Campaign report - updated as the game progresses

Session Eight: First Strands of the Golden King

The weary men marched onward on the swamp road, racing ahead as the shadows grew longer and the night crept closer. Several times sounds of the swamp were pierced by howls of a lone wolf, a sound most strange in such environment.Speaking little, the Nemedians pressed onwards, followed by stench of death and decay. They were a dirty lot, covered with tomb-dust, mud from the swamp and dried blood.

As the Nemedians arrived on the first wooden bridge crossing one of the many deceptively deep swamp streams, they noticed that it had collapsed. After a short discussion, the men decided build an improvised bridge. Alcemides and Noam instructed the others in felling a few trees, that were tied together with ropes and pushed over the stream. Luckily, the bridge has been short and they could cross the stream without problems. Yet manufacturing the improvised bridge wasted valuable time and night was yet closer.

After a hour of walking the sun was about to sink beneath the horizon and the men reached another broken bridge. It was obvious that someone - or something - was moving ahead of them and creating delays. Noam leaped across the swamp stream to investigate the bridge, which had not collapsed completely, but rather leaned from one side in to the open water. Leaning to inspect the damage, he noticed that the supporting poles had been obviously cut with a tool - most likely an axe. As the woodsman was kneeling on the edge of the stream, a lean figure appeared from the bushes, bull rushing him over the edge and diving after him in to the murky waters.

As the others rushed on the edge of the stream, Noam fought for his life, trying to reach the surface of the water. The being that had attacked him swam away, nimbly avoiding the bolts launched after it. Finally the Nemedians managed to pull Noam away from the waters with the help of a rope and many pairs of sturdy hands. Luckily, the woodsman had not been wounded in the previous fight. Otherwise the murky water would have surely infected his fresh wounds with some wasting disease. Now keeping a close guard, the men once again constructed an improvised bridge and pressed onwards as the sun fell underneath the horizon. As the dark fell, the lone wolf howled again, somewhere out of sight.

The weary men were only an hour away from the lights of Kordava, when their pursuers caught up with them. Ghouls lunged from the undergrowth, some of them brandishing weapons, followed by the woman-like being from the tomb. Alcimedes had hardly time to shout a warning of the ambush, as the creatures were on them. Sheer numbers of the beasts threatened to overcome the Nemedians, but all stood their ground, brushing off the horror caused by their inhuman enemies with sheer determination. Hard blows were exchanged and blood flowed, staining the road. As a lucky hit split skull of the female creature, its body exploded in a fetid shower of rotten bone and entrails.Seeing the creature die in mortal hands, the ghouls lost their appetite for a fight and fled in the undergrowth. Honest steel had overcome the ancient horrors.

Resting their aching bodies, the Nemedians debated on what to do next. finally, they decided head back to the tomb and loot it thoroughly instead of waiting for the next day. Setting their broken bodies back in motion, the men marched back to the entrance of the tomb, with their greed having overcome their pains. Descending back to the bowels of Earth, they pried forcefully open the sarcophagus in the inner chamber. Portrayed upon its lid was a fierce looking man with a long beard knotted in an eastern fashion - yet inside there was no corpse to be found. Instead they found an iron strongbox and a large plate made of silver. Inscribed on the lid of the box was a symbol the sorcerers recognized - the glyph of Skelos!

While the rest were searching the tomb for loot, Alcemides spotted a cool draft in the chamber. Inspecting further, he found a hole in one of the alcoves with the armored skeletons, large enough for man to crawl in. As the Nemedians inspected it in detail, they noticed a horrid stench emanating from it - and the tunnel behind seemed to continue as long as they could see with the light of their lantern. Dionysos put in to words what everyone thoughts - that the tunnel might very well lead straight in to Hell itself. Not wishing to tarry any longer in a such accursed place, but neither wishing to risk hazards of the swamp in the dark, the Nemedians decided to barricade themselves in a hidden chamber within the upper tomb. Breaking open the iron box, the men found twenty scrolls in ivory tubes and another twenty covered by black leather. Ecstatic, the two sorcerers wondered if they had actually found the Book of Skelos. Rest of the night was spent in restless slumber, as the very presence of the nearby tunnel seemed to create an atmosphere of tension. Yet the morning came and the men left for Kordova, reaching the great city without further complications. New kind of confidence bolstered their spirits - they had, for the first time, faced beings not born from the loins of a woman and bested them in mortal combat.

Reaching the capital of Zingara, the weary warriors bathed thoroughly and recovered from their wounds in the inn. Soon they received a message from Thothmekri, who was anxious to see them. As the Nemedians dragged themselves to the seaside tavern, the Stygian met them again in the dusty cellar. He asked to see the silver goblet and to investigate it for a moment in another room, while a servant would bring fruits and wine. Although suspicious, the men agreed and Thothmekri disappeared to another underground chamber behind a well-hidden doorway. After a while he returned, handing back the goblet. The Nemedians inspected it suspiciously but it seemed to be the same item. The Stygian spy instructed them to give the goblet to the young Korzetta as they had agreed - and reminded them again that he would need to come with the Nemedians to the mysterious meeting Korzetta was arranging. The Nemedians agreed to the plan and left for more rest - they had arranged another arena fight for themselves in a few days time and prepared to put all their coin in one great bet, in an effort to win great riches.

Next morning Dionysos delivered the mysterious goblet to Korzetta in the temple of Ishtar, where the young noble seemed to spend all his time. Obviously very relieved and happy to have the item, Korzetta was quick to agree to the request to bring one extra guest to the party. He told that there would be a week before the party would take place. Obviously distracted by the silver item, Dionysos sweet-talked the nobleman in to promises to handle all the bets in the arena for the Nemedians, in a such way that they could put in to play large sums of money without drawing too much attention to themselves.

The Nemedians spent following days to rest and recuperate from their hardships, preparing for the upcoming fight. They would be having a pair of fighter, a woman from the Black Kingdoms and a Shemite man who fought as a team. They had a reputation for acrobatic agility and dirty tricks. Dionysos and Tyrus concentrated on examining the mysterious scrolls. Although they had no time to decipher them at any great degree, they came in to a conclusion that they had two of the six books of Vathelos the Blind in their hands. What the mark of Skelos on the iron box meant, they did not know, but even incomplete, the set of scrolls they had was priceless. The two scholars agreed that they'd examine the scrolls in more detail during the long sea journey from Kordova to Messantia.

As the day of the fight approached, Baron Castante renewed his invitation to the party that would take place in his manor after the arena events. Alcemides decided to bet all his money in the upcoming match, even loaning more coin from Dionysos and Barathus to make a greater bet. Other put great sums of silver in the play as well, but none as much as the half-pict. As the day of their battle came, the Nemedians had many reasons to feel excited. Not only were they going to step before a cheering crowd once more - they had a chance to make themselves rich.

Dressed up and prepared as in their last fight, the men stepped on a sand that had already been blooded by lions that had teared up prisoners before their match. Cheers of the crowds were loud enough to hurt ears, as five men prepared to face a man and a woman. Careful circling lead in to a fast exchange of blows, as their two faces tumbled with blinding speed through their rows. A quick kick by the black woman landed between legs of Barathus, immediately removing him from the fight in a flash of pain. Yet Alcemides and Tyrus managed to maneuver the Shemite between them. Fists of the half-pict were guided by fate, as his stealthy attack brought the dark-skinned man down with one loudly cracking blow.The crowd howled in ecstatic cheers.

Fate seemed to then turn against the Nemedians, as the nimble woman landed a blow after a blow, stepping aside from their attacks and even leaping over them in stunning jumps. Dionysos staggered and fell before her strikes, followed by Noam. More through luck than skill Alcemides and Tyrus brought the she-devil down, staggering and barely standing themselves, staying on their feet only through the last shreds of their willpower. The crowd greeted the victorious fighters with thundering roars, as the standing and unconscious gladiators alike were taken to the underground quarters to rest their injuries.

As the arena events were nowhere near end, the fallen Nemedians had plenty of time to recover enough to rise back on their feet - yet all were badly beaten and hardly capable of walking on their own feet. The exotic couple they had faced came to greet the victors in their quarters, congratulating them for a victory well earned. A more welcome visitor was the young Korzetta with several purses full of coin. True enough to his word, he had arranged bets for the Nemedians and they were now all at least a hundred silver richer. A black carriage decorated with silver awaited them outside the arena, sent by Baron Castante to take them to his mansions. Deciding to nurse their bruised bones with alcohol, the men climbed in the carriage, heading to one of the largest manors in Kordova.

The main plot is starting to finally fire in this scenario. As always, comments and feedback is appreciated - if nothing else, to know that there are still people reading these yarns, heh.
Maj 7
This stuff is superb, don;t stop writing! This is one of the best write-ups I've read; I've saved and printed a copy so I can read it at leisure.
Also, I use it as a guide for new players, I've got a couple starting who've hardly ever RP'd and are unfamiliar with Conan and Hyboria. As well as saying "go read a couple of stories", I am giving them your saga to read to say "this is how -real- players react and play the game"
I quite like the writing apart from the fact that it is also an interesting and intriguing adventure. Keep it up. One thing I also like is that it shows an interesting but relatively more 'normal' side of life in the setting, without a huge war disrupting events. More tricky to put together as I know from experience but also a more in depth kind of campaign at times.
Thank you for the positive feedback. I must apologize for all the typos and grammatic errors, though. I write these reports at once instant, without bothering to edit or proofread them. A bad habit, I know. I'll write two next episodes, "Have you seen the Golden Sign" and "Assassins in the House" this weekend. We are playing session number seventeen today, so I'm really late in these reports.
I quite have liked reading this--I took a couple of days to read through it and I'll probably read it again. What I'm struck by is how it seems like you are simply recounting a story. I especially like the fight on the ship and the mysterious priestess, that is very REH! However what is best about your narrative is that it keeps getting better--I think summed up really well in this:
New kind of confidence bolstered their spirits - they had, for the first time, faced beings not born from the loins of a woman and bested them in mortal combat.
I felt a kind of thrill reading that. It makes me long for when I can recount my own tales here.
Session Nine: Have you seen the Golden Sign?

Mansion of Baron Castante was a splendid palace, surrounded by a large garden filled with rich and powerful guests. Exotic animals ranging from lions to hyenas and from zebras to strange birds were on display around the grounds. Drink flowed freely and inside, half-naked men and women shuddered on silk pillows in lotus-induced dreams. Strange and wonderful items were everywhere to be seen inside the mansion, ranging from strange, inhuman statues to ancient armors on wooden dolls. Servants and slaves moved silently among the guests, providing wine and other, more depraved pleasures to the rich and mighty.

Alcemides and Noam proceeded to enjoy the party right away, feasting and filling themselves with wine while Tyrus, Barathus and Dionysos went to discuss business with their host. The veiled Baron lead the trio in to a gallery of ancient statues, many of Acheronian origin, some perhaps from times before the oceans drank Atlantis. There, offering wine for his guests, he offered to buy some of the Acheronian coins the party had achieved earlier in the mountains. After a short negotiation, a deal was made and a hundred coins or so exchanged hands. Obviously pleased, Castante proceeded to entertain his other, more important guests. As the other Nemedians merely enjoyed the party, Dionysos done his best to find new useful contacts. It seemed that many powerful, important figures were present in the party, ranging from an envoy of a Messantian merchant House to the local high priest of Mitra. A hotheaded young nobleman tried to provoke Dionysos in to a duel, but the crafty Nemedian managed to talk himself out of the situation that appeared as a some sort of set up.

Many following days passed in idle recovery from the past challenges and the splendid party. The Nemedians realised that they were rich now - not only had they won considerable amount of coin from the arena, they had as well finally managed to turn majority of the Acheronian gold in to viable currency. Many purses of silver were spent in a few days to better clothing, wine and temple harlots of Ishtar. The young Korzetta had told Dionysos that the mysterious party would be held in five days. Days of idle speculation followed. The two sorcerers spent much of their time investigating the scrolls they had recovered from the crypt and managed to identify the lot as the writings of Vathelos the Blind - a work perhaps not as famous as the Book of Skelos, but as potent in its knowledge. However, it was obvious that they had only two of the six parts.

As the day of the mysterious party sneaked near, a messenger arrived to bring six wooden masks to the inn Nemedians resided in. They were made of white wood and featureless except eyeslits and a larger opening on the mouth. Among them was a note from Korzetta, instructing the men to cover their faces with the masks before rising aboard a carriage that would be sent to fetch them from their inn after dark. In the evening, Thothmekri appeared, wearing gray, shapeless robes that covered his whole body. The Nemedians put on their best clothes, donned their masks and stepped inside a black carriage when it pulled to halt before the inn. Heavy shutters were pulled over the windows, blocking all view from the inside. A journey lasting almost an hour commenced, the carriage obviously moving in circles to confuse sense of direction.

The five veterans and the Stygian spy stepped out of the carriage in a large stable, obviously somewhere near the sea. Smell of the sea was strong in the air, but no sounds of the harbor could be heard. Men wearing black capes and masks of dark wood on their faces lead them silently onward, with torches in hand. They marched downwards through a maze of stairs and passages, in the forsaken, sunken part of Kordova only know as the Pit, passing armed groups of similary garbed men standing guard at regular intervals. Finally, they arrived at what looked like a market square swallowed by the earth itself. In its center was a well, towards which the masked men motioned the guests to go.

Climbing down a rope ladder, the six companions entered in to a huge natural cave. A few torches were lit on the walls, giving shadowy illumination the the part of the cave directly underneath the well. A dozen or so men and women milled about in similar masks, talking in low tones. They were dressed as Zingaran nobility, but showed no family crests. After a few moments of waiting, two men wearing vulture-like masks appeared to the light, lighting black candles on a large altar-like stone. Jewelry worn by the taller, thinner man hinted that he was Baron Castante or someone impersonating him. Soon, two other masked figures followed - a third, obese man in a vulture-like mask and a strange figure in shapeless robes, with a golden mask on its face.

A silence fell in the cave as the mysterious stranger with the golden mask stepped forth to speak. The robes hid its body so well that it was impossible to determine if underneath them was a woman, a man or something completely inhuman. The mask portrayed a flawlessly beautiful face with both female and male features. Upon its forehead was placed a strange triangular glyph, which seemed to swirl as the shadows played on it. Voice of the being - obviously a priest of some sort - was a booming wave of authority that echoed in the cave and was yet lacking of any identifiable qualities.

The priest preached a booming welcome sermon of a god known as the Golden King and the benefits of worshipping him. The greedy would receive gold, the vain recognition, the ugly beauty and the lonely new friends. The Golden King was a true, present god with power over the mortals, not a weak shadow like Mitra, Set and other gods. By submitting before the Golden King the initiated would find great power and make others to submit before them in turn. As the priest spoke, the symbol on the mask swirled faster and the power of his words seemed to multiply with each sentence. The Nemedians had to fight hard against a powerful sensation of belief that was slowly creeping in to their very souls. Just as their willpower started to wax and wane, the sermon ended. New torches were lit deeper in the chamber, where a long table filled with food and wine was to be seen. The priests motioned the initiates to follow them and to feast for the glory of the Golden King.

A feast of strange but pleasant meat and thick, salty wine was offered to the initiates, with the three vulture-masks taking eagerly part and the robed figure with the golden mask sitting at the end of the table. The talk of the table soon revealed that the obese man was Don Estebio, the collector of the madmen. Yet identity of the third vulture remained a mystery - it seemed that Korzetta was not among the men around the table. Black-garbed servants moved silently among the guests, bringing more meat and wine for them to enjoy. As Alcemides and Noam observed the surroundings, it became obvious that there were at least a dozen masked men standing in the shadows around the table.

After each participant had drank a few cups of wine, the priest in the golden mask spoke again, asking each of the initiates to follow alone to the altar to speak about what the Golden King had to offer them. As first of the Zingarans followed the robed figure to the darkness, the Nemedians switched to speaking Nemedia among themselves. Masking their concern under cheerful tones, they agreed that Tyrus would go to see what the mysterious priest had to say. Yet they all agreed that they should leave somehow before the strange party was over - for it seemed likely that some sinister ritual would crown the event.

Tyrus returned from his talk with the masked priest in a morbid silence. He hurriedly explained that the priest had a sinister sorcery of some sort working against the initiates and that they should leave as soon as possible. Thothmekri agreed with their proposal - yet leaving from the guarded table would be hard. Barathus insisted that the perverted collector had to die for the horrors they had seen in his manor.

Alcemides decided to take action, acting drunk and asking the masked servants to lead him somewhere to release his bladder. A lone man in a black mask lead him in to a recess deeper in the cave, where an improvised closet had been dug. Still acting drunk, Alcemides suddenly pounced on the servant, knocking him unconscious with a swift blow. Then he swiftly proceeded to strip the man from his mask and cape, revealing a rough-looking Zingaran armed with a short sword. Disguised as a servant, Alcemides returned to the table. While serving wine for the guests, the half-pict managed to gain attention of Noam. The woodsman followed example set before and together the two men knocked another servant unconscious. Noam disguised himself as a servant and the two Nemedians agreed that Alcemides would go to scout the route back while Noam would tell their plan to the others.

Alcemides sneaked back underneath the well and climbed on the top, surprising two men standing guard there with swift punches. Now armed with an arbalest and two shortswords, the half-pict proceeded to silence three more guards before returning to the well. Meanwhile, the Nemedians were getting restless. It was obvious that they could not avoid talking with the priest in the golden mask for long. A brief plan was formed using language the Zingarans could not understand - Thothmekri promised to arrange something to deter pursuit, if a distraction of some kind would only allow them to flee the table.

Alcemides sneaked back in the cave, hiding beneath some rocks with a good line of sight to the table. With a loaded arbalest in hands, he considered his options. He sprung in to action as one of the other guests left for the closet with one of the masked servants. Taking a careful aim, he let fly a bolt that nailed the obese collector on the table, piercing his head and sending fragments of his skull flying. Thothmekri and the four other Nemedians jumped at their feet - this was the moment they had been waiting for.

A stunned silence turned in to a sudden skirmish, as the men cut down who they could reach while bolting towards the rope ladder. As they reached the rope, a new sound emerged - a chittering call followed by crunches of breaking bone and bloodcurling screams from the dark. Thothmekri smiled cruelly, reminding the Nemedians that he had promised to arrange a distraction of his own. Climbing for their lives, all six managed to reach top of the well and cut off the rope ladder right as their first pursuers were reaching their end. The Stygian started leading the men in the dark corridors, explaining that he knew most of the Pit rather well. The route they came from would soon be blocked - they could only evade pursuit by disappearing in the oldest tunnels.

After hours of marching through the corridors, the men finally smelled fresh air ahead, appearing in the harbor of Kordova. They soon concluded that the obviously well-connected cult would be looking for them at their residence once they realized that the Nemedians had got out of the Pit. Thothmekri promised that he could keep him safe in his hidden shelter until the black galley would arrive in a few days time. Thus the Nemedians ran through the silent streets to get their belonging from the inn, bribing a few curfew patrols on the way.

Back at the harbor, Thothmekri lead the men in his hiding place, located beneath a shady tavern. As they could finally settle down and catch their breath, the Stygian explained that his worst fears concerning the strange cult had come true. Spies employed by Thothmekri had kept eye on the cult for almost a year. Without going in to details, he told that they were a perverted lot that threatened not only interests of his masters but as well the well-being of all citizens of Kordova.He claimed that behind the golden mask was hidden the Argosean envoy from Castante's parties. He and Baron Castante would have to die.

GM's comment - the scene at the table was rather hilarious. Barathus was especially rolling very good Bluff checks, smiling widely beneath his mask and talking in a really cheerful voice about how he is going to kill the collector with a rusty spoon.
Aholibamah said:
I quite have liked reading this--I took a couple of days to read through it and I'll probably read it again. What I'm struck by is how it seems like you are simply recounting a story. I especially like the fight on the ship and the mysterious priestess, that is very REH! However what is best about your narrative is that it keeps getting better--I think summed up really well in this:

Thanks... a shame that I can't bring out all the motivations and encounters of the characters. I limit this stuff to what all the players (and characters!) know, since at least some of them read this as well. I don't want them to receive any meta information about other characters through this chronicle.

I'm afraid the quality of my narrative varies wildly, though. Like I said before, I punch these session reports together on one sitting, without any prior design and minimizing the time and trouble I spend on them. Sometimes they come off better than other times.
Your stuff just keeps getting better and better. I'm now looking forward to the next instalment; it's almost like reading a weekly pulp magazine. As someone else commented, the fight on the ship was very REH; personally I liked the trek through the swamp when they realised 'someone/thing' was destroying the bridges in front of them. Very atmospheric.
BTW, how on earth do you find time to write and run this? I've only run a handful of games so far. I would love to join in your game but the UK and Finland are too far to commute on a regular basis
I'm afraid the quality of my narrative varies wildly, though. Like I said before, I punch these session reports together on one sitting, without any prior design and minimizing the time and trouble I spend on them. Sometimes they come off better than other times.[/quote]

I like your style, so don't apologise. It gives the feel of the party scribe hastily sitting down and scribbling some notes for posterity. Sometimes they would have more time, such as resting in a city; at other times it could be a hasty note around a campfire, or even hiding behind a pillar during a combat. So keep up the good work!
Brass Jester said:
BTW, how on earth do you find time to write and run this? I've only run a handful of games so far. I would love to join in your game but the UK and Finland are too far to commute on a regular basis

Writing one session report doesn't really take that much time. Perhaps one to two hours on the average, when I really concentrate on writing. I lie to myself that it is almost useful activity by keeping my English from getting too rusty, heh. What comes to games, we have been playing Conan twice or thrice a month on the average. I guess we are playing session number 18 today. Glad these rants are entertaining to some, writing them before next gaming session helps me to get in the mood to lead the game.

I actually GM two campaigns - Conan and Traveller. On the average, I GM once per week and play in someone elses campaign once per week as well. I don't even consider myself a RPG fanatic - I know guys who play RPG's like four-five times a week.
Session Ten: Assassins in the House

Flickering flame of a lone torch cast its light about a damp chamber below the harbor of Kordova. Grim men sat around a wooden table, concentrating on a talk of murder. As the Nemedians sipped strong wine, Thothmekri explained that he had prepared for slaying Castante and his guest. The mysterious Baron rarely left his manor, so those wishing to kill him would need to break in his home. The Stygian had infiltrated the manor with one of his spies, who had provided rough sketch of the mansion and its grounds. The man inside would as well leave one of the outer gates and inner door unlocked for the killers to enter - but he could do little more than that.

Attack on the manor would not go unnoticed, however, no matter how silent the assassins would be. Castante's neighbours might be inclined just to enjoy the show, for many of them were his rivals that would love seeing him brought down. However, the city guard would arrive on the scene at strength eventually.Thus a diversion would be necessary, something big that would attract official attention - such as setting a fire on the temple district.

Thothmekri explained that he needed the Nemedians to be one of the two parties - either entering the manor grounds to kill Castante and the Argosean nobleman, or to create a distraction elsewhere in the city. He would take the other role with his men, but the choice was up to the veterans. He promised that the men would be richly rewarded for their service - he was planning to commence the attack once the black galley his master had sent would be ready in the harbor. With those words, the dark-skinned sorcerer left the room to allow the Nemedians to discuss his proposal among themselves.

In an hour, all of the men agreed that they would take the offer and attack the mansion themselves. That way, they could loot the treasures of Baron Castante in the process. The questions of what to ask as a reward was more challenging to decide. Finally, Tyrus and Alcemides convinced the rest that they should ask Thothmekri for Stygian trading permits. That way they could sail straight to Stygia with the black galley, invest their newly found wealth in to silk and outfit a caravan to take it back to Nemedia. They reasoned that going back home with a hundred gold coins was fine - but a thousand coins was even better. As the Stygian returned, he was a bit surprised to hear what the men wanted but agreed at once. His master would easily arrange such things for the services rendered.

A few days on intense planning followed. The information provided by the spy inside the manor allowed the Nemedians to draw a rough map of the manor and its surroundings. Castante had over two dozen men in arms, as well as a few bodyguards that were rumored to be exotic and effective. Many options ranging from inciting a slave riot to exploding entry using flamepowder were examined and discarded. Finally, the men came up with a plan all could agree upon. It was a strange and daring plan, but one that might just work. Thothmekri gave the men two strange and beautiful daggers, which he instructed to leave in the bodies of their two targets. The weapons were decorated with gold and had likeness of a bird - the blade was like its beak, the handle its legs and body. Dionysos recognized that they had resemblance to the Ibis bird - it was obvious that Thothmekri wanted to frame the Cult of Ibis for the murders.

As the Nemedians prepared for the assassination attempt, one of Thothmekri's men informed them that a group of slaves had been brought to Kordova for sale. Not just any slaves, but the very same Nemedians which the Zingaran mercenaries had captured in the rout from Aquilonia. The Nemedians were pressed with hard decisions - leaving the shelter would be an immense risk, as the cult was surely looking for them now and their attack had been planned to happen that very night. Yet Barathus insisted on seeing what they could do for their former comrades. He came up with a plan to disguise the men as lepers, whose presence everyone would surely avoid.

Thus five lepers dressed in rags appeared in the market square, begging for alms near the slave pens. True enough, each man recognized a few faces among the prisoners - although all the noble-born were missing, likely held for ransom by their families. Returning in their shelter, the men entered in to a heated discussion. Barathus wanted to buy all of the prisoners free, but others argued that they would have nowhere to go. The former Adventurer solved the problem by convincing Thothmekri to take the lot aboard the Stygian galley and with it to Messentia. Yet still the others refused to use their wealth for the freedom of their fellow. Thus Barathus spent majority of his fortune to buy free all the prisoners himself through a proxy. Moved by his generosity, Alcemides and Tyrus spent some gold each to buy them provisions and equipment - but Noam and Dionysos would not budge.

As the darkness fell on Kordova, the Nemedians were already on the move. A tunnel from the Pits allowed them to enter in the manor district near their target. Followed by a dozen or so cutthroats hired through Thothmekri's contacts, they slided from shadow to shadow. The five Nemedians entered through the side gate, which was left open as agreed, while the Zingaran scoundrels stayed to wait outside. Once in the garden, the five men split in to two groups, silently wishing each other luck. Dionysos, Alcemides and Noam sneaked towards the manor while Tyrus and Barathus moved towards the animal shelter. Two poisoned arrows weighted heavily in Noam's quiver. Thothmekri had promised that the dark liquid they had been dipped in would prove to be especially potent against sorcerers.

Tyrus and Barathus reached the animal shelter silently, swiftly striking down a lone guard sipping wine at the rear entrance. Inside, they proceeded to throw drugged meat to the lions and other beasts held inside. After opening their cages they then raced to climb on the roof of the building. Soon enough, beasts of all kind, enraged beyond norm through the herbal poisons running in their veins bolted forth in the garden. Across the wide grounds, the Zingaran cutthroats entered the manor through an unlocked back door, falling on the surprised guards and servants alike in a whirlwind of bloodthirsty blades. A noisy chaos erupted in the manor grounds, as insane beasts, confused guards and greedy scoundrels hacked down whoever they could reach. At the horizon, a blaze of great flame could be seen raising against the night sky. Thothmekri and his men had completed their part.

Meanwhile, the two scouts and the sorcerer with Acheronian blood had climbed on the balcony of the second floor. Sneaking ahead, Alcemides peeked inside windows of the guest suites, locating the Argosean nobleman. He was sitting in one of the rooms illuminated only by a lone candle, talking to a woman dressed in a robe-like outfit. The woman was black as night, from the jungles of the hot south. Neither seemed to notice that they were being watched from outside. The three men moved in to positions behind the open window. Alcemides jumped inside, two shortswords gleaming in the light, while Noam and Dionysos fired at the man, wounding him grievously.

Yet as the element of surprise ran out, both of the two defender were quick to act. The black woman leaped at Alcemides like a striking serpent, stunning him with a quick kick in the groin and drawing two short, crescent-like blades from her long sleeves. Noam's arrows narrowly missed the Argosean, as he jumped underneath his bed, pulling hastily the golden mask on his face. Just as the southern woman prepared to slice the half-picts throat, a lucky bolt fired by Dionysos hit her straight through the left eye, killing her instantly.

As Alcemides was returning back to his senses, the Argosean had managed to put the mask on and shouted for help in a familiar, booming voice. The Nemedians felt strange force to compel them not to harm their target - the strange symbol at the golden mask whirled in the shadows, compelling them to submit before it. As the others stood back, Noam charged the bleeding man blind, stabbing him with a dagger with eyes closed until he did not move. Alcemides and Noam moved to investigate the bedroom that had turned in to a slaughterhouse, carefully listening by the door. All they could hear was the sounds of fighting downstairs and the bellowing of the beasts on the grounds. As they stood their backs towards him, Dionysos stripped the golden mask from the dead man and placed it upon his own face.

Alcemides and Noam were surprised as Dionysos suddenly turned on them with his fell sorcery, the symbol of the mask twirling in the darkness. Together, they managed to wrestle the pale sorcerer on the floor and pull the mask of his face by force. Trembling slighty, Dionysos explained that something had taken him under its control through the mask and turned him against his fellows. Throwing the accursed golden item in a sack, the trio moved carefully onward, leaving first of the Ibis daggers stabbed in the body of their target.

Climbing stairs up to the third floor, the Nemedians faced a new dilemma. Only two routes lead in to the chambers of Baron Castane - and both were blocked, in a different manner. The first route was guarded by a lion, which Alcemides saw through a keyhole - and the second was barricaded from within. Just as the men were preparing to take their chances with the lion, they heard approaching steps from the stairs. As they prepared to spring an ambush, they recogniced Barathus and Tyrus just before landing the first blows. The former Adventurers had managed to elude the chaos in the garden and followed the three men inside the manor. Together, the five men dispatched the lion with ease - the poor beast had no chance, as it was filled with crossbow bolts the moment it charged towards the opening door. Satisfied with their success, the assassins pressed onwards.

Moving quickly but carefully, the intruders entered a well-lit, luxuriously decorated room. Oil lamps and incense burners hanged from the ceiling, the floor was covered with oriental carpets and a beautiful map of Hyboria covered one floor. The desks, drawers and chests made it obvious that this was the study of Baron Castante - yet he was nowhere to be seen. An open hatch on the ceiling hinted where he had gone, perhaps just a moment before. Preparing themselves, the Nemedians started to climb up on the roof. Alcemides raised his head first, only to receive a glancing blow from a tulwar on his head, followed by a bright, burning flash that burned his eyes. Jumping blindly on the roof, he was followed by the other men under the night sky.

On the roof was standing three men - the veiled Baron eyed the Nemedians with nothing but contempt in his burning eyes. Between him and the intruders was standing two men, a young Zingaran wielding a dagger and an arming sword and a massive Shemite wielding an equally massive tulwar in his hands. Steel clashed with steel under light of the stars and from the streets, the men could clearly hear the marching sound of approaching soldiers.

The fight ebbed back and forth on the roof. Barathus disarmed the Shemite with a cunning parry from his shield, only to be pushed off the roof by the Zingaran. Tyrus exchanged blows with both bodyguards in vain, while Alcemides recovered from his stunned state only to receive a handful of dust on his face, robbing him of his sight. While the Shemite hacked Alcemides with a handaxe he had pulled from his belt, the Zingaran sent Noam flying over the edge of the roof after Barathus. Yet he did not live long to embrace his victory, for the greatsword of Tyrus and Dionysos brought him down the very next moment.

Bleeding and stinging from the dust in his eyes, Alcemides still managed to charge the Baron blindly, grabbing him in a hold. Yet as Dionysos and Tyrus closed on the remaining bodyguard, Castante gurgled in inhuman voice and belched forth from his throat a torrent of spiders, whose stinging bites brought the blind and wounded half-pict gasping on the ground. Horrified, Tyrus and Dionysos pulled back from the biting swarm. Just as the dark might of the Zingaran warlock was about to smite the remaining Nemedians down, Noam charged back on the roof. His fall had been softened by skillfully sculpted bushes, sparing him of broken bones. Aiming more with instinct than his eyes, he let fly an arrow that hit Baron Castante in the throat, dimming the light from his eyes. The Shemite bodyguard jumped down on the balcony below and ran for his life.

The Nemedians quickly looted corpse of their mark and left the last dagger stabbed in the cooling corpse. As badly hurt Barathus finally reached the roof again, he was astonished to notice that badly maimed Alcemides was still breathing. Seeing a squad of Zingaran soldiers approach the manor, the Nemedians quickly climbed downwards. Having no time to pick and choose, Tyrus and Noam grabbed each a locked chest on their arms while Barathus and Dionysos carried their unconscious comrade between them. Now running, the men sprinted across the garden filled with gore just as the soldiers were breaking down the main gate. They ran like men fighting for their lives run, ignoring their wounds and burdens, until they had black planks of the ominous Stygian galley underneath their feet.
Nice story, Majestic7! I'm hoping to see more of this when you have time and inspiration to write.

How much time and effort you (and your players) put to describing things like surroundings or combat effects (based on die rolls or what they try to accomplish) during the game?

I ask this because your story seem to have a wonderful feel to it and I am wondering if it is added when you write things down or are they present during the game as well, which would be great.
Good climax to this part of your story--and btw that particular spell is one of the most horrible I've ever encountered in gaming. Just reading the description gave me the shivers and it was very vivid in your narrative.

It sounds like the game must have been really fun to run, and I appreciate you sharing it with us.
I love the campaign posts you have put up.
I just strarted reading this thread last night.
What a great story.
I like your house rules.
I can't wait to hear about their stygian adventures.

I especially like the Nemedian/ Acheronian mix-breed characters. I'm waiting to see what happens when they get to Khemi and see their distant relatives.
SnowDog said:
Nice story, Majestic7! I'm hoping to see more of this when you have time and inspiration to write.

How much time and effort you (and your players) put to describing things like surroundings or combat effects (based on die rolls or what they try to accomplish) during the game?

I ask this because your story seem to have a wonderful feel to it and I am wondering if it is added when you write things down or are they present during the game as well, which would be great.

Thanks. I'll write session 12 this week. What comes to describing things, that varies to both directions. Sometimes I end up polishing things in these reports a bit shinier than they were really in the game. I must admit that combat turns in to rollplaying sometimes. However, there has been many events as well, whose atmosphere I simply can't put in to words correctly. As GM, I'm especially proud so far about the collector of madmen, the cult recruitment event in the Pit and a decadent and bizarre Stygian party in Khemi. I think atmosphere was pretty strong in those gaming sessions and left a good impression with the players. However, I was unable to turn those two first ones in to a report at a satisfactory manner. You would have just needed to be there.

On the other hand, the player characters have had some simply brilliant discussions among themselves that I will be very hard pressed to turn in to session reports without mutilating them. There were two wonderful monologues too, both on shipboard on the way from Messantia to Khemi. In the first, Tyrus was exclaiming passionately how his sorcerous powers are failing him, how they wane and leave him weaker with every passing night and how he know in his soul that only by retrieving all books of Vathelos the Blind he can have a chance to forge them anew.

In the second, Alcemides was exclaiming how they are losing the chance of their lifetime if they don't steal a certain huge ruby - how they will just eventually be forced to face a fight they can't survive while being manipulated by unknown forces to do their bidding and in the end, they will face a horde of enemies which they just can't beat while having gained nothing but scars and bad memories on the way.
Spectator, Aholibamah, thanks. I'm glad that you've found these reports worth reading.

Aholibamah said:
Good climax to this part of your story--and btw that particular spell is one of the most horrible I've ever encountered in gaming. Just reading the description gave me the shivers and it was very vivid in your narrative.

Oh yes, I fell in love with that spell on the first sight. There are much worse ones in certain games, though. In one Call of Cthulhu campaign (can't remember the name), there is detailed a Russian sect of cultists who worship Shub-Niggurath. They specialize casting their version of "Withering" at male genitals...
Man... I wish I was playing in that game, sounds too good to be true! Sounds like your group has gelled pretty well. that seems to be a problem with some of the groups I've played with in the past, you can never get that chemistry going with them, there either always a guy that wants to make things difficult for the rest... reguardless, your game sounds great, Im loving it. Keep up the good work!
Yeah, sounds like you have a great game going with an excellent group. BTW where in Finland are living and are you going to go to RopeCon?
Thanks, but hearing that kind of superlatives makes me think that the narrative is really making the game sound better than it really is.

SnowDog said:
BTW where in Finland are living and are you going to go to RopeCon?

Jyväskylä. Yes, I try to get there every year. Oh and for the rest of folks, RopeCon has nothing to do with ropes, it is the largest gamer convention in Finland: