Dr. Skull's Conan Cult Campaign : Session 3 Back to Dr. Skull's Conan Cult Campaign

Session/Game: Conan #3        Date: 4/18/04

Episode 3, "Cold Blood"
Campaign Date: Year Of The Vulture, Month of Grigglenov, Days 1-8
GM: Dave "Dr. Skull" Nelson
Castel Zerano, Zingaran, Pirate, level 2 (Randy Wood)
Conrad, Hyperborean, Soldier, level 2 (Joe Fryer)
Grimjob the Eunuch, Shemite, Soldier, level 3 (Andrew Smith)
Grodd, Cimmerian, Barbarian, level 2 (Bob LaForge)
Lord Hieronymous Valanus, Aquilonian, Noble/Soldier, level 1/1 (Mike Miller)
Limberger, Zamorian, Thief, level 2, (Toby Miller)
Vegeta, Southern Islander, Barbarian, level 3 (Marlon Kirton)

After leaving the Zamoran royal army, Lord Hieronymous, Grimjob, Vegeta, Limberger, Castel, Conrad and Grodd banged around Zamora for a few months. Then when pressure from vengeful Turanians grew too strong, they headed north toward Hyperborea, at the suggestion of Conrad, who thought they could find some good opportunities in his native land. The adventurers parted company with Horsa and Demetrio who decided to chase down a riches-laden caravan headed toward Brythunia.

The party followed the eastern edge of the mountains north toward Hyperborea. They then made their way through the southern pass through the barren foothills of Hyperborea’s southeastern border.

Day 1, The Southern Pass, Ostmark, Hyperborea.
The scene opens with Lord Valanus, Grimjob, Limberger, Castel and Conrad cornered on a snowy hillock by a mixed band of Hyrkanian archers and Hyperborean outlaws. Their horses were all slain and each man began with several arrow wounds. A grim battle is joined, near the end of which Grodd suddenly appeared behind the archers to help his comrades. When the foes were dispatched the party searched the pass to discover Vegeta, who had been through from his horse and knocked unconscious, to miss the battle. Both Castel and Limberger were gravely wounded in the fight.

What had happened to put them in that situation was that they had met a large column of Hyrkanian, Hyperborean and Turanian raiders, fleeing from Hyperborea out through the same pass the adventurers were attempting to enter. The party thought the raiders to be fewer than they were and so charged. The raiders, put off by the charge, thought the adventurers to be a much larger band of kozaks, and so they left one squad behind as a rear guard and they fled back into Hyperborea. The raiders had wounded all the adventurers, killed their mounts and slaves before the adventurers and the 12-raider squad came to grips.

Grimjob scouted ahead into the pass. He discovered the remains of 20 Hyperborean soldiers, the guardians of the pass, all slain by the raiders. One still lived and croaked out “I am Fritz…the Bloodstone of Bori” before he died. After Grimjob returned to the party, they moved quickly through the pass. Lord Valanus had caught two of the raider’s horses. He claimed one and Grodd and Conrad wrestled for the other, Grodd finally yielded the horse to Conrad. At nightfall, they arrived at the border town of Marchburg. They checked into Lucky Frank’s Inn and Lord Valanus received a complimentary crabapple pie. Grimjob, who spoke no Hyperborean, was somehow quite taken with the Hyperborean word for crabapple, and practiced it over and over. They summoned Otto One-Eye, the local healer to help their injured men. Otto did what he could to patch up Limberger, who regained consciousness, and Castel, who did not. Vegeta took a strong dislike for Otto, for some unknown reason, and pushed him down the stairs. Otto looked up at him and said, “I was going to put a curse on you, but I can see that your doom is already written, so I won’t bother.” Otto departed in a huff. Conrad and Grodd sell off some of the loot stripped from the bodies of the raiders.

Day 2, Marchburg, Hyperborea
The entire party rests for the day, except Lord Valanus, who searches the town for information. He discovers that the raiders they encountered have been plaguing the march. The two noble houses, Steiner of Red Axe, and Hothur of Death Sword, each blame the other for allowing the raiders in. The two houses take turns guarding the pass. There is of course another pass, but no one goes through there; it is accursed and fire won’t burn there, no fire at all.

Day 3, Marchburg, Hyperborea
Most of the party rests, but Lord Valanus and Conrad gather some more information about the raiders, the noble houses and the deserted castle in the pass (but no one has been there for over 20 years, since fire won’t burn there, no fire at all). Vegeta had a very bad night. He awoke with a multitude of bug bites across his back. No bugs were evident in the rooms, so he blamed Otto One-Eye for cursing him.

Day 4, Marchburg and Castle Death Sword, Hyperborea
The party are all now conscious and in pretty good shape. They spread across the city to learn more about the nobles and the raiders. Vegeta goes to Otto’s house and beats the tar out of him. Otto is left unconscious, but Vegeta decides not to kill him, for fear of some horrible death curse. Later, Limberger visits Otto and is convinced that Otto has nothing to do with Vegeta’s bug problem.

In the evening, they all gather at Lucky Frank’s to discuss what they’ve learned. But, in burst a party of Hyperborean soldiers from House Steiner. They are led by a man named Helmut the White, who claims that the party are members of the raider band, which have just killed Helmut’s brother Fritz, who worked for House Hothur. Lord Valanus almost convinced Helmut to back down, until Helmut demands that he hand over the Shemite and Turanian Dogs (meaning Grimjob and Limberger). Valanus has had enough and battle is joined. The Hyperboreans go down quickly, but Vegeta has some problem when he sees a large spider bite his right hand, causing him pain to use it. After the soldiers are slain, Lucky Frank tells Lord Valanus that he and his bunch would be wise to leave town since they’ve just killed Thane Wulfing Steiner’s men and he will try to take bloody revenge at his first opportunity.

The party then splits up, agreeing to meet at Castle Death Sword, where Steiner’s rival, Thane Heinrich Hothur holds court. Conrad and Valanus ride out of town on their horses, but the rest of the band have none. Grimjob manages to buy a broken down nag for 60sp. Grodd threatens a stableman, who lets him ride off with another. Castel and Vegeta both kill other stablemen and steal a horse apiece. Limberger convinces another stableman that he needs to borrow a horse “to warn Thane Steiner” and rides off with it. The party safely flees to Castle Death Sword.

On the road Vegeta is complaining loudly that Otto the Healer must have cursed him, which caused the back bites and the bite of the spider on his hand. Then one of his friends piped up “didn’t you desecrate the statue of a Spider God?” Another one said “Didn’t you brutally stab the Spider God’s priest?” And a third added “Didn’t you burn down the Spider God’s shrine in Stencovar.” Vegeta realized then that he has a lot of spiders in his future.

At the Castle, they meet Thane Heinrich of House Hothur who entertains Lord Valanus personally, and dismisses the rest (the lackeys, as he calls them) to a hearty supper of Chicken Pot Pie (which for some reason Grimjob now thinks is a delicious dish called “lackey”). Heinrich is a cultured dandy, who seems out of place in grim Hyperborea. He complains that the king “doesn’t know the facts” and is forcing him to split the tribute from Marchburg with “that ignorant half-Aesir Thane Wulfing.” He impresses upon Valanus that Wulfing must be behind the raiders, since they must be coming through the pass during Wulfing’s shift. No one goes through the northern pass of course; fire won’t burn there, no fire at all. Valanus meets Heinrich’s daughter, Olga, but fails to impress her with his sonnets. She seems distracted and retires. Valanus discusses the last words of the soldier Fritz, who mentioned the bloodstone of Bori. Heinrich says that is an ancient heirloom of his house which dates back to the foundation of the kingdom, but it is safely in the castle vault. Valanus asks to see it, and Heinrich says he will have the vault opened in 2 days for some business and can show it to him then.

Later, Castel also meets Olga. In private, she tells him that she gave a prized heirloom of their house, the bloodstone of Bori, to her secret lover, a soldier named Fritz. Since Fritz is dead, and the bloodstone lost, she is in great fear. She had heard that the stone made its bearer invincible in battle, but this must not have been the case. She begs Castel that the party take any job offer her father makes and that she be allowed to come with them to help recover the stone before her father discovers the truth.

Meanwhile, the rest of the band eat pie and drink beer. They grow a bit itchy and so Valanus asks Heinrich if they might have some female company. He agrees to let them “paw the washerwomen” and lends Grimjob a book.

Day 5, Castle Death Sword, Hyperborea
Grodd, especially, and others too rest to recover from injuries suffered in the fight against the Steiner soldiers. At breakfast, Thane Hothur gives them each 100sp as a present. He offers them 500sp more if they can destroy the raiders, and a bonus if they can prove Wulfing Steiner is a traitor. Valanus bargains for a 600sp a piece prize for the raiders, and Hothur agrees. All the party members brief each other about the various information they have uncovered. In the evening Valanus is invited to a harpsichord recital in the great hall. Olga does not attend, because she finds the music disagreeable. All day Vegeta has been murmuring about being called a lackey by the thane. He threatens to kill him if he hears it again. Valanus tells Heinrich of Vegeta’s displeasure. Heinrich offers to have Vegeta flogged, but Valanus politely declines.

Day 6, Castle Death Sword, Hyperborea
Just before they are to ride off, Valanus asks to see the bloodstone. Heinrich agrees, but is stunned to find it gone. Valanus begins to reveal Olga’s secret, but Heinrich, his hand on his dueling glove, warns him not to continue with any dishonorable details. Heinrich orders Olga off for a stiff dose of Harpsichord.

Out in the wilds, Vegeta, Grodd and Limberger start to follow the raiders’ tracks in the snow. Soon it is abundantly obvious to Vegeta and Grodd that Limberger has absolutely no idea what he is doing. It is soon discovered that Limberger, who had claimed to be a Turanian borderer, is in fact a Zamoran thief. Grodd is not very happy with the deception. In the night he jumps Limberger, binds and beats him. Limberger escapes and they argue.

Day 7, The Wilds of Ostmark, Hyperborea
They track the raiders to the southern pass, up along the western edge of the hills to the entrance to the northern pass. They decide to camp at the mouth of the pass rather than enter in darkness. During the night, Vegeta finds his bag of food to be crawling with spiders. Grodd takes some wine and nearly falls unconscious. He realizes that Limberger has passed off some of the Stencovar drugged wine into his supply. With anger he rushes Limberger, who flees into the darkness. A lot of loud arguing erupts. Eventually, Grodd agrees to kill Limberger only after the job is done.

Day 8, The pass where fire won’t burn, no fire at all
The party tracks the raiders into the haunted northern pass. About mid afternoon they are caught in a terrible snowstorm. It is nightfall when they reach the ruined castle that overlooks the pass. They enter the pass to find the bodies of a few raiders lying about. One still lives, he is Akmed of Shushan, and he recognizes Grimjob and manages to tell him important news. He has seen the Oracle of Shushan, still alive in the slave market of Nippr. Grimjob is afire with zeal to rescue her and restore the honor of his order of guardians. But, there is no time for that now. Akmed dies, and soon the warriors find themselves in total darkness. Their efforts to light a fire fail. Soon horrors from beneath the earth swarm all around them, grabbing them with misshapen hands and biting them with poisonous fangs. Over 40 of the creature swarm about them. First Conrad falls to the ground and is dragged off. Then Castel follows him out of sight, then Vegeta too. Valanus, Limberger and Grodd all fall to the earth, worn down by the batterings and poison of the creatures. Grimjob alone still stands, crushing them with his bare hands. Until only he and one creature remain. Then Grimjob too falls. Within an hour, Grimjob, Limberger, Valanus and Grodd all awaken. They were merely stunned. The single creature left after the fight was unable to drag any of them off all by himself.

The four who remained wait for the light of day and track the creatures to a hidden tunnel. They pass into the tunnel and find their 3 comrades still alive, naked and gibbering in mindless terror pasted to a wall of a sacrifice chamber. Quickly they are rescued and all 7 flee into the upper air. Without delay, they all ride forth from the pass with great speed. Off to the southern lands they ride, eager to put the horror of the pass behind them, heedless of the lost Bloodstone of Bori and the silver in the hands of Thane Heinrich.

For, you see, the creatures they fought, once their bodies were examined in the light of day, proved to be men. But men so corrupted and twisted by life underground that they had become hairless and their skins were mottled like snakes. Fangs they had developed, and their arms were strong from tunneling but small and close to their bodies.

Perhaps a scholar might know what race they were or how long they lived there, but our heroes cared not. Just so they might flee the untold multitude of their fellows who stalked the pass at night. For that was the raiders’ secret. They were not in league with either noble house, but had learned to ride through the northern pass while the sun yet shone, for the evil creatures below only emerge at night. Their last raid was disrupted by the heroes in the southern pass and the raiders dared the northern pass at night and were destroyed.