Chaos Rains, Chapter 2: The Road to Sheoville

Chapter 2: The Road to Sheoville

By the time our heroes arrived at Joi See, they had parted ways with Barb. The brutal beastly bald bearded barbarian had decided that he preferred life out in the woods, fending for himself and eating raw meat, and so he left in the night, and was never heard from again.

Joi See City, known as the Red City due to the red-brown architecture of many of its oldest buildings, was supposedly built upon ruined structures of the Old World.

They entered from the south, and made their way through Shallowtown, a beaten-down slum area that Samp found distasteful. They spent a night in Grubby Joe’s Drinkin’ Stable, but afterwards Samp demanded that they find somewhere better. They rented rooms at the Chubby Fish, a lively lakeside inn run by Julius Gezer, a man from Lindus with many tall tales to tell. They stayed here for around a month, and engaged in work to earn their keep. Samp tutored a noble boy in the Draconic language; Finch did low-level mercenary work, guarding visiting Dwarven merchants and filling emergency guard duty spots for the Lord’s Alliance of Regal Protection.

They spoke to many patrons in this time, and some passed on the tale of them saving the Breadmaker’s son to other people; this, along with Finch’s connections to Dwarven merchants, caught the attention of one Trout Rockefeller, a Dwarf businessman with big ideas. He sent them a letter, offering them a sum of 100gp to provide protection to a supply wagon heading east from Joi See to Barthen’s Provisions in the frontier town of Sheoville. The letter also stated that if they did this, he also had something “much bigger” to tell them about when they arrived. He stated that he would be setting off beforehand, along with a Lord’s Alliance of Regal Protection emissary, Harry Lyndon, who had his own business to attend to in the town.

The duo of Samp and Finch decided to take the offer, and found the supply wagon waiting for them outside the city the next morning. The wagon driver, Ted, a friendly man with a flat cap, greeted them, and they got on the back of the wagon. There was another person on board: a wood elf of Lunare, pale and dark-haired, dressed in a fine green tunic, a green top hat on his head. A quiet individual, he introduced himself as Makoto: a simple potion salesman, who was to meet Trout to arrange terms of employ under him. With little more said, the trio set off.

Thus spake Ted: “Onwards to Sheoville!”

The journey passed with quiet ease for the first day and half of the second. Some while down the road after their turn-off to Sheoville, they spotted something lying in the road. A dead horse — two dead horses. Killed by arrows, the saddlebags ravaged. Samp and Finch alighted the wagon, to move the corpses out of the way. As they moved towards them, arrows flew from the thickets either side of the path; poglins jumped from the bushes, scimitars in hand.

Makoto leapt from the carriage, a morningstar in his hand; the heroic duo quickly discovered that the simple potion salesman was also an adept combatant. Suffering minimal damage, they killed three of the poglins, but kept one alive.

Name of Blinky, the terrified pog gave up everything he had: that Paps, a ruthless puruk, had captured Trout and Lyndon a day ago and had them taken up the forested hillside trail to the north to their hideout. The party took mercy on the simple creature and spared its life, saying that they never wanted to see it again. Blinky ran away.

They followed the trail north, until they came upon the hideout. Ambushing the two poglin sentries and slaying them swiftly, the heroes moved on into the cavern. Inside, they were spotted by archers from atop a bridge, and a great wave of water was unleashed upon them; Finch and Makoto were able to climb to safety upon the cave walls and keep their grip, but Samp was dragged back to the opening of the cave. The poglins moved in to the defend their lair, but the trio regrouped and fought them off, slaying every last one of them with little in the way of remorse.

After Makoto utilised his potions to heal some of their minor wounds, the intrepid group moved further in, and confronted the puruk, Paps. Dressed in ragged hide armour, he appeared just as puruks do in folklore: much like a normal pig, but standing upon two strangely humanoid legs, holding a mighty greatsword in his oddly human-like hands and arms, his chin stained with phlegm below those strangely human eyes, and with a tiny hat upon his porcine head, a flat cap. However, not much more is known about Paps, or his fate; other than the three fellows-in-arms were able to dispatch him, and his poglin allies, and thus free the gentleman Harry Lyndon. Harry had been tied to a wooden board, being interrogated by the Papa Porc himself.

They got Harry back on his feet and dressed in his armour, and set to leave the hideout; however, the remaining poglins had regrouped, and attacked the weakened party as they made their way out. Again the party showed their might, this time with the good knight Harry by their side, and wet their swords and the ground with porcine blood. They left not a pog alive.

On their journey back to the road, Harry Lyndon spaketh the situation: he and Trout were kidnapped by poglins, but only he, Harry, was taken to the hillside hideout; Trout had been taken to ‘Cragmaw Castle,’ apparently under the orders of a puruk warlord, King Klarg.

“I have doubts that he has a claim to any real royal lineage — just a pig with a crown,” said Harry disparagingly.

He also explained that he, Harry, the man Harry Lyndon, was also travelling to Sheoville to investigate the alleged disappearance of the town’s townmaster, Spyro Herzog, another LARP official. Finally, he told them what he knew of Trout’s intentions in Sheoville — that he sought a strange, mythical location in the area, an ancient complex of wonders that he claimed to know the whereabouts of: Echo Chamber Deluxe. Trout claimed that it was a grand, labyrinthine underground structure that crackled with the Old Lightning.

The map leading to the location was with Trout, so whoever had kidnapped him could have already been able to make their way to Echo Chamber Deluxe and use it for their own purposes. The only lead he had was a name: “Harrier Jet.” This name was spoken by the poglins around their strange grunts and squeals; and, too, when he was being tortured, the big pig Paps kept asking him what he knew of Harrier Jet. He had no idea what it could mean.

They reached Ted and the wagon. Ted seemed unfased by the events, and welcomed them all back.

Thus spake Ted: “Onwards to Sheoville!”

They reached the town at the onset of night and delivered the supplies from the cart safely to Barthen in his store; Barthen was a well-mannered man of deep voice and friendly understanding. Barthen paid them on behalf of Trout for the service, and told them to come back any time they needed supplies. Makoto found out that the supplies that he had sent there had not arrived, leaving him at a loose end, and without much in the way of gold.

They reached the Stonehill Inn and rented rooms. Harry told them that they could speak more at length the following morn, once he had rested his wounds off.

Thus did the heroic, stalwart trio of allies stay their first night in the wilderness-bordering town of Sheoville.

Chaos Rains, Chapter 1: A Grand Day Out

CHAOS RAINS, PART I: ECHOES UNDERGROUND

Chapter 1: A Grand Day Out

As all stories do, it started in a tavern. This tavern, the Lime House, located in the Wandering Woods of the northwestern county of Joi See, was not known for its sense of intrigue or unusualness, but that day was different: three strangers had entered, separately, each of them unique in their own way, and altogether unlike the rest of the simple folk who frequented the roadside locale.

Although strangers, the three of them got to talking, sharing their stories.

There was the young mercenary fighter: he was garbed in sturdy chainmail, with dark red hair, pale skin and bright blue eyes. Name of Andrew Finch, he had been recently discharged from five years of hired service with the Aspark military, fighting in the Aspark—Candlemass civil war; he had travelled up from Aspark weeks earlier, and was making his way up to the capital city of Joi See County — Joi See City — to find further employment. A fine bastard sword was strapped to his back, marked with the symbol of his old clan.

Then, there was the amnesiac paladin: standing at a great height and also clad in chainmail, his hair and eyes were dark, his skin lightly dusky, perhaps showing Skellein County lineage. He knew himself only to be Sir Samp Sampington IX, and nothing more. His memory had slipped so acutely that he knew not how he had found himself in the woods, or even the tavern. His shield bore his family crest — a rising sun — and his dress indicated him to be of high nobility.

Finally, the unstable greatsword-wielding barbarian: known distinctly as Barb, the bald, bearded warrior made an imposing sight, and had a penchant for raw meat. He had spent many years away from society, this being his first human contact in some time.

This meeting of minds was interrupted quite suddenly by another break of the status quo: a man crashed through the door, speaking loudly, incoherently. Barb quietened him with a swift slap, and then helped him into a seat and provided him with a beer. The man told the trio that he was Roy, the baker, and that small hooded figures had kidnapped his son, Tim, by the roadside not far away.

The three newly-met heroes knew exactly what to do: deliberate. After a great deal of this, they agreed to go and search for the missing boy, upon payment of twelve loaves of bread between them and five silver pieces each, with the loaves being given to them then as a down payment.

At that moment, something struck Samp: this man could be an impostor; a fiend or other-like wicked being intending on tricking them. He used his holy divine sense, to seek the grim truth: it transpired that, in fact, Samp had been wrong, and no evil lurked in the walls of the establishment. With his holy duty complete, Samp and the others set off.

Not far away, they found the spot where the boy had been captured, and discerned a trail through the woods. This they followed, until the saw the trees break into a clearing: a distance further, and a stone entrance could be seen built into a small hillside. Three figures stood outside, squat and black-hooded. The heroes attacked from range with their javelins, scoring a few hits, but one of the figures made their way into the dark passageway beyond, whilst the other two rushed forward to engage our plucky protagonists.

Not long after, the hooded figures were slain; one of them was lifted into the air by the brutal Barb, his eyes pulverised by the barbarian’s strong hands. The heroes unmasked the figures, and found exactly what they had expected: poglins. These nasty, chaotic porcine creatures were a blight upon common people all across the continent of Ambion.

They looked through the entrance: the walls were red brick, much like the architecture of Joi See City itself, but past that, it trailed down into darkness. Not a sound echoed beyond the shadows.

So the gang of three lit some torches and entered the poglin hideout, Barb tripping down the first set of downward-leading stairs for no reason. They heard noises, and called out for whoever was down there to surrender.

“Go away! Leave us alone!” came a shrill, frightened voice.

The heroes continued on regardless. As they entered a small room, lit up by torches and with a large bowl of disgusting-smelling (and looking) broth in the middle, three poglins ambushed the party; although these crafty creatures had the advantage, their scimitars just weren’t enough to stop the wave of destruction wrought by our fledgling adventurers; one poglin was cut apart from shoulder to shoulder by Barb, becoming almost like a bust, a statue of death. Nonetheless, the battle took a toll on the party; in particular an incident involving Samp falling and striking his head on the soup bowl after a mistimed strike with his longsword.

They inspected the room: the walls were adorned with bas-reliefs of an ancient hero, one who slayed porcs and poglins with his bare hands. It seemed that these poglins had found an ironic use for what could have been that great man’s tomb. Nobody tasted the soup.

They went on, further into the structure. Barb’s impatience led to him struck by a bolt from a trapped crossbow, but he swiftly tore it from his flesh and ran on, greatsword in hand. They came to the next room: a decorated shrine to the porcicidal champion depicted in the other small chamber.

At the altar, there stood three more poglins, one dressed in strange, seemingly ceremonial robes. In the corner was a cage, a scared young boy contained within. The poglins, readied for the attack, unleashed all they had; but yet the hardied heroes prevailed, with the leader struck to the floor, an enraged Barb crushing his head into chunks with his bare feet, and whatever bizarre ritual had been planned was put on indefinite hiatus. So the boy was saved, but the brave heroes felt something amiss with the room; upon the walls were these words emblazoned: “WHAT IS PINK AND RED AND DEAD ALL OVER?”

They looked around them, at the dispatched poglins. Then, Finch looked back at the words, and said:

“A dead pig.”

With those true words spoken, a secret passageway was revealed. They followed it through, and found four sarcophagi in a small room, and a small plinth at the back with a box upon it. Finch made his way over to the box swiftly and opened it.

The sarcophagi opened. From inside crawled four creatures, each one as sickening and aberrant as the last: they were of humanoid shape, but constructed entirely of tongues. These foul monsters lunged for Finch.

The child, Tim, fled at the sight. Samp, concerned for the boy’s safety, immediately followed, leaving Barb and Finch to fend for themselves. Outnumbered and almost overpowered, the two warriors fought back with the fervour of ones faced with almost certain death. Barb fell, knocked unconscious, but only after he used his greatsword to carve one of the tongueflesh’s form to pieces with his expertise in raw meat preparation.

Finch seemed doomed, but he fought on. Just as it seemed hopeless, Samp returned, carving a path with his longsword. Victory was pulled from the jaws, or tongues, of defeat, and the last monstrosity was slain. They helped the injured Barb to his feet.

Finch went back to the box to claim his treasure, and found an ancient tome, dusty but well-preserved. Finding no interest in such matters, he passed it to Samp. It was an elven text titled Eternal Mirth. Samp seemed happy with this result, and they left, but not before the hungry barbarian Barb collected a number of the tongues — which he correctly identified as pigs’ tongues — to consume later. They wandered out to meet Tim. Samp offered young Tim some bread to cheer him up, but Tim replied that he “ate enough of it at home.” Thus, the victorious heroes returned to the Lime House, and collected their bounty: five silver pieces each.

So this new band of adventurers struck out, heading north, towards Joi See City. Three heroes, never to be parted: Finch, Samp, Barb.

Dungeon Master’s Postscript

This was the first session of Dungeons & Dragons I ran, back in September, 2017. It was directly influenced by good old Matt Colville and his Running the Game series on YouTube. Of course, like many, I was also inspired to DM from watching Matt Mercer on Critical Role, as well as my own DM, who I thank for introducing me to the fantastical world of D&D. But this first session is all Colville.

Unlike session 3 onwards, I don’t have an audio recording of this one, so it has been constructed from my memory and notes taken at the time. The session was run in September 2017, so there are a few moments of necessary mythologisation, to fill in the gaps. Also, I wasn’t really sure what I was going for yet, so the tone is kind of all over the place (including one questionable cultural reference), but those issues soon sorted themselves out in future sessions.

Much of the following section, Echoes Underground, is directly based on the official 5e starter adventure, The Lost Mine of Phandelver, but some names and situations were changed to suit my own purposes. From the second section onwards, it’s almost entirely homebrew.

For general reference, we play 5e, and from the second section of the campaign onwards, started using maps and miniatures, so this first section of the campaign was all theatre of the imagination (which I think has its own benefits, at the occasional loss of a sense of coherence).

Due to the time-consuming process of transcribing the audio of these sessions (I seem to frequently run sessions of up to nine hours in length), this will be a project I work on slowly. Furthermore, due to the length of certain sessions, I will have to separate them into individual chapters. With all of this said, I hope you enjoy future installments of this campaign diary, as our plucky heroes slowly delve further and further into the mouth of madness and horror.

[This is the first installment in a campaign diary series, Chaos Rains, transcribed from the Dungeons and Dragons sessions that I run for my friends. Further information will occasionally be found at the end as a Dungeon Master’s Postscript, but otherwise, I hope for the story to tell itself.]