Dragon Age: Rise of the Runelords

End credits (Bral)
In Memory of

Garrett
Iyan Tufts

375 monsters were killing in the making of this campaign

Failed the most knowledge checks = Beldal Othen
Failed the most will saves = Zaialenda
Failed the most fort saves = Bral “Bottombear” Blackfist
Failed to understand why the prisoner was dead the most = Samdar Anvilson
Used acrobatics the most = Iyna Tufts
Accidentally injured the most teammates = Garrett
Intentionally injured the most teammates = Zaialenda
Eared the most badges = Samdar Anvilson
Cast the most grease = Iyna Tufts
Cast the most bolts to face = Garrett
Drank the most = Beldal Othen
Kicked the most doors = Samdar Anvilson

Killed during this campaign
Goblinoids 59
Animals 44
Sinspawn 10
Undead 55
Humans 44
Golems 5
Faceless stalkers 6
Lamia 5
Ogre & Ogre Kin 73
Huge Fucking Spider 1
Hags 3
Giants 52
Dragon 1
WTF daemon snake things 2 (alright we only killed one but still)
Redcaps 3
Wyverns 3
Harpies 3
Daemons 9
Rune lord 1

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On the Road (again)... (Zia)

There were days I sincerely regretted taking on the mantle of Grey Warden. I’ve been having a lot of those days lately, but this was not one of them.

After time spent communing in the wilderness, including a rather regrettable night squandered imbibing coarse dwarven beer, we finally set ourselves on the road to Xin-Shalast. This glowing path led us almost unto our deaths as the ice grew thin and disappeared beneath our feet.

The guardian spirit of these lands chose, once she had determined we were no friends of Karzoug, to guide us out of the swamps that were her demesne. She left us on the edge of Xin-Shalast, and I have never seen such a city! Oh what this place must have looked like in its prime! I could have made quite the living here with very little work.

Thank Desna (and any other god who might be listening coughBrewmasterandToragcough), I finally felt in my element today. Even trudging through unreasonable amounts of snow, I was at home with all senses at the alert, moving with the shadows as we approached what could be our doom. Even that could not dull my optimism. There were no demons attempting to control my mind, no finger wagglers casting spells at me I could not counter.

No, this day, I was able to do what I do best – steal through the shadows and bring death to my enemies. If there were any of that dwarven beer left, I would drink to that.

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Snow blind Horror (Bral)

The lower levels of the miners’ hall were unholy – evil seeped into the trees of the earth and the metal shaped by the miner’s hands. The upper levels were worse; surviving the hunger that seemed to infest those who tarry too long and the visions of those that did not resist the insatiable hunger of this place, we found the restless shade of the former proprietor. He told us of how they came upon xin-shalast and of how it lead to their doom. He now seek only to rest but cannot do so with his brother’s spirit still lost.

High in the mountains above we sought this lost soul and found him easily enough, but that was not the trouble. Upon returning to the outpost and terrible storm broke out; things moved out in the blinding white, horrible things. Then they came inside. It took Iyan first, straight up into the icy cold. We tried bringing the fight to it, but that thing seemed more interested in spreading terror than death, at least not a clean death. As quickly as it came it was gone. The ghosts seemed settled too, passing on their final secret and faded away. Now we have a path before us, and the angry dead behind us. May the gods have mercy….

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Things that go bump... (Samdar)

“It was inevitable” Samdar thought to himself as he poked the fire.

Gloomily, he stirred the coals as frigid wind washed over him; his companions huddled in their sleeping rolls as the winter wind howled across the steppes. Howling… eerie howling… like the cry of a lost dwarf.

He shook himself and began to pace the perimeter of their hasty camp.

“No point in thinking about it, just watch for trouble” he reminded himself.

But, he could not stop thinking of it. This cursed land had twisted his kinsmen, nay twisted the very soil and trees!

It seemed like such a short time ago they were in among civilized dwarves, visiting Janderhoff and before that the less civilized lands of man in Magnimar. But now… now they were…

Samdar didn’t know where they were. If If he were in honest, he wondered if he had wandered into some bizarre sort of hell. It seemed so simple, follow the clues to the lost city. It seemed so simple… until that first glimpse of the mad dwarf, stuffing his face with gold dust eyes wide and endless

Samdar shuddered again, not just because of the cold air.

Then Bral had to go pick a fight with some demented tree creature, unnatural thing that it was, it was slain easily enough by a sharp blow of his axe. And if he was honest, the weird blue cat thing and Bral did a fair amount of damage as well.

He rubbed his neck uneasily, thinking of the unnatural traps that plagued them afterwards.

“Chains,” he thought "straight forward enough… not like.. " he couldn’t finish the thought. He couldn’t face the memory of the ravening hunger that tore through his body as his mind howled like the screams of the starving dwarves that had rocked the house, their piteous cries carried on the howling wind. He couldn’t face the shame of his mind lost to madness and his desire… his hunger…

Zai rolled over in her sleep restless and Samdar’s stomach gurgled nosily.

He turned back to the howling winds and worried what lay before them

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A new dawn in the Runeforge (Bral)

Weary from the long fights and hours of study, and laden with remorse over losing a companion so graphically – the image of Garrett’s soul-self being torn from his corporal body and dragged into whatever fresh hell Karzoug had waiting for him still lingering on everyone’s mind. The party finally gathers on the great circle at the center of the conquered Halls of Wrath. With runeforged weapons in hand and the name of karzoug’s final hiding place, it was time to leave this place and seek him out. Joining hands around the circumference of the circle Beldal raised his voice in prayer to the Brewmaster, enticing him to remove us to our home plane once more.

We should have been whisked away to somewhere near Sandpoint, give or take 100 miles. We should have, but nothing happened… at first. Beldal finished his hymn-spell and we all stood in silence, the red glow from the ceiling of fire bathing us in an eerie light. Then the eldritch lines and Thalision runes on the great circle began to glow a faint blue, growing in intensity until they were painful to look upon. Then with a crack like the sundering of the world, daylight blazed into the room followed by an artic wind.

Blinking in the light of day, a circular gate had opened across the diameter of the rune circle. On the other side the familiar sight of the head stones on the plains of the steaming lake. A lone dwarf camped among them looks back at you with an expression caught between surprise and confusion. Not the first time you have seen this particular look cross Bral’s coarse features.

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Halls of Enchantment (Beldal)
Shhhhhh!

This accursed place! Full of demons and darkspawn! After finally freeing ourselves from the corruption of the demoness and her twice accursed spawn, we find ourselves in a hall full of crazed mages and foul illusions! The very images in the mirrors manifest and attack us! We did not know for sure how to tell friend from foe! Eventually, Garret destroyed the mirrors and we sent those illusions back to the hellish place they spawned from! Glass! The false creatures were made of glass! They had all of our strength, but none of our faith! We destroyed them and sent them on their way!

Next, there was a large hall filled with crazed mages who looked exactly the same. Some sort of copies of an insane mage, worshipers of some fallen deity. The great hall was filled with the golden throne of the Peacock Spirit. The mages fell upon us with their finger waggles and dark magic. The cowardly fools refused to face us head on and threw fire sorcery at us from their hidden enclave.

Brave Samdar was the only one to stand by me and challenge their dark might! We stood defiantly in the face of their fell sorcery! Smoke rising from our burnt and singed gear, we stood before them, defiantly and challenged them! Calling to my less valorous companions to come forward and join us, we charged into their midst. Through the power of the Brewmaster, my holy sight pierced their enchantments and we found them where they hid. Calling on the might of the Brewmaster, I purged their magics and brought them to heel. We soon brought the mages to heel.

Through the favor of the Brewmaster, I robbed the mage of his arcane words, and with a pronounced “Shhhhhhh!!!” struck him senseless with my holy mug. The others, poor souls, lacked the divine favor of the Brewmaster, and did not fare as well. Poor Garrett was ensorceled into trying to save one of the mages. That one is a beast with his crossbow, but lacks the will to best evil magic. The arcane beast of Iyan’s fell to its power and attacked our companions. As the others struggled with the remaining mages, I brought the favor of the Brewmaster to bear and we defeated them!

Herein, we found the library with answers to many of our questions. Finally, we have some of the clues we need to defeat the evil that is Karzoug! This library is a wondrous thing! I could stay here for days, studying, reading and learning the history of this place! A delight to all of my studies! Soon, we will have all that we need to bring Karzoug to heel! Soon, we can escape this place. On to the Halls of Wrath.

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City Elf (Zai)

I am, most decidedly, a city half-elf. I was born to prowl streets and deal with (manipulate or steal from) normal, everyday people. When I first stumbled across the Grey Wardens in Magnimar, I should have listened to the voice that told me to run far, far away. Instead, I find myself missing the days when all we had to deal with were a haunted mansion and a family of inbred ogrekin. I would rather be back inside that stinking, putrescent house instead of in this godsforsaken cave in the middle of nowhere, dealing with the demons that lay within.

The demons were able to manipulate me – ME! It was almost laughably easy and I find myself both ashamed and terrified by turn. The giants wielding sex toys as weapons did not faze me. The ranger half-naked is a sight I shall never be able to unsee and merely gave me pause. That I was turned against those I hold most dear (well, not dear perhaps, but useful) shakes me to my very core. If it weren’t for my obligation to slay darkspawn and our need of the ranger and his crossbow, I might have said, “Good riddance!” and left. Instead, we went deeper into a place I would have rather not explored.

As we entered the room where the demons held (literally) Garrett, I could no longer understand why this might be a bad idea, and that is the most frightening thing of all. I was more than happy to charge right into battle, screaming and drawing attention to myself. This is the way of the brash Samdar and Bral, not my more sensible self. Several of the party members also behaved unlike themselves: Garrett protected a demon and the cat-thing attacked the small one. I threw myself into a whirlwind to gain position to attack Beldal, probably the only likeable party member. It was pandemonium.

Only through the gods of Beldal and Samdar were the demons defeated. When next we find ourselves in a town and after I am able to breathe deep of the air of civilization and clear my mind of this insanity, I shall have to pay my respects at their temples.

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Not all who wander are lost... some are just confused... (Samdar)

Samdar stood still as a stone, deep in thought.

Before him stood a bevy… nay a plethora of strange statues lit by an even stranger pool. Some of the statues he dared not look at lest they stir… thoughts… but the others he studied with careful determination.

Runelords they were supposedly. Blasted tall humans, putting up stupid statues is what they were. The statues didn’t even have the grace to be executed in High Hills style, Craggy Mountain or even the simplified lines New Granite Edgism that was the rage with younger dwarfs. Not that Samdar would ever admit to liking New Granite… High Hills was good enough for his Da… and it was good enough for him.

No, these statues were executed in painful detailed realism. Samdar glanced at the feminine form executed in stone to the left. Too realistic… he thought while blushing faintly.

While lost in thought he tuned out the conversation that went on behind him… “Did you try turning it off and back on again?”, “Can you hear me?”, and “I got no sound” passed over him like clouds over a mountain prairie. No doubt it was the finger wagglers trying to fiddle out some mystical device. No concern of his.

Finally he stirred himself, and glanced around at the party… the damned ranger was missing again. No doubt scouting the best location to sneakily shoot someone who rightfully deserved to be smited with holy wrath. No worry, like a bad copper piece he’d turn up.

“Which way?” Samdar finally grumbled and the halfling helpfully pointed down a corridor and began to explain why they chose it. The words washed over Samdar like wind on the peaks… unnoticed and ineffectual. He already turned and stomped off down the corridor.

Peaks… Samdar’s thoughts turned back to home and the camping trips in the lofty crags. Abruptly homesick his grip tightened on the haft of his axe as he stomped crankily forward. His reverie was interrupted by an imperious voice addressing him in High Dwarvish!
Such Clarity! Such Articulation! Such… oh bother. A talking rock face. For politeness sake he addressed it in the exalted high tongue, but it did not answer, further it switched to gabbling in strange foreign tongues as further members of the party approached. He eyed the face, finger wagglers meddling he thought sourly. Making stone talk in ways it shouldn’t.

Already forgetting the words of warning from the face he stomped moodily forward.

Here things become a bit cloudly. He remembered a bright flash of light, the smell like after lightening strikes a tall pine in the forest, and the inconsolable sobbing of the half-man as he held his magic sticks arrayed before him.

Samdar hefted his axe uncomfortably… it seemed… off.

The Half-man began to babble, and swish and flick his wands in front of him. Samdar stared at him a moment and for no reason he could explain muttered “Wingardium Leviosa” under his breath. He looked around uncomfortably… no one appeared to have heard him and he left the of the room quickly.

Back to the pool room.

More discussion was had, there was pointing down a long corridor and again he tromped forward…. into decadence. A room arrayed with all the plunder of the earth, ripped from the ground and gaudily arranged in such an ostentatious display it made his blood boil. To top it off, at the end sat the world’s ugliest door, dripping with such poorly composed over the top decoration that all rational thought fled his mind.

Samdar groped for how to cope with such a monumental display of poor taste. One thought crossed his mind.

What would Chompy do?

Chompy would bite it. Obviously. Samdar eyed the gold and gems… if Chompy didn’t bite it… how else would he show his displeasure?

Samdar unbuckled his pants…

Here things get a bit hazy again. There was loud clang, things smelled a bit like wee, and people were gabbling excitedly. Why was he on the floor again? No worry of his. Pick up, tromp down the newly discovered side passage… and find green gas.

Now any dwarf worth his salt knows that green gas comes in three flavors. Caustic, poisonous, as well as caustic and poisonous. There was some discussion about how to deal with the gas. Samdar’s thoughts turned back to the comforting mines of home, the occasional smell of firedamp, and the constant ringing of pick on stone.

The gabbling stopped, something must have been decided.

Back to the Pool Room.

Another debate broke out and while Samdar slowly tuned it out while he contemplated the pool and realized he was thinking of mountain streams of home… and his hand was unconsciously drifting to cup a cool drought from the pool when another passage was chosen. There was some strangeness with the corridor not behaving as a corridor should and he stomped forward and back he muttered under his breath “Wrinkle in time eh?” and cocked an eyebrow at the large blue not-a-Hellbeast-we-swear padding a long next to him. The dumb beast merely stared back, mute.

Finally things were sorted out and he stepped into… well… remember the three types of green gas? Samdar mentally added “Rotten” to the list, and after a few minutes of experimentation by the Pointy-eared sneak and the Brewmaster’s Chosen updated it to “Rotten and Caustic… probably poisonous.”

He sighed deeply. Back to the pool.

Another passage was chosen and Samdar began to blush deeply at the statue guarding it’s way. But he persevered… and pounded his way down the narrow passage…errr… forced himself to cleave into… the… umm…

Samdar was not sure where his thoughts had gone awandering when soon they reached “The Room.” He gazed around in bewildered awe and terror at the bas reliefs writhing on the walls. He boggled at the erotic sconces, the terrazzo tiles depicting acts both lewd and physically impossible with only one thought crossing his mind before Beldal shielded his eyes and allowed his brain to function again… “Whelp… now we know were the ranger got to…”

Harlot’s shrieking, lascivious invitations, and the thrum of the crossbow soon confirmed his worst fears. Strange demonic creatures danced teasingly just out of axe reach, showering them with threats and suggestive language.

Having enough, Samdar stepped forth a spoke a WORD. A primal sound from the dawn of creation, pure and resolute. The foul creatures shrieked in pain and fled before it’s wrath… but not before stooping and grabbing the ranger who disappeared with them with the quiet pop of displaced air.

Oh Bother.

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The Ruins of the Dragon (Beldal)
A New Hope

The wind continued to howl and, intermittently, there would be a wary eye cast to the opening of the cavern. Although they would not admit it, each of them was looking for the scaled, white death which came on the wind. No one would meet the eyes of the others. There was no flame in their camp. No one but Iyan cared for the light, and this night they preferred the solace of shadows to disguise their gloom. Days it took us to gather up the ravaged pieces of our party, longer still would the gathering of our honor and self respect yet take. Samdar stood with me as we summoned Iyan’s spirit back from the darkness. The half-man looked so weak. We soothed and warmed him. By the power of the Brewmaster, his vitality was returned, blessed be His ever-flowing mug. By that evening, Zai had found her way back to us. We saw to her wounds. It was then that we set out after Garrett. Fearing that some ill fate had befallen him. He was the greatest woodsman we had ever met. If he didn’t know how to track back to us, he surely had been delayed.

Calling on the Brewmaster for guidance, I searched for Garrett’s crossbow; knowing that he would sooner meet death than part with his trusted weapon. It still took us three days to find him. He had gone feral on us. With kind words and Samdar’s threatening battleaxe we managed to bring him back to his usual surly self. There was no judgment on that reunion. We had all failed in our own ways. Returning to the standing stones we tried again. This time, we used enchanted stones to suppress the tolling bell sound. We fetched the keys to the Runeforge, but each of us took turns scanning the skies. Next we entered the accursed place.

Inside the foul, ancient tomb we activated the Runeforge gateway and ventured through the portal into another world. Here, we find yet more effigies to the boundless vanity of these so-called “Runelords;” each of them guarding a passage to even more lost worlds. Soon, we will marshal our forces and venture forward once more. Soon…but not yet.

I fought to find the words. Some story of courage found and honor regained to rally my friends and prepare them for the trials to come. But I found none.

With no clear thought to what he was doing, Beldal began to hum. There were no discernible words, just raw feeling. Love, trust, respect, and honor imparted through tone and pitch. Thinking of home, of great Orzammar, Beldal continued to sing his wordless song. There is no fear, there is no despair, we are the hope that stands between all that is and certain doom. Going to each of his companions, Beldal poured them each a drought of his special hops. Clapping them on the shoulders, he met their eyes in turn with a mirthful grin. Soon, the others had joined him humming along as they might (Iyan was actually quite good, he might make a good bard one day), they gathered their equipment and ventured into the unknown.

Thinking to himself, “Powerful magics will be necessary to defeat Karzoug. We have to find a weapon and we need it soon.” He didn’t share his thoughts with his friends. For now, they were strong and he would cast no shadow on their bond.

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Day 197: Those that lie below the gaze of our human allies (Iyano)

Once again we trudge through Sandpoint and descend into areas that are just under the noses of the local humans. I have often wondered why these lazy humans continuously build their cities and fortification atop cities and fortifications that fell before them? Is their level of hubris such that they think the same fates will not befall them, I mean if your house gets swallowed up by the sea, why build another house in the exact same spot and then complain about how it has been swallowed up by the sea!!

However, I digress, as we trudged through the caverns below the glassworks, yet again, we encountered a mist that was thicker than Bral’s head and almost impossible to see through. Turns out that below the town an ancient temple to Lamashtu stood, with its insane guardian/librarian whispering in our ears and blinking around from room to room. Again, I mean really?!!? Lamashtu the goddess of all that is evil and extraplanar in the form of demons, gorgons, and things that go bump in the night…who sits there and says, this looks like a fine place to put our town hall, what could possibly happen?!!? It wasn’t like we had to scrye the area and do some very complex magical wards or hacks to break into the catacombs, nope, just move some planks out of the way and there it is!!! Had not a single human ever thought to check what was down there??? Or perhaps did a scouting party ever go down and not come back up, because at that point again, time to go!!!

However, once again, as we explored deeper into the catacombs and finally dispelled away the mist, we were greeted by some Lamashtu conjured demon that thankfully Samdar’s hammer was able to smack back into the void. Which reminds me, thank goodness that Samdar can pack a punch against the blight and bane of the world because when it comes to mental pliability, he is a few rungs short on his dwarven ladder, as short as that may be! While I cannot question his ability to smite the wicked nor his faith in his badger scouts, when it comes to tactics his solution is a simple kick it first and ask questions once it stops moving. However, I do not pity him, he is quite charming in his simpleton way, like Lyfa back home that had been kicked by a pony as a child and never was quite the same again.

However, as I was saying, once the demon was dispatched we came upon the scribbler and his writings/rantings which were ascribed all over the walls/floor/doors/rubble/detritus etc…While he proved to be an annoyance rather than a threat, like Garret’s uncanny ability to hit a party member with a bolt instead of an enemy, eventually he was put down and our party was able to regain its faculties to search the remainder of the catacombs and find some semblance of meaning in the gibberish that was the scribblers writing. Well I hope that it is reason, at least this is what Beldal has translated and found significance in, which I am quite shocked is not related to Gorgons, I mean it feels like this entire season every time we fight some powerful enemy the ties to the Gorgon denizens is always there. Why not here, why not now? Was this not an outpost of Lamashtu, have these gorgons not been servants of her this entire time, why no reference to them as we begin to head to this mythical Runeforge? Not that I doubt Beldal’s translations, however, he has always been the first to point out their markings, architecture, ways, why not now?!?? It almost seems oddly absent….

However, as we now seek this lost Runeforge atop a mountain, or in the sea, or on the back of some dragon, all I know is wherever our journey will lead us, I am betting it is under a human city…so if it is atop the icy mountain, fine, where is the closest human town and below it we will find the cause of all the blight upon the land!

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