Our last session was certainly full of grim surprises. Play resumed with your party still standing in the hall of statues, smelling the seared flesh of your fallen companions, and contemplating the fabulous diamond that you had just won at so dear a price. Eager to convert the gem into spendable coinage and badly in need of new recruits to replace your lost numbers, you decided to take the two day journey back to Null's Harbor.
The journey passed without incident.
Back in town, the surviving members of the party spent the night drinking and relaxing at The Green Griffin and it was there that they made the acquaintance of several new adventurers who had also been drawn to the port town by rumors of possible treasures to be had in the Stony Brow Hills. The party's ranked were thus filled out with new meat. The following day, Thimble the Thief, Goram the Dwarf, Fizbon the Magic User, and Pipistrelles the Monk lost no time in selling the gem to Janzal the Jeweler, but were surprised when Janzal urged the group to keep their possession and sale of the diamond as secret as possible. The adventurers were puzzled by the merchant's emphatic desire for secrecy, but the mystery would soon be cleared up.
Back at the Green Griffin tavern, the rest of your party was relaxing and enjoying a leisurely breakfast of homemade biscuits and salted cod when they were approached in the tavern by one Rayas, an acolyte of the temple of Wee Jas. Rayas expressed a keen interest in knowing as much as possible about the Witchspyre Hill anomaly and even offered to pay for valuable information. Seeing an opportunity to make a little extra coin, Igmar Houndhaven lost little time in turning a tidy profit by selling Rayas the copy of "A Theory of Gateways and Inter-Planar Rifts" by Judge Ofic Gundap that you recovered from the mysterious tower atop the hill.
Not long after Rayas took his leave of you, those of you in the Griffin were approached by yet another figure, a wiry shifty young man who introduced himself as Max. Max claimed to represent a local organization dedicated to the protection of merchants and tradesmen from the predations of criminals and wrongdoers. For the small fee of five percent of all wealth recovered from the Hills, Max guaranteed that his organization could protect you from any unfortunate acts of violence or criminality that might otherwise befall you. Quickly inferring that you were in fact dealing with the local Thieves' Guild, you agreed to pay Max his tithe from your sale of Gundap's treatise, but were very glad to have kept the recovery of the diamond a secret. Slightly unnerved by the encounter with the Guild, your party decided to leave town that day and head back to Witchspyre Hill in the hopes of winning more wealth and riches.
The first day of your journey back to Witchspyre Hill passed without incident, but on the morning of your trip's second day, things began to turn ugly. You arose on the morning of May 2 to find the hilly terrain of eastern Gnut shrouded in a dense, virtually impenetrable fog. Pressing on and closely following the steadily rising road you discovered an ominous sign, an abandoned turnip cart, stained with blood and left on the side of the road. You did not have to wonder for long about the answer to this puzzle. About an hour later, the zombies attacked. With little warning, a gang of the mindless walking dead came lurching out of the mist and attacked. Fortunately, the party's cleric was able to call upon the benevolence of his mysterious deity and drive the horrid walking corpses with the sheer power of his faith. Shaken but undaunted, your party pressed on, climbing upward into the rugged and craggy Stony Brows, finally arriving at the foot of the Witchspyre just before nightfall. Needing rest, you decided to sleep atop the steep sided conical prominence, just beneath the shadow of the mysterious tower. The setting sun shone weakly through the mists, hanging like a drop of blood in the murky sky as you set up camp.
The night did not pass well.
Shortly before midnight, the moaning sounds of the walking dead arose from the cold fog that cloaked the rocky slopes below your campsite. This gave little warning and, almost before you knew it, the zombies were upon you, lurching into your ranks, mindlessly driven by their obscene and unholy lust for living flesh. Within moments, Fizbon the magic user was slain. He had barely sat upright in his bedroll when one of the fiends bit into his throat and tore out his jugular. Perhaps the hen-pecked mage finally met something more frightening than his wife. The party's hirelings, Dent Footknocker and Filthy Pete, fell next, cut down while they impotently fumbled for their weapons. Beric called upon the power of his mysterious and unknown god once again, but alas, this time the power of his faith was not enough to turn back the shambling figures lunging from out of the fog. At this point, some in the party began to retreat to the shelter of the tower itself while others, Augran (sp?) the Dwarf and Biter the Fighter girded themselves with their tools of war and turned their steely faces to confront the undead menace. Unfortunately, their bravery was not enough to carry the day, and moments later, the rest of the party watched their last two fighters vanish forever beneath a grasping and clutching wave of putrefied flesh. Alas, the groans of the zombies could not drown out their screams. The rest of the party thus closed the tower door on a scene whose description is probably best left to the imagination.
The rest of the party, now consisting of Igmar Houndhaven the Magic User, Beric the Cleric, Thimble the Thief, and Pipistrelles the Monk spent a nervous night barricaded within the mysterious tower, keeping one eye on the outside door and the other on the stairway leading to the monster haunted under-realms below. Shortly after dawn, they nervously peered out of the tower, expecting the worst, but finding instead that the zombies had withdrawn, perhaps lured elsewhere by other, less fortunate prey. Lacking fighters, the most prudent course of action was to try and return to Null's Harbor and recruit more muscle. The journey back passed without more combat, but the distant moans of the walking dead occasionally met your ears as it drifted wraith-like through the dense, miasmic fog that still blanketed Northern Thrang.
When you arrived at the town gates on the evening of May 5, you learned from the guardsmen that Gnut had indeed been the victim of a zombie outbreak. While the walking dead often do wander from out of the Wargwood Forest to the north, occasionally they come in far greater numbers than usual. The last three days had witnessed just such an onslaught. Nevertheless, they reassured you that this outbreak was deemed minor by the kingdom's inhabitants and that King Haldric had swiftly ordered troops to quell the menace. The situation was supposedly already well in hand.
Once in town, the party decided to lay low and struck out for Sorrowside, the town's westernmost neighborhood frequented by adventurers, mercenaries, and other miscreants. You arranged lodging at Thumbless Jack's, a rowdy but friendly tavern, and put out the word that you were seeking swords for hire. The evening passed without incident for most of the party with the exception of Igmar and Beric who decided to hit the town and spend some of their newly acquired loot on wenching. This led to mixed results at best. On the morning of May 6, Beric awoke stark naked and penniless in the temple of Father Dagon, a sea god of sorts worshipped mostly by fishermen and sailors throughout the Thrangian Kingdoms. Apparently, deep in his cups and unaware of what he was doing, Beric generously donated all of his wealth and worldly possessions to temple. Frantic negotiations with the chief cleric of the place failed to rectify the situation and Beric was forced to return to Jack's Place to rejoin his comrades and nurse his hangover. Hopefully, he now has the favor of Father Dagon. Meanwhile, Igmar awoke as a prisoner, locked in a cell, in one of the western guard towers. He learned that, in a drunkenly belligerent state, he had argued with the watch over some trivial matter and had even attempted to ensorcel a guardsman. Needless to say, this was mightily frowned upon and the guard promptly clapped him in irons. Fortunately, the town watch is used to such shenanigans, especially in Sorrowside, and the rest of the party was able to secure his release with some smooth talking and the payment of fifty gold pieces to the officer on duty.
Back at Thumbless Jack's, the party secured the services of two new henchmen, Steng from Goat's Alley, a drunken, shifty eyed fellow with a horribly burned visage and Doobin Bungbolt, a strapping brute missing his two front teeth. Deeming it best to wait for the zombie outbreak to fully subside but still thirsting for adventure, the party decided to tentatively explore the ruins of Leng's Tower, an abandoned ruin in the town's burnt patch. Not much exploration was done, however. You descended to the entrance room of the tunnels below the tower looked around and decided to hold temporarily. This is where we left off. All in all, I thought it was a fun, if somewhat blood soaked, evening.
225 experience points each go to Igmar, Beric, Thimble, and Pipistrelles
"Common, standard hirelings are basically the usual craftsmen or laborers taken on by lower level player characters...In general the various occupations represented here are common to most settlements of village-size and above, although each and every village will not be likely to furnish each and every sort of common hireling." (ad&d "Dungeon Master's Guide", 1979) p. 28.
A careful (and at times even overly analytic) exploration of the traditions of "old school" fantasy roleplaying by two former d&d apostates who have recently returned to the game's roots. All advice and any suggestion is welcome.
Expect a particular focus on the retro-clone of OD&D, Swords & Wizardry as well as the occasional session recap from ongoing games. In our games we steal unabashedly from the great OD&D blogs linked to below.