Claire vs Dragonlance Part 6: The railroad continues, this time with actual road!

Day Nine

The heroes woke to find themselves in a wagon cage. Goldmoon counselled the group to rest up and get their strength back for when a chance to escape came. She spotted another wagon where their gear was being stowed. She healed Caramon, who had been badly beaten to subdue him, Raistlin who was coughing without his usual herbal tea, and the smith Theros, whose arm had been cut off when he had been arrested by Fewmaster Toede.

Toede and his squire, a gully dwarf, traveled alongside them and their hobgoblin captors, as they went for miles and miles through ruined terrain, the true extent of the draconian conquest hitting them as they passed through what was once the proud city of Gateway.

Their chance came when they drew near to the forests of the Qualinesti elves. When a sudden ambush of elves descended upon the wagons, Goldmoon rallied the others. Raistlin, Tika and Tasslehoff threw off their bonds and started to free the others. The goblins decided to turn on the prisoners and kill them before the elves could rescue them, so the party had to struggle to rip the locks or the bars off of their cage before they were pincushioned. They managed, but not without casualty; Gilthanas lost half his elven blade to a lock. The goblins were quickly dispatched and the heroes rushed to retrieve their gear from the other wagon while hobgoblins rushed them. They slew as many as they could before breaking for the cover of the trees.

Woodelveskarlkopinski

Source: Warhammer

Claire vs Dragonlance Part 5: Chapter 2 begins – You can’t break that railroad!

Day Eight

After running across mountains and plains to get to the distant smoke over Solace, the party ran into the ruins of Que-Qiri. The only person they saw was an old man who was trapped under the ruins of his house. Goldmoon tried to heal him, but she could not save him. As he died, he monologued at the heroes: the dragons have returned! As he died, the dragon-like men they had first met at Xak Tsaroth attacked from out of nowhere! But as they slew these, they discovered they were a different breed: these ones burst into a pool of acid as they died, burning the party.

This is the first point where James wanted me to try and break the railroad. Apparently if I had decided to go off script at this point, I would have been attacked by TWO DRAGONS… cos you gotta stay on the railroad, y’all.

The heroes continued to head towards Solace as evening drew near. They came upon a devastating sight. Only three buildings were left, including the Inn of the Last Home, which had been ripped from its high-up post in the tree and lay, its back wall and roof slumped over. They tried to sneak in but failed and ran into a patrol. With Raistlin’s quick casting of a Hypnotic Pattern, the party ran quickly into the Inn of the Last Home.

Tika the bartender pretended to not know the party and when she had the chance filled the party in on what had transpired. The dragons and dragon-men had arrived and were enslaving the people and killing all the elves they saw. At that moment a hooded figure crossed the room and a dragon-man tripped him. As his hood came back, elf ears were revealed! The draconians started to shove him around, while the party tried to decide what to do. But at that point Tika whacked one over the head with her skillet. A hideous hobgoblin, called Fewmaster Toede, stepped in and announced that everyone in here would be arrested.

And this was the point where I decided to try and break the railroad. My eight person party – plus two, Tika and the elf, Gilthanas – versus Fewmaster Toede and 48 draconians…

Come at me bro!

The party fought to resist arrest. Weary from the road, they were not at the top of their form, but put up a valiant effort. Fewmaster Toede fled in fear, almost near death. The party were slow to fall, but they took out 44 of the 48 draconians before Tasslehoff finally fell, the last to be attacked. The floor was mostly eaten away by rivulets of acidic draconian blood.

We will rejoin the heroes again next time as they now rejoin the railroad and try to escape from capture!

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Source: TSR

Claire vs Dragonlance Part 4: Dragon of Despair

At the foot of the cauldron elevators the party looked around. The corridors – or were they in fact long ruined streets? – of the dungeon were dark and damp. Exploring around, they found more ruined rooms than whole. Coming upon a central plaza, they spied a black dragon and a draconian (the name they would soon learn to call the lizardmen they had been seeing) bossing around some gully dwarves and telling them to find a certain female prisoner.

Setting out to hopefully find the prisoner first, the heroes went north of the plaza and found the building that once was the Halls of Justice. In this they found several draconians. One group they had to fight, but in another room they found a drunk one who muttered about his captain being captured by gully dwarves! Behind the hall of justice they found two draconians with a kender prisoner, who the heroes freed.

Further north there was a broken tower, and doors in this teleported the protagonists up many levels to the treasury. In there they were attacked by ghosts who did not realise they were dead. Goldmoon tried to talk with one ghost to send him on his way peacefully, but she failed, and he had to be sent away violently.

Further west the heroes found the gully dwarf warrens. These were greatly defensible, but the foolish creatures hadn’t realised. They found the draconian captain who was taken prisoner, and a frustrating conversation ensued between Goldmoon and the very stupid guards. After questioning the captain about the dragon deeper in the dungeon, they moved on and found the ‘king’ or Highbulp of the gully dwarves. They gave him a gift of a monocle missing the glass (first thing found in Tasslehoff’s pockets) and he told them of a secret way to the dragon’s den.

The secret way was behind a waterfall and down through a sewer. Once they got through though, there was a magical darkness which they could not dispel. The dragon dispelled it just to mock them, and they came out to face the fearsome wyrm. While she monologued at them, Goldmoon heard Mischakal’s voice in her head telling her to have faith and strike the dragon with the staff. Goldmoon murmured to the others to find the Discs of Mischakal and she ran forward and thrust her staff at the dragon.

Goldmoon and the staff burst in blue, flaming light and the dragon screamed in pain. The whole dungeon began to crumble. While Sturm found the disks, Raistlin found something else which he hid from the others, and everyone had to pull a shocked Riverwind out of the room as the dungeon filled with water. They got to the vines next to one of the waterfalls and began to climb up, finding themselves outside the treasury again.

They began to look around for materials for a raft but then an ancient ghost showed them the way out back to the level where the cauldrons would come out. They ran up and out, and then, at the foot of the statue of Mischakal, they found the staff back in the goddess’s hands, and Goldmoon unharmed at her feet.

As they fled the sinking city, Goldmoon could feel new power inside her. She was a cleric of Mischakal now. Her joy was short-lived though, as that evening when they crested the mountains, they saw plumes of smoke coming from the direction of far-off Solace.

Clyde Caldwell - Dragons Of Despair (1)

Source: http://www.oocities.org/timessquare/realm/1883/art.html

Claire vs Dragonlance, Part 3: Pot Luck

Day Five

The party discovered that they must have been protected overnight by the statue of Mischakal, for there were lizard men in the very next room. After dealing with them, they went down the stairs in another room and found themselves in a room with many holes in the floor. They walked carefully, watching their step. They saw a wooden box on a ledge far across a chasm, and using rope, bow and arrow, and the spell Tenser’s Floating Disk, they managed to pull the box over to them and were well rewarded for it. Inside were 5 gems worth 1000 gold each.

Heading to the other side of the same floor they ran into a strange sight: gully dwarves running and jumping with strange glee into a cauldron, attended by two lizard men. The cauldron then began to sink through a hole in the floor. They worked out what it was as another cauldron came rising out of another hole in the floor: it was an elevator! New lizard men came out of this cauldron and started to file towards the corridor that the heroes hid in, so they rushed out and took them all on. These ones turned to stone on their deaths and after a few minutes or so they turned to dust.

gullydwarves

Source: TSR

Once the lizard men were dispatched the heroes decided to figure out the elevator. They would have to do it in two groups, so the first group, Tanis, Riverwind, Goldmoon and Sturm, all started downwards. They noticed a lizard man standing beside a gong at the bottom to announce their arrival, so Tanis leaned over the side and shot at him, killing him in one shot. Having him turn into stone stopped him from hitting the gong. However, once they were out of the cauldron at the bottom, and the group above were piled in, a patrol of lizard men arrived in the room. The assembled four on the lower floor were able to wipe these out before the other four were even halfway toward the floor.

Unfortunately at this point I had to end the session because I started to feel ill. We’ll pick up again in a few days!

Claire vs Dragonlance: Part 2, “Pay no attention to the kender behind the curtain!”

Day Three

On rising there was a brief argument between Sturm and Riverwind. Riverwind had questioned Sturm’s commitment to protecting Goldmoon, and Sturm had taken it as an insult on his honour. Goldmoon quickly stepped between them, and both men apologised for their rash behaviour. 

That day the party hit the road through the East Wall mountains. As they went, Riverwind began to remember the place vaguely. Maybe he traveled this way before he lost his memory? Goldmoon also got a sense of dejavu too which she couldn’t explain.

As they got over the mountains and closer to the coast, they turned north on Riverwind’s instinct. The further north they moved, they could smell the putrid smell of the encroaching swamp. They slept at the side of it that night. Caramon tried to get Goldmoon to open up about her relationship with Riverwind, but it turned instead into a sad reminiscence about her tribe.

Day Four

As they crossed the swamp, approaching some low ruins, Goldmoon told Tasslehoff about the different kinds of items that people of her tribe might use as wedding tokens to give to their spouse. She suggested he go ask Riverwind about it, as what she hoped was a subtle way of gauging Riverwind’s readiness. But the kender ran over yelling, and seeing Goldmoon’s panic, Flint the dwarf grabbed him and made him shut up.

Deeper in the swamp, they ran into a slippery bridge. They rigged up ropes, but Flint slipped into the water and was attacked by a basilisk. They dispatched the beast, Goldmoon figuring out more about her magical staff as she used it to cure basilisk-induced paralysis. Footprints led them deeper. As they crossed a log they were ambushed by strange lizardmen, the likes they had never seen before. They not only cast magic, but when they died their bones exploded! The party managed to scrape through, though two of the creatures got away to warn others.

The party raced to cross more bridges and get away from the oncoming patrols. They rigged more ropes up and crossed one bridge, but Riverwind and Tanis got caught on one side by an oncoming patrol. They tried running across the bridge but slipped into the water and were captured. The remaining members of the party took a different route to get towards the central encampment of the lizardfolk, and hid themselves in the ruins. In the centre of the busy camp they saw what they could not believe – a dragon! It just sat there though, and had not seemed to sense them. They could not see their two friends so they sent Tasslehoff, the sneakiest member of the party, to find and hopefully release them.

They waited a very long time, and they were about to step forward and investigate when suddenly a muffled voice erupted from the dragon. “Bring me the prisoners!”. The lizard men seemed confused, because they thought it was not alive. But Raistlin quickly got the idea and used minor illusion to make the dragon’s mouth look as if it was moving, while the kender, inside the construct, made its head and wings move. The lizard people brought out the woozy Tanis and Riverwind. “Give them their weapons!” the dragon cried. It worked! Tanis waved confusedly at the wobbly dragon, which slammed into the campfire and caught alight. 

As the lizard folk all ran in fear, the party rushed in to save Tasslehoff from burning. They cut him free and all ran north, away from where the lizard men had fled. This took them deeper into the ruins of Xak Tsaroth, and they saw signs that it had once been a beautiful city in the last age. They opened great golden doors and found themselves in a great temple. In the centre was a statue of a woman, her hands held out as if to cradle the staff, and she seemed to be made of the same material.

As Goldmoon placed the staff in the statue’s hands it spoke only to her – she must venture down below the temple, into danger, to retrieve the Disks of Mischakal and learn the ancient knowledge.

Dragonlance-DoAT_27

Source: Dragonlance, The Dragons of Autumn Twilight

Claire vs Dragonlance: Part 1

So when he was a young dungeon master, James loved him some Dragonlance, the very unironic epic fantasy setting in the D&D family of settings. Since we’re taking a break from Dirwin but crave some roleplaying action in the meantime, he’s going to be running the Dragonlance campaign for me. Now I have very little knowledge about this setting, which is going to lead to some fun times when I inevitably derail everything. I’ll be playing the role of Goldmoon, the sole female against a seven-strong sausage fest of main characters. Part of James’s interest is in seeing me flesh out Goldmoon who has, in his mind, been neglected in the Dragonlance saga, probably because of her gender. So, let’s see how we go!

Prologue

Goldmoon, age 18, was priestess of her tribe, having inherited the title from her mother Tearsong on her death. Tearsong was now a goddess, as all Goldmoon’s female ancestors had become upon death – as she herself would become on her own death.

It was a significant day for Goldmoon and her people, the Que-Shu, one of several plains tribes. Today young men would fight for the right to escort her to her mother’s tomb in the foothills of the Eastern Wall mountains, where having come of age she would speak with her mother and other goddesses and take the power to lead upon her.

Hollowsky was the favourite to win, being the son of Lorman, her father’s chief adviser. The wild card was a man called Riverwind, an outsider. His family had long lived separate from the tribes, since they believed in heresies. Goldmoon’s handmaiden told her he was known to be raised by cheetahs after his parents died. He even refused Goldmoon’s blessing before he fought. And yet he was winning against all his challengers.

Before the final round between Hollowsky and Riverwind, Goldmoon noticed Hollowsky sneaking away from the weapons tent. She entered and found he had tampered with Riverwind’s staff, splitting it down the middle enough that it would shatter once his staff made contact. Goldmoon was unsure if she wished to support Riverwind, but she could not abide cheating, so she switched the broken staff out, replacing the decorative feathers and beads on a new, whole staff.

The fight took place, and Riverwind was the victor, much to Hollowsky’s shock. And so Riverwind was chosen to escort Goldmoon. However, Hollowsky did not respect this. When Riverwind and Goldmoon stopped to rest, Riverwind bit into the food to find it drugged. Goldmoon whipped out her sling. Hollowsky approached her, professing his love and saying he would kill Riverwind. While she distracted him and kept her sling up, Riverwind groggily came up behind him and hit him. They fought, and Hollowsky ended up falling down a ravine to his death. Goldmoon and Riverwind decided to keep this a secret between themselves. Also, Riverwind professed his love to Goldmoon. She found this confusing. Why then did he deny she was daughter of a goddess? They conversed, Goldmoon asking him about his family, his past, and his belief in other gods, gods that his family had believed in from before the cataclysm that sent the tribes to the plains 300 years past.

They arrived at the tombs of the goddesses and Tearsong’s ghost confirmed what Riverwind was saying: she was not in fact a goddess, but she was living with the gods now. Goldmoon tried to think what she could say to the tribe, or if she should say anything at all. They returned to the tribe, and on the way Riverwind asked Goldmoon if he might try to court her. She answered uneasily that he could ask her father for a quest, as is the tradition.

But the quest given by Goldmoon’s father – manipulated by Lorman – was impossible. To find physical proof of the gods he claimed existed. Goldmoon said goodbye to him at the edge of the village. I’m sorry, she said, knowing the quest to be impossible, and knowing he was right about the gods all along. Riverwind smiled bravely, his faith strong, and left.

Day One

Five years had passed since Riverwind left Goldmoon to start on his great quest. And now he was back.

In that time Goldmoon’s father had suffered a stroke, and in his weak state, Lorman had manipulated his way into power. Goldmoon had not let this happen without a fight, and had been building her faction and playing at politics. It was a weary, endless fight between the young woman and the older man. 

But now her Riverwind had returned, sick and raving, with an odd looking staff in his hands. Goldmoon nursed him back to health, and listened to his feverish ranting. He said he saw a swamp, a broken city, and death on wings. His fever broke as he spoke of a blue woman who had given him the staff. Now awake, he was questioned by Goldmoon, but could remember very little of the last five years.

This evening Riverwind was well enough to present the staff to Goldmoon’s father as proof of his quest being done. Everyone gathered at the twilight to hear the proof. Riverwind presented the staff to Goldmoon’s father, but he saw nothing in it to prove the existence of his gods. Lorman took charge of the situation and called for the village to stone Riverwind to death.

Goldmoon cried out and appealed to everyone to stop, but that was when she realised her politicking had not been enough. The village were now turned against her. As she and Riverwind began to take hits from her own villagers, Riverwind rushed to cover her. As they connected, both of them touching the strange staff, a blinding flash of light took them away.

-~-~-

They opened their eyes to find themselves in a forest. After a moment or two of disorientation, and realising they had no wounds at all, they tried to plan what their next move was. Going back to the plains was not an option. They would have to get disguises and move as far away as they could. Both knew they had the ability to live off the land. Looking around, they saw lights in the twilight, so they went towards them.

It was a place called Solace, a village in the trees. Goldmoon was not happy about the heights, but the inn was on a high platform, so she had to climb. In the Inn of the Last Home they met Tikka and gave her false names. They sat at a table and began to eat. Several strangers entered, some of them strange looking, like the dwarf, the kender, the gold-skinned wizard, and others in heavy armour. Riverwind was on edge and insisted on tasting Goldmoon’s food and drink before she did. 

The storyteller thrust a lute into Goldmoon’s hands, and nervously she sang the only song she could think of, the song she had been writing for the last five years. It told the story of her growing love for Riverwind in his absence. She improvised the last verse, telling the story of what had just occurred, how they had been stoned, and how magic had saved them.

Suddenly a drunken man started yelling at her, and Riverwind stood over him. A gentle push was exacerbated by the man’s drunkenness, and he fell in the fire. As Goldmoon grabbed a tapestry off the wall to cover the burning man, the kender rushed over and whacked him with Riverwind’s magic staff. Suddenly the man was not only not on fire, but he was healed. In the silence, Goldmoon put the tapestry back carefully and asked for the staff back. The kender handed it back.

All hell broke loose as the once burning man now yelled at Goldmoon and said he was going to get the High Seeker onto her, that she had the staff they were looking for. As he ran out, the strange party of six offered to help the couple escape. Tikka let them out the escape hatch, and they ran into the forest.

Finding a quiet promontory where they could watch out, the new gang talked and introduced themselves. All six were long time friends and had reuinted tonight to say what each had done for the last five years of questing. Caramon and Raistlin were brothers, the former a fighter, the latter a wizard. They had spent the last five years searching, and found the towers of sorcery. The kender Tasslehoff was hard to understand as he raved in his high-pitched voice, and hadn’t found much. The dwarf Flint had searched for the entrance to the great halls of the mountain dwarves, lost for 300 years. Sturm Brightblade searched for his inheritance and the Knights of Solamnia. Tanis the half-elf had searched for the elves.

What had they been searching for? Proof of the gods, they said. Goldmoon was so suprised and delighted by the coincidence that she decided to tell the others the truth (especially after Flint told her quietly that he realised the song was about her and Riverwind). She told them their real names, and that they had been separated for five years as Riverwind had searched for the gods, and he had found this staff. Sturm swore to follow her and aid her. Flint also seemed to quietly acquiesce. The others were a little more guarded.

They tried to decide where to go next to solve the question of the staff. Any settlements were out of the question, as the Seekers, a fanatical false religion, had taken over and had allied with goblins. Riverwind found the idea of seeking the elves of Qualinesti unacceptable. Then Goldmoon had the idea to speak to the one person who had met the gods – her mother.

Day Two

The plains were not too far, and by midday they were on the plains once more, though Goldmoon hid her face in Flint’s borrowed cloak. They made their way by skirting around the plainsfolk villages, but when they came nearer Que-Shu, they saw smoke on the horizon. Goldmoon couldn’t help herself, she had to know what had happened. Que-Shu was in ruins. There was no sign of anyone around, and in fact tracks led off to the east, humans being taken by things not human. 

The night was closing in so Goldmoon decided they would go to her mother’s tomb and follow the tracks in the light of day. On the way to the tombs they ran into a trio of wild boar which they killed and prepared for dinner. As they were cooked, Goldmoon prayed, begged, and beat her head uselessly against the door to her mother’s tomb, unanswered.

As the full darkness grew, Raistlin raised a wasted hand and pointed up. Two great constellations had vanished entirely from the sky. As Goldmoon despaired, her mother’s voice came to her. Go east to Xak Tsaroth. Be there in two days to meet your destiny. The stars have fallen to fight on the earth.

And here is a beautiful picture of Goldmoon and Riverwind by Keith Parkinson.

riverwindandgoldmoon_1100

Source: Keith Parkinson/Wizards (this is our favourite image of Riverwind and Goldmoon, the artist captures them so perfectly)