Session 9: In Which the Legion Holds A Recruiting Drive In the Pyramid of Sabban-Ka

Saturday, 11th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

The PCs, who have taken to calling themselves the Legion of the Gods Above, awaken to find that their assassin, Mercedes, has left in the night along with her sister, Eva. Aisha is livid that they did not ask her to go with them, as she would do anything to get out of this wretched place. The rest of the Legion is livid that they took the helm of telepathy and the ring of x-ray vision with them.

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Templar and Priest Live

My Templar and Priest custom classes have been posted on the Autarch downloads page, under supplemental rules. These classes are slight variations on the Cleric and Priestess to make those classes a bit better at representing medieval clergy and orders of religious knights like the Templars and Hospitaliers.

What Is Chaos?

For decades, we have played with either the 9-alignment system (LG-NG-CG-LN-N-CN-LE-NE-CE), the 5-alignment system (LG-G-U-E-CE), or no alignment at all. Going back to the original, 3-alignment, Law vs. Chaos alignment system seems to be causing a bit of confusion, so this post explains the nature of Chaos in the Crusader Kingdoms.

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Session 8: In Which Zargon Takes Seven Times Seven

Thursday, 9th day; 9th month (Horse); year 734

On the day after they exterminated the ssarmesk lizard-men who were camped in the Pyramid of Sabban-Ka, the party spends the morning in the old High Priest’s apartments discussing their next move. Some want to attack Thrak-Sha’s stronghold before he attacks them. Others would rather wait for Thrak-Sha to attack so they can take advantage of having a stronghold of their own. The breakfast meeting is interrupted by a servant bearing a message addressed to Aisha and Milnos from one Osero-Gep. This mysterious stranger is asking them to meet him at the Stronghold of Usamigaras, as he has information that “practitioners of the Art” should find interesting.

The party decides to spend the day seeing what is going on at the Fortress of Gorm and Stronghold of Usamigaras in the wake of the destruction of those cults. But first, they want to investigate the mysterious library in their own stronghold. Mercedes’ ring of x-ray vision reveals that the books in the library are covered in a strange yellow mold. The party decides that it would be best to keep the library locked at this time.

Milnos, Mercedes, Aisha, and Spinello head to the Fortress of Gorm, while Thjolstoff remains at the Temple to convalesce in Eva’s care. Most of the other henchmen remain at the Temple, as well. At the Fortress, the party meets with Hestmon-Zo, the gruff, middle-aged drill sergeant in rhino mask and blue dragonbone plate armor who has assumed leadership of the remaining Penitents of Gorm since the destruction of the Brothers of Gorm who ministered to their congregation. They discover that Hestmon has taken on a henchman: Brother Aubrey, the surfacer priest who used to travel with the PCs. Aubrey is trying to induct the cult of Gorm into the Aedis of the Gods Above – the religious organization that dominates the PCs’ homeland, which teaches that all Lawful deities are part of a unified whole – and the Gormites seem receptive to his teaching.

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Session 7: In Which a Threat Is Discovered and Eliminated

Wednesday, 1st day; 9th month (Horse); year 734 (cont.)

Following the unfortunately Tarantino-esque conclusion to their assault on the Temple of Zargon, the PCs rush to repair their relationship with the Spearmaidens of Madarua. They send a small delegation – led by Spinello and specifically excluding the frightful barbarian who drove them out of the Temple – to entreat with the Spearmaidens.

The delegation emerges onto a town square that is unnaturally empty and ominously quiet. Even the ‘shroom-addled denizens of Cynidicea realize that the balance of power has been upset, and anything could happen now. The frightened citizens eye the PCs silently from windows and shops as they make their way to the Tower of Madarua.

They find the gates of the Tower compound shut tight. Spinello hails the Spearmaidens, and one of them appears on the battlements. She demands that they leave, and reminds them that their henchmen (Odgrim and Simbra-Nar) and their friend Bozev, the Telkaynie tavern keeper, are still in the Tower, convalescing. If the PCs are foolish enough to attack, their guards have orders to kill the hostages. Hoping to find a more sympathetic ear, Spinello asks if he can speak to Ilaliya, the Spearmaiden who guided them out of the Pyramid, and who Spinello had been trying unsuccessfully to woo ever since. The Spearmaiden, obviously upset by the bard’s insensitivity, informs him that Ilaliya did not survive the battle in the Temple.

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Session 6: In Which the Party Eliminates Three of the Cynidicean Cults, and Alienates the Fourth

Monday, Elephant 29th, 734

The party retreats to the safety of the Tower of Madarua following their extremely successful, casualty-free raid on the Temple of Zargon. They spend an hour celebrating their success and telling the High Spearmaiden what they’ve done, then decide to post the head of the High Priest of Zargon (which they took with them during the raid) on a pike in the town square. Fortunately, the forces of Zargon are still in disarray following the raid, so they meet no resistance. When they return, they arrange for more advertising for recruits, requesting Light and Heavy Infantry, Crossbowmen, Bowmen, and Longbowmen, as well as Normal Men looking to become henchmen. Several members of the party also donate the majority of the proceeds of the raid to the Spearmaidens, though Mercedes holds out, intending to donate to the Magi instead, when she can contact them. Then, they retire for the day.

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Session 5: In Which a High Priest is Assassinated and a Barkeep Takes an Arrow to the Knee

Sunday, Elephant 21st through Friday, Elephant 26th, 734

The party spends the week resting at the Tower of Madarua to recover from their expedition to the Isle of Death. During this time, they convince the High Spearmaiden to meet on neutral ground with the leaders of the Brothers of Gorm and Magi of Usamigaras. They decide to hold the meeting in the entrance to the Pyramid at the bottom of the shaft through which they first entered the city. The meeting is set for Monday, Elephant 29th.

Also, those members of the party who had been forced to eat Cynidicean mushrooms during their captivity eat well enough that they are no longer ‘shroom-addled. Brother Aubrey decides that the adventurer’s life is not for him, and retires to spread the word of the Gods Above among the people of Cynidicea [his player decided that old-school gaming just isn’t for him and bowed out of the game]. And the party pays members of the Spearmaidens’ congregation to spread word that the surfacers are looking to hire servants and mercenaries, and that those interested should inquire at the Tower of Madarua on Sunday.

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Undead Horrors of the Crusader Kingdoms

It seems like every D&D blog eventually has a post on the author’s opinion on energy drain/level drain. Since the last session featured a variety of undead creatures, I might as well tackle the subject now.

I don’t mind energy drain, but having the majority of undead creatures have energy drain as their shtick is boring. Wights? 3HD + energy drain. Wraiths? 4HD + energy drain. Spectres? 6HD + energy drain. Vampires? You get the idea.

Now, undead are by far my favorite monsters, and I simply cannot abide them being boring. So, I limit energy drain to vampires only. I also make vampires have to suck your blood to energy drain you. Because that’s what vampires do – suck blood. Vampires that magically drain your life essence, such as those found in D&D and Skyrim? They might as well sparkle.

With energy drain mostly off the table, I put some effort into making each of the common types of undead have their own personality. I also made some new ones and dusted off some less common ones from older editions. The results are below, in Bridge to Cynidicea’s trademark brain-scrambling-wall-of-text format.

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Session 4: In Which an Expedition to the Isle of Death Yields Actual Treasure

Thursday, 18th day of the Month of the Elephant, 734

Following their escape from the dungeons of the Temple of Zargon, the surviving members of the party find themselves hiding in an abandoned building not far from the Temple. Aisha, Spinello, Thjolstoff, and the henchmen Odgrim and Simbra-Nar are naked and armed with only what they were able to scavenge from the zargonians – mostly spears in dubious condition. Mercedes and her sister Eva are with them, and are still clothed and equipped, but Peg-Legged Dunstan is unaccounted for. He is presumably laying bricks somewhere, unaware that zargonian patrols are scouring the city in search of his master.

Mercedes switches masks to disguise herself as a typical Cynidicean and heads out onto the streets. She intends to find Dunstan, then take him with her to the Tower of Madarua to beg for clothes for her companions. Unfortunately, she arrives just in time to see a zargonian patrol arrest their one-legged henchman. Fortunately, her disguise fools the zargonians, who pay no attention to her. She decides there are too many of them to attempt a rescue on her own, so she continues to the tower. Once there, she is unable to explain that she needs clothes, as she does not speak the local language.

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Session 3: In Which the Party Earns a Dubiously Heroic Reputation at the Cost of a Third of its Membership

Spinello follows Ilalia to the Tower of Madarua. Ilalia retreats to the tower to get some sleep after a long and trying day. Spinello finds a place to throw down his bedroll among the families camped out in their courtyard, and tries to do the same. Not long after, the henchmen who were left at Bozev’s Place arrive at the Tower, bearing Odgrim with them, bound and wailing under the effects of the Blackspore Brandy. They do their best to comfort him until he cries himself to sleep. Finally, Thjolstoff, Dunstan, Walther, and Aisha return to the tower following their brawl at the Cat House. Thjolstoff does a head count and realizes Mercedes is still missing. The PCs head back out into the city to find her, leaving the henchmen to get some sleep.

Meawhile, Mercedes awakens in a cell, bereft of her gear and wearing a simple sack dress and a mask consisting of a sack with holes cut in it for her eyes. She has a hazy recollection of fleeing her companions after they transformed into brightly colored geckos and tried to eat her, then travelling through a kingdom of light until she encountered the Rainbow Man, who put her to sleep. She realizes that she has been hallucinating. A trio of people wearing silver baby masks and shapeless robes adorned with multi-colored strips of cloth enter the cell and question her in a language she does not understand. They try again in other languages, but she still cannot understand them. They get frustrated and leave, and Mercedes is again alone in the cell.

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