The Manticore Keep Campaign
Martin F. Melhus
Greetings, dear readers. I have a tale to tell you. Mine is not
a harrowing tale, although there is some death and danger. My
tale is not of the mightiest warriors or the most potent wizards,
although our players might, in time, become mighty and potent. In
short, it is a sordid little tale wherein persons of little consequence
perform small feats and think themselves lucky to be able to recount
I am Radames. Some have dubbed me Radames the Seeker, although it is
not a thing I seek, but rather an understanding. My trusted companions
are Qanth, an elf of considerable cunning, Dwayne the ruddy cheeked, a
mighty dwarven warrior and experimenter, a formousi that we call Nancy,
a dark elven woman named Liarthra, and Drek Z'Rek, a half orc woman,
using the term loosely. We have been inhabiting Manticore keep for some
time, and using the associated "machinery", a name that will suffice for
the telling of this petty tale. The machinery is best not spoken of at
any length, and accordingly, I will not dwell on it here.
One night as we were resting in our humble beds after a day of mundane
toil, Qanth awoke upon hearing a thump in the night. He went to
investigate, awakening the other members of our little band, but was
unable to detect any obvious source. While downstairs, he heard some
noises from underneath the floor. I went up to the observatory to
determine the time of night, but as it was cloudy and the chronological
equipment is a total mystery to me, I returned to simply announce that
it was sometime in the middle of the night. Meanwhile my companions
had been carefully searching the area where the noises under the floor
were heard, and Dwayne discovered a very well crafted and cleverly
concealed trap door in the floor of the stable. I detected magick by
the trap door. We agreed to leave it alone until morning, and set
Liarthra to guard it for the remainder of the night. Then Dwayne pulled
out the iron phallus of Ignar. (Ed: This of course was not the true phallus of Ignar, but a forgery.) The rest of us were mystified by this
action. Perhaps that explains his ruddy cheeks.
The sun, bound by millennia of habit, rose again in the East at the
appointed time. We were not overly moved by this phenomena. Our humble
band armed and armored themselves, and prepared to investigate the
trap door. Dwayne pried up the rock, and marveled at the fine old
workmanship. We could not see any bottom, so we dropped a torch in.
In the few moments before the torch sputtered out, we glimpsed a scene
of frightening carnage. We proceeded down to discover the recently
expired bodies of a human and 17 giant roaches. We dispossessed the
man of a healthy sack of money (at least by our standards,) a fine
sword, and a bracelet that appeared to be related to our control
bracelets. The roaches had nothing of value to us.
After pondering that this ex-human must have been a potent fighter
indeed to dispatch 17 opponents before succumbing to their number,
we proceeded in the direction of our caves. Shortly, we were met
by a large group of the same giant roaches, who were prepared to
attack us until Nancy convinced them of our peaceful intent and
mutual self-interest. We attempted to negotiate a loose alliance,
but they seemed confident in their mastery of these caverns, and
were uninterested in any aid we might offer them.
Continuing along towards our caves, we discovered a clutch of
tiny, translucent orange eggs with small greyish spots in the
center. There were perhaps a thousand of the tiny gooey spheres.
We didn't have any more time to ponder them, as their issuer came
upon us. Qanth and Drek were frightened out of their wits, and
started to slowly shuffle towards the creature, while screaming
"oooh no, I'm gonna die!" I stopped them from walking into the
creature's tendril filled maw, while Liarthra, Dwayne, and Nancy
made short work of the creeping terror. Knowing what the eggs would
likely produce if allowed to develop, we took a few for samples,
and burned the rest.
Proceeding more cautiously, we came upon a brightly lit room.
The illumination came from an obelisk in the center of the room
covered with magickal glyphs. The glyphs glowed with an unearthly
light that worried my hearty companions, and for good reason.
I sensed strong magick from the pillar, and the glyphs seemed to
suggest some sort of demonic spell. I have learned that the
quest to acquire this kind of knowledge often ends all learning
for the seeker, so despite my natural curiosity, I stayed well
away from the obelisk and warned my companions to do likewise.
We were able to escape the cavern without incident.
Continuing on our way to our caves, we came upon an ogre. Dwayne
managed to befriend said ogre, who introduced himself to us as
Ak. Ak accompanied us to our caves, where we discovered that the
machine had been tampered with. After much pondering our situation,
the voice of reason informed us that there were others with access
and knowledge of the machine, and they were aware of us, and our
movements. We must perforce keep these movements the same, and set
snares for these intruders, to capture them and prevent them from
depriving us of our source of power.
Upon exiting, the three junior members of our party were able to
drink from the pool of wonders. Drek untapped a new source of
internal fortitude. Nancy had a realization of how the strengths
and weaknesses of humans had adapted her fighting styles, and how
to change them for the better. Liarthra was very secretive about
any changes in herself after sampling the enchanted pool's bubbling
waters. Then we proceeded back to the keep overland, to continue
the charade of our mundane existences.
No other ending would be appropriate for such a common tale. I hope I have not offended the gentle reader with my prose. Our hapless band must perforce continue their lives, so no doubt there will be more vulgar tales to recount. I may be fortunate to pen these, if I am not reduced to so much food for grubs and creeping vermin, or discover the true nature of the iron phallus of Ingar. But until then, I leave you to return to whatever awaits you in your universe, and wish you a world in conformity with your desires.