Campaign of the Month: May 2016


The Watcher.
Written by stigandr


Tolot ‘the Toothless’ had finished recording the events of the day and took his usual balcony seat with its shady view overlooking in the evening plaza. From up in his minaret he could watch the people of Siwal meet and bleat and from here he, diviner, spymaster and rumourmonger of some import, could magically put out his senses to catch the more trivial events of the city.

He sat back and mentally focussed on the crystal orb that sat within his cupped hands. His senses began to swim… He could hear the intolerant grunts of camels and the cries of street-vendors mesh into a cacophonous din, beggars protesting as a guard patrol attempted to move them on, or was it a shake down for a bribe? Prostitutes watching from the upper story of the brothel opposite occasionally shouting crudity down to those who might possibly ‘try their wares’. A group of adventurers stalking the early evening. Interesting.

The elf-blood in the lead was sinuous and easy to lose in a crowd, too practiced for that to be an accident. His boots however had picked up a slight dusting of spice and Tolot could see that he was seeking distance from a large spiked gearforged that was the opposite of subtle. The gearforged in turn was followed by three figures, a N’kosi and two humans, both of whom were obviously foreign, alert and watching for trouble. The northerners were clearly unaccustomed to the heat, but well dressed and armed. All subtly smelled of spice… And what was that? Underneath the scent of the gearforged’s grease (and was that, bear?) Tolot could sense that the weapons he carried wore the wet tang of recent blood. Tolot had heard that such a group had recently arrived from Nuria Natal and been privately received at the sultan’s palace. He practiced a mnemonic exercise in order to memorise their faces and appearances. Most fascinating.

Tolot continued to follow the group’s progress as the sun began to ebb and they left the basalt towered plaza, heading down towards the funerary gate via an alleyway. They were heading into the cemetery… At night… But although discrete they made no real attempt to hide the direction of their travel. Nor did the gate-guards make an attempt to question or hinder the armed strangers… Speaking in accented Nurian one of the humans produced what looked like a warrant or writ, Tolot focussed and could make out the seal of the Vizier.

‘Official business…’ Hmmm… Tolot knew that there had been rumours of disappearances recently… Tolot’s scrying further watched the adventurers through the gate, vicariously he felt his pulse quicken as memories of his own adventuring days came flooding back to him, ah yes, the feeling of threat, the facing of danger… violence was building in the air tonight.

Remembering his health Tolot ceased scrying, at his advanced age he had to limit the strain of sustained concentration over a long day. Approaching his journal he began to organise his thinking, the quill danced into life, dipped itself into the ink and began to record his train of thought ‘Now, who would profit from this?’

from the mind of Arcael - written by stigandr



The throat-song of the night invoked ghosts.

Cats yowled nervously, heckled and aggressive, whilst dogs yelped and welcomed the leash as a token of protection, only a lone jackal answered the darkness with delight.

The tavern dancer was infused, slow and hypnotic, rotating her hips apparently with disinterest and this reflected in the patrons, willing to watch and smoke themselves into a stupor, anything that would give them a reason not to acknowledge the fact that the dead of the necropolis had risen and played out a parody of existence not far from here.

For this ‘entertainment’ was a cloak and Arcael observed that every fire here struggled against grasping shifts in the wind, even the imbibed glow of the hookahs stuttered at the insinuation of the wind-borne scream in the night. Weak circles of light, breath-given, flickered askance within the smoky darkness, as if to reflect the truth that mortality is a spark that we cup in hope that it is never taken away.

‘For the light is transient and night will win?’ a tutor had once asked, for most perhaps.

And yet, Arcael mused, that both death and undeath need life to come before it and without it both are nothing. For while we burn with revelries, momentary sparks of sex and food, company and drugs, our life frittered away in vibrant moments… the dead do not. Does this momentary dance of sense and fire define us against whatever darkness there is to come? The heavens and the afterlife? If so, regardless of power and appetites, these undead seem unable to escape the banality, the burdens, the duties, the joke that was their previously mortal existence.

Arcael inhaled the smoke and a thought rose unbidden, a hint on the high wind carried him and he was on an airship climbing far above the distant western wastes of his homeland – the cries of the Shrieking Mountain, a great pre-existent entity magically held in stasis, trapped in slow motion but still bellowing a maddeningly discordant chorus of notes… and his kin had brought it to this world.

The woman on Goran’s lap choked, she’d laughing taken a toke on the pipe and drawn too deeply, then Goran kissed her and they exchanged tongues and smoke. Ironwall gleamed, for once silent by the firelight, the lion-priest Saabu entertained himself with rare slices of goat’s meat and the druid was drinking, his great beard glittering with drops of night-blackened wine.

Chancers and courtesans plotted the periphery of their circle and the smiles of their host seemed almost desperate, imploring them to ignore the wind as it rose again, wild in the desert and to spend more, spend more!

But the darkness wanted in… And so ignoring their host, the company, the prostitutes, the food, the revelry and smoke Arcael left the fire and the temptations of the room. He unsteadily approached the door following his thoughts, for whilst he knew he wasn’t on the bow of an airship, the high winds were howling and he would give himself to this, listening… listening… for the desert night’s own discordant notes.

Arcane Musings
from the mind of Arcael - written by stigandr


The statue of Thoth at the head of the high altar was fifteen feet of solid gold and inlaid with magnificent stones, each masterfully set. Its value beyond immense, the price of desecration was however, eternal… For how can you hide from the wrath of a god of knowledge?

The thought of Thoth’s wisdom and protection always gave Inu, scribe-priestess, comfort, especially at night in the vast library. Tonight she lit candles and incense in preparation for a reading of the lore under the third moon but she kept glancing at a stranger from the north, she did not think him a thief she was merely curious about the fairness of his skin and blueness of his eyes, such features were rare in the south as her dark skin would be in the north. She was also curious to hear the words he was whispering to himself, for she knew a little of Caelmaran from her work in the library, the devil-summoner’s tongue, one of her fellow scribes had gone mad translating it from a flesh-bound text. Tilting her head slightly she could make out some of the words he idly whispered to himself.

“Knowledge … born from nothing we are shaped by it, naked facts and foot-notes to be set down in histories.

So much knowledge … a thousand years here would serve me well… All will be mine, in the fullness of time.

Lord Thoth, why did you bring me here? I have searched the crimes of my … and can find no slight against you? Am I chosen for some higher purpose?”

Inu pondered this, she knew that an Nkosi priest of Thoth had brought the northerners here, but for what purpose? The hushed tones of recent divinations foretold destruction, were the strangers agents of chaos and change? She shuddered at what the stranger said next.

“My blood sings with the power of the ley-lines here and I begin to understand the failures of my ancestors a little better. Intoxicated, might I become the cleansing flame or the torch of destruction? What sacrileges could I inflict upon this land?”

The priestess dropped her candle, it sputtered and went out, however the northerner’s train of thought had been interrupted and he stared boldly into the eyes of the priestess, his voice smiling, melodious yet questioning…

“You understand the summoner-tongue? Who taught you it? I shall have to be more careful in my meditations around you yes? Still I am sure you did not mean to spy, perhaps we could discuss your faith and how I might access the full library here?”

There was no enchantment at play yet Inu very much wanted to say yes, to help this scholar in his quest for knowledge, but then there were the omens, chaos and destruction, her service to Thoth was surely being tested! She looked up at the golden statue and realised that perhaps the possession and pursuit of knowledge could be far more perilous than she, sheltered in her scriptorium, had ever thought. Then, out of fear of the ambitions of a strange northerner she risked the wrath of the god of knowledge and committed what she knew to be a great sacrilege to the very spirit of Thoth… she fled, denying the pursuit of knowledge and humbly acquiescing to ignorance.

The stranger watched the sheltered priestess flee and then turned to the statue, Thoth’s image glittered in the light of a hundred candles but no-one was there to see nor to hear the northern scholar say:

“In time, all will be known to me.”

"I see a Blood Moon rising...."


After a comfortable (and safe) airship journey from the North of Midgard over the MIDDLE SEA to Nuria Natal, Arcael and The Oooze stopped off in the city for a spot of discount shopping. Next day the sales were over and another two day airship journey led them to The Garden City of Siwal where the adventurers met up with Jim Al-Khalili, settled into their quarters and went out for an afternoon stroll to visit the Library Temple of Thoth-Hermes, while Goran availed himself of the dubious pleasures offered in Ragged Tooth Ralph’s bar, Ye Olde Darakhul.

On the way to the temple, through the GRAND SOUK, a scream was heard and investigation discovered two damsels in distress. Guys in Red Cloaks! Shucks! One ran away, carrying a damsel; but the other, bent over his intended victim, met with the fist of Bartiman Greenbough (or was it a Pauliel Quarterstaff?). In any case, the opponent’s award was death, especially after a particularly vicious magic attack by Arcael. Running into a spice shop, Saabu Theet could detect a strange smell but could not follow a trail.

Soon the town guard had arrived and after a few questions, the party made their way to the TEMPLE, meeting with Steward Librarian, Cassandra Per-Aten, before returning home to an invitation to the palace by none other than Vizier Akil ibn Khaldun himself. Thanking the group with small bags of 100 GP per person, he showed them the GHOUL they had killed and there was some talk of a religious cult and a so called ”Fountain of Blood”. With a courtesan still missing, The Grand Vizier offered 1,000 GP per person to help discover the secret – but they needed a live ghoul!

It was a great plan, visiting the Market Shop where the girl had disappeared. It seemed the shopkeeper was “IN CAHOOTS” and was also a ghoul. After his attack on the party failed, he succumbed to the thorough beating he deserved, and in the end, Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall) stepped in with his axe and went: DOOSH!”, thus smashing any hope of a live ghoul to spill the beans. Never fear, there’s always the Pauper’s Field near to the Grand Necropolis….

Just like that river twisting through a dusty land...
Logged by Stigandr, player of Arcael


The hot throb of the noon sun hammered a suffocating heat across the land while a sparkling light glittered within the cerulean movements of the river Nuria’s deeper currents. Was it the hot air on the water that caused this shimmer, or the palpable power of Midgard’s greatest ley-line? Either way, this was a special place.

There was neither the blasted corruption of the Westlands or the sentience of the Margreve but the energy here had been equally shaped, shaped by centuries of purpose, some strange and alien, some humanly familiar to Arcael. A crocodile left the water to doze on a bank, the wetness of its armour drying to clay in no time, ibis and storks waded and scudded from place to place to fish. The tide was turning and the day was beginning to ebb.

It was said by the Elves that the moon was the goddess of tides and that all powers will ultimately wax and wane… theirs did. As did the power of the titans here, and humanity’s too one day also. Our vanities are transient like the midday shimmer of the river.

And yet this place still maintained the practices of ancients, a small number here spoke of centuries before as if they were yesterday. Have the peoples of these lands truly changed? Or does the magical power of this place shape its people? Caught within the tides of the sun, the moon, the river and the ley-line.

A fisherman in a small boat cast his net into the great river, caught on the tide his fortune carried out beyond the prow. He gave a small prayer to himself and settled to wait. Arcael watched as his small skiff passed the great barge he was upon. They were almost at the shore, Nuria Nutal awaited.

Saabu, the lion-priest, seemed to sense his thoughts and said: “How many fishermen have cast their nets into this river over now many centuries? How many casters have tapped this ley-line? In Nuria Natal all things change, and yet somehow stay the same."

Little Fluffy Clouds
Logged by Stigandr, player of Arcael


“From the aft-deck you can watch Zobek become cloud as our air-ship climbs and we begin our journey south. Avail yourselves of the hospitality and enjoy the comforts of our facilities. If there is anything you require merely ask the Steward or the Purser.”

The passengers dispersed below deck whilst the dwarven deck-hands were busy with various tasks, the first mate barked commands at them seemingly relentlessly. One hand on the wheel, the captain, Old Ruag, took a swig from a silver flask and offered it out to the sole remaining passenger, Arcael, who still stared back towards Zobek, as if trying to pierce the cloud.

“Don’t linger, everywhere is jus somewhere else to leave boy…” he offered, “Heard tell yu’v flown before?”

Arcael unmoving replied, his voice hollow, “Flown before? I have seen beyond the Ouroboros, rode the leviathan and resisted the temptations of the god-flesh, death has taken me and I returned, lich-queen and geomancer have been swayed by my words, the sentient earth has tasted my blood and yielded to my offering. I have mastered the fey, the clockwork, the elemental, those of undeath and with further time and travel I will thwart even age itself. Yes, in many ways, I have flown before.”

Ruag took another swig and studied the sorcerer, he reiterated his offer of the flask to Arcael, “Fancy words. Dwarves speak more direct. My advice to you in the south? Water is life and sand is not solid ground.”

Arcael took the flask and had a swig of the spiced fiery spirit, he coughed as it seared his mouth, Old Ruag smiled a near toothless smile.

“Two hunerd years I’ve been doing this journey but that’s nothing to some things in the south. The south is full of age, old things, ancient things are everywhere. You’ve a sense of age about you too, even though you’re a slip of a boy. I see more than mortal dangers for you there.”

Arcael handed back the flask and finished coughing.

“I thank you for the warning Captain Ruag, but I am capable and as I have said, I have faced many dangers. I AIM that my journeys in the south enable me to become greater.”

The dwarf put his flask away and put both hands on the ships wheel. It was time to return to his work, as a parting farewell the white-bearded dwarf nodded and began singing to whole wide sky. Arcael listened a moment then decided to head to his cabin below decks. As he disappeared out of view Ruag thought to himself ‘Aye boy, you may become great, but it’s probably greatness you should be most afraid of.’

"I'm Leaving on an Airplane"
Musings of an Arcanist


Tranmus the Tall watched out of his stained lead window in the Black Tower of the Arcane Collegium as the great dwarven airship floated over the belching smoke of Silphuress ’s chimneys and wobbled through the ash filled air currents to cross over the dock district on its way to the mooring point near the Citadel.

Once again, another Dwarven vessel had made its way from Templeforge to stop at Zobeck before continuing south over the Magdar Kingdoms, crossing the Middle Sea and venturing into the hot dry lands of Nuria Natal. Usually Tranmus would not know the destination of such airships but on this occasion he knew quite well that it was booked to arrive in the desert city of Siwal, after a short stop in the ancient city of Nuria Natal itself.

No doubt the visting Nurian Trade Amabassador of Siwal would be stopping in to pay homage to King Thutmoses the 23rd, High Priest of Aten and King of all Nuria but some of his entourage would be travelling on to The Garden City of Siwal and, with them, his very own student and scholar, Arcael and his band of ragamuffins that called themselves The Oooze.

Tranmus reflected on this and wondered how they would fare. He had been keeping a close eye on the son of his old friend, Baron Tigo Rennaus of Bemmea but now they would be far away from his influence. Naturally, he would care for Lyla while the sorcerer was gone, and of course, Alexei Splitleaf of Allain , their sponsor, would keep their lodgings in good care, but how would this band of bardic ragamuffins REALLY fare he wondered. Oh, he wondered…..

cummings and goings


we have seen clockwork men
shooting nets
and then
found false doors dropping floors
monsters to avoid
carpets wrapped and paintings trapped
we headed back with jones
ziv was diappointed
so were we
with the reward

Alas Smith and Jones!


Mr and Mrs Smith and Mr and Mrs Jones are both parents who live in The Cartways of Zobeck. Don’t ask what they do for a living. It’s none of your business! But, hey, everyone’s got a right to live, haven’t they?

Smith: These bazaars sure are quiet. The only folks I see out are them pesky Spyglass Guild patrols. Thugs! Still, I hear one of them messed with a wrong’un and payed the price.
Jones: Was it Underhill?
Smith: Nah, I don’t think so. Underhill’s been “well hid” since it began. Here, any news on your young Norah?
Jones: Fraid not! Mrs Jones’s been asking around, but we dursn’t search right now.
Smith: Don’t worry, Mate. She’ll turn up. She’s a clever girl, that Norah!
Jones: I hope you’re right, my friend. If you hear anything…..
Smith: Sure, I’ll let you know…. But best be getting back inside now. There’ll be another patrol due round, and I don’t think they’re gonna be none too friendly to any of us Cartways folk hanging out in the open.

Strangers in The Night


Gryxx Sovvtly, Derro Madcaster, sat chewing a sinewy old mushroom skin from their dwindling supplies. Of his group of six derro, only he was gifted with the “faezpower”. The new area they were in was obviously some kind of humanoid location, but for some reason, strangely quiet. The only person they had seen was the young girl they now had hostage, so Gryxx was slightly puzzled, and of course, totally mad.

At the noise of two sound bursts from the cavern entrance, he knew his scouts had company and he sprung into action. Telf, Sikkur and Sasha lined the north wall, while producing ghost sounds to the south, but he started preparing one of his summoning spells: “Let’s see how these intruders like a nice spider”, he thought.

With his big pale eyes, Gryxx watched the battle unfold. One of the first to enter the fray was a huge cat-like predator, all claws and teeth. He knew that Orfis and Holla would deal with this creature first and was pleased to see, that by their expert rogue tactics, they managed to immobilise him fairly soon.

But this would be a hard fight. A burst of light let Gryxx know that another faezwielder existed, so he shot a magic missile at the creature, while the others, covered the space in darkness and delivered further sound bursts before taking out their poison weapons. The summoned spider fell to both sword and sorcery and Orfis and Holla were surrounded. Orfis fell screaming, and Holla, barely alive, retreated back to the hostage.

Now Gryxx grimaced as he realised how powerful these intruders were. They had grounded the cat, but in a flurry of deadly blades, the surface dwellers pressed Telf, Sikkur and Sasha until Gryxx felt he had to retreat. Falling back, he summoned the two remaining derro to follow him, but he knew his opponents would only replenish themselves and return, so he changed his tactic and threatened the young girl. Surely, their high morals would dictate their actions, he thought. However, he did not count on the big cat getting up. With a single pounce, the beast killed Holla and released the prisoner. It was a fight for the death!

Telf and Sikkur fought bravely but before he could do much, the huge and noisy armoured monstrosity grabbed the Madcaster and squeezed him in a deadly embrace. They wanted some kind of picture, but he knew nothing of this, and therefore nothing that could save his life. He pleaded mercy, but his assailants would not relent. The only comfort the Madcaster had before his death was seeing the valiant escape of Sasha as she managed to run past several of the group and flee into the gloom. Alas, their time near the surface had been so short an adventure….


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