“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Update 39.7 — Abattoir and ambush

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 7 of the “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign, which Brian W. hosted at his home in Newton, Mass., on 14 January 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….

“Vistel’s Circus,” Player Character Party 39 in Gene D.’s ” Vanished Lands ” heroic fantasy campaign, using theBasic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, as of spring 2013:

  • Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) and stage seer, 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
  • 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
  • Tempestade [Josh C./absent ]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), roustabout; CGl, Lvl. 2
  • Radius [Jason E.R./absent ]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 1
Bandit ambush near Nobb
Skirmish in the snow

“17 to 21 February 1228 B.C.E.:” On its way west, the circus had stopped at Tensar, hometown of escape artist Seamus Fenor. Some of the performers found themselves fighting off Undead at the cursed farmstead of Fenor’s family, which had been slain by a Necromancer posing as an itinerant tinker.

Giacomo notes that one building was not burned down in the fighting and boldly leads Scully and Hamfast back to the haunted farm. They meet Brion Black Elk standing guard on the road.

The young Paladin of Otih, god of the sun and justice, explains that “Lady Alcye” [Kim A.G./Non-Player Character] had asked him to warn off travelers. Giacomo explains to the Saganim (proto-Celtic) human that he merely wants to make sure that no traces of the murderer from the Sable clan remain to trouble Seamus or the town. Brion reluctantly lets them onto the property.

Scully is the first to smell something foul as they approach a tool shed. Hamfast opens the door and is disgusted to see human skins piled like animal hides. As the three carnies search the shed and tinkerer’s cart, the skins pull themselves together into a flesh golem!

Ranger Scully draws her bow, but her arrows have little effect on the hideous construct. Hamfast slams into it with his hammer, as Giacomo casts Chill Touch. The grotesque golem hits Hamfast with a mighty but glancing blow.

Corwin and Elsa catch up, and they and Brion race to the shed upon hearing Scully’s shouts. Bard Corwin fumbles with his bow, but Druid Elsa casts Protection From Evil on Hamfast. Brion charges but spears himself in the chaos.

As the abattoir shakes, Gnoll Scully moves the cart for cover, as Fighter Hamfast falls back. Wily Giacomo casts Mage Hand to pick up a lantern and drop it onto the tough golem. He also detects a magic scroll in the cart.

The golem slowly shambles out of the shed. Corwin slips in the oil from Giacomo’s lamp, while Elsa tries to cast Mendon one of the seams holding the human hides together. Scully prepares flaming arrows, and Hamfast drops his maul in favor of a knife.

Giacomo casts Magic Missile, and the golem is forced to stop to extinguish itself. Corwin swings his sword, hitting the golem, as well as hapless Hamfast. Elsa heals the Zeda human and then casts Unravel on the golem.

Scully draws a sword and strikes at the golem’s stitches, as does Hamfast. Ignoring pain from a spell burn, Giacomo casts more Magic Missiles, destroying the golem. Elsa aids Scully and Brion.

After Corwin finds and disables some traps, the adventuring party searches the Necromancer’s cart. They find the following:

  • Coins: 50 copper pieces, 100 silver pieces, 200 crowns (gold pieces), and 500 g.p. in gems (to treasurer Corwin)
  • Dagger, enchanted (Giacomo to identify)
  • Knives and sharpeners
  • Needle and thread, magical (but not necessarily evil)
  • Scrolls: Alter Self and Animate Dead (to Giacomo), Create Flesh Golem (to Brion to destroy), and Raise Dead(to Elsa)

The group hastens back to the safety of Tensar’s walls. Elsa drops Brion off at the local temple of Edillon, and Corwin reports to circus founder Orlando Vistel as well as Lady Alcye. Seamus takes his portion of the recovered loot and plans to resettle nearby.

Flush with cash (about 130 g.p. each), the would-be heroes buy supplies. Giacomo acquires scrolls of Burning Handsand Levitate. The Wizard also gets some alchemist’s fire and has his staff and cane tipped with silver.

Animal lover Scully buys a donkey, which she names “Nestor.” Practical Hamfast picks up rope, oil, and lanterns and coordinates with drover Cerdwyn mab Ardain. Corwin buys a chain shirt, healing potions, and scrolls of Charm, Sleep, Hold Person, and Invisibility.

Elsa gives half of her funds to the circus, and in return for her tithe, Fr. Wallace provides flasks of holy water. The Dwarf also purchases studded leather armor, inquires about Gnomish brew, and commissions custom flasks with the Fairbottom clan label.

Vistel’s Circus puts on a show one night to celebrate Tensar’s freedom from the Fenor family curse. All give strong performances, except for Scully, who manages not to injure anyone during her knife-throwing act. Ringmaster Corwin finds that his flirtations with Alcye have not endeared him to dancer Tamara the Veiled Wonder or acrobat Simona Perhuten.

Sir Banor Finney and watchful “Black Raven” [Michael C./N.P.C.] head north to Grayton, and the circus folk are quietly relieved. Paladin Radius is assumed to have returned to his home plane, and shivering Tempestade sticks close to his duties after witnessing many horrors.

Hamfast and River Dwarf Baskor Steadyhand (who gives long, meaningful glances at Elsa) help break camp and get the wagons under way. The circus troupe continues west, toward the Saganim village of Nobb.

As woods close in on either side of the rutted road, scout Scully spots some fallen logs ahead. Elsa calls out a warning of ambush, and Orlando orders the wagons to circle. Seven shaggy Bugbears emerge from the frosty forest.

Elsa casts Entangle, snaring two of the Goblinoids in the brush. Corwin strums his mandolin and casts Sleep on two more foes. Hamfast moves around, while Scully’s first arrows are wide of their mark.

Giacomo casts Magic Missile, drawing the humanoids’ attention. They hurl spears at him. Elsa invokes Mekkil,goddess of nature, for Bless and runs to a cart to heal Giacomo. Corwin slays the bandit leader, as Hamfast and Scully finish off the others.

In addition to spears and swords, the Bugbears were carrying 60 s.p., 12 electrum pieces, and 35 g.p. in stolen jewelry. At Corwin’s recommendation, the caravan presses on to reach Nobb shortly after nightfall on its second day from Tensar….

So far, I’ve found that the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game blends the simplicity and flavor of Old-School Renaissance retro-clones with the familiar options of the D20 Open Game License. We’ve tried various editions of Dungeons & Dragons and rules-light systems, but with a few house rules, Basic Fantasy works fine for us.

I’m sorry that we’ve had delays because of the holidays and weather, but I look forward to our next face-to-face game, scheduled for Monday, 4 February 2013, as well as to eventually continuing the “Vortex : Terra’s Pride” telecom space opera and Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” planetary romance miniseries! Happy gaming, -Gene