Symbaroum | Tomb of Dead Dreams | Session 1

 

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Just a little trip up river Malgomor. What could possibly go wrong…?

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)

Dramatis personae

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.

Prologue

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.

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Lasifor Nightpitch

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Yagaba the witch

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.

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Odako the cultist

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.

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Thistle Hold

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

 

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The mouth of river Malgomor

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:

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Scruffy looking fortune-hunters

“-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).

Vile spirits

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.

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The Hovering Spirit-Thing

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!

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Session 1 – Come to Daddy (Terra Innominata)

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“Look! A house! I’m sure we can get warm food and rest there overnight…”

Game System | Blood & Treasure Complete

Setting/World | Terra Innominata by dawnrazor/Lazy Sod Press

Dramatis Personae

Bruce Lee | Human Monk 4 | Martin

“Anna Nymous” (never reveals her true name) | Dwarf Assassin 4 | Martin

Noo Yok | Human Ranger 4 | Mats

Dormir the Sleepy | Dwarf Barbarian 4 | Mats


Session One – Daddy had a Farm oh-i-oh-i-aaaaaaahhhh…

As a large part of the regular table group is on summer vacation I decided to run a one- (ok, maybe two-or three-shot instead. As usual, the lads were creative when naming their characters. Funny names or not – they will be baptized in steel and other nasties…

They PCs were hired by a local nobleman to track down some thieving bandits that had stolen something valuable and taken to the hills. The game session started in media res in a dark winter forest in the border mountains between the civilized South Lands and wild North Lands. Tired, hungry, freezing and on the brink of exhaustion and not closer to finding the bandits than when they started out two weeks ago. Trekking through knee-high snow in the dense forest in the setting afternoon light, they come across a track going perpendicular to their travel direction and decide to follow the tracks. Maybe it is their prey?

After a few miles they come upon a clearing in the forest. Farmer’s fields covered in midwinter snow and a farm house as well as a few outhouses. The tracks lead to the farm,  following a road between the fields, which upon closer inspection are still teeming with frost covered unharvested corn.

There’s a trail of smoke coming out of the chimney of the rather imposing farm house. No one can be seen through the windows, but a fire seems to be going and there’s lots of tracks in front of the house. The PCs knock on the door, but when there’s no answer they sneak into the warm house. After a quick survey of the entrance, hallway and dining room they hear loud whistling outside and see a giant of a man, clad in rich furs and carrying a newly slain polar fox over the shoulder, coming for the house. As he enters, the PCs quickly present themselves. The man introduces himself as Torgil Rodbrok, farmer and owner of this little farm. He explains that he lives here with his family and that they should arrive for supper soon, after having done their farm chores. The PCs are invited to have a seat at the large dinner table and get some warm stew to warm their bellies. The stew is delicious and full of nutricious root vegetables and the occasional chunk of meat.

One by one the rest of the family assembles in the house. Torgil presents them: Gerda – his lovely (and quite flirty) daughter; Jørn – his thin-framed and politely quiet younger son and Hanna – the youngest daughter who’s very social and energic and very hard not to like. The wife – Siri and the older son – Olof are out on business but will return shortly. After a delightful dinner unfolds and the parties trade stories. Torgil explains why he chose to settle here in the middle of nowhere. Apparently he got in trouble with powerful people down south and now he trades with the Northmen and people of this not-so deserted valley which the PCs learn is called “The Silent Valley” due to…well, it’s unnatual silence. Apparently, some magical disaster happened here millenia ago and since then very few animals have returned to the valley. The PCs tell of recent events and politics in the civilized south. Unfortunately, Torgil has heard nothing about the bandits that they are chasing. After dinner and ale Torgil offers the characters to stay the night as they have room to spare.

Gerda shows the PCs to their simple but clean quarters upstairs. On the way she points out where the lavatory is. Dormir is tired and heads directly for the bunk. Noo Yok the ranger needs to “drain the lizard” and heads for the door but discovers that is has been bolted from the outside! He bangs the door loudly, but no one is answering…

This leads to a hasty  inspecion of the two rooms they have. They find that the doors are indeed made of unmotivated thick and sturdy oak and also reinforced with iron bands. The locks are equally overdimensioned. Maybe the inhabitants have been robbed before and are just taking precautions? They also find little pervy observation holes in the walls and behind the norse style wall tapestries they find heavy iron rings bolted to the walls, complete with well-used rusty chains and manacles. Looking behind the nice country style drapes covering the windows they find that the windows have been bolted shut and they see thick iron bars on the outside…

Trapped.

After some fiddling with his thieves tools, Bruce Lee manages to open the door locks. It seems the house is quiet. The only light comes from the staiway to the ground floor.

Closest to the stairway are two opposite bedrooms where the inhabitants must sleep. The PCs bar one door with a chair. Dormir is placed as a guard at the top of the stair. The others silently open the south bedroom door. Inside, the room is dominated by a large rustic canopy bed. No one is there. A search of the room reveals that no one has slept on one side of the bed for a long time. The ranger checks out the bedstand and finds that it is a pot-cabinet, which has been used. He also notices that the feces in the pot contain hair balls and fragments of bone… Under a loose floor board they also find some valuable jewelry in different styles (i.e. not from around here). Under the bed are an unlocked chest with female delicate garments – not used for a long while.

The room across the hall is likewise empty. Two bunk-beds dominate the room. This is obviously the youngsters’ room. On the center of the floor, three ugly and creepy rag-dolls are thrown… [A discussion about a doll named Chucky emerges among the players…] No one wants to enter the room, so they retreat and close the door behind them.

As they prepare to descend the stairs, they hear a muffled sound somewhere. An inhuman shriek of anguish… It turns out that it comes from a padlocked door beside the bathroom. Anna the dwarven assassin and Bruce the monk tries to open the lock, but to no avail. At last Dormir the barbarian decides to break the door open with a crowbar. It succeeds but just as he triumphantly turns to mock his partners, a heavy spring-loaded blade leaps out from nowhere and cuts him badly. Thanks to his quick reflexes he manages to step aside, lessening the cut to some extent.

The sounds are louder from within. Our heroes cautiously climb the creaking stairs and step into a literal nightmare. The attic room is small and is mostly taken up by three iron-barred cells. In front of the cells there’s a stained wooden table with attached leather straps and on the wall there’s a cabinet with surgical tools in various states of neglect as well as rusty cooking knives and other mundane tools. Clearly the workshop of a mad killer… The scene is indeed horrific, but everyone manages to suppress their fear, except Dormir. A little piece of his mind snaps and he realizes that if he hums on this popular Sapanian song, the evil won’t get to him. Maybe. [Dormir missed his Horror save badly and is going mental and his way of coping is by humming].

The cells hold a man in very bad shape – his arms, legs, ears, tongue are gone. It is he who makes the guttural sounds. Another cell holds a catatonic high elf lady who still has all her appendages intact, but who has had her mouth sewn shut with coarse leather twine. Judging by her clothes, she is of obvious highborn status. The last cell holds a family of three – the Anderssons of Dragon Hold up north (father, sister and brother). The lad is in a rather good shape but the other two are quite exhausted by the ordeal they have suffered. The PCs continue to liberate the prisoners. The elf lady and the lad are up for some vengeance. The Andersson father and sister are not. And the poor man in the first cell are beyond saving. The lad (Ingolf) and the elf lady (Innyata of House Lysander) are equipped with sharp tools from the wall cabinet. They also say that their tormentor is the young shy boy (which deduce must be Jørn and sometimes in the company of Gerda, but she only ever watches and never take part in the “wet work”).  The family accompanies the PCs and they promise to return to get the appendage-less man after some reconnaissance.

It is decided that it will be safest to get out via the balcony on the front of the house, thus avoiding whoever lurks on the first floor. The PCs get out on the balcony and climb down using a rope. Suddenly, they become aware of a thin shape standing and watching them. It is Gerda and she looks angry. The PCs rushes against her and manages to cut her, but she retreats and out of nowhere several strange beings emerge in total silence from the snowy darkness. They look like crazy humanoids made from old boards, straw, rope and other junk from around the farm but the most frightening thing is their smiling pumpkin heads and where their hands should be, sharp scythe blades are attached. The creatures are dead silent and seem to float over the snow as if they didn’t weigh anything. Moreover, the creatures seem to obey Gerdas commands. The creatures attack with silent efficiency and their gaze seem to confuse our heroes. As they attack, Gerda makes some clearly sorcerous gestures, making several of the PCs fall to the ground in a dreamless stupor…

Things look bleak but after a frantic fight [including a double natural 1 fumble], Gerda and the things lie defeated in the snow. And before their very eyes, Gerda’s body starts to change into something not quite human – her face and body gets covered with large pustulent sores and what seems to be a tentacle emerges from her mid-section, whipping feebly in the cold air before fallig to rest in the snow… At the same time a faint air of rose-water emerges from the corpse…

Shocked by what they have witnessed, the PCs decide that it would be madness to run off into the night with these things around and decide to go into the house again.

They now make a complete search of the first floor. No one is there, but there’s a burned down fire in the main room behind the dining room. When they search the kitchen they find normal cooking gear and foodstuffs but also a jar of pickled testes and in a large pan on the stove, a humanoid heart is prepared for cooking. Hmm… I wonder what was in that stew? They also find two locked rooms – a study and an office. Both these rooms contain books and items that seemed out of place for a rural farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. In the office they find various anatomical drawings, recipes and some ongoing spell research (deviltry, I say). The library is full of rare tomes on all matter of subjects, including the occult, plant life, animal life and other learned subjects. A library such as this would more befit a mighty lord or maybe in a wizard’s tower. Some examples of tomes found are: Alvir, Vaettir og Sattygir by Fafbard Haarfagre (a famous bard), Endless Dark by a certain Karl Bukovskisson and the dread Corpus Vivisecionata by Anna de Coelba-Concinillho y Crepotka (a famous southern sorceress). Moreover, they discover three creepy porcelain dolls in a glass-doored cabinet. One of the dolls rattles when handled and inside the head they find a tiny silver key that fits in a keyhole in the side of the cabinet. Within the hidden compartment they find a battered leather journal (apparently written by Torgil)  as well as an arcane ritual scroll written in Northern Imperial (common). Browsing the journal and the scroll, the PCs deduce that they describe a ritual called “The Ritual of Banishment” which is designed to banish an entity called “The Mother of Lies” or “Mother“. As a precaution, the three porcelain dolls are stuffed into a bag and then stuffed into a backpack. [Chucky was discussed once again…]

Earlier the PCs saw a locked door in the hallway. They go back and study the door. It is locked from the inside with three padlocks and in the lower part there’s a round cat’s door (albeit for a very large cat). Dormir sticks in his head to scan and sees a very dark stairway down. There’s also a very unpleasant smell behind the door. Like an old basement mixed with…something else. After some discussion it is decided that they should go down to investigate the basement. The locks are forced and they go down…

The darkness is almost physical and the contrast to the nice farmhouse above is striking. The air is smelly and it has an almost touchable character. The creaky staiway curves down, ending in a doorway into a large room. Strangely, darkvision is impaired to only some 15 ft. and the light from the oil lamps brought from the study above doesn’t seem to be able to penetrate the darkness very much…

The room before them is cluttered like a hoarder’s house: farm inplements, old furniture, some stuffed animals, the eyes of a stuffed hobgoblin head glint menacingly… And a rack of jars filled with stuff they don’t want to know about… Also, directly inside the doorway is an opened sack of salt.

The only way forward is into the compact darkness…

And here we had to take a recess. To be continued tomorrow.