The Swordlands

The Fisher Kings Treasure

Angrbodes Ever-Hungry Sack

Said to have been fashioned long ago by the insane Formorian witch Angrbode, this large sack made of ogre stomachs is a portal to a large pitch black extra-dimensional space whose interior dimensions are as yet uncharted. It contains items and remains that have lain in it’s ‘belly’ for up to five hundred years. It grumbles when ‘hungry’, sometimes loud enough to render stealth impossible.

Hammer Of Thunderbolts

A large exquisitely crafted warhammer whose two heads are carved into the likenesses of ‘The Two Goats’, an Arch Fey embodiment of thunder and lightning. Having been trapped in an extra-dimensional space during the disjunction, this hammer was not subject to the severance from Aelfheim and is one of the last vestiges of fey power remaining in the Swordlands. It is empathically intelligent and strong willed, such that it refuses to be wielded by mortal hands, becoming a normal warhammer. Instead it can be commanded to ‘dance’, in a similar way to a dancing sword.

As a daily power it will animate and fly about the battlefield attacking foes as directed, striking with a crash of thunder as arcs of lightning flash around it. It requires a move action each round to animate and control, with which the ‘wielder’ can either move it 6sq or attack an enemy who is adjacent to the hammer. It can also charge. It’s flight is clumsy and so it can only fly 6sq in a straight line. It attacks at the wielders best stat bonus (any stat) + half level, inflicting 4d6 Thunder & Lightning damage (push 1 sq) to all within burst 1 of the target.

If the wielder does not use a move action to control it at any point it falls to the ground and the daily use is expended. It occupies a square as an ally of the wielder, it can be used to flank, and gets bonuses from flanking. The hammer is prone to fits of pique, if it misses three times in a row it attacks it’s wielder under it’s own command at the start of the wielder’s turn (save ends) and then falls to the ground inert.

Dáinsleif

Forged by the witch Högni of Himinborg in the time of Gylfi Beastskull, this longsword has a blade of ice designed to slay the beasts of the frozen realms. It functions as a +4 weapon, and implement to any arcane spellcasters, and deals +1d6 cold damage to both weapon and implement attacks. On a successful attack, before dealing damage, it’s wielder can trigger it’s daily power as a free action, bestowing cold vulnerability 5 on it’s target (save ends), ignoring any resistance to cold. In warm weather the blade melts, becoming useless. It reforms in the cold.

HælðszjΔlmr

An exquisite black leather helm of Svartálfar (Drow) manufacture, it’s name is unpronounceable in any language but Drow Silent-Speech. It’s wearer’s sense of smell is enhanced (+5 perception, ongoing), and can trigger it’s daily power as a move action, attacking everyone in burst 20sq at +22 vs Will (including the wearer), rendering them completely deaf until the end of the encounter, or until they inflict damage on an ally. Everyone affected also has resistance 10 Thunder.

Mattock Of The Titans

This enormous digging tool made of meteoric iron is wielded as great axe, just about usable by a medium creature. It functions as a +4 weapon, inflicting maximum damage against inanimate objects. On a missed attack roll the mattock will split the ground across 3 squares, starting with one random adjacent square, extending away from wielder, leaving a 10’ deep pit in each square (creatures in that square save or fall in). Anyone in burst 2 of the pit when it opens must save or fall prone, including the wielder. The pit lasts until the end of the encounter then it reseals.

If the wielder has completed a milestone they can trigger the daily power ‘earthquake’ with a standard action, splitting the ground as above but in a straight line of 8 squares, starting from any adjacent square.

Armour Of Smoke

This +4 leather armour was made by a Satyxis enchantress. When the wearer takes damage from an attack they can activate it’s daily power as an immediate reaction and turn into a cloud of black smoke, becoming insubstantial until their next turn, when they can reform at any point as a free action.

If the wearer has completed a milestone they gain an additional use with which they can trigger this effect on their turn as a free action.

Rituals

A collection of coloured glass bottles each containing a roll of parchment on which are written various rituals in draconic scripts:

Animal Messenger (PHB P300)
Commune With Nature (PHB P302)
Consult Mystic Sage (PHB P302)
Magic Circle (PHB P309)
Phantom Steed (PHB P310)
History Revealed (Arc Pow P156)
Magic Map (Arc Pow P157)
Preserve Flame (Arc Pow P157)
Telepathic Bond (Arc Pow P158)
Whispers Of The Edifice (Arc Pow P158)

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The Troll Cauldron

Shrouded in the morning mist the Auslanders and the Satyxis steal across the ice plains infront of the enemy lines and enter a series of winding canyons. Sighting a Kreigschwein encampment they plan to climb around it but find that the cliff path has been booby trapped and collapses, casting them all into the heart of the half-orc force. The party fight well and swiftly overwhelm a large force of half-orc soldiers. Howl unleashes his wrath upon rows of charging Kreigschwein, demolishing entire buildings in his fury. As the last of the enemy is dispatched, trolls begin crashing down into the deep snow, apparently from a great height. As they regenerate and stagger to their feet the Auslanders and the Satyxis set upon them, finally destroying them with fire. They espy a bridge between the two canyon walls far above from which the trolls appear to be falling.

Climbing up and up along a narrow path into the crags that overlook the battlefield, they face several waves of Kreigschwein, defending ever more lofty positions along the cliff wall. Aengus wields dark magic to capture the souls of those they slay and unleash them in a howling storm upon the living, sending hordes of screaming half-orcs to an agonising death.

Reaching the bridge, the Auslanders find a squad of trolls led by the mighty Fisher King. They have hundreds of troll parts frozen in blocks of ice and are casting them into a large copper cauldron. The troll limbs defrost and regenerate, and before long a fully formed troll climbs out of the cauldron and, at the Fisher King’s command, jumps off the bridge to join the Kreigschwein troops some 800 feet below. A small group of centaur archers watch from the farside of the bridge and shout a warning as the party appears.

The party charge into battle. Before long, Karl finds himself face to face with the Fisher King himself, ducking and rolling to avoid it’s fearsome claws until he is finally caught up in the trolls grasp and stuffed into a large sack hanging from it’s belt. He finds himself falling in darkness and lands on top of a vast pile of treasure and bones, where he is attacked by an animated warhammer spitting lightning.

Meanwhile, Aengus has laid magical curses upon the Fisher King and teleports around the battlefield, fustrating the gigantic troll. Howl throws himself headlong at successive trolls, and with powerful swings of his executioners axe he inflicts heavy wounds. The trolls regeneration begins to turn the battle and Howl draws on his experience as a leader and tactition to rally his party.

The centaur archers show their deadly accuracy, and the party find themselves ducking for cover amidst a hail of arrows. The Fisher King suddenly gets Aengus and his father within his grasp and begins smashing them both together, however Aengus manages to lift the trolls magical bag from him and teleport away to release Karl, who comes rolling out amidst an avalanche of treasure. The gnome slides down the ever-growing treasure heap straight towards the unsuspecting Fisher King and with a leap, drives his blade deep into the beast’s back.

A large centaur who had been watching the battle suddenly charges, and throws it’s full force into Karl, who finds himself locked in combat with the flaming-axe wielding foe. The other trolls meanwhile have nearly slain all the Satyxis, and only Rusalka survives unconscious on the icey ground of the bridge. Together the party manage to slay the trolls one by one, and then the centaurs, before finally concentrating their attacks on the Fisher King. The huge troll attempts to leap off the bridge but it paralysed by the sword work of Dian Cecht, before being hacked apart by the rest of the party and burned to a crisp for good.

Exploring the caves at the other end of the bridge, the party find Siegmund’s command post completely deserted, and have a bird’s eye view of the battle that is raging below them. Peering through the mists that swirl below them, they are able to see Serkeljof’s knights locked in a ferocious battle with the Kreigschwein army as far as the eye can see in all directions.

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The Battle Begins

Throughout the night Thunder resculpted himself. His thick layers of protection were sacrificed for increased speed and manouverability, and with his faith no longer an inhibitor he felt the fury of the storm he had so long suppressed begin to fill him. By the time Aengus had magically sculpted his shield into an enormous axe blade the warforged stepped into the murky light of the storm-cloud covered dawn, and Thunder had become Howl.

The party journeyed across the snowy crags until they found themselves walking through what appeared to have been a battlefield. The hillside was strewn with hundreds of bodies, berserkers of Himinborg lay amongst Half Orcs and Centaurs. There they met a group of knights Himinborg who were carrying some of their fallen comrades from the battlefield.

The party go with the knights to the Himinborg encampment. There they find the army of barbarians in high spirits, singing, drinking and brawling, much as they had been when the companions first entered the Great Hall of Himinborg many months ago. The end was nigh, and the berserkers of Kord found no reason to mourn the fallen. Each one of them was ready to die and they clearly planned to do so in a manner of which their god would approve.

In a pavillion of furs and skins the party meet with Serkeljof. Also present is Rusalka, leader of the Satyxis mercenaries. Two plans are proposed. Come the next dawn, Serkeljof will lead his horde against Siegmund’s lines in a mass assault. The battle has been in progress already for several days before the party’s arrival, and heavy losses had been sustained by both sides. Serkeljof plans to drive a wedge between the long lines of the Kreigschwein and destroy the Sleipnir stronghold in their canyon shelter.

Rusalka however claied to have discovered the location of Siegmund’s command post from where he has been watching and directing the battle. She intends to lead a group of her Satyxis across the crags, through a Kreigschwein encampment, and up a long and heavily guarded cliff paths in the ice-covered face of the Galdhoppigen to find Siegmund. The party decide to accompany Rusalka, and set off with the Satyxis a few hours before dawn.

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Heroes Of Himinborg

Gunnar, Champion Oarsman Of Himinborg

Standing over 7 feet, the giant known as Gunnar is the strongest of all the knights of Himinborg. He is able to wield a two-handed weapon in each hand, and rages across on the field of battle with both a great sword and a great axe. He is descended from King Gylfi Beastslayer, a renown hunter of the behemoths of the Kindersee and who, some 200 years ago, led the armies of Himinborg against the Sleipnir in the far north.

Fruhli, Champion Storyteller Of Himinborg

Fruhli is a man of many words, and he carries with him the sagas and tales of Himinborg including the Saga Of Rivenhart, and the sagas of each of the kings the Crown Wars. Favouring the sword and shield, he is a berserker in the finest tradition of his beloved homeland, and has been known to break into song on the battlefield. Fruhli has only once been bested in a storytelling contest, almost one year ago by the fey-born Auslander known as Aengus Conleadh.

Serkeljof, King Of Himinborg

Once the first knight of Himinborg under Siegfried, now king, Serkeljof is a curious example of the berserker tradition. A sinister figure, he is clearly cunning and calculated. Serkeljof previously led the Knights Himinborg to a narrow victory over Siegmund’s sea forces on the isle of Glorium, and has succeeded in rallying an army from across the length and breadth of the Swordlands. His family history is mostly unknown, although it is summised that he was orphaned long ago by raiders from the Beastlands. Infact, Serkeljof has taken upon himself the destruction of Siegmund’s army, and the little emotion he displays betrays a burning desire to end the reign of terror of the Beastman warlord.

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Serkeljof Addresses The Knights Himinborg

Under a roof of rolling storm clouds on the icy plains of the Bay of Bjorn the armies of the Knights Himinborg assemble. In the distance, the quiet roll of thunder is heard echoing across the Galdhopiggen mountains. Thousands strong, there gather berserker knights of the Kindersee, barbarians of the mountains and forests, fearless hunters of the oceans behemoths, who have come from far across the Swordlands to answer the call. An old white-haired warrior stands before them, wearing chainmail and bearing the symbol of the First Knight on his chest. It is Serkeljof of Himinborg who now addresses the legion of men:

“Sons of Himinborg, the day we have so long awaited is now upon us. Long have our lands been bathed in the blood of innocence as the beastmen wreck destruction upon our homes, but our foe is now before us.

“This is the end of times, this is the beginning of the end, for Ragnarok now beckons. Siegmund has promised his men salvation, and so they will fight for their lives, but you are sons of Himinborg, unburdened by such lies and false hope, you fight only for death and glory.

“Long have we served the lord of battle, the master of fury, the prince of storms, and we have spilled our blood and that of our enemies in his name. We have lived and died with honour, never refusing a contest, never retreating from battle, and fearing only that the songs of our children will not remember our names.

“Each one of you has known since the day he was born into this world that the greatest honour is but to witness the end of all creation. Kord now requires that we face this end not in reverance, but in death, for the Einherjar are no more, and no angels shall bear us to salvation.

“This, meine bruderen, will be the last song, and it shall be the sound of the storm, the cry of fury, the screams of the dying, and the promise of the end which awaits us all, man and beast alike. I was once your king, but today I am your brother. As Rivenhart, the first and greatest Knight Himinborg, once united the armies of men under the banner of Kord and drove the beasts from the land, so shall the armies of the Swordlands drive Siegmund to his destruction. So sing now the final song of death and let us strike our enemy down!"

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Siegmund Addresses The Sleipnir

Deep within an ice canyon where an abandoned farm provides shelter from the Himinborg archers, the fearsome Siegmund, Herald of Surtur, stands before his veteran cavalry.

“Sons of Surtur, Daughters of Thrymm, long have we studied the stars and awaited this day, long have we spilled the blood of Himinborg in pursuit of our destiny, and now the time is upon us. The primordials have returned once more to this world and with them, the Ragnarok. We are all now in the hands of Surtur, and only his chosen shall inherit the next age.

“They would deny you your birthright! But we are Ragnarok’s children and we shall not be denied, not by the false gods of Aelfheim, not by the weak god of Himinborg, no force can stand against us now! Take up your axes and your spears and shed blood in the name of your immortal masters! Blood for Surtur!”

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Exit Thunder, Enter...?

The Promise of Distant Thunder slowly came back to consciousness. The battle against Siegmund had been long and fierce, the hardest he’d ever faced in his long centuries of existence. He had put everything into the battle, fighting alongside Karl, Aengus and Dian-Cecht, yet it had not been enough. Siegmund had stolen from him that which he held most dear – the collected Ghulra of the 500-strong Legion That Waits. It left an aching, empty void where once pure divine Purpose had flowed.

Thunder slowly got back to his feet. He had been dragged back into the cave where the group had camped the night before, and wrapped in blankets. As a Warforged, he didn’t really feel the cold or damp, but still he appreciated his mortal companion’s concern. They were sat on the other side of the fire, watching him intently but silently.

Casting his mind back to the fight, Thunder recalled in perfect clarity the moment everything had come crashing down. The centaur Siegmund, the so-called Herald of Surtur, had charged at him and slammed him up against the rocky walls of the canyon. Trading blows, Thunder had for an instant seen an opening in his foe’s defence; a chance to strike true and deal a crippling wound to his enemy. Calling on the power of Kord, his own skill and above all the memories and experiences of the Legion to guide him, Thunder had swung his sword in a glittering arc.

Lazily, Siegmund had blocked it, twisted to one side and almost casually kicked Thunder to the ground. The arcane energies rippling around the Warlock had seared and frozen Thunder at the same moment, and the last thing he saw before he lost all memory was Siegmund reaching forward and starting to twist the Ghulra from his head.

Thunder stared into the fire. Why had he failed? He’d had no inkling, no premonition or warning that he was not following Kord’s wishes. The memories of the Legion had guided him to this place, to face Siegmund, in accordance with the teachings. You must face challenges head-on, surviving them and learning from them. Yet in doing this, he had been defeated and his power broken.

The fire crackled, a small shower of sparks lifting into the slowly lightening sky as dawn began. Slowly, the first embers of a great rage began to build with the Warforged. Everything in his existence, everything in his life, gone. His friends, bloodied and wounded. The responsibility he held towards all the Kingdoms of men, sundered from him and stolen by this creature of ice and flame. Most damning of all, the Ghulra, his divine connection to the will of Kord, wrenched from him and taken to be perverted by who knows what foul magics.

For the first time in over 600 years of existence, Thunder let his true feelings show. The steady decorum, the placid demeanor he wore at all times, vanished in an instant. Looking up from the fire, he met the gaze of his companions, and even Karl flinched slightly at what he saw there.

“I swear, by the blood I have spilt, by the leagues I have walked, by my life and work, I will hunt that bastard down and split him in two. As Kord has abandoned me in my time of need, when I called upon him, so I shall abandon Kord. The only power I can trust now is myself. The only action I can take is for myself. The only path I walk is the one I choose.”

Gripping his sword, he smashed the shield he had carried into splinters.

“Aengus, make me an axe. A big one. One sharp enough to hack a centaur to death. We’re going to find Serkeljof and the Knights, we’re going to lead them against Siegmund and we’re going to leave Beastmen corpses piled so high that a grown man would get tired climbing them. And if Serkeljof tries any of his oh-so-gentle sarcasm and mocking, I’ll remind him that I gave him that crown and I can take it back.”

Karl was grinning, ear to ear. Aengus wore a look that was a mixture of shock and glee. Even Dian’Sec seemed to have been affected.

“Come on, fleshies. Time to show the Swordlands what a seriously pissed off Warforged can do when he’s in the mood.”

“Right-o, Thunder…” started Karl.

“That name doesn’t fit any more,” interrupted the Warforged. “Call me… call me Howl. That’s what I am now, a Final Howl Against the End.”

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The Sleipnir

From the snow covered fir forests and barren icy plains of the Beastlands come the Sleipnir, Siegmund’s fearsome Centaur berserkers. The descendants of faerie beings and mortals they have made their home in the wild lands under the iron rule of the Herald Of Surtur himself.

The Sleipnir are named for the fact that they have remained so aloof from contact with Swordlanders and Auslanders alike, and yet their warlord has been preparing them for battle over many years. Now they have arrived at the foot of the Galdhopiggen and the ice fields of the Bay of Bjorn to do battle with their hated foes: Himinborg.

The Sleipnir are strong and fierce warriors, favouring the headlong rush over all strategies. Their full strength is as yet untested, but it is said that no force can withstand it’s mighty charge. Kullerwohnen, the Sleipnir cheiftain, leads this warband second only to Siegmund.

The Sleipnir are known to keep packs of savage white wolves as pets and hunting beasts. They are highly skilled in training these creatures and are said to use them in battle to bring down the enemy ahead of the heavy charge. It was tactics such as these that led to the destruction of several entire clans of orcs and ogres in the far northern reaches of the Beastlands, from where the Sleipnir originate.

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The Battle Lines

The battle lines are now being drawn. As the Kreigschwein fortify their positions around the base of the Galdhopiggen, the Knights Himinborg march ever-closer, and within two days they will meet each other on the ice fields around the Bay of Bjorn. At the promise of salvation by the warlock half-brother of Siegfreid, many thousands of beastmen of all ilks have rallied to Siegmund’s banner, and Serklejof now faces a formidable opponent.

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The Kreigschwein Horde

Across the ages, human memory has encompassed ancient times of peace and prosperity, when the hardy folk of the Swordlands forged their simple lives from the mountains and the seas. It spans the age of Kord when the Einherjar walked upon the ice fields and among the forests of soaring firs bringing wisdom and counsel to the kings of men. It holds the dark tales of the Crown Wars in which Kord was lain to rest in the earth along with his immortal guardians, and in their place rose the terrors of Aelfheim who lay waste to the warring armies of jealous rulers, and it recalls the age of Rivenhart, the greatest hero the Swordlands has ever known and the First Knight of Himinborg who rid the world of the Nidhog the faerie dragon and brought peace, for a time to a people who had not known it for hundreds of years.

It then will tell of the Curse that travelled across the world, when the dead rose from their war graves and walked the land, and even of a band of adventurers, Auslanders, who severed the conjunction with Aeflheim and in doing so, sent the gods of faerie back to their old worlds once and for all.

And yet throughout these ages recollected in stories and sung in songs, mankind has known of those who dwell in the furthest and darkest forests, the tallest and coldest mountains, and it has given them many names. These creatures, unlike the strange and exotic beasts of faerie descent, claim the distant reaches of the Swordlands as their own, and in their own stories are heard encounters with the forces of mankind since the land was young. As old as men and just as greedy, the orcs and ogres of these wild lands have formed tribes and clans such as the Mammoth Clan of Ogres and the Orcish White Rhino Clan of Thruthgelmir.

Throughout their existence they have fought with men, taking with them captives for slaves or food. The offspring of human slave women and their orcish captors have, over time, formed their own tribe, at first rengades who came together in order to survive, but now grown into a tribe in their own right. Known in the language of the Swordlands as the Kreigschwein Clan, these half-orcs have become one of the most fearsome and dangerous tribes of all.

Driven by the deep-seated desire to prove themselves stronger than both their orcish and human forefathers, the Kreigschwein half-orcs have developed a propensity for pit-fighting and gladiatorial combat unseen in the cultures of their less-organised orcish relatives, and take hand-to-hand combat to an art form, or at least a spiritual act in which bloodletting in combat is the highest act of worship that can be performed in honour of their dark god, a manifestation of the Great Maw revered by the ogres.

Now in the service of Siegmund, Scourge of Himinborg, the Kreigschwein half-orcs defend the Galdhopiggen Range with high militaristic discipline and great skill at arms. If Himinborg is to prevail against it’s old adversary, the warlock who has ravaged the land for so long, it must first contend with this powerful horde.

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