I’ve launched another in-person campaign recently, with a couple of college buddies who moved back to town recently and one friend of theirs. Our premise is Midnight-esque; the kingdoms of men and dwarves have fallen to darkness, conquered by the orcish hordes of the North united beneath an exiled prince, Naxander the Conqueror. The elves avoided this fate by invoking a powerful cataclysm which rent the earth asunder, turning their home forests into the mist-shrouded Isle of Avalon. Ten years ago, Naxander, on his deathbed with a strange fever, willed his empire “to the strongest!” of his lieutenants, and so now the world is divided into principalities, each ruled by a powerful creature of chaos. These Shadowkings watch each other warily, eager to exploit any weakness and legitimize their claim on the Empire as a whole.
Our region of interest is the Fjordland, a Scandinaviesque region of high mountains, forested hills, and long fjords. Hafnir the Troll Lord rules the west, including the relatively-bountiful Vale of Traitors, while the great dragon Verlath the Incandescent rules the east and taxes the orcish emigrants from the ice wastes as they march south along the Glassroad to the City of Red Iron, where they board ships crewed by the human Varyags and sail for the fertile lands across the inner sea.
- Scarth the Mage - sent by Elven Intelligence via fairy ring to retrieve a powerful artifact from the Monastery of the Sun atop Bear Mountain. Recently learned fireball.
- Roger the Fighter - Scarth's henchman
- Galinda the Good - Scarth's henchwitch. As all clerics in this setting are of the Corrupting Darkness in the North, clerics are not available to the PCs, instead being replaced by witches, shamans, and elves with divine points instead of arcane. So far we're pretty happy with witch - delay disease and cause fear have both come in handy.
- Scorn the Varangian - Scarth's henchman
- Dr Owl, MD - Scarth's familiar, has Healing III, provides excellent medical advice most of the time.
- The Bear Brothers - a pair of bearsarkers, Alioth and Alkaid, native Northmen who worship the Old Gods and live in a longhouse (Bearholm) on the slopes of Bear Mountain. The elder of the two (I think it's Alioth?) has recently become shapestrong.
- James the Dwarf - The last survivor of his vault after the water was contaminated by the Blight. Wandered out of the mountains and arrived at Bearholm.
- Cassidy Rose - James' wilderness guide and crossbowwoman
- Eddy and Rex (I think?) - James' war dogs.
I’m three sessions behind, so my chronology on this won’t be perfect, but things have gone something like this:
On their first trip to the peak of Bear Mountain, a four-hour hike from Bearholm, the party found the monastery-fortress’ gatehouse occupied by orcish archers! These they slew, keeping one for interrogation. This captive informed them that there were many more orcs inside the monastery, grouped in the east-central building. They also learned of a dragon and an enormous magical horn in the northwestern tower, and that there were some yetis in the fortress, after which they let him go down the mountain weaponless. After some scouting, they decided to attack the orcish building, which turned out to be the monastery’s kitchen, food-storage, and refectory complex. The first room they entered was used for cheese-making, and some of the cheese had yellow-molded. Saves were made and nobody died. The Elder Bear, who boasts divine health, set about gathering yellow mold spores for use as biological weapons. After this they entered the food storage area, which contained many (>20) orcs. These they slew swiftly with sleep, swords, and dogs. The next room was the chieftain’s, and he put up a better fight, in party due to his magic sword of elven make. The party gained the upper hand, but reinforcements arrived from the final room in the orcish complex. The Elder Bear made a valiant stand, but rolled really poorly and was crushed beneath a wave of orcs. Scarth dropped a sleep, the chieftain was slain, and the dogs cleaned up the survivors. Galinda and Dr. Owl tended to the Elder Bear well, and he came to without serious harm, having had a vision of the Great Bear, who showed him a metal rod immersed in magma beneath the monastery.
After this they gathered what treasure the orcs possessed and returned to the gatehouses. On their way back, they noticed yetis inhabiting a wooden building near the gate, and decided to slay them. The bearsarkers laid military oil around the building, two yetis who came out were put to sleep, and the rest were slain with fire and arrows. The two sleeping yetis were killed and skinned for their fine pelts. They also scouted around another of the buildings in the complex, peeking in the windows to find many tiny white spiders. They decided to not enter this building for the time being.
After this they went back down the mountain to Bearholm with a load of trade goods captured from the orcs, and made merry. I think this concluded the first session.