Saturday, October 20, 2012

An Unexpected Adventure - Werewolves

One of the great things about D&D is that when you're not forcing things onto rails, adventures and stories can take so many wonderful twists and turns. Well, the session I had this afternoon illustrated that beautifully.

We had just cleared a catacomb, vanquishing a necro-alchemist that had taken residence there, using the dead for his experiments. After finding our way to the entrance below to the keep, we headed to there to plan our next moves with the Lord Warren of the city. As we passed through the grounds, wa saw a small cadre of soldiers known as the Midnight Duelists; though their duty is constant, they're an elite force that hunts vampires, lycanthropes, and the like. On nights where the moon is full or creatures are expected to be on the prowl, the city imposes a strict curfew; for the protection of the citizens, and to let the duelists work unhindered. Tonight the howlpack, a large group of werewolves, has been seen in the woods beyond the north-east wall.

So within the Keep, how someone might have infiltrated the catacombs and where they could procure alchemy equipment so very rare is the topic of discussion so that it can be determined how to proceed. When our dragonborn excuses himself, yet asks if he can borrow a small scroll. Though puzzled, the Warren complies. Striding down the hall, the dragonborn finds a study, the walls lined with books and scrolls containing census records and the history of the city; presumably belonging to the Lord Warren. He manages to fake the Warrens handwriting, giving himself permission to shadow the midnight duelists. He also finds and uses the wax seals which give authority and legitimacy to the Warrens letters.

Finding them assembling, with a letter 'from the Warden' in hand, he is invited to shadow them, and is given the padded leather armor and runed silver swords that are the equipment of the duelists. In the woods, the howlpack is heard in the distance. Heading to a prearranged location, two groups meet in a copse of trees, yet have alerted the howlpack to their presence in their haste. The copse is made of tall oaks with thick, fanning branches, and ropes hanging down. Scrambling, they make it into the canopy, and await the werewolves. The great beasts stalk into the clearing, fanning out, snuffling about the trail of brush the duelists ran through in their rush for the trees. They soon find their way near the base of each tree where the duelists are. Giving a signal, he jumps down, his dragon breath engulfing the closely clustered wolves and setting the battleground alight. Plunging with his new silver blade, it lands between the shoulder blades of the wolf nearest him and presses it farther as it ruptures the creatures sternum. The others, pressing the advantage, plunge upon the beasts that panic in the flames ending many of them, though one duelist does nearly meet her death at the claws of one of these beasts. Yet soon, amongst the charred underbrush of the clearing, the six duelists stand victorious over the slain werewolves. As the dawn shows itself over the distant mountains, a pyre is lit to set these lost creatures to rest.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fastigium - Heart of the Empire

I apologize for the delay in this post. I've been just a bit harried between losing a job (one of two, fortunately), and tests on the horizon for a few classes. Yet with things getting crunched, I'm committed to no less than three posts per week barring tragedy. Thank you for reading, and without further delay, Fastigium.

The War of Corruption seemed to be a losing battle. Caelum's sons were being cut down by the thousands, and every day another city burned. On those rare occasions when the scattered Crusaders did meet the Armies of the Nine Hells en masse it was near always a delay tactic, giving the refugees precious time in their desperate trek north. In a time fraught with peril it was punctuated by moments of heroism. People willfully staying behind to give the last horses to women and children. Men and women of every age and social strata taking up arms to stand in the way of a tide they could not possibly hold back. And of course, the countless thousands of Crusaders who gave their last breath for their home. It was not until the Battle of the Bleached Hills and the Rise of the Angel of Hope that the tide was finally turned aside.

Des Nekketh was a city of refugees for the years spent recovering from the war. Tens of thousands had managed their way north, yet once across the river, what home was there for them? The tenements within the cities walls grew overnight, and camps all around the city covered the fields for miles. Yet over the course of a few years, they dispersed. Some found permanent residence in and around Des Nekketh, others trekked along the river to the Theocracy of Astu Fides. Still more accustomed quickly to a gypsy like lifestyle and found a home in the Emerald Vale to the east. Yet the large body found themselves once again heading north. There was work and land to be had, and it left farther behind the painful memories of a lost home.

They were welcome outside the walls of the fortress of Fastigium, the northernmost citadel of the now fallen Kingdom of Caelum. The flat expanses that made up the southern panorama from the fortresses walls soon became tilled, and the forests that covered the foothills to the north were soon home to lumberers. The citadel, long unused for military purpose, came to tower above a wooden city grown outside its walls. As a season faded to a year, to a decade, to near a century, aqueducts coming from the mountains irrigated the farmlands and quenched the thirst of a metropolis, of which the citadel is now the seat of government and military. The line of Odric, the progenitor being the man who led a great body of refugees north from Eden itself, now presides as Wardens of the city, and Fastigium has become something of a capitol. Its armies are the only other than Dythans which holds influence beyond its own borders, and stand alone in terms of those that are welcome.

As a city it is one of stark contrasts. Though sprawling in every direction, even the manors of the city that most closely hug it are dwarfed by the enormity of the Citadel. And though it is no longer such, it maintains some remnants of its past as a refugees city. Brothels are a common sight in every neighborhood, rich or poor, and it is even such that some women are slaves in all but name. 'Indentured Servants' of a nobleman or wealthy merchant who out of 'kindness' took young girls in under their own roofs. It's a site all too common to cities that thrive upon commerce.