The Sphere in Judgement, a common motif in the art of the Western Church, by Chris Huth
James at Grognardia recently made a post about his use of saints instead of gods in his Urheim project. I have, to some degree, done this in the World of Nightwick as well. Originally this was just a set of oddball references I used to fill out the doctrine of the Western Church, and in the form of St Santa Claus it became a running NPC/faction in the game. However, since I have switched to 5e for the two games I'm currently running, saints have taken increasing importance since they are a vector for mechanics: they provide clerics access to divine domains. Below is a list of the divine domains and their associated saints now that new ones have been provided in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything:
Forge - St Joel the Witty Grave - St Ingels the Ghastly
Knowledge - St Simon the Wise
Life - the Lady* Light - St Richard the Prior
Nature - St Simian the Fool
Order - St Toad
Peace - St Henrich Kiss Monger
Tempest - St Santa Claus
Trickery - St Ralph the Liar
Twilight - St Roderic the Sterling
War - St Gax Lawgiver
*The role the Lady plays in the Church is of paramount importance and for more information you should check out this patreon post.
Sir Istvan the Vulgar Knight (Foul Changeling Fighter) Sir Uein of the World (Human Fighter) Abraham, Lord of the Prison (Human Rogue/Ranger) Father Kozel of the Wood (Fair Changeling Cleric) Mother Johanna of the Church of St Santa Claus (Human Cleric) Frederick van Bull (Frogling Fighter)
November 27th, 1396
Uein had concocted a plan to defeat the last Hochmeister and gain the seals needed to open a door on the Baroness Level. They believed this door concealed either a relic cross or a powerful magic sword.
Entering through the graveyard entrance, the party soon found that the geomorph they normally enter through had changed orientation, meaning the way in was no longer the way out and led instead into a series of catacombs.
Heading into those catacombs, Istvan was able to see with his special eyes that there were a number of odd, hunched figures down one of the passages.
The party planned to attack them, but the lighting conditions of the dungeon proved difficult to overcome, and in setting up they soon attracted the attention not only of the foes they expected (which turned out to be a group of ghouls) but also a formation of Blind Bruders.
This led to a combat on two fronts, with the clerics and Istvan heading to face the blind brothers and the two fighters engaging the ghouls. Uein was fairly significantly wounded but both battles went easily in favor of the Kommandos.
There was then some debate about which way to go, and as it was decided that north was the proper way, the party was ambushed by a pair of broken dead. These too were fairly easily overcome, but there was a brief moment of panic as the creatures are often a great annoyance to delvers.
Making the way north they found an altar covered in offal and depicting dead beings dancing around a great sphere, rusted and pitted and covered in eyes. This they remembered from a previous delve, but were at first convinced that it lay near the lair of Great King Death. Luckily Abraham was eventually able to remember that it actually lay near the Hochmeister they sought.
Their previous encounter with the Hochmeister had ended with them retreating for at the time they lacked clerics, area of effect spells, and blunt weapons.
This time, however, the creatures were easily dispatched due to the magic of saint Santa Claus and the potent sling bullets of Abraham.
The monster's lair was in a great catacomb, which the party spent some time exploring to find some treasure. This they did, though perhaps not as much as would normally befit such a potent adversary.
However, most importantly they found the fourth and final sword brother seal.
Uein realized that a simple walk west would lead outside the dungeon and that their best bet was to reenter through the East Tower in order to make their way to the Baroness level. Their current position on level 3 had no established root to that level, though previous outings showed it was possible to get there.
So they did indeed exit and return by the East Tower, soon finding themselves on the second level.
They passed through a portal of darkness and into strangely regular square rooms they knew to be associated with the God of Law, and to house the item they sought.
There was some confusion as to where everyone needed to stand to put in the seals simultaneously, but eventually this was sorted out and the seals placed and the door opened.
It revealed a two handed sword composed entirely of right angles - with a flat top, cubic hit, rectangular handle and guard, and a razor thin blade. Kozel was able to recognize this as a fabled "shard" of the God of Law, struck off him during the War in Heaven. He also determined the area they stood in was consecrated, though the sword itself seemed neutral in aspect.
Johanna and Uein then each toyed with it while it was still shoved in the dais. Uein ultimately pulled it out causing a thrum to emit through the room as though he had struck a tuning fork.
They then decided to make their way back to Nightwick village, to study the sword in greater detail.
Sir Istvan the Vulgar Knight (Foul Changeling Fighter) (only first session) Sir Uein of the World (Human Fighter) Abraham, Lord of the Prison (Human Rogue/Ranger) Father Kozel of the Wood (Fair Changeling Cleric) Mother Johanna of the Church of St Santa Claus (Human Cleric) (only second session)
November 13th - 16th, 1396
As discussed in the previous write up, the countryside has been harried for the past several weeks by a creature unleashed by the Kommandos themselves.
Now armed with a mace which could banish his spirit back to hell and two clerics capable of casting banishment, the party believed they had what they needed to end his reign of terror.
Since they did not know his precise location, they decided the best thing would be to make their way to Knightpath and ask there for more specific directions to his new camp.
En route they were first stopped by an encounter with some of the Hundprest's own hunting hounds - unfortunates who had been transformed by his terrible curse. Abraham used his rod of rulership to cow some of them, while Kozel removed the curse from as many as possible. Some were unfortunately slain before they could be helped.
Heading further down the long road, the party encountered a large set of bandits (somewhere between 30 and 300) whose ambush Sir Istvan was unable to spot in time. Kozel summoned a thunderhead and used call lightning to destroy a small set of the bandits, causing their leader to flee. Upon seeing their leader flee, the rest of the bandits followed suit.
Istvan decided to chase down the leader and engage him in single combat, and seeing how fast the barbarian could move, the leader indeed turned to face his opponent. Istvan was ultimately able to defeat him (with some aid from a well placed bolt shot by Abraham).
Abraham and Kozel then set about killing who they could of the remaining bandits with bolts both crossbow and lightning.
Realizing that the commoners and dogs they had in tow were a burden and could be endangered by further such encounters, the party decided to alter their route and head to the Rumpelfort. This is a small fortified manor that once served as the home of a being called the Little Magic Man, but the Wild Daggers (i.e. the gamestore group) had cleared it to be occupied by the Order of the Elk.
They found the guards of the Rumpelfort quite ornery and suspicious, but they quickly realized that this was because the plague in Lychgate was having a resurgence and many who traveled from that city to the various villages along the Long Road were now infected.
A cleric was summoned to inspect them for disease, and finding none they were allowed in - and apologized too on account of their fame in the bishopric.
The next day Kozel and the chaplain of the fort removed the curse from the remaining dogs.
On the third day, the party left the Rumpelfort to head into the Little Heath, an area lying between the Great Swamp and the Mire of Princes. This is where they had been directed by the knights of the Elk and was also familiar to them from an earlier adventure which had led to the destruction of a pagan settlement at the edge of the swamp.
Abraham, now having been trained in the arts of the woodsmen of Nightwick in return for his earlier acts of "heroism" on their behalf, followed the mixture of dog tracks and hand and feet prints along the southern edge of the heath.
The trail became muddled, but finding more tracks led them to a burned out building as well as a pile of burnt bodies. Near the building was a large cauldron and the skeletons of small fairy creatures, unidentifiable to those present. Some speculation on the purpose of the bones and the cauldron was made, but it was agreed by all that the house had been burnt by the Hundprest himself.
They then made their way to the village they remembered from their earlier escapade. They arrived at dusk to find that it showed some evidence of having been rebuilt only to have been recently destroyed again - likely by the Hundprest. The party decided this would be a fair place to camp as the ruined buildings would provide a place to hide as well as some safety from the pouring rain that had begun only a short time ago.
During the night, Abraham caught sight of a groan. When previously encountered, the village had worshiped these creatures, and Abraham observed it approach, see no signs of life, and then slink off back into the swamp as though greatly saddened.
The next morning, still in the rain, they decided to cross through the middle of the heath in hope of picking up the trail.
After only a short trek, Istvan spotted a herd of reindeer ahead, tended to by an old man. Kozel recognized this immediately as a druid dedicated to "St Santa Claus." He had earlier researched reindeer, asking around informants in the Woodsmen's Lodge, and they had told him of such a herd and such a druid.
From this druid, whose name was Pecz, they learned that the Hundprest was once a chaplain of the Sword Brothers, and descendants of his flock were bound to serve him as hounds due to the sins of their ancestors.
They also learned that though the Hundprest was bound in death to hunt the Bogdani,* he was not very picky in his choice of victim. These two facts together answered a question that had long bedeviled the party - how does this racist ghost operate? It turns out that while he could not accurately pinpoint his foeman, he did know his compatriots. Thus was his curse endlessly maintained.
Asking for some aid, Kozel and Abraham were each provided with both a large stag reindeer and a smaller female reindeer (one for fighting and one for light riding) to serve as mounts.
They headed south over land they had already covered, for Pecz had directed them thus, and soon were able to pick up the trail again and find the monster's camp.
Currently he was gone, but the camp was attended by a lone figure in Sword Brother robes. Seeing this for one of the Blind Dead, Abraham struck swiftly with a sling bullet and destroyed the creature.
The party then set about searching the camp, finding a rack of "sausage" that seemed to be just human entrails, and a spot of frozen ground which Abraham identified as the area where the Hundprest would manifest at night.
They set a plan - create a roaring fire on top of his "spawn," cast banishment when he appeared, and if he stayed then wail on him and make sure the last hit was with the mace.
The creature appeared as soon as the sun had dipped below the horizon, and at the same time so did a pack of fierce wolfhounds. Abraham subdued these with his rod of rulership - the dogs so charmed fighting with those that made their save. Kozel and Johanna both attempted to banish the creature, but it laughed in the face of their prayers.
The combat which occurred thereafter was not terribly difficult, though the cackling of the Hundprest even as his own body burned was greatly unnerving, but ultimately when it slipped out of its body to find a new host, Johanna struck it with the mace casting it back into the Pit.
Then they camped and the next day headed back to Nightwick, making a brief stop to inform Pecz of the success of their mission.
40 bandits, 1 bandit captain, 1 blind dead, 25 wolf hounds, the Hundprest
Sir Istvan the Vulgar Knight (Foul Changeling Fighter) Sir Uein of the World (Human Fighter) Abraham, Lord of the Prison (Human Rogue) Father Kozel of the Wood (Fair Changeling Cleric) Mother Johanna of the Church of St Santa Claus (Human Cleric)
Shocktober 30th, 1396
A few weeks ago, the Kommandos had encountered a revenant known to locals as the Hundprest.
This first encounter with him proved that he could not be slain by the party at the time - they lacked powerful enough magic to do so.
Kozel spent some weeks researching the creature, and his efforts will be discussed in a future kronikle. For now, suffice it to say that he felt he knew how the monster could be dismissed but that Mother Johanna would possibly need to advance in level to ensure success.
With this in mind, the party decided to return to the fetid hole known as Nightwick Abbey!
Their plan was to enter the third floor and clear out a bowling alley of dregs and gambling den of devil-men that was associated with it. This, they hoped, would yield a fair amount of treasure while requiring little exertion.
They entered the dungeon by the east tower - for they knew not the relation of the graveyard entrance to the bowling alley but did know that it lay at the base of the stairs down from level 2.
On their way, they encountered a group of cultists in garbs they had not seen before - all black. Abraham was able to charm some using a rod of rulership the party had wrested from a pagan tomb shortly before the events in Vollage. The rest were quickly slain.
They also discussed how they (and the Master) were at war with a demonic being they called Plutus, and they had come to break open the seals to level 4 to aid in this war.
Abraham then explained that they should present themselves to the guards at his prison and begin "infiltrating" by submitting themselves as prisoners there.
They found that Uein's remembering of the Baroness's level was apparently incorrect, and while trying to locate the stairs to level 3 they encountered a caged one.
They slew it, but doing so required the clerics to anger the Abbey, causing a shift. Still, the encounter occurred right next to the stairs so while leaving may have been an issue, they could head to their quarry without incident.
Heading down the stairs they arrived at the bowling alley, and only remembered that even when bowling dregs make no noise.
There was a short attempt to parley, but Istvan's inopportune question of "so are we killing these guys?" ensured its failure.
Battle was joined, though many of the dregs retreated to fetch devil-men alleys from the gambling den and even a chamber beyond (that happened to be connected at the time of the battle).
Both Kozel and Johanna used effects that automatically caused the abbey to shift, but it seemed not to impede their current aim.
These spells, and their companion's blades, proved sovereign against the assembled devil-men and dregs.
They did, indeed, find a great deal of treasure, but decided to continue on in order to map out the current geomorph configuration.
They found that the chambers they next investigated now housed a warlock and members of the Cult of the Ever Watchful Eye. The warlock they recognized by reputation to be Nymandus, a man who had previously been responsible for the stoppage of Blackleg's mine (their forces encountered him after the incident with the two ghosts.)
Again, battle was joined. Though warlocks of Armadeus are known to be fearful opponents, quick thinking, spells, and decisive blows all focused on him defeated him in only a few rounds. The cultists were much more easily killed.
With some of Nymandus's goods as treasure, and with the haul from the bowling alley, the party decided now would be a good time to escape to the surface.
On the second level, they found they didn't know the way back, but since the party was high enough level that they would all automatically survive being lost on the 2nd level the session ended there.
Monsters Killed 13 Cultists, 19 Devil-men, 22 Mites, and Nymandus
Treasure Gained 5300sp, 1300gp, 6 black pearls (100gp each), 2 peridots (250gp each), and two scrolls
Characters Present Sir Istvan the Vulgar Knight (Foul Changeling Fighter) Sir Uein of the World (Human Fighter) Abraham, Lord of the Prison (Human Rogue) Father Kozel of the Wood (Fair Changeling Cleric) Mother Johanna of the Church of St Santa Claus (Human Cleric)
With Sir Frederick van Bull away at his trading post in Frogguts, and Stavros Chrysophylax Balsamon taken by some strange and debilitating mood, the leadership of the Howling Kommandos did not wish to again enter the bowels of Nightwick Abbey perchance to face Great King Death.
Instead, Kozel suggested that they help open the road between Lychgate and Nightwick by destroying a monster that had been rumored for some time to be attacking those passing through the ruins of Vollage - a being known as the Shape.
Thanks to the "rescue" of his "daughter" in the last session, Halfdan the Black was predisposed to helping them and allowed Kozel to use his library to ascertain the nature of the Shape. Research showed that it was a fiend of some nature and likely would be immune to normal weapons.
This in mind, the assembled members of the Howling Kommandos set off on foot without companions on the morning of Shocktober 16th.
The Alchemist in Life?
Early on their journey was halted when Istvan, scouting ahead of the rest of the party, noticed that one of the burned-out peasant houses in the shadow of Nightwick village had recently had some repairs.
Exploring further, he and Abraham (armed with Abraham's medical paraphernalia and Istvan's inhuman constitution) found that the house had recently belonged to an alchemist.
A goopy pile of "rot" was found within the lab, and Abraham's supernumeracy allowed him to quickly ascertain that the "pile" contained roughly the same mass as an adult human. The party decided this must have been the alchemist himself, killed by his own experimentations.
They looted what they could from the lab and then set the house aflame, hoping that no miasma would drift towards Nightwick Village.
A sudden, freezing rain beset the party and this setback meant that they would arrive in the ruins of Vollage well into the night and exhausted. Kozel, the party's guide, decided the best way to avoid this would be to ride instead for the Witchfort (now retaken).
However, when they left the road where they thought the path to the Witchfort should lay, they saw no such path and soon found themselves inside the Witchwood. Greatly alarmed, Kozel decided to redirect the party west, hoping this would land them around the outskirts of the Witchfort.
The Church of St Toad as it Appears... Today...
They exited the forest, but much to their surprise it was not at the Witchfort. Instead they found themselves looking on the Hamlet of Vollage - not it's ruins, mind you, but the hamlet as it once was. Alive!*
Disturbed by this turn of events, and the lights burning in the windows at such a late hour, the party decided to first visit the Church of St Toad, which lay closest to where they entered the hamlet.
There they saw a number of priests gathered around a man in armor. This man was blessing his weapon before going forth to fight some evil. As soon as he left the candles in the church blew out.
Withdrawing their light sources the party could see the temple was now in a great ruined state. A great secret door had swung open revealing a tomb bearing the visage of the man they saw in armor in the earlier vision.
Kozel and Johana discussed using augury and speak with dead to assess certain facts about the village and the corpse. Speak with dead revealed that the man had indeed gone to fight a great enemy, but it was the White Lady, not the Shape.
This led to some discussion of the ability of Armadeus to create "false pasts" which affect the world as though they happened, though it was admittedy by the scholars within the party that none of them quite understood the concept (or had a postive INT bonus).
The corpse did know of the Shape, stating that it was an assassin in the service of Armadeus - "one of many but the only one which wears a mask."
Augury was then used to determine if the mace he had with him in the tomb could be taken to fight the shape, and soon it was in the hand of Sir Istvan.
The Wanton Wench full of... "life?"
Their next target was the inn of the Wanton Wench. They found this full of patrons, including a whole adventuring party!**
One of the Howling Kommandos (I don't remember which) noticed that none of the patrons had any glint of life to their eyes. Istvan observed they were "like the dead eyes of a shark."
From the barkeep, the party learned that the shape murdered those who passed through the village and took them to the ruined tower that once protected the village. The party knew that this tower had been the scene of horrible starvation - where even the priest in the tomb found earlier that night had perished after participating in cannibalism.
At the end of the story about the shape, the lights went out in the Welcome Wench. Lightsources were taken out anew and revealed that all that was left of each patron was their shadow.
These struck in rapid succession, but the combined holy might of Kozel and Johanna destroyed nearly all of them. The more martial members of the party took care of the few remaining with their magic weapons, Istvan's new mace proving particularly efficacious.
Showdown with the Shape!***
Armed with the information about the tower, the party made the laborious climb up the artificial mound of the old motte. At the top they found the ruined tower - partly collapsed and lacking the recent signs of life found elsewhere in the village.
Inside Abraham was able to see a pale mask move within the shadows of the cracks in the stone, and after directing the party towards it he jumped off the stairs to avoid tangling phyiscally with the fiend itself.
The Shape was a thing of living shadow, crowned by a great white mask of a face; however, the battle was fairly short, especially due to Istvan's new mace.
Upon defeating the Shape, seemingly forever, they rested in the tower and waited until the morning to gather their loot.
I'm proud to announce that over at the In Places Deep Patreon we have created a combined document for level 1 and for the player additions to the OSE rules! Now contributors have enough to begin playing their own version of Nightwick. Next month we'll begin with the second level!
I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed so far for their support!
In other news I have begun work on the deeper levels of Nightwick, which will soon tear both parties to pieces...
The Order of the Elk is a holy order of knights dedicated to the Church of Law. They view themselves as protectors of the race of Man, regardless of their wards' religious affiliation. The universalizing of this mission has caused a stir among the more conservative members of the Church, who believe that pagans and their ilk should be slaughtered or at least left for the waiting jaws of their own "gods." Currently, Pope Palapatinius endorses them, though only meekly. Due to this controversy, the order lacks the prestige and resources of their brother organizations the Knights of the Dragon and the Knights in White Satin; however, recently they have gained some power in and around the Bishopric of Lychgate, and currently pursue war with Arnawald the Black Eagle.
The eyes of the sheep are ever on the shepherd.
The God of Law seeks to extend his protection to the whole of the race of Man.
Valiant deeds of arms will win converts to the Law.
Fighting the Old Gods is but a distraction from the true war against the Pit.
Establish strongholds that can defend against the forces of Darkness.
Defeat agents of the Pit in open warfare.
Clear a ruin that may be rebuilt into a castle for the order.
We're starting our sixth month over at the Nightwick Patreon and I thought I'd discuss what's happened so far. Either this month or the next will see the completion of Level 1, after which we (due to a vote by significant patrons) will move right into level 2a and the horrors that work in the Sunless Gardens!
The first month is available for free as well as severalpreviewmonsters including this week's entry: the infamous Devil-men! For those of you who have read about them on the blog before there's a faction write up to go with it that discusses the specifics of them in Nightwick Abbey!
I'd like to thank those of you who have supported us so far for doing so and encourage others to join them in bringing Nightwick Abbey to hideous unlife!
Stavros, Fanatical fighting-man and devotee of St Deodat [only in the first session] Abraham Nermal, graverobber turned landowner Kozel, Novgovite cleric and devotee of St Santa Claus (Eastern) Johanna d'Ligne, Averois cleric and devotee of St Santa Claus (Western) Uein of "Nordovulgaria" (actually just a part of Vulgary), folk hero and fighter
Istvan Melles, pagan barbarian and foul changeling (also from Vulgary)
Leftember 26th - Quintember 1st 1396
Long has the party planned on traveling to Blackleg and dealing with the following hook, which they heard about last Duodecember:
Perhaps in anticipation of needing to pay for this, or perhaps just knowing that with a war on he is likely to need the Iron, the Bishop has also let it be known that he is offering a knighthood (or 200gp if the person is already a knight) for any who can restore the mine in Blackleg to its proper activity. What precisely stopped the workflow is up to debate, but most agree that knockers are involved and some dimly whisper of a creature called "the OldMan of the Mountain."
In the meantime, Bishop Notker had appointed a knight named Sander of Lychgate to take over the wardship of Anne of Waldheim, thus making him the de facto Count of Blackleg.
He had arrived some time ago in Nightwick and had discussed making the journey to Blackleg with Abraham and Stavros in order to "meet the neighbors." A member of his entourage, Witchsmeller Hertel, made friends with Kozel during a drinking bout Kozel had with Osperant of Prattle. He had assured Sander that rumors of Stavros and Kozel's heresy were untrue.
Johanna had spent the past month deep in prayer attempting to dedicated a ruined church near Frogguts to St Santa Claus and the God of Law. Upon finish her prayers she was able to change Uein back to flesh after he had been poisoned by a basilisk in the Great Swamp. They arrived a few days before the party was set to leave.
Fingers, the lieutenant of the Howling Kommandos, had informed Stavros that the leader of the Corbies had become good friends with Sir Sander. Not yet sure what to make of Sander, Stavros decided he should leave the Corbies behind in Nightwick while the Kommandos traveled with Sander's small army.
Fingers also informed him that Sir Sander had met with a strange group of men and women under mysterious circumstances, though he did not know the content of the meeting.
Abraham elected to take the Loyal Toads (a group of frogling infantry) and the Company of Devil's with him on the journey, planning to leave the Toads in Frogguts where they could bolster the new trading house Fredrick Bull was running there.
The Journey from Nightwick to Blackleg normally takes about 3 days
They left on an overcast morn with thunder threatening the oncoming deluge that marked most of their journey.
By the evening they had made it to the outskirts of Knightpath, where they found a man who claimed to be "the Knight of Knightpath" and demanded that those wishing to pass into the village must joust him before doing so.
Kozel, in one of his characteristic acts of zealotry, conjured part of the storm to bring down lightning in order to invite the God of Law and Saint Santa Claus to view any such joust.
Stavros was able to goad Sander into doing three tilts against the knight noting that "it seems like your sort of thing."
Sander bested the knight in the joust but took several hard hits in doing so. Kozel healed Sander and Johanna offered to heal the Knight of Knightpath. The knight took some persuading but ultimately was convinced by the logic that if the God of Law had not meant him to be healed then he would not have sent two clerics.
Curious as to why the knight felt that only those who were good at jousting should enter Knightpath, Stavros queried him on this topic. The Knight of Knightpath responded that he meant to keep out frogling caravans, which he felt came too often to the village. This soured everyone's mood greatly, as the Howling Kommandos are known friends of Froglings.
In Knightpath they discovered the lord of the village - a member of the Order of the Elk - was embarrassed by the storybook antics of the Knight of Knightpath, noting that he was a new recruit into the order.
That night the leadership of the Howling Kommandos, along with Sir Sander, ate in the manor of the lord of Knightpath.
During the dinner, Abraham attempted to recount the time he and others of the Howling Kommandos had saved Knightpath from a group of dreaded varkolaks. His storytelling was of poor quality, and soon their host and Sir Sander began to nod off.
However, when he mentioned the name of Martha the Black, who had been the acting lord of Knightpath at the time, they heard screaming erupt from where the Howling Kommandos were sleeping.
They rushed out to find that Martha's shade was attacking them, her head lolling around the gaping neck wound she had been allegedly delt by the mercenary Badder some years ago.
Abraham had prepared for this eventuality, and removed from a sack the porcine head of Badder, who had been captured and turned into a pig-man after the Battle of Vollage. The Howling Kommandos had slain him during their retaking of the Witchfort.
Upon seeing the black fur and white streaks atop the disembodied pig head, Martha's shade knew who it was and that his fate was far worse than hers. She let out a wheezing laugh as her head rolled back (again exposing the wound) and the spectre descended down into the earth - no more to ever trouble men.
During the next day Sander proposed hunting in the Fog-bound Forest, but the torrential downpour and the fear that he might need silver weapons for such an endeavor put him off the idea.
The party then made their way to Frogguts with little issue, left the Loyal Toad's there and found that one of the froglings in the service of Fredrick Bull had been convinced to worship St Santa Claus.
The next day they passed an elf corpse that has lain unmolested on the road for many months now - seemingly incorruptible save for the mortal wound dealt to it by a bear trap.
Outside the town of Blackleg they found a number of men they believed to be from Anne's garrison (many clothed in the livery of Waldheim) attempting to desert.
Abraham instructed the Company of Devil's to round up these men and they were subdued quickly.
Kozel, Johanna, and Witchsmeller Hertel discussed how to properly interrogate these men once they arrived in Blackleg. Kozel was able to determine from Sir Sander's demeanor that, despite employing him, Sander may be skeptical of Hertel's powers.
The Town of Blackleg
The party arrived in blackleg during the worst part of a days-long storm. The town seemed to lack a garrison, and Sander was able to quickly get his men to occupy the military buildings both inside and outside the walls.
As evening turned into night the thunder and rain continued, but a group of soldiers in the livery of Blackleg came down from the castle in the south and announced to Sander that Anne of Waldheim wished to dine with him tonight.
The group opted to follow Sander, taking the Kommandos with them up the switchback trail into the foothills of the Nameless Mountains. The going was rough as the way was slick from the constant rain and the only illumination were the frequent bolts of lightning.
Arriving at the castle around midnight, the party found that both themselves and the castle's guards were dead tired. Still, both groups remained awake in order to perform the courtesy of having Anne feast the new lord.
Their horses stabled and their soldiers quartered, the party was led to a dining hall of some size to meet with Anne of Waldheim. There they found her dressed not in the red livery of that city but in the yellow of Blackleg, and noted with some interest that she introduced herself as Anne of Blackleg.
Kozel, who had cast a spell on himself as they were led to this large chamber, was able to see an immolated corpse seated next to her - the ghost of her husband Arn of Waldheim. The party had known for some time that his ghost was rumored to haunt the towers, warning that previous appointees of the bishop were responsible for his slaying. It was the general consensus of those living in the town that the ghost would be heeded more if his pronouncements had been vaguer.*
During the dinner, Abraham and Kozel attempted to suss out the character of Sir Sander, as he had thus far been something of an enigma. Istvan, however, took opportunities to make Sander look like a city fop and to promote his own barbaric virtues.
Stavros made a comment about Kozel's ability to see "between worlds" and Kozel noticed that Anne gave a very subtle hand gesture that the invisible (to all but Kozel) shade of Arn took as a command to leave.
Anne shortly exited the dinner but offered to have more food brought up. It was clear to Kozel that this had to do with her husband but unclear if that meant she was a witch controlling him or merely a concerned wife unable to let go.
After convincing Sander he should go to bed in the quarters appointed for them, the rest of the group debated the nature of Anne and the ghost. Kozel and Abraham said they should wait outside the sleeping quarters and then rush in to save Sander when the ghost "inevitably" attacked him.
Johanna and Istvan had a different idea. They decided to sneak out into the courtyard of the castle and use the same magic Kozel had used to reveal the ghost in the first place to search for him. They found security to be quite tight, despite everyone in the castle being quite tired.
While Johanna and Istvan were trying to find an exit through the latrine, they saw the ghost was above them - in the very room where Sander slept!
Hearing Sander seemingly in the grips of a night terror, Kozel burst into the room. Seeing nothing, he placed Sir Sander under a hold person spell and then attempted to turn undead.
The ghost, now visible to all, appeared in its burned hideousness and flew through the walls away from the Novgovite cleric... right into the stairway Johanna and Istvan were making there way up!
A battle ensued with mostly Johanna, Istvan, and Uein battling the ghost.
Uein, seemingly terminally unlucky, was aged 30 years by the ghost's terrifying scream.
Abraham gave Sir Sander a silver dagger as Kozel announced that the "hunt [was] on," seemingly hoping to make Sander feel like an ally of the party.
Sander, still in his bedclothes and armed only with his knife, arrived just in time to see Johanna destroy Arn's spirit for good, shattering it with the bells of St Santa Claus and watching it destroyed in the spectral fire of the Pit.
Anne of Blackleg
The next morning, the absolutely exhausted party met with Anne once again, announcing to her the release of Arn's ghost from the World. She seemed saddened and relieved in a way that some of the kommandos compared to the reaction of someone who had been in an abusive relationship.
Sir Sander took some of the credit for the deed, irritating some of the party and seemingly all according to plan for others.
Some discussion of the ghost's attempt to possess Sander led many of the assembled to realize that the infamous fall that Baltzer the Bold had taken from the high tower of the castle to be an act of Arn from the grave.
With all these adventures now behind them, the party made ready to talk to Anne about Blackleg Mine...
Martha's Shade and Arn's Ghost
10 suits of splint armor
XP Per Player for both sessions
XP for Stavros
* Famously he screamed "Baltzer murdered me, you fools!" before an assembly brought before Baltzer the Bold when he was lord of Blackleg.
What follows is a new profession for Aquelarre, the Nigromante (black magician or "necromancer"). When I did my graduate-level work in medieval studies, I did a great deal of research on the figure of the nigromanticus in 13th-century texts. My knowledge leads me to believe they'd be rarer by the time Aquelarre takes place but extant texts certainly hint at their survival. My favorite historical example is Eustace the Monk, though Michael Scot is probably a more prominent example. Philip the Bloody's name was taken from a nigromanticus from the works of Caesarius of Heisterbach.
Note that the nigromante uses the default rules for professions rather than the stricter rules for invented professions. This is because it is invented by the GD and not by the player. Those wishing to include it in their games should allow a character of the lower nobility class who has rolled cleric for their occupation to choose this instead or perhaps assign a second die roll to determine which it is (1-7 cleric, 8-10 nigromante).
This profession can be followed only by male characters.
The nigromante is a specialized form of cleric (almost always a canon) who has decided to devote his energies to studying demonology. While many insist that they begin such studies in order to perform exorcisms, they are usually viewed as something like the educated version of a bruja. Toledo is infamously their training ground, due in no small part to its school of Arabic translation. Because of this, the nigromante is something of a combination of the Christian cleric and the Muslim mage. In the 13th century, they were shockingly common throughout Europe, but crackdowns and book burnings have left them much rarer in the time of Aquelarre.
1. An abandoned house within this forest possesses a well that is reputed to be haunted. The mother of a changeling who lived here drowned her in the well, throwing the treasure given to her by the yosei father in the well with her. The villagers in Uzo remember the tale and often young hotheads head to the house to get the treasure from the well. Supposedly the spirit of the murdered changeling slays anyone who takes any of the treasure, and anyone who trades with them for part of it, returning it to the well. In reality a troop of 10 yosei in the shape of men with the features of the carp - relatives of the changeling girl - are the murderers and responsible for returning the treasure. The treasure consists of a coat of golden fish scales (as plate armor), and 200 gp.* The carp-men can identify the coins through some means not known to man.
2. This tiny namazu village is the site of a bloodbath. A group of 7 veteran samurai, all gravely wounded (use only 1d4 to generate HP), have butchered the namazu believing them to have stolen a magic sword from their lord. They have turned the village over, turning up only about 100sp, 5 drums (10sp each), and some jars of fermented fish. They are resting, blaming both themselves and the namazu for not finding the sword.
3. A shrine maiden (as vicar) defends her mountain shrine from a group of 15 bandits who lair in the same hex. She and the bandits have been in a protracted war of attrition for several days, and both have gone without food for that time. What has set them in spite against each other is unknown to both parties. The bandits have only 13 arrows between them now, but the shrine contains a red jade statue of a bull, believed by the shrine maiden to be a kami.
4. The remains of a small castle are the private battleground between two supernatural monsters - a bakeneko (the spirit of a family pet of the Tsuru clan people who lived here) and a gashadokuro sent by the Genbu clan in ages past. Their struggle has been at a standstill for many decades, with the bakeneko protecting the corpses of the family who starved to death in the cellar. If the gashadokuro is destroyed, the bakeneko will reward the destroyers with a charm allowing them to speak to cats 3 times in their lives. This would ideally be used to determine if a cat is a bakeneko and to achieve its loyalty and aid (since the charmed person has aided another of his race). With this done the bakeneko will perish of exhaustion. Upon the corpses of the starved family is enough remaining fine silk to fetch 3000sp.
5. Below these sea cliffs, on a small beach, is a manor made of enormous seashells. It is home to a goblin spider who often climbs the cliffs to go to the nearby road and feign helplessness as an old woman. She uses this to trap young women and men who she spirits back to her palace. There she forces the young women to weave fine clothes from her silk, and she devours the men. She has several tapestries worth 1000gp in total (most depicting the perfidy of men), and 3 suits of silk cloth that are hard as mail and would fetch a price equal to plate armor if sold.
6. A pond in this hex is visited daily by a ponderously fat foul changeling who comes here to devour frogs. He is dressed only in tattered rags and does not know how to speak to humans, who he fears greatly. He has the ability to turn invisible once per day and will use this to flee from anyone who approaches.
7. This spot of forest was once home to a battle, with arrows still stuck in trees and the occsional bit of armor or shaft of a spear poking through the dirt. The craven servant of an Okami clan mahotsukai is searching here for a "heavenly armor." He is under a geas to find it here as punishment for some perceived slight. Unfortunately for him, the armor was looted years ago and currently resides in the treasure of a Byakko clan samurai some miles away. Even more unfortuantely, the wording of the geas would mean it would have to be recovered, brought to this battle site, and then found by him for his mission to be successful.
Characters Present Stavros, Fanatical fighting man and devotee of St Deodat Frederick Bull, Fighting frog in the service of the van Toad house Abraham Nermal, graverobber turned landowner Kozel, Novgovite cleric and devotee of St Santa Claus (Eastern) Johanna d'Ligne, Averois cleric and devotee of St Santa Claus (Western)Janos Balazsfi, Vulgarian changeling dedicated to St. Gax Gregor von Hexenzitsen, Realmish "wizard" (he's got a book and everything!) Elders 17, 1396
I have been neglectful in keeping up to date with the play reports for both groups, so know that among the Kommands, Frederick Bull and Johanna d'Ligne have recently established strongholds in/near the abandoned village of Frogguts. However, in the process of helping them, Uein was turned to stone by the poison of a basilisk.
Since then they have returned to their excursions into Nightwick Abbey, focusing on the second level.
Last session they destroy a creature they had long heard rumors about - the Fungal Brain! They also found a knot of devil-vine that seemed to go both upwards and downwards into the earth and was well over 50' wide.
The aim of this expedition was to experiment with that vine. Some debate was had about attacking it with Johanna and Kozel's ice powers from the surface; however, knowledge that the physical exterior of the abbey and the interior of the dungeon are not necessarily related to each other in euclidean space made the party decide it would be best to deal with the vine from within.
Their journey to the stairs for level 2 was interrupted by a troop of blind dead. These were defeated fairly easily, but there was some difficulty as Johanna had moved ahead of the group in her eagerness and the darkness of the abbey threatened to separate them.
Once on level 2, Kozel assaulted the vines with a magical sleet storm. They retreated, opening the ceiling up to the outside and opening a shaft below that terminated in an eerie, purple mist.
They then entered a room filled with mummified remains - apparently mummified using herbs grown on the garden level. Johanna elected to leave the party and head to the surface to give them a proper burial.
After poking around a the few remaining rooms on the garden level, the party made its way to level 3, where they elected to tackle an encounter behind a set of double doors they had passed over on many previous occasions.
The doors had behind them a massive cult and a warlock the party had previously tackled with - one that had burned off Johanna's arm!
The party made sure to focus on the warlock, with their best fighters wading into the fray and slaying him (though not before he had done significant damage to Stavros).
The rest of the combat was kind of a drag, as the maneuvering to take out the leader meant that many of the PCs were now stuck in the middle of a mass of cultists. Still, they were able to overpower these without being taken down themselves.
Seeing two chests in the room, Abraham quickly determined they were neither locked nor trapped and contained a sizeable sum of gold.
On the way out there was a bit of tension as there was some disagreement over which exit would be easiest to access and therefore which way to go. Not wanting to be trapped in the abbey, they eventually decided the best way would be to go out the very hole they had made earlier in the session.
3 Blind Dead, 22 Cultists, and 1 Warlock of the Fiend
Recently, for reasons not entirely within my own understand, I've been reading about Minaria, the setting of the board game Divine Right. Just a cursory glance over the material gave me a slew of ideas for a game, particularly for a region in the kingdom of Immer called the Wildwood/the region of the Gorpin Woodsmen. This post will cover what attracted me to the area as well as my own ideas for the tone, adventures, stuff like that.
Immer is a kingdom of two ethnic groups who settled in two waves - initial human settlement and then conquerors. However, now the native population is allied with the monarchy as a way of having a balance of power against the powerful dukes.
The monarchs of Immer are often puppets of a group of magicians called the Eaters of Wisdom, who have done what they can to make sure the monarchy is both strong and under their control. Most monarchs of Immer now study wisdom at the School of Thautmaturgy before ruling.
Despite a strong monarchy, Immer is definitely feudal - with dukes and horseman set up across the kingdom to respond rapidly to threats from goblins, barbarians, and elves.
The Gorpin Woodsmen are the descendants of the servants of a rogue duke who was defeated (along with his elf allies) during an attempt to make himself independent.
The Eaters of Wisdom remind me of multiple factions from the First Law trilogy, and having them act as kind of jerk-ass merlins is real appealing to me.
My idea is that the Wild Wood is currently being reenforced by the queen of Immer due to its position along the gold-possessing River Rapid and the border with the goblins of Zorn. She is being advised in this matter by the Eaters of Wisdom.
I have access to a copy of the boardgame through Tabletop simulator, and using that I distributed personalities to the factions I thought might come into the game in one way or another, that is Immer, the Eaters of Wisdom, Zorn, Elfland, Muetar, and the Dwarves (who I included because this would be a D&D game and it'd be useful to know what's up with the kings of all the available PC races). What I got was...
The Queen of Immer is starry eyed and looking to prove herself in combat. Which works out real well because...
The Eaters of Wisdom (or at least the ones advising her) are military geniuses.
The Goblins of Zorn are led by an extremely gullible king. Perhaps he too is being manipulated by an Eater?
The King of Elfland is "known for his lack of valor." Because I'm currently reading the Corum series, I'm going to borrow from that and make him not a coward so much as so aloof he doesn't realize how fast wars happen.
The King of Muetar is money grubbing. I think that's a good dynamic for their closest human neighbor - he can be persuaded to aid for huge sums or may foil the planes of the Queen of Immer to gain gold.
The Dwarves are ruled by a king as "irascible as a dragon." Sounds like dwarves.
There's also a religious tension in Immer, with the monarchy promoting "patriarchal worship" and the original religion of the region (and the conquering ethnic group) being a triple maiden-mother-crone goddess.
The region also borders the Temple of the Kings, which only allows kings inside and serves as the chief temple for the strongest gods of Minaria. I may also make parts of it accessible as a dungeon to any PCs.
The ideas I have swirling in my head relate to a faction of the Gorpin seeing the Queen as someone who can reinvigorate the goddess worship, the Eaters attempting to manipulate her not to, and the queen herself's desire to win military victories in order to enter the Temple of the Kings.
PCs would be the standard types of freebooters and cutthroats, but hopefully the adventure hooks lead them to siding with one faction or another.
Dungeons would include the aforementioned temple of the kings, goblin pits, old elven ruins, the ruins of pre-kingdom Immer, and the strange wreckage created by the Invasion of Abominations/Invasion of the Things that Crawl and Things that Fly.
The aforementioned Abominations, their invasion, and their disappearance will probably feature as a big campaign mystery and maybe relate to the goals of the Eaters of Wisdom.
Aesthetically I imagine the setting as kind of... pre-D&D fantasy art; especially the covers of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series.
I imagine the men of Immer as having a kind of Rurkidi vibe - layers of viking, slavic, and steppe peoples, though I may make it more of a Saxon/Norman thing. Either way they need to have cavalry, and they like green, gold, and garnets.
I think the goblins of Zorn represent the full range of goblinoids but probably expressed more like Tolkien's varieties of orcs.
I want to figure out a size for the map hexes above, but I'm also trepedatious about doing a zoomed in map on the area I want to cover because the original map used the cursed hex alignment of absolute columns.
That's all for now. I got other posts about other things coming up though so stay tuned. Oh also check out my patreon where Huth and I continue to put out Nightwick Abbey stuff.
Over at Roles, Rules, and Rolls, there are a series of "genre tables" that Cole of Abraxas used for his Swords of the Inner Sea campaign. I have recently been using these to make hex content for the Dark Country and thinking about its uses in the other Worlds of In Places Deep.
I thought the R,R,&R tables were lacking a genre, so I made it: Swords and Sorcery. Sorry that it's kinda rough in formatting but I realized if I wanted it to look nicer I'd never make this post.
Also, while you're here, why not check out my patreon? It's got a full month of preview material for Nightwick Abbey and now paid only content as well! This month I'll be posting about the abbey's upper works, two new monsters, and a new geomorph.
Yes, I know it should more properly be Anthropophage, but when I hear that I think of an ogre or something. Anyway, here's a monster for Uz.
The anthrophage is a strange creature found near certain alien wrecks in the Wastes of Rust. While comparatively easy to destroy, their ability to reproduce by infecting victims means they are widely feared by the inhabitants of Uz - or at least those who travel into the wastes. They appear as a large dodecahedron atop a shining screw with spindly legs. Despite their glittering appearance, all of their body parts are organic.
AC 7 , HD 1, Attk 1x (drill special) THAC0 18 [+1] MV 90’ (30’) SV D10 W11 P12 B 13 S14 (4), AL Neutral, XP 13 NA 1d4 (2d6) TT Nil
Virus: The drill of an anthrophage injects the victim with a strange substance. They must make a save vs death or explode into a number of anthrophage equal to their HD in 1d3 rounds.
Derived: Anthrophage will not and cannot attack nonhuman entities. Priests, regardless of mutation level, count as human for the purposes of this attack.
Short Lifespan: Anthrophagi can only live for 1d6 weeks.