Well, I was going to write a post full of adventure hooks, but it's been a violently intense week (including as highlights BattleTech simulators at The Airlock, shooting rifles (aim: improving), two games of ACKS, two dates, and a full day today of solving puzzles), so I'm pretty much braindead right now. Instead, I will regale you, gentle reader, with a short tale of greed, slaughter, and woe from Wednesday's game, covering the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Expeditions to the Bleak Academy.
In the Fourth Week of the Fourth Month since the founding of the Dardantine Razors (though none of the founding members still travel with those who carry that name), there gathered in the Sleeping Guardsman Tavern in the Guild Quarter of the Town of Opportunity three companions and their assistants - Carcophan the Half-Dead with his Harmakhan priest Morik, Urist Handlepainted the dwarven berserker and his blade-dancer Karina, and Garwyn the Bard, with his entourage of Tualla the assassin, Derra the blade-dancer, Varamyr the wilderlander, and a newly-hired swordsman by the name of Sorlof. As the last expedition to the Academy had been immensely successful, Corinth and Fjalkov were drinking their treasure away, while Urist and Garwyn looked on in envy (for they had not been present for that lucrative trip). So seeing, they resolved to find treasures richer still.
The three proceeded to the Academy without incident, and explored part of the first level of the structure where Carcophan had seen reavers with piled treasure during his narrow escape from death some months before during the first expedition. There they found the reavers' position abandoned and now occupied by man-sized spiders, which they slew. The reavers had left their treasure, and so there was much rejoicing. After a terrifying encounter with the animate guardian statues of the Chapel of Thoth, from which the band narrowly escaped, the expedition was pronounced a success and a hasty retreat was beaten back to Opportunity, again without incident.
While inventorying the treasure, several pieces were discovered to be enchanted, and so research was done and sages were consulted. One item of interest, a thin metal wand, remained unidentified by other sources, and so Carcophan sought to research its properties and means of activation himself. However, lacking a personal library, it was decided that he should be escorted to the Academy's library, where he might study safely under the protection of the Ghostly Librarian. Thus, the Fifth Expedition was organized with the same members as the Fourth, but that Garwyn left Tualla to attend to his affairs in Opportunity (including the acquisition of a sizable house in the guild district to serve as a base of operations and a permanent repository for treasure). The secondary purpose of this expedition was to complete the exploration and mapping of the second level of the Academy, and to find any further treasure hidden there.
The notable outcomes of this were the meeting of the group of paladin-wights of the Order of Leitbur who had killed Carcophan previously, the discovery of the fate of the reavers (slain to a man by the wights), and the painful death of Urist Handlepainted beneath the combined mass of the risen corpses of said reavers when he attempted to loot their bodies. His hireling Karina was also gravely wounded by those zombies, losing an ear before Urist lit himself and the zombies afire, sealing his fate. Though Karina survived, after this setback it was decided that further exploration was unwise, and Carcophan was escorted safely to the library, there to ensconce himself for two weeks of arcane study. Little treasure was gained, with the greatest portion of the profit coming from the reapportioning of Urist's possessions after his death, and all involved were saddened, not least Urist. The only newly gained treasure of note was the magic sword of one of the paladin-wights slain by the reavers, which was given for the time being to Sorlof for meritorious service.
During the intervening two weeks, Garwyn and his entourage returned to Opportunity, there to rest, heal, and recruit. Garwyn learnt of a series of mysterious deaths due to unknown cause, and investigated the matter, but was unable to reach any useful conclusions. He was, however, able to find and induct The Albanian, a hunter who claims to be from another dimension (general consensus is that he is simply a lunatic, but he's a good shot so this is deemed irrelevant). With this new companion in tow, Garwyn set out for the Sixth Expedition to the Bleak Academy to retrieve Carcophan from the library and hopefully finish mapping the second level.
While Carcophan was found safe and sound of mind and body, and successful in his researches (having identified the rod as a Wand of Enemy Detection), the exploration of the second level went poorly. The company happened upon the wine cellars of the Academy, where they found many emaciated corpses. These were mistaken for likely undead, and a probing attack was mounted which resulted in none rising. Feeling sheepish and spying the glitter of gold from the edge of the torchlight, the party ventured further into the cellar before Carcophan had the good sense to check the ceiling... and found there seven ghouls poised to leap into the party's midst. In the ensuring tumult, Garwyn used his ring of spell storing to teleport to the safety of the Academy's gatehouse, where Verimyr and the mercenaries were waiting, while Carcophan and the Albanian were able to make it to the cellar's door and magically web the way shut. Unfortunately, this left Sorlof, Derra, and Morik alone with seven ghouls, who shortly were heard tearing them apart and feasting upon their corpses. Carcophan and the Albanian then experienced some difficulty in their escape, for Garwyn had the map, but by luck and skill reached the surface without meeting any further enemies. The party left the Academy dejected at the losses of all of their strongest henchmen with no treasure to show for it, and resolved never to return to that accursed place again, though in the estimation of this humble historian it seems likely that Carcophan at the least will have cause to visit for the arcane resources stored there at least once more. Another cause of regret and possible return to the Academy is that the enchanted dwarven warhammer, Shilshigos, was in the possession of Sorlof at the time of his death, and remains unretrieved with his body.
This concludes the chronicle of the later expeditions of the Razors to the Bleak Academy, in the Fourth Week of the Fifth Month since their founding, with mid-autumn harvest festivals and the equinox nearing.