A week ago off the coast of the Northron Kingdoms, pirates took your ship, The Agatha. You now find yourselves chained in the hold of their vessel, The Bloodstained Bitched, presumably waiting to be sold into slavery. You have no idea where you are bound for and have only been given water and moldy bread to eat. The cramped hold offers only four feet of space between decks, and you are shackled to ring bolts in the floor by your wrists and ankles. Perhaps to torment you, the keys to your chains hangs hang just out of reach on a peg beside the stairs leading to the upper deck. The crew, a mixed lot of humans, orcs, hobgoblins and bugbears, obeys the command of Red Olin, a lean vicious red bearded fellow clad in scarlet robes. You do not see much of him.

Suddenly one night, a terrible storm arises. The timbers groan and crack as towering waves buffet the ship. You can hear screams above as the raging sea washes pirates overboard. A thunderous crack resounds as the mainmast splinters. Then a horrible impact shakes you as the ship collides with something. Screams, the sound of splintering timber, salt water filling the hold submerging you. All goes black.

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Enough fucking traps
Traps. Magical Mist. More traps. Exploding alters and ring stealing holes. Boudica was a man, Elaren is naked and Ghyra is in a bag.

“Enough of the fucking traps,” thinks Mirilda. But at least they are out of the swamp for a while. Her feet are dry and mud is not caked between her toes. But who the fuck designed this place?!?!?! It makes the traps in the Barrows look like a child’s game.

Luckily, the Unchained had skills to navigate this trap hell. Boudica’s elemental triggered some. Ghyra is able to lead the way and levitate if she triggers a pit. Elaren’s and Leon’s ability to detect traps and Leon’s ability to disable them. And Blaze, Blaze heals and saves them when the other safeguards fail.

Then there was Mirilda. Her skills are not useful in a place like this. She fights. That is what she is good at. She is of little value in a place like. She looked around at the rest of the Unchained and was thankful each of their amazing abilities.
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Boudica was growing impatient. She knew the shimmering archway was dangerous, like everything else in this accursed tomb, and she knew those dangers demanded these endless examinations of every doorway and inch of floor, but her restlessness was like an itch that she desperately needed to scratch. Now, after Leon had already checked for traps and performed every other examination imaginable, they were still standing there debating whether or not to enter. Boudica knew that ultimately they must if they were to find the lich and bring his crown back to the hag. And she was tired of standing there.

“To hell with it,” she muttered to herself. It occurred to her that she was actually in hell, and that her figure of speech made no sense here, but she was not the type of person to overly analyze things like that. She pushed between Mirilda and Leon and stepped through the shimmering archway.

For a moment she thought nothing had happened. But her arms felt heavier and her chest felt lighter, and something felt amiss between her legs. A pressure against her small clothes, and a strange weight like a coin purse pulling downward from her groin. “Strange,” she muttered to herself, but it was not her voice that she heard. It was deep, like a man’s. It reminded her of the carpenter she had bedded back at Last Light, whose name escaped her. He had not been particularly handsome or well-endowed, but his voice had been deep and mellifluous. If only their lovemaking had lasted more than a minute, she would have closed her eyes and pleasured herself with the rich tones of his exclamations.

She felt her chest. Her tunic was loose, and where her breasts had been were thick pectoral muscles. “By the gods…” she muttered, and the sound of her own voice made her quiver. She felt an odd stirring in her pants, and a sudden increase in the tightness of her small clothes. This was the most curious situation she had experienced in a long time. She rather liked it.

She felt Thelyra quiver deep inside her, realized that the succubus was more than pleased with this sudden turn of events.

She was almost disappointed when she stepped through the archway a second time and discovered that she was a woman again. She had always craved novel experiences, and living and loving as a man would have been the most novel and exciting thing yet. Yet part of her was also relieved. Being a woman was essential to being Boudica, and she feared losing herself again. She had come close enough to that already.

She wondered if Elaren would also change gender, but he had just gotten naked. Then she was glad of being a woman again, for he was very pleasing to look upon, and if she had still been a man, she would not have felt as free to enjoy his nakedness.

But he was embarrassed and shivering, so she gave him her cloak and the furry boots she had found. She thought he looked rather cute in them, with his bare legs and chest and the horrified expression that never left his face, and she was glad of being a woman again for that reason, too.
Session: Game Session 36 - Sunday, Mar 04 2018 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
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We See You
No way we’re feeling lonely in here. Eyes are everywhere, some you see and some you don’t. Every inch of the hallway is painted with elaborate scenes. Leon doesn’t want to look directly at any of the painted creatures, maybe the frescoes are cursed. Two bats with black green wings seem to have knowing smiles, their eyes feel like cold fingers walking across Leon’s skin. Far in the distance, cattle are grazing, but Leon knows that they also track the progress of the Unchained along the snaking pathway. The wolves are not even being subtle about it – Leon imagines that if he touched the painting, there would be real saliva dripping from their jaws. Now he is being regarded by a group of slaves, who seem to wonder if soon he will join them, forever toiling, elbows and ribs angular and protruding from lack of food.

What about the eyes we cannot see? This place has a palpable awareness – the tomb knows we are here. The actual walls have memory, the stones contain a malignant desire to maim and torture. Leon checks repeatedly for traps, but the entire underground structure is a massive trap waiting for a fatal misstep, sensing their progress with a thousand eyes. It’s only a matter of time before the tomb folds itself around them, capturing the Unchained forever.
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In an abyss of my own
I wake to birds tittering in the trees. I roll over on my straw-filled mattress, sleepily rejecting the still-darkened world, scrabbling vainly for one last vestige of sleep, but I will not find it.

I hear rustling on the other side of the cottage I share with my mother, and I finally open my eyes. The noise is from her stirring of the darkened coals in the little fire pit and the quiet collision of a wooden spoon with the kettle hung carefully on a tripod above remembered flames. Almost as if she senses my wakefulness she turns to me with the black iron pot in her hands and brandishes a horsehair brush in my direction; this is her unsubtle demand for me to begin my morning routine.

I lever myself up from the mattress--but I do not allow myself to groan, as I know I'd get a tongue-lashing for it--and begin towards my mother with the pot and the brush in her hands. As I hobble towards her I allow myself to rise above the ground, but she hisses in disapproval and I drop back to my own feet for the rest of the short distance across the single room of our cottage. She thrusts the items into my hands and I turn towards the door and begin to hobble towards a new day.

My destination is the stream that leaps and cavorts from the recesses of the wood down to a small pond just outside the shelter of the trees. Many animals gather here for a sip of the crystalline water; even now, before sunrise, several deer, a fox, and some birds scatter as I approach, but the fox slinks cautiously back after a moment and when I make no moves to pursue them the birds again alight at the edges of the pool. Not unlike them, I am here to drink; unlike them I will gather water to bring back to the fire to be heated for tea. After a quick sip from the stream I must scrub out the inside of the pot before I can fill it and lug it back to the cottage.

At the edge of the pool I notice a rat dipping his paws in the water, then leaning back to sit on his haunches and run those little hands across his snout and whiskers. I'm struck with his movements and I crouch, entranced, as a memory seems to float into my consciousness of a friend of mine with a very dear rat friend of his own. Then the rat scampers away, and I'm left slightly bemused as I struggle to remember what I was just contemplating.

Through habit I finish scrubbing and filling the pot quickly and I am soon walking back along the path. As I make my way back, the sky is now shades of pink and purple as the sun peeks over the eastern horizon, but it is not yet visible over the trees of the forest. Suddenly, a vision that seems to come from nowhere, yet is strangely familiar, hits me so hard I almost spill the water in my kettle as I struggle to keep myself upright. I see the sun, and it looks identical to the sun I've observed every day of my life but inexplicably I know it is different. But slowly, incrementally it begins to resolve into a different star. By fits and starts I begin to see that it is embroidered onto a tabard of purest white, and it sits upon a breast, the breast of a true and righteous man.

As suddenly as this vision occurs to me, it is gone. I can do little but try to catch my breath as I watch the memory flees my mind; the more I try to catch it and examine it, the farther away it is, until I'm left wondering what just happened that almost brought me to my knees in the dirt.

When I do stumble in through the front door, my mother is waiting for me.

"And where have you been, lass?" she chides affectionately, cuffing me playfully upside the head. This is part of our daily routine and it plays out though it has taken me no longer than any other morning to get the water. I move toward the tripod over the now glowing coals, but stop, thinking of some strangeness that has touched me this morning, but I cannot precisely think of what it was, and as it slips from my mind I continue to the fire and affix the kettle above it.

We make the tea and share some coarse gruel, and I go outside to commence my daily chores. I walk toward the logs to be split for firewood and heft the axe as I position a log on a stump, but as I lean back to start my swing the head of the axe wagging in the empty space around me is suddenly intoxicating and I am paralyzed as another dream-memory slams into my consciousness. I have the distinct and utterly foreign memory of seeing such a weapon wielded against an enemy; seeing the weaving axehead, I have the baffling feeling of being defended and the equally baffling certainty that I am safe among friends.

With the suddenness that it came upon me, I am released from this strange paralysis and the knowing of it fades quickly. I split enough wood for a few days and stack it next to our hut, then bundle myself inside to sit before the fire to drive away the growing autumn chill. My mother is sitting at her work table, weaving herbs into braids to hang from the ceiling that will scent our living space all through the winter. I watch her at her work as I warm my hands at the now leaping fire.

I stare into the flames and suddenly they look like shimmering locks to me, and I am struck with the half-remembered image of a woman with hair that color. Like the flames, she has such warmth and light in her soul that I am immediately heartened, and she smiles at me with such caring that I know I could count on her to stand by my side until the end of days.

"Lass. Lassie!" my mother calls, and I snap back to this reality in which flames are only flames. She sounds as if she has been speaking to me for a while, and I sheepishly turn to her, bowing my head to show my obeisance. Apparently satisfied that now I am listening to her, she holds out a bundle of herbs. “I need more!” she exclaims, gesturing with the foliage. I nod obediently and head once more to the door, once more to the woods

I am well among the trees, searching the muddy undergrowth for the plant my mother had specified, when I feel as though I am not alone. Of course, I know that the forest is full of life and so among the trees one is never truly alone, but this feels—different. But the truly strange thing is that this feeling is not distressing in any way; in fact, I feel comforted and safe

Out of the corner of my eye I see a shadow flitting and frolicking between tree trunks and bushes, in blooms and brambles, always just out of my full gaze. I think piskies must be toying with me, but I feel no malevolence from any direction so I am baffled. The shadow once again zips across my field of vision; could it be the shape of a small man?

I walk farther into the forest and the half-glimpsed shadow follows me. As I lift my foot to take a step, the shadow suddenly appears to dart frantically around my feet and I glance down without putting my front foot down. My heart beats suddenly harder.

I’m looking at a snare apparently intended for large animals. It is composed of a tripwire that snaps shut two sets of iron and bone teeth around the limb that’s triggered it. It’s a hunters trap, and a cruel one. My little shadow saved me from being ensnared to wait in pain and delirium for whatever fate would befall anything caught in that trap. I shudder. As I go about my gathering—which is now painfully slow as I scour every inch of the ground before me for similar evil-looking traps—I reflect upon my good fortune to stumble upon a friendly little half-man.

These events, along with the feeling of pleasant camaraderie, fade rapidly in my mind as did the other strange events of the day. But I am left with a yearning to belong to a group that leaves me feeling so safe and cared for. I don’t often feel these things, as I am reviled by the villagers and my mother—though I sometimes sense her affection—is brusque and snappish with me. I wonder if such a group exists, somewhere, if in all the worlds there might be a band as misfit as myself. I’ll likely never find them. I’ll likely never even know.
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Wet Feet, Warm Heart
Mirilda’s feet sank with every step in the thigh-deep sludge that was the Outcast End swamp. She could feel the peaty mud soak through her boots as it squished between her toes. Even on the stretches of land they found, her feet never really seemed to dry out as the mud was thick there too. The few times they found some dry shelter, the caked mud between her toes caused her feet to itch terribly.

The going was slow in the swamp, every step took so much more effort. Even with Mirilda’s strength, lifting her feet out of the thick mud was exhausting. She tried to give herself mental distractions to pass the time. She thought about First Light, but soon her mind was back on the effort of each step. Eventually she thought about Gaelon, the Pelor fighter she met while fighting the frost giants.

Mirilda did not think she was capable of romantic love. But then again, she did not think she was capable of platonic love either but she loved the members of the Unchained. What she felt for Gaelon was not love, but it was something. The nights they spent together after battle sharpening their blades, sparring, sitting in silence with few scattered conversations were the most intimate moments in Mirilda’s life.

No, she did love Gaelon. But, if she were capable of falling in love with anyone, she felt it would be him. Regrettably, since their paths would not cross again, she would never know.
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Homebrew (1st)
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