Tuesday, October 13, 2015

(Hackmaster) Burning Trogs Rule! #14: Freakin' Cloudland Castle

1st of Decdec, 1133, Mirros, Capital of  Marakeikos
After their extended foray into the sewers of the capital, the Trogs earned a well-deserved break. Outside of two trips back to Celsior to check on Mutumbo, Nina, and baby Takem, the majority of time was spent in Mirros, continuing their training, and acquiring rumors.

Despite the news of horrible snow in the mountains west of Celsior, the area around the coast had been spared bad weather, and with a stir-crazy druid in the party, the Trogs jumped on the opportunity to escort a very late season caravan to the village of Verge.

6th of Decdec, 1133, Village of Verge, Marakeikos
The caravan having arrived at Verge with some much appreciated provisions, the Trogs settled into the only inn in town and soaked up the stories and legends.  Only one stood out, Cloudland Castle, some twenty miles south of the village, deep within the mountains,   Rumors of a powerful warlock, an elf kings, and unexplained magical phenomenon were enough for the Trogs to investigate.

10th of Decdec,1133  Cloudland Castle, outside the Village of Verge
The castle itself was an impressive site.  The sheer walls were punctuated with five tall towers, and with all the land cleared for a quarter miles in all directions, its inhabitants could easily see visitors.

15th of Decdec
It took five days for the Trogs to completely access the castle the dungeons beneath.   Despite finding a breach in the wall on the far southern wall, they waltzed right into a three way war being waged by wild elves, orc-led humanoids, and a disturbing number of undead.  Everytime they found secure area, another side in the war would rear its head.  Additional allies were not welcome, even if the Trogs had offered (which they did not).  It took a magic teleporting sword to separate the group into the dungeon levels and find access back to the surface.  With the humanoid faction waning, the undead ranks growing, and the wild elves licking their wounds, the party formally descended into the dungeon.

18th of Decdec
Raiding the factions had restocked their supplies, but the first level of the dungeon was almost as daunting as the castle proper.  Better organized orcs, hobgoblins, and odd human cults fought over every inch of the four dozen mismatched room and caves.  To try to make sense of things they began a new concept to them:  mapping.

To do this properly takes time....Boy, I'd really like to burn this whole fucking place down.  I'd REALLY like it...    - Zorin Redrock

The second level of the dungeons was even worse.  Provisions were still ok, but everyone's armor was hanging on by random straps.  Trolls, orcs, even a wight assailed the group relentlessly.  The only comfort was the burning stench of the troll they killed.  It wasn't as bad as the piles of Trog bodies they had put to the torch, but it was comforting nevertheless.

They kept finding people imprisoned in the lower levels, most were near near, but even those who were injured but stable, like dwarf Copic Troll-Chopper drew a similar fate.  Although they hid in the upper stables with armor and a sword, in a few mere hours down below, they returned to find him slain as well, stripped of Zorin's spare armor.

They finally discovered the wizard cults, depraved specialists hunting for the secrets of the lower levels.  Their first encounter with a blood mage was memorable.  The robe of human skin was indication enough that he was going to be less friendly than before, but as the Trogs attempted to slay him, he floated to the ceiling and exploded into a spray of caustic blood, burning everything and everyone it touched.  s

Zorin Redrock:  "Found some ogres. Brother Thomas' backpack broke and he's got some kind of magical bag that holds a ton of shit, and it's all scattered around now (where'd he get that bag?)"

Not part of the loot they found.
19th Decdec, The bowels of Cloudland Castle
Janus Redrock:  "goddamed wandering weh are going to be done with this gods-forsaken place.  Hold on, even more ghouls!  Found wraith, killed wraith.  Set fire to large spider web."

The safe passages the Trogs had cleared were filling with undead!    Janus and Whitey, the two clerics of the party, could barely keep up with healing the wounds of the Trogs.  Many times, they would barricade themselves in side rooms just for a few hours of respite.

21st of Decdec, even further into Cloudland
Even further into the depths the Trog encountered an enclave of elven wizards, who, why not violent, deferred tremendous indifference to the party, and wielded sufficient power to handle this rag-tag bunch of wounded adventures.   Back when they had entered the castle, the Trogs had cleaned out the manor house and had met "Jeems"  the ancient wizard's butler... in ghost form.  He had been of minor help answering questions, as the majority of the groups around the castle had not been there before he died, but when confronted by news of the elven wizards, Jeems became much more forthcoming.  The elf wizards were, in fact, worshippers of the wizard and were willing to defend their master's lair till the death.    With that data in their minds, they ventured down once more to the fourth level, parlayed ineffectively with the elves, eluded some dwarves, and got lost for awhile in a maze.

22nd of Decdec, back to Verge
Upon emerging from the maze, they consolidated their supplies and made a mad dash out of the breach in the wall and headed back to Verge post-haste.

24th of Decdec
Arrived in Verge.

Cloudland was an adventure for "skill levels 1-4" created by Grenadier Models in 1984.  It had a definitive feel of a classic Judge's Guild product which was chock full of potential but offered little guidance.  

For Hackmaster, I simply added the twenty point hit point kicker, provided logical skills, talents, and stats, and most importantly, the different factions had self-sustaining tactics.   The elves would rather retreat to a more secure location than engage a superior (for the time) opponent. 

This went against most of the logic from the published modules that I had used up until then, but with this many groups interested in a slice of something, they had to be played smarter than that. 

The Burning Trogs hated Cloudland Castle, never returning there to finish the job.  Upon discovering other adventuring parties down in the lower levels, but in complete disarray, it appeared smarter to lick your wounds, make do with some gold and a plethora of miscellaneous magic items, and find adventure elsewhere.    Some of the players still use much more colorful language than this blog entry's title suggests.

Of course, the greatest item obtained from Cloudland was simply known as "The Magic Pot" which could cook and purify food placed in it simply by uttering the command word.  Whitey became a much better cook after that.  

Next up: #15 The Search for Silver 

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