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Against the spider cult

Page history last edited by Bruce Mason 11 years, 11 months ago

Adventures against the Atataki - Earth Season 906

Some local folk tales: The Spider & The Worm, Orlanth Steals a Clock.

Part I

Madrigan Easy, the mayor of Malton, hired 4 ‘adventurers’ to check out the source of an ancient artefact that had come into his possession. The artefact was a red-bronze helmet with multiple eye-holes. The adventurers investigated a ruined, long-abandoned hillfort that seemed infested by spiders, some sort of guardian spirit and an animated statue. It appeared to be a centre of power for some sort of cult that worshipped humanoid spiders.

 

They also found the corpse of a ranger – looked like the body had been drained by a giant spider but they recognised a the ranger’s gear – and a red-bronze mask which gave a vision of a door. Also found many red-bronze octagonal ‘coins’ covered in dots and lines.

 

On the way back they discovered the body of Jarrek the Woodsman, the person who had found the helmet in the first place. Appeared to have been tortured and poisoned then, presumably, left for dead. He had managed to scrape out some runes that, apparently, identified “Grandmother Hickory” – a witch living about a day down-river towards Jintul.

 

Part II

Naturally our intrepid band went to see the witch to find out what she knew. She seemed to know a lot and talked cryptically about fighting a spider cult some 30 years ago. After asking our heroes to deal with some sort of giant skunk that was causing trouble in the area, she sent them to see a diviner and then told them about an an old tower which might be a cult centre. They also took a chance to spy on Grandmother Hickory and spotted some strange comings and goings from her shack.

 

In among all this, the band were ambushed by cultists and then narrowly survived an attack by a griffin at the tower. The tower had long been abandoned but the did find some sort of Mostali (dwarven) machine covered in the spider cult’s writing and they noticed that someone’s been following them through the woods. Deciding that enough was enough, they had the Humaktu play dead (sort of comes naturally for Humakti I guess) and tried to flank the follower. Turned out to be rather busy round there. Ketil, the Dragonslayer, had been rounding up some old colleagues and paid a vist to Hickory himself. She put him on the trail of the PCs and they had also spotted the follower.

 

Part III

Making a quick decision they chased the follower into the woods where they had to deal with a half-ready ambush by two giant web-spinning spiders and 4 other cultists. One spider comfortably escaped once it realised it was outnumbered but they dispatched the rest leaving just one ready to be questioned. Until the rangers turned up that was. They had also been tracking the PCs and a bit of a tense stand-off threatened. Halgrim & Chook plus another were travelling with Santis and two of his men. Santis, being a Runelord of Humakt decided to use some truth magic and was *mostly* convinced by our mostly honest heroes. Instructed them to report back to Halgrim in Malton in 2 days.

 

Back to old granny Hickory who told them that she had been part of a company that fought and defeated the cult over 30 years ago. She gave the PCs an octagonal key, some spider anti-venom and a healing salve and said that she had come across the presence of a spider queen in the deep wood towards the footprint. She reckoned if the PCs didn't deal with that thing then it would keep sending ambushes after them. She also mentioned that Madrigan was the most likely to know what the dwarven machine was. She thought it might be a remnant from a Hero Quest.

 

Malton it was. Mayor Easy was most impressed with the machine, called it a trophy and pointed out that it appeared to be counting down to something in the near future. The sage was distracted by Elsa's (Madrigan's wife) locket which matched one worn by Granny Hickory. The locket was Madrigan's mother and Elsa noted that Easy's last name is not really Easy - his fullname was a bit foreign for around here. In the middle of all this there was commotion outside. A hunting and waltzing band (missionaries for the Wyrm's Friends) was in town and Halgrim and Chook almost came to blows.

 

The band consisted of 4 members and a *thing.* What's more, one of the members was a Centaur, a mythical creature from the Golden Age. Rather worryingly the Centaur had the same "stitching" marks as the giant skunk. The Centaur simply said that he was "made," called himself "Sorrow and Pain" and claimed that he owed his body, but not his soul, to Delecti. The PCs wisely decided not to attack the EWF missionaries quite yet. After all, there's a spider queen to deal with...

 

Part IV

So, to the lair of the spider queen they headed. Their route took them past a crying child who may have been the spirit of the river Marzeel who said that "a dragon drank me" and "it's all ashes, the ash bringer is coming." It also took them close by the hill fort and they were not surprised to see a lookout there.Still, after a few days searching, they came to a deep, dark silent section of the woods, guarded by cultists and fenced off by webbing.

Having managed to ambush some unwary cultists the party struck deep into the lair, setting light to various hives of baby spiders and defending themselves against several giant spiders intent on a snack. They were much surprised to find Shana, a maid at Easy Manor, in cultist regalia acting as lunch for a particularly hungry spider but soon found bigger fish to fry when they discovered the cultist's camp. With 8-9 tents and lean-tos and an ominous-looking cavern at the far end they quickly improvised a plan and managed to lure several cultists into an ambush.

There is, however, still much to do...

 

Part V

Figuring that if a plan worked once it would work again, the valiant troupe repositioned themselves but this time there were just too many curious spiders and cultists so they decided on Plan B, every Uroxi's favourite plan, "charge." There was just enough chaos and confusion for the PCs to pick off cultists in small groups though they couldn't get a decent attack against the moustachiod man who bravely sent cultists out to do his dirty work.

The archers attempted to flank to the right only to be pinned down by a woman who attacked with an enscorcelled arrow then a battery of spells. Desperately working their way forwards they were dismayed to hear a strange, sibiliant whispering from high up as they discovered the Queen of the Spiders watching from above.

Keldo charged the main group, still fresh from his mid-air spider-slaying activities if aggrevated by the immense heroics of cultist number 12 and broke through the ranks. Moustachioed man and Alys bit the dust. Griffith found his way into the lean-to and discovered a young ranger being used in a foul ritual. The ranger was beyond saving but had just enough life left to finger Halgrim so Griffith put him out of his misery and started copying the symbols only to find himself face-to-face with the enraged spider queen.

The spider queen had been doing well, she had slowed Kennit and was safely out-of-harms way until the attack on the egg. At that point she jumped and the PCs got just enough damage to daze her. It was still touch and go but brute force and violence won the day.

Loading up the rather nervious mule with 2000 silvers of spider bling and 2 very nice swords, not to mention a motion rune, they faced a decision. Do they head to the hill fort or back to Malton? Time was running out and they couldn't do both. The hillfort with its strange and unresolved link to undead appeared to be the best bet. They found a way to the top of the escarpment above it and settled down for the night as the last day approached.

 

Part VI

Only to be awoken by a clamour from the Mostal machine. Alarmed and surprised they readied themselves only to see a figure in the distance walking away from them. Kennit gave chase and after that there was never time to stop...

(More later - maybe).

Wrapping Up

Whatever happened to Kennit?

When Kennit broke the HeroQuest by running off the path the last thing he saw was the face of the young woman walking away from him. She was long-haired, strikingly beautiful and, as he realised, must have been Hickory in her younger days. Then it all went black.

After some amount of time he realised it was black because there was no light. He could hear however. What he heard was not exactly encouraging. What he felt was worse as something with too many legs and too many teeth and too many eyes jumped on him, biting him in the back of the neck. A chaotic, confused melee ensued. He was bitten again and felt his muscles stiffening, his senses swimming and in the end it was only a desperate attempt at pinning the opponent down leading to the opponent shrieking when it fell onto broken glass that gave him the upper hand.

When everything resolved he discovered that he was in the basement of the Mayor's house. A few days ago the mayor's son had been kidnapped and replaced with a changeling that took his form. The changeling was blackmailing the mayor and a warrant was out for the PC's arrest. Ketil explained in a hurry what was going on. It turned out that unlike for the rest of the party, no time had passed.

Mayor Easy was able to get in contact with Santis (head of all ranger bands along the Marzeel) and his travelling companions. Santis already had suspicions about Halgrim. To Kennit and Easy's annoyance he insisted on going to the ranger stockade outside of town first only to discover carnage. 12 rangers lay dead and dismembered; the ones who refused to join Halgrim's quest. Realising there was nothing that could be done, Santis, Kennit et al travelled up the river over night and hired fresh horses in the morning. They made good time but were not able to reach the hillfort in time. Fortunately for them, the matter had been taken care of. The surviving cultists, Halgrim and Chook were imprisoned and the band of heroes, currently being called "The Wood Gathering Lads" in tales told in inns were sitting pretty, having killed or captured the bad guys and taken their stuff.

 

People & groups

The Howling Wolf Clan. Mountain clan on the Slothi River. Clan chieftain Orlgard Sevenson has his seat at Sky End Stead.

Laughing River Clan. Solthi river clan holding the tula from the coast at Solthmouth to the bottom of "The Stair" beneath Thunder Bridge Fort.

King Androfin the Defiant. King of the Heortlanders, opponent of the EWF. A wily, devious operator preferring hold-off both empires without going to war.

Santis The One Faced. Humakt worshipping (god of death) head of all ranger bands in the area. Childhood friend of King Androfin. With the declaration of independence, Santis has moved his war bands south of the Solthi river.

“Grandmother” Hickory. A witch of dubious loyalties who was a God Learner when younger. Her part in a failed knowledge quest left her cursed and repentant. Since then she has stayed near the Marzeel river keeping an eye out for signs of the re-emergence of the Atataki cult. Recently turned up in an old bolt-hole pretending to be a witch. Again.

Delecti. Bogeyman, necromancer, artist, maker, architect of the future Golden Age, traitor who betrayed the God Learners. Local children are told to be good or Delecti will stitch them onto something awful.

 

Powers & Principalities

The Empire of the Wyrm’s Friends (EWF). Based in the Dragon Lands to the north, they have learned to talk to dragons and dragonewts and acquire dragon magic. They are busy working towards creating the Great Dragon. Conquered lands are persuaded that their old gods are actually dragons and should be worshipped as such.

The Middle Sea Empire – aka the god learners. Sorcery using empire from across the ocean. The god learners have learnt how to invade the myths of gods and steal powers from them. Some sorcerers have learned how to become immortal machines.

Orlanth – king of the storm tribe. The great god worshipped by the barbarians of Heortland and other places. Orlanthi killed the sun in the godtime but redeemed himself by going on a quest to rescue the sun from hell. The EWF have persuaded many Orlanthi to worship Orlanth the Dragon.

The Heortlanders. Barbarians of the Savage Forest ruled by King Androfin the Defiant who has recently declared independence from the EWF. The Heortlanders are trapped right between the EWF and the God Learners.

Hunting & Waltizing Bands. Missionary bands from the EWF. A band calling themselves "The Rainbow Children" were active in the area around 906-907.

 

Other notable places

The Footprint – day’s journey to the south. Foul chaos nest best avoided. The Syphon river runs uphill from the coast to drain into it. Syphon river is also best avoided.

Whitewall Ruins. Couple of days to the north. Ancient capital of Heortland. Razed by Dragons 200 years ago. King Androfin is the second of the new kings to have been crowned in the ruins.

The Clanking City. On an island off the coast further south. Centre of machine sorcery. On a clear day foul smokes can be seen belching from it even from here.

 

Madrigan Easy, his wife Elsa and their son Sammit. Richest and most influential man in Malton. Presumed to be a follower of the trader god Issaries but you know better than that now. Elsa is a daughter of the Chief of the Ten Trees Clan and runs the sawmill. The Madrigan mansion is the biggest private house in Malton with a staff of nearly a dozen.

Daria Batslayer. Sheriff of Malton. Sour-faced woman, suspicious of your role in the events. Also controls the town militia – 25 strong with another 100 that can be called in an emergency.

Halgrim The Herdsman. Formed head of the local ranger band that patrolled the area until you exposed his embrace of chaos. Now an exile fleeing justice and probably based in Karse; all the scum end up in Karse. Chook, Halgrim's former second in command. His devotion to Halgrim blinded him to the chaos he became an associate of. Committed suicide in shame.

The Dire Dogs. Bandit group causing problems on the edges of the Savage Woods. Unusual in that they have an affinity with dogs while most Orlanthi have an affinity with cats, especially alynxi.

 

Malton

Large town of almost 1000 people with stout wooden walls. On the banks of the Marzeel River. To the south of the river lies the Savage Woods – hotbed of freedom loving barbarians who pay taxes to the EWF. To the north are the Dragon Lands of the EWF.Some important places include.

The Storm Halls. Centre of worship in Malton. Practices Draconised Orlanth worship.

The Mother House. Temple to the Esrolian Earth Goddesses. Run by Mother Hoog. Never seen uncovered in public. Local rumours say she is a troll.

The Harmony House. Bath house, inn and brothel. Lolaleela, the oldest stripper in town, performs there to much acclaim.

The Thirsty Wind. Pub and unofficial centre of non-Draconised storm worship usually lead by Melhan Stormhand.

The Better Inn than Out. Wyrm friends pub and various other hallucinogenics. Once per season a Tailed Priest (Green Memories of Tomorrow) comes to visit and holds a Feast of Dragons.

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