“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Update 39.13 — Embassy visit and alley ambush

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.13, which Rich C.G. hosted in Waltham, Mass., on Saturday, 18 May 2013:

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 the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, as of spring 2013:

  • 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. 3
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and ringmaster with a mandolin; CNg, Lvl. 3
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with owlbear cub “Oswald”; NGc, Lvl. 3


  • Melchior Merryman [Byron V.O.]-male Hifalendorin/Saganim human Cleric of Ulandt, lady of rest/Defender of the Night, former member of “Mystical Harmony/the Seekers of Lore” (Party 33); NGl
  • “Uldor” [Thomas]-male Hifalendorin human priest of Otih (Cleric of sun deity Pelor) and healer; NGl, Lvl. 3 (from D&D5e/“Next” playtest, Party 38)
  • “Gug Trushin” [Kai-Yin H.]-male Hill Dwarf Fighter (Soldier, Slayer), taciturn mercenary; CNg, Lvl. 3 (from D&D5e/“Next” playtest, Party 38)


  • Hamfast Hammerfist [Brian W.]-male Zeda human Fighter, mountaineer, “barbarian” strongman, and laborer; TNg, Lvl. 3
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 3
  • Tempestade [Josh C.]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), roustabout; CGl, Lvl. 2
  • Radius [Jason E.R.]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 1

“6 to 7 March 1228 B.C.E.:” The traveling performers continued their investigation of corruption in Thadenis, capital of the (proto-Celtic) human kingdom of Saganim. Corwin Windsong had revealed himself as the long-lost Prince Berek during the ceremony to name his half-brother, Prince Daven, heir apparent.

After thwarting a Doppleganger’s attack on King Edmund II, Corwin, Giacomo du Vane, and Elsa Fairbottom had found the remains of a varun, a cat native to the Underdark. They left the Gilded Keep on the Isle of Valor and returned to the “Happy Brownie” inn.

Camelot wallpaper
Starz’s Camelot

There, they meet Melchior Merryman. Queen Margaret had sent the priest of Ulandt, goddess of the night, to discreetly help Prince Berek clear his name. Before he joined Vistel’s Circus, Corwin had been falsely accused of murdering his tutor Katarina, the wife of Lord Dalek, a Tiefling (demon-touched) Mage and advisor to the king.

Since Hamfast and Scully are busy protecting the circus with Prince Garamond’s Reptile Folk pirates, Melchior recruits people to help Corwin. He finds Uldor, a human Cleric of sun deity Otih, and Gug Trushin, a Dwarf mercenary recently returned from exploring caves near a border keep.

Melchior asks about evidence tying a serial killer defeated near the village of Tensar with House Sable, which is friendly with the royal family. The Defender of the Night is wary of Undead and hopes to find whoever was behind the attack on the king.

The wanderers go to the circus wagons and tents in the southeastern corner of the Agora (market square). Uldor and Gug are impressed at seeing a fire eater, acrobats, and unusual creatures. Some of the female carnival folk avoid Corwin. Elsa offers fellow Dwarf Gug a draught of her Gnomish brew, and he readily accepts.

Giacomo the Mysterious leads the way to a tinker’s cart that he has redecorated. It once contained the tools of the Necromancer who had killed farmers at the Fenor homestead and taken their skins for disguises and a flesh golem.

Uldor casts Detect Magic, and Giacomo opens various drawers. One of them contains a leather marionette wearing a mask. The strange puppet makes Giacomo’s companions uncomfortable. The stage magician also shows Melchior an enchanted needle and thread, and Uldor later confirms with the Paladins of Otih that a set of cursed shears was destroyed.

A signet ring bears the symbol of House Sable, which holds territory in the northwestern Plains of Sathendo, not far from Tensar and lands of Prince Daven. Lord Stefan Sable is an advisor to the king, and his son Sean is friends with Daven.

Based on Hamfast’s earlier recommendation, Corwin and company go to the embassy of Zuromm to ask about the varun. Melchior and Uldor wait across the street, since they’re unlikely to be welcomed by worshippers of Lolth and Gruumsh at the brownstone.

A Saganim human butler ushers the visitors into a round waiting room after Corwin introduces himself as Prince Berek. Giacomo looks up at the demonic tapestries and ornate rafters, and Gug and Elsa notice that the stones of the floor have been laid in a spider web pattern.

Lady Dolista [not to be confused appears with Faelonia’s nemeses Balesta and Dalesta] and offers formal greetings. The attractive envoy apologizes for her lacy sleeping clothes, since the Drow (western Dark Elves) are nocturnal. Elsa and Gug face off with two Duergar (Gray Dwarf) guards.

Meanwhile, Melchior takes Uldor to a cart that he uses as a mobile changing room. They disguise themselves as “Seamus McMurdoch,” a potion seller, and his helper “Vinstel.” Melchior asks the Halfling driver to drop them off at a back door to the Zuromm embassy.

The butler greets “Seamus” and “Vinstel” and, after some negotiations, gives a bag of 60 gold coins in return for a paralytic venom, poison in paste form, and an “animal pacifier.” Melchior and Uldor overhear Corwin and Dolista nearby and stall for time and diversion.

Lady Dolista says that she has partied with Berek’s sister, Princess Karenna. Corwin claims that Prince Daven’s investiture threatens his and Garamond’s plans to replace King Edmund with a regime that would be more friendly to Zuromm. Dolista says that Daven has also come to her for advice but is seemingly unaware of new tunnels beneath the city.

Prince Berek asks if he can get any help for his upcoming trial and challenge of Daven. Giacomo has been researching evidence for the murder of Katarina and alternatives to trial by combat. Lady Dolista says that she may provide poisoned weapons.

Back on the streets of Thadenis, Corwin/Berek, Giacomo, Elsa, and Gug head back to the inn to regroup. Melchior and Uldor are changing clothes in their wagon when it is forced to stop because of another wagon with a broken axle ahead of them. They realize they’ve been ambushed when a cart of burning hay bales comes up behind them!

Melchior utters Abyssal to cast a Curtain of Darkness as the crone ahead straightens up and pulls out a hand crossbow. Uldor holds as the Halfling and driver of the haycart run to safety. Their companions see smoke and rush over to help.

Cleric Melchior invokes Ulandt and casts Shadow Bridge to retreat to a nearby rooftop. Uldor summons the power of Otih and casts Radiant Lance at the would-be assassin. The priests spot movement on the roof, where they find two grotesque statues.

Druid Elsa casts Aura vs. Flame to put out the burning hay. Bard Corwin and Fighter Gug move to the area of magical darkness, and Mage Giacomo casts Levitate. The gargoyles on the roof attack, clawing Melchior and biting Uldor.

Melchior blasts the wings off one with a Sound Lance spell, and Uldor yells to the others and misses with anotherRadiant Lance. Elsa calls upon Gaia to grant Melchior Snake’s Swiftness. Giacomo hurls Magic Missiles, and Gug swings his great axe.

Corwin casts Sleep on the old woman in the alley, but he notices that she falls too slowly. Melchior takes his silver-tipped Staff of Sizing and smashes the head of one gargoyle. The remaining monster attacks Gug and Uldor, who fails to reason with it.

Elsa casts Sand Blast at the woman, blasting away her disguise and reveling her as a Drow. She looks for an amulet that she apparently dropped. Giacomo casts Color Spray, and Corwin draws his bow. Uldor slides down the Shadow Bridge, casting another Radiant Lance, while Elsa readies her sling.

Mighty Gug drops the last gargoyle, as Melchior runs down the wall, thanks to his Arachnid Cloak. Arrows and sling stones slay the Drow, and the group departs before members of the city watch arrive.

The Clerics attend to the wounded, and wise Elsa notes that it’s good her Owlbear is safe from Lady Dolista at the Grove of Arbos. Bold Corwin agrees to try talking to Prince Daven directly at his theater in Thadenis.

Clever Giacomo goes to the Harandrim Academy to ask Maggie on a date. Righteous Uldor lectures Melchior on the use of darkness spells, since their patron deities’ portfolios (sun vs. the night) are somewhat opposed. Melchior changes to more flamboyant clothes and gets his wife Morgaine.

Sometime later, the investigators go to Daven’s Theatre. Giacomo and Maggie enjoy the vaudeville acts, while Melchior and Morgaine watch the audience. Uldor keeps Corwin in his sights as he approaches the royal box. Elsa enjoys sharing drinks with Gug, who starts drunkenly heckling the performers.

Berek confronts his half-brother and finds no love lost between them. Melchior casts Phantasmal Thief to pick Daven’s pocket while they’re talking. The team regroups at “Ghanki’s Gin Pub” by the docks to compare notes.

Morgaine identifies the contents of Prince Daven’s pocket as coins from Zuromm and Turkish delight wrappers, possibly from the Garku Nasit to the southwest. Melchior is grimly pleased to find evidence linking the young noble with Saganim’s foes.

Giacomo observes that it could be used in testimony in a trial to help clear Corwin’s name and challenge Daven’s right of succession….

Brian and Sara, we missed you this past weekend! I’m glad that we had a good turnout for Star Trek: Into Darknessdinner with guest Byron V.O., and this game. I didn’t run a “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” telecom space opera last night, but I look forward to Jason E.R.’s last session (for now) for “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” tonight.

We probably won’t be meeting around Memorial Day, and we’ll have to sort out the June calendar for upcoming “Vanished Lands” and other games. Be seeing you, -Gene