The Adventures of Balinor, Warrior Extraordinaire of the Restenford Defenders
Prequel: Cassian and Balinor Before the Fane (smack in the middle of the Fane of the Winds summary - might be a bit hard to follow unless you read from the beginning, but I'm sure you can figure it out)
Adventure #1: Dinner Around the Fire
More Adventures in 2002
Summary #1: Dinner Around the Fire
Balinor Buckannah, 8th level human fighter, 76 hp, played by Joel Green
Kodo Buckannah, 6th level human woodsman, 67 hp, played by Katherine Anderson
Reinhold, 4th level human barbarian, 66 hp, played by Mark Wagoner
Morhion Gendahar, 1st level human cleric, 10 hp, henchman of Balinor
Yes, you read correctly. Some weirdo actually likes Balinor enough to become his henchman. Some people.
Well, here‚s my story, such as it is. It‚s a tale of a great deal of confusion.
In early 2190, Balinor decided to visit his family and see how things were back in his very small village. Kodo, Balinor‚s larger and younger brother, decided to tag along. The two of them traveled by caravan through Teft all the way to the Latt border. Finally they had reached the edge of civilization in Latt, a fishing village of a few hundred Northerners. Balinor visited the Nevronian Church there, where he had originally been introduced to the religion, and met Morhion, a friendly and sturdy cleric, and a childhood friend. Morhion was attracted to the adventuring life that Balinor now led, and decided to tag along and learn what he could.
The trio set off and headed off toward the hometown village in the mountains. Travel was moderately rough, but they arrived uneventfully in town, or rather, the eighty person village.
There was much belching and rejoicing as the whole Buckannah family got together for a great deal of eating and drinking and brawling.
Then a more serious matter arose.
It appears that the chief shaman in the village, one Gungaardt (probably with an umlaut over the u), had recently gone insane. He declared himself to be a frost giant shaman and set off into the mountains.
Gungaardt had been shaman an unusually long time, having maintained the position over 20 years longer than anyone else in memory. The reason for this was fairly simple: his sons had become estranged and decided to become fishermen. The profession of shaman in passed along the family line normally, and this chain was broken. There was no heir apparent, and thus the shaman remained. However, in his advanced age, he had grown rather eccentric, and now at the age of 80 he appeared to have snapped completely.
Gungaardt was always known to be unusually strong, throwing teenagers around with ease, even in his old age. Still, he was certainly fragile enough that this panicked the villagers. So his wife (who was about 60 years old) set off with two local barbarians to find Gungaardt. He had taken up residence in a longhouse in the mountains that had belonged to a group of frost giants that had been slain over 50 years earlier.
This simple rescue mission was an utter catastrophe. As the barbarians approached, a frost giant came out of the longhouse and beat up the barbarians and kidnapped Gungaardt‚s wife.
The villagers were quite distraught. Had the shaman turned into a frost giant? Or was there really a frost giant there?
Balinor decided to help out, and joined forces with the local barbarian hero Reinhold. Balinor, Reinhold, Kodo, and Morhion set out for the longhouse in early April, 2190.
The foursome marched up into the hills, the clumsier fighters assisted ably by Reinhold. Finally, we reached the area with the longhouse. Realizing that the area around it was aritificially clear of cover, we decided to approach from the cliff top side, from the setting sun.
First we observed the longhouse:
At dusk, a frost giant and a winter wolf left the longhouse (the wolf came out of a temporary blind attached to the west side of the building). The giant and wolf vanished down the slope, and a fire was lit inside the longhouse. Ah ha! Frost giants don‚t cook their food! Perhaps the shaman and his wife were still inside!
The frost giant returned later on, and the next evening, a frost giant left again through the other door, with the wolf accompanying him.
We decided to approach after the giant and wolf had left, and rescue the hostages first. This plan would have worked, but we failed to be aware of a few key facts.
We were made aware of these as we approached, and two more winter wolves streamed out of the shelter, howling.
We skidded to a stop. We were about to charge and kill the wolves when two frost giants stepped out of the longhouse.
Reinhold shouted, „Gungaardt!‰
The giant shouted back, „He‚s inside. Come join us for dinner!‰
Realizing that we could hardly outrun the frost giants in four feet of snow, we had little choice. We approached cautiously. The giants introduced themselves as Eric and Gertrude.
Eric spoke disturbingly good Northerner, while Gertrude didn‚t talk enough to say. We exchanged a few barbed jibes and went inside.
Inside, was the shaman‚s wife, cooking at the central firepit. Behind her was the shaman himself, seated in a throne that was far too large for him. „Ah, Reinhold! Good of you to join our fight! And Balinor, have you been softened by the ways the civilized lands?‰
What ensued was a large amount of dialogue. Here is what we gathered.
The shaman was completely insane. He believed Eric and Gertrude to be his children, great warriors now. He believed that we were all frost giants. He invited us to join his fight against the evil villagers (the fishing village). The invasion plan was to sweep into the small village, recruit all the allies, slay those who opposed them (believing that the small village was made up of frost giants), and then march on the fishing village.
Our minds spun. What had happened? Was he under a spell?
Reinhold could detect only one magical thing on the shaman, which was his ceremonial torque of office. We thought perhaps there was a spell on him, but all we could do was overwhelmed by the presence of two giants and three winter wolves.
The „friend of the family,‰ Bork, joined us with his wolf a few hours later. That made it a total of 3 frost giants, 4 winter wolves, and a crazed shaman.
There was little we could do. We ate frost giant sized portions of dinner. The shaman‚s wife had a look of helpless resignation on her face (as if she had gone through this before?!).
After dinner, the shaman challenged Reinhold to a wrestling match. Balinor was nominated instead. Balinor was the butt end of many jokes about weak civilized people. At first it seemed Balinor might have wrestle Eric (!!!), but wisely Balinor was able to wrestle the shaman.
Balinor didn‚t want to kill the old man, but he had little choice. They engaged. Balinor tried a trip, and the shaman picked him up and hurled him over his shoulder and slammed the fighter against the ground. Then he put Balinor in a headlock. The shaman was superhumanly strong. Balinor tried tearing off any items on the shaman‚s person that might be responsible, but he soon had to surrender.
Unfortunately, Reinhold had bet his axe on the fight. This magical axe was lost¸ unless Balinor could win it back. If the shaman gave the torque to Balinor to fight, he could wrestle again for the axe back. Gungaardt agreed.
Balinor activated Little Thoughtless (making him immune to mental effects), and put on the torque. Not surprisingly, nothing happened. He moved to engage the shaman¸ and this time the shaman was merely of normal human strength. Balinor gently and easily pinned him.
The axe was ours. The torque was on Balinor. And the shaman was still nutty.
What to be done?
At this point, Reinhold wanted to keep the torque, but the shaman was hear nothing of it. An argument ensued, and it came to blows¸
When it looked like a deadly fight would break out, Kodo unleashed the smoke from his Smokeshield. The winter wolf next to him blasted him with icy cold, but Kodo ran to the help the combatants at the firepit. Unfortunately, Gertrude managed a massive stun swipe on Reinhold, sending him reeling. Kodo followed, ending up on his back. Morhion was grabbed by the scruff of his neck, screaming as Bork hoisted him into the air.
The torque was returned. We explained to the shaman that no harm was meant, but that we suspected Bork was an enemy, not a friend of the family. The shaman swallowed this explanation and sent Bork outside for a moment.
After a brief discussion in which the shaman declared that he was offended by this horrible conduct, things looked desperate.
Gungaardt said, „I think you should leave.‰
We were stunned. „Ok!‰
And then Bork tried to kill us. He buried his weapon in Reinhold‚s back, and we jumped on our large shields and started skiing down the slope. Bork started hurling boulders, blasting Reinhold again and again¸ and then we were out of range. We hit the treeline and dove for cover. Reinhold was nearly dead, but Balinor fed him an extra-healing potion, and Morhion cured him, and he survived.
We fled back to the village, apparently not being trailed.
This was grim news. Belatedly, it occurred to us to seek out the sons of the shaman. They explained to us that the torque provides superhuman strength, and is activated by thinking you are frost giant.
Fact: the shaman had been shaman for longer than anyone else in history.
We were forced to conclude that he had used the torque so much, that he had been overcome by it mentally, and now truly believed himself and his friends to be frost giants.
The shaman was insane, and as such was probably no longer a formidable spellcaster, as he declared worship to the wrong god.
However, this left us in a sticky situation. Could we snap him out of it? Should we just try a rescue? Can we defeat 3 giants and 4 wolves while neutralizing any threats to Gungaardt and his wife?
The answer: it is highly uncertain.
The best plan I could come up with:
Wait till Bork leaves, and nail him while he‚s alone.
Then have the barbarian and woodsman sneak into the building from the sunny side, hopefully from downwind. Knock out the shaman and take the torque. Use the torque‚s considerable powers to swing the battle and defeat the remaining 2 giants and 3 wolves while the wife drags the shaman to safety in the village.
A sticky plan at best.
We‚ll see how it works out!