Alternate Earth Campaign

Going North to Make Friends

Log of Gaius Icarius
Beginning of the Fourth Month since Settlement:

I have been quite remiss in my record keeping for the last several weeks. The highlights are:
* Our Settlement was attacked by humanoid scum worshiping the beast-god. The palisade was badly damaged in sections, but we drove them off with significant casualties, with no losses of our own
* Our small settlement has agreed to form a Roman Republican style government, and has succeeded in a new set of public works, building an early warning bell tower and walling in our entire village with stone.
* Much of the stone has been taken from the orc fort to the east of the river. The Orcs there, and Girbolg as well have been slain. The bell was also taken from the orc fort’s desecrated church.
* Girbolg’s tower has not been scavenged for stone, because several fire giants have apparently decided to take up residence.
* We tracked the raiders back along their path and discovered that they originated from somewhere further north of Ursa Minor. We made an additional foray into the dungeon on the plateau there, but have decided to leave off for further exploration for now.
* Other explorations have found copper and iron deposits, as well as clay along our own river banks.
* We have dispatched another expedition north of the Roaring Mountains to attempt to link up with Rosen and Brindenford if possible.

On our way north, we encountered an arrogant, condescending fellow on the road north of the mountains, who demanded that we clear the way for him. He rebuffed all attempts at civil discourse, then revealed his true form, some sort of horrible scorpion centaur creature.
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He put up a good fight, but we overwhelmed him, cutting him down, at last. It is here that we have stopped to rest before continuing on our journey.

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Stay away from the light!

Gaius was nearly slain by carnivorous plants here . . .

Found:
270 gold

rug of magnificent mansion
skin of water
satchel of good berry seeds

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The Town in Danger

-found:

50 gold

copper veins in the large bat chamber

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From the Cold Caves to Little Bear

Log of Gaius Icarius
End of the Second Month since Settlement:

After being chewed on by those slimy fishes we decided to fall back on the town to rest and regroup. On our way, we encountered a small group of travelers. They were not terribly forthcoming with details about their past, but then who of us is? We invited them back to the settlement with us.

Having rested up, we decided to make another foray into the Cold Caves. This time, rather than creatures of ice, we found enemies of flesh and blood. We artlessly woke up a bugbear chieftain and his pet wolf, then proceeded to beat him down. I must say that Yiki’s capacity for slaughter is, at times, disconcerting.

We soon found another bugbear several goblin minions. They were quickly dispatched and we discovered that they had been mining iron from deeper within the caves. We spent a day collecting up all of the iron that they had so far mined themselves and took it back with us to Tarktos.

We next decided to take some time to investigate the lights we had seen on little bear. Having arrived here at little bear, we have found the ruins foundations of some old fortress on the top of a plateau some distance up the side of the mountain. There are indications that someone has been burning fires up here, possibly large enough to account for the lights that we’ve seen in the distance. We can also see an entrance into the mountainside. We are going to explore it.

Stirred up a hornet’s nest. Many goblins and ilk and dirty humans. They call upon “the Beast God”. Unclear if we will survive the trip down.

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Ore . . . Nothing

Log of Gaius Icarius
End of Month 2

Work in the settlement is proceding at a gratifying rate. Titus and his followers have joined me and my brothers, raising a walled compound in the northeast corner of the hedge. We have established a sawmill for Magnus to create lumber from the timber our companions send down from the north. We are also establishing new farmland, and I am learning new skills.

Marcus clearly chafes at my position as the pater familias but he does his duty. There is been no word from the sway of nightfall. Neither have we been bothered by the ettin or the orcs. The crocodiles remain a concern so we organized an expedition to go deal with some of them near our logging camp.

As we were preparing to leave, a stranger came to our village from the North. He called himself Sigurdson and indicated that he was from the same fishing village as Arielle. All of the settlers were justifiably suspicious, but we welcomed him in and gave him food and shelter. He informed us that he was a bright, among other things at the system to work improving the ferry. We left on our expedition next morning.

Our expedition was successful I believe. we killed two of the crocodiles but we also discovered a strange, small creature that attacked us while we were doing battle with the crocodiles. It acted almost as if it was protecting them. I recalled my nanny telling stories about such creatures and naming them boggarts. Whatever it was, it was repulsive. And now it will trouble us no more, though I am concerned that there are more of its ilk nearby.

It had been hiding in the pool with the crocodiles were lounging. Either it had some masking presence from such voracious predators, or they were aware of it all along. Could the fact that it attacked us, as if in defense of the crocodiles, indicates that it was some sort of Shepherd? And if so, did it work for someone else?

I picked up the body to take back to the village, but at that moment if we were rushed by a giant crocodile over 50 feet long. I kept the creatures morning star – for its metal – and left the body behind.

We returned to the village, discussed these events and preparee the expedition to head west into the cave riddled mountains, hoping to find some indication of metal ore.

The first cave we came to was somewhat difficult to reach, but inside we discovered it had been previously inhabited. Rubble partially blocked the entrance and beyond that we discovered a hidden door and the pendulum blade trap. The hidden door led to some abandoned wizards laboratory. Beyond that we discovered a vile fear inducing pool. Another hidden door led to some passage lays where we discovered old altar guarded by beings of ice. They proved to be quite dangerous, but we defeated them. Two were destroyed, but one fled.

We gave chase, but were unable to find the fugitive. We did discover a pool with unpleasant toothy fish. The bottom of the pool contained a pair of silver wrought boots that were conspicuously un-destroyed by their submersion. I walked to the edge of the pool and laid down my shield when that half-blood bastard Yiki pushed me in.

The teeth were painful, but I now have a new pair of boots.

Our wounds and exhaustion compelled us to return to the village where we now prepare for yet another foray into the mountains, debating whether to go back to explore that cave over to search any of the others for we still have no sign of metal deposits.

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Interlopers

Four fugitives marched up the forgotten road into the Great Vale: The belligerently self-aggrandizing apprentice with vehement anti-dwarven proclivities; Saul, the insipid, invalid cleric; the stout and stoic apprentice saving dwarf; and the calmly competent elf.

As night was falling the fugitives heard wolves howling in the distance. To the north they could see the broken remains of an old fortification. After much discussion the fugitives decided to camp out in the open. The apprentice argued vehemently for the dwarf to stay up on watch all night – all alone.

Saul had a bad dream and sat up, yelling for his mommy when he saw a wolf glaring at him from a few feet away. He shrieked like a girl, waking his companions moments before the wolves struck. One wolf began chewing on the apprentice’s leg. The dwarf, exposing his back to multiple wolf attacks, rushed to his aid, allowing the apprentice to flee towards the ruined fortification, shrieking dwarven imprecations all the way. It was the elf’s sleep magic that saved them all, dropping the wolves into a slumber for their own slaughter.

Rested somewhat in the morning the fugitives ventured north, slurping beer all the while. Arriving at the ruined fortification they banged loudly on the door. No one answered. After some more effort they discovered a great number of tracks leading in and out of the fortification’s single entrance. Just inside they found a corpse pierced by many goblin arrows. 5 feet beyond that the dwarf found a pit at the speed of gravity. 5 feet beyond that was another door.

The fugitives went through room by room, mostly coming up empty but shrieking in terror as a giant crab spider dropped onto the elf’s shoulder. The dwarf took aim and buried his axe deep… into the elf’s back.

A few spells and dagger thrusts later in the elf was healed, the spider was killed, and the fugitives had looted an amazing 99 silver coins. Then it was time for more beer…

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Stopping the Madness

Log of Gaius Icarius

After the Battle of the Founding, our colony numbered less than 40. We dug right in and began to work clearing the land on the plateau. After I recovered from the pestilence I contracted from the walking dead, I conscripted most of the plebian members of the colony to begin work digging a ditch and preparing a bracken wall for defense. Magnus constructed a shrine to Zeus and helped Marcus begin work on our farm.

Some of our fellow colonists were more productive than others. The halfbreed did some good work with leather, and Titus helped me put together better weapons and armor so that we could field the least one squad of well-equipped fighters.

Over the next few weeks some of the sentries reported seeing more lights on Little bear including one spectacular flareup. Sentries also reported seeing small dark shapes flitting about at the edges of their vision. After one such occurrence another dark shape was seen flying directly towards the village from the Northwest. It turned out to be a large black swan carrying a letter. The missive was written in a Fay language that only a few could read, so all were hard-pressed to understand. It appears that someone is making us an overture of friendship.

Though we had destroyed many walking dead in the initial attack, several weeks later more began shambling forth in singly or in small groups. They were easily dealt with, but we couldn’t allow this to continue.

As I feared, Marcus and his dark arts brought nothing but shame on our family. He attempted to communicate with the abominations but only succeeded in causing horrible pain and suffering amongst those who heard their response. None of his efforts amounted to anything so I instructed him to go back to the farm.

In contrast, Magnus led a group of us through a ritual of consecration to quell the evil about the plinths. We were acting upon a theory that Rigoberto and several others came up with based on books found the ruins. In effect, we used the power of the plinths themselves to consecrate the site. Marcus told me the scenes of madness he had endured while trying to manipulate the plinths. To my shame I did not believe him.

As we worked on the ritual, something insane reached out through me calling more abominations from the ground. For a moment, all seemed lost until Magnus and his fellow priests called upon Zeus and Nike to obliterate the walking dead. The few that survived were easily handled by our warriors. Magnus completed the spell and all agree that we should not fear the dead walking randomly to our door.

Shortly thereafter, we equipped our main squad and headed north to look for a ford to cross the river. There was no easy way across. Rigoberto’s magic was instrumental, causing our horses to swim the fast water as if they were Poseidon’s own hippocampi.

On the far side we found a relatively steep cliff with with stone slabs laid in to form a crude stair. At the top we heard beautiful singing. We then came upon a woman chained to a rock singing for a two headed monster. The creature attacked us, injuring Wulfwulf, but Ixtab lashed out at it with his power, stunning one of the heads and allowing the other to take control. It ceased attacking.

The creature named itself Girbolg and we learned that a magic helm that it wore was the reason for its ‘civilized’ conduct. We convinced the creature to let the woman go, so long as we agreed to have her come back to the far side of the river to sing for him once a week. We quickly left, with hardly a glance at the tower where the creature apparently lived.

We then continued our scouting mission south and west through the forest. There we discovered a partially ruined fortress made of stone patrolled by a half-dozen orc sentries. Assuming that the number of centuries indicated that a much larger main body within the fortress we withdrew without contact.

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The Founding

Log of Gaius Icarius:

My brothers and I have joined a group of pioneers looking to start a new life far from the bounds of civilization. I do not know if Rome has ever even scouted these lands. They are known to some has Vandalia.

We had been traveling for nearly a month when we came upon a valley that seemed suitable for our purposes. The main body of the caravan moved sluggishly perhaps making 8 to 10 miles a day. We decided to send out scouting party of a half-dozen individuals with all of our horses to reconoiter a suitable place to settle down and establish a base camp.

A broad forest to the north initially looked promising and spent much of the day crossing the river to investigate. However, on the far side discovered marshland south of the forest was inhabited by large reptiles similar to those found in Egyptus. In addition, as we got closer, we saw that there had been inhabitants of this land previously. A an old overgrown road appeared to lead directly to a dark, foreboding tower rising above black twisted trees in the forest. Some sort of oily dark substance appeared to be leaking into the river. I pointed out that that substance would be a taint upon any water we attempted to use downstream of the forest.

We resolved to continue our search rounding the forest to the north, though it meant returning to the east side of the river.

On our third day of reconnaissance we passed the forest, discovering that the tributary ran down from the eastern foothills to the easternmost part of the wood. Though perhaps not as bad as forest around the dark tower, these trees were also stunned twisted.

We found further signs of prior habitation as a stonework bridge spanned half the tributary. The northern end of the bridge had collapsed though I noted the foundations still appeared sound. The bridges stonework seemed competent, some portions of it were decorated with the winged figures reminiscent of Nike. Perhaps some precursor of the Frankish God was worshiped by these people.

We forded the large creek and continued northward. Another day’s travel brought us to a bend in the river across from yet another large swath of forest. We first noticed an interesting plateau about 20 feet higher than the rest the surrounding land. It was covered with brush and bracken. Southwest of it, and somewhat closer to the river, was a stone ruin. While the first took it as an old temple complex, further investigation revealed it to be a village of cyclopean architecture. The skeletons of the buildings were all made of stone, though entirely un-mortared.

We first moved to investigate the plateau. The brush cover was thick as we heard some large animal grunting and growling within. We drew it to the edge of the plateau with a loud demonstration. It proved to be a huge species of bear covered with bony plates and protrusions.

We formed a ragged line, feebly launching arrows at it. Our missiles hardly seem to bother as it rushed ahead intent upon our doom. At this point, Yiki, a halfbreed barbarian dashed off to the left drawing the creature’s attention. He maneuvered the beasts such that a loose over hang of rock could be dropped upon it. Meanwhile we continued to pelt it with arrows.

The halfbreed’s scheme worked though he paid the price for it. The bear mauled him, just as the rubble slammed into it, knocking it down and pinning it. It cast the barbarian aside as the Persian and myself rushed into engage it in melee. A young mother, Bekki, armed only with a ladle, foolishly charged the creature as well.

The gods did not smile upon her or her orphan.

The creature eventually succumbed to axe blows and arrow wounds. I treated the halfbreed, but there was nothing to be done for the woman. We rested, attended our wounds, and waited for the main body to catch up to us.

After they arrived, I set most of them to clearing the plateau for the establishment of our settlement. Another small scouting party went to take a closer look at the ruins. Of particular note, where the plinths. There were six all told, five points around the edges and one at the center. Under the center one, was discovered a cache of books and scrolls evidently of an arcane nature. Also discovered was a group of small shrines and talismans that seem to be imbued with some sort of power. A final discovery was a large number of areas of disheveled earth. Some of our more scholarly members believed that the Plinth was designed for necromantic uses. Marcus will certainly be interested in this.

We returned to camp to rest for the night when the gods shat on us all. Dozens of walking dead shambled out of the darkness, assaulting our position. Our pitiful force was insufficient to stem the tide, nor where our fortifications yet complete enough to do more than slow them down. At one point I found myself well ahead of the rest of the settlers hewing at the undead with a logging axe as if a common laborer.

The screams of pain and terror were thick behind me but, after what seemed like hours, it was over. Five of the walking dead lay dismembered at my feet. We counted 30 all told. We on the other hand lost 12 of our settlers. Particularly hard-hit was the Nyborg family, whose leader has been vociferously uncooperative for quite some time. I fear this will only add to the strife in our new community.

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The Valley . . . Our New Home?

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It was some months ago when you began to make plans for your leaving. You were refugees, outcasts, explorers, accused of crimes, or simply looking for a fresh start. You quietly sought out others in a similar situation. The small group coalesced, materials were gathered, goodbyes were said, and you met in the middle of the night at the edge of the city of Zobeck.

You planned well, leaving in late winter, when the worst snows had passed, and passing through civilized areas with well-kept roads that made the ice and rain of winter little more than an inconvenience. You adopted new identities and carefully disguised your intentions. Still, you weren’t the only ones seeking a new home far from the corruption and decrepitude of city life. Word of your journey sometimes traveled ahead of you, and new pilgrims would simply turn up in the morning, trudging along beside your wagons and ponies. They numbered almost 30 by the time the last inn faded into the distance.

For a month you forged ahead into the wilderness, into lands unclaimed by any king. You sometimes felt as if you were the first people to ever walk through these forests, to cross these rivers. But as far from civilization as you were, you would occasionally see the smoke of a cook fire against the horizon, and the mud of a game trail sometimes revealed the prints of shod horses. Still, you haven’t seen another being for weeks.

Your goal is land known to some of you as Staropolska, to others as Vandalia. You have not decided where to settle — on the coast? Beside a river? You’re in uncharted territory. But your planning has established this: you will arrive in late spring, giving you plenty of time to establish yourselves and even cycle crops before winter sets in again. You have enough supplies (supplemented by hunting as you traveled) to last for the entire journey plus an extra month. When only one month of supplies remain, that is when you will begin seeking your ideal location, the place where you will build your future.

With no map to follow, you’ve been traveling alongside a river. You’re heading north, against the river’s flow. A severe mountain range has been on the northern horizon for days. When the sky is clear you can see the vast arms of the range sweeping away to the west and east.

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A Fungus Among Us? . . . Not Any More!

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So the party came together and drifted apart then joined one final time to destroy Zuggtmoy!

After discovering from the goblin shaman that there was a ‘bone face’ wizard (or several of them) agitating local goblin tribes, the party headed into the village of Hommlett to meet contacts and rest up. They learned, variously that the OCD White One had headed down the road to a slighted keep, called the Moathouse, whichwas the last place that Prince Thrommel and the Lady Tillahi were ever seen alive.

The party headed that way, and found the roasted corpses of several giant frogs along the path.
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Aerindor’s hound, Fane, began tracking down a path around to the east of the keep, and the party discovered a secret entrance to the main tower. The entrance led both into the main tower and down deeper into the Donjon. They burst into the tower and quickly dispatched the bandits lairing there. After some little extra searching, they headed down a staircase into the bowels. Immediately the Donjon tried to digest Agarius as green slime dropped on him from above. the first glob missed him, but he jumped right into the path of the second one. Sir Sebastian cured the disease before the veteran turned into a puddle of green goo.

The Paladin and the Priestess then destroyed a dozen zombies with their divine power. The party then found a trail leading to a secret door in a pillar with a rusty ladder leading below. Lucius began having past life flashbacks and the party withdrew after further destroying 4 ghouls in the catacombs.

They took another tack and found a hideous ogre who was quickly downed – Aerindor’s bolt of lightning ultimately electrocuting the brute. They then discovered two human merchants and a gnome who were kept as prisoners in the ogre’s larder. The gnome gave Aerindor a ring proclaiming him a ‘gnome friend’ and the Merchants promised rewards. A short time later, the party encountered some gnolls and haggled with them to get directions to the ‘master’ in exchange for 4 platinum coins.

The party broke into the master’s chambers and Lykaeus launched a hellish conflagration into the barracks room. A score of voices screamed in agonizing pain as they died. One soldier was miraculously uninjured, but quickly dispatched. Further into the room they could hear someone pounding on a door, calling in a pain-choked voice for the master to come aid him. The party headed in and Agarius recognized the burned man as a fellow soldier from the 83rd legion. The veterans began talking when the door burst open and a white robed wizard threw a ball of flame into the room, causing some injury amongst the party. They retaliated. The white robed one was quickly killed, and the master was held by magic, until Aerindor punctured his throat with his golden spear.

Searching the bodies, they discovered that the white wizard had some horrible demonic face grafted to his chest.

The party decided to quickly rest in the Master’s chambers and press on the the true temple, led by Sir Bertran.

Fane was apparently agitated by a murder of crows flying over the ruins of a tower on the Northeast wall but the party went straight into the cathedral itself.
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Inside, they explored several possible entrances, including a giant staircase sealed by silver chained, bronze clad doors. As the party was investigating a pit that seemed to drop more than a hundred feet down, they noticed that Sir Bertran was heading to the doors, with his great war-axe in his hand. He cut through the doors as if they were rotten wood and headed to the twin doors at the front of the cathedral. behind him the party could see huge earth elementals clustered around a small ziggurat. Lykaeus dropped a pair of fireballs into the room, destroying two of the creatures. The survivors dis not pursue. The party realized that Sir Bertran’s actions were not of his own volition and they used their magic to remove a mystical belt that he wore. After much struggling, they discovered that the belt was possessed by demonic forces which the Priestess was able to exorcise.

Finally assuring themselves that Sir Bertran could not again be possessed, they returned his belt, but in the original chaos, Agarius threw the war-axe down the well. The party resolved to head into the well to get it and found that there was a huge room devoted to the ‘evil’ aspect of the element of air, with a strange, giant bronze cube suspended in the middle of the room. The party pondered this for a few moments, then headed further into the temple. Sir Sebastian led the way, searching for the greatest concentrations of evil, and the part came to another of the sealed doors. Sir Bertran felt no compulsion, but the party resolved to sunder the door anyway, reasoning that the horrible evil the Paladin sensed beyond it was the target of their searches.

Inside, after some vile sculptures of fungi, they found a hideous old crone. She was selling, but they weren’t buying. Turns out she was Zuggtmoy, Demon Lady of Fungi . . .
Zuggtmoy
Their first attacks did nothing, but Sister Adriel began channeling divine power so that the rest of the party could harm harm the Demon Queen. Their spells were still ineffective, but they began cutting into her viciously, sending bits and pieced of fungus around the room . . . in less that 30 seconds, it was over. Zuggtmoy had been fed to a cuisinart . . .

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