Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Sessions 3-5 of the “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign, which Brian W. hosted at his home in Newton, Massachusetts, in October and November 2012:
In one ancient world, there was a region where strange majicks and demihuman races thrived. The “Vanished Lands” were blessed by the gods and cursed by prophecy. Travelers became adventurers, and adventurers strove to be heroes in the face of many perils and wonders.
Various groups of mercenaries and diplomats have fought humanoids in the northwestern borderlands, encountered pirates on the Sea of Nagendwa, and wandered the hostile Halmed Desert and the wide Plains of Sathendo….
- “Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane” [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) and stage magician, embittered by experiences in Hesolin’s Magisterium; NGc, Lvl. 2
- “Hamfast Hammerfist” [Brian W.]-male Zeda human Fighter, mountaineer, “barbarian” strongman, and laborer; TNg, Lvl. 2
- “Scully Strongbow” [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 2
- “Tempestade” [Josh C.]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), roustabout; CGl, Lvl. 2
- “Corwin Windsong” [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and ringmaster with a mandolin; CNg, Lvl. 2
- “Elsa Fairbottom” [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with owlbear cub “Oswald”; NGc, Lvl. 2
- “Radius” [Jason E.R./absent]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 1
“5 to 14 February 1228 B.C.E.:” While their troupe visited the Hifalendorin human village of Androth, a few performers freed Goblin slaves from a hidden silver mine. They slew the overseers, including Adric Thumon, squire to Sir Banor Finney.
Corwin and company don’t tell the knight about their involvement in Thumon’s death, even as he travels eastward with the circus, across the Aehonir River and into the (proto-Celtic) human kingdom of Saganim.
While on watch one night, Scully goes into some woods in search of her owl “Owlicious.” Branches slam into the Gnoll, but fortunately Stuffy, one of Elsa’s trained dogs, is able to lead the others to her before the evil Treant can do any further harm. It takes the entire group to fell the monster, which later feeds a bonfire.
As the circus, Sir Banor, and scout “Black Raven” [Michael C./Non-Player Character] ride across the Plains of Sathendo, they sense a winter storm approaching. In the middle of the blizzard, the camp hears a stampeding herd of aurochs pass nearby, as well as something large hunting them on the wing.
The travelers avoid the wyvern — “Cows don’t fly” — but Tempestade helps grab a bovine for food and its hide. The adventuring party also finds 80 silver pieces and 20 gold crowns while sheltered in a cave.
Orlando Vistel and his wagons pull into the Saganim town of Tensar. Giacomo orders an ale at the “Tipped Disc” tavern, while Scully carves an auroch horn. Hamfast demonstrates his prowess by lifting a bench of Halflings.
Corwin avoids Black Raven and flirts with “Alcye” [Kim A.G./N.P.C.], an attractive lady apparently related to Laird Colin. This earns him a cold shoulder from Tamara, a dancer in the circus.
Cerdwyn, head of the roustabouts, tells Hamfast that disgruntled clown Graham Tervin and escape artist Seamus Fenor have gone missing. Hamfast finds Graham drinking and learns that the Fenor clan had a farm on the town’s outskirts until it died off from “the dropsy.”
Orlando gives ringleader Corwin leave to take a group and retrieve Seamus. They find the Saganim human seemingly talking to himself in a family graveyard next to a dilapidated farmhouse and barn.
Bard Corwin approaches Fenor and soon realizes from the escape artist’s grimaces and jerky movements that he is possessed. Eight skeletons burst forth from the ground, grabbing at the circus folk!
Druid Elsa reaches for holy water, and Tempestade stomps on the emerging Undead. Giacomo and Hamfast are hurt, and Corwin smashes a skeleton with his long sword. Ranger Scully slides over a gravestone and shoots arrows, which have a limited effect.
Mage Giacomo casts Shield before swinging his quarterstaff. Hamfast Hammerfist fights as mightily as his name implies, eventually crushing five skulls. Elsa tends to the injured and draws her mace “Grimtooth” in the names of patron deities Mekkil and Vulkan.
Monk Tempestade dodges and kicks, but is attacked in return, along with Scully and Elsa. Corwin covers Hamfast, as Scully switches to a sword. After defeating the skeletons, the team ties up Seamus and returns to Tensar.
Miranda Barrowright, the Harfoot Halfling priestess of Yondolla in the camp, refers Seamus and company to the local church of Edillon. At the temple of the sky god, Fr. Wallace agrees to prepare an exorcism. Scully and Cerdwyn help keep watch.
Corwin reluctantly reports to circus founder Orlando, Sir Banor, and Alcye. Elsa offers prayers to Yondolla and Edillon, while Hamfast and Tempestade eat and rest with the other roustabouts.
Alcye accepts Corwin’s offer to escort her home (he has prepared his Seduction Stash for the occasion). However, a thick fog envelops them, and Corwin is forced to slay Alcye’s butler, who has been zombified! Her cook takes a cleaver to Corwin’s clothes.
The couple soon finds itself fleeing from shambling zombies and sees a building up ahead. Corwin realizes that it is the Fenor farmstead. He takes Alcye’s hand and runs to the barn. They climb to a hay loft and use a rope to get around the gathering horde.
Corwin and Alcye race back to the walls of Tensar, shouting for help. More Undead appear on the misty moors. Tempestade wakes all but Hamfast and Elsa and runs out the gate. Scully checks on Seamus and grabs torches.
Alcye casts Magic Missile, and Corwin knocks down two more zombies, but they’re still overwhelmed. Black Raven, Sir Banor, and three Dwarf newcomers to the town come to their rescue. For once, Corwin is glad to see Black Raven, and he hands Alcye to him to ride back.
With help from Giacomo’s Color Spray spell, Tempestade’s blows, and Scully’s flaming arrows, Corwin and company fight their way back to the town. Fr. Wallace looks at the wounded.
The haughty Dwarves introduce themselves as Ivar Giantslayer, Dmitri Sminkevitch, and Yurgi Twoblade. Hamfast defends the honor of “sundered Dwarves” Elsa and River Dwarf rigger Baskor Steadyhand.
The priest, Alcye, and Orlando agree that a more organized force should return to the Fenor property during the day. Alcye asks Sir Banor and Black Raven to help fortify Tensar, while Corwin prepares to lead another expedition to the haunted farm….
It was good to see some of you for The Hobbit [Part 1 of 3]: An Unexpected Journey this past Saturday. I look forward to seeing most of you at tonight’s face-to-face game, our last for this year. Brian and Jason, we’ll miss you, and I hope that all your holidays are happy!
In the coming months, I also look forward to meeting new role-player Joe T. and playing in Jason’s Savage Worlds: “Barsoomian Adventures” and Bruce’s Pathfinder: “Hyborean Age” scenarios. Take it easy, -Gene