Campaign of the Month: June 2018

Shaintar Legends Awaken: Rangers of the Greenway Road; Regional Command-Echer'Naught

Campaign Report 134
Battle is Joined

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

4th Day of Falling Ice, Year 3128 Under the Light

The armies have finally managed to stumble into each other amid the wasteland of Norcan Darr. I would have chosen any other field, any other circumstance. But such are the vagaries of war. The absence of nearly 300 unarmed women and children has certainly improved our combat readiness, but we are still at a severe disadvantage.

We cannot stand here. But, if we can draw our enemies to a ground more favorable… There are possibilities.

Falling Ice 1st, 3128

High in the mountains of Norcan Darr, we rested till the temperature rose and then broke camp. A new start to a new day, in a new year. Despite the hellacious circumstances, I started the day with a sense of optimism.

We had managed to negotiate an equitable arrangement with the Forsaken. Perhaps accepting the Builders of the Explorer’s Clan into their ranks might go some way in improving relations between the Builders and Forsaken. At the very least, they would no longer suffer in ignorance. Even that small victory could have wide sweeping ramifications across Norcan Darr.

More immediately, however, if the Maker managed to convince a majority of the civilians within our column to accept the deal, our chances of success increased dramatically. I would give anything to save them all, but the reality remains that we cannot feed them, nor protect them. Most of the civilians would be killed in a protracted war, if not through battle, certainly exposure and starvation.

I could not force them out, but I am glad so many chose life with Forsaken. As hard as it might be, they have a far better chance at survival here in the lands of their birth. Moreover, their knowledge and skills might improve the standard of living for the Forsaken and Builders alike.

If we manage to return, and our way back is not closed, I plan on returning, better armed and equipped. Come to it, perhaps the Long Recon Rangers could establish a permanent base here. I’ve long desired an outpost in Shivak Novos, why not Norcan Darr?

It certainly bears consideration.

High in the mountains, the nights were far more bitterly cold than even down the valley. We had little choice but build fires, or die. The Forsaken had supplied us with ample dried dung. From what beast, I did not inquire.

Nevertheless, our progress was tortuously slow. We managed about three hours around dawn and dusk. Even at six or seven hours of travel, we barely managed five miles through the rough and broken terrain high in the peaks. Every hour that passed I imagined horrible fates for those in the column. Had the enemy already found them? Were we returning to the dead?

Falling Ice 3rd, 3128

Toward dusk, Alpha Team forward scouts encountered a group of Builders heading toward our group, moving in the opposite direction. These were either our own people seeking to link up, our enemies seeking to destroy us, or a patrol of Builders from a nearby Citadel. Though, it was most likely our pre-arranged meet, any other situation would result in a fight we certainly did NOT need.

After a brief, tense standoff, Softpaws identified the newcomers. Though, I think the thin mountain air had begun to affect the team. Gravelheart nearly stove in Sergeant Blackstone’s head with her grapple were it not for Thorgram’s Shield. Unfortunately, the grapple hook got thoroughly lodged in the shield.

I pretended not to notice the…erm…antics. They needed the relief.

While they sorted themselves out, I proceeded to meet with the oncoming column. As expected, the Builders were those who chose to remain in Norcan Darr, rather than fight a running war across the wasteland of Norcan Darr. I greeted the head of their Patrol, a veteran Builder Scout.

Already the sun’s like began to die. Soon, we would all be freezing and there was very little cover. So, I instructed the Builders to join my group, while we dispatched our scouts to find a suitable location for the combined force to seek shelter over the darkest part of night. Returning to my lines, I summoned Lady Killian, the Explorer, and Sergeant Blackstone.

As the three representative commanders, I instructed my subalterns to form integrated scouting parties of Forsaken, Rangers, and Builders to scour the surrounding area for a suitable camp sight for 300+. They immediately went work, self organizing, before spreading out in a methodical search pattern.

It is a pleasure to work with professionals. Despite the vast differences in training, personality, and style they all work easily and well. While my teams went about their work, I welcomed the newcomers into our ranks and began assessing out needs. Housing 300 Builders involved more than simply a large enough cave.

Within an hour, my scouts reported a large crevice nearby that would work well. However, the sun was down and temperatures were dropping fast. So, we quickly moved everyone to the site and began the process of lowering all into the shelter of the rocks. Builders are, if anything, an efficient people. My own Olarans would be impressed.

We arranged the entire affair before the hoarfrost began to creep across the rocks. With the civilians nestled safely below, the scouts all all units, again integrated, established a series of nests along the rocks ringing our refuge. Any who wished to disturb our rest would face a gauntlet of arcfire. Again, everything was accomplished with celerity.

Falling Ice 4th, 3128

In the morning, three of the Forsaken scouts, along with a squad of Builder arcalancers escorted the civilian column down out of the mountains toward the Forsaken who would be expecting their arrival. The leader of the Forsaken had already dispatched runners to the tribe nearby. In time, the Builders would each be taken in by various Forsaken bands, lending their centuries of knowledge to the Forskaen spirit and defiance.

Meanwhile, our column, reduced now to six Forsaken scouts, twenty five arclancers, and Alpha Team began to make decent headway as we descended from the peaks toward where we hoped our column was wending it way through the mountains. Just a few hundred feet down and the heat grew unbearable.

Norcan Darr’s sheer extremes are oppressive.

Falling Ice 5th, 3128

The Maker’s instructions were to move southward as well as the terrain would allow. Moving slowly, I estimated that we could overtake them swiftly by cutting across their path. The mountainous region made maneuvering difficult, but inflicted the same logistic nightmare on anyone seeking to overtake us. And while we certainly moved slowly, a larger force pursuing us would have a less easy passage.

So, in the waning hours of the 5th, our forward scouts ranged looking for any signs of the Builder column. Even as we prepared to find a suitable encampment, arcfire lit up the night, striking our forward element, Killing, Softpaws, and Gravelheart. Despite its devastating accuracy, it appeared that only a handful, maybe no more than three shooters had taken position on a height ridge about 150 yards to our right…westward more or less.

Our own shooters took cover along a smaller ridge and returned fire while more arclancers scrabbled along the ridge to add fire support. Initially, we had success. It seemed that the enemy lancers were put to retreat, but moments later more intense fire lit our position, forcing me to send in more arclancers in response.

I could feel the situation slipping out of control quickly. Our allies were close, I could feel that, but where, I could not say. So, I sent the Explorer with a squad of scouts around behind our lines to continue moving south while I shifted our lines to cover.

Every moment brought more incoming fire, and then, the enemy started firing arcfire artillery. That is when I knew we had stumbled into more than a picket line. If I were correct, the bulk of the enemy army was camped just over the ridgeline. We were in for a fight.

As the Rangers moved into more secure positions, both sides started taking casualties. With my forces deployed, I moved to the front lines. Something about the haphazard nature of the battle convinced me that neither side had sought out the fight. I did not believe that they were even aware of our presence until their scouts spotted our moving through the rocks.

Be that as it may, they had our range now. Arcfire raked our lines as I dropped into hole beside the Sergeant. Before we could even strategize, a shot caught me in the neck. I may be able to recover from such normally fatal wounds, it still hurts. When I returned to consciousness, the Sergeant had already moved off to set up a small relief station for the wounded. Though, he left me the Ramshorn shield. I believe this is the first I have ever carried the storied artifact. I also noted a golem charging hard toward the enemy.

Again, I was rudely interrupted by an artillery barrage which decimated our forces and killed me again. When I returned from that short trip to the other side, the battle was well and truly joined. The golem of before was now an Iron Golem. The Explorer had a small artillery detachment devastating the enemy ridgeline, but more fire was incoming from behind their lines.

However, if we could fall back to the larger ridge to our rear, and eliminate the enemy artillery…

We are in for a fight, but I have the workings of a plan…

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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To Hell and Back: A Magician's Guide to Norcan'Dar
Chapter 2

Recent encounters with the local fauna have only deepened my fears of the corruptive nature of this landscape. I was not present for the initial encounter but others in my ranger team encountered an extremely large and extremely aggressive inhabitant to the mountainous regions of Norcan’Dar. The beast must have weighed more than ten behemoth ogres and spanned from snout to tail nearly 50 feet if i had to estimate. From second hand accounts it appeared to be using the long spans of tunnels as a den of some sorts and the tunnels themselves may have been created by the creature.

The reason I find this strange is that It may have been a relative to the large reptilian creatures in Dregordia called Thunder Lizards, which from accounts I have read are large jungle dwelling reptilians found scattered through the dense tropical jungles of the Dregordian homeland. The most obvious question is how did it get here. The creature seemed perfectly adapted to this environment, showing evolutionary adaptations of an heavily armored hide and more drake like characteristics. this creature must have had generations of ancestors before it to gain these biological advantages, or my more disturbing theory is that the magic permeating this place mutated this creature into something almost unrecognizable from what I assume to be its closest relatives.

Our track through this hellish desert is nowhere near its end and each day I see something that challenges every magical law or theory I’ve known my entire life. I hope this makes it back to Shaintar, for I believe this place has many more secrets we have yet to find that may just shed the light on long forgotten or yet unknown things about our world and reality.

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Campaign Report 133
New Year in the Hard Lands

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

1st Day of Falling Ice, Year 3128 Under the Light

Even in the deepest Abyss, generous souls may be found. It is this guiding like which gives me hope. If these Forsaken can hold the line at the doorstep to Ceynara’s hole, then can we do less?

Dark Moons 28th, 3127

After our arrival, I sat with the Elder of the Forsaken tribe. His age is likely no more than fourty, but to my eyes he looks ancient. There are few who live beyond their twenties in this place. Those who do are either extremely gifted, lucky, or both.

I remained with the Explorer and Lady Killian to treat with the Elder while I ordered Sergeant Blackstone to set up camp and begin to integrate with the locals. Despite his early missteps, I feel the Sergeant may have the most political acumen of the unit.

The Forsaken offered us food, what little they had, and the strange fermented milk I had grown to detest during my last sojourn. It is far worse when you know how it is made. The Elder was joined by his shaman, an ancient orcess, and their chief hunter, an angry young human male.

It yet amazes me how crafty and skilled Forsaken negotiates must be. When blessed with little, even that which we take for granted can mean the difference between life and death for these people. They part with nothing without great benefit.

We spoke for over three hours. It took nearly two hours to convince the Forsaken that the Explorer’s people could even be trusted. The antipathy runs strong through both races. I doubt the Explorer much cares for the Forsaken, and they bear great animosity to the Builders. With good reason. Since time immemorial, these two people have been killing each other.

The only silver lining being that, while there is enmity, it is diffuse and indirect. The Builders kill the Forsaken out of hand, more exterminating a nuisance. The Forsaken kill Builders out of survival. There conflict is an affect of their circumstance, not any strongly held belief.

The Explorer was instrumental. His willingness to even speak with the Elder, acknowledge them as beings of value. However, Killian was the true champion. Overlooking her initial capture, she spoke well and eloquently on our behalf. I believe she is motivated more by the hope of returning home, than any personal loyalty. Yet, I credit her with our success. We would certainly have failed to reach accommodations.

Once the veracity of the Builder’s intent was accepted, the rest of our conversation was the trade of our supplies, negotiation of guides, and most key, allowing Forsaken who wish to leave with our column the freedom to do so. Moreover, the willingness of the Forsaken to accept Builders from the column who do not desire to trek across the wasteland a place here with this tribe.

That last was a hard sell. The Elder refused to part with his smith, best hunters, healers, or his shaman. And, he refused to allow the Builders to bring arcfire into his camp. Understandable. In a land overrun with hordes of ratzin who can literally sniff out magic, it would likely be the death of the tribe to invite so much raw magic.

I had hoped the Forsaken would have more food, but they did provide information on other tribes to our south, and information on new threats. I fear that to feed our army, we will need to thing creatively.

Our dealing done, I asked The Explorer to gather Ben’s Mask from Softpaws to contact the Maker and relay our deal. In the meantime, we exited the elder’s chambers to find the entire tribe falling down drunk. Standing behind a makeshift still were RFC Grimm and Gravelheart.

I had instructed my Rangers to win hearts and minds. One must give them credit for their ingenuity. Leaving all to their celebrations, I headed to where Sergeant Blackstone had established camp.

While I was in talks, Graveheart and Grimm, as mentioned, set up a still and began brewing a concoction that was both healing AND intoxicating. Grimm, and later the Explorer, negotiated with the tribes dwarven smiths, the twins Kill and Kal, to constructed White Silver claw caps for Softpaws. Sergeant Blackstone spent his time with the smiths, learning and trading information along with Sir Mansfried. Arwen kept mostly to herself. There are no Eldakar here, only one or two Alakar. Magical creatures do not last long in the Hard Lands.

Sleep came swiftly, with only a Ranger on guard duty. Strange how we fall into old habits. The sounds, smells, the feeling. I could almost hear Anaxelum’s heavy breathing, or the mechanic crunch of his guard’s boots as they patrolled the camp.

Memories.

Dark Moons 29th, 3127

We wake in the morning. Grimm, Blackstone, and Mansfried continue to work with the dwarven smiths, Kill and Kal. Gravelheart makes the rounds, and wins friends. Softpaws spends most of her time helping move cargo. She noted that many of the local urchins helped themselves to any unobserved supplies.

That night, we spoke at length about the cosmology of our world. I explained that Norcan Darr sits within the same world as Shaintar, so far as we can tell. As it takes significant power to pierce the Veil of Shaintar, it stands to reason Norcan Dar is the same. If one could walk to the edge of the wastes, you would likely encounter some wall, mist, or barrier like the Everwall and the Veil.

Equally, as Flame exists in Shaintar, so too does Life exist in Norcan Dar, but more difficult to reach.

They ask about the spirit planes. I explain that each of the Ascended, good or ill, exist within their own plane. Ceynara reigns as Queen of the Abyss, Vainar Necrolord of the Nether. Landra, the Soulfinder lives within the Eternal Forest. Archanon rules the Celestial Halls. Dranak dwells below the Living Mountain. Zavonis soars the Endless Skies. Illiana swims the Boundless Sea. These make up the “spiritual” lands. Between the Nether and Shaintar lies Shivak Novos, a tainted, twisted “between” realm. I could be a ’nearer" spirit plane aligned closer to the Nether. As stated, however, Norcan Dar appears to be an entirely physical plane, though soaked in blood and Flame.

Other than Shaintar and Norcan Dar, we know of a third land, the Tempest Isle, clear of the mists of the Veil. If there are three, it can be surmised that there are more.

Of note, Lady Killian revealed that she witnessed her lands, Caladonia was immolated by a giant dragon. Though we have no evidence to confirm, the absence of Dragon in Shaintar, and the presence of the same in Caladon has made me wonder at the connection. The Explorer confirmed that within the past 100 years a Dragon lived within Norcan Dar, though it has not been seen in years.

Dark Moons 31st, 3127

In the afternoon, the dwarves managed to complete Softpaws’ white silver claw caps from the last remnants left over from my shield. I could smell the burning flesh and fur from our camp. But, despite the damage, she seemed inordinately pleased.

While we camped, Killian spoke with her people, letting her people know that we intended to leave Norcan Dar. However, any that chose to join us would become targets in our battles against the Builders and Childer. There was no garuntee that we would even survive. By all rights, we would likely be slaughtered in the wastes, crushed by the various forces.

But, should we win through, I have sworn that all those with me would be returned to their own lands, regardless of what that may be. As I had so long ago with Anaxelum.

After days of chatting with the Forsaken, Gravelheart returned with some interesting information. Per Forsaken scouts, to the South reports indicated the Tempest had a large presence. Within the mountains to the far east, an entire Forsaken Tribe was wiped out. Only mutated remains were found. And, as we knew, a vast childer horde still lurked to our west.

Dark Moons 33rd, 3127

As the sun settled, the Forsaken camp broke as our own group gathered to move out. Eight Forsake chose to join us, most with knowledge of the lands. Of those, three would lead any Builders who chose to join the Forsaken, leaving our party with five Forsaken members.

We traveled long into the eve. Just before the 13th hour, high in the mountains, I called the group to a halt. There, we sat around a small flame, just enough to fight of the worst of the chill.

You see, I had saved a small treat to share, should we be unfortunate enough to find ourselves within Norcan Dar on this of all days. As we sat around our small camp, I pulled out, unwrapped, and passed around small molasses cakes, sweet treats given me by my wife for this very occasion.

As I bit into the sweetness, almost painful after so long eating the bitter or bland food of the Hard Lands, my mind drifted to my home, my wife, and the child she most likely had already born me.

Archanon, and my Lady Celesia, let me return home safely to them.

Falling Ice 1st, 3128

Before bedding down, I wished my Rangers a Happy New Year, before laying down and dreaming of home.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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Campaign Report 132
Ranger vs Horde vs Beast

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

28th Day of Dark Moons, Year 3127 Under the Light

I had hoped that after our battle with the demon, we might have a brief respite. It was not to be. After a day of fitful repose, I dispatched Alpha Team to drop back along the backtrail. Even with the destruction of the Builder Citadel, the enemy Builder force could not be far behind. And then, there was the matter of the 7k strong Childer horde sniffing at our heels.

So, just before dusk on the 10th, the evening AFTER the demon attack, I dispatched Alpha Team, minus RFC Grimm who was still recuperating, to fall back and sweep behind the column for advanced forces of either the horde or the Builders. Within two hours of their patrol, I received a frantic telepathic message from Ranger Softpaws. While scouting ahead of the team, she encountered a trio of Ratzin in a rocky cave. Evading per orders, she tumbled past the childer and outside the cave…right into the path of maybe dozen childer.

It appeared to be a recon in force in advance of the main childer horde. Raiders and foragers. Led by a Minotaur with a small warband, and a swarm of ratzin they instantly charged after the albino brinchie. Just over a slight ridge, the rest of the Rangers had spare moments to choose a course of action: take to the flats, or dive into the caves.

Sergeant Blackstone chose the caves and Alpha Team sprinted for the relative safety of the rocky tunnels. Outside, darkness fell. Within, the caves were pitch black. With her low-light, Arwen Que’kasaars was sent forward with the rest following, carrying a torch. For the moment, there was no sign of the childer.

Dark Moons 10th, 3127

Diving in the caves for nearly half an hour, the Rangers picked their way along, looking for a way through to an exit. Out front, Arwen entered a large chamber, only to tumble down a steep rock slide and slamming to a stop against the fall wall…or so she thought. As Arwen rose, pushing off against the wall, it moved. A creature the size of a house rose to stand over here, snuffling the air.

Behind Sergeant Blackstone, the other Rangers came to a stop. Marching order, Arwen, Sergeant Blackston, Gravelheart, Explorer, Killian, Softpaws, and Corporal Mansfried bringing up the rear. Mansfried and Softpaws turned to cover the rear while the head of the party dealt with whatever lurked in the cave.

In a relative panic, Arwen backpedaled and ran for the party and the light. Instantly the creature turned to chase. She just reached the rockslide when the massive reptile bit down on her shoulder, lifted her bodily into the air and turned to carry her back to its nest. The Explorer fired a shot right up its tail when it presented its rear, enraging it, and forcing it to turn back around, Arwen still in its maw. From the rear, Mansfried and Softpaws began to hear the scrabbled of ratzin.

Up front, Sergeant Blackstone dropped the torch and melded into the ground, closing on the beast. The Explorer, Kililan, and Gravelheart opened fire with arclances. Again, Gravelheart showed her skill, blowing the beast left eye out of its skull, forcing it to drop Arwen. Immediately, Blackstone was there to retrieve her. In a fury, the pained and wounded beast reached its mighty clawed hand into the tunnel to scoop out the Rangers.

Corporal Mansfried leaped over his team to throw up a defense blocking the attack with Thorgram’s shield. Behind the party, ratzin appeared hurling knifes at Softpaws. She takes a few hits shouts a warning before leaping past the party and sprinting to the right where Blackstone had seen another exit. With ratzin swarming from behind, Corporal Mansfried snatches up the torch and hurls it at the beast’s “good” eye, temporarily blinding it.

Seizing the opening, the other Rangers sprint past the beast away from the ratzin. As the last clears the tunnel, The Explorer tosses a arcfire grenade into the tunnel, before sprinting after the others, covering their retreat. In a perpendicular tunnel, Softpaws lights a torch and takes off, scouting forward. Blackstone and Arwen appear, Arwen laying down eldritch fire to cover the retreating Corporal Mansfried and The Explorer.

Behind them, the tunnel and cavern begin to collapse, filling the air with dust. Three ratzin make it past the beast, only to have one die at Arwen’s hand. The last two die by arclance. With their rear secure, Alpha Team sprints away from the collapsing tunnels.

While the Rangers fought their way through the tunnels, I made my way along a low ridge line with RFC Grimm and five arclancers. We reached near the cave system protecting Alpha Team and spied the childer raiders milling about, sniffing for blood. As we watched, there was a detonation in the mountain. The ground bucked nearly knocking Grimm out as he listened to the ground. Immediately, the childer started making their way around the rocky outcrop.

Leaving one arclancer to maintain position, I led the others around behind another ridge to a position about 30 meters away from the most likely point the Rangers might emerge. A good thing too. About the time we dropped behind cover, Softpaws appeared, the childer pouring over a low ridge to her right. They saw here as soon as we did. So, I ordered my squad to provide covering fire and sprinted down the slope toward the childer. My hope was that they would angle toward me giving my Rangers a chance to escape. Seeing me, Softpaws angled to meet me, while the rest of the Rangers poured out of the cave making a straight line for the cover of the arclancers and ridge line.

As I charged, a wall behind the Rangers exploded and the massive beast burst onto the flats. One eye still smoking, it bellowed and charged toward the childer, through the Rangers. Already committed, I slammed into the wall of fur and steel, cutting deep with my father’s blade. The minotaur war master died first in a spray. Beside me, Softpaws appeared, scratching and biting. From my left, the arclances opened laying down a steady torrent of arcfire. Overhead, gargoyles exploded into dust.

When the Rangers reached the ridge line, as the beast closed, I grabbed Softpaws, summoned my power and Teleported away. We made it about halfway to the ridge. Throwing her over my shoulder, I sprinted the last yards and set her down with the others. Behind us, the beast tore into the childer, roaring and slashing.

We ran, down the backslope of the ridge and didn’t stop running for twenty minutes. By then, I could hardly breath, my legs ached, my nears felt like they were going to explode, and I honestly thought I was going to pass out. I am getting far to old to be running around like a young fool. But, we were safe.

The rest of the trek was uneventful. We rejoined the column after an hour of hiking. The temperature was below freezing and we steamed, out sweat misted around us. By dawn, we slept. All as the dead.

Dark Moons 11th, 3127

In the morning, I spoke with The Explorer about my failure to properly equip Alpha Team for the mission. It had never occurred to me, in my wildest dreams that the Citadel would have fallen. Had I but thought, I would have equipped the team in White silver and Everwood. Now, we are trapped in this endless hellscape with no resources to draw upon. And so, to ensure my team’s survival I tasked The Explorer with melting down my Stahlheim shield and using the White Silver to plate the Ranger’s weapons. I do not know how long it will last, but they will at least have a fighting chance.

The shield was a gift from Rouark Fyrforg, a mastercraft Stahlheim shield. After my horse and sword, the shield was one of my most precious belongings. But, my Rangers come first, above all other concerns. That is my duty as commander. Within a week, all was done. Alpha Team was outfitted with enough White Silver to confront any demon or childer. Let us pray is lasts.

Dark Moons 16th, 3127

After traveling a week, Lady Killian informed me that we were close enough to cross the mountains to reach her Tribe of Forsaken. Leaving the Maker to continue leading the Builder column on our, more or less, southerly course, I took Alpha Team, led by Lady Killian, on a two week trek over the mountains.

Late on the 28th we arrived near the foothills on the far side of the mountain range we had been following for a month. We saw few gargoyles on our entire trek, after our narrow escape for the childer scouts. And fortunately no childer, builders, or overly troublesome beasts. I think that what the Alpha Team faced was an escaped Thunder Lizard who had fallen to Flame. Unsurprising. I can feel the stench of Ceynara’s foulness clawing at my spirit. Every breath, every heartbeat in this accursed place seeks to drive me mad with rage…

We made no effort to hide our advance. It would not be wise to start off by provoking an attack, or inadvertently killing those we are trying to meet in good faith. So, we walked into the Forsaken pickets in as non threatening manner as possible.

As soon as we were spotted, we stopped and allowed Lady Killian to speak on our behalf. She entered the camp, while we waited under guard. After a short time, she returned and we were allowed into the camp, though our weapons had to be left outside camp. It was not unexpected. At my order, we disarmed and entered the Forsaken camp.

Memories flooded back. The camp was little different from the one I spent my time in many years ago. The same despairing determination. Privation, yet generosity. The Forsaken have nothing, but all is shared. Not unlike the goblinesh.

We were escorted to the center of camp, the deepest cave in the system. There, under guard, was an elderly man. A true sign of a survivor. Few live more than a couple years in Norcan Dar. To reach old age bespeaks an indomitable spirit. He greeted me. It would seem the story of my previous escape had reached even here. The Tribal leader invited us to sit with him. And so the negotiations begin.

I will offer to any the option to travel with our column. If we survive, if we escape, they are more than willing to come with us. Alternatively, any who dare not risk the passage, I will ask the Forsaken to take them into their Tribe. I would think gaining the knowledge of the Builders would be a fare trade. We shall see. Forsaken are shrewder hagglers than the most avaricious Malakaran. I only hope we might procure the supplies need to feed the Builder clan.

Ascended have mercy on us.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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To Hell and Back: A Magicians Guide to Norcan' Dar
Chapter 1

Staring at the burning sands and rock that surround me, I wonder if the title of this book is a little presumptive as I have yet to return, either way I plan to research and explore the different natural components of this hellish landscape to further the collective knowledge of the Southern Kingdoms and beyond.

Little to nothing grows here, which makes since as the environment is reminiscent of the Desert Princes natural landscape. Though having spent a little time in the desert, I could safely say the temperatures here far exceed those. The days well exceed 120 degrees and the nights bring the fear of frostbite as if in the snow covered landscape of Northern Olara, and the only safe time to travel is a few hours before sunrise and sunset when the temperatures become somewhat bearable. With this harsh environment it is easy to understand the features of the local flora and fauna, small tough shrubs dot the hills in sparse numbers and the few animals I see are small reptilian creatures that scurry from one small source of shade to another. And those are the few living things I have seen while traversing the jagged rocks and burning sands, but with the shadows circling above I know there are much bigger and scarier creatures here as well.

A few days ago I was able to kill one of these native lizards. Its scales sported a reddish color and course texture to which I assume allow it camouflage in its desert environment, but the most unsettling feature of the creatures was it being covered head to tail in sharp poisonous spines. After dissecting and removing the lizards poison sacks the meat immediately became saturated with the powerful toxins and was in no way longer edible, if it ever was to begin with. Observing the creature it boasts are large frill at the base of the neck, to which I believe to be used for mating or for intimidating potential predators. Every inch of this lizard has adapted perfectly to this environment, this making me fear what is to come if in order to survive this place requires one to have tough hide, sharp spines, and powerful poisons.

I’m assuming to be the first Alchemist to study and record this creature and assume that its species naming is my right. All of the creatures characteristics are leading me to name it a Frilled Sand Devil. I understand this creature was not in fact a “devil” but this landscape seems to corrupt its inhabitants and this lizard was definitely touched by the power of Flame that permeates this land. I begin to worry that staying here too long could have similar effects on us all. Every Alchemist whom truly knows this craft learns from the very beginning to never use corrupted components, as you will never be the same afterwards, and so I hope to find our way home again soon. With that said until then I will continue to study this alien world and its inhabitants in hopes of gaining greater understanding of how to survive this place.

Respectively,
Professor of Alchemical Studies, Gilbert Grimm

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Campaign Report 131
Demon Attack

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

10th Day of Dark Moons, Year 3127 Under the Light

After two weeks of brutal hiking through the jagged peaks, our column was strung out and proceeding at a plodding pace. Each hour I could feel the combined forces of the Builders and the Childer horde growing closer. Yet, there is little I can do.

Builders are marvels of technological innovation and implementation. Behind their walls they are, nigh, impregnable. But in the open terrain of this hostile world, they are nearly helpless. During the day, the temperature peaks at 120-130 degrees, and at night -20 to -30. Each day we lose a few to heatstroke and frostbite.

Shade is difficult in the mountains, as there is little solid. It is all sharp shale mounds which shift under foot, and stab through boots and clothes. All the while, gargoyles circle overhead. We can move only a few hours before and after dawn. As dangerous as the frost may be, the heat is brutal.

We had just found shallow shade to wait out the burning sun, when I heard shouts from the direction of the columns rear. It was just at dawn and out scouts were spread out screening a column too large by half. Wearily, I gathered my kit, and starting making my way to the rear from my position at the head of the column.

I had not gone more than a few hundred yards when I was suddenly intruded upon by the familiar mental touch of Ben Toma. He interpreted for Ranger Softpaws. Apparently, the rear echeleon of our column was under assault by some form of Infernal. Already, at least a couple members of Alpha Team had been devoured.

Realizing time was of the essence, I drew deeply upon the reserve of power within my blood and accelerated to dangerous speeds. Builders scrambled to clear a path as I leaped and ran down the entire line of our group.

Even at my best speed, I was too late to prevent Lady Rahsoona Kilian and Ranger Gilbur Gill Grimm from being stuffed down the demon’s gullet. It was some horrible cross between a dragon and a worm, sprouting half a dozen tentacles that seemed to whip and vibrate as the beast undulated. And, it had horns, as incongruous as that may seem.

The demon appeared to have no magic, relying mainly on its tough hide and tentacles for protection, which also served as its primary weapon and method of feeding. The maw took up most of the beast exposed above ground. I can therefore assume that this was some dark representation of hunger.

By the time I arrived, Alpha Team had been well engaged for some time. As mentioned, Kilian and Grimm were inside. Sergeant Blackstone was dangling from one of the tentacles over the gaping maw. Ranger Gravelheart was FAR out of reach on the far side, firing her arclance. The explorer was in the process of dismounting from the demon’s back, while Que’kassars, Sir Mansfried, and Softpaws engaged the beast.

At a shout of warning, leaped through and stabbed the demon, being careful not to slay my own team. It died with a shriek as my blade cleaved in into smoking pieces. Both Kilian and Grimm spilled out.

The alchemist looked like death warmed over. Kilian was naked, though covered in greenish blood. Immediately I covered her in my cloak to protect her modesty, though I am acutely away some cultures have varied rules of propriety.

Gill lived, though he would require rest. As for the others, they were none the worse for wear. However, I soon discovered that their inability to end the threat stemmed from my inadequate preparation for out mission. Only one member of Alpha Team is currently equipped with White Silver, and that being Arwen’s rapier. In all other respect, the team is helpless against many of the worst beings in Norcan Darr. I resolved to immediately rectify that situation.

In the meantime, Alpha Team carried their wounded to shelter and proceeded to eat, rest, and heal. Kilian, at the least, procured more appropriate clothing, and the team rested until that eve.

With the attack, I fear that our enemy may be closing upon our ranks. So, I tasked Alpha Team, minus the resting Grimm, to fall back along our backtrail to determine if, and how close, either enemy force might be.

They left out, rekitted and supplied, shortly before dusk as the temperature began to drop. I had already scouted our immediately area, but Alpha Team ranged farther afield. I returned to the head of the column, leaving Grimm with healers.

I had only returned shortly, just as the Maker and his guards were beginning their move when Softpaws, through Ben Toma, contact me again.

Alpha Team had encountered a sizable childer force, maybe 30 within a quarter mile of our rear. Unfortunately, the childer managed to ambush the team forcing them into retreat. As we spoke, they were heading into a cave system near the childer location. On their heals, almost three dozen angry childer hunted.

Once again, I gathered my kit and pulled a dozen Builder Arclancers off the line before heading toward the rear of the column, picking up a waking Grimm along the way. It would take another hour before the Builders showed any semblance of movement. Columns that large simply take time to move.

So, I hoped that a smaller, lighter force might reach the Rangers, supress or eliminate any opposing childer scouting party, and return to the column before the column managed to make any real headway.

For the second time that day, I found myself scarabbling through the mountains of Norcan Darr praying that the team would survive long enough to be relieved.

Ascended have mercy on us.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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Ellamira Danica Wolfhaven Born
Born Dark Moons 5th, 3127

While Baron Wolfhaven fought his way across Norcan Darr, Baroness Wolfhaven gave birth to their first girl, Ellamira “Ella” Danica Wolfhaven early in the morning on the 5th of Dark Moons, 3127.

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Grenna House Vosltagg Born
White River 29th, 3127

Late on White River 29th, 3127, Ranna’s first born child, Grenna of House Volstagg, is born in Almahrad in the Ranger HQ as a ward of Captain and Lady Volstagg.

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Campaign Report 130
Exile in Norcan Darr

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

30th Day of White River, Year 3127 Under the Light

Any reasonable hope of returning home, to seeing my new child, my wife, are gone. All upon my order. We are now truly one people. The Builders’ home was destroyed, and with it our own. Survival now depends on our ability to trust, to work together, to hope.

White River 28th, 3127

Everything happened so quickly. Alpha Team managed to destroy the Builder device dampening the Citadel’s own magic, but it was a temporary reprieve. And at such a staggering cost. Another war…

Alpha Team headed to the barracks to catch their breath, re-equip, rearm, and process their losses. While I continued to debate with the Maker and his council on the best course of action. I saw but one possible path forward. Lure the enemy into the Citadel and then destroy them. We would doubtless only catch a portion of their forces, but we would kill far more than it would cost us, and with the Citadel’s pathways through the mountain gone, the enemy would be forced to take a longer route to follow, buying us that most precious commodity: Time.

It was not lost on me that we would also be destroying our only reasonable means of returning home. In promoting such a plan I was condemning my team. Once again, I was sacrificing the lives of my men for the “greater good.” How much blood will it take to secure victory?!

While the rest of the team prepped, The Explorer joined me briefly. He too listened to the arguments, and seeing their value, challenged the Maker. Our only reasonable course of action was retreat. That, and he laid upon me the sobriquet, one of Shaintar’s “Greatest Military Minds.” I greatly appreciate his confidence, but sincerely wished such accolades were not so blood soaked. Before he left, I asked him to see to upgrading Alpha Team’s arms and armor with what Builder tech they could use. Also, I requested Corporal Blackstone’s presence.

The Explorer left, and Blackstone arrived. Given our current situation, I felt it prudent to continue to maintain proper chain of command. To the end, on Shaintar’s date of White River 29th, 3127 I issued the following field promotions:

Corporal Arimar Blackstone was promoted to Sergeant.

RFC Egon Mansfried was promoted to Corporal.

RFC Gilbur Gill Grimm was promoted to 3rd in command, though he retained his rank of RFC.

After his promotion, I informed him that he would be in full command of the Team. My duties now lied with aiding the Maker in keeping his people alive. Alpha Team would be given near full autonomy. As such, Sergeant Blackstone now served as independent command for the Rangers in Norcan Dar. Further, I informed him that the Explorer was in the process of upgrading the Team’s gear. Furthermore, RFC Grimm was to be excused from camp duties as his full efforts, when on in actual combat, were to be dedicated to producing Protection and Healing potions for the team. So long as it did not endanger the lives of his team, and while still within Norcan Dar, Sergeant Blackstone was to facilitate RFC Grimm in whatever capacity to achieve his needs.

Lastly, a second attack was imminent. Therefore, I ordered Alpha Team to the front gates to aid in the defense. Sergeant Blackstone had full authority to withdraw his team as soon as he felt they could not longer hold their position. The longer they held, the more civilians I could evacuate safely, as soon as the Maker agreed to my plan. I dismissed the Sergeant and observed the debate among the Builders.

Despite their arrogance, technological advancement, and history, the Builders are alike us in many ways. Politics, it seems, is universal. Still, with the Explorer’s endorsement, the Maker conceded to my plan with some grace and we immediately began evacuations.

I learned later that the Alpha Team took an hour or so to gear up, with the Explorer crafting something akin to scale armor via pieces of Arcmancy ceramics in their tightweave cloth. He also equipped much of the team with arcfire weapons, and distributed ammo among those not arcfire trained. When not overseeing that, he aided RFC Grimm in constructing a passable Alchemy kit from the available materials, and broke it down into several pieces to distribute the load.

When all was kitted, they headed up to the main gate. The grand hall was a ruin, the gate blown wide open. Builder arclancers had set up firing positions around the hall, taking cover behind fallen columns. About the time Alpha Team arrived, a Builder patrol arrived with a prisoner captured just outside. One of the forsaken, I noted when I met her that she actually hailed from Caladon, having fallen through a Tempest vortex. Based on the state of her gear, and her apparent acclamation, I gather she has been here for many years. Still, her subsequent fighting all but saved the team.

However, at the point she arrived, she was disarmed and a prisoner of the Builders. She was clearly not with the Kal, or the enemy Builders, but a discussion ensued as to what should be done with her. Sergeant Blackstone and the Explorer approached to find out more, while the rest of the team spread out. RFC Grimm took the initiative to sprint to the breach and set a land mine in order to slow oncoming attackers.

Unfortunately for all concerned, the attack happened while Grimm was finishing and Sergeant Blackstone and the Explorer were mid conversation.

First a smoke bomb rolled into the room, enveloping the breach, along with Grimm. From within the cloud, heavily armed arclancers spread out on either side, taking up firing positions and laying down a torrent of fire. Alpha Team responded, moving into position.

The fire was intense. Each enemy arclancer was protected by a deflection field, rending them difficult to hit. Whereas the allied arclancers had elevation and position, but lacked the extra layer of protection.

Centered at the base of the grand staircase, Ranger Gravelheart took early hits and went down behind a stone pile, wounded but not dead. Grimm ducked into and out of the smoke cloud, too far to make a break for the stairs.On the left, Arwen Que’kasaars went down, she was dragged back by Softpaws.

As the allied arclancers died, the enemy Builders swept up the flanks, moving from cover to cover, pouring fire into the defenders who were pushed back. On the fight, The Explorer and the Forsaken Caladonian, Killian, lay down covering fire, counting several kills apiece.
Corporal Mansfried called a withdrawn from the top of the stairs, before incoming fire forced him down and back. Softpaws continued to drag the wounded back into the hall. Sergeant Blackstone went for Grimm, sinking into the earth and burrowing under to him. Moments before the cloud dropped, the Sergeant reached Grimm and dragged him under and back. However, when they reached allied lines, the smoke cloud dropped revealing a heavy arcprojector emplacement which poured fire into them. Grimm went down, was revived, then the Sergeant.

Meanwhile, The Explorer sighted on Grimm’s bomb and detonated it, blowing its cover apart. Then, Kililan and the Explorer continued to kill gunners as the Rangers pulled back. Over half the team were downed, but none succumbed to their wounds. All the allied arclancers perished, but they sealed the stairway doors.

As they took some time to heal and revive downed comrades, the Explorer mined the door. When they were able to move again, Sergeant Blackstone sent Softpaws back with Grimm to rendezvous with me, while the rest fell back to a defensible position and continued fighting. Over the course of a couple hours, Alpha Team and retreating defenders conducted a fighting retreat. Several were lost, but they bought us time to evacuate nearly all the civilians, and supplies needed to survive the Hard Lands. Better yet, we managed to rig the failing arcgenerators to blow, setting the trap.

It was shortly after the 13th hour when Softpaws and Grimm arrived. I kept them close as we waited. A couple hours later, I informed Softpaws to tell Alpha Team to hunker down. Then, I ordered the generator destroyed. The ensuring explosion imploded the entire mountain, trapping all inside under millions of tons of rock and rubble. Nothing can have survived. Alpha Team apparently took shelter in an abandoned scout outpost. They witness the destruction from close on.

White River 30th, 3127

Half an hour later, they arrived. Shot up, bloody, and exhausted, but victorious. Professionals to the last. I was then introduced to Lady Rahsoona Kilian, of Caladon. For her help, I welcomed her to the team. And then asked if her Forsaken tribe was close enough for our column to reach. She agreed to lead us.

With the hope of food and information, I asked the Explorer to speak with the Maker and convince him that his Builders must throw themselves on the mercy and generosity of the Forsaken and trade for Food, Water, and Guides.

Once again, I am a commander in an army on the march. However, we march through one of the harshest environments imaginable full of demons, childer, and worse. To add to our woes, the recent battle attracted the attention of a childer horde nearly 7000 strong which was no doubt pursuing our pursuers. Add to that, a gargoyle flock already winged overhead.

Ascended have mercy on us.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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We went to Hell
Gilbert Grimm's report

I couldn’t tell you how many people have uttered the phrase “Go to Hell” to me in my lifetime. Should they ever see this I believe that they would be pleased to know that that is exactly where I have gone.

I write this in the ever growing heat inside the monstrous depths of a Citadel. I’ve heard of the infamous homes of the builders, but to witness one first hand let alone stay here for days on end is mind boggling. We arrived here a few days prior by what could only be called a Jerry rigged Arc Gate and a hope and a prayer. Wolfhaven met with our team the night before our departure warning us that our destination was a place not meant for our kind, he was never able to disclose the actual destination for fear of prying ears, but I never would have imagined Norcan’ Dar. I was excited for the prospect of strange lands that hold new and priceless components for my alchemical studies, but looking out to the red desolate landscape I cant help but think that nothing but demons and childer could survive here.

Once we arrived and our atoms finished arranging themselves back to their mostly proper positions, we were greeted by a contingent of builders led by what I assume is a Maker. Even more surprising is that these seem to be the Explorer’s kin, I have no doubt his story will be useful in getting us home, I hope at least.

what followed next were days of endless negotiating and discussions on things I still don’t quite know. That gave us plenty of time to explore our surroundings, but most of us were at a loss for how to utilize any of the contraptions in our quarters. Finally my day came to accompany Wolfhaven, Sssalisstah, and the Explorer to one of the Negotiations is what I assume they were. Hours passed of dreary talks in a language I have no idea of, but those times of untended manotany were abruptly put to an end by some sort of explosive device. When I came to I was told that one of the builders had set it off, putting in place a chain of events that we hoped would never happen.

Once we all reconvened we were informed that a machine was cutting power to the entire Citadel, including its protections. Our job was to locate and destroy the machine so that the defensive weapons would return and hopefully stave off the intruders. We traversed through a long disused tunnel and soon arrived at the edge of a long crevasse with a single bridge to cross it with, however the entire ledge on the other side was guarded by Builders and Two Builder Golems. There attacks were fast and brutal making it nigh impossible to cross, but ssalissatah sacrificed herself in show of immense power. While she had their attention Explorer and Blackstone made their way across through Blackstones Earth manipulation, once across they were able to destroy the machine but undenouced to us until moments prior the bridge was wired to explode and once again I fell unconscious.

I awoke not long ago back in the Citadel and learned that sssalissath did not make it. She was a good leader and will be missed. Now we are faced with the knowledge that this Citadel is no longer safe and we must venture into the bad lands hopefully to find a way home. Before we leave though I hope the explorer will show me how to work these damn contraptions as they may be our best way to protect our selves from whatever is lurking in that barren red landscape.

Respectfully,
RFC Gilbert Grimm

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