tiefling footman and are lead up winding stairs until they emerge on the open top of a tower. Lady Primrose is drawing symbols on the stone floor and lighting candles. She asks Malik for his magical map. After determining that whatever she is doing will be non-destructive and that the map will be returned, he hands it over. The tiefling woman spreads the map out in the middle of the symbols, and the mountains to the east erupt into silent flames, as they have for some months now.

Lady Primrose beings reading from her ritual book. A neon-blue point appears above the magical flames on the map. Slowly, the point spreads to become a bright, wavy outline; in between the blue border is a view of the eastern mountains, as if from a great height. Lady Primrose hones her scrying and the view zooms in to show many points of light in the mountains - campfires and torches, surrounded by orcs. To the north of this growing horde, the caldera of a volcano glows.

She ends the ritual and returns the map to Malik. "The threat is real. do not let the petty concerns of the noble families interfere with your reconstruction of the great crystal." The party again refuses to allow the Cometfalls to store the crystal shards.

They spend the next day preparing for a desert trek to the tomb. Malik delivers the letter he wrote to the Baying Hound, retrieves his riding horse, and procures horses for Fyodora and Phoenixfire, while the other two get supplies for the journey. That night, under cover of darkness, they sneak the large green crystal shard out to the field near the slightly-burned tree. They dig a deep hole and bury the shard, wrapped in canvas. Phoenixfire conjures a jet of flame and makes additional marks on the tree to make sure that they can find the location in the future.

Overland travel! I posted the map in a previous entry - it's a hex-map, 12.5 miles center-to-center. With their horses, the party will be able to traverse four squares per day over open terrain

The next morning, a surprise is waiting for the party downstairs at the Rusty Bucket. A very groggy-looking Ironglove Eddie is sitting in a chair that may be too small for his bulk. He will not get the Vallund shard for them in return for the idol; in fact, he reveals that it was taken by Aethelred, the Mad Prince of Mercia (one of the principalities). He will, however, provide them with unspecified assistance in retrieving the crystal shard, if they get the idol for him within two months. They reluctantly agree.

Malik, Phoenixfire, and Fyodora head down the pass to the east, into the desert. Luccio will settle accounts and follow them (with Ezzie and Konrad, if they wish to join the party's quest) a day or two behind. After three days, the vanguard leaves the trails and heads across the rocky, dusty desert to the north. On the second afternoon, nearing the tomb, they see a cloud of dust rapidly approaching. Malik seeks out some rocky spires for some cover as they await the approach of the unknown creatures.

Two gnolls riding giant cackling hyenas come charging at the shifter, elf, and dragonborn. One swings a giant flail, while the other holds a spear and shield. The party decides to stay mounted in the fairly open terrain to add to their mobility. Fyodora confronts the flail-swinging rider while Phoenixfire takes the spear-wielder; Malik positions himself in the center and provides supporting fire from his greatbow. The beasts and their gnoll riders are defeated, though Fyodora's horse lies dead, blood from the giant hyena's bite soaking into the cracked earth.

The three arrive at the tomb the next day and await the rest of the party...

Well, we went nearly four hours with only one fight, a record for us. It seems that everyone had a good time - there was enough freedom that they could do what they liked, but also enough constraints that they didn't feel lost. The next session will be easier on me as I know where they will be going - delving into the Tomb of Aheem the Shining, where certainly there will be nothing at all dangerous

Defense at Silver Hollow - Session 3


  • Malik (Nick)
  • Fyodora (Lisa)
  • Phoenixfire (Cathe)
  • Luccio (Adam)
  • Konrad (Sean)
  • Ezmerelda, goliath warden (Cody)
Cody's character joined and we ended up with an amazing 6 players. This, and the fact that Cody hadn't played 4E before, and it was Sean's second session with 4E, made combat drag and it took quite some time. Still, Ezzie's inebriated irish-accented giant woman made it worth it.

Watches are established and the party rests. On Luccio's watch, he notices that the revived construct Aleph is digging through the broken parts in the cart. The rogue asks it what it is up to; Aleph pulls out a detached head, similar to its own.

"These heads do not have name-runes, " it notes. "Name runes?" Luccio asks. "Samekh," the construct points to his forehead - on it is a deeply-carved rune. "All twenty-two of us Deepvein Miners have...had these name-runes. I do not know what to make of these parts."

Luccio leaves the construct to its rummaging and the party completes their rest. On waking, they cautiously make their way through the tunnels, looking for a way out. They run across rails running down the center of the tunnel. Following the cart-rails, they come to a door across the tracks as well as a passage leading off to the side. Proceeding carefully, they open the door across the tracks and find another short section of the tunnel with another door at the other end, as well as a small side-room off the tracks. Peering into the the room, they see a pile of fallen rocks and a pair of red eyes.

Making their way into the room, the party finds another Deepvein Miner, trapped under the rubble. Samekh identifies it as Aleph, head of the Miners. As they toss rock aside, they hear an "oof!" as a stone lands on someone or something in the darkness. They find what seems to be a red-haired human woman, wearing hide armor, only over nine feet tall! The giant woman reeks of alcohol, sits up holding her head, and identifies herself as Ezmerelda, "but you can call me Ezzie." She's not quite sure how she ended up here - she lasts remembers drinking in the inn, and then wandering outside to find a place to "take a leak." They look upwards and see a bright spot far above - it looks like she fell down this old ventilation shaft. They invite her to join them as they try to escape the mine.

They open the next set of doors along the tracks to find a great room. The tracks cross the room on a wooden gantry nearly 20 feet above the stone floor and then exits on the other side. Midway through the span, a slide of some sort goes from the tracks down to a gigantic red-hot glowing forge on the opposite side of the room. Luccio sneaks midway through the room before spotting - and being spotted by - a large, floating orb of flesh with a large central eye, many smaller eyes on stalks on top, and a great toothed mouth nearly bisecting the orb.

B-b-b-b-b-beholder! This is a Beholder Gauth from the Monster Manual 2. I'm not sure what a gauth is - the players suggested that is was a gaunt goth; apparently the beholder is skinny and is wearing black lipstick with its many piercings.

Luccio deftly climbs down the gantry while the rest of the party advances into the room. The ranged members of the party position themselves to take shots from above as the meleers climb carefully down. They find that there are several unarmed humanoid constructs as well as two armed with sword and shield supporting the abberant floating creature, hiding below the gantry. Konrad finds himself in his own fight off to the side with a couple of enemies while the rest of the adventurers focus on taking down the terrifying beholder and its remaining minons.

The beholder uses its eyestalk powers to try to disable the party members below and telekinetically pull the ranged adventurers from the gantry above. Ezmerelda, Fyodora, and Luccio advance on the beholder but are delayed by the mechanical minions. Phoenixfire tosses elemental blasts into the fray. Konrad is stuck well away from the rest, having trouble downing his foes but not taking much damage from them either. As the unarmed minions fall, the last construct turns a valve on the forge; molten metal flows through channels on the floor, but the party is dextrous enough to avoid damage. Luccio and Fyodora finally flank the beholder, but find that is of little help as the creature's eyestalks keep both of them in view at once.

The adventurers enemies eventually fall to the party's coordinated attack. Aleph and Samekh can now identify where they are and inform them that the next room behind the forge is the mustering room, which should eventually lead out. Malik peers through one of the two sets of doors leading behind the forge; the next room is similarly large and open, but contains an enourmous construct, over 15 feet tall. Thankfully, it seems to be inactive at the moment. Luccio checks out the other end of the rail gantry. This passage leads to a split in the tracks: in one direction, the tracks lead down deeper into the mine; in the other, many mine carts are lined up. The rogue squeezes past the carts. In the tunnel beyond, he sees many pairs of glowing green eyes - more of Master Control's constructs. He stealthily avoids attention and returns to report to the party. They decide to head into the mustering room and take their chances with the giant construct.

If they had gone the other way, it would have lead to an Indiana-Jones-esque mine cart chase. Still, they didn't know if they would be able to get out if they had gone deeper into the mountain. This still sounds like fun, so I have the feeling the players may find such a chase in the Ironhammer end of the mines...

Catwalks lead around the perimeter of the mustering room. Additional suspended platforms approach the titan construct, which has a huge axe on one arm and an enormous maul on the other. They see no chance of sneaking past with the less stealthy members of the party, so Luccio and Fyodora sneak up either side of the catwalks while the rest of the party waits at the doors. The monk finally missteps and the giant machine wakes up. A gargoyle-like construct made of clay is also revealed, clinging to the wall above, and four unarmed humanoid constructs rush in from the hall that leads out of the mustering room. Luccio quickly blinds the titan, and Ezmerelda and Konrad seize the opportunity to charge in on one of the catwalks that extends into the center of the room. Fyodora faces off with the clay homunculus while Phoenixfire and Malik take potshots from the door.

The titan deals massive damage with its axe and maul, but is taking a beating from the focussed fire of the party. Even using the giant maul to smash the supports of the catwalks does not save the huge machine. The clay homunculus falls quickly to Fyodora's powerful strikes. The unarmed smaller constructs seem to fall with a hit, but split open to reveal masses of tentacles that proceed to use psychic attacks against the minds of the party. Without letting a single member fall, the party systematically destroys their enemy.

This was a much-downlevelled Warforged Titan (still a mighty threat), a Clay Scout, and several Warforged minions which turned into Fell Taints when killed. This continued an abberant theme seen with the beholder in the last room and the psychic powers of Master Control.

Their resources dwindling, the adventurers carefully make their way upwards through the tunnels. They find a familiar sight - a section of collapsed ceiling with bits of devil-dwarf corpse. Peering up into the natural chamber where they had originally entered, they see a group of duergar. Taking them by surprise, Fyodora, Luccio, Konrad and Ezmerelda climb up into the cave and charge. Malik and Phoenixfire take cover, peeking up to fire arrows and magical bolts into the room.

Several of the devil-dwarves are similar to those that they encountered before. One from the back, though, is calling terrible hellfire down on the party while another is using psionic attacks to cause pain to the minds of its enemies. With many of their greatest powers expended, the adventurers struggle to take the duergar down. It is a close thing, but the party is victorious.

This encounter worked very well. The party's resources were low from previous fights, some were at a disadvantage having to climb up into the room, and the good mix of artillery, controller, soldier, and brute monsters were set up well to receive the charge of the adventurers. The encounter was quite hard for the players and represented a genuine threat and was a good capper to the session.

After a quick rest, they climb up out of the mine and head back into town, attempting to camoflage the large crystal that they have recovered. The constructs Samekh and Aleph stay in the mine, hoping to recover others of the Deepvein Miners. The party collapses at the first inn that they find, grateful for the rest.

Thus ends session 3.

Defense at Silver Hollow - Session 2

  • Malik, shifter warlord (Nick)
  • Fyodora, elf monk (Lisa)
  • Phoenixfire, dragonborn sorcerer (Cathe)
  • Luccio, drow rogue (Adam)

And, joining midway through the session:

  • Konrad, human fighter (Sean)
We pick up where we left off mid-dungeon last time.

The party readies themselves for whatever may happen in the next area - a fetid pond fills most of the room, and a mud statue of a frog is illuminated by a glowing red crystal in its hands. Luccio and Fyodora sneak along the edges of the room where there is a thin strip of dry land, headed for the statue. They are eventually noticed by a pair of eyes that pokes bulbously above the dark water. Several frog-like humanoids erupt from the pond - bullywugs!

Malik and Phoenixfire enter the room to get a clear field of fire at the creatures. One of the bullywugs waves his twisted wooden staff and four drowned corpses rise from the water around the statue. Though not individually tough, the aquatic nature of the bullywugs and their habit of dipping below the murky water give the party a tough time. They decide to try to grab the crystal and run. Luccio takes several attempts and finally manages to free it from its perch on the statue - it feels like it was more solidly connected to something internal to the muddy mass. Luccio leaps back across to near the wall and they head out of the room; however, Fyodora is trapped by several of the frog-creatures and is quickly beaten unconcious. The other three return quickly to the room to save their friend - Malik inspiring words cause Fyodora's eyes to flutter open, and she crawls to her feet and manages to rejoin the rest of the party, who then make a fighting retreat to the previous room.

The party takes a rest - there are only two bullywugs left, but the adventurers are sorely in need of a brief respite. They decide to try to clear out the room so that they can take a better look at things, rather than just trying to retreat back up the well. The bullywugs seem to have dissappeared beneath the muck; the party sets up a clever ambush before scaring the remaining critters, who they quickly dispatch. Luccio removes the two golden eyes from the frog statue and slips them into his Bag of Holding. He manages to dislodge the mud head in the process - it seems that there is a bronze statue underneath of a tiefling man that was holding the crystal. They assume it is Azeron Lightcaller. Following the slow flow of water, they find the exit to the room, a tumble of rocks covering up the tunnel. They see a flickering light in the cracks - shifting some of them, the party exits into a dark lamplit alley in The Chasm, the red-light district of Silver Hollow.

I was surprised that they chose to try to clear the room when they had already retrieved the crystal. Still, mopping up was not too hard for them. Sean arrived at this point - he provided the much-needed Defender roll to the party with his human brawling-fighter. He didn't have a real concept, so we decided that he's something of a wandering warrior seeking ever-tougher fights to challenge himself. It's not clear how or why he joined the party yet.

The party retreats to an inn to rest for the night and plan for their next move. From the information they have gathered so far, they decide that they should collect the other four crystal shards, reassemble the crystal, and use it to destroy the coming orc horde. The remaining shards were given to the Deepvein family (they are still around - this family owns the Silver Hollow Exchange trading house and are bankers), the Valorhound family (they note that this sounds similar to the existing Vallund family), the Ironhammer family (this sounds dwarven, but it's not a name they've heard of and there are no dwarven families of any prominence in the city anymore), and the Bluesun family (another that they have not heard of, though in their travels they've seen caravans with a blue sun logo, belonging to the al-Sansur shifter family that resides in Silver Hollow).

Reading further into Azeron's journal, they note that the mage was helping the Deepvein family install their shard as some sort of control device in the family's silver mines to the north - it seems that the Deepveins had made some sort of automaton miners. The party knows that the mines have been closed for some time and the entrances filled with rubble, as something monsterous and deadly was discovered while digging. Enlisting the help of human brawler Konrad, they head north into the mountains to see if they can gain entrance to the mine.

The adventurers find that the main entrances are too well blocked by fallen rock and rubble to make an entrance there; however, they find a nearby spot where the ground has fallen in, leading to a natural cave below. They decend quietly, not knowing what they would find. The chamber that they enter into has another drop into a true mining tunnel. There are fresh bodies of...something...below. They drop down into the tunnel and find metal plates with attached woody muscles, leaking some alchemical fluid, along with bodies that seem dwarven, but not quite right. Luccio hears movement from the further down the tunnel. Peering around the corner, he sees several dwarf-like creatures with spines in their hair and beards, accompanied by two drakes the size of large dogs. The party prepares for a fight!

These are duergar, and, as they will soon find out, the remenants of the Ironhammers. In the lore of this world, the characters have never heard of duergar. They have no association with the drow, as these were recast as marauding seafaring pirates instead of underground dark-elves. Adam and Nick had heard of duergar, but they didn't let any player knowledge seep into their characters.

The adventurers take up a defensive formation and let the beligerent devil-dwarves come to them. Surprisingly, two of the enemy, upon being bloodied, grow to fill nearly the whole passage. Still, it is no help, and the party is easily victorious. After a rest, they check the bodies of the fallen and the corpses and mysterious body parts they had seen earlier. They find that some sort of small spidery constructs have burrowed up through the floor and are dragging away the alche-mechanical pieces. The party follows the creatures down to another chamber below, where two armed and armored humanoid mechanicals with glowing green eyes stand, flanked by two doglike constructs.

These are warforged, though again the characters have never heard of such things. A more appropriate name would be "mineforged" of course, though they seem to be in fighting shape now.

The party tries to speak with the constructs, who immediately demand that the intruders drop their weapons and surrender. After a brief standoff, the constructs determine that the adventurers are not affiliated with the Ironhammers, which the mechanical men and beasts seem to be at war with. The party surrenders their weapons, which are put in a cart full of parts that the constructs are collecting, and and follows the green-eyed humanoids deeper into the mountain to meet with someone or something called "Master Control".

Way to go right for the end-game, players! I had not expected that they would give up their weapons and made the warforged very insistant that they do so, thinking that the party would fight their way down through the Deepvein portion of the mine to reach Master Control. Quickly restructuring...

The adventurers are lead down twisting passages, past other green-eyed constructs, until they reach a large chamber. Floating in the center of the room is a familiar-looking crystal shard - only this one is glowing bright green and is much larger than the red shard that they found before. A flat, emotionless voice sounds in their heads.


Resistance is futile...I'm desperately improvising at this point as I had not planned for them to be here until the next session at earliest. I had the basic idea of the battling Master Control constructs and the Ironhammer duergar but no details really.

The party decides not to submit and slowly edges towards the cart containg their weapons. Fyodora does not require a weapon and so leaps into action, gaining a surprise round. In addition to fighting off the two escorting constructs and their dog-like companions, the adventurers must also resist the mind-controlling influence of the shard. They grab their weapons and wade in. Luccio attempts to use his arcane knowledge to try to disconnect the magical tendrils of control from the green shard, but fails and recieves horrible psychic pain in return. Phoenixfire, being much more suited to the task, edges closer to the shard while Luccio moves to deal as much damage as possible to their enemies.

Konrad finds that he cannot stave off the mental attacks of the psychic shard and ends up spending some of the fight dominated and attacking his allies. Though Phoenixfire suffers some failures, her greater knowledge of arcana lets her avoid much of the mental damage. As Master Control realizes that it is losing the fight, it calls for reinforcements. Just before Phoenixfire disconnects the last strand of magical power and the crystal dims and crashes to the ground, it sends out one final command to its minions: "DESTROY ALL INTRUDERS."

The party hears clanking footsteps from the hall outside; they have several seconds to reset themselves before this new foe comes but not near enough time to get a proper rest. Several more constructs approach. Though battered, the party is in a good defensive position. They manage to destroy three of the four green-eyed constructs when Phoenixfire succeeds in deactivating the last. As they catch their breath, the final enemy reactivates itself...but the eyes are now glowing red.

"Where is my pick?" it asks in a soft voice. It tells the adventurers that its name is Samekh, a construct miner belonging to the Deepvein family. Its last memory is of swinging its pick against the mine face - it does not know what has happened since. They have the construct place the large crystal shard on the cart of broken parts and quickly find what seems to be an equipment room off to the side of one of the passages; they hole up there, fortify the door with broken carts, rest and try to sleep.

Here ends session 2. Thankfully, I got a two-week break to try to plan out what they would encounter next, as the adventure had taken an unexpected turn.