“Star Wars: Dark Times” Session 4 — Cabals of Bakura

Fellow role-players, here are Jason’s and my notes for Session 4 of his space opera miniseries, which Rich C.G. hosted on Monday, 28 October 2013, in Waltham, Mass.

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away — the Galactic Republic has been replaced by a ruthless empire, and the Jedi, once guardians of peace, are now hunted fugitives. In the Unknown Regions, at the edge of explored space, a few Jedi and their allies hope to survive and continue the fight for justice….

Player Character roster for Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times,” using Savage Worlds, autumn 2013:

  • Ekafti Acomar [Gene D.]-female human Jedi consular, older diplomat with many contacts but few remaining friends
  • “Garolos Banku Nuruolos — Garos [Beruk A.]-male Chiss (blue-skinned humanoid) ex-Jedi, gambler and owner of the light freighter “Lucky Strike
  • Oong Bak [Brian W.]-male Duros (gray-skinned humanoid) honorable and talented mechanic
  • Ari Sundar [Sara F.]-female Ssi-ruu (raptor-like reptile) military medic, outcast from a species intruding upon the galaxy
  • Thayne Highlander [Bruce K.]-male human Jedi padawan close to knighthood, 19 years old; saw master killed by Order 66
  • Max Power (MX-PR) [Rich C.G.]-male protocol droid with secret combat subroutine, ordered to protect Jedi (overrode Order 66)
  • Tark Agros [Brian S.]-male Bakuran human pilot and noble, mildly delusional hotshot

“From the journals of Ekafti Acomar, 19 B.B.Y. (before the Battle of Yavin):” After exploring two disabled Imperial cruisers near Cattamascar, the light freighter Lucky Strike followed the Shirotoku Way to Bakura. We had taken on a few passengers, including Zeltron scavenger Adaha Tila, protocol droid B-1E4, and Princess Tethys of Chandrila — an unauthorized clone of me.

MX-PR and I had visited Bakura during previous diplomatic missions, and the protocol droid recalled that the planet had about 68 million inhabitants, making it one of the more civilized systems in the sector. Bakura was colonized by core worlders from Hemei IV more than a century ago (in galactic standard time) and was known for its repulsorlift and biomedical technology.

I reminded “Max” to watch out for intolerance, since the colonists had put down a droid uprising about 70 years ago. As during the Clone Wars, when Gen. Grievous killed several planetary leaders, I still hoped to keep Bakura free from Palpatine’s new order.

Tark Agros took us into Salis D’aar, the quartz capital. It was a reluctant homecoming for our pilot, who was related to Bakura’s ruling clan. We left Oong Bak to continue repairs on the ship and Garolos Banku Nuruolos to communicate with Rodian bookie Bal Grainer.

At the landing pad, a customs agent insisted on putting restraining bolts on Max and B-1E4. Recent padawan Thayne Highlander and I were ready to use the Jedi Mind Trick to talk our way past, but a cloaked figure in a hologram did it for us. I talked with the agent later, and he didn’t recall much, but he did give us a contact number.

We bid Adaha farewell. Ari Sundar needed medical attention, so the Ssi-ruu and Thayne went to the residential and commercial “B” ring of the circular city to ask about shady clinics. Dilettante Tark went to talk to his racing buddies Roviden Belden and Rennt Govia, other members of Bakura’s long-lived aristocracy.

Tark learned that Sen. Orn Belden, representing the Bakur RepulsorCorp (BRC), was planning an exclusive party around a local holiday. It would be on Braad, a continent mostly inhabited by the primitive Kurtzen. Braad was also the source of the holo to the customs agent, but our trace of the signal was blocked by military police.

We regrouped at a clinic that Tark’s friends had suggested, hoping to avoid official scrutiny of Ari, whose reptilian people were new to the Unexplored Territories. Garos and I also hoped to find a link to the clones of me and Ssi-ruuk we had encountered.

We noticed that the receptionist was an android designed to closely resemble a human, which was a surprise on droid-hating Bakura. Tark was forced to clean out his bank accounts to pay for Ari’s surgery and medical supplies.

I asked Max to keep watch on Ari and gather information as he went with her into the operating theater. Thayne, Tark, and I walked around the building and found no doors or windows. Tark used his jetpack to confirm that there was a landing pad and door on the roof, as well as a security scanner.

Rather than risk Ari while she was under laser scalpels, we planned to return at dusk. Max confirmed that the entire facility was run by droids, although I sensed a single human presence deep within. Ari, Max, and I headed back to the Lucky Strike to drop off the supplies and pick up weapons, while Thayne and Tark were supposed to watch and wait.

Their stakeout was interrupted as an unmarked airspeeder landed, disgorging special operations troops. Thayne and Tark rashly decided to take advantage of the raid to infiltrate further. The duo flew and climbed to the roof, then took an elevator. They incapacitated two sentries and hid in bacta tanks as Capt. Harris ordered the building searched.

Ari, Max, and I disembarked from a hover train, and I politely asked an officer what was going on. He claimed it was a gas leak, but a Mind Read indicated that the police had found whatever or whoever they were looking for, and an air strike had been called. We went around the corner and warned our friends to get out fast.

Thayne found an exterior wall and cut a hole with his light saber. The building exploded. Tark broke the young Jedi’s fall, thanks to his jet pack, but we were forced to lie low at the Belden estate for the night. At least Ari’s scar from Ssi-ruuk younglings was removed, and we had found where different factions were covertly fighting.

That night, Thayne had another dream of a tower and Endolana, the kidnapped daughter of Jedi masters from 25,000 years ago. He saw Marala, a young woman who looked like another of my clones, lying washed ashore. Endolana shouted from the tower for Thayne to leave her alone.

The next morning, we caught a lift with Tark’s friends to Telaan Valley in Braad. Buildings had been built into the valley’s walls, and lovely terraced gardens masked the sinister conspiracies we planned to uncover. We carried concealed sidearms but nothing more, and we were not frisked.

I talked with President Grina Arden, the Bakuran head of state, who was surprised to see me alive after Order 66. She explained that Bakura sought to keep its independence by trading with the empire and other parties. I wondered if she knew of the warrior clones sought by the empire and Ssi-ruuk.

Princess Tethys was happy to be in a high-class setting. She may be my clone, but she’s happily oblivious. B-1E4 went missing, so I sent Max to find the suspiciously acting droid.

Ari caught scent of Tolovo Nathu, Bel Grainer’s runaway nurse and another of my clones. Thayne tried to make conversation with officers Capt. Blaine Harris, Anya Foravis, and Dana Galveson, who complained about having to attend such formal events.

Tark talked with Juris Keel, a weapons designer, and Jarik Tai, a recruiter for the mercenary Brotherhood, both of whom he had met at the Terminus restaurant in the Grand Pelgar hotel. They said that business was good.

My hopes for keeping Bakura out of imperial entanglements were fading, and Ari spotted Tolovo moving some equipment with long-necked Kaminoans, members of the same species that produced the republic’s clone troopers.

Ari radioed the rest of us via comm link, but she stepped on a trumpet flower, alerting Tolovo that she was being watched. Meanwhile, Max saw a cloaked figure removing a data storage unit from B-1E4. They were flanked by two men with Force pikes. As Jedi knights, Thayne and I knew we had to confront them.

Tolovo drew a pistol on Ari. Tark pretended to be tipsy and hopped in a speeder. He ran down Tolovo and her hover cart, but the Kaminoans got to their cloaked ship. Ari and Tolovo carefully righted the vials, which Tolovo claimed were full of medicine urgently needed by the Brotherhood.

Thayne and I joined Max in the Cloud Berry Garden, where we used Sense Force and Sense Life to track down the three robed figures. Bela Trepada, yet another young clone of me — does it ever end? — ignited two red light sabers, reminding me of Asajj Ventress.

Komari Vosa
Bela Trepada, yet another clone of Ekafti

I asked the young woman to stand down, but she was mute, well-trained, and aggressive. Fortunately, I was able to dodge or deflect her first few blows. Max was not so lucky. Thayne and I eventually defeated the two Force pike wielders and rushed to Max’s aid.

Bela wounded me, and Max picked up a pike and shoved me back, saying I should run. However, I couldn’t leave him and Thayne to face my doppelganger, so I stayed. Despite my Battle Mind, the would-be Sith destroyed the valiant droid and stabbed me in the abdomen, knocking me unconscious.

Thayne grabbed me and parts of Max as Bela disappeared into the vegetation. Ari and Tark agreed to let Tolovo go, on the condition that she get back in touch with us to answer some questions.

Ari attended to Thayne’s and my injuries, while Tark took us back to Garos and Oong on the Lucky Strike….

“Strange Tales From Chicago,” Session 2 — Bernie’s Diner

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for the second session of Geoff’s miniseries:

>>Player Characters for “Strange Tales From Chicago,” Geoff C.’s street-level superhero game, using FATE Accelerated Edition, Skype, and an online dice roller, Sunday, 27 October 2013:

  • Fightin’ Fritz” [Gene D.]-male human, flashy Tank, wants to pound knuckleheads, knows all the brawlers about town
  • Capt. Grommet” [Beruk A.]-machine whisperer, wants to get back at the man; knows lots of techies
  • The Crocodile” [Byron V.O.]-old tough guy, wants to clean up the city and get paid
  • Dr. Occult” [Josh C.]-master of occult, seeking enlightenment; knows stage magicians
  • Angel of the Night” [Sara F.]-gargoyle-themed guardian of the city, lives above a library

>>Chicago, “1 to 2 October 1982:” Capt. Grommet goes to the police labs, where he finds three forensic scientists eating pie. They confirm that the Tylenol taken from a pharmacy is poisoned with arsenic, but the honey toffee Grommet got from the store proprietors is safe.

Meanwhile, Fightin’ Fritz, the Angel of the Night, the Crocodile, and Dr. Occult stake out a container ship to which they had followed four goons from the “Salty Dog” bar. They boldly board the vessel, and some longshoremen say that Atilla, Bonaventura, Genghis, and Leo are lazy and standoffish co-workers.

Capt. Grommet persuades Officer Fine and three police officers named Austin, Bruno, and Steve to come with him to the docks. Stealthy Angel leads the way into the hold, followed by mighty Fritz, garrulous Grommet, turbaned Dr. Occult, and crotchety Croc.

At the crew quarters, Angel hears voices and maneuvers to the far side of a cabin door. Fritz opens the door, and one of the four goons swings a chair at him. Dr. Occult throws playing cards in an effort to distract their foes, and Angel knocks away the chair.

The four men, who are suspected of disturbing the pharmacy that sold the tainted Tylenol, try to slam the door in Fritz’s face. Capt. Grommet throws a serving tray but misses, as Fritz slams the door into one mook.

Dr. Occult smacks another in the junk, and Croc moves in. After a few more punches, the four pharmacy perps are subdued. Dr. Occult then hypnotizes Atilla, who reveals that a man named Earl in a fancy suit paid him to stir up trouble at the pharmacy. Atilla says that Earl can be found at Bernie’s Diner most nights.

Ralph's Diner 1982
Early 1980s diner

The private investigators of the “Drop Squad” drop off the four men with the police and head to the diner. Bernie vouches for Earl, saying that he has supported numerous charitable causes. Capt. Grommet and Dr. Occult realize that each person they talk to gives a different description of Earl.

After some cajoling, Bernie says that Earl frequents the “Old Watch House,” a high-end brothel. Croc recognizes the place and takes the group there. Fritz and Dr. Occult stay in the car, while Angel watches from a nearby roof.

Dr. Grommet and Croc warn the skeptical madam that a mass murder might threaten her girls and business. She reluctantly gives them permission to review security footage. They identify another incarnation of Earl.

Meanwhile, Dr. Occult consults his fellow wizards to search for Earl. The stage magician and Fritz must also fend off a potential hubcap thief. Sometime later, Croc and Fritz go to the police station to review mug shots in search of the elusive Earl.

Capt. Grommet finds a permit for one of the charity performances that has a return address in the warehouse district. He also tracks down the tailor who made Earl’s suit. A public records search for “Earl” with no last name turns up 30 instances, astonishing Dr. Occult with bureaucratic incompetence.

Meanwhile, Angel’s rooftop surveillance is interrupted by heavily armed mercenaries from Craft International. She retreats and reports to the rest of the “Drop Squad,” who suspect that she found unrelated criminal activity.

The next morning, Fritz and Dr. Occult visit the custom tailor, who gives them a hard time about their eccentric attire. He eventually admits to serving a slight Asian gentleman, not a tall blond man.

Croc goes back to the Old Watch House, where he talks with Lucille. She says that Earl, or at least someone by that name, is a regular patron. Dr. Occult talks with accountant Irwin and learns that he has a twin by the same name.

Capt. Grommet reviews local news footage of various charity events to see if any of the suited Earls makes an appearance. The private detectives keep the police informed of their progress in the homicide case.

They return to Bernie’s Diner, but the blond Earl (one of seven, who presumably hired the four thugs) spots the group….

“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Update 39.24 — Turning tides

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” Session 39.24, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 21 October 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 autumn 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. 5
  • Hamfast Hammerfist [Brian W.]-male Zeda human Fighter, mountaineer, “barbarian” strongman, and laborer; TNg, Lvl. 5
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 5
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and former ringmaster with a mandolin; CNg, Lvl. 5
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with owlbear cub “Oswald”; NGc, Lvl. 5
  • Tempestade [Josh C.]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), former roustabout, now a follower of Otih; CGl, Lvl. 5
  • Sir Torrel [Alex W.]-male Hifalendorin human Paladin of Otih, the lord of the sun and justic; LGn, Lvl. 5
  • Radius [Jason E.R./departed]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 5

“20 to 24 December 1228 B.C.E.:” The adventuring party had helped the Saganim (proto-Celtic) human port of Sileran strengthen its defenses in response to unnatural weather. Scouting expeditions to nearby swamps and the Bay of Ethalgo revealed more cult activity, amphibious humanoids, and potential for attack at the winter solstice.

In the wet weeks leading up to the holiday, the onetime circus performers had also conducted research at various temples and participated in bouts at the “Silver Stirrup” pub.

At the local Magisterium (magic school/library), Giacomo du Vane continues his inquiries into the so-called Mad Mage, who is connected to his tattoos, according to Megara Anteia, a dark priestess of Gheket. He reviews his credit with colleague Muriel Tekla at Tobin’s Emporium.

Giacomo also mentions to his friends “cold steel,” a reddish antimagical alloy, as a potential defense against the dreaded ghost fleet. In addition, the Wizard plans to ask about getting passage to Falit, capital of the Ebir Sheikdom, on the Sea Elven schooner Foamrunner [see “Dragonslayers” notes].

Hamfast Hammerfist evaluates and enlists mercenaries at the Silver Stirrup to help with Sileran’s defense. Scully Strongbow asks Caranthir, a Sylvan Elf Druid at the Grove of Arbos, about the giant footprint she found in the swamps.

Corwin Windsong, Elsa Fairbottom, and Sir Torrel help train Sileran’s militia at the Caerling Circus. Corwin spends his spare time with Nydarelle, a Sylvan Elf whom he met at the Bardic College/temple of Brijitt.

Elsa also helps River Dwarf Burdag with siege engines and obtains holy water from priest Henry Ironfist at Nersago’s Forge [temple of Vulkan/Moradin]. Tempestade makes sacrifices at various temples and still hopes to rescue people from his distant homeland.

Sir Torrel reports to Father Bran at the tower of Otih. The Paladin then goes to the agora (market square) to ask Tch’tt (“Tochit”), a Pernicon (Thri-kreen), to watch out for cultists of Krakas, lord of the maelstrom.

The wanderers have reconvened for dinner at the Moonbeam Inn when they hear shouting out in the sodden streets. They run to the harbormaster’s tower on the Watcher’s Tor, where they see a blue-skinned giant scaling the city walls!

Corwin casts Mirror Image and draws his enchanted long sword, while Elsa enflames Sir Torrel’s sword and Hamfast’s maul. Scully climbs the tower to get a better vantage point and sends owl “Owlicious” to see what else is going on.

Giacomo maims himself in an effort to cast Scorching Ray, and Hamfast ponders whether the attack is a diversion. The huge monster sweeps Saganim sentries and catapults over the parapets with blasts of water from the Bay of Ethalgo.

Paladin Torrel steps forward and draws first blood in the battle. Monk Tempestade kicks at the giant but is thwarted by the icy steps. Bard Corwin hits the creature, as Druid Elsa’s Light and Bane spells fails to harm it.

Ranger Scully fires silver-tipped arrows and quickly searches for holy water or oil. Mage Giacomo casts Force Manipulation but has better luck with Magic Missiles. Fighter Hamfast first swings at the giant’s knees and feet before hitting higher up.

The azure aggressor, whom Giacomo identifies as a Marid or type of Djinn, slams Hamfast and Torrel. Bashir also grows from 10 to 15 feet in height. Sir Torrel casts Protection From Evil, and Tempestade tries to climb onto the giant, who repeatedly swats him away.

Corwin keeps swinging at the Marid, while Elsa invokes Moradin to Bless her allies. Scully smacks herself with her bow before properly landing arrows. Giacomo casts more Magic Missiles, and Hamfast turns their opponent into a puddle.

There’s no time to rest as Tempestade leads the rush to the next sounds of battle. The squad finds the Crab Shanty crushed by a female Sea Giant. Swashbuckler Corwin has difficulty hitting Fothri, and pious Elsa’s Hold Person is unsuccessful.

Sniper Scully runs to the Eorl’s Tor, and Giacomo switches from Web back to Magic Missiles. Hamfast grabs a few items from fallen Bashir and swings mightily.

The Sea Giant hurls a rock at Elsa but misses. Torrel swears in frustration, possibly offending Otih, as his magical tulwar fails to find its mark. Swift Tempestade runs toward Fothri, as Saganim humans hurl spears.

Corwin and Hamfast hit their foe. Elsa fumbles an attack before going to heal Tempestade and Hamfast. Giacomo’s Color Spray has no effect, and the giantess swings a Riptide Whip at Corwin.

Tempestade grabs at the whip but is smashed into the ground. Torrel prays to Otih and casts Light. Elsa trades blows, while Scully almost loses her bow because of frostbitten fingers. Tempestade cuts himself free and reaches for his sling.

Giacomo maximizes a Magic Missile, and Dwarf Elsa claims victory as Corwin beheads the Sea Giant. Exhausted but exhilarated, the adventurers run farther down the waterfront, past the agora. Owlicious tells Scully that more giants are fighting spellcasters in the southeastern part of Sileran.

They see another Sea Giant and an even taller Storm Giant in the rubble of the Magisterium. Tempestade joins members of the town guard in fighting the Sea Giant as his companions go after the Storm Giant, who is approaching the Halls of Haranur.

Fantasy giants
Giants attack!

Giacomo casts Invisibility and tries to see if any of the items from the Marid or first Sea Giant might be useful. Corwin casts Mirror Image to create illusory copies of himself to distract the Storm Giant. Gaprekisu has killed several sorcerers and soldiers with electrified javelins.

Elsa Heals Self and grabs Fothri’s whip. She also casts Guidance on Sir Torrel, whose Detect Evil finds that the giants are more chaotic. Scully finds a repeating hand crossbow in the ruins of Tobin’s Emporium.

Corwin and Hamfast strike at Gaprekisu, whose tough hide turns half of their blows. Elsa digs through the debris and finds a Wand of Frost. Scully’s crossbow bolts fire wide, and Tempestade tries to climb Cormu, the second Sea Giant.

Sir Torrel casts Spiritual Hammer, and Giacomo cuts himself to cast Force Manipulation to provide shields. The Storm Giant dispels one of Corwin’s images and stabs Giacomo with a javelin.

Cormu drops a rock on Tempestade, knocking him unconscious. Saganim sentries scatter, and the surviving adepts rush to contain the damage. Megara is wounded in front of her temple. Corwin manages to cast Web against Gaprekisu but stuns himself.

Elsa casts Cure Minor Wounds to stabilize Tempestade and reads a scroll of Protection From Electricity. Fighter Hamfast and Sir Torrel circle the Storm Giant, landing a few solid blows but taking wounds in the process.

Unlucky Giacomo harms his own visage, burns a hole beneath himself to catacombs, and makes his hands translucent. The Wizard recovers by casting Levitation and maximizing more Magic Missiles. Gaprekisu eventually gets unstuck from Corwin’s Web and destroys the rest of his Mirror Images.

Cormu kills another guard and another spellcaster. Tempestade manages to get out from under the rock and limps toward the temple of Otih. On the way, he finds a shortbow, so he heads to the Eorl’s Torr to join Scully on higher ground.

After casting Cure Light Wounds on Torrel and pulling Corwin to safety, Elsa fires the Wand of Frost at the Storm Giant, to little effect. Hamfast has better luck with his hammer. Giacomo quaffs a healing potion before a miscastMagic Missile forces him to shout out his true name.

The Storm Giant hits Sir Torrel and shrugs off arrows from Scully, Tempestade, and Sileran’s archers. Giacomo’s last maximized Magic Missile manages to slay Gaprekisu, but Cormu runs over Corwin on his way back to the bay. The sole surviving giant jumps into the water and swims away.

Scully sees only one sail on the horizon, so Brig. Liam Muldoon concludes that the giant attack isn’t an immediate precursor to an attack by Undead pirates. The clouds above Sileran begin to disperse for the first time in weeks.

The Saganim people bury their dead and begin repairs to the harbor. Cormac ap Morgan, the local earl, thanks Prince Corwin for limiting the potential casualties.

Giacomo asks Bethany Drumgoule if the Magisterium needs investors to rebuild. He also gets a Ring of Water Breathing from Scully, who claims Goggles of Underwater Vision, a Ring of Water Adaptation, and a Torc of Shark Repellent from the fallen giants.

Hamfast takes Gaprekisu’s masterwork great sword, and Tempestade grabs his +1 electrified javelins. Corwin finds shark hide armor (+1) among Bashir’s possessions, and Elsa has Fothri’s platinum amulet of Krakas melted down.

Elsa and Sir Torrel also make sure that some of the 4,000 crowns (gold pieces) in recovered pearls goes to help the city. Each of the defenders gets about 600 g.p., and Giacomo asks the knights of Otih for Restoration spells to recover from his magical mishaps in battle.

After helping to slay three out of four giants attacking Sileran, the onetime circus performers rest, re-equip, and prepare to set sail for Falit….

I hope that everyone enjoyed our back-to-back sessions and big battle! Your characters probably won’t level up until they reach Falit, but gear and magic will be available. I look forward to seeing some of you at Josh & Sara’s Halloween potluck this coming Saturday!

In the meantime, I also look forward to concluding Geoff C.’s “Strange Tales From Chicago” scenario and starting up the “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” telecom team. Remember that Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” game will meet at Rich’s place next Monday, Oct. 28.

“Strange Tales From Chicago” session notes

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for our latest miniseries, which I enjoyed, despite a late start and unfamiliarity with the “FAE” system:

Player Characters for “Strange Tales From Chicago” Geoff C.’s street-level superhero game, using FATE Accelerated Edition, Skype, and an online dice roller, Sunday, 20 October 2013:

  • Fightin’ Fritz” [Gene D.]-male human, flashy Tank, wants to pound knuckleheads, knows all the brawlers about town (see also City of Heroes MMORPG)
  • Capt. Grommet” [Beruk A.]-machine whisperer, wants to get back at the man; knows lots of techies
  •  The Crocodile” [Byron V.O.]-old tough guy, wants to clean up the city and get paid
  • Dr. Occult” [Josh C.]-master of occult, seeking enlightenment; knows stage magicians
  • Angel of the Night” [Sara F.]-gargoyle-themed guardian of the city, lives above a library
State Street
Chicago in the 1980s

Chicago, “30 Sept. 1982:” Officer Fine visits the “Drop Squad,” a private investigation agency. He tells the group that five unrelated people have been poisoned by arsenic in Tylenol capsules over the past few days. The Chicago Police Department is looking for all the help it can get, he says.

The team agrees to check out the pharmacy in return for access to official lab reports. The do-gooders pile into a Chevy, crank up some tunes, and head to Main Street in a working-class neighborhood.

Capt. Grommet and Dr. Occult go inside to talk with manager Robbie, whose wife offers them honeycomb toffee. The private detectives take the candy for later analysis and learn that some extra medicine bottles somehow showed up on the shelves. The druggist also mentions that “no-good thugs” broke in a few weeks before.

Meanwhile, Fightin’ Fritz and the Crocodile walk around the pharmacy to look for signs of other break-ins, drug deals, or more suspicious activity. They then walk a few blocks away to visit Fritz’s pal Joey in some public housing. He complains about drunk sailors but says that nobody else unusual has been in the neighborhood.

The Angel of the Night climbs up a building, getting applause from bystanders for the feat. She keeps an eye on things but sees no tracks. Capt. Grommet and Dr. Occult learn that an apartment above the pharmacy has been vacant for several months and leave a note for landlord Finnegan Brogan.

Grommit and Fritz debate the merits of recent movies as they head back to the office. The group also checks in with Officer Fine on more toxicology reports, including for the toffee.

On Oct. 1, the gumshoes follow leads to the harbor and a warehouse district. The flamboyant Fritz and man of mystery Dr. Occult attract some attention from the dock workers leaving their shift, as Angel watches from another rooftop. Grommet and Croc go for a lower profile.

At the “Salty Dog,” the second bar the private dicks visit, they spot some of the thugs described by the pharmacist. Fritz offers to buy a round of drinks, but they rudely reject his offer. Angel shadows the suspects, and the group follows her to another building….

I look forward to continuing our investigation next Sunday! Bruce and Dexter, I hope that you’ll be able to join us. I also hope that we’ll be able to put the finishing touches on the P.C.s before the start of the “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” fantasy game.

“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Update 39.23 — Swamp Scrags

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” Session 39.23, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 14 October 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 autumn 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. 5
  • Hamfast Hammerfist [Brian W.]-male Zeda human Fighter, mountaineer, “barbarian” strongman, and laborer; TNg, Lvl. 5
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 5
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and former ringmaster with a mandolin; CNg, Lvl. 5
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with owlbear cub “Oswald”; NGc, Lvl. 5
  • Tempestade [Josh C.]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), former roustabout, now a follower of Otih; CGl, Lvl. 5
  • Sir Torrel [Alex W.]-male Hifalendorin human Paladin of Otih, the lord of the sun and justic; LGn, Lvl. 5
  • Radius [Jason E.R./departed]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 5

“26 November to 19 December 1228 B.C.E.:” The wanderers had learned about other ports of call, Undead pirates, and unusual weather in the Saganim (proto-Celtic) human city of Sileran. They joined the residents in preparing for a potential attack.

Giacomo du Vane returns to the local Magisterium (magic school/library) and Tobin’s Emporium, where the Wizard finalizes the sale of a Necromancer’s cart to alchemist Muriel Tekla.

Map of Sileran
Map of Saganim port on the Bay of Ethalgo

Bar brawlers
Hamfast Hammerfist goes to the Caerling Circus, which he is disappointed to discover is an arena devoted to chariot races and wrestling rather than gladiatorial matches. Maude, a bookie, refers the Fighter to the Silver Stirrup pub.

Scully Strongbow takes her owl Owlicious and growing owlbear cub Oswald to the Grove of Arbos for exercise. The Ranger also visits the field of Grulla, the huntsman, for archery practice. Tempestade is not impressed by most of the games at the Caerling Circus, despite the presence of fellow Monk Ling-Wa.

Corwin Windsong and Elsa Fairbottom ask aged scholar Witheril at the Bardic College for more information about Undead controlling the port of Gisar. The Bard and Druid also ask about who could conduct a ritual altering the weather, since Sileran has suffered from weeks of clouds and rain.

Sir Torrel gets an enchanted Gem of Translation from Tch’tt (“Tochit”), a Pernicon (Thri-kreen) who is grateful for news of slaves liberated from Hobgoblin legionnaires. The Paladin later joins Hamfast and others at the arena and Silver Stirrup.

Giacomo slips away to the temple of Gheket, goddess of witchcraft and the night. He asks Megara Anteia for help with his tattoo. The priestess observes that it appears to be the visage of the “Mad Mage,” a Hifalendorin arcanist of a generation earlier who was magically imprisoned for betraying a patron.

Sultry Megara says that she can remove Giacomo’s magical ink, in return for his goodwill to the worshippers of Gheket. The Hifalendorin (proto-Western European) human asks for time to consider her offer.

Corwin, a.k.a. Prince Berek, turns down an offer from kinsman and earl Cormac ap Morgan to stay at the Halls of Haranur so that he can be at the Moonbeam Inn, closer to his friends and singer Phelir.

Corwin also asks Nydarelle, a Sylvan Elf Bard he met at the temple of Brijitt, goddess of fire and poetry, to accompany him to the Silver Stirrup. Elsa invites Burdag, a River Dwarf working to improve Sileran’s defenses, to join her for drinks.

At the bar, Corwin pays the 4 crown (gold piece) entrance fee so that Hamfast can participate in underground boxing bouts. Seamus Earbiter [Patrik D’H./Byron V.O./Beruk/Non-Player Character] defeats Half-Orc Fang [Matt F./Josh/N.P.C.] with an eye gouge. Tempestade watches with bemusement.

Mighty Hamfast quickly bests Seamus, winning wagers for Giacomo, Corwin, and Elsa. Proprietor Wilbur Camden tries to arrange for another challenger when tough-talking Paddy [Beruk/N.P.C.] strikes Scully, knocking the Gnoll unconscious. Torrel races to Scully’s side and Lays on Hands.

Hamfast dives into the crowd and beats Paddy down. Hamfast buys a round of drinks and becomes fast friends with burly Seamus. Elsa offers to watch his gold rather than let it all be spent on alcohol, but the Zeda human turns down the Dwarf.

Swamp rats
Elsa recommends checking the swamps northwest of Sileran for renegade Druids or cultists of Krakas, lord of the maelstrom. Corwin requisitions a river boat with some of the local militia. The skies clear as they head into dense reeds outside the city.

Scully sniffs and detects a scent similar to the Sea Hags encountered in the sewers of Thadenis. The onetime carnival performers disembark, leaving the guardsmen with the boat. Scully, Sir Torrel, Corwin, and Hamfast take the lead, with Giacomo, Tempestade, and Elsa following.

The group follows a narrow path leading into the marshes and realizes that it is in the shape of a spiral, Krakas’ holy symbol! The winding way leads to a clearing and a large iron cauldron. Giacomo casts Levitation, Elsa invokes Gaia (Mekkil) to Bless , and Torrel Detects Evil.

Symbol of Krakas, lord of the maelstrom
Winding path

After a few shoves, Hamfast and company overturn the cauldron, spilling a Sahuagin (shark man) stew. Their horror is only compounded when Scully and Elsa find giant-sized footprints. The away team races back to the boat but finds it capsized and its crew drowned.

Scully and Sir Torrel dig into the sand to disrupt the spiral pattern, as Elsa tries to cast Mend on the boat. Soon the sounds of cackling interrupt them as four Scrags (amphibious Trolls) enter the clearing.

Hamfast steps forward with his maul, exchanging blows with the lank-haired Scrags. Elsa casts Entangle , slowing two monsters and Hamfast, and nimble Tempestade kicks at the regenerating Trollkin. Corwin hits with his enchanted sword, but Scully’s initial arrows, dipped in holy water, miss.

Giacomo casts Magic Missiles , and Sir Torrel wields a flaming tulwar, thanks to Elsa. Hamfast frees himself from the weeds, as the Scrags rake at him and Torrel with filthy claws. Tempestade spins but misses, while Elsa casts Bane.

After a few more misses, Scully and Corwin connect with their foes. Hamfast and Tempestade defeat one Scrag, and Torrel, doing better than he did unarmed at the circus, smites another. Elsa casts Light and drags Hamfast away for healing, and Giacomo’s ball of Force Manipulation helps slay the third Troll.

The group quickly incinerates the Scrags, and Giacomo casts Levitation to cross the Warenthol River before dusk. Hamfast, Scully, and Sir Torrel fall into the cold waters, forcing the others to fish them out. That night, the travelers warm up back at the Moonbeam Inn and debate their next moves.

Bay expedition
During the next few weeks, Giacomo asks Bethany Drumgoule at the Magisterium if she has heard of the Mad Mage. The Saganim sorceress recognizes the tale but says that others in Hesolin or Falit would likely know more.

Hamfast returns to the Silver Stirrup to see if any of the patrons have the experience and willingness to fight in Sileran’s defense. Scully hunts for more Trolls outside the city’s walls but finds no signs of a larger ritual.

Tempestade asks Megara Anteia about her distant homeland in the hope of recognizing directions to his own. The Achaean (Mycenaean Greek) witch describes many islands ruled by warlords, reachable only by months at sea or hiking over many mountains. Unfortunately for Tempestade, this doesn’t resemble the jungles and plantations of Brazil, which he still hopes to reach via a mysterious obelisk in Gisar.

Corwin and Elsa work with the militia in case the dreaded ghost fleet attacks during the winter solstice. In addition, Corwin courts Nydarelle, and Elsa consults Sylvan Elf Caranthir at the Grove of Arbos on how to find or recognize evil Druids. She also sends maps and reports to “Ulrich” [Ted A.H./N.P.C.] at the Royal Society for Cartography back in Thadenis.

Sir Torrel asks Father Bran at the tower of Otih, god of the sun and justice, how a temple of Gheket can be tolerated in the city. The Saganim priest explains that death is part of life but notes that the followers of that goddess should be watched.

The adventurers reassemble at the docks to board the Brave Duchess , a Saganim warship. Brig. Muldoon and Capt. Perry order the cog to set forth to search for more sites where Scrags or Druids could be controlling the weather over Sileran.

Giacomo borrows a spyglass, as Hamfast and Sir Torrel hug the rail. Scully has her sea legs, thanks to training with “Sir Niac” [Mike F./N.P.C.]. Tropical Tempestade huddles below decks for warmth.

Corwin chats with the officers. Capt. Perry says that Capt. Scarlet, the Sea Elf commander of the sleek Foamrunner , might be able to help him get to Falit [see notes for the “Dragonslayers”].

Elsa casts Talk With Animals to ask questions of a seagull and a swordfish. The creatures describe Suthern human corsairs, Goblinoid pirates, and occasional Undead, but what catches Elsa’s attention is a mention of Tritons.

The large sea folk could be responsible for the giant footprints near the Sahuagin stew and spiral of Krakas in the swamps. Since Tritons are typically found out in the Sea of Nagendwa rather than in the shallower Bay of Ethalgo, the explorers theorize that whatever is coming to attack Sileran has driven them into the bay….

I hope that everyone enjoyed our latest face-to-face game, and thanks again for the birthday cake! Remember that we’ll be continuing with “Vistel’s Circus” next Monday, Oct. 21, and Jason E.R.’s “Star WarsDark Times” will resume on Oct. 28 at Rich’s place in Waltham, Mass.

In addition, I look forward to Geoff C.’s superhero one-shot this coming Sunday, with the “New Dawn” Asian-style fantasy telecom game to begin on Oct. 27.