Session Three: Totenfanger
Totenfanger. No, don’t make me spell it. No, don’t correct my pronunciation either. I am trying to warn you. Maybe your parents already told you about it when you were kids, but I don’t think you believed. Granny Clank-Trap made it, but she can’t control it. Great big guy, all dead on the outside, but he still has work to do. If he catches you, clack-smack, right in his trap. And once he has you in his cage, he takes you off to do god knows what. I don’t want to find out, and neither do you!
The group is not quite sure where they want to go for their next expedition, Lucia wishes to pursue the rumors of the Lady of the Lake being seen in the moors, while Liam wants to pursue the Totenfanger as it might be constructed from some lost technology that he can study and perhaps reverse engineer. As they are debating, Lina shows up with a strange boy.
He is in his early teens, with broad black pupils and a malformed jaw. Lina tells the party that this is her new slave. Apparently he lost to her in a high stacks gambling match, and when she called his bluff she found out that he was practically penniless, and would be coming with her until he had paid off the two bags of gold that he owed her.
The boy speaks in a thickly accented voice, made all the stranger by his deformed jaw, which he normally covers up with a black bandana. He introduces himself as Anabul, and states that he has grown up on orphan on the streets of Meridia all his life, always one step ahead of the rat-man. He knows how to get by on the streets, how to remain unseen, and how to steal to survive, but recently he has been pursued by strange figures in black robes, and he could never tell if they were men or ghosts.
At this point he goes on to explain that he can see ghosts, as well as see in the dark, due to his eyes, and that he can hear the ghosts too. He shows them his only real possession, a seashell necklace, and claims that sometimes he can hear his mother’s voice speaking to him from within, though Lina doubts this claim.
Lina purchases Anabul gear for his journey; traveling clothes, a new cloak and boots, a pair of daggers, a crossbow, and a magnificent suit of leather armor, all of which she assures him will be added to his debt.
The group decides to find someone who can tell them more about the Totenfanger, and manage to track down an old militiaman, the only survivor of his patrol. He explains that the monster was allegedly built by the old witch of the wilds, Granny Clanktrap, and it is from this monster that she takes her title. It was used to kidnap people and bring them to her, but eventually she lost control of it and it now simply devours the souls of those who stand in its path. Now it wanders the wilderness in regular mechanical patterns, and he can show them how to find it, though he doesn’t think they will accomplish anything more than getting themselves killed.
The Daughters of Rojukan set out into the wilderness with Anabul in tow, and Liam is able to construct a crude pit trap in what he believes to be the Totenfanger’s path. A few hours later they spot the monster, a decaying hulk nearly two stories tall, wearing a coat made from the still living skins of its victims, their tiny hands and jaws always grasping for the warmth of life. It holds a long chain in one hand, a crude bear-trap dragging on the end making a furrow in the mud.
Upon seeing the Daughters of Rojukan, the monster charges straight towards them, soon becoming mired up to its waist in Liam’s pit. Lucia immediately charges the Totenfanger, but its chain-trap moves with a mind of its own and ensnares her, and then a moment later its coat draws open to reveal a large metal cage where its ribs should be. The bars snap shut, trapping Lucia inside with the constant moaning and wailing of the tiny faces sewn into the inside of its rotting coat.
Liquade fires arrow after arrow into the creature, Liam engages it with his hammer, and Lina uses her magic to set it alight. Anabul, meanwhile, climbs onto its back and disables the mechanisms of the trap, freeing Lucia. Though she is sapped of all energy, she fights on with her sword until she literally passes out from exhaustion.
Liam is next into the trap, and Anabul works to free him despite Liquade’s arrows whizzing past his head. Lina decides to change tactics and summons a third circle fire elemental named Kindlesnap and contracts the spirit to fan the flames that now engulf the rotting giant.
Liam is eventually freed, but by then he is already drained. The effects of his life force upon the giant are profound, what was once a desiccated cadaver could now pass for something not more than a few hours deceased. It grabs Liquade next, but fortunately the giant succumbs to the fire before it can finish her off. Its pieces are still alive though, and there is talk about returning the creature’s head, still staring and mouthing unintelligible words, back to Meridia as a trophy, but instead they decide to simply toss the pieces into the smoldering pit and leave them under Kindlesnap’s care.
Once Liam and Lucia regain consciousness, the group decides to head out into the wetlands. The first few days of their search are uneventful, but eventually they are able to find a woman living alone in a shack in the swamp, and when they question her about lying in a pond, she claims that she does sometimes commune with the water in such a manner.
She introduces herself as Hyacinth, Witch of the Moors, and invites the travelers to come into her hut and share in her bland stew. She is a tall woman in her late twenties, with dour features, round cheeks, and lanky chestnut hair. Her demeanor is gloomy and pessimistic, and when the group asks her why she is so melancholy, she tells them of her dreary existence living alone in a hovel in the swamp.
Lucia asks why she stays out here, and Hyacinth tells them that witches are banned from entering Meridia, and that this place’s energy suits her. Lina can indeed feel an unusual magical aura about this place, though she can’t quite identify it.
Anabul hears the voice of his mother telling him to be on his best behavior, for the witch could be a powerful ally, and Anabul agrees, being overly polite to the woman’s face, but this does not stop him from rummaging through her cupboards and taking note of the strange alchemical specimens it contains when she is not looking.
The Daughters of Rojukan ask what sort of services the witch provides, and she tells them that she has powers over water and the ability to sculpt flesh. Liquade’s mind starts to fill with images of all the exotic pets she can create, while pragmatic Lucia instead asks to share recipes for alchemical transmutations.
They make no purchases today, but do promise to return in the future, and Lina leaves her with a gift; an enchanted log that will burn all winter long without being consumed.
The Synovial Current was asking about you. That’s all I know.
Corrigan is up to something. Ever hear of a wizard who wasn't? He could take the city if he wanted it, but he is content to pretend to be Starspool's puppet. I wonder who he really is?
Don't let the name fool you. Dragon Mountain hasn't seen a real wyrm in a thousand years. But it is home to many strange creatures, from the tiny kobolds that gnaw at its root to the giant eagles that roost at its peak. Still, I wonder how it got the name?
This week we see the introduction of a new player, providing a much needed fifth member to the group fulfill the empty “thief” archetype. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be with us for very long do to OOC conflicts with the person who is hosting our game.
He had a very unusual manner of playing his character, always talking and always acting impulsively. On one hand, this kept the game moving and got rid of the periods of indecision that so often plague my groups, on the other hand he frustrated the other players (sometimes including myself) by getting them into trouble without a plan or interrupting someone else’s serious moments.
As the game dragged on, I became more conflicted about whether this was a good or a bad thing; whether he was getting the party into trouble to help move the story along or out of a sense trolling the other players, and whether he actually cared about keeping the game moving or he just got bored easily and always wanted to be in the spotlight, but it never got to the point where it would actually be an issue before he had to leave the group.