I have run ACKS before, though not in significant quantities. Two of the players have decent experience with the more recent iterations of the game. One has not played for more than a decade. I am liberally supplementing Sinister Stone with various one-page dungeons, because I am lazy.
- Chalupa Batman (“CB”), a Zaharan Ruinguard
- Doctor Senor Foggy (“The Doctor”), a Nobiran Wonderworker
- Sinbad, a Venturer
- Borgnar, a Mystic
- Maximus, a Thrassian Gladiator
- Aladdin, an Elvish Nightblade
In recent months, beastmen attacks have ravaged the fertile farms of the Borderlands. Lacking the manpower to stop them himself, the stern and proud Legate of the mighty fortress Türos Tem has put out a call for brave (or foolhardy) adventurers. They will risk their lives and stop the attacks for gold and glory (and XP, obviously). Six such would-be heroes answer the call and make their way to Türos Tem to halt the beastman tide.
En route, they encountered travelers and heard some peculiar rumors. Some said that the Legate himself was to blame for the attacks, somehow. Others suggested a renegade elvish wizard-lord, nursing a grudge against the empire for centuries, had decided finally to air his grievances. Others still blamed the local dwarvish enclaves, though they failed to provide a motive.
Only a day or so away from the mighty keep, the party reached the edge of the mysterious Viaspen Forest and noticed a column of smoke rising a small distance away toward the forest. They considered investigating, but ultimately continued on the road toward Türos Tem. Until, that is, they ran into a squad of Auran legionaries. The squad was led by a brute unpleasant in both appearance and demeanor, Peleos Methori. Despite the grimace he gave upon seeing yet more adventures, he shared with them that he had been ordered to provide aid to a village of charcoal burners that had been attacked by goblins. Suspecting this might be connected to the beastman attacks as a whole, the party offered to accompany the soldiers.
During the walk, the party befriended a young soldier, Virgil, who was clearly in awe of the adventurers' skill. It was learned that Maximus had been raised in the fighting pits of Arganos, jewel of Southern Argölle. The young Virgil asked Maximus what the biggest thing he had ever killed was. The stoic lizard-man (man-lizard?) responded, “My father”. No one knew if he were telling the truth.
Upon reaching the charred remnants of the village, the charismatic Sinbad smoothly made contact with the local headman, learning that the goblins had since departed and were likely taking refuge in a nearby slave pit that dated back to Old Zahar. The adventurers sensed that the time had come for them to adventure something. Before departing, they were warned by the headman that the slave pits contained a great stone door no one had ever succeeded in opening.
They hastened toward the pit, which had been dug underneath a great tree on the outskirts of the forest. They moved through the pit, dispatching many goblins with little remorse and much efficiency. Tragedy struck, though, when an unexpected arrow flew from the darkness and pierced The Doctor in the leg. Swift ministrations by Maximus saved the good doctor's leg, but it was clear that he would need a week to convalesce. After a brief debate, it was decided that the doctor would be sent back with the soldiers to Türos Tem while the rest of the party continued exploring the slave pit. Now bereft of their healer, the party continued their slaying of the goblins. (The adventurers briefly left the pit to escort Senor Foggy back to the charcoal burners' village. Upon returning, they found that the thoughtful goblins had written “GO AWAY HUMIES” on the walls using the blood of a hapless villager, a request they gleefully ignored.)
The course of events nearly turned against the heroes when they were flanked by two groups of goblins, one containing “Da Boss”. But the razor-sharp teeth and claws of Maximus (a remarkable 18 Str, 16 Dex, 18 Con after buying up prime requisites) tore through the hapless beastmen and carried the day. Taking stock of their surroundings, the party found that they had discovered the aforementioned stone door. Inscribed on it in the hateful glyphs of Old Zahar, among the standard supplications to various demonic overlords, were numerous warnings that the door in question should never be opened. Ever. After yet more debate and pointed reminders about the absence of their healer, these warnings were heeded. For now.
Instead, the heroes ventured down another passage and discovered, in a room filled with ancient treasure, a crystalline statue of an elf that promptly animated. Its fierce blows beat down on hardy Maximus' scaly scalp and mangled one of his ears. His last words before succumbing were to encourage his friends to flee, and for a time it seemed they would. But Borgnar and Chalupa Batman bravely stepped forward and shattered the statue to pieces. Post-battle medical attentions revealed that Maximus would be bedridden for two weeks. Having explored all that they could find and slain every goblin inside, the party decided to leave the slave pits and allow their members to recover at Türos Tem. During the walk back, the savvy Sinbad opined that the statue's elvish nature suggested that one of the rumors they had heard might in fact be true.
The period of recuperation passed without much event. Sinbad presented the heads of the goblins the group had slain to the Legate. However, his method of doing so was to dump them all out onto the Legate's extravagant upholstery, a decision that could have had far more serious repercussions than it in fact did. Leveraging Sinbad's mercantile connections, Aladdin was able to procure for himself a pet osprey, which he named Bloodwing. The group discovered too that another group of adventurers had been staying at Turos Tem, but had just recently left to explore the Viaspen and search for the lair of the beastman hordes. The party's natural courses of actions were either to seek out these Fierce Brethren, or to return to the mysterious stone door. The latter was chosen. In retrospect, it may have been the more unwise of the two options.
Luckily, no other creatures had taken up residence in the pits since the party's departure, and they quickly returned to the great door. Much debate and discussion ensued regarding possible ways to force it open. Ignoring all such plans, Chalupa Batman merely walked over to the door and pushed. His action's simplicity may have belied a deep understanding of the vagaries of ancient Zaharan sorceries. Or he may simply have been impatient. In any case, the door was open, and it led to a dank, dark, and deep pit. This pit could be descended only via a series of spindly railings hacked into the walls. The party cautiously began to edge along these railings, unsure of what they might find.
They were less than delighted to meet the pit's inhabitant, a black ooze abomination covered in putrescent, mutated tendrils of gooey flesh-substance. Merely gazing upon its unnatural visage caused Borgnar, CB, and Aladdin to lose all nerve and desire nothing more than to flee. The others stood ready, and, perhaps foolishly, made ready to fight. The newly recovered Doctor blasted the monstrosity with a gout of sorcerous flame, and Sinbad loosed a surprisingly accurate crossbow bolt. Unfortunately, the bolt split the creature into two new halves! It was at this point that Fate turned against the brave adventurers. In quick succession, Maximus and Chalupa Batman were hewn apart by the creatures' unnatural tendrils. The day clearly lost, Sinbad was forced to make a hasty retreat, albeit one of his own volition. The abomination let him flee, sated by the flesh of the still conscious Chalupa and Maximus. Outside of the slave pit, their madness of fear having lifted, the four survivors wondered what they had loosed upon the world.
Mortal Wound Count:
- Doctor Senor Foggy: torn ACL via goblin arrow (so yes, he literally took an arrow to the knee)
- Maximus: ear mangled by forceful application of crystalline statue's fist
- Chalupa Batman: Body consumed and then dissolved by acidic tendrils of Zaharan abomination
- Maximus: Body consumed and then dissolved by acidic tendrils of Zaharan abomination