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Campaign Journal - XV March MMIII


Top level Ga Campaign Notes


GA
Notes from Tony's campaign.

Note from Tony: I was not happy with the way I handled the meeting in the last sessions (I had planned the gathering but not the actual meeting), so we re played it.


Quazi and Rochavel had crossed the desolate moor to reach the ancient ruins. Once amongst the ruins, the feeling of utter desolation grew. It was clear than no one had set foot hereabouts for hundreds, nay thousands, of years. What was once a large city stretched before them. Its design was as alien as its age. Instead of being constructed up from the ground, like other cities they had come across, this one was carved from the rock and earth, so that a large portion of it was below ground level.

The odd crumbling tower, or section of wall were the only buildings which reached above ground level. It soon became apparent that the city had not been designed by horse riders as the only way to the excavated levels were by narrow stone stairs, which would surely cause a horse to slip and do itself injury.

Out of the wind, many of the buildings were still in a decent state of repair. Quazi and Rochavel were soon winding their way down narrow paths between buildings which sometimes loomed over them and other times fell away to yet another terrace carved from the earth. Turning yet another corned they found themselves in a slightly wider thoroughfare. Some fifteen metres away stood an armed orc with its back to them.

Keen to slay the orc quickly, Quazi started towards it. The orc heard his lumbering approach and turned, raising the alarm. He did not draw his sword, but rather raised hi hand in a gesture of non-aggression. Rochavel and Quazi considered this as well as the sounds of feet approaching at a rapid pace and decided to sheath their weapons. Moments later an additional five orcs wielding crossbows arrived across some rooftops. The orcs did no manhandle them or confiscate weapons, rather they escorted them to their camp.

The camp was situated near the centre of the ruins, in a large depression. A thin stream of smoke rose from passed for a fire. (Wood is extremely scarce on the moor). A few more orcs and some five humans huddled around the fire, grumbling about the weather while they ate stew from a cauldron hanging over the fire. One of the humans rose to greet them.

Recognition dawned when the human pushed back the hood on his heavy cloak. It was Tiberius! Tiberius was an old friend with whom they had previously adventured and the last person they thought to ever see again. Tiberius welcomed them warmly, genuinely happy to see them. Within minutes they were seated and eating the spicy orc stew.

***

Meanwhile, Fand, Ethnea, Amis and Horsa had arrived on the moor at roughly the same time. Fand knew Horsa (aka Horsa the wergild shirker) from a previous adventure and after some introductions, they decided to travel together as they had a common destination. It was ale and they decided to camp before approaching the distant ruins. The next day, before they departed a new person arrived on the scene. A barbarian shaman from the distant south named Honsu had been directed to search the party out by his fetch. Such meetings were more than coincidence, each member of the party had been directed to find the ruins on the moor by some higher being.

Nearing the ruins, they spotted a this trail of smoke and decided to find its source. The horses and lama were left to forage on the moor while the party entered the narrow streets, winding their way towards the smoke. The orcs saw them long before they saw the orcs. By the time they realised they had company, they were surrounded by orcs with crossbows.

Strangely the orcs did not offer them violence, other than menacing them with crossbows. Amis, who had travelled far and wide, noted their swarthy colouring and short stature to be reminiscent of the lowland Aquatinian orcs. The orcs escorted them to the same depressions where Rochavel and Quazi had met Tiberius.

Tiberius welcomed the travellers, noting that he had expected them. He was a bit cryptic regarding how he came by the knowledge of their journey, saying rather that all would be revealed in due course. The party was none too happy with this, but were more or less obliged to stay. They were fed and otherwise treated well. Acquaintances were made with Rochavel and Quazi, two hardened veterans.

The next few days passed slowly. Orcs were sent to gather the parties horses and corral them with their own livestock. The ancient ruins were explored, but nothing of interest was found. They had been stripped of anything of value centuries before while the ravages of time had done their work on even mundane artefacts. Of interest was the use of stone. Items of everyday life which would have been made of wood or other such material further south were all carved from stone. Doors, floors, roofs, even tables and stools were of stone.

Tiberius was often seen in deep consultation with an ancient orc. The old orc becomes very excited one day and there is much activity. He has been waiting for a specific sign, which will identify where the entrance to the throne room is. Although day has dawned, both moons remain in the sky. By triangulating them with some seemingly mundane markers set at each corner of the depression, the orc is fast able to determine the location of a hidden door, which is unexpectedly on the floor, a few metres from the eastern wall.

Digging equipment was broken out and hard work soon had orcs and humans stripped to the waist in spite of the morning chill. After clearing away a millennia's gathered dirt and grass roots, a rock trap door came into view. Metal chains were sunk into two corners. Although it had lain exposed to the element for such a long period, the metal was not rusted, or damaged in any way. The block was extremely heavy, but once all present put their backs into heaving on the chains, it finally gave and pivoted up on hinges of the same impervious metal. A cloud of foul air escaped the exposed opening, gagging any who breathed it.
Tiberius waited until the ancient air had escaped before descending. The party and a few orcs followed. They entered a long hall, with a many vaulted ceiling supported by pillars. Huge statues along the walls also acted as pillars, supporting the ceiling. A massive throne on a dais could be seen at the far end of the hall. Archways led out of the hall on either side of the dais. The statues where of humanoid beings. T he beings they depicted were had vaguely orc features although they possessed other racial characteristics which negated any but the most cursory relation to orc, or human for that matter.

The group poked around and soon found that two opposite statues did not act as pillars. On closer scrutiny, they appeared to be mounted on a rail. Moving them revealed chambers beyond. One was empty, but the other housed a dais on which rested a huge (SIZ22) skeleton, dressed in ornately engraved purple plate armour. Its hands were folded on its chest, in them was clasped a greatsword befitting its huge size. Finely wrought copper plating, etched and engraved with battle scenes decorated the far wall while the dais itself was surrounded with chests filled with gems, jewellery and strange rods of precious metal with a loop in one end.

While all present were eager to fall into a frenzy of looting, Tiberius bade them hold back and pick up choice treasures on their return. The party was amazed at the great warriors control over the orcs, who listened to him and nodded as if his words were spoken with great wisdom. The group delved deeper into the hall.

The two archways either side of the throne led to another chamber, which was split by a jagged chasm, possibly the result of some ancient movement in the bedrock. Much delving and exploring followed, including discovering an ancient trap which had already been triggered. For no real reason (other than to prove he could), the trap was reset by Quazi. Finally after travelling narrow ledges which had once been passageway before being eaten into by the chasm, they came upon a terminus, where an ancient book, whose cover and pages were of copper and bronze sat atop a rock dais. The ancient orc swooped on it and after a brief inspection, proclaimed it was indeed what Tiberius sought.

The elation at achieving their goal was short-lived however, as foul grey skinned beasts began to issue from the chasm. Ghouls, their ancient hide stretched across bones and teeth bared in hunger as they sought living flesh. The group faced the ghouls, while the old orc escaped with the precious book. The battle ensued, but the party was worn down, some panicked by the ghouls terrifying screams, while two orcs fell to their poisonous fangs. For every ghoul that fell, another took its place until eventually even the most steadfast warrior had to retreat.

Fortunately the escape route took the warriors through a narrowing where the passage had been mostly blocked by rubble from a ceiling collapse. This narrowing confused the ghouls. Those that did get through were further hindered by the trap Quazi had reset. The part made its escape, all signs of ghoulish pursuit had disappeared by the time they reached the throne hall. Still, a watchful eye was kept as the call went forth: "Loot! Loot! Loot to kill!"

The rest of Tiberius' band who had remained on the surface rushed down into the throne hall and soon the treasure chamber was stripped bear, even the massive skeletons bones were plundered and the ornate wall decorations stripped and divvied between some of the more industrious orcs. The raiders left the hall and resealed it, endeavouring to roll a boulder onto the trapdoor to ensure the ghouls did not pursue them.

The sun was still high in the sky. With no further tarrying, the group left, gathering their horses (and lama) and heading south, towards the escarpment. Although the whole party gained a decent dash of treasure and lived to tell the tale of coming face to face with a swarm of ghouls, the person who profited most would undoubtedly Horsa. He gained a suit of ancient and excellently crafted armour as well as a decent cavalry horse, which had once belonged to a orc (now ghoul fodder). Excluding of course Tiberius, who got the ancient tome he came for.


 

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Gygax Magazine Issue 3 Out
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