Lore Drop – The Chainmates of Deadeye Alice

The Annis Hag known as Deadeye Alice is a solitary being, at least as far as others of her kind go. She does not live alone however. Over the many years of her existence she has formed a family of her own choosing – and the first part of that was taming the so-called Chainmates.

Hurrek and Dhellis are ogres, native to the Blackcap mountains, who were captured by slavers and forced to fight. At first they were confined to arenas but as their prowess and experience grew they became trusted enough to act on behalf of the owners of the arena. Bound together by their chains, they fought as a unit to make the most of their strengths despite their shackles. Then, one day, they saw an opportunity to break their chains and slay their captors. They did so and then struck off on their own to make their own way through the world.

Hurrek and Dhellis reworked the chains of their slavery into savage weapons to sweep opponents away, while the bonds of their time together led them to a deep and passionate relationship. In time they entered lands claimed by Deadeye Alice – and she aided them – seeing fellow outcasts. The two ogres crushed her enemies, and she provided for them – and then took them as husbands. Devoted to her as much as to each other, the ogres sired five sons with her and taught those sons how to fight.

The ogres are never too far from their wife – they are wily and surprisingly stealthy for such large beings – but at the same time they also know not to question her or get in the way of her schemes. Deadeye Alice is absolutely in charge, even if that control is sometimes masked in honeyed words. There is a brutal directness and honesty between the three of them and their sons that can be mistaken for a lack of awareness by outsiders, but do not be fooled. This may not be a traditional hag’s coven, but their knowledge and understanding of each other means that they are a greater threat together than apart.

A foolish bard once opined that the Chainmates had swapped slavery in the arena for a different kind of ownership. His remains were found on several spikes a week later.

NPC – Vasselack Dwarfbane

A scream in the night, and a roar of triumph was the DDC’s introduction to Vasselack the Dwarfbane – the slayer of Bentane Amberhammer. He escaped justice by running through walls and out into the night – and was an enemy unlike anything encountered by the group before. Vasselack is a spirit troll – a rare offshoot of the species that has survived an unusual death and been reborn in a new and unusual form.

When the mindflayers took over the Amberhammer Hold, they scoured the lands around for materials to craft misshapen aberrations. They created dolgaunts and dolgrims from dwarves and goblins, hobgoblins and ogres – from anything that they could warp in the service of their daelkyr master.

Vasselack was a hunter who saw an opportunity to strike at his tribe’s old enemies while they were vulnerable. He hunted and slew refugees from the Hold by the dozen, but even this hate-filled monster paled before the mindflayers who tracked him down and stripped the soul from his body with psionic blasts before eating his brain.

And yet this was not his end. Trolls are hardy creatures almost beyond relief, and enough of his angry spirit remained to grow a new body of pure psychic energy. Insubstantial as a shadow, he crept back into the darkness and would have become a lone horror had he not been found by Irreck. Irreck brought him to the Circle of Rot and they re-bound his essence through the power of the Eye of Khyber so that he could take on physical form again for periods of time. Grateful, he swore himself to Irreck as his personal assassin.

And so, hearing that the Amberhammer Clan had retaken its Hold, and keen to strike down its leaders before they could properly settle, Vasselack was sent to strike down the old Chief Bentane, who had led his people to drive the trolls off all those years ago. Accompanied by necromantic shadows conjured by Missy Lambrot, he slipped through the walls of the Hold and began a murderous spree.

He escaped the Hold’s defenders and slipped away into the night. The first real blow of the fight has landed. Who know what will happen next?

DDC – Oh No

Hungover and aching, the DDC took the portal back to the Hold and spent a da,y recovering. Thorin spent time with his father, learning more of the Clan history as miners of gold and amber. Valenia and Caeluma went hunting, caught deer, and found more troll tracks. The evening drew in and everyone settled down.

In the early hours of the night came sounds of fighting and outrage from somewhere in the Hold. People began to rouse themselves and search the halls. Valenia was first on the scene, finding a large semi-translucent troll in the Chief’s study. It was in the process of murdering Bentane, the old Lord of the Hold – Thorin’s father. Purple-hued twisted shadows accompanied it and sprung to attack – striking down guards before seeping through cracks in walls to haunt the corridors while the shadows of fallen guards began to writhe and rise in turn to hunt more of the living.

The rest of the group began to catch up and tried to kill the creature, which had a twisted violet gem embedded in its chest. They hurt it, but not before it dropped the body in its hands and turned to try and kill Thorin in turn. It taunted him, called itself Vasselack and claimed the Circle had sent him to be the Clan’s death.

Outnumbered as more of the group arrived, the spectral troll turned and ran straight through the nearest wall as the tide of battle shifted against it. Out in the corridors, more guards fell in battle with the undead shadows, until Karkanna caught up and aided Kerne in slaying them.

The creature ran through the wall next to Kerne and attacked them to clear their path out. The rest of the group had to run around the halls to catch up but managed to get there in time to save Kerne from the same fate that had befallen Bentane. The shadows were all slain, but the troll was able to continue through the walls and out of the Hold. It disappeared into the night, leaving blood and pain behind it.

In the aftermath, as survivors were patched up and non-combatants checked, there was dismay. Kerne comforted Karkanna, and Valenia directed efforts until Thorin could compose himself. Bentane’s remains were transferred to a side chapel. Before the assembled survivors, Thorin and the DDC swore to avenge Bentane and to make sure that this threat was ended.

How to do that? Well that was the question.

Lore Drop – Deadeye Alice

The Blackcap Mountains hold many strange corners and valleys, but the legend of Deadeye Alice sees many variants across the various tribes and clans that make their home there. Stories are whispered of the kindly auntie who lives past the fields or who whispers in the dead of night and offers her iron trinkets to those in need of a friendly voice. Tales of bargains in the night that bring both fortune and woe are told by dwarves in their Holds, and trolls in their caves. The druids warn of her iron nails and capricious nature, but also of her brutal family who roam the heights and do her bidding.

Illustrative picture - a monstrous and hooded figure with a skull mask and purple skin. Two sets of horns protrude from the hood, and a flaming speear is grasped in one hand.

Deadeye Alice gets her name from the corpse-pale orbs in her head. An Annis Hag, this fey creature has made the Blackcaps her home for generations. Unlike some of her kind, Alice shuns the covens and gatherings of her sisters and cousins. Repulsive in appearance, she is not courted by the fairer folk. Instead she haunts the edges of settlements, gathers rumours and favours, and spins a web of obligations, blackmail, and corruption.

Many tales tell of wanderers who seek her out in search of hidden knowledge, or favours to aid them in battle or love. She sees everyone as children, young and foolish, in need of guidance. Sometimes that guidance is benign, sometimes it isn’t. She can be eloquent, or crude, direct or opaque, and sometimes all of that in one exchange.

Those who particularly interest her may be offered an iron token, reforged from one of her iron nails or teeth. She plucks it forth and reworks it before them and from then on the new owner can talk to her whenever they wish, and hear her whispers in return. She has used these tokens to guide explorers, to tempt priests, and to corrupt children – and they are mentioned in stories around fires and camps as the winds howl in the night.

So when children talk of their Auntie in the fields, parents shudder and ask other parents who was out that day. When old iron toys are found in attics, they are quietly thrown away rather than added to scrap in the forge. The fear is that adding hag iron to the foundry would see warriors undone by whispers as they stood on guard with that iron around their heads.

Deadeye Alice sees all, and hears all, and owes allegiance to nobody. And anyone who tries to change that, meets her family – her two husbands and her five sons.

Out on a Saturday

Lady M and I managed to forget that we’d booked some time ago to go see Frozen, the Musical, up in town – so despite it being nearly month-end we wandered up to Covent Garden. Drury Lane is only a few minutes’ walk away so we were able to take some time taking in the sights and people-watching. It feels like years since I’ve been in the area – maybe more like six to nine months in reality to be fair, but its certainly been a while. My having a headache and general body pains didn’t put me in the best mood initially, but being out in the open air helped.

The link, other than Lady M being very keen on all things Disney, is that the daughter of someone working with Lady M is coming to the end of her run as young Anna in the show. We’d been making noises about going to see it to support them so this was one of our last chances to do so. I can generally take or leave musicals but I’m glad I went because it was stunning. Time flew and the singing, stagecraft, and costuming was enthralling and amazing. And then we caught up with the little star and her mum and chaperones briefly afterwards, which absolutely made Lady M’s day.

And because we couldn’t not visit, we then had a wander to Forbidden Planet, and to Foyles, to have a browse and window shop. I was very restrained – I only bought the one book – and then we were home at a reasonable time.

Today was a lot quieter and was mostly taken up with preparing for the D&D session. I’ll write that up separately as it was full of action and drama.

Oh, and I didn’t get the acting up position, but I’m looking forward to the proper feedback as it sounds like tweaks needed rather than a wholesale oops which bodes well for future opportunities.

Hot Water Bottle Time

I’ve been staying over at boy s’ place the last couple of days to have some quiet time in celebration of five years of his being collared. WIth our collective health and it being a bit of a sparse time of month we didn’t do anything spectacular but instead enjoyed quiet time. We tidied the flat, watched YouTube videos, grabbed food, and had an early night.

I couldn’t let the event pass without some kind of gift or sign though. One of the things I’ve introduced the boy to is Dungeons and Dragons – and with that has come the dice goblin urge to gather as many shiny maths rocks as possible. He’s been keeping them in a box, but I know he’s been looking for a big partitioned dice bag to hold them in – so it was an easy choice to grab something that then gave plenty of room for expansion:

And so with all the hyper focus I love watching, he spent time grabbing sets out and dropping them in matching patterns or colour combinations to fill each of the sections of the bag. It is of course nowhere near being full, so he has now announced that he needs more – which will make birthday and christmas gifting much easier..!

The boy also struggles with feelings of worth sometimes – linked to various issues around the impact of mental health and other factors on how well he can engage – especially as part of our relationship. I felt that I really had no choice but to give him something to remind him when he’s feeling low, of how worthy he remains. So I got him a LARPing Mjolnir hammer that he can pick up to remind himself that he is of course worthy of love and care and attention.

That made him laugh.


There’s a bug doing the rounds that seems to be hitting people in one of two ways. It either just gives you the sniffles and feeling a bit run down, or it knocks you sideways with an upset stomach and huge amounts of lethargy. So, guess which version I have? I thought I was going to get away with the former, but no such luck. Today started with being sick and hasn’t really settled since then. What fun.

Fortunately work has been going smoothly, so I don’t feel even remotely guilty about taking the day off – especially as I’m now on leave for a couple of days to celebrate 5 years with boy s. Under the circumstances its unlikely to be anything too strenuous, but that’s fine – as an introvert he’s not necessarily going to be wanting to gallivant around anywhere.

It’s an annoying bug. Every time I think it’s settling, my stomach has a quiet churn – very disconcerting. Oh, and I have an interview coming up on Friday for a secondment, so if nothing else but that, here’s to it easing soon.

New Map Software Update Dropped

I’ve been waiting for it with bated breath but the new release of Dungeon Alchemy came out today. I’ve only just started playing with it but the new caves functionality and the tweaks to the interface have got me very keenly investigating. The expansion is called The Floor Is Lava and its out on Steam for free on top of the main package (which is only about £30 or so). I highly recommend it if you’re creating VTT maps for your games or looking for maps to print out.

I haven’t finished it yet, but this is what I’ve put together this evening using some of the new features – a ruined bridge and abandoned hut near a cave that may have something nasty lurking in it. Perhaps its a troll bridge over muddy waters?

Map – The Brazen Hydra

A regular haunt of the DDC, The Brazen Hydra is the local tavern favoured over the franchised Golden Dragon in their local district of Windhaven. It has also featured in our Christmas/New Year one-shot and I tend to also use it as a quick stand-in elsewhere. Like many of the maps we use, I made it using Dungeon Alchemy – zipfile is called brazenhydra.zip – and it’s one of the earlier maps that has stood up pretty well.

It’s a simple layout that rarely gets any exploration of the back rooms. For the most part we’ve used it for social encounters, or round-ups at the end of a session. In the one-shot it was a traditional setting for a mission briefing.

On the Sunday just past, we ended up with most of the DDC getting very drunk, engaging in pub games, and falling off furniture. That was the point that the developer of the software popped into the stream and this happened…

In terms of layout, the middle map is the public area most often used – the main door is in the south wall – and then the top map is the basement (including a storeroom and a well), while upstairs is a shared dormitory and the owner’s study, bedroom and toilet.

So – as ever – feel free to download and use The Brazen Hydra – and I hope to hear of new stories that take place within its walls.

DDC – A Quiet Interlude

A moment of quiet was needed after last week’s desperate battles – and with the discovery that all the known passes out of the area had been blocked with avalanches or rock falls the opportunity had to be seized. The promised airdock for House Lyrandar airships had yet to start construction, but the gnomes of House Sivis were able to at least get news from the outside world.

Caeluma spent a good portion of the week in meditation and contemplation of their path. When they emerged, it was to announce that they were setting aside the path of trickery and chance but embracing the protection of nature and growth – still within the pantheon of the Sovereign Host, just following a different focus.

This led to a need to get some new equipment, as well as wanting to see Coal and Odif again, and so the slumbering portal linked back to Windhaven was cajoled back into life – and the DDC went home.

Here, there was still snow, but it was more of a dusting than the magnificent glaciers they had grown used to. The streets were bustling and full of life, and there was shopping to be done! Caeluma headed for the beauticians – specialist magewrights as it turned out, with abilities to make unusual tattoos and alterations at a very reasonable set of prices alongside more traditional cutting of hair and application of makeup elements.

Kerne dragged Karkanna to the university and the library stacks to research the badges and signs picked off the trolls recently. They found names for the Circle of Rot and hints of links back to the Winter’s Knight. The lore drop recently in these pages essentially rounded out what was revealed. It gave some sense of the scale of what they might be facing.

Arwan went to find the local Jorasco storefront in the area and in between helping out assembled care packages and first aid kits for the Hold and its people. Valenia went in search of better equipment, and was eventually able to get an improved enchantment for her bow, as well as a mithral chain shirt.

Thorin relaxed and had a quiet read.

Introducing Arwan to the peculiarities of the DDC’s house led to some interesting moments – from the mimics making themselves known, to Tanglefinger sabotaging the sink in their bathroom, and the discovery of small flying dinosaurs nesting in the eaves of the roof.

Then, the night before they were due to go home, the DDC dragged Arwan to The Brazen Hydra for a night of drinking. Well, aside from Caeluma and Coal, who opted for a quiet evening at a restaurant together. Arwan didn’t have time to grab his mug of sobriety on the way out the door, and so for the first time had to try to keep up. He did rather well. He only fell out of his seat once, and there weren’t many spillages – unlike Thorin who got very drunk very quickly. Kerne and Karkanna seemed by contrast to handle their drinks well.

An extended game of darts didn’t cause any issues, though Valenia ended up sleeping under the table for half of it as the beer got the better of her. A raucous night was had by all – as witnessed by Caeluma and Coal, who saw the group streaking naked through the streets carrying Valenia. Rather than enquire, and largely to remove the memory of various flapping appendages, Caeluma and Coal went to the Clubhouse instead to have hot chocolate. There they found Odif asleep among his toys and tools, cuddling depictions of the DDC. They tucked him in, kissed him goodnight, and retired for the night.

Kerne and Karkanna were the only ones who woke in the DDC household in the morning without a hangover. The portal home awaited…