Birthright: Rise of the Kingmakers

Session 23: Defending the Fort

August 5-8, 561 H.C.

Present: Brian, Dave, Jess, Ken, Ron; Absent: none!

Current Goal: capture and hold a fort in the Esmersdan province of Kiergard until the Prince’s men can arrive (approximately August 17) to reinforce it.

Last Session Recap: Vendar scouted the town near the fairy ring and learned that the Gorgon was sending troops and a wizard to deal with the gate; using Almira’s ghost spell, group scouted the village by the tower and learned it was deserted but guarded by orogs; decided to attack the tower immediately after ghost-Jenneken was spotted by a sentry; defeated the orogs and their summoned minions, thereby freeing captured caravaneers and goblins .

Game date: August 5, 561 (Brecht)

Almira examined the gate to the tower and determined that the spell was a ward that would shock anyone trying to open it that didn’t have some kind of disabling device. Checking the orog corpses, the group found that each had the same symbol burned into their palms. Nick chopped off one of their hands and safely opened the tower gate with it.

Vendar changed into his small owl form and flew around the interior of the tower. There was a small ledge around the outer edge, but the middle of the floor was a deep pit. A ladder on the far side led up. At the bottom of the pit was a huge bear milling around amid a layer of bones and other remains from its apparent victims. Seeing the collar around its neck, Vendar noted this was likely the huge bear he saw near their campsite the other night.

As the group entered the tower, the bear became enraged and lunged up the side of the pit, but could not reach them. Vendar thought this level of aggression was unnatural – perhaps the collar was causing it?

Up the ladder was single large room with bunks, chests and various supplies. Almira restocked her crossbow bolts, and the group put the orog’s crossbows in their magic crystal box. Four double bunks implied room for 8 soldiers, but Nick counted only 7 orogs they killed, including the shaman.In two of the chests was brass medallions worked with an eyeless skull symbol. Almira confirmed they weren’t enchanted. Jenneken recalled stories of a military commander under The Gorgon known as “The Eyeless One” that was sometimes depicted with an eyeless skull.

Half-way up the next ladder was a storeroom that had been converted to a living space. It was more nicely decorated than the barracks and included two chests and a desk with a chair. One of the huge carpets in the middle snored and rolled over – a dire wolf! Vendar noticed that it was irritable likely due to mistreatment and malnourishment. Nick tossed it the severed hand, which it quickly ate. While Vendar kept an eye on the distracted wolf, Nick searched the room. Nick found that the chests were locked, and had no luck picking them. He noticed that one had a needle trap. Vendar called to Almira to come up and use her unlocking spell. The woodsman kept the wolf calm while Almira easily unlocked the chests. Jenneken and Johan came up as well.

Inside one chest was a thick book, apparently some kind of journal but undecipherable. There was also a fancy hand mirror. The other chest contained a ring, a wand, and a crystal flask containing a strange mushroom. Vendar thought the mushroom produced harmful spores. Johan noticed the flask was enchanted with a wind-type spell, likely to direct the mushroom’s spores. Almira determined that the wand could be used to make non-living things become very pliable – including rock. Jenneken thought the ring was used to help wizards find ley lines – invisible “streams” of arcane power.

In the desk were several papers and a book. Jenneken determined many of the papers were letters to a “Malik”, instructing him to move his tower to a location to protect the “dark road”. Another letter spoke of the captured goblins, instructing Malik to hold them until the author arrived in a few weeks. This letter was dated less than a week ago. Johan looked at the letter and thought he noticed signs of an embedded code. He sat down to try to decipher it.

Vendar climbed the last part of the ladder and confirmed it lead to the roof. He noticed that the rock-thrower there was mounted such that it could be stored – perhaps in the room where the shaman had apparently made its residence.

Vendar said he would go out to hunt and gather food, and suggested that the others go to the village well and figure out how to collect water. They would have many days to wait before The Prince’s men would arrive. When Vendar went to leave, the chained dire wolf whimpered pitifully. Jenneken resumed her orog guise and paced the roof, trying to look as though she was keeping watch. While pacing, she found a storage alcove with rain gear and a spyglass.

Vendar released the wolf, and Almira used her portal spell to provide a way for it to escape the tower. Vendar managed to coax it through the magic portal. Once outside, it made its way into the wilderness. Almira spoke to the caravan prisoners. They had been hired by a noble in Esden to meet a group of goblins to exchange strongboxes. They were to deliver the received strongbox to the capital city of Daum. When Nick asked if they had heard of “Malik”, and they said that was the orog shaman that was in charge of the tower.

Nick had Jenneken come down to help ask questions, and she assumed the guise of Malik to help with the ruse. She thought the caravaners story was true. Having decided they had nothing more to offer, the group decided to let them go. The caravan team did their best to restore their wagon and mules. When they asked about the goblins they were to have met, Almira noted that all of them had been killed but one, and that one was badly wounded. With no sign of their strongbox, the caravaners left heading west.

While waiting for Vendar to return, the rest of the group did a more thorough search of the tower. They were able to look everywhere but the pit where the huge bear lumbered. Vendar returned with some additional food, and then immediately went to consider the bear. Vendar pulled on the chain that ran down into the pit and found that it was attached to a thick board that would provide a ramp of sorts. Almira suggested that Vendar make a “sleeping potion” using herbs, and while the bear rested she could try to remove its collar. The day had been long and daylight was short, so Vendar decided he would look for suitable herbs in the morning.

The group began converting the barracks room to suit their needs, with the person on watch using the tower roof – as it was intended. During the night, Nick saw a thunderstorm rolling across the plains over the area where the fairy ring was located.

Game date: August 6, 561 (Brecht)

The next morning the goblin was feeling much better. With Johan’s help, Vendar found some herbs that Almira could brew into a sleeping potion for the bear. After some time, the Khinasi sorceress had concocted a drink that quickly put the beast to sleep. Down in the pit, Almira found the collar was indeed enchanted, but its lock was normal. As Almira was
removing the collar, Nick found a secret door – likely part of the original building that was there before the tower was placed over it. Beyond was an ancient spiral staircase, untouched for decades (according to Nick). With Johan keeping watching from the roof, the rest of group descended. After some distance the staircase steps were covered with the dangerous mushrooms that they found in the magic flask. Almira prepared her spells to walk on the ceiling past the fungus and then provide a portal for the rest of the group to join her. In the meantime, Jenneken tried the new ring to detect any ley lines, and found there may be one far below.

As Almira descended on the ceiling, the close proximity of her torch to the mushrooms caused them to release their spores. Choking and hacking, she returned so that Vendar could help soothe the burning in her lungs. Taking a closer look and the steps, Vendar realized that many people had been coming and going from this area recently. He also realized that the light of the torch, not its heat, likely caused the fungus to react.

Almira then used her ghost spell on Vendar, who descended the stairs without disturbing the mushrooms and able to see with his dark-vision eyes. He found a landing with many more mushrooms and a large chest.

After some discussion, the group devised a plan: Vendar would burn the mushrooms while Jenneken used her “gust of wind” wand to keep the spores away. With some effort, the plan was successful.Nick tried to unlock the chest but was pricked by a poisoned needle. Luckily the hardy lad resisted the toxins and was able to open the chest. Inside was a sealed letter and two strongboxes.

Having brought the items back up the stairs, the group found that the bear was gone. Jenneken noted that the seal on the letter was the now familiar eyeless skull, that of “The Eyeless One”. Almira checked for enchantment on the items and found nothing. Nick did not find any traps on the strongboxes. Having opened the letter, Jenneken noted the writing was from Malik to his (nameless) commander. It detailed the capture of the caravan and the strongboxes, noting the goblins that were also later captured. It ended requesting instructions for how to proceed.Nick opened one of the strongboxes and found it contained platinum bars (+24 Funds) stamped with the symbol of The Gorgon. In the other box were dozens of spider-like silver jewelry items, each with a black gemstone for its abdomen.

When Almira examined them for magic, she sensed something odd but could not determine for sure if there was an enchantment or not. Jenneken examined them and said they reminded her of the scarabs from the pyramid on Caelcorwynn Island.

After theorizing a bit about the intentions of the exchange, the group decided to go and question the rescued goblin. Unfortunately, she was not where they left her. When asked, Johan said he did not see the goblin leave.

Checking the tower, Vendar found new tracks leading down the hidden staircase. With Johan keeping watch, the rest of the group followed the tracks into the depths. Far below the surface, the descending passage split. Vendar thought the goblin went right, so the group took that way. Vendar could not find the goblin’s tracks, but Nick found some scratches in the dust. It seemed she was moving very quickly.

The passage became narrow and at times low enough to cause the taller members of the group to crouch. At one point Nick found a tripwire trap at a corner. Vendar confirmed that the goblin’s tracks crossed the thin wire yet continued at good speed – had she been here before?

After some discussion, the group decided to continue pursuit, but at a slower pace and while attempting to be stealthy. Almira used her ghost spell on herself (after some effort), Jenneken assumed the guise of a goblin, Vendar changed to his large cat form, and Nick was his usual quiet self.

A short while later, Nick did not see the trip wire across the passage. Having broken the line, everyone could hear a nearby crash that echoed as it cascaded downward. Having paused in silence, Jenneken could hear the distant sound of commotion – the rousing of a large group of goblins?

Jenneken stated that they needed to leave. Nick wanted to stay and fight, but everyone else left. Having reached the pit at the bottom of the tower the group closed the door, disengaged the ramp, and trained their bows on the secret door. After a few hours of waiting, nothing had emerged from the secret entrance. But then Nick heard a scratching behind the door. A mechanical rat, like the one the group found in the pyramid on Caelcorwynn Island, poked its head through the door to glance around. Nick fired his crossbow at it but missed, and the construct quickly retreated.

Vendar coordinated the others to barricade the secret passage in the pit. While on watch, Johan had managed to decipher some of the secret code in the journal. He had learned that the “Dark Path” was actually the underground tunnels that ran beneath this tower. The orogs were working for The Eyeless One to keep a watch on this deep, interconnected passage. They were charged with finding where the ley lines moved close to the surface, and then report back.

With evening approaching, the group made plans to keep watch on both the surrounding wilds as well as the secret passage to the Dark Road.

Game date: August 7, 561 (Brecht)

Early in the morning Almira had managed to decode the book found in the shaman’s chest. It contained several priestly spells, which Johan immediately began to work on understanding well enough to cast them. (At complaints about his lack of contribution, Johan rebutted that they had yet to need his skills combat skills: defeating undead, countering magic, and providing flaming weaponry.)

Vendar spent the day hunting and foraging, and if the weather was not dangerous, scouting the area near the pixie ring and also around the tower. The group removed several days of supplies from their magic crystal box to make room for the two strongboxes. Johan figured out how to use the crystal flask with the mushroom: when activated, it sprayed a sizable area (40ft cube) with spores that would grow into the choking mushrooms within a day. The mushrooms only worked underground, as they were activated by light. This item was put into the group’s crystal box.

Jenneken kept the ley line detecting ring, and Almira kept the stone-softening wand. Johan kept the orog priest journal and continued to study it.

Jenneken spent some time learning to use the tower’s rock thrower, and gathered a few more stones to use as ammunition.

By the end of the day Johan had learned the Summon Animal and Magic Platter (floating disk) spells.

Game date: August 8, 561 (Brecht)

When scouting the pixie ring in his regular owl form, Vendar saw that it was now a fully fortified encampment. A large palisade surrounded it, and hundreds of soldiers were stationed in a wide ring.

During another one of Vendar’s scouting flights he saw a group coming up the path from the west. It looked like a carriage with an armed escort, but a large eagle circling above it prevented him from getting a closer look. A short while later, a carriage being pulled by mules approached from the west, with four mounted knights in front and four more behind. The knights wore the symbol of The Gorgon…

Each member gains 10 Character points!

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