Note: As I continue consolidating and migrating among my various blogs, some posts will be mirrored.
Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 18 of the latest adventuring party in my “Vanished Lands” heroic fantasy campaign setting. The teleconferencing team met on Sunday, 27 February 2011, and has been using Pathfinder, Skype, and an online dice roller.
In one ancient world, there was a region where strange majicks and demihuman races thrived. After “Holy Steel‘s” journey to the distant empire of Khemet, another motley group gathered in the northwestern “Vanished Lands” to explore a world full of perils and wonders….
>>Telecom party Player Character roster, as of spring 2011:
-“Kovar” [Beruk A.]-male Half-Orc/Saganim human Paladin of Mithras; raised as an orphan; contact of the Order of the Golden Lion; LGn, Lvl. 2
-“Davven ‘Digger’ Hollysharp” [Robert A.S.]-male Faldine Halfling archaeologist (Tallfellow Rogue) from a pipeweed farm in Tarken; contact of “Tunnel” [Stuart C.G.]; CGn, Age 45, Lvl. 2
-“Asish Chen Ti” [Byron V.O.]-male Tsucharim human archer (Mongol-style Ranger), escaped from service to Nannuattan (eastern Dark Elf) Wizard Arbalas; contact of “Sukhov” [Beruk A.] and owner of Akita dog Genghis and horse Onimusha; NGl, Age 20, Lvl. 2
-“Jovinda Halflight” [Sammy H.]-female Half-Elf (Grugach/Hifalendorin) Cleric of Mekkil, goddess of nature; owner of horse Wyth-Amoi, or “Wind Spirit”; NGl, Age 23, Lvl. 2
-“Kazuo Takenaga” [Taum D’A.]-male Nezumi (Rat-kin) Monk from the Zedu kingdom in the Therud Forest; LNg, Age 20, Lvl. 2
-“Favelhorn Riftbringer” [Dexter V.H./absent]-male Mountain Dwarf Summoner; CGn, Age 51, Lvl. 1
-“Gawain Keary” [Paul J./absent]-male Saganim human Illusionist (proto-Celtic Wizard) and contact of “Kimo” [Beruk A.]; NGc, Age 20, Lvl. 1
“15 to 16 August 1229 B.C.E.:” After meeting in the Wisalef Forest, the travelers had encountered hostile Centaurs, followers of the mysterious Vappu Lahja. Returning northwest across the Plains of Sathendo, the group found an abandoned hamlet and stayed in a haunted inn.
The brave adventurers revisit the upstairs rooms at the “Mellow Mule” in the Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) human community of Alarn. Noting that one room contained a man hanged upside-down, scholar Digger speculates that the strange items in each chamber may have a symbolic meaning similar to the Tarot deck or Skaevingol (Norse) beliefs.
In the first guest room on the right, Kovar had seen a raven, which left behind a black feather. Digger and Jovinda theorize that it could be an omen or a sign for judgment and justice. Across the hall, all the furniture is suspended from the ceiling, possibly reflecting a reversed Tarot card (emphasizing negative connotations) or the Wheel of destiny.
The shards of a magical mirror in the second room on the right showed the Half-Orc Paladin eyes that were not his own. Asish searches for tracks, and Kazuo questions whether his companions are reading too much into the manifestations of unquiet spirits. Still, Digger and Jovinda note that mirrors can be portals or symbolize the Magician or soul.
The opposite room is covered in frost, suggesting a trap or Hell (as well as the recent presence of Undead). Gawain stays downstairs with “Sir Bonner of Runnymeade” [Jon W.B./Non-Player Character], who is recovering from being captured by two Korred.
In the third room on the right, the furniture had been thrust out the window, leaving a maw of dangerous and animated splinters. Across from it is a room where decay had rapidly advanced, which Halfling Rogue Digger says could represent the Fool or the Wheel card.
After determining that a circle scratched on the floor of the last room on the right isn’t broken, Asish cuts down the hanged man. Kovar carries the unfortunate victim, whom Sir Bonner positively identifies as the innkeeper. Jovinda casts Detect Magic, which shows that the man was levitated into place and that the horse in the room in the last room on the left was affected by Teleport and Eviscerate spells.
Digger observes that the slain steed could represent the Death or Tower card, but Jovinda notes that just as the Fey Korred spoke in riddles and metaphors, perhaps the rooms reflect an unnatural progression. The raven and reverse-gravity rooms could be warnings of a disruption in the natural order, says the Grugach Cleric of Mekkil, while the cold and mirror chambers might be a trap for the soul.
Jovinda says the rooms with decay and splinters could demonstrate a separation of the physical from the spiritual, echoing the ritual purification that Kazuo and Digger endured on their way to meeting — and being influenced by — Vappu Lahja. The priestess says the last rooms in the inn (with the horse and hanged man) could depict a final destruction of the body and soul. The group agrees that her interpretation makes sense.
Asish takes Kazuo to patrol the area around Alarn. They find the print of a huge bare foot, suggesting that Connacht and Maldrod weren’t lying about a giant passing through. The Ranger and Monk retrieve a runaway horse for Sir Bonner. Gawain and Kovar watch the “Mellow Mule” and the knight.
Jovinda finds that the innkeeper was exsanguinated elsewhere before he was hung, and she and Digger walk along the Aspar River looking for animals to talk to. A monstrous eel leaps out at them!
Tsucharim rider Asish’s arrows hits the slimy serpent, which falls short of swallowing Digger. Kovar throws a spear, and Kazuo charges, but his blows have little effect. Jovinda casts Calm Animal and Talk With Animals, persuading the hungry eel to swim north, away from human habitation.
Kazuo objects to the use of any mind-affecting spells but says he’ll respect Jovinda’s judgment. The Monk also disagrees with Kovar and others, who feel that the dangerous monster should have been slain.
Asish describes the tracks he found, which may have been left by a storm giant. Jovinda and Digger are surprised that the two Korred may have been literal in their description of what scared off the peasants after all.
Digger and Kazuo say that the storm, serpent, and giant, combined with the haunted inn and Korred, are more likely to be responsible for Alarn’s abandonment than the followers of Vappu Lahja. Kovar and Asish still don’t trust the woman and hope to find human farmers to verify what happened before riding on to the city of Nadwi….
I’m glad that most of you were able to participate in our return to the regular Sunday night time slot! Dexter and Paul, let us know when and if “Favelhorn” and “Gawain” will be able to rejoin us. A few of you have mentioned alternatives to Skype, Scriblink, and the online dice roller we’ve been using — feel free to post links to the Google Group message board.
Prospective gamer Rich L., who sat in on “Vortex” Team 1 in this past Monday’s FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures space opera session, has also expressed interest in checking out the fantasy campaign. Since he lives near me, I may have him come over to check out the game at some point, if you’re amenable, but it’s not urgent.
In the meantime, while I continue to look at various retro-clones and rules-light systems such as Labyrinth Lord, please make sure that your character records are up to date. I don’t anticipate skipping any sessions in March, but let me know your own schedules. Take it easy, and happy gaming! -Gene