A Hell of a Campaign


Since I have just started GM'ing an Infernum Campaign (Two actually, #1 on Thursday, #2 on Sunday) I thought I would post how things went, in case anyone else is running an Infernum Campaign or thinking of doing so. I invite comments and suggestions.

The setting takes place on Toil, the 4th circle of Hell. It is an area in disarray and chaos, truely a time of Upheaval. In this time and places the great houses are attempting to deal with the Free Cities' heresy, and recover from earlier wars that exhausted the houses. The 4th circle is recognized as the outermost "Boundary" between hell, and Civilized Hell. Minor Demon Warlords are attempting to set up their own little fief's, the Free Cities are vying for power, Bandits roam, the Great Houses are attempting to re-establish their control, and even Mortal raiders flirt back and forth.

The Thursday Group, CAmpaign 1, consisted of 4 young men I have known and gamed with a number of years (my youngest son included.) They are all in their early 20's. I was not really privy to their decision which house to go with, but they all opted for House Sturrach.

The Sunday Campaign group opted for house Astyanath (except for one Zethu'ist.) Two of this group were older gamers (my age or so), and two of their son's (~18-20). I was privy to the discussion as to what house to go with, and it was not a quick decision, and did involve some discussion.

To open the campaign and to familarize everyone with my game-master style, I designed a simple mission ("Destroy a Bloodfont Derrick on the border of our territory that belongs to the so called Lord Drica") that the party was ordered to go and do by their superior.

Both parties demonstarted what I thought was good roll playing skills. Party one bribed a goverment clerk for information about the strength of the Drica forces. Party 2 had a Deceiver in their group that got lucky and managed to gather the information on his own. Party 2 did invest in some oil, and flint and steel before setting out. Party 1 didn't.

Party 1 consisted of a Hulk, Fiend, Staker, and a Beast. Party 2 consisted of a Hulk, Fiend, Deceiver, and Artificer. Party 1's Hulk had made some really dynamite rolls and was a very good tank. I also allowed some varying die rolls, to determine experince at the start of things, and thus each party had at least one level demon in the group, with the others being level 2.

Upon arriving at the derrick facility, party 1 saw their was a watchtower, and so adopted the finist Sturrach tradition of charging straight at the enemy. This allowed the defenders to maximize their numbers (6) but did not really matter as the attacking hulk slaughtered 3 of them outright. However the defender's fiend flew off ("And did anyone really wonder where he might have gone?") and their artificer escaped down a hole. For the record, the attacking hulk was down to about 2 nit points out of 31, when the fight was over.

Now party 1 made their BIG mistake. They decided to keep the derrick and facility, and send back to their superior for re-inforcement. So, their party's Fiend flew off to get re-inforcements, while the rest stayed.

Remember the defender's fiend that got away? Guess where he went too. Guess who got back to the facility with re-inforcements first? Guess who would have died under the attack of 20 Fiends, the vanguard of the relief force sent by "lord" Drica.

Well, after a lot of sniveling and groveling on the part of the 1st party, when I told them to roll up new characters, I relented, it was, after all, the "introductory scenario", and my purpose wasn't to kill everyone (just yet--evil laugh) so I incorporated into the story line that one of the damned souls the party had captured, in exchange for a promise of freedom, had warned the party of the proximity of Lord Drica's forces, and they had fled in time. The party dragged the Damned soul along anyway, after all, what does a promise to a Damned Soul count for? They eventually presented it and another captured DS to their superior, to soften their failure to destroy the Blood Font Derrick. The mission was judged Not a Success, and the party has incurred some displeasure with the Power's that be.

The second party, The Astyanath and Zethu group, used a different approach. Their deceiver (in disguise) strode in and demanded to talk to the Demon in charge, then informed him that Lord Drica had ordered the facility to be abandoned. (the Defending demons were not very bright, they failed to penetrate the disguise and they believed the deceiver. So the Defenders sent their fiend off to Lord Drica to request help dismantling the derrick, and dispersed to start doing so. Then the 2nd party attacked.

The battle was short, none of the attackers were killed, (one or two were dented a little) but two of the defenders managed to escape. After a few tries the derrick was set on fire. Mission accomplished.

Then the 2nd party made what I thought was their BIG mistake. Having captured 11 Damned Souls, they decided to take them back to their home fortress. Plus they loaded up two Labour Spawn with as much junk they could find in the facility.

Meanwhile, back in Lord Drica's castle, a fiend has just reported in "M'Lord, we will need help dismantling the facility at Grimy Point."
"And why do you need help dismantling the facility at Grimy Point?" Lord Drica sweetly inquires.
"Because you ordered it Sirrah..."
So, after the reporting fiend has been reduced to ashes by Hellfire, Lord Drica sends a force out to find out whats going on, that can catch the SLOWLY moving 2nd Party, hold them in place until the main army arrives, and dispatch them.

Or such would have happened, but once again I intervened to explain what was happening, and the new improved story went that the party released the Damned Souls, and the pursuing fiends got distracted chasing them down, thereby allowing the party to escape.
So ended the first two days in Hell (for both parties).
Toodles all

P.S. My son (group 1) complained later about some things he didn't like in the game/campaign, but then called me up 3 times the next day to ask questions about specific issues. The second group (the Rules-lawyers group I call them) had no complaints, but a lot of questions, mostly dealing with rules interpetations. They also dropped hints about playing more often, so I think I was a success as being a GM. Dare I say it? One Hell of a GM????
Sounds like a hell of a lot of fun! I'm jealous! Wish I could be running an Infernum game. Too much else on my plate at the moment... my gaming group's schedule is mapped out for a while yet. But I swear, I WILL run this game!!

Keep us updated!
Keep us updated![/quote]

Will be glad too. I'm also working on some smaller scale maps, as well as some random encounter tables, which I'll post when I get them semi-finalized.

I work rotating shift work, so it's kinda hard to get together with others some time. Next big session is scheduled for 9/6/05.


From a different perspective. Party #2

Role-playing "evil selfish greedy demons" This may be the first time in my role-playing carrier characters actions actually match their alignments.

After deciding to let the deceiver, try to talk our past the ward we could see shimmering around the enemy campsite, we probably should have agreed on a story line. I kept expecting to see inspector Clouseau show up at any time. Thank G........... er Praise the ............. er (what do demons say) well we were really fortunate with very good bluff/diplomacy skill checks.

I think we surprised the GM with our looting skills and the length we would go. Im not sure if the npc demons started out with "attached/bone" weapons. But hey pass the bone saw, that sword bone has to be worth something. wonder what the market is like for demon kidneys? the response force did seem to arrive pretty fast. At first level a little loot goes a long way. easier on the GM to keep the party poor.

Party #2 specifically stated they were watching the direction the fiend flew off in, and were expecting company. As soon as a flight of 30 winged demons were spotted, we bugged out. only the deceiver was worried about keeping the damned souls. Tazmouth the fiend decided on a tactical withdrawal He was heard to shout, to the deceiver, I don't have to out fly the bandit fiends, I just have to out run you. The kind and noble GM, out of the goodness of his heart allowed the small artificer (move 20) to hop on a pack spawn, and run it to exhaustion to make his escape.
the response force did seem to arrive pretty fast.

Amazingly enough, both parties went to some lengths to acquire information relating to the composition of the enemy forces, but no one went to any bother to inquire what might happen after the raid took place! This information could have been acquired, at more cost, and would have dropped a big hint that each party should have just gone in and out as quick as possible.

Actually (maybe I shouldn't say this, in case I ever GM again) in this Opening Encounter, no one would have died. It is not my intent in this sort of an encounter to do anything more than familiarize everone with the rules system. Regardless of what had happened, any "dead" demons would have been miraculously "only knocked unconscious" at the end of things, or something similiar.

And yes, I am somewhat familiar with the 2nd party's loot instincts. I am sure it will afford many wonderful opportunities for generating pain and sorrow for the parties in days to come.


Introduction to the Second Act:

Several weeks have gone by since the party failed in it's first mission to destroy a Blood Font Derrick belonging to a local bandit chieftan. This failure has gone hard on everyone concerned, as the Master of the Fortress, Captain Argonnes, has seen fit only to entrust the party members with simple duties, like cleaning up the spawn corrals.

One evening the party members decide to gather at a Iliaster Pub House called The Ravaging Beast. This place is only slightly above a common feeding through, but the entertainment is supposed to be first rate.

Long before the party enters The Ravaging Beast the wail of Pain Flutes and sobs of Demon Hide Drums fills the evening, and the air is filled with the drifting smells of spices and drugs. The party enters and catches sight of a scantily clad Succubus doing a Hootchie-kootchie on a stage in the middle of the room. Shes casts a come-hither look in everyone's direction, but doesn't break the flow of her dance.

At a nearby table 3 carthenay lawyer-imps are screeching at each other iin loud voices about the exact legal definition of the word "is". They are lost in arguement and unaware of anyone around them.

An artificer clerk from the goverment office sits alone at a table and nurses a small drink with one hand. His other hand ends in a bone mace.

In an open area one one end of the room an apparent mortal is surrounded by a small crowd of Malcubi succubi. He is strangely dressed in boots, pants, checkered shirt, vest, and wears a large hat. He has two revolvers in hostlers at his waist, and under the adoring eyes of the succubi he is drawing, twirling, tossing, catching, and re-holstering these guns with blinding speed and sureness.

Further back in the smoke filled room a richly dressed Artificer is whispering to a Mortal at a table they share. He glances at the party appraisingly.

And there is Captain Argonnes, sitting at a table with Sergeant Travul and Messanda (Malcubi Succubi-Captain Argonnes's current "flame"). The captains stares with icy unconcern, but the Sergeant's eyes suddenly come alight with evil delight, and he leans and whispers something in the Captains ear.

The party sits, and the Malcubi waitress seductively glides up to the table
"What can I get you boys?" she asks, in a voice that trembles with the promise of pain and delight...............
.....continueing on......(first part of the adventure)....

The party, Draco the Fiend, Mimic the Stalker, and Kas the Beast sit at a small table and sip their Spiced Iliaster drinks. Draco and Mimic begin an arguement about the best way to get on Captain Argonnes's good side. Kas gets bored with this, gets up and walks over to the table where the Artificer and Mortal are sitting, talking to each other in low tones.

"Mind if I join you?" he asks.

The artificer glares at him, and begins a shooing motion with his clawed hand. Just then the mortal whispers something in his ear, and the shooing motion changes into a 'be-seated' wave. Kas sits and the artificer stares at him for a moment.

"My name's Kas, what's yours?" Kas blurts out.

The artificer does not appear amused, "My name is Lord Delshire...you mean you have never heard of me?"

The mortal whispers again in Delshire's ear. Kas just barely catches something that sounds like "...a stalker could be useful...". Lord Delshire stares at Kas for a moment and then speaks in a soft voice "You entered with some friends, why don't you invite them over?"

Finally all three of the party demons are seated at the table with Lord Delshire and the mortal. A new round of drinks has been purchased. Lord Delshire glances at the human, grimaces, then looks back at Kas and the others.

"You look like enterprising young demons, ready to risk all to make you name in the ranks of the Infernum, perhaps you could do a small favor for me......."

Three days later the party members stand at the base of a hill. On top of the hill is a small ruined Haimon fort. Lord Delshire has assured everyone that the fort is abandoned, and that a small box filled with some pages in an undecipherable script is located in the ruined manor house. The party has been tasked with retrieving the box.

Wisely, the party decides to send the Stalker in to scout around. Mimic has worked his way around about 3/4's of the fort when he spots a Warghost in one of the ruined buildings. Unfortuneately, the warghosts spots him at the same time. As two warghosts emerge from the ruins, Mimic runs out of the ruined gate and rejoins the other two.

Once again, in the finist House Sturrach tradition, the party decides to attack. Draco takes to the air, and the party re-enters the complex and heads for the last sighting of the warghosts.

They find them. Three of them.

A feathered shaft catches Draco full in the chest and drops him to 2 HP's left. The warghosts and demons close. A diving attack from Draco "un-nerves"(?) the archer warghost and causes him to drop his bow, and Draco lands and the two exchange in-consequential damage for a round or two.

Mimic and Kas are fighting a spear armed and a sword armed warghosts. The initial clash does not go well, and Kas takes some heavy damage, dropping him to -4 HP's and breaching him. He screams for help and Draco abandon's his fight and rejoins Kas and Mimic, allowing the archer warghost to retrieve his bow, but bow fire fails to inflict any significant damage for the rest of the battle.

With Draco and Mimic supplying protection, Kas is able to withdraw, heal his breach (2nd attempt) and find cover. Draco and Mimic succeed in 'killing' the warghosts. After a short rest the manor house is entered, the box found, and the pages recovered.

On the trip back the party has two encounters. The first involves a party of House Lictat demons, who probably wopuld have attacked, but fortuneately for the Sturrach party they never saw them. The second encounter would have been with a House Carthenay group of demons, who probably would have aided the party, but upon sighting them, the party gave them a wide birth, and eventually arrived safely back at their base.

(to be contineued).....
.....continueing on......(second part of the adventure)....

The party, somewhat worse for wear, has successfully returned to their base. At which point it dawns on them that no one bothered to ask Lord Delshire how to contact him, but being enterprising young demons who expect to go far in the ranks of the Infernum, they head for the nearest bar room ("The Ravaging Beast") and wait for him.

While waiting they attract the attention of a Carthenay clerk who wants to listen to their tales of adventure, since he is considered to valuable by his house to be allowed "out". While toasting each others health Lord Delshire enters. The party immediately meets with him, and hands him the box. Lord Delshire accepts it with a small nod, and drops a cloth purse on the table. The purse clatters as it hits the table.

"A little something by way of thanks" he says. As the party members are busily trying to decide how to split 15 crowns 3 ways he adds "Actually, I am surprised you got Captain Argonne's permission to go so quickly, usually he doesn't like his house members to go wandering off..."

A quick and hastily discussion began as the party realized they were probably in spawn-manure again, as they had not gotten permission to go wandering off, even through they had raised the subject amongst themselves, what was going to be the likely consequences of their omission, and how to go about avoidng them. The subject of throwing 15 crowns at his feet and begging forgiveness was raised.

(At which point I took pity on them a little)
"You know, the best way to a male's heart is usually through his woman," Lord Delshire stated, "maybe if you were to present a give to the lovely Malcubi he was with the other day, she might intervene on your behalf."

The motion of presenting Messanda (Malcubi succubi) with 15 crowns to intercede on the party's behalf was raised and seconded. The beast, with a charisma of 8, was selected to be the party's foreman.

(Here occured some pretty incredible die rolling...to make is simple I figured the beast would need to beat 15 on a 1d20 TWICE to influence the succubi, while Messanda (charisma 20) would have to roll 15 or more on a 1d20 (twice) NOT to influenced by the beast. Kas rolled a 16 and a 18, she rolled a 3 and a 4.

So, Messanda agreed to help the party, the party got to keep the 15 crowns, and Kas unwisely stated "...and if you ever need a favor, just call on me, M'lady."

The next day, the party is rousted from their slumber by an irate Sergeant, who informs them the captain wants to see them and leads them off. The party enters the CAptains hall to find Captain Argonnes seated in his chair, guards on either side of him, and Messanda sitting at his feet. She gives the party a broad wink.

The party members wink back..........

......to be continued.....
...continueing the adventure, 3rd part...

Fortuneately for the party, Captain Argonnes does not interpet the party's winking in his general direction as anyone making a play for his "woman" which could have led to a short battle (1 Lvl 6 fiend, 2 lvl 4 Hulks, 1 lvl 5 fiend, 1 lvl .... Malcubi, vrs 3 3rd lvl party members,....I wonder who would have won?.)

Instead, the good captain interpets the party's action as intending disrespect towards him. He is offended, and begins to make it obvious...

At which point the party members toss the purse of 15 crowns at his feet, and attempt to grovel to him. All three fail. However, the Captain's modified reaction is about midpoint on the scale, so I figure he was no longer particulary hostile, or particularly friendly.

Instead, he banishes the party to another "Spawn manure" job, escorting caravans of mined ore to a Zethu fortress that has a spur line to the Minatour line.

The first trip is uneventful.

On the second trip, the first encounter is a patrol. I decide to interpet this as re-inforcements for the caravan. The next encounter (there could be a total of 6 on each trip) was with bandits. Since no one of the Sturrach party spotted the bandits I decided they would ambush the caravan.

To make a long story short, the bandits had their posteriors kicked. Their group consisted of 10 demons, 5 missile troops and 5 melee'rs. The missile troops, other than shooting down one of the labour spawn handlers, were totally ineffective. The melee'rs closed, but were dealt with by the Sturrach toops easily. 3 were killed, one fled, and one captured. At which point the missile troops fled. The caravan then proceeded to the Zethu fort.

And so the adventure came to an end. The party, with re-inforcements, now rests in a Zethu fort and has unloaded the labour spawn, and prepares for the journey back to their base. Their prisoner will no doubt be tortured for information on their return...
...or is their prisoner perhaps a Zethu (or any other house) backed band that is being used to raid Sturrach caravans? And if so, can House Zethu really allow him to be taken back to a Sturrach base.
.....or might the real bandits plan an ambush on the trip back, this one stronger.
....or does the bandit really have any useful information? and if he does, how will captain Argonnes react? Will he order an all out assault on the bandit camp? A counter harrassment strike? Perhaps he will need someone to make a diversion (or someone to be a sacrifice to attract the bandit's attention...
...one thing'as for sure, lotsa tables and die rolling to be done before the next meeting of House Sturrach...

.........The Adventures of House Sturrach continues....

[Interlude from the GM]

I spent several days generating 6 pages of flow charts, tables, and events having to do with the Sturrach Party being attacked by bandits. Once I started rolling dice, a story line emerged from all my work, which I thought was very good and would be most entertaining to spring on the party. There were a number of possibilities, such as the Zethu deciding to forcibly take the bandit prisoner away from the Sturrachs, or the bandits actually being subsidized by another house to attack Sturrach suppply lines, but I am sad to report that I can't really tell the full story here at this time, since it isn't over yet. None the less, the party's actions surprised me, and the session was quite entertaining...

The Sturrach party, along with 3 NPC re-inforcements, and the bandit demon prisoner, had arrived with their trade caravan at the Zethu fortress "Fortress of the Mists of Sorrow" (FMS). After seeing to the unloading of the iron ore, they dispersed to attend to certain matters. They encountered a low level Sturrach Stalker ("Bathin") that was to join them for the return trip, and took him along to buy supplies, leaving their beast Kas in charge of the prisoner.

With everyone gone, Kas decided to take the prisoner to a local torture facility. The Zethu torturers were very glad to have a demon to practice on and were happy to impress the Sturrach "country bumpkin" by showing off some fairly well know torture techniques. The officer in charge even offered to buy the prisoner (at which point the ears of the demons that weren't there suddenly picked up...) but Kas decided not to sell the prisoner, the Zethu decided not to attack the lone Sturrach demon, and so he was able to extricate himself from the facility with the prisoner. He returned to the other memebers who expressed considerable intrest in his disappearance.

The party left the next morning, and journeyed safely till close to the end of the second day, when they encountered 3 Imps. The Imps were in the air. but maintained their distance and merely flew around the caravan, until Bathin ran forward and shot at them with his light crossbow. The Imps then attacked with missile weapons, but after exchanging a few shots, and no significant damage they flew off.

The next morning the party proceeded on their way back to their home fortress. Within a short time they encountered another Imp flying in circles. This time they also encountered the Imps "ground support" (having failed every opportunity to spot the same ground support the previous day-by secret die roll!). There were now 9 demons lined up facing 7 Sturrach house demons.

Mimic (Stalker) went forward to talk to the other demons. They sent a stalker forward to talk also. Mimic asked them what they wanted, they demanded the return of their comrade, and Mimic demanded 20 crowns not to kill them. Mimic was called a few names, and with negotiations clearly breaking down, he turned and ran back to the rest of the party, while the other stalker rejoined his party.

Seeing as how hostilities were now clearly in the works, Bathin (2nd level stalker) in the absolutely finest House Sturrach traditions, yelled "Follow me Brothers, who wants to live forever?" and charged the enemy.

200' further on, he realized that he was the only demon running towards the enemy party, and in fact, three of them (2 hulks and 1 stalker) were running towards him, while two "humans" were shooting slings at him, and the Imps were firing at the party in general. The rest of the party was advancing slowly and cautiously, trying to stay between the enemy bandits, and watching the surrounding hills for further ambushes.

Bathin got the worst of the encounter. One of the bandit Deceivers hit him for 4 points of damage, and a hulk clobbered him for 18! (20, followed by max damage 2d8 + 2 = 18 dmage) which left him seriously breached. He tried to run back, but failed his first heal-the-breach attempt, and ended up taking some serious stat loses. (His Charisma is now 1)

With Bathin beat up, and the rest of the Sturrach party getting closer, the bandits suddenly turned tail and ran. (there was a reason for this).
The party was able to resume the journey and arrive safely back at their base "The Fortress of Fangs of Victory" (FFoV).

Once there, the Second Act ended, and a brief interlude took place (had to visit the little demon's room, get drink refills, etc. etc.........
Introduction to the Third Act:

The party has returned (somewhat the worse for wear) to the Fortress of Fangs of Victory, with a bandit prisoner that they have turned over to the commander of the fortress, Captain Argonnes. The captain, promptly turned the bandit over to the house torturers, who (by die roll) would neeed 10 days to elicit whatever information the bandit might have. The party then dispersed around town to attend to local matters.

.......to continue (summarizing)..............

Eventually the fortress's torturers were able to elicit sufficient reliable information for the captain that he decided to launch an invasion of the bandits territory. I had estimated the FFoV reaction force at around 500 troops*, and 250 would be sent, while the bandits numbered about 350, but were less well armored, armed, and had fewer hulks.

The captain invited the party back to headquarters, and as a reward for their services, offered them a choice, to accompany the Strike force, or stay with the remaining Reaction force. The party naturally opted to go with the Strike force, and the captain was so pleased with their energetic response that he tossed them a small purse and invited them to have a drink that evening on him.

Soooooooooo....later that evening......

The party had just entered The Ravaging Beast. There are the usual crowd there, The Haimon Lord and his Mortal compatriot, Morfguy, and a Carthenay Imp/clerk they had met earlier named Gismos.

Gismos hangs around the Ravaging Beast a lot. He likes to buy drinks for adventurers, listen to their stories, and make friends with them. When pressed about what he does he complains about the trails and tribulations of adding up columns of numbers every day, day and day, and how his house never lets him go on adventures because he is to valuable, and thus he likes to listen to the adventures of others. He always seems to have money and is willing to 'treat' a party.

[Gismos was a 'rolled up' NPC, not a generic one, he has a fairly high intelligence and charisma, but wouldn't do well in a a melee.]

So, Gismos buys a round of Bloody Marie's**, and the party settles down and starts to talk about their adventures. Things are going well.

Captain Argonnes enters with Messanda on his arm. They take a table nearby.At some point in recounting their adventures, Bathin (charisma of 1...the guy that took the Pitchfork in the face) decides to prove how much damage he took in the fight by taking off his facemask and showing Gismos.

Gismos rolls a 1 for reaction! He screams and ducks under the table. The rest of the demons and whatever in the Ravaging Beast look to see what the disturbance is. Draco and Mimic are trying to get Gismos to come out from under the table. Draco tries and grab the table and move it out of the way, but can't quite manage it. They yell for Bathin to put his facemask back on or leave. Bathin does both.

Kas gets up, when the disturbance starts, and walks over to Captain Argonnes's table. "Mind if I join you?" he asks.

Messanda's reaction is a 20. She invites him to sit down.

And so the adventure comes to an end for that night with....

A military Strike event to be planned. He he, I know what the Demon's are up to, but will the Captains plan work, or is he sending troops into a trap?
Draco asked Gismos's for a favor. Gismos's replied he would have to check with his boss first.
Kas finally sent a note to Messanda. Having gotten some very lucky reaction rolls from her when he is around, I wonder if she might be planning something where she could use him, or is she just into animal sex. (He is a beast)
And poor Bathin, with a charisma of 1. How is he going to work his way out of that particular hole?

* I drew up a rough estimate of the size of the house forces on the holdings of the 4th circle, and estimated them at an average strength of about 2500, of which 500 would be a reaction force that could be sent out without disrupting the local economy too much. Calling up the reserves would allow a commander to have more troops available, but copuld lead to things like a reduction in ore production or iliaster, and would be a course of action taken in only dire emergencies.
** A bloody Marie is a weakly spiced flavored iliaster drink much favored as a means of drinking the daily requirement of iliaster, and socializing. It takes about 10 drinks to recover 1 iliaster, so allows pleanty of time to socialize. The spices are also good for providing a slight buzz'.
.........HOUSE ASTYANATH..............................

The House Astanath party entered the Iron Fire, a well known iliaster pub at the Fortress of the Thorny Crown, much frequented by those with aspiration of rising above the common herd. They had been invited to have a free drink by Captain Trevas as a reward for their success in destroying the Blood Font belonging to "Lord" Drica, and intended to take full advantage of his generosity, and at the earliest opportunity.

As they pushed open the doors to the pub the wail of Pain Flutes and sobs of Demon-skin Drums met their ears. A malcubi succubi was doing the Dance of Ribbons on the center stage. A Damned Soul was tied to a post in the center of the stage, and the dancer, Jeema, wearing nothing by a pair of finely tapered silver claws and hundreds of ribbons, was circling the Damned Soul, weaving in and out while swaying to the rythym of the music. Every few seconds she would stab or slash the DS, and everytime she did so a ribbon would flutter to the ground. She still had a hundred or so ruibbons on.

At the far end of the room a Haimon artificer was sitting at a table in earnest conversation with a mortal. They glanced up at the party briefly, but displayed no apparent intrest.

A lone artificer sat at a table. One arm ended in a bone mace. He stared mooresly at a glass in front of him.

In one corner, a "mortal" dressed in a tall black hat, and wearing strange cloths, was drawing, flipping, tossing, catching, and re-holstering, a pair of revolvers with blinding speed and sureness. A crowd of succubi was gathered around him, watching him with admiring eyes.

At another table two carthenay imps were in heated discussion with a Deceiver. They ignored everyone.

Lastly, the good(evil?) sergeant Furgus, was at a table with Captain Trevas, and his current flame, lady Soline. The sergeant raised his claws in greeting, then eyed the party thoughtfully, before leaning over to whisper in the captain's ear.

After sitting and getting their free round, one of the party members struck up a conversation with the Deceiver. This led to a brief discussion about the exact legal difinition of the word "is", and the Deceiver was successful in swaying the party to agree with him, at which point he left and went back to arguing with the imps. The party did not see fit to pursue him further.

A chance remark brought them to the Haimon artificer's table. Further remarks ilicited that the Haimon lord was willing to entrust them with a small insignificant mission.


[Interlude...as the GM this really surprised me, usually at least one of these guys knows better....shame, shame, shame...]

Two days later they were overlooking a small ruined Zethu fortress. The party consisted of two fiends, a beast, and a hulk. The two fiends flew around behind the fortress and spotted some warghosts in another of the ruined buildings. The warghosts did not spot them. So the fiends landed in the larg building where they had been told to locate a box containing some pages the Haimon lord was looking for.

Alas, the box laid open on the floor, with signs of it having been recently opened. with nothing further to be gained, or so they thought (no one checked out the tunnel by the watchtower) the party returned, and then got into a unpleasent discussion with the Haimon lord about rewards for unsuccessful missions. The Haimon lord was not sympathetic, and both parties went their ways, no doubt mumbling curses or worse about the toher.

...................(to be continued).............................
....House Astyanath, continued...

One of the tasks that had been laid down upon the party prior to going off on the Haimon Lord's mission, was to check the status of the ruined zethu fortress and see if it was repairable. Sadly, no one in the party had any skill in crafting fortresses, or knowledge of architecture, so the report they submitted was meaningless babble (at least to the Captain) so they did not even gain the benefit of completing a "house" mission.

Much disgusted by the train of events the party returned to their favorite iliaster-watering hole. Their they struck up a conversation with the Carthenay Deceiver that was impressing the succubi with his dexterity. The question of his clothing and weapons was brought up.

They learned that the Deceiver, who called himself "Bronco Billay" Had acquired the clothing, weapons, and speech patterns he affected by having visited the Mortal World, and he was much enamored of the picture he presented. when pressed, he was glad to accept the party's assitence in journeying to a 'nearby' Oblurett fortress to try and acquire some mortal artifacts.

Early the next morning the party tried to get in to see captain Trevas, but were stopped by the Duty Sergeant. When the explanation as to why the party wished to absent themselves from their House Duties for a couple of weeks was presented to him*, the sergeant laughed and told them they were wasting time, but a successful diplomacy roll got the sergeant to change his mind (plus a couple of crowns dropped on the floor) and the sergeant talked the captain into allowing the party to "scout" out the Oblurett fortress.

The party set out. Several non-hostile encounters occurred, but everyone arrived at the Oblurett fortress in good health. The Oblurett guards even allowed everyone in. Unfortuneately, the information Bronco Billay was looking for was not readily available, and the party had to wait a bit. Finally through, Billay acquired the information he was looking for, a particular Oblurett artifcer had the artifact (a Sheriff's badge) that he was looking for, was was leaving the fortress the next day.

Early the next day the party left, and took a position on a hill overlooking the expected travel route of the Oblurett lord. They also made sure they were a bit of ways away from the Oblurett fortress, to avoid and quick responding forces. An ambush was in the plan, and everyone wanted to make a quick gettaway.

Eventually along came the Oblurett lord (his unsupecting guards failed their spot check-rolled a2 on a 1d20) and the trap was sprung!

The trap was meant to work like this: the party, from a concealed position, open fire on the Oblurett guards. The guards would attack, and hopefully the Lord would decide to run back the way he had come, at which point Billay would ambush him, and get the artifact.

In preparation for the ambush, the party members had tried to remove anything betraying them as House Astyanath, the thorns on the hulk were probaqbly a dead give-away through!

Shouting "Huzzah for House Sturrach" the trap was sprung! The initial volley from the party took out two of the three Imps that were hovering around the Oblurett lord, but this promptly drew the attention of the six guards, who attacked. A lucky shot dropped an Oblurett slaver to 2 HP's, and he turned and ran, but the other five guards bored in. The fight was short and intense! The Hulk was severly cut up, but the Beast and one of the fiends were really banged up. No one in the party died.

Once the Oblurett guards were slain, or fled (two guards and one imp escaped) the party set off to find Billay. They encountered him very soon, but his opening words were "We need to get away from here...in a hurry!"

Without stopping to loot, the party headed for the hills (so to speak) and successfully avoided any encounters on the way home. They learned that Billay had been unsuccessful in his attempt to slay the Oblurett lord, and that he had accidently dropped, and lost, one of his pistols.

And so, the mission was a failure. But at least no one had died, and when they returned and wrote a glowing discription of Oblurett fieldworks, troop movements, and defences, Captain Trevas was suitably impressed, so even if the monetary rewards had been slight, the party gained some house experience.

So ended the House Astyanath's adeventures for the day........

* They claimed that there were rumors about a buildup of House Oblurett forces. The Captain didn't believe them at first, so the party went into great detail about the exact rumors about Oblurett forces and why they needed to be checked up on. I gave the party the benefit of creative imagination, and re-rolled the captians opinion of what was really behind the "expedition" and they were successful in getting this okay.
................House Sturrach.........................................

Captain Argonnes prepares to lead his army* forth to do battle with a band of Bandit Demons called Kesteron's Killers. The bandits were camped in some unclaimed territory close to the Fortress of Fangs of Victory and had been preying on Sturrach, and other houses', merchant caravans. Captain Argonnes had had enough, and upon acquiring what he considered reliable information as to the bandits where abouts, set out to destroy them, and maybe just maybe, acquire all the loot they had taken from Sturrach, and any other houses.

The Bandit chieftan, Kesteron, a fiend (...who bore a striking resemblence to a Chief Petty Officer I once knew in the US NAvy...GM's Interlude), had set a trap. He had moved the majority of his forces** away from his camp and left a screening force behind. The bandits were desperate for iliaster, and hoped to be able to raid the Sturrach's territory while their main reaction force was away. The plan worked perfectly...up to a point***

As the army prepared to depart, Captain Argonnes invited the members of the player party (Mimic, Draco, Bathin, and Kas) to accompany him as a reward for their services. Kas declined. He had been exchanging notes with Messanda, and planned to stay behind for a tete-a-tete with her while the good captain was away.

Finally the time has come for the army to march, and Captain Argonnes led his army forth. Two days later, while Messanda was pouring Spiced Iliaster down Kas's throat, a messenger came dashing into the fortress. The bandits had invaded! They were heading for a small mining village called Ironhammer, and there were no Sturrach troops to stop them.

However, the officer that had been left in command, a Lieutenant Titas, refused to let that dismay him. He had some 125 Demons of the Reaction force+ still assembled at the Fortress, and after sending out word for all demons to assemble and march for Ironhammer, he led his troops out, and by forced march, headed for Ironhammer. Once there he incorporated a hundred low ranking demons from the village into his force.

Kas declined to join the lieutenants expedition also, he was having way too much fun!

Unfortuneately for the bandits, they were making a somewhat liesurely advance, delighting in destroying insignificant facilities and targets along the way. The hard driving Titas reached Ironhammer first. From a low hill he was able to survey the approaching bandits.

"They have poor march disicpline" was the first thing he said to his under officers.
"We'll attack!" was the second.

The Sturrach attack hit the bandits hard!++ but the bandits were desperate for iliaster, and under Kesteron's direction they closed with the Sturrach forces. A quarter of the Sturrach forces died in the opening clash of the battle, but a third of the demons fell.+++

Lieutenant Titas was leading from the front, serving as an inspiration for his troops. Kesteron was trying to direct his demons into the fray. As the Sturrach forces fell they closed ranks and stood their ground, and charge after charge of bandits broke against their locked shield.

Finally the bandits could take no more# they broke and fled. The Sturrach troops were to tired to pursue, and Kesteron was able to escape with the majority of his more senior demons. Lt. Titas had sent messages to Captain Argonnes, of course, and hoped that he would be able to return in time to crush the bandits, but the messages got to the captain late, and his army (also force marching) achieved nothing.

And so ended the battle of Ironhammer, albiet a battle that actually did not involve the Player's party at all, through who knows what the exact final results might be. After all, most of the party did apparently enjoy the Captains favor as they marched off to war, and now perhaps share in some of the "egg" on the face of Captain Argonnes. And what of Lieutenant Titas? Perhaps he might think it is time for a new commander at The Fangs of Victory? Or might Captain Argonnes decide a little assaination might be in order to remove a potential threat to his position?

And what exactly were Messanda and Kas doing for the three or four days that transpired over this event?


* Okay, calling 250 Demons an army may be a bit of an exaggeration...

** Argonnes thought the bandit strength was about 200, they were actually 400 demon-strong.

*** ...where it quit working perfectly!

+ I had estimated the Reaction force at 500 strong. Argonnes led 250 of them, and the rest were spilt amongst various garrisons in the Sturrach territories, 1/2 of them being in the main fortress.

++ I jury rigged my own strategic combat table. The bandits had a 2 - 1 advantage, and gained a +2 bonus, but suffered a -1 for poor equipment. House Sturrach suffered a -2 for being outnumbered, but gained a +1 for being better trained troops. Additionally, for the 1st round of combat, the Sturrach forces were able to surprise the bandits and gained +2. I then rolled 1d6 for both parties. House Sturrach was hot, the bandits were not, the final result was a +3 for house Sturrach.

+++ I handled army morale simply also, Both groups started at 100%, but House Sturrach gained a 10% for being better trained and disciplined, while the bandits suffered a -10% for being the opposite. Then I subtracted whatever the losses were, and rolled percentile dice. Whoever suffered the most losses in a combat would have to take a morlae check first.

# The Sturrach dice were still hot! Even with losing the +2 bonus for their initial attack, they still beat the bandits and ended up with a +3 for the second round of combat! This meant the bandits had to take a morale check first, at an approx. morale level of 40%, whcih they failed, and so routed.
....................HOUSE STURRACH........................................

...............THE LAST STAND OF MIMIC............................

Following their return from an unsuccessful campaign to destroy a bandit band, the player party (with the exception of KAS, who had been daillying with Messanda, the Fortress's Commander's "woman" * ) was desperate for action. They went to the captain and volunteered for a mission, any mission.

It just so happened that the captian did have a matter that could do with some investigation. He had already sent a party into the nearby Iron Mines to investigate why miners and Damned were missing, but they had not returned or been heard from. Since the party was looking for some thing to do....

And so, Draco, Mimic, Bathin, and Kas set out to explore the mines. Getting there was easy, as the fortress was practically built over the mines. The entrance was heavily guarded, and the immediate area awas crowded with demon miners, guards, overseerers, Damned Slaves, and even the occasional demon and mortal prisoners.

The party proceeded to the end of the main tunnel, past numerous side tunnels where miners were carting ore out and loading it on wheeled carts. They eventually reached a guard post at the end of the main tunnel, which opened into a large room. The guards at the post wished them luck, mentioned that another party had gone before them, and said they would be glad to accompany them in, if only they could get their duty sergeants okay, a process that might take a few hours. The Players decided not to wait and went in.

After various twists and turns, the party arrived at a large room with a big hole in the floor. Kas threw a torch down the hole**. and judging the drop distance was about 20' from the time it took for the torch to hit bottom, Bathin then leaned over the edge of the hole to look down.

4 Crossbow bolts came wizzing out of the dim light below. Only 1 hit, but it hit him square in the face and did max damage.***

Mimic pushed Bathin into the hole. Mimic and Kas then jumped in, and Draco, the fiend, jumped/flew down the hole. The only one to suffer damage was KAs, who failed his jump check and took two points of damage.

At the bottom of the hole was another large room, where 4 mortals were busy reloading crossbows behind a barricade. The demons attacked and very shortly killed two of the mortals, but the other two escaped through two narrow passageways.

The players split up. Draco and KAs went after one, Mimic and Bathin after the other.

Mimic was in the lead when the narrow passageway they were transversing opened up into a large room, that had a large crowd of mortals in it. Yet again, in the finest traditions of House Sturrach, Mimic shouted "Surrender Mortals" and charged into the room.

He failed his DC check to leap out of the way when the trap door opened up under his feet and deposited him into a pit filled with 6 Pit Vipers. 5 of them promptly attacked, but only one succeeded in biting him, and poisoning him.

Bathin stuck his head around the corner, saw a large crowd of humans, most of them behind a barricade, and fired his crossbow (missed). 5 crossbow bolts greeted him in relpy (all misses). Chainmail clad humans armed with spears started running out from around the sides of the barricade.

Ignoring the poison coursing through him, Mimic made a giant leap, caught hold of the edge of the florr, and pulled himself out of the trap. A human warrior promptly charged him and pushed him back into the pit. Again the snakes attack, but failed to hit.

BAthin departed to seek re-inforcements.

Mimic made another attempt to jump out of the pit, but failed. The snakes made another attack, all failed****, but now the pit was lined with 6 human warriors all jabbing with spears at Mimics head. "Surrender Demon!" one of the mortals was shouting.

"Peanuts to you!" was mimic's reply,. as he grabbed a snake and threw it into the face of one of the humans (who was promtly bit, and the snake then slunk off towards another human warrior, who was too busy worrying about the snake for a few turns to worry about a demon).

However, 5 human crossbowmen then joined the spear armed warriors, and with 10 or so fighters (not counting snakes, who were still making occassional attempts to bite Mimic) they began to get hits on him. Mimic got breached.

Still distaining surrender, Mimic gave a gigantic leap, and struck one of the humans with his warhammer, killing him instantly. It did no good, the humans had the edge, and their morale was good, they continued jabbing and shooting at Mimic.

The end was no longer in doubt. In the twinkling firelight of dim torches, Mimic, still upholding the finest traditions of House Sturrach, died alone under the spears and crossbow bolts of the evil humans. His death will be mourned by all.

* Kas made all the saving throws that I had drawn up on a flow chart dealing with his dailliance with Messanda...she liked him, no one caught them, no one tried to tattle on them to Captain Argonnes, etc...so he walked away from it all with a buttload of experience!

** Can anyone else see where this might have been a bad idea?

*** rolled a 20! Figured there was a good chance he might be stunned for a turn or so, and he failed his fortitude, and so was stunned for two combat rounds.

**** with Mimic's armor class, pretty much the humans and snakes needed a 20 to hit. But with 10 warriors attacking, this meant they would probably going to get 1 hit every other turn.
..............................HOUSE STURRACH...................................

[ To continue on with the House Sturrach party's adventures...]

Finally, Bathin found Draco and Kas. The three of them set out to try and rescue Mimic. Eventually they found themselves in the large room with the hole in the ceiling. As they stood there and talked about their next actions, by a fantastic coincidence, a hulk fell through the opening.

When the party questioned the hulk (Ganthor) they learned that he had been part of the 1st party sent by Captain Argonnes to investigate why the miners were disappearring, and after they had been exploring for a while they had wandered into a room and been attacked by some strange machines. Their sergeant had ordered a retreat, but as far as Ganthor knew, he was the only one of that party to survive.

Draco, Bathin, and Kas invited Ganthor to join them in their attempt to rescue Mimic. He was glad to accept, and the party set out, overcoming some minor obstacles, but eventually reaching the very large room where Bathin had spotted the large group of humans.

They were still there, and greeted the first demon to stick his head around the corner with 5 crossbow bolts. There spearmen then charged, including two that had been hiding.

The Sturrach demons made short work of the humans, who fled after 5 of them had been killed. Draco found the remains of a demon's body that appeared as if it was being chopped into pieces and fed to some large mushrooms the humans had been growing.

The demons then departed and made their way back to the fortress, where there were reports to be filled out, loot to be split, and iliaster to be recovered. A saddened Draco swore an oath to take the remains of the body of his friend back to the spawning pits, but it remains to be seen whether or not he will be permitted to do so.

And so endeth the days adventuring...............................