Last night's game was no where near as cosmically horrifying as a Lovecraft tale, but it was plenty bizarre, and really fun, too. Last session, while fighting in defense of the Hive, Ripper was parted from his mortal coil, and last night we went to bring him back. I'm getting ahead of myself, though.
First, for introductions. Justin of course was running his Vaults of Ur game on G+. Players included Jeremy playing Ripper's ghost; Dean playing Elder Karl, servant of the Great Bear; Alexei playing Maya Kulpar, Elf extraordinaire; Tedankhamen playing new PC Digger the Orc, Ripper's little brother, and of course myself playing Thidrek the Sleestak.
We started out the session taking Ripper's Ur-thly remains (did Justin mention something about hating puns last night?) to an island just off the coast from Fort Low, a sacred place to The Great Bear. The priests charged us 3000gp, but since we could only scrape together 2200, we still owe them a debt, which we will likely discharge next session. Anyway, they led us in a trance-session after giving us some weird herbal concoction to drink, and off we went through the Astral Plane to the Orcish Afterlife.
[map from the game, made by myself and Ted, here]
We arrived on a promontory above a void, with a tower there. After a brief exploration, not finding anything there, we headed down a stairway to a castle below, where a battle was raging. Orcish Heaven is sorta like Asgard, where the slain Orcs relish in endless combat. But something wasn't right. The enemy assaulting the gates was not orcish.
Entering the castle, we were brought before Ripper, and his commander Shredder (mask, claws, silly voice, etc.) allowed us to take the hero away, so that he could exact revenge upon the mortal sphere. He told us we'd have to cross the island to get to the Ship of Souls. That, of course, would not be easy. We had three paths, and Shredder advised us to wait for nightfall to slip past the attackers after we'd chosen our path. The three paths were along the Winding Stairs along the coast, through the deep Old Forest, or also through the forest, but a part of it that was overgrown ruins.
Thidrek pressed for the ruins, but was outvoted. The Winding Stairs it was. We were making our way along them, cliffs to one side, sea to the other, when we spotted several blue glowing shapes headed our way. The soldiers attacking the orc castle had been sort of like terra cotta warriors. Approaching were six of them on wings. I suggested we lay low as they hadn't spotted us yet, but others wanted to run. As soon as we started running, they spotted us and attacked.
The battle lasted a while, with Thidrek putting in a fairly good performance. Except for one round, when I rolled a natural 1 making me miss that round and go last the next, I hit every time. I did sustain two wounds, though, taking me precariously close to death. Maya also took a severe wound, which we thought had killed her, until Justin graciously reminded Alexei that he uses max hit points at first level, which meant Maya would have just barely survived (death in the afterworld meant us returning from the dream-trance, and losing a point from one random ability score). Digger and Elder Karl each also took hits, but we prevailed, with Maya and Thidrek using spear and crossbow to take down the last flying warrior as it tried to run (Maya lost the cool spear she picked up in the Hive, though).
At the end of the Stairs, we came to the Plain of Bones. Pretty much what you'd think from the sound of it. There was a large mesa in the middle, and at the far end the Burning City we'd seen in the distance from the tower above the orcish castle. After debating which way to go, we decided to skim the forest edge. We heard many wolf-cries, but didn't meet any wolves. We also saw a giant bird with a 30' wingspan fly over and head for the mesa. Coming close to the Burning City, we saw ranks of the strange enemy soldiers in front of it, and decided to try another way. That's when Digger noticed the giant worm-maggot things out in the Plain of Bones.
We made for the Mesa, and the Worms finally noticed us, and came searching for our vibrations (like in Tremors). I climbed the mesa, didn't find the giant bird's nest, but did see that above the Burning City was the banner of the Spiked Circle. Curious. Something is rotten in Orc-mark. I also detected some ruins far off across the Bone Plains. I'd expressed this crazy idea already (in true Ray Harryhausen Sindbad fashion), and finally got to pull it off. We found the cave where the giant bird nested in the side of the mesa. When it emerged, Thidrek lassoed it. Everyone else grabbed on, and the bird flew us out over the Bone Plains. Well, most of the way.
We were dropped about 50 feet from the start of the ruins, and the worm-maggots were coming quickly. We ran, and made it. The ruins were full of shades of the departed. We found the docks, and the Ship of Souls. The iron-clad boatman raised a hand to Ripper for payment. He tried coppers. No good. Silver? Also no good. The boatman then reached out and took one of Ripper's eyes. The stoic Orc took it like a man. The ship set sail.
As we road through the mists, we noticed the Burning City come detached from the Orc Valhalla and start to follow us, but then the mists closed, and we awoke back at Great Bear Island, our mission a success. Ripper now has one all red eye. Not sure what strangeness that will cause, but we're looking forward to the next session. And it's nice to have our main warrior back!
Of course, now we're broke and indebted to the Cult of the Great Bear...