“Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Session 40.5 — Bones and blobs

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 40.5, which was held on Sunday, 22 December, 2013:

Long ago in a distant land, spirits and men directly traded bamboo, silk, and steel. Wars to the west, twisted monsters, and power-hungry sorcerers threatened the eastern kingdoms, so the call went out for new heroes of honor and tact….

Player Character Party 40 in Gene D.’s Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” Asian-style telecom campaign, using the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Ed.) Oriental Adventures, plus house rulesSkype, and an online dice roller

  • Souji Nobuto ‘Sonny’ Yoshimitsu [Beruk A.]-male Shengtese Tian Kensai (eastern human weapon master) from a dishonored house in the Lion Clan, specializing in chain weapons; LNg, Lvl. 2
  • Toshiharu ‘Toshi’ Sembutsu [Byron V.O.]-male Shan Sao Wu Jen (eastern Halfling Wizard) from the Tiger Clan with a destiny; NGc, Lvl. 2
  • Ember Talon [Sara F.]-female Crane Hengeyokai Wu (shapeshifting Druid), actually a young gold dragon banished from the Celestial Court; NGl, Lvl. 2
  • Saigo Kasugi [Bruce K.]-male Bamboo Spirit Folk Samurai (eastern Sylvan Elf Cavalier) discreetly serving his daimyo; LNg, Lvl. 2
  • Soske’ Tiatoshe [Geoff C.]-male Shengtese Tian Shukenja (eastern human Cleric), priest of Shang-ti and animist from the Phoenix Clan, prophesied to do great things; LNg, Lvl. 2
  • Moon Jung-mo [Dexter V.H.]-male Nannuattan Ninja (Msamaki, eastern Dark Elf Assassin) who has left the Shadow’s Claw clan and is posing as a River Spirit Folk Yakuza (eastern Grey Elf Rogue); LNg, Lvl. 1

“11 to 15 March 1227 B.C.E.:” During a stop at the village of Wai Shih in the Balef River Valley, the team escorting Gokuri diplomat Lady Yun Aei-Yong fought human bandits and an Oni. The would-be assassins apparently had orders to intercept the party.

Sonny and Saigo have been infected by rats summoned by Oni (Ogre Mage) Simikage Haruhiko, so Ember gets local shaman Kajuji Manabu, a Carp Hengeyokai, to help Soske’ treat their wounds.

Ember also recommends that innkeeper Ho Sze be reimbursed for damages to the “Death’s Deck” tavern. Saigo deducts 10 tael (20 gold pieces) for Ho Sze from the Oni’s purse, leaving 23 g.p. for each party member — and Oh Kum-Ja, Lady Yun’s Draconian guard.

Toshi and company look at maps for potential routes from Wai Shih to Sogewa, the capital of Tong Sheng. They could travel southeast to the town of Beitien and cross the wide Plains of Sathendo, or they could take the Balef River farther south before turning east.

Although the river marks the border with the kingdom of Gokuri and the barbaric Gusorin Confederation, the group reasons that it would be faster than hiking overland, especially where there are few roads. After resting for a night, the group reboards its three barges and heads toward Shang Tao.

The travelers are relieved to have an uneventful day, as the spring thaw carries their boats. At the intersection of the Balef and Hei Ho rivers, they find a set of buildings on stilts at the edge of a marsh, as Soske’ predicted.

Moon Jung-Mo stays with Lady Yun, Oh Kum-Ja, the boatmen, and the horses, while the rest of the escort enters the “Sandy Corner.” Samurai Saigo is gruffly greeted by Tan Shude, a Shengtese human innkeeper from whom he acquires rooms for 2 g.p. per night.

Kensai Sonny walks around outside to check the perimeter. Wu Jen Toshi looks for obvious magic and casts a Clean cantrip on the rooms. Wu Ember notices some Bakemono (eastern Goblins) arguing over their tab with a barmaid.

Soske’ chats with a few fishermen. Jiki Yuwei claims that nothing out of the ordinary has happened recently, but his friends are evasive. The Shukenja casts Elemental Sight for psychometry and sees that their goods are scavenged. Jiki eventually warns Soske’ to stay indoors at night.

Sonny notices five armored skeletons at the corners of the “Sandy Corner’s” roof. Ember and Soske’ help Toshi clean the rooms, and Saigo agrees to bring Lady Yun, Oh Kum-Ja, and the boatmen in for the night.

Skeleton warrior
Skeletal sentry

Trader Jung-Mo gets provisions for the crew and horses as the others examine the roof. Sonny lowers a chain to help Soske’ and Saigo climb up, while Toshi and Ember shift to avian form together for first time.

Although the skeletal warriors’ armor and weapons are rusted, their posture and lack of decomposition are unnatural. As a crane Hengeyokai, Ember talks with a crow that’s interested in shiny things such as eyeballs. In return for a silver piece, it warns her of giant spiders in the swamps.

Baza (bird) Toshi casts Detect Magic , confirming that the skeletons and crane are magical. Soske’ senses something amiss and later uses his Phoenix Clan status to question Tan Shude. The innkeeper tells of how, many years ago, a military unit camped nearby.

Its commander had stolen money from his lord, who had summoned spirits to pursue the troops. Although five men fought honorably in ignorance, the thief escaped, leaving his followers to die. The skeletal soldiers are cursed to stand watch until their commander or the lost treasure returns.

Before dark, Toshi and Ember conduct aerial reconnaissance in bird form. They see webs at the edge of the marsh and a rocky outcropping that could be a cave mouth. They return and report to their companions.

Soske’, Jung-Mo, and Lady Yun are interested in helping the locals, but Sonny, Toshi, and Saigo say their mission to safely convey the Nannuattan emissary takes precedence. Ember is curious and sympathizes with Lady Yun’s restlessness.

Over a dinner of fish stew and mulled wine, Saigo sets watches for the night. Hengeyokai Ember and Shan Sao Toshi take first watch, followed by Shengtese human Sonny and Bamboo Spirit Folk Saigo. Shengtese Soske’ and Jung-Mo are set to take the third.

The first watch is quiet, but Sonny and Saigo hear movement during their shift. They wake their companions as the armored skeletons climb down from their perches. Soske’ casts Light , and Ember peeks out but sees nothing.

Toshi heads down the creaky stairs, followed by Saigo. They see a skeleton shoved into a pillar by an unseen foe. Sonny listens and readies his chains. Soske’ checks on Lady Yun and heads for the front door.

Ember hears sloshing and Wild Shapes into a bat to get a better view of the fight outside. The Druid sees pseudopods bursting from the water at the skeletal warriors, as well as the remains of a night watchman.

Soske’ casts Magic Weapon on his bow. The Cleric’s first arrow gets stuck in the giant amoeba. Martial artist Sonny looks for an oil lamp before heading outside.

Toshi shifts into bird form and flies to the roof for a better view. The Wizard and Ember return to humanoid form to help their companions. Samurai Saigo hacks at one of the aberrations with his katana and dodges acid-dripping extrusions.

The skeletons fight on all sides of the “Sandy Corner,” avoiding envelopment but taking damage. Soske’ uses tongs to grab a burning log from a fireplace in the inn, and Sonny wraps an oil-soaked rag around his chain. Together, they prepare flaming arrows to fire at the oozes.

Toshi casts Elemental Burst (water) on one amoeba, and Ember casts Entangle on another. Unfortunately, their spells have little effect as the group joins the melee on the deck. Saigo slices up Sonny and Toshi’s opponent but is slammed and burned.

One ooze hits Ember while others trade blows with the skeletons. Soske’ rips off his shirt, ties it to his staff with a bowstring, dips it in oil, and lights it on fire. Sonny swings his flaming chain at an amoeba taking an oil flask to Ember.

Toshi casts Elemental Burst (air) on Soske’s foe, and Ember casts Water to Wine in the river around the oozes. Saigo maneuvers to aid Soske’. The skeletons destroy one amoeba, leaving two remaining.

Soske’ lights the wine with his staff, and Sonny dumps the remaining oil onto an ooze. Toshi casts Light to aid his companions, as Ember throws fire but misses. Saigo’s sword continues to do some damage, but the skeletons do better.

Sonny grabs the firebrand from Soske’ and destroys the amoeba near Ember. The last ooze misses Saigo and is ripped apart by the skeletons, which then look at the adventuring party with empty eye sockets.

Soske’ bows to the Undead warriors and goes into the “Sandy Corner” rather than fight them. The rest of the group follows his lead and closes the doors….

Please remember to update your P.C. records to second level. Dexter, we missed you last night! Weather and traffic permitting, I hope to be home in time for our next virtual session, on Sunday, Dec. 29. I also expect the “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” face-to-face campaign to continue on Monday, Dec. 30, at Rich C.G.’s place in Waltham, Mass.

In the meantime, I look forward to wrapping up Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Timesminiseries and to returning to his “Glassworks” noir superhero setting. May all of you have a happy holiday season!