Tales of the past tell of a mysterious warrior cult that worshipped the Bull God. Supposedly the warriors would meet in a hidden temple, high in the mountains to conduct their ceremonies and rituals. They held a number of holy relics but chief among them was the Horn of the Bull God. With time, the cult eventually died out and the temple was forgotten but the tales of the horn persisted and occasionally, someone would be brave enough to try to find it. Among them was the wizard Zheng-Ya. Commissioned by the slaver Aetius, Zheng-Ya put together an expedition into the mountains in search of the temple and the horn. That was over two months ago and he had not returned. Aetius turned to the group of adventurers that had taken up residence in Zheng-Ya’s abandoned mansion. With the purchase of a wagon full of provisions and gear and the addition of two more men at arms, Zardoz, Motard and Ludaius began their mission to find out what happened to the missing wizard Zheng-Ya and, hopefully, find the Horn of the Bull God.
The party took the same abandoned road that Zheng-Ya had taken two months before. There would be little or no traffic on the road since it headed into the mountains and away from any of the trade routes. Motard’s hunting skills proved valuable as they were able to feast on desert deer, extending their rations. The trip had been uneventful, even boring when out of the desert came a storm of rocks, one of them nailing Zardoz in the head. A primate war cry came up and out from the bushes and rocks a tribe of primate humans attacked.
|Cave Man Ambush! I used Orc miniatures.|
Remaining on horseback, Motard began smashing in the skulls of the primates that charged him. Not wanting to get hit again like that Zardoz cast protection from normal missiles on himself while two of the men at arms lowered their spears and rode down two of the primates. One of the men at arms stayed on his horse and fired his bow at the primates, as did the two men on the wagon. Ludaius dismounted as his scythe was not particularly effective when he was fighting from horseback.
Now protected from the rocks, Zardoz almost casually dispatched primate after primate with his sling, demonstrating his great skill with the weapon. One of the mounted warriors managed to get up on the higher ground that the rock throwing primates had attacked from and began to trample them. Motard continued to slay the savages with his axe but Ludaius was having trouble at first but eventually he was able to slay the ones fighting him as well. By the end of the fight, the primates had been defeated. All but one of them was dead; the last one was taken prisoner. However, one of the men at arms, the one that had remained on his horse to fire his bow, had been slain.
Realizing that typically, these savages would not leave their mountain homes, Zardoz tried to question the captured primate. He wanted to find out what had displaced them. Using pictures, Zardoz was able to determine that it was some kind of bull like creature or creatures that had driven the primates from their mountain home. One word came to mind: Minotaur.
|My favorite picture of one of my favorite monsters of all time: The Minotaur! I lost more than one character to the one that inhabited the Caves of Chaos. However, my 1/2 elf ranger Markin made good use of the Minotaur's +1 Spear|
Zardoz decided to keep the primate on as a possible sacrifice or bait and the group continued on towards the mountains.
As the group got closer to the mountains, a pair of horses was spotted off in the distance. As the expedition got closer, it became apparent that one of the horses had a saddle. The horses were rounded up and it was obvious that these horses were likely party of the missing expedition headed by Zheng-Ya. Like the primates, the horses had fled from something in the mountains.
Following the mountain trail, the expedition made its way into the mountains. Motard quickly found evidence of large, hoofed creates along the trail. The tracks seemed to follow the trail, as if they had spread out from some location higher up in mountains. On guard, the group continued.
Eventually, the trail ended at an ancient temple in valley, high in the mountain. In front of the temple were the remains of a camp, including the wreckage of a luxurious travel wagon and an obvious slave pen. Among the wreckage of the luxurious wagon, Zardoz found a traveling spell book. There no signs of remains but Motard found evidence that the hoof like tracks led to and from the old temple. He also found evidence of drag marks, indicating that many creatures had been dragged back into the temple. Upon investigating the temple, the party found that the front of the temple had been broken into. From the bull motif on the front of the temple, everyone was convinced that this was indeed the Temple of the Bull God. Weapons drawn, the party moved in with the captive primate in tow.
As the party advanced down the main hall, from out of side rooms came what everyone was expecting: Minotaurs. Motard and Ludaius were out front while Zardoz and his men at arms moved in from the back, taking advantage of their ranged weapons and long spears.
|Guess who is coming to dinner: Motard!|
|Motard taking a beating|
|A third Minotaur joins the fun!|
Three of the beasts were slain, but not before Motard got badly injured in the fight. With the beasts dispatched, the exploration of the temple continued. Little of no value was found in the cleansing rooms other than rings with the bull symbol on them. What was found was evidence of a massive feast of horse and human flesh. It was clear that the Minotaurs, dozens of them, had burst from the temple, slaughtered the humans and the horses in the camp below and then dragged them back to the temple for a feast. There was also evidence of primate ape men remains here as well, indicating that the minotaurs had continued to use the temple as a base of operations as they switched to hunting the primate mountain people after they ran out of human and horses. However, the party also found stairs leading down the final room of the temple: The grand ceremony room which, like the front of the temple, had been broken into. Motard was able to determine that even the Minotaurs avoided this place. The party pressed on.
In the darkness, a pair of glowing red was spotted. Zardoz cast a coin with a light spell into the room. The grand ceremony room was littered with the corpses of armed men. Grasped in the hand of one of the decaying corpses was a large horn: The Horn of the Bull God. Among the corpses, a figure in ruined silk robes was hunched down. His skin was gray, his hair long and twisted, his fingers elongated into claws and his eyes glowed red. With a raspy voice, he moaned that he was so hungry…..Obviously this was the final fate of the missing wizard, Zheng-Ya.
|The final fate of Zheng-Ya: A ghoul!|
Instead of fighting the creature, the group negotiated with him…or rather, it. Zheng-Ya wanted Motard to feast upon, but instead, the party offered him the captured primate. In return, Zheng-Ya would let the party collect the Horn. The primate was cast down the stairs and the now undead Zheng-Ya immediately began to devour him. However, as Motard moved to retrieve the Horn, Zheng-Ya attacked Motard as well. (Never trust a ghoul, even one that can talk.). Zheng-Ya was quickly dispatched and the Horn recovered without anyone getting paralyzed. Realizing that more Minotaurs could arrive at any time, the expedition immediately left the valley and found a secure place to camp with plans to leave the mountains and return to the city of Zul-Bazzir as soon as possible. Remarkably, the expedition made it out of the mountains without encountering anymore of the Minotaurs. Despite that though, it does not mean that the trip through the desert plains would be uneventful.
As the expedition was returning home, they quickly noted that a large group was heading their way. This was a trail that few, if any, used these days. The expedition attempted to move out of the way, but it became obvious that the other group made adjustments to intercept them. Realizing that meeting the group was unavoidable, the expedition readied for conflict.
The group confronting them consisted of two mounted men and two groups of on foot. Everyone was wearing black robes, which in this heat would nothing short of insane for any normal human being. The group leader demanded that the expedition hand over the Horn of the Bull. (How did they know about that? Had Aetius betrayed them so he wouldn’t have to pay?) Zardoz, Motard, Ludaius and crew’s response was to tell them to do something anatomically impossible without a great deal of alteration: At that point, one of the hooded figures on the ground pulled back his hood from his cloak. It was Darius Khas: A man that Zardoz had slain many weeks ago. His skin was pale and there was a look of pained madness in his eyes. “At least you offered me a clean death!” he yelled at Zardoz. Zardoz replied “I would be more than happy to give it to you again!” Motard declared that Darius was his and the fight was on.
|The Bad Guys with an eraser as to represent a wagon|
|The Worse Guys: Undead and Evil Cultists|
Zardoz sent his mounted warriors to attack while the hordes of undead moved attack. One group was zombies, one was skeletons. Darius Khas moved with unnatural speed has began to slice up Motard with his longsword. The leader of the undead group hit Zardoz with a magic missile while his second in command held back. Whenever Motard would strike Darius Khas, he would cry out “Yes! Kill me! Make the pain stop!” Motard was also surrounded by zombies while Ludaius battled the skeletons. Despite that, Darius still pressed the attack on Motard, leaving him bleeding from many wounds. Zardoz exchanged magic missiles with the leader but not before he caused Chellick, one of Zardoz’s most trusted henchmen, to fall from his horse asleep. When he was down, the second in command’s hands glowed green as he grabbed his face. Chellick’s life force as snuffed out. Enraged, Zardoz hit the necromancer with a spell that forced him to surrender. Zardoz laughed maniacally, partially because he permanently lost a point in wisdom for casting spell. In the mean time, the leader charmed Seth, Zardoz’s sergeant at arms, to turn around and attack the party. With the necromancer out of commission, the skeletons stopped attacking and Ludaius was able to move to help out Motard. Still enraged at Chellick’s death and the loss of some of his sanity, Zardoz let loose with another magic missile which killed the priest leader but yet again cost Zardoz another point of wisdom. With the evil priest dead, the spell on Seth was broken. Ludaius managed to finish of Darius Khas although Motard was barely left standing. As he “died” again, Darius was grateful for a moment before he realized that his spirit was still head prisoner. His body turned to ashes as his soul was dragged off to elsewhere….With the ashes of Darius Khas scattered to the winds, the rest of the skeletons were dispatched and the necromancer was…disarmed…or dis handed might be the correct term and the party returned to Zul-Bazzir.
Upon their return, Aetius paid the party handsomely and he collected the Horn of the Bull God. For what reason, or why he had been collecting other magical artifacts, no one knew for sure. Zardoz had a new research subject to work on: The necromancer. He plans on taking one of the necromancer’s hands and placing on staff to duplicate the death magic that killed Chellick. That will take some time and money. If his brothel is successful, money should not be a problem. Zardoz also came across a ritual in Zheng-Ya’s library about summoning something called “The Angel of Oblivion.” He decides that is something that he does not want to do. Motard and Ludaius spend their money on women and drink. The rest, they just waste…
Now, just a note about my experience with Free RPG day: I was scheduled to run Crypts and Things in the morning and Swords and Wizardry’s “Hall of Bones” in the afternoon. Well, I ran Crypts and Things in the morning but sadly, I did not have enough players to run Swords and Wizardry in the afternoon so I opted to play Star Wars. In between sessions, I also played in Kevin’s (Motard) Castles and Crusades game. All in all, I had blast.
For Crypts and Things, I re-ran the battle of the House of the Dragon from The Spider God’s Bride with 1st level characters. Casey, who plays Ludaius, played the wizard as he was not there when I ran the adventure the first time. They were a great group and they got the spirit of Crypts and Things. It was a little sad that the that fighter was killed when his missed his saving throw vs. poison when he was bitten by the Spawn of Yot-Kamoth but since he died in battle and the barbarian declared that he would reside in Valhalla for his bravery. Who really kicked ass was the thief. He was killing cultists right and left. Anyway, it was awesome. I should have taken more pictures.
|Battle of the House of the Dragon 1|
|Battle of the House of the Dragon 2|
Now, I am two sessions behind on my Savage Worlds: Beasts and Barbarians game so hopefully I can get those written up before Thursday and I become three sessions behind.