“Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” Session 39.29 — The spectral shark

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for “Vanished Lands” Session 39.29, which Rich C.G. hosted in Waltham, Mass., on Monday, 30 December 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 2014:

  • Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) and stage seer, embittered by experiences in Hesolin’s Magisterium; with homunculus familiar Gerald; NGc, Lvl. 6
  • Hamfast Hammerfist [Brian W.]-male Zeda (proto-Germanic) human Fighter, mountaineer, “barbarian” strongman, and laborer; TNg, Lvl. 6
  • Scully Strongbow [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 6
  • Corwin Windsong [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and former ringmaster with a mandolin; CNg, Lvl. 6
  • Elsa Fairbottom [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with Banuq (winged cat) Penryn; NGc, Lvl. 6
  • Tempestade [Josh C.]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), former roustabout, now a follower of Otih; CGl, Lvl. 6
  • Sir Torrel [Alex W.]-male Hifalendorin human Paladin of Otih, the lord of the sun and justice; LGn, Lvl. 6
  • Radius [Jason E.R./departed ]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 5

“19 to 31 January 1227 B.C.E.:” The adventurers recuperated and trained in Falit, capital of the Ebir Sheikdom. They had an audience with the Djinni Tarzu, who agreed to tell them how to operate an obelisk in Gisar, on the condition that they rescue an Efreet in the Zarendo Islands.

Giacomo summoned a familiar, Hamfast visited various taverns, and Scully met a fellow canine humanoid. Tempestade learned how to get to his former plantation, Corwin recuperated from being poisoned by a courtesan, and Elsa acquired a winged cat. Sir Torrel visited temples and got his shield enchanted against Undead.

Mage Giacomo gets acquainted with his homunculus Gerald and recovers from his taxing spellcasting at various coffee houses. Ranger Scully continues learning about the Undead from “Kemosh” [Byron V.O./Non-Player Character] and accepts the Anpur Kahin’s (Jackal-man Druid) offer to join the Order of the Golden Lion.

After consulting Falit’s three towers of sorcery, Monk Tempestade enjoys the warm weather and prepares to rescue fellow slaves. Druid Elsa spends time with her winged cat Penryn and studies new languages — Celestial, Ignan, and Infernal.

At the Court of Sighs, Prince Corwin visits Dermot Chadwick, a Saganim (proto-Celtic) human merchant and consul. Fighter Hamfast goes the Dhao Soukh (harbor market) to check out corsair Antar the Black. The Suthern (proto-Arabic) human captain of the Ghul’s Breath was referred to him by Vanaka (Dune Dwarf) Dorf Sandblaster at the “Frisky Unicorn” tavern.

Sir Torrel is brought by Sister Jamilah, an Amarati Ghaffir of Ishmas (Elf Paladin of Isis), to the Mamluk Krak, or castle of the caliph’s elite warriors. He meets Faisal ibn Usmed, an honorable Suthern slave/soldier/bureaucrat.

Giacomo tells Darius Gaspar, who arranged for members of Vistel’s Circus to perform at Caliph Hassan al Umid’s palace, that he owes him a favor. The Rangsten Sha’ir (Gnome Wizard) offers to help set up an audience with Vizier Govar al Sarseh at a future date.

Flind Scully tells Kemosh of her crew’s plans to visit the Zarendo Islands on its way to the barbaric port of Gisar, where an obelisk can help Tempestade return to his time. He notes that a powerful Wizard named “Vasec” [Alex J./N.P.C.] is at Tarvulis island and might be able to help.

Elsa writes letters to “Ulrich Vandermoor” [Ted A.H./N.P.C.] at the Royal Society for Cartography in Thadenis and sends herb samples to Barry the Gardener on Emein Island. The Hill Dwarf also arranges with Jendram Kahin (Gnome Druid) Budah Ranjon for young owlbear Oswald to be sent to Vistel’s Circus.

Bard Corwin talks with harbormaster Adm. Kawab Nofret and Capt. Scarlet of the Thalassaquendi (western Sea Elven) schooner Foamrunner. They verify that the plane traveler known as “Valoren” can be found at the open port of Laguro on Bokor Island.

Hamfast reminds his companions that they have agreed to rescue Lady Shadira, an Efreet (fire spirit) kinswoman of Djinni Tarzu who is held prisoner by a greater devil on Salhonif Island. Sir Torrel and Elsa are also interested in eventually taking on the dreaded ghost fleet.

The adventurers regroup at the Tower of Sight. Corwin trades barbs with “Frank” the Beholder, while Scully resists the temptation to again poke at the many blinking eyes in the tower’s walls.

Elsa asks blind seeress Lydia for means of True Seeing, since most enchanted items are beyond the party’s price range. Lydia says that several kings and high priests have crystal spheres, but the temple on Salhonif Island is shielded from scrying. To find Lady Shadira and other captives and guards transformed by the Pit Fiend, Lydia recommends asking Vasec for help.

Although Hamfast would prefer the Ghul’s Breath, the rest of his team votes to take the Foamrunner east to the Zarendo Islands. Capt. Scarlet plots a course to Tarvulis Island, about three days’ sail away, then to Bokor Island and Salhonif Island before turning north toward Gisar.

The wanderers set watches for the night: humans Hamfast and Tempestade first, followed by scouts Scully and Corwin and then armored Elsa and Sir Torrel. Late one evening, Scully spots a huge, glowing shark, which rams one of the Foamrunner’s pontoons.

Spectral shark
Undead predator

Capt. Scarlet orders first mate Valagon and helmswoman Muriel to bring the ship around, and Hamfast and Sir Torrel help sailors Thenasquel and Caerisith at the oars and with damage control.

Elsa and cook Curufinwe attend to hull breaches and the wounded. Corwin casts Lightning Bolt, and Elsa joins with Call Lightning. Giacomo tries to Levitate the Undead shark, as Scully joins Cildor in loading a harpoon in an arbalest.

Tempestade stands by young seaman Erasol and stabs at the monster with a javelin. However, unlucky Delrembor falls overboard and is eaten. Corwin runs to the rail and draws his long sword. Elsa summons a water Elemental, and Giacomo casts Magic Missiles, which have little initial effect.

Scully and Cildor’s second shot hits, and she ties the rope around the main mast. Tempestade punches the passing shark in the eye as he slides around the deck. The beast swims under the Foamrunner and starts to pull the ship over because of Scully’s line. Corwin hacks at it to prevent capsizing.

Elsa invokes patron deities Mekkil (Gaia) and Vulkan (Moradin) to Bless the ship and again Calls Lightning. Both Corwin and the Elemental hit the shark, revealing glowing bones under its scales. Scully fires holy water arrows, while Tempestade swings a chain at the predator.

Corwin’s sword becomes a Flaming Weapon, thanks to Elsa, and Giacomo’s maximized Magic Missiles eventually destroy the Undead shark. The Sea Elves of the Foamrunner mourn the loss of Delrembor, and the passengers help the crew make repairs over the next few days.

As the swift ship sails across the Sea of Nagendwa, it encounters debris from a recent battle. Giacomo and Corwin use Detect Magic to determine that spells were cast and magical weapons were wielded. Against the recommendation of her companions, Scully puts on her goggles, grabs a rope, and looks underwater.

The albino Gnoll sees sinking corpses of Tritons (large aquatic humanoids) and Merrows (submarine Ogres). Unfortunately, any items they carried are out of reach. The group is glad to haul Scully back to the surface.

A day or so later, Scully and Araswe in the crow’s nest see the cone of an inactive volcano rising out of the sea. An away team goes ashore onto Tarvulis Island. Elsa casts Forest Friend, and Corwin and Scully lead the way through the dense jungle.

Wizard Giacomo and Elsa follow the trail, with Tempestade bringing up the rear. Hamfast and Sir Torrel initially wait with the dinghy, and Capt. Scarlet says that she’ll circle the island for three days before leaving, with or without them.

Elsa is impressed to find a topiary garden, but Scully notices singed treetops. In another garden of strange statues and colorful crystals, Tempestade touches one of the rocks, and his arm starts to petrify. Corwin casts Dispel Magic, and Giacomo recommends caution.

A lit path leads up the slope of “Mount Eden,” one of three peaks on the island. A Magic Mouth asks the visitors to identify themselves and admits them into the volcano. There, they see winding passages around a central chamber open to the sky. Scully smells traces of a dragon.

The onetime circus performers meet some adepts — a red Goblinoid scribe, a pale Githyanki, and a hippo-like Giff. Scully and Elsa are curious about the unusual students, but Giacomo and Corwin pretend to be unimpressed and go on for Tempestade’s sake.

The wanderers take a side passage to a solarium full of tablets, where they meet the Archmage and Loremaster Vasec. The former “Liberator” turns out to be a Drow (western Dark Elf) exile from Zuromm. Tempestade and company begin to explain their need for a means to find and rescue Lady Shadira from the Pit Fiend….

I look forward to continuing our adventures into the new year! Note that our next face-to-face game will be on Monday, 6 January 2014, weather permitting.

Also, note that tomorrow night’s “Vanished LandsA New Dawn” telecom session will start at 8:00 p.m. because some of us will be screening 47 Ronin. Remember to post your character concepts for Jason E.R.’s upcoming “Glassworks: the Devil’s Den” superhero scenario (using Icons).

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