Ignoble Assets

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Initial GM: John


Map of the region

The fantasy/medieval kingdom of Drannor, a collection of affiliated dukedoms in the northwest corner of the enormous continent of Kara-Tur on the planet affectionately known as Gurth.

For generations, Drannor was a stable monarchy, but now the kingdom is a confederacy of city-states. There is some jostling for influence, but some form of rational diplomacy has always won out over large scale armed conflict.

The campaign will begin in Saint Germaine, known as a city of thieves.

The campaign will begin firmly in the genre of low fantasy/hard fantasy, in which magic is rare and limited, non-exotic danger lurks in every smelly alley, and reality is static (no crazy plane shifting or intergalactic travels).

Character Creation Guidelines

You have been charged with a crime and are serving your sentence or awaiting trial in the dungeons of the city.

You are probably human, though non-human sapient races will be considered if you've got your heart set on it.

Each character will be of the same total point value (potential heroes!), but this can take near-infinite different forms. You might be a hardened mercenary imprisoned for participating in a coup attempt, a teenage scamp caught scaling the walls of the mint, a genteel magician whose magic caused too much mischief, or even a wizened druid thrown in the pit for worshipping a forbidden spirit.

The make-up of the party will determine the flavor of the campaign.

Write up a brief physical (tall? nimble? ugly? strong? skinny? blonde?) description and background that answers at least these questions:

  1. what's your name, age, gender?
  2. What's your personality like?
  3. where are you from? slums of Saint Germaine? a lumber camp near Songvar? An unnamed island of fishermen?
  4. are you wealthy? poor? average?
  5. what's your profession?
  6. how did you get so good at it?
  7. why are you in jail?
  8. Any important relationships? Enemies? Allies? Contacts? Secrets? Vows?

You're encouraged to find a picture that represents your character.

You might explore some previous characters of this world for ideas and connections.

Send your backgrounds to the GM by Oct 21 to be included in the campaign.

These are TL 3 characters with 150 points and up to -75 in Disadvantages plus -5 in Quirks.








Book One


The scene opens in the cold and wet government dungeon complex of Saint Germaine, where each party member has been housed for a few weeks, each for separate crimes. The dungeon doubles as a stormwater drain, and fall rains have dumped the sweepings of the medieval streets into their tiny cells periodically. Sometimes the drainpipe becomes clogged with a bloated rat, and they stand in cold water for days. The food consists of spent grains from local breweries, delivered by grunting bugbears.

But this day is different, because Lord Octavian Arminius has a task for the party, a task for which ignoble assets are required. They are to acquire a pink sapphire currently possessed by one Drago Mercurian of Songvar. If they fail to deliver within 20 days, or divulge their quest to anyone, Lord Arminius will issue black warrants for each of them, distributed far and wide to the other dukedoms, independent assassins, the Mord Sith, and so forth. A rich bounty will be offered for their slaying.

Thus convinced, the party is ushered out into the alley with their meager possessions to create a plan. Step one is to get dressed. Step two is to get a beer and a meat pie at the Goosehead Tavern.

Except for Bomber, shadowed by Kozlov, who seeks out an old contact, an elven boxing champion named Draco Sera. Draco informs Bomber that Mercurian is a respected warlord who has recently civilized the trading post at Songvar. A talented warrior, leader, businessman, forester, too.

Bomber and Kozlov rejoin the revelers at the Goosehead to get acquainted and hatch a plan.

Red offers to solve the transportation problem. She'll simply enter the stables behind the inn where she works and steal some guests' horses. Jimmy the stableboy presents no obstacle to her charms, and the party is soon underway that very afternoon.

Upon emerging in the wide open countryside, Bomber breaks out in a cold sweat and slumps forward, briefly overwhelmed by the expansive horizon. But he soon recovers and the party rides until sunset and sets up a spartan camp, having not considered acquiring camping gear. Blankets are shared and they make it through a rainy night after nibbling badger steaks and interesting roots harvested by Bjorn Skogen, roasted inexpertly by Red upon a raging fire built by Kozlov.

A watch schedule is set, and the party is unmolested through the night.

A glorious fall sunrise is not up to the task of overcoming Bomber's chronic depression, and he needs to be placed upon his horse and led through the day.

That afternoon, the party spots a wagon with two mounted escorts. After some cautious eyeballing between mercenaries, introductions are made; this is cheese merchant Hagar Vanderpool and his dark-haired daughter Elsa. The nameless, scarred, tanned, rangy bodyguards take up tactical positions while Kozlov awkwardly interrogates the father about his daughter and his cheeses.

In the end, Kozlov purchases a special leather pouch containing a potent fermented smoked goat cheese concoction, and the party travels on.

That night, unsuccessful in the hills, Bjorn returns from the salt marshes with a string of odd-looking crayfish, and party has another strange meal around a raging Kozlov-fire.

On day 3, Bomber has temporarily recovered, and there is a strategy discussion at breakfast, because Bjorn believes that Songvar will be spotted by day's end. Should we enter together? Separately? What's our story?

It's decided that entering together will seem normal -- it's the safest way to travel.

Just a mile down the road, Carrick spots a wisp of smoke beyond some trees, and a staggering traveler coming up the road in the foreground.

Red and Carrick check on the wounded man, Kozlov sprints into the woods for a roundabout view of the smoke situation, and Bomber and Bjorn ride straight past the traveler to investigate the smoke, itching for a fight.

The staggering man is Targ Wallman, a bodyguard of Raul Beauregard, and he is badly wounded, hi arm hanging like a ham from his shoulder, and dark blood covering his abdomen and legs. He collapses when Red and Carrick approach.

With a magical touch, Carrick stabilizes the patient, and he reports that his entire squad of colleagues was wiped out before dawn, and he narrowly escaped with his life. Orc raiders.

He also volunteers that his master was transporting a fortune in elven fineries and gold.

Meanwhile, Kozlov successfully creeps stealthily to within 15 yards of a scene of devastation -- a damaged wagon, 15+ bloodied bodies lying prone, and a half dozen orcs apparently arguing over the loot. Crouching in a shrubbery, Kozlov quietly takes aim with his loaded crossbow.

The rest of the party, leaving Targ behind on the road, convenes at the edge of a copse of trees atop a low hill some 300 yards from the scene.

Bomber is itching for a fight and proposes a full-gallop charge. Debate ensues. Kozlov sits quietly, aiming....

A Roadside Skirmish

The team charges, the orcs notice, and fan out, ready to hurl their spears into horseflesh.

Lucy nearly slides off her horse and lags behind, but Bomber and Bjorn stay at full throttle for over two hundred yards before yanking their mounts to a halt and hopping off.

Lucy fires arrows, Kozlov fires bolts and throws knives, Bjorn throws and swings axes, Carrick clobbers with his mace, and Bomber boxes his way to victory. Minor injuries are healed by Carrick afterwards, and Kozlov's temporary transformation to a semi-goat-man is accepted after a brief interrogation.

While raiding plunder amid the bodies, it's discovered that there's one survivor -- the owner of the plunder, Raul Beauregard.

Carrick hikes over the hill to fetch Targ Wallman, Raul's bodyguard. Targ sizes up the scattered treasure, his reputation and prospects for future employment, and gladly accepts a handful of gold to disappear.

Meanwhile, Bjorn works on fixing the damaged wagon so the fine goods might be transported to Songvar.

The party has not yet decided on what do to with Raul... until next time.

Adventuring in Songvar

After some debate, the party takes the following actions before departing for Songvar:

  • Raul Beauregard, wounds healed but still unconscious, is loaded into the back of the covered wagon, which Bjorn has repaired. Bomber will ride in the back and make sure Raul stays unconscious.
  • Half the slain bodyguards are dragged into bushes. The other half, and all the orcs, are left in the muddy road. There's some talk of creating the appearance that the party is the half of the bodyguard squad that survived.
  • Small valuables are looted, but nobody's interested in Raul's fancy Southern goods.
  • Horses are rounded up and arranged by Carrick to trail behind the party.

By the middle of the rainy afternoon, they party arrives in Songvar and is immediately beset by cart-pushing peddlers of various cheap adventuring gear, goblin sex slaves, and booze. They make their way through the mud to the main compound and pay the modest fee to enter.

Within, a slightly more civilized and permanent culture awaits, and the most of the group heads into one of the two taverns in compound. Beers are had.

Bomber and Kozlov take their chances in the brothel, and spend some money and bodily fluids for the remainder of the day. Kozlov's experience is particularly exotic, during an extended encounter with Cynthia, Slither, and Beef in which his knees reversed and horns grew out.

Meanwhile the rest of the crew uses blue collar charm and feminine wiles to gather some intelligence and rumors. It sounds like Drago Mercurian is out on his one-week-a-month adventures in Ravenwood. His daughter Marlena Mercurian, a stunning beauty, trains continuously with a weaponmaster from the mysterious East. She is cursed, perhaps -- there's something wrong with her. Drago will certainly never allow her to marry. Or maybe, he's made some sort of deal with a demon to keep her virginity intact. Something's definitely odd in that family.

The party reconvenes and discusses options over beers long after dark. It's day four of twenty before their death warrants are issued, so there's time, but the clock is ticking. The group conjectures that daughter possesses the pink-orange sapphire. Or perhaps it's locked somewhere in the house. Or Drago's got it.

Bomber, Lucy and Kozlov, after first peering over the 8' wall of Drago's inner sanctum, find hiding spots and sit in the dark, waiting for the gates to open. Eventually, out walks a blond-haired man they'd spotted earlier watching over Marlena's workout.

Bomber approaches casually, and then suddenly, brass knuckles bared, fists flying. The blond dodges the first but steps right into the path of the other, and is sent sprawling in the mud, stunned. Lucy and Kozlov rush in to help, and together they drag the dazed blond to the lumber warehouse that Carrick and Bjorn have scouted.

Drago Hunting

With Kozlov's knives at the poor lad's neck, Lucy interrogates the towheaded prisoner, Dirk Winsome. He spills the beans pretty quickly. He's in love with Marlena Mercurian, and afraid of her father Drago, who is extremely protective of his odd daughter. Further, when Marlena is mentioned to Drago while she is not present, Dirk has witnessed her father clasp an object that hangs between his enormous pectoral muscles, that might be an egg-sized gem. Finally, Drago is expected back tomorrow or maybe the next day, and always travels with his scout, and his right-hand man.

The party decides to gag Dirk and tie him to Lucy's bed back at the inn. They sneak him in before dawn and snag a football-sized hunk of cheese on the way out.

Then, while the rest of the party gathers and outfits their horses from the stables, Kozlov returns, slits Dirk's throat, and leaves him for dead. Afterwards, he stops by the venereal flophouse to hire Slither and Beef, who are ready for action at the mention of gold.

In starlight, the party exits the sleeping outpost and, led by a goat named Kozlov, finds a little trail leading east, towards Ravenwood. Suspecting that Drago and his men come and go on the same trail, they follow it a few hours, yawning occasionally. Around dawn of Day 5, they stop in a grove of trees to rest and meditate while Bjorn hunts beaver.

Thanks to Kozlov and Bjorn's nearly-smokeless fire, the party rests much of the day, enjoying hot beaver for breakfast and roast doe for lunch.

In the late afternoon, they spot three men, mere specks at three miles, emerging from the dark wall of foliage called Ravenwood.

This is enough for Bomber, itching yet again for a fight, and the party mounts up and begins galloping towards the three, but not before Kozlov tells Slither and Beef how much extra they'll be paid for killing Drago.

At eight hundred yards, the notice that the most slender of the three has a long bow, and seems to be aiming in their direction. Rethinking the galloping charge, the party slows to a polite canter. At three hundred, they dismount and begin walking, and Drago signals his scout to stand down.

Greetings are hollered. The party claims to be traveling, or maybe lost, or scouting. Drago warns that Ravenwood is dangerous, full of evil things, including witches. He puts his hands on his hips, frowns and looks down at the ground.

Meanwhile, Kozlov has been snaking stealthily through the grass with his crossbow. At a hundred yards, he braces and aims. After a long exhale, he fires. The bolt takes a full second to soundlessly traverse the distance. It slips deep between the slender bowman's ribs, and he drops into the high grass with a moan.

And then...

Unlikely Alliance

Combat ensues, with Bjorn taking down the other of Drago's henchmen, but not before Bomber is disabled by Drago's twin blades.

Drago calms the combatants with a commanding bellow, and first aid and negotiation begins.

The party demands the sapphire. Drago explains that he is on his way back from a meeting with a witch, in which he plead his case to have a charm removed from it, upon which the gem has no value to him. His daughter's passion for life resides therein, a result of his misguided attempt to only curtail her sexuality. The witch, he says, enjoys observing his anguish and regret, and refuses to undo the magic.

Just then Mavis prances in, an old friend of Kozlov's. Introductions are made, and she seems trustworthy, needs a job, and is invited to join the group.

After much cajoling, Drago agrees to guide the group to the witch's lair. Wounded henchmen are sent back to Songvar, and Slither is dispatched to the underworld after answering Kozlov's questions wrong.

In the morning of Day 7, Mavis demonstrates her woodland survival talents by snaring a pair of hares for breakfast after Bjorn returns empty-handed.

On Day 8, the witch's troll attacks. Carrick rushes to attack, and is gravely wounded. Bjorn, Lucy, and Bomber take the beast down, and Kozlov and Mavis collaborate on its obliteration with fire.

The group heals, rests, and presses on, shortly reaching the cave in which, Drago claims, the witch resides. They enter.

Mushrooms and mosses within, and giant beetles and spiders crunch underfoot. Dripping water, hanging tree root tendrils. Huge dead frogs hang from vines, tied ritualistically upside down by the rear legs, some dried up, some putrid, some fresh.

The witch sits on a rock in the back, a pool of still water in front of her, reflecting light from the outside up at her. She squats ungracefully, dark skin, gray dreadlocks streaked with mud and moss, huge swaying empty pancake breasts, glazed over white eyes, visible white chin hair, large warty nose, and a mossy blanket over her shoulders.

She croaks,

"Ah, very good, you are sturdy warriors, yes?"

To the Black Pool

Eminiscu the witch, speaking in interrogatory riddles, intimates that she greatly enjoys Drago Mercurian's anguish and discomfort, and continues to refuse to release the charm that entraps Marlena's 'succulent youth'. However, she'd be willing to make a trade.

All the party has to do is seize another gem of similar appearance from the Shadow King in the Valley of Scars north of the Black Pool. Fetch this gem for her, and she says she'll return Marlena to normal.

After the witch tosses Mavis a pipe and some odd herbs, the party agrees and treks east.

At dinnertime, they encounter an old campsite, with clods of rain-saturated crap scattered around a large ring of stones containing the cold remains of a large campfire. And, bones. Little baby bones.

But maybe not babies, small people. One has a tiny hunting bow and leather britches.

Bjorn fetches a dozen fist-sized snails from the underside of leaning tree and the party dines around the fire, though Mavis and Kozlov climb a tree to avoid land-based hazards.


The next day, Kozlov scouts ahead, and soon spots twenty wee folk ahead, no taller than his knee, struggling to move a fallen log. He gestures to the party to come forward and then sneaks away -- but steps on a big stick, which cracks, and he bolts away to climb a tree. The wee folk confront him as the party moves forward.

Tensions dissipate after the party explains their purpose.

Mammoth Lord Markelwinkus assigns Towering Lords Blaxamander and Hoobanocker and a squad of archers to lead the party to the Black Pool. They head out forthwith, with the little guys sharing limericks along the way.

Overnight, after a meal of wild boar and mushroom, creature noises are heard. Kozlov tries to quietly leap from tree to tree to get a better look, which works pretty well, until it doesn't, and he falls, injuring his leg. As the party rushes over to help him, whatever was making the sound flees.

In the middle of the sunny afternoon of Day 10, the party arrives at what the wee folk say is the Black Pool, though they're pointing at a steep conical hill.

Promises are made to keep in touch, and then the little guys bound away, nimbly vaulting over fallen logs.

Curious, the party ascends the hill, Bjorn and Carrick clearing a path through thorns and poison ivy. At the rim, they spot the valley to the north.

But within the collapsed cone, along the shore of the Black Pool, lie many bones, and a gleaming suit of plate mail.

Demon Hunting


The party stands in the sunshine along the rim of the cinder cone, eyeballing the Black Pool and the nearby remains of a paladin and his still-gleaming gear.

It is Kozlov who cannot resist his curiosity, and he and henchman Beef loop a rope around their midriffs and descend. The rope is held and gradually let out by the strongmen, Bjorn and Carrick.

As they begin to pick over the paladin's backpack, the tar surges violently, and Forneus the demon belches forth to feed.

Kozlov severs his connection to Beef and drops to the crumbling slope to avoid being wrapped up by a tentacle.

The demon's next attack almost succeeds, but Kozlov rolls aside, dragging the backpack with him.

Beef howls in agony as Forneus' scorpion tail pierces his abdomen.

The demon surges up out of the smoking tar pit after Kozlov, who hurls his ready dagger into the creature's bloated torso.

Carrick and Bjorn yank Kozlov up the slope as Red nocks an arrow.

Mavis and Carrick collaborate to set Red's arrow magically ablaze, and she lets it fly. It sinks deeply into the demon's chest, and he bursts into flame.

Kozlov, still prone on the slope, fires his loaded crossbow from the hip. The poisoned bolt disappears into the demon's jutting phallus.

Fiery Forneus stomps up the steep incline, stepping over Kozlov, tentacles lashing.

Beef continues howling in pain, now on fire.

Bjorn steps in heroically, takes a mighty swing at the creature's thick neck, and simply misses. The beast's fangs bounce off his steel breastplate, and the woodsman's next blow strikes true, slicing through a foot of stinking demonflesh.

Meanwhile, Kozlov finds himself below the flaming creature now, and drives a large knife into demontaint, dousing himself with a torrent of foul ichor.

But at the rim of the cinder cone, the rest of the party has arrayed for maximum damage, and Carrick's maul, Red's arrows, Bjorn's axe, Bomber's fist, and Drago's swords smash and pierce and chop the beast. In the end, it is Carrick's mighty maul that crushes a collarbone to send the demon back into the pool.

The hissing bubbles of the sinking demon diminish. Beef roasts. And finally, silence prevails.

After regaining their breath, the party collects the magic items from the paladin, descends the cone, and marches north.

That night, after a meal of forest otter and small river trout cooked up pleasingly by Red, the party sleeps peacefully. Mavis hears something in the night, but knows the forest is full of life.

By noon the next day, the party descends into the Valley of Scars and discovers the ancient ruins of what seems to have been a town. Only one structure still stands, a towering stone hall partially buried by decades or centuries of small landslides and erosion and the work of the forest ecosystem.

Resolving to enter the building, Carrick oversees excavation efforts, while Kozlov climbs to the roof to keep watch. After a few minutes of digging, zombies emerge from the earth.

In the Hall of the Shadow King

A bloody brawl ensues, accelerating as party members overcome their horror.

Bomber knocks skulls from necks. Carrick and Bjorn shatter rib cages.

Red rushes into a pack of the walking dead and is shortly overcome. Unconscious, her leg is chewed to shreds before Carrick is able to dispatch the attacker.

Mavis, too, is nearly disemboweled by a raging zombie, and falls.

Kozlov executes a perfect-10 gymnastic feat, roping down from the roof and hurling a dagger upon his soft landing. The blade rattles between two empty ribs, and falls to the ground.

Finally, it is done, but there are unconscious bodies to carry, and Carrick's healing talent exhausts him into a deep sleep.

By the end of the day, though, thanks to magical healing, first aid, and delicious venison procured by Bjorn and prepared by Mavis, the party has returned to nearly full strength.

In the morning, they descend and and finish digging out the door to the temple. With great effort, they pry it open -- which re-instantiates dozens of zombies again.

The group slips into the temple for protection, closing the door behind them. Mavis flicks a flame into existence, and as eyes adjust, a giant king sits in a throne at the far end of the pillared hall.

Bomber surges forward, accompanied by Kozlov. The king awakens and prepares a fireball. It's on.

Red and Kozlov sink their missiles into the king's mighty chest. Bomber pounds him in the vitals, and, with a cinematic climbing leap, twice in the jaw, dodging fireballs along the way.

Carrick slams great dents in the king's thick leg, before Bjorn, on fire himself, hacks through the rugged tendons and sends the king sprawling. Seconds later, the job is finished.

Kozlov quickly avails himself of the king's magical ring and slips it over his wrist as a bracelet.

Using her knowledge of simple machines, Red soon discovers evidence that the massive throne may be twisted aside to reveal a hiding place beneath. With prybars and great effort, the feat is accomplished, and treasure seized -- including a 200-lb translucent gem which seems to contain the object of their quarry --a pink-orange sapphire.

Mission accomplished.


Marlena Mercurian, recovering her passions.
Supreme Magistrate Octavian Arminius

Over the next nine days...

The party constructs a simple litter to carry the enormous gem back to Eminiscu the witch, who advises Carrick to smash it with his maul. The shattered pieces melt away like dry ice, and the witch snatches up the pink-orange sapphire within. Drago presents its twin. The witch's face stretches into a wretched smile, and then she announces, "It is done."

On the trip back, Lucy/Red studies a scroll and learns the Analyze Magic spell, and soon after discovers some details of recently acquired gear:

  • The paladin's gold medallion gives +1 to any Active Defense (dodge/block/parry) against demons and undead.
  • The paladin's potion is of Strength -- adds 1d+2 ST for one minute.
  • The paladin's ring is of protection -- +1 to any active defense.
  • The paladin's little silver box with a dried up mouse in it. If the little mouse is placed on the ground, it will wriggle towards water and/or fresh air and/or food.
  • The paladin's boots are Glide Boots -- allows 'Walk on Air' for 2 seconds, once per minute.
  • The padded box containing four quartz-encrusted stone eggs -- these are grenades which explode for 3d exp damage plus 1d frag if they hit something hard.
  • the green-gray stone, like a flat skipping stone from a mountain lake, rough but for one surface, rubbed smooth -- is a LUCKSTONE, conferring the Luck advantage to s/he who possesses it for 24hours or more.
  • The red-flighted arrows are +3 to hit, +3 damage -- and EXPLODE for 2d additional damage 33% of the time.

Back in Songvar, Drago Mercurian has his work cut out for him. Various strongmen have attempted to seize power in his absence. His daughter Marlena Mercurian has been alternately giggling and sobbing for the past several days. And one of his most loyal henchmen was murdered while he was away.

Kozlov, eager to make an impression on Marlena, introduces himself, but there is no time for anything further, as Supreme Magistrate Octavian Arminius's deadline is rapidly approaching.

Drago, satisfied that Marlena is recovering, gives the sapphire to Bomber, and the party leaves for Saint Germaine forthwith. Mavis, facing unemployment, tags along.

A few days later, they ride into the low walled city and are reminded of the sights and smells and sounds of the bustling metropolis. Eschewing so much as a bath or a biscuit, they seek out the magistrate immediately. After some bureaucratic hassle, they gain an audience and present the gem. Bomber demands assurances that the deal is done, and they are free and unencumbered by previous charges or fresh black warrants. The magistrate says "yes yes", and quickly departs, enormous bugbear guards standing by.

The party, having bonded through their experiences, shakes hands and promises one other to keep in touch.


The following day, Magistrate Arminius gathered a diplomatic ensemble and rode for Songvar. After reviewing Drago's efforts at bringing order to the outpost, he asked to meet Marlena. She was beautiful, a glory to behold, as he remembered. He clutched the sapphire in his pocket, and willed her to love him, deeply and completely and forever.

And yet, she looked upon him, not with disdain, but utter disinterest. The charm had not worked.

He had been betrayed.

Book Two


A knarr

For two months, the members of the party go about their respective business in Saint Germaine -- with the exception of Mavis, who is employed by Bastian Brecht some twenty miles south of the sprawling city.

One Sunday afternoon, on which a 'family reunion' is planned at the One Legged Gull down by the docks, it is learned that the black warrants have been issued; the party is wanted, dead or alive, and this information has been transmitted to the various duchal governments of Drannor, as well as clans of killers and the Guild of Assassins.

Over tea, the party compares notes and resolves to leave town immediately.


Nessa, one of Bastian's employees
Beasts of the sea off Gambler's Reach

Luckily, Mavis arrived by boat with two white-bearded seamen, Hans and Ole, and she proposes that the party abscond to the cliffside castle estate of Bastian Brecht.

Bastian is not only thrilled to have the company, he volunteers gallons of wine, festive conversation, and his serving girl Nessa, who spends time with Kozlov.

A deal is struck once everyone loosens up; the party agrees to deliver a crated musical instrument to Lady Krista Carmichael in Argyle.

More wine is had, jokes are told by firelight, and Lucy and Bjorn graciously decline the offer to share Bastian's bed that night. Mavis accepts (again).

After five days at sea, uncovered in the winter rain, and relieving themselves over the edge of the knarr, the clouds part, the sun emerges, and a ship is spotted.

It's in trouble, taking on water, with a broken mast.

The party offers aid, and soon sees that most of the crew is dead or terribly injured.

Carrick and Kozlov (outfitted with the latest Argyle fashions) board to provide assistance.

The ship is called the Heavenly Cleavage, owned by Garth Gibbons, a gluttonous bastard of Zareph, and his cargo hold is overfull of casks of wine, ripped off from a Serentonian merchant, who stupidly allowed it to be loaded before receiving payment.

Garth attempts to take advantage of the party's charity, and does not suspect Kozlov to be a deadly killer in disguise, and so his plan goes badly.

As Bomber and Lucy climb aboard, Carrick takes control of Garth's henchmen, while Bjorn watches Garth bleed out.

Two days of industrious repairs puts the mighty Cleavage back together again, and the party proceeds in a convoy of the two ships, one large and one small, arriving at the docks of Argyle five days later.

As Hans and Ole communicate with pier workers and ropes are tossed back and forth, the party notices a dozen platemailed guards marching down the pier towards them. And above the guards, sailing towards the Cleavage through the air on a flying carpet, is a half-sized man with a long nose and beard, book in hand.


Teeka the sprite

After paying all relevant taxes on moorage and magic items, the party sends a young messenger to the home of Lady Krista Carmichael to let her know that her package has arrived.

However, Kozlov cannot resist his curiosity and decides to shadow the lad, with Bomber trailing behind.

The Carmichael estate is in a wealthy neighborhood of wide clean streets with magical street lights. As they arrive, two very tall, shaven-headed black men emerge from the estate and walk past them, in the general direction of the docks.

Uncowed, the goat-man approaches the front door, which opens as he closes in. The Lady steps out, accompanied by a tiny sprite who flits back and forth and makes cute bubbly noises.

Kozlov attempts to put on a rich-fancy-pants demeanor, which initially disturbs the lady, but when he tells the truth about the reason for the visit, she warms to him, and requests the package be delivered.

The party regroups at the Cleavage, and the two tall black gentlemen carry the crate.

Introductions are made, and cocktails served, in a grand meeting room with a rainbow hued smokeless fire in the hearth.

Once it is free of its crate, Lady Carmichael strums its strings and tells the story of the harp, and why she wanted it: to bring peace to her younger brother's tormented mind. The poor lad is off on a fool's quest to rid the world of evil evildoers of evil; he suffers from the delusion that he is empowered by the gods to do so.

Moved by the tale, Bomber is the first to volunteer the party's services. A deal is struck, in which Lady Carmichael will tend to the Cleavage and sell off its cargo in Ashaba, which has political utility for her. One of her ebon-skinned servants, Seven, will accompany the party to act as guide and protect mutual interests.

Final sips of elven cordials are had, and then party departs, only to stop at the Blushing Petal for exotic entertainment. Soon, they have attracted a retinue of revelers, and the entire party moves back to the Cleavage.

In the morning, they head south for Camlin, the younger Carmichael's last known location.

Three days in, a slight skirmish with a troupe of bandits is quickly defused, and yields a warning: orcs ahead.

Roadside Attractions

This is a party of ten. The PCs, plus Garn, Tarn, and Farn, the sellswords from Zareph that Kozlov hired, and Seven, Krista Carmichael's servant.

The next gloriously sparkling spring day, the party encounters a merchant and his accompanying bodyguard, a grizzled and tattooed warrior addressed by the merchant as Savette.

Tandra Wilder, druid of Thornwood

Kozlov, unable to stay his curiosity, takes his goat form and leaps into the back of the merchant's covered wagon. As he rummages through cargo over the merchant's protestations, Bomber makes a show of calling him back, while the rest of the party watches, perturbed yet amused.

In the end, Kozlov makes off with some jeweler's tools, and the merchant and his sellsword ride along.

The following gorgeous spring day, a suspicious thunderclap and transient raincloud alert the party to an odd encounter ahead.

Three miles further south, the road traverses a sturdy bridge that crosses a ravine that is about thirty feet deep and sixty feet wide. A vigorous brook rushes by below. The sides of the ravine are rocky and choked with shrubbery, but the party spots a prone figure there. She's injured.

Kozlov rushes ahead, and acrobatically ropes down to offer assistance. By the woman's side, he meets Kitty, her 300lb black jaguar, who warns him to stay away.

Mavis to the rescue. The young witch ropes down and, with but a word and wave of her delicate hand, calms the beast. It purrs, and nuzzles her protruding hip bone, before snuggling against her master.

Shortly, Carrick, Lucy, Bjorn, and Bomber arrive, and Carrick attempts to heal the lass. The gods do not cooperate, and he almost loses her. With effort, he brings her back from the brink, and then the rest of the team collaborates on basic first aid for her more superficial wounds-- which seem to have been caused by spears and knives.

Tandra Wilder awakens and expresses her gratitude. She was hunting the troop of orcs who killed her father in Thornwood only yesterday. She is on a mission to exterminate them. Unfortunately, this morning, they got the better of her, but her thunderclap scared them off.

Bjorn, who is muscular, she observes, helps her to her feet and to the nearby grove of trees for additional rest and recuperation.

In the morning, Bjorn produces a 20lb turkey from the woodlands, and while Lucy cooks the bird, Tandra braids her hair. The young druid is affable, witty, and good natured, and the two get along famously.

The orcs' trail is easy to pick up, and the group, all twelve of them now, including Kitty, treks east towards the beginning of Wildwood. Gurgling creeks snake by unseen, uprooted trees create dangerous opportunities for ambush, and signs are that the orcs are very near.

Less than a mile into the wood, Tandra leaps up onto an enormous fallen log, and signals the party to halt. The orcs, perhaps twenty of them, are just ahead.

Squashing the Snake Swallowers


The party heeds Tandra's suggestion to hush and creep -- for about 10 seconds. Bomber cannot resist the opportunity to get into some mayhem immediately, and Lucy's burning curiosity about what happens next spurs her to action as well. They charge ahead, splashing through puddles and climbing over deadfall as needed.

Kozlov and Kitty take to the trees, and the rest of the party moves forward with caution.

Soon, Bomber bursts through the shrubbery to stand before a half dozen orcs upon on a log, ready to hurl their heavy spears at him. Which they do. One hits his arm.

Mass combat ensues, to the soundtrack of the topless, pregnant, mud-smeared Mia Frost's continuous shrieking. Her mother Elizabeth Frost, tethered to a half-ton ogre, yelps and groans as the beast yanks her into the fracas.

Carrick, Bjorn, and Bomber shatter and hack through orcs wholesale, while Kozlov takes pot shots from above and Lucy steps, nocks, and fires, steps, nocks, fires, to great effect. Meanwhile, Mavis sneaks along, looking for opportunities.

Tandra, suddenly paralyzed, falls back, and Kitty drags her to safety.

Carrick and Bjorn go toe-to-toe with the behemoth ogre, who has just bashed Kozlov to the ground. Grevious injuries are dealt, to and fro.

Lucy and Bomber collaborate to end the orc shaman, who has cloaked himself in darkness and succeeded in paralyzing Bomber's leg with a touch of his staff. Before the shaman succumbs, he also blasts a fountain of spiders at Bomber, but Mavis is standing ready with her Vermin Control spell, to redirect their many legs and fangs to better purpose.

Finally, all is quiet. Even Mia.

Healing spells are cast and bandages applied. Garn, Tarn, Farn, and Seven survived with minor injuries.

Tandra expresses her gratitude and slips into the forest. Elizabeth and her daughter Mia tell their stories and request an escort.

Last fall, they had left the comforts of Drannor to start a new life in Camlin, the capital of Durkin. With an ample supply of coin and wardrobe, they made it to Argyle without incident. There, they hired two bodyguards and a wagon to get them to Camlin.

After a few days, the orc warband of the Snake Swallowers attacked. The bodyguards helped themselves to their gold, and fled. The orcs mercilessly slew the wagon driver, and took mother and daughter away as pleasure slaves of the tribe. Now, Mia is pregnant, and both are traumatized.

Lucy and Mavis assist the ladies with their most immediate needs, and all agree to help get them to Camlin. When Bjorn hears the names of the two bodyguards, he comments, "We'll have to track those guys down and kill 'em," which begets solemn nods throughout the group.

Mia, in a coherent moment, also remembers a gallant red-haired man, in a green cloak, atop a tall black horse, who she thought might rescue them recently. But he was far outnumbered, and wisely fled.

The next day, the party continues on towards Camlin.

Mia Frost, after cleanup

To Camlin!

Elizabeth Frost, after cleanup

We are now a party of 12 -- the six PCs, plus three sellswords, plus the man named Seven, and the two Ladies Frost.

Slowly at first, the party renews their trek to Camlin, leveraging Carrick's healing talents along the way. It is a glorious spring, game is plentiful, and the wildflowers sublime.

After five days of traveling and chatting together, Kozlov has developed a suspicion about the sellswords, while everyone has found the Ladies Frost delightful.

At the little tower marking the beginning of Camlin's domesticated territories, guards wave them along, despite Kozlov's insistence on bragging about the orc battle. That night, the party stays at a farm that rents rooms to travelers.

After midnight, Kozlov feeds Garn to the hogs.

By afternoon of the next day, the party (of 11 now) is queued up to enter the grand capital amidst countless beggars and other travelers and merchants. Elizabeth has explained that the first order of business is to find a fine inn with warm rose-petal baths, and a tailor, and some jewelry and makeup. She'll gladly reimburse Lucy after checking in with the banker, of course.

Seven and all four young women proceed to the Thistle and Crown, a luxury spa and hotel near the castle.

Bjorn, however, enters the first bar he spots, Travelers' Rest, just inside the gates, and the remaining sellswords accompany him for an afternoon of solemn beer drinking. For his part, Kozlov goes sniffing around the markets in the seediest part of town he can find.

Meanwhile, Bomber and Carrick ask directions to a blue-collar bar, and, after an hour of casual conversation with the assembled lugs and thugs, have a lead on both Charles Carmichael and the mercenaries who betrayed and abandoned Elizabeth and her daughter Mia.

Once the ladies have been appropriately scrubbed and plucked and coiffed and outfitted, they make their way to the bank, where Elizabeth is able to secure a disappointingly small portion of the gold she believes her ex-husband had deposited for her, and then to the mansion of her distant relatives, the Rothschilds, William and Stephanie. The reunion is sweet, but the previously wealthy Rothschilds have fallen on some hard times, with their investments foundering, and finery well-worn. To top it all off, their sweet young daughter Sasha has gone missing, with two soothsayers arriving at completely different conclusions concerning her whereabouts.

As the moon rises, Tarn and Farn stumble into an alleyway brothel, Mavis, Kozlov and Lucy go back to the Thistle and its thick down comforters and foot-rubbing attendants, and Carrick, Bjorn, and Bomber head to the Temple of Goodness and Light to ask about Charles. A kindly middle-aged priestess offers assistance, but the ambiance of benevolence is too much for Bomber to bear, and he exits. Bjorn and Carrick accept the offer of lodging, with the priestess promising to see if anyone remembers seeing Charles.

Violent Friends Adventure Club

Supreme Magistrate Octavian Arminius

The next morning, the party does some shopping and convenes at a popular beer garden to watch the FlowerFest proceedings and plot their next moves.

A few beers in, Lucy and Kozlov spot Octavian Arminius, Supreme Magistrate of Saint Germaine, proceeding up the wide street, accompanied by an entourage of assistants and thugs.

Kozlov launches an assassination plot on the spot, dons his foppish dandy outfit, and drags Mavis out into the street under a pretense of dancing with the passing musicians.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party, unaware of Kozlov's intentions, treks to the End of the Line, to deal with the knuckleheads who abandoned the ladies Frost. Along the way though, Lucy's intuition is to monitor Kozlov's mischievous proclivities, and circles back.

With an eversmoking bottle and incendiary dagger, Kozlov boards the magistrate's fine carriage, swipes at his blond attendant, and then drives the tip of the dagger into the older man's liver, where it erupts in flame. During the attack, the driver of the carriage whips the horses into a gallop, and the bugbear thugs ride up alongside to attack Kozlov.

Kozlov turns into a proto-goat as the bugbear's spear pierces his back, and he leaps out the opposite window to escape further needling. After narrowly dodging the other bugbear's assault, Kozlov scampers into the crowd, with Mavis struggling to keep up.

Minutes later, Lucy and Mavis emerge from a stable, leading what appears to be their pet goat, and head for the seedier part of town to regroup with the rest of party.

Meanwhile, a jocular blob of a drunk has kept Carrick, Bjorn, and Bomber entertained with jokes and clever tales, and it's only after they realize they've been drugged that the object of their quarry reveals himself.

Drazen West strides in from one of the various curtained hallways adjoining the underground tavern, flanked by a thugs and goons.

Bomber makes a show of parlaying, and then sucker punches the mob boss. Stunned, he staggers back, and Bomber strikes again, felling him. The gang of goons begins to react, but then, in a booming and disturbing voice, Bjorn orders them to stand down.

They do, but for one half-orc, who hurls a fine dagger into Bomber's ribs.

Carrick knocks the half-orc to the ground, and smashes his face with his mace.

Bomber sits on Drazen's chest and pounds his skull into jelly.

Mavis, Lucy, and their goat observe from nearby, knives at the ready.

The room falls silent.

Carrick, temper under control, and backed by Bomber and Bjorn, announces that he is taking over Drazen and Winston's enterprises and assets. Cowed by the vicious demolition of their thug leaders, the assembled goons pledge obedience, and the administrative minutia of the new arrangement are settled.

Over the next few hours, after washing their hands of sticky gore, the party informs the ladies Frost that they will be the beneficiaries of the takeover, with an understanding that an occasional commission or favor may become due.

While walking about, a greater show of guard security is evident, and Lucy is accosted at one point, her face and scarlet locks compared to a sheet of parchment, and then she's waved on.

The party interprets this as evidence that the Black Warrants are active and recognized in Camlin, and decides to leave town forthwith.

They trek south, acting on a lead they received early that morning from the priestesses, that Charles Carmichael may be seeking out a dragon in the Silver Range.

After 3 days of travel and an encounter with a grizzled merchant, Kozlov purchases what appears to be Chaz's stallion-- plus the merchant's coonskin cap.

The follow the horse's tracks into the pine forest in the foothills of the Silver Range, and a few miles in, come upon a bugbear tribal village.

The tribe reacts to the party with caution, but also confidence. From GM Notes:

See-ra is the priestess in charge. She is a handsome specimen, just over 6' tall, with muscular arms, powerful legs, a proud chest covered in silky fur, back-swooping pointed ears with tufts of blonde at their tips, a strong jaw covered in down, wearing nothing but a leather skirt and sandals.

"Have you come for your boy?" she asks.


Jinzur, purple dragon of the Silver Range

See-Ra asks again, "Have you come for your boy?"

The party replies in the affirmative, and the handsome priestess invites them to the fire for venison skewers, where she explains the warriors of the clan have all been eaten by a nearby dragon.

Charles Carmichael emerges from a hut, aided by a bugbear crone. The red-haired lad is in bad shape, missing an arm and limping, with a clod of melted hair among his flowing locks.

Carrick provides healing arts, while Lucy and Kozlov collaborate on fixing up the young man's hair while he tells his story. It seems that he met young Sasha Rothschild in Camlin and fell head over heels. Subsequently, she began blabbering about a dragon in the mountains, and he followed her eagerly to this very spot. The dragon didn't harm harm her, but chewed him up and tossed him off the mountain.

The party pledges to save her, and the next morning begins the trek, leaving Seven behind to mind the young lover.

A strenuous day hiking brings them to a tower of rock, an extinct volcano at the northern edge of the glacier-encrusted peaks of the Silver Range. Along the way they find evidence of various other climbers, and crows and buzzards scavenge nearby. Within the rocky cone, there is a deep blue lake, and an enormous cave.

The party finds crevices to shield them from the night's wind, and begins their assault in the morning, with Kozlov slipping away with his own plan of action in mind.

Standing outside the cave entrance in the morning sun, Lucy and Mavis decide to attempt a conversation, and step out. Sure enough, Sasha greets them, but soon falls into a monotone and says that her 'master' insists the party leave them alone. As it turns out, the dragon is called Jinzur, a female, and she's studying Sasha so as to better learn how to attract a mate.

Intrigued but grimacing at the idea of enraging the beast coiled in the darkness, the party retreats.

Just then, Kozlov, that rascal, pirouettes down from the upper lip of the cave, spinning gracefully, like a snowflake, down his 100' rope.

When his eyes adjust and the enormity and hideousness of the dragon become evident, Kozlov evolves into his proto-goat form, with backwards knees and a snout and horns. Fascinated, Jinzur, through Sasha, invites him forward.

Kozlov attempts to dispense wisdom on love, and claims that cheese is an important element. Jinzur's grapefruit sized nostrils snort when he produces the remaining clot of fermented goat cheese he has carried, unrefrigerated, for months.

Jinzur's scaly tongue unfurls like a multi-jointed reptile arm, and extracts the cheese from Kozlov's hands.

While she's enjoying the fermented gunk, Kozlov takes the opportunity to brush her tail with a doomfeather plucked from the remains of a fallen paladin in Drannor months earlier.

Shortly, the thousands of vultures, hawks, eagles, crows, ravens, sparrows, finches, and bushtits of the area convene on the cave, making a terrible racket.

Perplexed, Jinzur stomps towards the mouth of the cave, with Kozlov ceremoniously carrying the tip of her anaconda-like tail.

The bird army streaks towards the dragon's eyes, and she blasts away a third of them with a bolt of white-hot energy from her mouth. Feathers and charred little poultry nuggets rain down from a cloud of wispy white smoke.

But the remainder set upon her, creating a great annoyance and distraction, allowing the party to rush out, weapons bared, and join in the attack. Kozlov strikes first, and is rewarded with a devastating bite. But then Bomber and Carrick smash the great dragon's eyes into her skull, blinding and further enraging her.

Bjorn lays down deep and bloody slices into the drake's slithering neck, nearly ending her single-handedly. Bomber follows on, smashing the exposed meat with his iron fists.

Lucy fires an arrow before noticing Kozlov's terrible injury, whereupon she rushes in just in time with recently discovered healing salve, to wrench the rogue's life back from the darkness.

For her part, Mavis approaches with her staff, and manages to avoid being obliterated by the writhing beast before, with a great shudder, it falls.

Victorious again, the party collects Sasha (and the dragon's jewelry) and hikes back to rendezvous with Seven, Charles, and the bugbears, with Tarn and Farn tagging sheepishly along behind.

The group parts ways the next morning at the road; Seven will take Sasha and Charles back to Camlin (and eventually, Argyle). The party, wishing to avoid showing their faces in the capital again (after Kozlov's recent assassination attempt), will instead head west, for Lowenport, and then up the coast to Argyle to settle up with Krista Carmichael, collect the Heavenly Cleavage, and sail on to their next adventure.