New “Vanished Lands” telecom team, Update 21 — Scarecrows!

Dragon Magazine art
Larry Elmore's scarecrow

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session T3.21 of the latest adventuring party in my “Vanished Landsheroic fantasy campaign setting. The teleconferencing team met on Sunday, 20 March 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:

-“Gawain Keary” [Paul J.]-male Saganim human Illusionist (proto-Celtic Wizard); NGc, Age 20, Lvl. 1

-“Kovar” [Beruk A.]-male Half-Orc/Saganim human Paladin of Mithras, god of contracts and brotherhood; LGn, Lvl. 2

-“Davven ‘Digger’ Hollysharp” [Robert A.S.]-male Faldine Halfling archaeologist (Tallfellow Rogue) from a pipeweed farm in Tarken; CGn, Age 45, Lvl. 2

-“Asish Chen Ti” [Byron V.O.]-male Tsucharim human archer (Mongol-style Ranger), escaped from the kingdom of Gokuri; 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

17 to 18 August 1229 B.C.E.:” After meeting in the Wisalef Forest and encountering hostile Centaurs and other creatures on the Plains of Sathendo, the adventuring party rode back to the abandoned Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) human hamlet of Alarn.

After spending the night at a farm north of Alarn, the group has breakfast with the Sandia clan. Digger climbs onto a bench and shows a sketch of Octavius Karstus, the mysterious Wizard who hired him to look into property in Evesboro.

Jonas recognizes the drawing and says that he had met Karstus near the Aspar River a few months ago and directed him to the city of Nadwi. The peasant says he got a whole silver coin for his help, and the Halfling Rogue offers Jonas two coppers more.

Kovar, Gawain, and “Sir Bonner of Runnymeade” [Jon W.B./Non-Player Character] enjoy the morning’s entertainment before going to ready their steeds. Digger and Jovinda ask matron Violet Sandia for another private conversation. They apologize for Kazuo, who told Violet’s impressionable granddaughter Alyssa about Vappu Lahja, and note that the pregnant girl is otherwise healthy.

Meanwhile, Kazuo’s presence is requested upstairs, where bedridden Alyssa begs the Nezumi Monk not to leave because the he is the only person who understands her. Asish and Jovinda bring the paranoid heiress some tea and retrieve Kazuo. The Grugach Cleric whispers that the group should make a quick exit because it’s no longer welcome.

The wanderers ride past wary field hands and pass Alarn, which is still empty. Tsucharim Ranger Asish looks for recent Centaur tracks, and Digger and Jovinda debate whether to place more warnings for would-be raiders. Perhaps due to Vappu Lahja’s influence, Digger believes that some of the enigmatic woman’s followers must be misguided — and punished — if they attacked this Hifalendorin community rather than let him and Kazuo find converts.

He and Gawain also conclude that the storm giant sighted in the area must be a magically transformed peasant, based on the reticence they encountered at the Sandia farm. Kovar and Kazuo say there’s no need to interfere further with the farmers, but they keep watch for more Fey. Sir Bonner tells Digger that he encountered Karstus, whom he took for a lost courier, a few weeks ago.

Several hours later, the team passes through a wheat field near the Aspar River on its way southwest toward Nadwi. Four figures watch the road, unmoving and drawing the party’s curiosity. Gawain, Kovar, Jovinda, and Kazuo ride to about 60 feet away, while Asish stays a bit farther back and to one side. Digger and Sir Bonner keep near the road in case of ambush.

The four humanoids, about 50 feet each from one another, are in ragged clothing and glower at the investigators. Kovar and Gawain shrug off their fear, but Sir Bonner is affected, and Jovinda is fascinated.

Asish fires an arrow into the emaciated creature closest to Jovinda, knocking off its human face and revealing a glowing skull! Digger dismounts and readies his sling, and Kazuo slides off his mule. Gawain readies spells, and Asish’s dog Genghis tugs on Jovinda, shaking her out of her fascination.

One of the strange scarecrows rakes Jovinda with skeletal claws, and the others shamble forward. Paladin Kovar spurs his horse and charges, smiting one with his spear. Asish’s next two arrows miss, and the unnerved archer steps back to avoid the enemy. Digger also falls back.

Martial artist Kazuo rains Flurries of Blows on the straw-stuffed constructs, and arcanist Gawain helps by knocking down one with a Grease spell. Jovinda draws her short bow but fumbles her first shot. One monster hits Kovar, and another staggers Jovinda.

Armored Kovar jumps off his destrier and skewers a scarecrow, as Asish incinerates a straw man with a volley of flaming arrows. Swift Kazuo moves to another opponent.

Priestess Jovinda invokes Mekkil, goddess of nature, for a Positive Energy Burst. Fellow spellcaster Gawain observes that since it only healed her and her friends but didn’t hurt the scarecrows, they must not be Undead. He casts Enlarge on Half-Orc Kovar, who spears another before it can hit him.

Sniper Asish continues to lay covering fire for Kazuo, Jovinda, and Kovar, but unlucky Kazuo is knocked unconscious and dragged out of the melee by Genghis. Illusionist Gawain casts a Minor Image of embiggened Kovar and Blinding Rays. After missing the scarecrows with arrows, Jovinda casts Cure Light Wounds on herself.

The three remaining foes close in on the party. Kovar shield bashes one before missing and being knocked down, and Gawain is fascinated until shaken by Genghis. Jovinda races to Kovar, casts Sanctuary and heal, and then retreats.

Asish pulls Kazuo onto his saddle and continues to wield his bow against the scarecrows, eventually destroying them. Digger and Kazuo say it’s no coincidence that these unnatural creations were near the road from Alarn, and Digger and Gawain suspect that Octavius Karstus may be involved.

Kovar angrily asks Sir Bonner why he didn’t help. The hapless knight says he recognized one dead face as that of a tinker he once traveled with. Jovinda attends to Kovar, Kazuo, and Gawain’s injuries, as well as her own, while Akita Genghis licks the Wild Elf’s face.

Asish and Digger find 18 crowns (gold pieces), assorted silverware and tools worth 30 g.p., and the remains of a skin once holding Fey wine amid the charred corpses. Sir Bonner identifies the tools as belonging to one Taras of Rockney….

Please note that I’ve added the treasure amounts and Sir Bonner’s explanation of why he didn’t fight. Paul and Beruk, I look forward to seeing both of you (and prospective role-player Rich L.) at tonight’s FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures: “Vortexspace opera game! Byron, thanks for posting your prestige class ideas for Asish on the Google Group, and I hope the others give good suggestions.

Rob, I’ll try to touch base with you later this week on the parts you missed. Sammy, I hope you get your computer back in good working order, and can you and Taum let me know which D&D3.5/4e books I’m selling you’re interested in? Dexter, we saw you online briefly — were you having problems with Skype? Have a good week, everyone! -Gene