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Chronicles of Gold and Silverby 1970
This is my solo Thunder Rift campaign using Swords & Wizardry Complete. My initial ideas on using it as a pocket dimension is discussed in a thread dedicated to it located here
For this game I used a character I made up on a whim a few days ago: a Dragonkin Radiant named Ignis Silverscale, Dedicated of the Diamond Dragon. He's a little strange for the setting, but I liked him a lot, so despite some misgivings I decided to use him. I had originally thought of using a young prisoner as a foil for this hulking dragon thing, but eventually that morphed into making her another adventurer. She's Mehgan Elfblood, Half-Elven Bard (from James Spahn's Player's Companion). The game itself begins on an earthen ground, cloaked in darkness.
Ignis woke up in complete darkness, with nothing but the bare ground to comfort him. Standing up caused him a bit of vertigo, but it wasn't long before he started feeling around his surroundings. Three walls and some bars. Maybe they would bend...
Those are pretty sturdy, a melodious voice called from the other side of the room. You'd best have a seat and think of something else.
Jerking his head to the fore, he authoritatively demanded who was there and where he was. The voice spoke back, saying that her name was Mehgan and that he was in a cell. Your sarcasm is not appreciated he retorted. Turning his back, he crossed his arms in annoyance. If I'm in a cage, why are you here?
I'm a prisoner, just as you are, guests of Rognar the Half-Orc. I imagine we'll be sold as slaves at some point. Well, you probably will anyway; Rognar likes my singing, so he'll probably keep me around a bit longer.
You speak like I should know this Rognar, Ignis replied. I don't. He's an infamous bandit Meghan responded. Huge berserking thing. No sense of humor.
Your jokes aren't reassuring Ignis retorted. Wait. How do you know I'm here? I can't see a thing. Got elf blood running through me Mehgan said. I see in the dark. It's really helpful on occasion. Like now. Of course, I've never seen anything like you before. What are you? And I never got your name. Ignis, and I'm kin to dragons. Seriously, where am I? Io's Blood Isles can't be far off.
The what now? You're in Thunder Rift, probably in the Melinir Hills. Never heard of any Blood Isles. They Sound gruesome. It is if you're not invited, Ignis smiled. It wasn't a reassuring sight. How can you not of heard of them? Where is Thunder Rift? How did I get here? You ask a lot of questions, and I don't know all the answers. Sorry.
Sullenly, Ignis carefully sat upon the earthen floor and tried to lose himself in thought. Eventually Mehgan got the hint and stopped bothering him, dedicating herself to studying the dragon man's form. Where the hell did he come from she thought to herself. Still, she was strangely reassured by having him there. Maybe she wouldn't die in this cage after all.
After a time, Ignis heard a door opening and torchlight shining through the crack. Thinking quickly, he feigned unconsciousness, waiting, hoping for whomever to check on him.
Hello Garret, Mehgan called. Your lizard thing hasn't moved since it got here. You think it's dead? Shut up woman, the jailer hissed. Putting the food he was carrying down and drawing his sword, he used one of his keys to unlock the cell and cautiously approached. Suddenly, like a striking cobra, Ignis' tail lashed outward, coiling around the man. Why am I here he yelled. To emphasize his question, he tightened his tail, sensing the satisfying cracking of bone.
I don't know Garret said as he vainly struggled to free himself. Not the right answer Ignis growled, squeezing harder. Garret's eyes bulged as his body broke, suddenly falling limp. I didn't know he was so fragile Ignis said, surprised. Letting the body go, he stood for a moment, thinking that the humans of the Blood Isles weren't nearly so delicate.
Hurry and get us out of here Mehgan interrupted. We can escape if we help each other! Pulling himself out of his reverie, Ignis picked up the man's sword keys before leaving him to unlock the cell that held the woman. Great. You check that chest while I check Garret's body. She pulled off the larger man's armor and stole his money pouch and whip. Nothing in here but this Ignis reported, holding up a ornate lute. My lute Mehgan exclaimed. Handing it off, she slung it over her shoulder and picked up the torch, admiring how the light flickered off of Ignis' fine gold and silver scales. Let's go.
Leaving the cells behind, Ignis and Mehgan made their way down a hall and up a crude staircase before entering a large common room. There were three men dressed in leathers and baring short swords playing cards here. Regardless of their repast, these men were seemingly prepared for conflict, knocking over tables and chairs and making themselves ready for a fight. Roaring forward, Ignis easily dispatched the lot of them. Following behind, Mehgan picked up one of the swords before they headed through one of the many doors leading out of this place.
After finding a garbage room, the pair made their way into a small barracks, killing the two men inside. Afterwards, they found themselves in a cave filled with screeching bats. Completely losing her cool, Mehgan uselessly swung her sword at the beasts, swearing in a tongue unknown to Ignis. Moving quickly to her side, he intended to grab her arm and pull her toward the light to the south, but more men followed them into the cave. A brief melee and a deep wound later the couple made their way into the daylight.
A lone tower loomed over them as they exited the dungeon. What are the chances it's manned Ignis wondered before crossbow bolts whizzed past his head. This is a tactical nightmare the dragon man thought as he pulled Mehgan past the structure and into the open. Quickly moving out of range, but not before another volley or two of bolts were shot at them, one of which lodging itself in Ignis' shoulder, they moved out of range. Not willing to let their prize escape, the guards moved from the tower to a as of yet unknown stable and followed on horseback.
Turning into a fighting stance, Ignis fell into a defensive stance before the horsemen attacked. The first pass yielded nothing. The second, death of their pursuers. Mounting the horses, Ignis amazingly started heading back toward the prison before Mehgan convinced him that they should just go on before more riders come after them. Melinir should be close she said, and you're pretty hurt you know. Sighing as he pulled the crossbow bolt from his back, Ignis reluctantly agreed, and the two rode off into the daylight.
Several miles away from their former prison, Ignis and Mehgan approach Melinir, only to find the scene of a battle! Several caravan guards lay dead as they hopelessly fought against a superior number of what were apparently bandits. Despite his wounds, the dragon man spurred his horse forward to join the diminishing number of guards while Mehgan held back, not wanting to get involved in a large melee. Seeing the hulking silver and gold Ignis rallied the remaining guards, and in short order they defeated their foes. After recovering their wits the men thought to bring Ignis to their employer, one Clifton Cauldwell, who resided in Melinir. Looking back a Mehgan, who nodded to him, Ignis agreed, and, after calming the horses and turning the caravan around, headed, once more, to Melinir.
Bring the center of commerce in Thunder Rift, Melinir was a bustling town. Though it seemed fairly cosmopolitan, Ignis was given wide berth as he traveled to one of the larger residences. Inside was a man of middle years with worry across his brow who cautiously introduced himself as Clifton Cauldwell, a humble merchant. After hearing the caravan guards' story, Cauldwell became slightly more relaxed, thanking them for saving what men they could and his goods as well. Since they were here, over dinner, perhaps they could help him with another problem he had.
It seemed that he had recently purchased a small keep to live in outside of town, something he'd wanted to do for a long time. Arriving with his family though, he found the keep swarming with goblins! They took his family hostage, and he was barely able to escape with his life. Now they were blackmailing him for gold for, well, whatever goblins need gold for. Surely someone like Ignis, a giant of a creature, could rescue his wife and children and make the keep safe to reside in? He'd make it worth their while of course, one hundred pieces of gold apiece and his gratitude. Mehgan tried to haggle a better reward, but Cauldwell was resolute. Horrified that she would think of money rather than the safety of the merchant's family, Ignis shot her a glance, which killed the conversation. Of course they'd help. Cauldwell suggested they rest, then he'd take them to the keep in the morning.
A couple of hours after sunrise and a good breakfast, Ignis, Mehgan, Cauldwell, and a quartet of guardsmen set out for the keep. An uneventful ride later and it was within view. It was slightly dilapidated, showing its age, but it seemed secure enough; a perfect place for a wealthy merchant to set up house in a land that seemed to have its fair share of violence. Cauldwell states that he'll wait for them back in Melinir; he's no fighter and doesn't know what he'd do if the goblins fled and attacked him. After wishing them luck, he turns away and heads back to town.
Noting that they'd probably been seen if anyone was manning the watchtowers, Ignis suggested that a frontal approach would be best. Sighing, Mehgan could only agree. Inwardly she hoped that if they had been seen Ignis' frame would be intimidating enough still give them some tactical advantage. Moving forward, nothing attacked them. While it would have made sense to fortify themselves within the castle walls, not taking advantage of the turrets was a dead giveaway that they had not been seen after all. Dismounting, the pair examined the front doors. Once they were possibly grand, but now they reeked of disrepair and, when pushed, opened easily. Entering, they began searching room by room, intent on making the keep safe for Cauldwell and his family, should they still be alive.
Once the pair began, the fighting was intense. Not only did they fight goblins, but they encountered giant spiders, fire beetles, wolves and a giant shrew. They survived traps and trials, and discovered Cauldwell's family, thankfully alive and relatively unharmed. What surprised them the most, however, were the humans apparently living in harmony with the goblins. First they found a priestess in a contemplative state in front of a strange alter. For the price of telling the pair about other humans living within the keep who had the key to the locked rooms holding Cauldwell's family, they let her go free. The men with the key gave up without a fight, not only relinquishing the keys, but also revealing their employer, Richard the Black, a murderous man who directed a large band throughout the Melinir Hills. For their cooperation and their treasure, they let these men go as well.
Returning to Cauldwell's home in town, they witnessed the tearful reunion of the merchant and his family. After a sumptuous feast in their honor, Ignis and Mehgan left the Cauldwell home in search of Richard the Black, whom Cauldwell had heard of but had no information about that they didn't already know, and perhaps the owners of the two valuable pearl necklaces found among the brigands' treasure.