26 January 2013

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 13 - Westhrall's Passage

This is the thirteenth Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn.Introduction and Index.

Underneath lies an expansive network of underground rivers, passages, caves, and abandoned tunnels mines, and communities. An entire subspecies of t'skrang, the Pale Ones, call this places home. As do countless Horrors.

It was all sealed up during the Scourge when the incursions were detected, much easier to write it all off than fight an untenable war. Because of this, much was lost in the depths, particularly in the area known as Braza's Kingdom, a corrupted area home to many Horrors. The dwarf mines that stretch into the depths of the Throal mountains occasionally breach the old tunnel networks and encounter what still moves down there. Which brings in the adepts, because there seems to be little more that they enjoy more than mucking about in horribly dangerous places, with terrible conditions, fighting Horrors and their constructs for the promise of fame and money.

Braza's Kingdom is akin to a more local mini-Parlainth, though the threats posed are very real to the province as a whole, particularly the communities throughout the mountain range. This provides significant opportunities beyond just adventurers in mining shafts, but dealing with potentially remote villages and the affect that a Horror can have on these places. Underneath the mountain is a locale for continued adventure and exploration, digging up the past of Throal, and can lead to a more political game as the the happenings within the dwarf kingdom take center stage. Perhaps Pattern Items for some of the houses have been lost, or old caches of wealth. It is somewhat unique in the setting for that regard, developing both the adventure and horror aspects along side a city game with relationships and politics playing prominent roles.

The Pale Ones also call the waterways under the mountains home in their domes. These vast caverns house an entire society that has largely been forgotten, though they maintain some contact with Throal. For most games they would just be another oddity in the rich setting of Barsaive. However, for the aforementioned Throal campaign, they could play an important role in exploring the dark secrets under the mountains. The struggles between the various clans and the pressures the place on the adepts in exchange for aid would also be a source of drama for the group as they attempt to navigate the complex relationships.

Adventure Log – 13 Westhrall's Passage

Recorded By: Elmod of Glenwood Deep

Date: 18 Veltom – 24 Veltom, 1507 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Elmod the Nethermancer
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Windmaster

Ontheros the Horror Stalker
Ting the Swordmaster

A quiet time of the new year, much devoted to research in the Great Library of Throal, primarily on a set of Thread Items that are a part of a set. Known as the Bands of Fortune, they are a set of items used by an adventuring group known as the Band of Fortune. A ring, large headband, bracers, and thorn armlet are all we have found so far. The set reportedly finds itself into other adventuring parties, and will also often cause some other separate group or member to meet an untimely end. Bodes trouble, though potentially powerful.

At the library an ork woman, Ela Pono, covertly invites me and the party on an underground expedition and map confirmation beneath Throal. A path along the Coil River underground allegedly leads to the dwarf kingdom. We also learn and meet some Pale Ones, pale t’skrang that live underground – a bit odd though and speak little Throalic.

I, being the most astute of the party, took the mains of the raft Ela prepared for our trip.
Along the way, many interesting subterranean creatures and flora were observed, and I had Ting take some samples for me. Of particular interest was the brain sponge, glowing moss that lures mind slugs, and we made pillows of their spherical majesty.

We camped on an old abandoned encampment. Unfortunately my examination of the brain sponges did not alter me to the descending shadowmants until they were upon us. They got me first with venom and Ting was poisoned as well. We managed to get all the shadowmants downed, but Ting succumbed to the venom and had to be salved after she crossed over. I still feel a fair bit woozy.

We continue on nonetheless, a bit wearied.

Saw some beetles and a toad being devoured by toadstools.

Another night of Horror mouth things attacking us. One devoured most of one of my Absorb Blow charms – which was new too!

A third day in Braza’s Kingdom; strange things again.

Only on the fifth day do we get out of Braza’s Kingdom, but luckily without any further attacks.

After the weirdness of the Kingdom, Ela feels only slightly better.
We find a small island, burnt raft and corpses of Ela’s friends. Another two islands of burnt out houses and raided spaces.

We finally come upon a larger island still inhabited, protected even by t’skrang Pale Ones. Pretty lights when we arrive as well.

Soon, fire cannon blasts from raiding party beats out on the water announcing the raiders’ presence. We take out a few at range and engage the landing at the beach – defeating enough of them to encourage their retreat.

We have an evening of Questions with the shivalahala, finding out about the lake and further downriver – she learns a bit about us above dwellers.

We leave downriver again and navigate some treacherous rapids – thanks to my deft piloting, we survive.

We find the raiders – flagged as Nine Diamonds – the flag of House K’tenshin.

We try to approach them silently, but Ting is still too noisy and the horde of raiders rushes us.

We focus on the riverboat seeking the map they hopefully have of the end of the waterway to the Coil River. The officers were simple to defeat (Ed note: None were defeated), but plentiful as well. With the help from Honeysuckle we take down the Captain, take him hostage, and the First Mate offers parley and we stop the battle.

We discuss terms and agree to trade the Captain for their map of the waterways and safe passage out of the underground passage.

Out of the passage we reach Ardanyan. We came there and will go to Throal to collect our bonus from Ela’s proprietor.

*     *     *

There are no annotations for this Adventure Log and there never will be. It wasn't mentioned in the log, but the adepts all made Blood Promises to not reveal anything that transpired during their employ for a year and a day. Once that is over, Ela fully intends to intercept their submission and it will be "lost", blamed on an intern that she doesn't care for. The reason for all of this effort is simple: she doesn't want it known that the passage exists, nor that she was involved in this. Involvement in one of the Groups that she curates is against Library policy, but she has been looking for a Group like this for quite some time. One with a careful blend of characteristics that make them trustworthy, but quite willing to do terrible things without thinking too hard about it. Also, much tougher than the previous Group that she thought would be perfect.

The adventure itself laid some groundwork for future events that may not really have effects which are seen on-screen. Much of the subtle build-up has been happening in the annotations Ela has been making to the Adventure Logs, and will continue to be there. Other events have been telegraphed in subtle details throughout the various sessions for quite a while and will have a big showing one day.

Under the mountain was a fun setting and allowed all of the characters to show off in some way, whether displaying extensive knowledge about various useful things, wrecking minor Horrors and their constructs, establishing contact with Pale Ones, or fighting pirates! While fun and moving some plot elements forward, and it added some creepy and weird elements, but didn't build much on the themes of the campaign.

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