Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Hill Giant Chief - Nosnra's Saga - Part 66

The Hill Giant Chief - Nosnra's Saga - Part 66

"Harold, build a fire," Ivo said.

"Get Harald to do it, Little Rat is hurt," replied the thief with a note of concern in his voice. The halfling wrapped a length of cloth around the young orc's head. Blood soaked through quickly and joined the drying trail down the little Rat's face.

"Oohhh!" Little Rat moaned.

"Good, you're still alive," said Harold.

"Head hurt," the small orc put both his hands to the wound, then pulled them back as if he touched a burning coal. "Ow!"

"What were you thinking," chided Harold. "Knives are next to useless against those things."

"We need to burn these bones," Ivo put his foot down on a hand that crawled across the floor like a spider. "They're pulling together like the body of a troll."

 "Ivo," Harald said, "there are no doors that I can see, just that portal. A fire might smoke us out."

Ivo broke the skeletal fingers beneath his foot and scattered the fragments of bone with a kick. "Keep an eye on the remains then or we will be fighting these creatures all over again."

"We?" Harald shook his head.

"Take the light," Ivo handed the ranger the enchanted torch, then stood by Harold and stared over the halfling's shoulder. "That looks well done."

"I've had lots of practice," Harold said securing the bandage he had wrapped round the orc's head. "Mostly on myself," he mumbled.

"If you are done then help me search," said Ivo. "There should be another way out. You are sure that Talberth went through the door?"

"It might not matter," said Harald. The ranger bent and grabbed the largest piece of a broken skull from a pile of fragmented bone. "This room is not the one that my sword touched through the mist. I felt walls close to either side, but here," he nodded toward the swirling mist, "here the door is in the middle of that wall."

"He went through the middle door,"Harold looked up. "It looked like solid stone. Who can tell in a place like this if that door lead to this room."

"I will use a spell," said Ivo. "The same that I used before, but it will only show me where magic is active and how strong. If the doors are simply hidden we will have to find them by other means."

"I can help there," said Harold.

The thief had finished binding the young orc's wounds. Ivo gestured and spoke gnomish words of magic that the others could not make out. Slowly he pivoted in a circle and pointed with his hand, and where he pointed glowing light came forth. The skeletal bones showed as a vibrant green. They were scattered about the room, some in piles that flowed like bugs atop a carcass, others were mere fragments that lay still, too far away to join together and reform. It was the back wall of the room that reacted the strongest. From floor to ceiling, from side to side, it glowed blue, bright enough to light up the entire room.

"That's something," said Harold. "I think we have found our door."

"Before we go further in we should make sure we can get out," Harald lowered the enchanted torch he held. The glow seemed even stronger in the dark.

"If that is a door," said Ivo. He pulled the silver wire from his pack and straightened it out again. "Hold one end, I will walk through and see if this door still leads out."

* * *

"Man-Ze-O, Em-Pere!" Talberth commanded. The skeletons froze in place leaving Talberth still bound in stone manacles that floated in the air. The words of ancient Suel worked like a magic spell, whatever force controlled the animated bones recognized the old imperial tongue and obeyed. "Miz-So, Miz-So Ep-Ze" he shouted. One of the skeletons began to tremble then came apart, its bones clattered to the floor. "Hells!" Talberth cursed. "Obviously not the right command."

A breeze touched his face; it raised dust and made him sneeze. Somewhere a door had opened, from where he stood, held at to the chamber wall, Talberth could see the far end of the room. At the entrance there was a figure, gray as stone but insubstantial as a cloud. It floated like the mist that seemed to form its body. The closer it came the more it appeared to be a man. Talberth could make out greater detail in the smoky haze; Arms, legs, a head with flowing hair; that was certain. It wore a cloak that billowed behind it like a flag, blown by a wind that Talberth could not feel. It had a bearded face and eyes that glowed as red as coals just stirred to life. When it was only an arm's-length away it opened its mouth, a black and empty pit, and words flowed out. The creature spoke as if from somewhere far away, its form simply a conduit that linked its spirit to this oerthly realm.

"Fe-Mos Su-El, Fe-Et Su-El," the voice wailed.

"Suel Ve-Vae," Talberth told the wraith.

"Su-El Pos-Fa-Ner Ver-Uz," the wraith replied. "Ob-Te-Em-Ro," it bowed down before Talberth and the manacles came free. The mage dropped, his arms felt like they were on fire. He hugged himself and rubbed at the muscles. A sharp pain jumped from the small of his back and between his shoulder blades.

Talberth glanced up into the burning eyes. "For-Es Mo-Nas-Tre," he intoned the dusty words. The wraith stood and turned, it waved a finger and the skeleton offered Talberth its arm. 


The chilling cold lasted only a fraction of a second, but Ivo shivered as if doused with an icy wave that soaked him to the bone. His hand stuck to the silver wire he held. Carefully he peeled it from the palm of his hand so that none of his flesh came away with the metal. "Back again," he said to himself.

The chamber appeared the same, two mist-filled doors, one to either side; the floor crisscrossed with lines, lengths of silver wire showing where they had risen from the cracks. Ivo was glad that the magic of the portal was playing no tricks on them. There were problems enough for a lifetime just dealing with the giants, they needed no more distractions only a place of rest and safety. So far they had found only trouble and mysteries that they did not need and had no time to solve.

He pulled on the wire signaling the others that he was safe and about to return. A step took him into the mist, his long nose touching the swirling surface, but a voice called out and stopped him.

"Ivo!" Talberth exclaimed, surprised but very pleased.

"Talberth!" Ivo let the silver wire slip from his hand. "Where have you been?" a note of caution crept into the old gnome's voice. His fingers flexed suddenly aware that he had dropped the wire. With reflexes that belied his age Ivo snagged the silver strand just before it disappeared into the mist.

* * *

"This place is amazing," there was a childlike wonder in Talberth's voice. "Ivo, these enchantments must be from the days of the imperium."

"Evil days," Ivo said. He pulled hard on the silver wire several times and waited for a reply. Strong hands dragged at the metal strip from the other side of the mist.

"We must explore, there is so much to discover here," Talberth went on not listening to the gnome.

"That will be up to Telenstil to decide," Ivo told him. "We are not here to search ruins. Remember that Talberth. I'm going back to get the others, you stay here." Ivo looked over at the mage. Talberth had turned away, he examined the door-frame that surrounded the reddish mist as Ivo watched and did not say a word. "You're not listening. Talberth!" Ivo shouted.

"What?!" the mage spun, startled by the call, he had drawn an enchanted wand from his sleeve quick as a back-alley thug might draw a knife and held it ready, a word of activation on his lips.

"Come here, I'm not leaving you behind," said Ivo wagging a finger at the mage. "We will go through here and collect the others."

"That is the way I went," Talberth said, "well, that is where I was thrown, but it was through there that the skeletons caught me."

"Yes, we had the same encounter," said Ivo. "Harald made short work of them."

"They should listen to me now," Talberth shook his head. "If only I'd realized what they were saying at the time. They were trying to talk, I'm not sure what they tried to say but they were speaking ancient Suel no doubt."

"They are still rattling about," Ivo lead him to the mist, "we can let one pull itself together and you can talk with it all you like."

"I don't want to..." Talberth objected.

"Nonsense," said Ivo as the old gnome nudged him through the doorway and into the mist.

* * *

"Curse it, what is Ivo doing?" Harald complained.

"It's that portal, hells," muttered Harold. The halfing gnawed at his thumbnail in frustration. "We couldn't find some cave, no, we had to come here. I hate ruins, I hate the woods, I hate the stinking giants. When we get out of here I'm going back to Greyhawk and I'm not leaving it again."

"Wait," Harald felt the silver wire shift in his hand, "something is happening, I'm getting a signal from Ivo." The ranger stumbled back and a good length of wire came through the mist. "What is he playing at, there's the signal again. Harold stop complaining and grab your knife, there is something strange going on."

"You drop that wire and grab your sword," Harold told him.

"I'm not letting go till we find out what happened to Ivo," Harald replied, but he shifted the wire to his left hand and balanced his claymore as best he could in his right. Three strong tugs were placed on the silver strip and Harald gave back two short pulls. "That is the signal, he's coming through."

"That's not Ivo," yelled the halfling.

Harald let the wire slip from his hand and grabbed the hilt of his sword with both. "Talberth!" he exclaimed as he brought the blade back and prepared to strike.

"Wait!" it was the halfling's turn to yell. "How do we know it's Talberth. Where is Ivo?"

"Don't move," Harald warned and brought his arm back again.

"Don't be stupid," Talberth put up his hands as if to ward off the huge steel blade. "It's me! It's me!" 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Project - Languages of Oerthly Magic - Write

Languages of Oerthly Magic - Write

30). Write

Amedian - Kaeandeka (Ka-An-De-Ka)

Bakluni (Ancient) - Azmak (Az-Mak)

Drow - Aer (Ar)

Dwarven - Kraevar (Kra-Var)

Elven - Karjottae (Kar-Jot-Ta)

Flan - Scrabah (Scra-Bah)

Fruz - Skrafa (Skra-Fa)

Giantish - Scraeaban (Scr-Ab-An)

Gnomish - Skravan (Skra-Van)

Oeridian - Zapaz (Za-Paz)

Olman - Elata (El-At-A)

Suel - Screbar (Scre-Bar)

I think Ive worked out my language equivalents if anyone wants to work up some of these for themselves. 

Amedian - Swahili
Bakluni (Ancient) - Turkish
Drow - Magyar
Dwarven - Danish
Elven - Finnish
Flan - Irish
Fruz - Icelandic
Giantish - German
Gnomish - Dutch
Oeridian - Russian
Olman - Tamil
Suel - Latin

These are just the base for the very slightly altered languages. It helps me a great deal in fiction but it is also helpful DMing and adds a good reason to have a comprehend languages spell on hand. I chose them with a few ideas in mind. The Suel always remind me of ancient Rome so Latin. The giants, dwarves, fruz, and gnomes always feel linked to me. Elves and Drow should have some link but strained over the centuries that have separated them so Finnish and Magyar.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Minstrel Tales - Hextor's Song

A poem for the god Hextor originating, surprisingly, from a bard in the Shield Lands where a cult of Hextor honoring War has taken a foothold among the doughty warriors of that realm.

Hextor's Song

I sing the praise of honored wars,
The glory of well-gotten scars,
The bravery of glittering shields,
Of lusty hearts and famous fields;
For that is the music worthy of Hextor's ear,
A sight for kings, praise for the god to hear.

Great battles I do see
The grace of chivalry;
The colors are displayed,
The knighthood bright arrayed.
See now the battle's changed,
Arrows now thick are ranged.

Hark! Blood and wounds abound,
The drums alarum sound.
The captains cry
The trumpets sound.
Oh, this is the music worthy of Hextor's ear,
A sight for kings, praise for the god to hear.

(Altered from "The Soldier's Song")

Minstrel Tales - Fighting South of the Fellrev

Here is a poem about the Shield Landers and their fight against Iuz and the Horned Society.

Minstrel Tales - Fighting South of the Fellrev

Last Year we were fighting at the source of the Rittensa;
This year we are fighting on the road to Critwall.
We have washed our swords in the Nyr Dyv's blooded surf;
We have pastured our horses among the snows of the Barrens,
Holmer's armies have grown grey and old
Fighting so near but never home.
The Horned Ones have no trade but battle and carnage;
They have no fields or ploughlands,
But only wastes where white bones lie among yellow sands.
Where we Shieldlanders built a wall of swords to keep them away,
There, in his turn, Iuz lit beacons of war.
The beacons are always alight, fighting and marching never stop.
Men die in the field, slashing sword to sword;
The horses of the conquered neigh piteously to Ehlonna.
Crows and hawks peck for human guts,
Carry them in their beaks and hang them on branches of withered trees.
Captains and soldiers are smeared on the bushes and grass;
But the Horned Ones schemed in vain.
Know therefore that the sword is a powerful thing
Which the wise man uses freely when he must.

(Altered from Li Po "Fighting South of the Rampart" 

The Hill Giant Chief - Nosnra's Saga - Part 65

The Hill Giant Chief - Nosnra's Saga - Part 65

"What does that tell you?" asked Harald. The ranger bristled with impatience.

"Look, the wire is frosted near the end where I held it to the mist," Ivo held the piece of enchanted silver in his hand and waved it toward the ranger. "But further on it is merely cold to the touch. It tells me a little tale; listen and I will tell it to you."

"Sorry Ivo," Harald apologized, "I'm just worried about Talberth."

"I'm worried myself," said Ivo. "The mist looks no more than half a foot thick, the frost on the wire goes no further. The wire was not destroyed; it was not yanked from my hand, as it might be if magic had transported it. It is not bent, so no trap was triggered by it passing through the mist."

"That is no test for traps," the thief spoke up.

"No Harold, but what else do you suggest?" asked Ivo.

"Use that sword of yours," he said to the ranger. "Let it drag across the ground. See if there is a floor beyond that smoke, we could take a step and end up falling down a shaft like the one we saw back in the room of statues."

Harald drew the long blade and stared at it for a moment; he hated to use the blade in such a way.

"I don't think it will break," the thief said sarcastically.

"All right, I'll give it a try," Harald said, but he was reluctant and moved with excessive care.

"I thought you were in a hurry," Harold complained.

The ranger held out his claymore, the hilt in both his hands and let it slide across the edges of the mist along the frame. He felt a firm resistance and the blade ground against some unseen surface beyond the smoke-filled portal, but he could hear nothing from the other side. Using the strength of his arms and shoulders he pushed hard against the ceiling, the walls and the floor, but there was no result. Nothing gave, no trap opened up beneath the blade, only the feel of something that stopped the point from moving further and a growing cold which chilled the metal of the sword. "There is nothing," Harald said then the ranger stepped into the mist and disappeared.

"Wait!" Ivo and Harold called out together. The thief grabbed for the ranger and passed through the mist close on his heels.

"Hey!" Little Rat shouted. The young orc followed Harold without a moment's hesitation.

Ivo still held the silver wire in his hand. He looked at the mist filled gate for a moment then carefully bent the wire into four even lengths and slipped it into his pack, then stepped into the mist.

* * *

Chilling cold reached for him but Harald brushed it aside and stepped through the mist. It had only been the lightest touch then he found himself standing in the dark. The ranger stopped and tried to sense the room around him. There was a different feel then what he had expected. Through the mist his sword had pressed against some obstruction to the right and left, he shifted the claymore so that the blade swung to either side but met no resistance. Harald stepped back and as his foot slid across the stone floor something collided with his leg. It squeaked out with alarm and sent the ranger jumping forward in surprise.

"It's me! It's me," the halfling thief cried out.

"Curse it Harold," exclaimed the ranger. "You're lucky I didn't cut you in half!"

"What're you stan..." Harold began to say but Little Rat came leaping through the mist and knocked him down.

* * *

"...iiing!" Harold's word became a loud screech as he was knocked over and tumbled across the floor.

Little Rat scrambled to keep on his feet, bouncing back from the impact with the small but stout halfling that nearly sent him through the mist again. He steadied himself, a wave of cold passed across his backside which was partly through the smoke-filled portal. "Yiii," he shrieked, echoing Harold's yell.

"Stop playing around!" the ranger called out. "I can't see a thing, where is the light!"

"Ivo has the light." Harold grumbled. He had turned the tumble into a roll and came up facing the door.

"That's good," said the ranger, "I'm the one who needs it."

"It's your own fault," Harold told him. He turned around to face his friend and felt Little Rat grab him by the shoulder. "What?"

"Look!" the young orc pointed, his arm brushing past the halfling's nose.

"That's Harald," said the halfling, "what's the matter with you."

"No!" Little Rat pointed harder, his arm shaking, his finger jabbing at the space around the ranger Harald's side. The halfling leaned toward the side and crooked his neck, Harold's eyes widened as he caught sight of the creatures that Little Rat pointed a shaking finger at. The room was unlit except for a soft glow coming from the misty door but the halfling and the orc could see, their kind had eyes meant for the seeing in the dark. Old wooden frames that might once have been beds littered the room, the remains of tables, chairs, a row of shelves smashed down the center but their corners still hanging from the sides, and rising amid the debris were bones. A skull sat on a spine without ribs or arms, but it bent and brushed itself across a loose pile of yellow-ivory sticks. Like iron filings jumping to a loadstone, the bones joined with the spine. It shook like a wet dog and its ribcage clicked into place. As Harold watched at least six skeletons formed and began to clack toward them on their fleshless toes and heels. The ranger heard the noise and turned his head so that one ear was directed toward the sound.

"Harald! Behind you!" Harold shouted at his friend.

"What is there!?" the ranger brought up his sword so that the long blade waved back and forth, higher than the halfling's head. The point thunked into a skeletal chest, but Harald had put no force behind the blow and the point skittered over the monster breast bone and passed harmlessly between its ribs.

"Skeletons!" Harold exclaimed. "Hit it! You just poked one with your sword."

"Keep down," the ranger brought his claymore over his shoulder and swung the blade like a scythe. It struck a skeleton that leapt forward, the edge cut through its spine like a stalk of wheat, severed a boney arm on its way out and then the blade came up high over Harald's other shoulder. The fleshless legs and waist clattered to the ground, but the torso pulled itself toward the ranger, one hand reaching out; the stump of an arm scraping on the stones.

"Got one!" shouted Harold. "Only another five to go."

"I can't see them," the ranger said, "tell me when to..."

"Now!" Harold shouted as two more skeletons came within the reach of the ranger's sword. 


Bones shattered, the edge of the sword cut cleanly through an arm but the ribs broke against steel as the blade passed through. The skeleton's spine was severed high where its heart might have been; a shoulder blade spun away like a disk and the joint where its other arm pivoted back and forth split in two, the knob of bone and length of arm fell to the floor. Another skeleton was a step behind the first. It walked into the sword's path as it swung up from the ruin of the first, the tip lodging in its skull tearing the head free from the neck. Yellow teeth gnawed at the metal of the blade, the skull became a ghastly trophy at the end of Harald's sword. Both bodies fell to pieces and rattled upon the stones as they came crashing down. Whatever force animating them was severed by Harald's scything blade just as the bones of spine, shoulder and arm had been.

"Are there more?" bellowed the ranger.

"Yes! Yes!" shouted Harold. The thief ran forward, his small sword drawn, Little Rat pulled two smaller blades from hide sheaths he'd made from a wolf's pelt and attached to the old rope he used as a belt.

"Where?" the ranger swung his blade but this time through empty air. "I need light!"

"There is one about ten feet to your right," Harold called to him. "The left, the other two are on your left, they're near!"

The ranger turned the blade to the right, but at the halfling's word he brought it swinging to the left. The ranger clipped a wooden frame and thinking that he'd hit a skeleton, Harald drew the sword back and struck with all his strength. The ancient wood splintered, the frame flipped over and cracked apart, old cloth shredding into fragments billowing out in a cloud of dust. The corner post that formed a headboard broke away, one half sailing through the air. Teeth shattered from the still animated skull, it bounced from a wall only a moment after the broken post.

"You hit a bed!" Harold yelled at him.

"Hells, get me some light!" the ranger cursed.

"To the right!" yelled Harold. "No, the left!"

"Make up your mind!" grumbled the ranger.

A skeleton leapt over the heap of broken wood, it collided with the ranger as he tried to bring his sword around. Its bones were light; it had no flesh to add weight to its attack. The ranger's arm and shoulder knocked it hard and threw it back into the fragments of the bed. Bony hands closed on the ranger's arm, he could not bring his blade against it while it grappled him. From the left another skeleton clutched him by the throat, its fingers like a fist of branches, sharp ends gouging into skin. One handed the ranger used the pommel of his sword to beat away the strangling grasp. He spun and lifted both skeletons from their feet but he could not break their grip. The pommel was a poor weapon used blindly in the dark.

"Get them off me," the ranger gasped, but the halfling and the orc could do nothing while they shook clutching to both throat and arm.

"Stop twisting!" Harold shifted trying to find a place to strike a boney leg or hip without cutting the ranger as well. There was a solid crack, the metal pommel had connected and broke a skull like the shell of a hollow egg. Clawing fingers dropped from the ranger's throat, the skeleton fell apart like a puppet with its strings and bindings cut.

* * *

Dust began to billow, the shattered bedframe shook; loose pieces of wood fell from the rising bones. With unnatural strength it tore a three foot length of board from the pile of debris. The skeleton brought up its makeshift club and advanced on the ranger who struggled blindly in the dark. A blade gouged into its shin, a second hacked into its thigh and carved out a divot of bone. Little Rat howled out a challenge and tore into the skeleton with a flurry of blows. The boney horror stared down with empty sockets, it swung the length of wood, but Little Rat ducked beneath the blow. He sidestepped and brought his dagger skimming along the outstretched arm shaving off a curl, whittling the skeleton down with every stroke.

The ranger heard the young orc howl, he knew where the sound had come from but he could see nothing. One skeleton still clasped his arm, it clawed at him, finger bones digging into the sleeve of his shirt, each digit strong as a metal clamp. He could feel the flesh bruise, mashed beneath the crushing strength. The skeleton rattled, he shook it like a housemaid would shake the dust from a carpet, but he could not shake it loose. A flash of light lit the room, the beams swayed to the right then toward the ranger.

Ivo had come through the misty portal, the enchanted torch casting its rays into the room. Little Rat squealed, he brought up an arm to protect his eyes but the skeleton was unaffected by the sudden illumination. The board came down and this time struck the small orc squarely atop the head. There was a crack, part of the wood snapped off and a line of blood seeped from Little Rat's lank hair. Harold ducked his head, he'd been slashing at the skeleton that grabbed the ranger's arm and as he did he caught a glimpse of the light that that shone from Ivo's torch. The edge of his knife opened a foot long gash in the ranger's cloak, he'd try to pull his blow, only luck or the hand of fate kept him from doing the same to the ranger's leg as he did to the cloak.

"What's this?" Ivo said, startled as he walked into a fight. A pair of skeletal feet slapped across Harold's face, Little Rat growled and waved his knives but the skeleton with the wooden board struck him again. The ranger managed to shift his sword from one hand to the other and now that he could see, he deftly smashed in the skull of the skeleton hanging on his arm. Everything happened at once before Ivo could do more than blink. Blood was pouring from Little Rat's head; he staggered like a drunk on a three day binge, but managed to lash out with his knives. The blades no more than scratched the monster's bones. It raised its board again for a vicious stroke but there was a shriek of steel as a blade sliced through the air. There was a glint of metal, a dark shape passed above the young orc's head and the skeleton was gone. Arms, chest and spine were chopped cleanly through and flung back against the wall. The last of the skeletons was destroyed. The ranger's head twisted back and forth looking for another foe and Little Rat sat on the ground holding his bleeding head between his hands.

"Here is your light," Harold said to the ranger, nodding toward the gnome.

"Next time you're going through the door first," the ranger said to Ivo.

"Next time you'll take the light with you," Ivo told him. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Old School 1E/2E Greyhawk; Shield Lands; Keep Group; Adventure #855 - Awakening at Radiant Fork

Old School 1E/2E Greyhawk; Shield Lands; Keep Group; Adventure #855 - Awakening at Radiant Fork Thursday, Jun 13, 7:30 PM - 11:00 PM EDT

It is a pure miniaturists dream to see one of these game sessions set in a 4 decade continuous campaign. This is their 855fth adventure, not game session, 855 adventures. Longest campaign I was ever part of was 3 years back in the early 80's.

Alyssa Faden Paints the Tegal Manor Map on Twitch Tues & Thurs 9pm EST

Alyssa Faden Paints the Tegal Manor Map on Twitch Tues & Thurs 9pm EST

Big copy of the Tegal Manor map under works as shown at North Tex Con this past weekend. Watch Alyssa Faden do her amazing work on ot this Tuesday the 11th 9pm EST and Thursday the 13th 9pm EST on her twitch channel

 Weds the 12th 9pm EST watch Alyssa work on the ship maps for the FGG kickstarter Sea King's Malice

Watching these maps come alive is fantastic and the chat is active, interactive and fun.