Hackmaster (Hardcore Edition)

Legions of terror!
Duel of the Squirrels, and some other stuff that was less important

With the return of the newly leveled Captain Johnathon Pike, the party returned to the MINES OF CHAOS, with a new thief in tow, the sister of former Blood Hawk Tàri Anwanamè, with slightly more competence, but slightly fewer arms. The new member, Sorrel Anwaname, proved to be a valuable addition, helping the party stealth into a different, less deadly branch of the mines, where they stumbled across various Orcs and Orkin, and began to slay them justly! Upon discovering a room of sleeping Orcs, Sorrel crept in and heroically and valiantly began to murder them in their sleep. Mesmo, The Mad Monk, rousted one of the orcs, and fought him in a duel to the death, even allowing him to arm and armor himself beforehand.

After the orcs were slain, the Blood Hawks moved deeper into the mines, before a group of massive toads ambushed them, and briefly devoured Mesmo. Fortunately, Barrackus managed to disembowel the giant toad before it escaped with its delicious meal. Further into the mines we delved, slaying orcs left and right, and forward, and behind, and occasionally above. Then the party holed up for the night, to sleep off the drunken slaughter. After a rest, they set out again, stumbling into the orc kitchens, and slaying their chef, who was just awful. Then, with the devious cunning of their namesake, the Blood Hawks tricked their way into the lair of the leader of the orcs, and slew him and his elite guard. It seemed the orcs were worshiping some vile idol, with a mouth that lead to a narrow tunnel, which the party elected to explore.

This required the services of Firefern, who crept down the mouth of the tunnel, before being ambushed by a pack of hell-squirrels. Fortunately, he managed to escape their attempt at consumption, and advanced backwards, to bring the rest of the party into the fray. Unfortunately, only Sorrel was small enough to easily fit through, and so the two heroes descended into a squirrely Hell. The duo entered a cavern, and were immediately beset from all sides by a horde of murderous devil-squirrels. Despite their best efforts, and the casting of every available spell, the heroes were slowly overwhelmed, just barely beating back the demonic-squirrel tide. Just as things seemed bleakest, as Sorrel fell, and Firefern’s last dart was flung, Mesmo descended into the furry hell, his holy and apparently oily radiance putting the fear of god and/or Mesmo into the monstrous beasts. With this new aid, Sorrel and Firefern escaped from the depths of hell, taking a few small treasures as the only evidence they had been there.

Then some orcs attacked, they were repelled, with a great deal of combat, and one final spell from Firefern, which set everyone on fire to one degree or another. Mesmo took this opportunity to use his new ‘Flaming Fists, and also arms and torso’ technique to great effect. It turned out the orcs had been guarding a treasure room, which contained like an assload of treasure. So the party looted a great deal, and upon returning to town, encountered a pack of Samurai Jackals, of the Blue Lotus clan. They negotiated, and reached an agreement to allow the Jackals to take over the upper levels of the cave, in exchange for granting free passage to the Blood Hawks. They then returned to town, to great acclaim from all.

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Sorrel's Tale

The Tilted Keg was quiet in the sleepy hours before noon. Only a few dedicated drinkers and some overnight guards finishing their shifts were present, some vaguely interested in a small game of cards.

The peace was broken by a slight elf in tattered clothes and bearing freshly bandaged wounds. She waved her one arm dramatically as she entered, “Barkeep! A round for…” The elf checked her coin purse, “me. A round for me. The Blood Hawks haven’t completed a fiscal period recently.” She turned to the man next to her at the bar. “You heard of us? We’ve been clearing out the monster infestation in the environs of this very keep. I suppose the local guards are too busy finding a quiet corner to sleep in, right?” The guard snorted and turned away, tapping the bar for another drink.

The elf seemed unfazed by this rebuff. “I’m Sorrel. You must have heard of me? I say the Blood Hawks have been killing monsters, but it’s more like I’ve been killing monsters, and the rest of the Hawks assist me. I clear the way, and they haul all the profits back home. We’ve been getting a lot of action out there, but now I’m looking for some action back here. What do you think?” She leaned closer to the man’s back, only then realizing she was being ignored. She visibly recoiled, standing and stepping from the bar, downing her shot in a single swig. “They said there were this kind of man in the Human lands, but I didn’t believe them. Fine.”

She walked to a table. “You look like you’re good to go. You want to see the rest of my scars?” The man was taken aback, but seemed willing. They quickly headed upstairs. “It’s been a long time,” Sorrel said as she started to undo her clothes. She noticed that he was doing the same, and frowned. “That won’t be necessary. Just do what I tell you, and everything will be fine.”

Ten Minutes Later

“So, when do I get to-”

“If you can talk, you’re not doing your job. I didn’t kill all those orcs to listen to you talk.”

Five Minutes Later

Sorrel stormed out of the room, awkwardly hiking up and cinching her pants with her one arm, “If you’re going to be childish about it, I don’t see where this is going! Honestly, I save the city, come back home, and you want me to help you?” She angrily walked back down the stairs and to the bar. “I don’t suppose you can tell me where to find some new clothes?” She looked back at her purse, “no, some used clothes? Any clothes? I really need some money.” She looked back up at the bartender, who simply stared blankly. “What is wrong with Humans? Have you never seen an elf before?”

Before the barman thought of anything to say, Sorrel stomped out of the bar, and into the daylight.

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Deeper into the Mines
This time, another thief departs

After eliminating the Ogtyugh, the Blood Hawks continued into the mines of Chaos proper. After slaying several lizards, the party was attacked by gargoyles, they suffered greatly, until the greatFirefern woke up and discovered their weakness to magic. They were quickly dispatched after that. After that, the party rested in the majesty of the ruined Kobold Harem for a few days. Upon recovering, they re-entered the mines, and while traveling, were set upon by a veritable horde of some sort of snake/rat lizard monster. Dozens of these beasts assaulted the party, and only through the aid of the noble Captain Pike and the amazing Spirlyn Orlyth did the entire party manage to survive. While retreating from the caves, the party came across a room full of rusted armor, and while investigating, Tari was sprayed by toxic spores, which savagely injured her, and caused her to vomit all of her honor all over the floor. She chose to leave the Blood Hawks after this. The party continued to retreat, and while attempting to cross a narrow bridge, were attacking by some sort of rock snake, which was slain by Barrackus. The party managed to retreat further, and Firefern eliminated a nest of Brain Mites that had been feasting on his intellect. They then returned to town for Bloodhawktoberfest, which lasted until the next month.

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Ape Fight 3, Death of a Thief, and Fat stacks o cash

And so, with the Kobold Kaverns thoroughly despoiled, the noble Blood Hawks returned to the base at the mining camp. There, they determined that due to a failure to accompany the last few missions, the old leader, Lucius Melbrandt Valeed, would be deposed, and new leaders and roles assigned throughout the party. Tûrin Mitheim was elected as the new party leader, with the brave and noble pixie-sprite Firefern as First Lieutenant, and the half-ogre Barrackus as second lieutenant. The duties of chronicler were also passed to Firefern. The nameless Faeborn thief was invited to join the party, but while other matters were being discussed, he was caught attempting to pick the pocket of Mesmo, the Mad Monk. Mesmo promptly beat him to death. After a short funeral, the party returned to town, to sell off the large piles of swag, and also send Mesmo and Barrackus to school. Upon their return, the party headed back into the mines of chaos. Or that was the plan. Instead, Dawgface Pete and the boys demanded a three day weekend, it was granted, and Mesmo decided to take this chance to get his doubly earned revenge on the savage ape. He did, and Captain Pike won a glorious amount of money. THEN we went back to the mines of chaos, after recruiting an elven maid known as Tàri Anwanamè to act as reconnaissance and thief. Upon venturing deeper into the Mines, the Blood Hawks encountered the save beast known as the Ogtyuch, or something. We killed it, and delved ever deeper…

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The Hunger
From the Flashback of Jonathan Pike

“Get in there Pike!” roared Barrackus. The half-ogre was injured and needed a reprieve from the heavily armored kobold monstrosity that was savaging him. “It must be the chief,” Pike shouted, halberd at the ready. As Barrackus stepped back, Pike surged to the front of the party to cover the half-ogre’s withdrawal. He was in the forefront now, he was all that stood between the party and utter destruction, and that’s when the axe caught him in the shoulder. The blade produced a deep gash in his armor and flesh that caused him to crumple to the floor of the dungeon. The pain was tremendous, and the world went black.

The hideous beasts were scrambling over the failing defense works and fallen bodies of the legion. Pike lay on the ground, the handle of a wicked knife protruding from chest. His standard issue legion leather armor had failed him, the knife passed through as if the armor had not been there at all. To his left and right his comrades were fighting and dying. Pike began to close his eyes and started to feel at peace when he heard wretched screaming from behind him. With great effort he hoisted himself on his elbow to get a look at what was making such a terrible, gawdforsaken noise. To his horror, he found several of the plains orcs devouring his sergeant alive. “Sturm, NO!” Pike yelled, and with herculean effort lifted himself to his feet and staggered toward the savage orcs. When he finally reached the scene of the atrocity, Pike was consumed with rage, and with no other weapons available, he removed the knife from his chest and fell upon the beasts like a butcher carving into a swine.

When it was all over there lay three mutilated corpses under Pike, two orcs and one human. The battle healer came by to dress the wounds of the survivors. “You got lucky Pike,” said the healer “If that knife were any closer to your heart, you would have ended up like Sturm here.” As Pike sat in his muddy trench waiting for the healer to finish sewing his wounds, he got a glimpse of himself in a puddle of murky water pooling on the ground. He noticed a change in his own appearance. Despite the vicious wounds on his chest and around his face, the real change was in his eyes. The change is what veterans like to call “the hunger.” It’s the look in a man’s eyes when rage consumes him and he becomes a vessel of payment and violent retribution to his enemies. Pike knew exactly what it meant now, and exactly who was going to pay.

Pike felt himself being dragged across a stone floor, he grabbed the gauntleted hand that was tugging on him and the movement stopped. “I think I’m ok now,” Pike said uneasily, slowly gaining his senses. Looking up, Pike saw the armored figure of Tûrin Mitheim, the Grey Elf who was now leading the Blood Hawks. “What in the abyss happened back there Tûrin?” Pike asked. Tûrin removed his leather cap and nonchalantly answered, “You got cut down by the kobold chief. Lucky thing Pussy Willow made some of those wussy sleep darts earlier today or I would have had to start trying against that bastard.” Firefern, a Pixie Sprite, flew over to Tûrin’s head, in a state of great agitation. “First, my name is Firefern. Second, those so called wussy sleep darts repelled the great squirrel overlord, Chitter Chat, from the very gates of Fernwickle Isle during the great squirrel rebellion. Many lives were lost before that formula was perfected.” Firefern insisted, straining so his voice could be heard. Tûrin shot Firefern an icy glare, and calmly replied, “What have I told you about speaking to your betters, Pussy Willow? I might be Grey elf, but I think somewhere in my bloodline there’s some Grel, and it’s giving me a mean hunger for Pixie meat.” Firefern fluttered away screaming in terror, as Tûrin laughed with self satisfaction.

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Kobold Caves 2
Now it's personal

The party healed up, and returned to the Kobold Caves, desperate for revenge. While clearing out an unexplored section of cave, they freed an enslaved Faeborn, who proved to be a fairly mediocre thief. The party continued, slaying a horde of Kobolds in the mess halls, before descending into the torture chambers, and eliminating the despicable beasts within. Finally, they had the Kaptain of Kobolds cornered, or so the party thought. He proved to be a far tougher foe than any Kobold had a right to be, nearly killing Barrackus and Tûrin before the heroic Firefern swooped in and downed him with a sleeping dart, after which he was hacked to pieces. The party then looted his bedchambers, and found his adjacent harem, which was slain heroically in self defense.

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Kobold Caves

Upon entering the Kobold stronghold the Blood Hawks were met with stiff opposition by the “critically” skilled kobolds. Yurgran Stoneteller took a swing at a Kobold, but mistook his leg for an opponent and bled out before his friends’ horrified eyes, and Mesmo was there too. After the loss of Yurgran Stoneteller the group decided that a tactical retreat was needed before assisting these kobolds to hell from which they spawned.

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Mines Of Chaos

We recruited the new PCs, and headed out to the Mines of Chaos. First, we found a small abandoned mining operation, which we converted into a makeshift base for our minions. Using a compliant Orcin prisoner as a guide, we ventured to the Mines proper, which has a small group of Kobolds living before it, hoping to ambush passersby. Upon taking over a kobold bunker, the Blood Hawks found it contained an opening into the Mines of Chaos proper.

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Dishonored Dreamer

The sun had just begun to rise as the exiled pair were well on their journey home to beg for forgiveness from the clan.
“What did I do to deserve this?” Nuae muttered softly as his companion convulsed on the path, “Seems the Gawds still are jealous of your beauty Lilandriel.” After she began to gurgle, Nuae knelt down beside her to help keep her from choking on her tongue. “This all could have been different,” Nuae moaned as he reflected over the past week.
* * * * * *
It began like any other night, Nuae pondered how the Blood Hawks could be further pushed into fame and glory. A magical sword certainly could improve our worth, he thought. “But is it worth the risk? After all I am no grave robber,” Nuae spoke aloud. Perhaps it wasn’t in a grave, simply a lost relic. Nuae’s thoughts pushed him further into his decision. “I will do it, but alone. If things should go wrong, I would hate for my comrades to be held responsible.”
After a short meeting, a shady fellow led Nuae down a well within Frandor’s keep and they forged upstream against the chilling current of the sewer. Nuae noticed upon reaching the drizzling exterior of the tunnel that the night was ideal for one to remain unnoticed; however, a treacherous Cliffside still challenged Nuae. Perhaps this was a mistake, Nuae thought to himself as he looked to the dangers ahead, but money has been spent, so I need results. He began climbing using the rough handholds that would have been great if not for the rain. “This rain has increased the difficulty of my task twice over,” he muttered as he continued the climb.
After cresting the cliff side, he belly-crawled most the way into long grass. Dilligently he began his search to find the place the man had described, which Nuae now realized was ambiguous. After losing himself several times, fighting a ghoul, and desperately searching several graves, Nuae was bloodied and in tatters. It was then he found a sword signed by Lord Flattaroy himself. “I swear to you on my family’s honor that this will be returned to you one day, and that I, Nuae of Clan Alean Emar will improve this resting place to its former glory. Rest well, soldier,” proclaimed Nuae as he knelt before the tomb.
The sky had begun to grow lighter, so Nuae set off back towards the cliff. A few steps from the edge, he stubbed his toe stupidly on the only branch in the open. A guard who normally would be sleeping on post stirred by a delightful dream of Yakomina and awoke to see the sly, unscrupulous adventurer. After putting a crossbow bolt into Nuae, he found himself sleeping once again. Nuae found his way back to the well even as guards raised the alarm, the only problem was that the rope up the well was no longer there. “Gods curse that dawg who tempted me into this,” Nuae spat as he drifted down stream. He stowed his gear and tempted fate as he swam across hoping to avoid the waterfall.
* * * * * *
Lilandriel’s fit had ceased and she was conscious again, however her trick knee was acting up, so they made camp. “Damn waterfall,” Nuae whined as he rubbed his temples. Migraines still plagued him since his plummet that led him to the afterlife for the second time. “All that hardship and I am left with nothing but dishonor.”

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When It Rains, It Pours
From the Flashback of Jonathan Pike

Lightning flashed through the mottled grey sky. “Things have been bad before sergeant.” Mused Jonathan Pike to himself. He was attempting to drown his troubles in a mug of mead, due to the fact he was nearly horsewhipped by the town guard for the crime of another person. Pike’s eyes settled on the back wall of some tavern he’d forgotten the name of, “where the hell am I?” He thought. “Fandor’s Keep” he said aloud, earning curious glances from adjacent bar patrons. “No, that can’t be, we’re in the middle of a war,” Pike thought. He closed his eyes, and let the crash of the thunder and the drumming of the rain take him back to the graveyard.

They called it the graveyard because the Fangarian legion didn’t have the time or the resources to properly dispose of the dead, so the bodies were buried close to where they fell, in large festering pits. Others called it the Nolton Plains, but that was just a name on a map given by some sissy bureaucrat. He could deal with the death, the constant battle against the orcish menace, and even with the starvation from the shattered supply line, but he could not deal with the constant storms. The constant torrent of rain made everything cold and waterlogged, and made maintaining a serviceable trench nearly impossible. “What are you looking at? And why aren’t you digging?” shouted Sergeant Sturm. “Ugh… nothing sir, sorry sir,” sputtered Pike. He’d been digging for an hour, and was sick of this bullshit. With every shovelful of muck that he piled outside of trench, double sluiced over the top of the trench, splattering on the wooden plank walkway. “What do you MEAN you lost them?” shouted someone that Pike could only guess was Colonel Garret. Pike didn’t need to see the man to know who it was, whose booming baritone voice was more appropriate for a half-ogre than a man. Another flash of lightning made the sky look like a shattered pane of glass, and in the distance Pike saw movement. “Must be the scouting party Sergeant,” Pike said as he pointed in the direction of the movement. “You must be seeing things boy, the scouts came back this morning empty handed,” Sturm grumbled. Pike squinted at the horizon, trying to make out the movement he saw earlier. Lightning flashed, this time it generated muted light behind dark clouds, but it was still enough light for Pike to see the horrors before him.

Thunder rocked the small inn, momentary ending the merriment within, and driving pike out of his dream. Everyone in the inn grew quiet at the sound of thunder, except for one raucous group in the back. “That elvish Bastard! That fae CUNT!” roared a dwarf from the group. Pike recognized the voice as Yurgran Stoneteller, a foul mouthed dwarf from Praxter. Pike looked to where the profanity originated and saw a hulking half-ogre named Barrackus dominating the eastern end of the bar. Barrackus and Yergran were members of the Bloodhawks, an adventuring group that currently employed pike. Pike didn’t care much for the adventurer’s lifestyle, but they paid well and treated him fairly, so he was not about to complain. The two adventurers were probably talking about Nuae Emar, another Bloodhawk, who had recently gotten the group into some trouble with the keep prefect. Rumors swirled about orcish mages and grave robbing. Pike believed it had to be something to do with the latter because he knew there was no such thing as an orcish mage, orcish cleric maybe, but not a mage. Also, before Nuae left the group, he mentioned that each share was worth about 4 gold pieces, and the group was desperate for money. He figured Nuae was trying to dig up some stuff in the abandoned cemetery to make payroll. “Grave robbing ain’t much different than dungeon delving,” Pike sighed. Tired, Pike lurched out of his seat, paid his bar tab and made his way to his room. Looking down at the dry common room of the inn, Pike smiled and thought “Things have been worse.”

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