Chronicles of the Grim Fist, part II

The names are almost all Frankish roots. I have a list of a few hundred male and female Frankish names from which the players choose, and from which I draw NPCs; and I also allow remixing root and suffix to get a particular mix (Vulfelind was modified from Vulfegrunde and -lind/-linde, for example).

Of course, in play things sometimes get shortened to “clod,” “vulf,” “gal,” and “shad.” I try to not stomp too hard on their necks regarding theme and feel of the setting.

Some example male: Abbo, Abelard, Adalbert, Adaldag, Adalhard, Adelard, Adhémar, Aega, Ageric, Agilbert, Agiulf, Agobard, Aigulf, Alaric, Alberic, Aldgisl, Aleaume, Allowin, Amalaric, Amalricus, Amand, Amator, Amiel, Amils, etc.

Some example female: Aaliz, Adaliz, Adallinda, Adaltrude, Adelheid, Adeline, Aelis, Aicelina, Aiglante, Alais, Alazaïs, Albofleda, Alesta, Algaia, Alissende, Aliz, Allemande, Alpaida, Alpais, Amalasuntha, Amalone, Ameline, Andreva, etc.

Session 14
Day 16 and 17
Most of day 16, Vulfelind spends in recovery, and then heals all around.

The following day, the party heads back down, armed for bear, and discover that a few undead have already moved back in. The party re-clears the room, loots, destroys, blesses, burns … and then checks for secret doors, destroys, blesses, burns, and then piles everything in the middle of the room and blesses and burns it all one more time to be sure.

Among other things, they find scrolls of ward vs. undead, potions of undead control, Chaotic holy symbols, the altar itself, and other gear implying a necromancer … but all of it looks old and covered in dust.

The three mummies turn out to have been wielding matching, silver-edged scimitars +1 (two-handed swords) and chain mail +2; and two magical shortswords of unknown providence are found. After some squicky mummy-stripping, these are piled into the party hoard and split up.

They also find a pair of magical lenses which are unidentified (stored carefully and not tried), a ring of fire resistance, a covered mirror (they leave it covered), and a treasure map that seems to imply a secondary dungeon near the dwarven keep.

Day 18
After resting up, they tackle the secondary dungeon with full crew. Following the instructions on the map, they find a secret door in the side of the mountain which leads down a straight, diagonal path to the heart of the mountain (pyramid-style), full of traps.

The thieves earn their share of the XP, for certain.

After carefully disabling an unmentionable number of traps, they come into a large, hemispherical chamber with a lake of magma. Pillars of stone rise 10-30’ out of the magma, and in the center of the lake, a small round tower squats on a wider-than-normal pillar of stone.

This is all they have time to take in before the trap they missed goes off: an immense slab of rock falls into place, sealing the exit, and four tiger-shaped golems of petrified sap begin jumping from pillar to pillar toward the party.

Galswintha and one of her henches possess web, and they - with careful timing, manage to catch three of the amber golems mid-leap. The webs catch fire immediately … exactly as Galswintha intended. Those golems will be stuck for two rounds, then be free to fall straight down into the magma.

The remaining golem arrives alone, and promptly takes a severe thrashing from the party. It tears into Chlodomer for a round, and is then shoved backward into the lake of fire.

At about that time, the other three fall into magma themselves. Amazingly, they begin swimming out … so Galswintha and Gurund web them all in place for another two rounds in the magma. Meanwhile, closer to home, the polearm wielders all have a go at shoving the amber golem back in.

In all, what was intended as a terrifying encounter turns into a game of pushing the golem back into the fire. With the webs gone, the final three golems finally make it to the party as the first one expires, and are summarily beaten down from what few hit points they had left.

They begin slowly making their way across the lake of fire. Vulfelind gets curious about the “splashing” sounds as they land on a pillar, and dares to climb down for a lower point of view … and spots a lignemaid, staring curiously at the humans from behind the pillar. The lignemaid spots Vulfelind spotting her, looks surprised, and dives under the magma. With the same splashing sound.

Lignemaid are designed as mermaids/mermen, but with the ability to spit a glob of magma and immunity to fire damage. They are also said to be enchanting singers and avid wrestlers, and their kiss is said to bestow temporary fire resistance. Of course, that assumes they don't just grapple you and drag you under.

They start jumping very cautiously.

At the small roundtower, there is no door, but there is a massive, bronze golem set into the wall. As they near, it looks down at them, but takes no action. They creep closer. It looks down again, but takes no action.

They creep closer. A magic mouth appears, and gives a message in dwarf which no one gets. And then the golem steps out of the wall and lifts a tree-trunk-sized bronze mace to attack.

Shadagrunde whips out a scroll and casts dispel evil, and the golem’s center shatters, spraying molten metal outward, and burning the slower members of the party.

The hole left by the golem is effectively a door, and the party troops into the tower.

… which (aside from a substantial library written in dwarf, long-since-rotting spell components and laboratory liquids, and what looks like a partially-carved sculpture of white marble) is mostly empty. The party whips out the treasure map again and glares at it, but it provides no further information.

Vulfelind, clever girl, looks at all of the magma around the place … and puts her torch under the map. As it browns, more words show through!

“Among the maids, beneath the flame, ask the way, hope they’re tame.”
“When bronze steps forth, speak ‘galanato mor amas’ and pass.”
“To gold and flame, an offering of same, ends the hunt and stills the game.”
“A golden ring, a demon bound, ‘pax amas’ does sting, beneath the ground.”

Chlodomer stomps out of the room and leans over the edge of the vast stone pillar, catching a lignemaid by surprise … and smiling gently at her, “I hope you speak Frankish?”

She dives under the lava, then peeks shyly out a few rounds later … along with five others.

Shadagrunde decides it’s time for tongues and has a conversation with the lignemaids. Then he sighs and turns to Chlodomer, “They’ll take you to the door beneath the magma. They say they’re scared of taking too many people who might attack them.”

The party argues: everyone except Chlodomer is pretty sure it’s a trap. They argue long enough that Shadagrunde’s time almost runs out, and he finally has Chlodomer decide, then communicates to the lignemaids that Chlodomer is willing.

Chlodomer hands his prized shield and sword to Haramer to keep safe for the party, and climbs down, then he and one of the lignemaids disappears beneath the magma.

After an hour, lignemaids begin lifting up mithril chests sealed with dwarven runes to the party. Twenty six chests in all … and then Chlodomer’s head bobs up, and he explains that he’s been challenged to a duel by one of the lignemen fighters, and they won’t let him out until it’s done, but that should be by morning.

“And by then, maybe Shadagrunde can communicate with them again and get the details?”

Then he disappears back beneath the lava.

The party shrugs and starts pawing through the chests … and find a golden ring with a single dwarven rune.

Session 15
Day 19
The party camps in the tower.

At midnight, a ghostly dwarf briefly appears, says something in dwarvish (which Galswintha writes down phonetically), then disappears.

At dawn, no lignemaids appear. Vulfelind asks “Are we waiting to see if he lived, or if human goes best with red or white wine?”

A lignemaid finally shows up, and explains to Shadagrunde that Chlodomer decided to stay with them “for obvious reasons,” then tries to invite another party member to come down to talk to Chlodomer.

Upon translation, Vulfelind snorts, “He’s so dead. She wants another free meal; Shad, translate?”

The lignemaid knows what the two figs gesture means, though, and spits a globule of magma, just missing. More lignemaids and lignemen pop up from the depths of the lava to fight … and Galswintha drops the whole batch with a sleep spell.

Polearms are engaged to haul lignemen out of the magma. Shadagrunde questions the lignemaid, then demands she bring Chlodomer to the surface, “And if he’s dead, bring the corpse and his clothes. He would want a proper funeral, and we can use his body … or the bodies of your sleeping friends there.”

She returns with his skeleton and clothing, and Shadagrunde honors the implied bargain, but gives the lignemen a meaningful glare as they leave.

With no amber golems breathing down their necks, Vulfelind and Grizzba manage to find the mechanism for operating the trap stone and trigger it. It opens, they breathe fresh air for the first time in a day, and march to the surface. Calculations are done regarding restoration … and then the party heads out for Orléans.

Days 20 and 21, Week 4
There are no notable encounters on the way back.

Chlodomer is restored … but the body warps slightly in the casting, and Chlodomer discovers that his shins and feet are the white-maned, silvery hooves of a unicorn (-4 on human reactions, but grant a 1d8 kick attack with no STR bonus). That doesn’t matter too much at the moment, however, because he needs an entire month of bed rest.

(OOC: He refuses to explain how he died, and gets a lot of ribbing for letting his libido lead him into the lava.)

Shadagrunde gets all of the unidentified items identified. The eyes of petrification are given to the higher members of the Church to dispose of; the mirror of life trapping and ring of efreeti calling he retains for the party … which the head priest isn’t too happy about, for some reason.

After a long discussion (a long discussion), the party decides on a course of action regarding the efreeti.

Galswintha puts on the ring and says “pax amas” … and at first, nothing happens. Then the air and ground vibrate faintly and a wall of fire springs up around Galswintha, searing her slightly and roaring with heat. She holds the ring up again, “PAX AMAS! PAX AMAS! PAX AMAS!”

The fires die down, and a ten-foot, demonic-looking humanoid appears where the flames were, kneeling, “As you wish, mistress.”

The barely concealed malice in his eyes says otherwise, however.

What followed was a conversation between Galswintha and the Efreet. The GM tried to maintain a kind of mystical, arabian aura. Chlodomer took dialogue notes (his character’s convalescence gave him little else to do). Below is a slight rewrite with the highlights of the conversation:

Galswintha holds the ring in front of the efreet, "What do I call you?" "Pax, if you call me anything." "I am told you don't like wishes." "I do not." "I am told that you don't like to serve." "Not humans, no." "But the ring compels you?" "A deal was struck." "For 101 days?" "It is so." "Will you serve me with loyalty?" "You are a human." "Does that mean no?" "It is so." "Then your service is worthless." "You insult me!" "What is your service worth then? Tell me." "Kings would kill for my service!" "Smart kings don't like to be stabbed in the back." "I could tear out that tongue and use it as a dagger!" "I could hire an imp, and get the same service with less noise!" "... ARE YOU MAD? I AM THE MAJESTIC EFREET!" "YOU ARE AN UNFAITHFUL WHINER WHO CAN'T BE TRUSTED TO STEP AND FETCH!" "..."

As the efreet gathered his thoughts, Galswintha presses on, “If I could be safely rid of you, I would in an instant. Whoever struck a deal with you was a fool.”

The efreet bowed low, and this time it seemed almost authentic, “Forgive me. I cannot break my word, or I would leave. And I cannot give my word lightly, for I will answer for it when I return home.”

“I do not give my word lightly either.” (GM note: this is not really true; Galswintha pinky swears at the drop of a hat - it would have been more true to say that she keeps her word religiously.)

“Humans … humans break their word. They are unworthy masters. A wish … is an act of giving the word of my brethren by proxy, and they are even less worthy of that.”

“What if … I used the first wish to cast quest on the two of us: to not break our word until your service to me was completed?”

“… I would want to see the wording of that wish.”

A bit later, the wording hammered out to the satisfaction of all parties, the efreet and the enchantress trade oaths of temporary fealty.

Her second wish is to heal all calamities suffered by the Grim Fist, including henchmen and hirelings.

In two specific cases, the GM makes a special ruling: the effects of tampering with mortality cannot be annulled with a wish, but they can be altered (call it the “fairy godmother rule”).

Vulfelind still glows like a beacon to the undead, but gains the ability to turn undead as a cleric of her level.

Chlodomer retains his white-furred hooves, but they gain an aura of respectability, eliminating the reaction penalty.

She keeps the third wish in reserve, and then, “Well, since we’re in Orléans, we should take a day or two to shop, right?” and promptly sets out to dress the efreet in clothing fit to be seen near her.

Month 12, Week 1
Galswintha shopped, and has her henchwoman Deuteria study dispel magic.

Vulfelind partied.

Chlodomer gets his armor and clothing adjusted … and buys fitted silvered horseshoes.

Shadagrunde consults with the mirror of life trapping to determine who is trapped in it:

  • A greek-speaking nymph.
  • Two dwarves who babble incomprehensibly in dwarven and look like brothers.
  • One dwarf who tries several languages, of which dwarven and greek are recognizable.
  • A stunningly good-looking man who claims to be a prince in Frankish ... but whose grasp of political geography is at best sketchy.

Shadagrunde dutifully takes notes on all of them, including appearance and mannerisms, and finds and hires a sage to research their true identities … and pays the sage for a year of research up front (“If you find the information sooner, think of it as a patronage for the remainder of the year”).

Week 2
The party treks back to Pegasus Mountain, and largely avoids encounters, with the exception of an organized force of unknown providence:

A brown-eyed woman (dressed in an Assyrian-style burqa of black silk, gold lace and thread, and jet cuffs and buttons; armed with obviously magical khopesh and shield; and riding a jet black heavy warhorse) with two lieutenants (a slender elf-blooded gentleman of dryadic mien and somber black robes; and a substantially larger woman dressed in a similar burqa, and armed with a great, two-handed khopesh) and a small army as a retinue.

Shadagrunde takes notes on the woman’s standard for later research:

ovalis: Sable, a serpent voided nowed sinister Argent wearing a crown Or, within a double tressure Or. Chief: Falcon sinister Or, perched on the double tressure with wings addorsed and elevated. Base: Motto, "IO KATHAROS".

In english: A solid black, oval-shaped shield, with two thin, golden lines forming an inset border around the edge. Perched on top of the outer golden line is a gold-colored falcon facing right with its wings spread up as if to take flight. Inside the border is a white outline of a knotted serpent with its head facing right and wearing a crown. At the bottom of the shield is a motto scroll with the phrase “IO KATHAROS” written on it.

The two armies regard one another briefly, the woman touching the hilt of her sword and staring at Chlodomer … then the woman speaks with a voice like honeyed cream, “Aella Sappheiros. You are franks?”

The party introduces themselves, then Chlodomer asks Aella what kingdom she is from … and it turns out to be Iamanu (although she pronounces it “Ionia, known as Iamanu in the new world”) - a mythical country of a distant past age, said to have fought against the dwarves (and lost!), and to be ruled by a dragon.

Shadagrunde consults his copied maps of the dwarven territories, determines that she was coming from the south … and the claim suddenly seems more plausible.

However, she will not say why she is heading north, any more than the Grim Fist will say why they are heading west, although she does say “I would tell you, but even among the Lawful, evil seeds can take root, and I would avoid endangering you with information you do not need.”

In all, no one hates each other, and the two armies eventually go their separate ways, after Shadagrunde updates his maps with a description of where Iamanu is currently located.

Day 15
The party confirms that the crypt is still quiescent, and pushes on, only to discover more undead, although not as bad as those near the Chaotic altar.

They begin to suspect that the Chaotic altar was built on a natural sinkhole of evil, and regroup at the giant’s lair to discuss.

As evening falls, however, something else acquires their attention: the black-clad lady and her retinue have arrived at the base of the mountain and are working their way up.

Amazing stuff! What's the average level of the group now, after 15 sessions?

6.25. Leveling slowed to a crawl, because:

  1. Party priorities have not focused on the XP-laden stuff recently. Hiring henchmen, shopping, and mapping do not, in and of themselves, given anything.

  2. They have 16.75 XP shares to divide all credit between. That means I can throw bigger threats at them, but it also means fights take longer, so the XP per session has slowed significantly. Chlodomer is to blame for that, I think ;-).

  3. They’ve been getting really good at dodging wilderness encounters. So the XP per month has also slowed down. This is also partly because I didn’t make the encounters-per-hex dense enough, and they’ve figured out a good route for minimal encounters. I’m working on fixing that in a “natural-seeming” way, though :-).

  4. I haven’t been crediting them with parley XP. That one is my fault: I’ve been combing through the campaign journal to get a list of monsters they “defeated” by non-combat means, so I can give them a bonus in the next session. My rough estimate is that this will bring the average up to 7.

Session 16
This summary was written by Vulfelind’s player and (lightly) edited by the Judge.

My name is Vulfelind de Saubruic, and I am a practical woman. I am keeping this journal because when I am famous, there will be those who will desire to know: how can I be like her?

Answer: Be practical. Kick a LOT of butt. And buy this journal (only 100 gold! a steal!).

(OOC: C. asked us if one of us would write a session summary. He didn’t EXACTLY stare at me when he asked, but P. keeps the field cyclopedia, Q. keeps the accounting details and E. keeps the NPC details and I usually just sit like a bump on a log, so I said I’d do it. I’m not the best writer, I kind of write like I talk, but hopefully it gets the story across. Reading back through it, I re-arranged it a bit to be in chronological order, and C. said he’d edit it for accuracy, so there you go. Hope you enjoy.)

Vulfelind’s Journal: Day 15 of Month 12
WOMAN IN BLACK arrived this evening, and we offered to help set up camp.

She found this suspicious (smart!), but Gal has been insisting on nothing but the best rations for our army for months, so as soon as the bacon, pickles, waybread, cheeses, and wines got broken out, everything was smiles.

Damn right, Grim Fist brings the party.

Chlod plays nice-nice for a while and finally asks WOMAN IN BLACK what she’s doing here. REALLY LONG BORING STORY.

Shad likes to keep copious notes, this whole long, detailed story made him super-happy, and if you need the details, I’m sure you can get a copy of his journal from a nearby library as well.

Here are my more practical notes: The chaos altar we destroyed had a spell that hid a mirror. Mirror is ANCIENT EVIL, Iamanu sensed it, sent WOMAN IN BLACK to look for it.

(Note: ANCIENT EVIL is dark-haired male model in the mirror, actually a Chaos Dragon.)

Hahaha, oops.

Anyway, WOMAN IN BLACK’s been straight with us, didn’t sneak us, blah blah blah, so Shad spills the beans.

Small Problem: There are other people in the mirror, and it’s not possible to free them without breaking the mirror. Breaking the mirror will release ANCIENT EVIL.

(Gal says, “We’ll see about that,” under her breath, because she’s a god among mages, and mages get real competitive when you tell them it can’t be done.)

Second Problem: We’re still not entirely certain we can trust WOMAN IN BLACK with mirror.

But. We trust WOMAN IN BLACK, sort of, she trusts us, sort of. So everyone camps, but extra watches in case sneaking occurs.

Griz and I occur some sneaking and eavesdropping :-).

Bottom line: We can probably trust her. She has a discussion with her lieutenants. She’s worried about us, but relieved that the mirror isn’t in the hands of someone worse. Yeah, thanks, lady - I was gonna talk the others into giving you the mirror, now I’m gonna make Chlod sweet-talk some cash out of you first.

Vulfelind’s Journal: Morning of Day 16 of Months 12
Pre-dawn watch. Got antsy (NOTE: this was not the most practical thing, but sometimes you have to listen to your inner impulse gnome to get things done), snuck back into WOMAN IN BLACK’s camp, just to poke around, and got caught.

I really need to find one of those invisibility rings.

Anyway, that’s not important: I talked my way out of it, pointed out that I had already been through half the camp and hadn’t stolen anything and wasn’t going to, and we had good reason to be suspicious. WOMAN IN BLACK just sighed and agreed that we did, but that she couldn’t let the mirror go, blah blah blah.

Anyway, like I said: not important.

What was important: WOMAN IN BLACK has xxx SNAKES for her xxx HAIR.

I didn’t let on that I’d seen, but I high-tailed it back to camp and discussed it with Gal. She nodded like she’d known all along (hint: she didn’t). Then we broke it to Shad and Chlod.

They lost it.

Okay: yes, she’s a medusa. She hasn’t stoned anyone - she probably wears that getup so she doesn’t accidentally do someone in. She seems nice enough. And we did the whole detect evil intentions thing and it didn’t even squeak. And c’mon, we have a Lawful goblin working for us. Can we have a LITTLE less prejudice, maybe?

Look, I’ll be the first to say that some types of creature or humanoid, you gotta assume they’ll gank you on sight. You gotta be cautious. But if they’re willing to talk, talk. You might find a Grizzba or Baldaswind or an ogre with a heart of gold who just wants to be a pastry chef.

Anyway, lots of drama. No practical purpose. And what do we do in the end? Exactly what I was suggesting at the beginning: We talk to WOMAN IN BLACK about it. Well, Chlod does. I’m the practical one; he’s the pretty one.

He lets her know the gig is up. She just looks sad, and nods and looks away, “Yes, I am one of the cursed.”


After that, everything is smiles. Well, except that I had to work hard to get Chlod to get cash out of her for the mirror - her sad little cursed girl in the wilderness thing, he forgot she’s a highly capable warrior sent out on quest by Iamanu with a small army at her back.

I mean, her kingdom’s paying HER for the quest WE just basically finished for her. And if it wasn’t for us, they wouldn’t have even known the quest needed doing.

Say what you want about my motivations, but first pass the cash.

Actually, we get two things:

  1. Cash (50K, yum).

  2. An offer of vassalage if we finish clearing the mountain, since Iamanu technically owns this region, but isn’t doing anything with it.

Technically, that translates to “won’t kick us out.” But it’s STILL better than the half-baked ideas we were floating to keep Orléans or Atanung from taking the mountain from us once we do all the hard work of clearing it out.

So I count it as a win.

Vulfelind’s Journal: Afternoon of Day 16 of Months 12
After WOMAN IN BLACK left with the mirror, with renewed vigor: we attacked the ancient dwarven citadel of ancient dwarven doom.

We found two interesting things:

  1. We found a second Altar of Chaos. It has mummies, too (imagine dance of joy here).

  2. We found a mass grave - a cave-in with dwarf corpses all through.

Shad’s map and notes imply, short version, that there are THREE altars forming a ring around the mass grave. Near the center? Pit of hell. Corbus only wishes he could build a dungeon like this.

Geometrycally speaking, though, the map also gave us a new plan. An awesome plan. A kind of evil plan.

What I would call… a practical plan.

We cut a deal with the magma mermaids who thought Chlod was so tasty:

  1. We won’t use our efreet to redirect a river into their home.

  2. They provide us with the ability to work in the magma for the next little while, so we can dig a twelve-foot tunnel down to right on top of the third altar.

Hahahaha, oops. Was that YOUR altar?

Vulfelind’s Journal: Weeks 3-4 of Month 12
The hole ended up being 15 feet, and 10-foot-square. Shad’s map was pretty good, but not perfect.

Most of us had to stand guard, which wasn’t efficient, but, you know, MAGMA MERMAIDS WHO LIKE TO EAT PEOPLE.

The mummies probably heard the noise through the rock all week and wondered what it was before thousands of gallson of steaming magma suddenly started pouring down on their heads. And then we come swimming through it, cutting them into bits.

It was, and I say this most humbly, our most glorious battle to date.

Of course, we missed some things:

  1. The lava didn’t stop just because the fight was done.

  2. We didn’t actually work out how much of the complex was going to get magma-filled.

  3. The undead horde at the SECOND altar heard the noise and came running, AFTER the lava had slowed to trickle speed, at which point we were at a significant disadvantage. There were a lot of Heal throws after that.

Still: Winner writes history, so I am writing this down: Huge success.

Then we’re all about the grab grab grab, break the altars, grab grab grab, retreat.

Then we mourned the loss of the keep - most of the interior will be under lava or rock by the end of the day.

We do have one last chat with the magma people: basically, we promised to not drop a river on them, and we’ll keep that promise. But we’re GOING to rule this mountain in the near future, which will only be a problem if the magma people MAKE it a problem.

They agree that they really don’t want to make it a problem for us.

Everything is smiles, just in time for the New Year!

Vulfelind’s Journal: Month 1 of Year 2
We make one quick sweep of the few portions of the keep that remain above lava. Gal breaks out the REALLY nice food and we have a small party.

And then we talk to the giantesses, and specifically to Clothilde - the one who trains the bears and seems to make the major decisions for them. We want them to stay. They’re worried they won’t have a way to fit in (and they don’t want to be warriors).

Gal points out what we missed: they are fantastic architects and stone workers. So non-combat work will SO not be a problem. She went on a bit of a rant about it, actually.

We also got some intel on the rest of the mountain:

Probable lairs: Clothilde and friends, family of cave bears (NOT friendly to the giants), band of white apes (NOT friendly to anyone at all), a whole mess of giant rattlesnakes, and the pegasus nest way up the cliffside Gal’s been obsessing over.

That settled: we set out for Orléans to re-equip and level.

Session End - Vulfelind’s section ends here
Party notes for the curious: Almost everyone leveled, especially after the “parley XP.”

  • Chlodomer d'Antioch - fighter 7
    • Galagunde d'Orléans - illusionist 5
      • Eldremer the Bold - familiar
      • Agalinda d'Orléans - illusionist 3
        • Boromer the Brown - familiar
    • Amarante le Certaine - mage 5
      • Leoncito - familiar
    • Haramer d'Orléans - fighter 5
      • four squads, each with four fighter-2 soldiers and a fighter-4 leader.
  • Adela d'Orléans - fighter 5
  • Genofeva de Paris - fighter 5
  • Thorismund du Châtel - fighter 6
  • Ingunde du Châtel - fighter 6
    • Louis d'Orléans - fighter 4
  • Galswintha d'Antioch - mage 6
    • Petite - familiar
    • Gurund d'Orléans - mage 5
      • Geofferic d'Orléans - fighter 4
    • Deuteria du Châtel - mage 5
    • Merovia d'Orléans - mage 5
  • Vulfelind de Saubruic - thief 7
    • Grizzba the Goblin - thief 6
      • Grace d'Antioch - thief 5
    • Veneranda le Vulin - cleric 6
      • Shadow - war dog 4
      • Silver - war dog 4
      • Sable - war dog 4
      • Fierce on the Wind - giant hawk 4
    • Baldaswind de Calais - weretiger 6
      • Garal - tiger 6
      • Salha - tiger 6
    • Almalinda d'Orléans - fighter 5
  • Shadagrunde d'Atanung - cleric 7
    • Merideth le Chocolat - cleric 5
    • Grimaric d'Orléans - cleric 5
    • Aggulita the Goblin - cleric 5
      • Gore - dire wolf 4
  • I’ve enjoyed these recountings so immensely. Thank your player for writing that last one, as well. A few questions and an observation:

    1. How do you find combats working out for you with so many? They getting clunky at all?
    2. Do you use a battlemat? Miniatures? If you run these huge combats theater of the mind, any tips on not getting the fictional positioning of the tens of combatants confused?

    Observation: My players are so greedy compared to yours. They don’t like to hire henchmen at all, because they feel like Henchmen are stealing all their precious XP. Hilarious, truly, when compared to what your players have established. I should direct them to this thread (and the previous!) for an example on How To Get Things Done. Your players + party are starting to look like Achilles & His Myrmidons or Jason + Argonauts. They’re truly a party of heroes. There are quite a few armies that could attack the peak your heroes defend and die trying. Your swarm of Ftr4+ alone can decimate front lines via cleaving.

    1. The combats are getting a bit clunky. Sometimes we just assume average results, or throw a fistful of d20s for the lower-level henches to see who hit. However, ACKS overall doesn’t require much - unless a special maneuver is involved, 1d20+1d6 is most of a character’s round of combat. The main bugaboo is making sure everyone keeps track of their stats: Chlodomer has trouble keeping his hench attack modifiers straight, and Galswintha, her hench spell lists.

    Still, we manage, and we’re getting better at it. Last week, I remembered a trick I used to do back when I was playing regularly, and had everyone put the most commonly-used stats for each hench on an index card. If they need a stat that they didn’t have, they write it in on the back. At the end of the game session, we re-do the index cards to match an XP upgrades.

    1. Theater of the mind, with the occasional sketched diagram. For fictional positioning, the best advice I can give is “have defaults.” All of Chlodomer’s henches default to as close to him as they can be, without being in front; with Haramer and his sub-hench army flanking; and the spellcasters tucked behind Haramer. When one of them does something different, then, I can write a short note on that character’s Initiative list entry (Thorismund is sometimes “front of Chlodomer to shield” until Chlodomer gets a heal).

    It gets whackier when the party splits. I’m still figuring that out, so no advice, sorry.

    I would actually prefer to do it with minis (I have a ton of minis!), but it was really hard to get Galswintha’s player interested in combat, and bringing out the minis made it even worse. She’s been getting drawn in slowly, though, as she figures out just how many opportunities there are in combat to “look awesome,” so maybe someday before I get a brain meltdown, we can start using minis again.

    Greedy. Chlodomer is a large part of that. He’s a veteran grognard with some strong opinions about the utility of Charisma and henches, and he’s taught the rest of the group quite a bit in that regard. Me, too, for that matter.

    And at this point … I think if the party was less cautious and more willing to throw away some lives, they could beat an entire ogre village in one go. Not that I recommend that - I think their guerrilla tactics, use of military oil, and careful use of one-time resources for maximum effect is a much better way to take on an ogre village. But they could.

    It’s also worth noting that all of the players except Galswintha have, at this point, decided to emulate Chlodomer’s swarm of fighters, at least in spirit (Vulfelind is planning more of an animal menagerie, it seems).

    Galswintha is planning … I don’t actually know what she’s planning. She spent a lot of last week asking me about mage demographics - whether the number of leveled characters in Orléans was set in stone, or if “enough” money would sweeten some otherwise unavailable mages out of hiding, for example.


    Session 17
    (OOC: Re-reading the “diary” entry from last week, the last time period should have been Day 1 of Month 1 of Year 2; and apparently the fresh snow of the new year didn’t make an impression on my players, ah well.)

    Month 1
    For the first time, the party splits - there’s still some distrust for Aella (WOMAN IN BLACK) and her army, so someone has to stay.

    Chlodomer leaves all of his henchmen, the draft horses, crossbowmen, light infantry, medium cavalry, and wagons under the command of Haramer, with a few exceptions:

    Agalinda, apprentice to Galagunde (hench to Chlodomer) now has 2nd level spells, so she is sent back to study. Amarante, hench and personal astrologer for Chlodomer, just acquired 3rd level spells, so she is sent back as well.

    And each other party member leaves a loyal hench to keep an eye on things: Galswintha leaves Gurund (and his hench, Geofferic the hero); Vulfelind leaves Veneranda and her leveled war dogs and war hawk; and Shadagrunde trusts Aggulita and his now-fully-trained dire wolf mount.

    The party, stripped to minimum load and rations, force-marches back to Orléans, utterly murdering a warband of orcs who happened to be traveling through.

    Once in Orléans:

    Those mages with new spell levels work on their repertoire. Everyone gives to the local temple of the Lady for luck (and gets to see their names and the Grim Fist ring symbol carved into the marble foundation listing Important Personages Who Gave A Lot Of Money To Our Most Holy Mission).

    Chlodomer manages to find a mage of 9th level willing to put aside some time to enchant a suit of plate armor. Chlodomer puts Amarante in charge of managing the funds for the mage, and buys a small building in town as the Grim Fist’s base of operations in Orléans, where she (and they) can work from.

    That done, Chlodomer looks at his suddenly shrunk cash supply and holds off on any further rash purchases (beyond the usual 2,000 gold for a champion living high on the hog in a city for a month).

    Galswintha makes arrangements to have the extensive wardrobe she left in Châtel transported to Orléans - her henchwoman Merovia leaves with a squad of heavy cavalry and wagons to take care of that, and manages to return with the clothing by the end of the month. She also discusses the last efreet wish with the party.

    … and then she discusses it with the efreet, because she wants to make sure that it will not cause him distress. He laughs. “Your first wish was to ensure that I would be treated well. That story alone will earn me respect. Make your wish.”

    She wishes that, should the party successfully clear and claim the Pegasus Mountain domain, the land and domain will be blessed.

    (OOC: Vague wording? Well, yes. On the other hand, we had already established that the efreet wasn’t going to screw them on the wishes, so long as they treated the efreet correctly … and they very much did treat the efreet correctly. So I decided to treat this as a 9th-level variant on Harvest, especially since they will still have to EARN the domain - but if they do, the assessed Land Value will be +2 higher and Domain Morale will be +1; and whichever six-mile hex Galswintha builds her sanctum in, the animals will be friendly to Galswintha as if it were an elven fastness. This will be essentially a permanent blessing; it can be countered with a reversed wish, and will end when no member of the Grim Fist rules.)

    Then Galswintha spends the remainder of the month researching a new spell, swapping out wizard lock for speak equis.

    Vulfelind buys two tigers for Baldaswind to train and work with, and has her hench Almalinda make a study in pegasus rearing and training. And then she goes recruiting, adding to the menagerie: two new thieves. Chadalinda d’Orléans is technically a lawyer, skilled in both the licit and illicit aspects of getting clients off the hook; Ustitia l’Hivernal is a belly dancer and fencer. This maxes Vulfelind’s henches out.

    Shadagrunde does what Chlodomer did: starts with one exceptional leader type and then works down the levels to build out a small army of henches. His hench Merideth le Chocolat forms the central figure. He also hires Rinogand d’Orléans, a stout priest and sage of draconic history, and 19 light infantry henches for Merideth to whip into shape.

    They then look at the heavy snow that has fallen and … decide to march back to Pegasus Mountain anyway. More wagons are purchased, and back they trudge.

    On the way back, they encounter a lost merchant caravan trying to make it to Atanung. Shadagrunde fixes their maps and explains the ancient dwarven highway markers, then, when their guide still seems a bit lost, takes an extra day to accompany them to the closest marker.

    The merchants are thankful, but puzzled at the lack of a toll: Chlodomer jumps on that, saying “We’re still clearing things out - we’re not going to charge a toll on our highway until we can be certain it’s safe.”

    The party agrees after the fact that this was the correct thing to say … even if the highway isn’t technically theirs yet. It certainly satisfied the merchants and made them feel special, like they were getting a deal for being early adopters.

    Month 1, alternate
    Meanwhile, at Pegasus Mountain, winter has come, and the ogres have not been idle. Gathering unto themselves a small army of other Chaotic humanoids and beasts, and noting that a large force left the mountain, they plan a careful, stealthy approach up the mountain and then attack as night falls.

    Ogres. Trolls. Hill giants. Goblins. Dire wolves.

    And one powerful necromancer (plus his undead minions), who is pleased as punch that someone poured lava down his sanctum.

    (OOC: I allowed the players to play their henches for this battle.)

    Veneranda’s war dogs scent the trolls early on the chill breeze, and the war hawk flies out and spots them against the snow before being forced to retreat by a hail of goblin arrows. With little or no preparation to hold off the lower pass, the army and giantesses retreats. Gurund’s dispel magic reveals an invisible wizard, and Haramer’s spearmen expend one spear each to hit him - he falls, and chaos erupts among the ogre’s ranks as undead cease to be controlled!

    A web is then thrown to cut off part of the force, and the hench army descends like the Lady’s Fist on an unbeliever, with Haramer taking a moment to light the web on fire.

    The fight very rapidly simplifies down to one troll and two hill giants … against a phalanx of spearmen and clerics. Casualties are rough, but once the hill giants are down, everyone piles onto the troll, grapples it, and then drags it up the mountain, down the tunnel, and tosses it bodily into the magma, where Gurund webs it into place.

    No one dies, but there are some harsh Mortal Wounds results, and some henches mutter and grumble about being left to fend for themselves in dangerous countryside. (Although Haramer points out: “When has the Grim Fist ever let one of us remain injured?”, which squelches the last of the serious protest.)

    The giantesses also confer with Gurund about Galswintha and, as a thank-you gift for the clothing, vases, and numerous “giant-sized nice things” she brought them from human civilization, they spend the remainder of the month carving the rough outline of an embedded staircase up the side of the cliff toward the pegasi, although being careful to not get too close to the nest.

    Month 2, Day 1
    The Grim Fist returns and receives ragged cheers … and discovers the serious bodily trauma some of their henches suffered from the ogres.

    Shadagrunde restores the worst case (broken spine at the neck!) and promises to restore another person each day until everyone is whole again.

    Galswintha loses her mind over the staircase.

    Chlodomer sits down with Haramer to plan a full-bore assault on what remains of the ogres, “They’ve proven we can’t leave them for later.”

    Vulfelind uses tracking and manages to find the spot where the necromancer met with the ogres … and then tracks backward to find the portion of the lair where he holed up.

    Ah, loot never gets old.

    Especially when they discover that one of the necromancer’s items is a sentient shortsword of luck … that doesn’t like anyone and refuses to grant wishes, because “once I’m out of wishes, who would want an old, washed up shortsword? No, I gotta make these wishes count. Saving the world kinda stuff. Don’t even ask me for bigger muscles, it’s gotta be awesome or nothing.”

    After some discussion of who has failed saves the most often, Vulfelind ends up with the sword, giving her more ordinary magical sword to Chlodomer, who passes it to Haramer, who gives it to the leader of Squad B for heroism in the line of duty.

    There is also a powerful lady’s cane (mace +2, can cure disease once per day) which goes to Shadagrunde, who passes it on to Merideth.

    The ring of fire resistance goes to Chlodomer, half as a joke.

    Week 1
    There is some discussion about longterm plans, and the potential Domain represented by Pegasus Mountain. It is revealed that Pegasus Mountain itself takes up almost exactly one six-mile hex; and that almost everything for two hexes in all directions is Hills and Woods, with areas of River scattered throughout, all heading away from the mountain.

    A few very quick fights clear out the remaining known “bad” lairs on the mountain itself. One additional fight finally wipes the ogre village out.

    Veneranda’s giant hawk is sent on some high-flying scouting missions, and establishes a list of probable monsters in a 12-mile radius. (OOC: We also talk about the numbers involved: an expected average of 90 encounters across 500 square miles.)

    And the party makes their way up the stairs to guard Galswintha while she talks to the pegasi. That goes surprisingly well, although the pegasi are unnerved by the stairway (Galswintha does tell them that the Grim Fist now guards it).

    Months 2, 3, and 4, partial
    Using these guidelines, I ended up with 85 encounters. I used a LibreOffice Calc random function to get a bunch of d8,d12 rolls done. And then I started laying out lairs, rolling warband numbers, etc. Yowch.

    The Grim Fist better like this spot, because I don’t want to do this again anytime soon.

    I also decided that, basically, the Grim Fist can scout from the air, has detection spells up the wazoo, thieves packed in like a clown car, Tracking and other wilderness proficiencies all accounted for … given time, they will find every lair in a hex. So rather than spend the next two to three months of face-time plotting out where they travel each day, I’m letting the Grim Fist spend one season (approx. 1 day per six square miles) to guarantee all lairs are found.

    We then did some simplified dicing (no real strategy, just reaction, then hits-and-damage rolls) for all of the easy ones, and then take the harder ones in order. The easy ones, I just did the rolling for and we handled what little party decisions were needed via email:

    Around 50 antelope are spotted and noted, but left alone.

    Bat swarms: A hollow tree; an ancient, shattered bridge across a dry riverbed; an abandoned, moss-covered tower; and a small cave. The party left the bats alone (“bat guano mining was a valuable industry, why would we destroy that?”).

    The cave of bats also had five giant black widow spiders - those, they killed. Vulfelind intends to deck out her troupe with black widow armor like her own.

    The Beast Friendship Lairs: two cave bear dens, a mountain lion, a boar, nine giant hawks, ten giant bats, and a giant owl. No one kills rabbits for XP in this party. There has been some talk of bringing the cave bears to Clothilde for training.

    The party also encountered three dire wolves, whom Aggulita turned into henches. Aggulita now has four dire wolves: Gore, Fang, Guts, and Liver. Gore is Aggulita’s mount; the others are being trained as mounts, and Liver is likely to be assigned/loaned to Grizzba once training is completed.

    Dead: 7 pit vipers, 3 giant pythons, 6 wyverns, 2 griffons (who would have lived if they hadn’t tried to eat the horses), 2 herds of hippogriffs (who would have lived if they weren’t the sworn enemies of pegasi and therefore target practice for Galswintha), 10 cockatrices (nets, 10-foot poles, and polearms were handy), 3 nests of stirges, a rhagodessa, 2 giant scorpions, 5 lesser hellhounds, 5 greater hellhounds, and 2 phase tigers.

    My monster graveyard is starting to get ridiculous ;-).

    That’s an awesome wish from the efreet. My players just wished for great heaping piles of platinum pieces… which turned out to be stolen from various royal treasuries across the continent.

    Hot damn, great update! And THIS may be the best magic sword in D&D history:

    Especially when they discover that one of the necromancer's items is a sentientshortsword of luck ... that doesn't like anyone and refuses to grant wishes, because "once I'm out of wishes, who would want an old, washed up shortsword? No, I gotta make these wishes count. Saving the world kinda stuff. Don't even ask me for bigger muscles, it's gotta be awesome or nothing."

    Thank you. The best part was when they figured out it has five wishes and is more than a century old - it hasn’t granted a wish yet.

    Epic or nothing. I expect that at some point, they’ll find a way to meet that challenge.

    Great heaping piles of platinum … is actually exactly what Chlodomer campaigned for (he’s been feeling the pinch of his expenses).

    But they gave the efreet to Galswintha, so she had the top veto power. (And to be fair, her wish will result in more gold in the long run, but at the cost of Chlodomer’s current shortfall.)

    Got caught up in replying to other posts, forgot to share my news:

    Looks like we’re going to have a long weekend of gaming. I’m going to be hosting my niece (and as a bonus to overworked parents, her friend) over the weekend, and while I have to make sure they do their homework first, I got confirmation from the other two players that this does, in fact, mean that I get to run roughly 12-16 hours of Grim Fist this weekend.

    Though I may offer some bonus XP for household chores and journal entries to save me writing them up myself ;-).

    No luck on getting anyone else to write the summaries, so I may be a little slow getting caught up.

    Session 18
    Sessions 18-20 are an extended re-mix session, because we basically played ALL WEEKEND. You may send your tokens of utter envy to my niece. She collects them on a string, along with the broken hearts of young men.

    By unanimous vote, Saturday’s eight-hour game is dubbed “Session 18” while Sunday’s pre-lunch game is dubbed “Session 19” and post-lunch game is “Session 20.”

    Months 2, 3, and 4, continued
    The party spends winter thoroughly gridding and exploring the region. Soldiers and henches both receive significant bonus pay.

    The efreet is finally released from service. Galswintha sends him on his way with gifts of wine, silks, and a simple brass ring inscribed with the word “VERITAS”, because that’s just how she rolls.

    The significant encounters:

    Hex #1308: Sheltered Wood
    A thick-wooded valley with several brigand encounters. Position and research indicate that this hex may hide the lair of “the Bandit King” and his berserker personal guard. He is said to be the deadliest swordsman in the world. Or at least this part of the world.

    Hex #1309: Heart of Stone
    A granite hill with a stone giant den carved from its heart. These giants are dressed in ragged bear hides and armed with stone clubs - they look poor.

    Initial talks go poorly - then the party persuades Dagunde (one of the giantesses) to come talk to them, and talks go even more poorly. Stone giants appear to be very sexist, and Dagunde has had enough of that crap.

    When Dagunde refuses to give up her stuff and settle down, the giants pick up weapons and stand threateningly … and Chlodomer tries to talk everyone down. The giants attack!

    Vulfelind, Haramer, and Chlodomer work together to knock down and pin the most aggressive male, and Chlodomer clambers up and stabs him in the eyes, one after the other. This takes several tries, but he manages it, and then calls for a temporary truce.

    The giants surrender, and will head west, never to return. Shadagrunde restores the blind giant’s eyesight, but says, “If you return, and Chlodomer does not remove your eyes again, the Lady will.”

    The party checks the giants’ hoard, but it’s so pathetic they just leave it to the giants.

    Hex #1407: Red Meadow
    A six-mile patch of meadow with rust-colored mushrooms growing in the snow. A troop of centaurs regard the area as theirs, and do not take kindly to Chlodomer’s desire to discuss land rights - specifically, the idea that he might rule the area soon.

    On the other hand: ten centaurs, army of mid-level heroes. The Grim Fist leaves, unwilling to kill the centaurs, but also unwilling to entirely cede the hex to them.

    No one gives in and tries eating the mushrooms.

    Hexes #1408, #1409, and #1509: Crevice Wood, Slithering River, and Darkwater Wood
    South and west of Pegasus Mountain, the party finds three ogre villages. Each village has a warband of allied hill giants and giant boar mounts, and one has a charmed cyclops.

    (OOC: Since I determined the villages would not aid one another, ogres being the socially stunted monsters that they are, we decided to run just the cyclops village fight, and assert that the other two had similar results.)

    Team Thief sneaks in during an ogre siesta and frees the boars, careful to make the cuts look like the results of rubbing and wear, then fades away. After the ogres send out teams to re-catch the boars, the Grim Fist throws military oil into the main mass of remaining ogres and ignite it with fireballs, then charges in and mops up … and then retreats to heal and prepare. The following day, they discover that the ogre gangs, rather than clump up for a nice area-effect mop-up, have spread out as much as possible. So the Grim Fist foregoes area effects, tucks their armor away for speed, and engages in hit-and-run tactics, taking advantage of ogre slowness to pick off those at the edges.

    When the ogres finally converge for protection, fireball.

    The cyclops never managed to be much of a threat, although he did manage to beat Chlodomer down to about half hit points.

    Among the many treasures acquired, the party acquires:

    Gauntlets of ogre power, which the party discusses and discusses and discusses, because Chlodomer is strong enough that he won’t gain much benefit; and no one else is as much of a front-line fighter. They finally give the gauntlets to Genofeva de Paris, Chlodomer’s mercenary ex-aristocrat, which puts her on par with the rest of the party damage-output wise.

    Eyes of the eagle which also go to one of Chlodomer’s henches, Adela d’Orléans, the smooth-talking cataphract sergeant.

    Staff of the serpent which is given to Grimaric, of Shadagrunde’s Team Priest.

    There are also a bunch of basic magical swords, which get divided up among Chlodomer’s hench army, and another 20 magical weapons which get split out various ways, and a tub of potions, and a few scrolls.

    It’s a beautiful haul.

    Hex #1410: Shadowed Lake
    A tiny goblin village nestled into a riverbank in a hilly wood. The goblin archers look too deadly, so they set it aside for later.

    (OOC: Vulfelind’s player groaned at this, “When I said no more ogre villages…”.)

    After clearing a few other hexes, however, Vulfelind has an idea and they return.

    Team Thief invisibly sneaks through the village, find and sabotage as many bows as they can in the spell’s duration, and then retreat.

    Sacks of fragile pottery filled with military oil come dropping out of the sky, followed by the dull wump of fireball and flame strike. Then, and only then, arrows rain down on the goblins and Haramer’s spearmen close in for the kill.

    Goblin bows snap and twang and break, and you can just about hear tiny little goblin hearts breaking right along with them.

    One of Haramer’s soldiers gets an unexpected arrow to the throat, but he gets better.

    Hex #1507: Bone Temple Hill
    A semi-barren hilltop with the ruins of an ancient temple crumbling atop it, and the gnawed-on bones of those who have tried to take the hill by force scattered at the base. The party investigates from a distance for a while, until they finally spot the sphinx as he lands on the temple roof, an antelope dangling from his forepaws.

    There is some discussion about this, some Adventuring throws about sphinxes are made, and they decide to send their armies back into the woods; then spells of protection and augmentation are cast, and Chlodomer (with Thorismund and Ingunde) and Shadagrunde (with Merideth) march up the hill in plain sight to parley and/or fight.

    Vulfelind (with Grizzba) simultaneously sneak in, trying to get close to the sphinx.

    Chlodomer starts with diplomacy. Sadly: the sphinx hasn’t finished his meal; is Chaotic; and was a friend of the necromancer, and here saunters the murderer. It is on.

    The sphinx opens with a roar, stunning Merideth and Thorismund, and terrifying Ingunde; Shadagrunde removes fear on Ingunde, and Chlodomer steps in and subtracts a quarter of the sphinx’s hit points in one shot. Vulfelind and Grizzba carefully close the last of the distance.

    The sphinx roars again (all of the henches flee) and claws at Chlodomer, but Chlodomer is unmoved. Shadagrunde drops a flame strike, Chlodomer stabs, … and then Vulfelind and Grizzba both do something horrible to the sphinx’s back end. The monster whips around and bites and claws Vulfelind within an inch of her life (she’s an easier target than Chlodomer, too). And then Chlodomer and Shadagrunde both dish out grievous blows.

    The sphinx gives a last roar, Shadagrunde removes fear on Chlodomer, and Chlodomer (sensing that the sphinx is preparing to retreat) grabs onto its mane. Vulfelind retreats to lick her wounds and Grizzba stabs it in the foot.

    The sphinx retreats, taking to the air … and Chlodomer comes with. Between magic missiles and Chlodomer’s continued stabbing, the sphinx dies midair. Chlodomer is lamed from the fall, and Shadagrunde is out of fifth level spells, so the Grim Fist takes the rest of the day off to search the rubble for loot and roast smores.

    Among the sphinx’s scattered goods:

    A staff of healing, which the Grim Fist immediately employs; once used, it goes to Veneranda le Vulin (Vulfelind’s clerical hench).

    Another pair of gauntlets of ogre power, which this time Chlodomer keeps.

    Hex #1510: The Oak Circle
    A massive, open grotto with hot springs (not scalding - just right) feeding into a warm stream; inside the grotto it feels like Spring. Six massive oak trees form a circle around the largest pool, and a heavy wood of oaks and yews surround those.

    The party almost march in with their army, before Shadagrunde points out that it looks like it might be a dryad grove.

    In fact, it is a dryad grove, and so much more:

    • Six dryads in the circle of trees, one of whose trees hosts an entire pixie village in its branches.
    • Another six dryads scattered about the nearby woods who visit regularly.
    • A few dozen naiads who lair in the hot springs.
    • Several treants.
    • Another pixie village in a quartz-rich cavern offshoot of the grotto.
    • Another pixie village laid out in the stone foundation of a long-gone watchtower.
    • A pack of blink dogs who hunt the area.
    • A guardian owl nesting in one of the treants.

    The party is very, very, very respectful. And for once, the high Charisma quotient of the party is a serious problem - the dryads and naiads, collectively, are interested in keeping most of the party with them as friends, entertainment, and objects of admiration.

    Through heroic parley, and the assistance of the guardian owl, the Grim Fist assures the citizens of the grove that they will visit at least once a year and manages to leave without losing anyone forever.

    The Oak Circle is marked on Shadagrunde’s map as “our eventual wilderness preserve.”

    Hex #1607: Utena’s Shadow
    As the party has been moving regularly, and checking the weather, they eventually notice that the DM always says “and heavy altocumulus clouds to the northeast.”

    They start observing more carefully … and the altocumulus clouds never move. Wind reshapes them occasionally, but that’s about it.

    And then they have the bright idea of borrowing Adela’s eyes of the eagle and outfitting Veneranda’s giant hawk Fierce on the Wind with them, to take a good look at the clouds. One speak with animals later confirms that cloud giants live there, some eight thousand feet off the ground.

    They leave that one for later - eight thousand feet is a long way to climb - but do check the shadowed ground beneath for alternatives.

    Hex #1608, #1609, and #1709: Bugbear Forest Lake, Ugly Hill, and Valley Lake
    OOC: After some discussion, I just yielded on these. Hopefully Domains at War will let us handle stuff like this better in the future, but I didn’t really want to spend the whole weekend rolling and accounting for dozens of d20s.

    Hex #1610: Galaufchulis
    Atop the largest hill in the region (but not quite a mountain), lies an immense oak tree over a thousand feet tall, whose roots entwine the entire hill. The stream that flows past it runs all the way from the Oak Circle grotto, and indeed, there is another village of pixies here, and a family of treants.

    There are also a dozen small rocs nesting in the branches, and almost two dozen pegasi nesting here. Galswintha notes with some bitterness that these pegasi are far more accessible.

    The party decides to leave this one for later - the rocs are Lawful and so Chlodomer and Galswintha don’t want to hurt them, but they are also aggressive and refusing to parley.

    Hex #1708: Azure Hot Springs
    The westmost hex had four hot spring locations, feeding a series of war streams surrounded by snow. The result is gorgeous and creates a perpetual fog amidst the trees visible from Pegasus Mountain.

    Up close, each hot spring turned out to be incredibly deep … and housing an aquatic hydra. Three are comparatively small (6, 7, and 9 heads) and one is a 12-headed monster. All can breathe steam blasts and are resistant to heat, and have an easy retreat into water too hot for most of the party to fight in.

    Unfortunately for the six- and seven-headed hydras, Galswintha knows water-breathing and Chlodomer has a ring of fire resistance. Support spells are cast, ropes are tied off, additional magic items from other party members are layered on, and Chlodomer dives in for a little mano-a-monster. Between Chlodomer’s current AC 11 (the hydra manages about one hit per round) and his attack ability (1d6+8), he outlasts a single hydra by a mile. One of the two small ones does try biting through the rope, but that just wastes an attack.

    The nine-headed hydra, they bait near the edge where those tough enough to survive the steam breath can fight it, and Chlodomer goes around behind it to keep it from retreating. That works so well (aside from the shore party suffering from gouts of steam), that they try it again on the 12-HD monster.

    They also find a crossbow with grecian markings - some experimentation identifies it as a crossbow +3 which ignites arrows fired from it (dealing 1 point of fire damage). Vulfelind claims it.

    … but the baiting fails. And the canny beast disappears into the deep blue depths of the spring. They decide to leave this one alone for the moment.

    Session End
    Azure Hot Springs (#1309) still has a HD 12* hydra extant, and it has proven to be too smart to be baited out. Some additional, careful research has also revealed to the party that all four springs are connected by deeper tunnels.

    Red Meadow (#1407) still has shroom-sniffing centaurs running free.

    The Oak Circle (#1510) is still a lair, but that may be okay: a wilderness preserve of mostly Lawful creatures isn’t a bad thing, as long as no one expects peasant families to settle in that hex. And given the history of the Grim Fist, they may manage to get some use out of it anyway. I counted this one as a “win,” because the party didn’t lose anyone forever to the dryad or naiad parties ;-).

    Utena’s Shadow (#1607) still has cloud giants, which is worrisome. And I’ll just issue a spoiler here: the giants ain’t friendly sorts.

    Galaufchulis (#1610) still has rocs and pegasi, and there is no plan in place for dealing with the rocs in a manner that satisfies everyone in the party.

    And there is a Bandit King somewhere in the Sheltered Wood (#1308) …

    Overall, however, not a bad winter-worth of work.

    Again: I am still working on the rest of the session summaries. I will try to get up at least session 19 today.

    Session 19
    Months 5 and 6
    The Grim Fist decides to take a break in Orléans for the latter half of Spring, and persuades the giantesses to accompany them (Galswintha begs in most unseemly fashion).

    On arrival in the fair city, the Grim Fist makes an impression. Three giantesses wearing the current fashion, one of them with an elf maid - known among tailors as a benefactress non pareil - perched on her shoulder.

    A pack of heavy-jowled mastiffs in cute little jackets; dire wolves in spiked leather armor; tigers in jaunty red scarves; cave bears in vests; and a giant hawk perched regally at the head of the pack.

    A caravan of wagons, some piled with merchant goods, others loaded with small, iron chests, another with the corpse of a sphinx, and still another loaded with a small accountant’s desk, wardrobe, privacy screens, and enameled washtub.

    And shortly behind, a small team of dung shovelers hired to prevent in-city untidiness.

    The Grim Fist does several things in Orléans.

    • Three of the wagons are burdened with coins of copper and brass, barrels of pickled fish, gallons of beer, fire logs, rolls of cloth, lamp oil, potter, and other cheap but practical things. They spend a day giving most of that away to the city's poor.
    • They take another day giving away maps of the dwarven highway to Atanung in the mercantile district.
    • They meet briefly with the Governor of Orléans to assure him that the Grim Fist is merely celebrating a path to Atanung.

    Some character-specific events:


    Galagunde d'Orléans, visionist (illusionist-6) and the one who introduced the party to tarantula familiars with Healing, leaves Chlodomer's service. She holds no real rancor, but she does not ever wish to be left alone in the wilderness again to defend giantesses she could care less for. Plus, Chlodomer's behavior around the lignemaids, dryads, naiads, Orléans city girls, and others has finally pushed her a bit too far. Nor did she ever care much about appearances - possibly a bad fit for a henchwoman of Chlodomer's! (She does take the bonus Chlodomer offers her, of course.) She takes her apprentice, Agalinda d'Orléans, with her.

    Haramer’s fighter squad falls apart - some of the same problems as Galagunde, but there is also the issue that they were hired by Chlodomer, but they were then pawned onto Haramer … and the majority of them were a level below even that, working for a no-name fighter with no real charisma who was working for Haramer. Since most of them are quite wealthy in their own right now, they go off to start their own mercenary companies. They keep their expensive, high-quality spears and armor, of course.

    Haramer loses two of the fighters working directly for him, but retains the other two.

    Thorismund and Ingunde du Châtel (and their fighter-accountant, Louis d’Orléans) also leave Chlodomer, although on much better terms: Ingunde has been building up the cash to found a solid merchant business (and Chlodomer has known this), and with the pass to Atanung safer than ever, this seems the time to do it. Some members of the party pitch in on the first caravan, in return for a promised portion of the profits at a later date.

    Chlodomer revises the line-up of hired mercenaries, and ends up with this:

    Haramer D’Orléans hires and leads 50 heavy infantry pikemen (600/month); his two remaining henches act as lieutenants (and remain henches, of course). Chlodomer outfits them all in plate armor and quality (+1 damage) spears (2,700 gold).

    Adela d’Orléans hires and leads 8 cataphract cavalry (600/month). Chlodomer outfits them all with quality composite bows and spare medium warhorses (5,200 gold).

    Genofeva de Paris hires and leads 10 heavy cavalry (600/month). Chlodomer outfits them with quality (+1 damage) lances and upgrades them to heavy warhorses (3,600 gold).

    Then he reassures the Governor, once again, that the Grim Fist has no designs on his city, and that this is purely for the next wilderness trip.


    Galswintha and her mage henches hit the books for most of Spring.

    She also noted that Gurund was uncomfortable with danger (and had even hired a bodyguard for himself). So she talks to Chlodomer and buys a share in the Grim Fist Orléans HQ, puts in an alchemy workshop (50,000 gold!), and then asks Gurund to hire some journeymen and apprentices and begin working for her in Orléans rather than in the wilderness. His first task? Research oil of dispel magic.

    (This turns out to need sphinx feathers, and the dead sphinx is sufficient for seven magical research rolls.)

    Galswintha leaves him with additional funds and orders to buy more sphinx feathers if he can; and to do business as an alchemist for those time periods that he can’t continue on her oils.

    Galswintha also commissions a sizable carriage drawn by heavy draft horses, freeing up one of the party’s wagons.


    Vulfelind meets briefly with Chludwig d'Orléans - head of the Thieves' Guild - whose daughter she had returned to him last time. He wants to make sure that she knows that he knows about their plans for Pegasus Mountain, and that as long as she remembers who's really in charge, he won't tell the Governor what's really going on. She smiles and nods and kisses his ring finger and worries about which of her henches is actually a spy. She also finally pays attention to what he looks like, and realizes that he is probably a wererat.

    Vulfelind takes her henches to a tavern with private rooms, and has a meeting.

    She tells them what just went on with Chludwig. She tells them that she had assumed the Guild kept an eye on her (“and if the Governor doesn’t already know we’re claiming Pegasus mountain, maybe he needs his eyes checked”), so no worries there …

    BUT. Chludwig is a wererat, and he’s definitely Chaotic: he’s making threats like this against the people who saved his daughter! And while Vulfelind lacks the kind of devotion to Law (hah!) the other Grim Fist members possess, she prefers living in a world where the Lawful people are in charge.

    Then Veneranda breaks down crying: Chludwig threatened her mother the last time the party was in Orléans - at about the same time his daughter was being returned to him. All is forgiven.

    Vulfelind talks to the party, but they’re hesitant to take on a Thieves’ Guild leader in a major city who is cozy with the Governor, especially when the “spy” is now a double agent on the party’s side.

    Vulfelind sighs and agrees, but still takes a vacation in Atanung (“anywhere but here”) to put it behind her.


    Shadagrunde refines his hench and merc structure, taking Chlodomer's hard-earned lessons on extended hench chains to heart.

    Two of Merideth’s clerics end up heading to the local Church chapter to offer their services, now that they have “several months of on-the-job experience with the heroic members of the Grim Fist.”

    Shadagrunde’s line-up now looks like this:

    Merideth le Chocolat has two henches (both cleric-4). She hires and leads 20 light cavalry (600/month). Shadagrunde equips them with quality lances (+1 to hit and +1 damage) and a spare light warhorse each (5,000 gold).

    Grimaric d’Orléans hires and leads 100 light infantry (600/month). Shadagrunde equips them with quality leather and two quality spears each (23,000 gold).

    Rinogand d’Orléans hires and leads 20 longbowmen (600/month). Shadagrunde equips them with quality chainmail and longbows (9,400 gold).

    Aggulita looks for Lawful goblins and finds none - the Grim Fist has all two of them. Nor is Aggulita exactly “leadership” material. This upsets Aggulita quite a bit, and there is some heart-felt, roleplayed feelings before Shadagrunde lets Aggulita go off on a quest to find other Lawful goblins. Shadagrunde gives Aggulita the Goblin a sizable bonus (read: 9,000 gold to fund the expedition), and Aggulita gifts Grizzba with Gore, a fully-trained dire wolf mount.

    By the end of it, the party has 208 mercenaries in tow, collated from a variety of small companies of all sorts. Galswintha returns from her spell studies, takes one long, disgusted look, and stomps her feet, “Party fund discussion, NOW.”

    Agreements are reached:

    • The party treasurer will be asked before the party treasury is spent, even if it's not frivolous.
    • The armies are a party resource, because the party pot was spent on them.
    • The specific henches in charge of the armies will remain as it is: they would have been the best choice in any case.
    • Since they are a party resource, Galswintha gets to put them in uniforms.

    That prompts another shopping spree - this time for brightly colored white-and-red tunics, high-quality marching boots and sleeping blankets, banners, matching helmets, and simple copper rings with the year and “Grim Fist” inscribed (instantly starting a party tradition).

    And then Adela d’Orléans (Chlodomer’s) and Almalinda d’Orléans (Vulfelind’s) spend the last week drilling the army in parade marching.

    The city’s entire supply of available military oil is bought out, and the Grim Fist marches back to Pegasus Mountain.

    And the giantesses? Deeply impressed by how well civilization took to them, and weighed down with books on human architecture and stonework.

    Month 7, Week 1: Sheltered Wood (#1308)
    As Summer begins …

    The party scouts by air with eyes of the eagle and a giant hawk … and discovers that there are, in fact, three entire brigand camps, the most central of which also houses two berserker warbands.

    A precise estimate isn’t possible, but somewhere between 500 and 700 criminals appear to have made this hex their home, and are preying on an area a dozen or more miles wide. The Grim Fist are outnumbered 3-to-1 even with their mercenary army, and there is evidence that the three camps are all in cahoots, and will coordinate and assist one another.

    Shadagrunde draws up a map; Chlodomer puts pieces on the map; and then Vulfelind moves those pieces around. Somewhere in this, a coherent strategy is formed, albeit one that is likely to have losses.

    The giantesses are left out at Galswintha’s request: “They want to be architects.”

    And then they receive a letter, delivered by a scared peasant:

    My dearest friends, it has been a real pleasure to see you at work clearing the nearby woods. All of those bugbears and goblins! And ogres, if I have heard the correct rumors. This had made things immensely easier on myself, than if you had not come along.

    A cousin of mine, however, tells me that you may be looking to clear my area as well - that you might, in point of fact, intend me some harm!

    I am delighted to tell you that I laughed at the notion. Not that you aren’t capable, of course! I am certain you are capable enough, though I would make it cost you more than you might have wished to pay. But you, my friends, are heroes! Paragons of virtue!

    And I? I am merely a man of means who has carved a niche in the protection of goods through the wilderness of this part of the world. Merchants pay quite a bit for my services, and are happier for having done so!

    Why, we should be partners, not enemies!

    And indeed, that is just what I would like to suggest: with your burgeoning army at my back, I need not fear the incursions of wilderness monsters, so that I can focus my efforts on the protection of highways for honest merchants; and with me watching the highways, you can focus your efforts at building what will, I am certain, be a glorious kingdom some day.

    Albert le Renardière

    Vulfelind smiles - and there are entirely too many teeth involved. To Chlodomer, she only says, “Albert is a wererat, care to wager?”

    The Grim Fist and their army marches out immediately, with Grizzba and Vulfelind riding swiftly ahead to find and eliminate anyone Albert sent along to report back.

    Day 8: A Bad Day for a Rat
    In usual habit, Albert rolls from bed predawn and pads silently through the camp in rat form, finding nothing amiss. His day is already planned: his scout to the Grim Fist camp should be reporting in a few hours; a romp with his wives; another round of cash arriving from merchants in the afternoon. In all, pleasantly indolent!

    He finds a guard napping, and nips an ankle as a reminder: his people should know better! The disease may kill the guard in a few days - a disease which always seem to catch the lazy in Albert’s camps.

    His duty done, Albert pads back to his nest … and pottery falls from the sky, scattered across the center of camp. His nose twitches: naptha!

    There is no hesitation: he becomes human and shouts the alarm, a split second before fireballs engulf the naptha soaked center of camp and wipe out a fifth of his force. His wives run from the wreckage, burned but alive, and he and they rush to the treasury.

    Albert slams a potion filled with the essence of a hill giant, and directs his wives to the rack of healing potions, which they greedily consume. Then he grabs Mercy of Crows from its wall-sheath, shifts into ratman form, and slinks out to survey the battle …

    An entire warband of berserkers lies dead and pinned to the ground by arrows. The other warband is losing a fight with cataphract cavalry. Corpses are burning everywhere.

    His light cavalry - those remaining - chase an enemy force of same … until the enemy force charges right through a force of hidden pikemen who set for charge and decimate the brigand force.

    He does not wait to see how his light infantry will do: Albert and his wives position to intercept the cataphract cavalry - the soldiers die messily and fast, too focused on the pursuing berserkers to spot the wererats lying in wait. Their leader, a fast archeress, puts an arrow through one of Albert’s wives, sees that it has no effect, and makes an astonishingly skillful direction change away from Albert and berserkers both.

    To Albert’s momentary befuddlement, however, she slows down short of escape, and whistles piercingly.

    And then ten heavy cavalry bursts from - seemingly - empty space, charge the full distance, and focus on knockdowns and slams, rather than going for kills. The wererat has to admit: against foes who cannot be hurt, slamming them through buildings is a good second choice. Unfortunately, however, Albert himself has the strength of a giant.

    He trips the second horse to pass him, then plucks the rider of the third from his horse and thrusts his sword through the man’s heart. And then a man in white armor steps out of the same nothingness from which the cavalry arrived, and Albert stares death in the eyes.

    Knowing his own skill and abilities, Albert briefly attempts to spar with Chlodomer. Few can match Albert’s skill - let’s be honest, few could harm him even if they could put a touch on the swashbuckling rat lord - but Chlodomer is almost as strong as the wererat, better equipped, and under the influence of beneficial spells. The fight begins to go poorly.

    Albert calls to his wives to get out of the rubble and help him, and discovers that, at some point during his spar with Chlodomer, they’ve all been killed. Chlodomer pricks him again with that damnable dwarven sword …

    Albert flees. Across the village center, around a corner, fade to shadows, clear a gap, uncover the trap door, quietly, quietly, re-seal the entrance, through the rat warren, and home free …

    A pack of grinning thieves, whose portraits Chludwig sent him months ago, are waiting for him at his exit. His hidden exit. His oh-so-secret exit. One of them, Vulfelind, puts a flaming, magical crossbow bolt into his leg as he slows to a stop.

    Albert puts on his most charming smile, “Lovelies, I have allies who will be unhappy if you don’t let me by.”

    Vulfelind smiles. The pack swarms the rat lord with magic blades and malice.

    OOC: There were some interesting priorities in this battle. Galswintha had her familiar Petite circle high in the sky and watch for injured horses - didn't matter whose side, she wanted the familiar to heal the horses.

    And Vulfelind, once she found the secret exit, sent Veneranda, Almalinda, and Baldaswind to do their best to cover the field of battle with the staff of healing, and save as many soldiers as possible.

    Neither of those things really affected the tide of battle, of course.

    The cataphract cavalry were wiped out; the heavy cavalry took heavy losses; everyone else did reasonably well, although there was still mortality. Morale checks on the brigands helped everyone out, though - half the battle was fought not with weapons, but fear.

    Vulfelind was very insistent, so I rolled for Mortal Wounds for every soldier; and Veneranda did actually manage to save most of them from true death with timely staff usage.

    The berserkers, once the cataphracts were taken care of, did quite a lot of damage to the light and heavy infantry. The party finally lost the last of their invisibility over that, because they had to wade in and finish the berserkers off.

    Day 8, Retreat
    The Grim Fist and army retreat to a safe spot, recovering the wounded and dead. The mages are bedded down as quickly as possible, guards are set, and everyone prepares.

    They know it will be at least a day before camp 2 can reach them. Camp 3 may arrive sooner, but doesn’t.

    Vulfelind and gang show up shortly thereafter, and Mercy of Crows is identified: a two-handed sword +2, whose each hit has a 1 in 6 chance of aging a target by 5 years and healing the wielder of 1 hp. The sword is silently, but feels

    Month 7, Weeks 2, 3, and 4
    At dawn, mages prepared, the party decamps and … faces the combined might of two brigand camps.

    Which, fortunately, is actually a smaller force (and lacking berserkers and a dozen wererats) than the primary camp.

    They are remarkably close together, a mistake against the Grim Fist.

    Shadagrunde drops a plague of insects on them. A quarter fall instantly, and those who flee the carpet of bugs face longbows and pikes, or if they make it past that, are run down by cavalry. Those still among the bugs scream surrender, and Shadagrunde separates the carpet and spares them.

    The staff of healing is administered indiscriminately, and as a result, a much larger force of brigands is captured than might have been expected - almost two hundred are captured and tied up.

    Shadagrunde presides over a respectful burial pyre for the dead brigands; and then the party marches the living (and Albert’s corpse) to Atanung.

    Along the way to Atanung, Shadagrunde restores to life as many soldiers as he can, and in Atanung, they pay for as many additional restorations as the market will bear. They manage to save almost all of the army. Galswintha approves care packages for the families of the dead and crippled.

    … then they discover that Albert le Renardière is the Bandit King, with a 12,500 gold bounty; and that he is the source of the wererat infection in the Thieves’ Guild, for whom with another 12,500 gold bounty. Vulfelind gleefully collects both and deposits them with Galswintha.

    And after another brief discussion with the Party Treasurer, they hire more mercenaries, march back, clean the dregs of brigands from the forest, and loot the three brigand camps.

    Month 8, Days 1, 2, and 3: Azure Hot Springs (#1708)
    The party gets serious about the hydra. The party’s collection of water-breathing potions is put in a pile: 3. Galswintha and Deuteria can cast create air twice each, bringing the number of entrants up to 7.

    Ropes are tied. Chlodomer, Haramer (wearing Chlodomer’s gauntlets of ogre strength), Genofeva, Shadagrunde, Merideth, Grimaric, Rinogand, and Vulfelind are prepared for underwater travel. Vulfelind goes first, stealthily, and with a fire beetle organ tucked in cloth to alert the others if she needs them quickly. The others rope themselves together with chains, and dive in.

    The hydra, hiding in a side cave, spots them first … and skips Vulfelind and goes straight for Chlodomer, grappling and pinning him and then fleeing back down the side tunnel.

    Fortunately for Chlodomer, the chains hold, and the others (except for Vulfelind) come along for the ride. The hydra’s ambush quickly becomes a one-on-many fight, and it has to stop fleeing in order to defend itself. Each round, the hydra nearly kills Chlodomer, and then Chlodomer removes one or two heads, and then the clerics heal Chlodomer, and the rest try to beat on the hydra.

    This continues for three rounds … and then two heads grow back.

    In aquatic-enforced silence, the warriors try to beat the tide of heads. As the last head falls onto the growing pile at the bottom of the cave, Vulfelind finally arrives and, seeing the situation, silently hands her flaming crossbow to Haramer.

    And then, as the others valiantly keep the heads trimmed, Haramer begins cauterizing the wounds.

    The hydra finally ceases fighting and sinks to the cave floor. Haramer re-cauterizes every neck, just to be sure, and then Vulfelind tracks damaged stalactites and heavy growth to find the monster’s lair.

    Vulfelind is very amused to find gauntlets of ogre power, which she dons to help carry treasure out.

    Day 4: Red Meadow (#1407)
    The centaurs are very apologetic.

    Very, very, very sincerely apologetic. Had they only realized that the Grim Fist were such mighty and magnificent heroes, they would have had no qualms about entering truce and becoming a part of the kingdom to be.

    An alternative theory: they came across one or more of the ogre villages.

    Day 5: Galaufchulis (#1610#1510) becomes Torn Tree Hill
    At the giant oak tree, the party talks to the treants.

    This is a slow process.

    However, the party does manage to get across to them that they are building a nature reserve in the Oak Circle - one where they can be protected from human predation for as long as the kingdom stands.

    The treants then talk to the rocs.

    And then: eight treants form a circle around the thousand-foot oak tree, and with a great shuddering, the tree uproots from the hill and walks toward the Oak Circle. The rocs glare from their rocking perches, but otherwise seem content with the move.

    The hill dominating the area is largely rent open by this, so the party renames it Torn Tree Hill.

    Days 6 and 7: Utena’s Shadow (#1607)
    That leaves the cloud giants. It’s not that the Grim Fist couldn’t wipe the cloud giants off the map in a straight up fight: it’s that the cloud giants are out of reach.

    Or … mostly out of reach. With one giant hawk, three party members could make it up there. And Galswintha’s fly spell has just enough juice to get up, just not back down (however, she can cast two per day). They leave everyone else back at Pegasus Mountain.

    Chlodomer, Shadagrunde, and Vulfelind take the Hawk Express Elevator … and Galswintha flies under her own power, promising herself to save her second fly spell and not waste it on a fireball.

    When they arrive, rocks come sailing out in greeting, and a flock of giant hawks attack, screeching. The party drops and rolls onto the cloud stuff, and … wipe out ten giant hawks in record time, apologizing the whole way. More rocks, and the party storms the mostly empty castle, and finds themselves face-to-face with two amazingly angry cloud giants.

    Shadagrunde goes down, hard, with a shattered leg, but not before landing a flame strike; and Chlodomer finds that holding off two storm giants makes for short work of hit points without a cleric. Galswintha says something unladylike and webs the giants for a short respite, then curses the giant in better shape with weakness, then fireballs them both, igniting the web … then runs and hides as they break out. Chlodomer kills off the weaker of the two just as he breaks free of the burning web.

    The curse, thankfully, does its job on the other: with less likelihood of being hit, Chlodomer focuses on putting the hurt on the larger giant … and almost dies anyway (seriously, 6d6? ouch!) until Vulfelind drops down from above and manages a backstab, ending the cloud giant’s career as a singer, and his life.

    They patch up Shadagrunde very poorly … but at least well enough for him to heal himself. And then the building begins to shake. They look at each other. They look at Galswintha … the fireball that guaranteed that Chlodomer would outlast the giant also cut off her path out.

    Galswintha laughs, “You go on without me. If the castle lasts long enough, you can send Fierce on the Wind back up to pick me up. So, you know, hurry or something?”

    They leave, and Galswintha sits at the edge of the disintegrating cloud to watch it all end … and spots the giant hawks she helped beat down.

    A careful discussion with Petite (her Beast Friendship and Husbandry-focused familiar) later, they manage to recover a giant hawk willing to carry her down. They leave as the cloud finishes losing solidity, and the castle falls through.

    Shadagrunde is in poor shape for travel, so they make camp, and in the morning, Shadagrunde casts restore on himself. They return triumphant heroes.

    Okay, last bit will have to wait until tomorrow.

    Spoiler, though: the party encounters their first dragon :-).

    This actual play recount is like liquid happy-gold for adventure gaming.

    Are the hex-map coordinates for the “1.5 mile” hexes you described in another thread for mapping this region?