Heroes and Heroines
Live Action Roleplaying
Source: Marius The Magnificent
An Amethyst in the Rough
A hard stretched Protectorate could only afford 5 auxiliaries from the front line for a most important mission, so naturally they sent the five best they had. Or at least they sent the 5 best they had who happened to be in the briefing room at the time. Twig the earth wizard, Luther the Anti-Undead priest, Coruben the Legionary, and Faer'talan the Dark Mage were there to receive an update on the latest position in the war against Malice, while that most amazing wizard, Marius the Magnificent, had heard there were free donuts and was just finishing off the last Jam filled one before planning a move for the custard creams when Colonel Shrink walked in and locked the exit behind him.
“Right you five. Thank you for volunteering for this incredibly difficult, dangerous, deadly, and quite delicate mission. Report out front for immediate teleportation and don’t fuck this mission up. You’ll be taken to a Protectorate base in the Amethyst province at the border of Stygia. Lord Black will Brief you further. You have 5 minutes to get any guild support you need.”
With that the door opened and in came the guild representative, the Mist Walkers represented by none other than that most beautiful of all Goblins in the World, Pip Squeak. This was a surprise to Marius as she has been helping with the rebuilding of Hopton Vale for the past 3 months but what was truly a surprise was the little bundle of wonderfulness she was carrying (a pack of Marius’ favourite biscuits) and also she had Marius and Pip Squeaks little baby. Not that Marius was surprised of course, but a little warning might have been nice to know we had a baby together, although Marius guesses that things are done differently in the Goblin World. Still beats Oliphants who have to sit on their eggs for up to 2 years or something like that.
Anyway there was some Blah Blah talking going on but Marius had a baby to cuddle so whatever.
At last it was time to go and slipping the rest of the donuts into his pouch Marius made his way bravely (only 3 attempts to slip back to the barracks for a quick Nap had to be stopped by the Colonel) before arriving outside where a very shady looking Air Wizard was ready for us. As he cast a teleport spell, further instructions were forthcoming to us. “Don’t start any wars.” Was the gist of it.
The teleport was ready and off we went, arriving safely at the staging post apart from the sudden sideways movement feeling, landing in a field by a Darklands staging post 10 miles too far North, getting into a fight with them then actually managing to stop fighting long enough to talk to them for a moment, agreeing it was all a terrible mistake and getting pointed into the right direction by a handsome chap called Cerno Something-or-other. Some other talking went on…you know that our little tyke has Marius’ eyes, and Pip Squeaks nose. And managed to steal 2 donuts from Marius’ bag, definitely going to be a delightful bag of mischief to keep Mummy and Daddy on their toes. Anyway the talky stuff wasn't going great so Marius solved the situation by telling them of his great friendship with many Darklanders whom he had aided during the Game of Cephalopods incident and after that we all realised that we were better as friends because together we cannot be defeated by squid brain eaters.
At last the talking stopped and we set off in the right direction. Luther was musing that the feeling from the teleport was similar to something he had heard about from the time of Shatterstorm. On the way back we encountered two sets of Stygians as we had to cross their land to reach the Amethyst province border, the first demanded tolls and the other grain. Iron-Shackle and Foe-Gutter were the names of the leaders of these groups and after some negotiations we were allowed to pass of mostly unmolested. What we did learn was there was no overall ruler in the area, and that the harvest had failed this year meaning hunger was rife in the area.
We also had an unusual encounter with some undead, including an undead Dryad, possibly a sign that the very nature of the area was being corrupted by some unknown force. Luther was not happy at all, and even less so when we were jumped by a pair of Stygian wolves who decided that they wanted to eat Marius’ liver. Later we discovered the best way to deal with these wolves is to run away, a lesson we learned for teh bargain price of only two elixirs.
At least we reached the Amethyst province and the protectorate outpost where Lord Black, and Pip Squeak was waiting for us, my dearest Pip having dropped our little bundle of joy off to her Mother in the Goblin Reservation and then tree shifted to the outpost to await us. Having given Marius a lecture about taking so long (unfairly Marius might add, how was he to know that a Stygian wolf hits with the power of seven normal people and has a taste for squishy, donut filled air wizards?) we received our instructions from Lord Black.
We were to provide security for a peace conference to be held. Black was to represent the Protectorate, while Sygian, Darklands, Iron League, and Oaklands had all been invited, although the latter had not replied and so we did not know if to expect them or not.
We shared what we had learned about the local situation, and everyone was happy that the next day would proceed smoothly with no issues whatsoever. As we settled in for the night we were joined by Bob, a local farmer who extolled the virtues of turnips and their medicinal properties to us (eat them and yer hunger goes away, like magic see!)
In the morning Bob returned, with his friend Bill. This would have been wonderful but alas Bill was being pursued by many angry Darklanders who accused him of aiding and abetting bandits. As Bill is a protectorate citizen we had to stop the Darklanders from performing their usual method of questioning on Bill and instead they had to ask him questions while he was alive instead. Bill denied all charges and despite a most subtle and careful questioning from Marius no trace of guilt could be found so we asked the Darklanders to leave please. We even managed to do so in our best negotiationing which meant that we didn’t even kill any of them. Hooray for diplomacy. Also hard to not negotiate when you the protectorate has shattered all your weapons. 😊
Time for the talky talky stuff so we made our way to the negotiation place, a carefully selected location in Stygia near a barrow of some ancient warlord or other which is a sacred place where great deals are made. We had no issues getting there, some spiders, some Stygians attacking peasants, a bandit chief trying to take our stuff – nothing out of the ordinary.
At the negotiation place the delegates from the Iron League, Stygia, and the Darklands had arrived and were in the tent of negotiation while Lord Black asked us to guard outside. Marius had brought the picnic hamper of negotiation (see Marius’ report on the Game of Cephalopods to read about it’s wonderous properties) but Lord Black felt it best to reserve its’ powers for later stages.
We waited a distance from the tent, but not too distant you understand, just close enough to accidently overhear every word that was spoken.
It started with talky-talky, then shouty-shouty, then screamy-screamy, then “Fuck you, I’m out of here” then “Item do thy work” was shouted a lot and then the earthquake, landslide, terrible rending noise, other terrible things happening, and the Barrow split open to reveal a foreboding tunnel leading to some dark place through which Luther could sense a connection to the plane of necromancy. This made our Anti-Undead priest less than amused it is safe to say.
Also the tent of negotiation was buried beneath a rockfall and the delegates trapped beneath it screaming at each other, which made for great amusement, though luckily our own Lord Black was safe having been the nearest to the door. We left him clearing out the other delegates while we dealt with a steady stream of undead who were now emerging from the tunnel.
At first one-by-one they came, falling to our three staffs, mace, blades, and magics. Thankfully Marius is a renowned slayer of Zombies, and smasher of skeletons, and Luther was in his element dismissing undead left, right, and centre as well as taking care of all manner of spirit, shade, corpse, and other nasty. On and on the fight went, we had no respite as we pushed deeper and deeper into the tunnel. Now they came in waves at us, falling to our combined might as our band of five returned more and more undead to whence they came. Twig was magnificent, binding skeletal warriors to the ground where we could shatter them beneath our staffs, Faer'talan was blasting dark bolts everywhere, Coruben smashed anything he could reach with his mace while chanting the sacred Legionary hymn (“Just fucking die already!”) and Luther saw us all safe from the spirit of wounding and many other terrible denziens of that dark place, so many of them were, before that moment, unknown to our own science. The worst moment was when first Coruben, and then Faer'talan, turned upon their own party and tried to strike us down, thankfully a bind took care of Coruben while Marius was fast enough to think of a Sleep spell to carefully undo the threat of Faer'talan. Afterwards they both claim to have been the victim of a spirit of possession. Such a creature couldn’t affect Marius of course, as he is far to strong willed, and was standing very safely behind Luther.
If only my child had been there to see Marius wading through all that undead gore, Zombie guts, skeleton dust, and the like – but Pip Squeak reminded me later that that was nap time and Marius is not to wake the baby.
After what seemed like an age of walking and fighting through that dark place we emerged into the central chamber of the barrow, where a rank 10 conduit was holding open the portal through which the undead were emerging into our plane. It was guarded by many powerful spirits and guardians but we attacked with the goal of closing the portal but even as we assailed the conduit our attacks did nothing, and even seemed to increase its suffering which gave the Portal even greater strength.
At the same moment Faer'talan and Marius had the same idea, the portal had two skulls positioned either side of it and as Marius shattered one with a lightning bolt, Faer'talan kicked the other across the room, and as we did so the portal shuddered and then folded in on itself before disappearing with a faint ‘plink’
Hooray for closing the portal, and with that we fled…er…returned directly to Lord Black and the sunlight where we found that Lord Black had rescued all the delegates, but he told us that the ungrateful bastards had all blamed him for their shitshow and stormed off, our mission was to now go and diplome the hell out of the situation until they agreed to come sit down with us.
Setting off we first came to Lord Cerno-Thingy who we managed to discuss to the point where he agreed to negotiate if we could prove our honour via a 1:1 duel. Marius was about to volunteer but just happened to be distracted by fishing out his last jammy dodger of strength and by the time Marius had picked the pocket fluff off of it, Luther had stepped forward.
A magnificent duel ensued but at last Luther was forced to yield the day, however glorious happiness awaits as Cerno agreed it had been an honourable and fun duel and would return to the negotiation table upon the following day. We discovered the Darklanders had no desire to press further than their borders with Stygia, so long and the Protectorate did likewise and that Darkland caravans would be able to pass safely through Stygian lands without suffering bandit attacks.
A simple enough request, however Cerno asked a favour of us to ensure his good faith at the following days discussions, we were to retrieve a scroll that had been stolen from a Karisani sorcerer who had fallen victim to the same teleport trap that we had, and had had a valuable teaching scroll stolen from him by a rival group of Darklanders. Although Lord Cerno couldn’t, for internal political reasons, interfere, we as Protectorate busy-bodies could, and our job was to retrieve the scroll and return it to the Karisani chap and make sure he knew it was Lord Cerno who told us where it was.
To make matters even better, the rival Darklander group were all Skar Sylvani, which made Faer'talan very happy since they were Skar Sylvani from exactly the wrong house and had to all die.
We saw one of their scouts lurking in the bushes, watching us, and followed him back to the main band. There they saw us and started to prepare for battle, however we went in peacefully and led with a good, win-win, negotiating scenario which lasted 5 seconds until they saw we had a Srak Sylvani of our own and so we fell back on the much more traditional Auxiliary method of negotiation.
An intense weapons-based discussion ensued in which we finally managed to kill all six of them, managing the last one after we finally persuaded her to get out of the tree (where she had been sniping at us with fire bolts) via a well-reasoned trip spell. Only as we searched the bodies did we realise that their leader had escaped. We set off in pursuit without a moment to bind our wounds and caught up with him and another of group of his minions, where we were forced to finally defeat them via a perfectly diplomatic solution of hitting them until they stopped moving, Marius ensuring they didn’t have a chance to make any counter arguments via a volley of indisputable disrupts.
Again the leader had escaped us and again we set off in hot pursuit, and again he attacked us with a new wave of his minions, though this time they tried to drive a poor innocent spiderling before them to attack us. Casting a speak-with-animate spell Faer'talan persuaded the creature to flee and we would keep her safe, and she did so, returning as we were fully engaged in a particularly subtle and highly researched point about hitting the enemy repeatedly to bite the particular Skar Sylvani who had been especially cruel to her. Anyway, we have a new refugee who has chosen to join the protectorate.
There were now 18 dead Skar Sylvani, but to great sadness Coruben lay upon the ground senseless and hovering near death after his shield had been magically spirited to another plane. Twig was able to administer the third of our two assigned elixirs to him and he survived, but we had no time to wait for him to recover enough to join us so Faer'talan, Luther, and Marius the Magnificent himself tracked down the leader who challenged Faer'talan to a duel.
Having already lost one duel today, we gladly accepted, after all the score was already 18-0 in our favour in the Skar Sylvani all-comers games that day. Faer'talan stepped forward and fought like a demon against the leader, and would have won had she remembered to have put up a mage armour instead of relying on just being really angry. But she did buy Luther and Marius enough time to get into position to trap the Skar Sylvani leader in a logical paradox, which was to be hit from two sides until he was dead.
Luther then administered our fourth of two elixirs while Marius chopped off the leaders’ head and left it for Faer'talan’s collection, while such action was distasteful Marius does feel that it is important to adhere to other cultural norms when involved in their business. Also that bastard had it coming, having made us run so far. Gave his body a damn good kicking too.
(as a note - we checked the rules and there are no rules explicitly banning dogs from playing basketball, nor are there rules banning Humans or Elves from playing in the Skar Sylvani all-comers-last-one-standing-wins games. So if any of them had survived long enough to make a protest, they would have lost.)
Night was now beginning to fall as we recovered from our dreadful wounds and swiftly against the dying light Twig and Faer'talan, aided by Marius, translated a strange scroll we had found. We discovered it to be a teaching scroll of the Universal school which contained a spell with a similar affect to the Battle spell of Endurance.
Being diplomatic we didn’t make a direct copy as a translation isn't strictly speaking a direct copy, although it would be theoretically possible to convert back the translation we made into a copy, but we didn’t do it, yet, so when the Kasitani representative who arrived to retrieve the scroll asked us, we were very truthful when we said we didn't make a copy. Yay for being Diplomatic!
We met with Lord Black once more and discussed how we could persuade the Stygians back to the table, it was agreed that they were the first to use an item in anger at the initial meeting, and that they were the least flexible in accommodating an agreement. Maybe it was time for the protectorate to take part in a simplification and realigning of the local power structures? Clearly we had no wish to do so, so we set off to invite the local chief, Ironshackle, to come back to the discussions. However when we met him he was not in a good mood and accused the Iron League representative of drawing a sword on him in the negotiations and hence why he had needed to use the item to summon an earthquake (coincidently sold to him by the same Iron League lady.)
Well, to cut a long story short we agreed with Ironshackle, by mutual consent, for him to step aside from representing Stygia at the discussions when we he unleashed another earthquake on us and one of his minions leapt on Luther with a Harm spell. Mission accomplished, we proceeded to simplify the local power structure by reducing the number of chieftains in the area by one.
Battered and exhausted we returned to the Protectorate base and reported to Lord Black who informed us that the Iron League representatives wanted to discuss with us their terms to return to the table. Knowing this would be a negotiation of extreme delicacy, Marius got out the picnic of diplomacy which solved all the problems. The Iron league just wanted the rights to pass through the Protectorate territory without being taxed for goods in-transit, which we agreed would be a possibility. They also wanted to not have their caravans searched, which we agreed as long as we could take an inventory of all their goods as they entered and left the Protectorate, and any goods on both manifests would be exempt from taxing. Not a search at all, just an inventory check.
Also no prohibited goods (Slaves, necromancy stuff, dance troops) were allowed to be transited through our lands, and nothing was said about road tolls on the route to help cover administration costs.
The last sticking point was the desire of the Iron League to set up a trading post on the border land which would be administered by the Iron League and under their control. Luckily for dinner at that moment we were joined by Bill and Bob, who happen to have farms on the border with Stygia and we persuaded Bill and Bob to give up a small section of their land for the trading post, where they could sell Artisanal Vegan Turnip Grüel to the traders at highly inflated prices. Having seen the business opportunities this would lead to, they readily agreed and were last seen planning to build a “Farm Shop” including a section for amusingly shaped Turnips.
Of course the Iron Leaguers wanted some assurance of our good faith and asked us to retrieve some spoors from a particular mushroom they were interested in, a blue mushroom with black spots. We agreed but had no idea where to find such a mushroom, luckily a pair of Goblins had been seen in the area and Marius asked them to help, using his studies in Goblin culture to good effect and offering the Goblins a whole basket of noms in return for finding the mushroom we wanted. It wasn’t helped that our guide was colour blind, but he did claim to have the best nose in the area for mushroom hunting and soon we found a beautiful pair or mushrooms wandering around in a gentle glade. As we got close in the darkness we noticed that these were white with black spots, and then the aroma hit us, these were fear mushrooms. Marius didn’t run away, but there was a nearby bush that needed urgent investigation until Luther assured Marius that they bad mushrooms had gone.
Pushing on our guide’s nose found another clearing where a solitary mushroom was perambulating in gentle circles. This was a better fit, for it was blue with black spots. It was beautiful, perfect, the most wonderful mushroom ever. No one should hurt this mushroom, never! Marius vowed to stand by it to keep it safe, as did Luther. But Marius needed his hat, which had fallen off earlier, to hold over the mushroom to help keep it safe from the sun and rain. Hooray for Faer'talan who had found nearby so Marius went over to grab it and suddenly the mushroom wasn’t quite so wonderful. This was a mushroom of charming and it had attempted to charm Marius the Magnificent! Luckily Marius is far too strong minded for such a trick, but Luther was weak-willed enough to be caught in its’ trap and it took a bind spell, weakness spell, and a quick grab-and-pull to move Luther far enough from its affect to recover safely.
Having retrieved enough spores to satisfy the Iron League, we returned and they shook hands with us to seal their commitment to turn up the next day to continue discussions.
Armed with the knowledge of what we needed to agree for a successful negotiation upon the morrow, we made for bed, then reversed course as we remembered there was still the open barrow and, although the portal had been closed, we ought to shut up the tunnel, just in case. I say we remembered, but the point was really brought to us when the dreaded necromancer Kate showed up and attacked with a horde of undead that they claimed they had just found wandering around the place.
We made our way back, just in time for more undead (ones we had missed earlier) had exited the tunnel and were wandering about in the field of discussion, pinching the snacks and making off with the free delegate pens that were set out in the tent. We couldn’t have that so we butchered them, although the banshee was most troublesome to engage and it chased us many times around the skeletal warrior Twig had bound in the field. At last the final undead lay defeated and Twig had an Earth Elemental collapse the tunnel in the Barrow upon itself to ensure no more malign spirits could escape.
Enough for one day, we relaxed in the knowledge of a job well done and slept soundly.
The next morning we had to find a new Stygian representative so set off to find Foe-Gutter, but before we could do so some more Skar Sylvani showed up led by the 53rd Wizard of something or other who had two demands for us, that Twig shut up and that we return the teaching scroll we had recovered.
Well nobody tells Twig to shut up, so the Skar Sylvani all-comers finals started. Heavily outnumbered we tried to hold them off, but were eventually scattered. Showing great flexibility of mind we all switched roles to confuse the enemy. Coruben took on the role of elixir soak, Luther took on the front line fighter role, Marius acting as Primary Healer, Faer'talan our applier of elixirs (making it a 1:1 ratio of party members and elixirs applied) and Twig would have made a great Mistwalker as he spent a long time speed-scouting the perimeter of the battle with a certain young Skarian in hot pursuit (perhaps channelling the rage of a skeletal warrior bound to the ground by a certain Earth Wizard and then beaten to a pulp once too often the previous day?).
It was a close-run thing, but with a shocking grasp here, and a shocking grasp there, here a whack, whack, there a quick blink, everywhere a heal light wounds, the ol’ protectorate ended up victorious by 29-0 on aggregate.
With almost nothing left in the tank after the first encounter, we set off to find Foe-Gutter. With a small pause to deal with some local fauna, and some local thugs who were attacking more local peasants, we came across Foe-Gutter and his gang who had heard of the death of Ironshackle and decided to proclaim himself Emperor of Stygia, including Amethyst province.
Oh if only he had not insisted on that last part, and if only he hadn’t waffled on so long that Twig managed to cast an engulfment which trapped poor Foe-Gutter while we discussed terms with his troops via the medium of three big sticks and a mace, as well as lots of bolts and other magical influences.
Hooray for prior planning on our behalf. We even managed to successfully persuade one of his people, a mercenary called Jon, to give up on his deceased employer and to seek gainful employment in a more lawful manner, being the first local guard of the trading post that will be built soon.
With the local power structure suitable realigned we met up with Lord Black and the representatives of the Iron League and the Darklands. There we agreed the terms of a new deal, whereby the Iron League could use a tariff-free landbridge through the Protectorate to bring goods to the Darklands who could trade for them at a Iron League trading post to be set up on the border between Stygia and the Protectorate using land we have gifted them from the Amethyst province (approx. 1 acre). We would take steps to reduce cross border banditry as would the Darklanders, but neither side would encroach into Stygian territories unless invited, and not without notifying the other side first.
Proscribed items (slaves, necromantic linked products) would not be allowed to be transited through the protectorate but otherwise they were welcome to move trade goods through as they wished, cutting down on time and cost and helping make the area more prosperous.
Although Stygia was notable by their absence, we agreed to negotiate through a local elder named Cragfast who was said to be the least nobby of all the dickheads in charge round here.
We also agreed to send a memo to the Oaklands about what was agreed, especially the whole no encroaching into any more territory of Stygia part. I’m sure they will be happy with what was agreed. 100% happy. Absolutely nothing will come of this at all with the Oaklands, probably the last time we’ll even mention them because there will be so little trouble with them.
With that our part was done and we returned home. I’m sure Pip Squeak and our little baby will be very proud of a job well done. Also it’s Marius’ turn to change the nappy.
Thanks a million, to Mig for stepping up into the ref role as Nugrlid-19 ripped through the players and monsters prior to the game, he did a fantastic job! To the monsters who were brilliant and funny and tough and just amazing. And to the five of us who managed to survive against all the odds, goodness knows how when you were relying on Marius to heal everyone Sunday Morning.