Mysteria

The Squinty Eye of The Law
A conversation with Captain Hendryk

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Now, see, I don’t say a kobold aint no equal, but I do say he got scaly skin and he’s smaller ‘n most. Sometimes I don’t wonder if ol’ King Kuromak himself aint in league with that sultry Sultana them winged lizards got workin’ for them down south, but he’s got his place on the Council, and as a Capp’n of The Law I gotta respect that. Hell, you could say that little lizard even pays some of my wages.

Now them sneaky shadowy Fey, them’s another thing, and don’t tell me they don’t still slink around the shadows at night, coz I seen ‘em and they aint pretty. Yeah, they may live in their Shadow Courts, eating Sarastra’s shadow shit and casting their damn shadow magic but they’re as real as shadows themselves and they got shadow roads that come right up to the walls of the city, or I’m not the son of a barrister guildmaster.

This city might be built by humans but it’s not just humans a Capp’n of the Watch has to deal with. Thieving little dwarf slavers, mechanical monstrosities, half-gnomes, bullheads, I’ve seen ‘em all and I got to treat ’em right by the council or the Counsellors get fidgety, see? You know me, I’m as honest as they come, give or take a few minor kinks, and as long as these folks keep in line, they can stay there.

Sure you get weirdos! I don’t go down them Cartways no more! Let them in the underground keep the underground I say. A place for keen-eyed lizards ‘n ghouls is them realms. Yeah, ghouls I said, Darakhul, and don’t tell me there aint none in Zobeck coz I got ears ‘n I got eyes. You got vamps ruling them poor folks up The Old North Road and they aint no free citizens like we got here. From what I hear, under the lands of Morgau and Doresh, you got an entire kingdom of them flesh lovers, and they’re moving closer every day. Maybe it’s only them slinky Shadow Fey as keep em out of Zobeck. That, and The Old Margreve. Not even a ghoul’s gonna mess with them trees and their roots run deep!

But I got no time for changelings, and who has? How can you trust someone that doesn’t even keep true to his own form. Yeah, I’m talking about the were’s. Every full moon my men have to deal with the extra carnage and if we find one of them, we kill them straight off with silver spears. All my boys get a silver spear and a sprig of wolfbane on the full moon – the herb keeps them at bay long enough to stick in your spear and they don’t like them silver bits none.

Trouble with the weres is, when it’s not full moon, you don’t know who they are. I can’t go arresting no citizen just coz’ some jealous business rival tells me he’s a wolf or a tiger or a bear. I mean, it’s weird shit, but how do you know, and I aint go enough cells to keep ’em all in overnight jus ’n case, if you get my drift.

Keepin the Law’s just like keepin’ a kid. It looks all sweet on the outside but it’s always got it’s dark side and you gotta keep yer eye on the thing less’n it gets its dark side out ‘n screws you over. You know why they call us THE WATCH? Coz that’s what we do. We watch, an iff’n we sees something we don’t like, then we act. Course, a bitta gleamin’ coin always does wonders for the eyesight, if you know what I mean.

Captain Hendryk is a Captain of the Watch, stationed in Lower Zobeck.

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If you go down to the woods today...

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Bartiman Greenbough had an uncannily urgent feeling in his old BEAR SHAMAN bones that time was running out. Deep in The Old Margreve in THE BELLY OF THE BEAST an anthro-lupine battle was about to take place that could see a tragic turn of events for generations to come. It all centered around the young girl Czerwonya Kohler and a fearsome forest entity called The Would-Be-King-of-the-Wolves.

Hurrying through the forest path, Bartiman and Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall) cleaved their way through a hungry SAP DEMON and scraped past a few spikey CHILDREN OF THE BRIAR before coming to a clearing with a small pile of twigs in its centre. Goran moved forward to investigate, eliciting a hail of crossbow bolts from the VARGAMORS hiding in the clearing’s edge and led by the death defying Brother Borislav who had escaped them the night before at the Witch’s Teat Inn. With Balgor and Iron Wall both close to death, Arcael unleashed fire on his emenies but was immediately discouraged from such action by two GREEN HUSSARS who sprang into life and escourted him throughout the encounter.

The Caelmaran Sorcerer, Arcael, changed tactics and boosted a forest newcomer, the full-plated warrior, Elladan, to massive size, dealing powerful damage to the werewolf Borislav, who fought like a wild animal, inflicting Goran, Balgor and Bartiman with certain LYCANTHROPY before finally being brought to his bitterest end.

Running onward, the minstrels came to a tree with a large hut held in its branches. From up above, they heard the sound of the young Czerwonya as she exclaimed in wonder: “What large eyes you have, Grandma Babushka!” Climbing up the tree was not the easiest thing. Truman Click fell on his first attempt and Bartiman failed more than once, but eventually all ascended and came face to face with the Would-be-King-of-the-Wolves.

Casting spells at them, the lupine horror kept the fighting at bay for some time. Some opponents were put to sleep, some were blinded, one was even forced down to the bottom of the tree to “stand guard” but in the end it was the mighty felling stroke of the newcomer, Elladan, who stole the thunder of Bartiman, poised as he was to throw the silver axe, WOLF KILLER. In a metallic crack of bone splintering power, the wolf fell under the sword stroke of the heavily armed fighter and the supremacy of man over wolf was confirmed.

The death of the wolf split open its belly and Grandma Babushka erupted from the stomach, a little dazed, but thankfully still alive and well. “We creatures of the forest shall reward you ere you leave the Margreve”, she vowed.

With the girl safe and the forest calm, the adventurers headed on to the EYES OF THE FOREST INN, where they met the artist, Woody Banks and made the purchase of exotic woodland art commissioned by their sponsor, Alexei Splitleaf of Allain. Their night of rest at the Inn was the best rest they had had in over a week, and they all looked forward to the tales they would tell their fans when they returned to The Wheatsheaf Inn in LOWER ZOBECK.

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Three Steps to Heaven

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It was late at night in the large bedroom of the Witch’s Teat when the balcony doors suddenly came crashing in to the obvious surprise of Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall) as he stood there peering out into the darkness. Arcael wakened Balgor and immediately sent fiery blasts into two opponents, killing them instantly. The door burst open and more vargamors burst into the room wildly wielding axes. Truman Click stopped resting his gears and whirred into action as Goran positioned himself in prime “backstab postion” in the corner of the room.

The leader, Brother Borislav, a sword-wielding werewolf entered the room and engaged with the mighty minotaur but, before he could get in any good swings or lycanthropic bites, soon realised that the battle was not to be won, and fleed out the door. One injured prisoner was taken and the group learned that they had become part of the CHALLENGE OF THE FANG and were being pursued by the servants of The-would-be-King-of-the-Wolves.

Having gained nine doses of WARG SALVE, they ventured forth into the forest, looking for the Paths of Gamayun by which they would tread in order to reach, and possibly save, the young girl, Czerwonya Kohler from inevitable fate.

Three tests they overcame: The Test of Knowledge they passed through faith and worship of Lada, Queen of the Underwater Lawns, the Test of Resolve, they only just passed through the quick thinking reverence to the completion of OATHS, and the third test, involving a choice of three to which bartiman-greenbough cried: “All!” was completed at great physical cost to the brave fighter, Iron Wall, in his grappling with the disguised LESHY and at some cost to both Arcael and Goran succumbing to vicious wasp attacks.

The mistress of the Third Test, Stuthac the Ala became completely enraged but through the group’s passing of the test, was compelled to let them forward to “Grandma’s House” in THE BELLY OF THE BEAST.

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Strangers in the Night

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Magical healing is never so exciting as it is in The Old Margreve. While the forest siphons in the magical energy, it also lends its own transformative powers in the form of plant like protrusions from the bodies of all those healed. With twiggy features, Arcael and The Oooze looted the bugbear’s basement and climbed up the tower, killing two more bugbears and three nasty ogres. The bugbears were sliced vertically by Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall) and horizontally by the swinging scythe of Balgor and of the ogres, let us just say that Arcael burned one of them to a cinder, Goran inflicted double dagger death on another and the last succumbed to multiple attacks as he reached for his trusty javelins.

Bartiman Greenbough took the lead in the search for griffons, while Truman Click ministered intense healing to the mighty gearforged warrior who strode out in front, climbing ladders and entering every room with his Iron Wall defiantly resisting clockwork shutdown. Near the top of the tower, they found two griffon hatchlings and two cowardly bugbears hiding in a cupboard. In a master stroke of stuational comedy, the party took on the bugbears as serving carriers of the two chicks as they continued on through the forest to the Witch’s Teat Inn. On the way, a mysterious fog engulfed everyone and a lone steed carrying a dying rider reached them. Bartiman took the silver axe gripped tightly in the man’s hand, but when talking wolves entered the scene, demanding that the group leave their prey to them, the group did just that, and hoofed it on to the warm comforting light of the Inn.

With the hatchlings sold and the bugbears freed, the group spent some time relaxing in the bustling tavern. The minotaur played drinking games with the dwarf, Balderneck Gunnacksen, while the druid spoke with an old crone fortune teller, who told him:

“I see choice, catechism, and consequences. You’ll pass through places that were old before iron was born, and iron will avail you little there. Knoweledge of the old ways is better than sword or shield. I’ll say also this: Not all that’s devoured is dead and gone, and when offered a choice, the brave may earn a great reward by saying boldly, “All!”

Goran spent some time watching a strange group of long-fingered men, playing an even stranger game of cards, while most of the others hearkened to the tale of woe of one Hodel Kohler, who told how his daughter, Czerwonya, had been been caught up in the Challenge of The Fang , and age old mythic struggle between humans and wolves. With emotional sobs, he begged the party to help him save his daughter by taking the Paths of the Gamayun and rescuing her from the Would-be-King-of-the-Wolves, offering a FIREBIRD FEATHER as reward.

When Goran returned to the group with a description of how the tarocchi fortune telling cards bore likenesses of each and every member of their party, The Oooze decided it was time to rest for the night and hired a large communal room, resting while two sentries took vigil. Like hobbits in Bree, dreading Nazgul infiltration, they waited anxiously for a highly anticipated event.

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No Smoke on The Water

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When Alexei Splitleaf of Allain finds himself longing for some rare woodland art by the secretive MARGREVE artist, Woody Banks, he turns to his brave adventurers, Arcael and The Oooze, to take on the journey through the forest. Uniting with their old friend, Balgor, they take THE OLD NORTH ROAD, stopping at RIVENSKY BREWERY and OLD MIKHAIL’S INN on their way to the EYES OF THE FOREST INN, where Banks resides.

Near to the old ruined griffon tower, Bartiman Greenbough suggests a quick detour to taste the sweet waters of Griffon Pond. Indeed, they are just as sweet as he had always heard; however, the nearby bloodtree was not so sweet; an ambush of animated boughs immediately grabbing the druid, Balgor and Truman Click and throwing explosive SIPHORB FRUITS at Arcael and Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall), who had the good sense to hang back. Iron Wall ran in to attack but Goran expertly hiding behind the trunk of the great tree itself, managed to escape notice for some time before eventually succumbing to the angry embrace of the tree.

After a few rounds, with Truman Click (fourth most famous Gearforged Oracle in the world), inactive, Balgor unconsious and all the others severely wounded, Arcael made a plea to The Old Margreve by offering up the Key of Veles in return for his party’s life and The Old Margeve listened, magically consuming the precious magical item, while commanding the bloodtree to release its prey.

After drinking the sweet water, the ever vigilant druid Greenbough found the sack of a poor bugbear bandit, pocketed some stolen treasure, and followed a path of footsteps through the forest to the old ruined griffon tower itself. With some unusually loud “sneaking” the group entered the tower and came upon a group of bugbears in the basement. The last remaining bugbear pleaded for his life but found no mercy under the swinging scythe of Balgor. In the deathly silence, they collected their thoughts and prepared to investigate the rest of the tower.

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River Deep Mountain High

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With a sponsor, and a purpose, and a Type IV Bag of Holding, Arcael and The Oooze slipped gently down the River Argent, picking up a caravan in Clarasaya and joining them in a journey over the Rothenian Planes to Demon Mountain. Their mission (…and they chose to accept it)? Ruin the wine of Ulfer Frazo, stolen by the “Son of the Master” from honest merchant Korsav of Zobeck.

Chaos erupted at the gates of the Outer Donjon, with the confiscation of weapons and the sneaky hiding of such things by evil gnomes. Looking for the loyal kobold, Vyoda, the group set up tent and took a short sample of the goods on offer at the PAVILLIONS OF PERVERSITY, exposing the crudely stitched SPOCK ears of the supposed “elven” dancers with disastrous results on a certain gnomish proprietor, the angry mob ripping him to pieces as the adventurers made their exit.

Taking in some of the raucous tunes of evening, with much cacophany coming from the tower itself, the group rested till the next day before entering the lower donjon, looking for clues. While Truman Click stood in a queue, waiting to see THE SOLICITOR, Arcael, Goran, Bartiman Greenbough and Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall), scouted around for further clues, finding a giant minotaur quartermaster guarding the confiscated weapons and a Priest of Wotan, who seemed like he had something to hide.

Trouble erupted as the group walked into the kitchen to find a young serving wench being molested by a drunken wizard and his two thugs. Battle erupted and the wizard and one of his thugs paid the ultimate price, with the sole survivor getting a stern warning from Arcael. With much gratitude, Lyssa the kitchenmaid advised that the best place to find the kobold Vyoda would be in the Pavillions of Perversity, so back they went, avoiding gnomes and generally trying to stay out of trouble.

After avoiding a Vargoille Kissing Booth and refusing the Bemmean Tent of Horrors, the group slunk into the Zombie Massage Parlour and found their man. (Did I say man? I meant Kobold!)
Vyoda told them of the secret door into the cellar and the way to the hidden wine stores of Ulfer Frazo and the party lost no time in getting their weapons by bribing the quartermaster before being confronted by the secretly evil Priest of Chernovog in the chapel and having to despatch him before slipping underground.

In the cellars they disturbed an Otyugh Zombie and, on finding the corpses of Vyoda’s family, “awakened” a haunt in the form of a stinking cloud that enveloped them all as giant rot grubs attacked. Eventually they encountered the Schir demon, who seemed to want the life of Vyoda pretty badly and asked kindly for the party to get him….or die! The party offered some resistance and the Schir ran away to his hideout in the wine cellars.

Arcael and the Oooze followed and used Korsav’s incantation to spoil all the wine, but they could not combat the slippery demon and had to run back out of the chambers with the demon harrying Iron Wall all the way to safety. A return to Zobeck and a recounting of the tale to a beaming Korsav earned the party a cool 250 GP and couple of magical gifts beside! They were on their way to being true masters of Mysteria!

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Sing me that old Demon Mountain Oooze
What I heard and saw in Zobeck

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It’s not every night that a minstrel loving scribe can leave The Wheatsheaf Tavern with a smile on his face but two weeks ago, that is exactly what I did after hearing the sweet melodic voices and winds of the new band started up by Arcael and his fellow renegade from Schmidt Happens, Mr Golden Fingers himself, Truman Click.

Arcael and The Oooze won over the audience with their folk punk trip hop repertoire that not only kept the feet tapping and kobold ears fluttering, but also kept Carla Siccone‘s beer pumps pumping as well. The rasping metallic voice of Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall) is unlike anything I have ever heard before but seems to complement Arcael’s dulcet tones perfectly; much in the same way as Bartiman Greenbough‘s carnyx harmonises pefectly with Truman Click’s sonorific flute playing. Add to this the gentle swaying dance of Goran that lifts the mood of the audience and gets them moving in time, and we have one of those great evenings to remember.

I will certainly be keeping an eye out for this band and hope it is a herald of great things to come in the thriving music world of Lower Zobeck.

Amon Duul Nederlande

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Ghosts

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Ghosts are gruesome, ghosts are grim!
Spare a thought for old Erik Kaple, killed by a workers’ revolt and pushed, alive and screaming, into the maws of his own flensing machine. No wonder the Night-Things were restless. But time passes. And now our heroes are trespassers in the ghost’s domain.

While Taurus wrestles with rat swarms and the invisible half-gnome form of Master Doldrum, Arcael, Brandon Kane and Old Ben Gone deal with the spirit that has kept things running in the old factory and been responsible for the deaths of innocent citizens of Zobeck. Up and down the stairs, runs the brave Northlander, Incendarius, keeping them all alive as they fight against DEATH itself. And on top of it all, Mephits! Fukking Mephits! In, out, breathing all about!

Doldrum screams: “You won’t take my treasure!” Arcael screams: “Your touch is cold!” The half-gnome dies, the rat swarms disperse, the mephits fukk on off out the roof. They’ve had enough of this place! But the ghost has nowhere to go! It is a fight to the end, but fighting a ghost, it’s all “hit and miss” and a lot more “miss” than “hit”, I can assure you.

In the end, Arcael takes the fatal touch of Kaple to his heart and slumps to the floor, leaving Old Ben, Incendarius and Brandon Kane to chip away at the fading spirit. Eventually, they overcome dreadful undeath, claim the magical weather vein and destroy the body of Kaple, thus destroying forerver its undead form.

Back at Wheatsheaf Lane, a cancellation offers an impromptu gig at the Wheatsheaf Tavern. All the treasure is spent in Raising Arcael from the Dead and there is not enough to restore the rat eaten remains of brave cavalier, Falathar.

Heads hang low, but not too low to see the smiling faces of the citizens of Lower Zobeck who are beginning to look at the new heroes with an extra twinkle in their eyes. Maybe there is something good to being a hero after all……

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Angel of Zobeck

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“Perception! It’s great when you’ve got it, but when you don’t, there’s always luck!” Those may have been Falathar’s thoughts as he took up rear guard position moving through the flooded basement of Kaple’s warehouse and into the tower. A dark and rusty place, the tower. Taurus looked up into the darkness past hideous grotesques and inhuman faces carved in stone and metal. Rusty chains hung from black and ochre platforms at the top of the tower. One of the chains moved, but Old Ben Gone moved quicker still, clanging his magic stinking teeth into the metal of an animated monstrosity, he held the thing at bay, keeping a monstrous metal maw from chomping his friend.

Brandon Kane climbed up to the top and peeped through a hatch to see what lay above the rusting metal platform at the top of the tower and was smacked in the face by the granite like hand of a gargoyle. Incendarius followed his friend up the stairs, Burning Hands at the ready, followed soon by Arcael with his Light and his haughty ways.

The squaking sound of chickens soon betrayed a more dangerous form of bird as two cockatrices attacked Taurus from the rear. Old Ben and Taurus had already demolished the swinging chain, and now, under the attack of the flying creatures, also heard the sound of irritating giggles. “Fukking Mephits!” thought Old Ben, but he had no time for such tomfoolery. Up, up, up he went, now invisible, thanks to the magic of Arcael, and into the top of the tower. A forge burned, and a black angel hung in the air, all metal and gloom. Ben tried and failed to bite it and it retaliated with a powerful wing swipe. Brandon Kane climbed up, again being hit by the Gargoyle that Old Ben hadn’t seen.

Down near the bottom of the stair, cockatrice pecked at the minotaur and a new enemy suddenly appeared. That dastardly Tarnish baddie, Mister Corpulent was firing a crossbow but failed to hit Taurus. Falathar took out his bow, but it was all too quick for him. The arrow caught in the string. Twang! Piercing his own neck in a miraculously impossible accident, he fell off the stair and into the stinking pool below.

Above, with Old Ben engaging the Rusty Angel, Brandon Kane and Incendarius turned to Grief, the Gargoyle, but the cowardly creature flew up through an ivy canopy and into the Zobeck night. Down below, there was the sound of much splashing and even more giggling. “Fukking Mephits again", and Corpulent reloading….and Falathar drowning. The great Arcael moved down the stairs to save the drowning cavalier. Arcael reached the pool, grabbing onto his friend among the deadly breath of Mephits. Taurus was back down in the pool delivering justice to Corpulent, when three rat swarms moved in to attack. Arcael had to move back, and even though Corpulent fell, there was nobody to save the Elfmarked Cavalier from the rats so Arcael moved back up the stair to help his friends against the Angel of Zobeck.

At the bottom of the stair, a bolt whizzed past Taurus’s ear. From the adjacent room, the half gnome, Master Doldrum now declared himself as enemy while distant Mephits giggled in the room next door. With Old Ben, Incendarius and Brandon Kane all knocking lumps out of the Angel of Rust and Metal, Arcael espied the time for a finishing blow and cast a Magic Missile into the eye of the creature, so that it shattered and fell. But horror of horror, in its place stood the ghostly image of Old Kaple himself. Screeching his dismay, the ghost flew toward Arcael, reaching out with its aging touch.

The battle continues next week.

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Downstairs at Erik's

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Erik Kaple had built up a successful and highly mechanised butchery before his death during the great Kaple Warehouse Workers Uprising. The place had been closed up for years but recent murderous goings-on of the “NIGHT –THINGS” led to the old TARNISH workhouse and SCHMIDT HAPPENS were the lead investigators.

Entry into the old building was forced, illegal and very noisy. Inside, the rooms seemed alive with the misguided spirit of the old days and for such a supposedly derelict building, things seemed strangely active. Mechanical hums and whirrs abounded and the old conveyor chain carrying meathooks seemed to be in operation as the minstrels entered the first large room.

On investigation of the moving chain, a NIGHT-THING hurriedly assembled itself and attack Old Ben Gone. Biting with his rancid mouth and grappling like a mad thing, he engaged himself in a struggle to avoid the slow moving meathooks while up above, three giggling and very irritating dust mephits attacked with their breath weapons. Taurus was having none of it, and in collaboration with magic users, Arcael and Incendarius, he attacked, only to scare the mephitis off. Falathar intervened with his huge elven curve blade and soon the workhouse chattel was a NIGHT-THING no more.

Before Brandon Kane could check their intended path, Taurus, now enlarged by Arcael, bashed down a wall and Old Ben moved into a room, immediately falling through a rotten floor into the room below. Once again, the mephits attacked, spewing their sickly dust into the face of the feral gnasher. Soon the rest of the party were jumping down into the floor below to join in the fray. One mephit was killed but the other two fled.

On either side of this room, underground rivers flowed – The Millrace and The Sough – both turning great wheels further down the flow. Further into the room, even more machinery loomed. Rows of huge gullet-like funnels lay under a floor full of heavy machinery. Once more, the party moved forward, and once more, the floor gave way, this time with three members succumbing to rotting wooden floors. Old Ben and Falathar were dextrous enough to save themselves but the heavy Taurus fell straight down into a dark leech filled pool.

With three giant leeches attacking their comrade, the fellowship of adventurous bards weighed in to help, still harried by mephits who were now attacking from above and protecting themselves from missile attack by the use of Windwalls. Into the deep, dark pool they jumped, killing the leeches, and finding a small passage to another room in the dark dank depths of the flooded factory dungeon floor.

Whatever would they encounter next?

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