The Vale

The Problem is Choice
23 - 28 Harvest Eve, 200 NK

So, to set the scene…

Aeli, the Hero of the Vale, decided to follow the mystery of her family to Caleston, and the Lawful Wizard school of Thyckletray. Then, in a desire to buff up her Hero cred, she decided to take the Patriarch Priest of Valetown up on his request to investigate some sort of monster (“DRAGONS!”) issue in the far northern hills of the Vale.

So this session begins as she’s taking her posse out of town, but see’s a former NPC associate packing his things with a group of men at arms. Curious, she asks the NPC, the cleric Osash, “what’s up” and learns that he is taking men to investigate the Tomb of Alaxus that Aeli recently opened. With the Minotaur Mage defeated, the Patriarch was curious about the tomb and wanting to see what else might be learned from the former despot of the Vale.

So… Aeli’s VERY tempted to go and asks the NPC mage (Tironell) what he thinks. As Tironell points out this would be the third destination decision in three days, angie thePrincessWife looks at me and quips “DId I mention the ADD?” However, Aeli sticks to the plan and moves out on the road that will take her to Valecross and the tiny thorpe of Wyvern Falls.

Along the way, she stops for the evening at Golinville, a tiny village of ten buildings. However, she’s not very well greeted, as there was just a murder in the town and everyone is understandably shocked and upset. The tailor, Ms. Ferguson, was apparently butchered in her home without anyone knowing. One of the men allowed Aeli into the tailor’s home, after she proved she worked with the Patriarch (he’s considered the de-facto leader of the Vale).

It was a gruesome and creepy sight. Dried blood was splashed all over the walls, but the hut was otherwise undisturbed. And there was no body – none had been found. The townsfolk had sent someone that same day to Valetown to have the Sheriff summoned, but neither had returned yet.

It was at this point that Angie – the player – started wondering if she was supposed to start investigate this and we half-roleplayed, half-discussed what she should do. I was introducing her to the concept that the world will continue to evolve and do things despite her, and that not all things in this game would necessarily relate to the thread she was following. She could decide to change her mind and stay and investigate, or she could continue on. She opted to allow the Sheriff to do his work and spent the night in the town’s barn. The next morning, she left, but strangely, no sign of Sheriff or messenger as they rode back to the main track.

Another two days of uneventful travel and the band arrived at Midvale, a hub of sorts. Midvale would be the Indianapolis of the Vale, all roads lead there, but it’s not the center of power. Aeli spent some silver to try and find out news and events, but apparently she was a bit too nosy and pushy and really did not get anywhere. (The dice were still not favoring her. She’s now named her dice “Derpy.”)

After leaving town, Aeli happened upon a very strange sight – a halfling sitting on his cart pulled off the side of the road, happily smoking a cigar. Halflings are known, but they really don’t chose to live in human lands so much. The fact that this halfling had decided to put aside the nomadic life and settle down in the Vale was very odd, although he did travel quite a bit as a merchant/trader between Valecross and Midvale. He joined Aeli’s band going north and told her some interesting things about these “monsters” that Aeli was going to investigate:

  • He’d heard of the attacks of these strange lizard creatures on cattle and folks around Wyvern Falls. Some say dragons, but old-timers speak about “wyverns” – the namesake of the tiny thorpe. Whatever these creatures are that are attacking, they are huge monsters, jaws big as a man, dripping venom and whip-like tails that sting.
  • The place that is being attacked is called “Wyvern Falls.” It’s on the border of the hill country at the north edge of the Vale. It’s a thorpe, more of a meeting place than a town. There’s nothing of the Vale more northern-most than it.
  • Tales are told by old timers of when Alaxus ruled the Vale, his soldiers would ride beasts called “wyverns.” When the Vale was resettled after Alaxus died, many bones and skulls were ground up in the fields around the Vale.

(Halflings in my campaign speak with an Irish brogue, but there was no way I was going to try and imitate that. I let her imagine it.)

On the second day of travel, they passed through a very strange village called “Shireless.” Shireless has about 15 buildings in it, and the road to Valecross runs right through it. There is an older stone watchtower to the east side of the village. As Aeli and crew approached Shireless, Murri remarked that “folks here be odd and verra strange.” And sure enough, as the crew rode through town.. well, imagine the scene in “High Plains Drifter” where Clint Eastwood first rides through Lago and all the townsfolk run inside or hide? Well, that was pretty much the scene. Afterwards, Murri related that he’d tried to trade in Shireless, but the town leader brought out a huge book of “rules” and would only trade according to the prices in the book. They also acted with strange manners and customs, almost like people from the Southron Empire. Aeli’s very curious why folks would come from the South to live in the Vale, but she’s now on a mission and that was set aside.

The rest of the journey to Valecross was uneventful and we paused here.

Aeli Returns! And Falls! And Survives!
20 - 22 Harvest Eve, 200 NK

Four goblins surrounded Aeli, the Hero of the Vale. They yammered and hooted, surrounding her. Aeli expertly swing the famed Runeblade and sliced through the armor of the first goblin, spilling its blood and its life. She swung the sword back, moving to cleave the goblin next to it in two… except her sword kept going back and back… and she fell flat on her back in front of the now joyous goblins, who rushed in with their crude spears to end her life…

And so started the first combat of the resurrection of my solo game with @thePrincessWife- Angie. It has been almost 4 years (March of 2011) since we last played, when Aeli (Angie’s character) managed to insult the ambassador of the Southron Empire and miss on the apology (Jeff Rient’s Carousing rules FTW!) But with time on my hands now, and a little bit of brain power to devote to thinking about gaming, we gleefully jumped into a game this weekend. We pulled out miniatues, dusted off books, I converted things to a simpler D&D (using OD&D / S&W WhiteBox – sixes and twenties, yo!) And we got to playing elf games once again.

I had to reconnect Angie with the campaign progress and status, so I had typed up a recap in our Obsidian Portal campaign wiki. I also had to set up what the state of the world was like for her, after she had slain the Minotaur Mage and recovered a mysterious black orb. One that radiated magic and Chaos. She received warnings about the artifact from the Sage that she’s befriended, and she learned a little bit about Thyckletray, the “school” of Lawful mages. She had decided to visit Thyckletray in order to learn more about her wizard ancestor, why her family was killed over this ancestor and more about the mysterious crystal orb. However, it seems that Thyckletray has fallen into a miasma of infighting and politics – worried more about the status of each competing Tower within the school than to the lawful use of magicks within the world. And as a closing comment, the sage told her that the books she’d recovered from the Tomb of Minotaur Mage were written in a black, Chaos language, but hinted that the orb she carried was a harbinger of Death and Chaos.

Despite the bad news, Aeli decided to press on. “So how are you getting to Caleston” I asked. After going through the options available in a relatively civilized/settled area, Aeli decided to buy her own covered wagon, a 2nd nag horse to help with the wagon and a war horse for herself. Apparently converting to a silver standard gave her an excuse to spend those silver coins gave her a reason to shop (or maybe she was hoping for Black Friday prices!)

After the purchases, Aeli hunted around for her mobile healing/turning service, I mean, a cleric. :) Her first attempt was to visit the dour cleric of the Sea Goddess. (Think Grumpy Cat in cleric’s skin) If I was to describe the coversation, it went like this:

Aeli: So, Worlale (the cleric), could you send one of your acolytes with me on a secret personal mission that may be very dangerous? (flashes a smile)
Worlale: Uhhh… so the taverns with the adventuring clerics are that way…
Aeli: But… [that’ll cost me more money] …
Worlale: Have a nice day!

(The dice were not favoring Aeli on reaction rolls…)

After a brief negotiation with two adventuring clerics (after spending coin on drinks and bribes), Aeli ended up with a cleric and they were off. A day’s travel through the hills separating Westport and Valetown was a simple matter, except for bandits and goblins have been marauding through there lately… and an encounter came up.

Eight goblins jumped out and surprised the party, but they spent their surprise round demanding money and loot. Aeli drew her sword and the rest of the party jumped out of the wagon. Implementing the OD&D “Fighting Men get to beat up a lot on Less than 1HD oppoenents”, Aeli was going for the hat-trick but ended up flat on her back. Three successful goblin attacks and Aeli was looking pretty badly off. Fortunately, the battle turned her way and after scrambling to her feet, and a well placed Sleep spell, 6 goblins lay dead and 9 more were webbed or snoozing.

So, Aeli finished the trip to Valetown, met up with the local cleric there who loves her. When asked what she was doing “Oh, just looking for adventure”, the Patriarch asked “The Hero of the Vale” to help with a mysterious sighting of dragons killing cattle, destroying crops and terrorizing people. Except… dragons are a mythical creature, fables and legends only. Aeli put her travels to the mage school on hold. Off to Wyvern Falls and help local farmers!

A recap of the game so far - Part 2

Aeli and her band met up with a hired hand driving a horse and cart to the Vale. This driver, Ruffalo, could only speak about the rumor of goblins being seen in the hills. Upon arriving in Valetown, Aeli and her band were summoned by the Patriarch, the mayor of Valetown and spiritual leader of the Vale. He spoke of cattle being eaten or carried off and a strange fallen tower discovered by a hunter tracking the killer of cattle. No hunters would approach that tower and the Patriarch had petitioned Lord Risz for months for assistance. Apparently Aeli and her band were now that assistance.

Aeli and company found the path and crumbling tower that the hunter had spoken of, as well as a second entrance. They found undead zombines skeletons as well as a nasty ghoul that had apparently been the mysterious source of cattle death. They also found an extensive library and symbols which lead the Patriarch to surmise that the tower belonged to the mysterious Alaxus. This Alaxus had long ago enslaved the Vale and performed unspeakable magics – he had also created the school of Um Loran.

Aeli began to explore the second entrance that seemed to extend into a hillside, but she was confronted by a bridge over a deep chasm guarded by skeletons. Unable to get around the skeletons, Aeli returned to town to much acclaim over the death of the cattle killer. Celebrated as “The Hero of Valetown”, Aeli decided to take a diversion for a few days and hunt down the bandits that had been preying on caravans going from Westport to Valetown.

She was successful in luring the bandits into a trap where Tironell could perform his magic and immobilize many of them. In the ensuing confusion with returning with the bandits to Valetown, Aeli was briefly jailed, but then released.

Aeli and company returned to the tower with a cleric and a giant slingshot to destroy the bridge guarding skeletons, which she successfully defeated. However, after some more exploration, they came to a great cavern with a dragon made of smoke guarding it! It intoned a threat to her and Aeli decided to flee and discover more information about smoke dragons before returning.

The Patriarch asked Aeli to take the bandits to the Vale for judgment by Lord Risz. Upon returning the bandits to Westport, Aeli was informed that more bandits had seemingly been appearing out of nowhere to attack and steal ships from the port itself! Aeli met with Nikodemos to learn more of the smoke dragon. Nikodemos would need time, and gold, to find books and sources to learn more of this strange creature. In the meantime, Aeli decided to investigate the Tower of Zenopus a bit more to learn if the bandits were using it as a hideout.

Aeli captured a goblin from the tower and took it back to Lord Risz for questioning. She returned to the tower again and discovered a strange feature deep in the dungeon – a mask in the wall that speaks when the sundial has light cast on it to 4’o-clock. It would answer questions at length and was a unique find! Aeli asked the mask about Calypso, but it knew nothing of him. So Aeli pressed on. She discovered an underground beach that led to the sea, a group of pirates and a kidnapped daughter (Lemunda) of the rich merchant Lenovo. They returned Lemunda to Lenovo who rewarded Aeli and her band richly.

A few days later, Aeli escorted Nikodemos to the speaking mask. Apparently the mask had been created by Zenopus himself! The mask admitted that Zenopus had studied the work of Kellus and felt that Kellus was exploring the history and biology of strange mythical creatures like dragons. It knew nothing else of Kellus. Nikodemos was thrilled at the discovery of the mask and said that he now owed Aeli a great deal. Nikodemos gave Aeli the key to defeating the smoke dragon – since it was a construct, find the object that the smoke dragon emanated from/was tied to and destroy it.

Upon returning to Valetown with this information, Aeli and company was unhappy to learn that the Patriarch had attempted to remove the library from Alaxus’s tower. Apparently that effort had been foiled by the return of more undead!

Aeli returned to the second hillside entrance and fought more undead until she reached the smoke dragon. In a difficult battle, Aeli was able to defeat the smoke dragon and found a rich reward. She also discovered a secret entrance that had been covered up in rubble – she had discovered the lost tomb of Alaxus! Her and her band pried the door open and entered the tomb only to find themselves fleeing a gelatinous cube that caused Aeli to lose her magical sword! During their trip back, the band was robbed of the rest of their treasure and equipment by sneering goblins of the Green Iron Fist. This marked a very low point for Aeli and her band.

The Patriarch kindly refitted Aeli and her followers and they set off back to the tomb. The Patriarch had told Aeli of the legend of Alaxus’s defeat at the hands of a mage-hunter and this mage hunter’s magical sword – the Blade of Runes. Upon returning to the tomb, Aeli and her band destroyed the gelatinous cube, recovered her sword and continued to explore the tomb – only to find it was now the lair of rat-people! Despite being outnumbered, Aeli managed to retreat from the tomb and return to it again later, investigating the hill to see if they could find out how the ratlings were entering the tomb. They did find the entrance, but decided to return to Valetown to re-equip and think over their plans further.

This is where the adventure stands as of now.

A recap of the game so far - Part 1

Aeli is a young human woman, 20 years old. She is tall, and her most distinctive feature is her long brown hair, silky and usually braided.

Aeli’s recent history was filled with a terrible tragedy and one that has left her with a single purpose in life – revenge. She was of a rich noble family. The family was rumored to have held great secrets from an ancient relative who had brought them to their noble status. A mage by the name of Calypso befriended Aeli, seeking to take advantage of her naivetee.

After learning how best to infiltrate the family’s home, he did so, seeking the scrolls. He attacked the home with many hirelings and a horrific battle ensued between the bandits and her family’s men-at-arms. They were eventually overcome. The mage could not find the ancient secrets, and he killed the majority of her family (some where not present during the attack) trying to get the information on where the scrolls were kept.

Aeli was not at the family estate, as she had been away preparing for her impending marriage. Upon learning of the attack, she ran off from her family and fiancee to track down the mage and make him pay.

Aeli travels found her in the city of Westport, short on money. She fell into a group of adventurers, led by a young mage named Tironell. They were seeking to enter the Tower of Zenopus, a strange old crumbling building on the edge of Westport. Aeli agreed to join the adventurers. Unfortunately, they had only gone in for a little while when death struck and the party fled.

Over the next few days, Aeli and Tironell returned to the Tower to investigate its depths. Fighting goblins, undead skeletons and a giant snake, Aeli and Tironell eventually made it to a secret workshop. A powerful mage was inside, but a timely first strike by Aeli slew him before he could cast any spells out of a wand he was holding. It seemed that Tironell and Aeli had stumbled onto a great treasure of books and magic. Aeli also found a strange black ring on the mage’s body, one that she would later remember was similar to a ring that Calypso used to wear.

Aeli’s adventures drew the notice of the townsfolk of Westport, including one of the widows of a deceased hireling, the weary priest Worlale who worships Cheliduus, the Sea Goddess and others. It was also at this point that Aeli gained lifelong friends and followers – Turchao and Rather. Aeli had hired them, protected them and paid them well and they grew to respect and devote themselves to Aeli’s cause.

A sage and book seller, Nikodemos identified the ring as belonging to the black mage “clan” of Um Loran. Nikodemos warned Aeli that Um-Loran would want the ring back.

Aeli’s successful adventures in the tower led to her being summoned to the Westport Keep. There, the Captain of the Guard, Equay, asked Aeli and her band to investigate a problem of a “monster” in the Keep’s storage tunnels. The rest of the knights and men were off chasing off a bandit problem, possibly a goblin raid. If the tunnels were not recovered, a great deal of food would be lost. Aeli agreed.

Upon entering the tunnels, which had been blocked off by the scared castle guards, Aeli and her band found a strange creature, seemingly almost invisible, sticky and very large! Aeli, seeming to be possessed, cleaved her way right through it and it “melted”, leavings coins and bits of metal in the goo. After exploring the tunnels further, the band found an area where the stored supplies had been completely eaten by a horde of rats. The rats seemed to be under the control of a lost guard named “Marcus.” There was something wrong with Marcus though, he ended up being a wererat! Aeli and her band killed him, but it was a near thing as Turchao ended up diseased, Rather had contracted lyncanthropy from being bit by the were-creature and their beloved torchbearer, Nodwig, was lost in the darkness to more giant rats.

Aeli and her band recovered from their wounds and diseases and the Lord of Westport, Lord Risz honored Aeli by naming her “Champion of Westport” and awarding her living quarters. He also permitted her to continue her explorations of the Tower of Zenopus, while also mentioning that there were problems of a different sort in a nearby rural town – Valetown.

Unfortunately, Aeli and her band came away from the Keep back to the Red Dragon Inn to find their rooms robbed and burned – the ring of Um-Loran plus many of the valuable magic books were gone.

Nikodemos told Aeli a bit about her family history – a history that she wasn’t much aware of. Her family traces back to the famous wizard Kellus Therran. Kellus founded Thyckletray, the great white mage school. There were many rumors that Kellus had been investigating strange theories in his later years, but nobody knows for sure what he was onto. Nikodemos surmised that perhaps Calypso did know, or had a clue. If Calypso bore a ring of Um-Loran, then he would most like be a black mage as well – and thus Aeli now had a dangerous enemy. Nikodemos advised Aeli to investigate more of her family’s history and learn what she could of ancient mages, in order to find out why Calypso was searching for.

After conferring with Equay, Aeli decided to venture forth to Vale and Valetown to see if she could find the source of the bandit problems and perhaps help out the leader of Valetown with a problem he was bothering Lord Risz about.

That will be covered in the second recap.


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