Chronicles of the Grim Fist, part II

Bonus OOC: Bone Temple Hill
I have index cards and lists and spreadsheets and text files and hex maps to keep track of the six-mile domains within Galaufabonne, and I’m still figuring out a good way to do that. As a result, a lot of stuff gets swept under the rug when I’m writing up a description of a session - all of the disorganized crap I don’t want visitors to see!

However, since Year 6 marked a full one-year anniversary (in-game) for the founding of Galaufabonne, I took some time to break out ONE of the six-mile hexes and its development over Year 5: Bone Temple Hill.

I chose Bone Temple Hill for a few reasons: it has a low Value, but is placed well for the highway; it ended the year with a city on it; and the party has been discussing it more than most of the others (Azure Hot Springs a notable exception), so I have more notes on it.

Bone Temple Hill is dominated by a semi-barren hilltop with ancient temple ruins on it. The highest point of the temple is high enough to be visible from about 9 miles away, or twice that if the other point is on a similarly high hill (or a mountain).

Land Value 6 0102: Rocky, flat area; stream from #0203. 0103: Ridge running SW. 0201: Small hill. 0202: Crest, sloping away from #0302. 0203: Ridge and mini-hill. Weak stream runs to #0102. 0204: Hill. 0301: Northernmost ridge running from the peak in #0302. 0302: Peak of highest hill; elven temple ruins. An elven temple to the Lady - or the elven conception of the Lady - with shattered statuary, slender columnar obelisks (most broken in half, but some simply knocked over), and seven attractively placed, large flat rocks with smooth surfaces. A few steps are carved into a narrow cavern cleft, which is not very deep - inside are wondrous wall paintings of frolicking elves and animals (including, yes, pegasi). There were skeletons scattered across the temple, but these were cleaned up and given to a funeral pyre before the hex was declared "clean."

The peak is fairly flat and a quarter-mile across before sloping off into the rest of the Bone Temple Hill hex.

0303: Southernmost ridge running from the peak in #0302.
0304: End of ridge in #0303. Small cliff at southernmost end.
0401: Gentle slope N; meadowed with light trees.
0402: Gentle slope NE; meadowed.
0403: Sharp valley crease between the hill in #0502 and the ridge in #0303.
0404: High hill with an empty bear cave.
0502: Hill.
0503: High hill.

Upon completion of Galaufabonne’s central castle, 20 peasant families had moved in, almost all of them in #0401 (taking advantage of the easier farming and proximity to the safe-ish highway zone there).

Accounting for the first month:

Land: +140 gold (20 x 6, +20 due to Morale +4). Service: +100 gold (20 x 4, +20 due to Morale +4). Tax: +40 gold (20 x 2). Tithes: -28 gold. Winter Festival: -100 gold (20 x 5).

4.65% of OVERALL domain accounting:
Starting Treasury: +26,050 gold.
Fortress Construction: -24,650 gold.
Stronghold Maintenance: -115 gold.
Garrison: -500 gold.

NET: +937 gold … but only because of the party chipping in.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to do the huge breakdown for every month!

Over the next 11 months, the population grew substantially. The Grim Fist adventured regularly and the Morale couldn’t budge from +4, so the growth looked like this:

01 > 02 > 03 > 04 > 05 > 06 > 07 > 008 > 009* > 010** > 011 > 012
20 > 27 > 35 > 44 > 55 > 69 > 86 > 109 > 131* > 148** > 181 > 219

  • In month 9, Bone Temple Hill shifted to Borderlands.
    ** In month 10, 16 peasants were moved to the city (plus peasants from other hexes).

That growth is the result of pop x1.25 for adventuring (x1.2 months 9-12; x1.15 after month 12); then +4d10 families (+21 on average). The +1d10-1d10 balanced out on average.

By the end of the year, roughly 60 families each are in sub-hexes 1401 and 1402; and 3-10 families each in all of the other sub-hexes.

In month 10, Vulfelind constructed “her” city, Bone Temple. Predictably enough, she chose the central hilltop. Also, the player agreed to let me reproduce this section:

Bone Temple

V: Okay, a straight path north to the highway runs along a ridge - can we flatten the top of the ridge for a highway? A 3-mile, 12-feet wide dwarven highway at 3,600gp is too sweet to pass up.

C: Clearing rock first is more expensive. Call it 4,500 gold.

V: Done.

V: I would also like to renovate the elven temple. Or make Shad do it - that’s what the tithes are, right?

C: Without statuary: 3,000. With: 13,000. Shad can spend tithes how he wants, but you could sweeten the pot by making a land grant. It looks like the first month’s tithe for the region with be about 3,000, so that may be the way to start.

V: Done. Will email Shad.

V: The city will grow, but I want a wall to start with. I think I’ll have 1,000 fams pretty fast, so I’ll start with that. MDME says that’s 0.13 square miles. I want a hexagon, but you do the math.

C: The hex is 2,000 feet across; each side is 1,200 feet long. Six sides is 7,200 feet long. Pick a wall and go. Will NOT count toward infrastructure, but WILL count toward defensive structures if Galaufabonne Castle falls.

V. Ugh. Okay, no wall. We’ll make walls when I’m swimming in platinum.

V: How much do I have to define the “infrastructure”?

C: As much as you want. Anything you don’t define, if it comes up, we’ll just use something basic and standard and easy.

V: No no no. My city has to be the best.

C: I think that answers your question of how much you want to define, then.

V: You are so mean LOL. Okay. What is the starting point?

C: 1,000 families is 3.5 million square feet and needs 40,000 gold in wells, administrative buildings (including a town square), streets, fees paid to draw up the city charter, flattened areas suitable for erecting wooden buildings on, and any small extras your city is known for.

V: Sewers?

C: Not standard. Hm. Good sewers will let a city pack the same people into a smaller area. You still needs the same number of wells, administrative buildings, and fees, but the streets and flattened areas are halved. So 40K + ??? - ??? for savings?

C: I’m going to rule this as a construction-like problem. Rather than price the sewers per se, I’ll just say that you can halve the area of the settlement with “improvements” worth +50% gold, or quarter the area for +100% gold. So 60,000 gold and 80,000 gold, respectively. In both cases, the extra gold halves the area, but does not count toward allowing a higher population.

V: Will it count for the extra family growth rate?

C: Hmm… yes. That seems sensible.

V: What about secret passages?

C: Heh.

C: Okay, revised rule: +50% per “city improvement.” Improvements include:

  • Density: halve area required. Gain bonus families when built. Aquaducts, sewers, raised streets, building complexes, grid design, etc.
  • Secret Passages: Grants +1 to relevant thief guild tasks. No other benefit.
  • Feng Shui: Grants +1 on arcane Magic Research rolls. No other benefit.
  • Religious Shui: Grants +1 on divine MR rolls. No other benefit.

C: Each can be taken twice. You will also have to keep them up when the city expands, if you want to keep the benefits.

V: Hmmmmmmmmmmmmkay. I want sewers. Annnnnnd secret passages. So starting out, the city will cost 20,000gp for a 10,000gp settlement; and for my purposes, the initial expansion will be 60,000gp for +30,000gp in settlement value. Can I add density improvements later?

C: Yes and yes.

V: And if I quarter the size of the city, the walls cost…?

C: If area is quartered, lines are halved. You know this :wink:

V: Ugh. Not enough.

V: So no walls and highway brings the total to… ugh. 84,500gp. Well, that’s my allowance for a while.

C: Don’t forget that your first month might not be profitable.

V: Well, I’ll burn that bridge when it comes. Maybe I can wheedle some cash out of Chlod.

Bone Temple grew rapidly: starting with 250 peasants in month 10, it grew to 433 in month 11 (helped along by Vulfelind’s investments), and 628 by the end of the year. It is now a Class IV large town!

Demand modifiers:

Modifiers: age 0-20; water source none; climate deciduous forest; elevation hills; land value 6; within 144 miles of Atanung and Orléans (which are, themselves, not QUITE within 144 miles of each other).

Both are Class II, so I just averaged them for Bone Temple’s modifiers, with Orléans winning on 0.5 values for being slightly larger. After rolling 2d3-4 for each and modifying the values appropriately:

-3: wine & spirits, fine textiles.
-2: beer & ale, arms, cloth, silk
-1: gems, semiprecious stones, preserved meats, common metals, precious metals, salt, wood, and rare woods.
+1: monster parts.
+3: spices.

And since Vulfelind is planning to build it into a Class I megalopolis, I’m keeping the original scores for when the tables are turned on Atanung and Orléans:

-3: wine & spirits, semiprecious stones, common metals, precious metals, salt, cloth, fine textiles.
-2: ivory, silk, wood, and rare woods.
-1: animals, arms, common furs, tools.
+1: mounts, pottery, glassware, tea and coffee.
+2: spices.

Obviously, trade demand between the two larger cities has warped the local demands!

Accounting for month 12:

Land: +1,533 gold (219 x 6, +219 due to Morale +4). Service: +1,095 gold (219 x 4, +219 due to Morale +4). Tax: +438 gold (219 x 2). Tithes: -310 gold.

5.59% of OVERALL domain accounting:
Vassalage: -460 gold.
Stronghold Maintenance: -140 gold.
Garrison: -600 gold.

Bone Temple City:
Revenue: 5,970 gold.
Garrison: -1,260 gold.
Upkeep: -940 gold (repairs, city officials, and similar).
Defensive Structure Upkeep: -45 gold.
Tithes: -600 gold.
Vassalage: -1,200 gold.

NET: +3,241 gold.

A Morale +4 city makes a substantial difference in income!

Vulfelind’s chosen garrison is fairly simple: 50 heavy infantry and 30 longbowmen, equipped with decent gear and a badge showing a rearing sphinx.

Session 25
Year 6, Months 1, 2, and 3 (Winter)
By the end of Winter, the entire domain (sans the Oak Circle, which remains a preserve) is Civilized, and Chlodomer has reduced the tax rate to 10 silver per family … despite the now-maxed vassal tax he is paying Aella.

This also marks the first season in which the garrison has needed to expand. Chlodomer spends some time recruiting, and some of those bandits Sir Merideth found last year find themselves with warm beds, hot meals, better gear, and proper paying work.

Bone Temple City hits 1,000 families … and keeps growing as Vulfelind pumps money into infrastructure!

Shadagrunde also finishes one of his major projects with Galaufabonne’s religious tithes: a temple (30x30 wooden bldg.) in every hex! He begins hiring clerics, aiming for a priest and two acolytes for each of the 23 temples, with sufficient salary to provide healing for free.

At the end of the season, we total everything up: the kingdom’s coffers are fat with almost 100,000 gold … but it’s not nearly enough to provide anyone with XP, and it’s still less than they started the domain with.

OOC: And sadly, that’s all we managed this session, because the rest of the session was taken up with planning and discussion. This was helpful - knowing the party’s long-term plans lets me set up some stuff in advance - but it’s difficult to put into a narrative. And we didn’t even manage run through the monster lairs I’d set up, so those will be rolling into this weekend’s game.

This weekend’s game was short, and I should have plenty of time to write it up tomorrow. But it was much fun: Galswintha almost TPK’d the party dropping a fireball at ground zero.

As she stated just after dropping 9d6 on the table, “AUGH, no, no, that’s too many sixes!”

Thanks for all these campaign updates. I love reading them! It's great to see your adventurers' domains develop.

Can I second this? I love this thread.

Session 26
Year 6, Months, 1, 2, and 3 (Winter) continued
Hex #1306: Fungal Forest. The rust-colored mushrooms in the Red Meadow extended there from here, where their larger (or perhaps just older?) cousins have larger overtaken the cave-strewn hills. Viewed from high in the sky, the area resembles a semi-circular grove of giant mushrooms . . . with a fattened tendril snaking into Red Meadow. Based on this horrifying visual alone, the Grim Fist decides to explore.

Thanks to Shadagrunde’s foresight, each party member is equipped with a potion of cure poison, and enough clerics are brought along for additional possible issues, such as any need for cure disease.

Another aerial scouting turns up a few minor details visible from the sky:

  1. A tower-shaped mushroom of sufficient size to act as a fortress. A roc is visibly nesting in an upper crevice.
  2. A patch roughly two square miles in size appears to be a giant bee colony.
  3. The wreckage of a crashed cloud castle is just visible between the trees.
  4. A small temple is visible in the northwest-most corner.

(Vulfelind: “Five gold says we’ll be fighting a fungus before nightfall.” Everyone else: “No bet.”)

They decide to nibble at the edges first rather than tackle any of the visible-from-air horrors. Rumors say that some sort of large, wolf-like pack of creatures has been haunting the borders of Red Meadow, so they start with those rumors, establish a two-square mile zone where the wolves or dire wolves might be, and then grid and march into the bloom of tree-sized mushrooms.

What they don’t do is consult any sages about forests of giant rust-colored mushrooms …

So when a pack of fungus-encrusted dire wolves - their eyes glowing a faint, bioluminescent green - erupt from foam-like cysts in the ground, they have very little in the way of intel or planned responses.

The lead wolves use their surprise to breathe some sort of choking cloud which causes the majority of low- or no-level hirelings to drop to the ground choking, and causes several party members and henches to suffer (but fight through) a hacking fit as well. The remainder simply dive in and start attacking those who are already down.

Galswintha, seeing this (perhaps rightly) as do or die, and noting that almost every low-level NPC is already dead, drops a fireball at ground zero. Perhaps it is an issue of adrenaline or desperation, but the fireball that results is intense, and brings all but Chlodomer near death.

The three remaining monsters then tackle Galswintha to the ground, one of them tearing off her left arm before Chlodomer, Shadagrunde, and Vulfelind manage to kill them and drag them off the sorceress.

While Chlodomer and Shadagrunde guard the pile of ally corpses, Vulfelind sprints home to requisition soldiers to help carry them home, and by nightfall, everyone is holed up in one of Shadagrunde’s newly constructed temples.

Shadagrunde restores Galswintha and key henches, then cures disease on each “just in case.” Galswintha returns … somewhat changed.

The torn off arm has become the arm of a treant, looking exactly like her previous arm, but the color and hardness of stained oak.

The next day … those who were not cured of disease, even the corpses, come to life as fungal monstrosities. Who breathe clouds of choking infection and then attack to kill. The temple is evacuated as Chlodomer holds the door against the rising tide of horror until Galswintha can cast sufficient webs into place.

And then one fireball after another until the wooden temple burns down, taking the fungal creatures with it. Priests from all over the realm are gathered and brought in to cure disease on everything in the temple, the remaining corpses are given cremation rites …

Then they consult sages about forests of giant rust-colored mushrooms.

Fungal Breath (1/day): 10' x 10' cloud adjacent to fungal creature. Victims with less than 4 HD are incapacitated by choking for 1d6 rounds; higher-HD victims save vs. Poison or suffer a -2 on attack throws for the same time period. One day after breathing in the airborne spores, all victims must save vs. Disease or become a fungal creature. Corpses do not get a save - they are automatically transformed.

Fungal creatures have the base HD for the creature plus +2 HD (humans and demihuman fungal creatures have 3 HD as fungal creatures). They are immune to gas, poison, sleep, charm, and hold spells, and are unintelligent (they lose all class and supernatural abilities, but not natural attacks or movement). The lack of internal organs grants +2 AC, and unnatural strength improves weapon damage by +1 or increases natural weapon die size by a small amount. Fungal creatures can use fungal breath once per day.

They back off from the fungal forest … for about another two days, long enough to prepare a fungal forest bonfire. That fails to work, however: live mushroom just isn’t all that flammable.

Wordthief: “Pfffft. Dwarves used to destroy fungal forests all the time. That’s not epic.”
Vulfelind: “How?”
Wordthief: “They had a machine or something.”
Vulfelind: “Wyrmtooth?”
Wyrmtooth: “Afraid not.”
Wordthief: “Yeah, like you’d know anything.”
Wyrmtooth: “I do know the dwarves hated the stuff. It ate iron veins or something.”
Vulfelind: “…”

Which is how Vulfelind ended up talking the others into helping her capture a family of rust monsters. That took the better part of month 2, but once she had them firmly in hand (or rather, once Chlodomer stripped down to cloth armor and grappled them into submission), the party flew in to the center of the fungal forest at the beginning of month 3 … and dropped the rust monsters on a soft-looking bloom.

And when the mushroom began falling apart into blackened organics and oxidized rust powder, the Grim Fist cackled and fled. Behind them, in the rapidly increasing distance, rust monsters feasted as they had never feasted before.

Shadagrunde was briefly morose: “You know those things are going to breed.”

Maaan… one problem with introducing my players to this thread is that now I can’t steal things from it :frowning: Keep up the good work!

Session 27
Spring, Month 4
Hex Management

The population of Galaufabonne tops 8,400 (including the 1,400 in Bone Temple City). The income after the spring festival tops 20,000 (including the -2,700 in Bone Temple City after urban investments).

Shadagrunde’s divine power available for magical research tops 32,000 gp-equivalents. He begins researching Harvest (which will use up 2,000 gp per month) … and assigns the remainder to the temples scattered around Galaufabonne for healing potion manufacture.

Galswintha envies at the ritual magic, then spends much of the month working out a deal with the fairies to produce semi-magical clothing:

Pixie Clothing: x100 cost. Changes color and appearance with the seasons, always fits and flatters, and grants a +1 reaction bonus in haute couture circumstances.

Gnome Clothing: x100 cost. Sturdy and resistant to all kinds of mud, weather, grit, dust, stains, and all manner of other abuse. May grant a +1 on relevant saves and proficiency throws (gnome boots, for example, might grant a bonus on saves against stepped-on foot hazards); usually grants a +1 reaction bonus in survival and some military circumstances.

… does it even need to be said that her wardrobe expands?

Aella Sappheiros sends Chlodomer a gift for his hard work:

Oscar: This bronze, 13.5-inch-tall, humanoid statuette is a HD 1* construct. It can spit fire for 1d3 damage against a target within 5'; this requires an attack throw. It has the usual construct immunities, and Move 30. It's main use, however, is as a watchdog - it never sleeps, it is small and reasonably quiet, and it can clap its hands to produce a bell-like tone if it sees someone who isn't on its approved list.
With 1,400 families in Bone Temple City (class IV), Vulfelind begins construction on a hideout, which will be completed on the following month. The hideout is constructed underground with a tavern on the surface, and tied into the hidden passages secreted throughout the city.

Near the beginning of the month, the party examines the damage the rust monsters are doing … and it isn’t much. It’s not that they aren’t doing heinous amounts of property damage for their mass, but there are only four rust monsters.

Good news, there is now a clear patch to land in near the middle of the fungal forest.

Bad news, the fungal forest has begun growing faster in the area where the wolves were killed and is expanding into Red Meadow. So the party races to the rust monster’s new lair, re-captures them, transports them to Red Meadow, and drops them into the largest encroachment.

Four fat, disgruntled rust monsters wave their antennae lazily, then waddle to a good spot and flop down for a nap.

Galswintha spends a fair amount of time trying to “persuade” them to eat the yummy, yummy iron mushrooms. One of them takes a tiny, indolent nibble, burps, goes back to sleep.

No one wants to spend the time and energy hunting down more rust monsters, so they decide to finally tackle individual lairs … starting with the giant bee colony.

Fungal bees are a poor match against Galswintha’s fireballs, but even with hit-and-run tactics and lots of poison antidote, it takes the party four days of concentrated effort to finish off the last roving groups of angrily buzzing mushrooms.

… and four days after that, a brief check of the area reveals that fungal bee honey is essentially “stored iron” for the fungal growth as a whole - the whole area has re-bloomed and the giant honey-comb has begun to fill in with aggressive fungal forest.

The Grim Fist retreats once again.

Spring, Month 5
Hex Management

The population of Galaufabonne tops 9,400 (including the 1,800 in Bone Temple City). With no new construction in Bone Temple City, no festivals, and no sudden castle-constructing urges ...

Oh, wait, Aella is requesting a 10,000 gold loan.

And Red Meadow is requesting military aid to chop down and clear back mushroom growth.

And Iamanu sent out a call to vassals to provide military support for a campaign he is waging … and Aella has passed that call down the line to Chlodomer.

And a Royal Messenger for the King of Greuthungi (the kingdom of which Atanung is a part) bears a message informing Chlodomer know that King Chilperic II lost a lot of money when trade shifted from highways controlled by His Majesty to a podunk little barony in the middle of nowhere … and lost more money when several caravans owned by His Majesty discovered that the goods they were bringing to market were already there, thanks to a recently opened shortcut.

His Majesty graciously offers to overlook Chlodomer’s rage-inducing failure to inform His Majesty, in return for becoming a vassal of Greuthungi.

The party huddles. They discuss relative military power (Greuthungi, Tervingi, and Iamanu all have around a hundred times Galaufabonne’s military might); who they can ally with; whether shattering part of the highway’s protection to unleash mushroom doom on Atanung would be worth it; and so on.

And then they craft a message, and Chlodomer gives it to the Royal Messenger:

"Your Majesty, we extend our most sincere sympathies for your under-performing caravan. It is almost inconcievable to us that Atanung's mayor, who has been plying our highway for the past year, would not have informed you of the shifting trade situation. Had we known he was so derelict in his duties, we would of course have sent a messenger to those countries affected. Perhaps we should check to make sure that Orléans is more responsible, and possibly send a missive to King Dagobert III, as well?"

“In the hopes that your Royal Messenger is immune to whatever politics lead Atanung to misinform you, we have included a packet of what we know of the situation there. Given that we are foreigners, however, perhaps it would be better if you simply asked them directly for better information.”

“Regarding your offer of vassalage, we must regretfully decline. King Iamanu would frown upon it, and we would honestly rather not start a war between two such lovely countries.”

The rust mushroom forest beckons. This time, they decide to tackle the former storm giant castle.

It goes poorly. Fungal storm giants lack the spell-like abilities of their breathing brethren, but are substantially harder to kill … and fungal griffons, it turns out, are a force to be reckoned with. Properly chastised, the party flees for their lives, with few hit points and little pride remaining.

Shadagrunde: “We can’t leave it alone and we can’t burn it and we can’t kill it at any reasonable speed. I really hope there’s a central heart we can kill.”
Party: …!

A few days of rest later, Vulfelind drags out her flying canoe and then changes into fox form so three more folks can fit; Galswintha and Chlodomer mount their pegasi (and take one passenger each); and a small crew of henches are selected for optimal killing. Ropes are looped between everyone, Invisibility 10’ Radius is cast, and the crew soars out, looking for anything heart- or center-like.

A vaguely tower-shaped mushroom, tall and conical, surrounded by broad umbrella mushrooms a hundred feet across each, looks promising. After some preliminary discussion, Galswintha casts Invisibility on Vulfelind, and Shadagrunde casts Silence 15’ radius on the fox and himself.

They land, silent and invisible, amid the mushrooms. Vaguely humanoid fungi march in orderly columns in a vigilant watch, and the party is careful to not get too close. They find a good spot to hole up for a while, communicating with rope tugs, shoulder taps, and arrows drawn in the dirt. Once they find the spot and settle in, Vulfelind heads out and searches the area … until she finds the mining entrance. This she explores briefly, then returns. With no way to communicate what she found, however, she simply finds Galswintha’s ankle, tail-swishes for pick-up, is deposited in the canoe, and begins slowly directing it forward, leading the party.

She didn’t find the heart (although she is certain the heart is somewhere in the mine) … she found an old hoard, now largely unguarded.

The Grim Fist crams everything they can into saddlebags and canoe, calls it a day, and flees once again.

Once safely home, Chlodomer grins, “Well, I didn’t get what I wanted, but I wanted what I got.”

They decide to tackle the mine again the following month. For now, they focus on selling the extra magic items they just acquired … and Galswintha levels, and fills out her spell repertoire, scoring wall of fire and transmute rock to mud.

Thanksgiving family stuff means the next three weekends we won’t have any face-to-face. I hate to leave the players hanging with the whole mushroom thing, but everyone’s schedules are too different to put together a single block of time.

Christmas is likely to have a similar effect, but we should be able to get a couple games together in December.

Stupid seasonal joy.

On the plus side, I’ll have time to prep the war that’s coming …

Just popping in to say that I LOVE these chronicles! Very well-written, and your game is probably VERY FUN.

By the way, I’d love to see the maps of your setting as well as some background information on it.

I agree, if you ever think about trying to run a google hangout game sign me up, this games sounds amazing!


Thank you! I’m afraid my maps are not on the artistic side, and consist more of scribbled notes on a hex map, text files with hex numbers and short descriptions, and the occasional (horribly crude) sketch.

For background information … hm. I may see if I can put together something readable.

I don’t think I’m quite ready for an online game, but thank you for the kind words. If I do ever do something like that, I will keep you in mind.

Session 28
OOC: This was from two weeks ago. Last weekend will be up next.

Spring, Months 6, 7, and 8
Hex Management

The population of Galaufabonne tops 12,500 (including 3,600 in Bone Temple City). This was a fast-growing season!

Aella pays back her loan. She also sends Chlodomer two sets of extremely realistic and attractive statues. When he asks about them … some vassal of Aella’s did something that merited punishment, so she took away the vassal’s harem. She also writes that he is free to keep them as statuary or a harem - she doesn’t care.

The Grim Fist realize at this point that they are committed to breaking free of Iamanu’s realm.

Shadagrunde continues his Harvest research until he doesn’t. Merideth begins researching the Lady’s Cane magical weapon Shadagrunde gave her.

Research: Mace +2, cure disease once per day. Base costs are 15,000/15,000 gp, research time 75/75 days, throw 11+/11+ (Merideth has a +3 workshop and sufficient divine power to provide another +3). Final roll 5+/5+. Because she has a sample, the actual cost and time is 7,500/7,500 gp and 38/38 days.

Galswintha begins researching a horrible thing: a choker necklace that grants the wearer the ability to breathe dragon’s fire three times per day.

Research: Base cost 30,000 gold, research time 250 days, throw 12+ (Galswintha has +2 INT and +3 workshop). Galswintha had a platinum torc (twin dragon heads with flawless facet-cut black sapphire eyes) worth 30,000gp, which grants another +3 on the roll, for a final roll of 4+. Half of the research will be required before she can distill the magical essences.

Vulfelind petitions for more funds to keep up with the city’s growth, and continues to lavish design love on “her” city, and initiates some hijinks to spy on other kingdoms.

The rust monsters continue to hold back the mushroom forest in Red Meadow, but the larger problem remains. Lacking a better option, the party loads up the canoe and returns for further invisible scouting.

… and manage to ignore at least two signs of an impending horrible monster before blundering face-first into a central domed room with a sponge-like, fungus-festooned brain-thing floating over a large, open pit with a scattering of corpses impaled on spikes below.

Fungal Brain

Fungal Brain: AC 6, Move fly 30', HD 20 (90 hp), attack smash 3d6, cast as mage-10, telepathy as helm of telepathy, SV F10, ML +2, AL C. Immune to gas, poison, sleep, charm, and hold. Has 1d12 stalks growing from it (below).

Fungal Stalk: AC 2, Move 0’, HD 2 (9 hp), attack one spell, SV F1, ML +4, AL C. Immune to gas, poison, sleep, charm, and hold. Can cast a single spell (determine randomly as for a scroll) at the minimum caster level for the spell. The stalk can cast the spell with a frequency determined by spell level: 1 (once per round), 2 (once every 1d6 rounds), 3 (once per hour), 4+ (once per day). A stalk glows when it casts, and can be interrupted just like a mage.

A non-fungal mage who casts a spell within 30’ of the fungal brain must make a save vs. Death or suffer 3d6 damage. If a caster drops below 0 hp from this damage, a new stalk grows on the fungal brain based on the spell that killed the caster. The fungal brain heals an amount equal to the damage dealt (a healthy fungal brain gains no further benefit).

The party’s invisibility is dispelled as they enter the room, and a telepathic voice resonates in their minds: SHALL WE PARLEY?

Galswintha recovers her voice first, “Yes, please?”


Chlodomer: “We do wish to protect them. We would rather you went elsewhere.”


Vulfelind: (sotto) “Friggin’ efreet wish …”

Chlodomer: “Our lands will be a lot costlier for you to acquire than others.”


Shadagrunde: “Then why aren’t you? Why parley?”


And with that, the telepathically-contacted storm giant down the hall reaches the dome and attacks.

Vulfelind, suspicious of the technicolor stalks sprouting off the fungal brain, decides to put a flaming crossbow bolt through one of them. It makes a hissing, screaming noise as it burns and falls off, and the remaining six stalks pulse like a neon rave party.

Vulfelind shakes off three simultaneous charm attempts; the brain splits into three identical images; and a web spell engulfs the party (missing Chlodomer).

Shadagrunde casts true seeing on Chlodomer, who spots the non-illusory brain and charges, leaping across the pit, cleaving through four glowing stalks … and then falls short of the other lip of the pit and tumbles into the pit, barely avoiding impalement on the spikes.

The storm giant puts the hurt on Vulfelind, and Galswintha conjures a wall of stone, shaped to provide a spiral staircase from the bottom of the pit to the top of the dome. … and blood begins running freely from her nose, as the spell opens her life force to draining by the brain.

Vulfelind casually and methodically ignites the web, loads her crossbow, and fires into each visible fungal brain, destroying the illusory duplicates.

Webbing catches Chlodomer in the pit, and the brain hits the main party with Confusion and Vulfelind with another Charm. She resists the charm, but not the confusion, and she stares blankly for a round.

Meanwhile, Shadagrunde tries to get the storm giant’s attention off Vulfelind by wailing away at its knees with his hammer. It works: and the returning axe blow very nearly kills Shadagrunde.

Galswintha, ignoring the pain, casts Dragonbreath and suffers another bout of drain. Still, she smiles, if bloodily - once cast, dragon’s breath lets her deal damage without further casting.

Vulfelind, confused, still manages a coherent realization: the brain’s stalks are casting spells, but so is the brain itself! When a moment of clarity arrives, she shoots the brain’s central mass, ruining whatever spell it was planning … and steps sideways just enough to prevent another area spell from catching most of the party.

She manages coherent thought long enough to interrupt it once more, and then avoids it when it attempts to smash her in person … and Chlodomer finally manages to make his way up the stairs, where he chops the remaining fungal stalks off.

Shadagrunde heals himself in time to barely survive the next axe chop … And Galswintha unleashes flaming draconic death at the storm giant. Then Shadagrunde gives one final chop before the giant takes him down, and Galswintha ends the fungal collosus’ life with a second blast of breath.

And then, while Vulfelind and Chlodomer tag-team the brain, Galswintha removes a diamond from her necklace of resurrection and shatters it next to Shadagrunde’s mangled, chopped corpse. Once he stands up, blinking in confusion, she breathes her last dragon fire at the brain, and the Grim Fist dog-pile and stomp into pieces the enemy brain.

… and the fungal bloom does not shudder, wither, or die. They can hear more monsters responding to its telepathic distress call in the halls outside. They are no longer invisible, and no one has much in the way of hit points.

They flee for their lives, although Chlodomer wists tearfully in the direction of the pit of dead adventurers and their gear and treasure.

Unfortunately, Shadagrunde did not make it out unscathed … his heart beats and blood flows, but something is not quite right (OOC: WIS -4, CON -4, and dropping total hp to 16.).

The impact on his Lady-granted intuition is too much for him, and he decides to retire. After some heartfelt discussion, he asks Chlodomer to take on Merideth le Chocolat as Matriarch of Galaufabonne, and with that agreed to: Galswintha provides Merideth with a full membership Grim Fist ring; Shadagrunde leaves her the gear he no longer needs; and Chlodomer presides over a small, informal initiation.

Shadagrunde leaves for the Thervingi Great Library, where his frail health and reduced wisdom will not impact his duties as severely: the Lady’s Church accepts his presence there as the immense boon that it is. (OOC: Indeed, he eventually becomes the primary ruler of the library sanctum, as its needs are more political than physical or spiritual.)

After the fungal brain was killed, the fungal forest ceased its outward growth, but did not die … and some additional research has yielded a possible answer: it is expending its growth to produce a new fungal brain, to direct its actions.

So they stage a series of raids and searches in the fungal cavern complex. And rather than make one major assault per month (OOC: stringing it out for the population boost of adventuring each month, heh), they murder their way across the entire hex, wiping out all of the fungus-infected animals the fungal bloom is using to defend itself. They also hit upon the idea of wearing masks to protect them from the fungal breath weapon, and it works!

With that in hand, they target and kill the remaining storm giants, wipe out the fungal roc’s hideout, kill off a series of deer herds, wolf packs, horrible zombie-fungus rabbits, a flight of hawks, and a fungus-infected bandit camp. (They also grab the pit adventurer loot, dig through twenty feet of mushroom flesh to find the roc’s treasure, and search high and low until they dig out the storm giant’s treasure room. Let it not be said that they forgot priorities.)

One interesting bit of treasure is a platinum skullcap with a black sapphire “third eye,” which turns out to be a helm of language comprehension. Galswintha begins wearing her hair in a braid.

Without protectors, and facing fat rust monsters along its southern border, the fungal bloom begins to constrict inward somewhat.

And then Vulfelind takes her canoe up into the sky with a surveyor and mapper … to identify the center toward which it is shrinking.

With a decent idea of where the center of the mushroom forest was, the party piled onto pegasuses and canoe … and hovering high above it, Galswintha summons an earth elemental to begin rending the earth looking for entrances to a deeper cavern, and once that is found, has it spend some time shattering tree-sized mushrooms in an orgy of destruction.

And then they retreat and amass their army … for next session.

Session 29
Summer, Month 8, Continued, and Month 9
The problem: the party wants to bring a small army of henches to the center of the fungal forest, which exceeds what an invisible canoe and two pegasi can carry.

The solution: Gear up a significant portion of the Galaufabonne army and march through the fungal forest, chopping it down as they go, to inject the smaller army of party members and henches into the center of the hex. In addition, they buy as much sulfur (a medieval/alchemical purifying agent and, amusingly enough, a real-world fungicide) as they can get their hands on.

Fortunately, they’ve cleared out most of the large predators and monsters, leaving only infected songbirds, rodents, and the like. Which are a pain, but not a serious threat.

I decide to treat it as a construction project, as if clearing a dirt road. They need it to be three miles long, and after some discussion, we settle on 100 feet wide, for a total cost of 1,875 gp.

The entire army is given careful instruction in the use of moist cloths over the mouth, and staying away from cute cloud-breathing bunnies.

Chlodomer has an army of 850 (labor 85 gp per day) for a total of 22 days of labor (shading into month 9). On day 11, the new fungal brain has grown, and it arrives to stomp down the enemy … armed with three fungal purple worms that the forest had in reserve.

A fungal purple worm is a horrible, horrible thing, unless you have a dragon-fire-breathing sorceress on the back of a pegasus. Galswintha finds her three-point position in the first round and begins layering hellfire on giant worm heads. She fails to kill any of them, but she costs them so much mass and life that Chlodomer, Vulfelind, and their henches manage to finish them off quickly.

Which leaves Merideth and her loyal knights fighting the brain by themselves.

Fortunately, this brain has more limited spellcasting abilities. It paralyzes several of Merideth’s knights’ horses and fireballs Merideth … who laughs it off and flame strikes the brain in return. This tit-for-tat goes around twice, and then the mounted knights arrive with their charge.

The brain explodes on the ends of their lances.

Now alert for tremors in the earth, the army continues its slash-and-burn across the three miles of giant mushrooms until they reach the heart unearthed by Galswintha’s earth elemental weeks prior.

Leaving the army at the entrance, the Grim Fist … manages a fairly anticlimactic conclusion. A few token fungal soldiers are all that are left guarding the center, a vast mycelium-encysted cavern. And here they dump sulfur everywhere that looks even vaguely lumpish, wait a few days to let the sulfur do its work, then throw fireballs and flame strikes down the tunnel, and then transport and unleash the rust monsters in the heart of the fungus.

Already, the giant fungal blooms are beginning to wilt and die back.

By the end of month 9, the entire hex resembles a hilly desert of rust-colored grit, and all of the loot they can find has been found.

Month 9’s OOC Administrative Stuff

The population of Galaufabonne tops 14,000 (4,700 in Bone Temple City). Aella adds a 1 gp/family tax (i.e., 14,000 gp) "just for a little while." Despite this, the domain produces just enough money for the party to get a little XP out of it.

No magical research is accomplished: the PCs were in the Fungal Forest for an entire month!

We do a laundry list of characters, henches, and hench-henches, and make sure everything is up to date. Of interest:

Chlodomer and Merideth both level (11th and 10th, respectively). Chlodomer is now the highest-level member of the party.

(Also amusing to me: every member of the core party has died at least once.)

Galswintha’s falcon familiar (“Petite”) exceeds the HD and hit points of a giant hawk … so we go ahead and say she’s been growing. Galswintha commissions some chainmail barding, saddle, specialized saddle bags, and silvered talon tips. Petite: AC 7, Move fly 450’, HD 10 (23 hp), attack 2x talons 1d4+1 (silvered, throw 5+), SV mage-10, AL L. Can carry 40 stone at full speed or 80 stone at half speed.

Galswintha’s and Vulfelind’s growing zoo of arctic foxes, war dogs, tigers, wolves, giant hawks, pegasi, and cave bears … finally get a permanent home other than the nearby forest.

A vague discussion Galswintha and Vulfelind had about a giant hawk military unit is concretized, and part of Bone Temple City’s garrison becomes the Flying Cataphract Cavalry:

Flying Cataphract Cavalry: Morale +2. 125 gold per month. Chain-barded giant hawk; plate armor, composite bow, shield and lance, shield and sword. Training time 20 months, requires a marshal with Manual of Arms x2, Riding (Giant Hawk), and Weapon Focus (Bows and Crossbows).

The marshal costs 500 gp/month. Since the hawks, marshal, available troops, and gold has been available for a long stretch of time, and since the reason it didn’t happen earlier was because I (th Judge) didn’t find time to discuss it, we retcon slightly and say that they’ve been training “all along.”

Given their resources, Galswintha and Vulfelind end up with 24 flying cataphract cavalry, which eats up 3,000 gp of garrison; the remainder of the garrison is 100 longbowmen and 300 heavy infantry. Chlodomer envies (Of course, he has no room to talk: he has a thousand-strong military … and he’s getting the bulk of the pegasi eggs to build another airborne cavalry unit.)

Some magic items are commissioned, and some magic item horse trading occurs between the players, and then some re-organization of which items are being loaned to which henches, and then some outright trades and gifts with the henches. It’s a good thing I took notes, because I no longer have any working memory of who has what.

Merideth’s cavalry unit is flat-out terrifying, and thankfully costs 35,000 gold per month to maintain: 7 cleric-8, 6 cleric-6, 12 fighter-4, plus Merideth herself (cleric-10), and the non-fighting support staff. The main issue - discovered in the second fight against the fungal brain - is that the mounts are fragile, and they’re trying to hink of ways around that.

I really like the highway construction project approach to clearing the fungal forest.

Session 30
OOC: Scheduling difficulties means that this is more of a summary of a few weeks of back-n-forth emails, one-on-one sessions, and spreadsheet tracking, with limited “full session with the whole party” time. It worked out okay, but definitely glad to be back on a regular schedule. I’m also kind of cheating with an overview of the results here, since I failed to take good notes. Sorry - please accept that it was either write this in summary fashion, or be unable to push myself to write it at all.

Year 6, Fall, Months 10, 11, and 12

Year 6 ends. Bone Temple City is Class II (and controls the new Orléans-Atanung Corridor). The total population of Galaufabonne is around 24,000 people.

Aella became Duke Aella, and the Red Duke was deposed … although he is rumored to have escaped Iamanu’s retirement plan (Vulfelind is keeping her ear to the ground).

Galswintha hits level 11. Neither Chlodomer nor Galswintha are able to get XP from domain income any more.

Galaufabonne hits 54 six-mile hexes, thanks to a sustained push to conquer all of the “almost conquered” hexes the Grim Fist keeps losing interest in. They build a LOT of fast, one-hex fortresses and dispense them to various henches.

King Chilperic II (Greuthungi) sends Duke Ageric d’Evreux to talk to Chlodomer about defecting. The upshot is this: okay, I tried to give you a diplomatic way to join us, but seriously, we’re going to war and Iamanu is not going to protect you; or you can defect now, and we will protect you from Iamanu.

Merideth completes one lady’s mace, and gifts it to her squire, and begins another.

Galswintha puts together the formula for her horrible, horrible dragonbreath torc, distills the essences required, and begins actual enchantment.

Year 7, Winter, Month 1

The population continues to grow (about 23,000 + Bone Temple 6,000). The PCs deal some damage to nearby hexes, but fail to clear any entirely.

Chlodomer goes on a military recruiting spree in Bone Temple City, hiring every mercenary in town - about 200 troops in all - and promising to hire more the following month. He also starts nosing around the idea of a peasant military force.

(OOC: We worked out a vague rule of thumb: up to 2% of the non-urban population can be recruited without impacting income - this is a “typical low-military state”. If he recruits more than that, I will start dropping service and land income arbitrarily, and reducing Domain Morale. That works out to about 2,300 untrained peasant soldiers, which he decides to have trained as light and heavy infantry to start with … and hires and scams his way through Bone Temple City and Orléans to get enough hirelings with Manual of Arms to do it.)

1,300 light infantry (52,000 gp to equip)
1,000 heavy infantry (73,000 gp to equip)

Expensive? Oh my yes, but it let him triple his army almost overnight.

… so now Greuthungi’s potential military might is only about 25x his size.

Vulfelind turns up a rumor of the location of the Red Duke, but nothing can be done about it for the moment. She keeps an ear out, however.

Year 7, Winter, Month 2, Day 1

One the first day of the second month of Winter, Iamanu flies in and arrives at the mountain fortress, the usual howdah of archers perched between his massive wings.

King Chilperic II of Greuthungi apparently spread some rumors that Chlodomer had already agreed to defect, and the dragon wished to determine the truth for himself. (And Chlodomer’s CHA 18 once again paid off, because it bought him the few seconds necessary to declare the rumors lies of the worst sort.)

Chlodomer explains the situation to the dragon and asks for military aid, to which the dragon replies, “Speak to Aella. I will aid her if she aids you, but I do not wish to step on her administration of this region.”

Satisfied that the rumors were baseless, the dragon leaves.

Epic! Positively epic! I love reading about this campaign.


Prelude to Session 31
OOC: Since my players are now all reading the session reports, this is a small teaser for them, regarding this weekend’s game


Duke Ageric d’Evreux was a well-built man with impeccable fingernails and a voice like honeyed gold who - by dint of skill and treachery, ruled a realm of roughly 52,000 families spread across multiple regions, the largest of which he retained for himself.


A man of ambition and taste, and obsessed with his personal myth, he once commissioned a thousand brushes of finest copper wire, to give his army’s drums a distinctive sound - a sound that said, unambiguously, “Duke d’Evreux marches.”


That sound, that statement, was now just audible from the westmost corners of the Galaufabonne Highway. Genofeva heard it and understood what it meant. Her liege had long known she was the third daughter of a duke who left for Paris to forge her own fortune. She’d never mentioned which duke, but it was probably time to clear that up.


She sent two light cavalry east to alert Galaufabonne Court, and two more to alert Orléans. And then she just listened for a while, to the vain, pompous drumming.

A faint, feral smile passed her lips … or perhaps her servants just imagined it.

Session 31
OOC: Three battles. I fudged one as “obvious winner,” and we did a lot of backs-of-the-envelope and “sample rolls” for the other two. DAW needs to be published now, please?

Year 7, Winter, Month 2, Week 1

Aella Sappheiros arrives within days of the request for aid, in her signature silk burqa, ebon bow, unusual khopesh and shield, and jet-colored warhorse, her personal companions and three hundred cataphract archers in retinue (and a pack of 20 surrounding Aella ride steeds black as coal and bear themselves with the arrogance of the proven elite).

(OOC: Galswintha pointed out that the monthly wages of Aella’s “military aid” was worth approximately half of what the party was paying her in taxes each month.)

Orléans arrives as well, with a thousand light infantry.

Galswintha … arrives with six treants, each with a platform pavilion carefully anchored at the shoulder. Each bears one of Galswintha’s spellcasting companions and their apprentices and bodyguards, save the one that bears Galswintha herself. The Bone Temple Flying Cataphract Cavalry find prepared nesting spots in the branches.

And of course, two thousand Galaufabonne peasants trained as infantry, another thousand troops of mixed sort, and another two hundred elite units led by Chlodomer’s closest.

Merideth’s small group of cavalry almost looks pathetic in comparison, until you remember that each and every member of her cavalry is a seasoned Knight of the Church, and easily worth a hundred infantry each.

Aerial passes fail to reveal the Duke’s true location, but the size of the army at Atanung Gate … feels wrong. Vulfelind glares at her maps for several minutes, nose twitching, before sending foxes and fliers racing northeast and southwest. Her hunch proves correct: the Duke has split his considerable forces and marched through wilderness to attack Bone Temple and Rust Hills while the Atanung Gate units tie up Chlodomer’s forces.

She’s more annoyed that her Atanung spies didn’t know.

It appears that the smallest force is marching toward Rust Hills: Chlodomer sends Merideth’s knights and the Orléans infantry there. Galswintha sends two caster-laden treants along with.

The largest force is actually marching on Bone Temple. Chlodomer sends … where is Vulfelind, again? Oh, already on her way. Right then.

Chlodomer sends Aella, two of Galswintha’s treant units, the entire Galaufabonne peasant militia, and Genofeva’s elite cavalry to Bone Temple, “to support Vulfelind as she makes her wishes known.”

He takes the remaining elite units, led by Haramer and Adela, his personal guard, and the last two treants … and marches around the enemy and straight toward Atanung itself.

Battle at Atanung

The Duke's army, absent the Duke, finds themselves at a disadvantage. The much smaller force led by Chlodomer is faster than they are ... and marched a circle to cut off supply lines and attack the city several miles behind them.

The vulnerable city whose soldiers they only just requisitioned. Soldiers whose homes are now behind enemy lines.

They race back, on the defensive, directly into a fog bank. Some units face randomly attacking trees. Others, a hail of blindly-fired arrows. Still others, suddenly treacherous and muddy earth. And yet another, the dull whump whump whump of fireballs. Sound and light, muffled by the fog, tells of the battles the others face.

The Duke’s archmage, left to run this offensive, angrily breaks the seal on an enchanted cylinder and causes the fog to break as suddenly as it had arrived.

… and finds himself directly in the path of a cavalry charge, aimed by the lowly detect magic and led by the tip of Adela’s magical lance. One of the shining lights of the Greuthungi kingdom, an archmage and chancellor and count of many lands … meets death on the tip of a lance and is then buried beneath churning hooves.

Haramer’s heavy infantry does not charge: they march. They grind inexorably into the flank of the amassed army and crush the green soldiers between themselves and the cavalry.

And Chlodomer … charges into the fray like an invincible, golden god. Spears and arrows fail to touch him. Swords and polearms fail to dent his spirit or his charge. Blooded veterans die by the dozen at his feet, as he spins through their ranks.

His grim, determined face speaks of no joy in this, only duty, but in that duty, he is the scythe before the wheat.

The wheat’s morale breaks. Leaderless and losing badly, two thousand soldiers still standing retreat and surrender as they can to the might of a few hundred.

Chlodomer then grants mercy: He restrains his troops from harrying the retreaters, and gives permission of the field to those who surrendered, to recover their wounded and dead. He does not allow them into Atanung, however, and he does take loot and prisoners.

He then he sends Adela to Bone Temple to assist there.

Merideth’s Charge and the Subsequent Battle of Rust Hills

A quarter of the way to Rust Hills, and already feeling the slowness of the Orléans infantry, Merideth changes the plan. She plots out a map, tells the Orléans general where to go (Genofeva's stronhold along the highway, currently mostly empty) and sends a letter along with to authorize him to install his soldiers there, and then takes her knights and the treants into the wilderness to catch the Duke's forces and drive them to the stronghold.

Duke Ageric d’Evreux sent a small-but-elite force to Rust Hills. The intent was to take the path of least resistance to the core of Galaufabonne, punching a hole straight to the mountain while the main force took the city.

It was a pretty good plan.

The problem is that Merideth’s cavalry of twenty-five can utterly destroy a unit of a hundred soldiers in a single charge … even elite units (fighter-2 and fighter-3). And they precede this charge with heavenly fire storms and prayers.

The Duke’s men, consisting of five hundred archers and a thousand light infantry, many of them levels 1-2, find themselves retreating toward the dwarven highway, no remaining archers to speak of and exhausted by the constant running and harrying.

They believe that they are being chased by a small, desperate contingent of Chlodomer’s forces who discovered the Duke’s flanking strategy. The idea that they were being herded only occurs to them when they see the fully staffed fortress ahead, infantry positioned to cut off escape.

With Merideth riding up behind, they surrender almost immediately.

Disarmed and garrisoned, to be ransomed later, Merideth arranges with Genofeva’s steward to make sure they get appropriate rest, food, and healing … and then splits her two forces in half, taking half her knights and Orléans infantry toward Bone Temple, and leaving half to watch the prisoners.

The extra troops each sent to Bone Temple turn out to be a good thing.

Battle at Bone Temple

Taking the highway rather than the wilderness, there is never any doubt that Vulfelind's forces will arrive first, and while there is no time for fancy defenses, there is time to evacuate the most vulnerable portions of the city and set up some minimal positioning for siege.

And then Merideth arrives with half her knights and half the Orléans infantry.

And then Adela arrives with her cataphracts/cavalry.

… and then Iamanu arrives.

When Duke Ageric shows up, he takes one look at the level of preparation that has preceded his arrival, and runs up a flag for parley. Galswintha and Merideth both offer to go, and then Vulfelind points out, “That’s a Duke. Aella is our Duchess.”

And so Aella rides her charcoal beast and the Duke his white charger, to meet in the middle of the field. They talk, quietly. Vulfelind fidgets. Galswintha serenely admires her nails. Merideth paces her horse, back and forth.

And then a pack of blink dogs appears around Aella, pulling her from her horse, and the Duke brings his sword to her neck.

And that’s the last of the Duke’s planning that occurs as intended.

Aella’s snakes tear her veil open and all but one blink dog turns to stone instantly. The horse … breathes fire, washing the remaining blink dog, Aella, and the Duke with purifying fire.

The Duke manages to avoid the worst of it, but on closing his eyes to save himself from the medusa’s gaze, fails to keep a solid grip on her - she remains held by statues of dogs, but manages to save herself from decapitation.

Iamanu launches into the sky.

Galswintha … teleports next to the Duke and Aella, and then, before the Duke can respond, teleports Aella back to her side of the battlefield. The Duke slashes her across the face with his sword, moments before shrieking giant falcons dive bomb him in sequence, driving him back and giving Galswintha time to stumble away.

And then a vast, charcoal dragon drops on top of the Duke, crushing his horse and swallowing him whole.

The battle begins in earnest.

No one-sided battle, this: fireballs fly from both sides, and arrows darken the skies. Infantry mash together and collapse back, exhausted. Blink dogs trained as war dogs, heavily armored and with massive jaws, are balanced by giant falcons, archers, and animated trees. Galaufabonne lycanthropes find themselves fighting wolfsbane and golems and magical weapons.

Clerics try to save their leaders first, and anyone they can help, second.

In the end, Galaufabonne wins the day … but no one could have been spared, and there are still far too many dead. Merideth’s Knights of the Church are the only ones who seem untouched.

Iamanu, his wings tattered and his scales battered, provides a sudden and sodden explanation for why he never used his breath weapon during the battle: he spits out the Duke, pinned in his mouth for the melee, onto the field and rests one mighty paw on the human’s chest.

Iamanu: "You betrayed the flag of parley, human, and attacked my favored Duchess for minor advantage in the field of battle. How would you plead for your traitor's life?"

Ageric: “Favored duchess? She is a monster!”

Iamanu: “Which you only discovered after you betrayed parley. And I would note, for those blind to such things,” and here the dragon leans in close to the Duke’s head, before roaring loud enough to shake trees, “I. AM. A. FAR. WORSE. MONSTER.” The dragon shakes its head as if to rid foul water, “Now. How would you plead for your traitor’s life?”

Ageric: “I apologize, Lord Dragon. So great a being as yourself seemed beyond mere definitions of human or monster, and I spoke hastily. I plead only …”

… and so the Duke’s silver tongue earns its keep in his head.

Vulfelind positions herself next to Aella while the talking occurs, and suggests, quietly, that Aella let Galswintha divide the spoils … largely on account of the fact that people actually like Galswintha, so Aella can receive a substantial bit of spoils without anyone nailing her snakes to a doorway.

Aella agrees, and with that, the battle is essentially over. Galswintha adjudicates the distribution of loot, widow and family fees for the dead, and ledgers and arranges for the prisoners to be ransomed. Aella is reasonably happy with her share; Chlodomer is ecstatic about his; and the dragon … doesn’t seem to care about his.

Not that he doesn’t take it.

The remainder of time is spent in clean-up.

OOC: In the midst of Vulfelind and Aella’s conversation, I was told that I had to provide Wordthief’s contribution in the write-up for this week, so we reconstructed it and I am including it here as a sort of postscript:

Appendix: Wordthief Likes To Talk

Vulfelind: "Look. People like her. They don't like you." Aella: "And if you were in my boots?" Wordthief: "If she were in YOUR boots, she wouldn't have needed rescuing." Vulfelind: "Shush, you!" Wordthief: "I'm just saying, blink dogs? Really? You petrified the blink dogs after they pinned you?" Vulfelind: "A certain sword shushes his mouth now if he wants silk scabbard privileges!" Wordthief: "Yeah, yeah, shoot the messenger." Aella: "How would you have handled the blink dogs?" Vulfelind: "Er.. aheh. I, uhm, ..." Wordthief: "She figured.." Vulfelind: "HE SHUSHES IT NOW!" Wordthief: "..." Aella: "You figured?" Vulfelind: "I figured ... if it was a trap, you were tougher than Galswintha." Aella: "Ah. 'If'?" Vulfelind: "Er, sure." Wordthief: "I am so shushed."

OOC: Next week