Campaign report - updated as the game progresses



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Hello there, folks

I noticed that some GM's had wrote campaign reports on the board and decided to do the same. I will start with short introduction of the background and the player characters, writing short descriptions of game sessions later. We've played thrice so far and fourth session is tomorrow. I'll get players get me good descriptions of their characters, so I can add them here.

The player characters are remains of the Nemedian army Conan fights and wins at the end of Hour of the Dragon. I had not the story on hand at the time and didn't remember exactly where the battle was fought, other than it was near mountains. In my campaign, it was near the southern border of Aquilonia, near Zingara. The player characters are survivors of the battle, who flee to the mountains instead of on the plains. In the beginning, their only ambition is to flee their pursuers, reach Zingara through the mountains and then start planning how to get home alive. I'm a fan of Cthulhu Mythos, so Lovecraftian elements will be included. Characters started at 2nd level.


Tyrus, Son of Ossias
Scholar/Soldier, 21

Tyrus is son of a rich merchant from the central Nemedia. As a youth, he was always interested in the occult and religion. By chance and luck he came across sorcerous scrolls and after paying a hefty sum for them, started indulging himself in the dark arts. Unfortunately his religious father caught him and sent him in the Adventurers, hoping the tough service would whip the boy back in to the shape and make him forget such heresies. He knows curses and fights like an Adventurer, on foot with a greatsword. Right now he has had enough of fighting and only want to get back home.

Noam, Borderer/Soldier, 22

Noam is from southern Nemedia and has Shemite blood running in his veins. His family has continued to practice Shemite archery and Noam is no different. He found employment as a ranger patrolling the border mountains and when the war sparked, was drafted as a scout. Silent and spending much time with his wardog, he still has a strong sense of honor.

Alcemides/Otetiani, Barbarian/Thief, 21

Alcemides is a somewhat strange man, having both Nemedian and darker, sinister features. He seems home at the forest and follows strange rules of conduct others don't seem to understand. The reason is simple - he is half-pict. His mother was imprisoned by picts of the Mongoose clan in NE Aquilonia and eventually taken as a wife. Alcemides growed among the Picts, but after his fathers death, his mother suddenly decided to return to Nemedia and had his young son come with her. Alcemides is a conflicting mix of barbarism and civilization, as even though the Pict has left the forest, the forest shall never leave the Pict. In the group, he is just looking for a way to prove himself and find adventure.

Barathus, Noble/Soldier, 25

Barathus is as well an Adventurer and was actually NCO of the unit Tyrus belonged to. He has not disclosed his reasons for becoming an Adventurer, but it is clear he is of noble birth and a leader of men. His service with the Adventurers was actually already done before the last battle, but he decided to march with his comrades nevertheless, out of patrionism or something else.

Dionysos, Noble/Scholar, 18

Dionysos is a spoiled, egomanic noble brat from the northern border of Nemedia. He is from a family in whose veins the blood of Acheron still runs strongs. Indeed, he looks much like a pureblooded Acheronian, with pale skin, black hair and yellowish eyes. He's a whiner not used to hardships in life, absolutely sure of his superiority over other people and unhealthily interested in things of dark nature. Perhaps it is his Acheronian blood that pulls him in to such directions - and deep in his heart, he remembers fondly the stories he has heard of Queen Akivasha and immortality. Perhaps one day he may become like her...
As a foreword, I plan to let players get to level 5 pretty quick, on the average raising level every other session. After that, level advancement will slow down unless they perform some unexpected heroics.

First session: Dragon Throne for a horse!

The battle was lost and the survivors fled the best they could. File of Adventurers, already dismounted for combat, was broken under a charge of Aquilonian cavalry. Two men done exactly what their enemies did not expect - instead of running, broke through the thin line of enemy troops. Then they just ran untill their legs could carry them no more, finding themselves up in the mountains. Tyrus and Barathus were on foot, having lost their horses in the battle. They had seen others go the same way, mounted - well, now it was every man for himself. They stopped for a short rest, before they'd have to start jogging again. There was no signs of pursuit yet, but that didn't mean they were safe.

Noam and Alcemides had been keeping watch on the flanks of the army, in case the enemy would try to encircle Nemedians. When they heard the inhuman cry from the hill where the tent of sorcerer Xaltotun had been and saw the Aquilonian knights mow their way through Nemedian troops,they knew the day was lost. Making their way in to the mountains, they stumbled upon the two resting Adventurers. Weapons were drawn, suspicious gazes and harsh words exchanged, but soon it became apparent that they were all on the same side. After a short rest, the march towards the passage through the mountains continued.

A day and a night passed, weary soldiers sleeping restlessly in a hidden camp amid jagged rocks. During the night, a group of armed and armored riders passed them, their identity impossible to discern in the dark. Another weary day of marching commenced, food already getting scarce. Then a lone rider approached - not from behind, but ahead. Getting closer, the men noticed the bright colours he was wearing. A Zingaran jinette, one of the mercenaries Conan had brought with him. The rider attempted to merely rider through the Nemedians, but a lucky shot from seemingly impossible distance brought him down. Now they had one horse.

Passage started to widen in to a valley and ahead glimmered a stream, forming in to a bright pond by some forgotten ruins. Thirsty and tired, the men staggered to drink and wash themselves, one keeping watch when other three rested. It was then when four mounted men where sighted, this time coming from behind them. One of them turned and galloped back towards Aquilonia, while the three urged their horses onward. Nemedians took refuge in the ruins, hoping the remains of stone walls to take away the advantage of horses. Alas, jinettes, accomplished horsemen, merely urged their horses to jump over the walls. They had no intention of being stuck in melee - instead they tried to net their prey, pulling them with them on a galloping horse. Failing that, they had javelins . The fight was quick and brutal, but in the end, two of the jinettes had fallen and the third was galloping away. Three horses, four men - but at least they could now rest their feet in turns.

Knowing that the five jinettes they had seen had been just scouts, the men pressed onwards. Noam and Alcemides had spotted tracks - a large group of men, perhaps as many as hundred, had passed this way a short time ago. Fleeing Nemedians, most likely, now hunted by the mercenaries on their way home. They pressed on, ignoring sidetracks and the harsh beauty of the mountains. Three jinettes they had been able to take - double the number might well be their doom.

The valley started turning in to a passage again and rising steeply. Tired men staggered ahead. They dared not to rest before a good camping site could be found, one they could hide. Finally, as the darkness began to fall, they made a camp middle of jagged rocks, on a steeply raising hill. Their rest was soon to be interrupted, as the sentry heard a large group horsemen moving slowly on the road. Noam and Alcemides sneaked to investigate - it seems that a large number of mounted soldiers, jinettes perhaps, were leading their horses on foot. They had no lights and tried to move as silently as possible - perhaps hoping to surprise someone? It might be that the other survivors of the battle were closer than they had thought.

The main body of the horsemen was followed by a smaller group, perhaps securing the rear. Alas, as the scouts began to withdraw back to their camp, a loose rock came stumbling down the hill, banging against the trees. Followed by a clang of a sword against a stone, the rear guard of the Zingaran mercenaries was alerted to their presence. One of them, apprentally a tracker, found with a lantern the tracks they had left moving to their camp site. Six of the enemies started climbing the hillside, lead on by their tracker, two staying behind to guard the horses. Nemedians had now two choices - to fight, or run. They decided to make a stand. That way, they might perhaps be able to run through a warning to the large group of their comrades, which the Zingarans seemed to seek to surprise.

As the Zingarans climbed up the hill, they were met by arrows from the undergrowth. All of the fighters were hampered by the darkness, but what they lacked in vision, they made up in ferocity. Soon the fight broke up in a series of duels, Barathus frustrating his opponents by striking blades from their hands through fancy swordplay. Bloodied and battered, the Nemedians held their ground. As Tyrus and Alcemides charged down the hill, hoping to capture more horses, Noam and Barathus gave a chase to the last Zingaran, now trying to escape. Realising that he could not outrun the warhound on his trail, the mercenary throwed himself at his enemies mercy. A barked order from Noam stopped his hound just as it was about to sink its teeth to the mercenarys throat. It took a longer while for Barathus to put down his sword. Tyrus and Alcemides had no success at the downhill - seeing enemies charging down the hill, the men left to tend the horses galloped away, taking the mounts of fallen men with them.

Wounded and tired from battle, Nemedians started the grim business of looting corpses, the warhound keeping watchful eye on their prisoner. It was just then when the sounds of war started cutting the night air, not far away. It seemed the Zingaran mercenaries had found their prey. Now the Nemedians would have to decide whether to hide or charge in to the fray, perhaps just to die in vain.
Session two: The Wicked Slaughterhouse

The stillness of mountain night was stained by the sounds of war. Somewhere, not far away, steel clashed with steel and men cried aloud, in rage and pain and fear. The four men assembled, arguing what to do next. Alcemides, bored of the discussion, slipped away to scout ahead and keep an eye on the enemies. The sounds of battle continued to ring in the air. Sliding in the forest like a true Pict, he suddenly heard different kind of glamour ahead - sounds of an armored man forcing his way through the rough terrain. Hiding in the bushes, he soon saw a pale man, wearing anancient scale hauberk, leading ahead a loaded horse, as in a great hurry. Not taking any chances, Alcemides assaulted him, battering the man unconscious and then dragging both the horse and the stranger to the camp.

Putting their both prisoners in ropes, the Nemedians decided to move their camp in to a better location and try to get some rest. The sounds of battle were already fading away - they had tarried too long. It would be better to rest to recover their strength, interrogate the prisoners and avoid detection. That said, they laid down to ease their aching bodies with sleep, dreaming of wine and women. There were no further distractions and the tired warriors rested late in the next day.

In the morning Noam and Alcemides went hunting, while Barathus and Tyrus set to interrogate their prisoners. The pale man turned out to be a Nemedian like them, Dionysos by name, sent to Aquilonia just a short time ago. Although arrogant and aggressive, he was capable of convincing the two men to let him free. He had been with the larger group of Nemedians, when they had been attacked by jinettes. As the battle seemed to be lost - they had been taken by surprise - he had fled with as much equipment as he could carry. The Zingaran mercenary, Valenso by name, promised that there would be ransom for him in the nearest town across the border. He did not know anything useful, other than local geography and did not seem like a bad sort of fellow - just a man down his luck trying to earn a living. The hunters brought back plenty of meat and the party decided to rest a whole day, continuing journey next morning. As the woodsmen sneaked to the battlefield, they just found stripped corpses.

The next two days were uneventful. Nemedians marched ahead, dragging along their prisoner, in the trails of Zingarans and their prisoners. Valenso volunteered to tell that the mercenaries planned to sell the prisoners as slaves, to gain some extra silver to spend. The passage widened in to a valley, dominated by tall conifer trees. There were remains of a road running through the valley, memory of the time when Zingara was not embroiled in civil war and merchants used the pass to transport their wares. As they made camp, Alcemides found a cobbled road, almost completely devoured by the forest, as he hunted for food. Curious and a bit bored, the men investigated, finding a once magnificent marble building. Searching the ruins it became obvious the place had once been a temple or a tomb dedicated to some fallen hero of Mitra. Somewhat alarming however was, that the almost intact statues and carvings of the place had been desecrated only a short while ago. Someone or something had been poking around in the ruins, obviously looking for something - and engaging in vandalims on the side

In the morning, the men continued their journey, keeping a slow pace to avoid running in the possible rear scouts of the mercenaries. The suggestion of Alcemides to stay in the forest for few days was rejected by others. Although hunting might yield food, they had little in the form of other supplies. Besides, there was a still faint chance they could rescue their countrymen. After a few hours of travelling, the trail split in two. The mercenaries had went right and left seemed to be a village - a silent village, with the air of something being terribly wrong.

Alcemides and Noam went scouting. The village, surrounded by circular fence, might have been inhabitated by 50 people but now seemed almost devoid of life. Near the great hall in the center there were three horses - two starving wretches and a black stallion, great and powerful, with saddle and bridles engraved with gold. Guarding the horses were three strange men. Two were glad in ancient scale hauberks made of bronze, their leather parts rotting away, faces hidden beneath equally ancient helmets. The third was a black man, dressed in rags and holding a big club, drooling mindlessly, a bronze slave collar around his neck. Tattoos of snakes covered his body. Alcemides thought of stealing the beautiful horse, but it seemed that the black man spotted him through some unearthly means, letting out a terrible wail. The strange armoured men searched the village, but the scouts eluded them. From insade the main hall a female voice barked orders for them in unknown language. Shortly after, another female voice begged mercy, pleas ending in a gasp of pain and gurgling sounds. The scouts had seen and heard enough.

The five Nemedians stopped to argue what to do next. They could just bypass the village - but on the other hand, they were short on supplies and curious about what was happening in there. Finally a decision was made. Alcemides and Noam would sneak inside the village and prepare themselves for sniping, if things would turn violent. A little while later, the three other men would ride inside with full gear, trying to attract all the attention. They would try to negotiate first - but if that would fail, they were ready for battle. After all, they were in a desolate mountain valley and people of the border areas were often both violent and treacherous.

The two woodsmen sneaked in without problems and soon the three men followed mounted. The number of strangely armoured men had doubled to four. When the three men rode in the central opening of the village, one of the armoured men shouted inside. A woman emerged, dragging with her a terrified peasant girl, face frozen in an expression of horror. If the woman would had some more flesh on her bones, she would have been a beauty. But now her skin was tightened on her bones like parchment, making her look like a living skeleton. Her skin was pale and hair black - she was obviously of Acheronian descent. Holding in her hand she had a dagger made of bone, wet with blood, which she carelessly wiped at the tunic of the girl. Fifth armoured man came out with him, brandishing an ancient bronze greatsword decorated with alien patterns.

Words were exchanged, the woman talking with Barathus but eyes locked on Dionysos. Then suddenly, another voice intervened - a voice of a child, screaming and begging for help from inside the great hall. For a moment, the world seemed to freeze. Then Alcemides and Noam let their arrows loose from their hiding place. The woman screamed in for his men to kill the others, but take Dionysos alive.

The fight was a prolonged clash of fury and skill. The armoured men all wielded ancient greatswords and attacked with madness. When their scale hauberks were punctured and their flesh cut, they did not cry of pain, but moan of joy and pleasure in a most wicked way. Tyrus was the first to draw blood, beheading a foe with one mighty blow, but when he closed on the woman, she made him fall in to helpless trance with her inhuman eyes. Barathus was struck down, Tyrus and Dionysos badly wounded. A most strange thing happened as well, another feat of vile sorcery - when arrow from Noams bow hit true at the skeletal woman. As the woman fell to the ground, her form shifted to that of the poor peasant girl and the men heard a pounding of hooves, realising the sorceress was already on her horse, galloping away. Finally, all the armoured men had been struck down. Pulling off their helmets revealed Acheronian features.

The black man had not taken part in the fight, just standing still and holding his club. Once the wounded had been tended, Nemedians cautiously approached him. As he didn't seem aggressive, they seized the man and following a flash of intuition, removed his bronze collar. The strangers eyes rolled over and he fell, unconscious. Inside the great hall the warriors found a terrible carnage. Air was thick with the smell of blood and decayed flesh, the great hall full corpses of men, women and children, brutally slain and worse - evidence of cannibalism. Two children whimpered in one dark corner, a boy no older than eight and a girl perhaps ten or twelve in years. The warriors laid down to rest and loot, Alcemides and revived Barathus trying to take care of the children, who seemed withdrawn and fearful. Nothing of value or use was to be found from the village, other than some dried meat and the two unhealthy horses.

Later in the evening, the stranger came back to consciousness. It seemed he had no idea where he was, but as the Nemedians pressed on, finally started to tell his story. He introduced himself as Thothmekri, servant and spy of a Stygian wizard, sent to investigate doings of Xaltotun and other Acheronians in the occupied Aquilonia. Somehow the predator had become a prey and the Acheronians had captured him, putting him in to a magical bondage of some sort. Quick of wits, Thothmekri offered the men a reward. He would arrange them a free passage on a ship to any port of their choice and a hefty sum of silver as well, if they would escort him safely to Kordova. Better yet, if they would help Thothmekri to track down and capture the escaped sorceress, then help to take her alive to Kordova, much more silver would be paid. Weighting their options, the Nemedians decided to accept, though still wary of the strange man. Still weak from the battle, they decided to rest in the village and in the morning start hunting the sorceress. Alcemides and Noam were adamant on taking the children with them - to bring them to Zingara, perhaps giving them to some temple to raise, not selling them to slavery as Dionysos suggested.

Thus darkness fell upon the village, stained with blood - and with it rolled a wall of fog, descending from the mountains like a thick, wet blanket.

At the end of the session, the characters raised to level 3.
Session three: The Forgotten God

The morning was misty and silent. Thothmekri claimed that he had seen dreams of the time he was enslaved and now knew that the sorceress resided in some sort of tomb or temple, beneath the earth. The men ate breakfast in grim silence, mounted their steeds and prepared for the hunt. Alcemides and Noam set forth early to look for tracks, while others stayed behind, scavening whatever useful they could still find and turning the great hall in to a funeral pyre for the dead villagers.

Alcemides and Noam followed the tracks, till they suddenly turned in to an animal trail raising towards the mountains. They set to wait there for the others, who left the village a few hours later. Together, the group set to follow the trail. As the path become steeper, the fog became thicker. Slowly, all sounds of life ceased and the horses started getting nervous. Some of the group heard malevolent whispering in the mists - too silent to hear words or meanings, but loud enough to make spine crawl with cold fear of the unnatural.

Soon the trail turned in to a steep mountain path, too dangerous to ride. The men decided to leave the horses, children and the prisoner down while they would proceed ahead. The children were given poignards for self-defence and Noam left his warhound to protect and guard them. The thick fog made climbing the mountain path slow and tedious. Finally it ended on a small plane, where an entrance to a dark cave was visible. In the stone wall next to it was attached ancient bronze circles and to them tied two ragged, unkempt horses and the black stallion. The stallion seemed unruly and aggressive, so the men just crept on.

The cave was dark and the warriors proceeded carefully, their way lightened by lantern. The cavern seemed natural, continuing a short while downward before widening in. There were evidence of digging - discarded tools lying about and a wall breached, opening in to gaping void. Apperentally the hole in the wall opened in the ceiling of a room with walls of worked stone and floor full of sarcophagi. Soon enough all five were on the floor of the room, having descended there with a rope.

The room seemed to be an ancient burial chamber, now desecrated. Old bones were scattered around the room. Everything from walls to the ceiling was made of purple, almost crimson stone decorated with uncomfortable geometric designs. At the other end of the room were huge double doors, apparentally made of bronze. Tyrus and Dionysos deciphered the engravings on the door as a text stating the place to be a crypt and a temple, where an ancient Acheronian lord named Bhaal Xorat is set to "eternally guard the entrance to N'Kai". Pressing onwards, the men arrived in to a small corridor leading in to a very large room. It was empty save a hole in the floor with the likeness of a well, except no water was visible. Dropping a torch measured it to be hundreds of feet deep - and the insides of the tunnel were decorated as well. The light of their lantern cast uncomfortable shadows on the strange architecture, giving the alien carving a life of their own.

Carefully, the men proceeded to a staircase leading downwards,now hearing chanting ahead, lead by a female voice. Alcemides sneaked to a door that was slightly ajar, spying ahead a room with an altar stone or a sarcophagus in a middle, the pale sorceress chanting near it, back to the door. An attack plan was quickly formulated and Alcemides slowly opened the door... only to get hit by a greatsword, as an armoured Acheronian was standing prepare at the doorstep.

A fight ensued, a clash of steel and bone and fists. Thothmekri managed to knock his prey unconscious while the others fought with guards of the sorceress. Barathus and Dionysos were struck down, other badly wounded - one of the Acheronians was left standing alone and yet almost defeated the brave group, enduring strikes that should have felled the man many times over. Finally a strong spear thrust by Thothmekri to his spine made the pale man fall, silently, without a sound - just like he had fought. It seemed they had won. The wounded were tended and the area inspected. The altar was not an altar at all, but a huge sarcophagus, engraved with wicked runes and eldtrich symbols. In its open embrace was laid a skeleton of a very tall man, still draped in remnants of rich robe and plenty of bronze jewelry. Around his neck was placed a bronze collar, identical to the one that Thothmekri had been forced to wear. In his empty eyesockets were two red gems, gleaming in the shadowy light.

Tyrus pried the gems off the skull, while Dionysos and Thothmekri started deciphering the runes on the sarcophagus. The collar of the corpse was as well removed. It seemed that the man lying in the sarcophagus was Bhaal Xorat, named as a traitor in the runes - cursed manyfold for untold sins and set in the chamber to guard entrance to the temple of a great god, to wait the awakening of the deity in damnation. So powerful and wicked were the words that they might have made those faint of heart to shake in fear. Yet it seemed that there was a stairway in the room, leading downwards - two Acheronians had bursted up the stairs to join the combat. It was agreed that the badly wounded Dionysos and Barathus would stay behind to rest and guard the sorceress, while the other four men would descend the stairs.

The four men crept down the spiral stairs, which seemed to last forever. There was an unspeakable stench in the air, growing stronger by every step, faintly resembling that of a rotting corpse. Finally the stairs seemed to reach the bottom, opening in to a corridor leading in to a huge temple. Rows of stone benches lined the walls, enough to hold a hundred in some solemn ceremony. A huge brazier hanged from the wall, it's flame burning sickly green. Across the room was a huge statue of some forgotten god - a creature with toadlike features, squat and alien, like a twisted imitation of a human, covered with something that looked like short fur. Before the strange idol was a twenty feet wide pool of black, jelly-like liquid. On the both sides of the statue was a doorway leading somewhere deeper inside the earth. The men stopped, looking at each other, then advanced slowly. When they came closer to the pool, the dark substance started to bubble viciously. They backed off and the bubbling ceased.

Finally, a jest lead in to another and soon Tyrus and Alcimedes were each claiming that the other would not dare to run across the room. Finally, when Tyrus bet 12 silver that Alcemides would not dare to do a such thing, the half-pict agreed. The other three men stayed back as he sprinted ahead. As he neared the pool it first bubbled - and then started moving. Tentacles and maws were growing from it, as it flowed from the basin, black as night and formless, some unnamed horror from times forgotten by men. They were all taken by great terror - Thothmekri, Alchimedes, Tyrus and Noam, all four - turning them in to a blind panic of a hunted animal. Perhaps it was some racial memory from the time when world was young, telling them to run and not look back.

They ran up the stairs and continued on, by their surprised comrades. Cursing, Dionysos and Barathus hopped to follow their fellows, dragging the sorceress along. They did not know what the other had seen, but the look of horror on their faces was enough. Run they did and climb the rope with the strength of pure terror. Other continued on but some morbid curiosity made Tyrus stay back, on the edge of the cliff to see if something would come to the room below. It did not take long of him to run out after the others.

They took the two horses, but didnt bother with the black stallion, as it was aggressive and would have required concentration. At the base of the cliff the four men who had been at the cavern forced others to jump in to a saddle and ride as fast as they could. The four of them all agreed that they would have to get as far as possible from the cave before the darkness would fall. They galloped like devils of all hells would have been on their tails and who knows - maybe they were.

Finally when darkness started creeping on them, Barathus made the others listen to reason. He convinced them that it would be better use the remaining light to find a good, defensible camp locaton in case something would come after than, then rush ahead in darkness. A camp was set up in the fog and this time, guards would do their duty in pairs.

Night creeped on. As Dionysos and Noam were on the watch duty after midnight, horses started getting restless. The warhound started growling at the darkness, although nothing was heard or seen by the sentries. Dionysos went to wake up the other, but some dark slumber had taken over them. Barathus and Tyrus were awakened after much kicking and punching, but the others had been drawn in to dark dreams that were not letting their grasp loose. The four men huddled together, drawing their weapons - and then they saw it, a tall, gaunt figure in the mist, walking towards them.

Terrible coldness fell upon them, all four. Dionysos and Noam fell at its grasp, collapsing as if dead. It was a large jagged rock that saved Tyrus and Barathus from the same fate - as they fell, they hit their heads against it, the sharp pain returning them to their senses. Seeing the gaunt figure approach they fled, sensing sorcery in the air. Barathus, seeing the sorceress tied on the ground, slit her throat with his dagger, hoping it to drive the apparition away. But alas, it was of no use and so the two half-naked men fled in to the dark forest, soon getting lost and leaving their comrades to their fates.

Morning came - first morning and then midday. Barathus and Tyrus staggered in the woods, finally finding out where they were and started heading back towards the camp. Back in the camp, the other awakened. They had been taken in to dark nightmares they did not remember much of and covered with frost, but otherwise unharmed. Middle of the camp site was placed a large chest, made of purple, almost crimson stone. Inspection revealed that it contained strange jewelry and black globes made of glass - and a silver mirror, decorated with snakes. It was Dionysos who said it aloud first - perhaps Bhaal Xorat was grateful to them, for some reason, perhaps they had released it from its servitude.

As the two missing men returned, the situation was inspected in detail. Tyrus noticed that the gems he had taken from the skull of Bhaal Xorat had turned in to fine dust. Barathus explained that the murder of the sorceress had been caused by sorcery, his hand forced by black magics. Thothmekri was furious at the loss at his prey - but then made a new offer. If the corpse of the woman could be transported to Kordova, he would pay the half of the agreed sum as a reward. Strangely, two horses were missing. Alcemides and Noam followed their tracks a little while away from the camp, where they found the corpses. Two mummified remains of horses laid there, withered and dry, like all liquids had been sucked from their bodies.
Well, fourth session played. Hmm, haven't received any comment on the previous ones though, so I assume these previous ones haven't got many readers. Should I keep writing reports?
Maj 7
Don't stop writing, this is good stuff! I too am a big HPL fan; am currently running a Call of Cthulhu campaign until my Conan group re-assembles. I liked your starting set up with the characters being part of the Nemedian army; it gives an 'instant' background to the PC's and gives the GM some freedom to experiment.
One idea I had was you could run a 'flash-back' game; so that the PC's actually relive some of the events of The Hour of the Dragon. Maybe they were part of the original quest to find the Heart of Ahriman; or maybe they were sent on a quest to find what happened to the original party sent to find the Heart? Perhaps they failed, hence they are conscripted into the army as a punishment? There are lots of ideas here....
Majestic7, Thanks for posting these. I finally had a chance to read thru them and really enjoyed it. Looking forward to seeing what happens next.
Thanks to everyone for the encouragement. We'll be playing Session Five today, I'll write a description of it and the previous session as soon as I have sufficient time and inspiration. Few of my players might be reading the forums, so I'm writing the stuff limiting to what they know and not telling any background info or plot spoilers.

Brass Jester said:
One idea I had was you could run a 'flash-back' game; so that the PC's actually relive some of the events of The Hour of the Dragon. Maybe they were part of the original quest to find the Heart of Ahriman; or maybe they were sent on a quest to find what happened to the original party sent to find the Heart? Perhaps they failed, hence they are conscripted into the army as a punishment? There are lots of ideas here....

Yes, that would be a good idea - if the party setting had been different. You see, the characters started at level two, which doesn't leave much room for prior adventure. Likewise, they only met at the start of the first session, fleeing the battle. However, I'm sure once/if they get back to Nemedia, their pasts will come in to play. Then there might be room for something like this, for example, reliving the moments leading to the two guys enlisting in the Adventurers. Thanks for the input, though.
Session Four: Bloody silver and broken noses

The men and two children moved onward, leaving the mummified horses behind. The loot from the mysterious chest was inspected and removed, after which they buried the stone container in the ground. There was no point in dragging a such heavy object along, if it were valuable. They could come back to retrieve it later, perhaps. After a while, Alcemides and Noam managed to convince Thothmekri that the corpse of the sorceress would need to be gutted if they were planning to transport it with them. After some persuasion, the Stygian agreed and went on to perform the grim business with Alcemides.

The wide valley turned back in to a mountain passage. Cold rain erupted from the sky, soaking the group. In the coming days it turned in to sleet and then to snow. Journey onward in the mud was far from easy, especially when the Nemedians had no proper winter clothing. Finally, as the snow turned back to sleet again, a ruined fort was in sight, marking the border of Zingara. The promise of civilization nearby lifted spirits, as the group camped in the crumbling fortress. Tracks inside the walls told that the Zingaran mercenaries had come the same way few days earlier, along with their Nemedian prisoners.

Pressing ahead, the travellers set their foot on Zingaran soil, once beautiful but now ravaged by the vicious civil war. During the days that followed, they saw signs of past prosperity everywhere around them. Once lush orchards and fields had been left untended for years, farmhouses looted and villages burned. Then finally they arrived at the fortified town of Jerida, built on the bank of the Black River. The town had seen better days and it was surrounded by a pitiful refugee camp. Even with its crumbling walls and hordes of beggars it was still a welcome sight. The thought of a warm meal, soft bed and perhaps a drink or two was on the mind of everyone, even the enigmatic Stygian.

Pushing their way through the ragged beggars preying outside the city gates, the men agreed to hold on to their Acheronian tresures untill they'd reach Kordova. They had some silver to spend, but the jewelry and strange coins would only attract unwanted attention. Besides, the sorry state of the town seem to tell that they'd fetch a miserable price for their treasure here. The group set up in the local inn, then went off to see what the town had to offer for them.

Few days of heavy drinking and relaxation ensured. Eventually the men ended up watching the violent entertainment of a local arena. A drunken thought lead in to another and soon enough Alcemides had signed up in the unarmed amateur fighting. Alcemides won his fight, earning a few silvers and cheers from the crowd. Next morning the men started planning trip ahead. They decided to sell their horses and buy a passage with a river ship downstream to Kordova with the money. The ship, Hawk of Kordova, would leave in five days, so they'd have time to enjoy the joys of civilization a bit longer.

A few days and many punches later, the arena life seemed pretty good for the Nemedians. Alcemides and Noam had both their share of bruises and punches in the arena, earning more silver to drink through bets and participation prices alike. Indeed, for men with less ambition, living as an arena fighter might have been a good life. With good luck in betting, throwing and receiving a few punches was after all worth enough money to spend two days in drunken revelry - not to mention gaining a name among the ladies.

On their last day at Jerida before the ship was bound to leave, the men decided to bet large amounts of silver on the arena. Alcemides, Noam, Barathus and even Thothmekri decided to fight in the hopes of earning more money for new equipment and travel costs. Through both luck and skill, all four won, earning considerable amount of coin through well-placed bets. Despite their best judgement, evening of hilarity followed as the victors were drawn in to celebrating their success.

Later in the evening, things started getting out of hand. Dionysos provoked a local mercenary with his arrogant behaviour, punches were exchanged and soon the whole drinking den was turned in to one merry barfight. Tools were flying, tankards used as weapons and even a whole table thrown against another brawler. When the city watch entered the scene, half a dozen unconscious men littered the floor. Only the speaking skills of Barathus, the least drunk of the merry group, and exchange of a hefty sum of silver prevented the guard sergeant from hauling off Dionysos and a few others in to the jail. Next morning, only throbbing headaches reminded of the fray - and the discovery that the Zingaran prisoner had managed escape with a pouch of silver while the men were drinking themselves senseless.

Morbid and silent, the men boarded the ship, Hawk of Korduva, greeted by the captain. Barathus had asked around after the missing prisoner and found out that he had been sighted in the harbor with some local lowlives. The mercenary knew of the treasures the traveller carried - it was possible, even likely, that the journey to Korduva would not be entirely peaceful.

At this point, the characters reached fourth level.
Enjoying the read! Please keep it up. May I suggest that you do a a quick character recap after each gains a new level. I am interested in their progressions.
Thanks for encouragement for everyone. I've been too busy lately to take part in the forum, but I'm back now. Going to update the campaign report with the latest session tonight - next game is tomorrow.

edit - Change "tonight" to "next morning", too tired after all.

ogral1 said:
Enjoying the read! Please keep it up. May I suggest that you do a a quick character recap after each gains a new level. I am interested in their progressions.

Hmm, I don't have all the character sheets here - a few players carry theirs with them. I'll put here what I can remembers, as well as the house rules in place. Let's start with the rules.

Following houserules are in place in my campaign:
1. Defensive blast exhausts the sorcerer. It works with opportunist sacrifice, though this is open for further research. (Neither sorcerer has the feat yet)

2. Natural DR can only be halved with successful finesse attacks, not totally ignored.

3. Crossbow damage increased to 2d8 and AP to 6, arbalest upgraded to 2d10 and AP to 10. Makes more sense from historical point of view.

4. Unless wounds are tended with a successful Heal check, they may contract some of the appropriate diseases mentioned in Across the Thunder River.

5. No high living rule enforced. Instead, when rich and in a city, the characters must make variable DC willsaves against falling in to wasting their money. As an incentive to use loot for other purposes than gear, characters earn the same amount of XP as they use silver when they spend the money on luxuries etc. So spending 20 Sp in whores means 20 XP for the character. Take it as a bonus for roleplaying.

6. Rigid HD limits for spells ignored. Instead, every sorcerer can affect beings of equal HD with spells that have a HD limit listed in their description. Magic power attack works as usual.

7. Fate points can be used for a quite broad spectrum of things. In practice, "destiny" use of fate points is useful in many different situations. For example, a player might use a fate point to take natural 20 in a save if he can describe how he survives the effect he is facing through sheer luck. For example, at session three, the two guys who didn't fall asleep spent fate point each to hit their heads against a rock so they could stay awake and run away.

8. Feats from other D&D books are usable if there are no similar feat available in Conan RPG & if the flavor is okay. Ultimately, that is up to my permission.

9. No new languages with each new level. It feels just plain silly. Instead the characters may spend skill points to buy new languages, if they are in a position to learn them.

10. As they gain power points for the first time, sorcerers may select the energy type of their defensive blast from fire, ice and negative energy. The choice is permanent once made. Defensive blast has no visual effects - only those it affects show its touch. So fiery blast burns people without apparent reason, ice freezes their flesh and negative energy makes them age to death.

11. No sorcery failure for wearing armor. It feels silly and too D&D. Nowhere in Howards works it is said that armor would cause sorcery to fail.Instead, the armor check penalty applies to possible skill rolls involved in the casting of some spells.

Hmm. I'm not sure if I remembered all the house rules. I'll list more later if I remember more or new ones come up.


All characters have been created through taking Elite+1 stats instead of rolling dice. They are all Hyborian, as they are Nemedians in origin. Even Dionysos is technically a Hyborian, though he looks like Acheronian.

Hit dice are not thrown - instead, all get 3/4 of the dice. For example, d10 would net 7.5 hit points per level. Halves are counted - for example, two levels of a class with d10 hit dice give the character 15 hit points total (7.5 + 7.5).

1. Thothmekri, the Stygian NPC. I'll rather keep Thothmekri as a mystery, letting you know only what the characters have found out so far. He is Thief/Scholar, originally a Stygian street urchin and a thief. After trying to break in to a temple, he was adopted by a wizard of the Black Ring and trained both as his apprentice and spy. He had been spending some time in Kordava and recently sent by his master to Aquilonia, most likely to keep an eye on the Acheronians.

2. Alcemides / Otetiani (Pict name) is a Thief/Barbarian 3/1. Stats are 14, 17, 12, 14, 13, 10. He has feats Pictish Blood, Combat Expertise and Improved Feint + class abilities (Eyes of the Cat etc). Highest skills are Survival, Tumble, Move Silently, Hide and Herbalism. He is aiming towards the Dancing Savage prestige class from Across the Thunder River. Alcemides mostly fights with two short swords, for which he has a sneak attack style.

3. Noam is a Borderer/Soldier 2/2. Stats are 14,17,14,14,10,11. He has taken feats Exotic weapon proficiency (Shemite bow), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot and Fleet Footed, in addition to class abilities. He is aiming towards the Forest Runner prestige class from Across the Thunder River.He trusts his bow above everything else. Skill ranks are concentrated in Survival, Move Silently, Herbalism, Escape Artist and Hide.

4. Tyrus is Scholar/Soldier 3/1. Stats are 14,14,11,14,14,15. He has taken the feats Iron Will, Weapon Focus: Greatsword, Knowledgeable and Hexer. He knows the spell styles Curses and Oriental Magic. His skill points are concentrated on Knowledges, Sense Motive, Heal, Concentration, Alchemy and Bluff. He fights with a Greatsword.

5. Barathus is Soldier/Noble. I don't have his sheet here, I assume it is either 2/2 or 1/3. He has a high charisma and average other scores, with good strength. He has Intricate Swordplay, Parry, Improved Disarm and Combat Expertise. He is planning towards a charismatic leader-type, taking Noble levels next and eventually the Leadership-feat. His skills are concentrated on social skills and Heal. He fights with a large shield and a broadsword, being quite defensive most of the time.

6. Dionysos is Noble/Scholar 1/3. I don't have his sheet, but I think he has a high Charisma and Intelligence, but 10 in STR and WIS. Average Wisdom isn't a powerful choice for a sorcerer, but it portrays an intelligent and egoistic sorcerer with little common sense (and willpower to resist temptations). Feats include at least Ritual Sacrifice and Eyes of the Cat. He knows the spell styles Divination and Hypnotism. The future advancement of the character will be a combination of Noble, Scholar and perhaps Temptress (Tempter) for social abilities. He fights with a Greatsword.
Session Five: To Sail on a River of Blood and Slaughter

The river barge floated downstream towards Kordova, carrying the quickly bored Nemedians onboard. The journey would take a week or so, as the ship had to anchor each night. The barge was transporting tin bars to the sea harbour downstream, her crew and captain happy to accept passengers for some extra coin.

During the first days of the trip, the Nemedians just let the days slide, engaging in petty gambling and chatting. More out of boredom than true necessity, they started taking part in the night watches. The children stayed silent and closed, yet Alcemides was determined to take care of their well-being. Onboard, Thothmekri told a bit about himself and his past. He had been a street urchin and a thief, untill a burglary went wrong and he was caught. Instead of gruesome execution he was taken as an apprentice and servant to a powerful wizard. In a few years, he had become the unnamed sorcerers spy and assistant in the wide world. It seemed that the Stygian enjoyed his role as a proxy of some powerful master in the shadowy games of espionage.

On the fourth night of the trip, Tyrus was sitting on the deck as a night sentry when he heard cries of help from the shore. Obviously female voice screamed for help, before being suddenly cut off. Sentries among the crew heard the cries as well, going to wake the captain. He decided that the trouble on the shore was none of his problem. Worse yet, it could be some sort of trap by river pirates. Tyrus was not happy with that and instead went to wake up Noam and Barathus, explaining them the situation. They decided to take another of the ships rowboats and go to check the shore, an agreement which the captain grudgingly came to. They reasoned that Alcemides and Dionysos would not be interested in the plight of a stranger and went on their excursion without waking the two other Nemedians or the Stygian.

As they rowed the boat on the beach, the trio spotted almost immediately a fire on top of a hill nearby. Against the flames three silhuettes could be seen, clearly visible in the dark night. Tyrus and Noam went sneaking ahead, Barathus following behind them in his brigandine. On the hill seemed to be a camp some sort, with three rough looking men with wild beards and dirty clothes sitting on logs. On the ground was laying a woman in colorful robes, tied and gagged with ropes. The three Nemedians decided to attack without a warning, making short work of the (apparent) bandits.

As they returned to the boat, carrying the gagged and tied woman with them, shadowy shapes followed. Just as they had started rowing towards the ship, crossbow bolts started raining after the men. Instead of rowing to safety, Barathus intimidated the others to turn the boat and return to the beach, setting himself in the front with his shield up. As they reached the beach, the three men and the wardog started giving a chase to elusive, ragged forms, of which some seemed to be women. The frustrating skirmish in the dark forest seemed to carry on and on, although they managed to incapacitate at least on the attackers. Finally the three decided to retreat, instead of hunting bandits all night long and risk getting lost in unfamiliar terrain. Meanwhile, sounds of the battle had woken up everyone aboard the ship.

As the trio finally returned onboard, the woman was freed from her restraints. Untied, she turned out to be a stunning Shemite beauty. The woman explained that she was a priestess of Ishtar, who had been enjoying the hospitality of a local baron. As she went to the local woods to look for herbs, she was attacked by bandits. Only through sheer luck she managed to escape for a moment later on to shout for help when she saw the lights of the ship. She was not very fond of the baron however, and rather would journey to Kordova with the ship. The captain was glad to grant her that request. Her presence seems to have an electrifying effect on all the men, and the captain invited her to reside in his personal cabin.

Next few days flowed on as before, although the priestess wandering through the decks always caught attention of the crewmembers and the Nemedians alike. It seemed she sought out the ones easiest to handle and then proceeded to pump information out of them - a fact that became obvious only later. The third night before Kordova the priestess announced that during the midnight, a special ritual for Ishtar would take place. All of the group, except Thothmekri and Noam, made sure they were on the main deck as the midnight came closer. As the priestess started dancing, wearing only transparent silk, they forgot the absence of their friends - as well as the fact that no crewmembers seem to be in sight anywhere.

Suddenly Alcemides noticed that something seemed to be wrong. There were ropeladders set against the sides of the ship. Just as he started moving towards them, there was a glint of moonlight on steel and first of the attackers jumped on the deck. Soon the "priestess" was on him, fighting barehanded like a devil and pricking his skin with a ring, armed with a hidden needle coated with poison.

A brutal combat ensued on the deck, which was soon slippery from blood. Attackers armed with cutlasses and arming swords swarmed from the sides, while the treacherous woman seemed as dangerous with bare hands and feets as an armed man. Luckily, the noise awoke Noam and Thothmekri, who charged in the fray straight from their hammocks. Finally, Dionysos fell in to a desperate measure, releasing his arcane energy in a shockwave of death, killing foes and Noams faithful warhound. As the remaining aggressors started to withdraw to their boats, Alcemides and Barathus jumped on the other boat straight from the deck. At the same time Noam peppered fleeing enemies with arrows. As the bloody night was finally over, blood and corpses covered the deck. A few floated in the river, with arrows in their backs, including the corpse of the treacherous woman. Only a few attackers had managed to flee. Yet the Nemedians were as well badly wounded, especially Alcemides, who had become paralyzed by the poison coursing in his veins.

As the wounded were tended and the fallen inspected, it became obvious that all the crewmembers were missing. A quick search of the ship revealed that they were all unconscious, from a sleeping draught slipped in to the wine barrels. The passengers had been saved from that fate, as they preferred to consume their own rations instead of what the sailors had to offer. The bloodied men were facing a new temptation. As the wounded, exhausted Dionysos said with a rasping voice, they could just slit the throats of the sleeping men and steal the whole ship. Surely it would net them a princely sum of gold and silver.
Valgrim said:
This is wonderful stuff, Majestic7! I eagerly await your next installment. What leval are the characters now?

Thank you. Level four during the events of the most recently reported game. They reached level five at the end of session seven. I'll be writing sessions six and seven here when I have time and motivation.
I'm four - five sessions late in the campaign reports, as I haven't had any spare time for the board lately. I'll try to write up the missing reports as soon as I can.

Session Six: The Lures of Civilization

The moment of temptation seemed to drag on forever. Dionysos and Alcemides were especially keen to cut the throats of the unsuspecting crew and claim the ship for themselves. Finally, Barathus convinced them otherwise simply through logic - none of them were sailors. Thus the crew was woken up and the journey commenced next morning. After a few days, they saw the walls of Kordova in the horizon.

The city seemed exotic to the Nemedians, who had not visited other foreign countries than Aquilonia. Thothmekri seemed to be right at home after they had entered in the capital of the war-torn Zingara. The mysterious Stygian recommanded inn for the weary travelers, promising to send some people for the corpse of the Acheronian sorceress and bring the silver promised. With those words, he disappeared in the crowd.Alcemides went forth to deliver the orphans to a local Mitraneum, paying the priests handsomely in exchange for promises for taking care of the children.

The Nemedians were soon taken by the lures of civilization, busying themselves in whoring, gambling and drinking. The Stygian was true to his word, as the silver coins he promised were delivered to their inn by mute slaves, who took the corpse with them. The temple of Ishtar came especially familiar to the wanderers, thanks to its temple prostitutes. The priestesses claimed that they had never heard of the woman that had attacked the Nemedians aboard the river barge. Soon enough the Nemedians realized that they were both rich and poor at the same time. They had a plenty of Acheronian gold from the chest they had mysteriously received, but exchanging such cursed currency to normal coinage would be hard. They'd have to find some way to pay their booze and rooms untill the sea voyage promised by the Stygian would be arranged. Soon enough they were drawn in to fighting at a local arena for both glory and wealth.

The common fights went well and a local arena manager suggested that Alcemides would put together a group to take on a special challenge - a group of amateurs in unarmed match against a professional gladiator Thorviga the Red. The half-pict accepted, thinking of the glory and the possible wealth from betting. Alcemides had an idea - the group would fight dressed and painted like Picts for extra effect from the crowd, with the pale Alcemides being "an Acheronian Witch-king" for their amusement. He even hired a "shaman drummer" to pound Pictish drums in the background.Noam and Alcemides came up with an idea of seeking helpful herbs from the nearby swamp to use in the upcoming fight.

While the other prepared for the arena match, Dionysos had got himself acquinted with local nobility as he spent much time in the temple of Ishtar. A young Zingaran nobleman by the name of Korzetta seemed to know people interested in Acheronian coins. He spent all his days and nights in the temple, spending coin liberally in both lotus and prostitutes. He confessed that the rest of his family had left Zingara and he was the only one left after the family had abandoned their castle. Dionysos and the young Korzetta seemed to much in common in the area of decadency. Indeed, Korzetta came up with an invitation to "an interesting party" after the upcoming arena match, which he would come to watch. Dionysos even convinced him to arrange the bets for the group.

The Nemedians set themselves up for the upcoming match with great care. They had been promised a bonus if they'd put up a good show and they spent much of their wealth in placing bets for themselves. As the gates of the main arena opened, they were greated by thundering roars of the bloodthirsty audience. To their surprise, the gladiator they were supposed to fight with turned out to be a huge Nordheimer woman. Despite the odds, Thorviga wrestled and tossed the men around like children. Only after a heavy beating she did fall. By then both Dionysos and Alcemides were unconscious on the sand, the rest barely standing on their feet. Yet still, they had won and won both large amount of silver and the thundering cheers of the crowd.

A splendidly decorated carriage awaited for the victorious fighters. Dionysos and Alcemides were reinvigorated back to their feet. Korzetta joined the group , delivering them the silver they had won from their bets and congratulating them for their victory. The carriage started surprisingly towards the harbor instead of the more prestigious districts of the town, entering a shady harbor warehouse. Masked servants lead the celebrants in to stairs that descended undearneath the city, in to the infamous ruins known as the Pit. Yet the corridors they travelled were light with torches and guarded by masked, armed men. Despite the ill omens, the Nemedians and the Zingaran nobleman arrived safely in a great underground (and perhaps underwater!) hall that was full of richly dressed people.

Drink and food flowed freely in the party, which was not without its charms. A plenty of young noblewomen were interested in exotic, victorious gladiators. Korzetta was happy to introduce Barathus and Dionysos to local nobility. The party dragged on to morning hours. A veiled nobleman who introduced himself as Baron Castante showed special interested in the Nemedians, trying to pump them for information about Thothmekri. However, the Zingaran was blunt in his attempt and the foreigners denied knowing the Stygian at all. The enigmatic baron invited the group to a party he would hold in his mansion in a weeks time and showed interest towards buying the Acheronian artifacts they possessed.

Morning came hazy and loud, as the men tried to sleep off unfortunate side effects of the party and the arena match.Korzetta met Dionysos in the temple of Ishtar and made him a very interesting offer, that would have more significance than either could even guess...
Sesson Seven: Eaters of the Dead

The young Korzetta explained he was suffering from an ailment of some sort and did not expect to live longer than a year or so. There was, however a way to cure it. In the great Zingaran swamp there were burned ruins of an old manor and in their grounds a hidden tomb, untouched and unlooted. If the Nemedians could locate the tomb and bring a specific goblet for him, they could have all the rest they'd find - as well as receive invitation to a "very special party", that would bring interesting opportunities for them all.

Tipsy and dizzy from smoking lotus, Dionysos accepted the offer. The Nemedians would need to find a Zingaran veteran, known for his crippled legs, who was supposed to have the map to the tomb. Thus, next morning, the men went off to scour the slums of Kordova looking for the man. Splitting in to two groups, the Nemedians went off, asking the orphan and beggars around. In the evening they met again at the inn, sharing the information they had received. It seemed the cripple they were looking for had not been seen for a few days, although one old drunk had claimed seeing him being abducted by armed mercenaries with a gilded palanquin.

Frustrated and empty-handed, the five men sat in sullen silence when a dusk-skinned messenger entered the inn. He had a scrap of parchment with him, the handwriting of Thothmekri easily identifiable. He asked to see them in a specific harborside inn and promised to help them in their troubles. Although suspicious of the good timing of the message, the Nemedians still made their way in the harbor. If nothing else, at least they could down a few ales tonight.

The seaside tavern was full of dirty men and loud noises. The tavernkeeper, a dark-skinned man of questionable descent, guided the group in to the cellar of the tavern. Inside sat Thothmekri behind a wooden table, reading a papyrus. Wine and fruit were brought to the group as the enigmatic Stygian welcomed the men into his den. With hushed tones he explained that the offer Korzetta had given to Dionysos had drifted in to his ears. The Stygian offered his help in finding the tomb, if in exchange, the Nemedians would arrange him to accompany them to the meeting Korzetta had offered as a reward. He would as well wish to see the goblet Korzetta wanted before Dionysos would give it to the Zingaran.

After a short discussion, the Nemedians agreed. Thothmekri explained that the map they seeked was actually branded in to the skin of the veteran and that the man in question had been abducted. A local noble Don Estebio was a man of questionable taste and unquestionable wealth. He had a strange habit, a collection of sort - a collection of madmen. The veteran they seeked was the newest prize of his collection. Thothmekri told that the Nemedians could either try to break in to his manor or try to convince him in to letting them see his collection. The fortified manor was located half a days ride away from Kordova on the seashore.

Leaving for their inn, the Nemedians started making plans for their trip to the Estebio Manor. Dionysos and Barathus convinced the others in to choosing a diplomatic approach, at least as a scouting foray. They would introduce themselves as foreign nobles interested in Estebio's bizarre collection, while the others would play the part of their entourage.Next morning, they set forth from the gates, changing their travel-stained clothing in to court outfits once the manor was in sight.

The Estebio Manor had once surely been a magnificent sight - a walled manor of white stone surrounded by orchards and overlooking the sea from a high cliff. Now the time had taken its toll and the walls were ruined, the manor itself obviously lacking some badly needed maintenance. Yet still armed men seemed to patrol the crumbling walls and the advancing Nemedians were soon challenged by the noblemans soldiers. Stating their wish to see the master of the manor, they managed to talk their way inside.

The splendid main hall of the manor did not share the disrepair of the outer walls, being full of splendidly decorated furniture and art. Don Estebio turned out to be an obese nobleman in late fourties. His features had perhaps once been strikingly handsome, but had now marks of decadency and a touch of cruelty.After offering some wine to the Nemedians, he listened to their elaborate pleas and agreed to show them his collection. Taking the men upstairs, Estebio entered in to a room full of old pottery, glowing with pride. The confused Nemedians were taken to a tour of old pots, none of which seemed particulary valuable or exotic.

Barathus, Dionysos and the rest followed the noblemans tour politely, before finally admitting that they had come to admire a collection of another type entirely.Seemingly triumphant, Estebio admitted that he had been only testing them to see if they had come to appreciate through beauty. Almost dancing his way down, the Zingaran lead the Nemedians downstairs to the cellar and then towards stairs leading underground. The dark entry was guarded by two huge Shemites leaning on tulwars.As the nobleman opened the heavy gate leading downwards, shrill, barely human shrieks pierced the air. Obviously, the true collection was located there.

The stairs ended in to a huge cavern, of which dark mass was only partially lighted by torches. A strong smell of salt pervaded the air, suggesting that the cave was connected to the sea - although it was almost left under the stench of unwashed human bodies. A few massive Shemites seemed to be guarding the cavern, on which walls were located cell doors of reinforced wood. Estebio sat in a decorated chair in the middle of the room, declaring that he would spend a moment enjoying the music his "collection" produced. He invited the guests to take a look at his collection through the viewing slots in the cell doors.

In each of the small cells was stuck one to three human wrecks, some free and others chained to the walls. Various maladies of mental nature apparentally troubled them all - some were shrieking madly, others sobbing in corners and one man was drawing furiously on the walls with his own blood. The Nemedians could hardly hide their shock and disgust from their host. Yet in one of the cells they found the man fitting the description they had been given. The men asked Estebio for a permission to look at some of his prisoners more closely.

After some flattery, the Zingaran agreed and one of his minions opened doors to the cells the Nemedians wanted to inspect. Wishing to hide their intents, the men first spend some time with other prisoners. As they came to the veteran with the map, Dionysos and Barathus drawed away the attention of their host while Tyrus quickly sketched the map burned on the back of the poor cripple. Leaving the mansion behind, the men stopped to argue on the way back to Kordova. Barathus wanted to go back, slay the collector and release his prisoners, but others convinced him that it could wait untill when they'd be ready to leave Zingara once and for all.

Trekking back to Kordova, the Nemedians planned their next move. They'd have go to ruins of a burned mansion located in the Great Swamp and locate the crypt following the sketches they had made. The men decided to leave towards the tomb right away and spend night at the swamp. That way they could arrive at the ruins during morning and have a full day at their disposal to rob the tomb. Looting the dead during night did not seem like a good idea to anyone. Crossing the Black River, the Nemedians proceeded towards the swamps, marching until the darkness fell on them like a black blanket. Taking the midnight guard shift, Noam was startled by a strange sound in a such envinronment - distant howling of a wolf. Yet nothing came from the darkness to interrupt sleep of the weary travelers, other than tiny insects thirsty for their blood.

In the morning, the men continued their journey after a meager breakfast, dirty and itching from countless insect bites.In a few hours, they arrived at ruins, now reclaimed by the swamp. Following instructions of the sketch from the madmans back they soon located sealed entrance to a family tomb, well-hidden among trees of a deserted orchard. Forcing entrance with sledgehammers, the Nemedians descended in to dusty darkness that had not been visited by mortal men in generations.

A steep stairway lead in to a circular burial chamber with eight sarcophagi crafted from stone. Korzetta had instructed Dionysos that the first burial chamber would be merely a decoy and a secret passage would lead in to the true tomb. After a few moments of rest followed by intensive searching, the men found out that one of the sarcophagi could be moved. Contents of all were a disappointment - merely bronze jewelry, which the Nemedians looted nevertheless. Pushing the sarcophagus aside, they revealed another stairway descending in to darkness. A putrid stench of death and decay surged forth from the tunnel.

Filled with a sense of dread, the tomb robbers proceeded now with weapons at hand. A narrow tunnel lead ahead, ending in to a sharp turn. The men pressed onwards and the two sorcerers were met by a disturbing sight. Walls, ceiling and even the floor of the tunnel was decorated with haunting images of cannibalism most vile. Both men and human-like monsters feasted on the flesh of the living and dead in unholy revelrie. Tyrus managed to turn his gaze away, but Dionysos was filled with strange sense of hunger and morbid fascination for a though of tasting human flesh. Their companions without sorcerous sight only saw bare, dust-covered walls, listening to the description offered by the two sorcerers with unease.

The twisting tunnel ended at another sealed doorway. As Dionysos stepped forward to examine it through sorcerous means, a large slab of stone crashed down from the ceiling. Narrowly avoiding being crushed to pulp, he was still badly maimed. After a while, the slab raised back to ceiling, pulled by rusty chains. Once the wounds had been tended, the men decided to spring the trap again and this time cut loose the chains to prevent it from reloading. A new session of hammering followed, as the sealed portal seemed impossible to open without brute force.

As the last pounds of the sledgehammers faded in to silence and the dust settled down again, the flickering light of their torches revelead the Nemedians a hallway lined by recesses with an armored skeleton in each, eternally standing guard for a sacrophagus at the end of the hall. At each side of the sarcophagus was located a stone pedestal reminding of an altar. On the left was the dark goblet they desired and on the left a goblet made of silver. On the base of both goblets was left a crown, on the left of black stone and on the right of untarnished silver - almost as a female and male version of the same item, one light and the other heavy and rugged in construction.

The Nemedians proceeded, eyeing the ages-old skeletons in their rusted gear warily. Suddenly Alcemides spotted a hidden figure, hiding behind one of the skeletons. As he cried a warning, a most unexpected sight stepped away from the shadows. Old woman, dressed in moldy rags, peered at the men from the darkness. Speaking in broken Zingaran, the hag asked what the men were doing in the crypt. As the Nemedians expressed that they only wanted one of the goblets, the crone promised that they could have it and more - if they just left for the night and came back in the morning, allowing her and her "children" leave the tomb. As the discussion carried on, Alcemides got too frustrated to merely wait and shot his crossbow at the crone. Springing in to action, he rushed at the other altar, grabbing the black goblet in his sack.

As the crossbow bolt hit the old woman, blasphemous shapes stepped forth from the recesses they had been hiding in. Monstrous mockeries of human form with canine-like faces and rubbery skin stepped forth, assaulting the Nemedians fiercely. Alcemides, Noam and Barathus were overcome by terror and fled, but Alcemides was caught in the slavering fangs of one of the ghouls, preventing him from fleeing. The hag herself laughed with inhuman voice and ripped her rags away, revealing tentacles and a monstrous mouth in her belly, towards which the tentacles started dragging their unfortunate victims. The fight was vicious and seemed to be going against the mortals, untill Barathus, overcome by shame, returned to the battle. Managing to free Alcemides the men fled as Tyrus beheaded one of their pursuers with a lucky blow from his greatsword.

Outside, the Nemedians tended their wounds and planned for their next move. It seems obvious that the abominations of the crypt would not come outside during light of the day. Thus, they decided to start jogging towards Kordova. With luck, they would have enough of a headstart before the monsters started to pursue them that they might just make it. The was no time nor breath to lose - at least they had the goblet they had come for. With luck, they might yet have their skins as well in the next morning. Grim and silent, the Nemedians started marching away from the tomb that was left open, ready to belch its horrors to the outside world once the sun would set.

The characters reached level five at the end of this session.