“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Update 39.19 — Challenging the cult

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” Session 39.19, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 19 August 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 theBasic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, as of summer 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. 4
  • Hamfast Hammerfist [Brian W.]-male Zeda human Fighter, mountaineer, “barbarian” strongman, and laborer; TNg, Lvl. 4
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 4
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and former ringmaster with a mandolin; CNg, Lvl. 4
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with owlbear cub “Oswald”; NGc, Lvl. 4
  • Tempestade [Josh C.]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), former roustabout, now follower of Otih; CGl, Lvl. 4
  • Radius [Jason E.R./departed]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 1
RPG dungeon crawl
Sewer map

“28 October 1228 B.C.E.:” The former performers had followed rumors of cult activity to the sewers of Thadenis, capital of the (proto-Celtic) human kingdom of Saganim. They fought Troglodytes and a Yuan-ti/Sahuagin mutant and rooted out Lethargy Weeds.

After draining a fetid chamber beneath the Temple Tor, Corwin Windsong drops a sunrod down a 15-foot shaft. Giacomo du Vane examines the masterwork dagger taken from the Reptile Folk.

Hamfast Hammerfist ties a rope to a metal ring, and Elsa Fairbottom casts Guidance and Ward. Tempestade climbs down a rope, with Scully Strongbow ready to pull him up at a moment’s notice.

The Monk finds a square room with four doors in the cardinal directions. The others climb down. Corwin finds no traps, but underneath one half-open slab, the Bard does feel a carved spiral, the holy symbol of Krakas, lord of the maelstrom.

Elsa puts runes on the wall in chalk and notes that the eastern passage has the least sewage. Scully spots wear marks on the stone floor. Nimble Tempestade leads the way, followed by Hamfast, Corwin, Giacomo, Elsa, and Scully.

The six spelunkers turn south at the first intersection. Corwin casts Light to dispel an area of magical Darkness. After turning east again, the adventuring party finds a corridor lined by iron spikes. Unfortunate people have been impaled and gutted like fish, presumably by worshippers of Krakas.

Dwarf Elsa notices that the floor is tiled, and Flind Scully points out that the scuff marks continue. Hamfast probes the tiles with his maul, setting off a pressure plate and getting scratched. Giacomo tries to Levitate but fails, so Corwin crawls beneath the spikes to spread out his weight.

The Saganim prince finds a lever to partially retract the spikes, and the group continues northward. Tempestade listens at a door but hears nothing. The Barbari human opens it and is greeted by eight pirates. Quick-thinking Corwin tries to close the door, but a skirmish breaks out.

The human followers of Krakas spread out, with some going to adjacent rooms. Cleric Elsa casts Bane on two of them, and Fighter Hamfast readies his hammer for when the door reopens. Mage Giacomo considers casting Web, then decides to aid Tempestade with Magic Shield.

As Tempestade ducks and moves, Ranger Scully watches the rear with her bow. Swift Corwin greets pirate Ulex with his sword, as Goral hits Hamfast. Pious Elsa calls upon Moradin to Heat Metal on the spikes behind the group, and Melissa is injured while trying to sneak up.

Strong Hamfast smashes Goral, as wily Giacomo casts Magic Missile, killing corsair Omar. Agile Tempestade kicks at Vushin but then tries to parley. Burly Scully rearms the trap, forcing pirate Melissa to retreat. Corwin strikes Igar, and Hamfast fells Vushin. The last two pirates, Elander and Nalmo, flee deeper into the tunnels beneath Thadenis.

The group quickly searches the subterranean dining hall and pantry. Hamfast smashes a squid chandelier, and Giacomo and Corwin recover 300 crowns (gold pieces) in pearls. Scully examines leather armor and rusty cutlasses.

Elsa finds four barrels and hears something thrashing around inside them. Despite warnings from Giacomo and Corwin, the curious Druid opens one and is attacked by eel-like animated entrails (from the eviscerated people in the spiked hallway).

Hamfast smashes the unnatural intestines, and the team decides to leave the other barrels alone. In the next cell to the north is a murky pool. Elsa prays to Gaia/Mekkil to Purify Water, clearing it enough to see four large sea snakes. Giacomo and Scully spike the doors shut behind them.

Perceptive Scully hears muffled cries from the next chamber. Corwin checks for traps and casts Sleep on potential guards. Tempestade opens the heavy door and finds six abductees in manacles and a guard, who is quickly dispatched.

Giacomo finds a set of three keys and a cat o’ nine tails on the human sentry. The six Saganim ex-slaves are filthy but grateful.

Aged Gorton thanks Prince Corwin on behalf of fellow fishmongers Tean and Aiden and fishwives Betty, Bitsie, and Bonnie. Elsa examines the prisoners and finds that they’re in good condition despite several days’ captivity, confirming Hamfast’s suspicion that they were being held as sacrifices for the Theft of Sleep ritual at Samhain.

The infiltrators agree to evacuate the liberated cityfolk, retracing their steps toward the surface. Cultists of Krakas raise an alarm in their warren, and Giacomo casts Web to delay their pursuit. However, three Scrags (aquatic Trolls) begin clawing their way through.

The onetime members of Vistel’s Circus and the freed prisoners run through narrow corridors as more Troglodytes emerge. Giacomo successfully casts Levitate to get his companions and charges closer to the exit. Corwin rushes at one Trog in the circular chamber, and Elsa readies mace “Grimtooth” and sling “Seeker.”

Hamfast falls back to guard the retreat, and Giacomo casts Color Spray, knocking one humanoid unconscious. Scully switches from arrows to her long sword, killing a foe. Tempestade kicks one of the enemies blocking the escape. Slimy Troglodytes hit Hamfast and Giacomo.

Corwin kills another Troglodyte, as does Elsa. Hamfast knocks one creature into a pit, and Giacomo drops two more with Magic Missiles. Tempestade misses, and the cultists’ lack of concern about a dozen casualties is explained when more arrive.

Corwin kills a third enemy, as Elsa aids Scully and Tempestade. Stoic Hamfast swings his maul mightily, while tattooed Giacomo gets charged up from a miscast spell. Scully drops another Trog, and Tempestade helps the fishmongers climb out of the sewer.

As a parting shot, Giacomo casts Scorching Ray. Panting by a grate near the Temple Bridge, the humans, Dwarf, Half-Elf, and Gnoll are relieved that the Troglodytes don’t pursue them into the streets at daylight.

Giacomo recommends resting before returning with reinforcements. Hamfast notes that although Samhain is still a few days away, the summoners now know that they have been discovered.

Furred Scully offers to ask “Sir Niac” [Mike F./Non-Player Character] and the knights of Otih for aid. Tempestade is eager to continue the fight against unholy slavers, but priestess Elsa says she needs time to pray.

Corwin agrees to report to “Melchior Merryman” [Byron V.O.], an agent of Queen Margaret. With soldiers and holy warriors securing their route, the group plans to reenter the labyrinth to defeat the cult of Krakas….

Note that we’re planning on meeting at Rich’s place in Waltham, Mass., next week. The “Vortex: Terra’s Pridetelecom space opera will also resume this coming Sunday!

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