“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.

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