Saltmarsh Journal

Journals for the Saltmarsh RPG Campaign

Archive for the ‘DM’ Category

Hot off the wires

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Despite some wide-ranging digressions as Iain has mentioned, and possibly because of several cans of Red Bull, they ventured up the stairs and started to investigate a cell block up there. Lots of barred cells. And a small room with a ladder going upwards. And another latrine. While they were investigating a locked door, they became aware of an eerie piping tune. Then a previously inanimate skeleton in a cell grabbed Nailen. Other skeletons started rattling on their bars, and one opened his cell door. Mahan attacked the arm gripping Nailen and after a couple of feeble blows severed it. Rufus advanced towards the skeleton coming up one corridor towards them while Olsen covered the line of retreat. Another skeleton appeared from that direction, but Olsen was too entranced by the music to be able to respond. The newly free’d Nailen rushed to help him and was engaged by the skeleton and by another one that was following it. Mahan moved to help Rufus, which was lucky as he was now engaged by a second skeleton. However some quick dagger-work from Rufus dispatched the first skeleton, which was good because although Nailen had destroyed one skeleton on that flank, the remaining skeleton had been joined by two giant mosquitos. One attacked him, the other, after some failed attempts on Olsen’s head and chest which were too heavily armoured to penetrate, latched onto his arm and started draining the blood from him. Mahan disengaged from the remaining skeleton on that side, leaving it to Rufus, and charged across to help Nailen and Olsen, but was attacked by a third mosquito. Fortunately he dealt it a blow good enough to kill it. Nailen then dispatched his skeleton and dealt the mosquito a blow that, while not killing it, forced it to flee. Rufus destroyed the last skeleton, and the final mosquito, filled with Olsen’s blood, fled. Olsen was in a very bad way though, and only his bracer of healing has kept him alive and prevented him losing his arm. Rufus attempted to first aid the puncture wound but only succeeded in opening up a vein. Olsen is unconscious with a completely unusable right arm, and Nailen is feeling a bit peaky, so you decided to retire for tea back at Kendra’s.

Bureaucracy 101

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

OK. Your reading through of the ageing prisoner records in the 3rd office (fortunately they are on good quality parchment, shows interestingly that in the 3 years before the records abruptly cease there were only 5 prisoners transferred here who were in the ‘Most Dangerous’ category and who hadn’t been executed by the time the records end. They are (and the notes that go with them are):
Sefick Corvin (blasphemy – not dangerous – upper cells) second longest serving of the most serious inmates
Vance Saetressle (Oubliette) Awaiting Execution – he is the most recent to arrive of the 5
Ispin Onyxcudgel (a trollish name if ever there was one) (Oubliette) Awaiting Execution
The Piper (Reaper’s Hold) Awaiting Execution
Hean Feramin (Nevermore) Awaiting Execution – he has been here longest and you find a number of copies of correspondence asking why his execution order has not come through.

Helena’s Tome

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The tome you found on the altar when you defeated Helena (and which you seem to have forgotten about) seems to be a grimoire of sorcery.

The first section details a number of rituals for casting spells.

The first chapter outlines the mental disciplines, incantations and mystical symbols required to perform the magical rituals, and ways in which the range and power of the spell can be increased, at the cost of more energy used.

The second chapter describes a form of ritual self-mutilation and scarring. For each Hit Point of blood you draw from a location, you will generate up to 20 Magic Points, but you run the risk of losing a point of Charisma and also permanent damage. The number of Magic Points seem to be dependent on the psychological importance of the scars – you stop reading when it starts discussing ritual castration. The blood must be stored in a ritual stone bowl and the Magic Points will remain available for as long as the blood is liquid.

The third chapter describes a form of of blood letting that similar to the first, but only involves blood letting, without the ritual scarring and loss of Charisma. It is less effective however, and only generates up to 10 Magic Points per Hit Point of blood lost.

The fourth chapter describes forms of ritual human sacrifice. In this other victims are bled, either partially or to death, into a similar bowl. The efficacy of the harvesting seems to depend on the emotional attachment that you have to the victim. If the victim is a close relative or someone to whom you have a close physical relationship, you can get 5 Magic Points per Hit Point of blood. If they are merely a member of the same species, then you only gain 1 Magic Point per Hit Point. Creatures of a different species do not generate Magic Points.

The second part is a list of spell rituals. All of them require magic points from blood and other material components and specific rituals.

The spell rituals, at first glance, seem to be:

Blood Ward which uses a supply of sacrificial blood to protect the caster from physical damage. The spell can be cast quickly and with little preparation other than the supply of blood. The blood must be present between the attack and the caster – for protection from missile weapons it can be in a bowl or trough in front of the caster, but for protection from close combat weapons it must be smeared onto the body.

Anaemia which causes a gradual wasting illness in the victim. The victim will weaken and die over a number of days. The ritual takes 4 hours to cast and requires a part of the victim’s body, although this need only be a few hairs. This must be placed in a silver chalice and the blood added at the start of the ritual. The chalice and the caster must then remain inside an unbroken magic circle for the duration of the ritual, during which the caster must intone the pages and pages of words in a language that seems strange and inhuman to you.

Vampiric Touch which allows the caster to heal a wound by transferring it onto a victim that he targets. This is again very quick to cast, and is done by opening up the wound already suffered (causing an extra Hit Point of damage) and smearing the extra blood onto the hand that then touches the victim.

Abjure Life which allows the caster to cease breathing, eating and ageing for the duration of the spell. This seems to be a very complex spell, and you are not quite sure how it works.

Restore Vitality which allows the caster to regain youth. This requires the caster to sacrifice a victim of the same species and gender as themselves and drink all their blood over a 24 hour period from full-moon-rise to full-moon-rise. The caster will regain all the years of life that fate had decreed that the victim would have lived had this ritual not occurred. It is therefore impossible to know how much youth will be restored. A marginal note in a very precise hand notes that by subverting fate, overuse of this spell can attract the unwanted attention of Zalatun, Lord of Fate, who may send minions to track you down. Another note in a more rounded hand notes that small children usually have more life ahead of them and have a smaller volume of blood, making the drinking part easier.

Extract Heart which you think you may have seen in action. It is another fast casting spell by requires a lot of Magic Points to ensure that the victim’s Constitution is overcome and the heart successfully extracted.

Magic Jar which allows the caster to create an enchanted vessel, which can be an actual jar, or something like a gem, that their soul will return to if their body is ever destroyed. Their body will then gradually reform next to the magic jar.

Murder at Dragonsfell Hall (the conclusion)

Monday, January 14th, 2013

The next morning the atmosphere is subdued, as you would expect. Four of the remaining guardsmen carry Dale’s body out of the cellars on a bier and place it in the chapel, where it is washed and prepared. Bartolph has been released and is not on speaking terms with you. You can hear the moans of Korrik being tortured in the gatehouse, along with the stable-hand that you fought. The three other girls that you found in the coven are dismissed and turned out of the manor, and you get the feeling that Bardolph isn’t happy with this decision either. Your see nothing of Katherine or Rosalind after you rescue them, but Thorn finds you out and thanks you for your actions on behalf of the family.

That evening, you see Uther cross the courtyard to the chapel to keep vigil by his son’s body. Although grief-stricken, he looks stronger and taller than he was when you saw him a couple of days ago.

The next day, you see the servants erecting two poles on the sward outside the gatehouse and piling brush and logs around them. At midday Bardolph and Uther lead out a procession of guardsmen escorting Korrik and the stable-hand. The entire community is summoned to observe the execution. Korrik and the stable-hand are tied to their poles and Bardolph reads an account of their crimes and actions and reminds all present that this is the punishment for all of those who turn from the light of Helim and worship the dark gods. Uther pronounces that by the authority of life and death over the demense of Dragonsfell Manor, vested in him by the High Lords of Itea, he finds the accused guilty of murder, blasphemy and heresy, and sentences them to be executed by immolation. Upon this, Dobry comes forward and lights the two pyres. Neither man screams as the flames lick around them, and you see to your horror that this is because their tongues have been cut out. Bartolph steps forward and throws a book into the fire, exclaiming that thus the book of heresy shall perish so that none other may be corrupted. Uther watches before about 10 minutes, with an inscrutable expression on his face, before turning and walking back into the manor, followed by most of the others.

That afternoon, Lady Sara comes to find you in your rooms and asks you to attend on Lady Katherine. You ascend to her day-room in the gate-tower, where she greets you. She looks tired and worn from her ordeal, and does not rise to greet you, but expresses her eternal thanks for your actions in rescuing her and Rosalind and tells you that she knows that you could have done nothing to rescue Dale. She gives each of you a gold and cloisonnes broach as a token of her gratitude.

The next morning, the hall and chapel are flanked by black banners of mourning as the manor prepares for Dale’s funeral.The funeral takes place soon after breakfast and is a solemn affair, in the chapel. You are requested to attend and are given a place behind the family and Uther’s thanes, who have been summoned for the service. All are present and are looking tired and worn. There have been many deaths in the last week, and all of them are remembered in this long ceremony.

Immediately afterwards there is a funeral feast in the hall. The wine and beer flows and gradually the mood lightens although the great black drapes still give it a sombre feel. Finally Uther climbs to his feet and a trumpet blows for silence. Looking at him, you can see the the first time just how tall he is – there is obviously more than a trace of Lording blood in his veins. His speech is direct. It is the saddest duty of a father to bury his son and heir, especially when he has died in such a fashion rather than honourably in battle. For the barony it is a worrying day, for not only has his heir died, but his sister-son is also dead and therefore there is no clear succession for the barony. This is not a good position, but he feels fortunate that he has a daughter who he feels is more than capable of succeeding him. For this reason he requires all his thanes to swear their allegiance now to his daughter Katherine, swearing that in the event of his death they will serve her and her children as faithfully as they have served him. He has already written to the High Lord at Itea to get her agreement that this shall be the line of succession. But before he asks them to swear their fealty, there are other duties he must perform.

Everyone here, he says, knows of the dreadful events of the last weeks that have led to the death of his son at the hands of the evil sorceress Helena. However, but for the actions of a handful of brave men, he would have lost his daughter as well as his son, and possibly his own life as well. The two remaining guardsmen who helped you and survived are summoned and each presented with a gilded belt as a token of the thanks he has for their bravery. Dobry is called forward as well, and presented with a fine sword with a jewel encrusted hilt.

You are then called forward as well. Uther praises your bravery in uncovering Helena, especially as you were only visitors here and owed no duty to Uther and his family. Uther would like to make each of you a member of his hearthguard, an honour you have already shown you fulfil by protecting him and his family to the death. In token of your service as hearthguards so far, he presents each of you with a golden arm-ring, engraved with his arms and set with gems, so that anyone who meets you will know that you are hearthguards of Lord Uther and know of your bravery and courage.

In addition, bravery and service such as yours deserves even greater reward. The fief of Dragonsfell is not what it once was, and its lands are curtailed and under threat. The three capitularies of Dragonfell are strong men and have held their manors well and are a staunch wall against those that would presume upon the lands of Lord Uther. However, he is minded to extend his lands once more to the limits that were held by his forefathers. For this reason, he is minded to appoint such brave men to a position where their courage will help all his people.

Therefore, Nailen of Saltmarsh, I appoint you Capitulary of Ashwell. Under your leadership may it return once again to its former prosperity.

Rufus of Saltmarsh, I appoint you Capitulary of Thorngrove. Under your leadership may it return once again to its former prosperity.

Mahan, I appoint you Capitulary of Blackdyke. Under your leadership, may it return once again to its former prosperity.

Olsen, I appoint you Capitulary of Reedham. Under your leadership, may it return once again to its former prosperity.

He then calls upon the four of you, and the existing six thanes to renew their oaths of allegiance to him and to his daughter and the heirs of her body, for as long as you shall live. His hearth shall be your hearth, his table shall be your table, your body shall be his body and your life shall be his life.

Oath taken, he presents each of you with a shirt of fine chain mail, a well wrought helmet and a sword, as befits a thane. Each sword is one from his family armoury. To Nailen is given Trollbane, the sword of Lord Urien, Uther’s grandfather. Short and sturdy, this is a working blade decorated with a strange pattern of smokelike stains. The hilt is iron, cunningly wrought, and ending in claws. To Mahan is given Icewand, the sword of Lord Auric, Uther’s great-uncle. The blade is long and slender, with a line of fine script down the centre. The hilt is silvered and the pommel is decorated with an uncut sapphire. To Rufus is given Foescourge, the sword of Urien, Uther’s brother. Short and curved, this looks goblin-wrought and the hilt is bound in dragon-skin. and the pommel is set with a pearl. To Olsen is given Flametongue, the sword of Sir Ulric, a great knight of Itea. This is a lordling sword and the blade is beautiful with the swirling pattern of the folding of the steel like flames liking up it. The hilt is gold, the grip red velvet and the pommel set with a ruby.

With this, the proper feasting, drinking (and wenching if such takes your fancy) begins. Many of the inhabitants are happy to toast your new positions, although you notice a degree of reticence and disdain from the existing thanes, obviously unhappy to see itinerant wanderers such as yourself elevated to such a position. A somewhat drunken Thorn confides in you that Uther has played a cunning hand however. He has stirred up his thanes, but hopes that you will be loyal to him and Lady Katherine when he dies, whereas he suspects that several of the other thanes would see themselves as a natural successor and try and take his position and/or marry Katherine against her will in order to inherit the estate. He sees the 4 of you as a powerful counterweight. However he has also been cunning in giving you manors and lands that don’t really belong to him any more. They are his in title but were lost to lizardman raids and abandoned many years ago. So none of the existing thanes have lost out, and he hopes that you will push his boundaries back and extend his realm. You question what a Capitulary is and he explains that it is a feudal position subordinate to a lord, like Uther. You are given a manor and have a right to a share of the produce and revenues of that manor, but are also responsible for the security of that manor and must supply a certain number of warriors for your lord when called upon. The nearest equivalent in the Dalelands would be a thane.

Thorn also confides that he will not be staying at Dragonsfell Hall much longer. Already he is worried that with Dale’s death people are looking to him, as Uther’s son, as the natural successor rather than Katherine and worries about becoming a focus for discontent. Uther has offered to sponsor him into the Order at Itea, but he doesn’t feel that a monastic life in the stone halls of Itea would suit him, so he is considering his options and where he should go.

Later in the evening Halvinstrom comes to find you. He also congratulates you on your success and presses a slim volume into Rufus’s hands, which proves to be a herbarium detailing several slaves and other preparations that will undoubtedly prove of great use to you in the future. The first you notice is a healing salve, which however suffers from the inconvenience that it can only be made on the night of the full moon and then only in small quantities.

A map of Saltmarsh and the Dankfold, from the library at Dragonsfell Hall.

A map of Saltmarsh and the Dankfold, from the library at Dragonsfell Hall.