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.

DDC – Ice Trolls

Sunday’s game saw the group deciding on what to do about the revelation that trolls were moving in concert to disrupt life in the Hold’s territories. A week of scouting and research culminated in loud rumbling noises in the night, off in the distance and echoing across the valleys. With no visible source of that noise, the group decided to investigate reports of activity at an old mill site to the north west. Various lures of slaughtered animals were bringing predators down from the mountains to more civilised areas – and the mill was near the main pass towards the mines.

Before they did though, Kerne asked that they all go to Flower Town, taking Karkanna and Loris with them for a party and celebration. Kerne also had a surprise that they wanted to share. It took some persuasion to get Karkanna to acquiesce to the idea. She had spent a lot of the week fussing over Kerne while they recovered from their earlier injuries. A deputation was needed in the end to back Kerne up, like children asking if their friend could come out to play.

The group made their towards the pass to the north east leading to Flower Town. In the early stages of the approach, however, the DDC encountered four ice trolls near a rough stone circle. The two sides rushed at each other, with Caeluma being badly hurt in the initial rush. A desperate struggle raged within the snowy pass and despite the trolls’ regenerative health, the group was able to whittle down the threat in reasonably short order. However, before they could draw breath, the mound at the centre of the stone circle began to shift and collapse as something large dug its way out.

Weary, hurt, and after a rapid expenditure of energy, the DDC was shocked to see the misshapen form of a dire troll digging its way out of its grave, disturbed by all the activity. Caeluma fell beneath its claws twice, being hastily revived in the heat of battle, while Thorin went toe to toe with the creature. Blow after blow were traded, and time to heal up was bought with a frantically-cast banishment spell.

The creature’s tenacity was such that the group thought they had killed it several times, only to have it rear back up and strike again and again. In the end they were able to bring a massive flame to bear that overwhelmed it, and this time the remains caught and were consumed.

A search of the fallen trolls revealed another set of bone and iron brooches, symbol of the Circle of Rot as previous research had revealed. Within the now tumbled mass of the stone circle, a battered satchel contained gold coins, and a beautiful gold and silver brooch with the Amberhammer crest, were found. This was later identified as an old Amberhammer treasure that had been used to identify an agent of the Hold. A painting of a a previous clan queen showing her wearing it was found in the library.

The main pass itself was found to be impossible to use – the loud noise in the night had been an avalanche. Fragments of burned stone still bore the imprint of glyphs of warding that had been deliberately placed and triggered to cause it.

Returning to the Hold, and when all were relaxing and wounds tended, Karkanna asked what the surprise was going to be – which was when Kerne produced rings that they had commissioned, and asked Karkanna to marry them. We left the session there with a grand celebration and very few dry eyes in the house.

Oh, There Was An Adventure

So amid the tech issues on Sunday, we did manage to get some story started – and the group began the hunt for trolls seen attacking a nearby trading post on the Southern pass. As they made their way in the direction of the trading post they began to notice that there were less sounds of birds and general wildlife. Then they began to find more and more traces of blood and gore scattered among the trees and could smell smoke.

Sepia-toned map of the closer surroundings of the Amberhammer Hold showing hills, mountains, rivers, lakes and so on

Caeluma took to the air to scout around. In the distance, the trading post could be seen, situated between the trail and a frozen over lake. In the woods nearby there was smoke from a fire. The group decided to loop around the nearby smoke source and approach from across the frozen lake.

They had to move slowly to avoid slipping. The DDC did however manage to make their way across without any mishaps. They’d hoped to approach quietly, but were spotted by four trolls when they were still a good sixty or seventy foot away.

Unable to immediately close, the group used spells and missile weapons to pick away at the nearest trolls – and were surprised when one of them returned fire with their own bow.

One of the trolls took the brunt of the attack and ended up being entirely melted by Kerne in an explosion of acid. They watched in horror as it fell apart, limbs struggling to fight on even as they fell away. Two of the remaining trolls dove for cover – one behind rocks and the other back into the burning trading post. The fourth began to pull back as the first two members of the DDC managed to get to the shore.

And that’s where we left the action

Lore Drop – The Family

And so it came to pass that three prodigies were born to the trolls of the Blackcap Mountains. Three brothers, born with rare wit and insight to match their physical strength, and they thrived. As they fought and grew, they developed a strong sense that their lot could be better. The listened to their elders talk of the wars with the dwarves and how they had been driven out of their hunting grounds and away into the harshest peaks. They raged at the loss of their ancestral homes. When they were grown, they crept away from their scattered tribe and away from the harsh territories they had known to spy on those who had conquered their birthright. They saw how the dwarves built their Hold and traded, and enjoyed the fruits of the land and the treasures of the depths. They learned all they could of civilisation, and then went their separate ways into the lands beyond after swearing a bond to return and reclaim their place. One went North and found the Wastes of the Last War. One went South and found The Pit. One went East, and found The Sisters.

In the Wastes, Urash found weapons and machines abandoned and broken by war. He created armour for himself and taught himself how to use what he had found. He began to seek out scattered trolls willing to join his cause and strike back with him. Inspired by the uniforms and medals of the fallen, he forged amulets and gave his new companions pride and purpose. The Fists of Urash would strike hard and endure. They would be loud, and draw all eyes to them. Urash The Proud was his name.

Dhumish crept into The Pit. He was second of the brothers and the hardiest of them all. Amid crumbling ruins and fell residual magics in the Lands Below, he became warped in appearance and mind alike. Preserved by his trollish resilience and unnatural will, he became a walking blight. He pulled the broken and dying of his race to his embrace, and gave them new purpose and new forms. Among his forces are trolls who are too angry to die, trolls who are riddled with rot, venom, and mutation. The Tide of Dhumish would undermine and corrupt. They would be the quiet before the avalanche. Dhumish Crackleg was his name.

Irreck made his way through broken lands to distant Droaam, the nation of monsters. Along the way he haunted the roads and passes to hunt travellers and hone his skills. As far from home as he was, he never forgot the Bond. The Daughter of Sora Kell were amused by the impudent troll hunter, but revealed to him the location of the Sisters of Rot. These remarkable troll sisters had studied with the Hags and also had a dream. The three sisters were a match in ambition and power to the three brothers. Irreck the Stalker was his name.

Irreck brought the Sisters of Rot back to the Blackcaps. They watched the turmoil in the dwarven lands as the forces of The Pit and the Winter Knight were pushed back into the night and swore to take advantage. A new Pact was formed. The Brothers and The Sisters became a Chosen Family. They would undermine and overthrow the dwarves and their allies. They would reclaim the hunting grounds. They would raise high the Eye of Khyber and nothing would be the same ever again

Urash The Proud, Dhumish Crackleg, and Irreck the Stalker. Granny Riptooth, Nanny Gutrun, and Missy Lambrot were their names. Their Chosen Family would soon be known to all.

NPCs – Trolls? In My Swamp?

Depending on your mythology or writer of choice, trolls are often depicted as near mindless beasts – despite the archetypal introduction of a troll under a bridge extorting coin from passers by. One of the things I love about the stories by Terry Pratchett is the growing and evolving troll characters – for example Detritus the Splatter working as hired muscle and then becoming a stalwart of the City Watch. Then we have the story of his courting of with Ruby, the troll of his dreams. Its a celebration of everyone having a story, no matter their background.

In the new DDC adventure, trolls are looming large, and not just in height. The lands that comprise the surrounds of the Clan Amberhammer Hold have seen conflict between dwarves and trolls for generations. During the Last War, the trolls were pushed back. This was in no small part due to the protective militias that Thorin helped set up. Now though, in the aftermath of the coup by the mindflayers and duergar of the Cult of the Triumphant Dead, many of the old forts and defences have fallen – and signs of trolls have been found by scouts to the West.

Here are three troll heroes who are looking to reclaim lands lost to the dwarves: Urash The Proud, Irreck The Stalker, and Dhumish Crackleg

Urash The Proud has assembled his half-plate armour by hand, scavenging and bending the materials scavenged from battlefields into added protection as he leads his fellows to raid and conquer the mountain valleys. Brutal and efficient in combat, he wields a huge claymore in one hand and is known to delight in setting ambushes.

Irreck The Stalker hunts lonely paths at night, picking off lone travellers or unwary shepherds before disappearing back into the gloom. The massive glaive he uses was taken from the first knight of the realm who tried to stop him – and he takes it everywhere with him.

Dhumish Crackleg was warped by magics lingering on the old battlefields, and lumbers along with deformed limbs, a crocodilian tail, and a row of spikes growing along his spine. He lurks in lakes and marshes and takes lone prisoners to slowly break and cook in pieces. Occasionally he might ransom someone back, but they might not be returned in one piece, or even all at the same time. His feverish vitality means that even if he loses limbs, they continue to fight on if he does not immediately press them back into place.

I feel a plot coming on…

NPCs: A Coven of Trolls?

I’m not sure if these will turn up in either of the games I’m running at the moment, but I like the design and it wouldn’t be too difficult to fit them into the ongoing story on either front. I was playing around in HeroForge and was looking at trolls when the idea came to see if I could make them look like the sort of hags that the DDC had already encountered – there’s a subplot involving Kerne’s sister and rules for custom lineages that give ideas for those sworn to or in the company of hags to begin to take on their qualities and appearances – notably horns as a sign of power.

And so with some tweaking of faces and bodies and scratching of heads I came up with these lovely individuals – and I’m still undecided as to whether they are hags (in the D&D monster sense) or trolls who achieved hagdom and formed their own coven.

So welcome to Granny Riptooth, Nanny Gutrun, and Missy Lambrot – who may well be gathering together the scattered trolls defeated by Thorin’s clan during the Last War to contest the area again. I haven’t decided if they are aligned with the Winter’s Knight as an ongoing threat, but it would fit the themes of the story and the pattern of past encounters. I’m really pleased with how these models have worked out – there are more detailed schemes out there, but this works for virtual counters and inspiration for the games.

Well, I think we’ve all learned a valuable lesson about what you’ll find if you go down to the woods today…