Game System | Blood & Treasure Complete
Setting/World | Terra Innominata by dawnrazor/Lazy Sod Press
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…
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.