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Fifty years have passed since Under The Dome, and, after numerous smaller explorations have resulted in tragedy and near-total loss, an enormous expedition to clear the wilderness of threats is about to be undertaken. A thousand soldiers and four massive war-wagons are being sent out, along with representatives of various houses and factions.

The party rides beneath the Castle Banner, one of several banners associated with one of the war wagons. Leaders of the Castle Banner group are:

  • Serreayan Kilendrial, an elven woman with a bow.
  • Hinnineah, a quiet goblin woman priestess.
  • Chekra, a Gerund spearwoman from a rich military family.


Castle Banner

Wolf Banner

What Happened


Verily, when I received documentation of my proper and appropriate duties from House Tashenda, I quivered with anticipation. An adventure! Leaving our fair though morbid city to capture new territory, stake a claim to riches in the wilderness, to further cement the name Tashenda in the epic history of our time! I could scarcely wait to depart, and arrived at the site at which our forces coalesced promptly, loyal retainers and talented (and ample-bosomed) assistants in tow.

Sadly, we did not depart forthwith, but rather, were expected to commence our great and honorable journey at first light. I naturally inquired as to whether I might retire to my mansion, where the brandy is strong and the featherbed simply heavenly. Alas, no, and so I spent my first night out-of-doors at the gates of the city amid the rough and tumble soldiers and their kind.

In the morning, as final preparations were made in the shadow of our majestic war wagons, all manner of merchants and buskers and hawkers approached, selling their various shabby wares. Knowing our journey to be long, and with the promise of weeks of turnips and oats, I immediately thought of bacon, and pork chops, and sausages, and ham, but especially bacon, and so, acquired a pig.

Thus followed a week of slow progress astride my dull-eyed horse as the towering war wagons lurched across the plains to the north with great difficulty. There was some talk among lesser nobles about the logistics of meal times, but it mattered not to me. While the food was of low quality, there was plenty of it.

Eventually we reached a place where an unfathomable quantity of construction materials was unloaded, and I overheard talk that a watchman's keep was to be built on the spot. We'd reached the horizon. The horizon! Beyond, our city would no longer be visible in the distant south. I was leading men into parts unknown! The thought of it quickened my pulse.

I became sick shortly thereafter, but, serendipitously, because of the space created by the transfer of construction materials and laborers, a modest cabin aboard one of the wagons became available, and, naturally, it was offered to me. I allowed two of my pikemen to ride my horses, and retired to the cabin with my lovely attendant. My mute and horrid bodyguard, recently bequeathed by the masters of the House, insisted on accompanying as well. So be it.

The sickness was unpleasant, and many were stricken ill. In fact, the entire convoy stopped for days, and medical tents were set up to treat the victims of the foul plague. Of course, my royal blood prevailed, and a single ministration by a Sister of Mercy cured me.

Eventually, the expedition pressed forward, and some days later, in sight of mighty mountains to the north, we reached a place in the low foothills and stopped at mid-day. Myself and some lesser nobles of other houses and factions were assembled and informed that the time of our glory was nigh -- we were to launch our own expedition under the Castle Banner (one of several cohorts associated with our war wagon).

Strangely, flying beasts fluttered in the sky -- very high above and difficult to see, though disconcerting nonetheless.

Scouts reported that there were three areas of potential interest ahead, each just a few miles away: two small villages, one with evidence of a fire, and some sort of hole in the earth, perhaps a cave or mine.

I was naturally inclined to forge a commercial relationship or trade agreement with the intact village, and/or bring men and resources to bear to develop the mine, for who knows what it may hold? Gold? Iron? Precious gems? I immediately offered to lead a group to the village to begin negotiations.

However, the lesser (and less bold) nobles insisted that yet more scouting was first required. While they argued logistics, I repaired to my cabin for a bottle of wine and warm meal with my attendant, whose singing voice pleases me to no end.

After dark, warm with wine and victuals, I returned to the group of lesser nobles to inquire what they'd discovered and decided. The scouts were just returning and submitted their reports in crisp and dutiful manner, which gave me confidence in their talents. Good servants are indeed invaluable!

Alas, what I'd hoped was a mine appeared to the scouts to be no more than a burrow or den of some unknown and dangerous digging beasts. Of little interest, but something that would have to be exterminated in the due course of conquering this territory.

Both villages sounded small and shabby, a small collection of huts. Though no men were spotted, one scout reported strange footprints, and hypothesized they were made by beasts with claws wearing simple sandals! Perhaps the flying beasts? I should not like to countenance such a monstrosity!

The lesser nobles began their debate about which site to visit first. I still posit that the intact village, primitive as it may be, holds the best chance for developing a trading partner (and hence profits and resources for House Tashenda), though I am somewhat sympathetic to the need to exterminate the burrowing beasts beforehand. I'll allow military thinkers to debate the minutia for now, and lead my men to valorous conquest in the morning.

First Blood

I am happy to report that the adventure has begun! Representing the House Tashenda under the Castle Banner, I led a contingent of knights, priests, wizards, scouts, and my own sturdy retainers out into the badlands in search of conquest and treasure. We trekked into the dusty hills, valiantly ignoring the ominous dust storm, despite the embers. Our destination: a primitive village some miles away, apparently damaged by fire and possibly taken over by savages, according to scouts.

The banner of House Tashenda unfurled upon a pike, and we marched directly to the village, arriving by early afternoon. I led our company approach strategically, from along a ridge line. The scorched hovels were surrounded by a derelict wall of mud and simple planks, so low as to provide no barrier to even a saddle horse such as my own, I reflected.

But I was not to test this theory, as savages popped up from behind the wall as we approached. Nay, not mere savages, but monstrous ghouls, hollow-eyed beasts with rending claws and dripping fangs! They hurled spears in our direction, and the knight Archon charged in to engage them. A dragon mage also sprinted into the fray courageously.

A clash of blades began, and man and beast howled in pain as flesh was pierced and first blood drawn! My valorous retainers and I pressed forward to engage, when suddenly, hundreds more ghouls, accompanied by towering demons, burst forth from hidden burrows in the high grasses, surrounding us!

A hot wind blew furiously as combat ensued, and losses were heavy on both sides. My pikeman bravely protected my flank as I flitted from foe to foe, piercing their foul skulls with my fine sword. My hideous orcish bodyguard Selinda, as unappealing a woman as I've ever laid eyes on, nevertheless proved her prowess in battle by my side.

A mere minute or so of skirmishing resulted in bodies, writhing or motionless, staining the grasses all around. And then, though things were looking grim for our company, the frightful foes withdrew. Only as we caught our breath and staunched the flow of blood from wounds did we learn that several men had been carried away, including a lesser noble, a dragon mage of the Tower Guild. House Tashenda suffered no losses, though, I am pleased and proud to report.

I perceived correctly that we had not won the battle, but that the enemy had simply withdrawn at a time convenient for them, or perhaps because they had captured enough prisoners. Some conjectured that the dragon mage was of particular interest to them.

Regardless, it seemed a suicidal folly to pursue, as we were certainly outnumbered and our strongest knight, Archon, clung to life by a thread.

And so I led an orderly return to camp, and brought along the decrepit corpse of one of the ghouls. At camp, the wounded were treated and notes compared with other expeditions. Serreayan Kilendrial and her group reported on exterminating some scaled burrowing dogs, horrid creatures, one of which they brought back for examination. Given my interest in and experience with matters of science, I took up that research with zeal, and produced anatomical drawings in my notebook.

All agreed that the world should be cleansed of the savage ghouls and their demon brothers, and so I assembled a larger force this time, and the next morning we returned to the site of the mayhem. Alas, the beasts had vacated the premises, which we searched thoroughly, above ground in the shoddy village (where we found an old map, and several books I shall have to study!), and below in the network of tunnels.

Signs were found of the captured dragon mage, who seemed to have been carried away alive, despite the butchery to which he had been subjected. A discussion began about a rescue mission, which many believed to be folly.

As the debate commenced, I looked about, and with my keen eye realized that, once the ghouls were gone and the world returned to a normal peace, the townsite would be useful for our House -- a good defensible vantage point along the ridge, not far from good water, and with evidence of fields all around. And so I claimed the site with a city token, causing a flash of magic portending future benefits for Cromwells and House Tashenda!

The knight Archon, as it turned out, was a blood relative of the mage, and felt strongly that the rescue should be attempted. Sensing an opportunity to forge an profitable alliance with the knights, I lent my voice to his, and a rescue party was soon formed.

I led the chase for a day, after which I concluded that our movement was simply to slow to catch up -- we had too many men, too many mouths to feed. And so I took a calculated risk, and sent most of the knights and my retainers back to camp. A group of mounted nobles, accompanied by stealthy scouts, hunters and trackers, moved much more quickly, and soon, we caught up!

Resources Abound

The last few days have been difficult, but well worth the trouble.

Tonight, we are guests of a tribe of noble savages called the SPECIESNAME. A tall, lissome, handsome people, they have dwelt amid the ruins of an old imperial mine, expanding and improving it over the years, all the while making beautiful textiles and dyes. I am proud to report that, on behalf of the House Tashenda, I am confident to have made arrangements (including the placement of a resource token) for a long-term business relationship; details to follow once terms are settled. Suffice it to say, our mission to expand our influence and profits through conquest and resource discovery is going quite well!

Days ago, when I thought our scouts had caught up with our colleague's abductors, I was mistaken, or rather, misled. The skirmish took place beyond a ridge and out of sight, but the scouts claim to have encountered a blue-skinned man suffering under the attacks of the hideous burrowing carnivores we saw and dissected back at the war wagons. Our scouts provided assistance and returned -- the blue man apparently escaped their interrogation.

And so our chase resumed, and debate ensued about how to hasten our pursuit. Eventually, Chekra, the second ugliest woman in our troop, sprinted afoot over the hills, to return days later with news! An astonishing display, I must admit.

We also encountered an tribe of hundreds of orcs astride gargantuan horned mounts. They charged at us, but we held firm, and they thought better of the attack. A lower-class goblin serving our troop played the role of translator, and we learned that the local name for the creatures who abducted our mage are called the havroc. The primitive orcs believed it folly to pursue, but the dumb brutes can hardly imagine the capabilities of a superior species such as ours, let alone the high-born among us!

We also encountered a herd of thick-furred, horned creatures (my sketch below!) roaming the hills. They might have overrun us but for our troops wise instinct to disperse among them, posing no threat. The beasts turned out to be quite tasty, especially given that we'd taken to skipping meals to hasten our pursuit.

Finally, we arrived at our current hosts. The initial reaction to our appearance was hostile, but I was able to deftly defuse the situation, and tonight we dined with the Elder as honored guests -- and future trading partners.

Valor, Outrage, Horror

Serreayan Kilendrial robbed me of my claim to the mine, and humiliated me in front of hundreds. I shan't forgive her for that, and will be on guard for any further political maneuvers. Her feminine charms are a dangerous distraction; she is a dangerous adversary. She made it clear to me that she owed me no favor and no apology, and I intend to explore litigation upon our return, as well as other remedies. I dare say the others of our group took note of her devious move, and will be on guard as well. She is not what she seems.

However! Balancing this humiliation is that fact that I gained the upper hand over Lord Akon of the House Reborn. In fair combat, no less! He had arrived at the mining village during breakfast with a small army, intending on its destruction and seizure. Because I was there first and had all but sealed the deal, I denied him the claim. He refused to respect my proper claim, and insulted me the process. When I could tolerate no further disrespect to me, the House Tashenda, and basic principles of negotiation and nobility, I had no choice but to challenge him.

The man was a giant, encased in steel armor, and yet, with quick footwork and agile thrusts, I found a gap and drew first blood. There were many witnesses to my valor and skill. He seems a treacherous brute, an animal really, and I predict we'll need to reinforce the point, but I look forward to getting the news back to the city. Noble power is a zero-sum game, and what we gain, another house loses. House Reborn lost this morning.

The subtle treachery of Serreayan notwithstanding, our party gathered supplies after the duel and continued along the trail left by the abductors of our hapless dragon-mage. We made our way over increasingly fertile hills, populated sparsely by strange and horrible herd animals, and eventually arrived at a mysterious pair of tusks, twice the height of a man, driven into the deeply into the ground to form a sort of archway. The tusks were adorned with glowing runes, meaningless to all of us. Conjecture and debate ensued, with a consensus emerging that this was a type of magical gate, a one-way gate to parts unknown, and, in fact, the tracks led between the tusks -- and then disappeared!

I was not eager to step through a one-way gate to parts unknown, and so, when discussion turned as to whether to explore the temple that was marked on our ragged map before stepping through the portal, I supported embarking for the mapped location, rather than the unfathomable.

We arrived at sunset, and it proved just in time, as an army of hostile little savages rushed over a hill at us! We naturally took refuge in the fortified structure, as we were vastly outnumbered.

That strategy has not turned out well, however. The temple is populated by the walking dead, and we have sustained serious casualties. Despite the injuries I have suffered, I helped perform surgery to try and save Vashti -- no friend of mine, but an able scout and warrior, useful in these hostile lands. Ironically, our saving grace may be the presence of the craven little goblin merchant, who has practiced dark magicks in my very presence and taken control of some of the creatures!


The party, engaged on a misbegotten quest to rescue a kidnapped colleague, is way out of bounds in terms of service to the city and instructions given by the military. Now, trapped between wicked undead minions and a horde of gobbling beasties, their fate is unknown, but grim.

Next session, we'll begin anew with a fresh party, sent out from the wagons with the same mission but different geographic vector.

Under the Banner of the Wolf

Rexar Trummel, Tenoch, Tybalt Bracher, Anja Devereaux, and Galen Krackenfire, under the leadership of the infamous Lord Akon of the House Reborn, have been exploring the badlands together from the war wagons for a month.

This day, Lord Akon sends them to clear savages from a green valley while he does the same with a larger force at a mine site.

Thinking of stealth and surprise, the party opts to leave most of their henchmen behind, and marches towards the valley for much of the day. Upon approaching, a loose plan is discussed, in which Tenoch and a handful of Mistwalkers will circle around to acquire an overwatch position, rushing in to attack upon witnessing Tybalt's explosive fireballs.

Alas, their stealth is insufficient, and the Mistwalkers are spotted by villagers, squat goblin-like beasts with spear and crossbows and iron armor. An alert is sounded, and the Mistwalkers retreat a safe distance away.

Galen, the tiny elf, is meanwhile urging de facto leader Tybalt to seek peace with the savages, rather than slaughter and mayhem. The hunched creatures emerge in group, apparently consisting of a chieftain, a shaman, and a contingent of warriors.

A language barrier is overcome with magic, and a wandering negotiation ensues. Eventually, the parties come to terms. The Empire will gain access to the cool fresh waters upstream of the village, and a swath of verdant valley for agriculture. In return, the village will receive various assistance, supplies, and protection from the Empire.

Tybalt claims the site for the Tower Guild, which leads to a heated discussion later with Galen of House Tashenda. A grudging compromise is eventually reached.

Back at the war wagons that night, Lord Akon returns and announces his outrage at the result of a challenge in the field from one Geoffrey Cromwell of House Tashenda, who apparently had bested him in a duel and was involved in a scheme to claim the mine prior to Akon's arrival. Akon wants Cromwell and his allies brought to justice, and gets and audience with a general to make his case.

In the end, he is left to gather volunteers for the task, and Tybalt, speaking for the (new) party, takes the bait -- in return for consideration of future resource claims.

The group is off at first light, accompanied by their full contingent of knights, rangers, axmen, armorers, apprentices, and other henchmen, including a fourteen foot tall treant.

They speak briefly with the feathered savages at the mine site, and then track the Cromwell party into the badlands. Hours later, marching in a light rain, scouts report that there is a site of a recent battle nearby, with scavengers approaching the dead. The party investigates, and finds two survivors, badly injured.

Galen begins a druidic incantation intended to heal an injured child, but instead summons a horror from another plane of existence. The child transforms and expands, its skin peeling off in sheets that become weird leaves, as roots emerge from her feet to burrow into the earth and black ichor oozes from her face. Rexar examines the blossoming terror for a moment, and then hews it in half with his halberd.

Now, the two halves bubble and grow, jettisoning pods into the air just as Tybalt sends one half ablaze with a fireball. More hacking and bashing is similarly ineffectual, and the dozens of pods, upon landing on the ground, dissolve into an oily mess.

Just a few moments pass before the oily stains give birth to countless cutting vines, which lash and slash wildly at everyone and everything, ripping through armor and whipping arches of blood in all directions.

The cutting vines begin grabbing anyone in range, and only with great effort does the group pull themselves free, bloody, battered, exhausted.

Some hours are spent bandaging, healing, resting, with Anja's skills and talents in great demand. The party camps in the rain, and then presses on, eventually reaching an abandoned temple....


In which the GM adjudicates the results of the original party's fate: Geoffrey Cromwell and the goblin called Knozz survived, and the rest apparently perished in the melee with the undead. However, both survivors were rendered unconscious from their injuries, and their whereabouts are unknown.