In the Shadow of the Ettinspire

Funerals and Ogres
Wherein you are given new directions, find some ogres, and see some new sights.

The scene opens at Constable Richmond Dernhelm‘s funeral. You learn Kelvin’s Pass is closed due to a combination of unusual bandit activity on the northern side and heavy snows making travel too difficult. You arrive at Watchington Heights to see it destroyed and inhabited by a few ogres, whom you readily dispatch. Finding evidence of both the Baron’s and the Earl’s guard, you proceed in worry for the safety of your friends Jonas Lehrman and Fenric Michelsohn. Arriving in Ferringway, you opt to visit Earl Osric‘s castle. Informed that he is indisposed at the moment, you are instructed to wait at the Green-Eyed Cat in Ferringway for word. Going to town, you learn from the watch that a merchant with guard fitting the description of your friends was seen arriving in town some days ago. You stay the night at the Green-Eyed Cat, where you learn that Fenric had been there, but was summoned to the Earl’s castle some days ago. You also hear some rumors that the recently constructed portion outside the stone walls is subject to the hauntings and wanderings of spirits. In the morning a messenger arrives to tell you Earl Osric will see you now.

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Earls and Spiders
Wherein you speak with an Earl, a prince is missing, a dragon asks you to kill spiders, and a fairy is kidnapped.

A meeting with Earl Osric reveals that a strange alliance has developed between the ogres and the orcs to the west, and the city of Ruremburg was overrun eighteen months ago. His son Auric is missing for six months now after leading an expedition to the fallen city. Osric requests you to find out why the orcs have joined with the ogres, and to see if you can find any signs of Auric. While on the way, a faerie dragon approaches you near the forest. It seems a group of fairies have been captured by giant spiders who are invading the woods from a nearby cave. You investigate, and the party rescues Bobbi and Olga, but Billie is dragged away by a wounded spider. Bobbi suspects an ettercap.

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Cobwebs and Flame
Wherein spiders die, things are burned, you talk to cows, and the druid flies.

Leaving the place where you found Bobbi and Olga, you make your way to the cave in the forest. Along the way you find an elf named Kaeleer snared in a web-trap. After he is freed, introductions are made, and he decides to travel with you to investigate the spider situation. Inside the cave you find a mass of webs hiding traps, and more spiders. You kill many and set fire to some of the webs. In the back you find the desiccated corpses of victims: animals and humanoid, though none you recognize. The crevice in the center of the cave revealed a mass of webs forming a sort of nest, with more bundles inside. With no sign of the ettercap, Bud lights a torch and sets fire to the nest, and the party leaves for Ruremburg. The spiders seem less menacing on the rest of your journey, though signs of them are prevalent throughout most of the area. After a rest, you come upon the plain outside Ruremburg, it’s bells mournfully tousled by the winds. You speak with a cow and discover one or more days ago a group of orcs were in the city. Theyla takes flight as a bird and scouts the city, spotting two orcs lazily guarding the entrance to a large church. Also spotted are groups of feral-looking dogs scavenging the city for food. Returning to the forest you approach the fallen city and make plans.

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Ornery Orcs and Electric Ettins
Wherein you evade wildlife and destroy an orcish scouting party.

After arriving at Ruremburg, you locate the building the orcs are using as their shelter. Traveling through the ruins, you evade the packs of wolves, but decide to remove the threat of the winter wolf. Sneaking to the rear of the chapel, you break in and summarily destroy a one-eyed orc named Kurshoth Lushkladzh and his companions. The ettin Balsh-Gorn sleeping in the corner wakens and is quickly dispatched with weapon and lightning. A final orc is taken prisoner who accuses you of being mercenaries of Ashtok Gorshk, the orc chief of Kor Vashtaan. After maiming and disfiguring him, you send him into the rain and proceed north to see what Ashtok might provide to the situation.

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Eyes and Ambush
Wherein you speak with the Chief and waylay waylayers.

You travel through the rain north to Kor Vashtaan to speak with Ashtok Gorshk. Greeted by the city patrol, you surrender your weapons and are brought to the chieftain. You discuss many things with him and gain valuable information regarding Doorsh Zahrn and his shaman Lurshbaan Garnzhog. You learn there is an ancient rite known as the Ritual of the Eye, in which a warrior deprived of his eye gains blessings from the orc god, and become an Eye of Gruumsh. This is possibly tied to a landmark near Doorsh’s camp, known as the Elf Tooth, a strange obelisk once used to commune with the elven deities. The strange amulet worn by the orc you slayed is also tied to this ritual, creating a bond between others wearing them.

After gaining all the information you seek, you use the amulet to discover another Eye of Gruumsh comes your way. Together you set an ambush in the forest, and after some rough and tumble action, you are once more victorious.

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Durbin's Journal III
Storm Day 26th of Hay Month

Today we met with A’shtoq and learn where Dorche was located. This corroborated with the information we had gathered from interrogating the Orc yesterday. We also gathered more information about Dorche and his Lieutenants. Our fears of an Ogre Mage were also confirmed.

Dorche is a special Orc that has been blessed by Luthik an Orcish Deity, and he has been creating his own special troops known as the Eye of Groosh. We showed him the holy symbol we had looted from Kirchoff and A’shtoq grew pale and told us we must leave at once.

I spent some time studying the amulet and discovered a faint glow of divination. Then I discovered why A’shtoq was so afraid. That amulet was a tracking device and it was leading an Orc Search party directly to us! Stupid Fool! I should have analyzed it the previous night as soon as I had the chance, but now my folly has put us into danger, and quite possibly endangered the lives of A’shtoq as well. I mean I know he’s only an Orc, but he genuinely fears Dorche’s army and his band is too small and weak to withstand a full onslaught.

We were able to set up an effective ambush, and I was able to knock out one lone orc to keep him alive for questioning. After the battle in the church last night, I didn’t want to risk having every last orc slain and there is no way to communicate with the dead.

Ive learned that there 10 other such amulets. 8 are within Dorche’s Stronghold, 2 are further to the south. We must act quickly before Dorche decides to send his full might upon us or A’shtoq or even worse Farringway.

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The Ambush
The Grey Thorn's Point of View

The orc from the chapel tells us that his chief is no friend of Ashtok. We headed north to speak with Ashtok, and learn information about the one called Doorsh. He tells us that Doorsh is in league with an ogre-mage, and more troubling his spiritual leader, the shaman Lurshbaan, has found a way to pervert the ritual in making Orogs. Ashtok holds an a fortified position known as the Elftooth, a strange black obelisk west of the forest. There is a cave system that runs into it that we can exploit to sneak in, and that is how we decide to envade. We show Ashtok the strange inverted Eye of Gruumsh that we found on Kurshoth’s body. The Orc chief grew pale in terror. This must be tied to the perverted ritual Doorsh is using to empower his army. We must leave now and destroy the Eye. We set out with more knowledge on where Doorsh is and how expansive his holdings are. Just outside of the woods the wizard uses his magicks to discern that the eye can be used to track the location of the one who holds it. He says the ritual can go both ways, and the trackee can become the tracker. It appears that another Eye is heading for us.

I am furious with these orcs, and tell my comrades to hide in the bushes. I will take down this ambush parties champion on my own, and then we can know just how powerful Ashtok’s allies are. I see the one-eyed orc riding untop a monstrous wolf flanked by more orcs riding on wolves. I tell him that I killed Kurshoth and he is next to die. Insults fly as he charges at me and his monster-wolf breathes an icy blast chilling me to the bone. Enraged I lose myself in the bloodlust that takes me too easily now. I thought I had escaped my past, but it seems it is creeping back into my life. When I come to, everyone is dead except my elf friends. We know that the orcs are weak, and now we march to bring death to Ashtok.

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Geography and Culture of the Southern Shire
Celebrating Life and The Land's Bounty

If there is one thing that stands out about the Shire is the inland sea that dominates the western edge of the region and forms the border with the High Marches.

According to legend, it was here that Gruumsh One-Eye had slammed his axe during his epic battle with Corellon Larethian. While such a fanciful explanation sounds preposterous to the modern historian, archaeological evidence does show that Elven and Orcish civilizations had long co-existed in this area long before the arrival of man. The geographic names such as “Green Lord’s Wound” given to the rift valley and it’s escarpments and “Hanali’s Tears” given to the cataphracts which drain the High Marches into the Shire.

When men would settle in these lands they chose Armand for it’s central location, but needed an are nearby to focus on agriculture. The soil in the High Marches was too unstable for permanent buildings and the coasts were plagued by fierce storms. The Shire was found to be sparsely populated by Orcs and so men set about building a system of irrigation canals to aid in transport and provide water to farms.

The rapid deforestation alarmed the elves and lead to a brief war between elves and men which was settled by the Treaty of Ingwe. This treaty established the Ancient Order of the Green Lord, a knightly order which serves as the main military force and justice arm of the Church of the Green Lord. This church is made up of elves and men who see that regardless of what gods each person will worship, Life is what really matters and their dogma is closely tied to preserving life and eradicating those threats to the natural order such as undead and monstrosities.

Recently however, the University of Polema has arisen a a challenge to the power held by the Church of the Green Lord which teaches that scientific inquiry is more important than ancient superstitions and that men and their industry are the rightful stewards of the land.

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Ursine Adventures and Menacing Manticores
Wherein you find a Prince and kill a shaman.

You begin in the aftermath of the ambush. Deciding to scatter the amulets, the Theyla and Buddy use their skills to convince squirrels to take them away. You then travel to the Great Gorge and the old elven village where Doorsh has set his camp. You infiltrate the caves as per Ashtok’s advice, where you find Prince and some other bears. You discover Prince is really Auric and has been bewitched by Lurshbaan. You proceed further into the caves, dispatching orcs and ogres with extreme prejudice. You follow a disused path in attempts to avoid notice, and passing oozes and rust monsters, you find Lurshbaan’s tower. You confront him and destroy him, along with his quasit familiar, and a manticore who seemed to be overseeing Lurshbaan.

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Weekend at Luurshbaan's
How did I let things go this far?

While resting in the aftermath of the battle, a messenger arrives to fetch Lurshbaan. With quick thinking, Klara is disguised as the shaman, and Buddy as an assistant. A bit of deception and intimidation you are led straight to Doorsh’s chambers, and note his absence. Following a passageway, you emerge into an arena where Auric is being led to fight a troll for the amusement of the crowd. Doorsh sits in his throne where you approach him and instigate an attack. Doorsh and his minions are quickly slain and a rousing speech to the masses seems to get the message across that he was not worth following.

In the aftermath, a Rock-like ogre with blue skin and menacing presence threatens you and mentions you have inconvenienced his plans. He makes no real attempt to pursue you as you flee while hill giants make their way across the gorge. You escape the encampment with Auric, now freed of his shackles and curse, and proceed back to civilization.

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