This is a simple and relatively quick outline at the events from the last time we played Winterwall, said day being the local gaming club’s March Game Day.
Player Characters Present
Kankad (2nd lvl Chaotic fighter), played by Brendon, accompanied by henchman One-armed Tom and hireling Two-armed Phil
Cashian (1st lvl Chaotic Elven thief), played by Skylar.
Filbert the Cleric (1st lvl Lawful Half-elf), played by Daniel
Fylar the Wizard (1st lvl Elven M-U), played by Christopher
SEQUENCE OF EVENTS
- Kankad recruits the group over ales at the famous Underfall Inn by regaling them with tales of treasure. The companions are introduced to the stalwart henchman, One-armed Tom and his cousin, Phil.
- Provisions are purchased, mules are discussed, henchman fees are haggled over, and the party sets out south down the old road through the Fallow Fields.
- On the first day’s journey, a brief lunch is had on top of a menhir-crowned hill that overlooks the swift-running Riverill. An old tower is espied across the river and marked for a potential later visit. Cashian humbly submits a sacrifice of 5 gold to the small stone altar in the center of the circle of stones, and is rewarded with a boon of health. Fylar follows up this sacrifice of his own, but the god(s) do not reward him. In a pique, he takes back his gold piece and is punished with an upset tummy.
- Having had lunch, the group travels through the large copse of woods where a previous party had slain a talking bear. Upon reaching the far side, two member of the party are wracked by a sickening fear, and the whole group sees a gleaming white dragon in the distance, beating the ground with its cruel saurian wings and lifting off with a bison in its talons. The dragon flew to the southeast, into the heart of the mountains at the Spine of the World.
- Cautiously proceeding, the group eventually makes camp for the night in the Fallow Fields. A small stand of trees is chosen for the site and a smokeless fire of hot coals is ably managed by Tom. The watches pass uneventfully.
- The Charred Inn, sight of a scrum between one of Kankad’s former parties and a group of bandits, is reached. Cashian scouts out the site as the less nimble members of the group hide in some scrub brush. The Elf startles a pair of does, but the site is found to be abandoned. Kankad looks around and notices that the bandit bodies have all been layed out in a row, but have not been buried. It’s quite a gruesome scene, as the animals have been worrying the bodies.
- The Old Temple Complex, site of the very first dungeon crawl in Winterwall history, is reached through its underwater passage. Fylar carefully wraps his spellbook in the always-well-prepared Kankad’s oilskin tent, keeping it dry during the necessary swim. The Elves prove their worth by finding a secret room that the previous expedition had missed. Inside a fine Dwarvish short sword (+1 TH) and 250gp are found in a chest. Also of interest is a bolt of silk and two bottles of an ancient Netherilian vintage. All are retrieved for use or later disposal at the pawn shop or grog-hall.
- After completing the cursory inspection of the old temple, the party heads up the endless stair for a mile or so. Their intention is to explore a grand side passage noted by an earlier expedition, but never ventured upon.
- The passage proves to be truly grandiose in scope. It is no mere hall, but rather an underground highway. An underground highway littered with the mummified corpses of long-dead soldiers clad in once-ornate armor. The frequency of these corpses increases as the group travels deeper into the mountain, until a chanting is heard from ahead.
- Cashian is sent forward to scout out the situation, and successfully sneaks to the fringe of some sort of strange necrotic ceremony. A wizard or priest is intoning strange chants in front of an unearthly flame, attended by a dozen or more shadowy figures. A quick consultation amongst the group leads to a decision to skirt around the menacing figures and continue down the highway. Unfortunately their stealth leaves something to be desired, and they stumble into two of the cloaked figures. A quick combat ensues, in which the cloaked figures prove to be undead skeletons. Filbert quickly calls upon his god, brandishes his humble wooden holy symbol, and repulses the unholy figures with the light of his god.
- Unfortunately the noise of this quick, sharp conflict draws the attention of the ceremony-attendees, who pursue the heroes as they flee…forward, deeper into the dark ghoulish highway. Fylar proves to be the slowest runner of the group, but he digs deep to summon reserves of energy and the party eventually outdistances their pursuers.
- Miles into the underground thoroughfare, the band of adventurers finds themselves to, more or less, be walking on bones. An unearthly chill begins to fill their bones, and a hellish green glow is seen to fill the air ahead. Being hearty souls, they choose to press on, and soon they are witnessing a spectral battle between ancient Netherilian Imperial soldiery with a mass of barbarians.
- Careful not to disturb the ghostly combatants, they edge along the perimeter of the great highway, warily observing the great battle raging through its collonaded spaces. Something about the chill and negative energy sucks the very life from their bones. All begin to feel ill and weak, though some are more affected than others. Still, the unknown dangers ahead do not equal the known dangers behind, and the group presses on.
- Their persistence pays off, as they emerge through the other side of the mass of doomed warriors. Though they do not immediately feel better, they at least feel no worse. The group pauses, hands on knees, to catch their breath, but even as they try to gain a moment’s respite, skeletal warriors rise from the heaps of bones that litter the flagstones of the great passage.
- A desperate battle ensues. Fylar is struck down by a horrible blow from a skeleton’s rusted spear. The group fears that he is lost to the other side in this place of the damned, but Filbert again calls upon his god, and heals the wizard, sparing him from a horrible fate. Kankad is nearly slain by a great blow from the largest of the skeletal warriors, but he is a man of experience who knows how to take a blow, and he quickly recovers to dispatch his opponent. The group emerges from the battle beaten and bloody, but unconquered.
- The party’s spirits at an ebb from the horrific events they’ve observed and endured, they can only think to find a place of safety and respite. Fortunately, they soon find an old guard post hewn into the living rock of the mountain. Some quick improvised engineering turns this forgotten cell into a redoubt, and the group holes up for a couple of days to heal and plan.
- Supplies are low, but the party has passed through great perils…perils that they have no wish to face again. This underground road must lead somewhere, and Kankad reasons that if the party can eventually emerge into the world above, he will be able to fix their position from observing the stars. Kankad’s notion proves to be wise, as continuing east, the fellowship emerges at last from the great passage into the crisp clean refreshing air of an alpine meadow. Wildflowers cover the ground of this hidden valley, and spring fed streams abound. Their spirits and waterskins refreshed, the party takes stock of their supplies and surroundings. Camp is made, and that night Kankad observes the celestial map in the sky. He determines that the group has traveled due east, deep into the Winterwall, itself. Surrounded by forbidding snow-capped peaks, it seems that no clear and easy passage back to the town exists.
- While pondering their next step, a small band of strange mounted warriors is observed riding up to the mouth of the underground highway. The party observes them from a tree line, and are themselves unobserved. The warriors have orange-yellow skin, mere slits for nostrils, and appear to be hairless. The orange folk appear to be a patrol, as they spend a few minutes looking over the entrance to the underground and prepare to leave. The group of heroes quickly decides to parley with the soldiers, and Fylar boldly steps into the meadow.
- The elf wizard startles the strangely-hued ones, but they do not immediately attack. When he gets closer, they strangely throw themselves to their knees, begging him not to hurt them, and even worshiping him. The orange soldiers keep calling him a ‘demon’ and they speak of another powerful demon, named Varangia, that they pay tribute to. Being quick of mind and low of scruples, Fylar immediately takes advantage of the soldiers’ misunderstanding, and begins to play up to their expectations. When Kankad and the bearded Filbert emerge from the woods, the soldiers let out a shriek, and beg Fylar to protect them from the ‘barbarians.’ Cashian receives much the same treatment as Fylar, though he plays the part of an aloof demon, rather than the commanding presence that Fylar attempts to project. The consorting of demons with barbarians seems to throw the orange ones for a loop, and they begin to question this deviation from their cultural dogma. Fortunately, Fylar has just the spell prepared for this sort of thing, and he charms the officer in charge of the patrol. Imperiously he commands the patrol to lead the party from Winterwall to their town and king. Convinced by thaumaturgy and good acting, the officer, who calls himself Zo-zone Zirlman, mounts his steed and leads the way. The orange ones are perplexed that the ‘demons’ do not choose to fly as Varangia always does, but they accept this oddity, reasoning that demons are mysterious and not to be questioned.
- The DM wearies! Along the way, the party learns that these strange orange people are called the Maoni. Their village proves to be a good-sized town, surrounded by towering white-washed stone walls. In town the demons are received with great pomp. In the town center the king and his priest-counselors await the arrival of the party. The ‘demons’ are shown proper reverence, as the thousand or so orangemen in attendance genuflect at their appearance. Fylar’s quick tongue serves him well for the most part, but some of his guesses and assumptions seem to go counter to the priests’ expectations. Still, he blusters and bluffs his way through the encounter, and soon the group is led off to a great villa to be feasted and to rest.
- The group is ushered through a great door, but the elves, whose heads are perhaps clouded by their new divine status, do not immediately notice that their ‘barbarian’ companions have not been allowed to accompany them. As the redoubtable Kankad and holy Filbert face off with armed Maoni, Fylar demands that the holy books of Varangia be brought to him. His charmed toadies, Zo-zone Zirlman hastens to comply, as the ‘demons’ begin to realize that their friends have disappeared. Listening at the great door, the elves hear sounds of the confrontation on the other side. Filbert manages to convince the Maoni to open the door. The Maoni have a great hatred for the barbarians, and wish to take their weapons and lead them away. Surrounded by a thousand Maoni and miles away from home, the party seems to have little choice, but the quick-thinking Cashian suggests that the ‘barbarians’ surrender their weapons to the ‘demons.’ The convincing Fylar quickly makes it so.
- The elves return to their grand hall as the ‘barbarians’ are led off into captivity. The Maoni don’t realize that Kankad is still armed with a wicked poison dagger from the abandoned temple adventure and that Filbert retains his simple carpenter’s hammer.
Here we had to wrap things up. Cliffhangers aren’t great for a West Marches style game, but I hope we’ll be able to get the original group back together to continue the game. The dungeons of the Maoni city might be a good way to introduce other PCs, should it be necessary.