In the morning at The Helping Hand Murf took a bath and Grisha ate breakfast with George. As Murf emerged from the bath room he overheard a woman speaking with Dagmar about the wanted posters. She left three posters with him and said she would be back in two days. The posters showed 350gp reward for Talia, 150gp for Rakham and 100gp Murf. Dagmar warned the party that Laney Darr would return in two days and she should be taken very seriously. After much discussion the party decided to have Dagmar go speak to the Temple of Elil on their behalf. Then they headed for the island.
Heading south to the river the party spotted an old Temple across the river and thought about investigating but continued up river toward the island. After passing the summer bridge they noticed a trail of something large dragging along the same trail. It branched off after about ten minutes and they saw large round footprints. They continued to the island and noticed the boat was no longer at the shore but was on the island. Grisha turned into a bear started swimming toward the island with Adda. As they did Rakham noticed three giant flies circling above the ruined keep.
Rakham fired his crossbow at one of them striking it, then the three creatures flew across the lake toward the group. Murf put the largest one to sleep after it had been hit by Rakham’s crossbow attacks, and it fell into the water. The other two attacked Rakham and Murf as Talia went unconscious from the terrible sound of these creatures. Adda and Grisha managed to swim pack to shore where Grisha attacked the fly attacking Murf and Adda joined Rakham fighting the other.
Grisha hit the strange armored fly which was the size of a large dog with his claws and teeth before it stabbed him just below his neck with its pointed proboscis. The dagger like point sunk deep into his shoulder as his form changed from a bear back to a human. Murf was able to stab the fly twice his his knife.
Rakham and Adda hit the other fly several times but Adda accidentally hit Rakham and herself in the process. Then it stuck Rakham with its dagger like beak injuring him badly. A black spiderweb like patter spreading out fro the wound. As the injured creature struggled to fly after another strike Rakham struck a clean blow separating its head from its body.
Then out of the water the first and largest fly emerged but before it could attack a terrible bird like cry from the island called both the surviving flies back across the water.
Murf managed to awaken Talia with a hard slap from her half conscious nightmare like state. Then the party hide under some thick foliage and rested for an hour. Grisha tried to heal his wounds with good berries but they had no affect. Rakham’s wounds also would not heal.
After rested for an hour the party returned to the three hills. Talia took Murf and Rakham went to the temple of Nian and met with Arnaka but Rakham refused treatment at the Temple of Nian when told he would have to swear not to go to the other Temples. After meeting with Arnaka Talia stayed at the temple while Rakham and Murf returned to near the Helping Hand but went to Grisha’s hovel instead.
Adda went to the Helping Hand where a master bard was playing for a packed room. His name was Doran the Wanderer. While Adda listened to he music Dagmar caught her attention and said he has spoken on their behalf with the Temple of Elil and negotiated an agreement for the Temple to drop all charges against Murf and Rakham. In return they would retrieve two bodies from the Underfarms. Dagmar said they could get more details at the temple if they agreed to the terms. After playing for some time Doran took a break and Adda approached and spoke with him for a bit about his travels and his tricks for staying alive that he had learned in the dungeon of the Tower of Knobs. It grow dark more quickly than expected and Adda left the Helping Hand to return to the Temple of Nian as darkness fell across Tordan.
Rakham spent the previous day creating a set of studs for his leather armor. He purchased the materials needed and was able to create all the studs. In the morning Rakham continued his work at Ilka’s blades on converting his leather armor to studded leather made some progress.
Talia attended class at the temple of Nian with Kalpana while Adda trained with Arnaka. After class Adda ran into Dagrun who was lingering in the hallway. She recommend he try becoming a healer when he mentioned how he wanted to become one. He seemed very excited by this idea and ran off to speak with Arnaka or Idunn Kanta’lil.
At midday the party met at the Helping Hand and Grisha lead them back to the house where he found Kosef. In the main room there was only a wooden box with some scattered toys, one of the a doll dressed as a member of the Tri-hill patrol. Talia also found a brown cloak and shirt with the Tri-hill patrol emblem on it which she took.
While Adda and Rakham made there way into the cellar, Talia heard a sound from the back room. She quietly moved down the hallway and observed a dog like creature licking the dried blood from the the mattress. She returned to the main room while Grisha recited some form of ritual.
The cellar looked like it had not been used for a long time. A few empty crates and a barrel lined the walls. The ceiling however had runes drawn in some kind of dried blood in a large circle. It looked like it had created semi-recently. The floor showed some recent disturbances but no one investigated them throughly.
George started yapping and Grisha stopped his ritual as George rushed to Grisha’s side. The party waited quietly in the building as an older man with a walking stick moved past the building.
The smaller room contained a bunk bed also covered in blood. Another small box of toys contained a small horse and cart as well as a stuffed animal in a form similar to the animal Grisha had guarding the door. Talia took them.
The larger bedroom floor and mattress was covered in dried blood. It appeared that all personal goods had been removed. Tracks could be seen in the blood and after much searching the group was able to identify a single set of bare foot tracks in blood leading away from the room and out of the building to the left.
Grisha changed into a large black wolf and smelled the pillows and was able to identify a scent on one of the pillows, as well as the cloak which Talia had found. It was also on the tracks leading out of the building but could not be followed on the recently rain cleaned stone street outside.
The party returned to the Helping Hand and then Talia lead them to find Taegan. After an hour of wondering in a circle a Boar lead them to the glen where they met with Taegan previously. Several other boars and sows and piglets roamed the grassy hillside nearby. Talia knocked on the door and Teagan emerged followed by the enormous boar. Talia told him that the hunt would occur in 3 days. He said that was good, there was still enough time to prepare. He would protect the boars of this area but was concerned about the boars in the old city.
He then asked the group to follow as he followed a small path leading out of the glen to the north. Teagan lead the group out of the glen and through a long abandoned part of the city eventually leading them to a small hill with what looked like an ancient temple at the top. Its circular walls build with large stones still standing although many parts had broke away and lay scattered around the hill. Above the entrance to the temple a large circle area was noticeable empty, now just smoothed stone.
As they group approached a deep breathing could be heard from inside and at the entrance Taegan reached into his shirt and grasped the stone hanging from his neck, mutter a few words. As the rest of the party gathered around they could see a creature sleeping in the center of the round stone walls taking up almost all of the same. A giant boar like creature unlike anything they had seen or heard of before. It’s tusks were longer than Talia. Its enormous body covered in coarse black hair which raised and lowered with its breathing as it slept.
Taegan explained that this was a remnant of Varrngan, the forgotten god.
“I fear if the balance is upset he will awaken bringing chaos and destruction to Tordan. This is why you must make sure the boar hunt does not upset the natural balance.”
“Since Lord Dorgan began the hunt fifteen years ago the harmony of nature has been challenged and is beginning to shift.”
After discussing the creature the party walked back to Taegan’s hovel but before leaving Grisha and Taegan paid there respects to the creature. Upon returning to Teagan’s hovel Grisha also asked if he could come and spend time with the boars here which Teagon replied.
“They are beasts of free will, if they accept you, you are welcome”
Talia asked told Taegan if he knew of the pool to the south and that the Dawn Lady had guided her here. Taegan chuckled and stroked his beard with his cloven hands before speaking.
“The pool may guide you to the Ward King but not the Lady of the Dawn. Trust not in the Fey, they are chaotic and whimsical with their own agendas and goals. They give nothing without cost. Stay clear of the Dun Lord.”
With that the party returned to the Helping Hand as the sun began to approach the horizon and dusk settled on Tordan. After visiting Kosef in the Helping Hand, Talia and Add set off to the Temple of Nian. On the way they noticed three new posters on the wanted board. All three looked familiar. They immediately made there way back to the Helping Hand and notified Rakham.
In the morning Rakham went and commissioned a new set of clothing and a haircut and then worked at Ilka’s blades on paid working, paying for his space for the day and pocketing a few gold for himself. Ilka had more work in the coming days as well, they had received a large order and were currently making spear heads.
Talia and Adda trained at the temple in the morning with Arnaka. They were also joined by Dagrun. Early in the morning a woman came in with a deep puncture wound in her side. Arnaka sprang into action assigning tasks for everyone as they got her on the medical table. Adda was able to heal her to prevent further blood lose. Then Arnaka showed how to apply the bandages and the woman and two men who had brought her in left the medical room and met with someone else from he temple. Then Arnaka lead the group in some ritual and prayers which Talia grasped rather quickly. Dagrun didn’t seem to make much progress much to his disappointment. He did seem rather distracted through the morning which could have been the cause for his lack of learning.
The party regrouped at The Helping Hand near midday to prepare to return to the island…
Talia made her way to the Temple of Elil. As she entered a priest greeted her and asked whom she was here to mourn. When she mentioned Loru and Garin he motioned for a priestess who asked to speak with her for a moment. She lead Talia into a small office like room down the set of stairs.
“You are a friend of Loru and Garfin and no others have come forth to mourn them.”
She pulled two packs from behind the desk placed them in front of Talia.
“Please choose what you will leave with them for their journey onward. These will determine the choices they have for their journey, choose carefully.”
Talia looked over the items, the rapier, ocarina, Garin’s long sword, and decided to leave all their items with them. The priestess nodded in approval and thanked Talia.
She lead Talia to the lower level where the bodies rested on raised stone slabs and left. After standing quietly near the bodies for a few moments Talia removed her book from her pack and placed it on the stone slab, she then pulled the crystal from around her neck and stabbed it into the book. The crystal struck the book and sunk into it and arcane runes appeared across the cover of the book from the crystal. Then Talia declared she wanted nothing to do with this book, or its powers. Suddenly the room darkened as a gust of air extinguished the candles in the room. A figure of a tall woman dressed in a flowing gown made of leaves appeared floating above the body and the book. Her presence overwhelming and terrifying. Looking down at Talia with a scrawl.
“You dare renounce The Dawn Lady? You will not be given another chance!”
Talia responded yes and the crystal fell to the stone as the book and the Lady disappeared. Light returned to room but the candles seemed to flicker for a minute. Then Talia heard another voice, a deeper darker voice.
“There are others choices, join the Dun Lord”
The room returned to normal, the reddish glow from the lanterns and orange glow of the candles dimly lighting the room. Talis took her crystal and placed it on Loru’s body and left the temple.
She and Adda made their way to the Temple of Nian for the evening.
Upon returning to the Helping Hand Adda asked Felicia if she would check on Kosef and make sure he was not injured. Felicia said she would check on him and asked if they would be interested in retrieving some of the black toyja pods and a giant frog from across the summer bridge. Dagmar also have Adda a notice for Kosef which she placed in his room by his bed.
Around midday Adda, Murf, and Talia heading for the summer bridge by way of the river. As they crossed the bridge they heard the soft sound of a bell and a crusty looking dwarf with an eye patch scrambled out from under the bridge to block their path. He asked for gold for the bridge maintenance and after some negotiation they agreed to pay 4 gp for round trip passage across the bridge.
After crossing the bridge the road continued through a narrow stretch with a few building which looked to be maintained along the side of the road. A feeling of being watched crept over the group so they investigated the nearby building. After looking at the front of the building and seeing a solid door and lower windows which had been bricked up Talia tried to climb to the second story windows but could not climb the weather smoothed stone. Around the side of the building Adda helped Talia up the 3m wall. At the top she could see a large well kept garden on the inside. At the window a Halfling appeared with a large crossbow. Murf cast sleep on the window and head the sounds of others inside the building falling asleep. The halfling’s skin at the window turned into what looked like wood and she told them to stop and they did.
They continued to the swamp area and found the tree with black toyja pods. While Murf collected the pods a large frog moved to the bank and grabbed Talia with its tongue. Adda raged and rushed forward striking the frog with her axe. Talia tried to stab the frog but couldn’t get her arms free as it bit her repeatedly. Then it turned and dove into the water. Adda tried to hit it as it did but she slipped in the mud. The frog and Talia disappeared under the murky water but suddenly tendrils of black green energy momentarily erupted from the waters surface grasping for living beings. Then Talia splashed to the surface and the frog floated to the surface unmoving.
With Talia safely back on shore and Murphy carrying a bundle of toyja pods the group noticed something large swimming toppers them under the water. Adda healed Talia and managed to grab the dead frog while Murf kept the giant snake at bay.
The group hurriedly left the water, returning to the road and making there way back to the Helping Hand.
Upon returning to the Helping Hand the group spoke with Kosef and Grisha who had found him in an abandoned building and brought him to the Helping Hand.
Talia made her way to the Temple of Elil to say goodbye to Loru and Garfin.
Know Beast Shapes:
Starting with 3 at 2nd level and +1/level after.
Nothing smaller than a Rat, crab or small bird.
Learning a new Beast Shape:
To learn a new best shape the druid must spend 24 hours living with a wild beast in its natural environment. It can be difficult to find animals which will allow the druid to live among them for this time. This can be aided by magical means such as animal friendship. After 24 hours the druid must make an animal handling (Wis) check with the DC 10 + the animals CR. If the check succeeds the druid can begin crafting a magical effigy of the creature. This must be made from something from the animals lair or the area where they live and it must resemble something about the beast. An appropriate crafting check must be made to complete the effigy. The DC 10 + the animals CR and takes one day to complete. If the druid uses tools they are proficiency with they can add their proficiency bonus to the role. If they use a part of animal they have an advantage on the role, examples of usable parts are fur, bone, teeth or horn. If the check is failed the materials are destroyed but the druid can try again after a long rest. If the effigy is ever lost or destroyed the druid cannot use this best shape until they make a new effigy with the same requirements. They do not need to repeat the first step of the process again. A new Beast Shape can be learned at anytime but a druid can only have a number of effigies up to their max known Beast Shapes.
As the party prepared to carry the bodies of Loru and Gerfin from the tunnels Rakham noticed the one of the unexplored tunnels led to a small dugout chamber covered with small bones, old cloth and leather. He searched the small nest and found a few coins and three gems. Then the party managed to carry the bodies out of the tunnels and back into the sunlight. After laying the bodies in the abandon building they discussed what to do next. As they did they heard the sounds of feet walking down the street towards them. A group dressed in alternating black and white robes carrying two stretchers approached. They said they were from the Temple of Elil and were here to take the bodies.
Rakham threatened them with his crossbow and said they could not have the bodies but they persisted and Rakham attacked. Adda was already seriously injured and stayed out of the conflict. Murf frightened three of the humans forcing them to run off but they soon returned. One of the priests conjured forces which held Murph in place. Adda picked him up under her arm and began carrying him towards the temple. Rakham continued the skirmish after being forced to flee temporarily by a magical command from one of the priests. His attacks on the head priestess seemed to injury her but the others were quick to heal her. As the situation escalated the priests and priestesses began attacking Rakham with puffs of greenish flames that burned his chest and face. Eventually, filled with angry and grief Rakham abandoned the bodies and headed towards the Merchant’s friend ignoring his companions along the way.
Rakham went and broke into Gerfin’s room at the Merchant’s Friend and then returned to the helping hand. There Falicia healed him and after eating some food he noticed a bard sitting at a table. Rakham gave him a gold and told him not to play here tonight.
The rest of the party passed the east market on the way to the Temple of Nian. Talia checked the posters and found out that the hunt would take place in 6 days night. At the temple of Nian Adda, Murph and Talis went into the prayer courtyard and Adda prayed while Murph slept. Talia met Dagham and asked him about location of the Temple of Elil. He said it is a blocky stone building with alternating black and white stones around the entry way just north of the central square. She told him to tell Adda that she was going to the Helping Hand and then she set off to the Temple of Elil.
At the temple Talia gave the names of Loru and Gerfin and said she was a friend. A priestess noted the names in a large tome. Another priestess led Talia down two levels to a large chamber with 9 raised stone slabs. The bodies of Loru and Garin lay on two of them and three other bodies occupied other stones. The air was thick with incense and candles and a reddish glow from lanterns on the walls. After spending a few minutes near the half-elf bodies she listened to the other mourners near the three bodies, one man and two children. The man was dressed in a uniform with the symbol of the three hills on it. The man mourning bore a resemblance to the body.
After finishing her prayers Adda and Murf returned to The Helping Hand. Adda spoke with Rakham but he had not seen Talia and wanted to be left alone. Murf sat down with a bowl of soup and quickly learned how to use a spoon. A bit later Talia returned and bathed in the washroom. Adda inquired about Kosef with Dagmar… After eating everyone turned in for the night after a long joyless day.
The next morning Rakham went to Ilka’s Blades and was able to do some work for her earning 2 GP, one which went towards renting the space. He also started working on designs for a folding crossbow.
Adda awoke early and went to the Temple of Nian. During the morning lecture Arnaka recruited her to help with an injured man and later she was approached by Idunn Kanta’lil who asked to speak in private. Idunn quickly led Adda to a small office asked what should would like to focus on and Adda said healing people in need.
Adda and Rakham returned to the helping hand where Talia and Murph has spent the morning. Talia asked if she could take the group to see Loru and Gerfin’s bodies.
Dagmar gave Talia the note that Rakham left for her. After changing her appearance she headed to the abandon plaza and head the voices of the party in an abandon building.
After the group crawled out of a trapdoor they found themselves in one of the abandoned houses near the old well. Talis soon found the party and joined them as they retraced the steps of the first Zel they had encounter several nights ago. They entered the building the Zel had retreated into in the darkness and searched the building for tracks. Searching the old stone floor they found several marks where the moss had been disturbed leading towards one of the walls. As Talia moved to the wall to search it she noticed a different sound as she stepped on the ground. The party searched the ground and found a wooden door covered with dirt and rocks. Opening it they descended into the tunnel below.
In a maze of corridors they saw light coming from one of tunnels to the left. It was a small dugout passageway which looked to lead to back to the sunlight. Past that they found collapsed part of a tunnel. Upon further investigating it looked like the tunnel had been filled with stone from buildings to block the passageway. Rakham, Adda and Murph investigated the ruble pile and began moving rocks to clears some space on the top of the pile. After a few minutes there was enough space for Murph push through and view the other side. It was a similar passageway but he could see strands of silk attached to some of the rocks they had been moving. As they worked they never realized that they were about to be ambushed.
As the back of the group Gerfin noticed something in the shadow behind the group as he and Loru watched the rear passageway. As Adda and Rahkam continued moving rocks the sound of something clicking and growling could be heard from the back. A terrible looking insect-like creature with pincers and huge eyes rushed the rear of the party attacking ferociously.
Gerfin and Loru were first to feel dread and hate coming from the creature as it rushed forward mandibles and pinches gnashing. Gerfin froze in terror and collapsed. The creature rushed past Gerfin and crashed into Loru, biting and clawing as it knocked him to the ground. Murph cast a sleep spell behind the creature but it seemed to have no affect. Even though the party was at a disadvantage fighting this ferocious creature in the small tunnels, they managed to nearly slay the beast but just before that one of the group noticed Gafin’s unmoving body being dragged away into the darkness by a familiar triangle shape headed humanoid. It had wrapped a cord around Gerfin’s neck and was now dragging him away from the party. Loru turned and rushed after, as he ran past the small tunnel on the side of the passageway a Zel stepped out behind him and stabbed him in the back and with that one blow set him to the ground. It then grabbed his unconscious body and dragged it away from the group. Talia rushed forward and sent forth an a electrical blast into Loru and the Zelg which caused the creature to dropped Loru and retreat.
By this time Rakham and Adda managed to kill the creature insect like creature. The remaining party split into two groups. Talia, Murph and (for a moment) Adda tried to help their dying friend while Rakham gave chase after the Zels and Gerfin. Adda knelt at Loru’s side and tried to focus her energy on healing him but there was too much blood. As Talia continued trying to stop Loru’s bleeding Adda joined Rakham and changed after the creature whom had taken Gerfin.
As Murph and Talia leaned over Loru’s body they tried focus on their patrons and ask for help. The wound was too deep, Loru had lost too much blood too quickly. Loru coughed and blood sprayed from his lips. His eyes opened, his distant stare looking past Talia at the ceiling.
“Well.. I think that’s it for me then. At least I did what I came for. Thanks guys. It was a pleasure. Take care of the kid. I like her smiles”
As the blood dripping from the corners of his mouth he continued.
“Gerfin, let him keep the rapier, it was our father’s you know. And the ocarina too. And tell Kosef i’m sorry but i won’t be able to keep the promise. Rest of you will do fine. Maybe except Murph. My family… Here i go…”
With a laugh and another cough his body went limp as the pool of blood beneath him grew.
Rakham caught up with the Zel and it dropped Gerfin’s body and ducked around the corner. Rakham peered around the corner with his heavy crossbow but the Zel was right there waiting for him. It attacked with a sword as Rakham fired his crossbow but both missed. Both then retreated and did so again but this time the Zel rushed past Rakham and climbed up a tunnel in the ceiling and out of view.
Meanwhile Adda heard a sound as another Zel approached behind her, she turned around and hit it with her hand ax twice. As it fled Rakham fired a crossbow bolt into its back and it fell to the ground.
The searched the passageway on the right and found Rakham’s things as well as his hunting trap which was set and snapped on his arm. Also some coins were found. They took Gerfin’s body back to the rest of the party and Loru’s body.
Since last adventure with the boar, the whole party was exhausted and so they decided to return to the Helping Hand. There was some drinking and talking, during which Talia went missing with a mug full of beer.
The party rested the night at the helping hand. In the morning Adda went to train. Rakham went with Loru and Murf to the Merchant’s Friend to find Gerfin to convince him to join them in their quest to find the equipment stolen from the Rakham by Zels. Together they went to Ilka’s Blades. There Rakham paid 1 GP for his space rental and make arrangements to pay 1 GP/day to keep the space available. He spent the morning crafted studded leather out of the Loru’s leather armor after buying the studs from Ilka for 12gp. Rakham certainly enjoyed that more than anyone.
The group met up with Adda on the way back and then made their way to the abandon plaza. After not finding any tracks in the plaza they started searching the largest building overlooking the square. It looked like an old temple with a small graveyard in the back surrounded by a rusted wrought iron fence. In the side building to the left they found a secret tunnel into a passageway below. Climbing down into the passageway Rakham noticed three strands of silk which stretched across the opening. He carefully cut them as he descended but noticed they stretched along the ceiling of the small passageway and around the corner. The rest of the party entered the tunnels but not until after Loru marked the walls of the old temple with a notice for Talia and Kosef of their location.
Exploring the tunnels to came to a junction. The left fork led to a door which opened into a cellar. The door was hidden from the cellar side as it looked just like the stone wall. Taking the stairs from the small cellar led to a building which was attached to the main building through which the party had entered originally. While taking some dirt form one of the tombs Murph found a new companion, a little scorpion, which he took as his new friend and locked him in a glass scroll case. The old graveyard was visible through the window of the building above the morgue cellar.
Continuing back through the tunnels they saw sun light to the left and found a small chamber with where the well from the plaza dropped into these tunnels. Another passageway led away from the chamber on the opposite side but the group did not pass through the well chamber, instead they backtracked and continued down another passage which turned right and came to a dead end about 60 feet down. Half way down a side passage on the left lead to steps which went up to a wooden trap door. Adda moved the door and climbing out of the tunnel into an abandoned building.
Meanwhile as Rakham and Murf continued down the tunnel. Loru heard the sound of crossbows being loaded from the dead end. He and Garfin moved for cover in the side passageway which Adda had gone through. Rakham and Murf rushed the end of the tunnel as crossbows fired at them through holes in the wall at the dead end. When they reached the end Murf tried to throw the scorpion that he had captured in the Morgue through a hole in the wall, however he missed and the scorpion turned on him. Rakham tried to kick the wall where the crossbows were firing from but it felt solid so he grabbed Murf and retreated outside to where Adda had gone with the scorpion in very slow pursuit.
As the shadow disappeared above Garuuk’s body Kosef dropped to his knees, his face in his hands, trembling. He gripped the blade of his knife until blood dripped from his hand onto the ground. Loru mindlessly stabbed his dagger into the mutilated body of Garuuk until Adda limped over to him and gently pulled him off.
The bodies of the creatures quickly dissipated into faint mist, leaving the once green grass on ground blackened and withered. Only the body of Garuuk remained.
Kosef regained his senses after a few minutes and examined the runes which covered the walls of the inner courtyard of the keep, they were disturbingly familiar to Kosef and as he observed them they seemed to shift into the shadowy form that appeared above Garruk’s body. Kosef approached the wall and places his hand on one of the runes, it was crusty and cool to the touch and made of a dried substance, maybe something mixed with blood, that had been painted on the wall and was now dry. The runes stopped moving as he touched them.
Talia investigating the places were the bodies had just been gripped the crystal around her neck and dropped to a knee focusing on the crystal and reaching her other hand towards where the largest of the bodies had been. Suddenly she saw a vast broken landscape, four scattered spires protruded out of the ground at odd angles. The dimly lit air felt thick with a orange smog and the smell of death. There was no sun or other source of light in the sky. Across the vast broken plains she could see movement. She jumped back a bit shaken but quickly recovered her composure.
Rakham and Adda carefully lifted Murf and carried him to the shore of the island and placed him in the small boat. Talia complained, insisting that they should leave him on the island in his unconscious state but Rakham and Adda refused.
The rest of the party quickly loaded into the small boat and Rakham rowed them across the lake to the eastern shore. There they made landfall and followed the path back towards the three hills district of Tordan. As they followed the path the lake narrowed into a river leaving the island in the distance behind them. A inhuman cry echoed across the lake, Talia and Kosef glanced back and in the distance they could just make out what looked like a winged humanoid flying above the island. The party quickened their pace and after an hour or two managed to returned to the Helping Hand. There they rested for the afternoon and evening.
During the night Kosef snuck out the window of the Helping Hand. The streets were completely empty as he stealthily moved across the city. He noticed a creature watching the street from the second story of an abandoned building’s window. Its triangular face was just visible in the light from the lantern on the Weeping Hill wall. He continued to the Eastern Market and then to the district he had seen the symbol of the sun beneath the horizon. Proceeding down the ally he knocked on the wall and waited. After a few minutes one of the doors opened slightly and the face of a girl appeared. “Speak with the Fishmonger at noon tomorrow on the High Hill Circle” and the door shut. Kosef quickly returned to the Helping Hand.
The next morning Adda left at daybreak for the Temple of Nian. As the rest of the group ate breakfast a man dressed in simple but well kept clothes entered the Helping Hand and sat in the corner, Dagmar approached him and spoke with him for a few minutes, then he got up and left. Kosef approached Dagmar and asks if he had found out any information about someone to speak with about the arcane. Dagmar says he can arrange an appointment with Delina but she is expensive. Kosef agrees and awaits confirmation the following morning. Dagmar also mentions that the the Boar hunt has been canceled. A woman has butchered her family and is being hunted in the city.
After breakfast Kosef, Talia and Murf headed to the market. Talia listened to the rumors at the market and heard that the Boar Hunt would be rescheduled, perhaps in a week. The woman who is being hunted killed her husband and both their children, everyone was butchered, cut to pieces and no one knows why. Murf wandered to the east side of the market and found the bulletin board outside the east gate of the Weeping Hill. He saw a wanted poster with a picture of Talia on it and took. Then he grabbed a second poster of a man with a shaved head and a scar across the side of his head and face. He stopped when he heard a voice behind him. A women in her thirties, her sun bleached hair slicked back in a single braid stood behind him. She had a sword on her hip with a black grip and a hideous gargoyle face for a pommel. On her other hip was a curved ax for throwing. A dagger was strapped to each of her thighs. A thin chain with a piece of green jade carved in the shape of a falcon dangled from her neck. In a rough voice she asked “Do you plan on capturing him?” When Murf shook his head she reached out and Murf gave her the poster. She took it and tucked it into her vest. “I do” she said as she turned away and strolled down the street, a backpack on her shoulders and her cloak flowing behind her.
Kosef found the Fishmonger near the Eastern Weeping Hill gate. When he greeted the Fishmonger and he replied to Kosef like greeting an old friend. They discussed his family and agreed to meet an hour before nightfall to get a drink and catch up.
Kosef, Talia and Murf returned to the Helping Hand and reunited with Adda. Murf led them east through an abandoned part of the city. As they passed a ruined building Talia spotted a boar digging in the ground of a ruined building. She stealthily approached it before speaking to the boar. After a few simple words it asked “Teagon friend?”, she replied “friend” and it led her and the group through the streets. Soon several other wild pig followed the group along a small path which led to a small glen with a small stone building in the center. The building had a simple wooden door and stone walls that looked like they has been repaired fairly recently.
A robed figured emerged from the hut, his face was like a boars but covered in a course black beard with gray streaks, his shoulders broad shoulders hunched. In his cloven hands he carried a gnarled staff, his feet were cloven like a pigs. He introduced himself as Teagon.
Talia warned Teagon about the hunt and at first it seemed unknown to him but then remembered. He asked her to return when she knows when it is. When Talia said the white lady told her to come he asked if she speaks of a forest spirit and then says that the forest spirit has sent her for a reason. While they speak a huge boar appeared behind Teagon barely squeezing through the doorway of the hut. Talia carefully approached it and it sniffed her and pushed her with its enormous head. When she backed away it seemed to chuckle a bit. As Talia turned to leave Teagon stopped her, he stepped into the hut for a moment and returned with something in his hand. He reached out to Talis and gave her a simple corded necklace with a smooth black stone with one side carved in the shape of an old face. As they left the glen Talia asked someone to help her remember how to get back to this place.
After leaving Teagon’s Murf leads the group through the streets past a ruined small fort three stories high and then to what used to be a small plaza, now a grove of trees with a pool in the center surrounded by buildings. Talia sits on the edge of the pool dipping her feet while Murf stands at the edge. It appears the pool, bordered in stone, was probably a fountain at one time. It is a few meters across, less then a meter deep and filled with crystal clear water. The stone bottom is visible. At the center of the pool bottom an opening descends into darkness. Murf and Talia concentrate for a minute and the surface of the pool changes to a sky blue color. Adda observes the change as well but Talia and Murf are not sure what to do next.
Meanwhile Kosef patrols around the small plaza, as he does he hears something and turns to see a toad easily the size of a horse come out of the side of an abandoned building. Before he can move back it lunges towards him mouth open, but he manages to step aside. Slashing the toad with his sword Kosef retreats back towards to pool but as he does he sees two frog like humanoids with nets and spears watching him. One hurls its net towards him but he manages to dodge as he runs to the grove of trees around the pool.
Back at the pool Talia ties a rope around her waste and hands it to Adda before wading towards the center of the pool. She can feels cool water flowing into the pool for the spring in the center. Murf exclaims “I have an idea!” He mutters something and suddenly both Talia and Murf collapse. Adda quickly pulls Talia from the pool and sets her on the grass. Then Adda hears Kosef come rushing back to the grove. As she turns she sees a huge toad leaping towards them. She quickly flings her hand ax, sinking it into the toads mass as it crashes into the ground behind Kosef biting both his legs and grasping them in its mouth. Kosef cries out in pain as he manages to slip out of the Toads maw. Adda brings her great ax over her shoulder and slashes across the toads side. Kosef limps to the edge of the pool, one of his legs numb from the venom of the toads bite. He stumbles to Talia’s side and shakes her awake. As Adda prepares to attack the toad again the two frog like humanoids rush forward stabbing at her with spears, she manages to knock one of the attackers aside as he stumbles to the ground but the other jabs the spear into her side. Enraged she grabs the spear and shoves the blunt end back into the body of the frogman. The frogman lets out two croaks and all three of the frog creatures bound away.
Kosef wakes up Murf and the group quick retreats down the streets of Tordan and back towards the Helping Hand. They arrive safely and Adda manages to heal some of Kosef’s wounded leg. She takes a minute to go out into the sun and say a prayer. The group eats some food and recovers from their picnic.
Let’s try something. Leveling up is an abstraction from the story. It breaks the fiction and limits character’s options by forcing them into predefined templates. Instead of leveling up with XP all advancement is through in game actions such as training, practice and discovery.
My goal as a DM and a story teller is to create a world that is a living and breathing story in which the players can play and the characters can live. I want to maximize the things that bring that world to life and minimize the things that break the fiction or take our minds out of the fantasy world. Leveling up is one of the mechanics that is really abstracted from the world. There are several good reasons for this:
A Reward system that is standardized and easy to use.
Makes the game much more accessible to DMs and players.
Keeps characters somewhat balanced.
Requires almost no work or interactions from the DM making their job easier.
So why would anyone want to change something as complex and integral to the game as leveling? What would be the advantages and disadvantages for players and dms?
Try something new
I have played in and and DMed a lot of D&D games and it has been great. I always have fun, but the more I play the more I want to create something even better. Leveling up is one of the highlights of D&D for most players. Recently I played in a game were there were no classes or levels. The only way to gain powers and skills was through actions. Getting XP by fighting random things no longer made sense. Instead the focus shifted to gathering information and learning new skills and powers through training, research and magic. I found this to be very rewarding and fun and made the story congruent with the characters advancement, the fiction was preserved.
Classes are templates that characters are forced into. Although most classes have several options they are based on stereotypical archetypes. Even with different options available I find that characters end up being similar and limited, and often they need more depth and variety. Multi-classing can solve some of these problems but honestly I don’t know if I have ever seen multi-classing used as part of the fiction, it seems to just be used for min/maxing.
Leveling is usually disconnected from the world and story
This is my biggest complaint with how leveling up works. Not only is it completely disconnected from the world but it often breaks the fiction. There is no reason to gather resources, find the weaknesses of your enemies and makes plans to defeat your nemesis when you become more powerful simply murdering everything you meet. Think of any fantasy book or movie, the protagonists act with purpose to solve their problems and reach their goals. They don’t attack random creatures until they are almost god like and then destroy their enemies. They must find ways to reach their goals through their actions. To accumulate specific knowledge and power which will allow them to defeat their enemies and overcome the challenges they face. This is leveling up in the world instead of outside of it.
Magic Item relevance
Everyone loves magic items but they are often completely unnecessary. Almost any benefits a magic item can grant can also be achieved by gaining a couple of levels. Many magic items lose relevance quickly as levels are gained, especially when you consider the HP gains per level and how they define how powerful a creature is. I want magic items to be difference makers, unique and powerful with lasting implications on the world and story.
I covered some of the advantages and my personal goals but I will get more into the advantages and disadvantages next time…