Saturday, February 15, 2020

Chasing a Blaze in the Northern Sky Session 15 Summary

On their way to the Roxolani village the Combative Companions encountered a group of sailors who were in desperate need of food. Though their offer of "dragon's teeth" tempted the men, they agreed to trade a majority of their food for a map of the Dolonian Kingdom. Allegedly home to dragons, they had figured, "If we just find and kill a dragon, we could have all the dragon's teeth we wanted". So, once they buy a boat, they'll at least have this as an idea in the corner of their mind.
After going hunting to make up for the food they traded, nightfall approached and the party set up camp. Their slumber was quickly disrupted however as their members on watch encountered a group of 15 cloaked men who declared "Be you Oogi's companions?" For the party, this was a very loaded question.

Oogi had a notoriously bad reputation to the point where there were people actively hunting for his head, and the fact that he turned himself into an abomination and social pariah has only made things worse. With Oogi having recently died however, the party made a quick decision to not only pretend they were not associated with Oogi, but to make sure to point out that Oogi died nearly a week ago. And this plan might have worked too...if not for Zanorak. Zanorak was a Tydu warrior who decided to tag along, and it quickly became apparent that he had a hunger for glory. It was obvious when he declared that he had "dominated nature" after the party finished hunting, despite not owning a bow and contributing nothing to what the group had gained, and this inflated sense of self was in full force when he loudly called the men "Cowards" for attempting to approach him in his sleep. With the men curious of Oogi's fate, Zanorak was quick to try and take advantage of the opportunity by claiming that he killed Oogi with his own two hands.

They did not take kindly to his statement.

The men drew their bows in preparation of slaying the men who killed Oogi, but Halthor and Matthias were somehow able to diffuse the situation, clarifying that Zanorak is just a lying narcissist, and that they were in fact Oogi's companions, but didn't tell the men out of fear of exactly this situation happening. Turns out these men are from the Roxolani village and were sent by Krem to try and find the party and their "leader" Oogi, because the Combative Companions have been so busy finding cursed weapons for future warlords and having mukbangs with witches, that they've taken far too long to do their original job of mapping out the island. Thankfully with these men being from the very village they were heading too, it gave the party a means of quickly making it to their final destination and returning o the ship with a completed map.

Krem was going to pay them 250 silver for it and a share of the money received for selling the tiger while they were gone.

That amount was pitiful considering it took weeks of effort and the death of two people, and there was a strong suspicion that they could have probably made nearly 250 silver from just the tiger alone. The party's inability to actually negotiate a monetary value to what they blindly do had caught up to them, but after some aggressive haggling, the party managed to turn their 250 silver payment to 350 silver. So, Krem received his map, the party reunited with the now chained frog-man that is Hurass, and the party was able to return back to Lestyrhonia where they could sell their golden statue for a wonderful sum of silver.

So, what now?

Halthor and Sain still had a deal to retrieve the ring of Kordis in exchange for a metal destroying weapon that could be crafted out of the salamander skull they had, so the party decided to return to the Burial Temple of the Tridobaktrus in search of said ring. While pursuing this item, the whispers of Hurass began to creep into Zanorak's mind, reminding him of what he was told during their travels back. "Want some meme magic buddy? If the CeeCee's go back to the Burial Temple of the Tridobaktrus, I want you to find a glowing orb and stick your finger reeeal deep inside. Really feel around in there." He accordingly did so, and is now another follower of Zaba.

Everyone thought it was a bad idea, but it proved to have its short term benefits as the party soon found a group of Zaba worshipers within the third floor of the tomb. They took kindly to Zanorak and his "cowardly disciples" and begged him to help them slay a monster found on this floor. Did this monster have the ring they were looking for? Probably not. Were they going to fight it anyways? Well, they wouldn't be the Combative Companions if the answer was no.

The party is led to a room with it's only defining feature being an empty throne before becoming completely locked in by the froggy followers. From the ceiling, a ten foot arm attached to a rotting corpse then dropped down upon them. Jokes about masturbation aside, this corpse had a sword hanging from its belt, making the fact that they're basically trapped in a death chamber potentially worth it. After all, a good sword would be more valuable than nearly any treasure they had uncovered before.

Proving itself to be no pushover however, the monster began a merciless assault on the party, bringing Halthor near the brink of death in a single blow, ripping away Sain's right arm, and outright murdering Klaatu with a clean blow that decapitated him, leaving his skull as a bloodly pulp that splattered against the wall.

Matthias was to meet a similar fate as the monster punched a hole into his chest, but Halthor was quick to intervene declaring, "DON'T WORRY! I GOT THIS!" as he cracked open two bottles of holy water and began manically shaking its contents on his fellow holy man. Matthias accordingly got better from death. In fact he got so much better, that the would be fatal exchange retroactively never happened and he was simply gut punched into unconsciousness. Inspired by Halthor's holy energy, Bodhi gathered all the strength he had left in him and delivered a clean blow that slayed the monster, and with no protest from the party claimed he had claimed the sword.

They had not found the ring they were looking for, and with the party battered and beaten they had chosen to pursue the ring on another day, but a sword is a worthwhile treasure in itself, and Bodhi found something far more important than some ring.

He found the lord.

Session 15 Downtime Events

Bodhi joined Matthias and Halthor on their journey to the Temple of Vodim. Bodhi was instructed in ancient rite as the Priests of Ymir fanned potent incense higher and higher. Bodhi was bathed in the blood of a slaughtered bull and then cleansed by a baptisim in sacred water. The trio chanted the ancient song of the world-tree and each prepared doses of holy water. 

Zanorak snuck away to a place dark and hidden away from the sun. He invoked ancient rite and called forth Lord Zaba from the darkness. He enacted terrible rites to prepare sorcery to drown his enemies in blood. He returned to his companions with a frog-skeleton hanging from his belt slowly dripping ichor. 

Nanok sought to carouse and to be merry within Lestryhonia. He dropped 2 sacks of silver and the mead and wine ran down the sides of his face. Amid his stupor he learned that there still existed a conspiracy to strike against Matthias and his companions. Hetun was said to have brought assassins from afar to bring him Matthias's head. 

The previous day, a man clad in a dark robe with a leather band around his forehead from which a pair of pearls hang. He extended ontu them a scroll of vellum and then dissipated back into the crowd. The scroll was an invitation to attend a feast. 

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Chasing a Blaze in the Northern Sky Session 14 Summary

Having successfully delivered the spear and armor to Sinsin, the party only had one village left before they had completed the task given to them by the merchants, and that was finding a path to the Roxolani village. Having bought more supplies for their journey, the party set forth returning to Arthosi before traveling north to Roxolani. But deep within the woods they were traveling the party had just barely made out a conflict shrouded in the veil of night and torrential downpour, with men roaring in the distance as if they were competing with the lightning that howled across the sky.
There were more people than anyone could make out with at least fifteen men at odds with each other, though who was fighting who was ambiguous to the group. With no context, the Combative Companions were unsure who to aid, so they had quietly approached as the numbers began to dwindle away. With just barely enough light to make out part of the scene they realized they were paying witness to the horrid  sight of the walking corpses of fallen warriors attacking a group of men. The party knew that they needed to help, but as they were trying to approach the group they quickly found themselves sinking into the muck of the mire, forcing them to take a grueling path around to slowly enter the scene.

But by then, it was far too late.

The party arrived to discover the sight of sixteen Tydu slain as the undead soldiers shambled off into the darkness. Only one remained, who was going to die soon enough, but had just enough life in him to speak as the others arrived. The sorrow in his tone as he had asked the men, "Why did you not help?" shook the party, with Matthias taking his words hardest. There was nothing the party could do, as they had no way of reaching them in time, and as much as it pained the Tydu soldier, he at least understood the truth in what they had told him. His last request was that they be given a proper burial as to prevent the fate of rising from the dead, and Matthias agreed to not only do so, but return the earrings of the Tydu back to their village, and give honor to the men by telling their tale. It was a nice sentiment, and as the light of his life began to fade from his eyes, he had at least this final act of kindness to comfort him.

After burying the sixteen men, the sun began to rise, and the party continued until they finally made it back to Arthosi to get some rest. Most of them. Due to being abominable frog men Thorvid and Oogi were kept out of the village during the night, forcing them to camp outside of the palisades. It's not easy being green, or more accurately the pale, olive color that comprises their mucus covered  skin.

With another day approaching, the men set out to Roxolani, with the intent of also finding the Tydu village that from their understanding would be in the general direction of Roxolani along the shore. As they had set camp for the night however, they were approached by a small group led by a young man, roughly 15 years of age. He introduced himself as Ighan, nephew of Chief Sinsin of the Spali, and he was beyond pissed. Apparently the spear and armor that, keep in mind the party did  not need to get, were cursed items that, while imbuing the user with great power, also put them in a deep and violent rage. Not only this, but there are multiple weapons of similar caliber throughout the island. Returning the spear was the first step in what will surely be a war across the entire Island to both conquer and acquire these weapons, and basically, Ighan just showed up to call the CeeCees a bunch of assholes and blame them for what's going to happen.

Thankfully the party is going to leave soon after they find Roxolani, and Ighan basically told them to fuck off and not come back lest he sees to it that they are executed, so they all quietly agreed to just pretend this didn't happen, and ignore the problem until it becomes a much worse problem in the future.

Continuing the Roxolani, they camp for another night only for Halthor to discover a distressing sight off in the distance. Eighty feet away near the shore was a sea monster hulking about the sand, devouring people in a large group of men with it's many rows of jagged teeth and crushing them beneath its superior size. And it's at times like these were the party knows how thoroughly stupid it'd be to engage such a creature, but there were ten men fighting that thing at the time, so if everyone worked together, they could surely take it down as a unit.

The party rallied together to try and help the men...only for the men to immediately disengage when other people arrived to help, turning a 17 on 1 fight into a 7 on 1 fight with 10 glorified cheerleaders trying to protect some woman that was accompanying them. Long story short, Thorvid and Oogi are dead because the creature had a taste for frog, and it was then killed without the help of anyone beyond the party. It was a thoroughly infuriating experience for everyone, but they did their best to let it slide, as there was no point in trying to pick a fight in their current state. At the very least, the men sought to  guide the party to Roxolani, but first encountered a band of Tydu and traveled to their village. So, it almost sort of not really balances itself out.

Matthias stood at the center of the village and told the following to the Tydu:

"Brave and noble Tydu, here is the tale of strong Liktor, and his tragic death. 

Though we are but outlanders, who have only been here a short time, we have already experienced the bravery and glory of Petruha, of the Tydu. 
This brave man and his men sacrificed their lives refusing to retreat with us, to fight off a vovkulak. May his bravery be forever noted.

But that is not this sad, tragic tale. This tale begins in a dark, stormy night. Rain flew down in sheets, and the sky was ink-black as we trod forward. Through crashes of lightning, we saw a fight. Men were giving a brave account of themselves. Unable to see much more, we began to move toward it. Slowly plodding through swamps, bogs, we headed to the fight. As we got closer, we saw who these men were fighting, and our stomachs sank. These Tydu had been fighting the horrifying dead. 

We arrived too late. One Tydu warrior remained, who told us to return these earrings. Liktor, who had led his men bravely, struggled against the long-dead, but was ultimately overcome. We were too late. We buried him and his men in their own graves, deep in the ground, with a proper burial. 

In Liktor's last breaths, he asked us to return these earrings. I told him I would tell the tale of him and his men, ordinary Tydu who gave all. May all warriors like him, fighting and dying far from home, receive the same praise we now try to give Liktor, and Petruha. "

Session 14 Downtime Events

Though the Tydu were glad to learn of what befell their brethren a gloom hung over their village. Night soon fell and at dawn women wept and wailed as several men tugged upon chains to elevate a stone pillar. The pillar rose upwards, painted bright white with lime and men begin to gather brush to burn at it's base. As flames enveloped the base of the pyramid a pair of aged Tydu priests emerged and begin chanting intermittently tossing powders into the flames below the monolith. 

One of the Tydu approached the party, an ugly scar across his neck and silver hoops in his ears, and gestured to them. He spoke in a solemn tone, "You would be wary of the pillar it would not welcome outsiders much as yourselves." He continued, "It is a shard of the cage used to imprison the Nosfera. In ages past before the colorless flame fell from the sky, a great king bound hundreds of demons inside a great stone monolith. His intent was to concentrate their balefule nature as the Yayoi would spider venom. The demon that remains will drag the souls of the slain Tydu to heaven."

As the party stood at the precipice of the ceremony and as it wound down a Tydu tribesman approached with intent to join them. 

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Chasing a Blaze in the Northern Sky Session 13 Summary

In their continuing quest to map out the villages of Samarta, the Combative Companions traveled through the rain and muck to their next destination, the village of Spali. Uri told the party the Chief were a reasonable man, which gave certain men with certain...physical characteristics, the hope that they may find shelter. But it's never that simple.

Separated by a wooden palisade Sinsin, the chief of Spali, exited to investigate the group of travelers before taking Matthias away to speak with him privately. As Halthor endured a meaningless conversation from Oogi about his days playing Ball in a Cup, Matthias was told of a monster that occupies the pond of the dead, and the armor and long spear belonging to his grandfather that could be found in its depts. Only after they retrieved said items would they be granted passage.
Of course, the party was simply given an initial task of mapping the villages, and they still had a sizable amount of rations and supplies. They could simply ignore his request and continue with their work without entering the village at all. But the Combative Companions are the very same people who hunted down a saber tooth tiger, not because they were promised anything, but because they were told about it, so naturally, they did it anyways.

Setting off southwest, Uri spends the next few hours guiding the party to what would be an incredibly cursed pond, sitting in the fields of the dead, that he wanted nothing to do with. The place is incredibly ominous, but aside from a few ravens, the swamp seems fairly barren. Nightfall comes, the party sets up camp, and there's this overwhelming dread that something is going to attack them in the night. They could feel a presence of some sort, but the only thing that had changed over the course of several hours and multiple night-shifts, were the ravens growing closer, and the waters of the swamps beginning to ripple.

"Ripples?" said Halthor bow at the ready and cheeks clenched, "Fuck that noise I gotta tell someone about this!"

Halthor awakens the party far earlier than planned because everything about the ripples and encroaching ravens spooked him far too much to assume something wasn't going to happen. The party waited and observed their surroundings but the mask of darkness around them made what could be approaching far too ambiguous to assess. So, Halthor did the only thing he figured he could do. He started shooting at the ravens.

They probably had it coming anyways.

His intuition seemed to pay off, as the sound of cracking glass could be heard and the raven had burst into a fountain of green ichor. Certain the ravens had something to do with what was happening, he proceeded to shoot every raven he saw, now accompanied by Oogi until none were left. But there was something far more concerning that Halthor picked up on. The entire time the ravens grew closer, they were never seen flying. They were always perched on the branches of their tree, and even as they were being fired upon, they never flew away. It was then that Halthor realized, it wasn't the ravens that were their enemy.

It was the entire tree itself.

Halthor let loose an arrow into the bark of the tree causing it to spasm revealing that the tree were merely a monster mimicking its surroundings, and the party appropriately began beating the shit out of the creature as its form slowly dissolve away into a green ooze encompassing an organ. Matthias experience some acidic burning from the creature, but aside from that, the party was successful in chopping down the tree.

The following day passed without incident, but the night continued to be lively as ever as the night watch of Oogi, Halthor and Klattu witnessed a group of men approaching them. Men are at least in theory less dangerous than giant tree monsters so Halthor hailed the travelers only to reveal it's the very same men Matthias had dueled nearly a week ago, the Tydu. Thankfully, they had not arrived for the sake of a midnight fight and asked if they could partake in the group's fire. They had revealed that they arrived in search of a sea witch located by a pond. Allegedly, they could buy herbs from her that granted the ability to talk to fish. Having little knowledge of the location of the pond of witch however, the party and the Tydu made an agreement. If the party were willing to help them find their witch, the Tydu would be willing to guide the party to the pond they were looking for to face their monster. The party agreed.

The following morning the Tydu lead the party to a pond that had a stone cottage located at the bottom. The Tydu planned on simply waiting by the waters to see what might happen, but the party quickly realize that that plan was going nowhere fast, so Halthor and Bodhi decide to strip down and dive into the waters to see if this witch they were looking for was in the cottage at the bottom.

Surprisingly, she was.

After knocking on the door of the cottage, it opens to reveal a woman with the face of an eel in a dry room that the two men could breath in. Her name is Igna. Halthor explained that they come representing a group of men that wish to buy herbs from her, so she tells them that she she will arrive to the surface in an hour after preparing her herbs and doing whatever it is women need to do in order to be ready for an encounter.

Having metaphorically put her face on, the witch emerged having very literally donned the face of a beautiful woman to accompany the body that Halthor and Bodhi had seen. The Tydu gain the herbs they desired without issue, but Matthias mentioned something to the witch that was unintentionally the biggest brained thing he had done in a while. Matthias, not realizing the party arrived to this pond to buy herbs, attempted to pick a fight with whatever was at the bottom of the pond assuming it was the monster the party were tasked with slaying. He apologized, telling Igna that he assumed she was "A terrible monster, hoarding armor and spear from a noble chief's grandfather." Matthias's goldfish like memory caused him to make a halfhearted attempt to save face after literally yelling at the pond that she was "balding" and about to "get slapped" not even an hour ago. But in explaining his mistake that he thought Igna was the monster holding the armor and spear, Igna reveals that she just so happens to have the items the party were pursuing, indirectly revealing that the group were probably set out to murder her. Thankfully not many people seemed to pick up the subtext of what was happening, including Igna. She had given the party the items they desired, and with their mission handled in a surprisingly open and shut fashion the group set out to return to Spali and celebrate their success and, if Thorvid is so lucky to do so, trick a woman into marrying him before he completely turns into a frog monster.
On second thought, this entire ending resolved itself too neatly.

Here's one more monster to deal with. In fact, here's a giant hairless wolf-man monster called a vovkulak, that can't be killed without silver weapons and just tore a traveler in half with its bare hands. The Tydu knew that the Combative Companions could not kill this beast due to the only silver weapon they had being held by Hurass, who was nearly a week away suntanning his gross frog-skin on the ship. So the Tydu decided to go out on an especially noble note, by sacrificing themselves to hold the beast back as the party escaped to Spali. In a truly bitter sweet ending, the party fled leaving the Tydu to their fate, and after arriving to Spali they entered with arms open to their presence. A celebration was to be thrown in honor of their achievement, but it was no longer merely for them, extending itself to honor the bravery, and sacrifice, of the Tydu.

Session 13 Downtime Events

The Spali cheer upon your return of the King Menov's Spear and Armor. Two bulls are brough forth and their throats are slain. Men draw daggers and plunge them into the beasts spilling blood and severing tendons. Others pile wood and light a pair of bonfires in preperation of roasting the beasts. Women bring forth jugs of mead and as others begin to prepare pies.

Steaming food is brought into the Sinsin's hall where three great tables have been set. You are seated flanking Chief Sinsin as choice cuts of meats and cups of mead are set before you. Joy and laughter fills the air. The Spali sing songs of past glories and you learn a tale of them and the Antrofahi.

In ages past, after the fall of the Ludozeri, the Spali and Antrofahi gathered spears and waged war against another. They gathered on the Island Skyfa and painted the earth red. A Javelin thrown by a Spali struck deep in the chest of Bathor, King of the Antrofahi, and he was slain. Women of the Antrofahi wailed and weeped for three months and the rain weeped with them.

In a moments of silence Thorvid asks Chief Sinsin of for a wife. Chief Sinsin told Thorvid that  he would be accepted as a member of the Spali if he proved his valor as a warrior. If he proved adequate he would be accepted into a Spali by marriage.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Xenia: The Reaction Roll and Hospitality

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This is primarily for Swords and Sorcery/Sandals games.

Xenia is the Greek term for hospitality and is the ancient code of conduct. It provides ample content to be used in an OSR game. This post draws from Greek hospitality rituals to explain a different procedure for the reaction roll.

So classically, Xenia referee to the relations of guests to hosts and hosts to guests. Hosts would provide food, drink, and gifts to guests. They would also offer safe escort to their next destination. Guests would be in turn courteous and not a threat nor a burden. Guests would relay information from whence they came. Hosts were able to call upon the Guests for assistance during their stay in their homes.

In many OSR games, many players are suspicious of those who would be kind and nice to them. Encountering people offering you food and gifts may set off alarms as to “can we trust these people?”.  But if the players know how to expect the rules of hospitality then they don’t have to always be on their guard and positive reactions roles can be greatly expanded to days not just mere moments.  A major component to the Greek Xenia is the idea of the gods walking about the world. The man seeking shelter form the rain could be Zeus, so you do not dare turn him away. I would say this easily fits into OSR games with spirits, demons, and Magic Users.

Use in a game

So encounters have a few components
1 Surprise
2 Distance
3 Reaction

So without Charisma modification, reaction rolls have a 25% chance of hostility, 25% chance of friendliness, 50% of neutral. There is a further 3% chance of combat. This means that almost all encounters with speaking people results in conversation and player skill informs the outcome of these conversations. Further even if it is a hostile reaction roll it does not mean that it cannot be diffused with player skill. As a reminder hostility does not mean combat. A negative reaction roll could mean that the other party charges a toll, wishes to exploit, or even to take command of the players. This can be expanded on even if hospitality is kept.

So players entering a settlement/home would be offered food, water, and exchange gifts with the master of the domain and the reaction roll could dictate what happens after the customs. A negative reaction roll could be that the master decides to call upon the party to perform a perfidious task for him. Certain masters may seek the death of the party and send them into cursed locations to retrieve treasures, to slay terrible monsters, or to even save a princess. To many referees this will read like quest-hooks, and it honestly is a great way to do it. For example you stay at the hall of the chieftain of the tribe and after you exchange gifts and feast the chieftain calls upon you to enter the ruins of the ancient civilization to search for the healing herb. A roll of 1,1 on the reaction roll could even be the host flying into a murderous rage from having too much to drink, which fits well with the swords and sorcery aesthetic. It’s worth noting that back in the day there where wizards who would come out of their towers and geas players to go into dungeons. So this isn’t all that wild of a notion. Xenia also fits in well into domain play where it would be not only people asking things of the players as rulers but the players could in turn ask things of their guests.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Chasing a Blaze in the Northern Sky Session 12 Summary

Having arrived to the Athrosi Tribe on Samarta, the Combative Companions are one fourth of the way through their cartographic journey. To aid in this task however, they've enlisted the help of Uri, the man they had saved from whatever torturous fate the devils had intended for him. Ever grateful, he agreed to guide them to the two remaining villages that hide among the muck and foliage, Syrasi and the Spali.

Together, the group set out through the rain towards Spali, making certain to avoid the gravesites and swamps that may or may not be filled with warrior spirits and zombies, until nightfall began to approach. In need of shelter they find an ominous house complete with runes to protect the sight from rain. To have such a home in the outskirts of the forest seemed odd, but a roof  is a roof, no matter where it may be built, so the party approached in hopes of being granted a place to rest for the night. Before they even managed to knock the door, a young woman of golden hair and crimson lips welcomed them in. Her name was Kirke.

This is a trap, protested most of the party at an internal level.

The concept of unconditional kindness is a rarity, but Kirke seemed almost too hospitable, having manifested a bountiful feast that the entire party could partake in. She had claimed her unseen servants had prepared this meal, but how could she even assume anyone would arrive to eat such a feast? Why are there runes and what kind of mysticism is she aware of? Why is there a mural on the ceiling of an abominable woman with multiple eyes and necks that end in mouths? It was all far too suspicious leading to some like Matthias and Bodhi leaving prematurely to “watch the horses”, and for people like Oogi to be utterly terrible guest, interrogating their host and refusing to partake in the feast she had prepared.

Among the party however, the most well mannered was Flayed-Lips, who had left his weapon outside, partaken of her food, and had done his best to be a good guest throughout the entire experience. His good nature was rewarded in the midst of the night when the woman decided to kiss his lips, healing them entirely. With lips un-flayed he told those who he were with him refer to him by his birth-name, Nanok.

After a very paranoid night the party eventually awoken to find that there was no house in sight. There was no trace of Kirke yet despite this, the party did not feel hunger from a meal not had, and Nanok’s lips were still healed. For the first time in a while, the party had a legitimately nice encounter that was completely unconditional. She was almost certainly a witch that might have killed them if they were a little more rude, but that’s beside the point.

After another day’s worth of travel, they come across a band of men as they begin to set their camp for the night. Ever eager to socialize Matthias calls out to the men, but they did not seem to take kindly to the presence of the party. Branding them as Outlanders, the man introduces his group as the Tydu, and despite Matthias’s attempts to be civil, his words are only met with hostility and the demand to duel. Disheartened that they would not duel via riddles and crossword puzzles, Matthias reluctantly accepted and dueled one of the warriors of Tydu, only for him and the opponent to experience a simultaneous knockout, resulting in a draw. With no clear winner, the Tydu grumble amongst themselves as they dragged their duelist away.

There were no major altercations after this point. Oogi had found a blind merchant in the middle of the night and had sold his horse and a chunk of Randon’s silver for a magical orb that apparently drives people mad when shattered, and on the following day they had found a small ruin while continuing their travels.

Having not risked their lives exploring some random complex teeming with monsters in a while, the party decided to enter and see if they could find anything. There was actually a fair amount of treasure for such a small location, with them taking the gems out of the eyes of statues, and quickly coming upon a statue at the end of a long hallway. It was a golden idol of a man in the fetal position with an oblong head and emerald eyes. Being at the end of a long and narrow hall, the party was certain there would be some form of trap that would activate upon them stealing the statue, so rather than have the entire group by mutilated, they had set apart their most hardy man at the time to steal the statue on everyone’s behalf. None other than he who attracts misfortune like his disgusting frog face face repels women, Oogi. He removes the statue, and on cue the walls open to reveal a massive boulder rolling its way down the hall. The others escape, but Oogi is too slow to outpace the bolder, finding himself nearly crushed to death in the process. He survives, but the statue is absolutely ruined as a result of the bolder. But hey, gold is gold.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Chasing a Blaze in the Northern Sky Session 11 Summary

Despite being competent enough to capture a saber tooth tiger, the Combative Companions lacked the basic foresight to actually make a prior agreement to motivate their efforts in the first place. So, the party returned to the merchants for their journey to Skyfa, with a bound, and very aggressive beast on the ship and the back of the head thought that they'll deal with the whole"getting money" part at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Continuing their trend of doing work for ambiguous pay, they now have a new task given by several merchants as they enter the Island of Samarta. There are five villages on this island with them already arriving to the village of Yahzi. The remaining four villages however, they wish to be mapped out and guided to for the sake of selling their goods. Of the four villages, three exists in the general direction of east through the island's swamps. So, the party set off east in hopes that they don't somehow miss all three villages. They party also does something that they've been holding out on for a while, and makes sure that everyone, even the more miserly members of the party, have a horse to increase their rate of travel. A task tougher than they'd assume based on the natural instinct of the horses available to scatter at the sight of the frogish abominations that compose parts of the party.

Once they managed to equip the party, they set off along the eastern shores in a mostly uneventful series of days, finding nothing more than the occasional rubble of what was once a building or a stray statue. Klaatu was verbally roasted to death by someone in a group of men that they met however, which doesn’t help them in any way, but is worth noting regardless. It isn’t until their third day of travel that something notable happens as the party finds themselves ambushed in the middle of the night by a group of men claiming to be the "Sword of Marduk", which they’ve heard before as the weapon of the man they had a riddle competition with. These men do not seek riddles however, only wishing for the blood of the “unclean”, referencing the frogmen that can be found in the party.

Thinking quick, Matthias, one of the only holimen in the party, tell the men that he and his fellow holiman Halthor have come to this island in search of a cure for the condition these cult-worshipping mutants face, which manages to calm them under the assumption that the party did not make a pact with a frog demon, and were merely cursed. With them less inclined to murder everyone, they are actually willing to talk with the non-frogmen and provide some valuable information. They tell the party that there is a not too distant temple the party can reach that will “cure” the mutated condition of their party members. They give directions to the village of Athorsi. And the party learn that the Oogi, who is also one of the frogmen that they were going to kill, is considered a scoundrel with a reputation so bad that it's transitioned beyond Lestryhonia. Good thing he goes by Paul now.
With a reevaluated sense of direction the party heads to southeast Athorsi.

As they’re traveling, the party comes across a group of devils who they assume were associated with the stories they were told of devils who held the secrets of making tar, and may be able to sell them something. First impressions were poor however, as they did not take kindly to the priest, and found the worshipers of Lord Zaba to be laughable more than anything. It was clear these demons showed little interest in supplying tar with them. It did not matter however, as the party quickly learned as they approached that the pit they were gathered around did not contain tar, but rather held a men begging for mercy, that was being tortured by these devils.

Most of the others cared not for the man’s fate, but Matthias was not going to let this man be doomed to the fates of devils and made a bold gamble for his life. He was going to play a game of dice for the man’s life, and if he lost, he would denounce his fate, and submit to the will of Satan. Confident in is faith however, Matthias agreed, rolled his dice, and then promptly lost...but with the power of the lord he accidentally spilled a bottle of his holy water onto one of his dice, miraculously transforming it into a better roll before anyone noticed.

Defeated, the devils kept with their agreement, and freed the man who tells the party he’s a villager from Athorsi, and with his guidance, the party makes it to the first of four villages.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Chasing a Blaze in the Northern Sky Session 10 Summary

With multiple overlapping goals and promises, the party set out to the ocean, serving as the escorts of several merchants traveling to Skyfa, where Matthias also promised to escort Sibe and Ria, the daughters of Koloksi the ruler of the Antrofahi Tribe. Their trip was not as simple as merely riding a boat, catching fish and surviving the terrors of sea-sickness however. The entire trip will be nearly  month's worth of time, and before they can make it to Skyfa, they will be spending a week in the Kingdom of Hamin, a land of saber tooth tigers and Krakens that harass the shorelines. Though it was no part of the agreement, the merchants did carry an interest in bringing along a saber tooth tiger, so the party agreed to attempt to capture one during the week.
Sure there were women also begging them to aid in killing the Kraken, but priorities are priorities.
Traveling deep into the woods they were warned of those who inhabited the dense foliage. Worshipers of the tigers existed in those woods and to let them know of their intents would surely lead to an assault by what could be an entire village worth of people. But the true terror of the woods was a threat no one was truly prepared for. Riddles.
As they traveled a man by the name of Marduk stopped the party demanding some form of duel if they are to pass. Unlike the others who were merely armed with the most basic iron tools they could acquire, this man was armed with a well crafted sword that could surely rend and tear the party if they were not careful. Perhaps they could overpower him if they disrespect the duel and attack him together, but with a moment of quick thinking, Klaatu suggest they duel in wits rather than brawn. Much to everyone's surprise, he agreed, and decided he would test them with a pair of riddles. Having a situation they could not stab or burn away, the combative companions had put everything they had into answering his two riddles:

I am the black birth of the bright mother,
I flee to the heavens as a wingless bird,
I make each eye weep, but not from grief
At my birth I vanish into thin air.
What am I?

When you cast your gaze to me, I cast mine to yours
Though you see me, I am blind
I am jealous that you speak, but I cannot speak.
My lips merely hang uselessly.
What am I?

After nearly experiencing a self imposed aneurysm, Klaatu guessed smoke and one's reflection accordingly, which thankfully, were both correct. The party continued their travels. Needing a place to settle for the night, the party had found a nearby village that they had hoped would harbor them. Based on the decorative saber toothed skeletons and pelts they were donning however, it quickly became obvious that the combative companions came across the very people they were warned about. Despite the tension of the encounter, they were able to hold their tongues of their plans and were allowed to stay the night in their village. They were requested to leave in the morning however, as some of their deformed, Zaba worshiping frog friends left a bad impression with their cult activities and incessant ribbiting.
So, they left and began their continued search for the tigers. After spending nearly an entire night hoping a tiger would wander into a trap they built, they eventually decided that they had spent enough time in the woods and would go find one themselves. Their search led to a cave, and after luring the great beast out with food, Oodi and Halthor proceeded to shoot it in an attempt to weaken and eventually subdue it. As this was happening however, a second tiger emerged from the cave. Smaller, weaker, definitely easier to bring, they had uncovered a saber tooth tiger still in its youth that would make their lives a whole lot easier to attempt catching instead.
Oogi shoots it in the face and it dies.
After essentially fighting a small family worth of tigers, thoroughly desecrating the traditions of the villagers that gave them shelter, the party net the original tiger and drag it away over the course of multiple days back to the boat. No one has any real experience in animal handling, but hopefully the merchants will be able to keep this great beast without someone losing their face.

Session 10 Downtime Events

The party returned to Krem's ship, their captured tiger in tow, and left to sail to Samarta. 

As thralls of Lord Zaba, Hurass and Thorvid were further changed. Hurass's left arm began to wither and it's flesh turned grey and slimy. Across several days his fingers began to bulge and ended up with thick pads like that of a frog. Thorvid's skin began to change turning cold and clamy and he began to lose his body hair. 

They traveled westward for a week and arrived at the southern shores of Samarta, docking to the port of the Yahzi tribe.