“VanishedLands” Update T3.34 — Unicorn trails

A unicorn and fair maiden

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session T3.34 of the latest adventuring party in my “Vanished Lands” heroic fantasy campaign setting. The teleconferencing team met on Sunday, 6 November 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….

After meeting in the Wisalef Forest, an unlikely band of adventurers encountered the hostile Centaur followers of Vappu Lahja on the Plains of Sathendo….

>>Telecom party Player Character roster, as of autumn 2011:

-“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. 4

-“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. 4

-“Kazuo Takenaga” [Taum D’A.]-male Nezumi (Rat-kin) Monk from the Zedu kingdom in the Therud Forest; LNg, Age 20, Lvl. 4

-“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); NGc, Age 20, Lvl. 3

-“Kovar” [Beruk A./absent]-male Half-Orc/Saganim human Paladin of Mithras, god of contracts and brotherhood; LGn, Lvl. 3

-“Davven ‘Digger’ Hollysharp” [Robert A.S./absent]-male Faldine Halfling archaeologist (Tallfellow Rogue) from a pipeweed farm in Tarken; CGn, Age 45, Lvl. 3

>>”7 September to 1 November 1229 B.C.E.:” On the way north from the haunted hamlet of Alarn, the adventuring party had been attacked by Twigjacks. After some discussion, the travelers reluctantly agreed to split, with one half of them continuing into the Waletku kingdom of the Elves and the other half returning to the (proto-Western European) human kingdom of Hifalendor.

Asish, Jovinda, and Kazuo plan to follow a map of Ley lines to see where Unseelie Fey might be gathering. They send Gawain, Kovar, and Digger to villages near Alarn to search for missing peasants and knights.

With his dog Genghis at his side, Ranger Asish scouts ahead into the autumn woods, followed at some distance by Jovinda and Kazuo. Genghis and Kazuo’s sensitive noses detect trails left recently by humanoids, but they find no other signs of passage in the fallen leaves and branches.

Asish finds a defensible position and pitches a “cold camp” — one without a fire. He sees what looks like a horse with a rider outlined in the moonlight and shares his observations with Jovinda and Kazuo, who sit chilly watches but see nothing.

The next morning, the trio is surprised to smell fresh bread! The Tsucharim human, Half-Elf, and Nezumi follow the scent to a grassy mound from which a plume of smoke emanates. They warily circle around until they see a low stone archway.

A creature with cloven hooves, a goatee, and a single, coiled horn greets them: “Good morning! I thought you’d never awaken — come get breakfast!” Jovinda is delighted to meet a talking unicorn, but Kazuo and Asish are confused until they recall legends of the Ki-Rin from their eastern homelands.

Corvaralus (or “Carlos” for short) leads the wanderers beneath the earth, where they find a stone hearth in the center of a white, vaulted chamber. Slender demihumans sit around the perimeter, talking quietly. The newcomers happily partake of the warm bread, fruit pies, and sweet cakes that remind them of temples of Yondolla.

Paelivi Rutteskina, an elegant Danaan Sidhe, introduces herself to Jovinda and company. Asish warns of the dangers posed by the aggressive followers of Vappu Lahja, and Vellamo Karjana notes that the mysterious woman has a Fey-sounding name.

Jovinda explains that the border community of Alarn has been abandoned after supernatural attacks, which seem to be coordinated, unlike the normal behavior of Centaurs, Satyrs, Korred, and similar folk. The inhuman members of the Seelie Court are disturbed and say they’ll be more careful in “crossing the paths between worlds.”

When Kazuo describes a reptilian scent that he had noticed in Vappu Lahja’s camp, Vellamo theorizes that a dragon could be involved, even if many of the magical beings aren’t especially subtle.

Paelivi initially declines to get involved in mortal concerns, but Carlos shames her into offering aid. Paelivi says that in return for showing the way once when it is unclear, Jovinda must either find and share Vappu Lahja’s true nature only with her or she must choose the “way of those who walk in the woods” when ultimately deciding between her human and Elven heritages. The priestess of Mekkil, goddess of nature, agrees.

Carlos asks fellow beast-kin Kazuo if he has ever fallen under the thrall of Vappu Lahja, and the Monk admits that he had once been so ensorcelled. The unicorn bids the Nezumi to touch his horn, granting him a moment of insight and strengthening his resolve against future mental attacks.

The tall demihumans disappear like morning mist, and Carlos bids his new friends farewell. He says he’ll keep watch for foes more organized that the occasional bandits or monsters. After filling their bags with baked goods, Asish, Jovinda, and Kazuo clamber outside and are surrounded by snow!

Asish studies the heavens and concludes that nearly two months have passed outside the barrow while only one afternoon seemingly passed inside! Too late, Jovinda remembers some of the warnings about dealing with the otherworldly Fey. Kazuo wonders about their companions and the state of their fact-finding missions.

Even more upsetting, Asish discovers that Genghis, horses Onimusha and Wyth-Amoi, and the pack mule have long gone. Rather than report to the Elves in the city of Alfhileno or immediately tackle enemy encampments, he recommends looking for their animals and companions back to the south.

The team trudges to Digger’s hometown of Tarken. Frost-covered farms surround neat Halfling burrows and human buildings of brick. Relieved that Tarken hasn’t yet succumbed to the same fate as Alarn, Asish and fellows go to an inn for a warm meal.

They eventually meet Digger’s brother Panros. The friendly pipeweed farmer says that Davven, who is not a favored son in their prosperous family, passed through town a few weeks ago. He was accompanied by a scholarly man (Gawain) who talked with the local mage and a burly, armored warrior who kept to himself and slept in the barn (Kovar).

Once he verified that some of the people fleeing Alarn had arrived safely in Tarken, Digger’s band continued north, according to Panros. The local militia has been alerted of the Centaurs massing near Kedetura and the strange beasts around Alarn.

Panros also reveals that an attractive woman followed Digger a few days later. “Jade” [Sammy/Non-Player Character] traveled with a Saganim warrior, a Hifalendorin duelist, and a Centaur. Asish is curious, but Jovinda and Kazuo are more wary.

Kazuo is pleased to learn that his erstwhile traveling companions are still alive, and Jovinda asks for an introduction to “Charon Galacticus” [Carlos R./N.P.C.], the Sylvan Elf Wizard who talked with Gawain. However, the Monk and priestess must first attend to Asish, who gets drunk on cider while missing his horse. They have to carry him up to his room…

Byron, Sammy, and Taum, it was good see all of you online after our latest break! Paul and Rob, let us know when you think you’ll be able to rejoin us, and I hope that Dexter and Beruk can eventually do so as well.

Our next virtual fantasy session is still on for Sunday, Nov. 13, and Team 1 (the crew of the Blackbird) for the FATE 3e Vortexspace opera will convene on Monday, Nov. 14.

Please note that we won’t be meeting on Nov. 20 because Byron will be visiting Boston in the nights prior to that date! Once again, let me know your availability for a possible game on Saturday, Nov. 19, and stay in touch, -Gene