Mazzar baraju/Amzardûm Jöruvalla Part 3

The night passes with discussion of shares of treasure between Denig and Billwise; the Dwarves talk of what other wonders of Dwarven skill they will see. The relative safety of the door and the roomy confines of the office mean they are undisturbed and are refreshed as they make their way back down to the wide avenue found the day before.

The wide avenue has several side passages that appear to lead into larger spaces. Excited Pick walks down the avenue to its end and discovers a giant water wheel in a great hall. He marvels at the wonders he is seeing. Rather chaotically the rest of the party follow. Denig struggles to keep up with the haphazard wanderings and because he is the only one without a personal light source is frequently left at the edges of darkness.

At the waterwheel hall, they adventurers notice many different directions they could take. They decide to go back an explore the first of the three passages they walked past from the stairs. Lantern light reveals a huge hall dominated by a giant water powered machine occupying one wall. Furnaces squat like eyeless frogs on the opposite wall. Crucibles and other items of smelting lie abandoned around the hall. At the back of the hall Iron doors prevent access to small chutes that lead up. Billwise investigates these and discovers chambers behind with unclimbable passages up to steel doors in the level above. The party move onto the next passage back.

This passage leads into a similar hall, however, they disturb a Giant Cave Worm which attacks aggressively. Denig mumbles prayers as the Dwarves close with the monster hauls itself towards them. Meanwhile, Billwise waits for an opportunity to skirt round to the rear. Hammer blows fall and a short sword darts in and out. “No!” cries Denig, “I can deal with this, trust me.” as he steps up to the great beast. It immediately attempts to eat the Dunlending Shaman, who barely escapes its grasp. Needing no encouragement the rest of the party rain down blows and the poor beast never really has a chance to defend itself before dying from the accumulated blows.

“Why must you go round killing everything you meet?” bewails Denig. The rest of the party look blankly at him. Didn’t the worm attempt to eat him? They move on to the last of the three missed passages and find a hall similar to the first two. Here two Giant Cave Salamanders are disturbed by the lantern lights and immediately rush to defend their territory. Denig implores the rest to not harm the albino monsters. Unconvinced, the dwarves form a defensive wall in front of the stone man. This time it seems Cloch the God of Rock hears is prayers and both beasts become passive and calm. Amazed, but unsure of their safety, the party leave the room and return to the wide avenue.

In the avenue, the party debate what should be their next course of action. Denig is most vocal of all the party. He dismisses the area as an industrial complex and not worth exploring. Instead, he wants to push on across the bridge that leads from the avenue across the chasm. His overriding concern is to find treasure and that means finding where the kings of the dwarves live and not the normal people. The Dwarves mumble about workshops but agree to crossing the bridge rather than exploring further beyond the great water wheel.

After travelling nearly three quarters of a mile in the inky blackness, the lanterns pick up the wall of the far side and an entrance. Unfortunately, the bridge has given way. A fifteen foot section has crumbled and although the remaining dwarven workmanship is sound, it looks like it will be too far for the shorter members of the party to leap in safety.

Seeking the wisdom of Cloch’s guidance Denig steps out onto the gentle breeze that flows down the chasm and through the gap in the bridge. He is granted the ability to walk on the wind and is able to carry the party and their equipment across the abyss. None of the party are particularly happy about the mode of travel and are extremely grateful to feel solid rock beneath their feet.

Beyond the entrance, a dark hall with benches for resting and chatting is discovered. Lantern light is reflected by the remains of what once were great crystal chandeliers, the remains of which lie scattered across the floor. Ignoring the stairs to the left, the explorers push on up the wide avenue ahead. Iron doors punctuate the rock face and Billwise sets about examining these. Pick pushes on and discovers a small plaza with a fountain shaped like a strange giant fish only the tail is facing sideways. Beyond and to both sides are further avenues with doors set in the wall. He returns when Billwise picks the lock of the first door.

Beyond the door the room contains a table upended over the fire place and a cabinet with a door beyond. Searching the room they find scratch marks that suggest the cabinet was regularly swung away from the wall but can find no secret door. The Dwarves find runes scratched on the bottom of the table as Denig continues to examine the walls. The runes say “beware of the soul eater” and the party puzzle over this for some time. Beyond the door they find a bedroom and a bathroom.

The party investigate the door on the other side of the avenue. Billwise cautiously checking the door before picking the lock with ease. A similar layout of rooms is discovered beyond and they move on. After the third dwelling it becomes clear that this is a village and Denig is keen to push on quickly. The party hurry their investigations, Billwise picks locks generally without checking and Pick or Dagaard check the rooms to confirm their purpose. It is during one such sweep that Pick discovers a cupboard. He notices some faint rune marks but ignores them. Opening the doors he triggers the wards and is assaulted by flame which destroys his shield and removes the hair from the left side of his face.

Despite, this timely reminder of the need for caution the party continue to explore at pace and while laughing at the saucy scenes in a bar/brothel are attacked by a Giant Spider that emerges from an open doorway that had not been investigated. Pick who is standing outside notices it and is able to retreat inside the bar. The Dwarves flank the doorway war hammers ready. Once again, Denig implores Cloch to calm the monster but the spider lunges aggressively and knocks the Dunlending backwards. The dwarves attack. Billwise dives beneath the beast and clambers out behind it. Denig joins battle hurriedly drawing his sword. Rapidly, the spider is dispatched; Billwise left standing having taken no other action but his heroic dive, is relieved he did not stop to attack from below.

Again, heedless of the danger, the party confirm the last metal doors guard dwellings and do find a communal bath, before retiring to the hall by the bridge to rest, eat and prepare to descend the stairs to the level below.

The Dark Tower

The feeble torch light picked out the burnished copper of the door as it swung inwards from the adventurer’s standing on the bridge. The stone man, bow ready, strained to see into the darkness that lay beyond. The dwarves standing in front of him were barely able to see much more despite their vision being better in the dim light. Around them the wind howls down the great chasm with anguish of abandoned ghosts.

Cautiously, the party move forward: Billwise, custodian of the torch, at their centre. The vast hall shows signs of heavy objects being moved. A tramway with abandoned carts. Platforms out into the the inky black darkness with chains rising and falling in to the depths.

Exploring further into the depths Pick and Billwise disturb and are beset by swarms of Cavern Wings. The fierce bats swarm and harry the two lead explorers. Pick is raked by razor sharp claws but Billwise, unarmoured and head unprotected, fairs worse losing an ear. Knowing the fearsome reputation of these creatures Pick retreats calling for the rest to do likewise. The injured Billwise follows his advice and the pair make a dash out onto the bridge. Denig seeing that his arrow would be wasted calls on his tribal spirit to impede the flight of the bats and is gifted with a wall of air across the doorway. Dagaard someway off but able to see in the sudden darkness created by the flight of the torchbearer guides the concentrating Denig out towards the bridge.

Denied their initial prey the Cavern Wings refocus on closer prey. They dive and swirl around the slow moving Dwarf and Dunlending but stone skin and armour deflect the razor sharp claws. Spotting a chance Dagaard swings at the swarm leader. His hammer sends the dominant male spinning into the floor with a splat. The pair are granted a brief respite as the cloud reorganises to recognise a leader.

It is clear that the bats find the wall of air difficult to pass through granting a moment to pause. Pick is all for escaping the cloud of albino hunters knowing the danger they pose. He points out that the wall will not hold as there are other exits. Denig is for picking them off in smaller numbers as they emerge from the door. The argument proves mute as the swarm descends with high pitched screams after flooding out of the other exits under a new dominant male. The party are raked by claws. Denig’s concentration is broken. Pick attempts to shelter the injured hobbit. Only Dagaard stands tall, picking out the leader again his mighty hammer swings and the lead bat sprays all over Denig stood beside Dagaard. The cloud disperses after the twin loss.

Unsure of whether the bats have returned to their roost or dispersed to other parts of the underground chasm, the party rest up in the relative safety of the half mile bridge. Denig attends to the injured hobbit; his request for healing on the ear granted by his clan god. He continues to seek favour for his own health and this too is granted. Rested and restored, the party return to the hall at the end of the bridge.

The party decide that the hall was used for shipping goods and are confronted with the choice of following stairs up or down. They choose to go up first. At the top of the stairs they exit onto an open platform dominated by two cranes. Choosing not to test the operation of the cranes and the ability to send a dwarf or hobbit up and down in a bucket they descend to the level below the one with the bridge.

Exiting the bottom of the stairs, Pick spots a roost of Cavern Wings and beyond a door. Opting to use stealth to bypass an unfortunate encounter they make it into the room behind the door with only a moment of peril. A simple padlocked door is opened with seconds by Billwise and the fellowship gain lanterns, candles and oil that will allow them to continue to explore without relying on torches for light. Then it is the small matter of sneaking past the Cavern Wings to the stairs leading down to the next level.

Exiting from the stairwell, a moment of consternation. A stone dragon is spotted in the shadows. A lack of movement reveals its true nature as a statue. A corridor with three doors, one of which is locked. While Billwise sets to work on the lock the dwarves check the doors up the corridor. Pick opens a door onto an office and Dagaard one to a canteen occupied by a Giant Cave Salamander. Rapidly, he shuts the door and because Billwise as opened the door joins the others to investigate what is beyond. The storeroom is unremarkable but does contain a useful haul of chalk. Dagaard’s lack of foresight is then revealed for as Pick exits the room he is surprise by the Salamander that has crawled in through a nearby open window. Pick is initially unbalance by the attack and wisely gives ground to allow Dagaard, who was behind , to attack from the doorway. Hammers rain down blows and the the Giant Cave Salamander is rapidly dispatched.

Giant Cave Salamander or Giant Om (Well the normal sized version)

The final rooms on the level prove to be of more interest. A small office at the rear of the ante room contains a sturdy iron safe with a lock set the test the skills of Billwise. The rest of the party take the opportunity to rest whilst the hobbit concentrates on the task of picking the lock without releasing the trap he spots within the lock. Fail and the lock mechanism will probably be destroyed or Billwise himself. The best part of an hour passes but eventually the diminutive thief triumphs. The contents are examined by the party and distributed equally minus a small sum filched by the light fingered hobbit. Some silver coins, a set of five keys and box of rune marked tablets and cut away diagram of some mine workings provide a perplexing haul.

The level below is dominated by a huge hall punctuated by huge metal trap doors and abandoned ore carts. Bridges stretch out into the darkness like broken teeth leaving only a set of stairs down as the exit. The fellowship push on to discover a wide avenue like passageway on the level below. Feeling weary and with the dwarven sense of time indicating the day is nearly over; they retire back up two levels to the spacious administration room to make camp rest and eat.

The third crystal shard – Jöruvalla I

The warm breeze blows the salt tang of the sea up the river from the havens of Mithlond. Overhead gulls wheel with mournful cries in a cool, crisp, cyan sky. The companions return to Caras Celairnen and the Shore District where fewer questions are asked about unusual appearances. The journey had been uneventful but a tiring few weeks. Everyone, was looking forward to a rest and one of the party believed a reward for his efforts in Hollin.

The Captain’s daughter was as ever hospitable: Hrothgar’s mead loosens tongues. The adventurers relax and wait for the re-appearance of Mithparvandir. Within a few days the shabby scholar shuffles into the inn seeking the crystal he had sent the party to recover. Denig is reluctant on account of the lack of treasure recovered from Hollin. Mithparvandir counters with the offer of another potential site to hunt for treasure but he will not reveal its location without the second crystal. The party talk over the potential and the established members of the party overrule Denig the newcomer.

Mithparvandir reveals that the next crystal is located in the ruins of Jöruvalla, a Dwarven citadel lost in the reshaping of Arda at the end of the First Age. Everyone, in Caras knows the rumour that the rock was once a Dwarven trading outpost and all assume it is riddled with tunnels to secret treasures. Now, Mithparvandir has a crude map to a door that may just be the entrance to some of the halls that made up Jöruvalla. Naturally, the dwarves leap at the chance to explore ancient halls of their kindred. Through Mithparvandir, they discover that Hrothgar regularly allows adventurers to explore hidden underdeeps below the rock of Caras for a small fee. Mithparvandir explains he has arranged for the fee for the adventurers to be paid. All they need to pay for is the equipment. All treasure finds are theirs except for the crystal.

The adventurers stock up on goods for extended exploring underground from Hrothgar and descend from the cellar into the underdeeps. Darkness engulfs them but the Dwarves are at home underground, as is, for some reason, Denig. Perhaps it is his stone skin? Pick guides the party with his uncanny sense of direction in the tunnels and passages below. Chalk marks of past explorers are noted and their own directions are added. After two days travel they arrive at the doors that should lead into the Citadel.

With caution, the party examine the doors. Denig communes with the spirit of stone and feels confident in opening the door. It swings open easily but is blocked by rubble, forcing the party to worm through. Pick stands admiring the handiwork of the ancients before the party move on down the wide stairs. They notice signs that others have been on the stairs but are unable to determine when this may have been.

At the bottom of the stairs, the party enter a great hall. The darkness seems to stretch on beyond the feeble lights carried by the party. Vague shapes suggest a high vaulted ceiling above. Before you, ornately carved pillars stretch up to meet the darkness above and beyond them out of the darkness hollow booms echo from far away.

The torchlight of the explorers attracts unwanted visitors. A goblin scout is spotted and rushes to warn his tribe. Denig uttering oaths in goblin sets off in pursuit, closely followed by the rest of the party. Soon the party are beset by Orcs and goblins and a swift melee ensues.

Enraged, Denig calls out the remaining orcs in their own tongue. After tricking one into running into the hasty ambush, the rest retreat down the corridor out of sight from Denig’s bow. Denig screaming curses in orcish charges down the corridor. Pick follows with Dagaard in close support.

Meanwhile, unoccupied Billwise decides to go back and determine if the doorway discovered earlier would provide an escape. The door appears to be jammed and he is unable to open. Deciding to make the most of his time on his own, he continues to explore the hall, in a limited fashion, while the rest hunt down the remaining orcs. It is during his explorations that he is ambushed by a goblin scout. Afraid and alone in the dark, the brave young hobbit defends himself and to his surprise, he defeats his lightly armed opponent. Having defeated the remaining orcs, the rest of the party return to the main hall and following the torchlight arrive to find Billwise standing over his defeated foe.

The adventurers explore the nearby area. They enter a hall filled with large gears and mechanisms. The purpose of these is unclear to the dwarves of the party and lacking any obvious levers to pull they decide to leave these behemoths of engineering alone. Pressing on further into the darkness they pass two staircases until they reach a bridge stretching out into a pitch black dark cavern.

Light falls into darkness over the ornately carve sides of the stone bridge. Every 20’ a dwarven statue casts a stern stare at the explorers. In each shield fragments of a crystal glints in the torchlight reflecting the light in a fractured patchwork onto the bridge.The darkness is filled with a plethora a strange sounds, from the wind howling and whistling through the rocks; to the cry of bats and nameless things in the depths.

Following the bridge, the intrepid explorers eventually see the other side of the chasm. A looming tower carved from the very rock glitters dimly in the pale torch light. At the end of the bridge their way is barred by giant metal doors worked in iron and copper prevent access to the tower. They are decorated with the splendour of a volcano erupting. Copper and brass magma flows down the side of the steel mountain. What lies beyond such magnificent doors?

Enemy Mine!

The party settled down for a few days well earned rest before the next stage of their journey to Caras Celairnen. The Inn at the Last Bridge was relatively full and a bard, recognised by Pick as Galboron from the Kings Horse at Bree, was entertaining the crowd. Also entertaining the crowd was a short, red-headed man, who was flamboyantly describing his exploits as a troll hunter to those who would listen. Other travellers were noticed by the party but ignored as they puzzled over the scraps they had recovered from the ruins in Hollin. Four were written with dwarvish runes and Pick and Dagaard were able to read these. The fifth was in elven script and as none of them spoke, let alone could read Quenya they were stuck. Pick thought Galboron might be able to help, as he was a bard, and fortunately, he provided the translation. However, he could not help with deciphering the legend described within and suggested seeking help of Dwarf Loremasters.

The evening continued without incident until it became late and the locals began to return to their homes. Then, the door burst open and in stumble an exhausted and bedraggled dwarf. A great fuss was made of him being one of Duilden’s boys. Revived, he told his tale of how, having arrived back late from hunting, he had discovered his clan hold in the nearby hills under attack by trolls. Unable to aid them he had been forced to retreat and seek help bearing news that some were trapped in the mine itself.

Feeling honour bound Dagaard immediately pledges his hammer. Followed quickly by Pick. Billwise and Denig are also prepared to help the dwarven part of their fellowship. Burra the innkeeper then volunteers the red-headed troll hunter, who looks less pleased at the prospect than perhaps he should. The party decide that speed is essential and despite it still being dark they set out guided by Daldin the dwarf and accompanied the the troll hunter Riscen and his servant Jiord.

The sun is rising when the party arrive near the hill where the clan hold and mine are located. Riscen advocated a full frontal assault on the mine workings where he believes the trolls will have hidden during the day. As the troll hunters made their way up the hill, they hear a wolf howl. Mindful of Daldin’s recount of his escape and being pursued in part by wolves: the adventurer’s decide to opt for entering the workings through the main mines and a secret door to which Daldin is able guide them.

The mines are cramped and in dwarf terms poor. The men of the party are reduced to stooping so badly that it is easier to crawl than try and walk. Despite the discomfort, they arrive at the secret door. The mine chamber beyond is definitely occupied by trolls. They also discover three dwarves bound and stuffed in sacks in a closed tool chest. Releasing Daldin’s brethren from captivity Riscen and Jiord manage to work their way to the back and are unable to assist further.

Billwise scouts forward with all due care and confirms the presence of the trolls. The rest enter the chamber, but Dagaard, moving the tool chest for easier access disturbs the recumbent trolls. Battle is soon joined. Denig implores his tribal god to calm the troll but his prayer is ignored. Pick moves to the vanguard. His mighty hammer rains crushing blow after crushing blow on the troll and with a previously unseen confidence, he slips through into the next chamber splitting the two trolls’ attack.

The second troll, is faced with Denig who quickly nocks and fires his short bow piercing the hideous creature through the neck. In a rage, the second troll sweeps a massive paw and Denig is thrown back. Billwise and Dagaard join battle seeking a chance to bring the monster down.

In the other chamber, Pick continues to press his advantage. Bones snap and with one mighty blow he breaks the back of the miscreation. Things are more evenly matched with the second troll. An unbalanced Denig shoots and hits his mark, but with little effect. Billwise darts in and out and nearly loses his head in the process. Dagaard continues to seek a telling blow and then, the moment comes. He sweeps up with his hammer driving into the the troll’s armpit and shattering its shoulder. The beast roars in pain before collapsing in death.

Trolls dispatched, the party discover three more dwarves holed up in a narrow shaft leading off one of the chambers. Riscen and Jiord have disappeared. Along with, it is discovered later, some of the dwarves personal possessions. But at this time, it is the missing Duilden, the patriarch of the clan that most concern the dwarves of the hold. The search parties do not take long to discover the fate of the old dwarf. By the cooling fire outside, cracked bones, discarded clothing and a signet ring tell of the passing of the clan’s lord.

It is a time of mourning for all the dwarves, including Pick and Dagaard. There are secret rituals beneath earth and stone that Billwise and Denig are not privy, so in response, the pair go hunting and return with the intention of feeding everyone. However, they soon discover the mourning is so solemn that no fire is lit or food consumed for a day. The pair retreat to the woods and feast on rabbit until the time of mourning is over.

Honoured elder interred and gifted with what small provisions they can provide, the dwarves bid the party farewell. Soon, the adventurers are back at the Inn at the Last Bridge before the Misty Mountains. Riscen the troll hunter and his servant have not been seen. Burr says that is the last time they will get free food and lodgings from him; Galboron promises to ensure that Riscen’s cowardice is made know wherever he travels.

The Sorcerer’s tower

Having dispatched the Cockatrice and returned to a more mobile form the Sherriffs ponder on what to do next. Alvi fills in Brega and Aelfric on her conversation with Latana the Wild Hobbit and the party agree that they should investigate the tower to determine if there is any further risk. However, they realise they don’t know where Latana lives and so set out to discover her dwelling. Asking about Crissingham, they enter the Vigiliant Mare, where Brega nearly upsets the locals by upsetting a pint. However, in moment of incredible agility Aelfric manages to snatch the cup out of mid air and return it to the table without a drop being spilled.

An argument averted, and with information from the Theo the proprietor of the Vigiliant Mare, they set off into the North Wood to talk to Latana about the location of the tower she had previously mentioned to Alvi. The Sherriffs opt for a softly, softly approach with talk of treasure which brings Latana around. She demands a rate of one silver coin for acting as guide and an equal share of any treasure along with rations. Eventually, after much debate the party agree to her terms.

Brandywine/Branduin by SarkaSkorpikova

Leaving Crissingham, the party cross the river by boat at Swanlynn and travel into the Red Hills once part of the Realm of Cardolan but now after the plague a forsaken empty land. Down in a small wooded valley they find the tower from which Latana had taken the egg. The stonework crumbles from the upper levels and the wood is thick and dark around it. Almost as if the forest is trying to reclaim the tower itself. After some careful consideration the party choose the front door for entry as it has been broken open. The small tower has few rooms and soon the ground floor has been explored. Alvi notices a not very well hidden trap door with some foot marks near it. The party opt to explore below ground and leave the upper floors until later. It is at this point that the party realise that they have neglected to bring any light source. Aelfric, ever practical, fashions crude torches from the remains of wood and cloth lying around the tower.

Alvi the bard leads her companions into the darkness of the passage below the tower. The inefficient torches barely illuminate a few feet in front of them. Shadows leap from every rock face and torches need regular rekindling. A defaced statue in an alcove causes a moments concern as it appears suddenly from the darkness.

Fireball #2 by tvlookplay

Soon they arrive at a fork in the passages and opt to follow the left fork towards some interesting alcoves. The first alcove contains a glittering silver ring. Alvi cautiously moves forward as Aelfric quickly approaches the second alcove. Fireballs briefly light up the darkness. Aelfric ducks and his shield deflects the rest of the flame. Unfortunately, Alvi is struck in the chest and collapses in shock. Having determined that Alvi is not harmed in any other way, Aelfric, assuming she will recover, investigates the other alcoves. Each time a fireball is launched but each time Aelfric meets it with agility and shield. By the end, slightly singed he reaches the end of the passage of the alcoves. He is also rather woozy with all the blows taken and in need of a rest. The party recover the ring, a light broadsword, a helm, a wand and a rune paper.

Aelfric takes the broadsword and helm for himself gaining a lighter weapon and a +5 bonus to his perception. Brega examines the magical items and finds that the wand is a +2 adder, the Rune is for Limbwalking and the ring gives a magical blessing of +10DB. The adventurers then decide that they should retreat from the passages to a safe campsite and wait for Alvi and Aelfric to recover.

Camped out in the woods about a mile from the tower the adventurers pass a day and a half undisturbed. Alvi regains conciousness on the first night but is too weak to continue the exploration for the rest of the day. About two hours before sunset the party set out to continue their exploration. They push further into the passage and spot a small group of four goblins preparing for a nights activity.

There is much debate over the correct course of action. Should they sneak past? Would a surprise attack work? Should they just leave? Eventually, they decide to approach the entrance to the cave as quietly as possible and use surprise. Alvi causes two goblins to lapse into sleep with a magical lullaby played on her flute. Brega snaps off a shock bolt that crackles through the air and Aelfric rushes in to attack a surprised goblin. Aelfric’s first flurry puts the goblin on the back foot. A second arc of electricity crackles and Alvi continues to play; a third goblin falls into slumber. Aelfric prepares to finish the final goblin but slips and the new sword breaks on the floor. As he reaches for his trusty old sword electricity arcs again from the tip of Brega’s staff and the goblin expires.

Having searched the goblin lair and found little more than rusty scimitars and some caltrops, the party are delighted to find a more serviceable torch. This allows them to explore the large chamber into which the goblin lair opened. A shallow pool of water stands between the heroes and mystical obsidian plinth in a small chamber. To the right a small passage leads away into darkness. A third, behind and to the right leads to a similar inky blackness. Again the group debate the best course of action and opt for wading through the water to the obsidian plinth.

Goblin Ambush AlManeGrA

The plinth is in the centre of a small cavern. Beside the plinth an armoured chest sits on the floor. The invitation is too much and they attempt to open the lid. The chest is locked. Alvi sets to work and with seconds has released the locking mechanism. With eagerness and the vocal encouragement of her companions she opens it. Steel blades sweep out of the plinth scything towards her neck. Was it highly developed reflexes or a subliminal warning. Perhaps it was some divine intervention or it could have been blind luck. Alvi arches backwards and the blades pass with within a fraction of her nose and stop. Her breath mists the polished surfaces of the blades. Cautiously, she moves away.

The blades remain stationary and so the adventurers decide it is safe to remove the contents. They find three bottles of a potion; three rune papers and 500 tin pieces. Initial investigations reveal one of the potions is a magic healing potion and one of the runes will cast Change Kind. The tin pieces are shared out evenly between the four explorers, before the party sets out again to explore the rest of the cavern.

The caverns provide no more surprises, although, there remains one trap which is easily avoided. The party decide to investigate the upper parts of the tower. The tower is crumbling and the climb is filled with risk but sure-footed the party reach the top without discovering anything further. At the top of the tower amongst the branches, Aelfric decides to attempt to leap onto a nearby branch to climb down. He misses the branch and falls to the ground. Fortunately, he is able to break the speed of his fall with the branches of the tree and lands in a bush unharmed. The rest of the Sherriffs use the stairs to exit the tower.

Explorations complete and assured that there remains no more items that might be illicitly brought into the Shire, the Sturdy Sheriffs return to the Midnight Rooster at Wibblesham to report back to Mally Nation. Here Alvi, Aelfric and Brega spend some well earned time resting at the inn.

Why Does Asparagus Make Your Pee Smell?

I am reading the titular book by Andy Brunning because I still have a curious mind. I’m in the section on poisons, an area of medicine and biology I have very little experience of (despite handling some of the deadliest chemicals known to man). So aside from enjoying a romp through the chemical structure of naturally found poisons, I’m getting a good grounding in dosage and effects. What becomes very clear is that our RPG mechanics are pretty much broke.

Poisons kill you! Yes I know that seems like a pretty obvious statement but at the most brutal level it is as simple as that. How effective they are at killing you is all down to dosage and mechanism. Now there might be a genetic predisposition to what that dosage should be but in essence you put a poison in your body then you will suffer the effects. No saving throws, no resistance rolls just a lethal dose.

This has got me thinking about the Rolemaster system and how it handles disease and poison. Well actually the thought was there because if you don’t have levels how do you handle resistance rolls (RR). A brief outline: RR rolls are used for many opposed resolutions (poison, disease, magic, influence) at equal levels it’s a 50:50 and skews for increasing level differences. Now ICE (the old school) has already considered poisons in subsets of effect. However, the higher the level of the character the less likely they were to suffer because of this rather than exposure. Until they are over level 10 where it becomes a case of ignoring it almost altogether. Pretty odd since it should be your overall health and a dose of genetics that determines susceptibility.

You can argue for a level for the poison based on potency and also as it is roleplay you want a healthy dose of luck to be involved . I wouldn’t be happy if everyone died because they walked into the poison trap without giving them a chance at a heroic escape. Perhaps that is the best way to view the RM increasing level approach; the hero becomes for lucky or adept at holding his breath, spitting out the poison. I think I’d rather give the player the chance of offering a solution and giving them a dice roll shot at success regardless of their level.

potato poison

There is however, a place for determining onset of the effects of poisoning (or diseases infections for that matter) with either a percentage result table (MM table), target value roll (RR table) or just an opposed roll. The Constitution stat is your genetic predisposition to fighting off the effects that will boost chances of survival or reducing the overall effects on the body. Any racial modifiers would likewise reduce the effects and improve survival chances. Even the size of the character can be factored by moving the potency up and down a category. The same dose would be more potent for a Hobbit than a Troll. Take that you poison wielding assassin: your dagger injects the poison into the Troll (it will take 3 days to incapacitate the creature).

In most of our fiction the poison is deadly and fast acting. The hero steps into a gas trap and survives because he holds his breath. The disposable henchman dies coughing and fighting for breath within a few seconds or minutes at the most. The good Lord killed by poison in the night or at feast at table. The assassin’s blade that drips poison into the wound and thus the death of character is sudden and quick.

Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,
And in the porches of my ears did pour
The leperous distilment; whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man
That, swift as quicksilver, it courses through
The natural gates and alleys of the body;
And with a sudden vigour it doth posset
And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
The thin and wholesome blood; so did it mine;
And a most instant tetter bark’d about,
Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust
All my smooth body.
Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand,
Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch’d:

-Ghost (King Hamlet, Hamlet’s Father) spoken to Hamlet[Act I, scene 5]

Actually, pretty much everything you can read in Hamlet appears in our choice of fictional poisons. However, when you start to read articles on poisons of natural extraction you realise that although some effects may become apparent quickly the actual death part can take sometime (days and weeks). There are few that incapacitate quickly at high doses and in that the GM can gain control of the poison cabinet from the player who wishes to coat every blade in a quick acting poison and in the process prevent themselves from instantly killing a character with poison. Grading by dose the effect of poison (or hallucinogen or disease) gives a chance of healing, can modify what can be accomplished to allow escape, gives time for antidotes to be delivered and generally should make poisons more interesting without adding a large workload of research to the GMs already busy life.

A final thought, I haven’t gone into specifics of poisons, preparation, lethality, potency, and latency because I think that is part of the game world you are in. I would say don’t give into the lazy combat orientated poisoning that causes the foe to immediately drop and die. Follow Shakespeare in Hamlet act V. Poor Laertes thought to win with slow poison from the cup of Claudius and indeed Hamlet was disorientated. Then he sought to speed the process up with a quicker poison from a blade and ended up being killed by his own poisoned blade. Such is the reward for the perfidious poisoner.

Which came first?

Our budding Bounders are taking their ease in the Midnight Rooster at Wibblesham when they are summoned urgently to the nearby village of Crissingham. The breathless messenger explains that two of its citizens have been mysteriously turned to stone and that Mayor Twofoot wishes the support of the Sherriffs to investigate. Spurred on Alvi, Aelfric and Brega are soon at the village Grange where most of the villagers have gathered in a worried mob around the Mayor. It appears that another four villagers have been turned to stone. Mobbed in a chorus of voices some fear a fearsome monster, others a snake or perhaps some kind of bat or miniature dragon. The midwife reports seeing a chicken in the window of a building near where one of the victims were turned to stone.

Cockatrice by Baron-Engel @Devianart

Reflecting on the information Aelfric remembers the tales of his Granny about a fearsome creature of sorcery called a Cockatrice. A mixture of chicken, snake and bat that could turn a man to stone with its beady gaze. Once these were released by evil sorcerers to terrorise villages back before the men from the West Isle came to the shores of Middle Earth. Armed with this mythical knowledge, the party cautiously enter the Market Square to investigate. With a “cluck cluck” leading them on, with the exception of Alvi, they take precautionary action by hiding in the nearest house. There is a moment of embarrassment and then a plan is hatched. Soon the Cockatrice is spotted with the chance of surprise. Brega immediately launches a Shock Bolt at the monster and alerts it to their presence. Unfortunately, both Aelfric and Brega are immediately turned to stone by the Cockatrice’s beady gaze. Luckily, Alvi holds her nerve long enough to launch into a soothing tune that sends the capricious chicken to sleep, at which point she dispatches it before it can reawaken.

Alvi attempts to revive her companions but they appear to be immune to any method of revival that she has at her disposal. Bravely, she explores further to check if this was the only Cockatrice. At the statues of Pancho and Sago Foxburr (the first two victims) she finds the remains of an oily, iridescent eggshell in the hen coop but no more. Reassured she returns to the Grange to inform the Mayor that the problem has been solved. The villagers though are uncertain and decide to wait out the night at the Grange.

During the evening Alvi has a strange conversation with a sandy-haired hobbit called Latana. She admits to feeling guilty as she was the one who gave Pancho the egg (the boy loves chickens). She hints that she did not acquire the egg by legal means and it may have come from a tower in the nearby Red Hills across the Brandywine.

Soon Pancho and Sago are found alive and unfrozen and this is swiftly followed by other villagers until finally Aelfric and Brega are also fully mobile again. Alvi shares her findings with her companions as the village begins to return to normal. They decide that Latana and her role in discovering needs investigating further.