Adventures on Tellene - Stirrot Isle

The Half-Orc Who Kicked the Spider's Web

Thugg was dead. Thugg had been murdered. Thugg lived thug life.

Red Hand, Cholo and Lucky were set on vengeance. Not in the methodical sense, that cold calculated vengeance which culminates in a brutally precise strike. This was brutish vengeance, that of a man insane with rage and unable to pause for breath or thought, thug vengeance demanding blood.

They headed for West Port, hoping to find the Half-Blood lair, knowing only that it was near a light house and a brothel. West Port however is bigger than one might guess, and there are many brothels. If you have heard rumors or rumblings of their reputation you might also wonder why they thought to scout at all, given their skill set.

The attempt at getting their bearings straight and a location on the half-bloods was interrupted by Lucky’s keen eye spotting a hooded figure following them along the rooftops. Lucky turned, and with a flick of the immortal powers Risk at his finger-tips he planted a single thought in the mind of the enemy perched upon the roof: ‘dive’. The would-be spy immediately began an immaculate swan dive and careened head first towards the ground below. He regained some semblance of mental control just in time to turn the dive into a graceful roll and avoid death. The hooded figure set off at a sprint and Lug and Cholo followed suit.

The three sprinted through streets and alleys, turning and turning, with the thugs slowly gaining on the mysterious assailant. Cholo managed to get close enough to take him down briefly, but the slippery assassin slunk out of his grip.

Eventually the hooded figure lead the chase into an alley where he bounded over a ten foot fence. Cholo approached the problem in his natural way and ran headlong into the fence making only the most meager attempt to actually jump. The fence was sturdier than Cholo’s hulking mass. Lug, close behind, leaped from one box to another and was able to clear the fence and maintain pursuit. Eventually Lug used his spear to trip the fleeing man and held him down just long enough that when the man attempted to wriggle away Cholo was already there to thunder his fist into the man’s jaw.

Lug and Cholo dragged the unconscious assassin into an alley to begin an interrogation.

The man awoke. Cholo punched him. He was bleeding profusely.
Cholo bit his ear off to get him to talk. The man was on death’s door.
The man squirmed to get away so Cholo stamped on his leg shattering the bones within. The man went limp and was no more. Par for the course when Cholo interrogates.

On the corpse, which was promptly stripped, they found a number of vials in a bandolier, several daggers, throwing knives, throwing axes and a note detailing the mission to track the thugs. On the man’s back was a giant spider tattoo, which they cut from his flesh and placed on his face instead.

spider-symbol_1.png.

Lug and Cholo discarded the desecrated body in the middle of the street, a small massage to anyone else watching. When they returned later at the urging of Red Hand they found the body missing, having been moved to an alley and set on fire in a ritualistic fashion.

Who are the Spider cult and how do they relate to the Half-Bloods? If we ever find out it won’t be through careful interrogation or well laid plans

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Diary Entries of Mikor Huntswell, Naturalist of Stirrot

ENTRY 1

I have started this journal afresh, for a most astounding thing has happened, truly requiring it’s own chronicle. I heard rumors that a Svimohzian beast, called a Gorillia, an ape of preposterous proportions, is being brought in by ship courtesy of Don Migueligni. They are said to be upwards of 500 pounds, capable of the strength of 10 men, and by repute of one source; to wield powerful monkey magics.

I begged audience with the Don himself and lay my desires as a naturalist upon his mercy. I begged and the majority of my savings for the opportunity to study the beast. He has agreed, and I have staked all I have on this venture. When I publish the first naturalist study of this great best ever produced I shall be world renowned. My name will be whispered with hushed reverence in libraries and places of learning from Brandobia to Reanaaria. Scholars will venture from far to ask questions of Mikor Huntswell. But for now I have questions of my own:

Can the beast learn languages?
Does it walk on two legs or four?
How does it react to heat or cold?
What is it’s diet?

Many questions… soon Mikor shall have answers, a year of studying this wonder of nature is but a week away.

ENTRY 2

It seems the arrival of the Gorillia is not without purpose. They are to pit the savage beast against some poor half-orc in single combat to entertain revelers at the halls of wonder. Who is savage indeed? The Don has personally promised me uncompromised access to the beast once this Cholo Swag fellow has learnt of it first hand. The brutality of seeing a half-orc ripped to shreds offers no appeal to me, but I must witness the beast in action. I caught a glimpse of it in it’s cage as they brought it in today. It is glorious, magnificent, and worthy of my chronicling. Soon Mikor shall become foremost among scholars of the natural world of Tellene, my peers have seen much, but no one will ever top this. My life’s ambition, and it has flared a passion deep in my soul, I know the Gods’ have set this task before me and I shall not let them down.

I look forward to noting his behaviors in fighting and defending his territory. Will he eat Cholo? Do gorilla’s eat the flesh of semi-humans? Had I any money left and were I less morally sound I would wager in the fight, free money is not to be scoffed at.

ENTRY 3

A MILLION SAVAGE CURSES ON CHOLO SWAG THAT FU———-
The diary devolves into angry scribbles and the page is stained with tears

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2nd Night Falls in Stirrot

Another cool and calm night on the streets of Stirrot falls. All is quiet.

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A crew of half-orcs, a dwarven mage and an elephant-headed cleric walk into a lift.. (Part 3)
A riveting conclusion...

The first time the Red Hand, the nameless half-orc and Lug had any idea that they were being played with was the moment that a gigantic jackal headed beast came form the corridor behind them and knocked Jermias out cold with a single blow. The beast was felled with some effort, and the Thugs were pissed. They hatched a plan to bum-rush the elephant and crocodile-headed beasts in a full frontal assault.

After a few minutes of planning they sprinted down the corridor in tight formation. Ninety feet of tense nerves awaiting battle, and a final burst around the corner to find: nothing. Their opponents had seemingly fled.

A door on the right contained suspended platform, some temple or shrine to an evil god, and an armored man pinned to the back wall in mid-air, wearing full plate mail yet run through with five swords. The thugs closed the door on this room for now.

The next room contained an elaborate mechanism that could be figured out to access two chests. This was forced open with brute strength and the bounty withdrawn. After some deft lock-picking interspersed with reckless opening of smaller caskets within Lug’s face was the worse for wear with acid burns and Red Hand had been severely poisoned.

The thugs were done for, they needed to escape with what they had gotten post haste. The last thing on their mind was combat, images of the surface and Chad counting up the valuables swam in their thoughts. However, when they opened the door to the room again they were faced with the monstrous animal-headed beasts, who had seemingly returned while the Thugs looted the room.

The fury of a Thug wounded and backed into a corner is not to be underestimated. Beasts were ripped limb from limb, by blade and magic alike. Red Hand bore his superior firepower against the green scales of our crocodile foe, felling him with ease. Cat creatures were torn from the rafters to face judgement under the two glaives of the nameless half-orc and Lulu. Then. in the final showdown with the Elephantine cleric the combined strength of Lug and Jeremias barely prevent the nameless half-orc from throwing himself into the abyss at the beck of evil magics. The thugs were on death’s door, but if such a door exists then they had at least kicked the evil cleric through it with harsh finality.

The temple room was ransacked and the crew made their flight, leaving behind the corpses of an elephant-headed priest, a crocodile-headed cleric, and about a half-dozen other beasts with visages of jackals, cats and eagles. Victory was hard fought and coughed up in blood, but the risks they had taken were repaid in glory and loot. The thug life was lived that day.

THE END

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An extract from Risk & Ethics, a treatise by Farnum the Elder
A ripped page from a finely transcribed book.

All proper believers know that chance pervades their lives. They flip a coin, roll the dice or draw lots in ill-conceived Svimohzian drinking games. Old Lucky has a hand in all of these, but not as the men think. For when rolling dice the outcome is already known, it is in the pitch and the toss, in the angle and bumps of the table, in all the little variables, the truth of the outcome is known. If you knew everything of the surrounding reality and the nature of the flight of dice you would know how the dice would land. There is no chance there. The chance is in all things greater and beyond the veil, where Risk himself resides. I have come to see thus of creation…

At the dawn of all things Risk was there, for that existence dawned at all was mere chance, a longshot at that. He cast then a die of infinite sides into the void. The rolling of this die is the very universe we inhabit. In the void we roll, where gravity, time, speed and all the things that might determine the flight of the die are ever shifting, and the die shifts them and they shift the die again in turn. The die feeds itself therefore its own chance, and is not externally governed, it is pure chance, the seed of all risk. When the great and infinite die eventually falls upon a side the universe will be ended, and the nature of its ending shall be given upon the upward side of the dice for Risk to read off and enact. The actions of mere mortals barely sway the great roiling void and the rolling of the die through it. Even the greatest of Risk’s children have only minor sway on how the die may land.

In this way each card drawn or coin tossed upon Tellene is already known to risk, but the outcome as it is known is itself a part of cosmic pure chance, as are we all, us sons and daughters of Risk.

From this core truth I hope to elucidate a system of values to guide all Risk’s children. What manner of men and women should they be? Should they be greedy or giving? How should they mea—-

Here the page is ripped and no more of the text can be deciphered

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A crew of half-orcs, a dwarven mage and an elphant-headed cleric walk into a lift.. (Part 2)
In which our heroes meet a crocodile..

No thug worth a pint of his own blood believes himself to be the baddest motherfucker in all the world , and getting your ass handed to you is merely a lesson to a wise thug. So we should not be surprised when the our protagonists reentered the castle the very next day. This time straight to level three, but in the opposite direction; away from the stone figures, away from the semi-functional elevator.

This was the direction of the animal headed foes, jackals, wolves and obnoxious cats who prowl upon the overhanging walk-ways. The thugs walked the long edge of what seemed to be the outermost wall of the castle until they came to a long corridor stretching back in towards the center of the castle. Down this path they come upon a familiar figure, so familiar mages often call them their familiars, a planar servant. This one in the form of a crocodile headed beast and cleaning some statues. Upon seemingly being spotted the thugs retreated to the head of the corridor to regroup and set-up a plan.

Soon thereafter a gigantic jackal-headed beast came charging down the corridor. Lug and the nameless half-orc with his grand glaive spotted it and propped their weapons to prepare to face the charge. The brute thrust himself unerringly on the uplifted weapons and was immediately rent in two equally lifeless pieces. If the beasts were so tactically unsound this would be a cake-walk, a phrase most the thugs believe means to be as easy as walking upon the cake of a child to ruin said child’s birthday.

There was here some scouting, some back and forth and a minor skirmish. To the best of the thugs knowledge they were contending with another jackal-headed beast and two of the pesky catkin. They waited for the brutes to come to them, meat fed into the phalanx grinder of spears, glaives, spells and one golden priceless mace.

This was not to be the case however, instead a crocodile headed beast showed its face next. It shuffled slowly into view seemingly seeking to communicate. Red Hand understood him to mean that by a simple spell they could speak to each other, but he did not know the intricacies of the spell. Through further hand gestures and crocodile yelps it was communicated that the spell would be taught to Red Hand, scribed into his spellbook if he would hand it over. Red Hand has of late become obsessive about acquiring new spells and agreed without hesitation. The transaction was done and the party waited for the beast to return.

Now dear reader, you may be thinking, ‘Well that’s a fucking obvious trap, why would a mage hand over his spellbook? These guys are crazy or they have an excellent plan set in motion."

Hint: They’re just crazy and they are in fact about to have a trap sprung upon them

END OF PART 2 – To be continued

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A crew of half-orcs, a dwarven mage and an elphant-headed cleric walk into a lift.. (Part 1)
Everyone was the punchline at one point...

The Thugs began the day with big, albeit vague, plans of level 3. The level of the Mistress, of animal-headed beasts and a chimera. The very level where they had found the magical toga that Red Hand now wore under his finery, and the glorious mace which adorned the hip of the still relatively neophytic Jeremias.

They were joined on this day by a new recruit, mettle untested, by the name of Jerick. As a self-proclaimed thief Jerick might well have been the perfect compliment to what is otherwise largely an army of brutes, both by reputation and action. Though the optimism at the start would be shriveled by several twists of fate within the next few hours.

As they entered the dungeon familiarity kicked in… the path to the third floor seems second nature to any Thug who has been into the Castle more than once. The exploration of the are was haphazard that day, and the unlikely spectre of caution seemed to weigh on the Thugs.

Initially going east the Thugs found as room full of life-like statues, frozen too perfectly in stone. Something foul was afoot, capable of rendering all men into a stony visage of death. Should the Thugs continue against such seemingly unassailable odds? They checked the room to the north before deciding. In this room they found more statues facing a shimmering wall mural of a cave that ebbed magically. As they realized what was likely happening their expressions turned to universal facial insinuations of ‘fuck-that-shit’ and ’let’s-fucking-bail’. Knowing glances all around, and the delving direction was reverted; back west, then north.

In said direction they found long passages every which way, and stumbled upon (indeed the rumors are true) a lift!

Have you ever heard the old joke: “How many half-orcs does it take to operate a magical lift in an underground castle?” Apparently the answer is two halves of a party, half to the operate the lift and the other half to stay on the third floor and escalate a friendly play fight into a near deadly duel while in dungeon SURROUNDED BY DEADLY FREAKING ANIMAL HEADED ABOMINATIONS THAT CAN DROP FROM THE FREAKING CEILING!!

With the party successfully split Lug, Cholo, Hellscream, Jeremias, Jerick and Boromir found themselves on the 4th floor, with Red Hand and the nameless one remaining above unable to get the lift to operate again

On the 4th floor the party made it through a series of rooms that Lug had to be informed were foul smelling. The corridor adjoining these rooms to the lift gave a view of a huge underground lake and docks. The rooms themselves contained small colorful creatures with lizard-like frills upon their quickly-severed heads. The party then parlayed with some Dwarves, and showing them the lift were in turn showed a way back up to the first floor; sailing out on the lake an climbing up a long shaft.

On the first floor in the circular room they rejoined their companions who were substantially injured from the aforementioned duel. The party healed up and returned to the dungeon at a later time.

Upon returning they headed to level 3 where they immediately encountered the dwarves again. This time the encounter went quite differently. Red Hand upon learning that one of the dwarves was a mage turned on his classic Red Hand charm and after a brief exchange that involved excessive use of the word ‘cunt’ the mage proceeded to paralyze him. Seeing this as a clearly hostile action the party charged the mage. Perhpas a little under-informed about the power of mages they were surprised when seconds later, though the mage had been stabbed with a deftly placed spear she was able to with a single spell leave Cholo, Jerick, Hellscream and the nameless one all crumpled on the floor on the verge of death. Realizing that they had been bested Lug tried diplomacy and the dwarves left, taking with them Cholo and Hellscream’s weapons, which were returned later. The party licked their wounds, grabbed the still-frozen Red Hand and headed back to the Salty Dog. 12 hours later Red Hand unfroze. Lesson learned: do not anger high level dwarven mages… no… perhaps don’t anger any mage.

END OF PART 1 – TO BE CONTINUED

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The Unsuccessful Mapping of the First Floor

The date was set for a routine mapping of the first floor of Stirrot Castle. The level, having been combed over and picked to the bone by numerous adventuring parties, having been rid of the menace of Garzee, having had its various trolls and goblins vanquished, suggested no challenge. The only challenge to the mapping that anyone might have suspected was the sheer size of the place. Our players in this most routine and tedious task were Luggard Luddox, Jeremias, the thug known as Thug, an astute member of the noble guild of cartographers… and… yup… Boromir.

As the group ventured into the castle by the main entrance their weapons were slung haphazardly in scabbards and sheaths, the ease that comes with familiarity written on their unconcerned faces. This state of affairs would be short lived. The cartographer began his scribbling, and the party ventured in their familiar northward direction.

It was at that first section, a left-turn that formed a familiar T-junction, passed countless times before, that Jeremias noticed something strange. He explained to his compatriots that the wall to their right seemed to him to be quite off in color. Lug fumbled around at the wall, until suddenly it swung open in its entirety. The T-junction had become a 4 way intersection, and the newly revealed path was odd to say the least.

Staring down the path they saw the floor was an incredible blue color, and they saw no less than 7 doors on their right hand side. The castle is full of surprises.

Now at this point they had mapped perhaps 50 square feet total, not even a tiny part of their mundane mission. However, something seemed to draw them to adventure, as inexorably as a glutton to a feast. No argument was raised when Lug directed them down the hall to the first door in the blue area.

Behind the first door was found a shattered table and a decrepit bookshelf. One learns quickly in Stirrot Castle to look more closely at all things. Subsequently a passage was discovered at the back of the room behind the book shelf. This small passage lead the party to a corridor line with murals of horrific torture and countless bones scattered all about. Heading down the corridor and turning right they found a door. Beyond which they found another corridor obscured some ways down by a thick unnatural black smoke. Adventure is not unlike a snowball, and the momentum had crossed that invisible threshold when recklessness takes over. Lug did not hesitate and led the party through the smoke.

As they breached the smoke on the other end they found themselves facing an undead skeleton sitting on a throne in scale mail and carrying an intimidating battleaxe. Jeremias, carrying Sacrimace, was well aware that the the very purpose of his weapon was to vanquish the undead. The rest of the party were equally stalwart, they being fueled by the love of a good fight and the thirst for glory… they charged.

Jeremias clutching his holt symbol turned the wretch. It ran in fear, and unable to go anywhere was struck hard by Sacrimace, which glowed, almost in satisfaction of fulfilling its purpose. Recovering and rabid in the heat of battle the skeletal foe landed an early telling blow on Jeremias, who, unarmored, went down convulsing. The others quickly realized that even the strongest blows from their mundane weapons did scarcely anything to the horror. Lug took Sacrimace to continue the battle and held his ground for over a minute of intense combat; dodging, weaving and striking. When Jeremias came to Lug was astonished to find that the mace had disappeared from his hand and appeared in Jeremias’. The young cleric-in-training was able to finalize the victory of the thugs despite his wounds.

Having made such a detour of the mission, and brutally injured, the brave adventurers sought the surface. They handed over what they had found at the desk and returned to the Salty Dog to share their tale.

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