Chronicles of the Grim Fist, Part III

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Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35
Chronicles of the Grim Fist, Part III

We did a character revision, so it seemed a good time to start a fresh chapter.

Chapter I was essentially Baby's First Dungeon, in which they explored the Maze and did things here and there, but mostly stuck to the dungeon.

Chapter II was essentially Founding Galaufabonne.

Chapter III ... well, we'll see, won't we? But they've definitely finished "founding" and "establishing" Galaufabonne. No one really doubts their ability to defend themselves. The money has begun to pour in. And now they're pushing the boundaries, so ... new chapter.

The character revisions:

Character Revisions
Note: Current year: 1307.

Lady Chlodomer, Duchess of Galaufabonne, "the Blue Duchess"

Birth 1282 (adult 25 of 36).
STR 16 (18 w/ogre gauntlets); DEX 10; CON 12; INT 11; WIS 10; CHA 18
Aristocrat-11 (XP 588,610 of 610,000).

AC 14; HD 9d6+4 (37 hp); MV 120; AT dwarven kukri 1d6+10 (throw -3+), silvered hoof 1d8+10 (throw -3+, max MV 5'), strong composite bow 1d6+8 (throw 2+).
(AC breakdown: plate +9, shield +4, style +1)

Proficiencies: Fighting Style Weapon-and-Shield, Grey Lore, Laying on Hands, 3x Military Strategy, Riding.

Class Abilities: Battlefield Prowess, Command, Diplomacy, Employee Mastery, Immune to Fear, Intimidation, Leadership, Seduction.

Lady Chlodomer is a statuesque woman of unusual height, with dark curls and soulful brown eyes. A streak of white hair from a run-in with undead enhances the beauty, but her most striking feature is her feet: the silvered hooves of a unicorn. She was once a man, and has not yet made peace with that - as a result, her mannerisms tend toward the amazonian. Still ... few are unwilling to follow her to death in battle, so perhaps she has earned that.

Her clothing colors tend toward platinum or white, gold or yellow, and jade or emerald. Although as a man she wore the traditional white powder and rouge of the Frankish courts, as a woman (and on the advice of her court enchantress) she has begun to mimic the cosmetic styles of the southern Iamanu realms, with stylized kohl around the eyes, and olive oil and beeswax to enhance rather than conceal her natural skin tones. While there are those who complain of her barbaric looks, others consider it exotic.

Aristocrat Class Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Alertness, Berserkergang, Blind Fighting, Combat Reflexes, Combat Trickery (disarm, force back, knock down, overrun, sunder), Dungeon Bashing, Eavesdropping, Endurance, Fighting Style, Gambling, Grey Lore (turn undead), Laying on Hands, Manual of Arms, Military Strategy, Precise Shooting, Riding, Running, Siege Engineering, Skirmishing, Survival, Swashbuckling, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus.

Lady Galswintha, Court Enchantress, Enchantress of Galaufchulis, Baroness of Oak River, Court Treasurer, Daughter of Winter in Galaufchulis, Guardian of the Wood, Guildmaster of the Oak Circle Order, Governess of Oak Spring.

Birth 1280 (aged +10; youth 37 of 50)
STR 10; DEX 14; CON 16; INT 16; WIS 8; CHA 14
Mage-11 shifting to Elven Spelldancer-11 (XP 643,800 of 905,000 - see below).

AC 12; HD 9d4+20 (50 hp); MV 120; AT silver dagger 1d4+2/+3 vs. beastmen (throw 5+/4+), sling 1d4+1 (throw 5+).
(AC breakdown: bracers 6, dex +1, ring of protection +3, swash +2)

Proficiencies: Command, Familiar, Leadership, 3x Military Strategy, Mystic Aura, Riding, Swashbuckling.
Familiar: 3x Animal Husbandry, Animal Training (Hawk), Animal Training (Giant Hawk), Beast Friendship, Command, Skirmishing, Swashbuckling.

Class Abilities: Spells 4/3/3/3/2/1, Scrolls, Potions, Magic Items, Research Spells, Ritual Magic, Constructs, Elementals.

Petite (Giant Hawk): AC 8; HD 5 (25 hp); MV fly 450'; AT talon 1d4+1/talon 1d4+1 (throw 6+). Carry 36/72 stone.
(AC breakdown: natural 3, barding 2, dex +1, ring of protection +1, swash +1)

Lady Galswintha is an apparent teenager, although her pointed ears betray her hidden age. She has skin like abalone, ankle-length hair like a raven's wing, eyes like hoarfrost, and a distant, wintry smile that has been barely touched by the years or wars she fought through. The supernatural, however ...

Her left arm is made of smooth, delicately stained oakwood (she does not conceal it); she sometimes looks as if she is listening to something no one else can hear; and as befits the fey's Daughter of Winter, her touch leaves a touch of frost on metal and glass surfaces, and her breath puffs as if in bitter cold. Elemental creatures of frost and fire admire or fear her by turns.

For clothing ... Galswintha has a vast and mighty wardrobe. Elven, gnomish, human, and pixie outfits in a variety of styles and nationalities, something for every occasion and then some. Her cosmetics change with the seasons, and her styling has influence as far as Paris. To maintain this, of course, she spends a veritable fortune every month.

Galswintha has ceased leveling as a mage and is converting to an elven spelldancer, below.

Elven Spelldancer (HD 1, Fighter 2, Elf + Mage 4; max level 14)
Attacks and saves as fighter. Can use fighter and mage magic items.
Armor: leather or lighter. Can cast while wearing armor.
Weapons: any one-handed and any missile weapon. Can dual-wield, but no shield or two-handed weapons.
Fighter damage bonus on all weapons.
XP: 305,000 for 8th level; +200,000 XP per level thereafter.

Burned three customs on increased maximum level.

Elf: +1 wilderness surprise rolls. Keen elven eyes (8+/14+ secret doors). Immune to ghoul paralysis, +1 save vs. Petrification/Paralysis and Spells. Extra languages.

level 1: graceful fighter (+1 AC w/leather, +2 at 7th level)
level 5: beast friendship; and research spells, scribe scrolls, brew potions.
level 7: enchant powerful magic items.
level 7: speak with animals at will
level 9: sanctum + friendly animals.
level 11: ritual magic; constructs; and binding elementals (borrowed from the witch class).

Class Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Alchemy, Alertness, Battle Magic, Beast Friendship, Collegiate Wizardry, Combat Reflexes, Combat Trickery (disarm, knock down), Command, Elementalism, Elven Armourer, Familiar, Fighting Style, Leadership, Loremastery, Magical Engineering, Magical Music, Mystic Aura, Naturalism, Passing Without Trace, Precise Shooting, Prestidigitation, Sensing Power, Skirmishing, Soothsaying, Swashbuckling, Unarmed Fighting, Unflappable Casting, Wakefulness, Weapon Focus, Weapon Finesse.

Elven Armourer

An apprentice can produce 60 gp per month; a journeyman 120 gp; and a master 240 gp. An elven armourer can also produce normal daggers, shortswords, swords, bows, and clubs, but at a rate of 10 gp, 20 gp, and 40 gp per month. The items that can be crafted with this proficiency are:

elven silk padding (1,500gp; worn under armor, grants Savage Resilience)
elven quilted silk armor (hide; 5,000gp; AC 2, wt 1/6 stone; grants Savage Resilience)
fine elven mail (leather; 2,500gp; AC 3, wt 1 stone)
heavy elven mail (chain; 5,000gp; AC 5, wt 3 stone)
elven dragonscale (chain; 25,000; AC 6, wt 2 stone; reduces one type of energy damage by -1 per die)

mithril dagger (3,500gp; +1 to hit, 1d4+1, thrown 10/20/30, counts as magical, glows as candle)
mithril shortsword (7,500gp; +1 to hit, 1d6+1, counts as magical, glows as torch)
mithril sword (15,000gp; +1 to hit, 1d6+1/1d8+1, counts as magical, glows as torch)

fighting stick (6gp; 1d4, throwable 20/40/60)
ebonwood fighting stick (2,500gp; +1 to hit, 1d4+1, throwable 30/60/90)
mithril-bonded fighting stick (7,500gp, +2 to hit, 1d6+1, throwable 20/40/60)

leaf spear (30gp; 1d6/1d8, throwable 20/40/60, attack from second rank)
mithril leaf spear (6,000gp; +1 to hit, 1d6+1/1d8+1, throwable 30/60/90, attack from second rank)

elfbow (300gp; 1d6, range 80/160/240)
ebonwood elfbow (15,000gp; +1 to hit, range 100/200/300)
mithril arrow (250gp; 1d6+1)

General Vulfelind de Galaufabonne, Governess of Bone Temple, Beggar Queen of Bone Temple, the Duke's Fang

Birth 1284 (adult 23 of 36)
STR 13 (18 w/ogre gauntlets); DEX 18; CON 16; INT 10; WIS 12; CHA 16
Werefox Burglar-10 (XP 651,201 of 730,000).

AC 12; HD 9d4+19 (40 hp); MV 180, swim 60; AT paired sentient shortswords 1d4+10 (throw -3+), flame crossbow 1d6+8 (throw 0+).
(AC breakdown: dex +3, ring of protection +2, swash +2, shapeshifting +2, fox natural +3)

Proficiencies: Combat Reflexes, Diplomacy, Fighting Style Dual-Wield, Lip Reading, Swashbuckling, Tracking, Weapon Finesse.

Class Abilities: thief skills, shapeshift into fox/foxman, shapeshifting enemy, difficult to spot, pass without trace, wilderness evasion.

A short, compact woman with dark olive skin, close-cropped black hair, and bright amber eyes. She has a slightly feral look as long as she can resist smirking.

Vulfelind wears practical gnomish clothing: sturdy leather, tool pouches, and hidden pockets. Her only additional requirements are dark, matte shades ... and ease of shedding when she transforms. As a rule, she prefers heavy-duty pants, a loose tunic over silk bindings, a workman's apron, minimal gloves, and padded boots. She does not wear cosmetics, and only jewelry when required (the Grim Fist ring, her war medals, and her Governor arm torc, all for official functions).

Werefox Burglar (HD 0, Fighter 3, Thief 3, Werefox 0; max level 14)
Attacks as a monster; saves as a thief. Can use fighter and thief magic items.
Armor: None allowed.
Weapons: Standard thief choices. Standard thief fighting styles.
Fighter damage bonus on all weapons.

Shapeshift into a very small fox. Move 180, swim 60, natural AC 3. Immune to non-magical weapons. Speak to foxes and take foxes as henchmen. Worth +1,100 XP. Increases XP costs after 8th by +50,000 XP.

XP Costs: 280,000 for 8th, +150,000 per level thereafter.

The foxman midpoint form burned two of the customs she earned for dropping her fighting abilities. Two customs were burned to increase the maximum character level.

The remaining four customs went as follows:

level 1: Shapeshifting Enemy (renamed from Blade-Dancing).
level 3: Difficult to Spot.
level 7: Passing Without Trace.
level 7: Wilderness Evasion.
level 13: Totem Animal (fox; DEX; Alertness benefit; MV 180, AC 3, attack nil, Tracking).
level 13: Spiritwalk (as Shaman).

Class Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Alertness, Arcane Dabbling, Blind Fighting, Bribery, Cat Burglary, Combat Reflexes, Combat Trickery (disarm, incapacitate), Contortionism, Diplomacy, Fighting Style, Gambling, Intimidation, Lip Reading, Lockpicking, Mapping, Precise Shooting, Riding, Running, Seafaring, Skirmishing, Skulking, Sniping, Swashbuckling, Trap Finding, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus.

Sir Merideth de Galaufabonne, Matriarch of Galaufabonne, Church Knight of the Lady, Galaufabonne Knight of the Realm

Birth 1282 (adult 25 of 36)
STR 9 (18 w/ogre gauntlets); DEX 10; CON 9; INT 10; WIS 18; CHA 18
Church Knight-11 (XP 525,800 of 600,000).

AC 12; HD 9d4+19 (40 hp); MV 120; AT lady's cane 1d6+5/1d8+5 (throw 0+), blessed lance 1d10+6 (throw -1+).
(AC breakdown: plate +9, shield +3)

Proficiencies: Command, 3x Healing, Leadership, 2x Military Strategy.
Class Abilities: Turn Undead, Riding, Mount Bond, Spells 4/4/4/3/3, Scrolls, Potions, Magic Items, Research Spells, Ritual Magic, Constructs.

A petite chocolate-skinned woman with ankle-length platinum hair, immense brown eyes, and the toothiest grin around.

She tends to eschew the vast quantities of gold, platinum, sapphire, and rubies of her rank within the Church of the Lady, preferring a gold-trimmed, white silk cassock and small sapphire earings - enough to show her allegiance, and of fine-enough tailoring to show her power, but not so much as to elevate her beyond the means of her knights. It is said that this has rankled some of her superiors, who do wear enough gold to feed a city, but she has thus far evaded any consequences.

Church Knight
Identical to a cleric, with the following changes:

Weapon Choices: flail/hammer/mace and spears/pole arms.
Weapon Styles: Weapon and Shield only (gain 1 custom power).
Armor: Unrestricted.
Bonus Powers (expends 1 custom power):
level 3: Riding proficiency.
level 9: Mount Bond (see below).

A mount bond takes one month of careful work with a particular mount to forge, and requires a war-trained mount. While being ridden by its master, the mount has hit points equal to the higher of its natural hit points or its master's hit points, and its master gains a +4 on any throws to remain seated, guide the mount, etc. The mount's speed improves by +60 and its AC by 1. If a bonded mount dies, a new one requires the same amount of time to establish. Only one mount bond is possible at a time.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 34
OOC: The members of the Grim Fist have collectively taken "de Galaufabonne" as their place name. For obvious reasons.

OOC2: I have named the setting! "Tabula Viridis". Now I know what to call it when the Grim Fist retires and a new batch of heroes shows up.

Month 7
Population 40,000. Profit 170,000 (includes some changes that occurred this month below).

Chlodomer re-fills her army garrison! And raises the taxes back up to 2gp/family. Peasants sigh wistfully for the good old days, but are glad to be properly protected.

Vulfelind heads off to assassinate Duke Ageric's spymaster, having sussed out his hideout location. She flies in invisible and silenced, ghosts through his mansion home ... and passes the bedroom of his toddler son. In the morning, he wakes up to find an envelop pinned carefully to his nightgown. Inside, a note saying "Your son earned you one warning. One." and a copy of the contract for Chlodomer's life.

Galswintha completes her research: the ritual spell Disarm Life Trapping. Enchanted veil in hand, she petitions Iamanu for audience, and travels south to free the non-ancient-evil-dragon victims of the Mirror.

Iamanu is ... just the tiniest bit discomfited at her achievement. Nonetheless, he agrees, and the dragon and elfmaid enter his vault and fetch the mirror. She lays the veil over it, names the specific victims to be free, and the veil turns to powder.

Two dwarven brothers, a dwarven scholar, and a nymph emerge.

Within the darkened mirror, Iamanu's only intended victim gnashes his teeth in silent fury.

...and the nymph begins to wilt and die, as she is away from her roots, and this prompts a quite earnest panic on Galswintha's part, before she figures out that the nymph is native to Pegasus Mountain, and teleports her to the dining hall, before following to explain. On arrival, the nymph laughs delightedly and melts into the mountain.

Merideth completes her research as well: Harvest! The Lady blesses the temple and the central domain around it for one year. (OOC: I allowed the Harvest and efreet wish to combine, because they were sufficiently different) ... and promptly begins work on more, to cover additional portions of the realm. (The realm as it currently stands will require about four castings total.)

The efreet's wish was subtle. Little nudges of probability here and there, preventing crop blight, making fish easier to catch, improving the odds of a miner hitting a good vein of ore, subtle shifts in the timing of the rains to prevent in-between droughts. The overall effect was impressive, but all of it consisted of small nudges.

The Harvest of the Lady was not subtle. Plants flat-out grow faster. Fish grow bigger. Small miracles occur on a regular basis throughout the land, helping miners out of gas traps, saving a fisher who fell in the river, healing cattle and grains both of disease.

And one area - Pegasus Mountain - gains a small, additional, unexplained benefit. Miners swear that the veins of ore are replenishing themselves ... and there is circumstantial evidence of benevolent knockers watching out for them. This grants a final +1 to the land value.

Near the very tail-end of the month, three dwarves and Galswintha's retinue show up. All three turn out to be natives of the area ... and the two brothers are not entirely pleased at how things have turned out:

  • "Why are there stone giants in this garden?"
  • "Your ... duchess appears to be wielding the sword and shield of our people."
  • "You filled our fortress with magma?"
  • "Where is our rightful inheritance, the Ring of the Azure Flame? It was bestowed to our father by an efreeti prince!"
  • "You built a fairy village in our Smith's Waters temple?"

They graciously allow Galswintha to equip them and depart, cussing out the "thieves and bastards" of the Grim Fist as they go.

The dwarven scholar, on the other hand, moves into Galswintha's library and practically disappears into the books there.

Month 8
Population 41,000. Profit 175,000. Merideth levels to 12!

The Grim Fist is on an emergency lair-clearing trip when ...

Tepui Lake (#0807)

(tepui: a high, solitary plateau or mesa.)

Clearing a bandit camp out of #0806, they spot something strange a few miles further south, and make a high aerial pass to scout it:

The northern tip of a vast tepui (a quarter-mile high, and stretching over a total of three six-mile hexes), with a fog-shrouded crater lake almost six miles across, with a darker patch in the fog hinting at an island. The sheer cliffs are riddled with caves, ravines, waterfalls, and the ruins of stairways and building foundations.

They briefly fly closer for a better look ... and spot a long, crimson-scaled dragon. The Grim Fist bravely panics and flees.

Then they plot and plan. They fail to find any glorious historical notes for this dragon; but do find a sizing chart that implies the red is Old but not older, and decide that maybe it's doable. The pick their retinue and head out.

The dragon's cave is easy to find again. Invisible and silenced, they slowly make their way into the cave, which turns out deeper and darker than expected, especially without torches. Then, just ahead, the faint glint of gold amidst the shadows.

Vulfelind trots ahead to take a better look ... and invisible and silenced, falls silently and invisibly through the illusory floor into a pit of pythons. Shortly thereafter, the rest of the party - blissfully ignorant - follows.

As they fight the snakes, there is a draconic, rumbling chuckle, and a boulder - sized exactly for the hole they fell through! - is rolled into place. The remainder of the fight against the pythons is in darkness, lit only by the dim, flickering glow of magic swords and flaming crossbow.

A careful search discovers no secret exits, no indication of magical effects, and a boulder too heavy for mortals to move.

So Galswintha summons an earth elemental, and sends it up and out, shoving the boulder aside. Dragon fire envelops it, and it steps out of sight to wrestle the dragon. The party swarms out after ... and are enveloped by dragon fire.

From the second dragon.

One panicked melee later, one dragon is downed and the other cowers, swearing draconic oaths of fealty to save its skin. And then Galswintha makes Merideth provide first aid to the downed dragon, who similarly swears draconic oaths of fealty to save its skin.

No one really trusts them, but ... Chlodomer smiles, and takes their oaths. A blue, draconic flame briefly envelops them, and he explains the Oath of Fealty to them. The dragons look even sorrier for themselves, wings and faces drooping like a caught six-year old.

And then the party finds the treasure hoard.

  • An entire, intact war galley, propped on stands as if sitting on a beach. A sheer, vertical hole leading up from the cave has faint sunlight glittering down, revealing the secret of its arrival. It has a number of automatons reminescent of dwarven design:
    • 300 automaton rowers (1/2 HD, weight 10 stone, untiring, no Move, no attacks, and no actions more complex than rowing). Base cost 1,000 gp each.
    • One infrastructure piece that maybe manages the rudder and sails? (10 HD, weight 1,000 stone, AC 5, no Move, requires controller, #AT 1, damage cannon 3d10 [300']). Base cost unknown without figuring out what all it can do. A complicated series of knobs, levers, pulleys, and switches are arrayed in a captain's chair.
    • Three advanced-looking catapults (6 HD, weight 360 stone, AC 3, no Move, requires controller, #AT 1, damage catapult 3d6 [200']). Base cost 12,000 gp each ... probably.
  • In the hold, exotic spices, silks, clothing designs, wines, bottles that look like some sort of clear wine, trinkets of unknown origin, and lots and lots of stuff that just screams "this boat sailed from a faraway place we've never even heard of."
  • The traditional pile of dragon's gold and platinum, worth approximately 60,000 gp.
  • A number of minor magic items which immediately get shifted to henchmen.
  • Four mostly-identical amethyst cylinder seals: each shows a djinn prince identified by a banner, bowing before an unknown king who is surrounded by a variety of signs of wealth and power. The only difference between each is the symbol on the djinn prince's banner.

The war galley weighs close to 30,000 stone, including everything on it. A team of three thousand humans, armed with plenty of ropes and guide poles, might conceivably manage to pull the thing out. That sounds suspiciously like a construction project ...

OOC: I ruled that the 200-foot hole it needs to be dragged up is roughly equivalent to 15,000 gp of project, or 30 days. That would take them into the following month, and they didn't inquire further, or make plans for any additional project work.

Galswintha teleports Chlodomer to her tower, and he gathers his military and marches back to the ship site. The logistics issues hit almost immediately.

Sheer cliffs and unknown conditions at top mean a stairway is needed for the troops to survive. Repairing one of the existing stairs works out to 25,000 gp worth of project, or 50 days. For the lengths of time required, the soldiers will need supply lines, which currently cut directly through wilderness - the wilderness will need to be cleared first, and then at least a minimal dirt road cut through 12 miles.

They camp their soldiers at the base of the tepui cliffs, and have them begin repairing the stairs ... and set to clearing the path, ending out the month with the last ogre village firebombed and wiped out.

The dragons are not particularly helpful throughout, and even with the Blue Duchess' oath spell in place, a careful watch is kept on them.

Months 9 and 10
Population 43,500. Profits 178,000 and 189,500 gp.

While the Grim Fist does do some maintenance lair-clearing (another outbreak of ankhegs at the southeastern border, a brief argument with giants who thought they could homestead in some poor farmer's barn, and a number of more minor incidents), they focus mostly on other concerns.

Vulfelind aggressively watches Duke Ageric's activities, further organizes her spy ring, manages her city, and helps Chlodomer keep an eye on the Mesa Project.

Chlodomer keeps the supply chain to Tepui Lake safe, monitors the repairs (and sometimes wholly new construction) of the quarter-mile stairway ... and gathers the party to kill the manticore haunting the top of the cliff and hoping for snacks.

Merideth produces two more Harvests, covering most of the remainder of the realm, and begins a fourth and final casting.

Galswintha finishes pioneering research to bind a fire elemental and begins researching Permanency. (Vulfelind: "What, it's not a secret?")

HD 16* (fire elemental; base cost 37,000 gp)
throw 4+ (6+, -2 for efreeti whispers, -3 from INT, -3 from 70,000 gp ceremonial space, +6 elemental, -4 experimentation, +4 one year duration)

She rolls a 17, gaining an additional two 2d10 special abilities: flight (180') and a breath weapon (16d6 fire, 30x90 cone).

The fire elemental appears in the form of a 60-foot long feathered serpent with a slightly draconic cast, but can take the usual pillar of flame form freely. In serpent form, it can fly at 180' with up to 120 stone, or 90' with 240 stone; in pillar of flame form, it can move at 120' across the ground, but cannot carry objects.

Her reaction roll (+1 CHA, +2 mystic aura, +2 fire elementals) is a 13. Yikes. We determine that the elemental's name is Sandalwood Dawn.

The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

1) Amazingly cool treasure in the dragon's lair. I love the automaton-rowed ship.

2) The extent to which your players are casting and using ritual magic and performing experimentation warms my soul. 

Thanks for those great updates!

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

1) The players agree with you. Since I put a fair amount of work into it, I'm gratified on both fronts.

2) Galswintha is going to court that 15% guaranteed chance of horrible fate like it's going out of style, I think. Merideth has thus far refused to be drawn in.

Patreon SupporterDomains At War BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2012-11-21 15:13

Isn't there a way for chlodomer to get back to being a man? I feel for him, I really do.


Thomas Weigel
Thomas Weigel's picture
Joined: 2012-06-20 11:57

Per p. 104, "The resulting side effects are permanent and can only be removed with a wish spell."

They have at least five wishes, don't they? They just have to convince Wordthief that Chlodomer's masculinity is sufficiently epic ;-)

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

The options are:

1. Die and restore a bunch of times and pray.
2. There is said to be a type of cursed item which alters gender. Find one.
3. Get a wish.

On the latter, I house ruled that wish is a level-11 ritual spell. The only way to acquire it is via radical experimentation, a formula, or by petitioning someone who already has the secret of it.

So Galswintha and Chlodomer have been negotiating, based on the risks Galswintha will have to take. When they hammer out a deal, it will probably happen within a few months game-time - Galswintha is no slouch in the research department.

It's also possible they will find another wish item. Or persuade Wordthief.

Thomas Weigel
Thomas Weigel's picture
Joined: 2012-06-20 11:57

I don't think Galswintha can manage it, even without slouching - a level-11 ritual spell gives a 14th-level caster with 18 INT and the finest library in the land a final throw value of (3+, -3 INT, -3 library, +11 ritual) 8+. To get a revolutionary breakthrough requires a roll of 28+, and radical experimentation only brings that down to 22+.

You could set the "cost" at level 10.5, and put an intermediate +1.5 spell level result between "major" and "revolutionary," and that would be achievable.

An 11th level caster will have a final throw of (6+, -3 INT, -3 library, +10* ritual, -6 radical) 4+, and would manage a "major plus" breakthrough on a 19+.

* Assuming we round down on that whole 10.5 thing.

The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Hmmm. Assuming that one agrees that Wish, as written, is an 11th level spell effect, then you don't need to get a revolutionary breakthrough to get it - you simply need to research an 11th level spell. That would require (as you note) an 8+.

A revolutionary breakthrough would be required if one were attempting to make a 9th level spell effect (say, "Limited Wish"). The difficulty would be 6+. To get a radical breakthrough requires a roll of 26+, which with radical experimentation becomes 20+, e.g. roll a natural 20. Then one would raise the spell's level by 2, from 9th level effectively to 11th level effectively.

In other ways, if you want to make Wish rare, the way to do is not to make it a spell that can be researched at 11th level, but rather to say that it's an 11th level effect that can only be achieved by getting a radical breakthrough while researching a 9th level spell.

I hope that made sense!

Thomas Weigel
Thomas Weigel's picture
Joined: 2012-06-20 11:57

I think you and Cameron were on the same page, and I was off in the bushes somewhere.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Regarding wishes, I'll just post in the House Rules forum regarding my thoughts, and look for advice there.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

OOC: Not a long session, and I have had a busy week, so, kind of short update.

Session 35
Month 11
Merideth begins throwing the portion of her tithes that count as level income into the party pot. This ... is not as large a contribution as those who argued for it had hoped. Still, it helps.

Population 44,500. Profits 208,000 gp (before cliffside costs).

A thousand-foot-high, continuous stairway snakes its way up the tepui cliffside. A war galley has been lifted up a 200-foot shaft and placed onto a stand by sheer human effort. Three thousand soldiers pat themselves on the back.

... and the rulers of Galaufabonne realize: it still has to be lowered a thousand more feet down the cliff and transported home. They decide to leave it there.

... and Galswintha asks to examine it before they leave. So Chlodomer and Vulfelind hang out as protection, and Merideth wanders the shoreline looking for monsters.

Galswintha first gets a full list of knobs and levers and bits:

(OOC: The players were stunned: I'd actually done some prep work.)

  • Captain's Chair
    • A large pulley attached to a horn-like contraption in the ceiling.
    • A control panel, from left to right:
      • A keyhole, large red switch (down), and pulley.
      • Three switches (all down): "fore," "aft," and "aft broad."
      • Twelve numbered switches numbered 1-12 (all down).
      • Three identical knobs in a vertical line. Each has a black line across them, currently horizontal.
      • A long lever arm (0 degrees horizontal) with two crossbow-like triggers and a feather decoration.
      • A long lever arm (36 degrees up) with one crossbow-like trigger and a reed decoration.
      • Three small key switches covered by removable bells: red, black, and green.
  • Each catapult:
    • A horizontal wheel.
    • A vertical wheel with cubits marked along the outer edge.
    • A single heavy-duty returning lever.

Then she wanders around the ship. She asks about the angles of rudder and sails. She paces out the ropes. She looks under the rower benches and finds cabling.

She crawls into a catapult ... and turns a knob. It refuses to budge.

She returns to the captain's chair and tries to turn the middle of the three vertical knobs. It refuses to budge.

She wanders back out and looks for a power source, and finds a crystal she thinks might be the source ... but there's nothing wrong with the crystal that she can see. She calls Vulfelind over to pick the keyhole on the far left.

Vulfelind: "So what will this do?"
Galswintha: "It's a secret."

She picks the lock anyway, and turns it. Nothing happens.

Galswintha flips the big red switch to (up). Nothing happens.

She flips switches, discovers that the knobs still don't budge, and almost (almost!) releases one of the bell covers.

Then Vulfelind hauls on the far-left pulley.

An enormous clatter. A sputtering sound. Galswintha and Vulfelind share a half-second grin, grab the pulley together, and put their backs into it. Another sputter.

Chlodomer and Merideth are crowding into the cabin, "WHAT THE FIVE HELLS ARE YOU TWO GIRLS DOING?"

They haul on it again. The sputter turns into a roar. The ship rocks slightly. A soft glow begins to light up behind the switches.

Galswintha cackles maniacally ... and then everyone hears splintering sounds outside. Vulfelind immediately starts flipping switches back to (down) and the sound subsides. Several of the ship's oars (but fortunately not the rowers) are broken - they weren't built for dry land.

They decide to not leave the ship after all.

Month 12
Population 46,000. Profits 212,000 gp (before cliffside costs).

Merideth finishes her final Harvest casting - the entire Realm of Galaufabonne is now at +2 land value - and begins researching Resurrection (throw 9+, 14 weeks, and 7,000 gp).

Galswintha begins researching "lesser wish" as a 9th level spell with Radical experimentation (throw 4+, 9,000 gp, 18 weeks).

the Grim Fist clears the area of the cliffs and the path north of all lairs, and puts the smallest valid fortresses into place to hold the areas, then fishes through the northern edge of the lake to make sure no obvious monsters lurk.

And then they bring in civilian laborers to begin the task of lowering the entire ship, intact, down the thousand-foot cliff. And while the initial construction of the bridging and ropes needed is occurring, they repair the damage they did discovering that the ship's devices still worked.

The two dragons, Agape and Agathon, make pests of themselves. They attempt to hold the elfmaid hostage for their freedom (er, you guys know that this elemental is my ally, right?). They attempt to sneak out. They sabotage one of the vertical bridges. ... and then they eat a peasant who wanders too near.

The last is the final straw. Chlodomer passes judgement ... and then looks disconcerted: breaking the fealty oath works both ways. The dragons lose their blue halo and are immediately alerted.

The second fight with the dragons, newly desparate to escape, is harder, but the Grim Fist prevails. The dragons are slain. ... and Chlodomer is significantly happier about her blue halo.

The ship, however, is still up a cliff with new paddles.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 36
Year 1308
Months 1, 2, and 3, Winter
Final population 51,750, profits 623,326 gp. Merideth levels again as she finally catches up to where a cleric should be with the party XP average ... and stops leveling on the current income again.

Merideth fails to research Resurrection and starts over (will finish at end of month 5).

Galswintha successfully researches Permanency in month 1! She immediately begins researching a new spell:

No Stone. Immune to flesh to stone and to all petrification effects. Affects one creature (who must be touched; attack roll required in combat) for one turn. Level 2 mage spell.

And completes it in month 2. And then she begins researching an item (which will complete in month 9):

Stone Charm. This bracelet charm protects the wearer from being turned to stone. Base cost 50,000 GP.

The rulers of Galaufabonne pacify three new hexes in month 1, and two new hexes in each of month 2 and 3. None of the lairs I rolled were particularly challenging - I may be hand-crafting some hexes soon.

They also, miraculously, manage to get the ship down the cliff intact ... and then transported home, where they store the ship in picturesque fashion just outside Bone Temple (on a stand high enough to avoid the oars hitting ground).

Then the party begins experimenting with the controls, a bit more cautiously this time, and manages to work out many of the details:

  • All switches follow this rule: "Down" is off/locked, "up" is active/unlocked.
  • The horn-like contraption is a loudspeaker.
  • The keyhole, large switch, and pulley are all needed to activate the ship.
  • The three switches (fore, aft, and aft broad) lock/unlock the catapults.
  • The twelve numbered switches activate rowers in lots of 25 (sets of five benches).
  • The three black-line knobs individually rotate the sail masts. Pushing a knob causes the sail to roll up; push again, it rolls back down.
  • The lever arm with two triggers ... does not appear to do anything.
  • The single-trigger lever arm adjusts the rudder.
  • The removable bells ... they leave alone, on the premise that one of them may be a self-destruct switch.

The catapults have more self-explanatory controls, and the entire party indulges in some target practice outside the city.

"Now," says Lady Chlodomer, grinning, "We just have to get it to an ocean."

As Spring begins, the Grim Fist decides to tackle the entire 3-hex tepui.

Month 4, Tepui West (#0707)
Population 53,000, profits 216,000 gp.

They clear out a manticore, a pack of brigands, a hill giant gang, crocodiles and giant pythons, a lost trader (whom they helpfully assist back to the Highway), and a flight of giant hawks (whom they befriend).

... and then they stumble across an NPC party: two fighters, a thief, and a mage, who claim that they were clearing the mesa and the Grim Fist can go toss themselves off a cliff somewhere. They also helpfully point at the nearby cliff the Grim Fist can use.

The NPCs have a small army with them; the Grim Fist has Merideth's knights and a few other retainers. The Grim Fist fails to be intimidated. Chlodomer elects to try to intimidate them ... and completely blows the roll.

It had to happen someday.

Merideth and her knights handle the retainers and mercenaries. The outcome is never in doubt.

Vulfelind pounces the enemy thief ... and this outcome has very little doubt.

Chlodomer takes on both fighters to protect Galswintha, and gets her butt handed to her - both fighters are higher level, and one has a girdle of giant strength. Chlodomer does her best to draw the fight out and survive her role as punching bag until the others can help.

And Galswintha ... the enemy mage uses a prepared ritual spell to permanently polymorph her into a rabbit. And then casts Charm Animal. And then begins casting support spells against Chlodomer.

Chlodomer goes down and the two fighters move in to help the thief defeat Vulfelind - a mistake, as it turns out, because Vulfelind finishes killing the thief and retreats, cracking open a scroll of dispel magic on Galswintha.

Galswintha screams incoherently and tackles (tackles!) and pins the mage ... and then breathes dragonfire directly into his face. The pinned scholar dies ugly.

The two enemy fighters glance at each other, shrug, and split up: Mr. Giant Strength to kill Vulfelind, the other Galswintha. Vulfelind plays mouse, tantalizingly within reach despite her superior movement rate.

Galswintha takes a solid hit, breathes fire, takes a second solid hit (at which point the enemy fighter gets a pained look), and breathes fire for the third time. The fighter dies in melee combat with a mage.

And then Merideth, finished routing the mercenaries, comes pounding back in to heal Chlodomer (who gets up as if nothing happened) ... and the whole party stomps the final fighter into paste.

Chlodomer can't fit herself into the girdle of giant strength fast enough.

With the NPC party out of the way, they scout further and find a collection of lizardman villages scattered amidst a vast complex of stone ruins at the western edge of the fog-shrouded lake. They retreat to plot and plan.

Ludanto's picture
Domains At War BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2012-04-30 11:52

Just posting the usual "this is awesome, yada yada yada" post. The system looks good and fun, but your campaign shows what it can really do, and I am inspired!

James C. Bennett
Player's Companion BackerDomains At War BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters BackerBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

"The fighter dies in melee combat with a mage."


Dwimmermount BackerDomains At War Contributor
Joined: 2012-04-16 15:29

I'm hoping for a holy war with the lizardman kingdom, who were worshipping the dragons as gods.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Heh. Close. Much was revealed this session, and I ended on a cliffhanger.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 37
Month 5
Population 54,000, profits 220,000 gp. Vulfelind finally levels!

Galswintha is 11th; Chlodomer and Vulfelind are 12th; Merideth is 13th. With their shared profit system, Galswintha earns XP at more than 160,000 gp. Chlodomer and Vulfelind need the duchy to produce more than 240,000 gp per month. Merideth needs it to earn, er, more than 600,000 gp per month - for Merideth, adventuring and research is the only way until Galaufabonne is MUCH larger.

Galswintha has her apprentices identify items ... and discovers that the four amethyst cylinder seals they've been sitting on for the last ten months are wishes granted by a djinni prince.

Chlodomer squeals delightedly and immediately begins rummaging through her wardrobes.

Galswintha hrms, and asks questions about how djinn compare to efreet. We come up with these answers:

Genies all form caliphates under princes, are hidebound and conservative, and are bureaucratic masters of twisted wording.

Efreet: Fire elementals. Chaotic. Wicked and ruthless, they delight in the pain of others and the destruction of value, and are infamous for their twisted wishes. When Galswintha asks whether the fungal attraction to Galaufabonne and the purple worm migrations toward Galaufabonne are a side effect of her wish for prosperity, the Judge tells her she can take a month to research that.

Djinn: Air elementals. Neutral. They blow this way and that, and may be wicked or benevolent by individual dictates or whim. They are difficult to bind, because their nature changes!

Madrid: Water elementals. Neutral. Known for stormy tempers, but generally benevolent otherwise. Very, very difficult to summon without enraging; an enraged madrid tends to destroy things on arrival.

Dao: Earth elementals. Lawful. Extremely strict, forbidding, and autocratic. Will serve faithfully if bound, and their wishes are the most trusted of genies, but adherence to Law makes them the most difficult to bind at all.

When Chlodomer returns, breathless and flushed and armed with her old male clothing, Galswintha activates the first seal. A djinn prince appears, tall and handsome, and bows before Galswintha, his forehead and both palms touching the floor, then stands and stares at her, "You are not He who bound My Word."

Galswintha: No.
Djinn: How did you come by His Seal?
Chlodomer, silk-smooth: She recovered it from His ship, lost for centuries.
Djinn: I see. Indeed, it has been some time.
Djinn, to Galswintha: My bound Word is in your hands. I would have It back.
Galswintha: Do I get a wish first?
Djinn, sighing: Please do not anger me. I would hate to destroy such a pretty little thing.
Galswintha, face reddening: ...
Chlodomer: Her proper title, O Prince of Djinn, is Wizard, 12th Order.
Djinn: Oh.
Djinn, to Galswintha: My most abject apologies, Mistress. What is Your wish?

Moments later, Chlodomer is once again a man, the cylinder seal crumbles to dust, and the djinn prince returns home.

They set the remaining three aside for later discussion while they plan their next assault on Tepui West. Galswintha puts them in her pouch, just in case.

Tepui Overview

A tepui is a tall and vast mesa, often characterized by its own ecology and weather. This one is larger than most. The cliff-sides are thick with caves, ravines, chimneys, and falls; and the ancient remnants of thousand-foot stairways. One of those stairways was rebuilt by the Grim Fist.

The tepui is moist and humid, with daily showers, constant mist and clouds, year-round streams and waterfalls, and a heated lake fed by underwater geysers.

The majority of the lake is in the northern hex. A hilly, cave-riddled, mossy cloud forest covers the rest. The three hexes are Tepui Lake (#0807), Tepui South (#0808), and Tepui West (#0707).

Tepui Lake probably has an island. The Grim Fist has not yet dared the fog.

Tepui West has the highest elevated terrain, with stone ruins rising in concentric arcs away from the lake. There are several visible objects:

  • Some landmarks that they can only see because they know to look:
    • The hill/cavern the two manticores were living in.
    • The cleared patch where they found the brigands.
    • The ashes of the hill giant gang's campfire.
  • Concentric partial circles of stone ruin.
  • The lower two-thirds of an obese humanoid sitting cross-legged. One pair of arms rests across the thighs, the hands (and whatever they were holding) broken off; a second arm on the left is held out, elbow bent and palm open upwards; and a second arm on the right is broken at the elbow. Even without the upper shoulders and head, the seated statue rises some 60 feet above the surrounding forest canopy (the crosslegged thighs are of a height with the trees).
  • What appears to be several ship wrecks, grown over with trees and moss.
  • A sunken entrance to what may be a vast cavern.
  • Two lizardman villages along the lakeshore, separated by a few miles, with a dirt path between, and an additional path each further into the jungle.

Tepui South has the median height terrain (between the lake and the hills of West), and no sign of any major civilization ever having existed beneath its canopy ... although it may have been any of a number of less permanent structures, such as farms. The visible objects:

  • One lizardman village at the shore, with trail into canopy.
  • A giant, moss-covered chiquinib oak, of a size with the Galaufchulis tree, but in poor health. And instead of rocs or pegasi, lizardmen have established a vertical village cut into the bark, a hollow hole is visible in the side, and giant lizards of some sort scurry along the outer portions.
  • A single moss-covered ship wreck.
  • A crude, lashed-rope bridge across a chasm.
  • A crude pyramid of tree trunks topped by the skull of a giant humanoid.

Village North-on-Water

The party decides to tackle the northernmost village, on the strength of an argument from Vulfelind: if they have to run away, they don't have to run past the other village.

Vulfelind, her invisible canoe, and Team Thief move into position above. Galswintha and Team Mage stay a cautious distance out, ready to move in. Chlodomer, Merideth, and Merideth's Cavalry ride into the village to give the lizardmen a chance to leave without a fight.

There are 300 standard lizardmen in the village. 375 females. 60 champions. 13 warband leaders. And their chief - a sixth-level Thrassian gladiator with a vicious temper and a cruel streak. The biggest problem, however, is the Thrassian's wives, who bear the marks of that temper, and thus make a peaceful resolution unlikely.

Chlodomer: HUH.
Merideth: Indeed.
Chlodomer: Don't signal the girls.
Merideth, looking down at herself: ...
Chlodomer: You're a knight.
Merideth: Fair enough.
Chlodomer: Okay, komodo breath, here's the deal. I'm going to chop you into tiny, teeny little pieces, and your people can choose to leave peacefully or not.

The Thrassian takes a long look at Chlodomer's quality of gear, his aura of power, and the circlet on the ducal brow ... and gargles a command to his people. Who fail to move.

The shaman clears his throat, "I think you two work it out. I think we talk with winner."

The Thrassian takes one more long look, then sprints for the lake shore ... and bangs his head on the underside of an invisible canoe before a werefox and her crew appear in the midst of a backstab. The Thrassian is a corpse before he knows what happened.

Chlodomer: HUH.
Merideth: Indeed.

There are some complications. The fifteen wives of the Thrassian now consider Chlodomer their owner, and the village considers him their Chief ... and as long as he remains Chief, they will happily remain "loyal" to Galaufabonne.

Galswintha and the lizardman shaman sit down in the medicine lodge to discuss the situation. When she returns, the Grim Fist has a better idea of what's going on:

There are roughly five thousand lizardmen (1,000 families) hunting, gathering, looting, gardening, and "farming" in the three hexes of the tepui, plus four villages (the three small lakeshore ones with around 75+ families, and the larger giant tree one with around 250 families). It is technically a "civilized" Chaotic domain.

The Chief of Chiefs who rules the four villages and related tribes is not really powerful enough to hold everything together by himself ... but he doesn't have to be, because the Serpent King backs his claim to the position.

The Serpent King guards a terrible maze of catacombs, and is some sort of snake-bodied lizardman necromancer of terrifying power. The Serpent King also has servants other than the Chief of Chiefs: a mist-colored dragon; a giant human shadow ("the night walker"); an immortal warrior of some sort; and an awful creature of metal and glowing crystals that few have seen.

None of the villages like the Chief of Chiefs. They would much rather be allowed to murder and pillage and eat sentients without paying a vassal tax for the privilege.

But no worries: all of the Chiefs meet with the Chief of Chiefs once every seven days, so Chlodomer won't have to wait long to get properly involved in the local politics.

The Grim Fist take advantage of the momentary respite and hospitality to explore the area this village controls. Chlodomer fends off the advances of fifteen slave lizardwomen. Vulfelind has a long, private conversation with Wordthief. Galswintha discusses the local politics with the shaman.

Merideth tries to not kill anyone.

Village Above-the-Cloud

A few days later, it is time to meet the Chief of Chiefs. Chlodomer puts on the ceremonial headress, and the Grim Fist and lizardman shaman walk the path to the Great Tree and then up the creaking and poorly-shaped stairs. Galswintha, long-accustomed to living and dwelling in such a tree, notes that it is in far worse condition than it looked previously. She fingers one of the amethyst cylinder seals in her pouch, then shakes her head.

Near the top, the shaman announces Chlodomer as the new Chief by succession.

The Chief of Chiefs stomps over and sniffs him.

CoC: A human?
Shaman: This human is strong.
CoC: This I would see for myself.

The Chief of Chiefs drags out a shaking lizardman, and speaks to it in hissing tones. Finally, it nods, and bares fangs and claws at Chlodomer, then leaps at the human, howling with rage.

Chlodomer lets the claws scratch uselessly on his armor, then wraps one ogre-and-giant-empowered hand around the lizardman's throat, lifts it bodily, and tosses the lizardman off the tree. To the Chief of Chiefs, he says merely, "Let me know when you are ready to test my strength, and I will do my best."

Chief of Chiefs grabs four more warriors in ill favor, and sends them against Chlodomer, who draws his sword and in one smooth motion, cleaves through all four, then yawns.

The Chief of Chiefs harumphs again, but lets it stand, and then states that the formal meeting will occur in the lodge in one hour, and then stomps away into the tree's hollow. The other Chiefs look nervous.

A few minutes later, a dragon with palest blue scales crawls out of the hollow with the Chief of Chiefs, 18 feet long and winged. Its eyes glow briefly, then it gives a dry chuckle, and in quite elegant Frankish, "If I may hazard a guess? You are the individuals who slew Agape and Agathon?"

Chlodomer admits that this is true, hand on sword, and the dragon laughs, "Oh, most excellent. If I may advise? You may be wondering if you have gotten yourself in too deep - and you have - but my mistress would speak to you, and perhaps offer you an alliance rather than a conflict. Would you, perhaps, be willing to accompany me to speak with her?"

The Catacombs of the Serpent King

The party is escorted to the base of the vast multi-armed, headless statue, which turns out to be constructed on a fortress of substantial craft. They are brought therein to a courtyard, and then a Great Hall ...

... and all but Chlodomer are instantly paralyzed at the sight of Her.

Her face is heart-stoppingly beautiful ... and terrible beyond words. Dread washes over the room as She surveys it. Her skin is palest jade and her flesh perfect, but Her arms end in lizardman forearms and claws. Her smile is fanged. Her eyes are jet black, with amber hints of lambent light. Her lower torso is a coiled constrictor of the same pale green. Her hair - 18 feet of it - is silken black and straight.

She is as large as Iamanu, some sixty feet long, and Her perfect upper torso is easily nine feet of that. She wears obviously magical jewelry: an emerald-studded, platinum crown with a faintly-glowing third eye; emerald earrings; an ebon collar with a jade intaglio of a serpent; on each arm, a platinum torc, bronze bracer, and ruby-studded finger gauntlet; around Her waist, a delicate platinum belt.

Chlodomer, utterly immune to fear, bows as one ruler to another, "My lady, they regrettably did not tell me you were so beautiful or I would have traveled faster."

And She laughs, and the dread - of very similar feel to that of mummies - evaporates in an instant. Galswintha nervously slips a hand into her pouch, where it wraps itself tightly around an amethyst cylinder.

"I am Lady Jade the Undying. The degenerate thrass insist on applying the term king, but truly, I do little more than advise their Chief of Chiefs. My role here is as guardian, not ruler, and I have little interest in world affairs beyond ensuring the security of My guardianship."

Vulfelind raises an eyebrow, "Does that mean that if we conquered this area, but left this place to you, you would not interfere?"

Jade, with a razor smile, "That depends entirely on what I think of you after this meeting."

Thomas Weigel
Thomas Weigel's picture
Joined: 2012-06-20 11:57

Is that a dungeon crawl looming ahead that I see?

Also, my favorite part:

Chlodomer: Her proper title, O Prince of Djinn, is Wizard, 12th Order.
Djinn: Oh.
Djinn, to Galswintha: My most abject apologies, Mistress. What is Your wish?

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Yes. They almost managed to explore the first room before fleeing for their lives.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 38
Month 5, Continued
The Serpent King and the Order of the Grim Fist have a long discussion, in which both sides try to suss out the other without sussing themselves out too much.

  • Jade is a Servant of the Heron (*cough*necromancer*cough*). She may be 200 years old ("Jade the Beautiful" was a necromancer known to dabble in crossbreeding two centuries ago). She's probably not Chaotic. She's certainly not Lawful. She worships the Heron. She likes oaths. She can cast Quest. Merideth is very certain she's undead, and the heck with what the spells say.
  • Somewhere in the catacombs are three religious artifacts of importance to the Heron. Jade will allow adventurers to explore the catacombs and raid anything there, if they will agree to seek out and bring her these:
    • An emerald mirror which reflects (or shows) truth.
    • A scroll embedded in stone. "Only the worthy may remove it." Jade thinks she's probably worthy.
    • The petrified heart of the dragon Sekhmet.
  • She has mapped out three levels of the catacombs below. There is a barrier after that which "some magical creatures," including Jade, cannot cross. Merideth mutters "abominations, maybe," and Jade heard ... but only agrees that that may in fact be the criteria.
  • If they wish to go down into the catacombs, they must accept a Quest. She is willing to word the Quest to account for their domain duties.
  • Her pet (!) dragon is fond of the Chief of Chiefs. She is fond of her pet. She has no other interest in the lizardmen. NOBODY liked the two dragons the Grim Fist killed.

Merideth also casts commune, marking the first time in the history of the Grim Fist that a proper divination is used.

Merideth: Will Jade the Undying use the artifacts for evil?
Light: Maybe.
Merideth: Will I regret accepting Jade the Undying's Quest?
Light: Yes.
Merideth: Will I regret not accepting Jade the Undying's Quest?
Light: Yes.
Chlodomer: You do regret pretty much everything.
Merideth: ...

And then divination ... four times.

Merideth: Anything we should know about the catacombs?
Light: Too many things. Do not sleep beneath the ebon jackal.
Merideth: Anything we should know about Jade?
Light: The Heron's servants cannot lie.
Merideth: Why can't you tell me if Jade will use the artifacts for evil?
Light: That decision has not yet been made.
Merideth: Does that mean we could persuade Jade to the side of good?
Light: It means you should examine your assumptions.

And right before the meeting with Jade the following morning, Augury:

Merideth: The action is, I ask Jade if she's undead.
Light: Neither good nor bad.

So Merideth asks ... and Jade is undead and very matter-of-fact about it. She is also a catastrophic crossbreeding failure combined with some ritual magic failures. And much more conservative with magical experimentation these days, yes. Merideth gives Galswintha a meaningful look, which Galswintha blithely ignores.

Instead, Galswintha asks her how a cleric managed crossbreeding ...

Servant of the Heron (*cough*Necromancer*cough*):
HD 0, Fighting 0, Divine 1, Arcane 3.

Cast as divine spellcaster five levels lower. Cannot lie.
Cast as arcane spellcaster three levels lower.
Arms: club, dagger, sling; two-weapon fighting.
Armor: none.
No turn ability (1 custom; swapped for 1 at each of 3rd and 11th)
3rd: Secrets of the Dark Arts.
11th: After the Flesh.

The first three levels are pretty brutal - there's a reason no more of them are around - but if a PC wanted to try it, I'd let 'em.

Galswintha sighs enviously. Merideth harumphs.

The Grim Fist huddles, but Vulfelind is the only voice of dissent (she'd rather see if they can find a way to sneak into the catacombs) and she eventually capitulates. They review the wording ...

... and accept the Quest to focus their efforts in the catacombs on finding the artifacts for Jade the Undying, however much effort that is (i.e., they can retreat when they choose to retreat, and they only spend as much time as they decide, but any time spent in the catacombs must be put toward acquiring the artifacts).

The Grim Fist returns home to finish out their domain duties for the month, with intent to return a few days later to begin their exploration.

Month 6
Population 55,500, profits 223,000 gp. Galswintha creeps toward spelldancer.

Merideth completes her Resurrection research ... and succeeds! The whole team breathes easier until she says, "Now to try to make one." This project will complete at the end of month 7.

The Grim Fist does a reconnaissance of the first three levels - a quick peek in each room Jade said she cleared. The overall impression is of a large, three-story-high, arched hallway coupled with offices and warehouses on either side. It's a bit bizarre, and they treat it carefully.

Then they survey the three presumed entrances to deeper levels:

1. A straight stairwell, 40 feet wide and 30 feet long, which goes down 15 feet to a platform. Unlit, but another stairwell can just be seen past the platform. A curious-looking door is to the left of the platform. Vulfelind cautiously stealths down to the platform, then back up, reporting that the second set of stairs is the same as the first, but opens into a 40-foot-wide hall that stretches deep into darkness.

2. A locked door. "Presumed" to be for the deeper entrances because it was protected by the same shield preventing Jade from entering the other entrances.

3. A water well, 12 feet in diameter. They can see an indeterminate distance down before it is too dark. Vulfelind drops a glowing stone, which, at some greater but still indeterminate distance, briefly reveals a mass of coiled, writhing somethings, before a coil wraps around the stone and plunges the depth into darkness again.

Whatever keeps Jade out does not affect any member of the party, nor their companions, at the first entrance. No one volunteers to test the waters for the third. Vulfelind fails to pick the lock at the second, and they consider breaking the door down before returning to the stairs.

At the stairs, they stop briefly at the side-door, where Vulfelind again fails to pick the lock ... so Chlodomer kicks the door in. Inside, what appears to be a walk-in closet with a rusted bucket, brooms, ancient lye, ... a cleaning supplies closet!

Plus a (normal-sized) rat which disappears into a crack in the stones of the wall. Vulfelind unlocks the door from the other side, and reattaches it to the broken hinge. They move on and down, to the long, empty hall.

Another glowing stone is thrown via sling, and sails 200 feet down the corridor without meeting the end. Shadowed alcoves lay on either side for the entire length, roughly every 20-30 feet, some barred by portcullis, others open air. Footsteps echo oddly in the immense, underground Hall, punctuated by the occasional drip of water, but they push forward, retrieving and then throwing the stone again ... and again.

After a thousand feet, and spotting and ignoring rusted and collapsed dwarven mechanisms scattered about, and the occasional tributary hall leading off, and the endless alcoves ... Merideth stairs at her map.

"This isn't a hall," she whispers, "It's a city street, lined by vendors."

They remember the almost port-city feel of the offices and warehouses upstairs, and look more carefully at Merideth's map ... and indeed, if you built a port into the side of a cliff, it might resemble what has been drawn so far.

They check one of the alcoves: there is a cunning entrance, not secret but invisible from the front, which leads into a small set of apartments - one bed still intact here, a couch there - complete with a dozen ancient, dried corpses flopped here and there.

And as the Grim Fist is checking the back door, which appears to lead into a narrow, cramped back alley, the corpses begin to awkwardly jerk and stand up. They back out of the apartment in horror and slam the door shut.

On a lark, then, Vulfelind throws the glow stone back the way they came. It briefly illuminates a horde of silent, shambling undead before disappearing amidst the press of bodies.

Vulfelind, turning to Galswintha: I think I lost your rock.
Galswintha: I'll make a new one.

Merideth attempts a turn undead on the closest shambling things, fully expecting them to powder ... but they do not. The turning attempt is useful for something, however, granting Merideth two pieces of important knowledge:

1. She is standing in a twice-shadowed region, forsaken by Lawful divinity.
2. The crowd is animated by a single infernal spirit.

She turns and stares hard the other direction, into the dark. Just out of clear sight, there is motion. Slow. Silent. Shambling. The Grim Fist form a circle. The torch bearer is moved to the center. Weapons drawn, they prepare for the arriving horde.

They hear a few moaned syllables shared between the undead, and a sudden, stiff wind extinguishes the torch and plunges the party into darkness, save for a tiny radius from glowing weapons, and the ruddy glow just beginning to emanate from Galswintha's mouth.

The corpses attack.

Dragon's breath scours them. A seemingly invulnerable foxwoman dances death among the undead ... until they change to grasping, and drag her away into the darkness. The gold-and-white warrior, strong as a giant, rushes to save her, leaving the elfmaid and the Church Knight to defend the torch bearer as he struggles to light the torch.

The elf maid makes an unladylike sound, turns ... and teleports the torch bearer to safety. The undead take advantage of the momentary lapse in dragon fire, and lay hands on knight and maid both, dragging them off.

Chlodomer strikes down those dragging Vulfelind off, and both sprint back ... but Galswintha and Merideth are gone.

Galswintha's mouth is held shut, with her hand held in place over her lips. Merideth's holy symbols are torn away and clatter to the floor. Both are dragged to a bloated, monstrous corpse being used to house the spirit's central self. It titters at them, undisguised glee in its eyes, and the whispered moans seem to form words: "We will have such fun, you and we."

Galswintha breathes her third dragon fire. Through lips and teeth. Through fingers and palm. It washes over Legion's central corpse, and the corpse turns to ash and charred bone in an instant. Then she falls over, the shock and pain too much for her.

Fortunately, the corpses around the two (and everywhere else) also fall, as a reddish mist erupts from the remains of the central corpse and moves toward one of the other corpses.

Merideth takes it all in with a glance. Her holy symbol is a dozen paces away; she won't make it. She lifts Galswintha and runs for her life, shouting for the others.

The Grim Fist reunite and flee together, as the collapsed corpses begin to stand up again - back up the stairs, past the barrier, into Jade's lair.

Jade the Undying looks at them curiously as they arrive, and Merideth states, flatly, "The barrier isn't to keep you out. It's to keep them in." They keep an eye out, but the corpses do not come within sight.

Galswintha is healed, but her face and right hand are a ruin; restore life & limb repairs the damage, but leaves her needing weeks of bed rest. This puts her work on the Stone Charm to complete in month 10.

The party decides to take the rest of the month off as well, and attend to suddenly urgent administrative matters while they best consider their next actions.

The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Amazing! Great story. I love the casting of Dragon Breath through her own closed mouth and hand. Talk about desperation.

Jade, Servant of the Heron, is a great NPC.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Galswintha's desparate gamble was a pretty awesome moment.

I'm glad someone likes Jade (grin).

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 39


The Grim Fist has cleared and secured about 40 hexes at this point (they have over 60, but many of those were "freebies" from the dwarven highway), and over 200 lairs, although a lot of the lairs were handled with "typical" results. It was a lot of fun, but ... once the realm starts to get to the size it is, each lair offers substantially less of a high. Especially when it's the umpteenth ogre village.

That ACKS made the fun last as long as it did is a testament, but at this point, the hex clearing is a chore on both sides of the Judge's screen.

Also, I've been doing magical research wrong, abstracting it in months rather than actually adding up the days involved. This has given the casters in the group a major edge over the non-casters in "what gets done."

So we're doing some revision: paring back one unintended house rule, and adding an intended one.

1. Magical research cannot be performed during a week that hex clearing, dungeon delving, or similar major tasks takes place. Each month has four weeks (and two interstitial "non-week" days).

2. On average, a single proper hex lair takes the Grim Fist a day of prep, a half-day of activity (including travel), and one day of resource and hit point recovery, although they've managed significantly more (and less). For each week devoted to lair clearing, then, they can clear 1d6-1 lairs. For each lair, the treasure is determined by 1d10+1d8-2: 0 is None, 1 is A, and so on. Q & R hoards can never be found this way - only "interesting" lairs and dungeons have them!

If the whole party does not participate, the lairs cleared is reduced by -1 per missing party member.

XP for cleared lairs is a flat 1,200 + treasure, divided normally.

Summer, Months 7, 8, and 9

Population 64,000 profits (total) 855,000 gp. Vulfelind begins throwing the syndicate profits into the party gold pile.

Galswintha achieves Elven Spelldancer 11!
Chlodomer achieves Aristocrat 13! His personal domain's value goes up by one at the end of Summer.

Summer has 13 weeks. The party expends 3 on lairs and clears 13 lairs (after party XP division, they end up with 6,000 XP each). They successfully clear five hexes (#0705, #0706, #1311, #1603, #1604).

They also dedicate 1 week to Jade's catacombs (covered after everything else).

Chlodomer, the Blue Duke of Galaufabonne, receives a visit from Iamanu at the beginning of Summer, bearing three tidings:

  • Notice that Chlodomer will be requested to serve as adjudicator on Iamanu's behalf, in Iamanu's domain, for the three months of Fall. (This will take up two weeks of each month.)
  • Iamanu noticed that the tepui far to the west had new construction. This is most excellent! Please ensure that there is a stronghold sufficient to hold the tepui entire soon - i.e., one worth roughly 45,000 gp.
  • An ancient, elven mithril sword. Iamanu knows that it is ancient, because it was ancient when he - a youth at the time - took it from the hoard of another dragon. And in the dragon's mind, at least, the sword "pays" for the required stronghold.

When Chlodomer draws the sword to examine it, it flares, briefly, as bright as the sun, and the leaf pattern on the hilt ... is now also visible as a silver-gilded tattoo wrapping his right hand and wrist.

A voice sounds in bright tones: "I am she called Tears of the Willow, rightly feared by the unrighteous. Cast aside that nameless trash, that I may inflict grief and despair upon all who dare your wrath in battle!"

Chlodomer, knowing that Galswintha has been practicing with swordplay, lends her his dwarven kukri. She makes big, big eyes at him and suggests that maybe she should have elf-forged Tears of the Willow, and he could keep the nameless dwarf sword, but he points at his new tattoo, "Sorry, I think it likes me."

Chlodomer also devotes some time to hand-managing merchant caravans.

Merideth completes two resurrections, binding them into diamonds. She gives them both to Galswintha, saying, "You expended one such as these to save and restore my mentor. I thank you, and hope these find as good a use in your hands."

Merideth also oversees some upgrades to the temples scattered about the realm, and re-organizes her Knights slightly to take vassalage of the newly cleared hexes, and promote a few promising squires for adventuring.

Galswintha's fairy settlement, Oak Spring City, boasts a Class IV market ... if just. The neighboring human settlement has swelled to Class V on the strength of gnomish and pixie goods.

Vulfelind, Beggar Queen of Bone Temple, sets up two smaller syndicates in Oak Spring City (Galswintha's Class IV Galaufchulis settlement, run by a gnome named Gibble, with 50 members) and Fey Dale (Galswintha's adjacent Class V human settlement, run by a greek thief from Iamanu's realm named Abraxas, with 30 members), sets her people to spying on Atanung and Orléans, and begins working on hiring ruffians of all sorts to fill out her ranks.

Bone Temple is now larger than Atanung and just barely smaller than Orléans. This creates a rousing trade in silk (Orléans -3, Bone Temple -3, Atanung +2) and ivory (Orléans +2, Bone Temple +0, Atanung +1). Since there is no obvious source of ivory, we rename that to "Galaufchulis bark." The Bone Temple Syndicate of the Beggars' Guild has 559 members by the end of summer.

Catacombs of the Serpent King

Chlodomer arranges a meeting with Jade the Undying, and she resolutely refuses to put resources towards assisting them - they have not proven themselves worth the risk yet. Leaving the stairway alone, they return to the door Vulfelind failed to unlock during the Spring.

It isn't locked.

They check the nearby rooms, but nothing has moved in. The dust on the floor still shows only their footprints from the previous month and now.

Chlodomer cautiously opens the door, Merideth blesses him, and he steps in.

Nothing happens.

A sigh of relief and the party and henches trek in. It is a reasonably long hallway, with fourteen doors on each side and a double-door at the far end: only one near the entrance is locked, the others open into inn rooms. Galswintha wizard-eyes the locked room, and stares at a similar inn room through the eyes of a rat. Nothing in the room moves, and no corpses are visible from the rat's position.

Vulfelind: It's a trap.
Chlodomer: The door or the room?
Vulfelind: No, I mean demon mist corpse unlocked front door, hid here. We go deeper, it locks stuff behind us, horde shows up, everyone dies.
Galswintha: Except me. I can teleport.
Wordthief: And me. I'm a sword.

The party ponders this for a bit, then stake the bedroom door shut, and shove a pair of beds from one of the other inn rooms to block it further.

When they open the double doors at the end, they see a truly odd thing. A 15x15 foot room, with one wall taken up with a series of large gears, and a gearbox labeled with an odd dialect of dwarven. There are no exits, and Vulfelind examines the room carefully.

The most important thing she finds: the entire room is an automaton of some sort, and it is not firmly attached to the walls around it. Galswintha's apprentice, Adalswinda, burns a spell to read the labels. In order is written:

The Light
The Messenger
The Lover
The Mother
The Warrior
The Gardener
The King
The Merchant
The Father
The Shadow

They puzzle over that for a while, and then Chlodomer copies down two of the labels and steps outside for a bit ... checking the walls and doors for symbols.

When he returns, he's smiling, "It's a method for moving between floors. We're the third from the top."

With no other options deeper, they review Jade's map in silence, trying to line up her scribbles with reality, before Merideth finally points, "Here. There must have been a secret door Jade and we missed."

Chlodomer harumphs, "Well, we were rushed."

Vulfelind, pusher of buttons, states loudly and clearly, "The Light."

The room rocks slightly, the doors lock, and with a faint grinding squeak, the room begins its ascent. A bell rings. The doors unlock.

Catacombs Level One
Cautiously, the Grim Fist step out, then all but Merideth suffer a choking fit from the dust and charnal ash they've stirred.

Within the dim, flickering torch, they can see charred walls and torched corpses in a hall much like the one they just left: presumably a series of inn rooms. The corpses within sight stand awkwardly, and gleaming eyes betray more in the darkness beyond.

Unfortunately for the boogie man, the Grim Fist has had time to think since the last time they faced this particular threat.

A gout of dragons' breath clears a path and the Grim Fist charge down the hall, Vulfelind running point to find the center, Chlodomer close behind to chop down those who get too close to her. The mist-bloated corpse is easy to spot, and Vulfelind tackles and pins it while Merideth and her two accompanying Knights laboriously sprint the distance to get in range.

And then dispel evil, from Merideth and both Knights. The red mist fails to resist one, and erupts from its host corpse in a vain escape attempt ... before divine wrath shreds it to nothingness.

A hundred or so bodies fall to the floor.

Merideth begins cremation rites.

They go room by room, turning the few remaining undead (all more normal) and wiping out those who survive the initial divine force with brute steel.

The restaurant at the end of the hall is the worst, with two demonic corpse legions working in tandem to puppet hundreds of former staff and customers ... and careful to keep their visibly bloated bodies out of reach. Here, Chlodomer, Haramer, and the polearm squad form a beheading machine, until they manage to get the Knights close enough for dispel evil.

One of the red mists erupts from its host just before that happens, abandoning its companion to the Knights and fleeing faster than most can follow.

Except Vulfelind. She sprints furiously ahead of it, skids to a stop and turns, brings Wordthief high over her head, and shouts "I wishes that Wordthief could blast evil on impact!"

... and as she brings the sword down through the red mist, the sword flashes bright. The red mist releases a screeching sound and tatters to nothing.

... and then Vulfelind looks dazed. She had discussed this type of wish with Wordthief, but it had been theoretical - Wordthief had not been prepared for the emotional impact the action would have.

At last, he had a worthy master. At last, he had an imaginative master. Someone he could serve. Someone he wanted to serve. Someone who would put his name in legend.

And so he connects telepathically with his new master for the first time, granting her insight into his abilities and workings.

Blast Evil: As dispel evil, but with range 0', affects a single target, and must make a successful attack. Divine 3.

Wordthief, shortsword +1, luck blade (4 wishes), holy avenger (blast evil on striking once per day, must be declared), sentient (INT 12, EGO 6, WIL 19; AL N; can detect enemies, evil, and good; telepathy 3/day as helm of telepathy)

Vulfelind sits down, abruptly, amidst scattered tables and chairs to contemplate her new partner.

Wyrmtooth: Does this mean I have to leave?
Wordthief: ... Only if you want to, old friend.

And then it's back to business. Cremation rites. Clearing the rooms.

And when they find the Altar holding this floor hostage, they break and bless it, and then Merideth uses her last dispel evil to cleanse the floor entirely.

They search thoroughly, and finally find the secret door Jade missed, and return to her lair.

Jade: How go your efforts?
Chlodomer: AUGH.
Jade: ...?
Chlodomer: I have to tell you that there is a secret door deeper in that might not block you.
Jade: !

The secret door does not block Jade, and she races through the restaurant and then hall ... but the moving room still blocks her: she gets no further.

Jade: I suppose I will have to continue to rely on you. Thank you.

Catacombs Level Two
The party rests for a day to recover spells, then flicks The Messenger. The same shake and grinding squeak, and then the doors open. Another "inn room hall" faces them ... but there are no bodies, nor dust, nor the faintest sign that anything once lived here. Even the doors and hinges, torch-brackets, and tiniest bits of metal have been carefully removed from the cold, stone walls.

The party cautiously tosses a glow stone down the corridor. It illuminates nothing.

With Chlodomer and Merideth at point, the Grim Fist march in as quietly as they are able ... and several hundred feet in, an avalanche of slime, a vivid pulsing green and awakened from ancient slumber, falls from the ceiling to digest everything that isn't stone.

The clerics cure disease on themselves first, wiping out a small patch, while Galswintha immolates herself free. Chlodomer shrieks for his beloved armor before Merideth kills the parasite.

Vulfelind, unarmored and unprotected, loses a sizable chunk of flesh to slime before a Knight reaches her with the cure and healing. Moist sound come from the now-active ceiling as green slimes, now awake, slowly try to maneuver themselves over the party.

Merideth: I don't have enough cure disease for that.
Galswintha: Oh, but I do.

The elfmaid flies to the ceiling and sights along the edge, then breathes a gout of flame, clearing 90 feet - the party sprints, and as she reaches more slime, she breathes a second time, then lands and runs.

After that, it is fireballs, staggered along the ceiling and wiping out whole ecologies of green slime until they make it back to the doors.

From that point of safety, Galswintha breaks out her wand of fireballs, and with two divinely ordained Knights to guard against accidents, begins working her way down the hall, clearing the ceiling of slime, before finishing with her own spells when the wand runs dry.

The entire level is empty save for the slime and a few gems. No coin or good survived, not even an altar is available to smash.

They take two days to recover - mostly for Vulfelind's healing - and set the catacombs aside for Fall.

Demon Legionaire

Demon Legionaire: AC 10*, Move fly 150', HD 12**** (54 hp), attack ghoul paralysis and energy drain 2; gaseous form; immune to mind-affecting and poisons; half damage from magic; immune to fire; regenerate 3 hp/round. SV F12, ML +0, AL C. XP 4,800 + 13 per animated corpse. Treasure: Mx2.

Demon legionaires can possess a corpse, losing their gaseous form, but gaining a bash 1d10 attack which inflicts ghoul paralysis and energy drain 2. While possessing a corpse, they can simultaneously "puppet" up to 120 HD of corpses around themselves as zombies or skeletons. The puppets are not particularly strong, but cannot be Turned or destroyed unless the demon legionaire would be.

Demon legionaires are almost never found outside of the most horrible sinkholes of evil - they usually require a Chaos altar and substantial death to maintain their tenuous grasp on this plane of existence.

They Turn as infernal creatures, because that is what they are.

More powerful demon legionaires exist. Each HD above 12 grants one level of mage spell-casting ability, but they can only cast while possessing a corpse. They can puppet a number of HD of corpses equal to their HDx10.

Demon legionaires hate everything, including each other, but will sometimes work together against a greater threat.

Joined: 2013-03-20 11:05

Just wanted to say that, as a 4e and narrative game fan, this thread got me to lay down $20 for the pdfs of both the core book and the Player's Companion. So massive kudos to the first description of a game that actually made me interested in anything OSR.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Thank you. I'm glad you enjoy it - I certainly enjoy running it.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 40
Fall, Months 10, 11, and 12 of Year 1308
Everyone levels. The efreet's bonus to the land ends (see The Eminence of Efreet below). Merideth's Knights cycle the Harvest rituals throughout Galaufabonne. We switch over to Thomas Weigel's urban settlement definitions (minus the setting-specific stuff). As of the end of Fall (including the massive growth Vulfelind initiated this season):

City of Brass (50,000 families, Megalopolis, Class I market)
Paris (27,000 families, Megalopolis, Class I market)
Bone Temple (23,588 families, Megalopolis, Class I market)
Orléans (15,700 families, Metropolis, Class II market)
Atanung (9,200 families, Metropolis, Class II market)
Oak Spring (731 families, Town, Class IV market)
Fey Dale (607 families, Town, Class IV market)

They devote 10 of the 13 weeks to clearing lairs (31 lairs and 6 hexes), all of it along the southern border ... and put it in Galswintha's hands. They do not dungeon delve at all, although Vulfelind sends a letter to Jade to let her know not to expect them.

The Eminence of Efreet
Amidst the whispers and dreams of elemental fire that assail her constantly, Galswintha hears a familiar voice, an efreet who granted her wishes. He wishes to speak with her. She assents, and prepares braziers and incense to help him feel at home.

When he arrives, it is through a circle of fire. He is introduced by burning cherubim as Yassim of the City of Brass, and she greets him and offers him fine wines and oils. He seats himself, ill at ease, and begs forgiveness - the wish he granted her requires maintenance, and he desires to be free of it.

Galswintha: Releasing you - this will not harm our kingdom?
Yassim: I swear it will not.
Galswintha: Then you are released. I will explain to Chlodomer.
Yassim: Can you forgive me?
Galswintha: There is nothing to forgive. I can only thank you for continuing so long.
Yassim: Truly, you are a light among your people.

Galswintha, at this point, cocks her head to the side in a fashion which has been known to send chills down the spines of hardened warriors, and asks, "Is there a reason your people don't trade with our world?"

The resulting discussion is fruitful: most humans cannot be trusted, but if the trade were to go through Galswintha and her two companion cities ...

Galswintha talks to the party about using two of the three remaining wish cylinder seals, and with their agreement:

1. Engages engineers, craftsmen, and laborers in the construction of a well 100 feet across, walled with granite and quartz, and deep enough (i.e., expensive enough) to function as the endpoint of a permanent gate, at the edge of the town of Fey Dale.

2. Wishes for a gate to the City of Brass, centered on the well on this side, and at a similar well erected by Yassim on his noble properties at the other, plus a second wish to make the gate permanent.

The result is a thousand-foot well-shaped wormhole which reverses "up" at the middle, and gets progressively hotter as it approaches the efreet side. Looking down the well, a rust sky and golden clouds are visible as a light at the end.

The remainder of the season is spent constructing a massive and sturdy stairwell wide enough for a caravan, with a bizarre bit of architecture at the center: where the gravity is split, both sides meet in what should be a sheer, vertical block of stone, but is actually a horizontal block oriented against the split gravity: a marketplace at the middle of the thermal continuum, where humans and efreet can trade.

The Rise of Bone Temple
Vulfelind maxes out her syndicate population and the smaller syndicates in her guild.

And with Bone Temple at 15,000 population, Vulfelind needs a cash outlay, badly. At the beginning of month 10, she is sitting on half a million gold - mostly party shares, as adventuring cash leaves her fingers almost as soon as they touch it. That is enough to expand Bone Temple's infrastructure sufficiently for a Class I city ... but only if she abandons the current infrastructure benefits (improved density and secret passages).

To expand and keep them will cost 3 million gold. The Grim Fist as a whole doesn't have that much.

So Vulfelind promises herself that she will re-build those benefits into the city later ... and expands the urban infrastructure sufficiently for its (eventual) growth into a Class I city. The excitement of expansion attracts almost 1,800 new families to the growing city ... and the party burglar gets excited, too.

Vulfelind: Guys, guys, guys! I need the money I said I didn't need, but I do, really, and oh please, please, please!?

Armed with another 1.5 million gold, she continues to invest, this time building and expanding the aquaducts and city planning ... and another 5,200 families move in. Bone Temple is now Class I. And while not as large and beautiful as Paris, it represents substantial competition.

Vulfelind immediately begins expanding her syndicate again.

The rest of the members of the Grim Fist look at the moths fluttering out of their purses and wonder how she talked them into that.

(Their share of the profit her newly grown city generates quickly reminds them.)

Vulfelind plows that money right back into improvements, and by the end of the season, has rebuilt the city her way.

The Persuasion of Chlodomer
Chlodomer spends the Fall in Iamanu's realm, unable to participate in the hex-clearing ... or much of anything else. He leaves Haramer in charge at home.

He does not waste this time, however: on the contrary, he uses it to ingratiate himself with Iamanu, to spy on the other Dukes, and to get a better feel for the realm as a whole.

And indeed, Iamanu seems to think that is the point of having him there.

Iamanu's realm has six Dukes: Red, Ebon, Blue, Green, Yellow, and White. Chlodomer visits with all but the storm giant Lord Agathon (Green Duke of the Idle Coast, who views Chlodomer as a vile murderer of giants) and Lord Hesiod (Yellow Duke of Mt. Hesiod, and ruler of a Chaotic realm of beastmen).

Lord Demosthenes (White Duke of Thin River) is delighted to see Chlodomer, particularly as a male. He hosts Chlodomer in quite luxurious style, and introduces (again) his two younger daughters (Calliope and Thalia). Of the two, Calliope is a feckless poet with a talent for swordplay, and Thalia is a sylvan witch with seemingly few scruples.

He gets along quite well with Calliope, especially where Law and justice and pretty words are concerned.

Later, in the White Duke's exquisitely maintained garden, Demosthenes walks with Chlodomer, and suggests a permanent alliance.

Demosthenes: Iamanu, as I am sure you are aware, cares not for Law or Chaos.
Chlodomer: Indeed.
Dem: But until you arrived, the lands tilted Chaos.
Chlod: I thought ...
Dem: Green and Yellow, both, rule by fear and wrath. Ebon and Red would avoid conflict.
Chlod: Is that why you are throwing your daughters at me?
Dem, laughing: In part. Their brother will inherit. I would give my daughters what security I can.
Chlod: Hm. I must think on it.
Dem: I would expect no less.

There is no drawn-out drama. Chlodomer asks for Calliope's hand the next morning, Demosthenes agrees, and representatives of both duchies are sent to negotiate the details of dowry and bride price.

Galswintha, when she gets the news, arrives within days to talk to Calliope, both to check her over for someone very close to a big brother ... and to let Calliope know that the extremely dangerous sorceress has her back if the big lug is a jerk.

It's a mixed message, at best.

By the end of the year, however, the marriage has been cemented. Iamanu presides over the wedding, and spends gold on an extra (and expensive) festival in both duchies. Galswintha cries; Vulfelind crooks an eyebrow.

The bride price is an ornate river boat; 25 stone of platinum ingots; and four brand new pegasuses, selected for their suitability as breeding stock.

The dowry is ten flawless sapphires of deepest midnight; and a pair of enchanted silver hooves +3. Chlodomer looks the hooves over, does some mental math, and turns to face Demosthenes directly, "You have been planning this for a while."

Demosthenes grins, "Since I knew your heart to be just."

The morning gift is given to Calliope the next day: a huge round tower within walking distance of one of the four Azure Hot Springs, and funds to furnish it as she chooses. "This," Chlodomer smiles, "and the four square miles it oversees are yours and yours alone. You may furnish, garrison, and manage it as you choose. And I do not wish to impinge upon any other lands or properties you may acquire - only, within my own realm, you have a place that is yours and in which you may have peace, even from me, if you so wish."

There are some who slanderously imply that he had help in figuring out what to give her, but Galswintha admits nothing.

The Conflict of Church
Grand Patriarch Richilieu of the Church of the Lady is 12th level. Merideth hit 12th near the end of year 1307, but chose not to press any issues; hit 13th near the middle of 1308 (the current year), and still chose not to press any issues; and hit 14th by the end of 1308, and still continued to pay tithes.

She was content to let it lie, and the Grand Patriarch gave her wider latitude than he did most of his Patriarchs.

As summer turned to fall, however, the Grand Patriarch died of age. And of the two most powerful Patriarchs (not counting Merideth, who had no lands and couldn't possibly be of serious import, especially considering that they were pretty sure the only reason she was a Matriarch at all was because the Grand Patriarch and Chlodomer were sweet on her), one made a bid for the Grand Patriarchy and - where all but Merideth were concerned - succeeded.

And because he had no use for the fairer sex, he rescinded Merideth's status within the Church, and sent a vassal of his own to take over the Patriarchal duties of Galaufabonne. Along with a small army of Knights and fanatics, just in case she proved unwilling.

Not given to strong displays of emotion, Merideth and her Church Knights, backed by the Galaufabonne military, crush the army in short order and capture the would-be Patriarch. She brings him to one of the smallest temples in Galaufabonne, and introduces him to the head priest, then, to the Patriarch, "You will serve here for one full year, and then report back to me. You will scrub floors, dust alcoves, clean latrines, tend the gardens, and do anything else the head priest asks of you. This temple will shine in the Lady's glory from your efforts. You will keep a journal of what you have done each day, and you will bring this journal when you report to me a year from now. Do you understand?"

The cleric nods, carefully, and Merideth prays to the Lady, and bestows a quest on the vassal of the unworthy Grand Patriarch. Eyes wide, he tries and fails to resist, then - shoulders slumped - he nods again.

Merideth leaves him there, as he begins his daily chores.

She sends no message at all to the new Grand Patriarch ... nor does she send tithes. Near the end of Fall, the other Patriarchs, trying to sense which way the wind is blowing, arrive to visit Merideth's temple stronghold in Galaufabonne. Her power is obvious in person ... but she owns no land.

Merideth gives this some thought, then conferences with Chlodomer ... and Chlodomer grants the lands of Utena's Shadow (#1607, and the ruins of the cloud castle) to the Church of the Lady under Matriarch Merideth, with a promise of expanding those lands as time and effort permitted.

Merideth sends her minions to construct a "central" temple, and returns to tell the Patriarchs ...

And there, in an obscure duchy of a dragon's tiny kingdom, the five Patriarchs of the Church of the Lady agree that the Grand Patriarch is not fit for the title, and name Merideth Grand Matriarch, and Utena's Shadow the new holy center of the Church.

Merideth sends a Knight and that Knight's army with each Patriarch, to guard their passage home and to aid them in tearing down the former Grand Patriarch. Chlodomer, for his part, puts his military at her use to aid in the seemingly inveitable war.

... and despite the oncoming chill of Winter, all agree that sooner is better.

Ludanto's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-30 11:52

This is amazing, as usual. This ought to be collected and distilled on some kind of testimonial page on this site, so when I want to pitch ACKS to somebody, I can just send them there.

On another note, how do you name your plots of land? Do you name every 6-mile hex that is conquered? Do the players name them? How do you come up with the names?

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

I wouldn't mind if that was done (I like ACKS quite a bit, and wouldn't mind seeing more ACKS players out there), but I don't think I could make myself go back through the archive and distill it, myself. I think I've mentioned how lazy I am (grin).

Naming: I name six-mile hexes only when I need to.

If the PCs are going to interact with the hex in a meaningful fashion, I name it. If they're just rolling through, or doing the "automated hex clearing" roll, I don't. I also named all of the hexes with a static point of interest, because it helps me remember what I was thinking when I marked it down.

I usually name the hex for a prominent feature, which is prosaic, but memorable. Galaufchulis was named for the giant tree in that hex. The hex in which Atanung is located is named after the city. Red Meadow was named for the rust mushrooms.

Sometimes I am more inventive than others: Utena's Shadow was a hill and cliff in the shadow of the cloud giant castle.

Sometimes the PCs come up with a name. I usually go with it - they're powerful and important people! Galswintha named Pegasus Mountain. Shadagrunde named Bone Temple Hill. Vulfelind also took that name for her city and named the hex just north of it Bone Temple Gate.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

We're taking two weeks off, so there won't be any updates.

Things are getting bigger faster, and I don't have enough detail prepped (I was focusing my efforts on the catacombs, so of course the PCs are planning war with Greuthungi, the Parisian criminal guild, and the Thervingi Church of the Lady, all semi-simultaneously).

Also, how do I put this? ... I'm really nervous, and I need some time to feel comfortable with where the campaign is going.

There are five kingdoms (principality-sized) within the regional map (the rest is wilderness): Greuthungi, Thervingi, Ionia, Crimea, and Scythea; plus the Paris city-state which is supported by the populations of all five, and answers to none. Somewhere past that are Huns and a failing, degraded Empire. But I don't have enough detail on any of those, and I think the PCs have reached a point where they could conceivably - in bite-sized but growing chunks - start conquering all of it.

I'm facing the fabled end-game of would-be world conquerors ... and I've never run a campaign to this point before. Ever. Heck, I've never had PCs who had lands that felt as real as Galaufabonne does - it's in my mind like an actual place that I can almost touch, and I'm pretty sure the players feel the same. I don't want to screw that up when the scope expands.

I kind of wish Alex had started his campaign log about a year earlier, so I could see how he did it.

I kind of wish I had walked this road at least once before.

So ... two weeks. I'm going to write up a summary of the cities and realms of Crimea and Scythea. I'm going to fill out the missing duchies in Greuthungi, and finally sit down and really work out the two Chaotic duchies in Ionia. I'm going to brainstorm ways to make it all scarier and more dangerous than anything they've done already, so they have to up their game to win.

And I'm going to take a deep breath and try to not screw it up.

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Joined: 2012-02-22 22:34

You've done such amazing work so far, just go into the endgame with an aura of confidence (even if you have to pretend that confidence) and I'm sure your players will follow enthusiastically. I'm sure you'll do it all justice. Good luck! Looking forward to seeing it play out.

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Joined: 2012-11-21 15:13

Two words: dragon cavalry.
Lets see how we'll they fare against a coalition of kingdoms where some of them got wyvern riding orcs, or knights/wizards on dragons.


Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 41 and 42
Year 1309, Winter, Months 1, 2, and 3
The Grim Fist meet in the throne room, a handful of close friends and advisors accompanying. They talk long into the night, and come away with something like a plan.

OOC: Galswintha is performing research and building her twin cities throughout most of this, and sent some of her higher-level mage companions to assist the various war efforts. The player ran those mages, since the war efforts were far more interesting than a single research roll.


Vulfelind leaves for Paris, taking the slightly longer route through Orléans and Thervingi. She directs her flying canoe in fox form, along with Chadalinda (one of her two top henches) and three of Chadalinda's trusted henchmen, plus a single squad of the Bone Temple Flying Cataphract Cavalry. The trip takes a mere two weeks.

In Paris, the King of Thieves, Ermenulfus de Paris, greets them at the gates. Or at least someone who looks like him: the King of Thieves is reknowned for his disguises.

Ermenulfus: This is how you repay my friendship?
Vulfelind: I paid you. You sent someone to do the job.
Ermenulfus: I let you pick a guild-member target!
Vulfelind: That you wanted dead, yes.
Ermenulfus: Do your companions know? Do they know what you are?
Vulfelind: What am I?
Ermenulfus: A lycanthrope! A changer! An infectious rot in the purity of our guild!
Chadalinda, to Vulfelind: Friendship, he says!
Ermenulfus, shaking his head: It saddens me to end you.

... and then he disappears. Not invisible - gone!

Vulfelind laughs, "Cat and mouse? I think not."

Instead, she ignores the cagey assassin and marches into his hideout to inform his lieutenants that she is replacing him. When they scoff, she sets down a bounty on his head: 28,000 gold and 100% of their hijinks earnings for the first season after he dies.

Between her winning smile and courtesy, she manages to persuade most of them to at least hesitate. The one who doesn't is an old pirate who hates lycanthropes: he draws his sword and attacks.

Unarmed and alone, Vulfelind disarms him, knocks him down, pins him to the floor, and then beats his head against the floor until he is unconscious. "His loyalty speaks well of him. If any of you are his friend, escort him to the city walls. He is exiled." One elderly thief steps forward and carries the unconscious pirate off.

After that, a week passes while Vulfelind settles in and oversees the remaking of the local syndicate ... and then, while she is apparently alone in her office, Ermenulfus and three of his "former" lieutenants walk in, plus the old pirate.

Ermenulfus: I think you've played at this quite long enough.
Vulfelind, to the pirate: Mercy is only given once. Leave or die.
Ermenulfus: I don't think you have any room to be giving hRRK.

From behind, an invisible thief stabs the former guild leader in the side, and Vulfelind draws and stabs with Wordthief almost simultaneously. Chaos erupts, and Ermenulfus tries to grapple her.

Chadalinda invisibly sticks him again, while Vulfelind turns the tables on the grapple and bashes his head into the desk. Within moments, the guild leader is down, just before the invisible thief and werefox dance death among the lieutenants.

Vulfelind ponders briefly, "Merideth would urge pity and forgiveness."

Then she grimly twists their heads off and sets them into bowls to bleed out. The bowls, she sets on the decorative table just outside the office.

When they arrive later that morning, the two remaining lieutenants swear undying loyalty, and Vulfelind puts Chadalinda in charge of Paris.

And the next two months are spent meeting and acquiring fealty from the 3,000 assassins, thieves, and merchants who were Ermenulfus' followers. For the most part, it goes well, with Vulfelind overseeing but letting Chadalinda lead, before Vulfelind jets back home.

The Church of Orléans

Chlodomer speaks with the Governor of Orléans to explain the shifting tide of the Church's leadership, and then asks permission - humbly, no less - to bring military aid to the rightful leaders of the Church. The Governor, awed and unlikely to be capable of stopping the hooved warlord, agrees ... at least on the surface.

Chlodomer and Merideth march with her Church Knights and his Personal Guard ... and three thousand Galaufabonne soldiers, and arrive to find their Patriarch allies under siege at each of the five major temples.

By the combined forces of the former Grand Patriarch, the treacherous Governor, the Dukes of each sub-realm of Thervingi ... and King Dagobert II of Thervingi himself.

They are grossly outnumbered and - as they check the route home - outflanked.

Chlodomer: The way out is through?
Merideth: Preferably through that bastard's smug face.
Chlodomer: Indeed.

Stealthy runners are sent home to ask for reinforcements. Maps are reviewed. And Chlodomer and Merideth take their army and march hard on Orléans, bypassing the sieges to cut off the central supply lines.

The enemy realizes too late that they are not fast enough to intercept, and two of the Dukes leave their own sieges to pursue and prevent catastrophic supply issues.

The first of the three chasing armies is a mere two days behind Chlodomer and Merideth; the second, three days; and the third, five days. Unfortunately for all, the Siege of Orléans lasts but a single day - the paltry standing forces falling almost immediately to the hungry army - and on the second day, the forces are well-fed and well-entrenched.

They do not bother to stay within the shattered walls of the city: the Galaufabonne forces sally out and crush the now-hungry and tired forces of the first Duke with minimal losses, and then erect hasty fortifications to face the second, larger force.

When the second, larger force demonstrates greater prudence as well - having procured its own supplies, and waiting on the third force - Merideth loses her patience entirely.

The Church Knights, backed by heavenly and arcane fire, pick the largest, toughest, meanest group of the enemy they can see ... and charge. The Duke and his accompaniment of mid-level spear-wielding berserkers set for the charge, and horrible, horrible carnage results. Both sides suffer grievous injuries, and the Church Knights retreat from battle before the Duke's other armies can be brought to bear. Both sides lick their wounds and heal what they can.

... with one small difference: the Church Knights are at full health in seconds - even those who seemingly fell in battle.

They charge again, with the same elan and vigor as before, and this time they smash the berserk troops to flinders and capture the Duke. They withdraw to cover once again as the enemy marches on them ... and Chlodomer's forces, rested and ready, take to the field against all of the second- and third-best troops.

They then rest and further extend their fortifications for the scant days before the third force arrives. This time, the battle has little room for maneuvering and few grand charges: it is forceful and direct, and has no clear victor, save that Chlodomer and Merideth's side maintained their morale until the enemy finally fell apart.

Giving the enemy as little time to respond to the news as possible, Merideth force marches to the nearest Patriarch and assails that enemy from behind. She loses two knights, and promotes the most experienced squires into their roles in the next breath - she can weep later - and ends the day triumphant as the Patriarch's forces charge out to assist and crush the enemy between them.

A hurried conference reveals the primary threats, and Merideth's information on which Dukes abandoned their siege gives hope. She sends a single knight, stripped to minimal gear, to race back to Orléans and tell Chlodomer where to strike next, and then begins her own march there, bolstered with some of the Patriarch's limited forces.

Chlodomer rallies his soldiers with the full force of his personality, and they split into three forces: one to march and take the last Duke, two to recover reinforcements from the two unsieged Patriarchs.

They leave the King for last ... a grave error.

As all of the Galaufabonne forces meet at the last Patriarch's temple, the King's forces have already won, and posted the Patriarch's head on a pike along the highway. And indeed, there are a lot of pikes, and a lot of heads.

And no King or his forces.

Chlodomer's trackers find the trail clearly in the fresh snows ... heading straight for Galaufabonne.

There is no way to beat the King to their home if the King force marches, and there are not much in the way of troops left to defend anything in Galaufabonne. One of the mages with Chlodomer can teleport, and she does so to warn Galswintha of the incoming force. Chlodomer splits his forces in half: Merideth remains with half to consolidate the Church, while Chlodomer races home with the fastest troops.

At home, Galswintha sighs, takes her army and gathers what troops are on hand to meet the enemy before they can reach the city ...

... and brings the last cylinder seal wish.

When the King's forces arrive, she goes out to meet him. And then the meeting goes something like this:

Galswintha: Your realm is falling apart. Why are you here?
Dagobert: You are misinformed.
Galswintha: You miraculously rescued your five dukes when I wasn't looking?
Dagobert: ...
Dagobert: Once I am done here, I will return and crush your friends.
Galswintha: Did you know? This grants me one wish.
Dagobert: Are you going to bribe me away?
Galswintha: It could cataclysm your domain, or teleport your army home.
Dagobert: ...

There follows a brief tussle. Dagobert, with ogrish strength and various bonuses and quite a bit of combat skill, trying to grapple an elf maid and take her seal. Or rather, trying to grapple an elven spelldancer while her pet fire elemental, Sandalwood Dawn, begins to sear his flesh from his bones.

He backs down quickly.

Galswintha, breathing heavily, asks, "So you've decided on cataclysm? Because once I do that, I won't win this battle, but I will tear as large a chunk out of your army as I can. I will spare nothing."

King Dagobert III drinks a healing potion, wipes his mouth, and stares at the spelldancer's arrayed forces. They are small, but potent. He would win, but she's right: she could make him pay dearly for the win.

... and something in her confidence shakes him. She's not bluffing about the seal. If she was ... how could she offer to teleport his army home?

Dagobert, sighing: This isn't over. But please, teleport us home.
Galswintha: Of course! Wording is important, so where do you wish to appear?

One used seal later, King Dagobert III and his entire army vanish. And mere days later, Chlodomer arrives.

Chlodomer: What in hell?
Galswintha: Oh, I sent him home.
Chlodomer: Right. Don't hurt the pegasus.

(OOC: Waaaay back, there was a hill. Three wyverns were crowded around a pegasus corpse. Galswintha and Vulfelind killed them in the first round: the wyverns didn't have the opportunity to act before the wrath of elfmaid descended upon them. "It's a rule - don't hurt the pegasus" has been something of a running joke since, whenever Galswintha abruptly turns into a (very, very temporary) badass.)

Thomas Weigel
Thomas Weigel's picture
Joined: 2012-06-20 11:57

Yay, carnage! Also, yikes the decorative table was a nice touch.

The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Cameron, it's great to see your campaign reaching the fabled end-game! I am sure you'll do a kick-ass job.

If you haven't already, I hope you'll check out Domains at War. It has a lot of helpful tools you can use for what's to come.

Email me at alex at autarch dot co if you want to chat in more detail Judge-to-Judge.


Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

I downloaded the free starter edition to prep for these sessions. It's been very helpful! When you publish the PDF for the more complete system, I'll definitely be buying it - everyone here is very interested in having a more detailed and complete system for "the important battles."

And the players seem to feel that I've done pretty good by them for the last two sessions. I didn't pull any punches, and planning and supply lines mattered a lot ... and they did pretty good, although they lost a LOT more people than they're used to recently.

Galswintha was the only one to achieve a bloodless win, and as Merideth commented, she soooo cheated for it.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

Session 43
OOC: Note from last session that I forgot to add: Galswintha levels. Everyone is now at maximum level (13th for the werefox and elf, 14th for the humans). Also, this session reads short, because I'm skipping a lot of details that I couldn't make sound interesting: most of what happened this session was consolidation and accounting.

Year 1309, Spring, Month 4
Thervingi falls apart at the seams.

Galaufabonne has invaded two-thirds of the lands (the eastmost third is still held by King Dagobert III and remains uninvaded), but only at the Duke level and above, and a horde of counts, marquis, and barons declare their independence and hole up in their forts.

Half of those invaded lands consist of the lands owned by the Church of the Lady, originally split between the Grand Patriarch and five Patriarchs ... and now a big old mess of Grand Knights, High Priests, and more squabbling and fighting. Two realms within the Church remain fairly steadfast: the two Patriarchs who were both loyal to Grand Matriarch Merideth and survived the war. One realm - led by the False Grand Patriarch and now overtaken by his foremost vassal - remains cohesive enough to declare its independence and hole up with intent to regain their former glory.

The Duke of the Orléans region is dead and his vassals have declared their independence, but the 24-mile hex surrounding Orléans itself is fully invaded and conquered.

In all, Galaufabonne has acquired almost twice its size in lands, and Thervingi has fractured into a pile of tiny holdings.


The werefox continues to aggressively extend her grip over the syndicates of nearby cities, and by the end of the month, her takeover is complete. Bone Temple forms the center of the new Beggars' Guild, where she rules as Governor, Baron, and Beggar Queen; and styles herself the Beggar Empress where other syndicates are concerned.

Chlodomer gives her Orléans and the six-mile hex surrounding it, and she assigns Grizzba as the Governor, Baron, and Beggar Queen of Orléans: possibly the first goblin baron in history, and definitely the first goblin governor.

In Paris, she gives the Governor and Marquis of Paris a choice: retire peacefully to the coast, or retire forcefully as an example to others. He retires peacefully, and Chadalinda is given the role of Governor, Marquis, and Beggar Queen of Paris.

In Atanung, Ustitia becomes the Beggar Queen of Atanung, but not any other form of rulership: Vulfelind has plans, however, and the Grim Fist wants those lands, as well.


Merideth finishes building the new Grand Temple of the Church of the Lady in Utena's Shadow, and uses up the last of the rubble of the fallen cloud giant castle. Utena's Shadow becomes the new center of the Church.

She adds the two loyal Patriarchs as vassals, and leaves them in charge of their lands, bringing her hench/vassal number up to eight, her maximum.

She promotes her two most charismatic knights to Matriarch, and sends them to the lands where two of her loyal Patriarchs died, to attempt to heal the rift within the Church and bring the vassals under the central authority again.

Her strongest knight, she lends the majority of her forces to, promotes to Matriarch, and sends to take the lands of the False Grand Patriarch by force, one temple at a time.

Then she takes her remaining knights, and goes to the former Grand Patriarch's lands to talk sense into them. Some declare their loyalty to her and return to the fold; the remainder ... she leaves alone for now.


Chlodomer consolidates those lands he can in Thervingi, spends money like a madman trying to rebuild his badly damaged military machine, and commissions additional fortresses throughout Galaufabonne.

A few small clashes with King Dagobert III's forces also make one decision easier: he withdraws his forces from the majority of the invaded lands ... and lets Dagobert deal with them.


Galswintha hands over control of most of her personal lands to her apprentices.

Over the prior four months, Galswintha has focused on a dangerous bit of research, with a bit of time "off" spent visiting the efreet city and making contacts there, and a brief diversion when the King of Thervingi thought to invade her homeland and she was forced to take a few days to send him away.

The mad, elemental whispers in her head guide her path somewhat, and she makes significant inroads in trade—enough so that she ends up funding her own caravan fleet.

But her primary focus is the research: pursuing lesser wish with dangerously pioneering research methods.

The research succeeds, but not sufficiently for her purposes ... and she begins again!

Domains At War Backer
Joined: 2012-02-04 11:00

Amazing! Usually I'm not very interested in campaign write ups, but I could not stop reading this one! Can't wait to see how the end game goes.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

So far, so good!

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Joined: 2013-03-22 16:16

Awesome stuff! Just spent the last few days reading the whole campaign at every available opportunity. Definitely inspirational, and I will be liberally steali- er, borrowing a lot of material.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

I am glad it has been useful. And borrow away. I crib a lot from others, too. Steal from enough sources and it's "collating".

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Joined: 2012-02-06 14:12

I've just caught up with your play reports. They are fantastic! I'm totally going to steal some of your ideas! I love the creativity and 'out of the box' ideas you have. Did you make those excel sheets...I'm a bit intimidated by how much work it sounds like it will be at that level...

I'm curious about the elf class you made. I'm not clear how it was it Elf 1 or Elf 0? I mean, do they have more spells than mages? If it were built with 7 build (elf 0), wouldn't that limit their class level to 10 + the three trade offs for max level 13?

I love custom classes (as you may know if you've seen my blog!) so I'm always looking for new interesting options.

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

As above, please steal away.

Which excel sheets?

The spelldancer is HD 1, Fighter 2, Mage 1, Elf 3. I wrote that poorly in the initial post, but meant that it was a total of (elf+mage) 4, not (elf) + (mage 4). Spells per day is same as a mage. Maximum level is 10th; and I let Galswintha burn three custom powers to get maximum level 13 (Heroic Spirit, taken three times).

I see now that I wrote maximum level 14 in the initial post. Augh. Anyway, no, Galswintha and Vulfelind both have max level 13.

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Joined: 2013-03-22 16:16

Cameron said: Which excel sheets?

Apparently I'm too lazy to go back through and find the reference, but I was also under the impression that you had built a spreadsheet(s) for tracking domain details and calculating costs/revenue...

Joined: 2012-05-18 16:35

So many nice words makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

I am sick at the moment (as in, you don't want the details, sick) and although we had a game this past weekend, I haven't felt up to writing it up. So I will be writing it up next week.

Thomas Weigel
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Joined: 2012-06-20 11:57

Just checking to make sure you're still around. Please don't take that as a rush—I'd rather you got well and wrote more when you felt like it—just a bit of concern that you posted that it was some kind of awful sick and then we don't hear from you for two weeks.

Joined: 2013-05-04 12:47

Hey Cameron!
I've just registered here to say thank you for the awesome and inspiring campaign chronicles of yours. I devoured everything you wrote so far and now I feel like I need to run an oldschool game of hexgrid-exploration right now. I mean RIGHT NOW. Really looking forward to the next chapter.

Also, while I like all main characters so far, Galswintha has become my favourite. I eagerly await her future exploits! :)

Joined: 2012-12-12 10:36

Out of order to save some heartache =^.^=

Cameron is alive. He got really sick last year, spent a few months in care, campaign ended (obvs), and he's been tired a lot, but that's as bad as it went. He's a stupid-head for not posting anything here about it, obvs.


Hi! I'm C's niece. I played Vulf.

The campaign pretty much died when C got sick. The last stuff that happened:

* Gal disintegrated trying for wish. C gave her a last wish as she was disintegrating. She wished to be a guardian for the fairy land she'd built. Then she started playing her apprentice. It was kind of awesome.

* I spent our last session establishing the Beggar Empress as a ruthless godfather monster who was three steps from ruling the underworld. Or maybe it was two steps. It wasn't many. Ask anyone!

* Mer continued to beat the holy snot out of the rest of her church, spread herself too thin, and had to retreat. We planned to leverage my contacts in the enemy cities to hold them off while she regrouped, but that session never happened.

* Chlod got wind of my godfather routine and started making noises about ending my threat, too. Then Gal died and I was weepy, so he let it go, and focused on beating Dagobert's forces. We didn't finish that battle, though.

That's pretty much it! But I run on at the mouth, so bonus content:

* Autarch people, thanks for ACKS. Galaufabonne was pretty much the most fun I've ever had. I hope when I'm C's age I'm still running something like ACKS.

* I've been running Q (Gal's player) through a campaign of her own (not nearly as epic or well-designed as C's). I won't be writing it up, cuz I suck =^.^= It's pretty embarassing.

* Q and I been begging C to run sumpin sumpin now that he's feeling better.

* If he does and he doesn't write it up, I'll try to. I'm not as good at it, though, so sorry in advance.

Anyway, I know some people other than just us enjoyed C's campaign, and if you were as sad as we were that it ended, that's a lot of sad, and Vulfelind would not approve. So think of adorable werefoxes murdering mean old rat-kings in their den, and you'll cheer right up.

Or maybe that's just me.

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Joined: 2013-12-14 17:43

Very sorry to learn about Cameron's illness but glad to know he seems to be on the mend - here's to hoping that his recovery is both swift and full.

Thank you for letting us know about the parts of the campaign we didn't get to read up on, Cameron's write-ups (along with Simon's 'Against the Giants') was what inspired me to return to gaming after an almost 12 year hiatus and take up ACKS as my game of choice.

Best wishes to you, to Cameron and indeed to all of the ACKS community for making an old fart of a gamer happy.

Malo Monkey
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Joined: 2012-06-24 16:54

Thank you for the update. I'm glad that Cameron's doing much better now.

Chronicles of the Grim Fist is the best actual play I've read. Such a rich and entertaining story.

I look forward to reading about your next game.

The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Rowan, thank you so much for sharing this report. I'm so sad to hear that Cameron got so ill. I completely misunderstood his last post and thought "dysentery" sick not "almost died" sick. :( It's a relief to hear he got better.