Short comment: We play the Swedish edition of Symbaroum. I’ve translated names, places and game terms on my own since I don’t have access to the English version, so they probably differ some from the official nomenclature.
Game system: Symbaroum (Swedish edition)
Erolius |Changeling | Witch Hunter | Djuro
Slobodan “Slobbo” Bertasmacker* | Goblin | Treasure Hunter and aspiring Magician of the Order | Djuro
Tegel Knekk | Ambrian | Knight | Berndt
Grams “Florp” Svartbörd* | Ambrian | Dark Magician?| Berndt
Gallardo* | Ambrian | Sellsword | Martin
Sani Taire | Ambrian | Theurgist | Martin
*=These PCs have survived The Promised Land (albeit a heavily modified version) as well as Mark of the Beast, so they are a bit more experienced.
The waves were clucking gently against the river sailer, The Wind Arrow, as the little boat trudged steadily across Volgoma Lake, towards the Malgomor river that would take them straight into the depths of Davokar. Spring had come early this year. Slobbo the Gobbo sat atop some bundles of supplies in the stern of the boat, looking at his travel companions, his thoughts lost in dirty dreams about Vania, the sassy goblin blacksmith assistant back in Thistle Hold. Their last encounter had been a bit awkward, their status uncertain, but with the riches, he’ll return with from this expedition she would surely be more positively inclined…
There was the grumpy old skipper, Weron. And his only sailor Frenned, who seemed to handle about 9 tenths of the actual sailing, while the old man mostly sat muttering in the bow, handling the rudder and sipping on some strongdrink from a ceramic jug, occasionally shouting something abusive at his sole employee or loudly declaring how this journey into that damned forest will be the end of them all.
There were his old traveling companions and fellow adventurers – the huge Ambrian sellsword Gallardo, whom he had come to trust, especially when it came to fights. And the sneaky Ambrian Grams Svartbörd, who Slobbo suspected dabbled in dark magic. And by the Sacred Balls of Prios – who call themselves Florp? Seriously? Only that is suspicious… Maybe he should notify the Blackrobes about that dude… On the other hand, he did quite well against that perfidious Flayer Killer a few months back…
And then there were the three newcomers – the Ambrian self-appointed do-gooder Father Taire, his equally pesky buddy the Ambrian Knight Tegel Knekk and the conniving changeling Erolius the witch hunter. Slobbo didn’t trust that one. No sir, you cannot trust a changeling. Prios knows what things those elven bastards did to him before releasing him into the world of men… And a witch hunter at that! No sir, a good changeling is a dead changeling if you ask me, Slobbo thought, before emitting a loud burp which again reminded him of fair Vania and how impressed she would be when he returned home with Davokar riches…
A few days earlier
After their pivotal role in solving the case of the murder of Master Vernham by the Flayer Killer, the PCs had been enjoying near-hero status in Thistle Hold. It had been a time of heavy carousing and making new friends, but eventually, even the partying had started to feel like a routine.
Then, some ten days ago, a messenger arrived at the inn, requesting their urgent presence at Mayor Lasifor Nightpitch’s estate Nattbacka.
The Mayor was of course accompanied by his barbarian witch, Yagaba. A strange and solemn woman with all-seeing eyes and all that red hair, but with a fierce savage beauty as well. No great wonder that Nightpitch kept her at his side at all times. Slanderous rumors also went around that the real ruler of Thistle Hold was Yagaba, using Nightpitch as a willing puppet, no doubt by some unholy combination of dark magic and her bodily assets…
Also in the room, was three unknown adventurers – a priest, a knight, and a changeling.
Not beating around the bush, the former adventurer gone mayor went directly to business, laying out the situation:
Some two months ago, around the time of the Flayer Killer investigations, Ordo Magica managed to track down the ancient tomb from which the King’s Skull fused with the Copper Crown was stolen by Gorak, Alahara, and their crew of miserable grave robbers – now called the Tomb of Dreams. Ordo Magica also determined that the Skull was deeply corrupted and probably the very reason why all the members of Gorak’s expedition had met such grisly fates. Even more important, the skull was an indication that someone of station was buried in the tomb, and that there was probably more artifacts to be found at the site.
Thus, in spite of the severe risk of corruption and based of filthy lucre, Ordo Magica decided to send an expedition to the tomb in order to secure the magical assets for her Majesty Korinthia, the Queen. About a month ago, under the leadership of Master Senia, Ordo Magica established an outpost in the area known as the Dead Forest near the tomb and started surveying the area. Daily reports on the progress were sent back to the Order by means of a Magic Circle.
However, two weeks ago, the reports from the expedition stopped arriving at the Ordo Magica headquarters in Thistle Hold. Something had happened at the site.
At the same time, intelligence arrived from the Brothers of Dusk that Baumelo (the Blackcoat that hastily took off with the King’s Skull and Copper Crown at the end of Mark of the Beast) had been an impostor. The chopped up and badly mangled body of the real Baumelo had been discovered hidden in the basement of an inn about an hour’s travel from the village Glimmervann, and there were indications that the real identity of the false Baumelo was a man called Odako, a known cultist and heretic that is wanted by the Brothers of Dusk for manifold crimes against the church and Her Majesty.
The whereabouts of Odako and his gang of miscreants are currently unknown, but it cannot be ruled out that they have traveled back to the Tomb of Dreams to steal the rest of the remains of the ancient king and other invaluable artifacts.
To summarize, Mayor Nightpitch wants to hire the adventurers to:
- Travel to Ordo Magica’s outpost, assess the situation and help the expedition
- Stop Odako and his crew if they should arrive at the Tomb
- Retrieve the King’s Skull and Copper Crown if possible
- Retrieve the remains of the ancient King
The mission is a joint venture between Lasifor Nightpitch, Ordo Magica and the Brothers of Dusk and should, if successful, vastly improve the PCs standing with the three organizations.
Payment for the mission is:
- 300 Thaler, held by Nightpitch for the duration of the mission (to be shared by the members of the party)
- Travel expenses (boat) is covered by Nightpitch
- Expenses of 25 Thaler per member to be paid immediately, in order to facilitate the acquisition of travel gear et cetera.
The PCs agree to the terms and start to prepare for the journey into darkness…
Preparations and red tape
Next, the PCs acquire gear and travel rations for the mission and get to know the new members a bit.
Among other things they visit The Treasury and meet with the proprietor Sefira, to sell off some things they have acquired during earlier adventures. Tough haggling indeed.
They also visit both Ordo Magica and the Temple of the Brothers of Dusk to collect as much information as possible before leaving Thistle Hold.
Then, they go to the Queen’s Legislation to get a Treasure Hunter’s License (which in itself turned out to be a little adventure, due to the red tape and in-party squabble about monetary matters among other things). When they finally emerge from the legislation with the license, they are also deeply indebted to Suria of House Aragona – a debt that she will most surely collect in the future…
Finally, the travel route is planned. The first leg of the journey is to travel on foot to the small city of Kurun, situated on the river Eblis. There, Nightpitch has arranged for passage on a small river sailer – The Wind Arrow – to take them down the Eblis, onto Lake Volgoma and then onto the river Malgomor, which will take them right into the heart of darkness. Total travel time is estimated to circa 5 days, given that Prios is merciful.
Heart of Darkness
After leaving gentle Lake Volgoma behind, The Wind Arrow turns its stern into Malgomor’s green and murky waters. The river entrance is wide and open but soon the small boat is engulfed in dense greenery on both sides.
When dusk arrives, skipper Weron decides to camp on the river bank, finding a place with a little sandy beach. The PCs set up camp and have just started eating when sounds are heard from the dense forest behind them.
Sounds that are coming closer.
Weapons drawn, ready for battle – suddenly a scruffy looking man emerges from the dense forest:
“-Please, please dear sirs! Don’t hurt us! I’m Aro of Jakaar. Would you please help us – we have a wounded man here…”
Slowly, two more men, carrying a third wounded man on an improvised stretcher come onto the beach. Soon, the PCs are helping the poor sods by giving them food and taking care of the wounded man’s cuts and bruises.
It turns out that these fellows (Aro, Brogo, Dengo and Kurgan) are fortune hunters from Jakaar, who’d been hunting for treasure at the west earth tower of Black Leech Cleft (Svartigelklyftan) when a trap activated and messed up poor Brogo’s leg. They retreated and have since then been traveling back to Jakaar, when they suddenly heard human voices comung from the river’s edge.
The newcomers are welcomed to set up camp on the other end of the beach (as the PCs are still a bit suspicious).
In the middle of the night the PCs are awakened by the sound of battle over at the Jakaarians end of the beach. Aro, Dengo and Kurgan seem to be fighting an unseen enemy. Drawing their weapons and rushing to the scene, the PCs see a semi-transparent skeletal figure clawing away at the fortune hunters, hovering half a meter over the ground, seemingly very aggressive towards them but ignoring the PCs.
Slobbo shoots an arrow at the apparition, but it just passes through the thing. Gallardo has the same result with his Crow’s Beak Axe and now the thing seems to notice the PCs, emitting a loud terrifying shriek, sending several of the PCs running for the boat in panic. The creature then starts moving toward the PCs, brandishing great spectral claws, eternal hate in its empty eye sockets.
Realizing that their weapons can’t hurt the spectre, the PCs retreat towards the water. Grams, who have been rummaging around in his backpack for a while suddenly produces a small vial containing a white-grey powder that he throws at the thing, missing. At the same time Slobbo manages to snap out of the terror and takes out his own Ghast Dust, throwing it at the apparition. Suddenly the thing takes physical form, resembling a dead-looking elderly man, dressed in decrepit magician’s robes. The old man keeps repeating a series of words in a dry, hollow voice, but in an unknown language.
It turns out that the thing is now vulnerable to worldly weapons and beset by a barrage of arrows and weapon blows, the dead man walking is soon felled to the ground. Once fallen, his body just seems to dissipate, leaving a dusty old magician’s robe in the sand.
The Jakaarian fortune-hunters staunchly deny that they have stolen anything from the tomb, but facing the stern looks of the PCs they soon produce an ancient-looking bronze sickle adorned with Symbaritic cuneiform on both the handle and blade.
And there we have to break for the evening.
More Symbaroum adventures from the Swedish table rpg group With a Fistful of d20’s coming up shortly!