[Actual Play] Keep on the Borderlands Pt. XV (LL); Designs of the Coven

After the battle of the Hobgoblin halls had ended, the Albian wizards Diggory and Chinning wasted little time in pushing for further delvings. Relentlessly energetic, they persuaded Fox the Elf, who had been lost to a spout of yearning for fields that had known no earthly sun for a month, and Isidoro the Rogue, now cleared of his hangover, to join them on a foray into Nuromen’s vaults while the rest of the Champions rested and celebrated their victories. They were joined by Box, a wiry colonist turned fighting man, newly arrayed in a spare suit of banded mail and armed with spear and shield, and with them were 2 mercenaries and 2 of fighting men they had sprung from the hobgoblin caves.

They rode for a day through the forest, and across the elfway, Fox on his donkey, the rest of thoroughbred riding horses. Two-thirds of the way, they met on the road a band of seven brigands, led by a great mailed giant of a man. As he raised his visor the Champions marked well his plate as being looted from the body of Vinnie Jones, and as they beheld his face they knew him; It was Valgard, the berserker they had freed from the Bugbear caverns. Proclaiming ownership of the Elfway, Valgard demanded they paid a hundred gold each for the privelege of using the road. As Diggory pretended to haggle, asking for discounts for their henchmen, Chinning cast on them the Sleep spell, and three of their number fell asleep.

“I am Valgard, breaker of horses-and-men,” roared the great iron giant, his eyes shrinking to pinpoints. He strode forward, meeting Box. Diggory too began casting the Sleep spell, narrowly avoiding an arrow and a cast axe while he did so. Arrows, bolts and slingstones felled the one of the brigands with an arrow in the gut, and the Sleep spell dealt with the remaining three. Only Valgard remained standing. Swatting aside a spear-thrust from Box with a contemptuous flick, he lifted his great iron blade and with a demoniac roar, cleft the fighting-man in twain.

“For years I have plundered your lands. I have made sport with your wives and daughters!” the Berserker bellowed, as spear thrusts glanced off of his mail, and he drove back the now skittish mercenaries with great sweeping blows. Fox the Elf unleashed his last Sleeping Spell, and the giant toppled like a great iron tower. They bound him and stripped him of his armor and weapons, and the rest they murdered in their sleep. They interrogated him, and he claimed to be a lieutenant of Lothar Kingsblade, the Brigand Captain that had taken up residence near the Necropolis. He claimed a great reward should he be returned to him. Debating what to do, the Champions took him alongside, and made their way to Law’s End, where he was bound and watched throughout the night. He howled and snarled in his sleep, and their rest was troubled.

On the morrow they left two mercenaries behind to watch the captive berserker, and descended into Nuromen’s Necropolis once more. After some quibbling and redivision of heavy equipment, for Fox the elf had brought far too many objects, insisting they would ‘come in handy somehow’, the party now continued into the Necropolis, to proceed with their delvings through the Northern door. A great copper-plated door, wrought in the shapes of corpses, awaited them. When it asked the password, they gave it the name ‘Althea’ which was written on the silver bracelet of Nuroman’s daughter. The doors opened to reveal Nuroman’s library.

A wealth of alembics, grimoires, tomes, and elixers awaited within. They examined the place thoroughly, finding on the wall two keys, one strangely shaped, and a hidden door behind a book closet. Diggory found a strange tome near two beakers filled with bubbling fluids, and following the promise of the book that they could turn stone to gold, caused a great explosion that set fire to the laboratory and nearly killed Diggory. He drank an elixer of healing, and was soon hale. Attracted by the noise, the warrior Pajeje, an enigmatic foreigner armed with axe and shield, blundered through the door wide-eyed, and soon resolved to join the exploration.

The fire had revealed a great hatch in the floor also. After some debate, the various dubious elixers were piled in a corner, and the party ventured through the secret passageway in the north, and down a set of stairs, where they found the true sanctum of Nuroman. They helped themselves to three potions, three spell scrolls, two spellbooks placed on a pedestal, a crystal dagger in an obscene leather sheath, and a great grimoire locked by padlock weighing 50 pounds. Groaning under the weight of their prodigious haul, they retreated, wasting no further time. On their way out, Diggory also took with him a great glass jar with a seemingly live frog still inside, thinking it might hide all manner of use. They also found the corpse of a dissected halfling, and a volume identifying him as Melvyn Wymbly of the Five Shires. They nodded, and moved on.

As the party approached the limestone shaft, and had to ford the underground river, there was some concern the Grimoire would be damaged by water. Diggory drank down a potion that he supposed was used for levitation, but was actually a potion of gaseous form, and soon they floated across, and hauled out the treasure to the surface.

In the evening they interrogated the Berserker anew, but his time Chinning had quaffed the potion of ESP they had recovered from Nuromon’s chambers, and with it, they read his every thought, even as Valgard boasted he would sleep with their mothers. They found out he did indeed serve Lothar Kingsblade, once sword to King Halvar, now exiled, and with him 30 retainers, including the fierce Beoric. In the wilderness, they had attracted all manner of outlaws, deserters, highwaymen and other brigands, including the terrible Orm the Strangler, until their numbers were almost a hundred. Learning of their weapons, numbers, defences, treasures and vague location, as well as the Owlbear they had captured, they eventually relented, and sensing Valgard’s intention to flee the area and desert Lothar, they reluctantly led him go into the wilderness, arming him with a dagger only. Pajeje was confused at their strange mercy.

They made it back to the Keep, and there reposed for 4 days, healing their injuries, and discovering they had found the wizard’s spellbooks, learned many new arts from these pages. There was not an alchemist or ink-salesman with a full stock left in the keep as the coven pored over these tomes, and added great magics to their spellbooks. The dagger they found was ensorcelled, and was given to Diggory. The great tome they could not unlock, and left it for another time.

Another venture was planned, and they rode out once more. On the road they were ambushed by a patrol of soldiers from nearby Guido’s fort. They gave the Sign of the Iron Empire and dismounted, and the soldiers knew them for friends, and gave them this news; Goblins are rising beyond the Blackwater, at Guido’s Fort, and there are barely enough to hold them back. Thanking them, they rode on to Law’s End, and descended once more into the Necropolis.

This time it was not long until they were set upon by a walking corpse, still dressed in decaying finery, which lumbered towards them in the great hall. Missiles broke its bones and rended its flesh, and a blow with an axe ended its unlife. They pressed on beyond the library, into the northern passage, and found there a strange iron door. Inside, a hideous torture parlour awaited. When they opened the iron cell with one of the keys they had found, a dessicated corpse broke free from a medical bank, and, with bolts and slings smiting it as it came on, dealt a grievous blow to the fighter Pajeje. The creature was laid low before it could finish the job, and another healing elixer soon restored the queer foreigner to a state of healthy puissance. In the cages and amid the rotting bones, they found a jeweled earring, and what appeared to be a map of Law’s End, marking a place of buried treasure near the ruins of the Chapel.

With their newfound floating disk spell, they carried out the dozens of elixers, and loading these into their bags, made their way back to the surface. They spent the rest of the day searching the area for the site of the chapel, and, lacking shovels, unearthing the place using improvised tools and their hands. By evening’s last light, it appeared they had found the site of the altar.

What further treasures awaited them?

The Tally
2 Zombies
7 brigands
1 Berserker

The Price
[A] Otso (MU 1, 3 hp) – Slain by Treachery
[B] Hardroc Sansaxe (Dwr 1, 4 hp) – Died on his feet against the Goblin Foe
[C] Buddy (Ftr 1, 6 hp) – Died in the rearguard against Kobold treachery
[D] Valen (Thf 1, 2 hp) – Felled by Kobold arrow in the Battle of the Warrens
[C] Brother Buddy (Clr 1, 3 hp) – Felled by a bandit’s spearthrust
[E] Quinton RumbleBreeches (Hal 1, 6 hp) – Felled by a bandit’s arrow
[B] Sazar Thistleborne (Thf 1, 4 hp) – Ripped apart by a Mountain Lion in the Perilous forest
[C] Brother Buddy Jr. (Clr 1, 4 hp) – Drained of life by monstrous Stirges
[F] Hardy the Dwarf (Dwr 1, 6 hp) – Clubbed to death by Ogre
[B] Zed Fauxgivvin (Hal 1, 4 hp) – Fell to a hobgoblin sword, but he did not go alone
[G] Colemeier Stonesaw (Dwr 1, 8 hp) – Fell to hobgoblin sowrds
[E] Father Kane (Clr 1, 6 hp) – Fell to Hobgoblin swords
[H] Ludwig Andros (MU 1, 4 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[I] Derek de Chitsville (Ftr 1, 8 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[J] Vinnie Jones (Ftr 1, 10 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[K] Johhny Longfingers (Thf 1, 4 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[L] Vitus the Southron (Ftr 1, 9 hp) – Eaten by Harpies
[I] Father Theodore (Clr 1, 6 hp) – Struck down by skeletons
[J] Box the Fighter (Ftr 1, 9 hp) – Struck down by Valgard, breaker-of-horses-and-men


4 thoughts on “[Actual Play] Keep on the Borderlands Pt. XV (LL); Designs of the Coven

  1. Making use of multiple sleep spells, sharing spells from captured grimoires and scrolls; there is hope for them. I’d be wary of making too many forays without a cleric however. Any level gains?


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