Monday, 30 April 2012

Bugbear surprise and a nods as good as a wink

'From the sounds of bloody murder I take it you dispatched the bugbears.' - Cullen De Filch

The secret garden was the perfect sanctuary in which the heroes were able to rest, heal and prepare themselves for the coming conflict. When ready they ventured forth through the secret door that shielded the garden from the prying eyes of the foul humanoids that infested the corrupted temple. They flung open a nearby door to discover a barracks where a mix of goblinoids rested with only a token guard posted. By venturing during the day the band had caught the nocturnal humanoids unawares. The initial guards were swiftly dispatched with the bands bloodthirsty henchmen leaping into the fray gleefully stabbing at the sleeping creatures. It was bloody murder. A pair of hobgoblins put up a spirited defense while their companions roused themselves from their slumber but it was all for naught. A few of the goblinoids made a dash for a set of stairs leading down found at the end of the barracks. Alas they were cut down just as they began their frantic descent, their corpses tumbling to rest at the base of the stairs.

Milgos slipped on the ring that was never far from his side. He kept it on a chain around his neck so that he would never lose it. It was his most valuable possession. The ring, once worn, turned the wearer invisible and so Milgos began to scout the base of the stairs and the nearby tunnels. Ugh got down to work stripping and looting the bodies, overturning beds and cracking open table and chair legs in the hope that some mad man had hidden something valuable within. His search was rewarded as he discovered a magnificent shield strapped to the arm of a decapitated hobgoblin. Upon the shield was the heraldic device of a dancing boar. Ugh discarded his old shield and replaced it with the new for it was magic and thus quantitatively better.
‘It’s fun slaughtering things.’ Growled Fang in the tongue of dogs that only canines and Ugh could speak. ‘This is easy.’ ‘Yes.’ Replied Ugh “Almost too easy and I do enjoy a good slaughter every now and then.’
Burke jostled Betty speaking softly “Look he’s talking to his dog again. That half orc is a right nutter.”
Milgos returned from his scouting expedition. From the numerous tunnels available to explore the group chose to strike west. There they found a sitting room in which a pot of foul looking stew boiled. A quick search revealed little of value so they pressed on. Soon they discovered a small cell containing a bunk bed and other sparse furnishings that they ransacked. Milgos was adamant that something lay in the room and in his failure to find it he toppled over the bunk in frustration. The loud crash coupled with a stream of dark elf curses echoing through the tunnels was sure to draw attention.

Surprise. Burke gets a case of mace face.
Bugbears heard them for it was in this portion of the dungeon that they made their lair. Creeping up on the group from behind a mighty bugbear struck, or would have if I had have rolled decently. Battle was joined and bugbears swarmed in from both ends of the corridor trapping the group. The melee was a bloody affair in which Fang was dealt several vicious blows sending him whimpering back to his master for protection. A savage battleaxe blow to the chest felled Betty. She lay convulsing on the cold stone floor till Jana the cleric swooped in with a timely healing prayer. While his companions lives hung in the balance Milgos has slipped on the ring yet again and had scampered behind the bugbear lines. As the battle turned against them Milgos struck stabbing with his newly acquired magic dagger and running riot amongst the bugbears back ranks. One towering brute turned on the dark elf and struck him a mighty blow. Despite the unfamiliar pain Milgos continued his frenzied assault swing both blades about him like some possessed dervish. The bugbears dropped one by one and yet fought to the death for unbeknownst to the heroes these brutes had were part of a bizarre suicide cult seeking death at the hands of adventurers. With the massacre complete Ugh began looting the still twitching corpses discovering some adventurers gear and a neat axe. Meanwhile Milgos did some more scouting under the cover of invisibility. The dark elf discovered a sealed door which he cautiously inched open. Hearing an unnatural hissing noise from the other side he figured caution was the order of the day and slowly reclosed the door.

Exploring the bugbears portion of the dungeon the group discovered a locked portal. A cultured voice called from beyond ‘I say good chaps, be sports and release me. From the sounds of bloody murder I take it you dispatched the fiendish bugbears whom were my erstwhile captors.’ Milgos set about the lock with his set of picks. The lock was a simple matter for the thief and popped open in no time.
The tall well-groomed prisoner gave his liberators a deep bow. ‘I see you are a man of the trade. An artful dodger if you know what I mean and I think you do.’ The remarkably well-kept prisoner touched his nose twice and tweaked his right ear. He continued to speak in thieves’ cant, a language that left all but Milgos bewildered. ‘Hook me up with a razor and I’ll shiv any burke that hopes to crack your eggs.’
Burke, one of Milgos’ henchmen took puzzled offense at this. ‘Ere, what’s this fancy prisoner talking about me for boss?’
‘Don’t trouble yourself Burke. He is speaking in cant. The language used by thieves.’ Milgos turned once more to the prisoner ‘what is your handle? Which branch are you from?’
“Cullen De Filch from the second pan handlers league at your service. Have you seen my stash?’
‘We have your equipment. You can have it back but we part ways soon. We don’t need two thieves.’
Cullen De Filch skulked to the back of the party where he would have no impact on further events.
 ‘Hold on a moment’ insisted Jana as she murmured a prayer to her god which granted her the ability to sense evil. Cullen was clean but the helmet Ugh had liberated from an undead treasure horde weeks ago radiated strong evil. Jana made the connection to Ugh’s recent behaviour that was more violent and brutal than ever. She surreptitiously shared her concerns with Milgos but the dark elf dismissed her concerns with a shrug saying ‘Let him be evil if he wants.’

Done with the bugbear passages the group turned their attention south. Once again Milgos led the way shrouded in invisibility. He soon saw the warm glow and heard the clash of hammers that suggested that a forge lay up ahead. Turning a corner he saw close to a dozen hobgoblins and a bugbear overseer forging weapons most likely for the hobgoblin Khan’s army. A sleep spell saw the bulk of the hobgoblins take a nap though by some odd whim of fate none collapsed into anything hot or painful despite their hazardous surroundings. Sadly for the humanoids their surroundings would only become more hazardous as the heroes brought the pain with blade, magic missile and mace. With their foes dispatched the heroes discovered that they had rescued a dwarf whose movement was impeded by a ball and chain attached to his leg. If they were to rescue the stout fellow the ball and chain would have to go. Both Cullen and Milgos attempted to pick the chains lock but failed. Ugh took it upon himself to work the forge and melt and hack the chain apart. Whilst the long task of liberation unfolded the dwarf told them his tale. His name was Ghuran Pickaxe and he had been captured along with his prospecting expedition almost a year ago. He had been made to work the forge and teach the humanoids the secret of dwarven smithing. He knew the hobgoblins were planning a raid soon but was vague on the details.

Felling the need to train, the band returned to the surface, trudged through the West Wood and three days later had returned to civilization. This left the hobgoblin Khan valuable time to strengthen his forces and prepare for any further adventurer incursions.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Crumbling walls and arguing ogres

'Six down and ninety-four to go.' - Milgos keeps tally of the deceased hobgoblins.

Dawn arrived and Ugh’s watch was done. He shook the Halfling priestess Jana awake. Fang was already up and busy scratching himself in the corner. Camping so close to the ruins made the half orc nervous. He would have preferred to rest back at the city but the forest was huge and finding this place had taken so long that he took a chance and camped on the ruined temples doorstep. His gamble had paid off as while there had been plenty of noise and activity about the ruin; no creatures had taken a direct interest in them over night. Breakfast was a simple affair of dried jerky and nuts, the typical ‘iron ration’. They ate in silence, Jana wasn’t one for conversation and even though Ugh could understand Fangs growls he found the hyena a poor conversationalist. The quiet was interrupted by a slurred shout ‘Open up. It’s me Milgos. I have arrived.’ The band had barricaded themselves in an abandoned dormitory; Ugh moved some furniture out the way and swung open the rickety door. Beyond stood his disheveled companion Milgos, bottle of Dornish red in hand. The dark elf reeked of liquor. 
‘How did you get here?’ Ugh asked making way as Milgos barged in. 
‘I remember being at a party thrown by The Associates of the Three-eyed Skull. Those wizards know how to drink. I remember togas, and wine, plenty of wine. I passed out and when I came to I found myself here, in this decrepit ruin out in the middle of no-where.’ Ugh explained the situation and the group, including Milgos’ henchmen who had also been fortuitously teleported, set out to explore.
stealing the gems
Two intact ruins beckoned. The closest was a small tomb. It’s doors carved in the visage of some great demon reaching out to grab those who beheld it. Opening the door the group saw a worn statue similar to the demon on the door; its statues eyes caught the light revealing themselves to be gems of worth. About the statue were a dozen closed doors. Suspicious of a trap the seasoned adventures left the statue for the time being and began opening doors. Pushing open the first door seemed to set off a chain reaction as the other doors burst open. Into the chamber poured a dozen skeletons and battle was joined. Jana’s turning saw the conflict swiftly resolved. Milgos set about looting the gems and in the course of giving the place a thorough search uncovered a potent magical dagger.
a hobgoblin
The conflict had not been a silent affair. The noise had attracted some of the temple residents. Betty, who was watching the entry while her companions did a thorough search, gave a cry of alarm for she had spotted a warband of hobgoblins moving in from the temple proper. She took up an ambush position behind the tombs door. The hobgoblins were swiftly dispatched by a sleep spell. Their rest did not last long as Milgos and company began slitting throats. One hobgoblin was left alive to interrogate. Milgos gave the brute a sharp slap ‘Wake up dog. Do you know my kind?’ 
The hobgoblin shook his head ‘You look like an elf only with darker skin, maybe you have some sort of skin disord…’ Whack! Milgos gave the hobgoblin an open handed slap. 
‘Fine, you don’t know about the vicious reputation of dark elves but I assure you before this conversation is done you will be most familiar indeed.’ Milgos gestured to the cooling hobgoblin corpses drenched in a growing pool of blood. ‘You had best talk. What is your name and those of your companions? Who do you work for? How many of your kind are there?’ As Milgos learnt the names of the hobgoblins a planned formed in his mind, a plan that involved the polymorph wand he carried. The group also learned that the Hobgoblin Khan was in charge and that he planned to raid the human lands. He had close to a hundred hobgoblins at his command. With the knowledge gleaned Milgos stabbed the hobgoblin in the face ending the creatures life. Where once Ugh might have been shocked now he simply shrugged. ‘That’s six down and ninety-four more to go.’

The band approached the larger building, the temple proper. It’s crumbling fa├žade offered numerous handholds that gave the dark elf an idea. ‘Wait here.’ Milgos instructed. ‘I’ll scout around the outside walls and peer through the windows. Get the lay of the land.’
‘What out in the open? Are you daft?’ Ugh responded.
‘Do I have to do all the thinking? Find some cover or hide in a shadow or something.” And with that the elf shimmied up the wall with the ease of a spider. He peered through a number of windows finding similar tales of ruined finery. One chamber seemed to be infested with rats and another covered in yellow fungus. In the interim Ugh had grown bored and wandered around towards the temples entrance. 
‘Here, you can’t do that!’ shouted Burne the torchbearer. ‘Milgos said to wait.’
The half orc turned sighing. ‘Your new so I’ll explain things. The elf thinks he gives the orders but no one tells Ugh what to do. Ugh goes where he wants and waits for no man. You can cower here in the shadows or you can come with me and we will kill things and take their stuff.’ 
With things settled the group set off only to be ambushed by zombies lurching up from the unhallowed ground at the temple entrance. Once again Jana made the encounter a joke through her divine intervention. The zombies fearing the wrath of her god lurched away towards an overgrown field. The party chased them down. Betty discovered that she had a bow and so decided to test it out firing shafts into the zombies retreating backs. As the pursuit neared the field there was an earsplitting war cry. A horde of ravening goblins sprung their ambush causing the heroes to retreat but only momentarily. The band quickly worked out that there really weren’t that many goblins after all and horde was probably too strong a word to describe them, more like an unruly mob. And so they turned and butchered the goblins. Some looting followed where Ugh discovered a magic shield with a unicorn design on it. ‘Unicorns are for girls.’ He grunted as he handed the shield to Betty. ‘Ugh not be caught dead with shield like that.’

While the goblins were being put to the sword Milgos had scouted a chamber in which dwelt two ogres. Deciding to have some fun the dark elf cast a ventriloquism spell, which is a tricky thing to do while hanging off the outside wall of a temple. With the spell complete he then made various insulting comments mimicking the ogres own voices. His comments concerned the parentage of the brutes and their preference in partners. Things rapidly got out of hand and the ogres set upon each other with savage ferocity. Their ferocity was marred however by the excessive amount of drinking they had been doing and so rather than land solid blows with their clubs they instead wailed ineffectually upon each other till one landed a lucky blow and knocked the other out. Chuckling with delight the dark elf returned to where he had left his companions. Frustrated that they were not where he had left them Milgos was relieved to find them close at hand. ‘Hurry my friends. We must strike at the ogres while they are injured.’
‘What ogres?” replied Ugh.
‘You’ll see.’ Said Milgos as he flung the temples double doors in.

The interior of the temple was full of demon statues, though this time without the gems for eyes. There were no doors in the walls and no obvious way to reach the other rooms of the temple. Figuring there must be a secret door somewhere the band began searching and was rewarded. Throwing open the secret door the party raced to where the ogre room lay. There they surprised the one conscious ogre running him through in a simple fashion. The unconscious ogre was even easier to dispatch. The ogres had quite the haul though Milgos was particularly suspicious of the magic sack they had found as he had heard rumors of magic sacks that devoured all that was put within. This however was a nice sack and not a sack of devouring.

The band pressed on searching the halls. Soon they found another secret door, this time leading to a secret garden. The garden served as a sanctuary of sorts, a place watched over by benevolent gods. The residents of the temple, if they knew of the gardens location, shunned the place. The band stopped to rest in this blessed place. Prior to setting the first watch Ugh decided to partake of the refreshing waters in the gardens fountain. He found the effects invigorating. Being familiar with magic fountains he invited the rest of the band to partake and each was granted a boon except Betty who foolishly blew her nose into the fountain, treating it like she would the nearby bowl of water one keeps by the bed to refresh oneself in the morning. Her actions angered the gods who stole some of her vitality. For the party overall there was more weal than woe. The band then set up camp within the bounds of the garden.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Chaos Warbands - the Quickening

Random charts galore
Optimus Prime and I managed to get another game of Chaos Warbands in. We started with lots of rolling on a table to work out what daemon weapon my autobot foes wizard had been rewarded with after smashing me in the first game. This, like many things in chaos warbands, took way too long. The daemon weapon charts favours you rolling up a daemon prince that in turn makes generating what the weapon is capable of an exercise in perpetual dice rolling. It’s too much effort for too little result. We called it a chaos sword instead and one roll on the chaos sword chart later we were ready to play.
Menaron and thugs
Warble Guts brave band
The enemy
About a month back we generated some random missions using charts in the Realm of Chaos books. Optimus had printed out some tunnels and caves we could use for the kidnap mission we had planned. We came up with a few ideas we thought would add to the scenario like visibility, the composition of the kidnap victim’s warband and the imminent arrival of a band of d4+2 ogres. These are things that a referee would normally come up with when they create the scenario. Having no-one willing to act as referee we had to come up with our own scenario twists. As it turns out a chaos marauder (whom I shall call Menaron) and his six thug minions had taken refuge in ogre-infested tunnels in the chaos wastes. Both Warble Gut and his rival had been cursed into seeking Menaron out and capturing him. Warble Gut is the name of my chaos dwarf leader, I have no idea what Optimus Prime's warband leader is called but for the purposes of this write up I shall call him Nemesis.
The Ogre caves deep in the Chaos Wastes.
The warbands entered from opposite ends of the caves. Warble Guts beastmen charged forth bellowing and were met by Menaron’s men who began rolling back the bestial tide despite being heavily outnumbered. Warble Gut and his hobgoblin troops were trapped behind their beastmen allies and couldn’t assist. Seeking to do something productive Warble Gut invoked his chaos powers of levitation to find some way of joining the scrap.

Warble Gut down and the band in disarray
In the meantime nemesis had been busy cowering outside of Menaron’s thugs field of vision casually sniping them with magic. Eventually he summoned the courage to engage in hand to hand where his suckers and claws made short work of his thuggish foe. Finally the cowardly wizards saw an opportunity to snipe Warble Gut like they were playing some kind of online shooter instead of the tough and gritty Warhammer. You know the game where ranges are purposefully reduced to encourage people to mix it toe to toe. The game that encourages smashing skulls with your hefty Warhammer or the razor sharp poisonous claws the chaos gods in their infinite wisdom granted you. Nemesis threw magic pebbles at Warble Gut who was then astounded as his mighty chaos armour failed him miserably. His leg snapped like a twig and he fell. Two games in and the mighty champion of Khorne had twice been taken out like a chump before seeing combat. The injury chart would indicate that Warble Gut had sustained a leg wound that would reduce his future movement to a miserable two inches making the likely hood of him ever frenzying slim, you need to charge to do that and with a move of two there is fat chance of that. Even getting into melee in future seemed exceedingly remote.
Ogres come home and begin smashing

Run away
Menaron finally falls
Hobgoblin final stand
Menaron continued to roll through the beastmen, his thug companions were gradually whittled away thanks to some mediocre rolling. Menaron seemed blissfully unaware that he was meant to be kidnapped as he gleefully set about single handedly destroying the remnants of Warble Guts warband. Finally he fell but by this stage six ogres had arrived. The sole remaining injured beastman began dragging the unconscious Menaron out of the tunnels with the assistance of a sensible hobgoblin while the remaining hobgoblins held a rear guard action. Warble Guts nemesis fled the field like a coward avoiding the ogres completely. The hobgoblins lasted a good while before the ogres finally put them down. Wounding an ogre let alone killing them is an all but impossible feat for hobgoblins. 5,6’s to hit and 6’s to wound – Yikes!

So a pyrrhic victory as Menaron was eventually subdued and escorted from the board. The cost was too steep for Warble Gut as he and several of his band now have crippled movement rates making the warband almost untenable. A hobgoblin ended up dead but no one else died. Other injuries sustained were minor in nature. Another victory like this will surely see the group disband in crippled disarray.

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Bat Cave, a Ruined Temple and Bees!

“I’m hungry. Give me treats. Oh and there are cavemen up ahead.” – Fang II

His visit with the Ungols had left him with a mighty headache. Ugh would occasionally have flashbacks and lose track of time, perhaps a side effect of the sacred smoking ceremony that had sent him on his spirit quest? On the bright side he now possessed the ability to speak fluent canine.

Ugh had sent word to Milgos to meet him at a crossroad on the plains and together they would venture into West Wood. Ugh waited the better part of a day before he saw a scrawny messenger, little more than a boy, approach. Before the messenger had had the chance to unroll his scroll Ugh knew the news was bad. Milgos was again predisposed, it seemed this time he was enchanting his wand. Ugh tore the missive from the messengers hand and ripped it to shreds. ‘Once again you toy with Ugh!’ the half orc bellowed to the non-present Milgos. ‘May the Devil Bees of Hades take you!’ He then gestured to his companion Jana and his loyal hyena Fang. ‘Come. We go to the forest. Enough time has been wasted.’ As he left he made sure to callously knock the messenger to the ground.
Devil Bees!
Once again Ugh commandeered the fisherman’s boat to cross the roaring river and enter the forest. The fisherman rowed in sullen silence knowing better than to risk conversation with the surly half orc. Once on the opposite bank Ugh began exploring the overgrown paths till he encountered a vast glade from which he could hear a loud droning. Fearing Devil Bees Ugh retreated and set up camp. During a tasty meal of goat jerky Ugh again heard the sound of bees approaching. He leapt to his feet and headed for cover. Unfortunately the bees were swift and caught his group. These Devil Bees were the size of small dogs and menaced the band with dangerous stingers. Sadly they were no match for our warriors, who slew them with efficiency. The night passed with little in the way of interruption beyond scavengers attracted to the bee corpses.

Ugh struck camp at the break of dawn. He headed to the ominous clearing that was no doubt full of bees. His suspicions were confirmed as a swarm moved to intercept him as he crossed the glade. A score of Devil Bees assailed the party. Ugh was unlucky enough to receive several savage stings. Ugh set about the bee cull with determination pausing only to contemptuously remove still twitching stingers form his flesh. The bees were methodically put down and then their hive discovered beneath a rotten log. The queen bee emerged to challenge the group. It postured aggressively. Ugh stepped up and smashed it’s ugly bee face. He then cracked open the hive and looted the honey, which was delicious and healed his wounds.

Continuing on the trail the group discovered a cave system full of bats and not much else. The giant bats within the cave proved a threat but where soon shown the error of tangling with a seasoned warrior. Later in the day Ugh found a squat and ugly idol that once had gems for eyes. The gems had been looted long ago. Ugh spent some time poking, pushing and prodding the statue before giving up in exasperation. His meanderings also located a cliff top vantage point from which he could survey the immediate forest surroundings. From his perch he spied a building all but concealed by the forest further west. With a destination in mind Ugh set forth.

The path was long and winding and on the way he encountered a pair of Neanderthals. “I’m hungry. Oh and there are cavemen up ahead.” Fang II had warned him prior to the throwbacks appearance. With Fang by his side and his incredible ‘no surprises’ helmet nothing fazed the warrior. The Neanderthals warned Ugh not to continue down the path. They communicated this with simple grunts and elaborate sign language. Ugh however was adamant that he reach his destination. With gestures that indicated it was ‘Ugh’s funeral’ the cave men allowed the band to pass.
Overgrown temple
Finally Ugh reached a great and desolate clearing from which he could make out the structure he sought and further away an overgrown series of graves. The half orc ignored the graves as they held little promise of treasure. An initial scouting of the ruined structure revealed the location to be a long abandoned and expansive temple. Many of its buildings had collapsed into rot and ruin. While exploring the grounds, specifically an outside bathhouse, he disturbed a nest of giant centipedes. The battle was chaotic and Ugh was unfortunate to be stung and poisoned. He collapsed to his knees and began projectile vomiting. Concerned, Jana took time out from smashing centipedes to neutralize the poison in Ugh’s system. The warrior rapidly felt better and harnessed his pent up frustrations by crushing the overgrown bugs into a thin paste. As the hour had grown late the party decided to set-up camp in the ruins. The temple proper would keep till tomorrow.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Ugh dances with wolves

An artists interpretation of Ugh and Fang.

Ugh followed the lead of the young girl he had rescued. He never bothered to ask her name and she never bothered to give it. They travelled in silence till they reached the Great Plains on the borders of civilized lands. There she introduced the half orc to a nomadic tribe called the Ungols. The tribe had held her father in high esteem and so they warily welcomed Ugh.
Ungols are just like Mongols.
That evening the Ungols held a feast for their guest. Ugh was asked by the tribes shaman to chose which part of the prepared goat he would be eating and the reason he chose that part. The warrior responded ‘I eat the heart in honour of the goats stubborn bravery and the hooves to gain the goats grace and nimbleness, with the goats sure footedness no foe shall escape my blade.’ The tribe was then treated to an amazing sight as Ugh demonstrated that he could indeed eat whole goats hoofs. He was well on the way to winning the tribes respect.

Late in the feast, after much Kvas (fermented goats milk) and after listening to many traditional Ungol songs, Ugh was encouraged to share a song of his own. Ugh chose a stirring rendition of Bravery and Regalia. It had been made famous by a bard named Tankard who had composed the tune while a captive of orcs. It was about the orcish rights of passage and the brave, foolish and drunken antics that accompany such ventures. It was deemed appropriate by the Ungols.

With his hosts impressed Ugh was invited to partake in a sacred smoking ceremony where he would go on a dream quest to find his spirit totem. The half orc agreed, drank an enormous skin of Kvas and ended up in a cave surrounded by funny smelling smoke. When he came around the tribe had packed up their yurts moved on. As a result of his dream quest Ugh was able to communicate with canines of all sorts.