Little 'n' Large

Regime change at Mausolos
Session 42

The Pope of Corruption lies dead, his vile blasphemies finally brought to an end; the Little and the Large pause to reflect upon their achievements. The Shroud of the Raven Queen has been rescued from servants of the Twin God of Death and a terrible blow dealt to the servants of evil. Heedless of further angering the dark diety Pennyworth compounds upon the insult by wresting the black opal eye of Vecna-Nagash from the unholy idol. But though the head has been cut off the snake, and the goal of finding the first phylactery has been achieved, the city of Mausolos remains a stronghold of necrotic powers.

By disguising themselves as temple attendants, members of the party sneak away from the Unholy Shrine only to be immediately confronted by suspicious Temple Attendants. Attempts at dissimulations end poorly and a quick fight ensues. Only by rapidly dispatching the priests do the Little and the Large silence the possibility of a wider alarm being raised. Merely sneaking out the precinct will not do, and careful consideration is clearly required to turn the situation to the party’s advantage…

A stunningly audacious plan emerges. It is known that the Necrocount rules by fear and through his considerable personal power. Under him there are several other factions that chafe against their servitude: if these could be suborned or neutralised, then there is a chance that the very city might be turned against the Necrocount’s rule! The key to success would be further information and aid, but how can it be procured?

From such lore as has already been gathered the Little and the Large know that the most prominent factions number the wights of Mausolos’ catacomb undercity, respectively the three most powerful liches after the Necrocount himself – a hobgoblin from faraway lands, the savage half-orc Butan, and a reclusive elf wizardess -, the Church of Vecna-Nagash, and a council of five necromancers of some repute. Who would be their willing ally? Let the fates decide: Pennyworth casts an augury determine the most suitable outcome. The ritual offers only one solution: the hobgoblin lich. Once again glad in the rainments of the Pope’s attendants, Max sneaks out and imperiously orders the first priest she encounters to convey an urgent word of summons to the hobgoblin. The sheer ambition of the plan has steeled her temperament and she is able to return unmolested.

The wait is not long but all the more anxiety-fuelling. Finally a loud knock heralds the lich’s arrival. Upon opening the chapel doors he is greeted by the shocking sight of the dismembered remains of the pope and his attendants, arranged around the pope’s palanquin upon which Max launges. She greets the lich with a careless wave of her hand and invites him to consider the possibilities of an unexpected alliance.

If a flicker of alarm passes through the lich’s shrivelled soul, it is quickly replaced by a glimmer of understanding and ambition. With a sharp arcane gesture he immobilises the accompanying wight guards and slams the chapel doors shut. A delicate dance of negotiation, of proposal and counter-proposal, ensues. The outcome: the hobgoblin pledges his support in over-throwing the Church of Vecna-Nagash and the tyranny of the Necrocount in Mausolos, but warns that no less than two other factions must either be neutralised or befriended for the plan to have any chance of success. With the inside information that he provides the party decides on their course of action.

First, the wights of the undercity cannot be negotiated with, for their loyalty lies only with the fell powers of the damned. The entrances to their domain are few, however, and if the gate under the temple of Vecna-Nagash could be sealed then their ability to respond rapidly would be stymied. The first order of business is therefore to take care of this threat.

Once again the Little and the Large don the blood-spattered robes of the temple attendants and the guards of the Mother of Ghouls. Avoiding the attention of temple priests and following the guidance of the hobgoblin lich they make their way into the depths of the temple, finally coming upon the gate leading to the undercity. There they confront the wight guards tasked with securing the entrance. Soon the clamour of bright steel against fell iron fills the subterranean passageways. The wights are driven back, and Pennyworth expends of the final flickers of power in its fire crystal to weld shut the locks and hinges of the gate. For now, it shall remain sealed.

Upon returning to the chapel from their perilous expedition the party finds that the hobgoblin has prepared the second stage of their plan: a teleport circle that will lead them to the inner sanctum of the reclusive elven lich. Without hesitation, for sands of time are running low, the party steps through to confront their next foe.

This is will not be a contest of arms or arcane arts, however, but rather one of oratory and persuasion. The elven lich, though suspicious of the intrusion, consents to grant an audience. By cleverly working on her fears of the unpredictability of upheaval and change, and the possibility of final death these bring, the party seeks to convince the lich that her most secure course of action is to adopt a posture of neutrality in the upcoming coup. Still she hesitates; until Max eloquently compares her to a great stone in the river of time, past which all events flow like turbulent water yet which remains unaffected by the surrounding turmoil. The languor of ages overcomes her: she will remain aloof. A second faction is thereby neutralised.

As the party returns through the portal the hobgoblin lich informs them that the time for machinations has run out. The Pope of Corruption is now expected to make a public address to the city from the grand balcony of his temple. The hobgoblin will make himself scarce and wait for the outcome; the die has been cast and it is now up to the Little and the Large to deliver. Steeling themselves to upcoming test the party dons their disguises for the final time and make their way to the balcony.

Below lies the temple square, and on it the teeming populace of Mausolos. The hierarchy of the church walks among the masses, exhorting them to the praise Vecna-Nagash and expectantly glancing up to the balcony. Immense is their shock as the party throws away their disguises and brandishes the severed head of the Pope of Corruption!

The moment is seized and there can be no hesitation. Declaring the former pope unworthy and cast down, Max calls all to acknowledge her the new pontiff by the rights of arms. Moreover, the phylactery of the Necrocount has been seized and – Theorn rips it in half with savage glee – destroyed. All must now submit, or face their doom! The magnitude of these events temporarily silences the chants of the priests; but not the ire of Butan, the half-orc lich. Stepping forward with his retinue he demands immediate redress for the insult of not having been consulted on such schemes. Is he to be taken for a pawn, expected to fall in line along with the mortal peons? Never!

The Little and the Large are taken back by the ferocity of the retort but their response is not long in coming. Of course the great Butan could never be taken for a pawn. Indeed, if he was not consulted it was only out of respect for his martial temperament – for surely he would better respect the results of a demonstrated feat of arms rather than to lower himself to participate in dastardly back-room schemes. Moreover, the Little and the Large would be honoured to have him accept the title of the Grand Marshal of Necrosha’s armies, a honour that was vilely denied of him by the false Necrocount and his cowardly lackeys at the Church of Vecna-Nagash. His honour and martial vigour satisfied, Butan assents not to stand on the party’s way. But they must still demonstrate their ability by convincing the populace of the city…

Indeed, the evil priests are already moving among the masses, exhorting the people to slay the heretics. The bishops of Vecna-Nagash waste no time in crying out for the blood of those of who have so grievously offended the sanctity of their god’s temple! For a moment, the Little and the Large totter at the precipice of total disaster. In the end, they are only four mortals on a balcony, attempting to overturn the rule of an entire city with little more than words. Has their ambition led them to a terrible doom?

But as the clamour from the plaza below reaches new heights Max fearlessly steps forward. Though small in stature, somehow her presence fills the entire square and commands immediate attention. With a raised hand she silences the crowds and gathers all eyes to her. The speech that follows will be engraved upon stone monuments that circle the plaza, for such is its force that the destiny of a nation was changed in a single instant.

Addressing directly the populace of Mausolos she speaks of the depraved oppression of the Necrocount and the false promise of the Church of Vecna-Nagash. Now the people of Necrosha stand at the crossroads of destiny. With her, and only her, lies the promise of a better future where the living will not be mere playthings to the undead, but proud citizens of the land. The Necrocount can only offer tyranny backed by force… but look, even these promises are proven empty! For does his sanctum not lie violated, his phylactery destroyed? Terminal weakness nests in the foundations of the Necrocount’s edifice of power and now it is exposed! And what of the Church of Vecna-Nagash? They claim the favour of their god, but in truth they are as forsaken as the Necrocount. Their pope lies dead, the favour the dark deity withdrawn from him! The eye of Vecna has turned away from Mausolos! Corrupted and bloated has his church grown and now it is time to purge it entirely!

As Max speaks the populace listens first with stunned attention, but soon with increased fervour. Horrified, the priests of Vecna-Nagash witness their parishioners turn against them with words and declamations, then with opprobrium and violence. As Max’s speech reaches its roaring crescendo the seething on the plaza turns into a riot: the priesthood is indeed purged, with only those few who recant and denounce their god spared the executioner’s sword so expertly wielded by Theorn.

[Never was a critical 20 on a skill check more welcome!]

Mausolos is secured, and even the Little and the Large find themselves stunned by the totality of their success. But there is no time to rest on the laurels: the Necrocount still roams free, and his vengeance will surely be terrible. Leaving the city in the hands of their new-found allies, and tasking Butan with collecting an army to lead against the Necrocount’s base at Wiedersburg, the Little and the Large hurry on hippogriff towards that town to join the siege. It is then, upon leaving Mausolos, that they discovered they had not emerged from their great exploit entirely unscathed… for the wrath of Vecna-Nagash is upon them, and his curse chills their souls. Slowly, it will swap away their strength unless a remedy can be found.

Upon arriving at Wiedersburg the party finds the Necrocount secure in the castle and the armies of their allies from Wissen approaching from the west. Moreover, the skeletal form of a gigantic dragolich casts its shadow over the castle. This is one of the Necrocount’s captains, and his protection against aerial assault. The party swoops in for a palaver with the commanders of their allied army: the haughty Ambroce von Strauben and the sinister Viscount von Braun, who has inherited his father’s title upon the latter’s sudden and unexpected demise. The brutish form of Sir Hellstrom hover’s protectively over his new patron.

It is quickly concluded that the Necrocount’s position is difficult to assault. But if the allied forces are not to loose their initiative then action must be taken quickly. A plot is hatched. Next night the allied army will set up cooking fires and tents some distance away from the castle, but retreat in two groups and under the cover the darkness into concealed positions. If the Necrocount can be lured into sending his forces into a rash night-time attack, then all is set up for an effective ambush. Meanwhile, the Little and the Large will enter the emptied castle by hippogriff and attempt to gain access to the sanctum of the Necrocount. Perhaps the threat can be brought down with a single decapitation strike.

The dragolich presents problem, however, for it will be able to forestall any air-born attempt at the castle. Sabina, also present and eager to show her valour, offers her services. She will immediately lead a small expedition of knights to within sight of the castle and dare the dragolich to come to face her. Should it give into its draconic pride and be lured away from its post the Little and the Large will fall upon it. The plan, though hazardous, is approved and carried out. A fierce aerial fight above the blasted heath by Wiedersburg brings down the undead abomination. Brandishing its severed skull in one hand and its rotten heart in the other Theorn faces the walls of the castle and in full view of the Necrocount’s forces dares him to come and face them in battle. In a gesture of final contempt he then consumes the dragolich’s heart. Can the Necrocount fail to respond to such provocation? The lure is now set and it remains to be seen if it is taken…

Character status at end of session:

CharacterHit PointsHealing SurgesDaily Powers usedExperience Points
Hollan?? remaining?99,000 (17)
Max?? remaining?105,144 (18)
Pennyworth?? remaining?99,150 (18)
Pieter?? remaining?102,799 (18)
Théorn?? remaining?104,466 (18)

Session 41

The wealth and treasures of Castle Bleak lie at the party’s feet like a succulent but sinister feast. Availing themselves to a few choice items – a magical armour for one, a collection of necromantic grimoires for another, several barrels of top-quality coffee beans for a third – the Little and Large fill their pockets and sacks with the just desserts of their struggles. Many of the vampires’ thralls awaken back to cognisance, though sadly several are too far gone for help; the party can only hope to arrange they will be well looked after in the future. But for now, there is little more time to waste: collecting one final grisly trophy our heroes seek out their griffon mounts and head back to Bad Tabersheim.

Awaiting the party in her bondage, Lady Ferranifer has nevertheless managed to make her circumstances more bearable: a smitten cleric now attends her every need. But the shock of seeing Elder Ysnt’s severed head roll to the feet of her chaise longue is enough to pierce even her immortal ennui; she favours the remains of her erstwhile rival with a single languorously arched eyebrow. “Fery vell, adfenturers, you hafe exceeded my expectations. It seems that our little… compact may bear some fruit after all.”

In arched, accented tones Lady Ferranifer now betrays her paramour’s most guarded secrets. The Necrocount indeed possesses two phylacteries: one which he always keeps near his person – this may be guarded by the fearsome Dead Man, the mysterious guardian of the dynasty of necrocounts. It is undoubtedly with him Wiedersburgh where the necrocount currently directs his operations. But the other is secreted under the statue of Vecna in the grand temple of Mausolos, the capital of Necrosha, in the keeping of the vile Pope of Corruption, Vecna’s grand priest.

“Oh, und one more thing, my little ones…” Ferranifer says with a mocking smirk. The Pope of Corruption is due to hold his annual private conclave with the Mother of Ghouls, the matriarch of Necrosha’s scavenging undead, in just a few nights hence. As tradition dictates, this repulsive ceremony will include the ritual fouling of the Shroud of the Raven Queen, a holy relic of the dark goddess.

If the shock of these repugnant rites aimed against her patron divinity pierces the immortal ennui of Sir Max, her lowered faceplate conceal any such discomfiture. But couse of action is now all the more clear: the party must hurry to intercept the Mother Ghouls before she embarks on her pilgrimage. What little time can be spared is spent organising a crusading force against Necrosha. A careful marshalling of allies and promises of future rewards sees the formation of an allied army composed of several noble houses and bolstered by a band of mercenaries. The gods of light willing, this force will arrive to siege Wiedersburg just as the Necrocount experiences the searing sense of doom that comes with the destruction if his first phylactery.

Without wasting any further time the Little and the Large mount their griffons and head once more to the dark skies of that unhallowed land. Fortunately Ferranifer’s instructions hold true, and after a frantic day and night of flying the party locates the hut of the Mother of Ghouls atop a promontory to the south of necropolis. A miasma of palpable dread hangs around the blasted landscape as the party lands some distance away. Even the noble griffins that had carried our heroes so far and well cannot stand it, but spook and escape away. With their mounts now, the party realises that whatever reservations may remains the only way is forward.

Deciding that bravery is the better part of valour they towards the forbidding dwelling; the Mother of Ghouls, a monstrous, cancerous hag, soon spies the danger from her perch and emits a piercing call. From all around the heath sinuous, predatory forms arise and begin hurrying to guard their mistress!

But surprise still remains in the arsenal of the Little and the Large: Max, intoning that terribly command once again, twists the skein of reality and open a portal directly to the presence of the Mother. Bypassing her guardians with a single extra-dimensional leap Theorn charges the hag and deals her a terrifying blow! Rushing immediately after Pennyworth follows with dire magics of its own: a whispered word blasts the Mother with psychic energy and deprives her of the command of her faculties. It takes only little time to finish the terrible abomination…

Once the ghoul is dead the party takes a moment to considers its options. An audacious plan is hanged: Pennyworth summons its dark magics and weaves a veil of shadows to take on the appearance of the perished monstrosity. Max will clad herself in the stinking robe of her attendant, and Pieter and Theorn shall place chains upon themselves. Thus attired – the ghoul-mistress, the lackey and two sweet-meats for the feast – the party seeks admittance to the council of the Pope of Corruption.

Against all odds the the ruse is successful. The taciturn wights that guard the secret passages under Mausolos take little notice of the odd company, and the Little and the Large find themselves in the innermost sanctum of the great temple of Mausolos, the shadow of a giant statue of Vecna looming over them. Here they face down the retinue of the Pope of Corruption. Vecna does not allow such a impertinent challenge to go unpunished, however, and a terrifying skeletal angel descends to join the fry. But the Raven Queen’s blessings are surely with the heroes. Once again the victory is theirs; and the pope of corruption’s final demise is a fitting one too. A treacherous misdirection by magic causes his ogrish palanquin-bearer to crush the unholy potentate instead of its intended target.

Having vanquished their enemies the party unearths the hidden phylactery from under the dire statue. They have the time they came for, but all that is of little consolation should they not find a way out of the dread necropolis…

Showdown at Castle Bleak
Session 40

Even as the defeated vampires’ bodies rot to dust the party is well aware that there is no time to rest on the laurels: a shadow hastily slipping around the bend of a far-way corridor warns of the escape of one of the vile bloodsuckers, and the danger of the fugitive rousing the castle to arms. Conscious that time is against them, the Little and the Large waste none in rushing after the fiend.

Only to find that a welcoming committee has already assembled to invite them to enjoy the singular hospitality of Castle Bleak! The massive, inhuman form of the lord of the castle, Elder Ysnt himself, stands at the far end of the room, his personal guard assembling around him as a mortal thrall finishes strapping a spectral armour plate to his lord’s body. Even as the out-of-breath heroes hastily draw into a defensive formation, Ysnt bids them welcome in a guttural and strangely accented voice. “Hans has informed me I have unexpected visitors”, Ysnt says, gesturing towards a familiar vampire cowering servilely in the corner. “Alas, I am unable to attend to your welcome at the moment, but rest assured my men will arrange entertainments worthy of such… audacious guests.”

As Ysnt turns and departs the hall, a blinding flash rends the air and tall planes of glass – some mirrored, some opaque, some transparent – slam into the ground, turning the entire room into a devilish maze and separating friend and foe alike. The battle now turns into a dangerous game of hide and seek within a labyrinthine and ever-changing configuration of tiny rooms and cramped corridors, as vampire and adventurer vie for even a fleeting moment of tactical advantage amidst its shifting boundaries. Most dangerously of all, a spectral spirit inhabits the crystalline construct, stalking the corridors and effortlessly slipping through the walls to mete punishment on those who have dared to disturb its master’s peace.

The battle is long and draining, but marshalling their experience the heroes manage to slowly turn the tide to their favour. One by one the vampires fall to dust, until only the raging spectre remains – then it, too, is banished by the magic and skills of the Little and the Large. As its final scream shatters the labyrinth, the party has a moment to gather their strengths, knowing that long though the night has been, the hardest battle yet lies ahead.

As if cognisant of the heroes’ thoughts, the anteroom doors slowly swing open again, their hinges creaking and shedding flakes of rust. Beyond lies the heart of the castle, a massive arched hollow overseen by dusty painted-glass windows. At its far end lies a giant sarcophagus, lid open and propped against the wall. And before the coffin stands a giant figure of a man, now fully clad in battle armour. Unperturbed by the violation of his sanctum sanctorum Elder Ysnt commands his thrall to provide suitable musical accompaniment to the evening’s activities – “The organ! Lets us now dance!” – and then motions towards gigantic, barely visible shadows hanging from the rafters.

With an ear-piercing screech a flock of monstrously bloated vampires bats detach from the ceiling and hurl themselves at the Little and the Large – only to be rebuffed by an equally fierce flurry of magic and steel. Immediately seizing the moment Max intones an arcane command and a shimmering violation in the fabric of reality opens before the dark knight, a mirror oval appearing before the startled Ysnt. Charging through the portal the party gains a brief advantage over the vampire lord – but Ysnt cannot be contained by such stratagems alone. Brushing heroes aside with almost casual ease, capable of both enduring and dealing massive punishment, his very form shimmering in and out of the physical realm, Ysnt tests the already exhausted party to the utmost limits of their ability.

As they desperately fight for any advantage against the vampire the heroes find themselves rebuffed and cut down over and over again. But even as Ysnt’s laughter echoes amidst the gigantic vaults of the ballroom, a note of unaccustomed worry enters into it. Who are these mortals, who, though crushed to the ground, yet refuse to stay down, who dare to raise themselves and defy his will? Ysnt’s endurance is nearly limitless, but even he finds himself sorely tested. For long moments the outcome of the struggle, one of the very hardest the Little and the Large have ever fought, hangs in balance.

Then, finally, Ysnt discovers that even an immortal ruler of the night must bow to the vagaries of fortune and battle; the organ’s final notes are a dirge over his ashes. Castle Bleak belongs to the Little and the Large.

Character status at end of session:

CharacterHit PointsHealing SurgesDaily Powers usedExperience Points
Hollan?? remaining?81,409 (16)
Max?? remaining?85,769 (17)
Pennyworth?? remaining?79,775 (16)
Pieter?? remaining?83,424 (17)
Théorn?? remaining?85,091 (17)

Underground, Overground Vampire-Hunting Free
Session 39

Looking back after the subduing of the Vampire Mistress, the party recollected that they had purchased a pair of scrolls of resurrection, 5 healing potions and a significant sum of money on some new gloves for Pennyworth, the most stylish Automaton in the North and an array of trinkets for Max, newly declared Baron von Wiedersburg.

After a lot of back and forth between Pieter and the Vampiress, Max turns the captive inside out, feeding on her jealousy and desire to remain powerful. She reveals that the Necrocount has 2 phylacteries, 1 in the hands of the “Dead Man”, an undead servant who has always risen to serve the Necrocounts of old and that she will reveal where the other is if we remove a certain other Vampire from his position of power. We agree to do this, as long as she stays in our power until revealing the other location of a phylactery.

So, we leave her with Lionel Hoegaarden a priest in service to the von Neumann family, who owe us a favour. We will return with the head of Elder Ysnt, head of the vampires in Necrotia. We suspect he is in Castle bleak, so make our way there with undue haste.

Arriving at the castle, Pennyworth performs an Augury to find the best way/time to enter the castle. This reveals a path through Earth. Not stone. Théorn then uses “Talk with the Animals” and persuades some moles to help us dig a tunnel under the walls of the castle to get in, as they know of a gap in the “Hard Earth” where there are now worms.

Entering an outflow tunnel from the castle, the party encounter some zombies and a Whirlwind of Death, which causes Théorn to attack Hollan, critically hitting him. Hollan then, in turn, crits on Max…

We clamber out of the oubliette and Théorn smashes a door down which was barred and preventing our progress. This reveals a corridor, in which we meet and make friends with Mundo, the keeper of the Master’s pets. We placate his fears and head upstairs to where the master lives. We find a tomb and some alcoves.

Théorn and Hollan open the casket to drive a stake into the heart of the suspected vampire within, who unfortunately, rises along with 5 other wights. Max creates a wall of fire down the corridor which helps to prevent them from overwhelming us and Théorn smashes the Wight commander like a boss and appropriates his jagged axe…

We head upstairs and along a long corridor with doors on each side, which are the sleeping and living quarters of the vampires’ thralls. Théorn removes the dinner gong and when challenged by a thrall, persuades them he is working as a gong repair man.

We then bust into the vampires’ bedrooms upstairs again and stake the first urgently. Alas, she lets out a scream which alerts the other vampires who we rush towards and stake in a panicked frenzy.

Character status at end of session:

CharacterHit PointsHealing SurgesDaily Powers usedExperience Points
Hollan?? remaining?75,799 (16)
Max?? remaining?80,159 (16)
Pennyworth1108 remainingVisage of the Onyx Queen, Belth of Fitness74,165 (16)
Pieter?? remaining?77,814 (16)
Théorn?? remaining?79,481 (16)

A Grand Finale
Session 38

Victorious, the Little and the Large now can claim as their trophy the Crown of Swords, the strange diadem rumoured to have once been carried by one of the Nine. Upon later examination, this mysterious artefact does not seem to possess any particular powers, yet for some reason it was highly sought after by the fiendish five and their mysterious, still unseen patron…

The combat between the Band of (formerly) 5 and the Little and the Large may have been the showpiece battle of the Small Melee, but the true substance of the tournament is yet to come: the Grand Melee, in which all the teams participate, vieing for the ultimate prize that is the favour of Queen Giselda and the unsurpassing prestige of being nominated a Dragonrider!

While such gifts are ultimately beyond the reach of our heroes (and, perhaps, beyond their desires as well), the Little and the Large are in the position to play the proverbial kingmaker, influencing which noble houses may gain these favours. The final melee is prefaced by bouts between different teams: this performance will dictate the composition of the climatic battle. As tradition dictates the participating teams are now divided between two sides, one headed by the winners of the Small Melee tournament. The most honourable and distinguished combatant of the Grand Melee shall be appointment Dragonrider, while their counterpart in the loosing side will be awarded a favour by the queen.

Since in effect both trophies are limited to prominent members of the ruling noble dynasties (and influenced by various factions by and behind the throne), careful strategising is in order to ensure not only that a friendly noble shall become Dragonrider, but that the favour will be dispensed to a house not aligned against the party. The Little and the Large pick Uther von Scrauben, a priest of Bahamut that has impressed the party with his most un-aristocratic humility and ethics as their champion for Dragonrider. By carefully selecting which houses and teams are one their side, the Little and the Large put together a fearsome batallion.

Individual clashes now proceed between the teams engaged in the chaotic grand melee. The Little and the Large are able to eliminate some of the strengths that stand on the opposing sides, though decisive knock-outs of major opponents elude them. Sabina, who has naturally come to fight on the side of the Little and the Large, performs less fortunately, almost loosing the entirety of her own team. Some pep-talk between the rounds mamanges to cheer her up, however.

Then comes the moment of final glory: charging across the tournament field the two sides, one marshalled by the Little and the Large, the other spear-headed by Ambroce von Strauben, Uther’s haughty and less-than-friendly brother, clash violent against each other. The situation is vastly complicated by the presence of the menacing Sir Hellstrom on the party’s side; should the Little and the Large win this encounter there is every danger that Hellstrom, whose sinister patron’s allegiances are suspect, might claim the title of the Dragonrider! Far in the background lurks Vicount Verdun, who has for, ah, “tactical reasons” decided to hang back from the turbulent struggle.


Battlefield strategems come into good use among those somewhat braver, however, as careful positioning of the troops isolates Hellstrom at one flank; in the end, overwhelmed by the opposition like a great bear taken down by yipping dogs, the vanquished form of Hellstrom falls to the ground with a hollow clang, the violent discharges of electric energy that surround his armour temporarily abating. Elsewhere the enemy is routed and even Ambroce must yield the field; the full glory of this segment of the tournament belongs to the party, as do the numerous cash prizes that come with it. Uther’s proclamation as Dragonrider is surely a victory for justice, and even the other von Straubens may content with royal favour. The party hopes this will help to stabilise the turbulent political situation in the kingdom.

The party has only a few moments to enjoy the fruits of victory (and to make certain purchases from purveyors of magical items!) before Pehr von Kurnerstadt, the Hand of the Queen, request their presence. Aware that the party is ready to move against the Necrocount, he reveals to them a vital piece of information: the Necrocount’s vampire mistress Lady Ferranifer has been sighted in small hamlet only a few hours griffon ride away. This is an unprecedented opportunity to capture and interrogate one of Necrosha’s movers and shakers!

Our heroes naturally jump at the opportunity and are soon heading to the south-east. As the moon rises on the midnight sky, the party locates the inn at which the vampire lady is holding court with her wight bodyguards. Quickly rushing the building, the surprise grants the party the momentum that carries the night. Struggling and and filled with wrathful spite though she may be, Ferrenifer is now at their mercy.

Band of Brothers?
Session 37

The party walk through the doorway, ready to face the Red Arcanists, but are interrupted by a voice from the viewing gallery indicating a 15 minute delay.

Max is taken aside by Per Mertesacker and is informed that the Band of Four is now the Band of Five again, as they have had a mysterious Bladeling join them. We are offered our choice of assistance. Max mentions Hollan, who joins us for the fight.

The Red Arcanists clamber up onto some platforms above the arena which also features teleportation portals to take you on or off those platforms. Max opens an arcane gate at the first opportunity, through which the party erupts cutting a pair of the arcanists off from their chosen teleportation portal and leaving them to the fate of being knocked about by the party. The floor starts emitting poisonous gas, then floods with water. as the fight continues. Theorn manages to knock one of the Arcanists prone under water to make her surrender, whilst Pennyworth mind-controls a different wizard, causing no end of hilarity. (Encounter 1)


We win through comfortably and reach the final, which will announce the start of the Grand Melee, the next morning.

Overnight, we discover that we must pick the sides for the Melee with the Band of Five, by selecting teams based on which members of the Nine they have pledged to. Max and Pennyworth persuade Sabine to enter, as part of the Melded One.

Pennyworth goes to meet Ser Cog and his owner, and following discussions finds out that he needs to travel to the north west to the land beyond Hyrcana where the Dwarves who constructed him may live. Pennyworth also reveals that he knows Ser Cog is not a member of the Fist of Karak-Azad. Instead, Pennyworth inducts Ser Cog into the brotherhood of the Green Flame, which Ser Cog accepts, but shuts down to assimilate the changes.

Max goes to speak to Verdum and meets an Illithid ambassador who he/she talks to psychically. Max and Verdum have a discussion and discover that The Von Osterhagens are fighting against the Schraubers politically and this may impact on the Melee tomorrow.

We end up selecting a combat strong, Politics weak team including Ser Cog’s owner. This should enable us to win both the most honourable fighter award and the grand melee as a whole.

Before the Melee, Theorn finds himself mediating in front of the Blade of Wrongness before he realises that Kalashnikash’s spirit has been shouting at him for ten minutes. He recognises that Theorn is being absorbed by the blade and must either break away from it or be consumed. Theorn claims that he is in control…

The Band of Five and Little ‘n’ Large arrive in the centre of the field of the grand melee and face off against each other. Destain opens the fight by charging into Theorn before Hollan hits him with Reapers Touch. The fight swings one way, then the other, with Hollan claiming the lives of two of the Five and Theorn one of the others, whilst Pennyworth turns three of the Band of Five into stone for a while. Eventually, only Dervek the Elven ranger is left. Theorn stalks up to him and plunges the blade of Wrongness into the ground at his feet before walking away. The elf faints and a horn blows, indicating the start of the Melee. (Encounter 2)

Where the Blade of Wrongness entered the soil an enormous tree erupts, almost identical to that from which the sword was plucked in the Feywild. Theorn appropriates a large axe from the body of a member of the Band of 5/4/3/2/1 to use in the melee.

(Encounter 1) The Red Arcanists – 4 red wizards from Stralen + A swordmage leader? No Loot.
(Encounter 2) The Band of Five – 1 Twin-striking Ranger, 1 barbarian, 1 Warlock, 1 Fighter and 1 Necromancer. 1 +4 Githyanki silver blade, 2 +4 neckpieces (cloak of pockets, necklace of fortune) and Something else…

Character status at end of session:
Everyone has used all their encounters and dailies, by the looks of things…

CharacterHit PointsHealing SurgesDaily Powers usedExperience Points
Hollan?? remaining?61,159 (15)
Max?? remaining?67,639 (15)
Pennyworth?? remaining?63,595 (15)
Pieter?? remaining?64,844 (15)
Théorn1145 remainingAll Rages,Stone of Earth, Combat Surge66,511 (15)

Competing For Great Glory
Session 36

As the morning dawns upon Bad Taubersheim the fields outside the city as buzzing with activity, with preparations for the sword and jousting tournaments being finalised. It is the former that opens the day, and four members of the Little and the Large, along with the other competitors, draw their lots for the honour of displaying their mettle.

Minor displays of skill and daring whet the appetite of the audience, but the first true match of the day is between Theorn and Lemony of the Band of Five. The elf taunts the shifter, but soon finds that such tactics are unwise indeed against a berserker. Brushing aside feeble attempts at martial trickery the Blade of Wrongness shears through the elf’s wrist like scythe cutting dry grass – and does not stop there but decapitates Lemony, eagerly drinking the fey soul and placing it beyond any hope of resurrection.

The Band of Five’s reaction is immediate and wrathful. Two of their remaining number rush to the tournament field with the intent of avenging their comrade. Green flame flicker around their forms and Pennyworth, observing the proceeding from the lists, experiences an immediate sense of kinship combined with strange revulsion. These flames are familiar and yet of different order to its own… The matters threaten to escalate into indiscriminate bloodshed but Destain of the Pit, the leader of the Band of Five, steps forward and stops his companions with a curt order: ‘We must not reveal ourselves yet!’ His eyes, however, are filled with cold hatred and it is certain that retribution is not avoided, only postponed.

The tournament of the sword proceeds with many displays of great martial vigour, and Max, Sir Pieter and Hollan Darkwing distinguish themselves on the field of battle. The greatest honour among the group belongs to Theorn who battles his way to face Destain in the final match. (Defeating, it might be noted, Sir Cog on the way with the aid of Pennyworth’s cunning divination of Sir Cog’s preferred tactics – this unexpected setback throws the new-model Warforged’s tactical circuits into disarray and allows Theorn to easily carry the match.) And yet Destain proves the better in the bout, fighting coldly, methodically, never allowing his emotions to guide his blade, and ultimately claiming the sword tournament trophy.

The tournament of the sword is followed by the tournament of the joust. Here Sir Pieter and Max represent the Little and the Large, accompanied by Sabine as the ‘Mystery Knight’. Unfortunately ultimate success eludes our heroes once again, and even Sabine has the misfortune of being unhorsed by her older sister Gretel von Osterhagen, making it that much more difficult for her to prove her worth to the von Osterhagens. In a surprise move the trophy prize of the joust is changed at the last minute from the Crown of Swords to a set of armour, with the crown being set as the trophy for the small group melee tournament to follow. This humble commentator wonder if it might have something to do with Destain of the Pit being unhorsed and forced out of the contention…? The final victor of the joust is Gretel.

The sun finally sets over Bad Taubersheim and taking advantage of the lull between the tournaments the Little and the Large engage in some social activities and information gathering. Max visits the grateful Sir Scrumford de Mer who is recuperating from severe wounds dealt by during a tournament bout by the irate Destain of the Pit. Per Mertesacker, the Hand of the queen, grants an interview and informs the party that the Band of the Five (or rather Four) enjoy the support of a shadowy and unknown patron; he suspects that it was this patron that arranged the Crown of Swords to be reassigned as a trophy. Moreover, the Band will likely receive covert support during the small group melee tournament – it would be advisable for the Little and the Large to be on their guard! Alarmed by these news Pennyworth performs an Augury to lift the veil of mystery from the Band’s patron, but the only prophetic image that emerges is that of a hand bearing a ring in the shape of stylized eagle in one finger. No more specific clues are forthcoming.

The next day arrives and our heroes yet again enter the tournament field. The competition now takes the form of skirmishes between small groups in constructed environments simulating the features of typical subterranean dwellings – in layman’s terms, a dungeon crawl. Four elimination rounds have been organised, with the fourth and final round to be held on the following day.

In the first match of the tournament the Little and the Large face a team led by XXX, one of the sword tournament competitors from the previous day. Theorn opens the fight with a bold gambit, charging the breath of the battlefield to immediately strike into the heart of the enemy formation. A courageous yet risky manoeuvre! For a moment the outcome of the fight hangs in balance, but the Little and the Large put their backs to the task, surround and isolate their adversaries and cut them down one by one.

Pennyworth’s attempt to promote its burgeoning coffee emporium (‘Borderlands Coffee! Straight from the Dragon’s Hoard!’) on the back of the party’s success, however, is unfortunately unsuccessful as the audience is unimpressed by such blatant commercialisms…

If the first was a brutal melee pitting force against force on an open arena, the second fight of the day is a running battle in a maze filled with deadly traps against a troupe of cunning rogues led by yet another alumni of the sword tournament. Both parties carefully edge forward in a sadistic labyrinth where the slightest misstep causes lethal acids and scouring flames to burst from walls of stone, if the hapless explorer does not first fall into their doom as the floor buckles to reveal dastardly pit traps. Finally the teams catch up in the central corridor and battle is joined – and again the Little and the Large emerges victorious, pinning their enemies with walls of fire and sword and denying them their fleet-footed tricks.

The adulation of the crow ringing in their ears the Little and the Large storm through the tunnel complex and enter the final stage of the day, ready to confront whomever is foolish enough to stand on their way…

(Encounter 1) Sword Tournament, Points for wins by all members of the party – Theorn came second.
(Encounter 2) Round 1 of the Small Melée – Monte Carlo, Markov Chain and 3 Freeblades
(Encounter 3)

Character status at end of session:

CharacterHit PointsHealing SurgesDaily Powers usedExperience Points
Hollan?? remaining?56,999 (14)
Max?? remaining?63,479 (15)
Pennyworth?? remaining?59,435 (15)
Pieter?? remaining?60,684 (15)
Théorn?? remaining?62,351 (15)

Bad Times in Bad Taubersheim
Session 35

After rescuing Cartesia Withers, the party manage to return to Isolholm in time for the planned boat trip north.

Prior to leaving, Max visits Mikel Scweinsteiger and imforms him of our having saved Cartesia Withers. Mikel admits he owes Max a favour and gives Max his seal to identify us to his father. The rest of the party agree to accompany Cartesia to the tournament

Party travel upriver to Kölf with Sabine, VS, Cartesia and a pair of coffee traders. Kölf is a seaport with a population around 50k, and the smell of the salt water and so many people is unpleasant to Theorn.

As a seaport and a major trading hub, the party go shopping. Theorn finds a new pair of shoes (Boots of the Mighty Charge) whilst Pennyworth acquires a scroll of resurrection and a teleportation vine. Pennyworth and the rest of the party work to set up an improved coffee supply line to Ravensburg. unfortunately the Baron of Kolf is also head of the merchants guild and so the party decide to operate “outside the lines” and end up employing Kartofflesen and Co. over t Burbenhausen Inc.

Pieter speaks to Archbishop Gottfried Burghauss and ends up giving a sermon to the worshippers of Bahamut as the Archbishop has already left for Bad Taubersheim.

The party , along with CW, VS and Sabine head west along the canal to Bad Taubersheim
On the way, Sabine outlines the tournament which is based around four main heros:

  • Black Felix (Felix GeSchwartzer)
  • Sir Mikkel von Oosterhaagen (Jousting)
  • [Two others whose names I didn’t write down]

Per Mertesacker is hosting a 5 man tournament.

Unfortunately for Sabine, her father is tracking her with magic after entering Von Oosterhaagen lands as she is his daughter and must be kept safe and married off. She, however wants to prove herself and can’t if he is aware of her presence, etc. Luckily Max and Pennyworth are able to use their arcane knowledge to break the divination spell upon her.

A day later 2 Griffons alight adjacent to the boat with officials from the Oosterhaagen family (Ser Axell, Gretel) who are looking for Sabine. Theorn bluffs their enquiries by pretneding to be stupid and they leave. Theorn and Pennyworth then work together rowing to improve the speed of the ship until we reach Bad Taubersheim (Theorn fails utterly on the rowing)

Arriving at Bad Taubersheim, they persuade Sabine von Osterhagen to disguise herself and enter the joust so as not to give herself away to her father. The party enter the Joust (Max) and Sword (Theorn, Pieter, Max) individual events, as well as the 5 man Team event…

Pieter attempts to find the Archbishop, only to discover he passed away two weeks ago and Archbishop Von Trauben has taken over. Pieter also chats to Liesel Lahm who is another paladin of Bahamut.

Pieter then escorts Cartesia to the court. She is very excited about this. Ser Ambros von Trauben challenges them as a Paladin of Pelor. Pieter goes to Lord Volguard, Lord Otis and lady Otis. Pieter makes a friend.

Max visits the Hand and embarrasses the guard on the way through. The Hand is puzzled about Max’s provenance but much prefers Max to Verdun, who is unpopular at court. The Hand requests Max’s loyalty and in order to prove it we must clear out the Necrocount, which we agree to. Max cannot act as a Baron until after the tournament. There has also been a Necrotian entry to the tournament, but this must be stopped, somehow…

The party try to work out who the Necrotian entry would be and Pennyworth performs an augury which reveals images of a stone tomb with a saintly knight on top who emerges from the tomb cloaked in darkness carrying a sword. Is this Black Felix?

Following this lead we discover that each of the gates is dedicated to one of the Tournament founders and so we head to Black Felix gate but are rebuffed in our attempts to enter.

All entrants to the joust must attend a banquet the night before, which we attend. At the head of the table is the Queen, Allarin the Dragon and Per Mertesacker.

The entrants are announced and at the end, Barven of Necrotia steps forward and announces that Black Felix will be entering on the behalf of Necrotia. Max and the rest of the party step forward and challenge them on grounds of something or other. Per sets the challenge to be adjudicated at the same time as the joust qualifiers, preventing the Necortians entering the tournament. Success!

That night the party guard the Von Oosterhaagen tomb to prevent his body being resurrected by the Necrotians, Max thinks that if the churches stand united, in vigil then the other tombs may be kept intact as well. Speaking to a conclave of the church heads Max asks them to stand together. 4 of the 7 church leaders are mmebers of the Von Trauben family, one is Pieters friend and he eventually agrees to vote against his siblings and to defend the tombs. This does not make him popular (Uther). This leads to [Encounter 1] in which Theorn is mostly weakend, clouds are revealed to be useless in a tomb and the Spirit of the necromancer fled east towards Necrotia.

The priests are successful in defending their tombs though are exhausted.

The next morning the Bow contest is won by Lemony of the Band of Five
The Axe contest is won by Kraatoshi of the Band of Five
The Wrestling contest is won by Adli Werebear who gives a cry of “Ni-Kalashnikash” upon his victory.

Then the challenge issued by the party must be accepted and so [Encounter 2] begins with the party squaring off agianst Barven, Black Felix and Ser Arden. We are victorious and Pennyworht claims +4 Irrefutable armour and we recieve as a gift from the queen a tapestry worth 600GP.

Following the qualifiers, the draw for the joust is as follows:
1: Kurt Von Rurt (Schteiner) Vs Llorent El Michelak (Verdun)
2: Max Vs. Ser Ambrose Von Trauben (Von Trauben – who is exhausted after his vigil)
3: Ser Cog of the Broken Fist of Karak-Azad (Who Pennyworth remembers fighting alongside?/Against?) Vs. Pieter (nominated by the queen?)
4: Bishop Dragobert vs Destain of the Pit, of the Band of Five
5: Hellstrom von Braun (Von Braun) vs Hildegard von Schweinsteiger
6: Hild Bittersword vs. Ser Axell
7: Gretel vs Ulf Von Namen (Von Oosterhaagen)
8: Sabine vs Scrumford de Mer

(Encounter 1) 6 Claw Beasts, 2 Black Armoured Knights, 2 Bone Archivists and a Necromancer (7500xp)
(Encounter 2) Felix GeSchwartzer, Barven, Ser Arden. (7600xp)
(Encounter 3)

Character status at end of session:

CharacterHit PointsHealing SurgesDaily Powers usedExperience Points
Hollan?? remaining?47,831 (14)
Max?? remaining?57,804 (15)
Pennyworth?? remaining?53,760 (14)
Pieter?? remaining?55,009 (14)
Théorn?? remaining?56,676 (14)

Werewolves! There wolves!
Session 34

Day ?:

We continue the journey up river to Fork, where the boat stops and we find tavern to stay in while arranging further travel details. In the tavern Max goes to get some food and spots, out of the corner of her eye, the coat of arms of Sir Osamiron von Something.

End of an era
Session 33

Day ?:

The party bunkers down and waits for Kerrigan’s arrival, hoping to keep the battle contained in the underground village to prevent his advantage of flight. However, they see him approaching in the sky, only to descend behind a hill and then fly off north carrying a dragonborn fleeing from the earlier battle.

After some discussion the group mounts up and rides north to follow him, finally tracking him and his hoard to the village of Bridge, where after a surprisingly brief battle Kerrigan was defeated (Encounter 1), seemingly still waiting for a Dire Bulette to arrive to assist him. Upon Kerrigan’s death, Théorn consumes his heart and collapses in spasms of electricity.

After Théorn’s unfortunate incapacitation, the story turns to a brief aside. The adventurer inhabitants of Gosfair (Sparky Jr., Clementine, Lydia, Ob and Halley Windrunner) successfully fought the Dire Bulette and two wyverns off (Encounter 2) to defend their town. This completed the defence of the Borderlands area from Shivastri’s forces (Quest). Cue a montage of scenes of various reunions, tidying up operations and tearful realisations…

Day ?:

The party’s plans then turned to thoughts of heading to Wissen to follow up on Max’s obligations. At this point, less comfortable heading into more civilised lands, Napoleon elects to separate from the group and remain behind to help hunt down the remainder of the malevolent forces (sort of a Halfling Nazi Hunter).

Day ?:

The remaining PCs then travel upriver towards Wissen by boat. After a few days on the water, they are ambushed by piratical fish people and fight them off with the assistance of an exploring goliath by the name of Kavaki Titanheart (Encounter 3).

Character status at end of session:

CharacterHit PointsHealing SurgesDaily Powers usedExperience Points
Hollan?? remaining?47,831 (14)
Kavaki9810 remainingRune of Meritorious Alacrity, Rune of the Undeniable Dawn49,240 (14)
Max?? remaining?47,929 (14)
Pennyworth?? remaining?48,985 (14)
Pieter?? remaining?45,134 (13)
Théorn?? remaining?46,801 (13)


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